From The Independent:
Philippa Perry lives in a tall old townhouse in a leafy square near London's King's Cross, with her husband Grayson, their daughter Flo, Grayson's teddy bear, Alan Measles, and a large and terrifying Maine Coon cat called Baddie. Like the rest of the house, the sitting room is filled with art: Grayson's glazed ceramic pots line the shelves, one commemorating the couple's wedding in 1992; propped against the sofa is a series of small canvases, on which Philippa has copied the dot paintings of Yayoi Kusama in felt-tip; and on the wall is a vast portrait of Grayson in a wedding dress. He's a Turner Prize-winning artist and Britain's best-known transvestite. She's a psychotherapist. Obvious first question: is Grayson as intriguing a psychological case study as people might assume? “He's my husband!” Perry responds. “I've been with him since 1987. He's like one of my limbs! I can't see him like other people see him. He's my friend, my lover, my confidante. I'm so used to him.” But there was a time, wasn't there, when psychotherapists might have tried to “fix” cross-dressers? “People tried to fix homosexuality as well. But I hope we've moved on from that. Honouring an individual's subjective experience is basic psychotherapy.”
Basic psychotherapy is the subject of Perry's new book, How to Stay Sane, part of a series of six small self-help paperbacks published by The School of Life, Alain de Botton's idea-sowing social enterprise. As someone who'd instinctively resist therapy and ridicule self-help, I found the book genuinely interesting, and potentially helpful. Perry breaks her discipline down into four essential areas: “self-observation”, “relating to others”, “stress” and “personal narrative”. After explaining the significance of each, she suggests useful exercises. Self-observation, for example, can be improved by keeping a diary, or even a daily breathing exercise.