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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: the heartfelt, funny memoir by a New York Times bestselling therapist Paperback – 9 May 2019
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A TIME magazine Must-Read Book of the Year
Ever wonder what your therapist is thinking? Now you can find out, as therapist and New York Times bestselling author Lori Gottlieb takes us behind the scenes of her practice ― where her patients are looking for answers (and so is she).
When a personal crisis causes her world to come crashing down, Lori Gottlieb ― an experienced therapist with a thriving practice in Los Angeles ― is suddenly adrift. Enter Wendell, himself a veteran therapist with an unconventional style, whose sessions with Gottlieb will prove transformative for her.
As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her own patients’ lives ― a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen who feels she has nothing to live for, and a self-destructive twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys ― she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very questions she is bringing to Wendell.
Taking place over one year, and beginning with the devastating event that lands her in Wendell’s office, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone offers a rare and candid insight into a profession that is conventionally bound with rules and secrecy. Told with charm and compassion, vulnerability and humour, it’s also the story of an incredible relationship between two therapists, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious inner lives, as well as our power to transform them.
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‘Absorbing and fascinating.’-- Oliver Burkeman ― The Guardian
‘This is a wonderful book … I wish I hadn’t finished reading it, but will start from the beginning again happily.’-- Nigella Lawson
‘Gottlieb has written a wise, funny and sometimes blisteringly sad book that is warmer than any self-help guide: one that feels like a friend.’-- Anna Leszkiewicz ― New Statesman
‘Candid and deeply personal, this is a book about being both patient and clinician, and one that offers hope to us all.’-- Sarah Shaffi ― Stylist Magazine’s ‘Your Guide to 2019’s Best Non-Fiction Books’
‘In prose that’s conversational and funny yet deeply insightful, psychologist Lori Gottlieb is here to remind us that our therapists are people, too.’― Refinery29
‘In her memoir, bestselling author, columnist, and therapist Lori Gottlieb explores her own issues ― and discovers just how similar they are to the problems of her clients.’― Bustle
‘Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is funny, hopeful, wise, and engrossing ― all at the same time. Lori Gottlieb takes us inside the most intimate of encounters as both clinician and patient and leaves us with a surprisingly fresh understanding of ourselves, one another, and the human condition. This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book.’-- Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and founder & CEO of Thrive Global
‘I’ve been reading books about psychotherapy for over a half century, but never have I encountered a book like Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: so bold and brassy, so packed with good stories, so honest, deep and riveting. I intended to read a chapter or two but ended up reading and relishing every word.’-- Irvin Yalom MD, author of Love’s Executioner, and other Tales of Psychotherapy, and professor emeritus of psychiatry at Stanford University.
‘If you have even an ounce of interest in the therapeutic process, or in the conundrum of being human, you must read this book. It is wise, warm, smart and funny, and Lori Gottlieb is exceedingly good company.’-- Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of Quiet
‘Shrinks, they're just like us―at least in Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, the heartfelt memoir by therapist Lori Gottlieb. Warm, funny, and engaging (no poker-faced clinician here), Gottlieb not only gives us an unvarnished look at her patients' lives, but also her own. The result is the most relatable portrait of a therapist I've yet encountered.’-- Susannah Cahalan, New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire
‘Here are some people who might benefit from Lori Gottlieb’s illuminating new book: Therapists, people who have been in therapy, people who have been in relationships, people who have experienced emotions. In other words, everyone. Lori’s story is funny, enlightening, and radically honest. It merits far more than 50 minutes of your time.’-- A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically
‘Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is ingenious, inspiring, tender, and funny. Lori Gottlieb bravely takes her readers on a guided tour into the self, showing us the therapeutic process from both sides of the couch ― as both therapist and patient. I cheered for her breakthroughs, as if they were my own! This is the best book I've ever read about the life-changing possibilities of talk therapy.’-- Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” advice columnist and New York Times bestselling author of Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things
