I first embarked on a career in pharmacy on a P&O liner, followed by running a small group of pharmacies. The rare combination of pharmacy and psychology degrees led me to work with pharmaceutical manufacturers in the UK and Europe on psychotropic medicine and registration files. Concerned by the illegal drug scene, and the cavalier but legal use of tranquillisers and anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, I helped set up a drug helpline, a benzodiazepine dependency group, and gave a series of talks, on prescribing those drugs, to doctors in general practice (GPs) and hospital psychiatric units. I practised psychotherapy for over thirty years. I began analytically after two years at the receiving end and gradually moved towards gestalt and insight directed therapies eventually combining all disciplines with CBT. This eclectic approach adapted well to individual needs and tended to shorten the course of treatment.
The core elements of actual cases, woven into this book, do not lose their intrinsic impact. All the characters are fictional including the central figure Mike, a cognitive behavioural therapist. The many scenarios that confront him are inevitably drawn from my own experiences in life. He and his wife are burdened with psychological problems and obsessive personalities – again based on real cases I’ve seen in psychotherapy. Testing situations, augmented by Mike’s patients’ trials, set him on a journey of self-discovery. To those patients – not fictional to me – I owe my eternal gratitude for teaching me so much over the years.
I initially designed my book to give students a taste of therapy in practice. It can, however, be read simply as a novel or as a related collection of short stories. Its more covert themes will intrigue practitioner, student or patient – or anyone interested in psychology.
A Bird Stuck on the Sky
This story examines how seemingly complex conditions can be resolved through discussion and interpretation; and how we all struggle to resolve our personal battles the best way we know how.
Mike is a therapist who struggles with a dark secret of his own and acrophobia. Helen, his wife, is obsessed by a family tragedy. He ignores the unwritten law of professionals not to attempt treating personal matters.
But Mike’s futile efforts to resolve his own problems contrast with his competence with patients. Trapped in a mind-set and incapable of seeing the wood he puts his ‘happy family’ marriage – and more – in danger. Will he escape from his rigid approach to his troubles in time to avoid disastrous consequences?
Read the review of A Bird Stuck on the Sky in The Psychologist.
Thank you, Gerald, for sharing your experiences of integrating psychology and fiction.
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