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Guises of Desire [Kindle Edition]

Hilda Reilly
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.99
Kindle Price: $4.99
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Book Description

Vienna 1880. A wealthy young Jewish woman succumbs to a mysterious illness. Diagnosis hysteria. Her doctor, Josef Breuer, treats her with hypnosis and a new form of therapy called the 'talking cure'.

Guises of Desire is a vividly imagined account of the case of Bertha Pappenheim - the 'Anna O' whose treatment formed the basis of Freudian psychoanalysis. It presents the story of a young woman's struggle to survive a repressive upbringing, neurological disorders, drug addiction and a pathological attachment to the doctor who misdiagnosed her.

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Editorial Reviews


"Hilda Reilly has written a vivid, powerful and highly readable version of Bertha's story. The emotional turmoil of her experiences is empathetically portrayed against a carefully researched period setting and medical background. An absorbing and thought-provoking book."
Scientific and Medical Network Review

"Reilly's skilful writing and thorough research offer an empathetic portrayal of the vulnerable patient who had an abnormal attachment to the doctor who misdiagnosed her. Dark and distressing, but equally interesting, powerful, and educational."
The Lady

"Hilda Reilly has written a novel of immense significance - a must read for anyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis." 
Dr Terry Marks-Tarlow, author of Clinical Intuition in Psychotherapy

"This is a wonderful stroll through the Jewish culture of Vienna at the turn of the century, holding the hand of 'Anna O,' psychiatry's most famous patient, all the way."
Dr Edward Shorter, Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine, University of Toronto

"This book is a gift to anyone interested in psychoanalysis and the textures of human experience. I was moved reading it and in awe of the breadth of its scope."
Dr Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression

"Even famous people have day to day lives and it is in the story of their lives that we begin to feel what it might have been like to be in their shoes. Hilda Reilly gives us the gift of Bertha Pappenheim's lived experience.
Richard Hill, Director, MindScience Institute

"...we can be glad that the sympathetic Hilda Reilly has wrested the famous "Anna O" from the hands of clinicians and made her a whole woman again."
The Herald Scotland

About the Author

Hilda Reilly is originally from Perth in Scotland and now lives in Glenshee, after spending most of her adult life abroad. Her occupations have ranged from the stupefyingly dull to the wondrously surreal. When asked that common question: ‘What do you do?’ she has generally found that the most accurate reply is: ‘I live on my wits.’ She has an MSc in Consciousness Studies, for which she specialised in the neuroscience of religious experience, and an MA in Creative Writing.

Product Details

  • File Size: 430 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Dicatur Press (November 12, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A6T0CN0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #984,102 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Title November 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The author has based this amazing novel on a real case history - that of Bertha Pappenheim - the first recorded instance of `the talking cure' which informed Freud's theories on hysteria.
I found Bertha's journey from apparently carefree teenager to disturbed young woman in her 20s, fascinating. From the moment of her beloved father's descent into illness, Bertha's first steps into the adult world were curtailed. She was immature - largely because she was so over-protected - and in her reaction to family, religious and social strictures, she behaved like a young teenager. Except the rebellion was thrown back on herself, and her cries for help misunderstood.
With no precedent, her doctor was working in the dark. His theory about `the talking cure' was a brilliant insight, but foiled by a possibly physical cause and the drugs administered to cure her neuralgia.
By the end of the book, I had already worked out (thanks to modern understanding) that her `hysteria' had its basis in a childish sexual fixation on her dying father, and that this had been `transferred' to her doctor. But it was interesting that his attempt to help by involving Bertha in charitable work outside the claustrophobic family, became her ultimate salvation.
I appreciated the author's conclusion, which gave the modern reader an understanding of Bertha's pain and frustration, and allowed us to see that by the end of her life she had achieved the aims she longed for as a young woman.
It does not surprise me that the author felt the need to translate this extraordinary case history into a novel. It is an admirable way of taking a generally obscure piece of history and giving it to a general audience - and Hilda Reilly has done it very well indeed, putting the story in context with elegant prose. This fascinating story is conveyed with sympathy, and engages the reader from the first pages through to its extraordinary ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read November 2, 2013
"Guises of Desire" is a terrific read for anyone who wants to understand the history of psychoanalysis. Written in narrative form, this book reaches and teaches about the power of patient's insights and participation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good research October 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The author obviously did a lot of research for this book. It was an entertaining read, but had some slow areas. But I would recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of Anna O March 8, 2013
By Maria
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In spite of its title and rather intriguing cover, GUISES OF DESIRE is neither a romance nor a work of erotica. It is a simply and beautifully written novel of historical fiction, which is in fact based on a true story. It's the fictionalized account of the ordeal of Bertha Pappenheim, who may very well be described as the founding patient of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a method of dealing with mental problems pioneered by the famous 19th century peronality, Dr. Sigmund Freud. One of the cases on which much of Freud's theories were based was the case of 'Anna O', a patient of Dr. Josef Breuer, an associate of Freud's.

