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The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist's Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases Hardcover – September 28, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Psychiatrists, counselors, and the like are in a unique position. They are in possession of incredibly interesting stories, yet the constraints of confidentiality and ethical concerns make sharing them difficult. Balancing the maintenance of privacy with the urge to tell—what are stories for, if not for sharing?—is a tricky matter. Small achieves that feat in this collection of “his most bizarre cases.” This is not a metaphor. While working a psychiatric ward shift as a new doctor, he is faced with an unresponsive client who is naked and standing on her head. Another client seems obsessed with having an arm amputated. A couple faces conflicting dreams and nightmares of a Disneyland wedding. Small’s stories cover the entire range of his more than 20-year career, from his fumbling attempts at looking professional with a client who is certain he’s trying to seduce her, to a recent encounter with a mentor who feels that his career has been a fraud. The stories are witty; the clients are treated respectfully, and the reader reaps the reward. --Matthew Tiffany

From the Back Cover

True stories are more bizarre than any fiction, and Dr. Gary Small knows this best. After thirty distinguished years of psychiatry and groundbreaking research on the human brain, Dr. Small has seen it all—now he is ready to open his office doors for the first time and tell all about the most mysterious, intriguing, and bizarre patients of his career.

The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head is a spellbinding record of the doctor's most bewildering cases, from naked headstands and hysterical blindness to fainting schoolgirls and self-amputations. It is an illuminating journey into the mind of a practicing psychiatrist and his life in medicine as it evolves over time—a behind-the-scenes look at the field and a variety of mental diseases as they've never been seen or diagnosed before. You'll find yourself exploring the puzzling eccentricities that make us human.

Often funny, sometimes tragic, and always compelling, Dr. Small takes you on a tour of his career that moves from the halls of a crowded inner-city Boston emergency room to the multimillion-dollar ski lodges of the nation's elite. In between, Dr. Small introduces a strange cast of true-life characters and conditions, while dealing with mysterious hysterical blindness, a man convinced that his penis is shrinking, secret double lives, and frighteningly psychotic romantic desires. His career and personal life come full circle when his own mentor becomes his patient, making Small realize that no one is beyond mental exploration—not even himself.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061803782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061803789
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Gary Small and his wife, Gigi Vorgan, are the co-authors of "The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head," a compilation of Dr. Small's "most bizarre cases" culled from his thirty years as a psychiatrist and researcher. He is a professor at UCLA and the director of the university's Memory and Aging Center. "The Naked Lady" is written in chronological order, from 1979 until 2008. Along with unusual and sometimes heartbreaking accounts of men and women in distress, Small shares entertaining reminiscences about his work, friendships, and family life. Small hopes to "demystify the treatment of mental illness," so that the sixty million adults who suffer from psychiatric disorders will have the courage to seek the help that they need.

As a twenty-seven year old psychiatric trainee at Harvard, Small was thrust into "a whirlwind of clinical experiences." Over the years, he would deal with borderline psychotics, manic-depressives, sociopaths, agoraphobics, obsessive-compulsives, and people whose psychological symptoms stemmed from a physical disorder. In many cases, dysfunctional family dynamics played a large role in damaging people's psyches. Although he does use a bit of jargon, Dr. Small explains any technical terms clearly for the layperson, and he lightens the mood occasionally with passages of wry humor.

Small focuses on the mind-body relationship. A mental imbalance can affect a person's physical health and a physical problem can unbalance the mind. Therefore, his approach has been to use "an eclectic psychiatric style," in which he treats patients with psychotherapy, medication, or both. "The Naked Lady" is breezy, fast-paced, attention-grabbing, and always enlightening.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Judith on May 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book might have been better if the author had concentrated more on his patients and less on himself. More than half the book was about how he felt, how he reacted. Some of the cases are just silly. For instance, the naked lady who stood on her head didn't have a mental health problem. She was a diabetic who had not eaten. As soon as she drank some OJ she was fine and realized that she was in the ER, not at home doing yoga.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ourdream on October 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The title alone makes you want to read this book by Dr. Gary Small, doesn't it? From the lady who thought Dr. Small was raping her with his eyes, and trying to gift him with a Rolex, to mass hysteria fainting by schoolgirls, and the case of the woman who was suffering from hysterical pregnancies, Dr. Small has it all. He discusses how he helped bring patients back from lunacy. These people are genuinely mentally ill and you don't get the sense that Dr. Small is making fun of them.This reads like a novel and was so engrossing. I picked it up early this afternoon and have just finished it. I think you will enjoy this one.

[...]
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Ashley March on July 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Astonishing in that given Dr. Small's credentials and his history of being able to get his books published he should have produced something so deficient. The title is an obvious rip-off of a superb book by Oliver Sacks; his writing is wincingly bad; there is not a believable moment in the entire book; his contributions to psychological thought are pedestrian at best; his attempts at humor are embarrassing; the self-congratulatory tone is off-putting; and the input from his wife, who is described as a screen writer, did not help in that the dialogue is best characterized as "what not to do while writing dialogue". People do not talk like that. I can only assume (hope) that he is a superb researcher. Even if so, there is no reason to read this book. I was propelled by sheer disbelief.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Saryl S. Hirsch on October 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Although this book is non-fiction, it read like a novel with the added attraction that each chapter, although integrated into the book, stood on its own and would have been a good stopping point, if I could have put the book down! With Dr. Small's personal style the book was a friendly, self-revealing explanation of some of his most bizarre cases. How lucky for his patients that he is so human and approachable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C.C. Arranda on April 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The stories in this book quickly become repetitive. Not in terms of subject matter, per se, but in the speedy way they're summed up and wrapped with a bow. Dr. Small strives to infuse humor into each case study and falls terribly short. If you're going to invent dialogue, Doctor, at least make it sparkle. The forced, flat humor along with the books lack of depth, makes for a very shallow read.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Jones on July 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I picked this book up, and read it earlier this year thinking that it was be quite an interesting read. The title is certainly very catchy. For me, it was a big disappointment. However, I always try to find good qualities in addition to the bad.
*****
Pros-
1) the book has a nice size font, and is very readable
2) this isn't a very large book, so you can carry it with you and finish reading it fairly quickly.
3) there is some useful psychoeducation for the average consumer. The author does a good job of breaking things down to layman's terms.
****However, the buck stops there*****
Cons-
1) This book reads like a comic book, or a marvel movie. You take your pick. Dr. Small is nothing short of a super hero psychiatrist who can do it all....even when he is just starting out as a resident! He describes himself as a clinician who is working odd and crazy hours at the hospital; yet he has time to date, supervise residents, continue in his own supervision, shadow other random doctors at the hospital and accompany them on their rounds,look into cases that aren't even his, hang out with his buddies, and go visit elementary schools and start his own massive research studies. These shenanigans never end, but somehow he is able to spin it into goal and do it all. Go figure, when does superman sleep?
2) Each story in the book is predictable and unbelievable. Because the book is so repetitive in it's theme, i was able to read the first few pages of each chapter and figure out what was going to happen without even looking at the middle or the end. Each story starts out like this- Dr. Small doesn't have a clue about what is going on with his patient.
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