The Listener by Allen Wheelis
A Psychoanalyst Examines His Life

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As a psychoanalyst, Alan Wheelis has helped many patients understand themselves and cope with the legacies of trauma or obsession that shape the neurotic personality. Here he uses his own life for the same process of discovery. The story begins with his parents' life of poverty in rural Texas. When Wheelis was a small boy, his father contracted tuberculosis. He spent several years dying, exercising a tyrannical control over his family. In one searing scene, Wheelis is made to cut the lawn with a razor, a task that occupies every day of his summer. Timidity, insecurity and a cloyingly close connection to his mother mark Wheelis' efforts to establish himself in the adult world. When trying to write a novel as a young man, he falls mysteriously ill. Eventually he realizes that he has "made" himself ill so that his failure to write can be excused. This perception leads him to the study of medicine and eventually psychiatry. As Wheelis turns his explanatory lens on the dark corners of his own life, we come to understand how a gift for analysis - like a gift for prophecy - brings little comfort to its possessor and no guarantee of happiness.

About Allen Wheelis

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Allen Wheelis is a celebrated psychoanalyst and philosopher whose books include How People Change and The Illusionless Man. He lives in San Francisco, California.
Published September 1, 1999 by W. W. Norton & Company. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Now in his 80s, Wheelis offers a sometimes pungent memoir of his boyhood and later life.

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Publishers Weekly

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Told in extended bursts of free-flowing thought, short asides and emotionally charged rants, the book is chiefly a shattering portrait of a family that becomes more bizarre and inhumane with each page until Wheelis recounts how his father, nearing his end, ordered him to cut foot-high grass on an...

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