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Davies, R. (1985). The Babel of Therapies. Free Associations, 1C(2):64-70.

(1985). Free Associations, 1C(2):64-70

The Babel of Therapies

Rosemary Davies

A Complete Guide to Therapy, by Joel Kovel, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1978, Pp. 369, £3.95.

Quaesitor, Community, Kalptaru: It seems difficult to remember now whether they were wholefood restaurants or esoteric bookshops. In fact, in the high summer of the mid 1970s, they were the ‘growth centres’ offering unbeatable promises of inner light and freedom through the medium of the whole gamut of therapies. In the summer of 1977 on behalf of MIND, I embarked on a survey of the alternative therapies available in and around London. In that same year, Joel Kovel's Complete Guide to Therapy was published in Britain. Had I read Kovel then rather than seven years later, I would have packed away my A to Z and brochures promising Nirvana and recommended that MIND invest in Kovel. I would have missed an extraordinary journey that has lead me, along with many others, through aspects of the growth movement, more recently feminist therapy and, currently, psychoanalysis. Furthermore, I would have been less aware of the extraordinary change in the nature and availability of therapy over the last seven years.

For all the changes since 1977, Kovel's book remains the most accessible and excursive writing on the protean world of therapy which has ‘grown out of the crack in our culture created by the decline of the traditional priestly function’ (93). Kovel, a Freudian psychoanalyst (I am something of a therapeutic conservative (14)) and a Marxist, writes in a disarming manner with candour and vitality about a subject which has confounded many.

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