‘This book is so insightful, and compassionate, and rich, and taught me a lot about myself. I was sucked right in to these vivid, funny, illuminating stories of humans trying to climb their way out of hiding, overcome self-defeating habits, and wake up to their own strength. Gottlieb has captured something profound about the struggle, and the miracle, of human connection.’-- Sarah Hepola, New York Times bestselling author of Blackout
‘With wisdom and humanity, Lori Gottlieb invites us into her consulting room, and her therapist’s. There, readers will share in one of the best-kept secrets of being a clinician: when we bear witness to change, we also change, and when we are present as others find meaning in their lives, we also discover more in our own.’-- Lisa Damour, PhD. New York Times bestselling author of Untangled
‘Some people are great writers, and other people are great therapists. Lori Gottlieb is, astoundingly, both. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is about the wonder of being human: how none of us is immune from struggle, and how we can grow into ourselves and escape our emotional prisons. Rarely have I read a book that challenged me to see myself in an entirely new light, and was at the same time laugh-out-loud funny and utterly absorbing.’-- Katie Couric, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author of The Best Advice I Ever Got
‘Gottlieb is an utterly compelling narrator: funny, probing, savvy, vulnerable. She pays attention to the small stuff ― the box of tissues and the Legos in the carpet ― as she honours the more expansive mysteries of our wild, aching hearts.’-- Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering: intoxication and its aftermath
‘Saturated with self-awareness and compassion, this is an irresistibly addictive tour of the human condition.’ STARRED REVIEW― Kirkus
‘Gottlieb finds herself learning powerful lessons from her patients as they untangle their emotional challenges while learning to understand her own self-image and what it genuinely means to be human ... Written with grace, humor, wisdom, and compassion, this heartwarming journey of self-discovery should appeal to fans of Mitch Albom and Nicholas Sparks.’ Library Journal― Library Journal
‘Therapists play a special and invaluable role in the lives of the 30 million Americans who attend sessions, but have you ever wondered where they go when they need to talk to someone? Veteran psychotherapist and New York Times best-selling author Lori Gottlieb shares a candid and remarkably relatable account of what it means to be a therapist who also goes to therapy, and what this can teach us about the universality of our questions and anxieties.’― Thrive Global, ‘10 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019’
‘A dishy romp, an eavesdropper’s guilty pleasure … provocative and entertaining … Gottlieb gives us more than a voyeuristic look at other people's problems (including her own). She shows us the value of therapy.’-- Susan Sheehan ― The Washington Post
‘What makes this book a joy to read is that it offers a wise and witty meld of the author’s personal insights and clinical observations plus bite-sized nuggets of psychology without ever lecturing or boring the reader ... For those who are skeptical, fearful or turned off by the idea of the talking cure, this fly-on-the-wall view of the subject just might convince you that therapy is remarkably worthwhile ... For self-help aficionados, there is wisdom galore on topics such as the drivers and inhibitors of psychological transformation, managing loss and grief, discovering meaning in life and work ... And for therapists, there is the chance to sit back and take note of how another clinician applies her skills to conjure up the magic of effective therapy ... A talented and highly accomplished writer, Gottlieb’s insecurities and chronic internal conflicts may surprise some readers. The fact that she doesn’t hold back talking about her suffering is what makes this book so powerful ... a most satisfying and illuminating read for psychotherapy patients, their therapists, and all the rest of us.’-- Karen R. Koenig ― New York Journal of Books
‘An irresistibly candid and addicting memoir ... [Gottlieb’s] book does feel deeply, almost creepily, voyeuristic ... In showing us how patients reveal just a part of their selves, [Gottlieb] gives us a dizzily satisfying collage of narratives, a kind of ensemble soap opera set in the already soap operatic world of Los Angeles ... Gottlieb can be judgmental and obsessive, but she’s authentic, even raw, about herself and her patients.’-- Alex Kuczynski ― The New York Times Book Review
‘She combines journalism and therapy, most notably in her ‘Dear Therapist’ advice column for the Atlantic, which itself somewhat makes the argument for therapy based on the fact that the questions are often far too complicated ever to be answered in the span of one response, though Gottlieb does her best ... There’s something satisfyingly voyeuristic and intimate about getting to listen in on anyone else’s therapy, a feeling Gottlieb amplifies by contextualising what is actually happening in each session from a more clinical perspective. She does this by gently and constantly explaining to the reader what exactly therapists are trying to do with their patients, sharing language and frameworks ... It’s strange to see Gottlieb, a therapist herself, seemingly imply that someone can be too ‘together’ to benefit from talking to someone. And yet, I’m glad she grapples with this. Watching her come to the realisation that the process has things to offer her beyond a quick solution is a lesson in and of itself.’-- Susan Matthews ― Slate
