Sebastian Zimmermann: Fifty Shrinks
“The process of creating this book has deepened my respect for my colleagues who are dealing with the full spectrum of human behavior … every therapist I encountered impressed me with his or her commitment to alleviating symptoms and improving the lives of their patients. This book is my tribute to their work…” – Sebastian Zimmermann
Psychiatrist and photographer Sebastian Zimmermann has created a new book, Fifty Shrinks, that is a fascinating, photographic foray into the field of psychiatry and psychology . He has created portraits of fifty therapists all taken in the “most sacred of places” – the private office where they see their patients. The therapists range from well regarded to “newly minted analysts”, Sebastian’s subjects reveal the diversity of approaches to therapeutic practice today.
Sebastian Zimmermann is a psychiatrist in private practice on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and an award-winning photographer. His photograph of Martin Bergmann (cover) was featured in the New York Times, in the Photo Review international competition, and excerpts of this book have been serialized in the Psychiatric Times. Sebastian’s photographs have appeared in a variety of settings, including the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, the Bromfield Gallery in Boston, Project Basho in Philadelphia, and the Perkins Center in New Jersey. He was also the subject of a television documentary on New York photographers for public television in his native Germany. Sebastian studied at the International Center for Photography and privately with Arlene Collins. He lives with his wife, the filmmaker Renée Silverman, and their two children in Manhattan.
The spare office of psychoanalyst Dr. Michael Eigen suggests that interaction not the space is what matters. Much of the furniture and objects in the room are utilitarian. Zimmermann has placed Dr. Eigen in the center of the image with a folding chair on either side of him and a framed image of a soaring bird above. Leaning forward in his chair with a look and posture of intensity, Dr. Eigen is a spark that causes the picture to crackle with energy.
“Sessions can be magical; mood is everything, transforming inner and outer surroundings. Feeling takes precedence and creates worlds of its own.” – Michael Eigen, PhD
In her essay in Fifty Shrinks, architect and contributor Elizabeth Danze imagines the therapist’s office as a floating vessel. Dr. Jamieson Webster’s office exemplifies this description – a captain’s cabin with things stowed in cupboards and pictures of boats tacked to the walls. In her portrait, Dr. Jamieson appears to be falling backward on her couch in an unusual pose that relates to her words on the opposite page.
“I imagine a world in which we can change the scale of measurement, not asking what can be hoped for— always an object of calculation—but only ever asking, from where do you hope? Where do you fall down?” – Jamieson Webster PhD
Standing in her cozy office with plush furniture, a carved mask, and a book on Freud, Kate Bar-Tur’s steady gaze signals her determination to help families in crisis.
“When people separate, they often think their lives will never be as good again. I inspire them to see that, although it feels terrifying, change can make their lives better in the long run.” – Kate Bar-Tur, LCSW, FIPA
At his desk, Dr. Albert Ellis, the famous forefather of cognitive behavior therapy, reminds one of a pilot at the controls of an airplane. Multiple rolodexes, papers, and a phone with many buttons are ready to be deployed in the service of his patients. Dr. Ellis’ insights from one of his workshops are reproduced in the book.
“Remember it’s your thoughts that create the way you feel. It’s practically never hopeless. Acceptance is the key.” – Albert Ellis, PhD
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