Behind the Scenes of “Wisdom from the Couch”


As a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, I have found a lot of satisfaction in my work in private practice, helping a small group of people make meaningful and lasting changes in their lives.  These folks come to see me one, two, three, four, or five times a week for many years.  Some sit in a comfortable chair in my living-room-like office, some lie down on the couch just like in Freud’s day.  I encourage them to say whatever comes to their minds, and we try to understand the day-to-day happenings of their lives, as well as their childhoods and their deeply held convictions about themselves and the world.  Together, we try to understand what makes them tick.  And slowly over time, bit by bit, they change.  Depression lifts, capacities for dealing with life strengthen.  Destructive patterns are relinquished, relationships are mended.  Anger, fear, love, gratitude, revenge, grievances, and hope all have their place.  It is rich and rewarding work for both therapist and patient.  For me, there is no professional life I would rather live.

But there is a limitation.  Because of the in-depth, long-term nature of the work, psychoanalysts can only reach a relatively small number of people over the course of their careers.  I have had a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction with this reality as the years have gone by.  So I try to reach out beyond my office walls and talk about the wisdom of psychoanalysis with anyone who will listen—colleagues, students, friends, family, church members, and people I come across on life’s path.   I have tried to develop my knack for describing these complex ideas in simple, accessible ways.  I try to speak like a regular Jane to regular Joes, and it is a delight to see the light turn on in someone’s eye as they come to understand themselves just a little bit more.

So I got the idea that I would like to write a book, sharing the wisdom of psychoanalysis with a broader audience—with the ordinary person on the street–people who, for reasons of time and money and personal psychology, could not afford the luxury of  a 5-day-a-week, long-term analysis.  I started writing every Wednesday morning and started researching about publishing.  I took the advice of all the “How to Publish Your Book” books, and dutifully put together a book proposal and sent a few along to potential publishers.

Then I attended a writer’s conference last November in San Francisco and heard some very discouraging news.  I learned that publishing a trade book in the traditional way has become nearly impossible because trade books tend not to sell.  E-books and self-publishing are the new wave, making it easier to publish books (but not necessarily sell them!)–and changing the way that traditional publishers do business.  Now, it is common knowledge that traditional publishers and agents tend to take on already published authors who have a track record of success.  But the shocking news to me and my fellow conference-attendees was this:  first time authors are expected to already have a large following on the Internet, “an on-line platform.”  In short, they want to see your blog.  A well-trafficked blog is a kind of “guarantee” to publishers that there are people out there already lined up to buy your book.  No longer is fame the result of publishing a book; you have to be famous first!

The last thing I am is famous.  Insightful, maybe.  But famous, no.  I don’t even want to be famous, but I do want people to read my book.  So I took my medicine and gave it some thought.  If I want to write a book that people would actually read, I need to get the word out.  Whether I choose the way of self-publishing or traditional publishing, I need to take an active role in marketing my ideas and seeing if anyone is actually interested in them.  Last January, I set up Wisdom from the Couch, and have been planting and watering some seeds.

Now this is where you, my current readers, come in!  Please help me get the word out about my blog–by posting a link on your Facebook, talking it up with your friends and family, or emailing a post to someone you think might benefit from thinking about these ideas.  The Share bottom at the bottom of each post is your friend!  Use it, get to know it, spread the word!

Also, I am thinking that I would like to keep the name “Wisdom from the Couch” in reserve for my future book.  So I need some help in finding a new name for the blog.  I have been brainstorming a bit myself, and have come up with a few good ideas.  Please take a look at the poll below, vote on one that you like, or offer a new suggestion.  I need your creative ideas!

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