A SHINING AFFLICTION: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy by Annie G. Rogers

A SHINING AFFLICTION: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A beautifully written first-person account of a novice therapist's trial by fire. Rogers (Human Development and Psychology/Harvard Univ.) was just starting the clinical internship for her Ph.D. at a center for emotionally disturbed children when she met Ben, a neglected and abandoned five-year-old. The play therapy she conducted with him to explore his fears had an unintended and powerful impact on Rogers, who, unknown to her supervisors, had herself been in therapy for years. She began to hear voices directing her to kill her therapist, who became frightened and dropped her. Following this ""abandonment,"" her disintegration accelerated, and hospitalization followed. With the eye of an artist and the voice of a poet, Rogers creates vivid images of madness: ""The top of my head lifts off and with it my answers to his questions lift and float out of me into the street where they mingle with the smoky breaths of passersby."" Once released from the hospital, she sought a new analyst, identified here as Blumenthal (all the major characters have pseudonyms). With him, she began to piece together fractured memories of childhood abuse. Under Blumenthal's care and through her resumed play therapy with Ben, she came to see how her story and the child's overlapped. Rogers learned, she says, that there is ""no place I can stand as a therapist outside and apart from my shadow and understand Ben's and my play: I have no transcendent or omniscient view, no expert or foolproof understanding."" In an afterword directed at her colleagues, she criticizes therapists who remain aloof in the therapeutic relationship, speaking with authority about what they cannot know and blaming their failures on their patients. Rogers's vague descriptions of recovering memories in therapy sheds no light on that controversial issue, but she humanizes therapists and provides an illuminating inside view of their training and the two-sided nature of their work.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0140240128
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Viking