Hatching Charlie

A Psychotherapist's Tale

Non-Fiction - Memoir
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 03/23/2017
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Author Biography

Mr. McCormack holds Masters Degrees in Psychology and Clinical Social Work. He has had a forty-two-year career as a psychotherapist in a variety of treatment settings. Before entering private practice his last position was as Senior Social Worker of Adult Long-Term Inpatient Services at Sheppard-Pratt Hospital, a renowned psychiatric hospital in Baltimore. He supervised social work services on seven units ranging from the treatment of schizophrenia, to eating disorders, to bi-polar disorders, dissociative disorders and personality disorders. He published an article in the Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy on the treatment of personality disordered marriages in 1989. He published the book Treating Borderline States in Marriage: Dealing with Oppositionalism, Ruthless Aggression, and Severe Resistance in 2000 (Jason Aronson). He is former Guest Faculty of the Washington School of Psychiatry and member of the Teaching and Supervisory Faculty of Sheppard-Pratt. In 1994 he was named the Clinician of the Year by the Maryland Society of Clinical Social Workers. He has lectured around the country and in Canada on difficult to treat couples. He is married, has seven grandchildren and another on the way, and lives in Aberdeen, Md.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist's Tale by Charles Creath McCormack is a memoir with a powerful inspirational message. I was hesitant when I picked up this book, but the author’s promise in the prologue encouraged me and I am happy I read it. He writes: “I write to encourage you to take responsibility for your happiness. If there are two counter-intuitive things I’ve discovered in my wending journey as a man and as a psychotherapist, it’s that it takes great courage to be happy and that most of us are as happy as we can stand.” Writing one’s own journey is one of the therapies that helps to redefine one’s purpose, enhance healing, and unveil ways to determine how one’s life ends. McCormack’s memoir, like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, is a memoir that is purpose-driven, a story in which the author answers the universal question: What does it really take to live a happy, fulfilling life?

With unalloyed frankness, the author takes readers on the path to his own darkness, his brokenness, his fears and uncertainties, and weaves a message that points to the light he’d discovered through his own commitment to grow and to help others. Readers will find lessons learned from the author’s personal life experiences and those that come through his practice as a psychologist. The author’s prose flows beautifully, devoid of any professional jargon, and the man whom readers will encounter in these pages will remind them of their own struggles, their own darkness, their own questions about life and happiness. They will understand that they own the key to unlocking the door to immense wealth and happiness. I was touched at how the author shares his struggles with “low self-esteem, the egotism, the mistakes made and then made again, the lessons learned and then forgotten, the failures and successes, the joys and heartbreak.” You’ll read your story in this beautiful book. Then you’ll wake up, determined to embrace life, your life, broken as it is, and to make some meaning out of the broken pieces. Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist's Tale by Charles Creath McCormack is a book for everyone, because there is a fragment of each of us in some of the pages.

Charles McCormack

I much appreciate this review. The words of the reviewer, Divine Zape, encourage me to believe that I did a decent job of delivering the message I wanted to convey in a very readable way. I couldn't ask for more than that.


Great read! Perfect for an entertsining read that also has lessons to share.

Compendium of Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
A poignant psychotherapist's journey
By Randi K on March 19, 2017
Format: Paperback
Hatching Charlie is the story of evolution. It describes the evolution of a boy to a man, a child to a parent, a wild teenager into a responsible adult. It is also a story of the evolving awareness that psychic pain can be healed. And, while most people look to another for that healing, this autobiography reminds the reader that relationships with others are only part of the story. In fact, true growth and healing comes from knowing how to forgive and then accept the self, and Charles McCormack’s journey helps the reader learn this in a gentle but powerful way.
Hatching Charlie is a brave book. For a therapist, still seeing patients, to reveal so much of his own pain and suffering takes guts. Opening oneself to this much vulnerability means that the author has found a way to look at himself without shame. This book, therefore, becomes a roadmap for others who suffer, providing hope and insight that someone else might work through their traumas too. So, while the book serves as a memoir and as a source of healing to Charles McCormack, it is also a way for him to continue counseling others. It becomes clear that his search for happiness is universal, and that his journey is in fact our journey too. He teaches us valuable lessons; that we cannot rely solely on someone else to meet our needs, that happiness isn’t necessarily a constant, and that it is possible to look back on our lives with fondness, even if there was pain there too. I think this is a must read for anyone whose childhood was less than perfect, with imperfect parents and difficult circumstances. And, since most of us had at least some obstacles to face during our lives, this book is meant for everyone.
5 stars Read it!
ByAmazon Customeron March 19, 2017
Format: Paperback
I compare Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist's Tale by Charles McCormack to Hillbilly Elegy:A memoir of a Family and Culture in Crises by J.D. Vance. Both are insightful and take the reader on a journey of life's pains and joys and teach lessons about mourning the past while living in the present. As a psychologist who has had the privilege to be to be invited into peoples inner lives, I found McCormack's story one I would recommend to patients as well as friends and colleagues. His story is a testament to the importance of attending to one's inner world in order to have a fuller life. Read it!

