Posts Tagged ‘delusion’

The Short Version / Reviews

October 15, 2014

The Fifty Minute Hour

A Pearl of a Story

All of the good books aren’t necessarily the new books.  Grubbing through the Olde Book Store, an enterprising reader can discover many treasures.   The Fifty Minute Hour by Robert Lindner is such a book.

I must have first purchased it used.  (Okay, partly perhaps because of the lurid cover.)  Then, I uncovered it again while unpacking from a recent move.  It looked interesting all over again, so I began reading.

When you read a book of a past era you find things that are spoken of and wisdoms imparted which you will not find in books of the present era.  Different environments hatch different people.  If it is a good book, you will find yourself missing the entire period as if you’d lived then.

The book is a collection of five case histories from a psychoanalytic perspective.  And as the cover suggests, they are not dry.  The best, however, is the last: the “Jet-Propelled Couch”.  This pearl of a story, I discovered myself after doing a bit of research, was initially published as a two part series in Harpers.  Steven Sondheim spent some time trying to produce it as a musical, before abandoning the project.  It “1957 it was finally dramatized as an episode of TV’s Playhouse 90”.  – wikipedia

The story is of a brilliant scientist who – while otherwise quite normal and engaging – is sent to the psychiatrist because of the mad belief that he visits other planets (where he rules, of course).  The psychoanalyst, after failing and abandoning all other strategies, decides that what is needed is for him to immerse himself likewise in the delusion.  The rationale is that two psychoses cannot inhabit the same space.  One will inevitably ‘call out’ the other.  In psychoanalysis this is called the principle (and strategy) of “participation therapy”.

Perhaps you can imagine what happens?

Our contemporary culture is quite adept at sniffing out what we would like and supplying it.  You participate long enough and you will find that our culture has located an area in you vulnerable to addiction – as you begin to feel the uncontrollable pull.

What our psychoanalyst finds is that if you filter your way through enough psychosis, it is likely you will find one which can harbor itself – finding a personal vulnerability – in you.

None of us is that far from going mad, is what this tale has to say.

Illustration from Amazon


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