Marital therapy has developed significantly in the last few decades and fulfils a very important role in helping disturbed couples in the process of understanding their difficulties. My new book, Married Life and its Vicissitudes: A Therapeutic Approach, provides an experienced and humane exploration of marital vicissitudes, and shows that in many cases pathological development is an unavoidable development that requires a sensitive and effective therapeutic input for successful resolution.
The success of Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote – reputed to be the second bestselling book after the Bible – is no doubt due in large part to the author’s remarkable skill in telling a story, as he puts it, “to fight melancholia”. Indeed, the original idea for the eponymous hero first appeared to Cervantes while he was himself imprisoned in Sevilla, on a false accusation – a melancholy experience that triggered memories of a previous traumatic incarceration, when twenty years earlier he had been captured by Barbary pirates (as a soldier fighting against the Ottoman empire) and spent five years as a slave in Algiers.
The Hands of Gravity and Chance is about the interior life of the members of a family, as well as the interior life of the family itself. While this is the arena in which I work as an analyst, there is an enormous difference between treating an individual in analysis and creating a character in a novel. In the latter, anything is possible and everything is the creation of the author. So, a good deal of the work involved in my writing this novel was the task of using this extraordinary freedom that is available to a novelist while at the same time making the extraordinary plausible, in the sense that it rings true to the reader’s emotional experience. As John McGahern put it, “The novel has a responsibility to be plausible, life doesn’t.”
Helene, an intelligent hardworking woman in her mid forties, mother of three, twice divorced, seeks treatment. She considers herself ‘unable to grow up’. Notwithstanding her low self-esteem, she mostly behaves quasi self-assured. She can flare up in unreasonable rages. Helene has had many boyfriends, some of them aggressive or even criminal types. Recently she met an intelligent and decent man with an excellent job. It so happens that Robert also seeks therapy. They both come once a week separately.