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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

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  1,302 Ratings  ·  88 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
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1995)
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Nov 18, 2007 jo rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 16, 2012 Laura C. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiographical
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
Dec 10, 2011 Antje rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
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
Feb 21, 2012 Jen rated it liked it
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.
Sep 28, 2007 Cris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jennifer (aka EM)
Oct 09, 2008 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: jo
I wish I had known of, read, this book 20 years ago. It might have buffed the arrogance off the edges being honed by conventional academic instruction in psychology.
Dec 04, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it
If you liked I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, a bitter memoir by Richard Nixon about having to leave the White House (just kidding); it's actually about a schizophrenic woman who reveals the colorful horrors of her illness and her gradual return to sanity. Anyway, if you liked that, you will probably love this book about a brilliant professor who suffers and eventually conquers multiple personality disorder in her late twenties. At the same time she's doing this, she promotes healing in a you ...more
Oct 02, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 25, 2009 Alyssa rated it really liked it
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
Mar 28, 2013 Molly Berry rated it it was amazing
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.
Michelle M. Reiter
Excellent book

This book touched me as a chaplain so many ways. It was an intimate portrait of what Nouwen's 'wounded healer' looks like, and why they're so invaluable.
Connie Howard
Jan 10, 2015 Connie Howard rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly brave and revealing and sad and terrifying and hopeful all at once.
Karen Fite
Sep 10, 2012 Karen Fite rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Melise Gerber
Feb 18, 2017 Melise Gerber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really a beautiful story about how a psychotherapist begins to be healed herself through the work she is doing with a young boy. It is beautiful because it acknowledges how the therapist's own emotional state can have a profound impact on the therapeutic relationship. Unlike so many books that I have read about therapy, this one doesn't make the therapist the all-knowing healer, nor does it make the therapist the evil villain. Instead it shows how flawed people struggle with their desire ...more
Apr 15, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
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
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
Nov 14, 2007 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Dec 28, 2007 Kj rated it really liked it
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
Feb 23, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing
*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
Caitlin Watkins
Aug 01, 2010 Caitlin Watkins rated it really liked it
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
Jul 03, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 18, 2013 Peggy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psych-references
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
Trinity Haswell
Nov 06, 2014 Trinity Haswell rated it really liked it
"A Shining Affliction" was an impulsive read because I originally had thought it'd give some good insight into different practices of therapy techniques and psychology practices because that's what I'm planning to concentrate my minor in once I get to college. What I hadn't anticipated was seeing a different therapy practice called play therapy and honestly whole heartedly enjoy reading about Annie's interactions with children who often came from dire or poor situations, like her most seen clien ...more
Kelly B
Aug 25, 2008 Kelly B rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2013 Chalice rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 14, 2010 Kendra rated it it was ok
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
Tierney O
Sep 02, 2013 Tierney O rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 18, 2013 Julia rated it liked it
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
Mar 27, 2014 Gail rated it really liked it
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
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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
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