Written a while ago now, I’ve only just read Schopenhauer’s Porcupines: Intimacy And Its Dilemmas – a book for therapists and non-therapists which brilliantly conveys the struggles of relationships through five case studies: a couple, a family and three individuals. I highly recommend it to anyone really, but perhaps especially if you are interested in understanding more about the therapeutic process.

Using the metaphor of the porcupine to launch the book (in groups, porcupines struggle to huddle as their spines poke each other), Luepnitz draws out the tension we experience between getting close and feeling rebuffed, independence and reliance, a desire for intimacy yet fear of what this may mean (for most of us – vulnerability and exposure). She uses many other metaphors elegantly, and does wonders at introducing some of the harder analytic concepts (from Freud and Lacan included) with ease and humility. There’s no definitive conclusions or ‘curing’ going on here (which therapy can never do, but sometimes authors can drift into claiming).

She also makes a quiet case for therapy – how it can help us understand and act upon our possibilities and potentials, while accepting our limitations with respect and self-compassion.