‘Every therapist is changed by the people they work with. But just occasionally someone comes along whose determination to find their way through suffering challenges us to rouse our own courage and go beyond the limits of what we perceive to be comfortable, known, or even possible.’
When therapist-in-training, James O’Neill, starts his placement at a therapy centre in West London, his first referral is Abraham, a silent and frightened young man in a tightly zipped, hooded anorak. After spending the majority of their initial sessions in silence, O’Neill gradually gains Abraham’s trust and learns of the abuse and violence he was subjected to as a child that caused him to hide away from the world – barely sleeping, too frightened to get undressed and shower, anything that might make him that vulnerable.
Over the many years they meet, Abraham’s unfolding story and bravery inspires O’Neill to confront his own complicated past. Abraham creates his own kind of therapy, having the courage to stand up to his fears, becoming intimate with fear, he develops fearlessness and teaches O’Neill to do the same.
Undressing is at once a case-history, a novella, and something more than either: a remarkable story of two people drawn to each other for different reasons, discovering through trust what they can do for each other.
James O’Neill is a psychotherapist with an independent practice in South London. He was born in Toronto into a large Irish Catholic family, made his way to London in 1977, where he taught history before starting therapy training. He completed an MSc in Counselling Psychology at Roehampton University, followed by a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training at the Philadelphia Association in Hampstead. He has been working in private practice for over thirty years. This is his first book.
Faber Short Books