THROUGH THE DOOR by Jo Anne Yarus Randall


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The droning, clinical, repetitious inner-thoughts of Kentucky psychologist Leah Bronstein Buchanan--who, with her husband and children away, broods about her past, her current patients, her marriage, and her recent breast-cancer traumas. The week begins with an unexpected visit, at home, from one of Leah's patients: handsome, Oedipally complex Mr. Harrington, who makes a heavy pass at Leah--until he catches a traumatic glimpse of her scarred chest. ""Am I in some way responsible for Harrington's bizarre behavior?. . . Has my need to have him find me as appealing as I find him made me neglect an analytic stance in favor of something more seductive?"" She also has churning reactions--heavy counter-transference, sexual fantasies--to other patients, like sexy, abrasive Ilana Fromer: ""I embrace her to absorb her youthful sexuality just as she locks her legs around one man after another to absorb, through her own lust and some magic conjunction with them, their power."" And, while some of these thoughts help Leah to analyze patient-hangups, ""with each curve I take, my mind fastens on the memories that have obsessed me"": her father's death; her educational career, going all the way back to Hebrew School; her wild days of sexual promiscuity; a still-born baby; her mastectomy and its psychic aftermath; her less-than-perfect years with professor-husband Daniel, who's ""stingy with words and touches."" Where is all this feverish introspection leading? (""Am I looking for a replacement breast? Am I trying to nurture myself by sucking at his breast/penis? Am I the castrated one?"") Unfortunately, to nothing more than a glimmer of greater self-awareness. . . with a resolution to be a less insecure, more giving wife and mother. Weighed down by plodding flashbacks, flat jargon, and amateurish prose: the weakest by far of the several recent Doing-Therapy closeups (Judith Rossner, Lisa Alther et al.), authentic in some of the session-details but otherwise humdrum and banal.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Stein & Day