OBSESSION by Gary S. Chafetz


The Bizarre Relationshp Between a Prominent Harvard Psychiatrist and Her Suicidal Patient
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 A Boston Globe reporter's on-the-spot account of the media's--and the public's--rush to judgment when Harvard psychiatrist Margaret Bean-Bayog was suspected of seducing a young male patient and driving him to suicide. A preface explains that this first-person narrative was written by Gary, the younger Chafetz, who covered the story for the Globe, while Morris, his psychiatrist father, served as consultant and reviewer. Assigned to the story under enormous deadline pressures, Chafetz was initially certain of Bean-Bayog's guilt. With time to study the case more carefully, he developed doubts and came to believe that the allegations against her could not be proved in court. Whether his assessment is accurate cannot be known, for Bean-Bayog avoided a hearing before the state medical board by resigning her medical license, and she made an out-of-court settlement in the malpractice suit brought by the patient's family. Chafetz criticizes the interpretation of Bean- Bayog's case notes made by the plaintiff's lawyer, reviews various other documents, interviews the patient's sister and some of the lawyers involved, and gives cursory attention to the issues of psychiatric practice raised by the case. Bean-Bayog granted him a number of interviews, and these are mostly reported as question-and-answer sessions in separate chapters rather than being woven into the narrative. Letting Bean-Bayog explain herself in her own words presents her as the victim in the case, but ultimately doubts about her professionalism remain. An epilogue containing some irrelevant and unflattering material about the patient's family and a compassionate glimpse of Bean- Bayog attempting to get on with her life reveals clearly where Chafetz's sympathies lie. Largely superficial reporting that has the feeling of a pastiche hastily assembled to meet a deadline. (For a more serious examination of the case, see McNamara: Breakdown, below.)

Pub Date: April 13th, 1994
ISBN: 0-517-59558-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994