The Skeleton Cupboard – Tanya Byron

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‘I first became fascinated by the frontal lobes of the human brain when I saw my grandmother’s sprayed across the skirting board of her dark and cluttered house. I was fifteen’ 

Professor Tanya Byron is a well known clinical psychologist, but before she made her name she started just like anyone else new to the job and trying to learn the ropes. The book follows the twists and turns that Tanya faces as she tries to navigate not only her professional life but also her personal reactions.

The best part about this book, for me, is the fact that Byron shows herself as human here. She’s young and trying to muddle her way through and break into a career, becoming a clinical psychologist is not an easy thing to do especially as you need to partition your emotions and focus on the person you are helping without getting too tied up emotionally and being able to switch off at night, while still showing that you care in appointments. There is no coldness in this book.

I’m always slightly hesitant to read books from mental health professionals, because some are totally unsympathetic to what it feels to be on the other side of the chair. I can confirm that Byron is incredibly thoughtful, sympathetic and caring towards not only her patients but also to people with mental health conditions in general. There are far too many professionals who write books and treat people with merely clinical association.

I will warn you that this is not an easy book to read. I was scared, I laughed and I cried throughout because the people that Byron meets become incredibly real to you. There are topics that aren’t easy to read about, eating disorders, abuse victims, drug addiction, violence, self harm, dementia just to name a few but in these you really get a grasp of how vital psychologists are as well as the work they do.

I give this 5 stars *****. This is a well written, thought provoking and educational piece of literature that I feel almost anyone would connect with. Byron is unflinchingly honest about what it is like to train in this field making her thoughts, feelings, mistakes and successes known. I feel like anyone who has an interest in psychology, social work or merely people could learn a lot from this book, especially as it doesn’t throw in jargon that only academics will understand, Byron has truly made this available for all. I highly recommend this book.

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts, have you read it or do you want to? Do you have any ideas for me? Let me know!

Review by Chloe Metzger

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