Barbra Streisand: On the Couch
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Barbra Streisand has been a show business staple for decades, from Funny Girl and Hello, Dolly! to The Way We Were and, most recently, the Fockers franchise. Whether it graces the stage, screen, or album cover, Barbra’s iconic silhouette is an instant, globally-recognizable image.
We know Barbra, the star. But how well do we know Barbra, the woman?
In Dr. Alma H. Bond’s latest installment of her On the Couch series, Dr. Darcy Dale―a renowned, pioneering New York City psychiatrist whose expertise has been sought by such larger-than-life women as Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Hillary Clinton―is confronted by Barbra, dismayed after thirty years of minimally successful therapy. Over the course of a year, Dr. Dale conducts an intimate psychoanalysis, breaking through ego, defense mechanisms, and repressions to go deep into the heart and mind of one of America’s last remaining superstars.
Barbra Streisand: On the Couch is a comprehensive, well-researched biography, spanning her early childhood years to her most recent work. Facts about an incredible life abound to both delight and intrigue those who simply wish to know more about Barbra. But to fans of her work and her persona, the author’s psychoanalytic angle offers fresh insight into a complicated woman. Barbra’s many dimensions come alive as we hear her story in her own words. She fluctuates between self-inflation and insecurity. She cracks wise. She becomes angry. She weeps. For better or worse, Dr. Dale sees Barbra in all of her rawest, most human, aspects, giving readers unprecedented access to her pain and joy.
The world loves Barbra the film director and star. It remains in love with Barbra’s music, and likely will throughout the twenty-first century. Published at the same time as Barbra’s own, long-awaited memoir, Bond’s Barbra Streisand: On the Couch is an essential companion―a sensitive, objective, pitch-perfect opportunity to look behind the voice and image, and to understand and fully appreciate Barbra the human being.
Q&A With Dr. Bond
1. What is psychoanalysis exactly?
Psychoanalysis is a technique for examining repressed material from the patient’s unconscious mind. In the opinion of the author, no other technique is so revealing and contributes to mental health as well.
2. Why did you want to write about Barbra Streisand?
She is a fascinating and highly gifted woman whom I wanted to learn more about.
3. Was there any specific thing you did to get yourself into a “Barbra mindset” so that you could write dialogue/actions that you believe accurately depicts Barbra?
I read everything available about her, saw all her movies, and listened to all her CDs. And thought about her night and day.
4. Why is the book so much more focused on Barbra as an actor instead of as a singer?
This may be due to my own shortcomings. I am more interested in her as an actor than a singer.
5. What is your favorite movie and song of Barbra’s and why?
The Prince of Tides, because I loved her portrayal of the analyst and found her scenes with her “patient” very moving. “He doesn’t send me flowers anymore,” a lovely and moving song.
6. Did you know any Yiddish before writing this book?
Yes. My parents often spoke Yiddish, so I enjoyed Barbra’s frequent use of Yiddish expressions, which “hit the nail on the head” more than any other language I know (which aren’t many).
7. In the book, Barbra talks to Dr. Dale about her son, Jason, being gay. Barbra says, “I’ve always worried it was my fault” and at the end of the session Barbra says, “Thanks Dr. Dale, you make being gay sound so normal.” These statements make it seem like Barbra thinks being gay is a bad thing, though in real life she is an avid supporter of gay rights. Why the mixed messages here?
She came around to being an avid supporter. I suspect it was as difficult for her to accept as it was for any person of that generation.
8. In the book, Barbra at one point refers to her fans as “obstreperous.” At another point, she recalls yelling at a woman for trying to talk to her while she was out having dinner. And at another point, she talks about how “faces of fans leered at [Jon and her] over the fences every time [they] set foot out the door. Those jerks followed [her] around everywhere.” There is really only one example of Barbra having a positive fan interaction in the book (i.e., when a young man praised Barbra for her performance in I Can Get It for You Wholesale fifty years after he saw it). Given these examples, would you say that Barbra’s relationship with her fans is a negative or positive one? Do you think that overall Barbra has a positive relationship with her fans but sometimes she just gets cranky and needs space?
I think she has a positive relationship with her fans when they don’t bother her or intrude on her privacy. After all, she is only human!
9. Do you think that or know if Barbra has seen many therapists in real life?
Yes. She has been in therapy for 30 years.
10. Do you think Barbra was/is as hung up on her father’s death in real life as she is in the book?
Absolutely. I believe that her song in Yentl, “Papa can you see me? Can you hear me?” is directly taken from her life.
10a. Do you really think Barbra struggled with her father’s death because she viewed it as him purposefully leaving her?
I think she needed a father so badly to counteract her mother that she built him up into a perfect fantasy parent.
11. How would you describe Doctor Dale? Physically and personality-wise?
An awful like Dr. Alma Bond!
