CRAZY

NOTES ON AND OFF THE COUCH

A licensed psychologist dishes about his patients, and himself.

The life, times and thoughts of a New York therapist are put on display in a candid account of what goes on behind the doctor’s door—and in his head—during a day filled with patients and self-doubt. Tackling serious mental-health subjects without being overly reverent, shrinktalk.net blogger Dobrenski maintains a snappy pace. Patients are not spared his keen observations, which help to answer the vexing question: Am I paranoid, or does my shrink think I'm crazy—and sloppy? Take the author’s account of patient Scott, “six-foot-four, disheveled, overweight, and constantly perspiring. He began many of his sentences with an F-bomb and arrived for his sessions in T-shirts that were too tight for his abdomen, and white sneakers with black socks. His hands were always very clammy, but he insisted on a handshake every time he entered the therapy room. He was easily the brunt of many people's jokes.” But Dobrenski also puts himself under the microscope, ultimately heeding the old chestnut: “No psychologist should pretend to understand what he does not understand…Only fools and charlatans know everything and understand nothing.” The author also cautions those being shrinked: “The human condition is so complex and constantly evolving and no one person or institution has all the answers. Therapy will never be an exact science, and therefore there will never be the perfect textbook or teacher or school that will create the Ultimate Therapist who puts his hand on your head and cures you of every and every ill.” Clean, honest writing makes for an engaging read, particularly for “couch” potatoes.

 

Pub Date: June 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7627-6483-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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