Cover Psyche's Veil001Marks-Tarlow, T. (2008).
Psyche’s Veil. East Sussex: Routledge.
ISBN: 978-0-415-45545-9. 343 pages

Reviewed by: Nataliya Rubinchik,
Hunter College

Most techniques used in clinical psychology are what Terry Marks-Tarlow would consider to be “linear” – cause and effect relationships that usually require logic to find. Marks-Tarlow argues that more often, patients are dealing with problems that are best described by a more intuitive, nonlinear type of psychology. It requires more than just knowledge of concepts and theories; the therapist has to be able to visualize the way those ideas affect personality, development, and behaviors.

This nonlinear concept is based on chaos theory, complexity theory, and fractal geometry. Chaos theory revolves around unpredictability and disorder, exemplified by the “Butterfly Effect.” Complexity theory studies the effects of one behavior on another and how that might result in self-organization. Fractal geometry is a set of instructions that is used to find the never-ending self-similar patterns that eventually begin to resemble chaos.

Her way of viewing the world of psychology revolves around interactions on both a conscious and subconscious level among the self, the world, and others. Fractal thinking on a therapist’s part might allow him or her to see the bigger issue in interactions and relations between self-self, self-other, and self-world. One has to start small and allow the bigger picture to present itself as the pattern is found and replicated over and over. The pattern is seen in behavior and personality. Once the therapist has found it, he or she can trace it back to the beginning.

Each chapter focuses on one specific aspect of nonlinear psychotherapy and its complexities. Marks-Tarlow includes a number of case studies to illustrate her points, explaining how each concept of nonlinearity applies to the patient and that individual case. She keeps her writing very clear and straightforward and includes numerous pictures, graphs and figures as explanations and as a way to illustrate her concepts to readers in an understandable way.

Psyche’s Veil can be understood by professionals in psychology as well as by a more general reader. However, without some prior knowledge, it may seem complicated at first and will take some effort to understand all the concepts. The definitions, explanations and figures that Marks-Tarlow includes help readers along the way. Marks-Tarlow shares her experiences with readers to give us the opportunity to view psychotherapy in a different light that perhaps would be more successful in treatment. Even the darkest and most chaotic of stories has the possibility to end with self-growth and organization.

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