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Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir
A Baffling Disorder, A Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood
Born in 1940s Brooklyn to a father prone to rages and an emotionally erratic mother, Vivian Conan grew up in two different worlds: Outside and Inside. Outside, she had friends, excelled in school, and was close to her cousins and younger brother. Inside, she saw faces that weren’t her own in her bedroom mirror and was surrounded by an invisible Atmosphere that bathed her in the love and understanding she craved. Moving between these worlds without knowledge or control enabled Vivian to survive her childhood but limited her ability to live fully as an adult. To others, her life seemed rich with work, friends, music, and boyfriends. But her mind and soul were filled with chaos and pain. Neither she nor her therapists could figure out why.
Losing the Atmosphere is Vivian Conan’s riveting account of her journey toward self-understanding and wholeness; her encounters with a string of more and less helpful therapists; and her unconventional relationship with the therapist who was finally able to guide her through the courageous, messy work healing required.
Told with uncommon honesty, humor, and grace, Losing the Atmosphere is a never-too-late story about the growth possible for anyone with the guts and determination to pursue it, and a testament to the redemptive power of love: not the perfect kind Vivian experienced in her imaginary world, but the imperfect kind that connects us, flawed human being to flawed human being, in the real world she lives in now.