Book Review: The Good Psychologist – Noam Shpancer

Title: The Good Psychologist
Author: Noam Shpancer
ISBN: 9780805092592
Pages: 256
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

The Good Psychologist is the story of an unnamed psychologist and his thoughts and feelings as he goes about his daily life.  He sees patients, connecting with a stripper who is unable to dance because of her anxiety levels.  He teaches a class at a local college, helping  his students understand what it means to be a good psychologist.  During all this, he also faces the woman he loves and the prospect that she might leave for good.

Review:

The Good Psychologist is the psychological story of one man, whose name the reader never discovers.  The reader sees the different compartments of his life, how they interact and affect one another.  In therapy, he sits down and listens to his patients.  He genuinely wants to help them, especially the exotic dancer, and he makes special accommodations in order to ensure that he is able to be her doctor.  Her therapy hits home, though, and in the process of drawing her out, the psychologist is forced to face some of his own deeper and more difficult thoughts.

In class, the reader sees the authoritative expert on psychology.  The psychologist goes through his lessons, trying to teach his students what makes a good psychologist.  He is patient, welcoming alternate points of view, even when they are difficult.  Through these experiences, the reader learns a lot about modern day psychology.  The author, Noam Shpancer, is a psychologist and teacher, so it’s clear where the protagonist’s expertise comes from.

Because this is a novel of thoughts, there isn’t a lot of description.  We know nothing about appearance, race, ethnicity; all we know is what the psychologist is thinking.  From his thoughts, the reader is able to understand that the psychologist is a good person who genuinely wants to help others.  He can be selfish at times, but doesn’t let that sentiment overwhelm his personality.  I appreciated how much he wanted to make the world better for his patients and students, and the way he became involved even though he should have practiced clinical detachment.

The Good Psychologist is an in-depth character study that really shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did.  The style, jumping from home to work to class, should have been choppy and unwelcoming, but somehow Shpancer managed to make it compulsively readable.  The lack of punctuation for dialogue is a bit difficult, but it serves to underscore the fact that we are in someone’s head.  It’s really a beautifully written and well-executed novel, impressive in its simplicity.  If you are interested in psychology or enjoy deep character studies, don’t hesitate to pick this book up.

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Comments

  1. I liked this one as well; very different. BTW, i am enjoying your copyrite series, as I experienced the same issue as you….probably the same site.

  2. I liked this one as well; very different. BTW, i am enjoying your copyrite series, as I experienced the same issue as you….probably the same site.

  3. Hummm. I would likely have passed this one by without a second thought. Now you’ve got me curious and Diane liked it as well.

  4. Hummm. I would likely have passed this one by without a second thought. Now you’ve got me curious and Diane liked it as well.

  5. I think you are right when you say that all the disparate elements of this book shouldn’t work, but somehow, it seems like they do. I would love to read this one and am adding it to my list. Along with my fascination for mental illness in literature, I also really enjoy stories from the other side of the couch. Great review. I am adding this to my wish list right now!

  6. I think you are right when you say that all the disparate elements of this book shouldn’t work, but somehow, it seems like they do. I would love to read this one and am adding it to my list. Along with my fascination for mental illness in literature, I also really enjoy stories from the other side of the couch. Great review. I am adding this to my wish list right now!

  7. This sounds really intriguing. I haven’t read many (ok, any) stories from a psychologist’s POV. Should look it up.

  8. This sounds really intriguing. I haven’t read many (ok, any) stories from a psychologist’s POV. Should look it up.

  9. Excellent review. This book looks interesting. I’ll put it on my wish list.

  10. Excellent review. This book looks interesting. I’ll put it on my wish list.

  11. This sounds utterly fascinating — I love character studies. Terrific review!

  12. This sounds utterly fascinating — I love character studies. Terrific review!

  13. I’m not big on introspective novels, but you’ve made this one sound fascinating!

  14. I’m not big on introspective novels, but you’ve made this one sound fascinating!

  15. This sounds like a really interesting book. I love books that get into the workings of someone’s mind.

  16. This sounds like a really interesting book. I love books that get into the workings of someone’s mind.

  17. I have this deep down desire to understand the human psyche, which I know is a fruitless task. There was a time when I wanted to become a psychiatrist. I think this is why I love true crime. I want to try to understand what drives people to do what they do. Lack of punctuation wouldn’t bother me…it worked fine in Blindness.

  18. I have this deep down desire to understand the human psyche, which I know is a fruitless task. There was a time when I wanted to become a psychiatrist. I think this is why I love true crime. I want to try to understand what drives people to do what they do. Lack of punctuation wouldn’t bother me…it worked fine in Blindness.

  19. i don’t think this one is for me.. i am not too much in psychology and I find it hard to follow books that describe trains of thoughts.. btw, saw your posts on copyright issues. It must be frustrating to have your reviews “stolen”. craziness!

  20. i don’t think this one is for me.. i am not too much in psychology and I find it hard to follow books that describe trains of thoughts.. btw, saw your posts on copyright issues. It must be frustrating to have your reviews “stolen”. craziness!

  21. I think this book will be perfect for me. I am a student of Psychology and the book sounds great! Thanks for the review!

  22. I think this book will be perfect for me. I am a student of Psychology and the book sounds great! Thanks for the review!

  23. I probably wouldn’t have been drawn to this book based on the description, but it does sound intriguing!

  24. I probably wouldn’t have been drawn to this book based on the description, but it does sound intriguing!

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