In some cases, “Dear Therapist” columns help us understand a situation from another person’s point of view; in others, they give us the language we need to name a situation.
For this month’s look-back at “Dear Therapist” columns, I’ve decided to turn not to a specific theme, but to a handful of columns that have been reader favorites over the years.
Rereading them, I understand why. Though the topics they cover are disparate—among them the loneliness of singledom, the shame brought on by abuse, the difficulties of extended family—each does something that I think of as typical Lori: providing readers (and the letter writers themselves) with a whole new framework for thinking about a problem.
One letter, to a woman who has a troubled relationship with her sister-in-law, stands out to me as paradigmatic. “Unfortunately, I can’t stand her,” the letter writer says. “Everything about her rubs me the wrong way. She sees the world in black and white, while I see infinite shades of gray.” How should she build a relationship with someone she so detests?