As the title indicates, some strange cases turn up in a hypnotherapist's office, and there's a choice assortment of them in this little collection that both entertains and explicates the hypotherapist's art. Barrett, who practices in Cambridge, Mass., and teaches at Harvard Medical School, has selected seven instructive cases from her more than two decades of practice. While disguising her patients— identities and sometimes employing a composite of patients, her stories use actual dialogue from therapy sessions. They are presented in chronological order, beginning when she was a trainee and inadvertently put her supervisor into a trance. Although that case, titled "The Counterfeit Adult," has a happy ending—Barrett helped an asthmatic young woman to give up smoking—not all are success stories. In the second, "The Assailant and the Baby-Sitter" Barrett, still a trainee, suspected that her patient, who could be both violent attacker and gentle caregiver, suffered from multiple-personality disorder, but the therapy sessions ended with the case unresolved. One case that was resolved, although the patient couldn—t be described as totally satisfied, is that of the book's title character, whose bizarre story is told in "Mourning Sickness." In it, the grief of a gay Texas oil worker for his dead lover takes the form of a false pregnancy, complete with swollen belly and breasts. Another story, about a patient with hallucinations, becomes a vehicle for Barrett to explain how spurious alien-abduction reports may be elicited from a patient by a hypnotist's leading questions about spaceships and extraterrestrials. It's to the levelheaded Barrett's credit that she doesn—t promote hypnotherapy as superior to other therapies, nor does she claim to have any extraordinary powers. For those interested in trying it themselves, she concludes with advice on finding a reliable hypnotherapist. From a skilled psychotherapist, a fine introduction to hypnosis.
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