Christie Tate is a 40-something southern-born, Chicago-based lawyer and writer. Group is a memoir of her adult years, heavily focused on the group therapy she began attending while in law school. We get some background on Tate’s psychological issues (eating disorder, attachment issues, etc.), as well as significant details of her love life that she shares with the members of her two therapy groups.
Its an interesting and quick read, and gives a lot of detail into how group therapy works- no secrets, either within the group or with restrictions on what the group shares beyond it. As a fellow lawyer, I was doing a lot of cringing at the secret sharing- lawyers are a conservative and insular bunch, and I can only imagine the gossip that would fly behind the walls of Chicago’s law firms. While I can appreciate that this shouldn’t be Tate’s worry- that’s the point of group, apparently, to eliminate the shame that comes with secrets by having no secrets to begin with- on a purely practical level I just can’t imagine doing this. I have seen how legal careers are negatively impacted in Big Law when a lawyer’s mental disability, sexuality or sexual preferences become common knowledge. Maybe the difference is that Tate’s issues are less scandalous so she wasn’t as impacted? (ie: an eating disorder would at least keep you thin for the firm’s profile picture! And engaging in anal sex with a boyfriend is inherently less scandalous than being bisexual or having an open marriage…).
Aside from reputational impact, I’m also not sure I agree with the idea of having no secrets as a ‘freeing’ approach to life- this seems to be the idea being pushed by the tech companies and their apologists (‘I don’t mind everyone knowing all my secrets; I have nothing to hide!’). The point isn’t about having nothing to hide, but about the freedom to choose what to share, and with whom.
I’m glad group therapy works for some people, and I can see the advantage in it for certain things (ie: the more we share about mental health, the less stigma there will be). That said, I don’t think its for me- happy to live vicariously through Tate’s experience instead.