To penetrate the opaque, to lift the weight and let the self escape its frozen image—this is the essence of psychotherapy, a process described with extraordinary grace and warmth in this book. In remarkably candid portraits of patients at odds with themselves, Leston Havens takes us through the wonders and rigors of psychological healing and shows us what it really means, in immediate, human terms, to come to life.
We are all captives of the images we carry with us—and those we inspire—and therapy seeks to expose the relation of these images to a deeper psychological life, to free the captive from labels and crippling assumptions. Havens views this process through the multiple lenses of literature, art, and psychiatry. In rich clinical portraits, short on jargon and rigid techniques and long on empathy and wisdom, we encounter ordinary people struggling with the trials of their own existence: marriage and divorce, sexual identity and fulfillment, illness and death. We meet a woman imprisoned by eager responses to her beauty and helpfulness, a proud lawyer in thrall to conventional expectations, a dying man becoming more and more alive as he approaches death.
Through these very personal stories, Havens explores the meaning of psychological health—how it can be recognized through the filter of images and ideas, protected from their distorting power, and encouraged to flourish. The result is a revealing and deeply moving explication of the process of self-discovery as it emerges from the life story that therapy can tell.