14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Professor Tanya Byron is the Chancellor of my university, so this gives a few different layers to this review. Firstly, there’s a pretty big chance I would never have ended up reading this book, had I not found out about it at graduation (& thank God I did!), and secondly, due to the nature of the book, it was especially hard to imagine someone I knew (sort of) or...
Published 7 months ago by Codie Louise Austin
3.0 out of 5 stars An uncomplicated view of mental healthcare
The skeleton cupboard takes you on the journey of qualifying as a clinical psychologist. Tanya Byron talks through each of her placements in different areas of mental health and brings an understanding of how the psychologist can feel in these situations. It is a fiction book based on her experiences in training, but straddles the fiction/non-fiction boundary well. It...
Published 4 months ago by Mrsredwhite214
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!,
Professor Tanya Byron is the Chancellor of my university, so this gives a few different layers to this review. Firstly, there’s a pretty big chance I would never have ended up reading this book, had I not found out about it at graduation (& thank God I did!), and secondly, due to the nature of the book, it was especially hard to imagine someone I knew (sort of) or had at least briefly met, in these situations.
The Skeleton Cupboard, follows Tanya as she undertakes six, six-month placements in her chosen field of clinical psychology. This is a real no-holds barred book, as illustrated from the opening chapter and the subsequent, & famously heart wrenching, second chapter. The variety of stories within each of the six placements, from anorexia, abuse, dementia and AIDS, are tied together with the narrative of Byron’s own journey – warts an’ all. The thing I found refreshing about this book, was the honesty in which the authors own faults and mistakes are examined. As a young graduate embarking on her first lot of professional placements, things are bound to go awry at times, and Byron doesn’t hold back from these moments, they are, after all, part and parcel of learning. The book doesn’t focus on ‘hero’ moments, but has an incredible, and at times wonderfully uncomfortable, honesty to it. Spoiler alert: not everyone is ‘saved’.
It’s rare to have stories such as these told not from the point of view of the ‘patient’, but from the angle of the person ‘treating’ them, and it gives the book an entirely different depth to it. I have never read a book where I have had to physically put it down and compose myself several times. (It’s chapter two that killed me, you’ll see what I mean!) You really feel for the characters as if they were real, however, of course, due to the nature of the stories and Byron’s job, they are not real stories. This was hard for me to get my head around. Of course they are based on fact, on things that have, or could actually happen, but the characters feel so real it’s hard not to feel overly emotionally involved with them. I think, the hardest thing about this for me, was the realisation that these things have happened to people, and the ending may not have been as ‘happy’ as some of the resolutions in the book.
I could have read another 10 stories in this vein, and so it was actually a little disappointing to reach the end so soon! However, if you have any interest at all in people, psychology or mental health, you should give this book a go, I promise you won’t regret it!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating book, curiously written,
This is a wonderfully colourful and accessible description of a clinical psychologist's training. Byron gives a frank, compelling account of the pitfalls and chance successes that befall a trainee psychologist who is thrown into clinic when barely an adult herself. She also shows how the insight and compassion of the trainee can lead to some crucial breakthroughs which the more jaded professional above her overlooked. The characters she has created, fictional by necessity to protect the real people she helped, are based on the cases she was assigned. The portrait of an anorexic seemed particularly acutely and sensitively observed. The run-in with a muscle-bound sociopathic misogynist on Byron's first day suggests the dangers inherent in her line of work and the lack of back up was eye watering.
However I don't agree that the writing is stunning. It is oddly jarring and I wondered if it had been overly assisted by an editor or ghost writer. It has that ghastly glibness of the ghost written autobiography, which is so much at odds with the depth of intelligence and compassion Bryon showed to the people she treated. Every chapter reminded us how gorgeously pretty all her patients and fellow clinicians found her, until it felt like I was reading a cruel John Crace parody of the book. There were awkwardly coy references to lesbian friends and colleagues who wanted 'all the girls of the world' ( lesbians presumably being far less selective in their desires - any company will do, so long as it has a bosom) and some truly icky descriptions of people in her care: 'darling little abused Imogen.' But despite the authorial voice and the slightly disorienting paragraph at the end where she profusely thanks the people she has chosen to write about for teaching her so much and in the next sentence breathlessly reminds us they're not real anyway, this was an insightful and gripping book. The range of cases she encountered - the causes of damage and sorrow were so varied and so moving,. And behind the girly blather, clearly a very talented and dedicated psychologist was being formed. Recommended.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Skeleton Cupboard,
I find books about psychology and psychologists fascinating reading and this one is no exception. The author takes us on a roller coaster ride through her training placements and the type of patients she encountered. There are frightening, heart- warming and incredibly sad and beautiful experiences. I found myself in tears on several occasions when reading this book.
The book is searingly honest about the author’s own failings and about how difficult she found it to learn that not everyone can be cured. Sometimes attempted cures can just make the problem worse and it is not possible to take on everyone’s problems. I thought she conveyed the essence of her prickly relationship with her supervisor extremely well and how she resented as well as welcomed her trenchant comments.
