I have read two of her books, most of her ‘where to we begin’ podcasts, several interviews and talks.
I think she is charming.
She would be an interesting person to talk to.
It takes one to know one - but I call BS on much of her french, deconstructionist, cultural studies nods (Derrida, Foucault, Lacan etc). I have close to a college major in it. It’s mostly just people trying to sound clever. I became so seriously jaded with it that a legal career seemed like a good option in comparison.
More interesting is her family background of holocaust survivors.
I think she is a fairly keen observer, and quite good at feeding that back to people she interviews.
I think she can occasionally be stern.
I agree she comes at things from a different cultural angle, and although she is from Belgium, I have heard her say that the French think of affairs as ‘hurtful’ rather than ‘wrong’. I think she found that a useful way to create some room for a couple to get past the ‘how could you?’ to the ‘what now?’.
And to add to this, she describes herself being an expert on cross- cultural marriage counseling generally.
The problem I have is that I don’t think life or relationships are like that. Monied, upper middle class Parisian’s or Hollywood A-listers might tolerate affairs of the heart, but my experience is different and much worse, and I’ve been touched by infidelity since I was a child. It just staggers me that people can be scrupulous in business, for example, but duplicitous in personal relationships. I think the real world calculus is closer to right/wrong.
I had to stop listening to her last season of ‘where do we begin’, when she seemed to be twisting some young guy’s arm to accept a bespoke new-normal in a relationship, where I thought the only correct advice would have been to reconsider his commitment to his unfaithful spouse. Put simply, he deserved better and would never get it from her.
I think she has run afoul of a pitfall many people with a following experience. She needs to speak too much. If she didn’t need to proselytize and project brand-Esther, I expect she could be a perceptive clinician, who could do better justice to the couple in front of her.
I think her ‘rekindling desire’ talk is okay, but best if the couple brought with them to therapy a functioning moral compass and some attachments to good role models (like Esther speaks of her family). Getting rid of some hang ups might be great for couples like that, not so much where one or both are vacuous brats.
[This message edited by straightup at 3:19 PM, Monday, October 2nd]