Tuesday, August 17, 2010

106 - The Good Psychologist; Noam Shpancer

The Good Psychologist is a story with very few characters, not a lot of action, but a story that leaves the reader with plenty to think about.

The unnamed, "good psychologist" comes across as a lonely man. He see patients at the Center for Anxiety Disorders, teaches a class at a local college, plays basketball with a group of guys, and was involved in a long distance relationship with Nina, a former colleague, a married woman, with a husband who is very ill. We learn that Nina and the unnamed psychologist had a child together, but he had promised Nina that he would stay out of her life. They email, exchange photos, meet on occassion, but are in the process of ending their relationship. He longs to see his daughter Billie.

The story unfolds with a unnamed psychologist sitting in a small office where he works at the Center for Anxiety Disorders. He has to adjust his schedule to stay late for a 4 p.m. appointment, to accomodate a new patient. The patient is Tiffany, an exotic dancer who has suddenly developed panic attacks when she has to strip on stage.  As the therapy session continues with subsequent visits the reader learns that Tiffany also has a daughter who does not live with her, and as Tiffany shares her private life and longings, the reader is able to see a similarity between the emotions of the psychologist and Tiffany.

Throughout the short novel, the reader gets the feel for the verbal exchanges that take place between patient and therapist during their sessions. There are also exchanges between the psychologist and the students in his night class, but we never get to know them as intimately as we do Tiffany.
 "Panic attacks are a common phenonmenon; very unpleasant, as you know,   but not dangerous. Nobody dies of a panic attack."

 "I felt like I was dying. I was certain I was gone....." 
          "People who are anxious feel out of control, but they are not.
           It is important to understand this".

The Good Psychologist is a very introspective story, a deep character study that gets inside the heads of all of the primary characters.  It's a story where the lines between patient and therapist can sometimes appear blurred, and in the end the lives of not only the patient, but of the psychologist, as well are closely examined.

The novel was very different, but enjoyable. In no way was it a suspense thriller as I read in one review. The fact that the author, in real life is a therapist and a teacher at a local college, makes me think that much of this novel might be reflective of some real life experiences. Regardless, I enjoyed the novel, and the way it made me think and analyze the give and take between therapist and patient.  RECOMMENDED.

4/5 stars
(review copy)

14 comments:

  1. Interesting concept blurring the lines between characters. I love books that has readers thinking. Thanks for the review. This may have to go on my wish list.

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  2. I definitely want to read this one. It sounds intriguing. Thanks for the review!

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  3. You've definitely piqued my interest, but I don't always like introspective stories, so I'm still not sure it's for me.

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  4. Ohh.. this looks good. I love tales of the psyche.

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  5. It sounds like this is a really quiet book, but also like one that I could really sink my teeth into. I am going to have to give this one a try, as I do love introspective books. Great review on this one!!

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  6. I get a little creeped out by psychology and the act of therapy in general. There's such an intimate bond between doctor and patient.

    I'm glad this one worked for you because with so many books like this, that intimate bond doesn't appear genuine.

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  7. This definitely sounds interesting! Maybe a little depressing, but possibly saved by the unique relationship between doctor and patient?

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  8. Enjoyed your review Diane! I hadn't heard of this one but it sounds interesting.

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  9. Sounds kind of interesting ... though strange that you never know the psychologist's name at all.Good review!

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  10. Strange, but interesting. I'll have to look for it on the library shelf!

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  11. It seems very different from the novel that I normally read...but I'm interested based on your review.

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  12. I know I have said this before but you read the best books - for my reading pleasure. I don't know how you find them/get them but I'm so happy you get to read them first. I know I will enjoy the book.

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  13. I love introspective stories and I like books that give me plenty to think about. I definitely will put this into my wish list.

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  14. I love introspective stories and I like books that give me plenty to think about. I definitely will put this into my wish list.

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