Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks
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The son of divorced Jungian therapists overanalyzes his childhood.

Globe & Mail relationship columnist Toub explores his upbringing and sexual forays through a psychotherapeutic lens. “All parents…mess with their kids’ heads,” he writes. “My parents’ being psychologists only changed the language of it.” Toub grew up in an eccentric, cerebral family in which morning dream analysis was par for the course and members said things like, “I am angry with you right now because the part of me represented by you is not being allowed to emerge into consciousness.” A protégée of famed psychotherapist Arnold Mindell, his mother left his father after meeting another man, and Toub chose to live with his father. There’s plenty of great material in the author’s past, and there are flashes of truly funny and outrageous dialogue. However, the memoir becomes mired in too much self-reflection, a stagnant structure and weak character development. Instead of telling a chronological story that might have illuminated how he came to be who he is, Toub opts to tell readers, at every turn, how his current research on Jung and Freud intersects with his adolescent experiences. For instance, he explains a two-year sexual relationship with another teenage boy as a “textbook example of how mother-son closeness leads to homosexuality.” (The author is now married to a woman.) His existential stasis—torn between pleasing his parents and casting off their rules and interpretations of everything—finally led him to see a therapist of his own. But despite stabs to take the reins of his life, Toub confesses, in the context of trying to cure a physical remedy by thinking about its symptoms, “I’d rather just continue feeling sorry for myself than admit it’s me who is causing the illness.”

Uneven and glib.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-393-06755-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2010