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Therapists' offices are supposed to be places where you can be both vulnerable and safe. But what happens when your therapist crosses a line? That happened to Julianna Baggott, and she writes about it in her essay, "Playing Role Reversal With My Therapist."
It's read by Oscar-nominated actress Isabelle Huppert. She stars in the new film "Greta," in theaters now.
Where Are They Now?
It has been almost eleven years since Julianna Baggott's essay was published, and she says that since then, she has come to think about the experience differently.
"When someone does blur the lines and the boundaries ... a lot of times our culture talks a lot about the feeling of being a victim in that situation. And I'm saying, you can have a lot of different reactions," she says. "I don't feel bad for my very strange reaction of glee. Of, I caught you. You're doing something clearly wrong, which in a weird way makes me clearly right. I like being right. I think it's okay to have a lot of different reactions ... and if you gain a little power in that situation, that's okay."
Julianna says this interaction didn't turn her off from therapy. And she's still interested in the way that a relationship with a therapist relates to a relationship with a partner.
"There are so many times now in our contemporary society where you have two people who are supposed to have this incredibly intimate relationship. And both of those people might also very well have therapists, with whom they are supposed to have [an] intimate relationship where they are vulnerable," Julianna says. "Does that therapist relationship detract from the intimacy of the original couples' relationship?"
"Of course that gets to be too much," she adds. "Dave and I have both lived and had traumas, and we don't have the skill set necessarily to always help each other in the way we need to. But in my definition of a relationship, the outside world is hard. And marriage itself should be a sanctuary, and a place where you can be vulnerable and have those intimate conversations. I think that Dave and I save each other again and again and again, in a way that no therapist could."
Julianna doesn't know if her therapist has read this piece. Since her response to his letter, they haven't been in contact. But she says that having a therapist who truly knew her work remains one of the most interesting experiences of her life.
"It was fascinating. And I still wonder sometimes, what would he think of this, what would he think of that. But I can guess at that. That's an interesting conversation for me and my husband to have. Because that's the person who I want to be intimate with, and having those kinds of conversations with."
Voices in this Episode
Julianna Baggott is the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of over twenty books, published under her own name and various pen names. Her novels "Pure" and "Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders" were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her essays and poems have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, Best American Poetry, and on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Here and Now. She teaches screenwriting at Florida State University’s College Motion Picture Arts. You can find her six-week audio series on Efficient Creativity; the first episode is free, available on SoundCloud.
Isabelle Huppert first came to fame for her performances in Bertrand Blier’s "Going Places;" in "Aloïse," directed by Liliane de Kermadec; and in "The Judge and The Assassin" by Bertrand Tavernier. Her performance in Claude Goretta’s "The Lacemaker" earned her the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Feature Films.
It was her close relationship with Claude Chabrol that allowed her to tackle a wide variety of film genres: comedy ("The Swindle"), drama ("Story of Women"), film noir ("Merci pour le chocolat"), literary adaptation ("Madame Bovary"), and political fiction ("Comedy of Power"). Under his direction, she received a number of awards for her film performances: Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for Violette Nozière; at the Venice Film Festival for Story of Women; at the Moscow International Film Festival for Madame Bovary; and Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival and the César for Best Actress for The Ceremony.
At the Cannes Film Festival, she twice received the Best Actress Award (the second for Michael Haneke’s "The Piano Teacher"). In parallel with the cinema, Isabelle Huppert has pursued her theatrical career in France and internationally.
"Elle," directed by Paul Verhoeven, was presented at the Cannes Film Festival. She received several awards in the USA for her performance, such as the Gotham Award, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award; she was also nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for her interpretation. She won the César Award for Best Actress in France for the same film.
She shot her fourth film with Michael Haneke, "Happy End," which was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017. Several other films have been recently released: "Eva," directed by Benoit Jacquot; "Claire’s Camera" by Hong Sangsoo; and "Ms. Hyde," directed by Serge Bozon (for which she won the Best Actress Award at the Locarno Film Festival).
Isabelle Huppert is an Officer of the National Order of Merit of the Legion of Honor, and an Officer of the National Order of Merit and Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.
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