„Fifty Shrinks“ combines photographs by Sebastian Zimmermann, a psychiatrist and photographer, of therapists' offices as well as interviews with therapists. „As you read through the book, you will be struck by the variety of mood, ambience, and furnishing, mirroring the wide spectrum of therapeutic philosophies held by the practitioners who opened their private offices and their minds as well“, writes Lee Kassan in the front cover text. And, that sums it up nicely.
The cover shows the psychoanalyst Martin Bergmann who continued to practise until a few weeks short of his 101st birthday. He is pictured in an elegant penthouse office anchored by a towering bookcase and sweeping views of Central Park. It is an image that radiates, and invites, contemplation. I would have liked to know whether it had been Dr. Bergmann who had decided that he wanted to be photographed looking down in thought while seated on a bed or whether he did so following instructions by the photographer.
A hint of how Zimmermann went about his work is given in the text that accompanies the portrait of Dr. Charles Brenner, „whose towering reputation as the dean of American psychoanalysis for half a century intrigued and intimidated me.“ After taking some photographs of him at his desk and reading from a book, Zimmermann noticed a chess board on a sideboard and asked Brenner if he would pose by the board. „His posture straightened, his focus intensified, his mood lifted, and he transformed into the authority figure that I had anticipated.“ It is a remarkable portrait that radiates the kind of authority I would clearly be intimidated by.
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