A Shining Affliction: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy
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A Shining Affliction: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  831 ratings  ·  68 reviews
A moving account of a true-life double healing through psychotherapy.

In this brave, iconoclastic, and utterly unique book, psychotherapist Annie Rogers chronicles her remarkable bond with Ben, a severely disturbed 5-year-old. Orphaned, fostered, neglected, and "forgotten" in a household fire, Ben finally begins to respond to Annie in their intricate and revealing place the...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1995)
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Dec 03, 2008 jo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone interested in clinical psychotherapy/psychoanalysis, and love
Recommended to jo by: cate
i've read this book twice now, something i basically never do, and i can't get over what a rewarding read this is. it's simply a beautiful, beautiful book. annie rogers writes about her year of internship as a young psychology ph.d. candidate in a school for disturbed children. the story centers around her therapeutic work with ben, a five year old boy with a horrendously traumatic past. as annie does therapy with ben (who's utterly charming and adorable), her own traumatic past is dramatically...more
Laura C.
This book, so heartrendingly honest, so devastatingly brave, helped me understand. Annie Rogers has written her own story, first as therapist to a 5 year old boy so troubled that he is finally institutionalized. He comes under her care as she finishes her Ph.d in psychotherapy. She gently helps him unravel through play, his rage at the dreadful miasma of his past. But then, slowly we also find that she herself is unraveling. It seems her young client catastrophically opens the wounds in her own...more
When I first started the book, I was a little bit afraid it would be like one of these Tory Hayden books, you know, a disturbed, tortured little child without any hope for its furure starts seeing a therapist(the shining hero) and she manages to do the impossible, changes the childs life from hopeless to perfect. Buy no, it was not at all like that!
The relationship between client and therapist is beautifully described and this was one of the most interesting subjects for me. Being a therapist my...more
Cris Ramsdale
Honestly and beautifully written. A painful story but rich and hopeful at the same time. I couldn't put it down and found it interesting to learn more about her process and experience in therapy and as a therapist.
By and large I enjoyed Roger's book; however, I did not fully grasp her description of her own spiral into maddness. That may have been the point, though. I do think she brings to light a very serious issue in therapy: the authenticity of the theraputic relationship and rightly recommends therapists be highly self-aware and offer their true selves in the relationship. Otherwise, harm ensues.
Annie G. Rogers is a psychotherapist in an institute near Chicago. As she journeys into new therapy with a young patient named Ben, the reader becomes immersed in her story. Due to her almost clinical take on things, she analyzes and dissects events so thoroughly that the significance of each becomes extremely clear. However, this clinical tone in no way makes it a cold one-- it is emotional and sometimes even heart-wrenching. The ability in which Rogers makes the reader feels first Ben's grief...more
Kelsey's advisor at college wrote this book. I loved the parts of the book about her work with Ben, a severely emotionally disturbed 5 year old, it was like you were in the room with them and could see and feel the healing taking place. Some parts about her own breakdown were very confusing and vague. This is an amazing book for those interested in psychotherapy or not.
Oct 04, 2009 Alyssa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alyssa by: Professor Werner-Lin
Shelves: school
Sometimes confusing and hard to follow but really a very moving story. I really appreciated the author's willingness to share what was happening to her while she was working with Ben. Blumenfeld was a brilliant therapist. I wish there were more like him in the world.
Molly Berry
Hauntingly real for the clinical psych world. I gained from Annie's personal and professional exploration and the courage it took to overcome her abuse and neglect.
Karen Fite

This is one of the best books I've ever read.
Rogers paints, and at times openly pastes herself - ironically unashamedly, on these pages; as unapologetic as she is as "patient"; and as curious and giving as she is as therapist. It is a story of the terror and dissociative, time-lapsed nature of early trauma, and how relationship harms and heals.

