Samuel Shem

Samuel Shem is the pen-name of the American psychiatrist Stephen Joseph Bergman (born 1944). His main works are The House of God and Mount Misery, both fictional but close-to-real first-hand descriptions of the training of doctors in the United States. Bergman was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford in 1966, and was tutored by Denis Noble FRS, cardiac physiologist and later head of the Oxford Cardiac Electrophysiology Group. In an address to Dr. Noble's retirement party Balliol, he related that Denis Noble's response to Bergman's attempt to become a writer was to ply him with copious sherry. He was an intern at Beth Israel Hospital (subsequently renamed Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) which inspired the book The House of God.
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From the Laws of Mount Misery:

There are no laws in psychiatry.

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



From the Laws of Mount Misery:

Your colleagues will hurt you more than your patients.

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



From the Laws of Mount Misery:

Psychiatrists specialize in their defects.

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



From the Laws of Mount Misery:

In psychiatry, first comes treatment, then comes diagnosis.

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