Book Promos,  Book Reviews,  Book Talk,  Non-Fiction

The Breakthrough in Two Acts

Welcome to one of the August 20th stops on the blog book tour for The Breakthrough in Two Acts by Dr. Frederic Hartman. This tour is managed by Bridgette Inu Consulting, the new print book tour partner of AudioBookworm Promotions.

Update: The “About the Book” section has been updated as of 18 February 2021 to match the information being provided in the audiobook tour. The review below remains the same as first given in August 2020. Review to this post for the separate audiobook review.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.

About the Book

The Breakthrough in Two Acts
by Dr. Fredric Hartman

Published 8 March 2017

Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help
Page Count: 185
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In The Breakthrough in Two Acts, Dr. Fredric C. Hartman paints a compelling picture of emotional pain and its context within the human mind and brain. Set in the dramatic backdrop of a therapy session as a stage play, featuring Dr. Hartman as the psychologist and Human Consciousness itself as “the patient,” this is a practical guide for anyone locked within the grip of troubling memories and pain. In his play, Dr. Hartman tells the story about our vulnerability to painful emotions, which flare up from the depths of our brains, casting spells over us. As the play unfolds, he develops two new experiences to help strengthen our consciousness: one, by actively breaking the spell of the two thoughts that lie at the heart-and generate the distress-in each of our negative emotions, and two, by embracing the strange, fleeting collection of conditions that come along with the present moments of our lives as they each flash by. The Breakthrough in Two Acts is a complete, entertaining, practical plan for how to use one ‘part’ of our brain-consciousness-to quiet down another, chronically overheated ‘part’-the limbic system-which has ravaged our species with troubles ranging from emotional illness to war. Here is a blueprint for how to overcome emotional pain and embrace a calmer and more fulfilling way to experience life.

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My Review

I received this book as part of my participation in a blog tour with Bridgette Inu Consulting. The tour is being sponsored by Dr. Fredric Hartman. The gifting of this book did not affect my opinion of it.

The Breakthrough in Two Acts is an intriguing look into psychotherapy and how human consciousness experiences emotional breakthrough and healing. It is presented in the form of a script for a stage play but interspersed with thought-provoking quotes (which I sincerely hope are read aloud by an off-stage narrator when this is performed, as they are quite impactful, but I’m not sure they should be read by the on-stage Hartman.) We begin by nailing down all our definitions and understanding of consciousness, psychology, and the purpose of psychotherapy, then we move into exploring the problems human consciousness faces and how a therapy session (or course of sessions) works, then finally end with the revelation of what an emotional breakthrough looks like and how it is achieved.

It’s very informative and it presents some of these concepts in ways I myself hadn’t considered, both as someone who has studied psychology at the undergraduate level and as someone who has been the patient in psychotherapy. It’s very clear that Dr. Hartman has achieved a very deep and intimate understanding of this topic through decades of working with clients, and it’s obvious that this understanding comes from a passion for helping others resolve their own struggles in life.

This would be a fascinating play to witness performed, either live or recorded. At times I could see how animated Dr. Hartan was getting in his delivery, and I could picture Consciousness off to the side miming the audience’s thoughts and reactions perfectly. I also think this would be very enjoyable as an audiobook, as that would also capture the performance aspect and help put the correct emphasis on the parts Dr. Hartman intends to shine a spotlight on. As a written work, though, this feels like the transcript of a lecture that was best experienced live, but we’ve missed out and this is what we’re left with as the next best thing. It’s still fascinating and informative, but there’s a sense that some of the meaning has to be experienced in person, not on paper.

So as a play, as a performance, this is easily a 4-star work for me if not a 5. As a written work, however, it’s only a 4, maybe even not quite. If this were to be re-released as a companion to the play, I think it would be helpful to have the character of Consciousness speak sometimes. Periodic dialogues between Dr. Hartman and Consciousness would be more engaging than the once-per-scene stage directions for Consciousness that refer to landmarks in passages we haven’t read yet.

One of the things this piece does well, as mentioned above, is to explain exactly how an emotional breakthrough happens. Another thing it does well, and this is absolutely essential, is to explain why this can’t be done (at least not the first time) without guidance from someone experienced in such things. This book/play points out that the reason most self-help materials make us feel great in the short term but utterly fail us in the long term is because achieving breakthrough is a painful, distressing thing that our minds vehemently don’t want to do. We can’t guide ourselves through it. For that reason, I think this is a great piece for individuals who are skeptical about seeking help, as it will explain not only why help is good and nothing to be ashamed of, but that it’s also absolutely necessary.

I also think this piece should be studied by students of psychology; especially those who intend to pursue clinical practise rather than research. This piece explains so much about the how and the why, and the results and the consequences of therapy for both the client and the therapist. I would encourage professors of third and fourth-year psychology courses to consider putting this on their required reading list. (Or perhaps, where possible in multi-discipline schools, work together with the performing arts faculty to have this performed for the third or fourth-year psychology students.)

About the Author

Fredric C. Hartman is a clinical psychologist in private practice since 1988. He works and makes his home on Long Island, New York.

Contact him at


Follow the Tour

August 15: Super Booked!
August 16: 2 Girls & A Book
August 17: Eileen Troemel
August 18: Momma Says to Read or Not to Read | T’s Stuff
August 19: The Clipped Nightingale
August 20: Nesie’s Place | Westveil Publishing (You are here!)
August 21: Teatime and Books | Willow Writes and Reads

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Jenna is the artist/illustrator and author behind Westveil Publishing and its sub-banner platforms Jenna Gets Creative and The Westveil Archives. She live in Newfoundland, Canada with her husband, daughter, and feline overlords.

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