Books by Carol Kahn

Released: March 11, 1994

Disorder and chaos at Manhattan's world-famous Bellevue Hospital Department of Psychiatry, told with bold first-person gallows humor by its scooter-riding chief psychologist since 1980, and by Kahn (the deftly eloquent Beyond the Double Helix, 1985). The title tells it all: life is crazy all the time at Bellevue's psych ward, in part because budget cuts make timely processing of paperwork impossible, leave no money for forms, pencils, Rorschach tests—Dr. Covan has to replace his typist with toneless, wall-staring Yolanda, a paranoid schizo outpatient who is Josephine (``Yolanda's not here today''). Meanwhile, Covan crunches through black farce every minute of his day, with five calls waiting, people pulling on his sleeve, hospital services collapsing—even the floor splits open like gunfire. We follow his monitoring of the training of nine doctoral candidates in clinical psychology during their internship, with each chapter opening up one or two cases. First intern is David Anderson—cocky, clean-cut, gym-fit, and vitamin-fed—who needs to be loosened up so he can relate to patients like Matthew, a Pentecostal ``failure at independent living'' who's cut off his penis, just had it sewn back on against his will, and won't talk with David, who must break through Matthew's defenses within his 35-day hospitalization or see him return with another penisectomy. Trainee Keisha Wright faces a manipulative guy on the psychiatric prison ward who swallows razor blades, nuts and bolts, whatever—is he faking madness to land an insanity plea to keep him out of prison? And so it goes: interns learn to feel deeply about other people and face their own feelings in dealing with them. Dr. Covan shows great natural wisdom while reality-testing his coven of trainee shrinks. Memorable, indeed. Read full book review >
Released: March 22, 1989

Human heads frozen in liquid nitrogen for future resuscitation; brainless full-body clones grown for cannibalization of parts: these are only two of the unintentionally nightmarish images that leading cryobiologist Segall (aided by science-writer Kahn, Beyond the Helix, 1985) conjures up in this fascinating, messianic, and downright chilling look at biotechnology's encroachment on aging and death. Given the freeze-dried-people movement's recent bad press—e.g., the arrest of leading cryonicist Saul Kent (Segall's mentor), who cut off and iced his ailing mom's head—it's no wonder that Segall devotes many pages to debating the numerous objections to the more outrÇ aspects of "life extension." Despite his assurance that "Rabbis have presided over frozen funeral capsules," however, most readers will likely shiver as they read through his autobiographical, self-promoting (lots of plugs for his Trans Time people-freezing company here), ecstatic rundown on recent and predicted life-extension breakthroughs. It's not just that the pervasive true-believer's air—beginning with Segall's confession that he has "spent his entire adult life. . .trying to answer two questions: Why do we grow old, and how can we stop it from happening?"—gives pause; it's also that his well-articulated and informative brief on developments—including aging-retardation through diet, low-temperature surgery, organ transplants, cloning, and cryonics—finally betrays a reductionist mind-set ("death is [not] something other than a loss of specific organization of physiochemical matter") that renders humanity as little more than intelligent, lovable meat. An otherwise clear and compact round-up of high-tech wonders made forbidding—thanks to the author's fervid Brave New World embrace of life-extension at seemingly any cost. Read full book review >