5.0 out of 5 stars"If I'd known life was so short, I would have paid more attention."
ByMD/Psychologist on March 13, 2017
This memoir oscillates from wrenching to rollicking to painfully and refreshingly contemplative: A very fallible mother who evolves; a feckless, Great Santini father who doesn't evolve; early encounters with racism and his own sadism; a harrowing French boarding school; road trips/alcohol/drugs/wannabe scofflaw; aloneness; the loves of his life, including children and grandchildren; his own psychotherapy and his eventual decision to become a psychotherapist; years of upgrading his aspirations, sophistication and self-observation despite acutely distressing anxiety and imposterism about public speaking and writing; finding his place as a non-physician in a physician-ruled psychiatric hospital; the "absolute bastards" of 1980-90's "managed care" (Oh, I remember them well, too.); the grueling/gratifying attachments in psychotherapy with very difficult patients and families; traumatizing suicides of patients; and, finally, finding himself both in relationships and in his own skin. It is an extended and well articulated hatching of a real grown up who is capable of love, self-examination and relative contentment both despite and because of his beginnings. I started this book without enthusiasm, not sure I'd finish, but am very glad I stuck with it.
4.0 out of 5 stars A self analysis of a man's life and the challenges he faced in breaking through the layers of developmental achievement.

"Hatching Charlie", in my opinion was the story of one man's quest to derive the highest level of quality out of his life experience. The author's use of words enabled the reader to "feel" the experience and to live in that moment in time with him. The analogy of "breaking through" was the repetitive theme and deep insight was given at each stage of developmental achievement. The book inspired and challenged me to question myself in terms of unrealistic expectations of what life has to offer as well as what motivates us in our relationships and interactions with others.
The author, a psychotherapist, turns his intuitive abilities and the tools of his profession inward, giving the reader a very unique perspective of his life's journey. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and walked away with "food for thought"!

Compendium of Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading and humorous at times
ByG. thomason February 18, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wow!!! Easy reading and humorous at times, Hatching Charlie is written with bare bone honesty and causes you to pause and reflect on specific times and events in your personal life that over years has caused your emotional responses to either affirm or challenge your values and beliefs that have led your emotions to either harm yourself or honor your being.
This is a book that clearly reminds each of us that others have experience anger, pain and at times shame, yet with much self examination and acceptance of our responsibility for our own actions, we can grow beyond the shell and find true peace, happiness and joy.
5.0 out of 5 starsA life journey we can all relate too
ByBarb Von February 13, 2017
Format: Paperback
Charlie has written a very detailed tale of his life journey. He writes of failures, losses, happiness and many other emotions. Tells us about his marriages and family life and having children. Charlie has not only written his life story that bears his soul, but one that each reader can relate to in their own life. I highly recommend Hatching Charlie


5.0 out of 5 starsTake the Journey with Charlie!
ByRose Selavyon February 11, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Sitting (or lying down) in your therapist's office and revealing the thorniest problems closest to your heart, did you ever wonder about the personal travails of the other person in the room? This book will take you on the life trajectory of one talented psychotherapist, who with candor, humor, spice, and great self-reflection tells how he "hatched" himself to find his professional calling, after many detours that could have meant a permanent derailing. He also reveals his own personal relationship struggles in the universal attempt to find love. In so doing, he offers hope to us all when we flounder and can't, for the moment, see a clear and promising path forward.

He generously shares the details of a psychologically lonely youth of disrupted attachments due to constant moving and the brutality of a narcissistic father. We agonize with him through an excruciating banishment, at 11years old, to a boarding school in France where sadism seemed to be the guiding principle of both students and masters alike. He portrays, through the lens of his own hard-won experience, the scars and challenges created in soldiering through childhood alone. In this way, he connects the dots to his adult life and empathizes with all of us humans who, more or less, must pass through from childhood to adult and find our own individual way.