She ends with an Epilogue on clinical practice: the limitations of (many) psychotherapy trainings, the dangers of not acknowledging the impact of clients on therapists (i.e. countertransference), and...more
Astrid Yrigollen
Rogers is unflinching brave,honest and free though she herself may not see it. She does acknowledge that she will never be healed or "cured like a ham".They say that most therapists have the highest occurrences of mental disturbances. It makes sense, not able to fix themselves, the turn to help others. Noble in my opinion.Rogers is a Survivor of incest,physical and emotional abuse. (I was glad that Rogers did not go in to too much detail about the incidents. Just enough to let the readers get th...more
Ben recommended this book about a psychotherapy student whose first client is a traumatized and disturbed 5-yr old who was abandoned by his mother as an infant and severely neglected by his foster parents. The student writes about each therapy session and interprets the symbolism of what occurred in detail from a psychoanalytic perspective. As their therapy sessions unfold, a trauma in the student's past re-surfaces, resulting in her own mental breakdown. She must piece herself back together in...more
Caitlin Watkins
This book expands on the relationship between pain and silence and the theme of the mysterious, or unknowable, future.

The Way of the Heart explored the benefits of encouraging or deepening one's experience of silence so as to help someone find her way into the heart of God by confronting her true self. On the other hand, some people experience silence as a mechanism of abuse and psychological control. Enforced silence leads, not to the shattering of the false self image that is indicative of th...more
This autobiographical work describes the therapeutic relationship and healing of a traumatized 6-year old boy and his traumatized therapist. There is a quote from somewhere that goes something like this: "Only a wounded doctor can heal." This is evident in the connection Annie makes with one of her patients referred to as Ben. During her internship and time working with Ben, she suffers a psychological breakdown resulting in dissociation, complete breakdown and hospitalization. As she works thro...more
Jul 25, 2009 Kj rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kj by: Roy Barsness, Christie Lynk
Words from my second time reading Annie Rogers' memoir:

"What you fear most has already happened."

“Are you wondering, Annie, how someone who doesn’t see you, really doesn’t recognize you, could possibly say goodbye to you?”

“When you feel you know the future, you can be sure that you are reliving the past, Annie, because nobody knows the future.”

“I could not afford to respond truthfully to them, to show them anything real about their effect on me.”

“In each moment in every life, there is a gesture...more
Rogers book brings me to new places of curiosity and hope. She paints a vivid picture of how hurting and healing actually intersect, overlap, and dance together through light and dark places. Roger's characters will infect you, leaving you with more questions than answers. An honest picture of what it's like journeying through life with others. This book offers a beautiful glimpse of the healing components possible in relationship. As Annie says, “What has been wounded in relationship must be, a...more
*Healing is always two-sided*

Annie's realization that "healing is always two-sided" seems to capture the heart and soul of the therapeutic relationship. Her artfully written narrative shows how "what has been wounded in a relationship must be, after all, healed in a relationship."