12. Did you ever consider having Barbra talk about social media in the book? She does have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, after all.
No, I didn’t.
13. Do you consider Barbra pretty?
No. Interesting looking, but far from pretty.
14. Overall, do you think Barbra is more of a secure or insecure person? Your book gives evidence of both.
She is a very insecure person, except when it comes to her arts.
15. If you could sum Barbra up in one word, what would it be?
16. Do you think today’s younger generation (i.e., Millennials & Generation Z) appreciate/can appreciate Barbra?
17. Who would you consider Barbra’s successor?
She is one of a kind, and will never have a successor. A genius like her comes along only once in a generation. I can only think of Charlie Chaplin as her equal.
18. How is this book about Barbra unique and/or better than other books about Barbra?
I am a psychoanalyst, and able to delve more deeply into a person’s hidden depths that most writers.
19. What do you think Barbra would think of this book?
I don’t think she would like it, as she loves her privacy and would object to anyone seeing into her character so deeply.
20. What would you like to ask Barbra if you could?
What do you think of my “analysis?”
Praise for Barbra Streisand: On the Couch
—Kitty Kelley, author of mega bestselling biographies on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, the British Royal Family, the Bush family, and Oprah Winfrey
“Absolutely delightful … and wonderful … with fabulous insight … Fans of Barbra Streisand [will] love this book . . . It’s impossible to come away from [it] with anything but a warm, fuzzy feeling for this . . . adored songbird… Underneath is [an] . . . insecure little girl who lost her daddy . . . and never truly got over it.”
“As a psychotherapist myself, I have found Dr. Alma Bond’s On the Couch series fascinating. This newest book is no exception. Being privy to her fictional analyst, Psychiatrist Dr. Darcy Dale, and her famous clients is entertaining and exciting. When this latest volume, a fictionalized account of Dr. Dale’s analysis of uber-famous singer, actor, producer and director Barbra Streisand came to my attention, I had to read it right away. The book is a great read. It is organized like an analyst’s session notes, a dated diary of each visit, during which Streisand’s remarkable life unfolds. The content is fascinating, the writing is intimate and the dialog realistic. Of course, Streisand is a fascinating character, and I couldn’t wait to hear the revelations to come in the next session. The sessions depicted in the book are full of revelations of insider knowledge and Barbra’s feelings about both the good and bad parts of her life: Barbra says: “The writer of the screenplay [for Guilt Trip, a movie starring Streisand] Dan Fogelman, told me that the manuscript was written about his real mother (poor guy) [sic] who was also named Joyce. Dan said with tears in his eyes that she had died a few years earlier. I thought of my own mother, who was always a pain in the ass. When she died, I cried, too.” Barbra sprinkles the sessions with Yiddish words from her Jewish upbringing, and there is a glossary of the words in the back of the book, which comes in handy. This will appeal to anyone who enjoys discovering information about such a celebrity, how she feels about the ups and downs of her life, and other juicy details of her storied sex life and stellar career. She also describes various places she has lived, from shabby to fabulous, as well as her beautiful wedding to James Brolin, her current husband. The book has a can’t-put-it-down quality; the juiciness of the gossip, the emotional insights into her joy and pain, and the remarkable triumphs and failures of her long career are completely fascinating. Although the book is fiction, the author lists in a bibliography the numerous books and articles from which she garnered the very factual events and many of Miss Streisand’s own words from interviews that she used to create the sessions. Dr. Bond was a Freudian analyst for thirty-seven years in New York City, until she retired to become a full-time writer. She has written On the Couch novels about Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Onassis, Hillary Clinton as well as Barbra Streisand. She is author of twenty one books. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Barbra Streisand: On the Couch, and I think you will, too.”
―Midwest Book Review
“I’ve been a fan of Bond’s On the Couch series for years, but this one is absolutely her best. Barbra Streisand–with all her foibles and charms–comes alive on the pages of this book. Bond digs deep into Streisand’s psyche to give the reader a close-up look at a mega-star. Instead of a tell-all book that dishes out the dirt on her many co-stars, we follow along with Streisand as she herself recounts her many projects, affairs, and early history. Instead of a public relations–approved biography that glosses over Streisand’s need to be in control of her projects, this book revels in it, explores the reasons for a demanding actor/musician/director to behave as she does, and shows the reader just how dedicated to her craft Streisand is. Instead of a flat recital of a lengthy list of her songs and movies, this book sings along with Streisand’s character as Streisand herself explores the reasons for her behavior. Barbra Streisand: On the Couch is longer than Bond’s average books, but that length is needed to allow Streisand to explain herself and, as in real life, Barbra doesn’t hold back. If you’re a fan of her acting, her music, her career, or her activism, this is definitely a book you should read. Even if you’re not a fan, chances are you will be by the time you finish the book.”
—Ann Beardsley, Author, Historical Guide to NASA and the Space Program