Review ~ Jessica: The Autobiography of an Infant

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this book. As a mental health advocate and with first-hand experience as someone living with mental illness, I have a soft spot for memoirs involving psychology. The idea of someone being able to recall one’s own birth and infancy was something new I had not heard of, and it definitely piqued my interest.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Von Ghlan’s memoir about Jessica. I found myself empathetic and  saddened by her anxiety and unique ways of seeking help — something I can definitely relate to. I also found myself cheering for her throughout her recovery and at each breakthrough. At the beginning of this story(and, in a way, joining Jessica on her journey into her own psyche), I was touched at how much Jessica’s first appointment reminded me of my own first attempt in therapy; I relived that anxious feeling of not knowing how to express myself.

There were a few parts, sparsely, that I found myself fighting to not skim through. One particular scene is most prominent in that aspect. It is an early scene that describes Jessica’s morning routine, down to eating breakfast, brushing her hair, moving quietly through the house. I somewhat understood, later on in reading, how this scene shows Jessica’s pre-therapy personality; but at that point in the story, I didn’t really feel like I understood or felt like I knew her well enough at that point to care (for lack of a better word) about being walked through every step she took. I felt like I was being lulled along by her backstory as a teenager until the part in which she went to the movies, came home, and didn’t not speak to anyone for several days.

In the end, however, I was glad to have picked up Von Glahn’s memoir. I am all too familiar with being on the other side of the psychology fence as a patient, so I enjoyed reading it from his point of view as the psychologist. His first-person POV felt genuine, and I discovered myself feeling and thinking some of the same things during Jessica’s therapy sessions — wishing I could shout at her, “Why?! What do you mean you don’t want your ‘me’ back!” or wanting to cry for her.

All in all, a very good read. I highly recommend Von Glahn’s memoir if you have any interest in psychology, whether as a patient or an expert.

You can check out Jeffrey Von Ghlan’s memoir on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

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