A veteran psychologist explores why many adults fall into a pattern of unfulfilling, harmful relationships.
Golomb (Trapped in the Mirror, 1995) has been in private practice since 1972, has a doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University, and is certified in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. In this book, however, the author not only shares her psychological expertise, she also relates her own personal experience: “I loved those who could not love me.” Although she acknowledges established theories that aim to explain the “serial addiction” of bad relationships, she notes that she ultimately found answers by studying her own history, and she encourages readers to do the same. Much of the discussion here focuses on the concepts of the “freezing parent” and “frozen child”—a parent who is icy or even aggressive or abusive, and a child who is, in a sense, paralyzed by this lack of warmth. Adult children, she says, internalize both sides of this equation, falling into situations in which they’re controlled, controlling, or switching between these two modes; however, because of residual childhood confusion and deep-rooted, often unconscious defenses, they’re often unaware of their problems’ origins. This book, importantly, offers readers hope, as it encourages them to recognize patterns, consider psychotherapy, and take initially frightening steps toward seeking healthy, loving relationships. Some of the messages are repetitive, though, offering many iterations of the idea that parent-child relationships shape patterns that “trapped” adults need to recognize. Some of the ideas here are repeated in different chapters using very similar language, and this can be distracting or confusing at times. However, one also gets the sense that some degree of this is intentional, as it’s similar to how therapists reiterate themes in long-term therapy. The book’s use of examples, however, is uneven; the first chapter recounts many specific scenarios in great detail, but later parts of the book are more abstract.
An earnest and insightful, if wordy, self-help offering.