Man reading by candlelight. James Redfield 1849 Outlines of a new system of physiognomy
Outlines of a New System of Physiognomy. J.W. Redfield New York: J.S. Redfield 1849

Books are fun! But there’s more to engage in life than just reading medical stories. Most of the following reviews are of recently published books (click on the sailboat link button to the right for in – depth reviews of TotS written by other readers). However, historical works are also included. While medically oriented literature will continually be prominent, much of what follows here is a diverse collection of titles. Many are purely for entertainment and are quite unrelated to epilepsy or medicine. New titles appear with some regularity. Check back for author interviews as well.

Independent authors depend upon reader reviews for food, shelter, and clothing. If you read any of the independent, contemporary authors listed here or anywhere, please leave their book a review at Amazon, Goodreads, other social media, or at your own blog. Just three sentences means a lot.

To view a profile of Jeffrey Lee Hatcher, as a reviewer, go to BookSirens.

Medical book reviews are gradually being translated into French and the reader is asked for leniency in judgement during this process.

apothecary "Donnez moi la première chose venue"
Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard Grandville (1803-1847). Caricature de presse. “Donnez moi la première chose venue”. Planche parue dans “La Caricature” du 11 octobre 1832. Lithographie. Paris, Maison de Balzac. CC0 Paris Musées / Maison de Balzac

Essentialized

By Psoid Froid

Essentialized  by Psoid Froid
fullfilment

Essentialized, by Psoid Froid, discusses the nature and philosophy of fulfillment in both prose and poetry. The text is about  modeling existence in a manner which is refreshingly (or deceptively or superficially) extemporaneous and structurally a bit 19th Century.  I hasten to add that neither observation connotes anything negative.  Rather, they signify an alternative style to dryer products of modern academia.  In light of the fact that I have covered some similar material within Tacking on the Styx, I found numerous gems of philosophical observations which I could readily appreciate.  Essentialized goes more philosophically in depth for shared topics than does my own work because philosophy is its only realm. 

At the risk of making a spoiler, essentialization, as Psoid Froid puts it, is about the optimization of modeling – conceiving something in the most parsimonious manner without sacrificing the power of prediction or the power of explanation.  Sections of the book might be described as secular humanism meets cognitive mathematics. 

The book’s editorial spirit shares some brotherhood with Robert Frost’s poem, The Lesson for Today, and if you don’t care for the latter work, you probably won’t like the former.  Frost mocks navel gazing cynicism and PF scorns it:

To pretend our current world is more miserable than ever is a disservice to all those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice their lives for the greater good.

Similarly, Frost would likely empathize with a motivational passage:

I was here to write philosophy and crack jokes—and I’m all out of jokes; comedians are in dire straits for the world has become a parody! Not to speak of philosophers who must, at all times, espouse the opposite of how people act. What is left for me? Poetry? Hmph. Yes. Poetry.

Though, in fact, one quote complicates the other!  PF’s saving grace, however, is his highly original and fascinating delineation of life’s meanings into a schema of “fulfillment games” examples of which include control fulfillment; curiosity fulfillment; and validation fulfillment; among quite a few significant categories.  His ideas merit further contemplation for use as an epistemological tool in the study of behavior.

With inspiration from Artificial Intelligence (AI) theory and cognitive modeling, he discusses memory and how the known can be condensed to a pattern of components in layman’s terms very similar to my own modeling chapter in TotS.  He speaks of mutations in thought components as essential to maturing knowledge in a sense which I have touched  upon when writing, tangentially, about the impacts of neuropathological brain activity.  On a theoretical level, we both speak of the need for a component of entropy in cognition to advance thinking and belief. The groundbreaking geeks in AI have long discussed realization as a network seeking global vs local entropy minima and the need to shake up the system for escaping the local and arriving at the global essence of a problem (see the early works of John Hopfield, David Tank,, and their peers in the 1980’s).  Knowingly or not, he captures some of the horrendously mathematical ideas of Hopfield in lay terminology in his discussion of types of traumas and their relationships to knowledge advancement.

Again, wittingly or unwittingly, he proposes that the meaning of life is about model optimization  –  something both cognitive mathematicians and theologians long have struggled with.  I am not yet sure I buy into the notion.  Perhaps, I need to reconcile ‘meaning’ with ‘goal’?

I hope to see him give greater discourse on his categorization of fulfillment games in the future.  My compromised temporal lobes have some difficulty smoothly absorbing and reviewing all that he says, but I like the outside of the box, where he thinks.

P.S. Incidentally, he gives the most thought-provoking definition of an ideal romantic partner which I have read.

antique laboratory distillation equipment
Charles Traux & Co. Medical catalog

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love

The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself

By Christopher E. Pelloski, MD

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love by Christopher Pelloski

Christopher Pelloski, M.D., tackles one of the most distasteful social behaviors in the human repertoire head on in Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love (2015).  Within this rather unprecedented and one of a kind text, Pelloski describes his own experiences in watching multiple instances of child pornography and then describes the moral and legal actions and issues which he deals with upon his discovery.  Predictably, one comes away with mixed feelings about Pelloski’s character and his motivations both as an involved party and as an author.  One also confronts the impact of society’s dealing with the issue.  No matter one’s feelings or conclusions, it is a worthwhile read for the importance of the subject and its viewpoint.

Like many other narratives written from the experiential end of the mental illness spectrum, Pelloski calls out for more behavioral treatment in healthcare from qualified psychologists and psychiatrists.  While not excusing himself, he does relate an early childhood history of sexual abuse and subsequently describes his initial offenses as rooted in the PTSD of his own childhood.  The book focuses only upon his end of the issue as a child and as an adult; other children’s side of such experiences is another person’s narrative to write.

There are legal tiers in child porn that he describes including exclusively observers (non-producers), porn producers, and inspired molesters.  Pelloski falls exclusively with the 1st group.  The general theme of the book focuses on the rigid adherence to Federal sentencing guidelines at the expense of judges’ discretion with regards to this group.  He makes a point of discussing how numerous professionals believe that the populist approach to legal and psychological rehabilitation has simply gotten out of hand.

Pelloski engages in two discussions of a cost-benefit approach to dealing with illicit porn – one which merits serious contemplation, another which has a serious underlying danger.   Citing a number of legal scholars and judges, he points out that the large amount of money spent on catching and prosecuting observer – only offenders would be better spent on the more important task of catching those who produce it and/or others who engage in hands-on abuse. For America’s party of cutting-taxes-is-all-that-matters and also other political groups, this is a vital consideration.  Nevertheless, politician and others see value in targeting non-producers:

The authors of the material I read speculate that what keeps [non-producer prosecution] going, like most poor public policy, is fear, ignorance, and misinformation. The news media, elected politicians, law enforcement, and federal prosecution offices have also realized what an easy target nonproduction child pornography cases present. It is not surprising that these comprise the overwhelming majority of new sex offenses cases (despite being the least threatening subtype with the lowest recidivism rate). The political and PR return on investment is lucrative, indeed. It takes very little effort to catch someone accessing child pornography online, the public brings its approval to the voting booth, and the headlines write themselves.

He then asks a very provocative question regarding the threat of this class of offenders to the public:

Why was I observed online for nine months? If law enforcement had a legitimate fear that I was a danger to children (my own or pediatric patients), why was nothing done for all that time? I can only conclude it was already known that I was not an immediate hands-on threat. It was more important to spend many months building the case, so I was allowed. . . The police’s inaction tacitly disclosed their position on the matter: that the harm I was generating toward children was not worth preventing sooner.

This kind of cost/benefit/risk analysis is good to contemplate.  However, he also mentions the fact that, within his own case, his usefulness as a doctor is wasted.  That point has a dangerous flip side which is the unfairness factor.  A younger person – say twenty-five years of age – has much less to offer.  Worse yet, they might be in an economically or racially disadvantaged group.  Bringing societal utility into the discussion poses a steep and slippery slope. From time to time his tone gets sufficiently self-exculpatory to get under a person’s skin.  However, his viewpoint is educational.  His training in science and medicine also are put to good use in the research required for introducing facts and arguments with minimal filtration through holier-than-thou emotions (and he also calls out America’s overly populous fake Christian community for sensationalizing the legal process).  A very useful read, however one’s view of the author evolves.

ISBN-13: 978-1-5007-5553-9


Le Dr Christopher Pelloski directement confronte l’un des comportements sociaux les plus répugnantsdans Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love (2015). Dans ce livre plutôt inédit et très unique, Pelloski décrit ses propres expériences de visionnage de multiples cas de pornographie enfantine, puis décrit les actions et les problèmes moraux et juridiques qu’il traite lors de sa découverte. Comme on pouvait s’y attendre, on a des sentiments variés sur le caractère de Pelloski et ses motivations à la fois en tant qu’individu impliqué et en tant qu’auteur. On est également confronté à l’impact de l’exploitation des enfants par la société. Quels que soient les sentiments ou les conclusions de chacun, il vaut la peine de lire ce livre pour l’importance du sujet et son point de vue.

Comme beaucoup d’autres récits écrits à partir de l’extrémité expérientielle du spectre des maladies mentales, Pelloski appelle à un traitement plus comportemental dans les soins de santé par des psychologues et des psychiatres qualifiés. Tout en ne pardonnant pas ses propres actes, il décrit les abus sexuels qu’il a subis dans son enfance et décrit ensuite ses propres délits initiaux comme étant enracinés dans les abus subis dans sa propre enfance. Le livre se concentre uniquement sur ses propres expériences en tant qu’enfant et en tant qu’adulte ; le sujet des expériences des autres enfants est le récit d’une autre personne à écrire.

Il y a des catégories légales dans la pornographie enfantine sur lesquelles il écrit, y compris le fait que la personne soit exclusivement un observateur, un producteur de pornographie ou un agresseur d’enfants qui est stimulé par la pornographie. Pelloski appartient exclusivement au 1er groupe. La plus grande partie du livre se concentre sur l’adhésion rigide des forces de l’ordre américaines aux directives fédérales en matière de condamnation, au détriment de la discrétion des juges dans la punition d’un coupable. Pelloski souligne que de nombreux professionnels de la médecine et du droit estiment que la punition est devenue trop dominée par l’opinion populaire plutôt que par une jurisprudence rationnelle et médicalement éclairée.

Pelloski s’engage dans deux discussions sur une approche coûts-avantages de la lutte contre la pornographie illicite – l’une qui mérite d’être sérieusement envisagée, l’autre qui présente un grave danger sous-jacent. Citant un certain nombre de juristes et de juges, il souligne que les sommes importantes consacrées à la capture et à la poursuite des observateurs – seuls les délinquants seraient mieux dépensés pour la tâche plus importante qui consiste à attraper ceux qui les produisent et/ou d’autres qui se livrent à de véritables violences physiques sur les enfants.

The authors of the material I read speculate that what keeps [non-producer prosecution] going, like most poor public policy, is fear, ignorance, and misinformation. The news media, elected politicians, law enforcement, and federal prosecution offices have also realized what an easy target nonproduction child pornography cases present. It is not surprising that these comprise the overwhelming majority of new sex offenses cases (despite being the least threatening subtype with the lowest recidivism rate). The political and PR return on investment is lucrative, indeed. It takes very little effort to catch someone accessing child pornography online, the public brings its approval to the voting booth, and the headlines write themselves.

Les auteurs des documents que j’ai lus supposent que ce qui fait que [les poursuites contre les non-producteurs] se poursuivent, comme la plupart des mauvaises politiques publiques, c’est la peur, l’ignorance et la désinformation. Les médias, les politiciens élus, les forces de l’ordre et les parquets fédéraux ont également compris que les affaires de pornographie enfantine non productrice sont des cibles faciles. Il n’est pas surprenant qu’elles constituent la grande majorité des nouvelles affaires de délits sexuels (bien qu’elles constituent le sous-type le moins menaçant avec le plus faible taux de récidive). Le retour sur investissement en matière de politique et de relations publiques est en effet lucratif. Il suffit de très peu d’efforts pour attraper quelqu’un qui accède à de la pornographie enfantine en ligne, le public apporte son approbation dans l’isoloir et les gros titres s’écrivent d’eux-mêmes.

Il pose ensuite une question très provocante sur la menace que représente cette catégorie de délinquants pour le public :

Why was I observed online for nine months? If law enforcement had a legitimate fear that I was a danger to children (my own or pediatric patients), why was nothing done for all that time? I can only conclude it was already known that I was not an immediate hands-on threat. It was more important to spend many months building the case, so I was allowed. . . The police’s inaction tacitly disclosed their position on the matter: that the harm I was generating toward children was not worth preventing sooner.

Pourquoi ai-je été observé en ligne pendant neuf mois ? Si les forces de l’ordre avaient une crainte légitime que je sois un danger pour les enfants (les miens ou les patients pédiatriques), pourquoi n’a-t-on rien fait pendant tout ce temps ? Je ne peux que conclure que l’on savait déjà que je ne constituais pas une menace directe et immédiate. Il était plus important de passer de nombreux mois à monter le dossier, donc j’ai été autorisé. . . L’inaction de la police a révélé tacitement sa position sur la question : le mal que je causais aux enfants ne valait pas la peine d’être prévenu plus tôt.

Ce genre d’analyse coûts/bénéfices/risques est bon à envisager. Cependant, il mentionne également le fait que, dans son propre cas, son utilité en tant que médecin est gâchée par l’enfermement. Son argument a un côté dangereux et c’est le facteur d’injustice. Une personne plus jeune – qui a peut-être vingt-cinq ans – a beaucoup moins à offrir à la société en échange de la liberté. Pire encore, il peut faire partie d’un groupe économiquement ou racialement défavorisé. Faire entrer l’utilité sociétale dans la discussion pose un défi pour assurer une véritable justice.

De temps en temps, son ton devient désagréablement auto excusant. Cependant, son point de vue est éducatif. Sa formation en sciences et en médecine lui permet d’introduire les faits et les arguments avec un minimum de distorsion causée par des émotions fortes (et il souligne également l’hypocrisie de la fausse communauté chrétienne d’Amérique pour la manière dont elles sensationnalise le processus juridique). Le livre est utile à lire quelle que soit l’évolution de la perception de l’auteur.

A Tourtuous Path

Atonement and Reinvention in a Broken System

By Christopher E. Pelloski, MD

I would pose the following question to the reader to put their mind in the proper frame to read A Tortuous Path:  should a smoker who is not part of the tobacco industry be held accountable for a child who he does not know getting cancer?

Christopher Pelloski’s A Tortuous Path – Atonement and Reinvention in a Broken System is the sequel to Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love.  It describes in detail his experiences during incarceration.  This second text is much more prescriptive than the first.  As such, both books should definitely be purchased as a set.  The two, together, have much greater value than either one has when read as a stand – alone work.  The latter part of the second book is an evidenced – based discourse on the sentencing procedures for child – pornography offenses. 

The most important discussion within the book concerns US Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy.  Kennedy’s arguments regarding incarceration cited rates of recidivism by convicted porn viewers.  The information used by Kennedy has been subsequently shown to have been fabricated!

Pelloski describes instances of persons in their young twenties being incarcerated for extensive periods and put at an extreme economic  disadvantage for finding employment  upon discharge.  He describes this legal path as utterly insane especially in light of the recidivism rates that are far lower than the fabricated rates used by the Supreme Court.  Diversion programs, similar to those used by consumers of illicit drugs should be the corrective model used.

He remarks:

many teens in high school send explicit pictures of themselves and their friends to each other—which technically is production and distribution of child pornography, since the subjects of the media are under eighteen years of age, even if the subjects are themselves. And yes, cases are emerging where teens are considered to have victimized themselves and are punished for it as if they were abusing adults, while state laws… are being drafted to further criminalize this common activity among teens

To whatever extent Pelloski is right about the above quote, the legal situation truly has become irrational.  He suggests looking to Western Europe (especially Finland or Germany) for a more rational approach to dealing with consumers of child pornography.  The populist sensationalizing of the issues in America suggest to Pelloski that only the Federal court system – not the legislative systems – can effect reform.

ISBN: 978-1-68433-468-1


Je pose la question suivante à la lectrice pour la préparer à lire Un chemin tortueux : un fumeur qui ne fait pas partie de l’industrie du tabac doit-il être tenu responsable du fait qu’un enfant qu’il ne connaît pas ait le cancer?

A Tortuous Path – Atonement and Reinvention in a Broken System de Christopher Pelloski est la suite de Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love.  Il décrit en détail ses expériences de vie pendant son incarcération.  Ce deuxième livre est beaucoup plus prescriptive que le premier.  En tant que tel, les deux livres doivent absolument être achetés simultanément.  Les deux, ensemble, ont beaucoup plus de valeur que l’un ou l’autre lorsqu’ils sont lus seuls.  La dernière partie du deuxième livre est un discours basé sur les preuves et les procédures de condamnation pour les délits de pornographie enfantine. 

La discussion la plus importante de ce livre concerne le juge en chef de la Cour suprême des États-Unis, Anthony Kennedy.  Les arguments de Kennedy concernant l’incarcération citent les taux de récidive des spectateurs de pornographie condamnés.  Il a ensuite été démontré que les informations utilisées par Kennedy ont été fabriquées de toutes pièces!

Pelloski décrit des cas de personnes de moins de vingt-cinq ans qui ont été incarcérées pendant de longues périodes et qui ont été extrêmement désavantagées pour trouver un emploi à leur libération.  Il décrit cette voie juridique comme totalement insensée, surtout à la lumière des taux de récidive qui sont bien plus bas que les taux fabriqués de toutes pièces utilisés par la Cour suprême.  Il pense que les programmes de réhabilitation, similaires à ceux utilisés par les consommateurs de drogues illicites, devraient être le modèle de correction utilisé.

Il remarque:

Many teens in high school send explicit pictures of themselves and their friends to each other—which technically is production and distribution of child pornography, since the subjects of the media are under eighteen years of age, even if the subjects are themselves. And yes, cases are emerging where teens are considered to have victimized themselves and are punished for it as if they were abusing adults, while state laws… are being drafted to further criminalize this common activity among teens

De nombreux adolescents au lycée s’envoient des photos explicites d’eux-mêmes et de leurs amis – ce qui, techniquement, constitue une production et une distribution de pornographie enfantine, puisque les sujets des médias ont moins de dix-huit ans, même si les sujets sont eux-mêmes. Et oui, on voit apparaître des cas où des adolescents sont considérés comme des victimes et sont punis pour cela comme s’ils abusaient d’adultes, tandis que des lois d’État… sont en cours d’élaboration pour criminaliser davantage cette activité courante chez les adolescents

Quelle que soit la mesure dans laquelle Pelloski a raison sur la citation ci-dessus, la situation juridique est vraiment devenue irrationnelle.  Il suggère de se tourner vers l’Europe occidentale (en particulier la Finlande ou l’Allemagne) pour une approche plus rationnelle du traitement des consommateurs de pornographie enfantine.  La sensationnalisation populiste des problèmes en Amérique suggère à Pelloski que seul le système judiciaire fédéral – et non les législatures des états et fédérale – peut effectuer une réforme.

antique balance

A Heart Condemned to Roam

By Brian Carmody

Brian Carmody
A Heart Condemned to Roam

As his title suggests, in Brian Carmody’s A Heart Condemned to Roam (2020, Black Rose Writing) the reader accompanies Ben, a college upperclassman, on a quasi-post-adolescent walk-about through America’s heartland. In what might be described as an exploration of American stoicism, Carmody commences the book in an interesting fashion with a sequence of passages illustrating the model of American citizenship as he sees it. Of course he does not identify the passages as such, they can easily be seen as Respect for Family, for God, for Country, for the Other, and for Achievment in that order. After this unorthodox beginning, the introspective journey begins.

Carmody writes from a 1st person perspective and the main character speaks on a very intimate level which engages the reader. In a genuinely humble tone, Carmody inserts a lot of moral conviction in addition to the exploration of a young, God-fearing man about matters of conscience. One such gem comes from fatherly advice about handling the aftermath of clumsily colliding with a fellow pedestrian:

It was a genuine human interaction, a chance to make a new friend, discover something new about yourself, and you wasted it, both of you wasted it, arguing about whose fault it was that you met in the first place.

Dad also prefers another theme in the book:

After a certain point you realize, it’s not what you think you care about that matters, it’s the big things you willfully choose to ignore.

And in a thinly veiled allusion to a certain girlfriend:

Take every opportunity you can find, even the bad ones, as a chance to find a fellow human being.

Dialogues also include talking with a hitchhiker about sexuality (a recurring issue concerning Ben’s girlfriend) as well as discussing Just War Theory with a re-enlistee friend. A clergyman from Nigeria offers a key to serenity near the book’s conclusion.

As a walk-about, the book naturally seeks a younger audience and accordingly is for the just-out-of-reach shelf of the bookcase. An excellent read for a 15-year-old. However, it can be enjoyed by any age and is refreshing for style and topics. I enjoyed it in spite of my five decades.

P.S. There is a citation boo boo in an unidentified quote from Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell album, but everybody makes mistakes.

ISBN: 978-1-68433-468-1

introspective eye exam
From A Conspectus of the Medical Sciences. H. Hartshorne. 1874 Philadelphia: Heney O. Lea

Ripped Off

Overtested, Overtreated, and Overcharged. The American Healthcare Mess

By Gilbert Simon, MD

Ripped off by Gilbert Simon medical ethics

Gilbert Simon’s Ripped Off! Overtested, Overtreated, and Overcharged: the American Healthcare Mess (Paper Raven Books 2020) is difficult to review because it is both very good and very weak in two ways. Like a number of other books reviewed below, it is a treatise on institutionalized insanity, albeit not of people but of the business of healthcare in the United States. Dr. Simon’s long experience in both the practice and administration of healthcare gives the reader a useful window into the machinations of an inscrutable universe of professional, governmental, and cultural practices. His experience, combined with his thoroughness and his candor, give strength to the book. However, the serious reader may become troubled by the sparse sourcing of many facts. Much that he speaks of clearly comes from self – experience, but he frequently refers to figures and historical notes that he does not plainly source. Here, I am not talking about personal attribution; I am talking about laying down a paper trail for others to follow and particularly others interested in making sound policy.

Simon’s powerful content focuses on a dysfunctional interplay between political parties, insurers, the federal government, and global economics. He does an intricate and masterful job of parsing the role of each of the above into a force for ill in healthcare. He discusses the pros and cons of doctors being allowed to set prices for services as opposed to Medicare doing so; the ‘defensive medicine’ stimulated by malpractice suits in which doctors protect themselves by ordering numerous and unnecessary tests; and the mythology of the ‘evil bureaucrat’.

He directed managed care in the 1990’s. As for the politically motivated horror tales spun about such a system, he asserts:

Contrary to popular belief, there was no “evil bureaucrat in Washington” making life-and-death decisions. There were no bureaucrats at all. Those decisions were made by qualified physicians following evidence-based guidelines that determined medical necessity. This was not a government takeover of medicine; it was a corporate takeover of medicine.(emphasis added)

From this perspective, much of the book is a harsh analysis of the conversion of medicine into a business rather than a health service. One example of moneymaking that he frequently refers to is medical imaging, another is in pharmaceuticals. Tremendous amounts of cash are wasted on unnecessary CT scans and MRI’s. Tests are bundled together (e.g. a blood sample is tested for 5 things when only one is desired), all in the name of “community standards” rather than “evidence – based guidlines”. And let’s not even talk about the pharmaceutical industry – but Simon does so. What he has to say is unsettling.

A particular pet peeve of his is the cost of imaging – what he calls the 800 lb gorilla:

The head of the American College of Radiology calculated the cost of diagnostic imaging in 2014 to be $100 billion and suggested that up to 10% of all imaging services are unnecessary or duplicative. Non-radiologists believe the percentage to be closer to 50%, especially for children. A 10% reduction would save $10 billion per year, a sum that could put an end to homelessness for 317,000 homeless citizens. And there is also a cost in terms of radiation exposure, since each regular CT scan exposes the patient to the equivalent of 250 chest x-rays. (empasis added)

He gives an exceptional explanation of the patent games (“evergreening”) which drug companies play to keep large monopolies. Likewise, he describes how hospital corporations pursue local monopolization. All in all, he takes some extremely complex subject material and makes it readable for the lay person. He doesn’t mince words at any time.

Unfortunately, we see bold factual statements and strongly worded passages without clear indication of where the information originates. For example:

Our adolescents have the highest rate of pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases since 1990. Among the industrialized countries studied, we had the highest prevalence of AIDS and the second highest of HIV infection. More Americans died from drug and alcohol abuse. These are appropriately known as despair deaths. We have the highest obesity rate among children and adults from age 20 on, and we have the highest prevalence of diabetes. Adults over the age of 50 are more apt to have and die from cardiovascular disease than those in our peer countries, and lung disease is more prevalent and debilitating in the United States. More older American adults have their activities limited by arthritis than their counterparts in other countries.

The above statements clearly have multiple sources, but they seem to be from one report for the “Commonwealth Fund” and what that report specifically is remains unclear. A book of this nature requires easy fact checking to command serious attention. Many dozens of passages similar in nature to the example occur throughout the book. In fact, the explicit citations number only fifty-one, and many or most of these refer to direct quotes or secondary sources. A discussion of Simon’s magnitude ought to have five times as many. Simon does provide proper contact information for people wishing citation materials, however, such an approach is simply bad form. The book should additionally serve as a launch pad for future research. The informal citation takes a five – star book down several notches.


Le livre de Gilbert Simon est difficile à examiner car il est à la fois très bon et très faible à deux égards. Comme un certain nombre d’autres livres examinés ci-dessous, il s’agit d’un traité sur la folie institutionnalisée, bien qu’elle ne soit pas le fait des gens, mais de l’activité des soins de santé aux États-Unis. La longue expérience du Dr Simon dans le traitement des patients et la gestion des soins de santé donne au lecteur une vue utile sur le fonctionnement d’un domaine impénétrable de pratiques professionnelles, gouvernementales et culturelles. Son expérience, combinée à sa rigueur et à sa franchise, confère au livre une plus grande crédibilité. Cependant, le lecteur sérieux peut être troublé par la rareté de nombreux faits. La plupart des choses dont il parle proviennent clairement de son expérience personnelle, mais il fait souvent référence à des chiffres et à des notes historiques qu’il ne cite pas clairement dans le texte du livre. Il ne s’agit pas ici de donner du crédit aux écrits d’autres personnes, mais de faciliter les recherches futures des lecteurs, et en particulier de ceux qui souhaitent prendre des décisions politiques éclairées.

Simon attire l’attention du lecteur sur le dysfonctionnement des relations entre les partis politiques, les assureurs, le gouvernement fédéral et l’économie mondiale. Il analyse de façon complexe et magistrale le rôle de chacun de ces groupes dans l’affaiblissement ou la corruption du système de santé américain. Il discute des avantages et des inconvénients de permettre aux médecins de fixer les prix des services par opposition à l’assurance-maladie ; de la “médecine défensive” stimulée par les procès pour faute professionnelle dans lesquels les médecins se protègent en ordonnant des tests nombreux et inutiles ; et de la mythologie du “bureaucrate malfaisant”.

Il a travaillé dans l’administration des soins de santé dans les années 1990. Quant aux histoires d’horreur que les politiciens ont racontées sur un tel système de gouvernement, il affirme:

Contrary to popular belief, there was no “evil bureaucrat in Washington” making life-and-death decisions. There were no bureaucrats at all. Those decisions were made by qualified physicians following evidence-based guidelines that determined medical necessity. This was not a government takeover of medicine; it was a corporate takeover of medicine.

Contrairement à la croyance populaire, il n’y avait pas de “bureaucrate maléfique à Washington” prenant des décisions de vie ou de mort. Il n’y avait pas de bureaucrates du tout. Ces décisions étaient prises par des médecins qualifiés suivant des directives fondées sur des preuves qui déterminaient la nécessité médicale. Il ne s’agissait pas d’une prise de contrôle de la médecine par le gouvernement, mais par les entreprises.

