FRIDERICUS by Frederic F. Flach


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Dr. Flach, author of three self-help psychiatric guides, now offers an apparently autobiographical tale of delusion and/or reincarnation. His hero-narrator is Dr. Frederic Pleier, a New York psychiatrist who discovers a treatise by a 17th-century German doctor with his same name and his same interest in melancholia. Then Matthew, the son of a former sweetheart of the doctor's, is suddenly admitted to his ward for delusional schizophrenia (Matthew thinks he is the doctor's son), escapes from the locked ward, and quite likely drowns in the East River--all of which sends the already-skewed doctor fully around the bend; and, when he attends a lecture on research in reincarnation, he starts having bad dreams of a former life. A reincarnationist suggests that Dr. P. go to Europe and see what he can find, but the trip is a disaster, and he later breaks down under the delusion that he may totally disappear and become his ancestor (who lost his life by drowning while trying to save his son Matthius); finally he is subjected to hypnotic regression, and the unresolved ending leaves just about everything in doubt. This ambivalence mars Flach's case history throughout, making it neither an arresting piece of psycho-confessional nor an effective fabrication of reincarnational fancy. Skeptics and believers will be equally dissatisfied; others will probably be just plain bored.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1980
Publisher: Lippincott & Crowell