It is an inspiring memoir about how one person grappled with fear and isolation, and through the alchemy of psychoanalysis and self-understanding, forged a far more gratifying adult pathway. Sharing his experiences as a therapist on an in-patient, long-term psychiatric unit is fascinating, as these types of units barely exist any longer due to the predations of managed care. Along with Charlie, we share his anger and frustration about how patient care, which used to provide asylum and sanctuary for as long as needed, now is solely about the insurance company's bottom line, not the patient. He clearly outlines how this current system injects massive doses of anxiety into already anxious and troubled people, by necessitating repeated requests for care and frequently denying it.

For anyone desiring to be touched by one individual's journey in wrangling with the great questions of life, in the hope some of your own might be illuminated, this is a wonderful and wise book.


5.0 out of 5 starsHatching Charlie is an inspirational view into the personal and ...
ByAmazon Customer Carol Finlaysonon January 30, 2017
Format: Paperback
Hatching Charlie is an inspirational view into the personal and professional character forming events in the life of psychotherapist Charles McCormack as he explores and examines his past. McCormack digs deep and exposes childhood mistreatment and abandonment while exploring the complexities of relationships with parents, siblings, wives, children and grandchildren. Throughout Hatching Charlie, McCormack strives to make meaning of it all. An endorsement for integrity and honesty to oneself. Kudos for the courage to share this deeply personal hatching.
5.0 out of 5 stars“If my devils are to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well” Rilke
ByDiane Pomerantz, PhDon January 27, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
While with these words, the poet Rilke rejected psychoanalysis, Charles McCormack does the opposite. In his memoir, Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist's Tale, the author, from an insight-oriented perspective, with skill and nuance, demonstrates how his angels and his devils are inextricably interwoven.

Throughout this deeply resonating work, the author demonstrates with sensitivity and wit, and without jargon, his own life journey and the painful process of disentangling his own devils and angels and ultimately accepting that both exist. Through his own experiences, he discovers at a meaningful level that he himself has the ultimate choice and responsibility for his own happiness.

Only someone who has traveled this road himself and participated in the journey with others along the road, could tell this story of the universal human condition.

A review of Charlie McCormack's Hatching Charlie
By Sharon Alperovitzon January 14, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist's Tale.
Charlie McCormack has written a tale for all of us who are interested in being and staying alive in life and to life. His writing is accessible and pulls you in immediately. He shares his ups and downs and the wisdom he has gain all along - and it is done in a down to earth, style that makes it feel like you are with a cherished friend. I recommend it highly - I feel sure, like myself, that you will learn something important for your own life's journey. Sharon Alperovitz

Two Reviews

5.0 out of 5 starsGreat read
By John Mahlmann, Ph.D.on January 13, 2017
Format: Paperback
Hatching Charlie is the entertaining autobiography of a seasoned psychotherapist offering uninhibited honesty, self-analysis and insight. In his trip down memory lane, he brings to life the relationships that have informed his being.

From his well-seasoned psychoanalytic and psycho-dynamic viewpoint, Charlie’s early years serve as a foundation for the connective thread that resonates throughout his life-story. The personal and professional candor that leaves him so vulnerable throughout the manuscript serves as the scaffolding for the well-deserved contentment of his twilight years.

Hatching Charlie provides more than an entertaining and informed retrospective; it provides a template for looking backwards, in the moment and into the future. Those with an introspective nature will be well served to consider using his self-analysis to help inform their own.
5.0 out of 5 starsA journey worth taking
ByDonna Burnson January 12, 2017
Format: Paperback
This book was a Buffet. It was witty, insightful, encouraging, adventurous, educational, and at times heart wrenching.
I became invested in the author and how he dealt with his trials and how he used them to grow. There was a section in the book that I wanted to reach into the past and grab little Charlie from the emotional & physical abuse.
This book is definitely a good read. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Amazon Reviewer

5.0 out of 5 starsMore than just a good book
ByExperienced Amazon Shopperon January 10, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
“Hatching Charlie” could very well be less concisely titled “Finding and Living a Good Life.” What Charles McCormack has done is laid bare his soul in a way that connects reader to him, and more importantly, him to himself. In a fabulous retrospective of his younger years, you can see how every moment from birth through marriage clearly drove him to the profession he loves, psychotherapy. And it is within this milieu that he shines as not only a therapist but as a down-to-earth human being. Plenty of stories highlight the ups and downs of his personal and professional lives, and how each impacts the other. Each vignette melds with the next to give us a more complete picture of what may seem like a fragmented life. But I'm reminded of Norman Lear's adage, that we all live many different lives in many different eras; as McCormack has entered new phases, he does his best to improve in each life. Through it all, he reminds us that we are also humans, living our own narratives amongst the millions of others around us.

