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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
“Psychiatry today is in imminent danger of losing its mind,” writes psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Elio Frattaroli. In this, his first book, Frattaroli confronts psychiatry’s mania for medication by issuing a passionate, literate argument in favor of psychoanalysis. Instead of treating patients as mere chemical configurations, Frattaroli proposes, we should learn to recognize and find compassion for the feelings that inform our lives. For, he argues, it is only by dealing with our selves and our souls that we can ever create true healing.
Frattaroli begins his argument with a full-tilt assault on the medical model of psychiatry, which holds that emotions stem from brain chemistry, and brain chemistry can be altered. “The medical model of psychiatry…teaches us to think of anxiety, shame, and guilt as meaningless neurological glitches, not as urgent calls to self-reflection,” he opines. “It promotes the pharmacological quick-fix, neglecting the deepest long-term needs of the soul.” Frattaroli explains the issues that underlie this model, and then he explains why he believes that psychoanalysis -- that unscientific science, that ugly art -- is the only way to cope with the mysteries of human experience.
In support of this argument, Frattaroli offers us personal, quirky, revealing narratives of his own therapeutic practice. As he explores one human story after another, we come to realize how crucial it is that we see ourselves as people, driven by desires and needs and souls. In one instance, for example, Frattaroli explains: “It took [Anne] two months in the hospital, meeting with me forty-five minutes a day, five days a week, to tell me she had been raped.... Treating Anne’s depression with medication might have made it easier for her to hide the emotional trauma of the rape until it was too late.” With his own brand of literate, rambling intensity, Frattaroli introduces us to the real people behind the case studies and shows us why we must recognize them -- and ourselves -- as more than mere compounds.
In Healing the Soul, Frattaroli takes readers on a breathtaking ride through science, history, literature and art to lay bare the complexity and significance of the human spirit. In the course of this ride, Frattaroli considers the history of mind/body dualism as an idea; he tinkers with scientific and mystical models of selfhood; and he translates Freudian lingo into cogent, meaningful metaphors. But most important, Frattaroli brilliantly illustrates why becoming human -- conscious, emotional, and soulful –- is a challenge we must accept. (Jesse Gale)