While practitioners know that in certain instances a patient's psychological problems may function as solutions to deeper difficulties, the process is made particularly clear in this provocative collection of case histories. With Newsday columnist Lowe, New York City psychologist Siegel cites stories from his practice--one about a woman who developed the belief that her normal baby had Down's Syndrome to assuage her guilt over the child's paternity, another involving a teenager whose failures were a way to help her mother feel needed, and others. Siegel also reviews unconventional therapeutic techniques he has used to reach patients quickly and effectively. By looking at what a given ``failure'' serves to accomplish, Siegel authoritatively offers readers an insightful angle on human behavior and psychotherapy. (Aug.)
Those seeking therapy to change behaviors that are traditionally thought to be maladaptive (e.g., extreme aloofness, celibacy in marriage) should be praised rather than thwarted for finding a creative way to cope with difficult life circumstances, says Siegel, director of education at the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy in New York, and Lowe, author of the New York Newsday column ``Fathering.'' Therapists, the authors also believe, can learn much about themselves when confronted with such behaviors. In the title story, a female therapist seeks Siegel's intervention when she is unable to break down an impenetrable wall of reserve in a male client. The therapist soon realizes that her intense need to change him mirrors her attempts to change her unresponsive father. Siegel contends that his unorthodox method of seeing dysfunctional behavior as an asset has helped when other therapies have failed. While general readers may enjoy and even benefit from these humorous, compassionate accounts, this title may better serve professional counselors or those interested in new or experimental modes of therapy. Purchase for such a demand.-- Linda S. Greene, Chicago P.L.