Wish I Could be There: Notes from a Phobic Life

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Viking, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 267 pages
5 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lkernagh - LibraryThing

Shawn’s examination of his agoraphobia and his family life as a possible “trigger” for his phobia reads like a rather strange blending of introspective analysis, family memories and a textbook ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AuntieClio - LibraryThing

Allen Shawn writes about being phobic. How his phobias shape his life, how he's tried to overcome them, and how knowing how his childhood environment shaped them doesn't relieve the tension. Trying to ... Read full review


Demons on My Back
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About the author (2007)

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

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