‘As Gottlieb’s patients proceed (often painfully) through their sessions, so does Gottlieb with her new therapist, Wendell. And we get to listen in through this unusual combination of memoir, self-help guide and therapy primer ... warm, approachable and funny ― a pleasure to read ... As we watch Gottlieb and her patients learn to tell the rest of their own stories and move beyond their pain, we find some surprising insights and even a bit of wisdom.’-- Sarah McCraw Crow ― Bookpage
‘Gottlieb plunges further into the psychological depths as she discloses how therapists keep each other honest ... Some readers will know Gottlieb from her many TV appearances or her ‘Dear Therapist’ column, but even for the uninitiated-to-Gottlieb, it won’t take long to settle in with this compelling read.’-- Joan Curbow ― Booklist
‘An addictive book that’s part Oliver Sacks and part Nora Ephron. Prepare to be riveted.’― People Magazine, Book of the Week
‘Reading it is like one long therapy session ― and may be the gentle nudge you need to start seeing a therapist again IRL.’― Hello Giggles
‘With startling wisdom and humour, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others ... Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is revolutionary in its candour, offering a deeply personal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.’― Bookreporter
‘A psychotherapist and advice columnist at The Atlantic shows us what it’s like to be on both sides of the couch with doses of heartwarming humour and invaluable, tell-it-like-it-is wisdom.’― O, The Oprah Magazine
‘Entirely reframes the way we think about psychotherapy … Movingly depicts our collective longing for lasting connection.’― Entertainment Weekly
‘A delightful, fascinating dive into human behavior and idiosyncrasies, habits and defenses, fears and blind spots: hers, her patients’, yours and mine.’― Chicago Tribune
‘This relatable memoir reminds us that many of our struggles are universal and just plain human.’― Real Simple
‘A no-holds-barred look at how therapy works.’― Parade
‘A fascinating, funny behind-the-scenes look at what happens when people ― even shrinks themselves ― ‘break open,’ with the help of a therapist.’― Shondaland
‘Who could resist watching a therapist grapple with the same questions her patients have been asking her for years? Gottlieb, who writes the tlantic’s “Dear Therapist” column, brings searing honesty to her search for answers.’-- Bethanne Patrick ― The Washington Post, The 10 books to read in April
‘[Maybe You Should Talk to Someone] explores the ups and downs of life with humour and grace.’― BookBub
‘Charmingly readable.’-- Sarah Ditum ― In The Moment
‘In her compassionate and emotionally generous new book, Gottlieb … pulls back the curtain of a therapist’s world … The result is a humane and empathetic exploration of six disparate characters struggling to take control of their lives as they journey back to happiness.’― ALA’s Public Libraries Online
‘[A] smart, hilarious, insightful book. Lori Gottlieb will have you laughing and crying as she breaks down the problems of her patients, her therapist and herself.’― Patch.com
‘Both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, [Gottlieb] reveals how our stories form the core of our lives.’― Orange County Register
‘Reads like a novel and reveals what really happens on both sides of the couch.’― Men’s Health
‘A hugely entertaining memoir about a therapist in therapy.’-- Kerri Sackville ― Sunday Age
‘A rare and candid insight into a profession that is conventionally bound with rules and secrecy. Told with charm and compassion, vulnerability and humour, it’s also the story of an incredible relationship between two therapists and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious inner lives, as well as our power to transform them.’― Sunraysia Daily
’Heartwarming and upbeat, this memoir demystifies therapy and celebrates the human spirit.’― Shelf Awareness
‘A sparkling and sometimes moving account of her work as a psychotherapist, with the twist that she is in therapy herself ... For someone considering but hesitant to enter therapy, Gottlieb’s thoughtful and compassionate work will calm anxieties about the process; for experienced therapists, it will provide an abundance of insights into their own work.’― Publishers Weekly
‘A source of inspiration.’-- Cherlynn Low ― Yahoo Finance
‘A great read for anyone interested in mental health, humanity and empathy.’-- Jen Saulnier ― Mirage News
‘It‘s incredibly open, honest, and there are insights Gottlieb comes to acknowledge in the pages that will resonate with you deeply.’-- Jess Campbell ― GQ
About the Author
Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author who writes the weekly Dear Therapist advice column for the Atlantic, where she is also a contributing editor. She has written for the New York Times Magazine and has appeared on Today, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, and NPR. She lives in Los Angeles. Learn more at LoriGottlieb.com or by following her @LoriGottlieb1 on Twitter.
