Good Morning, Monster Book Summary - Good Morning, Monster Book explained in key points
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Good Morning, Monster summary

Catherine Gildiner

A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Journeys to Emotional Recovery

4.2 (160 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

'Good Morning, Monster' by Catherine Gildiner is a compelling memoir of a psychologist's encounters with patients who have faced trauma. It provides an insightful perspective on human psychology and the impact of life experiences on individuals' mental well-being.

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    Good Morning, Monster
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    Peter’s Story

    Have you ever started unwrapping a present, expecting one layer of wrapping paper, but found a mischievous relative added layer after layer for you to dig through to find the present? Even if you haven’t, imagine the surprise you might feel at encountering more layers than you’d expected!

    For Gildiner, the idea that situations can have many layers is central to therapy. She often had patients seek her assistance for one reason, only to discover later that the root of the problem was much different.

    One such patient was a pianist, Peter. Initially, the musician was working with a urologist because of erectile dysfunction. However, the urologist could find no reason why Peter – who could masturbate to completion and had no physical impediments – couldn’t achieve an erection during sex. Peter was attracted to women and wanted a sexual relationship, but even the strongest, most reliable drug the urologist had didn’t help.

    The urologist recommended Gildiner because Peter’s problem seemed purely psychological. Indeed, Gildiner would come to find it was exactly so.

    The root of Peter’s impotence emerged during their very first session – Gildiner learned Peter had been locked in an attic for most of his childhood. His mother, a Chinese immigrant, had largely run their family restaurant on her own, and had locked him away when he couldn’t sit still as a toddler. When Peter started therapy, he hadn’t questioned his mother’s behavior – it was the only reality he’d known, after all. He only wondered why other Chinese children from similar families didn’t seem to have the same problems he did.

    Eventually, Gildiner encouraged Peter to talk with his mother about her actions during his childhood. He discovered his mother had also been traumatized when she was young. She had been forced to work in a brothel, with customers routinely burning her with cigarettes for various grievances. Peter’s mother was just trying to protect him by locking him away from their restaurant’s customers when he couldn’t sit still and stay out of the way on his own – very normal behavior for a young child, of course.

    One of Peter’s biggest realizations throughout his work with Gildiner was that although his mother did what she thought was best for their family – and indeed, did better than her relatives had done for her when she was young – she had still abused and neglected him.

    Peter dissociated as a child, disconnecting from his emotional and physical pain to survive. The coping mechanism followed him into adulthood, becoming a barrier to living a full, satisfying life. Peter’s dedication to reconnecting with himself, to facing the reality of his childhood and his mother’s actions, was extremely courageous. Over years of work with Gildiner, he faced many uncomfortable and even downright excruciating feelings and truths. But his hard work and indomitable spirit paid off.

    By the end of his time with Gildiner, Peter had successfully entered an emotional and sexual relationship with a woman. Twenty-five years after his therapy, he was far from the shy man he’d been when they first met. He made consistent, confident eye contact and smiled freely. He was in a successful relationship heading toward marriage and had flourished professionally, giving piano masterclasses to people around the world.

    Peter was one of Gildiner’s most heroic patients. She also learned important lessons herself in her work with him, especially related to how layered therapy ends up being sometimes.

    And the lesson was especially pertinent to her work with another heroic patient, one who had built strong emotional barriers within himself to survive. We’ll discover his story in the next section!

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    What is Good Morning, Monster about?

    Good Morning, Monster (2020) chronicles some of the heroic patients therapist Catherine Gildiner worked with over the course of her practice. The patients experienced varied traumatic events and used different techniques in their work with Gildiner. Their stories exemplify the resiliency of the human mind and spirit.

    Who should read Good Morning, Monster?

    • Anyone seeking inspiration from real-life success stories
    • Those curious about the mind’s resilience
    • People wondering how therapy can help transform lives

    About the Author

    Catherine Gildiner is a best-selling author who worked for twenty-five years as a clinical psychologist. Her other books include her memoirs Too Close to the Falls (1999), After the Falls (2009), and Coming Ashore (2014).

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