De ce point de vue, une grande partie du livre est une analyse sévère de la conversion de la médecine américaine en une entreprise plutôt qu’en un service de santé. Un exemple de rentabilité auquel il fait souvent référence est l’imagerie médicale, un autre est celui des produits pharmaceutiques. D’énormes sommes d’argent sont gaspillées pour des scanners et des IRM inutiles. Les tests sont regroupés (par exemple, cinq tests sont effectués sur un échantillon de sang alors qu’un seul est nécessaire au patient), le tout au nom de “normes communautaires” plutôt que de “lignes directrices basées sur des preuves”. Nous détestons même parler de l’industrie pharmaceutique – mais Simon le fait. Ce qu’il a à dire dans ce livre est troublant.

Un problème particulier qui le préoccupe beaucoup est le coût de l’imagerie:

The head of the American College of Radiology calculated the cost of diagnostic imaging in 2014 to be $100 billion and suggested that up to 10% of all imaging services are unnecessary or duplicative. Non-radiologists believe the percentage to be closer to 50%, especially for children. A 10% reduction would save $10 billion per year, a sum that could put an end to homelessness for 317,000 homeless citizens. And there is also a cost in terms of radiation exposure, since each regular CT scan exposes the patient to the equivalent of 250 chest x-rays.

Le directeur de l’American College of Radiology a calculé que le coût de l’imagerie diagnostique en 2014 s’élevait à 100 milliards de dollars et a suggéré que jusqu’à 10 % de tous les services d’imagerie sont inutiles ou font double emploi. Les non-radiologues estiment que le pourcentage est plus proche de 50 %, en particulier pour les enfants. Une réduction de 10 % permettrait d’économiser 10 milliards de dollars par an, une somme qui pourrait mettre un terme à l’absence de logement pour 317 000 citoyens sans abri. Et il y a aussi un coût en termes d’exposition aux radiations, puisque chaque scanner régulier expose le patient à l’équivalent de 250 radiographies du thorax.

Il donne une explication exceptionnellement précieuse sur les systèmes de brevets (“evergreening”) que les sociétés pharmaceutiques utilisent pour monopoliser la fabrication des médicaments. De même, il décrit comment les corporations hospitalières américaines monopolisent les soins de santé dans les communautés locales. Il prend des sujets extrêmement importants mais complexes et les explique bien au profane. Cependant, il n’hésite pas à exprimer des convictions très fortes dans un langage fort.

Malheureusement, nous voyons des déclarations factuelles audacieuses et des passages rédigés avec force sans indication claire de l’origine des informations. Par exemple :

Our adolescents have the highest rate of pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases since 1990. Among the industrialized countries studied, we had the highest prevalence of AIDS and the second highest of HIV infection. More Americans died from drug and alcohol abuse. These are appropriately known as despair deaths. We have the highest obesity rate among children and adults from age 20 on, and we have the highest prevalence of diabetes. Adults over the age of 50 are more apt to have and die from cardiovascular disease than those in our peer countries, and lung disease is more prevalent and debilitating in the United States. More older American adults have their activities limited by arthritis than their counterparts in other countries.

Nos adolescents ont le taux le plus élevé de grossesses et de maladies sexuellement transmissibles depuis 1990. Parmi les pays industrialisés étudiés, nous avons la plus forte prévalence du sida et la deuxième plus forte infection par le VIH. Davantage d’Américains sont morts de l’abus de drogues et d’alcool. Ces décès sont connus à juste titre sous le nom de “décès par désespoir”. Nous avons le taux d’obésité le plus élevé chez les enfants et les adultes à partir de 20 ans, et nous avons la plus forte prévalence de diabète. Les adultes de plus de 50 ans sont plus susceptibles d’avoir et de mourir de maladies cardiovasculaires que ceux de nos pays pairs, et les maladies pulmonaires sont plus répandues et plus débilitantes aux États-Unis. Les adultes américains âgés sont plus nombreux à voir leurs activités limitées par l’arthrite que leurs homologues d’autres pays.

Les déclarations ci-dessus ont clairement des sources multiples, mais elles semblent provenir d’un seul rapport pour le “Commonwealth Fund” et ce que ce rapport est précisément reste incertain. Un livre de cette nature nécessite une vérification facile des faits pour attirer l’attention. Plusieurs dizaines de passages de nature similaire à l’exemple se retrouvent tout au long du livre. En fait, les citations explicites ne sont au nombre de cinquante et un seulement, et beaucoup ou la plupart d’entre elles font référence à des citations directes ou à des sources secondaires. Une discussion de l’ampleur de Simon devrait en comporter cinq fois plus. Simon fournit des informations de contact appropriées pour les personnes souhaitant des documents de citation, cependant, une telle approche est tout simplement de mauvaise forme. Le livre devrait en outre stimuler les recherches futures. Les citations sont un moyen essentiel pour les chercheurs de découvrir les personnes importantes dans un domaine de la recherche médicale.

ISBN 978-0-578-58541-3

“A Model Pharmacy from the Late Nineteenth Century” Emotions and Disease – An exhibition at the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health • Bethesda, Maryland

On Vanishing

Mortality, Dementia, and What It Means to Disappear

By Lynn Casteel Harper

Lynn Casteel Harper
On Vanishing mortality dementia and what it means to disappear

I can count on one hand the occasions I saw administrators on the Gardens’ dementia unit spending time with residents and staff. – L.C. Harper

I could choose among twenty great quotes and a myriad chunks of wisdom to find a lead – off to this review of Harper’s timely and timeless manifesto, On Vanishing (2020 Catapult: New York) on the care of people living with some form of dementia. I chose the above, because it captures the distance from which higher caregivers treat those in their stewardship. It also hearkens to the business – model of care in America. In fact, though, I could have used many quotes or phrases to highlight other aspects of Harper’s work just as readily.

Harper, a Protestant minister and former nursing home chaplain, tackles a very challenging subject, namely the way in which people suffering dementia should have their status as members of society maintained. Her work is a manifesto in which she brings numerous aspects and agents of care into focus, from religious institutions’ (primarily Christian) lack of focus to inappropriate drug administration, to the economic status of the hands – on employees tending to people (40% of whom, she notes, live off of public assistance themselves). Most of the book centers on the social psychology shaping how people perceive those in need of care as the title suggests. She promotes the view that the individual’s personal identity is paramount to sustain throughout every stage of decline, and the way to do this is to maintain a never – ending level of individual engagement to prevent “social death”.

Using such politically incorrect terms as “lunacy”, she presents some unorthodox points to ponder. For example, lunacy / madness / psychoses are all “positives” in the sense of being qualities added to the persona. Dementia, on the other hand, is perceived as a reduction of the persona. Of the two semantic categories, she has a certain affinity for the former.

What if we defied vacancy’s tyranny and returned to madness for a moment—not as demon possession or constraint or a way to classify and contain people—but as needful folly in a world of stifling convention? Vacancy seems to suppress imagination; madness stirs it. Might we direct these motions toward compassion? Madness, understood as a window on a social world less ruled by mental conformity, might have some salvageable meanings for dementia.

This convergence with Tacking on the Styx delights me for its congruency with my own perception of why epilepsy should be considered a mental illness. The person is always a complete person, albeit with serious issues. The issues require attention as types of challenges rather than as deficits. A ‘lunatic’ has issues, an aged person with dementia is unhelpfully considered to have primarily vacancies.

Also of interest is her frequent reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a favorite personality of mine. While I have quoted the man’s lines about thought and memory, I did not know that he, himself, experienced some form of dementia. His inclusion, as a specific personality, rounded out the humanity of her discourse very nicely.

Care for people with chronic dementia and memory issues generally, makes for dreadfully depressing reading. However, reading such work helps us all in reclaiming a bit of our humanity. Harper’s book helps define what problems need addressing to protect the dignity and quality of life for persons living with dementia either in themselves or someone in their care.


I can count on one hand the occasions I saw administrators on the Gardens’ dementia unit spending time with residents and staff. – L.C. Harper (Je peux compter sur les doigts d’une main les occasions où j’ai vu les administrateurs de l’unité de démence des Gardens passer du temps avec les résidents et le personnel.)

Je pourrais choisir parmi vingt grandes citations et les nombreux mots de sagesse que j’ai lus dans ce livre pour commencer cette revue du manifeste de Harper sur la prise en charge des personnes atteintes de démence.

J’ai choisi les citations ci-dessus, car sa déclaration montre la distance qui sépare les hauts responsables des établissements de soins de santé de ceux qui sont sous leur responsabilité. Elle met également en évidence le modèle commercial des soins en Amérique. En fait, j’aurais pu utiliser de nombreuses citations différentes du livre de M. Harper pour montrer son importance.

Harper, pasteur protestant et ancien aumônier de maison de retraite, écrit sur un sujet très difficile, à savoir la manière dont les personnes souffrant de démence devraient voir leur statut de membre de la société maintenu. Son livre est un manifeste dans lequel elle met l’accent sur de nombreux aspects des soins, du manque d’attention portée à la démence par les institutions religieuses, à l’administration inappropriée de médicaments par les soignants, en passant par le statut économique de des employés qui donnent directement aux gens (dont 40 %, note-t-elle, vivent eux-mêmes de l’aide publique). Comme le suggère le titre du livre, la plupart des chapitres sont consacrés à la psychologie sociale qui façonne la perception des personnes nécessitant de nombreuses années de soins. Elle défend le point de vue selon lequel l’identité personnelle de l’individu doit être nourrie et soutenue à chaque étape du vieillissement et du déclin. La façon de préserver l’identité personnelle d’une personne atteinte de démence est de toujours maintenir des amitiés individuelles entre les personnes.

En utilisant des mots professionnellement impopulaires comme “lunacy”, elle donne à réfléchir à certaines idées peu orthodoxes. Par exemple, lunacy / madness / psychoses sont toutes “positives” dans le sens où elles sont des qualités ajoutées à l’identité de la personne. La “démence”, en revanche, est perçue comme une réduction ou un déficit de la personne. Parmi les deux types de descriptions, elle préfère la première, même si ces termes plus anciens sont considérés comme désobligeants par beaucoup de gens.

Elle demande : “What if we defied vacancy’s tyranny and returned to madness for a moment—not as demon possession or constraint or a way to classify and contain people—but as needful folly in a world of stifling convention? Vacancy seems to suppress imagination; madness stirs it. Might we direct these motions toward compassion? Madness, understood as a window on a social world less ruled by mental conformity, might have some salvageable meanings for dementia.” (Et si nous défiions la tyrannie du vide et retournions à la folie pendant un moment – non pas comme une possession ou une contrainte démoniaque ou une façon de classer et de contenir les gens – mais comme une folie nécessaire dans un monde de conventions étouffantes ? La vacance semble étouffer l’imagination ; la folie l’attise. Pourrions-nous orienter ces motions vers la compassion ? La folie, comprise comme une fenêtre sur un monde social moins régi par le conformisme mental, pourrait avoir des significations récupérables pour la démence).

Cette convergence avec Tacking on the Styx me réjouit pour sa similarité avec ma propre perception des raisons pour lesquelles l’épilepsie devrait être considérée comme une maladie mentale. La personne est toujours une personne complète, bien qu’elle ait de graves problèmes de santé. Ces problèmes exigent une attention particulière, sous forme de défis plutôt que de déficits. Un “lunatique” a des schémas de pensée et des comportements inhabituels, une personne âgée atteinte de démence est considérée comme ayant peu de pensées cohérentes.

Il est également intéressant de noter qu’elle fait souvent référence au philosophe de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, Ralph Waldo Emerson (qui est une de mes personnalités préférées). Bien que j’aie cité les lignes de l’homme sur la pensée et la mémoire dans mon propre livre, je ne savais pas qu’il souffrait lui-même d’une forme de démence. Son inclusion, en tant que personnalité spécifique, a très bien illustré la sagesse de discours de Harper.

Les soins aux personnes atteintes de démence chronique et les problèmes de mémoire en général, rendent la lecture terriblement déprimante. Cependant, la lecture de ce genre de littérature nous aide à nous réapproprier un peu de notre humanité. Le livre de Mme Harper nous aide à définir les problèmes auxquels il faut prêter attention pour protéger la dignité et le bonheur des personnes atteintes de démence – des problèmes chez le soignant comme chez le patient.

ISBN: 978-1-948226-28-8

The Shape – Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel

By Mark Budman

Mark Budman shape-shifter

The Shape – Shifter’s Guide to Time Travel, by Mark Budman (Black Rose Writing, 2020), takes a reader on a fantasy adventure narrated by two teenagers in an Earth – like world. Chapters alternate between each character’s telling as the story unfolds. Their relationship is of the Romeo / Juliet genre (their respective anthropoid societies have little fondness for one another). Watching their relationship develop is an enjoyable part of the book which walks a line between a young adult and an adult audience (very well suited for the former). Their innate special abilities make for interesting situations and adventures. Budman mixes modern America (think leaf blowers), fictional Eastern Europe and fantasy worlds to great effect. Lose a star, however, for not being a stand-alone book even as it is a beginning to a series.

ISBN: 978-1-68433-452-0

suicidal lovers on a pier during a storm
From Safe Counsel B.G. Jefferis & J.L. Nichols. Naperville: J.L. Nichols, 1894.

The House Without a Summer

By DeAnna Knippling

DeAnna Knippling
house without a summer

Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s. – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

The House Without a Summer, by DeAnna Knippling (D. Knippling, Wonderland Press, 2020) is a Gothic horror tale with an environmental spin. The protagonist, a veteran of the Napoleonic wars gets leave from the military to come home to his family’s palatial estate upon the death of his brother. He also must deal with the growing insanity of his father. The subsequent plot is a tale of palace intrigue. The action is nested within a world being overtaken by a mysterious fungus and also being haunted by mysterious, humanoid beings. The plot is interesting and would be good material for a movie or TV score.

The circumstances remind one of Justin Joschko’s Yellow Locust. Joschko’s story takes place in a world being overtaken by a locust plant. While the stories differ, my critiques of both differ very little (scroll down this page for that of Yellow Locust).

Knippling writes in a richly descriptive manner with enthusiasm. In doing so, she breaks a cardinal rule of at least one great writer. She leaves little to the reader’s imagination. To borrow her own words, as I moved through the text “it felt as though each footstep [I] made, was made while wading through a syrup.” Much like Joschko, she overburdens the reader with adjectives, adverbs, and context generally. As a result, the pace of this horror novel slows to something more like the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne than those of Stephen King.

A slow and highly detailed journey works well for the reader in the 1800’s. They had no TV, cinema, or Nintendo, and fewer books were to be had. Not so in 2020 and not so for a modern horror genre.

mad scientist
From Animal Mechanism and Physiology J.H. Griscom. New-York : Harper & Brothers, 1840

How’s Your Family Going?

By Sayonara Machado

Hows your family going sayonara machado

Brazilian author Sayonara Machado takes a look at what a family is and what predicts a harmonic life within it in How’s Your Family Going?(www.sayonarapsicologa.com, 2020). Being a therapist, Machado particularly explores the juvenile and adult child’s reaction to his or her parents’ marital relationship and how that reaction persists and evolves throughout adult life. She takes a special interest in the romantic life of the child as a function of the parental model.

Reviewing professional literature as well as life experience, she points out that a loving relationship between parents provides the keystone of a family. Unconditional love between family members is paramount. She elaborates with a discussion of the need for respectful negotiations of differences in opinions between parents and not letting a competition of ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ take place within a couple. Similarly, she stresses a need for couples to meticulously resolve differences in real time to keep the past in the past. Across generations, she emphasizes the need for people to acknowledge the particular difficulties which their parents faced so that they, themselves, can evolve in a positive manner.

I admired the fact that she pulled no punches on the role of religious dogma in preserving bad or hostile marriages. She mentions that she has seen hundreds of cases of marriages that should have ended, but in most cases, the religious institution added pressure not to divorce. Still, she states, “I’m neither in favour [of] nor against divorce. I see it as a necessary medication that, like all medication, will bring relief to the pain and damage that will need to be cured over time.” She then goes on to discuss society’s views of divorce (which do not appear uniquely Brazilian at all) and ties these views to child psychology.

Stylistically, the book vacillates between the personal and the academic in both content and writing style. Its strengths lay in the first two thirds of the text with the final chapters growing somewhat less tied together. Nevertheless, numerous philosophical gems reward the reader of psychotherapy. I am not very familiar with the field of family psychology, but I suspect that she tackles subjects whose received attention is inadequate to their importance. Of further note, she offers a special form of objectivity in her perspective as her own life has been quite distanced from the idealized one, i.e. two mutually loving, supportive parents and a similarly engaged extended family.

To her fellow professionals, she advises:

The role of psychology in a society, especially of couples and family specialists, is to understand the social phenomena and their changes, working to relieve emotional pain. Helping the patient, family, or individual to build a new family picture of their life at that moment, is, perhaps, our greatest goal.


L’auteur brésilien Sayonara Machado examine ce qui définit une famille et ce qui prédit une vie paisible et heureuse en son sein dans How’s Your Family Going ? En tant que psychologue, Machado explore en particulier la réaction de l’enfant juvénile et de l’enfant adulte à la relation conjugale de ses parents. Elle explique comment cette réaction persiste et évolue tout au long de la vie adulte. Elle s’intéresse tout particulièrement à la manière dont l’amour des parents l’un pour l’autre influence la vie romantique du fils ou de la fille.

Passant en revue la littérature professionnelle ainsi que son expérience de vie, elle souligne qu’une relation amoureuse entre parents constitue la clé de voûte d’une famille. L’amour inconditionnel entre les membres de la famille est d’une importance capitale. Elle explique qu’il est nécessaire de négocier avec respect les différences d’opinion entre les parents et de ne pas laisser une compétition de “bien” ou de “mal” se dérouler au sein du mariage d’un couple. De même, elle souligne la nécessité pour les couples de résoudre méticuleusement les différences dans le temps présent afin de garder le passé dans le passé. À travers les générations, elle insiste sur la nécessité pour les gens de reconnaître les difficultés particulières auxquelles leurs parents ont été confrontés afin qu’ils puissent eux-mêmes améliorer leur propre vie de couple.

J’ai admiré le fait qu’elle parle directement du rôle du dogme religieux dans la préservation des mariages mauvais ou hostiles. Elle a vu des centaines de cas de mariages qui auraient dû prendre fin, mais l’institution religieuse a ajouté une pression pour ne pas divorcer. Pourtant, elle déclare : “I’m neither in favour [of] nor against divorce. I see it as a necessary medication that, like all medication, will bring relief to the pain and damage that will need to be cured over time.” “Je ne suis ni pour ni contre le divorce. Je le considère comme un médicament nécessaire qui, comme tous les médicaments, soulagera la douleur et les dommages qui devront être guéris avec le temps”. Elle aborde ensuite les points de vue de la société sur le divorce et établit un lien entre ces points de vue et la psychologie des enfants. Les attitudes sur lesquelles elle écrit concernent de nombreux pays, et pas seulement le Brésil.

Sur le plan stylistique, le livre oscille entre un style populaire et un style académique, tant au niveau du contenu que de l’utilisation des mots. C’est dans les deux premiers tiers des chapitres qu’il est le plus fort, tandis que les derniers chapitres sont de moins en moins serrés. Néanmoins, de nombreux joyaux philosophiques récompensent le lecteur de la psychothérapie. Je ne connais pas très bien le domaine de la psychologie familiale, mais je soupçonne qu’elle aborde des sujets que les conseillers professionnels ne traitent pas autant qu’il le faudrait. Elle apporte également une objectivité particulière dans sa perspective, car sa propre vie a été assez éloignée de la vie idéalisée, c’est-à-dire deux parents qui s’aiment et se soutiennent mutuellement et une famille élargie qui les soutient également.

Elle conseille ses collègues professionnels :

The role of psychology in a society, especially of couples and family specialists, is to understand the social phenomena and their changes, working to relieve emotional pain. Helping the patient, family, or individual to build a new family picture of their life at that moment, is, perhaps, our greatest goal.
(Le rôle de la psychologie dans une société, en particulier des couples et des spécialistes de la famille, est de comprendre les phénomènes sociaux et leurs changements, en s’efforçant de soulager la douleur émotionnelle. Aider le patient, la famille ou l’individu à construire une nouvelle image familiale de sa vie à ce moment-là, est peut-être notre plus grand objectif.)

a family reading
From Safe Counsel B.G. Jefferis & J.L. Nichols. Naperville: J.L. Nichols, 1894.

Fallible

A Memoir of a Young Physician’s Struggle with Mental Illness

By Dr. Kyle Bradford Jones

Kyle Bradford Jones author of Fallible
A Memoir of a Young Physician’s Struggle with Mental Illness

Society wants (and deserves) intelligent, compassionate, and effective physicians. The current arrangement dulls intellect through unsustainable and dangerous schedules, kills the compassion intrinsic in medical students and residents, and sacrifices efficacious quality of care for the “efficiency” of seeing patients in an increasingly short amount of time. We need to reassess our goals.

In Fallible (Black Rose Writing, 2020), Dr. Kyle Bradford Jones takes a necessary shotgun challenge to the medical industry establishment in a manner stylistically comparable to that of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. While Carson wrote a seminal piece on environmentalism, Jones focuses on the less planetary world of American healthcare. The voting public will benefit from reading Fallible, but the book will be especially valuable to the premedical student as part of college curricula and also to people interested in public policy and law. It will furthermore be interesting to people with mental illnesses.

Jones starts out with the conundrum of having an illness as a doctor, and he warns that inadequate attention to physicians’ health has been becoming alarming:

Nearly one-third of doctors-in-training suffer from a mental illness. Physicians have a suicide rate three times higher than the general population among men, five times higher among women.

He also examines some of the causes for this disturbingly high rate, giving it context via his own life experience ( he has an anxiety disorder). He touches on alcoholism and drug usage among doctors, generally. A key target of discussion is the rather perverse culture of medical training. His insider’s description inspires a notion of having basic training with a military drill sergeant over-lording you not for six weeks but for many years. Medical culture dehumanizes its own in its present state.

Though he focuses his thoughts about professional psychology on the abusiveness of senior personnel, he makes a brief but important description of the impact of medical malpractice suits brought against doctors. Ambulance chasers’ assaults on humanity take a grim toll on the psychology of physicians. The subsequent effects on doctors’ empathy and compassion are likewise grim. The general public, he asserts, greatly underestimates the devastating effect legal actions have on subsequent morale and performance.

The extent to which the American medical establishment has become a business figures prominently at the beginning of the book:

The Hippocratic Oath, which all doctors take when they graduate from medical school, begins with the charge “Primum non nocere” (“First do no harm”). But when something reimburses well, the oath becomes more of a loose guideline than anything else . . .”

Naturally, he highlights the largess and mercenary behaviors of some pharmaceutical companies.

Jones ends the book with a to – do list of general measures and goals to be focused on. Like Carson’s work, the book is both inspired, depressing, yet very necessary and timely. I do not doubt that Jones will harvest quite a bit of scorn for writing it. He deserves quite a bit of admiration for doing so as well.


Society wants (and deserves) intelligent, compassionate, and effective physicians. The current arrangement dulls intellect through unsustainable and dangerous schedules, kills the compassion intrinsic in medical students and residents, and sacrifices efficacious quality of care for the “efficiency” of seeing patients in an increasingly short amount of time. We need to reassess our goals. (La société veut (et mérite) des médecins intelligents, compatissants et efficaces. L’arrangement actuel émousse l’intellect par des horaires insoutenables et dangereux, tue la compassion intrinsèque des étudiants en médecine et des résidents, et sacrifie la qualité efficace des soins pour l'”efficacité” de la consultation des patients dans un laps de temps de plus en plus court. Nous devons réévaluer nos objectifs. )

Dans Fallible, le Dr Kyle Bradford Jones remet en question de manière globale l’establishment de l’industrie médicale d’une manière comparable à celle de Rachel Carson lorsqu’elle a écrit son manifeste environnemental, Silent Spring. Tandis que Carson a écrit un article fondamental sur l’environnementalisme, Jones se concentre sur les soins de santé Américains. Les électeurs tireront profit de la lecture de Fallible, mais le livre sera particulièrement utile aux étudiants en médecine dans le cadre des programmes d’études universitaires et aux personnes qui s’intéressent à la fois à la politique publique et au droit. Il sera en outre intéressant pour les personnes souffrant de maladies mentales.

Jones commence par l’énigme d’avoir une maladie en tant que médecin, et il prévient qu’une attention insuffisante accordée à la santé des médecins, eux-mêmes, devient alarmante :

Nearly one-third of doctors-in-training suffer from a mental illness. Physicians have a suicide rate three times higher than the general population among men, five times higher among women. (Près d’un tiers des médecins en formation souffrent d’une maladie mentale. Les médecins ont un taux de suicide trois fois plus élevé que la population générale chez les hommes, cinq fois plus élevé chez les femmes).

Il examine également certaines des causes de ce taux inquiétant de maladies, en le replaçant dans le contexte de sa propre expérience de vie ( il souffre d’un trouble anxieux). Il aborde la question de l’alcoolisme et de la consommation de drogues chez les médecins. Un sujet important est la culture décourageante de la formation médicale. Sa description de la culture crée l’image d’un officier de l’armée qui réprimande les soldats nouvellement recrutés pendant l’entraînement militaire. La culture médicale américaine déshumanise les jeunes médecins sans aucun bénéfice.

Bien qu’il concentre ses réflexions sur la psychologie professionnelle sur l’abus du personnel supérieur, il fait une brève mais importante description de l’impact des poursuites pour faute médicale intentées contre les médecins. Les avocats agressifs qui cherchent de l’argent font payer un lourd tribut à la psychologie des médecins. Les effets ultérieurs sur l’empathie et la compassion des médecins deviennent sistres. Le grand public, affirme-t-il, sous-estime grandement l’effet dévastateur des actions en justice sur le moral et les performances ultérieures.

La mesure dans laquelle l’establishment médical américain est devenu une entreprise fait l’objet d’une attention particulière au début du livre :

The Hippocratic Oath, which all doctors take when they graduate from medical school, begins with the charge “Primum non nocere” (“First do no harm”). But when something reimburses well, the oath becomes more of a loose guideline than anything else . . .” (Le serment d’Hippocrate, que tous les médecins prêtent à la fin de leurs études, commence par l’accusation “Primum non nocere” (“Ne pas faire de mal d’abord”). Mais lorsque quelque chose rembourse bien, le serment devient plus une ligne directrice vague qu’autre chose…”)


Naturellement, il souligne les comportements de largesses et de mercenariat de certaines entreprises pharmaceutiques.

Jones termine le livre par une liste d’actions et d’objectifs généraux sur lesquels il faut se concentrer. Comme l’œuvre de Carson, le livre est à la fois inspiré, déprimant, mais aussi très nécessaire et approprié à l’époque actuelle. Je ne doute pas que Jones recevra du mépris pour l’avoir écrit. Il mérite l’admiration pour l’avoir fait.

ISBN: 978-1-68433-455-1

alcoholic medical student performing autopsy
Némésis médicale illustrée : recueil de satires by
 Fabre, François, 1797-1854Daumier, Honoré, 1808-1879

Dancer in the Garden

By Dr. Siegfried Kra

Dancer in the Garden by Siegfried Kra reviewed by jeffrey hatcher

Dancer in the Garden is an autobiographical memoir about the career of cardiologist Siegfried Kra (Pleasure Boat Studio: a Literary Press, 2019). Kra writes what are effectively short stories in a very personable style. He does so from a perspective of fifty years in medicine. What he does not do so much is tie the stories together around an easily discernible theme or message.

