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Brooklyn Zoo: The Education of a Psychotherapist Hardcover – July 17, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Advance Praise for Brooklyn Zoo

“‘Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here’ might well be the words above the door of Kings County Hospital’s notorious G Building.  Serial killer Son of Sam and rap legend Ol’ Dirty Bastard punched their tickets at this under-funded, over-crowded mental hospital; so does Darcy Lockman, a wet-behind-the-ears psych intern fresh out of graduate school. She can empathize with the human flotsam washed up on the outer edge of outer Brooklyn—the white folks get sent to Bellevue, in Manhattan—but more to the point, she can write. Brooklyn Zoo is a sorrowful and fascinating portrait of the institutional underworld where criminality and mental illness co-exist, and patients find themselves at the mercy of a medical-penal complex ill-equipped to either cure or punish them.”
—Alex Beam, author of Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America’s Premier Mental Hospital

“Reading Brooklyn Zoo is like getting a nightly e-mail from your best friend as she explores the far side of the moon.  I gasped at what she saw and alternately winced and cheered at her responses.  A smart, delightful surprise of a book.”
—Susan Baur, author of The Dinosaur Man: Tales of Madness and Enchantment from the Back Ward

Brooklyn Zoo takes us to places where very, very few of us would ever go—or want to go. This interesting memoir deals with situations which might be considered hopeless with great compassion and clarity. For so many of these people, mental illness is the least of their worries but the most of their handicaps. An insight therapist is at a huge disadvantage, and Lockman feels it deeply. She cares about people in a way that few of us dare.”
—Joanne Greenberg, author of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

"A former journalist, Lockman delivers fascinating revelations.... [A] good story."—Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

"Darcy Lockman left her journalism career to become a psychotherapist. Clearly a gifted writer, the decision could not have been easy. But she made it and stuck with it.... Brooklyn Zoo, to be released in July 2012, is expertly written: The prose flows, the pacing is even, and the structure is well crafted. As well, the content—the story—is utterly fascinating.... It is...an intelligently written, sobering look at what it takes to be a psychotherapist.... It’s the kind of book you don’t want to rush through; you want to dwell on each chapter, and meditate on Lockman’s experiences to get a fuller sense of what she saw. With a unique voice and a knack for painting verbal portraits, Lockman has delivered a rare gem."—Dan Berkowitz, Psych Central

"The challenges facing a psychotherapist during a yearlong internship in a New York City public hospital.

Based on her own positive experience in psychoanalysis, Lockman pursued an education in the psychoanalytic tradition, which included supervised therapy with clients, one of whom she saw over a three-year period. She explains that this put her at odds with the mainstream of the profession today because of “the pernicious hostility toward the psychoanalytical way of working,” which often dismisses psychological problems as “nothing more than chemical occurrences in the brain.” She chronicles her initial frustration with her inability to put her education and skills to good use and her dawning understanding that the chaotic conditions at the hospital often made her skills irrelevant anyway. Her patients constantly struggled with the brutal conditions of inner-city life, job loss, random violence and more. The author eventually realized that the most important gift she could give them was her willingness to listen to their concerns and treat them with respect, while evaluating whether they should be released or sent to long-term care...

Before returning to graduate school Lockman worked as a magazine journalist, a skill she puts to good use in this insider's look at the practice of psychiatry in a poorly funded, understaffed public institution."—Kirkus

About the Author

Darcy Lockman, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. She received her Ph.D. at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Psychology Today, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. She lives with her family in Queens.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385534280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385534284
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,867,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jill Florio VINE VOICE on August 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having spent some time as a patient in a locked mental ward, I was looking forward to reading about what happens behind the scenes, to experiencing a professional's perspective. I wanted to learn a few things about the role of psychologists in mental hospitals, and also to try to help myself come to terms with my own incarceration.

So. Was the book worth a read? Sure. I generally enjoy a memoir. Did I feel at all enlightened seeing the view from behind the clipboard? No.

The author's experiences with the mentally ill were fragmentary and unsatisfying. She didn't get along with her supervisors and seemed generally miserable every day. I was never sure she was in the right profession; she was so uncomfortable with many of the sick people she was assigned. She seemed overwhelmed and out of her depth in almost every rotation.

The author longed to intern at the well-funded behavioral hospital her fiance was assigned - understandably - but still, these patients needed her. It was so clear they needed anyone, anything, to give them personal attention and hope. However, they did get meds.

It was depressing to see confirmed what I'd realized from my own hospitalization - that I was locked up merely to stabilize. Not to improve, grow better or even start to thrive. I was given meds, was benignly ignored, and fended for myself until discharge. They took my vitals several times a day. No therapy was attempted.

From various movies, I'd always pictured that a mental health ward would be a place where the patient would talk with therapists, come to understand their diagnoses, and learn about bettering their lives.

It's disheartening to see that my "mainly ignored" experience wasn't unique.

This is a hard review to write.
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Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a gift and must say that I was very interested in reading it as I myself am in the process of applying to Psy. D programs (a doctorate with a clinical focus rather then a research focused Ph. D). I also have several years experience in different aspects of the modern mental health system as a consumer and provider. However it did not take me long to realize that this book does not meet its strong potential.

First, the author spends the entire book explaining why her training in Psychoanalysis is vastly superior to all other types of therapy (including CBT which I know from personal experience does wonders and the author quickly disregards as shallow and not at all helpful for "real issues"). As real Psychoanalysis runs for years and is not usually covered by most insurances, Psychoanalysis is really for the shallow and rich who can afford the $40,000 to $60,000 it will cost them to discover that all their issues stem from problems with their parents during potty training.

Second, is anyone surprised that the author was not offered a chance to interview for an open position at her facility? She spends the entire book complaining about her supervisors (God help you if you come from one of the other fields of Psychology such as Neuropsychology or Forensics), her fellow students (especially again those who are not Psychoanalysts) and even her patients (it seems to me she was never comfortable working with the seriously mentally ill but instead preferred to work with those who may someday be able to afford her services).

How did someone who had never even worked with an addict or even read the DSM (Really???
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Mental Health treatment should be a web of interconnected disciplines that serve to support the patient as well as the provider. Brooklyn Zoo describes a system that is more akin to a messy nest of interventions that frequently are based on the needs and personalities of everyone but the patient. Darcy Lockman is a free lance journalist become Psychotherapist who has detailed her year long internship at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. My sense is that she wrote this memoir out of a need to sort this experience out for herself vs. presenting a critical commentary on a system that is in desperate need of repair. The opening pages of the book were a bit off putting language wise, with statements like "a nascent appreciation of my own internal consistency" and while Darcy relaxed a bit, the book never achieved the personal, non-clinical flow that I associate with a memoir. As one of those "bottom of the pecking order" social workers, I am not unfamiliar with the conflicts that arise among the different modalities of treatment but wonder if the author has a bit of a chip on her shoulder that comes from being new to the profession. Because of the low financial priority given to Behavioral Health services, particularly when those needing care lack resources, the the emphasis is on short term, chemical intervention vs. long term therapy. Ms. Lockman is correct in her belief that psychotherapy is an essential piece of the puzzle and hopefully as she gains experience and confidence, will direct her energies to advocating for her clients rather than defending her role. This memoir does a good job of showing the mutuality involved in psychotherapy, the impact that it has on both the clinician and the client and the imperative for therapists to understand their own issues. It would be interesting to hear from this author after she has a few years of practice under her belt.
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