'Anna O' was a clinical pseudonym for Bertha Pappenheim. In order to bring Bertha's story before us, author Hilda Reilly did extensive research which guarantees the reader a trip to 19th century Vienna, to the Jewish middle class milieu where Bertha belonged. Bertha suffered from an early age. A sensitive child who was educated enough to speak and read in several languages, German, Italian, French and English, she was deeply disturbed by the gender discrimination she saw in her corner of society. Orthodox Jewish culture at the time didn't seem to recognize the spiritual needs of women. Bertha looked on aghast as the males took the best seats in the synagogue while the women were shut away from the prayer hall in a sort of women's gallery, discussing recipes and social functions. She sees her parents make much of their spoilt son, Wilhelm, while she is constantly reprimanded by her mother for her high spirits. She is punished harshly in her Roman Catholic school for 'ridiculing the religious beliefs of others' when she simply asked some searching questions. At the same time, she develops a crush on her English teacher, who is everything she wants to be herself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An important story, a great read January 25, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Guises of Desire is the well researched story of Bertha Pappenheim, a young woman in the 1880's, beset with mental and physical maladies which are diagnosed as hysteria. Hers is the case reported by Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud in the 1895 publication, `Studies in Hysteria' in which she is referred to as Anna O. Bertha's treatment is believed to have been the foundation for the development of psychoanalysis.

The story is told predominantly from Bertha's point of view. Hilda Reilly does an outstanding job of presenting Bertha's experiences, her fears and her confusions, both at the onset of the illness and as it develops. The reader travels Bertha's journey more as a participant than as a spectator. Bertha's innermost thoughts and her reactions to external stimuli are engaging and captivating. We are carried away with her to surreal worlds, some horrifying, some pleasant.

The reader travels also with Dr. Breuer as he experiments with the new `talking therapy'. We share his triumphs and his tribulations; is his diagnosis correct or is Bertha's malady organic? We see him not only as a doctor but as a man, conflicted by the demands of his professional interest in Bertha's case and his role as a husband and father.

We are at times invited to read the diary of Bertha's mother, a recently widowed, conservative woman with little option but to trust Dr. Breuer. We are privy to her concerns, to her view of the manifestation of Bertha's illness. Her worries, diarized in a matter of fact style will none the less strike a chord with any parent.

This novel is both an engaging and entertaining story and an informative insight into the birth of psychoanalysis; as a story is hard to put down.

Guises of Desire is a great read and one I am happy to recommend.
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More About the Author

Hilda Reilly is originally from Perth in Scotland and now lives in Glenshee, after spending most of her adult life abroad. Her occupations have ranged from the stupefyingly dull to the wondrously surreal; when asked that common question: What do you do? she has generally found that the most accurate reply is: I live on my wits.

After graduating from Edinburgh University she started training to become an actuary. Three months later she decided that not even the prospect of belonging to what was then the highest paid profession in the country could induce her to carry on in a career to which she was so unsuited.

Subsequent jobs have included oil industry analyst in London, artists' model in Paris, technical translator in Baghdad, charity worker in Zanzibar, English teacher in Malaysia, journalist in Ho Chi Minh City and director of an educational organization in Khartoum.

In recent years she has returned to academic study, obtaining an MSc in Consciousness Studies, for which she specialised in the neuroscience of religious experience, and an MA in Creative Writing, focusing on the use of narrative to explore the medical concept of hysteria. Her first novel, Guises of Desire, which draws on both of those areas of interest, deals with the life of Bertha Pappenheim, aka Anna O, the 'founding patient' of psychoanalysis.

She is also the author of two travel books - Prickly Pears of Palestine: The People Behind the Politics and Seeking Sanctuary: Journeys to Sudan. She is a member of the Scientific and Medical Network.


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