Strong chapters include a storied comparison between a young lady and an older madame in a tuberculosis sanatorium. In both instances following protocol implies diverging from the whole appreciation of their humanity. Nevertheless, dealing with them requires playing different roles which require a talent for gymnastics.

Another chapter includes a vivid accounting of a plane crash which Kra survived in Rhode Island. He describes a number of human and environmental factors that should have culminated in the death of all of those people aboard, including his own. He makes soft allusion to a guardian angel and also seems to warn against the vice of being pedantic. Predictably, the guardian angels that may or may not exist turned their backs on several victims who were burned to death.

Kra hints at the need for listening – literally and through a stethoscope – as opposed to relying too much upon technology. He does so in a story of examining someone and making a diagnosis of heart cancer. It is about being up close and personal.

One of the very first sentiments of the book and also one of the most important occurs in the first chapter and resonates quite strongly with that of Tacking on the Styx (2015). Kra writes:

“Just touch him,” I tell the masked and gloved figures. “Hold his hand and it will give him a feeling of comfort and security. He won’t be so frightened. It’s an old method I learned in medical school, before you had all these machines.” All medical care should include the ancient bedside practice of taking the patient’s hand. “It works better than Xanax,” I tell them.

Similarly, at the close of Chapter 1, Hatcher writes:

Before he left, taking his lead from ancient healing rituals and Tom’s demeanor, he took Tom’s hand in one of his and placed his other hand on Tom’s shoulder. He stood in this laying-on of hands for some minutes without speaking a single word. Transfusing a sense of human stability. Then he vanished. Tom flipped back into the abyss of sleep. This laying-on of hands by his doctor would come to be the sharpest positive image retained from his hospital stay, if only for its simplicity.

Quite reassuringly, Kra, as a doctor, and I, as a patient, share a strong sentiment! It is a very good thing to know.


Dancer in the Garden est un mémoire autobiographique sur la carrière du cardiologue Siegfried Kra (Pleasure Boat Studio : a Literary Press, 2019). Kra écrit ce qui est en fait des nouvelles dans un style très personnel. Il le fait dans une perspective de cinquante ans de médecine. Ce qu’il ne fait pas tant, c’est de relier les histoires autour d’un thème ou d’un message facilement discernable.

Parmi les très bons chapitres figure une comparaison narrative entre une jeune femme et une femme plus âgée qui se trouvent dans un sanatorium pour tuberculeux. Dans les deux cas, suivre strictement un protocole exigerait de s’écarter de l’appréciation globale de leur humanité. Néanmoins, pour les traiter, il faut jouer des rôles différents et le faire avec une agilité particulière.

Un autre chapitre comprend un récit vivant d’un accident d’avion dans lequel Kra a survécu dans le Rhode Island. Il décrit un certain nombre de facteurs humains et environnementaux qui auraient dû aboutir à la mort de toutes ces personnes à bord, y compris la sienne. Il fait allusion à un ange gardien et semble également mettre en garde contre le vice d’être pédant. Comme on pouvait s’y attendre, les anges gardiens, qu’ils existent ou non, ont tourné le dos à plusieurs victimes qui ont été brûlées vives.

M. Kra souligne la nécessité d’écouter – à l’aide d’un stéthoscope et par le biais d’une conversation – plutôt que de trop s’appuyer sur une technologie médicale sophistiquée. Il le fait dans une histoire d’examen d’une personne et de diagnostic d’un cancer du cœur. Une bonne pratique consiste à bien connaître les besoins du patient.

L’un des tout premiers sentiments du livre, et aussi l’un des plus importants, se retrouve dans le premier chapitre et résonne assez fortement avec celui de Tacking on the Styx (2015). Kra écrit

“Just touch him,” I tell the masked and gloved figures. “Hold his hand and it will give him a feeling of comfort and security. He won’t be so frightened. It’s an old method I learned in medical school, before you had all these machines.” All medical care should include the ancient bedside practice of taking the patient’s hand. “It works better than Xanax,” I tell them. (“Il suffit de le toucher”, dis-je aux personnages masqués et gantés. “Tenez-lui la main et cela lui donnera un sentiment de confort et de sécurité. Il n’aura pas si peur. C’est une vieille méthode que j’ai apprise à l’école de médecine, avant que vous n’ayez toutes ces machines.” Tous les soins médicaux devraient inclure l’ancienne pratique consistant à prendre la main du patient au chevet de celui-ci. “Ça marche mieux que le Xanax”, leur dis-je.)

De même, à la fin du chapitre 1, Hatcher écrit

Before he left, taking his lead from ancient healing rituals and Tom’s demeanor, he took Tom’s hand in one of his and placed his other hand on Tom’s shoulder. He stood in this laying-on of hands for some minutes without speaking a single word. Transfusing a sense of human stability. Then he vanished. Tom flipped back into the abyss of sleep. This laying-on of hands by his doctor would come to be the sharpest positive image retained from his hospital stay, if only for its simplicity. (Avant de partir, s’inspirant d’anciens rituels de guérison et du comportement de Tom, il a pris la main de Tom dans l’une des siennes et a placé l’autre sur l’épaule de Tom. Il s’est tenu dans cette imposition des mains pendant quelques minutes sans dire un seul mot. Transfuser un sentiment de stabilité humaine. Puis il a disparu. Tom est retombé dans l’abîme du sommeil. Cette imposition des mains par son médecin allait devenir l’image positive la plus nette qu’il ait conservée de son séjour à l’hôpital, ne serait-ce que par sa simplicité.)

Il est rassurant de constater que Kra, en tant que médecin, et moi, en tant que patient, partageons un sentiment fort ! C’est une très bonne chose d’avoir des attitudes aussi similaires.

ISBN 978-0-912887-61-6

Optic nerve, eyes and brain stem. from 
An illustrated system of human anatomy: special, general and microscopic
by Samuel George Morton
Philadelphia : Grigg, Elliot, 1849
From An Illustrated System of Human Anatomy: Special, General, and Microscopic Samuel George Morton. Philadelphia : Grigg, Elliot, 1849

Am I a Lunatic?

Dr. Henry T. Helmbold’s Exposure of His Personal Experience in the Lunatic Asylums of Europe and America

By Dr. Henry T. Helmbold

Henry Helmboldt lunatic asylums reviewed by jeffrey hatcher

To call attention to the haphazard and crude asylum systems in America circa 1877, Dr. Henry Helmbold wrote Am I a Lunatic? or Dr. Henry T. Helmbold’s Exposure of His Personal Experience in the Lunatic Asylums of Europe and America. Helmbold was a multi-millionaire who made his riches off of health tonics. He was also a Harry Houdini of insane asylums and had a relationship with mental hospitals much like water has with a sieve fixed over a bucket. He passed through the walls easily yet repeatedly found himself contained by the system.

Bearing in mind that Am I a Lunatic? is an autobiography, Helmbold describes every day of his life being a perfectly sane one. A reader does get the impression that he is eccentric but perhaps no more so than any person who is free of all financial wants and has a high disposable income. His audacity oozes from every chapter, but he never betrays any evidence of being a hazard to anyone. Nevertheless, some real but unknown agent persists in taking every measure to keep him locked up. One has the feeling that some party or parties – perhaps those with keen financial interests – have a strong vested interest in his confinement more so than in his health. If any evidence for his genuine insanity exists, it may be his persistence in returning to family after every escape from confinement which naturally ends in re – incarceration. Furthermore, he appears to have a following of paparazzi; he fondly speaks of receiving ‘hundreds of calls’ during a week in Boston. His ability for stealth fails both within and without.

Whatever the one-sided view of his life circumstances outside of asylums may be, his report of life within them accords with other authors sharing his perspective. And he has seen the interior of many both in America and in France. The latter he regards highly; the former he does not:

In an American lunatic asylum sane men are driven mad, but in France the main design of such an asylum is to render mad people gradually and pleasantly sane.

What he does do is point out the lack of accountability within the American system. At one institution, he obtains a writ of habeus corpus. Properly heard in court, he questions the ‘doctors’ holding power over him. He trolls several doctors into saying that they are familiar with the books X, Y, & Z, and then informs the court that said books are the products of his own imagination! These doctors’ professional integrity seems lax. Trolling predates Facebook.

Like so many patients, real or of convenience, he decries the lack of a counseled hearing which insinuates that criminals have it better. Additionally, he decries the boredom – the lack of stimulation that is self – sufficient to bring about madness. He gets treated brutally and housed in cells with inadequate heating or ventilation. Based on all of these factors he advises:

If any of my readers have friends who are insane, for God’s sake let them heed my words and take care of their insane dear ones themselves at home. Let them not send them to a madhouse. And if any of my readers fancy that they are perfectly secure,’ as far as they are concerned, from any possible danger of being thrown at any moment into a madhouse, let them think over the revelations published under my signature.

The book is engaging and a window into a past time based upon human behaviors which are not extinct.


Pour avertir les Américains de la terrible gestion des asiles de fous en Amérique vers 1877, Dr Henry Helmbold a écrit “Am I a Lunatic? or Dr. Henry T. Helmbold’s Exposure of His Personal Experience in the Lunatic Asylums of Europe and America“. Helmbold était très riche et gagnait de l’argent en vendant des “toniques pour la santé”. C’était aussi un homme dont les capacités à échapper à l’enfermement étaient comme celles de Harry Houdini. Il s’est échappé d’hôpitaux psychiatriques comme l’eau s’écoule à travers un tamis. Il traversait facilement les murs mais se retrouvait à plusieurs reprises dans le système des hôpitaux médicaux.

Helmbold décrit chaque jour de sa vie d’interné comme une vie vraiment saine. Une personne qui lit le livre pourrait commencer à croire qu’il est excentrique, mais peut-être pas plus que n’importe quel homme qui est libre de toute envie financière et qui a un grand compte en banque. Son audace suinte de chaque chapitre, mais il ne trahit jamais la preuve qu’il est un danger pour qui que ce soit. Néanmoins, un agent inconnu persiste à prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour le garder enfermé. On soupçonne qu’une ou plusieurs personnes en particulier – peut-être celles qui ont de grands intérêts financiers – ont un grand intérêt à le faire enfermer pour dissimuler leur propre vol plutôt que pour protéger sa santé. S’il existe une preuve de la véritable folie de Hembold, elle peut être trouvée dans sa persistance à retourner auprès de sa famille après chaque évasion de sa détention qui se termine naturellement par des incarcérations répétées. De plus, il semble avoir des adeptes parmi les paparazzi ; il parle avec affection de recevoir “des centaines de visites” pendant une semaine à Boston. Sa furtivité échoue tant en public qu’en privé.

Quelle que soit sa vision subjective des circonstances de sa vie en dehors des asiles, son rapport sur la vie en détention est conforme à celui d’autres auteurs qui ont également été engagés dans des hôpitaux. Et il a vu l’intérieur de nombreux hôpitaux psychiatriques, tant en Amérique qu’en France. Il respecte beaucoup ce dernier, mais pas le premier :

In an American lunatic asylum sane men are driven mad, but in France the main design of such an asylum is to render mad people gradually and pleasantly sane. (Dans un asile d’aliénés Américain, les hommes sains d’esprit sont rendus fous, mais en France, le principal objectif d’un tel asile est de rendre les fous progressivement et agréablement sains d’esprit.)



Il souligne l’absence de responsabilité professionnelle dans le système américain. Dans une institution, il obtient une ordonnance d’habeus corpus. Lorsqu’il est formellement entendu au tribunal, il remet en question les “médecins” qui détiennent le pouvoir sur lui. Il fait croire à plusieurs médecins qu’ils ont lu les livres X, Y et Z, puis il informe le tribunal que ces livres ne sont que le fruit de sa propre imagination !

Comme de nombreux patients qui ont écrit des livres similaires (et qui sont passés en revue sur cette page web), il dénonce l’absence d’un conseiller juridique lors d’une audience d’engagement, insinuant ainsi que les criminels ont des droits légaux mieux protégés. De plus, il dénonce l’horrible ennui qui peut rendre fou toute personne saine d’esprit. Il est traité avec brutalité et logé dans des cellules dont le chauffage ou la ventilation sont inadéquats. Sur la base de tous ces facteurs, il donne des conseils :

If any of my readers have friends who are insane, for God’s sake let them heed my words and take care of their insane dear ones themselves at home. Let them not send them to a madhouse. And if any of my readers fancy that they are perfectly secure,’ as far as they are concerned, from any possible danger of being thrown at any moment into a madhouse, let them think over the revelations published under my signature. (Si certains de mes lecteurs ont des amis qui sont fous, pour l’amour de Dieu, qu’ils écoutent mes paroles et s’occupent eux-mêmes de leurs proches fous à la maison. Qu’ils ne les envoient pas dans une maison de fous. Et si certains de mes lecteurs pensent qu’ils sont “parfaitement à l’abri”, en ce qui les concerne, de tout danger éventuel d’être jetés à tout moment dans une maison de fous, qu’ils réfléchissent aux révélations publiées sous ma signature.)



Le livre est engageant et offre une vue historique précieuse sur une mauvaise époque des soins de santé américains. Les méditations et les conclusions de Hembolds sont basées sur des comportements humains qui pourraient être très courants aujourd’hui.

Adam, Victor (Jean-Victor Adam, dit) , Dessinateur-lithographe
Bulla, Joseph , Editeur
Delarue, François , Editeur
Lemercier, Bénard et Cie , Imprimeur-lithographe
Le Mal CC0 Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet

Be Still

Spiritual Self – Care for Mental Health Professionals

By Dr. LaRonda Starling

LaRonda Starling author of Be Still: Spiritual Self-care for Mental Health Professionals

In Be Still: Spiritual Self-Care for Mental Health Professionals, Dr. LaRonda Starling (2019) coaches healthcare workers to take care of themselves within a Christian religious paradigm. The book is level headed and sensitive with sound advice to offer. However, from a literary perspective, it does suffer from a tendency to get too soothing and too slow. In this regard, it is similar to John Siefring’s An Important Day, but Starling never quite gets to Siefring’s level of viscosity except in a few places. More importantly, Starling occasionally seems to forget that her intended audience has a high level of education. Her tone frequently better suits a lay person reader.

Getting the nuisances out of the way first, her starting disclaimer embodies the illness of disclaimers:

I am not offering this book as advice to anyone, and the information here was written because God told me to.

Oh, for St. Pete’s sake. If God told her to write it, then of course it is meant to advise! If God told her to write it, then one should trust that She will protect Starling from law suits. Starling begs the question “should I be taken seriously?” from the start.

On the matter of tone, her speaking style may be useful for communicating with some clientele, but it often fails strategically for speaking to an audience of M.D.’s. Witness:

there is only one you. As much as some people may seem to be similar, even identical twins are uniquely themselves. Whether you believe it or not, you are you, and God created you for your unique purpose. There is no going to a people store and getting a new you.

Seriously?

Now, being a non-believer, I must take a few perfunctory swipes at conservative Christian theology. She makes the required references to the ever – increasing level of wickedness in our world. Why do theological types always set the trend pointing to Hell when very little that happens in 2020 can compare to the Holocaust or the real Hell in the Pacific during World War II? Do theologians ever ponder the fact that morality can go up as well as down? She has her moments of boring cliche.

And speaking of 2020, the environmentalist in me despises the shortsightedness of all salvationists who believe that the end is not just near but imminent. The verse which I despise is:

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

This abbreviated mode of thinking puts the conservative minister in direct conflict with the environmentalist. Tomorrow is exactly what society should worry about, and ministers should be mindful of that or go into retirement.

Now for the good stuff.

She meditates thoroughly on keeping the good stuff at the forefront of a clinicians mind. The best part of the book is her referral to Philippians 4:8:

whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things

She then goes on to discuss a number of ways one can discipline oneself to do this. Furthermore, one need not be a believer to find her advice useful. In chapter 6, she does fail again to match text style to audience but her thoughts for being still and saying ‘no’ to people who put too much on a counselor come across well. Herein lay the essence of the book:

If studied at some length, I am sure we could find many ways to say no to someone in a manner that honors God. Here we will look at this through the lens of the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23 – ESV). Look at a few of the ways you could say no: lovingly, peaceably, patiently, kindly, and gently. In a society where people encourage one another to be rude, blunt, and petty, it has become increasingly important to remember to say things in a loving manner, including the word no.


Dans Be Still : Spiritual Self-Care for Mental Health Professionals, le Dr LaRonda Starling (2019) guide les professionnels de la santé à prendre soin d’eux-mêmes dans le cadre d’un paradigme religieux chrétien. Ce livre est sensible et contient de précieux conseils. Toutefois, d’un point de vue littéraire, il a tendance à être trop apaisant et trop lent. À cet égard, il est similaire à An Important Day de John Siefring, mais Starling n’atteint jamais tout à fait le niveau de viscosité de Siefring, sauf à quelques endroits. Plus important encore, Starling semble parfois oublier que son public cible a un niveau d’éducation élevé. Son ton convient souvent mieux à un lecteur profane.

En éliminant d’abord les nuisances, son avertissement de départ incarne la maladie des avertissements :


I am not offering this book as advice to anyone, and the information here was written because God told me to.

Je ne propose ce livre à personne comme un conseil, et les informations qu’il contient ont été écrites parce que Dieu me l’a demandé.

Si Dieu lui a dit de l’écrire, alors il est bien sûr destiné à conseiller ! Si Dieu lui a dit de l’écrire, alors on doit avoir confiance qu’elle protégera Starling des poursuites judiciaires. Starling pose la question “dois-je être pris au sérieux?” dès le début.

En ce qui concerne le ton, son style de parole peut être utile pour communiquer avec une certaine clientèle, mais il échoue souvent stratégiquement pour parler à un public de médecins. Témoin :

there is only one you. As much as some people may seem to be similar, even identical twins are uniquely themselves. Whether you believe it or not, you are you, and God created you for your unique purpose. There is no going to a people store and getting a new you.

(il n’y a qu’un seul vous. Même si certaines personnes peuvent sembler similaires, même des jumeaux identiques sont uniques. Que vous le croyiez ou non, vous êtes vous, et Dieu vous a créé dans un but unique. Il n’est pas possible d’aller dans un magasin people et d’obtenir un nouveau toi.)

MonDieu !

Maintenant, en tant que non-croyant, je dois critiquer la théologie américaine conservatrice. Elle déplore le niveau croissant de la méchanceté dans notre monde. Pour une ministre américaine conservatrice, c’est une abomination de ne pas déclarer que les gens deviennent de plus en plus méchants aujourd’hui. Pourquoi les théologiens conservateurs nous accusent-ils toujours de rendre notre monde plus méchant alors que très peu de choses qui se passent en 2020 peuvent être comparées à la bataille de la Somme, à l’Holocauste nazi ou aux batailles dans le Pacifique pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale ? Les théologiens se demandent-ils parfois si la moralité ne s’améliore pas plutôt que de se dégrader ? Trop souvent, elle écrit des clichés ennuyeux.

Et concernant 2020, l’environnementaliste en moi méprise la myopie de tout le clergé qui croit que la fin n’est pas seulement proche mais imminente. Le verset que je méprise est :

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).


Ne vous inquiétez donc pas pour demain, car demain s’inquiétera de lui-même. Chaque jour a assez de soucis pour lui seul (Matthieu 6:34).

Cette perspective à courte vue met le pasteur conservateur en conflit direct avec les gens qui croient que la Terre mérite plus de respect que l’humanité ne lui en donne… Demain est exactement ce dont la société devrait s’inquiéter, et les ministres devraient en être conscients. S’ils ne peuvent pas respecter notre monde physique, ils devraient s’enfermer dans un placard pendant trente ans.

Et maintenant, les bonnes choses.

Elle médite minutieusement sur le fait de garder ce qui est bon au premier plan dans l’esprit d’un clinicien. La meilleure partie du livre est sa référence à Philippiens 4:8 :

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Tout ce qui est vrai, tout ce qui est honorable, tout ce qui est juste, tout ce qui est pur, tout ce qui est beau, tout ce qui est louable, s’il y a quelque excellence, s’il y a quelque chose qui mérite d’être loué, pensez à ces choses

Elle aborde ensuite un certain nombre de moyens de se discipliner pour penser de cette manière. En outre, il n’est pas nécessaire d’être croyant pour trouver ses conseils utiles. Au chapitre 6, elle ne parvient pas non plus à adapter le style de son texte à son public, mais ses réflexions sur le fait de rester immobile et de dire “non” aux personnes qui font trop appel à un conseiller psychologique sont bien perçues. C’est là que se trouve l’essence du livre :

If studied at some length, I am sure we could find many ways to say no to someone in a manner that honors God. Here we will look at this through the lens of the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23 – ESV). Look at a few of the ways you could say no: lovingly, peaceably, patiently, kindly, and gently. In a society where people encourage one another to be rude, blunt, and petty, it has become increasingly important to remember to say things in a loving manner, including the word no.

Si on l’étudie longuement, je suis sûr qu’on pourrait trouver de nombreuses façons de dire non à quelqu’un d’une manière qui honore Dieu. Ici, nous allons examiner cela à travers la lentille du fruit de l’Esprit. “Mais le fruit de l’Esprit, c’est l’amour, la joie, la paix, la patience, la bonté, la bienveillance, la fidélité, la douceur, la maîtrise de soi ; contre de telles choses il n’y a pas de loi” (Galates 5:22-23 – ESV). Examinez quelques-unes des façons dont vous pourriez dire non : avec amour, en paix, avec patience, avec bonté et avec douceur. Dans une société où les gens s’encouragent mutuellement à être grossiers, brusques et mesquins, il est devenu de plus en plus important de se souvenir de dire les choses avec amour, y compris le mot “non”.

ISBN-13: 978-0-9980462-1-1

Pensive man thinking
Plate IV of "A New System of Phrenology" by Stanley Grimes. 1839
A New System of Phrenology S. Grimes.
New York : Wiley and Putnam, 1839

The Piling of Tophet

A Lunatic’s Problem for the World to Solve

By John T. Fowler

The Piling of Tophet,  John Fowler as reviewed by Jeffrey Hatcher

John T. Fowler’s The Piling of Tophet: a Lunatic’s Problem for the World to Solve (1879) stands as an early example of the value of patient – written material to a modern conception of mental illness. As such, it holds its own against modern works. Person’s interested in psychological reads should include it on their short list of works.

Fowler suffers from an intermittent psychotic disorder of some kind and is a frequent resident within the Hudson River State Hospital, Poughkeepsie, New York (a hospital less than ten years old at his time of writing). His points of appeal include some insightful philosophizing upon religion, a general description of his life in an asylum and the management of 19th century asylums, and how he, himself, is an appropriate person to be “in the system”. His description also shows the system in 1879 to be perhaps a good deal better than what it evolved into by 1979.

The sharp and insightful religious discussion of the first 1/2 of the book would easily stand side by side with the Rev. Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry David Thoreau. Tophet offers a delightful treasure chest of quotes for religious philosophy. Fowler probably does not have the same recognition as these other men due to his writing having some focus on mental illness. His illness clouds the wisdom in the eyes of others, as does a claim that he makes to be a prophet of sorts.

Unfortunately, thinking of oneself as sent from a god allows people to be dismissive of you. Today, some communities would look at him most warily, but they have no need to be concerned because “he is crazy”. Evangelical “Christians”, among others, might be put off by his conception of religious philosophy as a more universal philosophy. In truth, they would see him as a threat. Heaven, to his thought, is simply the earthly realization of the Golden Rule. Such a notion is a most existentialist threat to right – wing American theology purporting to be Christian.

In fact, his philosophy takes harsh aim at much of organized religion:

all the ecumenical councils and consecrated writings in the world could not secure the supporters of irrational doctrines from ultimate consignment to the hell of fools and the blind… There is no more horrible sin than the upholding of false and irrational doctrines. When such doctrines are established, and the opposition cowed into moral subjection, sin reigns supreme.

He does not believe in a hereafter, and in that respect, he is like the fictional protagonist in Tacking on the Styx.

Furthermore, by dispensing with that ‘soul concept’, he keeps a better perspective upon the interpretation of scriptural texts than many a modern preacher. Again, under the influence of the Golden Rule:

All men have naturally equal rights in the kingdom of heaven, and an equal right to plain reason as the basis of all sacred laws. But after some keen spirit like Moses, the evangelists, Mohammed, Buddha, etc., cooks up a tempting and plausible mess, he has no difficulty in getting the plebeian Esau to take it in exchange for his birthright freedom of reason. From this sale of birthright comes the attachment seen all over the world for national and hereditary religions, in defiance of all observed facts and the conclusions of sound reason.

Can there be any wonder that the religious world so frequently finds mental illness challenging to deal with? The sanity within insanity can be daunting. In fact, he makes possibly one of the most intelligent inferences about the source of religion – he does not explicitly use the term, but he basically refers to the social contract as the ultimate source of religion! Without a focus on the social contract, religion becomes a vice.

I could not deceive another without feeling that I was working against my own mind, or do hostile things without open defiance. This, I concluded, was rightly to be called a religious trait of mind. Others had the same tenderness about various words, records, mental images, practices, etc. , while they might not be as tender where I was. Their will-bondage I also recognized as religion, in the original and true sense of the word, but such religion as I would have subjected to the judgment of utility.

His “will-bondage” is the contract. I could now go on an odyssey of quotations of other piercing words, but this is merely a book review. He implants numerous gems in his writing that are pertinent to sin, evangelicalism, excesses of zeal, the deception of everlasting life, and some excellent perspectives on idolatry. Suffice to say that he scoffs at the inconsistencies of rational thought in religion and compares the tolerances of them as the foundation of the Tower of Babel.

Hudson River State Hospital
The Piling of Tophet
Hudson River State Hospital

When not sharing his spiritual world view, Fowler provides us with a meaningful view of 19th Century healthcare. He hears voices and suffers paroxysms of paranoia. In the 20th Century, he perhaps could effectively be imprisoned, but in the brand new asylum of his day, such is not the case. Upon his initial admission, he remains confined, but within a reasonable amount of time, he is allowed to leave buildings, and eventually the grounds, at his own discretion. He visits family for days and weeks, but he returns regularly to Poughkeepsie by his own choice. He lives in no state of denial about the illness of his voices. Yet, at the same time, he thinks that some may come from the people around him. That belief is one thing that makes the populated hospital problematic for him.

He has a few negative points to make about hospitalization. He is uncomfortable with what he feels is an arbitrary and unsettling living arrangement – he is moved from place to place to live within the grounds. His social sphere is hence disrupted, and staff spread a reputation about him before he makes an appearance someplace new.

He does not care for the sanitation of the environment but does not blame staff. Rather he considers it to be the nature of the beast:

You may be a cleanly person, but you must take your chance of being put on a bed that steams of fetid, acrid emanations till you fear that you will be poisoned through the pores of your body. This feeling of helpless exposure on the billows of other and indifferent, callous people’s wills is the one great bugbear of these institutions, in my estimation. As I have said, I have not felt it excessively myself, because of exemption for reason. This feature cannot be very well got rid of, and it would be wrong to make the conduct of the employees responsible for the pressure felt. These institutions are public necessities, and they are unquestionably the means of the recovery of great numbers, from the regularity of the mode of living they enforce, also from the breaking up of old habits of mind; and as for their uncomfortable points, the patient would be so anywhere. Anywhere else he would be a well-spring of discomfort to others.

As the above suggests, Fowler is both philosophically insightful and yet has an eminently level-headed view of life, despite whatever episodes of psychoses which he may suffer from (given modern medications, he might be a professor). His book can be a difficult read for some of its wordy rambling which comes from both the author’s frame of mind as well as the literary style of his time. However, the moments of brilliant heresy make it very worthwhile.


