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Meet a psychiatrist who wants to meet you, knee to knee, heart to heart, psyche to psyche. For 40 years, Robertiello has been an increasingly unorthodox practictioner. Quite some time ago he abandoned the couch as too cold. Still clinging, however, to the Freudian scientific model, he was confronted in the 1960's by students and young colleagues who maneuvered him into professional group therapy, where the view of himself he got appalled him: ""cut off, defensive, difficult to approach. . .emotionally dead, rigid. . .like a robot that had been wound up before performing."" About the same time, the shaken doctor had what he plainly and bravely calls a midlife crisis and a mystical experience, triggered by the impulse to let down his professional guard in favor of befriending a lonely patient with cancer. The doctor felt his heart ""just bursting out of my body and opening up and going out to her."" The whole experience, just a few minutes long, changed his life and his practice. Now he began to allow his ""subjectivity"" into his work with patients--and the culmination is this unflinchingly candid autobiography, which starts back in a childhood of dreadful emotional bleakness. Only by bringing his whole authentic self into the analytic encounter, Robertiello now believes, can the doctor avoid distorting the relationship and thus skewing the analysis. But the doctor must first know himself, and second, let the patient see him clearly. No more playing God. Other psychiatrists are to be denied their divinities, too. A nameless distinguished professor is revealed as a blackballer of students who don't stay in training analysis with him. A famous shrink, fully identified, falls disastrously in love with his even more famous client. Good gossip! And also, how curiously artless is this life story. The doctor's sincerity as he strips himself bare is appealing but a bit raw, as if the 1960's still live on within. He announces a belated interest in Jung, who may be the connection to depths that he has craved all along.

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's