In search of self

2008-09-10 00:00

Lorna Martin has written a book about her time undergoing psychotherapy in her Glasgow hometown. Initially hearing this was the subject matter of her autobiographical novel, I wanted to head for the hills. Most readers probably would too. But Martin has laced the actual accounts of her psychotherapy into a Bridget Jones-does-therapy narrative. Much of the novel seems to be based on real people in her life, and yet it reads like a novel. Apart from a few wordy self-analysis sessions, this is a relatively pleasant chick-lit read.

Lorna Martin is a journalist for the prestigious Observer newspaper. She’s in her mid-30s and a little work obsessed. She begins to fall apart when Christian, the man she’s in love with, cheats on her with a younger woman. The thing is, Christian is a married man. And he’s not married to Lorna. Somehow Christian’s second extra-marital affair sends Lorna over the edge. She breaks down and cries at inappropriate moments and can’t get Christian out of her mind. Her sister and her friends suggest she sees a therapist. And this is when her meetings with Dr J begin. Lorna takes out a loan to pay for a year’s worth of therapy three times a week.

Through examining the events of her childhood, which were not apparently traumatic, she unearths her deep-seated fear of abandonment. After a year of therapy, in which she writes columns about her therapy for a magazine, she learns how to deal with her fear and realises her authentic self.

I have to say that part of me passed judgment on the “trauma” of her past and an old British saying sprang to mind: “She doesn’t know she’s born.” In other words, if her childhood experiences were traumatic, then she needs an average day in South Africa to put her straight.

However, the novel is a pleasant way to spend an overcast weekend.

Janet van Eeden

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