Le livre de John T. Fowler, The Piling of Tophet : a Lunatic’s Problem for the World to Solve, (1879) fournit l’un des premiers exemples de la valeur du patient – matériel écrit pour former une définition moderne de la maladie mentale. En tant que tel, il est comparable aux œuvres modernes en termes de valeur. Les personnes qui s’intéressent aux livres de psychologie doivent les inclure dans leur bibliothèque personnelle.

M. Fowler souffre d’une sorte de trouble psychotique intermittent et réside fréquemment à Hudson River State Hospital, à Poughkeepsie, dans l’État de New York (un hôpital qui avait moins de dix ans à l’époque où il écrivait). Son livre comprend un philosophe perspicace sur la religion, une description générale de sa vie dans un asile et la gestion des asiles du XIXe siècle. Il explique également comment il est lui-même une personne appropriée pour vivre dans un asile d’aliénés. Sa description montre également que la gestion des hôpitaux et des patients en 1879 était meilleure que celle qui s’est développée en 1979 en Amérique.

La discussion religieuse pointue et perspicace de la première moitié du livre pourrait être comparée favorablement aux écrits du révérend Ralph Waldo Emerson ou de Henry David Thoreau. Tophet offre un coffre aux trésors de citations pour la philosophie religieuse. Fowler n’a probablement pas la même reconnaissance que ces autres hommes, car ses écrits portent sur la maladie mentale. Sa maladie obscurcit la sagesse aux yeux des autres, tout comme l’affirmation qu’il fait d’être une sorte de prophète.

Malheureusement, le fait de se considérer comme envoyé par un dieu permet aux gens de se méfier de vos écrits. Aujourd’hui, certaines communautés le regarderaient avec la plus grande méfiance, mais elles n’ont pas besoin de s’inquiéter car “il est fou”. Les “chrétiens” évangéliques, parmi les sectes conservatrices en Amérique, pourraient mépriser sa conception de la philosophie religieuse comme une philosophie plus universelle. En vérité, ils le considéreraient comme une menace pour leur théologie étroite et simple d’esprit. Le ciel, croit-il, est simplement l’adhésion universelle à la règle d’or. Une telle notion est une menace des plus existentialistes pour les théologiens américains conservateurs qui prétendent être chrétiens.

En fait, sa philosophie vise durement une grande partie de la religion organisée :

all the ecumenical councils and consecrated writings in the world could not secure the supporters of irrational doctrines from ultimate consignment to the hell of fools and the blind… There is no more horrible sin than the upholding of false and irrational doctrines. When such doctrines are established, and the opposition cowed into moral subjection, sin reigns supreme. (tous les conciles œcuméniques et les écrits consacrés dans le monde n’ont pas pu assurer les partisans de doctrines irrationnelles de l’envoi ultime à l’enfer des fous et des aveugles… Il n’y a pas de péché plus horrible que la défense de doctrines fausses et irrationnelles. Lorsque de telles doctrines sont établies, et que l’opposition est croupie dans la sujétion morale, le péché règne en maître).

Il ne croit pas en un au-delà, et à cet égard, il est comme le protagoniste fictif de Tacking on the Styx. Il parle d’un enfer de “fous et d’aveugles” plutôt que d’un royaume de Satan. De plus, en se passant de ce “concept d’âme”, il garde une meilleure perspective sur l’interprétation des textes scripturaires que ne le font de nombreux prédicateurs modernes (en particulier ceux des États du sud des États-Unis). Là encore, sous l’influence de la règle d’or :

All men have naturally equal rights in the kingdom of heaven, and an equal right to plain reason as the basis of all sacred laws. But after some keen spirit like Moses, the evangelists, Mohammed, Buddha, etc., cooks up a tempting and plausible mess, he has no difficulty in getting the plebeian Esau to take it in exchange for his birthright freedom of reason. From this sale of birthright comes the attachment seen all over the world for national and hereditary religions, in defiance of all observed facts and the conclusions of sound reason. (Tous les hommes ont naturellement des droits égaux dans le royaume des cieux, et un droit égal à la raison pure comme base de toutes les lois sacrées. Mais après qu’un esprit vif comme Moïse, les évangélistes, Mahomet, Bouddha, etc., ait cuisiné un gâchis tentant et plausible, il n’a aucune difficulté à le faire accepter par l’Ésaü plébéien en échange de la liberté de raison qui lui est due de naissance. De cette vente du droit d’aînesse découle l’attachement constaté dans le monde entier pour les religions nationales et héréditaires, au mépris de tous les faits observés et des conclusions de la raison saine).

Peut-on s’étonner que le monde religieux trouve si souvent la maladie mentale difficile à affronter? L’intellect vif dans la folie peut être intimidant. En fait, il fait probablement l’une des déductions les plus intelligentes sur la source de la religion – il n’utilise pas explicitement le terme, mais il se réfère essentiellement au contrat social comme source ultime de la religion ! Si l’on ne se concentre pas sur le contrat social, la religion devient un vice.


I could not deceive another without feeling that I was working against my own mind, or do hostile things without open defiance. This, I concluded, was rightly to be called a religious trait of mind. Others had the same tenderness about various words, records, mental images, practices, etc. , while they might not be as tender where I was. Their will-bondage I also recognized as religion, in the original and true sense of the word, but such religion as I would have subjected to the judgment of utility. (Je ne pouvais pas tromper une autre personne sans avoir le sentiment de travailler contre mon propre esprit, ou de faire des choses hostiles sans défi ouvert. J’en ai conclu que c’était à juste titre un trait d’esprit religieux. D’autres avaient la même tendresse à l’égard de divers mots, enregistrements, images mentales, pratiques, etc. alors qu’ils n’étaient peut-être pas aussi tendres que moi. J’ai également reconnu que leur volonté était une religion, au sens original et véritable du terme, mais une religion que j’aurais soumise au jugement d’utilité.)

Son “testament” est le contrat social. Je pourrais maintenant voyager dans une odyssée de citations d’autres déclarations poignantes, mais je ne fais qu’écrire une critique de livre. Ses écrits contiennent beaucoup de sagesse concernant le péché, l’évangélisme, les excès de zèle, la promesse trompeuse de la vie éternelle et quelques excellentes perspectives sur l’idolâtrie. Il suffit de dire qu’il méprise les incohérences intellectuelles pensées dans la religion et compare la tolérance de ces incohérences à la fondation de la Tour de Babel.

Lorsqu’il ne partage pas ses convictions théologiques, Fowler nous offre un point de vue significatif sur les soins de santé au XIXe siècle. Il entend des voix et souffre de paroxysmes de paranoïa. Au XXe siècle, il a peut-être été confiné, mais dans le tout nouvel asile de son époque, il est libre. Lors de son admission initiale, il reste confiné, mais dans un délai raisonnable, il est autorisé à quitter les bâtiments, et éventuellement le terrain de l’hôpital, à sa propre discrétion. Il rend visite à sa famille pendant des jours et des semaines, mais il retourne régulièrement à Poughkeepsie de son propre chef. Il ne vit pas dans un état de déni de la maladie de ses voix. Pourtant, en même temps, il pense que certaines peuvent provenir des personnes qui l’entourent. Cette croyance est une chose qui rend un hôpital rempli de patients problématique pour lui.

Il dit quelques choses de négatif sur l’hospitalisation. Il est mécontent d’être fréquemment déplacé d’un endroit à l’autre pour vivre dans l’enceinte de l’hôpital. Il ne parvient pas à se familiariser avec les gens et il pense que le personnel de l’hôpital a répandu une mauvaise réputation à son sujet avant qu’il ne commence à vivre dans un nouvel endroit.

Il ne se soucie pas de l’hygiène de l’asile mais ne blâme pas le personnel. Il considère que la malpropreté est la nature de la bête :

You may be a cleanly person, but you must take your chance of being put on a bed that steams of fetid, acrid emanations till you fear that you will be poisoned through the pores of your body. This feeling of helpless exposure on the billows of other and indifferent, callous people’s wills is the one great bugbear of these institutions, in my estimation. As I have said, I have not felt it excessively myself, because of exemption for reason. This feature cannot be very well got rid of, and it would be wrong to make the conduct of the employees responsible for the pressure felt. These institutions are public necessities, and they are unquestionably the means of the recovery of great numbers, from the regularity of the mode of living they enforce, also from the breaking up of old habits of mind; and as for their uncomfortable points, the patient would be so anywhere. Anywhere else he would be a well-spring of discomfort to others. (Vous êtes peut-être une personne propre, mais vous devez prendre le risque d’être mis sur un lit qui dégage des émanations fétides et âcres jusqu’à ce que vous craigniez d’être empoisonné par les pores de votre corps. Ce sentiment d’impuissance face aux volontés d’autres personnes indifférentes et insensibles est, à mon avis, le seul grand problème de ces institutions. Comme je l’ai dit, je ne l’ai pas ressenti de manière excessive moi-même, en raison d’une exemption pour raison. On ne peut très bien se débarrasser de cette caractéristique et il serait erroné de faire ressentir le comportement des employés responsables de la pression. Ces institutions sont des nécessités publiques, et elles sont incontestablement le moyen de récupérer un grand nombre de personnes, de la régularité du mode de vie qu’elles imposent, et aussi de la rupture des vieilles habitudes d’esprit ; et quant à leurs points d’inconfort, le patient serait ainsi n’importe où. N’importe où ailleurs, il serait une source de malaise pour les autres.)

Comme le suggère ce qui précède, Fowler est à la fois philosophiquement perspicace et a une vision éminemment équilibrée de la vie, malgré les épisodes de psychose dont il peut souffrir (avec les médicaments modernes, il aurait pu devenir professeur). Son livre peut être difficile à lire en raison de certaines de ses divagations verbeuses qui proviennent à la fois de la maladie mentale de l’auteur et du style littéraire de l’Amérique au cours de sa vie. Cependant, les moments de brillante hérésie font de Tophet un livre très intéressant à lire.

underside dissection of brain interior from "The motive power of the human system: with the duodynamic symptoms and treatment of chronic diseases" HH Sherwood. New York : Wiley and Putnam, 1847
The Motive Power of the Human System. H. Sherwood.
New York : Wiley and Putnam, 1847

The Prisoner’s Hidden Life

or Insane Asylums Unveiled

By E.P.W. Packard

Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard author of the prisoners hidden life reviewed by jeffrey hatcher

Like the works by Ann Titus and Robert Fuller reviewed below, The Prisoner’s Hidden Life or Insane Asylums Unveiled by E.P.W. Packard (1868) gives a patient’s – eye view of asylums in 19th century America. Unlike them, however, her work could readily be considered a feminist treatise for women’s rights. As such, it stands philosophically original and one of the early works of its kind. I have no expertise in the matter, but I would speculate that it could be the first of the women’s rights genre. The relative lack of recognition as such undoubtedly stems from its dual focus on America’s wretched social infrastructure built around mental illness. This latter issue initially draws the reader’s attention faster.

Packard’s own life outside of an asylum is very fascinating, but I shall stick to Packard the author. The book is frankly a very slow read – much like scripture. This, in part, is because it has a wordy, 19th century style more like Old Testament scripture than contemporary text. However, in the same vein and the best light, it contains a dense pack of wisdom. One could fill six pages of great quotes. She does not shrink from controversy. It is easy to see why numerous men feel threatened by her. One of the main theses of the book is the need to take away the absolute power of commitment a man has over his wife.

Hence the asylum serves very much as a prison rather than a hospital (where she reports getting no genuine treatment for any ill):

It was a matter of great surprise to me to find so many in the Seventh ward, who, like myself, had never shown any insanity while there, and these were almost uniformly married women, who were put there either by strategy or by force.

In short, the hospital is a dumping ground for bothersome wives.

She makes a biting remark about the status of people with mental illness:

The insane are permitted to be treated and regarded as having no rights that any one is bound to respect—no, not even so much as the slaves are, for they have the rights of their masters’ selfish interests to shield their own rights. But the rights of the insane are not even shielded by the principle of selfishness.

Unlike the slave, people with mental illness are considered to have no value to be protected even indirectly as her analogy suggests.

Like Tom in Tacking on the Styx, she is troubled over and over by loss of contact with the outside world during her confinement. She even elaborates on “post office rights” – a right of communication. I have written of the same issue. and a right of communication is, indeed, worthy of special status. This is particularly true for someone with a mental illness, especially when the person is suspected of being a threat to themselves or to others.

She greatly worries over her children and their well being in the custody of her despicable husband. To further drive home the point that women declared insane are the lowest rung of human status, she makes the mind-stopping observation which typically nobody ever would:

The mother of the illegitimate child is protected by the law, in the right to her own offspring, while the lawfully married wife is not. Thus the only shield maternity has under the laws, is in prostitution.

One is left speechless at the truth of it!

I could go on for many pages about the wealth of philosophical wisdom in the book. However, I should note that her commentary about life in the Jacksonville Insane Asylum is what one would expect, rather harsh. I recommend the book as much or more as an important work of feminist literature as medical for that is what separates it the most from other writings about asylums.


Comme les livres d’Ann Titus et de Robert Fuller examinés ci-dessous, The Prisoner’s Hidden Life or Insane Asylums Unveiled by E.P.W. Packard donne également la description d’un patient des asiles dans l’Amérique du XIXe siècle. Contrairement à eux, cependant, son travail pourrait facilement être considéré comme un traité féministe pour les droits légaux des femmes. En tant que tel, il est philosophiquement original et l’un des premiers ouvrages de ce genre. Je n’ai aucune expertise en la matière, mais je suppose qu’il pourrait s’agir du premier traité sur les droits des femmes dans la littérature anglaise. Le manque de reconnaissance de son importance pour le féminisme est sans aucun doute dû au fait qu’il se concentre simultanément sur la misère d’avoir une maladie mentale en Amérique. Ce dernier numéro attire plus rapidement l’attention du lecteur.

La vie de Packard en dehors d’un asile est très fascinante mais je n’écrirai que sur l’auteur Packard. L’intrigue du livre se déroule très lentement. Cette lenteur s’explique en partie par le fait que l’écriture ressemble davantage à l’Ancien Testament qu’à un texte contemporain. Cependant, son style verbeux contient une grande quantité de sagesse. On pourrait remplir six pages de citations sages. Elle n’évite pas d’être controversée. Il est facile de comprendre pourquoi de nombreux hommes se sentent menacés par elle. L’une des principales thèses du livre est la nécessité d’enlever à l’homme le pouvoir absolu de l’engagement sur sa femme.

L’asile sert donc davantage de prison que d’hôpital (où elle déclare ne recevoir aucun véritable traitement pour aucun mal) :

It was a matter of great surprise to me to find so many in the Seventh ward, who, like myself, had never shown any insanity while there, and these were almost uniformly married women, who were put there either by strategy or by force. (J’ai été très surpris de constater qu’il y en avait tant dans la Septième circonscription, qui, comme moi, n’avaient jamais fait preuve de folie pendant leur séjour, et qu’il s’agissait de femmes presque uniformément mariées, qui avaient été placées là par stratégie ou par la force.)

En bref, l’hôpital est un dépotoir pour les épouses gênantes.

Elle fait une remarque cinglante sur le statut des personnes atteintes de maladies mentales :

The insane are permitted to be treated and regarded as having no rights that any one is bound to respect—no, not even so much as the slaves are, for they have the rights of their masters’ selfish interests to shield their own rights. But the rights of the insane are not even shielded by the principle of selfishness. (Les fous sont autorisés à être traités et considérés comme n’ayant aucun droit que quiconque est tenu de respecter – non, pas même autant que les esclaves, car ils ont le droit de protéger les intérêts égoïstes de leurs maîtres. Mais les droits des fous ne sont même pas protégés par le principe de l’égoïsme)

Contrairement à l’esclave, les personnes atteintes de maladie mentale sont considérées comme n’ayant aucun droit humain à protéger, même indirectement, comme le suggère son analogie.

Comme Tom dans Tacking on the Styx, elle est sans cesse troublée par la perte de contact avec le monde extérieur pendant son enfermement. Elle parle même de “droits de la poste”, et un droit de communication (comme je l’ai également écrit), semble mériter un statut spécial. C’est particulièrement vrai pour une personne souffrant d’une maladie mentale, surtout lorsqu’elle est soupçonnée d’être une menace pour elle-même ou pour les autres.

Elle s’inquiète beaucoup pour ses enfants et leur bien-être sous la garde de son méprisable mari. Pour faire ressortir encore davantage le fait que les femmes déclarées injustement folles ont le statut humain le plus bas, elle fait l’étonnante observation qu’une prostituée sexuelle a plus de droits de garde légaux sur ses enfants qu’une femme légalement mariée !

On reste sans voix face à la vérité !

Je pourrais écrire pendant de nombreuses pages sur la richesse de la sagesse philosophique de ce livre. Cependant, je dois noter que son commentaire sur la vie dans l’asile d’aliénés de Jacksonville est ce à quoi on pourrait s’attendre, plutôt dur. Je recommande ce livre autant, voire plus, comme un ouvrage important de la littérature féministe que médicale car c’est ce qui le sépare le plus des autres écrits sur les asiles.

Cooks anaesthetizer for surgery
Medical Supplies & Surgical Instruments Chas. Truax & Co

Lunatic Asylums: Their Use and Abuse

by Ann Titus
Tacking on the styx, Lunatic Asylums, Ann Titus

Lunatic Asylums: Their Use and Abuse by Ann H. Titus (1870) is an autobiographical account of time spent at Sandford Hall, an asylum in downstate New York, in 1870. While we never know the mental illness that she supposedly suffers from (and neither do several physicians who see her), her words are clear and as cogent today as at any time. Whatever her condition, the points which she raises regarding economic incentives polluting medical care cut right through the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. They remain as pertinent today, with special interests fighting an ignoble battle against Obamacare, as a century and a half ago.

For reasons not clearly known or spelled out (but likely involving rights in the family estate), Titus’ brother, Jacob Conklin, plots and ultimately executes her commitment. Titus, herself, tells him she would consent if he could produce a letter from a doctor who found it necessary. The doctor whom she ultimately sees merely finds her to be stressed and in no need of hospitalization whatever. Her brother then gets a referral letter for commitment from a doctor who never actually sees her. She takes care to emphasize the gross malpractice and malfeasance of this professional crime.

She reports on some gruesome but realistic features of Sandford – nursing staff is absent as far as she knows. Rather there are servants. Two days a week, in fact, there are no medically qualified people on the premises. Yet, the cost of a stay was about $30 per week. That amounts to between $550 & $600 per week in today’s money. Perhaps that rate only applies to a first week of several, or perhaps not. It is an obviously insane figure for a 19th century household.

The bed linens smell of opium. Her homeopathic tonics from home are gentle on her system, but the concoctions forced on her make her violently ill. Most of her warmer clothes are taken from her upon admission. Naturally, the residence is drafty and cold. Eventually, her husband, who seems a bit slow of mind, succeeds in getting her out.

She then relates a tale of nauseating family intrigue, but beneath it all lies a system with severe accountability issues. Her ultimate take – home message feels too poignant:

The State can, and does in a great measure, prevent abuse of the State institutions ; but the private asylums are frequently made use of unworthily. In these places, for a price, persons are continually received without the least form of investigation, or on the bought certificates of physicians. It is a blot on the humanity of our people and our lawgivers, that all private insane asylums are not abolished. They are neither more nor less than idiot factories. The moment a sane person is confined in one of these places, it becomes the obvious interest of the proprietors of the retreat to render the victim insane as soon as possible.

Or in other words, keep money out of medicine at every opportunity.


Lunatic Asylums: Their Use and Abuse by Ann H. Titus est un récit autobiographique du temps passé à Sandford Hall, un asile de l’État de New York, en 1870. Bien que nous ne connaissions jamais la maladie mentale dont elle est censée souffrir (et plusieurs médecins qui la voient non plus), ses paroles sont claires et aussi convaincantes aujourd’hui qu’à tout autre moment. Quelle que soit sa condition, les questions éthiques qu’elle soulève à propos des incitations économiques qui corrompent les soins médicaux s’appliquent aux XIXe, XXe et XXIe siècles. Elles restent aussi pertinentes aujourd’hui, avec des politiciens corrompus qui cherchent à abolir les soins de santé universels, qu’il y a un siècle et demi.

Pour des raisons qui ne sont pas clairement connues ou explicitées (mais qui impliquent probablement des droits dans le patrimoine familial), le frère de Titus, Jacob Conklin, complote et, en fin de compte, exécute son engagement envers un asile d’aliénés. Titus, lui-même, lui dit qu’elle consentirait s’il pouvait produire une lettre d’un médecin indiquant que l’engagement était nécessaire. Le médecin qu’elle voit finalement la trouve simplement stressée et n’a pas besoin d’être hospitalisée du tout. Son frère reçoit alors une lettre de recommandation d’engagement d’un médecin qui ne la voit jamais vraiment. Elle prend soin de souligner la faute professionnelle grave et la malfaisance de ce crime professionnel.

Titus fait un reportage sur certains aspects macabres mais réalistes de Sandford Hall. Le personnel infirmier est absent, pour autant qu’elle le sache. Il y a plutôt des domestiques. Deux jours par semaine, en fait, il n’y a pas de médecins sur place. Pourtant, le coût d’un séjour était d’environ 30 dollars par semaine, ce qui représente entre 550 et 600 dollars par semaine en monnaie actuelle. Peut-être que ce tarif ne s’applique qu’à une première semaine de plusieurs, ou peut-être pas. C’est un chiffre manifestement insensé pour un ménage du XIXe siècle.

Le linge de lit sent l’opium. Ses toniques homéopathiques maison sont doux pour son système digestif, mais les concoctions qu’elle est obligée de boire la rendent violemment malade. La plupart de ses vêtements chauds lui sont retirés à son admission. Naturellement, la résidence est froide et pleine de courants d’air. Finalement, son mari (qui semble un peu lent d’esprit), réussit à la faire sortir.

Elle raconte alors une histoire d’intrigue familiale misérable, mais derrière tout cela se cache un système de soins de santé avec de graves problèmes de responsabilité. Son message final est trop poignant :

L’État peut prévenir, et le fait dans une large mesure, les abus des institutions de l’État ; mais les asiles privés sont souvent utilisés de manière indigne. Dans ces lieux, pour un prix, des personnes sont continuellement reçues sans la moindre forme d’investigation, ou sur les certificats achetés des médecins. C’est une tache sur l’humanité de notre peuple et de nos législateurs, que tous les asiles privés d’aliénés ne soient pas abolis. Ce ne sont ni plus ni moins que des usines à idiots. Dès qu’une personne saine d’esprit est confinée dans l’un de ces lieux, il devient de l’intérêt évident des propriétaires de la retraite de rendre la victime folle le plus rapidement possible.

The State can, and does in a great measure, prevent abuse of the State institutions ; but the private asylums are frequently made use of unworthily. In these places, for a price, persons are continually received without the least form of investigation, or on the bought certificates of physicians. It is a blot on the humanity of our people and our lawgivers, that all private insane asylums are not abolished. They are neither more nor less than idiot factories. The moment a sane person is confined in one of these places, it becomes the obvious interest of the proprietors of the retreat to render the victim insane as soon as possible.

Ou, en d’autres termes, d’empêcher l’argent privé d’entrer dans la médecine à chaque fois que l’occasion se présente.

Fantastic trains anthology

Fantastic Trains

An Anthology of the Phantasmagorical Engines and Rail Riders

Edited by Neil Enock
Fantastic Trains edited by Neil Enock reviewed by jeffrey hatcher

Were you looking for a grand technological metaphor for fatalism, you would need look no further than the nearest train. Unlike any other mode of transport, the train works in a world of deterministic order in which discretion plays a minor role. Switchmen, engineers and passengers follow a rigid schedule. Trains move forwards. Trains move backwards. In Fantastic Trains, (edited by Neil Enok, EDGE – Lite, 2019), locomotives and their attendants are liberated from constraints. Yet, in spite of the liberation, fatalism pervades the book. While a fatalistic order is neither restricted to being good or bad, we seem to give it a negative connotation all the same. This propensity is evident in this anthology.

Fantastic Trains has fantastic originality in many instances. While Charon is an ancient figure, Gavin Bradley’s “Soul Train” places him in a delightfully new context at the beginning of the anthology. Bradley also speculates on the fate of annoying people. Nuisance personalities do not have a prominent role in tales about Hades. Bradley uses this perspective to wryly entertain. From this beginning, we roll through a series of stories in which a basic theme of death or post – apocalyptic life underlies everything. Works by Melodie Leclerc, Kim Solem, and Samuel Marziolo, among others, are very original but very death oriented.

Not until Dwain Campbell’s “Special Delivery” do we get a more upbeat story about mail service as managed by an octopus man (perhaps Poseidon in disguise?). High marks for originality but still having a fatalistic world which, as mentioned, is innate to trains. The same applies to Maurice Forrester’s “The Conductor” which has a happy ending and an amusing tone. However, both of these works fall deep between the covers.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775 – 1851 Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway 1844 Oil on canvas, 91 x 121.8 cm Turner Bequest, 1856 NG538 https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG538

Any book concerning trains will draw a young adult, male audience. Given that some stories qualify as literary fiction, the work could serve as a bridge into this genre for these particular readers. In fact, even fine art occurs. Near the end of the work, Michael Johnstone’s “Mr. Turner on the Great Western Railway” has an interesting bit about the great train artist. I fear, however, that the cynical tones of many of the stories will dampen this potential. Originality, though quintessential to good writing, does not replace outlook and plot development. Unfortunately, the negativity of the book’s start causes it to drag before reaching its full potential.

ISBN 978-1-77053-201-4

surgical suture bottles
EA TextBook on Surgery: General, Operative, and Mechanical J.A. Wyeth c1897

An Account of the Imprisonment and Sufferings of Robert Fuller of Cambridge

An Account of the Imprisonment and Sufferings of Robert Fuller of Cambridge reviewed by jeffrey hatcher
by Robert Fuller

The mariner, who should discover rocks and shoals,which he had narrowly escaped, and to which others would be exposed,would be regarded as a monster, did he not give information, and warn all who should go that way to avoid them.

Insofar as history repeats itself, or breaks new ground into societal insanity, Robert Fuller’s self – published An Account of the Imprisonment and Sufferings of Robert Fuller of Cambridge (1833) makes a brief and worthwhile read. In it, he describes a sixty-five day, involuntary stay at Mclean Asylum for the Insane in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Mclean hospital still operates today, however the Wikipedia description of the institution is far more complimentary – historically sanitized perhaps – than the description which Fuller gives from the early nineteenth century. While Wikipedia offers details on the celebrity patients who have had treatment therein as well as literature about the place, you will not find Fuller mentioned on the website (as of January, 2020). The Wikipedia account might better be described as a sales brochure than as a scholarly article.

The book approaches two centuries since publication and, thus, could be considered dated. Naturally, it offers only Fuller’s perspective, but he reports some observations enticing one to take him seriously. However, we are never given a hint as to why he was placed there or what illness might have plagued him.

To the credit of the 19th century culture, he only resides there for two months and is then discharged. He also is allowed to leave the asylum grounds accompanied by a chaperone from time to time. Society has not condemned him as an irreconcilable problem to be swept into a hole. This fact needs bearing in mind.

Nevertheless, his descriptions of the emotional turmoil of even the briefest commitment remain as cogent as ever and are mirrored in Tacking on the Styx. Unlike Tom Meyerhold, he claims to have no knowledge of why his family has placed him in Mclean. Completely like Meyerhold, however, he is taken aback and made completely distrustful by the fact that he is not permitted to contact any sort of representative in the outside world.