Some of the people she describes in this book are unforgettable. Ray the sociopath who manipulates everyone. Tom who is HIV positive and doesn’t have long to live. Imogen who at twelve has seen more of the evil side of human nature than many will see in a lifetime. Mollie – bright, intelligent and with the whole world at her feet and who wants to starve herself to death because her body is too fat. Harold – highly educated, who survived the horrors of the concentration camps only to slide into dementia in later life.
The book is very well written and really brings to life what it is like to work with people with mental health problems. It also showed me how close to such problems we all are throughout our lives. There is a useful list of resources at the end of the book for anyone who feels they may need help.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking summer holiday reading,
Excellent book that explores Tanya Byron's reflections about training as a clinical psychologist. I have also recently finished training as a psychologist and could relate to her thoughts and comments throughout the book. The book is easy to read and I would recommend to anyone with an interest in mental health or psychology.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, self-deprecating, thought provoking,
I found this a fascinating and enjoyable read. Many seem to be bothered by the fictitious nature of the cases, but I can't say this marred my enjoyment – the emotions felt honest and real, which to me was far more important than whether the people were real. Byron comes across as compassionate, sensitive, and with a good sense of humour and insight into her own failings when training. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in clinical psychology – particularly for anyone who has ever found themselves in the other, identical chair, wondering what's going on in the psychologist's mind.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly engaging, educating read and one of the most profoundly thoughtful books I've read.,
A very good, intelligent account of the author's early experiences in psychotherapy. Each chapter represents a six month placement of Tanya Byron's three year training to become a clinical psychologist. Even though the characters and events in the book are largely invented they are based on real people and real experiences. But what sets this book apart from most books written by clinicians is her honesty and vulnerability. Her narrative draws us into her struggle to cope, her compassion, her needs and her ordinary self. She's real. She doesn't pretend that there is a big, clear line between the sane and insane - we are all vulnerable and coping however we can. Even though the "case studies" were fictional representations of the kind of cases she encountered during her training, and presumably still does in her professional life, I found them very moving especially the girl with the eating disorder. This book dwells in some pretty dark territory and is not for the faint of heart, but I thought it was beautifully written and thoroughly satisfying. I hope she writes more!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good,
This is an interesting and educational read which has been superbly written.
Tanya Byron writes of her training as a psychologist. She writes of different case studies. But she hasn't written in an inaccessible or 'clinical' way at all. It has been written in an engaging way which a lot of people will enjoy.
She has managed to get across a sense of her own humility and personality as well as putting across the people and problems she encountered.
Yes... The book has been written in a 'popular' way, designed to appeal to a broad range of people and to sell... But I think it's a really human book which is well worth a read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written, gripping and enlightening,
As an undergraduate of Psychology intending to begin a doctorate in clinical and counselling psychology I found this book very well written, honest and thought provoking. The fictional characters narratives are gripping, entirely believable and Tanya's journey through training enlightening. I would suggest this book for anyone entering psychology and for the lay-person who is interested in the functioning of the human mind, our motivations and how we as humans process and formulate solutions to life's struggles. Highly enjoyable, though harrowing at times, Tanya's quirky voice allows you to read some of the most difficult stories you will hear of others lives in a way that you are not brought down by it, rather you are shown how she, as a clinical psychologist in training and as a humanistic individual deals with such daily conversations and becomes a qualified practitioner assisting individuals for over twenty five years. A must-read for anyone interested in the human mind and it's many disorders
3.0 out of 5 stars An uncomplicated view of mental healthcare,
The skeleton cupboard takes you on the journey of qualifying as a clinical psychologist. Tanya Byron talks through each of her placements in different areas of mental health and brings an understanding of how the psychologist can feel in these situations. It is a fiction book based on her experiences in training, but straddles the fiction/non-fiction boundary well. It doesn't read like a story but you also don't get bogged down in facts.
This is a very easy book to read. She doesn't complicate the cases and is honest about how she dealt with the situations. Her book manages to humanise the psychologist as well as the patients.
I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in mental health, or becoming a mental health practitioner. I liked the way she explored the boundary between personal and professional opinion and the necessity to deal with those feelings properly.
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading,
I ordered this after listening to the author being interviewed. I had seen several editions of one her television programmes, knew that she had advised government and was impressed by the way in which she seemed to be able to see through to the fundamental issues. I enjoyed reading the book - it is easy to read - and found the cases (which are the clothing on the skeleton of her developing career as a clinical psychologist) to be interesting and sometimes saddening or shocking. I found it more difficult to get the messages of the individuals portayed precisely because the writer has to keep confidences. So, I don't know how to feel about what is real and about what parts of her own experience, basic stuff in relation to placements, for example, are true. I am not sure how she would have had to write to address this but it presented a bit of a disconnect to me.
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