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Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir: A Baffling Disorder, a Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood

Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir: A Baffling Disorder, a Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood

Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir: A Baffling Disorder, a Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood

Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir: A Baffling Disorder, a Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood


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Born in 1940s Brooklyn to a father prone to rages and an emotionally erratic mother, Vivian Conan grew up in two different worlds: Outside and Inside. Outside, she had friends, excelled in school, and was close to her cousins and brother. Inside, she saw faces that weren’t hers in her bedroom mirror and was surrounded by an invisible Atmosphere that bathed her in the love and understanding she craved. Moving between these worlds enabled Vivian to survive her childhood but limited her ability to live fully as an adult. To others, her life seemed rich with work, friends, music, and boyfriends. But her mind and soul were filled with chaos and pain. Neither she nor her therapists could figure out why.

Losing the Atmosphere is Vivian Conan’s riveting account of her journey toward self-understanding and wholeness; her encounters with a string of more and less helpful therapists; and her unconventional relationship with the therapist who was finally able to guide her through the courageous, messy work healing required.

Told with honesty, humor, and grace, Losing the Atmosphere is a never-too-late story about the growth possible for anyone with the guts to pursue it, and a testament to the redemptive power of love: not the perfect kind Vivian experienced in her imaginary world, but the imperfect kind that connects us, flawed human being to flawed human being, in the real world she lives in now.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781734674019
Publisher: Greenpoint Press
Publication date: 09/29/2020
Pages: 470
Sales rank: 1,134,305
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

VIVIAN CONAN is a writer, librarian, and IT business analyst who lives in Manhattan. A native New Yorker, she grew up in a large Greek-Jewish clan in Brooklyn and holds master's degrees from Brooklyn College and Pratt Institute. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York magazine, Lilith, Narratively, and She received a 2007 fellowship in Nonfiction Literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a 2019 Simon Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association. Vivian sings with the Peace of Heart Choir, which performs free for communities in need, and has mentored teenage writers as a volunteer with Girls Write Now. Losing the Atmosphere is her first book. Learn more at

Jeffery Smith, MD, is the author of Psychotherapy: A Practical Guide (Springer, 2017), Getting the Most from Your Therapy (Libentia, 2016), and How We Heal and Grow: The Power of Facing Your Feelings (Libentia, 2014).

Table of Contents




1. Two Mommies—5

2. Two Daddies—13

3. The Gentle Slap of Cards—21

4. Cookie—31

5. A Little Closer to Nebraska—39

6. Sweet Sixteen—53


7. Appointments—61

8. The Rush of the River—75

9. Beethoven’s Fifth—85

10. Lost Child—95

11. Sailboat—105

12. Ultimatum—111

13. Nine Credits—121


14. T.U.B.E.—133

15. Dry Mouth—143

16. The Flute Plays the Violin—151

17. Susan Has a Secret—163

18. Sleep—171

19. No Refuge—179

Photo Album: 1942–1965—197


20. Rose Garden—209

21. Psychodrama—217

22. Picasso—227

23. Vagabond—241


24. Overing Underground—257

25. Rum Raisin—265

26. Rebecca—271

27. Horizontal—277

28. The Right Choice—285


29. Adulthood—293

30. Flight Lessons—299

31. Mommybeth—307

32. An Explanation—313

33. Meeting Myselves—321

34. Believing, Doubting—329

35. Being Seen—339

36. The Left Back Burner—347

Photo Album: 1966–1997—357


37. The Saddest Present—365

38. Object Permanence—377

39. Windchill—387

40. The Same Dog—397

41. My Mother’s Keeper—409

42. Water Doesn’t Flow Uphill—421


Photo Album: 1998–Present—433

AFTERWORD Jeffery Smith, MD—441



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