The Autobiography of a Psychotherapist
By Dr. Martin Obler with Jed Golden
A new book has made its way into pre-publication. It may be worth taking a look at Shrink: The Autobiography of a Psychotherapist, by Dr. Martin Obler and with Jed Golden, available now at Amazon in pre-publication. There is a lot going on in the book. In the early part of it Obler gives a picture of his family life in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Life at home was brutal and savage, quite literally, involving physical fighting, verbal abuse, and great poverty. It was not unusual for Obler going to bed and hearing his mother and father swearing at each other and the tumult of fighting. Sometimes, when his father came home drunk, the fighting would shift to his father and sister. This could encompass his sister Debbie hitting his father with a broom handle. The fear that the little boy felt is sickening to think about and carries over, inevitably, to his adult life. It plays a large role in the entire book and figures strongly in his therapy practice, mostly for the better and sometimes for the worse.
Not since Henry Roth’s, Call It Sleep, has there been a book with such a vivid description of Jewish ghetto life in Brooklyn.
Insanity is also a component in Obler’s family. His grandmother first and his older sister later were taken away to mental institutions by the time he was four years old. It was one of Obler’s great fears in life that the same could happen to him. This combat zone of a childhood has everything to do with the story of Obler’s inspiring success and the personal problems that persist in his life.
One of the things required in a press release is to elaborate on what sets a book apart from a host of other books in the same genre. What distinguishes this book is in the way it seamlessly combines therapy and the writer’s personal life. There have been other books that combine patient studies with the therapist’s personal life but they tend to be limited and involve the therapist making a few points about how his life connects to some things in the therapy. This can be quite effective but it usually doesn’t go very far. Obler goes very far… as far as doing a lot of self-analysis in the last third of the book, analysis which is revealing… but also puts him at risk in that the reader may be shocked that an analyst has such abiding psychological deficiencies. This opens up the idea that Obler might not be the only therapist whose problems interfere with his treatment of patients. The idea, however, that a therapist has problems is widely known since they’re human. What is unusual in this book is not only the comprehensiveness of his problems but his openness about them–as though he were the patient.
On a more specific note, Obler describes in the book his work with his patient, Warren, who suffers from a bipolar psychotic condition resulting in his having been in and out of mental hospitals for over twenty-three years. In Obler’s own childhood two of his sisters and his grandmother suffered from severe mental illness. This prepared him as a therapist to implement unique patient strategies which were often successful.
Part of his treatment of Warren has to do with taking control of Warren’s life and, let us call it, detoxing his delusions by breaking them down in repeated conversations with him; and his constant making sure that Warren’s marriage does not come unglued. The marriage he arranged for Warren, and more or less, forced him into was a brilliant stroke and has proven those critical of it were wrong. It has kept Warren sane and functioning till this day.
There is no shortage of humor in the book. Obler’s childhood environment was so crazy that he came to understand that it was comic… and that life in the ghetto had its comic side as gang members are apt to know. Some of the zany stuff he records about his junior high school years is high comedy.
On another note, Obler’s matter-of-fact confessions put an onus on the reader… who is stuck with what to make of Obler and how to judge him. Confusion is an answer to what it is hard to decipher in Obler’s world.
If anything, Obler is multi-sided, complex, and hard to pin down. So is his book.
Dr. Martin Obler: Obler1@gmail.com
AMAZON LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Shrink-Dr-Martin-Obler/dp/1941713106
Barnes and Noble Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/shrink-dr-martin-obler/1123542316?ean=9781941713105
Amazon kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/Shrink-Autobiography-Psychotherapist-Martin-Obler-ebook/dp/B01EMDCMOM
Five Customer Reviews:
By Leslie C. Slavens
Dr. Obler tells his story just as if he were sitting across from you in a coffee shop. He uses his own language which is a colorful mix of his street background and intellectual education. There is no arguing that this man has bulldozed his own trail as he fights to survive in the dangerous and ‘dead end’ streets of Brownsville as he seeks his chance to escape forever.
This is a great American tale of a child of Jewish immigrants, a mother who lived in indentured servitude, who like his father, had no education or proper English skills and no hope of a better life. How he rises above it all with nothing but a will to do so and an innate cleverness that will make it all happen.
With no money, a supposedly low IQ and no support from his community, family, or school he rises above it all, but not without a long path of life lessons along the way.
Shrink is nothing if not funny, but it is very thoughtful and introspective as it shows that while hard it may be to change your outside world, it is way harder to change your inner world.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brutally Honest Account of an Unconventional Therapist and His Journey From Childhood Hell to Successful Therapy Practice
By G. Ellenbogen Clinical Psychologist
In Shrink, Dr. Obler (a clinical psychologist) presents a brutally honest account of his nightmare-of-a-childhood and the things he needed to do to survive both physically and psychologically, as well as the price he had to pay for erecting a number of psychological defenses that ultimately helped him to achieve the success that he so badly craved. His was a long journey, from the poverty of the Jewish ghetto in NYC and the severe psychopathology of his family, to his fine balancing act of holding jobs full-time while going to school full-time and supporting his wife and children full-time, earning an undergraduate degree summa cum laude, a Masters degree, and a doctorate in clinical psychology. Obler goes into great detail about his impaired relationship with his first and second wives, his distancing himself from his children, and how the blue-print of his childhood was largely the cause of these difficulties. At the same time, he does not leave himself off the hook, analyzing his behaviors and not shying away from being rather self-critical. Obler also gives a rich picture of his clinical practice, which reflects his life-long role as maverick, thinking outside the box, taking on remarkably difficult patients that most therapists would not even consider treating, and oftentimes using strategies and tactics that are so extraordinary that Obler himself questions how far over the line he may be stepping in order to produce the therapeutic results that these very troubled patients so desperately need.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
This is a riveting read. It was hard to put down. Obler’s life is unique. His practice, like his life, is unconventional, to say the least. From his dysfunctional family, to his street smarts, to his forming and leading a Brooklyn gang, to his sex life, to his unusual education, to his jobs in the field leading up to his own practice and to his practice itself, the reader is more and more amazed at the antics and general progression of his life. Golden writes as if he’s in Obler’s skin, which enables the reader to experience Obler’s life with all of its bravado, self deprecation, humor, and brilliance. This book is both entertaining and informative. Not only is it a must read for professionals in the field who might benefit from Obler’s controversial methods, but it’s an enjoyable read which injects humor, passion and self examination into any reader’s life.
5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK!!
By Paula Raflo Actress
Dr. Obler’s self–analytical approach provides a mirror to the reader to dissect himself in the same way. This almost symbiotic relationship between the reader and the shrink lends itself to a Brechtian approach as it becomes ‘universal’ psychoanalysis. “Shrink” reads like a film as all of the scenes are colorful and written in the action even though it remains one voice. “Shrink” provides a diagram of the psychoanalytical approach from the outside in much like Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghoff’s approach to building a character on stage. This is a gripping book for anyone interested in human expansion in a highly intimate human level.