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The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A…

The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist's Stories of His… (edition 2010)

by Gary Small, Gigi Vorgan

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Title:The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist's Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases
Authors:Gary Small
Other authors:Gigi Vorgan
Info:William Morrow (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
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The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist's Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases by Gary Small




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Psychiatrist Gary Small shares stories of some of the oddest and most memorable cases he has encountered in his career, including people suffering from such problems as false pregnancy, weird nightmares, complicated addictions, and mass hysteria.

It's interesting to get a look into the practice of psychiatry that goes beyond the cliches of "Tell me about your mother" or "Here, have some antidepressants" (although there are certainly enough examples of both of those things). And many of these cases are indeed interesting. As a human, myself, I'm always interested in what goes on in -- and what can go wrong with -- the human mind.

But, I don't know. There's just something about Small, or about his writing (or about the writing of his wife/co-author, perhaps) that rubs me the wrong way. I think it's partly that he can't seem to quite decide whether this is a collection of interesting cases or a personal memoir, and keeps including extraneous, uninteresting information about his personal life. Partly it's the way he includes lots of dialog that cannot possibly be verbatim, which often feels really stilted and simplified. (Admittedly, in a book like this, that sort of thing is probably inevitable, but it can certainly be done more smoothly. And the fact that he never explicitly discusses the fact that that's what he's doing doesn't thrill me, either.) He includes lots of conversations with his co-workers, too, which often have a hearty "ha-ha, look at us guys all having a laugh together!" tone, where the people and the jokes in question tend to come across as more obnoxious than anything. Also, while he's often self-deprecating and is willing to discuss his own uncertainties and false assumptions as he attempts to figure out his patients' problems, I can't help noticing the fact that all these cases ultimately make him look good, sometimes by showing up other doctors whom he portrays as hidebound idiots. Now, maybe it's a false impression, but all of this together combines to make the whole thing feel a little off to me. A little self-absorbed, maybe. A little artificial.

But that's not even what really bugs me the most. Because, all right, it comes as absolutely no surprise that therapists sometimes find their patients boring, or annoying, or unpleasant. And, in general, I am all for honesty and openness in this kind of account. But I cannot help feeling that it's deeply unprofessional for a therapist to talk publicly about finding his patients boring or annoying or unpleasant, no matter how many personal details he's changed. And Small does this kind of a lot. I think I reached the height of my discomfort with him when he quotes a patient as saying, "This is completely confidential, right?" and his reply of "Of course" left me exclaiming, "Except it's clearly not, because you put it in your book!" In other contexts, maybe that would have bothered me less, but with this book, I just can't quite get past it. ( )
4 vote bragan | Feb 18, 2014 |
I would really like to rate this 3 1/2 stars. I did enjoy this book but would not count it among my personal favorites. The cases are bizarre and entertaining while also being serious and somewhat educational. The author is a psychiatrist who recounts his experiences with some of his most unusual cases. The saying that real life is better than fiction applies here. The author's writing is entertaining while also giving interesting insight into the field of psychiatry that is easy enough for a layperson to understand.

I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in psychiatry or just really strange mental issues in people. ( )
1 vote CherieReads | Sep 23, 2013 |
Meh. He's no Oliver Sacks.

Also a tiny but ill-hidden bit of misogyny. ( )
  amaraduende | Mar 30, 2013 |
Of course the title of this attracted me, and it started out good with some unique cases, some of these illnesses I'd learned about in psychology. But some I didn't feel were horribly extraordinary. But it was an ok book. Didn't care for the endings to the chapters - I'm not sure how I would have ended them, but it sounded a little too fairy-tale happy-ending to me. ( )
1 vote briannad84 | Jul 27, 2012 |
This was a great read. Dr. Small tells about some of his most interesting and challenging clients from his time as a young doctor in 1979 to his seasoned Psychiatrist days in 2008. Each chapter is another case and all are told with a balance of mystery solving with his genuine care for his patients and often, respectful humor. He shares his mysteries with his wife Gigi Vorgan who co-wrote the book and who had good insight in many cases.
My only complaint is that I wish it was much longer. ( )
  stillwaters12 | Dec 9, 2011 |
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A renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist reveals the most mysterious, intriguing and bizarre cases of his extensive medical career in this highly entertaining and enlightening book that offers an intriguing look into the peculiarities of the human mind.… (more)

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