IT TOOK all of my courage to knock on the therapist’s door. It was battered Belfast in November 1988, and I was 27 years old.
I knew absolutely no one else in therapy. In fact, the telephone directory announced that Belfast only had three psychotherapists, such was the limited interest. Yet I did knock, prompted by a dull body ache that I could not shrug off for months. There was also a quiet refrain reverberating inside my head about my need to connect — with myself, the world? I told the therapist, who I shall call J, my problem: I was a workaholic. That was a whole lot easier to say than the other lurking difficulty which I could not admit, even to myself, that I was inexplicably afraid of sexual relationships.
Yet, within the first 50 minutes, the therapist’s questions uncovered some key elements in my story: the late childhood and teenage years lived opposite a police station during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the insidious violence, the repeated bomb attacks on our home and the subsequent homelessness.
So I set off down the path of psychotherapy. Initially I hoped that the process might take six months. It lasted eight years in total. J’s approach combined psychoanalysis with a lesser known psychology called psychosynthesis, or as he called it “psychology of soul”.
Eina McHugh, Evening Herald, 28th November 2012.
This is an extraordinary book – brave, compelling, moving, and truthful, that is second to none in tracking the therapeutic process, from the client’s perspective. Anyone who’s had therapy will identify with it – anyone who’s a therapist will be impressed with it – and anyone who’s troubled and wondering if therapy will help them at all should read this to get a sense of what healing psychotherapy can bring.
It is no easy matter to convey the sense of a psychoanalytic session, but McHugh does this with great success: “On the couch there is no distraction of a reactive human face, no intrusive response, no disapproval. A crazy thought is let float, and the not-understood flits around like a feather.”
Ross Skelton, Irish Independent, 17th November 2012
To Call Myself Beloved is published by New Island Books, and you can order it from them here.
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An English and French Honours graduate from Trinity College, Dublin (1983), Eina McHugh worked as a freelance features journalist before moving into arts and media management.
She formed her own arts and media consultancy, re-locating to London in 1997 to direct the Second World Summit on Television for Children. In August 2005 she returned to Ireland as Director of The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children in Dublin.
She is a 2012-2013 Fulbright Visiting Scholar in Visual and Performing Arts with the Lincoln Center Institute in New York.
To Call Myself Beloved is her first book.