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Rosenberg, J.M. (2018). Celebrating the Wounded Healer Psychotherapist: Pain, Post-Traumatic Growth and Self-Disclosure. Edited by Sharon Klayman Farber. New York: Routledge, 2017, 225 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 105(4):450-455.
(2018). Psychoanalytic Review, 105(4):450-455
Celebrating the Wounded Healer Psychotherapist: Pain, Post-Traumatic Growth and Self-Disclosure. Edited by Sharon Klayman Farber. New York: Routledge, 2017, 225 pp.
Review by: Joyce M. Rosenberg, JD
It is a truth, even a secret, that psychoanalysts and psychotherapists carry inside: They are psychically wounded, some of them as wounded as, if not more than, their patients. Sharon Klayman Farber's book, Celebrating the Wounded Healer Psychotherapist, examines the pain that analysts and therapists have and have had since the beginning of psychoanalytic practice, and that has contributed to the evolution of the field and each clinician's path.
The book also looks at the fact that wounded healers can in turn hurt the people they are trying to help, sometimes by transgressing sexual boundaries.
This is a book that I doubt could have been written before the 1980s, and perhaps not even then. Psychotherapists and psychoanalysts held a lofty and enigmatic position inside and outside the treatment room; indeed, Farber's first chapter is titled “The Mystique of the Psychotherapist.” The clinician's psychic vulnerability was, at least publicly, rarely discussed or acknowledged. In much of the psychoanalytic literature over the decades, countertransference was examined more in the context of what a patient induced rather than what the analyst brought to the relationship.
Analysts and therapists do acknowledge their psychic pain, but usually only to the colleagues they have a close, trusting relationship with. Although they are clinicians, they may still feel the stigma society places on people who are emotionally troubled or mentally ill. Few analysts or therapists are willing to broadcast that they have been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused; that they felt abandoned and neglected in their families; or that they turned to alcohol, drugs, or self-harm.
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