3 out of 4 stars
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Dr. Monty Weinstein has an unconventional background for a psychology professional. His book From the Mob to the Therapist’s Chair chronicles the tumultuous life of a crime family son and his evolution to nationally-known expert witness. Born into a family that had regular dealings with the mafia, Meyer Greenberg (the author’s birth name) had a difficult young life. His mother sold diamonds to Manhattan mafia lords and his father, when not in jail, fronted a garment business and abused his mother. His father left the family when Meyer was small, and his mother remarried Dr. Joseph Weinstein, whose surname the author took.
Meyer reunited with his father in his teens and began working for him, collecting money from the mob. Expelled for some behavior at school, young Meyer was sent to therapy, which planted a seed that would mold his future. The experience of addressing his authority issues was transformative and encouraged the author to begin studying psychology. Subsequently, he obtained multiple degrees in psychology, including a Psy.D. in psychoanalysis. Dr. Monty Weinstein became a national expert in parental custody rights and parental alienation, advocating for joint custody and reunification therapy for families, whenever possible.
I enjoyed some hopefulness and appreciation reading about the author’s work with splintered families. Dr. Weinstein helped many families repair damaging dynamics and agree to unify their parenting goals, for the benefit of the children. Parental alienation (the derision and denigration of one parent by the other, directed at the children) happens all too often in separation and divorce situations. It can damage children gravely, and the author’s devotion to this phenomenon is heartening.
Full of drama, tragedy, intrigue, and redemption, this memoir reads like page-turning fiction at times. And elsewhere, it draws nearly to a halt. I was interested in the transition “from the mob to the therapist’s chair” but found only about half of the book kept me wanting to read on. I was hoping for more insight into the process of the vast transformation but found it to be more logistical data than human process. Around half of the book consists of transcripts of court cases and letters of thanks and commendation, written to the author by his clients, associates, attorneys, and lawmakers. This section was tedious to get through. I have a psychology background, and still, I did not find the supplemental sections very interesting. I did enjoy the section of family photos at the end of the book. It is always satisfying to put faces to the characters.
This unlikely therapist’s story will appeal to psychology and family therapy professionals, child custody attorneys, and parents embroiled in custody battles. Readers who are fond of mob dramas and New York culture may also appreciate this story. The book does contain some errors but generally appears to be professionally edited. The errors did not disrupt the flow of the story significantly. Readers should be aware that there is a small amount of disturbing content concerning references to child abuse.
It is notable that Dr. Monty Weinstein is listed as the book’s author and Vickie Taylor, the writer. For its intrigue and redemptive themes, I award Dr. Weinstein’s book 3 out of 4 stars. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but the compelling nature of the story and the author’s important work are offset by some dry narrative elements and tedious supplemental materials.
From the Mob to the Therapist's Chair
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