Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb

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Lori Gottlieb is one of my new favorite memoirists, and I especially like her because we share a profession. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed is as juicy as you want a memoir to be, but also as practical and enlightening.

Read it because you are considering going to therapy and you want to know what it can do for you. Or because you love a good memoir as much as I do.

Key Takeaways

  • Wendell explains that my pain feels like it’s in the present, but it’s actually in both the past and the future.
  • He complains that his wife is depressed (although, as the saying goes, “Before diagnosing people with depression, make sure they’re not surrounded by assholes”),
  • The therapist explained that often different parts of ourselves want different things, and if we silence the parts we find unacceptable, they’ll find other ways to be heard. He asked the guy to sit in a different chair, across the room, and see what happened when the part of him that chose to cheat wasn’t shoved aside but got to say its piece. At first the poor guy was at a loss, but gradually,
  • Years later, when I’ve done thousands of first sessions, and information-gathering has become second nature, I’ll use a different barometer to judge how it went: Did the patient feel understood? It always amazes me that someone can walk into a room as a stranger and then, after fifty minutes, leave feeling understood, but it happens nearly every time. When it doesn’t, the patient doesn’t return. And because Michelle did, something had gone right. As for the clock snafu, though, my supervisor doesn’t mince words: “Don’t bullshit your patients.” She lets that sink in, then goes on to explain that if I don’t know something, I should simply say, “I don’t know.” If I’m confused about the time, I should tell Michelle that I need to step out of the room for a second to bring in a working clock so that I’m not distracted. If I’m to learn anything in this traineeship, my supervisor emphasizes, it’s that I can’t help anybody unless I’m authentic in that room. I had cared about Michelle’s well-being, I’d wanted
  • The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm had made this point more than fifty years earlier: “Modern man thinks he loses something—time—when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains except kill it.” Fromm was right; people didn’t use extra time earned to relax or connect with friends or family. Instead, they tried to cram more in.
  • The night before, as I tried to relax in bed with a novel, I came across a character who described his constant worry as “a relentless need to escape a moment that never ends.” Exactly, I thought. For the past few weeks, every second has been linked to the next by worry.
  • In the 1980s, a psychologist named James Prochaska developed the transtheoretical model of behavior change (TTM) based on research showing that people generally don’t “just do it,” as Nike (or a new year’s resolution) might have it, but instead tend to move through a series of sequential stages that look like this: Stage 1: Pre-contemplation Stage 2: Contemplation Stage 3: Preparation Stage 4: Action Stage 5: Maintenance
  • Of course, therapists aren’t persuaders. We can’t convince an anorexic to eat. We can’t convince an alcoholic not to drink. We can’t convince people not to be self-destructive, because for now, the self-destruction serves them. What we can do is try to help them understand themselves better and show them how to ask themselves the right questions until something happens—either internally or externally—that leads them to do their own persuading.
  • People often start therapy during the contemplation stage. A woman in a long-distance relationship says that her boyfriend keeps delaying his planned move to her city, and she acknowledges that he’s probably not coming—but she won’t break up with him. A man knows that his wife has been having an affair, but when we talk about it, he comes up with excuses for where she might be when she’s not answering her texts so that he doesn’t have to confront her. Here people procrastinate or self-sabotage as a way to stave off change—even positive change—because they’re reluctant to give something up without knowing what they’ll get in its place. The hiccup at this stage is that change involves the loss of the old and the anxiety of the new. Although often maddening for friends and partners to witness, this hamster wheel is part of the process; people need to do the same thing over and over a seemingly ridiculous number of times before they’re ready to change.

About the Author

Lori Gottlieb is an American author, psychotherapist, and journalist known for her work in the field of psychology and mental health. Born on February 14, 1967, Gottlieb has made significant contributions to the field through her writing and therapeutic practice.

Gottlieb earned a Bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale University and a Master’s degree in clinical psychology from Stanford University. She has worked as a psychotherapist for over 20 years, providing therapy to individuals and couples.

Gottlieb’s writing often combines personal anecdotes, psychological insights, and humor to explore the complexities of human relationships and the challenges of navigating life’s transitions. She is known for her candid and relatable approach to discussing mental health issues and self-discovery.

One of Gottlieb’s most well-known works is the book “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed,” published in 2019. In this memoir, she shares her experiences both as a therapist and as a patient, offering readers a glimpse into the therapeutic process and the universal human struggles that therapy can help address. The book became a New York Times bestseller and received critical acclaim for its empathy, authenticity, and thought-provoking exploration of the human condition.

In addition to her therapy practice and writing, Gottlieb has contributed to various publications, including The Atlantic and The New York Times. Her articles cover a wide range of topics related to mental health, relationships, and personal growth.

Gottlieb’s work has resonated with readers and helped reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Through her writing and therapeutic practice, she continues to shed light on the complexities of the human mind and foster understanding and compassion for those facing emotional challenges.


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