I will back Fuller up in saying that, no matter the brevity, to be deprived of contact with a trusted person outside of the system is to lose all faith in the goodwill of healthcare personnel. We may speak of hours or weeks – it does not matter. While Fuller is allowed to stroll about a garden and take leave of the grounds occasionally, this sense of disconnection eclipses all such humanitarian gestures. He realistically reports on the shackles and groans:

The McLean Asylum for the Insane possesses a large share of popular favour. Its character is not known. The public are ignorant of its inmates, its rules and regulations. Its location is pleasant, and its outward appearance delightful… But let him go with me within its walls: let him hear the groans of the distressed: let him see its inmates shut up with bars and bolts : let him see how deserted they are : how they are neglected and cruelly treated ; how unfit so lonely an abode is for the disconsolate and melancholy—and his views of that Institution will change.

However, the revulsion at the disconnection is sufficient to deter someone in need from a second round of self – sought supervision even today. The horrors above are not necessary, and people involved in mental healthcare need to keep this emotional state in mind.

So careful is our law of the freedom of the citizens, that every man charged with a criminal offence (sic) is entitled to a hearing before a jury of his country. Yet there is this seeming anomoly (sic) – a man charged with insanity can be taken away with out trial, and shut up within the walls of a prison.

History repeats itself. The familiar paraphrasing of John Philpot Curran applies – “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”


The mariner, who should discover rocks and shoals,which he had narrowly escaped, and to which others would be exposed,would be regarded as a monster, did he not give information, and warn all who should go that way to avoid them. (Le marin, qui devait découvrir des rochers et des hauts-fonds, auxquels il avait échappé de justesse et auxquels d’autres seraient exposés, serait considéré comme un monstre, ne donnant pas d’informations, et avertissant tous ceux qui devraient aller par là pour les éviter.)

Robert Fuller, 1833

Parce que l’histoire se répète, An Account of the Imprisonment and Sufferings of Robert Fuller of Cambridge, est une histoire brève et précieuse. Il y décrit un séjour involontaire de soixante-cinq jours à l’asile d’aliénés de Mclean à Charlestown, dans l’etat de Massachusetts, Etats Unis. L’hôpital de Mclean fonctionne encore aujourd’hui, mais la description de l’institution par Wikipedia est beaucoup plus élogieuse – historiquement aseptisée peut-être – que celle que Fuller écrit en 1833. Bien que Wikipedia offre des détails sur les patients célèbres qui y ont été traités, vous ne trouverez pas Fuller mentionné sur le site (en janvier 2020). Le compte Wikipedia pourrait être mieux décrit comme une brochure de vente que comme un article savant.

Le livre a été publié il y a près de deux siècles et peut donc être considéré comme dépassé – peut etre. Naturellement, il n’offre que le point de vue de Fuller, mais il rapporte quelques observations intéressantes pour un lecteur moderne. Cependant, il ne nous donne jamais d’indices sur les raisons pour lesquelles il a été placé là ou sur la maladie dont il a pu souffrir.

Au crédit de la culture du XIXe siècle, il n’y réside que deux mois et est ensuite libéré. Il est également autorisé à quitter les lieux de l’asile accompagné d’un chaperon de temps en temps. La société ne l’a pas condamné comme un problème inconciliable, et le lecteur doit se souvenir de ce fait.

prisoner tied up in an insane asylum

Néanmoins, ses descriptions de l’agitation émotionnelle que suscite un engagement, même bref, restent aussi convaincantes que jamais et se retrouvent dans Tacking on the Styx. Contrairement à Tom Meyerhold, il prétend ne pas savoir pourquoi sa famille l’a placé à Mclean. Cependant, tout comme Meyerhold, il est déconcerté et rendu complètement méfiant par le fait qu’il n’est pas autorisé à contacter quelque représentant que ce soit dans le monde extérieur.


Je suis d’accord avec Fuller pour dire que, quelle que soit la brièveté de la situation, le fait d’être privé de tout contact avec une personne de confiance à l’extérieur de l’institution fait perdre toute confiance dans la bonne volonté du personnel de santé. On peut parler d’heures ou de semaines – peu importe. Si Fuller est autorisé à se promener dans un jardin et à prendre congé du terrain à l’occasion, ce sentiment de déconnexion éclipse tous ces gestes humanitaires. Il rend compte avec réalisme des entraves et des gémissements :

The McLean Asylum for the Insane possesses a large share of popular favour. Its character is not known. The public are ignorant of its inmates, its rules and regulations. Its location is pleasant, and its outward appearance delightful… But let him go with me within its walls: let him hear the groans of the distressed: let him see its inmates shut up with bars and bolts : let him see how deserted they are : how they are neglected and cruelly treated ; how unfit so lonely an abode is for the disconsolate and melancholy—and his views of that Institution will change. (L’asile d’aliénés de McLean jouit d’une grande faveur populaire. Son caractère n’est pas connu. Le public ignore ses détenus, ses règles et ses règlements. Son emplacement est agréable, et son apparence extérieure charmante… Mais qu’il aille avec moi dans ses murs : qu’il entende les gémissements des affligés ; qu’il voie ses détenus enfermés dans des barreaux et des boulons ; qu’il voie combien ils sont abandonnés : comment ils sont négligés et traités avec cruauté ; combien une demeure si solitaire est impropre à l’inconsolation et à la mélancolie – et sa vision de cette institution changera.)


Cependant, la répulsion suscitée par la déconnexion est suffisante pour dissuader une personne dans le besoin de se soumettre à un deuxième cycle de surveillance, qu’elle cherche encore aujourd’hui. Les horreurs ci-dessus ne sont pas nécessaires, et les personnes impliquées dans les soins de santé mentale doivent garder cet état émotionnel à l’esprit.


So careful is our law of the freedom of the citizens, that every man charged with a criminal offence (sic) is entitled to a hearing before a jury of his country. Yet there is this seeming anomoly – a man charged with insanity can be taken away with out trial, and shut up within the walls of a prison. (Notre loi sur la liberté des citoyens est si prudente que tout homme accusé d’une infraction pénale a droit à une audience devant un jury de son pays. Pourtant, il y a cette anomalie apparente : un homme accusé de folie peut être emmené sans procès et enfermé dans les murs d’une prison.)


L’histoire se répète. Il est bon de se rappeler la paraphrase familière de John Philpot Curran : “la vigilance éternelle est le prix de la liberté”.

Charles Dickens writers desk from "Search lights on health: light on dark corners : a complete sexual science and a guide to purity and physical manhood : advice to maiden, wife, and mother, love, courtship and marriage" 1894

Never Stop Dancing

A Memoir
by John Robinette and Robert Jacoby

“Never Stop Dancing”, by John Robinette and Robert Jacoby (Inner Harbor House, LLC, Takoma Park, 2019 ) reads like a cathartic tide of empathy and tragedy cresting from book to reader and back again. If it strains you much after the first 60% of text (and it may), do not put it down. Like those books we read in high school English class, it has a way of sticking to you that more entertaining and easier paced texts lack. It is heavy for the right educational and humanistic reasons.

I received this free advance reader copy via http://www.BookSirens.com in exchange for an honest review.

Robinette recounts and philosophizes upon the tragic loss of his spouse which occurred with no prior warning. The loss devastated both him and his two sons, spurring him to share some very saccharine – free experiences and revelations. While I thought that some middle sections could be abbreviated to no ill effect, he provides a steady supply of substantive insight. I also think that the book is especially well suited for people who have a loved one diagnosed with a terminal illness, i.e. innocent persons awaiting a “preplanned” death.

Among other lessons, Robinette illustrates how absurdly we expect the male of the species to ‘hold it together’. He holds life together while confessing to weeping on numerous occasions – far more so than the stereotypical male ever would admit to doing. More importantly, he allows himself to do so.

I was struck by the simple and practical advice he offered on maintaining an intense, friendship based relationship:

For a couple years running we would plan a quarterly date, a weekday date. It was actually easier to do this than to get a babysitter. I would take a weekday off on a day she didn’t work, and we’d spend the whole day together. We’d get the kids off to school. We’d go to breakfast together. There’s a restaurant in town, Mark’s Kitchen. We’d usually start there, and she’d order pancakes, coffee, and orange juice, and I’d order an omelet and coffee. Sometimes we’d go catch a matinee in Silver Spring or in Bethesda. Sometimes we’d go to a park and just talk. We’d go to lunch, maybe something a little bit upscale, and have a glass of wine, then come back home, and make love.

His ground level and no – holds – barred take on religion is most refreshing:

Mankind-in-God’s-image suggests to me that God has His issues, too. And as we evolve as a species, and God gets smarter and learns more about being a God, He’s still prone to mistakes, which is why Amy got killed. Because that’s clearly an error. This thinking doesn’t necessarily negate God’s existence, but it negates the all-powerful, all-knowledgeable God, because He can’t be. I think He’s struggling to keep it going, keep it together. He’s like an adolescent God.

He has contempt for the “higher plan” concept of theology. So far as I could tell, he is an atheist – in – training or in full. His having attained this status via tragedy helps to remove a certain stigma that the Book of Job scripture fosters. Reasoned convictions are what they are regardless of motivations.

He also provides cogent advice on how to greet and converse with someone who has just lost a loved one. I leave that for the reader to discover.

One final example of wisdom comes in the Afterward of the book, in which he explains how to remain close to inlaws. People try to please or avoid inlaws often when they really should be looking for the same qualities that attracted them to their son or daughter to begin with. The qualities won’t be hard to find and should be easy to connect to. I had never thought of that! Robinette continues to cherish his parents by marriage.

So, while the book is a heavy one and starts with an aura of the ‘touchy – feely’, I am glad to have read it. It is humanizing with a large dose of the universal, in part because the decorum of male reserve is not exalted. Yet it is seasoned with some strategic male brusqueness as well.


Never Stop Dancing, de John Robinette et Robert Jacoby, se lit comme une marée cathartique d’empathie et de tragédie qui monte d’un livre à l’autre et vice-versa. Si la lecture de ce livre vous met à rude épreuve émotionnellement après avoir terminé les premiers 60 % du texte (et c’est possible), ne le posez pas. Comme les livres que nous lisons en classe de littérature au lycée, il a une façon de vous loger dans l’esprit qui manque de textes plus divertissants et plus faciles. C’est difficile pour de bonnes raisons pédagogiques et humanistes.

Robinette raconte et philosophe sur la mort tragique de son épouse qui est morte sans prévenir. Cette perte l’a dévasté, lui et ses deux fils, l’incitant à partager des expériences et des révélations très sombres et authentiques. Bien que j’aie pensé que certains chapitres intermédiaires pourraient être raccourcis, il fournit un texte continu de sagesse. Je pense également que ce livre convient particulièrement bien aux personnes dont un proche est atteint d’une maladie en phase terminale, comme un cancer ou une insuffisance cardiaque.

Entre autres leçons, Robinette illustre l’absurdité avec laquelle on attend des hommes qu’ils cachent leurs émotions. Il avoue avoir pleuré à de nombreuses reprises – bien plus que le stéréotype masculin ne l’admettrait jamais. Plus important encore, il se permet de le faire.

J’ai été frappé par les conseils simples et pratiques qu’il a donnés sur le maintien d’une relation de mariage intense et basée sur l’amitié :

For a couple years running we would plan a quarterly date, a weekday date. It was actually easier to do this than to get a babysitter. I would take a weekday off on a day she didn’t work, and we’d spend the whole day together. We’d get the kids off to school. We’d go to breakfast together. There’s a restaurant in town, Mark’s Kitchen. We’d usually start there, and she’d order pancakes, coffee, and orange juice, and I’d order an omelet and coffee. Sometimes we’d go catch a matinee in Silver Spring or in Bethesda. Sometimes we’d go to a park and just talk. We’d go to lunch, maybe something a little bit upscale, and have a glass of wine, then come back home, and make love.

Pendant quelques années consécutives, nous prévoyons une date trimestrielle, un jour de semaine. C’était en fait plus facile que de faire appel à une baby-sitter. Je prenais un jour de congé en semaine, un jour où elle ne travaillait pas, et nous passions toute la journée ensemble. On emmenait les enfants à l’école. Nous allions prendre le petit déjeuner ensemble. Il y a un restaurant en ville, Mark’s Kitchen. Nous commencions généralement par là, et elle commandait des crêpes, du café et du jus d’orange, et je commandais une omelette et un café. Parfois, nous allions prendre une matinée à Silver Spring ou à Bethesda. Parfois, nous allions dans un parc et nous discutions. Nous allions déjeuner, peut-être quelque chose d’un peu haut de gamme, et nous prenions un verre de vin, puis nous revenions à la maison, et nous faisions l’amour.

Son point de vue sur la religion est très rafraîchissant :

Mankind-in-God’s-image suggests to me that God has His issues, too. And as we evolve as a species, and God gets smarter and learns more about being a God, He’s still prone to mistakes, which is why Amy got killed. Because that’s clearly an error. This thinking doesn’t necessarily negate God’s existence, but it negates the all-powerful, all-knowledgeable God, because He can’t be. I think He’s struggling to keep it going, keep it together. He’s like an adolescent God.

L’image de l’homme en Dieu me suggère que Dieu a aussi ses problèmes. Et comme nous évoluons en tant qu’espèce, et que Dieu devient plus intelligent et apprend à être un Dieu, il est toujours sujet à des erreurs, c’est pourquoi Amy a été tuée. Parce que c’est clairement une erreur. Cette façon de penser ne nie pas nécessairement l’existence de Dieu, mais elle nie le Dieu tout-puissant, tout connaissant, parce qu’il ne peut pas l’être. Je pense qu’il se bat pour que ça continue, pour que ça continue ensemble. Il est comme un Dieu adolescent.

Robinette a du mépris pour le concept de théologie “plan supérieur”. Pour autant que je sache, il est athée ou est en train de le devenir. Les convictions raisonnées sont rationnelles, même si elles sont motivées par le malheur ou par la philosophie.

Il donne également des conseils convaincants sur la façon de saluer et de converser avec quelqu’un qui vient de perdre un être cher. Je laisse au lecteur le soin de découvrir tout cela.

Un dernier exemple de sagesse se trouve dans la section “Afterward” du livre, dans laquelle il explique comment rester proche des beaux-parents. Les gens essaient souvent de plaire à la belle-famille ou de l’éviter alors qu’ils devraient vraiment rechercher les mêmes qualités qui les ont attirés vers leur fils ou leur fille au départ. Ces qualités ne seront pas difficiles à trouver et devraient être faciles à identifier. Je n’avais jamais pensé à cela ! Robinette continue à chérir ses parents par le mariage.

Donc, bien que le livre soit intense et déprimant, je suis heureux de l’avoir lu. Il est humanisant avec une grande dose d’émotion humaine universelle, en partie parce que le décorum de la réserve masculine n’est pas exalté. Mais il est aussi assaisonné d’une certaine brusquerie stratégique masculine.

ISBN-10: 0578524457; ISBN-13: 978-0578524450

Bedlam

An Intimate Journey into America’s Mental Health Crisis
by Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, M.D.
Portrait of Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg author of Bedlam and advocate for  understanding mental illness.

Asylums never went away, they just grew into two varieties: posh for the wealthy… and prisons for the poor – Cheryl Roberts, quoted in Bedlam

truly quality psychiatric care will emerge only with the establishment of a universal, single-payer insurance system of the sort used in every other industrialized country in the worldBedlam

I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review via http://www.librarything.com.

Kenneth Rosenberg, MD, provides an always timely, poignant, and intimate description of the state of mental healthcare in the United States. Using his insight as a psychiatrist and as a sibling to a seriously mentally ill woman (deceased), he reinvigorates the call for more responsible treatment. His tone is both compassionate, historically & currently relevent and, as needed, empirically unforgiving. He also takes care, however, to highlight where progress continues to be made in mental health treatment, and he does not leave the reader mired in cynicism.

The structure of the book is similar to Tacking on the Styx in so far as it interweaves personal story telling with empirical social & scientific discourse. However, the former is strictly about epilepsy and incorporates intimate historical fiction. The latter is much more inclusive of all (serious) mental illnesses, and it seeks the attention not only of medical professionals but of government agencies and the public at large. Biographical discussion of Rosenberg’s mentally ill sister and his own experiences surrounding her treatment are vividly humanizing.

Rosenberg’s take away points are too numerous for a book review, but some that stick out include the need to vigilantly protect the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. That act protects patients from attempts by insurance companies seeking to discount a patient’s mental health coverage relative to other medical needs. Rosenberg carefully avoids saying that an ill concealed elephant in the room is the exceptionally pro-business state of present American government, so I have said it for him. Parity cannot be taken for granted. Contrary to my cynicism, however, he introduces the reader to our current ‘mental health czar’, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz and describes her very progressive agenda with optimism and respect.

Highlighting a need to fight stigma, Rosenberg also quotes Bruce Schwartz as saying that insurance companies considered the stigma of mental illness to be a first line of defense against monetary claims for treatment ultimately never sought or never fought for. Fighting stigma is a powerful message within the book insofar as the text confronts the fiasco of using the prison system as a fundamental, yet doomed, care-giver. He points out that one big – city jail has mentally ill prisoners filling about 1,500 beds. By contrast, he then describes the great results of a multipronged approach to care in Italy where in-patient (and by extension, inmate) care transforms into out-patient care with great effectiveness. Insurance companies must be brought to this approach.

Bedlam provides a great informational resource, but one of Rosenberg’s greatest gifts to the reader comes at the end of the book in “Practical advice for persons with SMI and their families.” He lays out the hands-on measures to take under particular circumstances, giving contact and website information for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and lists some of the services and information provided there. He suggests and describes making a crisis plan for the household. He discusses Dr. Xavier Amador’s Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner method of constructively connecting to someone with an SMI.

Even more importantly, his “Tips and tricks to help a loved one with chronic, debilitating SMI” is an essential, practical mini-manual of coping which touches on everything from paying bills online to limit stress, to pet ownership, to legal prodding (he also suggests visiting https://mentalillnesspolicy.org/coping). He offers important advice relevant to situations requiring law and law enforcement.

Bedlam is an essential resource to both everyone who has a loved one with a serious mental illness and everyone planning a career in mental healthcare.


À Bedlam, Kenneth Rosenberg, MD, fournit une description opportune, poignante et intime des soins de santé mentale aux États-Unis. En tant que psychiatre et également frère d’une femme gravement malade mentale (décédée), il réclame avec vigueur un traitement plus responsable. Il écrit avec compassion, pertinence historique et culturelle, et un empirisme sévère. Mais il prend également soin de souligner les progrès qui continuent à être réalisés dans le traitement de la santé mentale, et il ne laisse pas le lecteur embourbé dans le cynisme.

La structure du livre est similaire à celle de Tacking on the Styx car elle imbrique le récit d’une histoire personnelle avec un discours social et scientifique empirique. Cependant, TotS traite strictement de l’épilepsie et comprend des fictions inspirées de l’autobiographie. Bedlam concerne toutes les maladies mentales, et il est écrit non seulement pour les professionnels de la santé, mais aussi pour les agences gouvernementales et le grand public. La discussion biographique de la sœur de Rosenberg, malade mentale, et ses propres expériences avec son traitement sont très humanisantes.

Les points importants de Rosenberg sont trop nombreux pour faire l’objet d’une critique de livre, mais parmi les plus importants, il y a la nécessité de protéger avec vigilance la “Loi sur la parité en matière de santé mentale et l’équité en matière de toxicomanie”. Cette loi protège les patients contre les tentatives des compagnies d’assurance visant à réduire la protection financière de la santé mentale d’un patient. Rosenberg évite soigneusement de dire que le gouvernement américain actuel, excessivement favorable aux entreprises, pourrait menacer les soins de santé mentale, alors je le dis pour lui. La bienfaisance ne peut être considérée comme acquise. Contrairement à mon cynisme, cependant, il présente au lecteur notre “tsar de la santé mentale” actuel, le Dr Elinore McCance-Katz, et décrit son programme très progressiste avec optimisme et respect.

Soulignant la nécessité de lutter contre la stigmatisation des maladies mentales, M. Rosenberg cite également Bruce Schwartz, qui a déclaré que les compagnies d’assurance considéraient la stigmatisation des maladies mentales comme une première ligne de défense contre les demandes d’argent pour des traitements que les patients ne cherchent finalement jamais ou ne luttent jamais pour obtenir. La lutte contre la stigmatisation est un message puissant dans le livre – le texte confronte l’utilisation honteuse des prisons comme principal fournisseur de soins. Il souligne qu’une prison dans une grande ville américaine compte environ 1500 prisonniers souffrant de maladies mentales. En revanche, il décrit ensuite les résultats positifs d’une approche multidimensionnelle des soins en Italie, où les soins hospitaliers se transforment en soins ambulatoires avec une grande efficacité. Les compagnies d’assurance doivent accepter cette approche.

L’un des plus grands cadeaux de Rosenberg au lecteur se trouve à la fin du livre dans “Conseils pratiques pour les personnes atteintes de RMS et leurs familles”. Il prescrit des mesures spécifiques pour aider les personnes dans des circonstances particulières, en donnant les coordonnées et le site web de la National Alliance on Mental Illness et en énumérant certains des services et informations qui y sont proposés. Il suggère et décrit l’élaboration d’un plan pour le ménage afin d’aider un patient ayant une urgence de santé mentale. Il évoque la méthode “Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner” du Dr Xavier Amador, qui consiste à aider de manière constructive une personne atteinte d’une maladie mentale.

Plus important encore, son livre “Trucs et astuces pour aider un proche atteint d’une maladie mentale chronique et débilitante” est une brochure importante qui donne des conseils sur de nombreux sujets tels que le paiement des factures en ligne pour limiter le stress, la gestion des questions juridiques et même la présence d’animaux domestiques (il suggère également de visiter le site https://mentalillnesspolicy.org/coping). Il offre des conseils importants concernant les situations nécessitant l’intervention de la police et des services de répression.

Bedlam est une ressource essentielle pour tous ceux qui ont un proche atteint d’une maladie mentale grave et pour tous ceux qui envisagent de faire carrière dans le domaine de la santé mentale.

 ISBN 9780525541318

Bromo-caffeine
Quack remedy for all things psychological in 1880’s

7 Thoughts to Live Your Life By

A Guide to the Happy, Peaceful, Meaningful Life
by I.C. Robledo
Portrait of I.C. Robledo author of 7 Thoughts to Live Your Life By reviewed by jeffrey hatcher

Somewhere in very, very recent history, right – wing America discounted moral behavior. They did so with the complicit approval of the right – wing churches who generously refer to themselves as ‘Christian’ denominations. The rest of the adult American populace now has the distasteful task of protecting younger citizens from becoming like – minded (by ‘younger’ I include anyone whose moral philosophy remains pliable in a non-negative sense). Part of this task is to expose people in their late teens and twenties to moral philosophies which do not involve gods who can be leveraged by someone as a stage prop for gaining social power.

Books within a “self – actualization” genre can have a role to play in protecting younger adults from moral decay without the need for dated threats of damnation. Traditionally, moral and self – discipline oriented texts come from religion. In Western Civilization, religions tend to be eschatological i.e. preoccupied with death. The self – actualization genre does the opposite, focusing only on life. I.C. Robledo has contributed to this literature with 7 Thoughts to Live Your Life By: a Guide to the Happy, Peaceful, and Meaningful Life.

Robledo shares his life philosophy in a well organized and easily read manner. He does not target a particular age group. The suggested demographic best served by the his work is my own opinion. The strategy for living which he proposes hase a theme of minimalism to it. In this regard, the book is not particularly original, but it remains valuable for adding weight to the genre. Its general spirit has strong overtones of Walden, but it is more operationalized than the musings of Thoreau. 7 Thoughts is also quite Epicurean.

Used in a casual, popular sense, ‘Epicurean’ might sound derogatory for my having applied it to Robledo’s work. I mean nothing of the sort. The following description, quoted from the American Bible Society, mirrors his theses and also makes clear the philosophical respectability of Epicurus.

Epicureanism was founded in Athens by Epicurus, who lived from about 342 to 270 B.C. The main goal of life for Epicureans was to find true happiness. They believed true happiness was gained by encouraging serenity (the Greek word ataraxia) and by avoiding pain. They did not believe that fate or destiny ruled their lives; instead, they believed in free will. Since they did not believe that the gods influenced a person’s life, they were considered by some to be atheists. For them, true pleasure came from living nobly and justly and with a healthy lifestyle.

Though not groundbreaking, 7 Thoughts has its nuggets. He emphasizes comparing self – to – self, across time, rather than comparing self – to – others. He makes the highly non-religious suggestion that life works best by viewing and weighing things with a probabilistic mind set. Don’t get hung up on absolutes in keeping goals and judging situations. He loves lists and poignantly suggests fact checking ones thoughts. I particularly like his suggestion of keeping a ‘to don’t list’.

Like similar works in self – oriented literature (by definition really), a jump to family priorities and societal priorities is not well developed. For example, he states “I find that the more minimal I keep my needs and wants, the happier I am.” That is all well and good, but does the mindset work well for a father? In a parent’s world, some material excess brings security in hard times. He does, indeed, list out how personal priorities should anchor to the family. However, if this mind set is transposed to a government, we might get the austere, libertarian governing that favors the 1%. Similarly, he advocates focusing on the present much more than the future. Again, at a societal level, this is pure poison. In today’s world, people should be more demanding of institutions in all respects rather than less. The genre, as a whole, trips up on the divide between the individual and the group / civilization. Happiness cannot run from the masses. Nevertheless, self – actualization literature is a useful step to gaining secularization and to limiting preoccupations with scorning others.

ISBN: 1794523847

I received this advance reviewer copy free through Booksirens.com

 brain and spinal chord Fyfe
A Compendium System of Anatomy in Six Parts A. Fyfe.
Philadelphia: Archibald Bartram 1805
The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and GeniusThe Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius by Gail Saltz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

People having various neurological or psychiatric disorders frequently enrich society by virtue of having a distinctly different perspective on life due to nature’s allotments. In The Power of Different, Dr. Gail Saltz lays out various case studies in which altered abilities in some mental functions give way to enhanced abilities in others. Saltz makes a successful bid to sensitize her readers to the complexity of human thought and capability. She also demonstrates the potential costs incurred by society if it is dismissive of people whose cognitive abilities or tendencies lay away from the ‘norm’. The Power of Different could not appear more timely in America for the waning of social sophistication and compassion in our present-day government.

“Mental illness” as a technical label has little more value than “somatic / bodily illness” for the purposes of description and classification. Yet we see it used exclusively time and again. Saltz rectifies this deficiency by presenting a clearer description of several forms – dyslexia, ADD, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism (she categorizes them in a more sophisticated manner that also includes more disorders than I refer to here). She allocates a chapter for each disorder, making it concise and readable to anyone. She also points out that disorders can and do overlap as would be expected for a networked bodily organ. Her chapters are grouped by symptomatology. She also makes the key point that psychiatric counseling is about the treatment of symptoms – classifying conditions is done for insurance purposes rather than treament purposes.

Within each chapter, Saltz explores creative potentials that can be enhanced by the condition(s) described. She also stimulates productive thought as she discusses “work arounds”. She proposes behavioral changes that people, or their associates, can make to cope with differences in abilities and thus enhance the strengths which people possess as a result of these differences.


The book does walk a fine and contentious line on the topic of semantics. What does one call a medical condition that comes about by an aberrant developmental condition and/or genetics and which directly impacts cognitive function? What social repercussions do labels have? The book occasionally comes across as muddled regarding these questions – muddled for its realism primarily but not exclusively.

For example, she refers to dyslexia as a ‘difference’ as opposed to a disorder. Referring to a condition simply as a ‘difference’ puts it at risk for lowered medical research and might jeopardize insurance coverage. Saltz discusses dyslexia as a ‘learning difference’ and she gives the reader a lucid description of how someone with the condition is predisposed to think when reading. But she also tells of some people describing their experience as seeing letters “moving or vibrating on a page.” Vibrating letters are a perceptual pathology not simply a difference. Dyslexia frequently afflicts a person concurrently (i.e. comorbidly) with other difficulties, such as dyspraxia which she explains is a difficulty in articulating sounds due to a kind of neuromuscular impairment.

