I can't quite tell you what central notions Barrett Dorko's essays address. Each one, like a brief toe hold or finger grip for a rock climber, leaves its imprint on you as you move, this way and that, over constantly variegated terrain.
I can tell you that Dorko likes to think, connects ideas from one discipline to another, and has a rare and irreverent sense of humor. He does revere the human body, with its powerful movement of energy within and its tendency towards health. He touches a patient in one place, and the patient reports a sensation elsewhere-a wave of energy, Dorko calls this phenomenon, finding the poetic ripple in his work of hands and mind, linked not only within himself, but also linked to the pain or injury of his patient.
Dorko's book has five sections to organize the short essays. His second section, Assessment, has numerous gems. Of clinical reality, Dorko writes that the body hides what it needs most deeply to express and it clearly expresses what it most desperately wants to hide. Dorko does not treat the body as a concrete entity, but as a metaphor for inner processes which sometimes yield to interpretation and understanding, and sometimes remain mysterious.
In The Ideal Body, another of Section Two's treasures, Dorko writes about somatic Platonism, an ideal of bodily alignment that devalues a patient's own bodily reality, and encourages dependence on the therapist to steer the patient towards the Platonic rather than personal ideal. Perhaps Dorko speaks for all good therapists when he says, "I'd prefer that patients use me as a resource who helps them understand that the solution to their problems lies within themselves."
Dorko's essays--brief, thoughtful, provocative--tell stories, address assessment and treatment issues, as well as paint a picture of Physical Therapy culture such that we understand Dorko to play a maverick role within that context.
Always philosophical, you won't get hung up in technical jargon. Dorko writes as a thinking man in a thinking body. Shallow Dive courts the soul. For information or to order, email Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Barrett Dorko is a NAPT member with a physical therapy practice in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. He is also a contributor to the Museletter.
The Museletter is an organ of The National Association for Poetry Therapy.