Insiders in Psychotherapy

I am referring to people who are inside of psychotherapy as either patients or clients and as helpers – primarily psychotherapists and psychiatrists. There is a genre of memoirs by former and current people with some degree of mental illness. The illnesses vary but are primarily about living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, and types of personality disorder. I will be reviewing and commenting on all of these and possibly some other illnesses. There is also a genre of case studies or “case stories” written by psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists. I will also review and comment on some of these. There is a third type of insider genre – very unusual- of a combination of a patient’s account and that of the therapist’s in the same document. The primary example of this genre is “Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness” (1978) by Mary Barnes and Joe Burke, which I will review later. Finally, there are a few examples of writers who have had and continue to have mental illness and who are also helpers – psychotherapists or psychiatrists. Lauren Slater, whose books I reviewed earlier, fits this category , as does Kay Redfield Jamison, who has written several books about her own mental illness and the burden of depression. I will review her work when I focus on depression. Non-insider (social scientists, historians, philosophers, journalists) accounts can sometimes resemble insider accounts when a degree of imbeddedness or ethnographic involvement captures the authenticity of the inside experience of being mentally ill and living with this illness – both psychologically and within societal structures, such as mental institutions. I will also comment on some of these.

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