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People can talk to other people. Social connections provide many people to talk with. Health researchers Dr Dean and Anne Ornish, in their book Undo It!: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases, recommend a four-pronged strategy for health: eat a plant-based diet, exercise regularly, reduce stress, and, perhaps most important of all, people should build and mobilize social connections.
Unfortunately, in today’s world too many people suffer from weak social connections. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is a book about one type of human relationship: with a professional therapist. The book’s author, Lori Gottlieb, is a trained clinical psychologist and a very good writer.
Of course, writing becomes easier when writers have interesting topics, and Gottlieb does. Mostly, the book consists of true stories (with people’s names changed) from her therapy, stories both of her patients with her as therapist and of her as patient with someone else as therapist. Gottlieb also teaches us about the current rules and common practices of therapists, as well as theories and models she uses to support her patients.
Two stories stood out for me. One patient, Julie, is a young woman with very bad luck. She gets cancer, overcomes it, off and on for years, until cancer finally kills her. One memorable part of Julie’s story comes when she discovers the fictional story, “Welcome to Holland” about people who carefully plan a holiday in Italy. However, their plane lands in Holland, and they cannot not get to Italy. At first, the travelers feel very sad about being in Holland, but their sadness turns to joy as they adopt to the different country.
“Welcome to Holland” suggests that we should be flexible and look at the bright side of the situations we find ourselves in. For instance, many people who follow plant-based diets feel very disappointed when their social connections continue to eat meat and other foods from animals. After all, the many benefits of plant-based diets for health, environment, animals, etc. seem so obvious to us. Nonetheless, benefits of meat-eating social connections do exist, for example, our meat-eating connections can test food for us to see whether or not it is plant-based, and meat-eaters help us learn new ways of convincing people to change their diets, as well as new dishes to show them that plant-based food can be delicious, convenient, and affordable.
Another memorable story in the book tells about Rita, a talented, healthy woman in her 60s who feels very lonely. Rita is thrice divorced, with four grown children from her first marriage who want nothing to do with her, because Rita did not defend them against their abusive father. The book shows how Gottlieb guides Rita to find new social connections and eventually establish tentative connections with her own children.
One of the psychologists whom Gottlieb highlights in the book is Victor Frankl. Frankl disagreed with the dominant view that finding pleasure constitutes people’s main motivation in life. Frankl believed that people are mainly motivated to find meaning in their life. In other words, we want to believe that what we do matters, that we are making the world a better place.
An example of someone with this meaning-based view is Loh Yeow Nguan, one of the founders of HealthPartners.sg. Yeow talks about being mission-driven. For instance, helping our fellow animals is among his missions. One way he has helped animals is working with Singapore’s Cat Welfare Society, in addition to adopting abandoned cats. At the same time, Yeow pursues his missions, he also enjoys various pleasures, such as tasty food, the camaraderie of other activists, entertaining videos, and the joys of exercising in nature.
Psychologists develop models to enable them to better help others and themselves. One model that Gottlieb applies regularly in her therapy is the transtheoretical model of change. This model consists of five stages. In Stage 1, people are in the pre-contemplation stage: they have not even considered the change yet. Stage 2, the contemplation stage, occurs when people begin to consider whether to make the change. The next stage, Stage 3, involves preparing to carry out the change. Then, in Stage 4, people actually do take action and make the change. Stage 5, perhaps the most difficult stage, takes place as people struggle to maintain the change.
Referring back to the Ornishes’ four-pronged strategy for health, Move More is one the prongs. Here is an example of people changing to move more. In Stage 1, people are not even thinking about exercising. In Stage 2, they contemplate starting to exercise; maybe a family member invites them to workout together. Stage 3, preparation, they work on their schedule to find time to workout, and they consider what types of exercise they might enjoy. In Stage 4, they begin exercising, and in Stage 5, they find ways to stick with their exercise program, even it means making change in their lives, perhaps by finding more people who can exercise with them.
The role of diet in mental health is one area not covered in the book. Fortunately, evidence exists that whole food, plant-based diets boost mental health. For example, this free, non-commercial podcast reviews the scientific evidence on why people feel happier when they eat smarter.
