Book Review: Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama

IntraSpectrum Counseling recommends Alison Bechdel’s newest graphic novel: Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama. On May 16, 2012, Women and Children First Bookstore hosted Bechdel at the Swedish American Museum, where she presented excerpts from her new release. During the presentation, Bechdel, a renowned lesbian memoirist, discussed her drawing techniques and her writing process. She also delved into more personal matters, including how the meaningful work she completed in therapy enabled her to better understand herself, her mother, and the ways in which they interact and define one another.

In her memoir, Bechdel fleshes out the intricacies of her mother-daughter relationship by incorporating psychological theory throughout the text. Bechdel cites concepts by psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, excerpts from Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, as well as ideas from other iconic figures in psychology like Sigmund Freud. Employing their theories in her personal quest for self-identity, Bechdel engages readers by succinctly relaying complex ideas and applying these concepts to her own life.

Bechdel also explores her successes in therapy while simultaneously relaying the difficult journey she faced as she delved into the traumas of her past. For example, Bechdel writes, “What’s the worst that could happen, she [the therapist] asked, if I just let myself feel my loss?” In the accompanying drawing, Bechdel depicts herself spiraling, lost in a black abyss. Through sharing her struggles and fears, Bechdel allows readers a glimpse into her evolving psyche. Overall, Bechdel’s book exemplifies how one can triumph over adversity if one applies her skills (in this case artistry) and engages with a thoughtful therapist, who can provide a safe space within which one can explore painful memories in order to process them and move forward.

As Bechdel’s memoir relays, oftentimes LGBTQI members may not enter therapy to discuss their sexual identities per se, but their sexual orientations and gender identities do influence their experiences as citizens of the world in significant ways. If you are looking for a bisexual, lesbian or gay therapist in Chicago, we may be able to help. IntraSpectrum’s therapists are sensitive to the struggles particular to the LGBTQI community as they address a wide range of presenting concerns in their clients, including but not limited to depression and bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, relationships and intimacy, trauma, addiction and self-sabotage, sexual functioning, and identity development. With over 50 years of collective experience in working with members of the LGBTQI community in the mental health field, IntraSpectrum counselors understand the multi-faceted identities of their clients and individualize treatment for every client to ensure they are able to optimize the therapeutic experience.

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