Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life by Christie Tate
Reviewed by GGGinny
What I drank: Pink Wine. Oddly enough it felt like someone made a Rose Charddonay. And While I don’t love Chardonnay, it was really tasty.
The refreshingly original debut memoir of a guarded, over-achieving, self-lacerating young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to get psychologically and emotionally naked in a room of six complete strangers—her psychotherapy group—and in turn finds human connection, and herself.
Christie Tate had just been named the top student in her law school class and finally had her eating disorder under control. Why then was she driving through Chicago fantasizing about her own death? Why was she envisioning putting an end to the isolation and sadness that still plagued her in spite of her achievements?
Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist who calmly assures her that if she joins one of his psychotherapy groups, he can transform her life. All she has to do is show up and be honest. About everything—her eating habits, childhood, sexual history, etc. Christie is skeptical, insisting that that she is defective, beyond cure. But Dr. Rosen issues a nine-word prescription that will change everything: “You don’t need a cure, you need a witness.
So begins her entry into the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy. Christie is initially put off by Dr. Rosen’s outlandish directives, but as her defenses break down and she comes to trust Dr. Rosen and to depend on the sessions and the prescribed nightly phone calls with various group members, she begins to understand what it means to connect.
Group is a deliciously addictive read, and with Christie as our guide—skeptical of her own capacity for connection and intimacy, but hopeful in spite of herself—we are given a front row seat to the daring, exhilarating, painful, and hilarious journey that is group therapy—an under-explored process that breaks you down, and then reassembles you so that all the pieces finally fit.
Drunk Overview: So, first off, this book is a memoir, which it really doesn’t feel like. But Christie (the author) was pretty depressed when she was younger because of the restrictions she put on herself, and also life in general. But she went to a group with a funky therapist and it ended up helping.
Drunk Thoughts: The thing I loved about this book is how much it showed that any sort of recovery isn’t linear. Christie was dealing with depression as well as issues around intimacy and eating. Frnakly, none of those things can be easily fixed, and as soon as you start to feel better something happens and it takes you back to what feels like step 1.
- I will say again, this book doesn’t read like a memoir. Some of that is due to the way the book is written (it doesn’t feel as formal as a memoir usually does, it also very much does not try to paint Christie in the best light at all times.)
- There’s also a certain amount of openness in sharing details that I am not particularly familiar with.
- I feel ilke most people in memoirs are trying to show the ideal version of themselves, sometimes to the detriment of those around them.
- Meanwhile, the whole group therapy idea is that you need to be yourself, which bleeds into this book. Christie talks about ALL of the information, the good, the bad, the unhealthy, etc
- I will admit, part of the reason I’m conflicted about this book is it feels a little bit like seeing therapy porn from the outside.
- In an, “At least I’m not as bad as that” kind of way, which I don’t think is fair to the book.
- That being said, I think the book does a wonderful job of talking about how the things that are unsaid are often the things that are holding us back.
- I’m still not sure how some of the group therapy, or the therapists advice, actually helped, but I really connected with the idea that the things you aren’t willing to share are more focused around shame than anything else.
- But, at the same point, I’m a huge advocate of privacy. We live our lives more in the public sphere than ever before.
- Which brings up an interesting point about the difference between the information that you’re willing to share with faceless strangers rather than people you see every week.
- Social media takes away so many of hte boundsaries, but if someone can know you, without you knowing them back, is there value in that?
- But then there’s the dichotomy of how it can be easier to unload on strangers rather than friends, knowing that if the strangers judge you it really doesn’t matter.
- Still, I think having places free of judgment is what’s really important in this book.
- It can be hard to find people to be your authentic self with, but those people are invaluable.
- This probably isn’t a surprise, but the book does have a happy ending.
- but it felt really satisfying.
What I’d Pair it With: Grab yoruself a box of white wine and go to town.
Rating: Again, I’m still conflicted about this book, I’m not sure how much of my enjoyment was out of watching what seemed liek a trainwreck rather than enjoying the book. But, at the same time, I feel like I’m still thinking about this book after it ended (which does NOT always happen). 4/5