David Hoban

David Hoban, MD is a retired psychiatrist who lives with his wife Evelyn in Santa Cruz, California and Cinque Terre, Italy. Having practiced psychiatry in settings ranging from prisons to community mental health and private practice over forty years, he began to understand that psychotherapy was merely a necessary step towards conscious development and not and end in itself. Taking from his own experience, he made a shift from eliminating troubling symptoms, from which no one is immune, to learning how to learn from the inevitable struggles of life  ...See more >

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"An opinionated, ultimately optimistic series of reflections on the nature of humanity."

Kirkus Reviews


Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1611701746
Page count: 232pp
A collection of stories, lists, sayings and brief meditations aimed at dozens of aspects of life.
Hoban’s frequently thought-provoking debut contains snippet-length segments and scenarios interspersed with maximlike mottos, themed lists and occasional pieces of poetry. The long, generously full collection of odds and ends is designed to challenge assumptions and undercut rote thinking. Hoban recounts many stories from his years as a prison employee and includes accounts of the things inmates typically say and think. But the range of his vignettes extends a good deal beyond: He can be topically political, as when he hopes that former U.S. President George Bush (most likely W) will never publish his memoirs and thinks that if he does, he should write them without the aid of ghostwriters—“I suspect his incoherence would reveal itself,” Hoban writes. More frequently, he can also be congenially philosophical, probing the nature of human thought and often summarizing things quite pithily: “Awareness is extinguished when it is used in service of self-abasement,” he writes in a segment titled “Duality.” There are brief bits on evolution, the complexities of communication styles and the persistence of “demons” in the human world. “Alcohol abuse, in contemporary society, is one example of belief in possession,” he says, which flows from his earlier claim that “Ninety-nine percent of getting help is asking for it.” Themes are expounded upon then seemingly disappear and crop back up with studied regularity; the coherence to these bagatelles is belied by their randomness. The book sometimes falls into the trap of too-easy aphorisms—lines like “there is no evil, only error,” for example, may sound fortune-cookie profound, though there’s not much to chew on. Yet far more often, the muscular compression of Hoban’s thinking is rewarding rather than frustrating, as when he draws on his employment history for metaphors: “Epoch to epoch, we continue to be in a prison where we fixate on bars of our own making while failing to see what lies beyond them.” The result is a book virtually guaranteed to have something to interest almost every reader.
An opinionated, ultimately optimistic series of reflections on the nature of humanity.