I’ve met Lori Gottlieb. She spoke at Kate’s bookstore. She was promoting a book about anorexia. How she fought back the disease in her teens.
But we all agreed she still had it. She verged on painfully thin.
And she boasted. About going to Yale and Stanford. But the funny thing was after talking down to us, she wanted to be friends with us. It was so strange, as if an Ivy Leaguer told community college students that they were inadequate and had no chance in life and then asked them to go to lunch and discuss their hopes and dreams. We all got a bad vibe from her. We discussed it at dinner. And then I forgot about her.
But then she wrote a book entitled “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” But the funny thing was she was not married, she had not settled for anyone. And she decided to have a baby by her lonesome. I’m not talking about getting knocked up and not getting an abortion, I’m talking about consciously finding a sperm donor and having a kid. And call me old-fashioned, but I think a child is better off with two parents, gay, straight, whatever. But what truly bugged me in this case was she could not find a father, she could not be in a relationship, and having met her I could see why!
And now comes this book. I wouldn’t have read it based on principle, but my sister purchased it, because all her therapy patients were talking about it.
It’s really pretty good.
Having finished it last night, I went on Amazon to read the reviews. I started off with the one star ones. They said Lori was arrogant and elitist and I had to chuckle. They also said that she was living in an alternative universe, where people could afford to talk about their problems.
That’s what’s wrong with America, people don’t talk about their problems. And therapy is underfunded. Furthermore, most therapy is bad. The shrink we see in couples therapy lamented that. He said he’d had bad experiences. That professionals told him it was his problem he didn’t want to get married. So he did, and he got divorced. That’s another thing you have to be wary of, shrinks telling you what to do. Caused the worst mistake in my life. My present shrink would never give me advice, even though at times I crave it.
So “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” starts off with Lori Gottlieb getting dumped. She says she was gonna marry this guy, they’d agreed, but then he suddenly pulled out, saying he didn’t want to raise her kid, that he didn’t want to raise any kid (although people are famous for saying one thing and then doing another…wanting to be childless and then marrying someone with kids or having one of their own and doting on the offspring and testifying what a wonderful experience it is…chances are Lori’s ex didn’t like her, but she didn’t want to acknowledge this, it’s all about self-knowledge folks, but most of us live in the dark).
Being dumped sends Lori into therapy. Where she wants the shrink to tell her what a horrible person her ex was. But one of the big problems in this book is when you get to the end, and it’s quite long, over 400 pages, the reader gets no answers. It’s like Lori went on a journey from L.A. to San Francisco and stopped in Buellton. Or didn’t tell us anything past Buellton. It’s kind of strange, she reveals intimate details about everyone but herself!
That’s a feature of the book, her patients. And at first you start to wonder how she covered up their identities. Then you believe she must have made them up entirely, because of the details. So, either she has a great imagination or she’s breaking the doctor/patient privilege.
Still, the stories are fascinating. The arrogant TV writer/producer whose family feels disconnected from him. The lonely 70 year old. The bad-acting twentysomething. The ill woman. You get to know these people, you see their transitions in therapy. Although you might wonder if it was worth all that time and money. I believe in spending on therapy, as my shrink says, change one little thing and the whole picture can change. But most people, especially men, do not. Believe in therapy that is. It’s all about bucking up and keeping your emotions down. Now, more than ever. The sixties are over. The military went from abhorrent to loved.
And hearing Lori’s story is fascinating too. How she’s lost and trying to find her way in life. Now once again, if you’re not privileged, this is gonna bug you. An elitist flitting from one thing to another. Then again, you’re probably happier than she is.
And there’s an explanation of therapy concepts, which you’ll find insightful and rewarding. But don’t take them as gospel, see your own shrink. Then again, if you see a shrink, some light bulbs will go off, you’ll gain knowledge.
And Lori says she dropped out of medical school to write, but she’s not like Amor Towles, with an untapped ability. Lori’s writing is workmanlike (workwomanlike?) But she does get the story across.
And although my mind wavered at the end, before that the book called out to me, the organization was well done. You were interested in how it turned out for the patients and Lori, but as I said above, we’re left hanging with Lori. I don’t know why she blinked, after having revealed so much already.
And Lori appears on TV, supposedly they’re developing a TV show on this book. She’s working it. But shouldn’t she just be practicing therapy, shouldn’t that be enough? Of course it isn’t, Lori is searching for some elusive goal, thinking it will make her happy. As if knowing famous people and gaining adulation will somehow fix her life. This is no different from a mute male musician believing the same thing. And it doesn’t work for the musicians and it won’t work for her.
And she writes the “Dear Therapist” column in the “Atlantic.” That’s right, she needs fame. But those columns are nearly worthless, hell, Cheryl Strayed did a better job with “Dear Sugar.” And the truth is no therapy is instant. If you’re looking for answers right away, don’t even bother to spend the money. And Lori says this, but then gives instant advice… It doesn’t square.
But the book will probably boost her therapy business, even though she says she’s not taking new patients right now, she’s too busy promoting the book. What are her patients doing while she’s away? How about her kid?
But if you’ve got more questions than answers. If you’ve hit a wall and want to know how to pick yourself up and keep going… You’ll enjoy this book.
And most readers are women. Women can ask these questions, men can’t, proving they still live on a different planet. But that’s all we’ve got in our lives, our feelings, our connections.
Now as you can tell, I’m not up on Lori Gottlieb the person. Then again, that doesn’t disqualify her from writing an interesting book. It’s kinda like an abhorrent rock star who makes good records, there are tons of those.
So if you’re a feeling person. If you’re the type of person who can afford to go to therapy… This could be the best book I’ve read on the subject. It’s not a self-help manual, but a delineation of the process.
Hopefully you’ve been through it, or will be taking the plunge.