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The Good Psychologist

by Noam Shpancer

Writing this unusual first novel may have seemed like a busman’s holiday for Noam Shpancer. A psychologist by profession, he has taken “what he knows” and turned it into a clever and absorbing read.

The eponymous good psychologist practices in the rather Orwellian titled Centre for Anxiety Disorders. He also teaches a class - Introduction to the Principles of Therapy - to a mixed bunch of college students and plays a weekly baseball game with a group of men that he barely knows. He doesn’t have a wife but has a once-passionate, now fading, relationship with Nina a (married) fellow psychologist. They have a child that they’ve agreed he won’t see and this rather unsatisfactory relationship is mainly carried out on the phone. Nina is his confidante but he feels her slipping away. The good psychologist’s life is lonely and, fairly uneventful but all the same, complicated.

When Tiffany, a young stripper, comes to see him because she is suddenly unable to perform he becomes more embroiled than he feels is appropriate. Tiffany’s situation obviously gets to him and he seeks advice from Nina.

Switching chapters between the classroom (where we learn a lot about how to be a “good psychologist” – albeit in a rather pedantic way) to his 4pm sessions with Tiffany and his telephone conversations with Nina, a picture is built of a lonely, controlled individual who cares for his patients, students, lover and child with equal devotion.

If you want to know more about the principles of therapy or already know and want to know how they are applied in a novel or if you just want an interesting and unusual read then The Good Psychologist will do it for you.

Irene Haynes

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