Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
April 2019 Indie Next List
— Stan Hynds, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY
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Now being developed as a television series with Eva Longoria and ABC!
“Rarely have I read a book that challenged me to see myself in an entirely new light, and was at the same time laugh-out-loud funny and utterly absorbing.”—Katie Couric
“This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book.”—Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post and Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
“Wise, warm, smart, and funny. You must read this book.”—Susan Cain, New York Times best-selling author of Quiet
From a New York Times best-selling author, psychotherapist, and national advice columnist, a hilarious, thought-provoking, and surprising new book that takes us behind the scenes of a therapist’s world—where her patients are looking for answers (and so is she).
One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.
As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, offering a deeply personal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.
Praise For Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed…
*An O, The Oprah Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of the Year*
*A TIME magazine Must-Read Book of the Year*
*An NPR Favorite Book of the Year*
*An Amazon 10 Best Books of the Year*
*A People Magazine Book of the Week*
*A New York Times Editors' Choice*
*A Real Simple Book of the Year*
*A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year*
*A Variety Best Book of the Year*
*A Kirkus, ShelfAwareness, and Bookpage Best Book of the Year*
*An IndieNext Pick*
*A Book of the Month Club Extra*
*An Amazon Best Book of the Month and Books with Buzz Pick*
*A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book*
*A Newsday, iBooks, Washington Post, Real Simple, Thrive Global, Refinery29, and Book Riot Most Anticipated Book of the Year*
"An addictive book that's part Oliver Sacks and part Nora Ephron. Prepare to be riveted."
—People Magazine, Book of the Week
"Entirely reframes the way we think about psychotherapy [. . .] Movingly depicts our collective longing for lasting connection."
“Gottlieb’s book is perhaps the first I’ve read that explains the therapeutic process in no-nonsense terms while simultaneously giving hope to therapy skeptics like me who think real change through talk is elusive.”
—Judith Newman, New York Times
"A psychotherapist and advice columnist at The Atlantic shows us what it’s like to be on both sides of the couch with doses of heartwarming humor and invaluable, tell-it-like-it-is wisdom."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“Authentic . . . raw . . . an irresistibly candid and addicting memoir about psychotherapeutic practice as experienced by both the clinician and the patient.”
—New York Times
"Provocative and entertaining . . . Gottlieb gives us more than a voyeuristic look at other people's problems (including her own). She shows us the value of therapy."
"A delightful, fascinating dive into human behavior and idiosyncrasies, habits and defenses, fears and blind spots: hers, her patients’, yours and mine."
"This relatable memoir reminds us that many of our struggles are universal and just plain human."
"[In the end, Gottlieb and her patients] are more aware—of themselves as people, of the choices they’ve made, and of the choices they could go on to make . . . It’s exploration—genuinely wanting to learn answers to the question Why am I like this?, so that maybe, through better understanding of what you’re doing, you figure out how to be who you want to become."
“A no-holds-barred look at how therapy works.”
"Who could resist watching a therapist grapple with the same questions her patients have been asking her for years? Gottlieb, who writes the Atlantic’s “Dear Therapist” column, brings searing honesty to her search for answers."
“Reading it is like one long therapy session—and may be the gentle nudge you need to start seeing a therapist again IRL.”
“In her memoir, bestselling author, columnist, and therapist Lori Gottlieb explores her own issues — and discovers just how similar they are to the problems of her clients.”
"In prose that's conversational and funny yet deeply insightful, psychologist Lori Gottlieb is here to remind us that our therapists are people, too."
"Provocative and entertaining . . . Gottlieb gives us more than a voyeuristic look at other people's problems (including her own). She shows us the value of therapy."
“The Atlantic's ‘Dear Therapist’ columnist offers a startlingly revealing tour of the therapist’s life, examining her relationships with her patients, her own therapist, and various figures in her personal life.”
—Entertainment Weekly, 20 New Books to Read in April
"Reads like a novel and reveals what really happens on both sides of the couch."
“A most satisfying and illuminating read for psychotherapy patients, their therapists, and all the rest of us.”
—New York Journal of Books
“A fascinating, funny behind-the-scenes look at what happens when people — even shrinks themselves — ‘break open,’ with the help of a therapist.”
"[Maybe You Should Talk to Someone] explores the ups and downs of life with humor and grace."
“A delightful, fascinating dive into human behavior and idiosyncrasies, habits and defenses, fears and blind spots: hers, her patients’, yours and mine.”
