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Book Review Of "Midnight Musings Of A Family Therapist"

1803 words - 8 pages

“Midnight Musings of a Family Therapist”
By: Carl Whitaker

Book Paragraph

It wasn’t easy choosing a book. I browsed the library and found a few titles that sounded interesting (The title has to appeal to me before I decide to read a book). So after scanning the pages of some of my choices, I finally decided on “Midnight Musings of a Family Therapist” by Carl Whitaker. After reading the preface, the book sounded like something I would enjoy. Prof. Whitaker talks about his trials and tribulations of venturing between being a psychologist and a psychotherapist, as well as being a husband and father of six. He tells many stories of the different environments that he encountered, as well ...view middle of the document...

m. t til 10 p.m. His mother was highly religious and instilled in him that the only way to get into heaven was to keep doing good. While working on the farm, he was constantly exposed to birth and death. Of course, this had to do with animals, but this background gave him a sort of “training in toughness” that helped him later on in life when he worked at a “ghetto” hospital in New York City. While on the farm, there were several different people with various problems who lived with them over the course of the years. He reflected on this as being a kind of psychotherapy. When he was 13 and becoming a freshman in high school, his family moved to Syracuse. Though during the crash of 1932, his family’s business went bankrupt and his family had to move back to the farm while he went on to medical school with no way of paying his tuition. He says that he earned his room and board by washing dishes, but he never mentions how he managed to pay the tuition. He finished medical school and was put in a two year training program, which took place in many different settings. He claimed his gynecology chief was probably his first psychotherapist. It was during this time that he had his first psychiatric interview at one of the more unpleasant settings named, The Sixth Avenue Hotel. The patient was a prostitute who had been treated for gonorrhea only six weeks earlier and was now being treated for pelvic inflammatory disease. Her husband was there while Whitaker treated her and during the treatment they, husband and wife, talked of their concern for their sexual relationship. Being only an intern and still inexperienced, he recalls sitting there with his mouth opened, not knowing what to say. To him the memory of this husband and wife was strong because the next morning’s newspaper headline stated that the husband had been killed in a gang war. After his residency he planned to continue his work in the OB/ GYN field. Years later he switched to psychiatry and links this to the death of a patient. “It was my job—a routine hysterectomy. I had never met her husband or her kids. All I had met was her body and her pain…the machine exploded…four hours later she died.” He never looked back on OB/GYN. In the beginning of his psychiatry career, he says patients were curiosities to him. After becoming engrossed with asking why psychosis had happened to these people, he decided to go into child psychiatry and find out how to prevent it before they became adults. Whitaker did many things in his life. Throughout the years he went from practicing psychotherapy, to being an administrator of the psychiatric department of Emory University and a clinician, to learning and practicing family therapy in a private practice, and last to the University of Wisconsin.
As Whitaker talked about his progress, two matters are clear: first, he had a deep and lasting love for his family, especially his wife and soul mate, Muriel, who was his cherished companion in every part of their lives....

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