A British medical anthropologist discusses India’s multifaceted approach to mental health, and how it may be miles ahead of modern psychiatry in the United Kingdom.
On its face, Tobert’s debut analysis of the mental health practices in Eastern civilizations is a straight-ahead academic research paper, comparing and contrasting Eastern and Western philosophies and procedures as it seeks to advocate the former. In this study of the city’s mental-health practitioners and their patients, she effectively examines a system that many Westerners might erroneously regard as backward. Along the way, she makes intangible, but potentially game-changing observations. She spends a good deal of time shadowing a highly trained Calcutta psychiatrist named Dr. Basu, who routinely works in conjunction with local mystics and holy men. Although Basu is thoroughly schooled in Western-style psychiatry, his approach to treatment is highly pragmatic, unreservedly incorporating the myriad healing traditions of his homeland. “In India the use of a multiplicity of medical, alternative, complementary, religious and/or spiritual strategies to address human suffering is not controversial,” Tobert writes. “It is normal syncretic practice for people to try a plurality of treatments to address their well being.” The author also finds that this practice stems, at least in part, from a cultural view that sees mental illness as an almost entirely transitory state—and one that can be overcome. Tobert’s experiences are also satisfying as a vivid, full-fledged travelogue. Her descriptions of communal therapy sessions, and her stories of patients traveling miles through tiger-infested jungles to attend their appointments, are truly eye-opening. Her intriguing encounters with patients, who candidly reveal their struggles with depression and anxiety, reinforce the truism that the world is a lot smaller than it sometimes appears.
A cultural study that brims with humanity and intellectual curiosity.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").