Analysing Satan

Now that Xmas 2008 is approaching, maybe I’ll post this review. For Xmas 2007 (which was spent in LA and San Francisco, and was blissful), Cassie bought me (amongst many other things) Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S. by Jeremy C Leven.

It took me a long time to get to reading it, due to my only reading in bed and then slowly, but when I did I was glad it was reprinted by after being out of print for years. It’s the tragic but funny story of a psychiatrist who suffers misfortune after misfortune at the hands of his wife, his colleagues and his patients. His (ex-)wife tears his kids away from him, his boss is trying to drive him mad, and his patients are a challenging bunch. In the end he is brought before a machine which claims to be the physical embodiment of Satan himself. And Satan is unhappy and wants to be treated for his neuroses. It’s not surprising, what with being blamed for everything.

The book manages to be very funny despite the waves of torment crashing over the hero’s head almost every other page. It’s very much a work of it’s time, originally published in 1980, so bang in the middle of the introspection of the 70’s and the selfishness of the 80’s.

I don’t know what relevance it has these days. It seems that psychotherapy had a real ‘cult of personality’ angle in those days, where the practitioner mattered more than the treatment. I would hope that has reduced. Of course, we have radio pundit psychiatrists now as then, such as the plagiarist Dr Raj Persaud who I’m reliably told was far too busy appearing on the radio to attend to his patients.

Give me CBT any day. You go in, you get sorted over a few sessions, you leave. At least that has some form of scientific behavioral basis (AKAIK). Going to a therapist for years is like getting into an abusive relationship with a mechanic, who keeps telling you your car is going to need more work.

Now that I live in California, perhaps I should consider getting myself a therapist of some kind. That would be a big step for me. It’s bad enough that I have a personal trainer, albeit a guy I talk to at the gym where I’m a member, rather than a guy who comes to my Hollywood Hills mansion. Or maybe I could become a Scientologist, or join the some form of Large Group Awareness Training Program. Or I could join a theatre group. Ony joking!