What is it about driving across the Anzac Bridge that unnerves him? And why, when he has always been so active, is his energy slipping away?

Ryan has never doubted his strength. But for no accountable reason his sanity is on the line. He needs to talk to someone. But how do you communicate to another person what you don’t know yourself? With his options running out, he consults Clea, a therapist who is more at home in the world of emotion but who has unresolved issues of her own. Ryan, her new client, is not like her former lover in any obvious way. But in light of the evolving synchronicities, perhaps the source of his distress is similar. In the process of client-therapist interaction, and with the stakes high for both of them, personal and professional boundaries intersect in navigating a path for which there are few sign posts.


The casting‑open of wounds in authentically therapeutic interaction


What I love about The Bronze Cast –– a novel I read entirely in one sitting –– is the way the author Pam Stavropoulos so deftly and tentatively navigates an inkled path to the revealing self‑concealing truth of what is incipiently at stake in a genuinely empathetic “client‑therapist interaction”.


In the present scenario, the focus of attention for client and therapist alike is to regain the well‑being of a man named Ryan who desperately seeks relief from what have become debilitating anxiety and panic attacks that are ruining his life. For her part, the therapist Clea, while not privy to the source of Ryan’s as yet unfathomable discomfort, is attentive from the outset to emerging hints, including in dreams [Grm: Träume] of an unknown yet memorable trauma [Grm: Trauma < the Grk word for “wound”] in Ryan’s past.


How can Clea comport herself empathetically toward Ryan’s emotional distress (and its alleviation) if she is unwilling or unable to bare her empathic soul to her own self? As a psychotherapist for whom the inspiration and discipline of clinical appraisal (“supervision”) by another psychotherapist (“supervisor”) is critical, the author obliges Clea to lay bare the soul of her therapeutic approach to Ryan in regular supervision sessions with Robert, the man who is her therapist‑cum‑supervisor. In her usual role on these occasions, she is not just Ryan’s therapist but Robert’s ‘client’.


This adds another dimension to the novel’s superbly in‑depth exploration of the high stakes involved for those who care to be bold enough to engage in the casting‑open of wounds (sufferings, bearings) ‘of the mind’ in an authentically healing interaction. This novel gives us, its readers, a rare insight into the open‑reveal (and self‑concealing) of psychology (the logos ‘of the psyche’) and the care‑ful practising of psychotherapy (the healing ‘of the psyche’).

— Marnie Hanlon, BA(Hons), PhD, 17 December 2019