The author, Paul Solotaroff, is a journalist by trade and former patient of a pseudonymous "Dr. Lathon," a psychiatrist in private practice. Solotaroff suffered from a panic disorder throughout his adult life and did not feel significantly helped by the psychotherapy he received from several therapists. He credits Dr. Lathon with giving him a correct diagnosis, treating him with effective pharmacotherapy, and transforming his life through group psychotherapy. After termination of therapy, Solotaroff was so moved by his experience that he proposed to write a nonfiction account of one of Dr. Lathon’s upcoming therapy groups. The psychiatrist approved the idea, obtained cooperation from prospective patients, and allowed the author to join a new group as an observer. The ensuing group had eight members—six patients, Dr. Lathon, and the author—and met every other week for 1 year.