Wish I Could be There: Notes from a Phobic Life

Front Cover
Viking, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 267 pages
30 Reviews
A droll, inquisitive, and poignant memoir of agoraphobia from a member of one of New York’s premier literary families

Allen Shawn is afraid of heights, water, fields, parking lots, tunnels, and unknown roads. He avoids taking subways, using elevators, or crossing bridges. In short, he is afraid of both closed and open spaces and of any form of isolation. Yet this is a memoir of enormous bravery.

Shawn grew up in a lively but mysterious world. He is the son of the famous, longtime New Yorkereditor William Shawn and brother to the brilliant playwright and actor Wallace Shawn. His twin sister is autistic, and when they were eight years old, she was put in a home. Though it was kept from him until he was in his thirties, his father led a double life that introduced strict taboos to his household. Shawn examines these influences, his father’s and mother’s phobias, and his own struggle with agoraphobia with generosity, wit, and insight, attempting to decipher the psychological and biological puzzles that have plagued him for so long.

Interwoven with both Freudian psychology and cutting-edge brain research, Shawn has written a profound examination of familial love and the universal struggle to face our demons.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: Wish I Could Be There: Notes From a Phobic Life

User Review  - Carolyn - Goodreads

I couldn't quit reading it. While most of my family have been introverts who find excuses to not get out much. We still do an occasional outing with friends and such. All but my sister that is, she ... Read full review

Review: Wish I Could Be There: Notes From a Phobic Life

User Review  - Cara - Goodreads

A good book to peruse on phobias. I enjoyed it! Read full review


Demons on My Back
Links in a Chain

13 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Allen Shawn is on the faculty at Bennington College in Vermont. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly.

Bibliographic information