To conclude, the stories and advice in Maybe You Should Talk To Someone made me feel surprised, happy, sad, and inspired. Plus, they reminded me how important it is to talk to others, even if they are not professional therapists. The HealthPartners.sg website has free information on connecting with others via reading aloud, helping children create their own books, and sharing life stories.
Top reviews from other countries
Love wins is at the center of everything Lori does. No, she’s not perfect and her memoir does not try to hide her own inadequacy as she faces the trials and tribulations of her own life. But Lori’s heart is in the right place and she knows that “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.” With one of her difficult patients, John, the award winning screen writer who thinks that everyone is an idiot, Lori is patient and loving and love wins. Lori listens to John with her heart and sees in the depths of his being the love that is hidden there that only needs someone like Lori to recognize and then help John find his way home to the person he was meant to be. With John we laugh at his outrageous banter, which Lori captures perfectly, but then cry when the banter is replaced by the truth of John’s inability to cope with the death of his beloved young son Gabe in an auto accident.
Now as I sit back for a moment and think about it, that’s what Lori’s book is about – laughter and tears, for that is what our life is – ups and downs, sickness and health, laughter and tears, and Lori has captured it all remarkably well. She is so skilled as a writer that we feel like she is talking to us and we can make conversation with her. I have written many reviews of English writer Anthony Trollope’s novels and I have said that Trollope, like Lori, draws us in to his world as he tells us about the predicaments his characters find themselves emeshed in, that “sweet flypaper of life” that Lori is caught in, but with help from her own therapist, Wendell, she extricates herself only to be caught again. But Lori has learned not to take herself too seriously. In her book we see her come to terms with her humanity. She knows that like her patients she often takes one step forward and two steps back. She says “all of us are trying our best to get out of our own way.”
Lori’s memoir is meant to be read slowly and savored, sitting back from time to time as we examine our own lives and try to figure out how to get out of our own way. Lori tells us what we already know, that no easy answers exist for anyone. Long ago the Buddha gave us his First Noble Truth: Suffering – life is full of suffering. But the Buddha, Jesus, and all the great teachers know what Lori has shown so well in her memoir, that in the end, love wins. If we hold on to that great truth we will have the strength to face the challenges that are a part of all our lives.
I wish Lori were here at my desk so that I could thank her in person for her wonderful book, but this review will have to do instead.
As I turn the last page of the book, there's this sort of lightness in my chest and dampness on my face. I can't help smiling and ruminate about what a therapeutic experienced l'd.
As opposed to what pop culture might make us believe, therapy is not about just lying on the couch, spilling out everything to a therapist. Therapy is a process, an arduous journey. There needs to be an establishment of some sort of trust first and a therapist is not a vending machine, that they give an answer on the platter on Day 1.
Why are we so scared of discussing our mental state of mind, the invisible storm brewing in our heads but are quick to divulge our physical health issues and even sex lives? is what Lori starts of with.
Through the medium of her 4 clients, their lives and painful experiences, along with her own experience with therapy, Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist, weaves an utterly human narrative, peeling back layers in order to help her patients reach the deepest and darkest parts of themselves and the deep rooted insecurities, which they are too afraid to confront. She gently steers them in the right direction, making them make sense of their jumbled up thought processes, helping them overcome the obstacles and convincing them that their worth is not associated with the choices they've made. In this manner, she compels the readers to the same.
She gives us a glimpse into the nature of a therapist's workings, as well as what people perceive of her, teaching us a lot about compassion and empathy, not only with others but also ourselves, and making us understand our relationship with others around us. She also touches upon the topic of seeking therapy on the basis of gender, in a patriarchal society like ours.
It's an absolutely riveting and intimate book, eloquently put together, relatable and hilarious, making you either laugh out loud or chuckling ever so often and making you feel all sorts of emotions as you cheer for everyone in the book and is not at all preachy. She even touches upon a few disorders and common terms in therapy, explaining them quite succinctly and theories by certain scholars.
"As I heal inside, I'm also becoming more adept at healing others.”
In the end I would just like to say
You are valid
You are enough
You are appreciated and loved.
Whatever you are going through right now, will pass soon so just hang in there and keep fighting and going after things you want.
Please do seek help if you feel like.
Lori is both an entertaining writer and a sensitive skilful therapist. I wish I could sit on her couch one day. 😊