Her healing therapeutic relationships--both as a therapist and as a client--help Annie begin to move beyond the damage of her past traumatic relationships. Annie convincingly demonstrates the therapist's own sense of v...more
Kelly B
Aug 25, 2008 Kelly B rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Therapists
Recommended to Kelly by: Chris O'Rourke
This book is really amazing and helped change my way of thinking about how "healthy" one has to be to be a therapist. This is Annie Rogers' story of her experience in therapy with a five year old boy, Ben, with a trauma history which in turn triggers her own forgotten memories of her childhood trauma. She has a psychotic break and is tragically abandoned by her therapist in the midst of it. It is the story of piecing together her trauma and healing with the help of a new brilliant therapist. She...more
Apr 22, 2014 Gail rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Gail by: Alie Page, Chris Page
Shelves: memoirs
Emotional healing is so mysterious, and the ways we protect ourselves. I admired this young psychotherapist in training for her dedication to both her own and her clients' healing. and her commitment to love and listening deeply as the key to the process. Occasionally I was frustrated with her inability to articulate what her issues were, but they slowly became somewhat clear. Are our issues ever totally clear, anyway? It was frustration with life more than with her... I loved her relationship w...more
I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would after seeing all of the very high ratings. I thought it was very confusing for a large part of the book, trying to follow her lines of thought and figure out the symbolism in the book. Also, I did not appreciate how she kept facts from her audience until she felt it was time to reveal them. Others may like this, the "slow-reveal" since it makes the book harder to figure out, but it was not something I enjoyed. I didn't really feel that I lea...more
Astounding story where the author reveals her darkest times and vulnerabilities. She slips into schizophrenia as she treats a young boy, whose story triggers her into remembering her own past. At points I worried that maybe she was too sick to treat him, but later learned that it was her illness that made her see through the boys wall and truly help him. Inspired me to remove the pressure I put on myself to be the therapist that "knows." Somehow she was able to use her deficits as her strengths,...more
The narrative was problematic to me because I didn't believe in the heroism portrayed both by Annie herself in relation to Ben, the child she treats, and her new analyst. It felt like a story written by a person still trying to make sense of what happened, and idealizing some of the elements in her story, such as her ability to heal and understand a young child, and her analyst's ability to heal and understand her... However I really appreciated the afterward and felt she had some wonderful insi...more
Katie Fraser
May 17, 2011 Katie Fraser rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: clinicians, graduate students, therapists
Shelves: read-2011
Although I deeply appreciate Rogers writing, vulnerability and insight, this book at times felt slightly disturbing.

It was a brave task for Rogers to share with readers her own anguish, breakdown, and trauma. Very few clinicians are willing to admit that they have crossed boundaries, or had their boundaries crossed, it is the "taboo" in the therapy world. However, Rogers skillfully shows how when her own boundaries were crossed in her relationship with her clinician, she was more readily able to...more
Tierney O
Not that tears shed has some direct relationship to a book's quality, but A Shining Affliction made me cry a lot. It is very poetic in its language, and also (psycho)analytical in its discussion of the psychology of the narrator and her central patient. This is obvious based on the subtitle, but it will be very interesting to those interested in psychology or with their own psychological issues. The book hits home perhaps because most people can relate to the narrator's internal conflicts and st...more
moving account of woman with MPD, heartfully told
Often times, therapists get into the field because of something they've encountered or overcome in their own lives. Therefore, it does not surprise me that through Annie Rogers' time spent with her client, Ben, she uncovered her own unresolved issues of trauma. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the development of their relationship and found it endearing. However, I did find her downward spiral to be a little difficult to follow- though, I'm sure it was difficult for even her to understand.
Marlo Diaz
This book came into the mind the other night as I was looking through someone's bookshelf. I read this 10 years ago and, since then, I have read similar books but few are as beautifully written and haunting as this one. If I remember correctly, her accounts of dissociation and de-personalization are so vivid that I found myself getting lost. Maybe that was the point, I dunno. I love the accounts of her work as a child therapist and how it connected to her own wounds.
This book was one of those that you read some and must put it down for a bit to process what you read. Of course you don't have to, but I recommend it if you want to grasp the intensity of story. What I learned? I didn't learn, so much as it was reaffirmed, that many of us who are in social work of some sort are wounded healers. Good book. I recommend this if you are interested in the complexities of the mind as it relates to a personal story of recovery.
This is the memoir of a woman who has a psychotic break while getting her doctorate in clincial psychology. The author tells the story of her own therapy as well as the work she is doing with a young boy named Ben. The parts detailing the therapy sessions are really well written, we actually read parts of it out loud in one of classes when I was getting my MSW. A good story about the healing power of relationships.
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Annie G. Rogers is a writer and Professor of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Psychology at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in Ireland, and a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University, she is the author of A Shining Affliction (Penguin Viking, 1995), Charlie's Chasing the Sheep (Lismore Books, 2003), and The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma...more
More about Annie G. Rogers...
The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma Women, Girls, and Psychotherapy: Reframing Resistance (Women & Therapy Series) A Way Out of Madness: Dealing with Your Family After You've Been Diagnosed with a Psychiatric Disorder

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