DeLillo, Psychiatry and a Novel

Dear Readers,

Last night I watched6 . gameFilm by Don DeLillo and released in 2006. It depicts Robert Downey Jr. as a theater critic named Stephen Schwimmer who goes to play with a gun tucked into his pants. Why? Because criticism for Schwimmer is as high a risk as any job you can get. (Provided This belief as evidence of its delusional nature).

The character has other quirks, such as an apartment without a toilet and a preference for wearing white face paint. It’s not a flawless movie, but it does feature several excellent comedic exchanges, like this one:

Wife: I spoke to a prominent divorce attorney.

Husband: How prominent is it?

Wife: He has his own submarine.

In addition, it features the signature DeLillo effect to alter the texture of reality. Below are two books that do the same thing, albeit with different tools and results.

in your face and out of your life*


* Another line from “Game 6”

We want to hear from you.
Tell us about your experience with this newsletter By answering this short survey.

My Stories, 2022

In 2015, I bought an old button on eBay (the kind you would attach to your jacket) that said: You’re just jealous because the little voices talk to me. The seller had included a note that read: “Speak to me too!!!” We recorded positive feedback for each other on eBay. Overall, it was among the most satisfying mental health transactions of my life.

Anyone who turns into a ball of fire while haggling with an insurance company over mental issues will need at least 10 new tags while reading Andrew Scull’s book Desperate Cures, a deeply questionable history and analysis of psychiatry. The crux of his argument is: Although there have been undeniable advances, mental illness remains a mystification, and no system has done a great job of treating symptoms and understanding causes. To get there, he journeys through neuroscience, genetics, anthropology, dentistry, lobotomy, sanatoriums, drug therapies, CBT, ECT, and Robert Redford’s 1980 debut, “ordinary people” … and as they say , everything in between.

Scull, a professor of sociology, wrote the best kind of “feeling bad” book, whipping offenders right and left with his whip of evidence. Whether the stinger resonates or alienates depends on your own matrix of experiences and beliefs. What a controversy!

Read if you like: Rachel Aviv writingDaniel Carr Excellent piece At the Museum of Scientology’s Anti-Psychiatry, Upton Sinclair
Available from: Harvard University Press

fantasy, 1981

How can such a small novel contain so many lessons in cognition? The ship is a schoolboy named Carlos, whose father owns a soap factory in Mexico City in the late 1940s. One of Carlos’s friends lives in a slum built from scrap wood. Another friend lives in a mansion with a wine cellar; He was sent to Carlos’ school so that he could get acquainted with the people who would become his servants. Part of the story revolves around that turbulent period in a child’s life as he discovers his place in the segregation system: if he is rich compared to some children and poor compared to others, it means… what exactly?

The main event is 28-year-old Carlos’s crush on the lover of a high-ranking government official. When he confesses his charm, Mariana kindly rejects the boy. But somehow Carlos’s family finds out and he’s sent to a priest who asks pre-questions, and then to a psychiatrist who diagnoses an “inferiority complex”. All this in about 70 pages of deep immersion in experience and sensation.

Read if you like: “400 Blows” by François Truffaut, films by Robert Bresson, Roland Barthes and Carlos Fuentes
Available from: new trends (o en español aqui)

  • Discover Whether surreal art can Kill the fanatics?

  • Find out why 11 men turned blue after eating Toxic oats At the same restaurant in 1944? (This is an article, not a book—although I’d like to commission a whole bunch of food poisoning case studies just like that.)

  • Postpone good ol’ Iris Murdoch For a great description of being dumped? (“His sudden decision to no longer see her was completely incomprehensible to the girl, it was a death sentence from a hidden authority for an unknown crime”).

    Subscribe to Read Like the Wind

    Indulge yourself more in books In the New York Times or Molly Young’s Comments

    See previous versions of Read Like the Wind

    Friendly Reminder: Check your local library for books! Many libraries allow you to reserve copies online. Send newsletter feedback to