The reader does need to bear in mind that Saltz demonstrates the **breadth** of the human condition more than reasonable expectations for the average individual with a disorder. Her sampling is openly and also appropriately biased:

“I have interviewed multiple successful and supremely creative individuals with brain differences for this book, and in each case I have asked them if, given the choice, they would eliminate their brain difference. To a person – and no matter how much pain their difference has caused them – they said that they would not. Each of my interviewees couldn’t imagine separating their strengths from their weaknesses.”

This kind of sampling is far from interviewing a person with a condition at random. She does not refer to people who lack supreme creativity. Therefore, using the term “brain differences”, as opposed to “disabilities” or “disorders” runs a danger of overcompensating for historically negative views of some people. She points out her focus on exceptional people repeatedly. However, when a reader fails to attend to her disclaimers, they might lose sight of the possibility that not-so-creative persons might find themselves in misery. The fact that her interviewees would retain their conditions could reflect their status as exceptional people more than their status as people with a recognized medical issue. Nevertheless, Saltz carefully avoids romanticizing any condition. As I said, she gives an *appropriately* biased picture, as one of her intentions is to highlight potential within people having a wide diversity of cognitive abilities. In America, at least, her agenda is imperative.

I have my own biases as I write this critique. I have temporal lobe epilepsy. The history of the disease includes a pendulous swing in status within the psychiatric community, and this volatile status can have high costs for the patient. Decades ago, epilepsy was front and center among mental illnesses. The illness was oddly both comorbid with and caused by seizures. When anticonvulsant drugs became highly effective at reducing or eliminating outward seizures, the disease mysteriously became non-mental. Yet, I can pick out various mental symptoms from multiple disorders that Saltz describes and show them to also be comorbid with temporal lobe epilepsy. Saltz quotes a young woman with dyslexia, “I do better with abstract concepts and ideas as opposed to solid things that require huge amounts of knowledge stored.” I have expressed exactly the same thoughts about epilepsy (in an earlier published work) as the woman quoted. I also appreciate points that Saltz makes regarding attentional difficulties and creativity. Saltz emphasizes the power of disinhibited thoughts – the amnesia with which I am too familiar has similar powers (when you cynically assume that you’ll be wrong most of the time, you cannot be bothered to intellectually police yourself). Epileptic activity can gyrate a person’s focus. Paradoxically, it can make a person hyperfocused as well. Epilepsy, however, is very pathological, frequently melodramatic, and even if it did bring me great success and creativity, I would never pause a moment to be rid of it. But then again, I am not supremely creative either.

Psychiatrists could be routinely treating epilepsy symptoms – as Saltz points out, treating symptoms is what psychiatrists are here to do. Unfortunately, treating the psychiatric symptoms by doctors and receiving reasonable accomodation in the work place has been greatly complicated by the “purging” of the mental illness out of the disease. Today, sufferers are too often perceived as being in a 100% normal mental state when not seizing. That misperception creates social problems. Semantics matter greatly, and the reader needs to critically examine any comment which suggests that a change in terminology is being made for any reason other than a coldly biological one. Such a comment may be very wise, but it needs introspection before quick acceptance. Having a mental disorder can incur stigmatization, but falsely not having one precludes the best care. For that reason, my own attitude is to work to purge the stigma from terms like “disability” or “mental illness” rather than change or discard the terms themselves. Despite our disagreement, Saltz’s highlighting of the refinements of other abilities, brought about because of disorders, benefits people with either viewpoint. A person optimally focused on abstract thoughts can make great contributions to an intellectual endeavor, just as Saltz points out.

Saltz tackles supremely complicated issues, facilitating finding bones of contention. However, what Saltz accomplishes with her writing overshadows the points of contention that I raise. Of numerous accomplishments, she a) humanizes mental challenges in a systematic and comprehensive manner; b) provides a text-book knowledgebase that fosters empathy as it informs; and c) poignantly lays in evidence what society stands to lose when we become insensitive to the human potential in anyone.

The Power of Different needs to be in every college library.

ISBN 9781250060013

phrenology
The Christmas planet by Al MacyThe Christmas planet by Al Macy by Al macy , jake corby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Christmas Planet and Other Stories consists of four short stories, three of which are of regular length. Of the three, two are sci-fi and one is adventure. While the tempo and style are adult oriented, with a couple of excisions of unnecessary PG-17 sentences, they would also appeal to some mature young adults as well.

Chapter 1 amuses with a story that could be likened to a remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as produced and directed by Gene Rodenberry and Henry Selick. This comparison falls short in so far as the fantastical characters are not so pure in motivation, and the draw of the ‘factory’ is as an adult amusement center as well as a place for children. The end of the tale involves catching the villain rather than bequeething a factory or fantasy theme park.

Chapter 2 is a tale of a space – junk scavenger who operates a salvage vessel. In the process of taking possession of a seemingly abandoned space ship, he meets up with a (legally) wanted woman. The subsequent short consists of their forming a social bond despite conflicting personalities. Their personalities and interactions hearken to Han Solo and Princess Leia.

In his sci-fi chapters, Macy creates a level of engaging realism by, paradoxically, the use of the mundane. He incorporates a lot of scenic description and a very realistic tempo for dialogue, both of which I enjoy and neither of which are necessary to an action packed sci-fi work. He writes for a mature audience as can readily be seen by his characters being an entire family in the first case. Eight year olds do not wield light sabers particularly well. They do, however, bring a level of originality and realism to a tale.

Chapter 3 forgoes scifi and returns to normal Earth. The daughter of a past employee in the main character’s former security firm has been kidnapped and held somewhere in Mexico. The tempo and dialogue are paced as expected for extracting a kidnap victim in contrast to the scifi chapters.

Chapter 4 is a snippet that any description of would spoil. Again, Macy’s penchant for family narrative in his plot is evident.

ISBN-10: 1724169130, ISBN-13: 978-1724169136

man lying on operating table
A Text-Book on Surgery: General, Operative, and Mechanical.
J.A. Wyeth, New York: Appleton 1897

Stranger Things Have HappenedStranger Things Have Happened by Thomas Gaffney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaffney has a fondness for ashes, and this book has them. Stranger Things is a small but very imaginative collection of short stories suitable for reading to naughty children before you put them to bed. The tales tend to the starkly fatalistic and brief. Gaffney presents mortality from diverse and vivid perspectives. Naughty children notwithstanding, this is a literary work for an adult mind.

My chief criticism is only that some of the stories could be longer. Brevity is essential to some of his tales – notably ‘Eight days a week’ and ‘The day Harold Sanford got cancer’ – but Gaffney could show off his talent more with longer works. I simply have a preference for longer stories.

ISBN-10: 0999263048; ISBN-13: 978-0999263044

Illustration of human nervous system
The Motive Power of the Human System.
H. Sherwood. New York : Wiley and Putnam, 1847

The Faraway North: Scandinavian Folk BalladsThe Faraway North: Scandinavian Folk Ballads by Ian Cumpstey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These Scandinavian ballads are colorful and captivating. They will appeal to all ages. They provide especially good material for introducing poetry to young people and offer a culturally meaningful divergence from Harry Potter. More than that, however, they are a scholarly achievement reflecting a great deal of professional work.

Cumpstey prefaces each one in a readable and scholarly manner. His translations are all the more impressive for keeping a lyrical tone. A literary type will find the book useful as a starting point to better understand and research the history of the genre. He successfully grafts the academic to the entertaining.

The Faraway North is not suitable for bookswaps as it is the sort of text to be reenjoyed over years.

ISBN-10: 0957612028; ISBN-13: 978-0957612020

Portrait of a Young Girl by Charles-Edouard de Beaumont
Beaumont, Charles-Edouard de. “Ces Petites Dames” [planche nº15] , Musée Carnavalet, Histoire de Paris G.10052 CC0 Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet

Yellow Locust (Yellow Locust, #1)Yellow Locust by Justin Joschko
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the setting of what might be a post – ecological warfare America. Joschko could have taken that a little further – a ‘prequel’ could improve YL after the fact.

Some highly accomplished writer whose name escapes me has noted that adjectives can be an enemy of good writing. An author should cooperate with the reader, providing the plot and action, while the reader provides the fine details of scenery. Joschko slows the reader down excessively with adjective – and adverb – laden descriptions of events. One need not “dodge and parry quickly”. Such actions always take place quickly. One only needs to dodge and parry.

Joschko also can get carried away with metaphors, similes, and the like to no useful end, such as in the following:

“The farms were hard to tell apart in the dark, but Simon’s target was fairly easy to spot. The silo thrust skyward like some colossus’ skeletal finger, admonishing the gods for its premature burial. Its metal skin shone bone pale in the moonlight, the patches of rust like blood stains indifferently rinsed away. Simon gripped the ladder.”

This text about a silo gets a bit over the top. Action and poetry do not always mesh well.

Stylistic criticisms aside, I liked the main character and would have liked to have seen into the head of her very introverted brother further. At this moment in American history, younger people need a lot of dystopian literature to help them better grasp the dystopian disunity in our post – Obama world. They also need strong female protagonists to stay inspired to achieve in a country where half of the population has endorsed misogyny. Yellow Locust helps in meeting these needs.

ISBN-10: 1946700630; ISBN-13: 978-1946700636

A Still and Bitter GraveA Still and Bitter Grave by Ann Marston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable book with a distinctive character. It has the detailed emotional narrative style of a romance novel with a modestly masculine pace, plot and character development. This difference from other novels is refreshing. Some readers drawn to the title, though, might prefer faster action. Marston appears to be playing to two very different reader genders simultaneously which entails some risks. On balance, she pulls it off though the fusion of the protagonist’s hyper-emotion and super speed behind the joystick at the very end gets a bit unwieldy.

In an unconventional sense, the main character seems narcissisitic. He is not arrogant or unable to have empathy in any traditional sense of how we use the term. Rather he seems to be trapped at the boundary of past and present trying to determine who or what the reflection he sees really is deep in the past. He is Narcissus staring into a reflective surface but uncertain of who actually stares back. Unlike the mythical figure, however, he becomes unstable. The instability ultimately emancipates him.

I know nothing about aviation, but I suspect readers who do will find Marston’s use of detailed pilot culture engaging, especially her male readers.

ISBN-10: 1988274095; ISBN-13: 978-1988274096

 

TransmigrationsTransmigrations by Eddie Louise
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quite original for a time travel piece. I enjoyed the book, but being of poor memory, the structure of the book was initially unwieldy – perhaps more a challenge to myself than to others. Some more staging would help it. The story fell nicely between young adult fiction and older readers.

I liked the uncontrolled possession aspect of it – having no say in one’s biological destiny. Louise gave it a situation comedy theme that felt refreshing and original by having mature adult humans get transmigrated into age – inappropriate and even species – inappropriate situations. He lost a star, however, for the abrupt ending. Whether they are part of a series or not, books should stand alone. The reader will return to a well written series without any need to be baited from one to another.

Devil is in the details or Le demon by Gustave Dore
Gustave Doré et Jean Gauchard. “Le démon.” Illustration pour Honoré de Balzac, “Les Contes drolatiques”, Paris : Société générale de librairie, 1855

Return to Sender (Dyna-Tyme Genetics Time Travel #1)

Return to Sender by Fred H. Holmes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fred Holmes’ Return to Sender uses time travel to explore ideas of alternate American histories contingent upon who wins the Civil War. How one views the book depends upon a number of factors – one’s ethnic background, one’s view of American history, one’s affinity for white southern culture, and the time frame that one chooses to read the book.

I won’t speak too much about the action due to the risk of spoilers. Suffice to say that as a time – travel story it has all of the usual vulnerabilities. What is the mechanism of time travel? How does changing minor parts of the past alter the future? How do people feel about the possibility of slipping into non-existence, and so on. Holmes touches on these acceptably well; that he does so at all sets him apart from some authors. Readers must be forgiving of technicalities for all time travel stories.

One main character is a major apologist for the slave owners, and he speaks so eloquently from center stage at times, that it becomes hard to tell how much of his view the book might embody! The character proposes that many lives would have been saved if the South had decisively won the Civil War. Slavery would have ended on its own:

Certainly slavery was evil and wrong, but I believe that had the South won the war, slavery would have been phased out with the blacks receiving education and a far better chance at achieving equality than they received in the economically crushed South.

In light of how many southerners still think that Earth and life were created in 144 hours, this line of reasoning seems a bit preoposterous. Facts, rational discourse, and moral philosophy frequently come up short as tools for changing attitudes. One hopes that Holmes’, himself does not take the notion of populist progress too seriously! Certainly, the Johnson Administration could have made improvements, but the characters’ propositions are absurd, plain and simple. “Return to Sender” was copyrighted in 2015, our current Embarrassment that serves as America’s head of state had yet to test the credibility of the presence of moral values required for eventual, voluntary emancipation. If contemporary history is anything to go by, there are no progressive forces in the South capable of challenging the top 1% either in the 19th or the 21st centuries.

Of course, Holmes has other characters who counter the main villain’s notions, but one comes away feeling uncertain if there is any notion sufficiently non-utilitarian to be genuinely moral among the cast of characters. The occasional Dixie – nostalgia can disturb a person’s sensibilities as well. See the following:

In 1798, George Carter acquired nearly 3500 acres of prime farmland. Its prosperity peaked by the time of the Civil War when it was tended by over a hundred slaves. In present time, the plantation was reduced to 260 acres and designated a National Historic Landmark with a roadside marker. But in1862, it still was thriving.

Thriving how and for whom?

In fairness to Holmes, this critic is from the only state not to vote for Nixon, and a person who would not be heartbroken if said state seceded from the Union in 2019. I get agitated easily. Holmes poses some food for thought. The book would make an interesting conversation starter in an academic sense.

Nineteenth century image of dissected human brain from Samuel Solly 1848
The Human Brain. S. Solly. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard. 1848
Absolute Heaven

Absolute Heaven by S.M. Shuford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If Edgar Allen Poe or Robert Louis Stevenson was a 21st century contemporary of S.M. Shuford, I would not care to speculate about who would have the greater influence over whom. Shuford has composed a highly effective book of literary unease in verse of both Western style and haiku. The title is a tease as the book is really the antithesis of serenity (though one might consider a mathematical perspective to grasp the title). Were Absolute Heaven transformed into visual media, I would liken it to a hybrid of the very darkest work of the young photographer, Gregor Petrikovic, and a less erotically obsessed version of surreal Japanese Ero Guro (Japanese erotic horror art) with some intellectual ancestry tracing back to Thomas Malthus. Shuford gives us a literary – quality examination of the organic, disturbing and even vulgar side of life.

The Western style title poem, “Absolute Heaven”, lies in the middle of the book and evokes the sense that Heaven lies within a model of nihilistic Holy War. The first of three verses asserts that forgetting life is the key to Heaven. The second suggests that what is to be feared most in life is not a major agent of destruction – an army or dragon – but rather internal corruption. It is horrifyingly a propos to contemporary American politics in which people are content to normalize the abhorrent. The third hearkens back to the first and laments nihilism. The poem, over all, disturbs.

Another example of her Western style writing, “Biodemonology Piece”, paints an exceptionally organic picture of what is to be feared about the faculties in life. Its symbolism hearkens to the religious iconography in “Lord of the Flies”. It is tempting to find Gospel themes within it – even a darkest form of eucharest.

Other Western verse tackles the darker experiences of modern life. Shuford offers poems that pertain to drug dens, prostitution, suicide, and abortion, among others. She leads the reader directly to the interface of emotion and experience. The reader often needs to meditate to find the precise topics, however.

The book provides a wealth of haiku which are well organized into sections. Blood Ballet pertains, it seems, to original sin. Parasite of the Sun evokes a Malthusian stream of consciousness (esp. #53). Ero-Guro Darlings provides an alternate, biologically oriented model of Hades. These are just three of many collections.

Overall, one of the most frightening aspects of “Absolute Heaven” is the pertinence one finds to very contemporary sociopolitical issues. I refer the reader to ‘Exhumation’, ‘Transient’, and most particularly to Haiku #44 of her Paradox Phenomena collection (the NRA would not like it).

Shuford presents a volume of carefully themed collections of poetry. Always literary in quality, they bleed, expose madness, and follow the innate dark sides of life. They unsettle and do so marvelously.

ISBN-10: 179513416X; ISBN-13: 978-1795134163

Portrait of a sick man by Henry Bataille
Portrait d'homme malade
Henry Bataille (1872-1922). “Portrait d’homme malade (P. René ?)”. Huile sur toile. Paris, musée Carnavalet.
Progressive Digression: A Book of PoetryProgressive Digression: A Book of Poetry by Jordan M. Ehrlich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Progressive Digression is poetry from a male adolescent’s perspective about self worth, self confidence, the opposite sex, and God. I got this book in a free giveaway, and it’s relevant that I’m long past the age group. Regardless of my age, I could identify with the poetry. Most people could. Ehrlich captures some universals very well. He does, in fact, capture adolescence very well. His very first poem calls to mind Charlie Brown and the little red haired girl (oops, I’m giving away my age).

The poems I favored include ‘Get off my back’ for its refreshingly terse use of 2nd person perspective. ‘The Phone Call’ is very identifiable, mind – racing, and spartan – something I enjoyed. ‘Shower’ is provocative and about identity (perhaps racial but more likely spiritual).

I do think the book is best suited for young people. I found too many poems to be thematically age – specific. My interest in youth psychology in poetry has limits, and the book could be pared down without losing value. I like diversity of topics and perspectives in my reading, such as one would find with Frost. Progressive Digression is routinely first person in grammar and occupied with finding context. For those reasons, it is best for youth to whom it will give empathy.


ISBN-10: 1492744786; ISBN-13: 978-1492744788

When to Now: A Time Travel AnthologyWhen to Now: A Time Travel Anthology by Alison McBain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ever since tomorrow, time travel has engaged readers, and multiple stories do so in “When to Now”. In fact, a few come across as downright literary (for the genre), yet some can readily be saved for a rainy day.

Abhishek Sengupta writes perhaps the most intriguing and disturbing story of the book in both poetic metaphor and narrative. “The Swing” translates an experience of Alzheimer’s disease as a repetitive, yet deteriorating, experience. One starts at one extreme of the travel arc and seeks to cross a threshold on the far side, to something like normality. The story encompasses the experience of the loved one as well. It is too rich and complex to give justice to here. Intellectually, it is a difficult read, but that challenge is a metaphor in and of itself.

P.C. Keeler’s “Try Again” seems to portray ‘God’ as an embodiment of Idealism more than Creator. Idealism is repeatedly drawn (or dragged) through a sequence of generations exposed to extreme Darwinism – the Counter Idealism. Idealism has at its heart naivite rather than omniscience. Keeler’s spiritual paradigm is too sophisticated to be compared to the brain dead creation theology which we call scripture today. Like Sengupta, his is a challenging read but not in any negative sense.

Other stories provoke thought for translating older ideas into a post modern setting “A Winters Day” is a futuristic Dorian Grey despairing the selfishness of wanting to live forever. However, it could benefit from some pizazz. It is also not mentally ground breaking, though it is a good study in how to create a vivid context for a story. It would be a useful example in writing technique for a student.

“Turns of Fate” briefly narrates the experiences of an adolescent working in a retro-amusement park. In a highly policed state, the story takes inspiration from “1984”. It puts the oddities of time travel into a scene that feels purposefully mundane.

“Neighbor” is a brief morality tale decrying selfishness in time as well as general irritability. It could make do with a bit more verve and could readily appear elsewhere. Alongside of works like those of Sengupta and Keeler, it feels out of place. The same might be said for “Misconception,” which concerns adoption. Both works develop an air of predictability.

The above are a small selection of stories. On balance, “When to Now” has some excellent works, and it brings many different perspectives and scenarios. However, writing styles which differ so greatly make it feel schizophrenic. A number of works lack intensity and make the book feel easy to put down.

ISBN-10: 1949122069; ISBN-13: 978-1949122060

Cries from the StaticCries from the Static by Darren Speegle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darren Speegle presents a literary quality collection of horror. He uses a variety of writing modes. His tails have high originality and, in the best sense, a 19th century depth of word selection.

Not everything that he writes is story. The volume’s title, itself, refers to a poem.
In another work identifiable as poetry, “Lathered Spit in the Calloused Palms of the Demiurge” he reduces life to something rather onanistic – a wretched proposition. In a brilliantly worded litany, *Things that Tend to Disturb*, he presents exactly that, a listing of things briefly editorialized. When the reader finishes the lengthy tally, they might feel overcome by a sense of dread.

Of course most of the work is story. He has a deeply visceral ghost story in “Hexerei”. A most unsettling, realistic, double murder transpires in another tale.

*Kiss of Chromium, Caress of Isolation* is a particularly disturbing story. In it, a man seeks out his mother living on a deserted island, perhaps to reconcile or resolve the troubles of a past life in which his mother was a paedophile. His name, Hadrian, makes a clear reference to isolation which permeates the story. His career as a photographer implies one who records but does not participate in the world at large. Speegle communicates through sexual symbolism through the story. It is a pleasurably challenging read.

Quite by chance, I read the adult graphic novella, *The Inferno in Bottles*, adapted from the story by Kyusaku Yomeno (1928), within days of reading Kiss of Chromium. Inferno is a classic pictorial work in Japan about a brother and sister also stranded from childhood on an island. Upon reaching the threshold of puberty, they, too, become horrified by their incestuous feelings, though they never commit a sin. The artwork within the piece is loaded with symbolism.

Anyone familiar with and liking TIB will definitely like Speegle’s work and vice versa. Using text as a medium, Speegle naturally creates something more visceral than can be found in any drawings, but I really enjoyed seeing two perspectives side by side. People reading Speegle’s story might like to see TIB similarly close in time.

In Stephen King’s opinion, good horror writing generally avoids adjectives in preference to adverbs. Speegle’s work boldly refutes this notion. He writes masterfully in a manner of Poe or Stoker relying on circumstance and description more than action to disturb the reader. For an adult reader, his style has a superior richness compared to most 20th century work.

ISBN-10: 1935738399; ISBN-13: 978-1935738398

Prison laboratory Seguin 
Prison Saint Lazare
Prison Saint Lazare; Le laboratoire, quartier des filles malades
Séguin, F. , Dessinateur En 1895 Musée Carnavalet, Histoire de Paris

An Important DayAn Important Day by John J. Siefring
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book is heartfelt and caring. Each character is sensitively portrayed.

Unfortunately, they are sensitively portrayed over and over again. Every paragraph is loaded down with context. That sort of style is fine for the first 25% of the book, however, there comes a point at which one must give the characters freedom to express themselves on their own and in dialogue. The reader will accurately extrapolate their state of mind from actions and speech to a much greater extent than the author supposes. The characters are narrated to death.

I care deeply about mental illnesses – I have one myself. However, I could not ultimately finish the book as the narration crossed the line from sensitive to stifling. Most large paragraphs could be slimmed by 15% without weakening anything that the author wished to convey. The viscosity just became too much for me to handle.

I hope that most reviewers do not share my perspective. For those who might, take the book no more than two chapters at a time and contemplate Siefring’s wisdom in small doses. His manner is kind, and he tackles a difficult topic.

ISBN-13: 978-1530812899; ISBN-10: 1530812895

cranial nerve from "Text-book of nervous diseases" 1891 by Charles Dana
A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895

Team CharlieTeam Charlie by Mark Lages
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Team Charlie follows the life of a man who began to hear voices in his head starting in early middle age. Formerly in sales and successful, he lives with his father up to the year that the book begins at. His father passes away, and we accompany Charlie on a long walk – about. He has become very disconnected from his previous life.

Our society remains depauperate in quality works on mental illness which promote empathy. Mark Lages fills one of numerous gaps in an intimate manner. The book reads in third person, primarily, but we never venture away from the main character. The source or cause of his mental hallucinations is never specified though it brings to mind schizophrenia. He has a stable cast of named characters in his head, and at least one is present almost all of the time hence the book’s title.
Most are benign at worst and likeable at best.

Team Charlie moves us further away from the 20th century notion of associating mental illness with criminality or a kind of collapse in maturity. It also highlights the manner in which healthcare for patients with mental illnesses can be precarious and deficient. In Charlie’s case, effective medical outreach could have saved him half a lifetime of trouble. Lages makes a timely jab at the retrogressive religious community whose belief systems are too preponderant in America and antithetical to optimal healthcare. The book should be in the library of most colleges of theology.

In a future edition, Lages will do the reader a favor by adding a section with links to professional organizations. While he seems carefully non-committal as to what disease afflicts Charlie, adding some general, non-fiction descriptions of illnesses involving auditory hallucinations might be valued by the reader. Such material should be used in an afterword. The story needs none of it incorporated.

Team Charlie gives people more breadth for understanding the human condition in a sensitive and personable way. It has an engaging storyline, and Lages’ uses a writing style that gives the main character’s personality continual development in ways which might not readily be seen. The reader will feel fortunate for having read it.


La Team Charlie raconte la vie d’un homme qui a commencé à entendre des voix dans sa tête lorsqu’il était au début de l’âge moyen. Ancien vendeur à succès, il vit avec son père jusqu’à l’année où le livre commence. Son père meurt, et nous lisons la vie de Charlie à partir de ce jour-là. Il est devenu très déconnecté de sa vie avant la mort de son père.

La société américaine reste dépourvue de littérature de qualité sur les maladies mentales qui favorise l’empathie avec la victime. L’écriture de Mark Lages contribue à combler un vide. Lages écrit surtout à la troisième personne, mais il ne s’éloigne jamais du personnage principal. La source ou la cause des hallucinations mentales de Charlie n’est jamais précisée, bien qu’il s’agisse probablement d’un type de schizophrénie. Il a dans sa tête un ensemble stable de personnages nommés, et au moins une voix supplémentaire à la sienne est présente dans sa conscience presque tout le temps. D’où le titre du livre “Team Charlie”. La plupart des personnages sont au pire bénins et au mieux sympathiques.

Team Charlie nous aide à écarter l’association du XXe siècle entre la maladie mentale et la criminalité ou une sorte d’effondrement de la maturité. TC met également en évidence la manière dont les soins de santé pour les patients atteints de maladies mentales peuvent être déficients. Dans le cas de Charlie, une assistance médicale efficace aurait pu lui épargner la moitié d’une vie d’ennuis. Lages s’en prend opportunément à la communauté religieuse rétrograde dont les systèmes de croyances archaïques sont trop prépondérants en Amérique et trop contraires à des soins de santé optimaux. Le livre devrait se trouver dans la bibliothèque de la plupart des séminaires et des collèges affiliés à l’église.

Dans toute édition future du livre, Lages aidera le lecteur en ajoutant une section de texte avec des liens Internet vers des organisations professionnelles. Bien qu’il semble éviter soigneusement d’énoncer la maladie dont souffre Charlie, l’ajout de quelques descriptions non fictives de maladies impliquant des hallucinations auditives pourrait être apprécié par le lecteur. Ce matériel devrait être utilisé dans une annexe du livre.

Team Charlie donne aux gens plus d’ampleur pour comprendre la condition humaine d’une manière sensible et personnelle. L’histoire est captivante et Lages permet un développement continu de la personnalité du personnage principal. Le lecteur se sentira chanceux de l’avoir lu.

Le jeune malade. The sick child. by Ary Scheffer
Ary Scheffer (1795-1658). Le jeune malade. Lithographie d’après un tableau d’Ary Scheffer, conservé au musée Magnin de Dijon. Un mère se tient assise au chevet de son enfant malade. Lithographie. Paris, musée de la Vie romantique.

Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and CharacterRobert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character by Kay Redfield Jamison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The public, the student, and even health-care practitioners need more biographical exposure to people with mental illnesses. The only way to really grasp the nature and diversity of mental illness is via empathy. Brains have no moving parts and x-rays, MRI’s and autopsies come up decidedly short for imparting understanding. More importantly, mental illnesses frequently need an intimate, real – world perspective to be best understood. Kay Redfield Jamison helps fill this gap with a study of Robert Lowell.

Writing as an academic, Jamison presents a biographical dissertation on Lowell, the patient and the poet, that trends to unabridged. However, even to someone unfamiliar with the man, she brings him alive in a manner that engages. I received this book in a giveaway lottery – I am not deeply into author biographies. Hence, twenty percent of the way into it, I wondered if I would finish it given its narrow focus on someone with whom I have little familiarity. I am pleased to say that I did and am glad to have done so. Jamison writes in an energized style. She has a talent for keeping every paragraph vibrant in the manner of a first – rate fiction writer, let alone an academic. But the book is anything but fiction, and the fact that it is not adds to its richness.

The book has one structural weakness that the reader can remedy on their own if they know to do so. Mania, in and of itself, is fascinating and complicated. By the third chapter, I wanted more medical background to better appreciate the poet. Half of the way through, I craved it. Jamison had me hooked, but I was not appreciating all that she had to say about Lowell’s life circumstances. She brings the disease alive at Chapter 9 and again in Chapter 13 (the best of the book).

Jamison does give a fine clinical description of the disease. Unfortunately, she has hidden it in Appendix 2. In future editions, it should be worked into the main text after the 2nd or 3rd chapter. I encourage the reader to start with the appendix or check it within the first half of reading the book. Mental illnesses are very diverse and poorly understood by the public and very often by doctors as well. Lowell’s life needs to have maximum context from the beginning to best orient the reader.

The book’s subtitle lists genius, mania, and character as topics. The text is strongest on the topic of character, then mania, and lastly genius. Given the order, some more space could have been allocated to his poetry with a few more examples showing where his genius lay early on. A larger amount of direct commentary on the verse would be helpful to tie it to Lowell’s mania. Redfield does note, “manic patients use more adjectives and action verbs and more words that reflect power and achievement,” but these points could be referenced to specific verse examples more frequently. It is not entirely clear how Lowell has more genius than other poets. Chapter 13 brings his writing alive (it is about death, after all) in the more dissected manner that poetry often requires for a novice to quickly appreciate. My own unfamiliarity with Lowell limits my full appreciation of Jamison’s work in this regard.

All in all, a rewarding read to the amateur and undoubtedly mandatory one for the literary scholar. We hear about the relationships between mental illness and talent often to the point of cliche. Setting The River On Fire brings said relationship into valuable focus and adds depth to our knowledge of mental illness and talent generally.


Le public, les étudiants et même les professionnels de la santé ont besoin d’une plus grande exposition biographique aux personnes atteintes de maladies mentales. La seule façon de vraiment saisir la nature et la diversité des maladies mentales est de faire preuve d’empathie. Le cerveau n’a pas de pièces mobiles et la radiographie, l’IRM et les autopsies sont loin de suffire à transmettre la compréhension. Plus important encore, les maladies mentales ont souvent besoin d’une perspective intime et réelle pour être mieux comprises. Kay Redfield Jamison aide à combler cette lacune grâce à une étude sur Robert Lowell.

En tant qu’universitaire, Jamison présente une thèse biographique sur Lowell, le patient et le poète, qui est presque complète. Cependant, même pour quelqu’un qui ne connaît pas l’homme, elle le rend vivant d’une manière engageante. Jamison écrit avec un style enthousiaste

Elle a le talent de garder chaque paragraphe vivant à la manière d’un auteur de fiction de premier ordre. Mais le livre est tout sauf de la fiction, et le fait qu’il ne le soit pas ajoute à sa richesse.

Le livre présente une faiblesse structurelle à laquelle le lecteur peut remédier par lui-même s’il sait le faire. La manie, en soi, est fascinante et compliquée. Dès le troisième chapitre, j’ai voulu avoir plus de connaissances médicales pour mieux apprécier le poète. À la moitié du livre, j’en ai eu envie. Jamison m’avait accroché, mais je n’appréciais pas tout ce qu’elle avait à dire sur les circonstances de la vie de Lowell. Elle fait revivre la maladie au chapitre 9 et à nouveau au chapitre 13 (le meilleur du livre).

Jamison donne une bonne description clinique de la maladie. Malheureusement, elle l’a cachée dans l’annexe 2. Dans les prochaines éditions, elle devrait être intégrée au texte principal après le 2e ou le 3e chapitre. J’encourage le lecteur à commencer par l’annexe ou à la vérifier dans la première moitié de la lecture du livre. Les maladies mentales sont très diverses et mal comprises par le public et très souvent aussi par les médecins. Les circonstances de la vie de Lowell doivent être bien décrites dès le début du livre pour orienter au mieux le lecteur

Le sous-titre du livre mentionne le génie, la manie et le caractère comme thèmes. Le texte est plus fort sur le thème du caractère, puis de la manie, et enfin du génie. Compte tenu de l’ordre, on aurait pu accorder plus d’espace à sa poésie avec quelques exemples supplémentaires montrant où se trouvait son génie au début. Un commentaire direct plus important sur le vers serait utile pour le relier à la manie de Lowell. Redfield fait remarquer que “manic patients use more adjectives and action verbs and more words that reflect power and achievement (les maniaques utilisent plus d’adjectifs et de verbes d’action et plus de mots qui reflètent le pouvoir et l’accomplissement)”, mais ces points pourraient être référencés à des exemples de vers spécifiques plus fréquemment. On ne sait pas exactement en quoi Lowell a plus de génie que les autres poètes. Ma propre méconnaissance de Lowell limite mon appréciation de l’œuvre de Jamison à cet égard.

En tout, c’est une lecture enrichissante pour l’amateur et presque obligatoire pour l’érudit littéraire. Nous entendons parler des relations entre la maladie mentale et le talent, souvent au point de tomber dans le cliché. Setting The River On Fire met en lumière cette relation et approfondit notre connaissance de la maladie mentale et du talent en général.

ISBN-10: 0307744612; ISBN-13: 978-0307744616

A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895

The Ghost PortalThe Ghost Portal by Cheryl J Carvajal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Cheryl Carvajal’s Ghost Portal is a good YA-and-older start to a fantasy series. The story is a hybrid messianic and coming of age plot. The main character, Joshua, is a fifteen year old emotional castaway. His mother is taken away by cancer; his father is a piece of rotten detritus; and a previously unknown uncle takes custody of him before anyone else can have a say in the matter after his mother’s demise. “Taking custody” mirrors kidnapping without a ransom. His uncle inserts him into a private academy and for a time cuts him a bit of slack but not for long.

Joshua has some special talents with which he must come to grips. His uncle has a strong, smothering agenda for his care due to his talents. He divulges very little to Joshua, and this understandably brings out an adolescent disposition that anyone of any age could identify with. The uncle is high on noble intentions but low on dad skills. Very low. He gets overbearing because Joshua is unwittingly a gatekeeper of sorts. Joshua’s status relates to the book title.

Carvajal writes in the first person most of the time which works very well. So long as he isn’t drugged, Joshua mentally operates in 4th gear most or all of the time. He has to, because all of the adults in his tumultuous world are just a bit weird and not only by adolescent standards. A young reader will find a great deal of empathy in Carvajal’s writing style. Ghost Portal is an engaging tale about an exceptionally highpressure journey into maturity.

ISBN-10: 1684331005; ISBN-13: 978-1684331000

A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895

The Blood Moons: Wrath of ElijahThe Blood Moons: Wrath of Elijah by Kachi Ugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic storyline of uninvited power coming to a youth in the vein of Luke Skywalker. This is a nice teen series opener to a fantasy world. I cannot say too much how it compares to other teen lit as I am long past that age, but I like international authors. Ugo’s writing is vivid and easy to follow. Aside from the storyline, American youth can also appreciate a glimpse into other cultures (Yoruba, in this case).

The glossary is probably nice for the intended audience age, but it needs alphabetizing!

ISBN-10: 1542532124; ISBN-13: 978-1542532129

The Surgeon1555. Jan Sanders Van Hemessen. El Prado Museum, Madrid
The PullerThe Puller by Michael Hodges
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there exists a creature that is a little bit animal, a little bit alien, and a whole lot dangerous. The Puller is an effective horror story in the manner of Stephen King & Peter Benchley, and it shows the influence of both to good effect. Where Benchley’s great white shark controls the local environment, traveling invisibly, so does the Puller. Within its environment, it has a seemingly unfair advantage in power and stealth over people and animals that come close. It also has an appetite. Mostly, however, it is bellicose animosity.

Unlike Benchley, Hodges puts the action in rural solitude in the same sort of isolated and isolating environment frequently employed by King. Readers who enjoy Benchley and King will enjoy Hodges’ work quite well.

Of literary note, Hodges dares the reader to ponder if the Puller is created in the image of man. Though the being is formidable in and of itself, it is not on the best of terms with Mother Nature. This dysfunctional relationship becomes apparent at the end of the book. It is one aspect of the work that I would have enjoyed seeing further developed.

ISBN-10: 1925225976; ISBN-13: 978-1925225976

A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895
The Scavenger (The Scavenger Series Book 1)The Scavenger by C.L. Lowry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This post apocalypse action novel is a good series introduction. Lowry overlays a Mad Max template with a very original crew of anthropoid ghouls inhabiting the former USA. Lowry hints at their origins which promise to make an interesting prequel.

True to the back page biographical text, he leavens the story with wholesome messages about morality, both in characters’ thoughts and their actions. He sets a stage with book #1 to include a great deal more in the future. This will be great series for young adult males in particular.

I do find one significant fault which is that the abrupt ending does not help the book as a stand alone piece. I have a strong preference for works that serve both ends. A book can readily be both. Whether this book qualifies as good or average largely depends upon whether or not the reader buys the next one. As The Scavenger is not terribly long, a person might want to hold off and buy II, III, & IV all as a boxed set.

ISBN-10: 1946897825; ISBN-13: 978-1946897824

Purkinje cell
A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895
Bittersweet SymphonyBittersweet Symphony by Rebecca McNutt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In *Bittersweet Symphony*, Rebecca McNutt builds a piece of literary fiction around the horrors of 9/11, the likes of which few authors have yet to try. In the process, she molds a daring fusion of King’s **The Shining**, John Hughes’ **The Breakfast Club**, and a dose of Harper Lee into a bildungsroman of sorts. McNutt also takes a timely and not so subtle swipe at plutocracy as she installs the action over a literary Love Canal.

We have a sky scraper version of the Overlook Hotel in Upstate New York, only it haunts many more people in deeper ways than King’s notion of a haunted business establishment does. McNutt tours us through the personalities of a large cast, developing the most important individual towards the end. We come to realize that the person has an air of a film noire version of Atticus Finch – an interesting model of a character indeed. The character’s persona traces their roots to 9/11. They bring their ghosts of that day everywhere.

McNutt paints a powerful picture of the experiences of 9/11 in a depth which I have not yet seen in another novel. Now, 17 years later, younger readers can get a poignant glimpse into that darker part of history. They can also get a message about environmental ethics that is needed more than ever as America has largely ceased being a democratic republic in favor of being a plutocracy. While I do not see the author explicitly targetting any adult age group, the book has particular value to young adults.

My only (very minor) beef with the storyline is that the sentence summarizing the underlying message of the work lies too close to the beginning of the final chapter. McNutt makes a powerful statement about moral outlook (I won’t elaborate due to a spoiler), but a reader could miss it due to its placement. My advice, then, is to buy the book quickly and take specific care in reading the ending.

ISBN-10: 197587451X; ISBN-13: 978-1975874513

Tacking on the Styx by Jeffrey Hatcher and Lynne Hatcher

The BoyThe Boy by Rayne Havok
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Shock porn that mostly associates mental instability with violence without giving mature context.

ISBN-10: 1520237715; ISBN-13: 978-1520237718

infant skull
A Series of Anatomical Plates Illustrating The Structure of the Different Parts of The Human Body. J. Quain & W.J.E. Wilson, Philadelphia: Carey & Hart. 1843
My Cruel Invention: A Contemporary Poetry AnthologyMy Cruel Invention: A Contemporary Poetry Anthology by Bernadette Geyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great and groundbreaking idea for an anthology! Poems range from biting, scary, just plain sick, and too prophetic to feel comfortable about. Some are very Edward Gory-esque (e.g. Phrenology, How Yard Games are Invented). Some tackle extinction (Invention of the Trees). Others are very current and sharp in applicability (Octet for My Unnameable Killer Apps). “3-D Printed Skin” and “Little Bone Robot Boy” beg the question of how much living tissue, naturally made, is required for the preservation of one person’s humanity or society’s humanity. These are only a sample of the diversity. Best read in a sunny, open place like a meadow where you won’t scare too easily from the poignancy.

ISBN-10: 0996626204; ISBN-13: 978-0996626200

antique syringe
A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical.
J.A. Wyeth, c1897 New York : Appleton
Jeffrey hatcher's cat
Caticons: 4,000 Years of Art Imitating CatsCaticons: 4,000 Years of Art Imitating Cats by Sandy Lerner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Caticons* is a tremendously rich gallery of feline artwork shared with us by Sandy Lerner. It spans both Oriental and Occidental cultures over centuries. Lerner presents it in a manner that is simultaneously personable and scholarly. Though brand new to the market, it will shortly be a mandatory holding for a complete art library.

Over 290 pages showcase “domestic” cats in beautiful color plates on each page. One sees Russian Faberge carved figurines, 19th century French bronzes, porcelains from Asia and elsewhere, and oil paintings of masters, among many items. All major media – from clay and wood, to silver, to textile, to canvas – are represented generously.

A deeply abridged list of paintings includes contemporary works by H. Ronner-Kip, G. Mason, and A. Barham; 20th century pieces by M.R. Pipo, G.M. Pissaro, P. Picasso, H. Matisse, A. Warhol, and J. Nash; 19th century works by P. Rousseau, J.F. Herring, C. Chaplin, E. Manet, and A. Puissant; 18th century works by J. Collyer; and 17th century works of F. van Kessel, D. de Coninck, and G. von Wedig. These are only some of the European and American artists and some of the centuries represented.

Lerner’s passions do not exclusively include the visual arts. Her text includes a richness of quotes from people both familiar and obscure. Likewise, she provides a delight of poetry. *Caticons* is a highest quality labor of love.

ISBN-10: 151362024X; ISBN-13: 978-1513620244

Brain drawing showing antiquated use of lingual lobe and fusiform lobe. Ventral view. 1895
A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895
Dislocations: FictionsDislocations: Fictions by Windsor Harries
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Should you have an emergency kit for a power outage – flashlights, batteries, that non-digital radio left over from the garage sale – be sure to include a copy of Dislocations in it. Windsor Harries entertains with a volume of short stories ideal for reading by candle light. Each chapter sucks you into a highly original work that is short enough to read in the dark yet creepy enough to make you wish the lights would come on sooner.

The stories follow different themes, but all remain true to the book title and never end feeling completely resolved. Harries visits post-apocalyptic Africa in one. Another story would make a great library reading for Robert De Niro to do. David Bowie could write some good ballade-length music for yet another. In one instance, Harries mixes a concoction of Steven King and Nathanial Hawthorne. All work. Fans of Ambrose Bierce will particularly like these stories. My personal favorite entwined some Genesis and some genebanking.

ISBN-10: 0993977545; ISBN-13: 978-0993977541

Late nineteenth century picture of sagittal plane of  human brain.
A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895
Shadow LifeShadow Life by Jason Mather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jason Mather’s “Shadow Life” (Edge-Lite) blends the societal intrusiveness of George Orwell’s “1984” with a sci-fi adventure of George Lucas in a timely manner. The action takes place in a post – apocolyptic, feudalistic North America infested with Big Brother and Unpeople. It might be a world left when Kim Yung Un and our national embarassment walk off of the stage.

Mather’s character development is vivid and engaging, but he slyly confuses the reader as to who may be who. In this way, he keeps the reader on edge until the end, though for doing so, the plot can get a little hard to follow. He lays a good foundation for sequels. However, it is a very enjoyable read as a stand-alone piece.


ISBN-10: 1770531653; ISBN-13: 978-1770531659

Trephining tool used in nineteenth century brain surgery.
Trephining tool from A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical. J.A. Wyeth, c1897 New York : Appleton
All In (Book of West Marque #2)All In by Richard Parkinson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this book in a free give away.

Parkinson has a gift for vibrancy and keeping the reader’s attention in the moment. However, the reader really must get the entire series to fully appreciate the story and character development. The book is essentially an installment more than a stand – alone piece. Another Goodreads reviewer compares it to Tolkien’s “Twin Towers”, and I think that she makes a very good analogy. For that reason, I did not rate it very highly. Nevertheless, if the entire series were available in a multi-volume set, I might readily buy it for a young adult or fantasy lover.

professors joking about medical school exams
Exams at the Medical School by Honoré Daumiere in Némésis Médicale Illustrée : Recueil de Satires by Francoi Fabre
Wanderers : RagnarökWanderers : Ragnarök by Richard A. Bamberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book as an ebook giveaway. I am new to fantasy in a Mel Gibson world, and so I cannot compare it to other works. I found it enjoyable and very vivid. The character types were interesting. I was impressed by how well a first – person narrative could maintain such a long tale so well.

Bamberg could invite a greater YA audience to read it by removing some of the carnal scenes. The story simply does not need them – they do not add much to the enjoyment of his writing.


ISBN-10: 1494477483; ISBN-13: 978-1494477486

Sirens (Rhonda Parrish's Magical Menageries)Sirens by Rhonda Parrish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The siren uses voice to lure people to distraction and so to an unfortunate end. This anthology could be a siren in and of itself, as it can lure a middle-aged man away from attending to life’s necessary chores such as earning a living. The topic offers fertile grounds for original storytelling because both modern and ancient literature have done so little with it. We have sirens in the sea, in outer space, and in the underground/subway system.

The book is always better, but each story in this book could be the kernel for a movie. Most tales show the siren to be evil, but some justify their harshness pointing to the pollution of the oceans – human eco-terrorism. Other sirens can act altruistic and maternal. Others are very classical in a very modern setting. Each story entertains intensely

ISBN-10: 0692687203; ISBN-13: 978-0692687208

Laws and means of physical culture adapted to practical use. W.A. Alcott 1860 Philadelphia: G.G. Evans
The Great HeartsThe Great Hearts by David Oliver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Great Hearts is an engaging fantasy told from the first – person perspective of a teenage boy and containing elements akin to “Superman”, “Jungle Book”, and “Star Wars”. The first comparison comes from the destruction of the protagonists’ family at the beginning of the story; the second for the prominence of non – human companionship and stewardship; and the third for the coming of age plot in which the boy enters the world of wizardry. These comparisons are not meant to detract from the originality in any way.

I particularly liked the Great Heart concept which refers mainly to an animal of magical prowess custom designed or appointed as a steward / guardian of a prodigy youth. Any connection between virtuous animals and flawed people has the real world value of instilling proper ethics in our environmentally perverse society. Oliver does a a fine job of letting the boy mature both with and without his “assigned” companion.

My primary criticism for the work is its loose ends. If you are one to read complete series, you will have no complaint at all. I, however, prefer my books to be more stand – alone. A good series need not closely link one volume to another. A reader’s enthusiasm should suffice. Deduct a star. I am also very stingy about giving genre fiction 5 stars. I mostly reserve that level for nonfiction, researched works. But for its ending, this is a 4 star book that the reader will enjoy, especially a series aficionado.

ISBN-10: 1521274835; ISBN-13: 978-1521274835

Nineteenth century diagram of brain anatomy in a surgery textbook showing fissures and sinuses.
The Field and Limitation of the Operative Surgery of the
Human Brain. J.B. Roberts 1885. P. Blakiston, Son & Co. Philadelphia.
Staring Into the AbyssStaring Into the Abyss by Richard Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thomas brings desperation to life and shows it for the step-brother to horror. Great originality. However, it has a good amount of adult content. Not YA material.

ISBN-10: 9197972592; ISBN-13: 978-9197972598

A lithotomy knife used in brain surgery.
A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical. J.A. Wyeth, c1897
New York : Appleton
An Unexpected Afterlife (The Dry Bones Society #1)An Unexpected Afterlife by Dan Sofer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book rates five stars on originality which is tricky for a story that falls into the time -travel genre. The bureaucratic overtones give great irony – though they probably make the book enjoyable only to adults. Sofer appears to poke fun at religion generally by hinting that mortals, with their myriad rules, haven’t too much of a clue about a hereafter. Not being Jewish, I have the suspicion that there may be a good amount of subtle humor that I have missed as well.

Though the title is enticing, it would not appeal to teens. The sub-plots make a great story. However, Sofer puts a bit too much description into each paragraph, consequently slowing the pace of the book excessively. Nevertheless, serious, dour religion has a strangle-hold on too much of civilization, and we need a few more books like Sofer’s.

ISBN-10: 0986393231; ISBN-13: 978-0986393235

Nineteenth century image of medulla oblongata and brain stem. Also includes pineal gland, superior cerebellar peduncle, lateral geniculate body, and other features.
A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray 1895 Philadelphia : Lea
The Universe Next Door (Jake Corby #2)The Universe Next Door by Al Macy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imaginative and engaging. Macy’s style is more Lucas than Roddenberry. I like the parallel universe perspective especially in so far as it has some advantages of time travel but remains original in that regard. This is film-worthy for action and environment.

ISBN-10: 1535188138; ISBN-13: 978-1535188135

A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895
Dreamonologist (The Dreamwalker Chronicles, #3)Dreamonologist by Gregory Pettit
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Pettit has conceived an interesting plot which seems highly original (I’m not yet highly versed in its genre). Julian Lucas Adler is a “dreamwalker” – one who stalks through the dreams of others. He seems to be half voyeur and half reluctant interventionist who fights the forces of evil in the land of dreams (vampires in particular), whatever the connection may be to the real world.

The biggest force of evil is Pettit’s tragic writing style which doesn’t induce slumber but rather mires the reader down in so much unnecessary descriptive text that the book becomes easy to put down. Pettit needs to remove the simile from his toolbox altogether and ruthlessly weed out descriptions of personalities, places, and circumstances that are peripheral to the action and plot. Several examples of ghastly simile are:

“I nodded, but my stomach churned like a tumble dryer with a full load.”

“I didn’t stop staring—at Edward Sloane. He’d walked in with the Chapter Master, and he was suddenly Mia’s supervisor. I needed this explained like a junkie needs a fix.”

The book needs similes like a catfish needs reading glasses.

Pettit’s target audience is a bit obscure. I would have guessed that it would include older teenagers as well as the younger middle aged male demographic. Then I read the following:

“Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is a major teaching hospital with a budget of over three hundred million pounds. That budget is dwarfed by the value of the land that the generic-looking, glass-and-brick hospital sits on, and, as I strolled through the foyer, I was amazed that most of its clientele was made up of the general public.”

Who, exactly, wants hospital budgets in a fantasy adventure story? I read fiction precisely to get away from this level of reality. Hospital budgets are a nightmare.

ISBN-10: 1095474405; ISBN-13: 978-1095474402

Nineteenth century inclined operating table circa 1897.
A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical. J.A. Wyeth, c1897 New York : Appleton
Thalgor's WitchThalgor’s Witch by Nancy Holland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nancy Hollands “Thalgor’s Witch” successfully combines romance novel, fantasy, feminism, and literary fiction in equal parts to good effect. The main character, Erwyn, is taken captive by a tribe who effectively put a scarlet letter ‘W’ around her collar. She is stigmatized much like Hawthorne’s adulturess, but she is in no way an adulturer. She is a witch by birth, and that is enough.

In spite of the stigmata, she becomes rapidly valued if not fully accepted by her mainly male counterparts for her healing abilities and other good witch skills (her character is very wiccan). These conflicting pressures, the stigma, the value, and the inequality, reflect the real hurdles facing women. This presentation categorizes the fantasy / romance novel as feminist literature. Holland also vigorously attacks stereotyping and caste. It would be a good book for a young male curriculum.

ISBN-10: 1948342189; ISBN-13: 978-1948342186

The UprisingThe Uprising by Kachi Ugo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A nicely paced book for a young audience of both sexes and best read as part of a series. Moment by moment descriptions of action and characters are vivid with both a touch of romance and a lot of action. Has an enjoyable air of classical mythology to it with a more modern plot of time travel. It does not resolve very tightly which is fine if the next book comes along shortly. A light, clean and enjoyable read.

Wyeth's needle holder used in surgery circa 1897.
A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical. J.A. Wyeth, c1897 New York : Appleton
High Voltage (Exponential Apocalypse #3)High Voltage by Eirik Gumeny
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If Lewis Carrol and George Lucas coauthored a book over a large pot of espresso and a little tinge of ‘roid – rage, it might read something like High Voltage. Eirik Gumeny produces a graphic novel using words alone.

The book is loosely held together which is both virtue and vice. For the younger to middle-aged male who has just finished ‘one of those weeks’, it makes for an excellent evaporative coolant. Whether it includes a telepathic squirrel, a more bionic and less flesh and blood man, or a Norse god suffering from ADD, each chapter of the book appeals to the reader’s senses while demanding minimal introspective thought. It is undemanding.

The vice of the book is its multiple references to the numerous and recurrent Armageddons predating the story. They chiefly distract the reader who begins to wonder if there is any point to following a bigger storyline. However, it is presumably part of a series and maybe not intended to be a stand-alone work. It ends somewhat abruptly which might work fine as one moves on to the next story.

Gumeny’s manic and colorful descriptions of scenes, characters, and actions tune to the book’s title quite well. The book entertains best with wine and Cheetos on a Thursday evening or on a weekend night when one hasn’t any date.

ISBN-10: 0985906227; ISBN-13: 978-0985906221

old brain diagram with fusiform lobe, optic thalamus, and lingual lobe
A treatise on nervous and mental diseases: for students and practitioners of medicine . L.C. Gray, Philadelphia : Lea, 1895

Reasons for being by psoid froid reviewed by jeffrey hatcher

Reasons for Being

by Psoid Froid

BatWhaleDragon

2018

I received a free copy of Psoid Froid’s work in exchange for a fair review.

Even a profound Cock cannot continue to cock-a-doodle-do when stretched beyond its natural limits. – Psoid Froid

A profesor could use “Reasons for Being” as a great case study for the importance of properly mating format to content in one’s writing. The book consists of a long collection of titled paragraphs written with an air of thought and spontaneity.  At the start of my reading, I became immediately impressed by how 19th century it was. By that I do not mean antiquated. What I mean is that it progressed as a free flowing stream over nuggets of timely philosophy – writing that is more like that of a Thoreau rather than something more filled out and structured than what modern authors have produced.

The sharp poignancy also inspired. Henry David Thoreau meets Ambrose Bierce. I enjoyed the juxtaposition – for a while.

Then somewhere in the middle (well The Addendum, actually) I felt a devolution coming on. The work increasingly resembled an onanistic compendium of stains on the sheets under the book cover. The consistent use of the second person gradually tinged the work with condescension as well. Onanism is natural and not deserving of Victorian scorn. All the same, however, a condescending onanist is somehow grotesque.

There are provocative gems:
… even the most tolerant people need to be intolerant towards people who are against their tolerance in order to maintain the most tolerant possible society.

One section on the nature of human thought,  near, dear and similar to my own writing on cognition is the following:

The information-action ratio is all messed up; most information has little bearing on our lives and there is so much of it, we don’t know what does matter. How do we cope?

We insulate and safeguard the known.

