Good Morning, Monster and other thoughts

Fitzgerald Afful
Scrolls and Quills
Published in
4 min readJan 8, 2023

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I picked up this book only because there was a Lori Gottlieb foreword. She penned one of my top 5 memoirs ever in “Maybe you should talk to someone” so her recommending this was a big deal for me.

And in all, the book did not disappoint.

Summary

Catherine Gildiner is a Canadian therapist with years of experience and teaching. And in ‘Good Morning, Monster’, she talks about 5 of her most *fantastic patients and how they made strides into emotional recovery. Laura, Peter, Danny, Alana and Madeline all have very different emotional/psychological problems that she details and helps them through.

The most fascinating of the 5 stories for me was Alana. I breezed through Sections 1–3, but I couldn't get through Alana’s story without taking breaks as I often got overwhelmed by her story and particularly, her father’s cunningness. Reading about her pain and her growth was motivational enough for me.

The author writes in straightforward English which I appreciated a lot considering I left a lot of books half-read before this one. The book is well-paced, except for the last chapter which I felt was dragged out.

She drops psychological terms once in a while, defines them then goes on to give a practical example using whichever patient she was describing. For readers with no knowledge of Freud and related terms, this was helpful. She also addresses pain, loss, and resiliency while imparting a message of optimism and self-empowerment about overcoming setbacks and forging ahead in life.

Another thing that stuck with me was how the author was so enthused about learning. She does share this trait with Lori Gottlieb (and I believe all decent psychotherapists). She mentioned how she travelled miles to see other professionals to explain some behaviours and to understand other cultures so she would be able to better deal with her patients. I am curious to know if it's a routine thing for therapists, that after a flare-up, (the therapist) would go through months, sometimes years of notes of a client to attempt to understand the causes of the flare-up that she might have missed.

Other Thoughts

“Looking down at the floor and nodding, she said that one of her favourite songs was Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night.” “It’s about Vincent van Gogh. The line that I often sing in my head is the one where he says he fought for his sanity.”

The above snippet about Alana made me go hunting for this song. Its (new/other) title is Vincent and it appears on Don Mclean’s American Pie album. I’d never heard a Don McLean song, even though I thought his name sounded familiar. I played the whole album and enjoyed my first listen. And the listen after that. That particular song is a beautiful song about Van Gogh’s art and life. Coincidentally, I had seen Loving Vincent, which had a similar theme, just weeks ago. Both song and movie, amazing tributes to the genius, convey this lonely feeling found in many of van Gogh’s paintings.

Back to the book, for someone who’s never been in therapy, it became very clear to me after reading, how much our upbringing and trauma affected our adult relationships and I wondered how my parents’ influences and those of my partners in the past affected my relationships. Do we all need therapy? You mean “We move” and putting Frank Ocean’s Blonde on repeat doesn't fix sh*t?

Overall, this was a good book that I really enjoyed.

Best Quotes from the Book

“From then on I would tell my clinical psychology students about the cases in which the suicide attempt occurred just when the patient was apparently getting better. Not only does improvement require the ripping down of old defences, which is stressful, but patients who have weak egos and who’ve been neglected also often have no idea how to ask for help when in crisis. They don’t believe they deserve extra care, so their despair goes under the radar.”

“I nodded. In the long run, shame always outlives physical pain. “Anyone who thinks of a shameful memory will experience it at least as vividly as when they had the original experience,” I said.”

“Some psychologists see it as an addiction, and certainly our modern culture has glorified it. It’s not unusual to hear people say proudly that they do nothing but work. Substitute another addiction in that sentence — “I do nothing but drink,” say — and it doesn’t sound so virtuous.”

Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

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Fitzgerald Afful
Scrolls and Quills

Book reviews, flash fiction and random rants about iOS Eng. Portfolio: fitzafful.github.io