Undertow: Surviving the Predatory Psychiatrist by Trudy Seagraves

Undertow: Surviving the Predatory Psychiatrist

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this debut memoir, a woman tells of abusive therapy sessions with a New-Age doctor.

When Seagraves began writing a book about her “journey through incest,” she wrote glowingly of her therapist. She noted his gentle guidance, helpful suggestions and comforting manner. But in that first draft, she didn’t accuse him, as she does here, of “cupping my breast, kissing me on the lips at his wife’s wake and funeral….I left out that he slid his hand under my underpants to stroke my abdomen.” She writes that her therapist, known for his “enthusiastic championing of esoteric spiritual systems,” was trained in bioenergetics, a body-oriented psychotherapy based upon the work of Wilhelm Reich. Seagraves was emotionally vulnerable when she began seeing him in 1985 at age 53, and during their sessions, she recalled disturbing memories of being raped by her abusive, sadistic father. She alleges that her therapist’s methods, however, were manipulative and disrespectful: “I’m not being weird. I’m not being sexual,” she says he told her, before lying on top of her, belly to belly, on the floor. When Seagraves eventually sued for medical malpractice, she says that she discovered that the therapist had “betrayed the confidences of at least fifty-four persons, mostly patients, many of whom I knew”; she also realized that she’d spent $17,000 on recommended “conferences, sessions, consultations, lessons, classes, exercises, weird treatments, and healers over three years.” Seagraves, a sensitive, skillful writer, vividly describes childhood scenes, her father’s cruelty, her mother’s distance, and her anguish and confusion. However, some readers may wonder why the author kept going to the therapy sessions for so long. Seagraves includes transcripts from recorded sessions, however, that show the powerful web that she claims the therapist wove.

An often illuminating psychiatric memoir.

Pub Date: April 30th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1489568014
Page count: 302pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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