August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Pregnant Man and Other Cases From a Hypnotherapist's Couch

Current Status
In Season
Deirdre Barrett
Nonfiction, Self-Help and Psychology
We gave it an A-

Harvard professor and psychologist Barrett describes her seven most remarkable cases of the past two decades in this riveting book. The touchingly metaphorical scenarios her clients create as coping mechanisms make these stories read like fiction, from the man who loses his lover, then develops a false pregnancy as a way of enshrining the relationship, to an abuse survivor whose multiple personalities include Joan of Arc and three protective Greek Muses. Refreshingly, Barrett uses recovered-memory work with caution, even allowing that one former patient may be better off leaving some psychological truths buried. Written with an Oliver Sacks-like openness to psychological surrealism, Barrett’s reminiscences are nothing if not mesmerizing. A-

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