PICKING UP THE PIECES by Fayek Nakhla

PICKING UP THE PIECES

Two Accounts of a Psychoanalytic Journey
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A harrowing yet oddly diffident reconstruction of a young woman's desperate search for a self through self-mutilation, as described separately by her analyst and herself at the end of 16 years of treatment. When Jackson (a pseudonym) arrived in New York in the early 1970's--accompanied by a friend, Susan, with whom she had an unusually dependent relationship--she immediately began therapy with Nakhla, a psychiatrist, and for the first 18 months went to sessions regularly, only to sit in silence. A breakthrough of sorts occurred when Jackson offered Nakhla the gift of a piece of homemade pottery, which she then shattered with his permission. When Susan decided to get married, Jackson turned to Nakhla as her last remaining link to the world and, in the process of overcoming a nonexistent self-image through more frequent meetings, embarked on a series of wrist-slashings and other brutal assaults on her body. Nakhla, viewing Jackson's actions not as suicidal but as the painful means to a positive end--the emergence from a severely regressive state--allowed his patient to express herself in this way while patching her up and urging her to stop: With brief hospitalization and an outpouring of emotional support from her family, she finally did. As Jackson's life outside therapy returned to normal, Nakhla came to appreciate her lifelong commitment to journal-writing as evidence of an independent, self-motivated personality, enabling him to break through his own difficulties in relating to his patient. A saga of psychotherapy taken to its bloody limit: fascinating and disturbing in spite of the dull, objective style adopted by each narrator.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1993
ISBN: 0-300-05653-2
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993