The known is a simplification resulting from pattern detection; once you figure out the pattern, you need only know the key components of the pattern rather than all the minutiae details; you can quickly match encounters to a signature and couple it with a suitable action based on what worked best in past encounters; by reacting to encounters with similar signatures you can figure out the optimal action with minimum information processing. Evolutionarily speaking, it makes sense (no pun intended) for us to streamline processing to its bare essentials; we can only process so much, might as well ignore the stuff which does not seem important.

Truly orgasmic for the future AI student reading by the fire though for people familiar with modeling, it is somewhat backgroundish. That is of no concern, because most people probably don’t know much about academic modeling.

He can also wax prophetic to great effect but far too much brevity on the future impact of artificial intelligence upon humanism.

Unfortunately, albeit dressed up in fine language, too many passages have the originality of an anchovy among its peers. I give you “Be Very Wary” – The only certain thing in life is constant uncertainty and the desire to reduce it. The more you learn, the more you realize you know nothing at all. Oh, how very cliche!

I would describe his “Ideal Love” as simply awesome whereas his “Simply So” is simply recycled. “The Psoid Principle” is originally worded, but it is not a particularly novel sentiment.

“Getting Back (at Someone) with a Vengeance?” is little more than Frank Sinatra’s “The best revenge is massive success.”

I could go on with both good and bad examples. His tragedy, however, is not fleshing out his good thoughts to greater extents while polluting them with sections of mundane and unoriginal sentiment dressed up with fine words. If he did some culling and promoted the work as something to be read one section per day, it might work very, very well.

Various surgical forceps. Nineteenth century.
A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical. J.A. Wyeth, c1897 New York : Appleton

The Portal Keeper

The Keeper Archives Book One

By S.T. Sanchez

Scene Co Publishing

2019

The fantasy novel, “The Portal Keeper – the Keeper Archives Book One”, by Sarah Sanchez, straddles two worlds. The setup is classically modeled after “Through the Looking Glass”, but the stories have little in common beyond that. The style may better be described as Carroll meets Tolkien. A diverse set of characters play sizable roles, and character development is as deep as one would expect for the start of a series.

The main character, Ajax Maxwell, is set to inherit the family duty of standing guard at a portal between two universes. He will also inherit a powerful weapon that has something of its own personality. If those two circumstances were not enough to keep his young mind in turmoil, he gets reunited with a close childhood, female friend who is betrothed to royalty. Further destiny is left for the reader to discover.

Adventurers include an array of non-humans, most of whom are quite likable. Naturally, some are quite hostile. Some, dragons and elves, for instance can fall either way. Of course, rhinos are only good.

In all, I like the pace and character development, but the book could be more self – contained. However, taken in a series, it will run smoothly.

ISBN-10: 1951411013; ISBN-13: 978-1951411015

Gallipolis Epileptic Hospital Stone Water Towers,
Gallipolis Epileptic Hospital Stone Water Towers
Kurttarvis [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Brother and sister castaways in Suehiro Maruo's The Inferno in Bottles which may be about original sin.  Published in the Japanese Manga  Binzume No Jigoku. Japanese teenagers swimming.

The Inferno In Bottles

By Suehiro Maruo (based upon the novella of Kyusaku Yumeni )

I never thought of a graphic novel, or manga, as literary or anything more than an adult comic book until I read The Inferno in Bottles. IiB is a well known and highly regarded graphic novella by the contemporary Japanese manga artist, Suehiro Maruo, based on the story of Kyusaku Yumeni (1889 – 1936). The story was originally published in 1928 by Ryoki Magazine and later as a book by Shunyodo. It is now considered a classic of its genre.

IiB presents a counterpoint to the Book of Genesis – perhaps a repudiation of sorts (?). In a dark and disturbing coming-of-age story, two children, an older brother and younger sister, are shipwrecked on a deserted, tropical island. Like Adam and Eve, these youngsters are brought to their world seemingly from nowhere. The author notes that their Eden meets all of their physical needs, and they grow healthily. However, each is a bottle with its own inferno. Where Genesis proposes original sin, IiB upstages Genesis easily. There is a true Original Sin in biology which is significantly worse than anything Biblical – relations between siblings which can wreak havoc upon the next generation (ironically, this sort of original sin is not at all original to humans when one sees how many species have evolved behavioral and biological means of avoiding close inbreeding).

psyche et l'amour, by william adolphe bouguerau as interpreted by Suehiro Maruo
The Inferno in Bottles by Suehiro Maruo

The story turns dark when puberty strikes. The island boundaries become a horrible prison, as the adolescents are imprisoned by their sense of shame and tortured by their hormones. Having a Bible among their shipwreck possessions, they know of the scriptural concept of OS, and they never transgress. Their sibling bond remains strong throughout, but it gets a distasteful patina that neither character can cope with.

Psyche et L’Amour (1899) William Adolphe Bouguereau Creative Commons

The illustrations tell the story well without the need of the accompanying text. The final image of Part 1 is also the final moment of ‘innocence’. The two are swimming underwater in a semi-embrace and in a most arresting image and with their eyes closed. Fraternal love has yet to be polluted by adult distractions. Maruo’s choice to model the image after William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Psyche et L’Amour (1889) foretells the transition that the youth are upon. Adult distractions await them as soon as they open their eyes at the water’s surface.

The artistic illustration work provides rich symbolism. Most obviously, it is replete with serpents. On a more subtle level, we begin to see the young man increasingly covered in scars. It appears that he may do penance via self – inflicted wounds, which fall short of slashing his wrists.

Written for adults, it is artistically graphic without being pornographic. Per the subject, it is exploding with sexual tension. The prudish, American reader might not want to leave it on a coffee table. Nevertheless, it enjoys a special status as a work of art. More importantly, it provides a naturalist interpretation of OS that is quite simply more sophisticated than Genesis.

The Inferno in Bottles can be found at Mangakakalot.

Woman reading from "A treatise on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene" 1858
Greek and Egyptian soldiers from the book cover of The Atlantis Papyrus by Jay Penner

The Atlantis Papyrus

By Jay Penner

The Atlantis Papyrus by Jay Penner (© 2019) tells a vivid story of historical fiction of political intrigue and the harsh manipulation of a man and his family by people vying for power following the death of Alexander the Great. This is a lengthy but very engaging story both for its plot and Penner’s writing style. To good effect, he writes alternateley in the first and third person perspective with the main protagonist doing a lot of narration.

The book is a hybrid of romantic melodrama and Homerian adventure, moving along a path of personal relationships with the main character, Deon. They encompass the full range, from spouse, to enemy, to colleague and more. Each supporting character tests the emotional, moral, or intellectual meddle of Deon. Each is described in a lively way. Penner keeps the plot moving at an adventerous pace all the while maintaining an atmosphere of intimacy between and within characters.

ISBN-10: 1091312036; ISBN-13: 978-1091312036

Skeleton painting a portrait from
A System of Human anatomy, General and Special, Erasmus Wilson. Philadelphia : Lea and Blanchard 1847
Artyom Dereschuk is a Ukrainian born Russian author of Russki Dread.

Russki Dread: a Collection of Short Horror Stories Set in Russia

By Artyom Dereschuk

2019

Artyom Dereschuk breaches a reader’s psychological defenses with Russki Dread: a Collection of Short Horror Stories Set in Russia. Per his stated goals, he offers a look into everything horrible that can happen in Russia. His work is not site specific, however, and this Ukranian – born author can tweek anyone’s insecurities regardless of his or her culture.

One theme that repeatedly emerges in his work is a breakdown in community spirit – a topic for which inspiration can readily be found in America as much as any other country. His agents of despair include bodysnatchers and something best described as a synthesis of distributed intelligence in a Cold War environment, On another topic, a dendie is something which just might be as effective as certain private propaganda news channels for sucking out peoples’ souls (as this reviewer writes, a family member has just watched his sixth hour of daily hate talk, causing me to shudder at Dereschuk’s capture of universals).

Dereschuk’s writing style keeps his characters up close and personal with the reader. One has to step back from the text to focus on the themes he covers – neither an unexpected nor undesirable quality. The horror of his last story would make Peter Benchley proud, but more disturbing than anything Benchley may have written is found earlier in the book. The most intimate caste of community breakdown which Dereschuk covers is spousal abuse.

I received an advance reviewers copy of this work in exchange for a fair review.

ISBN-10: 1699701156; ISBN-13: 978-1699701157

Sagittal section through midbrain from "A text-book of physiology" 1891 by Michael Foster
book cover  for Tales of the Unforeseen by Fred Maddox.  PublishNation, ISBN: 978-0-244-81388-8

Tales of the Unforeseen

By Fred Maddox

2019

With Tales of the Unforeseen, Fred Maddox presents a diverse collection of allegories of a sort not frequently seen from a contemporary author. One sees themes of Aesop, Charles Dickens and reincarnations. A cheeky publisher might subtitle the work Dickens explores Hinduism. The stories in the volume range from a few pages to medium length. An entertaining novella of about 100 pages finishes the book.

I liked the book, especially the final part, but it did inspire me with mixed feelings. At this moment in American history, we need as much allegorical lit as we can get, homegrown or penned in the United Kingdom as Tales has been. Kudos to Maddox for traveling down this literary path. However, writing allegory carries some risk. By nature, the genre is deterministic – laying out a topic or action as good or bad, wise or stupid, and without a very probabilistic perspective on moral decisions. The fallout for the writer in a deterministic realm is the problem of predictability.

Several of the short stories do suffer for being predictable. ‘Grave Consequences’ is gravely cliche, as is ‘A Christmas to Remember’. My subtitle suggestion, above, especially applies to ‘Time and Time Again’.

Several short stories include interesting twists. ‘Yes Dear’ provides a refreshing take on resolving marital issues, as does ‘A Cat-Astrophe’. I also enjoyed the use of game show hosts in ‘Winner Takes All’ and ‘The Question Is’. However, by themselves, the shorts needed more momentum to carry the book.

Maddox saves his best piece for last, and I enjoyed it very much. ‘The Other Man’s Grass’ is a novella. It explores role reversal in the same sense as The Prince & The Pauper, the scenario is psychologically more interesting, for it is focused more distinctly on morals. Be careful what you wish for is the theme, and remaining true to your love is the subplot. Anyone who likes the movie, The Fugitive, will enjoy it for its plot, characterizations and pace.

Maddox’s work is one example of when the best piece should come a little sooner. A few shorts could be carried on TOMG’s coat tails. It provides the momentum for the book, and the reader will happily continue on after finishing it.

Tales of the Unforeseen will be especially good for the older edge of young adult lit. Younger people will find the material fresher. Allegory is made for the age group, and a dash of weirdness is appreciated.

I received an advance reviewers copy of this work in exchange for a fair review.

ISBN-10: 0244813884; SBN-13: 978-0244813888

The soul of medicine by james raymond reviewed by jeffrey hatcher

The Soul of Medicine

A Physician’s Exploration of Death and the Question of Being Human

By James Raymond, M.D.

2019

In The Soul of Medicine, James Raymond books a custom charter from Charon in which he extemporizes on the relationship between people and their demise in a medical setting. In a similar manner to Tacking on the Styx, he takes the unconventional approach of intermingling narrative story and fictional discourse with direct philosophizing about what the medical community should be doing about death. Intentionally or not, this gives the reader some breathing room to digest a heavy topic. It also, however, leads into a rambling style with some loss of focus.

To me, the most important part of the book comes midway and has nothing explicitly to do with death. He quotes a clinical mentor:

The major problem with today’s physicians,” he began, “is that they rely too much on science and technology to do their work for them. Somehow they have been deluded into thinking that these will relieve them of their primary obligation: listening to their patients.

This quote resonated loudly with me. That it should do so is obvious as that is a major calling of Tacking on the Styx. I should mention, however that it’s not clear why counseling is not explicitly stated to be the co-primary obligation. It is, after all, the desired output of listening and without it, listening eventually grows meaningless.

More immediate to his thoughts on death, he lays out some interesting starting points, although I confess to disagreeing with a few key ones. He perceives the ‘self’ as an unfolding process, rather than a mind within a brain. Having epilepsy, I am too familiar with the partitioning of processes within the conscious brain and the intermitent or near – permanent blinkout of some faculties. All of which is to say that the self can crumble and to view it as “unfolding” is to risk turning a blind eye to that issue. Evolving life experience should be called what it is – evolving life experience – or simply “my life”. That is not the self, though it plays a large role therein. I take a similar view of his desired perspective of time being a multidimensional space.

He proposes that pain and suffering are the closest thing in life experience to death. His justification for equating death with the physically unpleasant is unclear. In fact, I would argue that they are skew or quite the opposite. Pain and suffering testify to vivid life. Living death is a coma.

What I do like are his thoughts on the authenticity or inauthenticity of a life (actually a sort of paraphrasing of Martin Heidegger) :

Inauthenticity (sic) results when man tries to turn away from the inevitability of his own death. To shield himself, he distorts the unity of temporality and reverts to viewing it as three components. As a result, existence becomes focused on the present while the past and future are largely forgotten. Popular culture… is the major culprit here, with its emphasis on immediate gratification. And while this may confer some psychological security by masking the thought of death, in the end it distorts what it really means to be human.

Their pertinence to present day America is great, but he uses much too broad of a brushstroke in referring to pop-culture as the big culprit in distorting what being human means because, in his mind, pop-culture is about immediate gratification. Well, if immediate gratification is all about annual income tax reductions for the rich, then I guess that makes pop-culture. Rather than ‘pop-culture’ it might be more useful to single out some ethno-political demographic groups such as the top 1%. Similarly, if you want to find other agents of distortion, your best starting point would be fundamentalist religions which clamor for society to be bound up to some one particular scripture. Therein lay the culprits more than in pop-culture.

I think that his meaning of inauthenticity hearkens best to issues of environmentalism on both a global and social / local scale. Lack of focus on the future and ignorance of the past bring on wanton superficiality.

In truth, I think that where Raymond wants to go is into the arms of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

What we commonly call man, the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect, but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend. When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love. And the blindness of the intellect begins, when it would be something of itself. The weakness of the will begins, when the individual would be something of himself (emphasis added). All reform aims, in some one particular, to let the soul have its way through us; in other words, to engage us to obey. – The Oversoul

This review remains a bit helter – skelter in some degree because the book is frequently hard to follow.



Dans The Soul of Medicine, James Raymond s’interroge sur la relation entre les gens et leur disparition dans un contexte médical. De manière similaire à Tacking on the Styx, il adopte une approche non conventionnelle en utilisant un mélange d’histoire narrative contenant un discours fictif et de philosophie d’écriture sur ce que la communauté médicale devrait faire face à la mort. Intentionnellement ou non, cela donne au lecteur un peu de temps et d’espace pour méditer sur un sujet difficile. Le mélange des formes d’écriture, cependant, conduit à un style décousue avec une certaine perte de concentration.

Pour moi, la partie la plus importante du livre se trouve au milieu et n’a rien à voir explicitement avec la mort. Il cite un mentor clinique :

Le problème majeur des médecins d’aujourd’hui”, a-t-il commencé, “est qu’ils s’appuient trop sur la science et la technologie pour faire leur travail à leur place. D’une certaine manière, ils ont été trompés en pensant que cela les libérerait de leur obligation première : être à l’écoute de leurs patients.

J’ai beaucoup d’empathie pour cette citation. Il est évident que je dois le faire parce que l’écoute est un thème majeur de Tacking on the Styx. Je mentionne cependant qu’il n’est pas évident de comprendre pourquoi le conseil n’est pas explicitement considéré comme aussi important que l’écoute. C’est le résultat souhaité de l’écoute et sans elle, l’écoute finit par perdre tout son sens.


Plus en rapport avec ses réflexions sur la mort, il présente quelques points de départ intéressants, bien que j’avoue ne pas être d’accord avec certains d’entre eux. Il perçoit le “moi” comme un processus de déploiement, plutôt qu’un esprit dans un cerveau. Étant épileptique, je suis trop familier avec le cloisonnement des processus dans le cerveau conscient et la perte intermittente ou presque permanente de certaines capacités cognitives. Je crois que le moi peut s’effriter et le considérer comme un “déploiement”, c’est risquer d’ignorer cette question. L’expérience de vie en évolution devrait être appelée ce qu’elle est – l’expérience de vie en évolution – ou simplement “ma vie”. L’expérience n’est pas le moi, bien qu’elle joue un rôle important dans la formation du moi. J’ai une attitude similaire quant à sa perspective souhaitée du temps comme espace multidimensionnel.

Il propose que la douleur et la souffrance sont ce qui se rapproche le plus de la mort dans l’expérience de la vie. Sa justification n’est pas claire. En fait, je dirais qu’elles sont faussées ou tout le contraire. La douleur et la souffrance témoignent d’une vie vivante. La mort vivante est un coma ou une crise d’épilepsie permanente.

Ce qui me plaît, ce sont ses réflexions sur l’authenticité ou l’inauthenticité d’une vie (en fait, une sorte de paraphrase de Martin Heidegger) :

L’inauthenticité (sic) résulte du fait que l’homme tente de se détourner de l’inévitabilité de sa propre mort. Pour se protéger, il déforme l’unité de la temporalité et revient à la considérer comme trois composantes. En conséquence, l’existence se concentre sur le présent alors que le passé et le futur sont largement oubliés. La culture populaire… est ici le coupable principal, avec son accent sur la satisfaction immédiate. Et bien que cela puisse conférer une certaine sécurité psychologique en masquant la pensée de la mort, cela finit par déformer ce que signifie réellement être humain.

Leur pertinence pour l’Amérique d’aujourd’hui est grande, mais il utilise un terme beaucoup trop large pour désigner la culture populaire comme le grand coupable de la distorsion de ce que signifie être humain parce que, dans son esprit, la culture populaire est axée sur la gratification immédiate. Eh bien, si la gratification immédiate consiste à réduire l’impôt annuel sur le revenu des riches, alors je suppose que cela fait partie de la culture populaire. Il serait peut-être plus utile de préciser les groupes démographiques ethniques ou politiques, comme le 1% le plus riche d’une nation. De même, si vous voulez trouver d’autres agents de distorsion, votre meilleur point de départ serait les religions fondamentalistes qui réclament que la société soit liée à une écriture particulière. C’est là que se trouvent les coupables, plus que dans la “culture populaire”.

Je pense que son sens de l’inauthenticité est plus adapté aux questions d’environnementalisme à l’échelle mondiale et locale. Le manque d’attention des gens pour l’avenir et leur ignorance du passé sont à l’origine d’une superficialité excessive.

En vérité, je pense que là où Raymond veut aller, c’est dans les bras de Ralph Waldo Emerson :

Ce que nous appelons communément l’homme, l’homme qui mange, boit, plante, compte, ne se représente pas, tel que nous le connaissons, mais se représente mal. Lui, nous ne le respectons pas, mais l’âme, dont il est l’organe, le ferait apparaître par son action, ferait plier nos genoux. Quand il respire par son intellect, c’est du génie ; quand il respire par sa volonté, c’est de la vertu ; quand il coule par son affection, c’est de l’amour. Et la cécité de l’intellect commence, alors qu’il serait quelque chose de lui-même. La faiblesse de la volonté commence, quand l’individu serait quelque chose de lui-même. Toute réforme vise, dans un cas particulier, à laisser l’âme se frayer un chemin à travers nous ; en d’autres termes, à nous engager à obéir. – THE OVERSOUL

What we commonly call man, the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect, but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend. When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love. And the blindness of the intellect begins, when it would be something of itself. The weakness of the will begins, when the individual would be something of himself. All reform aims, in some one particular, to let the soul have its way through us; in other words, to engage us to obey. – The Oversoul



Cette revue reste un peu désorganisée car le livre est souvent difficile à suivre.

ISBN 978-1-948181-27-3

doctor with sick child
L'Enfant Terrible malade
Robert, Jules , Graveur
Vierge, Daniel , Dessinateur
Claye, J. , Imprimeur
Hugues, Eugène , Editeur
L’Enfant Malade 1874
Robert Jules Lannee
CC0 Paris Musées / Maisons de Victor Hugo Paris-Guernesey
Relations of epilepsy to insanity and jurisprudence by Conklin

The Relations of Epilepsy to Insanity and Jurisprudence

By W.J. Conklin, M.D.

1871

In his presentation to the Ohio State Medical Society, in 1871, Dr. W.J. Conklin makes an important argument regarding the definitions of innocence in crime by reason of insanity. From a 21st Century, post – phenytoin (Dilantin) world, it becomes difficult to accept that some individuals could suffer moments of violent thoughts and behaviors directly influenced if not caused by epilepsy. Yet 19th Century doctors report specific case studies of violent behaviors, and we should acknowledge that seizures do stimulate complex behaviors (i.e. greater than making involuntary movements with the limbs or displaying other such automatisms) from time to time. This being the case, both the public and the judicial system will benefit greatly from Dr. Conklin’s wisdom which I have yet to see discussed in modern writings.

In his presentation, Conklin makes four points critical to keeping the disease in proper context and critical to protecting the civil rights of people with epilepsy. First, epileptic insanity is generally paroxismal in its manifestations. Incidences of concern frequently arise spontaneously without a recognizable lead up. Seizures, themselves, are called paroxysms. As paroxysms, distinctly anti-social or violent behaviors can typically be regarded as distinct episodes, with a patient acting normal in the intervals and unaware of the event. Intervals may also last years.

Conklin notes that psychotic or aberrant behaviors frequently precede full seizure (and can also follow them immediately). And they also give an impression that behavior and convulsive seizure can substitute for one another:

It is not unusual to hear an attendant say, ” Doctor, I don’t believe she would have her fits if she did not get so angry. She gets so mad at some one that she throws herself into a fit.” In point of fact, the anger is as much beyond the patient’s control as is the convulsion which it foreshadows. The fact that the psychical phenomena do replace the seizure is admitted by all; and in some cases, constituting the epilepsia larvalis of Morel, these mental symptoms may be the only manifestations of disease. (emph added).

The second point and third point pertain to the peri-ictal period; (2) the patient often shows no compromised speech or inability to process language and (3) the person’s memory for events is fractured at best.

In making the fourth and highly important point, he points out the increasing acceptance by professionals that an ability to tell right from wrong has no bearing upon criminal culpability for people with epilepsy. If the analysis of Commerce Secretary Bryson’s episode shows anything, it shows that the general public is quite ignorant of this point.

Conklin does list a series of characteristics of moral deprivation that people rightfully scoff at today, but these thoughts should not preclude giving his advocacy for the legal rights of people with epilepsy honorable recognition. These characteristics, by themselves, do not constitute criminal or insane behavior however. In quoting a peer, he makes the remarkable point that as soon as the status of epilepsy is established, the criminal prosecutor must be saddled with the entire burden of proof that the crime is not of ictal origin. That is a very large burden indeed and without meeting it, the suspect must be acquitted. Furthermore, epilepsy being established only long after an incident should still be considered exculpatory. Conklin embraces the fact that mania can be the first mark of epilepsy, and even its occurrence close in time to a crime is not a necessary observation for acquital.

Finally, Conklin advocates for an asylum system devoted exclusively for people with epilepsy who may require confinement. He is concerned with putting otherwise innocent people into a prison system among real criminals.


Dans sa conférence donnée à la Ohio State Medical Society, en 1871, le Dr W.J. Conklin présente un argument important concernant les définitions de l’innocence dans le crime pour cause d’aliénation mentale. Les chercheurs modernes ayant mis au point des anticonvulsifs très efficaces, il est de plus en plus difficile d’accepter que certains individus puissent connaître des moments de pensées et d’actions violentes directement influencées ou causées par l’épilepsie. Pourtant, les médecins du XIXe siècle font état d’études sur des cas spécifiques de comportements violents de leurs patients, et nous devons reconnaître que les crises stimulent de temps en temps des actions psychologiques complexes. Le public et le système judiciaire bénéficieront grandement de la sagesse du Dr Conklin, dont je n’ai pas encore vu les articles dans les revues médicales contemporaines.

Dans sa présentation à l’OSMS, le Dr Conklin fait valoir quatre points qu’il est essentiel de comprendre lorsque nous voulons protéger les droits civils des personnes atteintes d’épilepsie. Premièrement, la folie épileptique est généralement paroxystique dans ses manifestations. Les cas préoccupants surviennent souvent spontanément et sans avertissement reconnaissable. Les crises d’épilepsie sont elles-mêmes appelées paroxysmes. En tant que paroxysmes, les comportements distinctement antisociaux ou même violents peuvent généralement être considérés comme des épisodes distincts, le patient agissant normalement dans les intervalles et n’étant pas conscient de l’événement. Les intervalles entre les épisodes peuvent également durer des années.

Conklin note que les comportements psychotiques ou aberrants précèdent souvent les crises de grand mal (et peuvent aussi les suivre immédiatement). Il suggère que les événements comportementaux et les crises convulsives peuvent se substituer les uns aux autres :

It is not unusual to hear an attendant say, ” Doctor, I don’t believe she would have her fits if she did not get so angry. She gets so mad at some one that she throws herself into a fit.” In point of fact, the anger is as much beyond the patient’s control as is the convulsion which it foreshadows. The fact that the psychical phenomena do replace the seizure is admitted by all; and in some cases, constituting the epilepsia larvalis of Morel, these mental symptoms may be the only manifestations of disease. (emphasis is added) ( Il n’est pas rare d’entendre un accompagnateur dire : “Docteur, je ne crois pas qu’elle aurait ses crises si elle ne se mettait pas autant en colère. Elle se met tellement en colère contre quelqu’un qu’elle se jette dans une crise”. En fait, la colère est tout autant hors du contrôle du patient que la convulsion qu’elle laisse présager. Le fait que les phénomènes psychiques remplacent la crise est admis par tous ; et dans certains cas, constituant l’épilepsie larvaire de Morel, ces symptômes mentaux peuvent être les seules manifestations de la maladie. (c’est moi qui soulignons)).

Le deuxième point et le troisième point concernent la période péri-ictale ; (2) le patient n’a souvent pas de troubles de l’élocution ou d’incapacité à traiter le langage, et (3) la mémoire de la personne pour les événements n’est pas mieux qu’incomplète.

En soulignant le quatrième point, très important, il attire notre attention sur le fait qu’un nombre croissant de professionnels pensent que la capacité à distinguer les comportements moraux des comportements immoraux n’a aucune incidence sur la culpabilité pénale des personnes épileptiques (pensez à lire la discussion du secrétaire au commerce Bryson sur ce site web).

Conklin suggère une liste de caractéristiques de la privation morale dont les gens se moquent à juste titre aujourd’hui, mais les opinions actuelles ne devraient pas empêcher de donner une reconnaissance honorable à son plaidoyer pour les droits légaux des personnes épileptiques. Ces caractéristiques, en elles-mêmes, ne constituent toutefois pas un comportement criminel ou insensé. Lorsqu’il cite un pair, il fait remarquer que dès que le statut de l’épilepsie est établi, le procureur pénal doit prouver complètement que le crime n’est pas d’origine ictale. En l’absence de cette preuve, la personne jugée doit être déclarée innocente. En outre, lorsqu’il est démontré que la personne est épileptique seulement longtemps après qu’un incident s’est produit, la personne doit quand même être considérée comme innocente. M. Conklin croit fermement que la manie peut être la première marque de l’épilepsie, et même sa survenance à un moment proche d’un crime n’est pas une observation nécessaire pour l’acquittement.

Enfin, Conklin plaide pour un système d’asile consacré exclusivement à l’hébergement des personnes épileptiques si elles doivent être confinées. Il est soucieux de mettre des personnes innocentes dans un bâtiment qui emprisonne de vrais criminels.

Skull and brain diagram from O. Vierordt  1898 A clinical text-book of medical diagnosis for physicians and students: based on the most recent methods of examination

Book reviews by Jeffrey Hatcher cover any topic but preference is given to contemporary medical literature focusing on social issues in medical practice. Historical texts of interest to researchers are included and will typically be pre-twentieth century publications focused on psychiatric practices.