WiseWords #5: from Anne Sexton to Scott Stossel
The fifth installment of our #WiseWords series comes from London-based psychodynamic psychotherapist Dr Sophia Hilsley. Here she shares the books she recommends to her clients, or finds specially powerful on the subject of therapy or wellbeing.
An Accident of Hope: The Therapy Tapes of Anne Sexton
A fascinating book, which explores the on-going psychotherapy of Anne Sexton (1928–1974), one of America's best-known poets. The relationship between Anne Sexton and her therapist, Dr. Orne, is one of the most intriguing in psychiatric literature and the efficacy of the Sexton-Orne treatment is delicately considered as it is related to her poetry, and many of the cultural myths surrounding psychoanalysis. A book for anyone interested in writers, writing, psychotherapy, women, and American society before the great upheaval of the 1960s.
Why do I do that? by Joseph Burgo
Burgo considers the basic strategies of psychotherapy and adapts these to help us guide ourselves through a journey of self-exploration. Particular attention is given to defence mechanisms, recognising them as an inevitable and necessary part of the human experience; but considering when they become too entrenched they may damage our personal relationships and impact on our emotional lives. There are useful self-help exercises to consider our own behaviours and suggestions on how these might be resolved.
The Wisdom of Lived Experience by Maxine K. Anderson
A book which explores the ideas of contemporary psychoanalysis and links these to poetry, philosophy and neuroscience. Anderson explains that understanding the relationship between mind and brain is best illustrated by assessing the on-going dialogue between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and this is what constitutes our subjectivity. In particular, her ideas on dreams, innate preconceptions of the world and the interplay of implicit and explicit memories provides a fascinating backdrop to understanding how humans behave.
Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
Stossel suffers from anxiety and has done so for most of his life, so he knows first-hand what it is like to have one or more anxiety disorders. Further, due to the mastery of an investigative reporter, he has researched all aspects of anxiety, from its potential neurological, social, and environmental causes and summarises these in a readable and understandable way. He also talks about the drugs used in treating anxiety, the side-effects and other possible forms of treatment.