McCormack's review of how he learned (and honestly continues to learn!) to choose happiness over dread, contentedness over ostentatious thrills, peace over the demons of his youth, is a lesson to all of us. Every time he relates a story of discovering something new about himself is also a connection, a calling, to each of us to do the same. As he has opted to quell the impulsiveness in himself for a quieter happiness, he urges us to do the same. And as his mother urged, the take-home message is clear: “Have a good life.”


ByLJZon January 9, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
From the onset, this book is emotionally charged as it draws one into Charlie's chaotic childhood to the depths of his loneliness and despair. The words are vibrant in content so much so to allow the reader to visualise the sights and sounds of that childhood, while simultaneously feeling the anquish, fear, uncertainty and desperation. As you loathe his parents, silently measure them to your own with their shortcomings and/or strengths. Charlie's tale continues through teen years and early adulthood -- a flawed but intriqing man emerges, though still "unhatched", full of wit, whimsy and occasional wisdom, taking what may be perceived as risks, and learning from the insights of strangers and friendships. Years pass... providing Charlie opportunities and challenges in his work, relationships, life itself. As the book comes to its close, we know we have joined Charlie on his journey--but have learned just as much about who we are too. And though our experiences are vastly different, in the end, a common core of family, enjoying nature, time for self, and reflection, make all of our worlds more alike than not.

P Alfin

5.0 out of 5 starsWe can all relate...
ByPATRICIA L ALFIN, psychotherapist, retired.on January 4, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
If you've ever wanted to read someone's diary, be a fly on the wall during a private exchange, or wondered what someone, possibly your therapist, really, really thinks, then Hatching Charlie will roundly satisfy that curiosity. It's a fascinating read if you just leave it at that, but, in doing so you'd miss a rare invitation to be guided through elements of your own personal story on a parallel plane.
Charlie's story is Everyman's story, incorporated within his unique personal journey; a story written with courageous and generous transparency, serving to anchor and hold his emerging sense of self while facilitating the reader's understanding of our shared universal affliction.
Author McCormack's synthesis and summary of the psychoanalytic field's theories of human development and interpersonal dynamics is a gift in itself to lay readers and clinicians alike.
Written with humor, humility, clinical expertise and a loving respect for life and the human condition, Hatching Charlie heroically breaks new ground in the autobiography genre.


5.0 out of 5 starsBreaking the Curviliner Barrier.
ByKigabeeon December 26, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Climb aboard Charlie’s magical couch—have a beer, probably Freudian Stout—and enjoy the psychoanalytical ride of your life. Lay back and get into his mind; meet his wives, lovers, friends, co-workers, demons, children, and peers; share his accomplishments and failures; hopes and fears: a story of pain, joy, and self-discovery that unfolds with a clarity that few can match. Perhaps he should be committed.

No, that is the sort of joke only a friend can make. We were lifeguards together on a Maryland ocean beach, where he sort of saved me, once. I also worked in the mental health field at the Presidio, US Army—so I appreciate the challenges, accomplishments, and likely egg-tooth he was born with that enabled him to never quit, to emerge and finally take flight in that most personal of professions—psychotherapy.

To some, his journey may seem unconventional—a free-associative, flight-of-fancy, over the years, that necessitated the conquering of many hurdles, some of his own making, others the foible finger of fate—a military father failing to confront his own demons.

Nevertheless, with Charlie’s creative, inquisitive, expressive, and imaginative mind, I believe his writing will firmly garner him a place in medical history as the Oscar Wilde of Psychotherapy—his story unfolds like beautiful Salome’s (Wilde’s tragic play and more recent Tom Robbins’ novel) in which a dancer peels off each of her seven veils, until she is wearing little or nothing. As each veil drops, she comes to an epiphany about life.

In a way, Charlie’s story reads like a well-performed strip-tease—the sequined reflections of his fifty-year psychotherapeutic voyage take the reader through a kaleidoscopic journey into the sacred and profane, past many blessed and tortured realms, and eventual rapprochement with his “self”—family, wisdom, peace, transparency, and a final boat ride.

Rarely has the mental health realm been presented with such serious and yet irreverent, humane, and honest treatment. Through it all, Charlie perseveres, renews and rejoices; is true to himself, his patients and family. For anyone who wants to understand the challenges, rewards, and sometimes tragedies inherent in a mental health career, I cannot imagine a more revealing story.

Perhaps, regarding Charlie’s legacy, Oscar Wilde is again worthy of mention. His tomb, constructed in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France, is engraved with a verse from the Ballad of Reading Gaol by Wilde bequeathed to outcast men:

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

Unless, of course, they hop in the boat and head into the blue, their minds returning to the sea.