Raw memoir of how the author went into therapy to cure her writer's block and came out seven years later with a stronger sense of a self—and the makings of another book.
“Enter therapy with me and you will write your book,” therapist Harriet Sing promised Friedman (Writing Past Dark, 1993), a successful author who, on gaining a contract to write a book about envy, found herself utterly unable to do so. Strung out on long walks, laundry, and unpredictable weeping, she took Sing up on her promise—and almost magically, Sing was correct. Within two weeks, Friedman was writing page after page, and became obsessed with her therapist. As her relationship with Sing strengthened, and her writing became more fluid, Friedman's other relationships began to die on the vine. Friends were examined and discarded, labeled too demanding, or too self-centered, or too overwhelming. Even Friedman's husband began to be a stranger. Meanwhile, Sing increased their sessions. As Friedman traces the course of her treatment and her eventual commitment to ending it, she peels back the layer of privacy that customarily protects the patient and allows the reader a close look at what she and Sing see as the development of her psyche. We are given portraits of a worshipped but depressed and distant mother, a father in need of protection, and a young Friedman convinced that it was her special job to guard her parents against a harsh world. The author's extremely capable sister is also examined in depth, although her brothers scarcely register. Friedman has a gift for the vignette; her descriptions of her New York childhood are almost tangible. Overall, however, the intimacy is overwhelming, with the author's feelings splashed across page after page.
A blow-by-blow history, from enchantment to escape, at times vividly drawn, at times suffocatingly revelatory.