"Both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, [Gottlieb] reveals how our stories form the core of our lives."
—Orange County Register
"In her compassionate and emotionally generous new book, Gottlieb . . . pulls back the curtain of a therapist’s world. [. . . ] The result is a humane and empathetic exploration of six disparate characters struggling to take control of their lives as they journey back to happiness."
—ALA’s Public Libraries Online
"[A] smart, hilarious, insightful book. Lori Gottlieb will have you laughing and crying as she breaks down the problems of her patients, her therapist and herself."
"Saturated with self-awareness and compassion, this is an irresistibly addictive tour of the human condition."
—Kirkus Review, Starred Review
"Written with grace, humor, wisdom, and compassion, this [is a] heartwarming journey of self-discovery."
"The coup de grace is Gottlieb’s vulnerability with her own therapist. Some readers will know Gottlieb from her many TV appearances or her 'Dear Therapist”'column, but even for the uninitiated-to-Gottlieb, it won’t take long to settle in with this compelling read."
"Sparkling . . . Gottlieb portrays her patients, as well as herself as a patient, with compassion, humor, and grace."
"An entertaining, relatable, and moving homage to therapy—and being human. We’re all in this together, folks—something this book hits home."
—The Amazon Book Review
"Warm, approachable and funny—a pleasure to read."
"Heartwarming and upbeat, this memoir demystifies therapy and celebrates the human spirit."
"Therapists play a special and invaluable role in the lives of the 30 million Americans who attend sessions, but have you ever wondered where they go when they need to talk to someone? Veteran psychotherapist and New York Times best-selling author Lori Gottlieb shares a candid and remarkably relatable account of what it means to be a therapist who also goes to therapy, and what this can teach us about the universality of our questions and anxieties."
—Thrive Global, "10 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019"
“Some people are great writers, and other people are great therapists. Lori Gottlieb is, astoundingly, both. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is about the wonder of being human: how none of us is immune from struggle, and how we can grow into ourselves and escape our emotional prisons. Rarely have I read a book that challenged me to see myself in an entirely new light, and was at the same time laugh-out-loud funny and utterly absorbing.”
“If you have even an ounce of interest in the therapeutic process, or in the conundrum of being human, you must read this book. It is wise, warm, smart and funny, and Lori Gottlieb is exceedingly good company.”
—Susan Cain, New York Times best-selling author ofQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
“Shrinks, they're just like us—at least in Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, the heartfelt memoir by therapist Lori Gottlieb. Warm, funny, and engaging (no poker-faced clinician here), Gottlieb not only gives us an unvarnished look at her patients' lives, but also her own. The result is the most relatable portrait of a therapist I've yet encountered.”
—Susannah Cahalan, New York Times best-selling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
“Gottlieb is an utterly compelling narrator: funny, probing, savvy, vulnerable. She pays attention to the small stuff — the box of tissues and the Legos in the carpet — as she honors the more expansive mysteries of our wild, aching hearts.”
—Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath
“This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book. Lori Gottlieb takes us inside the most intimate of encounters as both clinician and patient and leaves us with a surprisingly fresh understanding of ourselves, one another, and the human condition. Her willingness to expose her own blind spots along with her patients’ shows us firsthand that we aren’t alone in our struggles and that maybe we should talk more about them! Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is funny, hopeful, wise, and engrossing—all at the same time.”
—Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post and founder & CEO, Thrive Global
“Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is ingenious, inspiring, tender, and funny. Lori Gottlieb bravely takes her readers on a guided tour into the self, showing us the therapeutic process from both sides of the couch—as both therapist and patient. I cheered for her breakthroughs, as if they were my own! This is the best book I've ever read about the life-changing possibilities of talk therapy.”
—Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” advice columnist and New York Times best-selling author of Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things
“I was sucked right in to these vivid, funny, illuminating stories of humans trying to climb their way out of hiding, overcome self-defeating habits, and wake up to their own strength. Lori Gottlieb has captured something profound about the struggle, and the miracle, of human connection.”
—Sarah Hepola, New York Times best-selling author of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
“With wisdom and humanity, Lori Gottlieb invites us into her consulting room, and her therapist's. There, readers will share in one of the best-kept secrets of being a clinician: when we bear witness to change, we also change, and when we are present as others find meaning in their lives, we also discover more in our own.”
—Lisa Damour, New York Times best-selling author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
“I’ve been reading books about psychotherapy for over a half century, but never have I encountered a book like Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: so bold and brassy, so packed with good stories, so honest, deep and riveting. I intended to read a chapter or two but ended up reading and relishing every word.”
