This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Is Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone a true story? How does her storyline unfold throughout the book?
In Maybe You Should Talk To Someone, Lori Gottlieb tells the story of her breakup and the midlife crisis it led to. She decides to seek out a therapist for, she thinks, a few weeks of crisis management in order to get back on her feet.
Here is how Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone memoir came to be.
Lori Gottlieb: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
The story begins with Lori getting dumped by her boyfriend. The problem, according to him, is that Lori has a young son and he doesn’t want to live with a kid in the house anymore—his own children are older and will be leaving for college soon.
Lori completely breaks down. She had planned to spend the rest of her life with this person, and now she’s grieving not only the end of a relationship but also the life she thought she’d have.
At first, Lori tries to tough it out, but after a couple of weeks, she realizes that she’s not recovering. She ends up seeing an eccentric therapist named Wendell Bronson. At first, she tries to cast her ex in as bad a light as possible, hoping Wendell will confirm that he’s a bad person and Lori was deeply wronged. Instead, over many sessions, Wendell coaxes out the deeper issues Lori is facing: the fear of death and the search for meaning in her life.
Lori eventually reveals that she has more problems than just the breakup. She’s also suffering from a mysterious illness that causes painful rashes, muscle tremors, and weakness. No doctor so far has been able to diagnose her—one test suggests that it may be an autoimmune condition called Sjogren syndrome, but the results aren’t conclusive.
On top of that, she’s accepted a contract to write a book about happiness, but she hasn’t been able to write it. She’s already taken a significant advance on the book, which she’ll have to pay back if she breaks the contract, and her agent has warned her that if she doesn’t write this book, she might never be contracted to write another.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
The most important thing Lori learns during her time with her own therapist, Wendell, is how to accept uncertainty. She doesn’t know what her disease is, she doesn’t know how long she’ll live, and she doesn’t know if she’ll ever find someone to spend her life with—and that’s okay.
She also decides to break her book contract, and she accepts that she’ll have to spend a long time paying back the advance. Shortly after, she starts writing another book about her recent experiences; she’s not contracted to write this one but feels compelled to do so because it’s a meaningful and important topic to her. That book will eventually become Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Maybe You Should Talk to Someone summary:
- How a psychotherapist found herself in need of therapy
- How the therapist sees her own fears and feelings reflect in her patients
- Why you have to be ready to accept uncertainty if want to enjoy life