Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist’s Tale
Sometimes when you look at your reflection in a mirror you see someone that is wonderful, successful or perfect in your own eyes. But, what is hidden behind your eyes, the fear, the anger, the torment is never truly revealed unless you look deeper, longer and see what’s hiding behind your lack of expression, your glaring eyes as they begin to recall your childhood torments, lack of accomplishments growing up, unrest caused by a tyrannical and abusive parent and the hopes and fears that someday you as a person will be accepted as you are. How do you change your look? How does your demeanor take on another appearance, how do you find yourself when others look at you and only see failure, differences you can’t help but cope with and the joy of life has gone out of you as people who see your expressionless face and cold and staring eyes will see as you begin to unravel the mystery behind you and share it with the world. Meet Charlie McCormack and hear his voice, shed his tears, feel his pain and understand his frustrations as he tells you his story in his own terms from youth to adulthood and in between. This is not an ordinary memoir beginning with a young child growing up in the 50’s describing his experiences living in fear of an abusive father, in an abusive family where the lack of warmth, constant critics and unusual punishment loomed over his head on a daily basis. Placed in a boarding school where the abuse continued at the hand of a priest followed by many incidents during his childhood where his father beat his brother and him without feeling or mercy.
The author relates his many interactions with students in his school being placed a year ahead of his age, the difficulties he faced, the ridicule, the antics he pulled trying to steal a copy of a final and getting ratted out by someone who wanted him to cough one up too. His father’s constant abuse, his mother not able to deal with many situations and then finally moving to Germany and other places and having to cope with no friends, loneliness and the demands of his father. When finally he does graduate high school and he decides to try other jobs his journey is not one that came easy as stealing, lies, drinking and doing reckless things became his mantra. But, not everyone stays adrift and when he meets Jane and they finally begin to settle down will he realize that he is now responsible for another person as we get to know Charlie after finding his way to become a psychotherapist. What happens when his son Chandler is about to be born is priceless and his love for him endearing. Introducing him to his new sibling and then finding himself in need of a way to support his family before getting his first internship. Charlie is real, his personality unique, his stories well told and his ups and downs described make him human and closer to the reader. Deciding on his path took time, the army and many other stumbling and roadblocks until he realized that he could help others that might be going through the same trials he did before reaching his goals. Dealing with people, different personalities is not easy and teaching readers by talking about his profession in a way we can all grasp and understand is what makes this book or memoir stand out.
In chapter 17 he focuses on the compassion others showed him and the fact that they never mocked or ridiculed him. Even the medical director, Bill Abramson, MD, not the nicest person on this planet, still managed to hold his tongue and not make him feel small. He provided supervision for him and later he even invited him to his home to give him so old toys that belonged to his grown children for his son Chandler. Even though there were cutbacks and his position was no longer full time, they kept him on a researcher. Balancing his career and his life was not easy but as he states the idea was to help people “access the healing powers of stimulation and enjoyment in human connection, but this went against the more traditional and conservative notions of the therapist and patient relationship.”
Imagine working for someone named Ms. Glum and having to deal with the census, answers and not getting along with this person. If reasons we won’t divulge he called her Ms. Glum you can imagine what they means. In Chapter 19 he tells us about getting his Social Work Degree and three more years as the Program Director of Sheppard-Pratts Evening Treatment Program where our author felt the need to expand his horizons. The chapter discusses his career as a family therapist, which did not start off as a huge smash hit. More obstacles and more course work and then in chapter 20 Outpatient to in-patient to Im-Patient. I’ll let you read it and figure it out! This memoir brings to light just how someone can rise above the obstacles, disasters, the people that hindered him and find himself as a well known therapist who is understanding, realizes his limitations and might even come to terms with his father and his military way of dealing with him as we meet him when his children get married, becoming a father in law and then touring Italy with his father, dealing with his mother’s terminal illness, his mother’s critique of how Christine was raising her children and then taking a drastic step realizing that he had to make a choice whether to deal with his parents who deal with abuse.
Being a grandfather must be the greatest thing for Charlie. His picture does not exactly describe him as you can tell at the start of Chapter 33. Grandparents are patients but he knows little about that as he did about being a father. Never having grandparents he had no one to compare himself to and after his children were born he did have more of a relationship with his parents. Remembering his time as a dad with Chandler and not allow him or his mother to walk him to the mall to buy something he wanted. Independent you might say. The rest of the chapter tells more about his other grandchildren, their relationships and their love for Oma Jane. But, on grandchild Stella, gave him a real run as she was rude and disrespectful and he would not and show not deal with that. He could not inflict a consequence so he became cold and withdraws as we meet Jonny The Hitman McCormack age two and a half. Learn more about him and why the name and more as you read the remainder of this chapter. Why Change is Difficult rounds out Chapter 36 and talking about the human brain as a friend and foe. The brain develops habituated ways of thinking and felling that we use to connect both to the external and our sense of self. As a child it is not only dramatic events that shape us but the as he states the abiding emotional ambiance, the feelings that link us to our parents, siblings and ultimately the world. Learning to deal with feelings that we are unsure of or unaccustomed to that threaten to overthrow our most implicit beliefs. This can cause as he states disorganization. Change is difficult as we know and the human brain poses many roadblocks and obstacles. Understand how the brain protects us using psychological defenses to protect us from psychological distress. The remainder of this chapter explains it all in more detail. The final chapter titled Au Revoir focuses on how you have grown, leaving home and created your own life with your own family. He enjoys living his life in solitude or at least he tries. Janet is around but most days they do their own thing and come together for other activities like boat rides, cards and more. He sums himself up perfectly on page 400 the last paragraph. Read this heartfelt memoir and meet Charlie, his parents, siblings, children, grandchildren and those he counsels and the final page which bring tears to your eyes as the author decides his next move as he hears his mother calling: HAVE A GOOD LIFE! Charlie has finally been Hatched and Feels so alive.
Read this compelling journey of this interesting psychotherapist. Take the journey now!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine
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