—Irvin Yalom MD, author of Love’s Executioner, and other Tales of Psychotherapy, and professor emeritus of psychiatry at Stanford University.
“Here are some people who might benefit from Lori Gottlieb’s illuminating new book: Therapists, people who have been in therapy, people who have been in relationships, people who have experienced emotions. In other words, everyone. Lori’s story is funny, enlightening, and radically honest. It merits far more than 50 minutes of your time.”
—A.J. Jacobs, New York Times best-selling author of The Year of Living Biblically
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328662057, 432pp.
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. In her author’s note, Gottlieb explains why she uses the term “patients” rather than “clients” in the book, though neither quite satisfies her. What does each term suggest about the person described and the therapeutic relationship?
2. Revisit the four epigraphs that introduce each part of the book, and consider how they resonate with the stories of the patients we follow: John, Julie, Charlotte, Rita, and Lori herself. Which patient’s arc resonates most for you?
3. What does Gottlieb learn from each of her patients? In what ways does she identify with them? In what ways do you?
4. If you have a therapist, what do you think you want from him/her? Have you ever shared Lori’s experience, and that of her patients, of wanting to specific advice, or wondering what the therapist is thinking about you?
5. Is it reassuring or uncomfortable to see inside a therapist’s head? What was it like peering inside Gottlieb’s consultation group, when she and her colleagues are discussing a patient that the group suggests she “break up with”?
6. When Lori asks Wendell whether he likes her, he says that he does but not for the reasons she’s asking to be liked: he likes her neshama (Hebrew for “spirit” or “soul”). When do you see glimpses of someone’s soul? Given how much all of us share deep down in our psyches, how much do you think our souls differ? Could it be Lori’s very humanity—the parts of her that he himself relates to—that Wendell feels affection for?
7. In a funny moment in the book, Lori explains that while she’s surrounded by therapists—in her office, in her consultation group, in her friendships—she can’t find a therapist for herself because she needs the space of the therapy room to be “separate and distinct.” How does Wendell’s reaction to Lori’s crisis differ from that of her close friends, including Jen, who’s also a therapist? How might our friends’ love for us make their way of soothing us less helpful in the long run?
8. Gottlieb writes: “It’s Wendell’s job to help me edit my story” (115). How was her story about herself holding her back and how does she revise it by the end of the book? How do her patients revise their stories about themselves? Have you ever had to rewrite your own self-narrative in order to move forward?
9. Compare Lori’s and Wendell’s styles as therapists. Would you prefer one to the other? What does Lori learn from Wendell? How does her interaction with him change her own practice?
10. The ultimate concerns the psychiatrist Irvin Yalom identifies—death, isolation, freedom, and meaninglessness—are theological and philosophical concerns as well. Would you turn to therapy, religion, or another wisdom source to explore them? How might the guidance you receive from each source differ?
11. Gottlieb notes that contemporary culture is rendering the ingredients for emotional health more elusive, such as real connection with others, time and patience for processing our experiences, and enough silence to hear ourselves. Have you noticed a change in your own emotional health (or that of your loved ones) as our lives become increasingly digitalized? What do you do to offset the damaging effects of an online age?
12. Lori Google-stalks Boyfriend and also Wendell—what problems does this cause in each case? Think about the Google-stalking you’ve done. How do you feel after you’ve learned something about someone in this way? Has it helped or hurt your relationships? What does this use of the internet reveal about us?
13. In Chapter 39, “How Humans Change,” Gottlieb outlines one model of behavioral change and applies its stages to Charlotte’s case. Think about changes you’ve made in your own life. What helped you to make them? Do you recognize these stages?
14. After reading about Julie’s preparations for death, did you look up from the book and see the world any differently? Do you have a bucket list? Have you ever tried writing your own obituary? What have you learned from these exercises?
15. By the end of the book, do you feel you’ve internalized Gottlieb’s voice? Pick one of your current dilemmas and imagine what she might say about it. Are you conscious of carrying inside you the voices of people you’ve been close to? Has your conversation with those voices evolved over time?
16. What do you learn from this book that you can apply to your relationship with yourself? With others? Gottlieb introduces several psychological terms, such as projective identification (204) and displacement (367)—do you find it useful to have names and definitions for behaviors you recognize in yourself or others? If you were to put something you learned from this book into practice, what would that look like?