Six bright, successful and remarkably self-destructive people enter into a course of dynamic group therapy in an effort to recognize and overcome their compulsions, addictions, weaknesses and family legacies. Granted unlimited access to the sessions and the patients' lives, journalist Paul Solotaroff has captured a compelling real-life drama as it unfolds. Against a ticking clock - the prescribed period of treatment is ten months - a wide range of human tragedy and comedy plays out, imbiung "Group" with the pacing of a thriller and the lure of a mystery, as we learn, finally, who triumph and who is beyond help. Under the aegis of a charismatic, maverick psychiatrist, this engaging and diverse group of strangers commiserate with, badger and urge one another along toward the goal of finding their "true story" - and that is, the life each was meant to lead, their path to happiness - rather than accepting the "false story" they were handed in childhood and are tragically living out. Accompanying the revelation of their fears, their hopes, their setbacks and recoveries are the doctor's acute psychological insights and prescriptions on dilemmas common to us all. "Group" is, from beginning to end, an absorbing journey along the often excruciating and revelatory path of self-awareness and emotional healing.
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If you're the sort of person who sees the "talking cure" as the American disease, then the thought of reading an account of a New York therapy group might have you running screaming for the exit. However, that would be a mistake. Group: Six People in Search of a Life is a riveting, compulsively readable account of five people and their struggle to transform their lives.
"It's painful to listen to yourself, at least in the beginning, but the alternative is endless suffering", says Dr. Lathon (a pseudonym, as are all the names in the book), the therapist of this group. This book is not a self-help text, says author Paul Solotaroff, but a "work of narrative journalism" perceptively documenting five highly successful, tremendously self-destructive people living through a year of the powerhouse theatre of group therapy. With much intense emotional ditch-digging, Lathon teaches the group his vocabulary (pain is not to be confused with suffering) and helps them become acquainted with the texts of their wounds and wishes.
Solotaroff, who was once a participant in an earlier group with Lathon, is an accomplished writer who vividly brings his subjects to life. Their troubles run the gamut of dysfunction, encompassing every flavour of anaesthesia--sex, food, drugs, TV, alcohol, shopping, overwork and destructive relationships. Raw and surprisingly candid, these are real individuals fighting some of life's harshest battles; not everyone survives emotionally to tell the tale. The wealth of surprises and final twist at the book's conclusion will keep readers riveted up to the last page. Whether group therapy is ultimately an effective treatment or symptom of the pathologising of navel-gazing, Group is a powerful narrative of our time. --Fiona Buckland
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140286640