Mental Health Monday

In lieu of a direct question this week, I thought I’d wax poetic about how fantastic my profession is.

And so begins my 1000 page epic of my life as a psychiatrist.


Nah, just kiddin’. I wouldn’t torture y’all with psychiatric purple prose. (Try saying that five times fast!)

Psychiatric purple prose, psychiatric…oops, even my fingers couldn’t type it out correctly.

Okay, in all seriousness, mental health issues come up pretty frequently in books, TV shows, and movies. Three Faces of Eve, Sybil, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Psycho, United States of Tara, The Silence of the Lambs, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, OMG, I could go on and on and on and on and on….yeah. You get the point.

So, how real is it?

Um, I just asked myself a trick question. Interestingly, the examples I’ve pointed out are, in varying degrees, based on real life stories. BUT, to make them truly entertainment-worthy, a dash of sensationalism was added. I mean, really, how many serial killers did Thomas Harris meld together to develop his uber-killer? (Of course, I think it was totally brilliant, but still.)

And have you noticed the shrink is always kinda weird? It’s either that, or they’re completely psychotic. (Pick your poison, people.)

So unfair.

Wonky shrinks notwithstanding, some programs actually do a nice job of capturing the essence of psychiatry. (I hate to make blanket statements, but I’m excluding House, MD and most medical dramas for their accuracy. The entertainment value in these shows is high, but they do not do justice to the way medicine and psychiatry *really* work. Just sayin’.)

Now, for those of us who are interested in reading (Haha, that’s most ya’s, right?), I’d like to list a few books where the psychological impact really came through. Okay, so psychiatry and mental health may not be the direct topics of these novels, but I found the psychological impact strong nonetheless.

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg under the pen name Hannah Green. This book is an autobiography of a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was made into a film in 1977 and a play in 2004.

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. I LOVE this author. So, I’m gonna list The Sparrow and Children of God as well. She captures human emotion like no other. I’m serious. READ. HER. BOOKS.

When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom, MD. Dr. Yalom developed Existential Psychotherapy and has also written several novels. When Nietzsche Wept is a fiction piece chronicling the treatment of Friedrich Nietzsche by Dr. Josef Breuer, a friend of Sigmund Freud. (I think some of these names should be familiar and Yalom captures “classic” psychotherapy pretty well.) This book was made into a film in 2007 (Armand Assante plays Nietzsche!) if you wanna check it out. The movie took a more comical spin, so be warned.

Go to fullsize image Yeah, would you accept advice from this guy? 😉

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

5 comments on “Mental Health Monday

  1. Pete says:

    One of the writers I met at a conference said this:

    “Everybody’s a little bit neurotic. Some are just more neurotic than others.”

  2. lydia K says:

    Hey Laura! Great post. I love digging into that psychiatrist brain of yours.
    Hey I have a question for ya. OCD. When is it pathological and when is it just, well, helpful? and how is it treated?

  3. Emily Ann says:

    Interesting. It’s always hard to tell when someone is adding layers to make a story more interesting.

    Lol, at shrinks always coming off as weird in stories. Writers usually end up being kind of crazy in fiction too…and the sad thing is the writers are the ones creating the image. 😛

  4. Brenda Drake says:

    Hi Laura, love the post, hate the photo. It creeps me out!
    *tight grin*

  5. lbdiamond says:

    Pete–good point!

    Lydia–thanks for your question! *rushes off to brush up on OCD*

    Emily Ann–yeah, why do we do that to ourselves, eh?

    Brenda–ah, the photo had the intended effect. Mwahahahahaha!

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