“Bullet to the Heart, One to the Brain” is a work of fiction and it is all true.
Elaine Zimbel, a psychotherapist with many years of experience, is not playing with us when she makes this claim. At the age of sixty-four, finding herself deeply wounded by the report of an absurd little scene involving two of her children and their small children, she does not accept the mother-blame that comes her way. It has been the default position of psychotherapy for far too long. “Mother, grandmother, woman – I will not go quietly into that dark pyramid filled with thousands of centuries of female ignominy…Hold it right there, fellow therapists…There are some things you don’t know about motherhood. There are some things you don’t know about families.”
Creating a psychodrama on the page, not unlike those she directed on the stage at the Moreno Institute, she sets out to explore her life and her learning, determined not to shrink from either personal or professional honesty. It dawns on her along the way that when Dr. Freud was discovering all that inadequate mothering causing all those neuroses in his patients, he was living in an era when women had very little control over their bodies, and men, in an urgent squirt of denial, had even less.
And what do we have now in this “how-does-she-do-it” era? ”Liberated motherhood”, she observes, ”is an insane asylum for the deeply committed.”
“Bullet to the Heart, One to the Brain” is ruthless and funny, angry and sad, poetic and wise. You won’t know whether to laugh or to cry.