Meine Filiale

Mount Misery

A Novel

Samuel Shem

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From the Laws of Mount Misery:

There are no laws in psychiatry.

Now, from the author of the riotous, moving, bestselling classic, The House of God, comes a lacerating and brilliant novel of doctors and patients in a psychiatric hospital. Mount Misery is a prestigious facility set in the rolling green hills of New England, its country club atmosphere maintained by generous corporate contributions. Dr. Roy Basch (hero of The House of God) is lucky enough to train there only to discover doctors caught up in the circus of competing psychiatric theories, and patients who are often there for one main reason: they've got good insurance.

From the Laws of Mount Misery:

Your colleagues will hurt you more than your patients.

On rounds at Mount Misery, it's not always easy for Basch to tell the patients from the doctors: Errol Cabot, the drug cowboy whose practice provides him with guinea pigs for his imaginative prescription cocktails . . . Blair Heiler, the world expert on borderlines (a diagnosis that applies to just about everybody) . . . A. K. Lowell, née Aliyah K. Lowenschteiner, whose Freudian analytic technique is so razor sharp it prohibits her from actually speaking to patients . . . And Schlomo Dove, the loony, outlandish shrink accused of having sex with a beautiful, well-to-do female patient.

From the Laws of Mount Misery:

Psychiatrists specialize in their defects.

For Basch the practice of psychiatry soon becomes a nightmare in which psychiatrists compete with one another to find the best ways to reduce human beings to blubbering drug-addled pods, or incite them to an extreme where excessive rage is the only rational response, or tie them up in Freudian knots. And all the while, the doctors seem less interested in their patients' mental health than in a host of other things managed care insurance money, drug company research grants and kickbacks, and their own professional advancement.

From the Laws of Mount Misery:

In psychiatry, first comes treatment, then comes diagnosis.

What The House of God did for doctoring the body, Mount Misery does for doctoring the mind. A practicing psychiatrist, Samuel Shem brings vivid authenticity and extraordinary storytelling gifts to this long-awaited sequel, to create a novel that is laugh-out-loud hilarious, terrifying, and provocative. Filled with biting irony and a wonderful sense of the absurd, Mount Misery tells you everything you'll never learn in therapy. And it's a hell of a lot funnier.

From the Hardcover edition.

Samuel Shem (Stephen Bergman, M.D.) graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College and earned a Ph.D. in physiology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He graduated from Harvard Medical School. He is the author of the novels The House of God and Fine and seven plays, including, with Janet Surrey, Bill W. and Dr. Bob. He is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Stone Center, Wellesley College. He lives with his wife and five-year-old daughter near Boston.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 576
Erscheinungsdatum 01.07.2003
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-345-46334-0
Verlag Ballantine
Maße (L/B/H) 21,1/14,1/3,5 cm
Gewicht 472 g
Verkaufsrang 15666


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    WASPs, I'd discovered in my month of being a shrink, are notoriously hard to read. Their body language borders on mute, and their language itself is oblique, like those masters of obliqueness the English who, I had learned in my three years at Oxford, when they say "Yes, actually" mean "No," and when they say "No, actually," may mean anything.

    Now, try as I might, coming at him from various different interviewing angles, much as my father the dentist would come at a recalcitrant tooth, Cherokee Putnam remained a mystery. It was six-thirty in the morning. I was bone-tired, having been on call at the hospital all night long. Cherokee had appeared at the admissions unit without calling in advance, and had paged the Doctor on Call-me. He said he wasn't at all sure he needed admission, but he hadn't been able to sleep and had to talk to someone "about a delicate matter," in confidence. The closest I had come to reading any feeling in him was when he told me how, at a dinner party at home recently, he'd gotten so furious at his wife Lily that he'd actually done the unheard of: picked up his linen napkin and thrown it down onto the tablecloth beside his plate.

    To my probings, he denied that he was depressed. He denied suicide attempts, suicide gestures, suicidal ideation, and showed no signs of being crazy. He seemed like just the kind of guy the word "normal" was made for.

    He looked normal enough. He was my age-thirty-two-my height and build-six-three and slightly fallen from slender. But while I was a lapsed Jew, he was a cornered WASP, in buttoned-down pink shirt and pressed khaki pants, with an excellent blade nose and blue eyes, a charming mole on one boyish cheek, and strawberry-blond hair combed back and parted off center. Tan and handsome, he looked like the young Robert Redford. He was rich, the father of two young girls-Hope and Kissy-and he admitted sheepishly to being a lawyer. A Yale graduate, he'd made a small fortune working for Disney in California, before coming back to his roots in New England eighteen months before.

    "But you kill yourself at Disney," he said. "There's a saying out there, 'If you don't come in on Saturday, don't bother to come in on Sunday.' "

    His wife Lily was also from New England. He'd spent "a million two" to buy a foothill and a horse farm nearby. He and his wife were into horses, she into show-jumping, he into polo. After a year of leisure he was now trying to figure out what to do next with his life.

    "Is that what's troubling you?" I asked.

    "No, no, not at all," he said, "but once in a while I wake up at three in the morning comparing myself to other people, successful people. I turn to my wife and say, 'I'm a failure.' That used to get her right up, but now she's so used to it she barely wakes up. She just murmurs, 'Take a Halcyon and go back to sleep.' Lily's heard it too many times."

    "So there are problems in the marriage?"

    "Oh no, no. Things are fine, actually. The normal disagreements, mostly around her being so neat, and me, well, y'see how neat I seem?"

    "Very nice, um hm."

    "Very. But in private I'm pretty messy. Nothing big, just socks on the floor, nothing hung up. She's very neat. We had a big tiff last week, when the help was off-I emptied the dishwasher and just threw the silverware into the drawer. Lily nests the spoons! Just the other day I said, 'Please, I beg you-give me the dignity of living like a pig.' " I laughed. He smiled, barely. "Lily's a stunning woman. If she were here, you couldn't take your eyes off her. She did the whole debutante thing, cotillion, the works. Even after two kids, dynamite body. Incredible, really. You should see her on a horse."

    "It must be a great feeling," I said, stifling a yawn-thinking, Enough of this bullshit, how can I get rid of him and get some sleep?-"to wake up early in the morning and go for a horseback ride with your wife."

    "She's never