I’m not going to lie.
Reading a memoir about mental health is pretty hard going, well for me it was.
A memoir is where someone has a no holds brain dump on paper, in order to let people know what they went through and how they are who they are today in order to help someone else.
It’s pretty brave if you ask me.
1971 was the year Dina Glouberman went mad.
Now, for the first time, Dr Dina Glouberman, renowned psychotherapist and author, co-founder of the world-famous Skyros Holidays, creator of Imagework therapy, and author of The Joy of Burnout, writes with candour and humour about a spell in a psychiatric ward.
Indeed, she describes it as enlivening and enlightening, a catalyst for her rich and creative life.This memoir traces the journey from those wild and intense weeks in the Middlesex Hospital through five years of “normal life” and then on to twelve years of extraordinary creativity, when she had two babies, co-founded Skyros Holidays on a Greek island, pioneered her Imagework approach to therapy and personal development, had a life-changing spiritual experience, faced the loss of her father and brother, and wrote her first book.
At the end of this book, a new cycle is just beginning, as she burns out, dismantles her marriage and her life, and discovers what is next.
This remarkable memoir is a revealing meditation on the behind-the-scenes world of therapy and psychoanalysis in the 1960s, as well as on marriage, mothering, madness, imagination, aloneness, community and spirituality.
Into the Woods and Out Again captures the inner life of a woman who has played a major role in the contemporary holistic and therapeutic world.
Dina has written the book with utmost frankness, bursts of humour and, of course, great insight, that of one suffering with a mental illness and also being a psychotherapist. She inspires those that read it to never give up, even when it looks like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
The book will have you in fits of laughter, floods of tears and quite possibly a bit gob-smacked about what went on in the 1960s world of therapy for mental health. It will have you relieved that things have and are currently changing.
I believe that this something emerges when we intend to create something from the soul, and are willing not only to foster love and truth, but to work towards our own transformation. My friend and colleague Max Furlaud used to say, “In Skyros, every Thursday night at the end of a two week session, the angels gather round.” This is a kind of grace, the gift of the soul.
My view now is that our souls brought us to Skyros and sensed what was to come, while we, in the sense of our everyday personalities, had very little idea what we were about to set into motion.
At that time, the world of New Age therapies, complementary medicine, and the notion of mind, body, and spirit had not yet become big business. Nor did special interest holidays of any kind have a significant presence in the tourism world, with the exception of Club Med, founded in 1950. What we were doing turned out to be not just an idealistic professional venture but a new kind of tourism.
We were pioneers at the forefront of a sea change in holidays.
Journalists from all over the world came to see for themselves what the fuss was about. Full-page spreads appeared in all the major papers and magazines. The journalists often came to mock, and then stayed to praise us. Almost consistently, the articles were paeans to this life-changing, laughter filled, joyous experience.
The usual story, especially if the reporter was British, would be that they were at first incredibly cynical but eventually they themselves had a wonderful life-changing experience and had made friends for life. The British were so allergic to anything to do with the inner life or alternative living at that time that even sympathetic journalists felt they wouldn’t be believed unless it was clear they were not hippy dippy themselves.
As we became known and successful, and as it became clear more generally that people were bored with beach holidays, new special interest and all-inclusive activity holidays burgeoned. A number of smaller centres featuring one or another of the alternative approaches began to appear. These were quite often started by people who had worked or had been participants in Skyros, and who shared many of our ideas. I don’t think any had the wonderful range of holistic activities combined with an intentional community atmosphere that made Skyros so unique.
The Guardian called us, “The first and still the best.”
Looking back, I am struck by the way that I, a young woman from Brooklyn already living in a country that was not my own, could go to a relatively remote village in Greece to make it the home of a spiritual venture. Yet I never had any doubts.
Perhaps it is because it represented on some level the coming together of the worlds I had inherited from my mother and father. My mother was a Mediterranean woman imbued with the pioneering spirit of the early days of Palestine and Israel. My father was a spiritual and psychological seeker, as well as a natural educator, and was particularly taken by the whole new world of humanistic psychology.
Put them together, mix in this unique partnership between myself and Yannis, and voila, Skyros.
It’s a little bit of light for those in a dark tunnel, and a bit of insider information for those whose lives have been affected by mental health, either with friends and family members or themselves.
A heart-breaking yet hopeful read that reminds you to look for light in even the darkest of places. Be sure to give this book a read and follow along with the rest of the blog tour over on Twitter.