BREAKDOWN by Stuart Sutherland


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The author, a psychologist at the University of Sussex, had a mental breakdown in his forties after his wife disclosed that one man she'd been having an affair with was a close friend of his. A specialist in experimental psychology, he had little faith in psychoanalysis, but, suffering torments of anxiety and boredom, he was persuaded to see an analyst, who treated him as an emergency case and then shifted him to a colleague for long-term therapy. He felt he was hindered rather than helped by the analyst, and on the advice of a psychiatrist became a voluntary patient in a psychiatric hospital where he was given anti-depressant drugs and treatment by a clinical psychologist using behavior therapy. After a bit, as if by magic, his depression lifted. He tries in this book to make his experience meaningful, expanding on the different therapies available and suggesting ways to improve treatment. He is entirely dismissive of psychoanalysis, and as a laboratory scientist is made uneasy by the untested claims of a number of present-day therapies (primal, gestalt, etc.). His lack of insight into his own emotional difficulties, however, suggests that at least a dose of some of the therapies he rejects might have done him good. All told, the book is yet another symptom of the current mental health crisis.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Stein & Day