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Obsession: The Bizarre Relationship Between a Prominent Harvard Psychiatrist and Her Suicidal Patient Hardcover – March 15, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (March 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517595583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517595589
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,638,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This heavily documented but not always convincing probe of a celebrated case attempts to exonerate psychiatrist Margaret Bean-Bayog of charges that her unorthodox treatment of Harvard Medical School student Paul Lozano led to his death by cocaine overdose in 1991. Lozano's family accused Bean-Bayog of luring her depressive patient into sadomasochistic sex that pushed him into suicide. But here, writing in the first person about the case and his coverage of it, Boston Globe reporter Gary Chafetz, drawing on counsel from his psychiatrist father as well as on exclusive interviews with Bean-Bayog, maintains that the psychiatrist's therapy-session notes apparently recording her violent sexual fantasies about Lozano were actually an expression of her counter-transference (her private feelings for her patient). The Chafetzes reject the Lozano family's claim that Bean-Bayog had sex with her patient or provided him with intense erotic stimulation. They portray Bean-Bayog, who in the aftermath of Lozano's death surrendered her medical license and settled a million-dollar lawsuit brought by his family, as a deeply caring, perhaps overzealous therapist who employed unusual techniques with a suicidal patient and who was subsequently victimized by the media and by the Massachusetts medical board under pressure to find her guilty. (For a less exculpatory version of the case, see Breakdown , reviewed below.)
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Gary Chafetz and McNamara, both journalists for the Boston Globe, have written accounts of a notorious malpractice suit that made national headlines in 1992. The family of Paul Lozano, a Mexican American who attended Harvard Medical School, alleges that psychiatrist Margaret Bean-Bayog led the troubled Lozano into a state of infantile dependency-and, ultimately, suicide-by using unorthodox psychoanalytic "regressive therapy." The Chafetzes' uneven narrative begins with an account of the first newscast aired in the wake of Lozano's death. Gary Chafetz, who describes sifting through public records and seeking interviews with principal characters, had little success until he gained interviews with Bean-Bayog. Many chapters consist solely of quotes from documents, press releases, and interviews interspersed with Gary's own brief comments or the occasional opinions of Morris, his psychiatrist father. The Chafetzes conclude that Bean-Bayog was manipulated by Lozano and betrayed by Boston's academic and psychiatric communities. In Breakdown, McNamara covers the suicide and its aftermath by interviewing Lozano's family and the colleagues and friends of Bean-Bayog. Examining complicated issues of transference, ethics, and malpractice, she argues-contrary to the Chafetzes-that the press and medical profession protected Bean-Bayog and vilified Lozano. If a choice must be made between these two titles, pick McNamara's account for its comprehensiveness. The titillating subject matter, though, will surely stir public interest, and most public libraries would do well to purchase both accounts.
Lucille Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sue on March 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This disorganized, belligerent book is an attempt by a psychiatrist and his son to "defend" a member of daddy's profession, Margaret Bean-Bayog, who resigned her license rather than face litigation for her controversial treatment of a Harvard medical student. The case, involving the patient's suicide, flirty photos of the doc taken by the patient, infantilizing, passionate flashcards she provided him, and reams the doc's sado-sexual fantasies (somehow in the patient's possession), became tabloid fodder in the 1990s.

The authors ferociously slam anyone who deigns to criticize the defendant, aiming their most potent venom at the deceased patient's sister. Their account of this complex case is so thick with siege mentality that it's cartoonish. They scarcely bother with the discipline of narrative flow, serving up riveting details such as the author's coffee brewing and the travails of all those necessary photocopies. (The authors impressed me as the most defensive, snappish ones at the table in the Charlie Rose interview still available on the web.)

Bean-Bayog's pages of steamy sado-sexual fantasies found in the patient's apartment were key evidence in this case. The authors characterize these lascivious scenes as "well written." The doc insisted she had no knowledge that the patient even owned these writings, and the authors uncritically accept her account. An incisive reporter might question how this patient would steal these writings and after turn discretely mum, given his provocative, eroticized relationship with the controversial doc.

The authors also scoff at the regulatory board's standard that a psychiatrist conduct an initial evaluation, prepare a formal treatment plan and consider alternative methods when treating a patient.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dan Bogaty on July 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Paul Lozano, in his early 20s in 1983, was a medical student at Harvard. He was also seriously mentally ill. Margaret Bean-Bayog was a Boston psychiatrist in her 40s who treated Lozano for a number of years. During an extremely controversial course of therapy, Bean created in Lozano a complete dependency on her. Eventually Bean no longer had the time or energy to continue to deal with the situation she had with the best of intentions created, as it involved her being on call virtually 24 hours a day, and terminated her work with Lozano who returned to his family in El Paso and shortly thereafter committed suicide. Lozano's family then sued Bean, holding her responsible for their son's/brother's death. And in conjunction with the unorthodox therapy, Bean was accused of having a sexual relationship with Lozano and with openly masturbating during their sessions.

Gary Chafetz' OBSESSION is the second book I've read recently on this case, the first being Eileen McNamara's BREAKDOWN, and while BREAKDOWN is slanted toward the Lozano family's take on the events leading to Paul's death, OBSESSION is just as biased in favor of Bean. The effort Chafetz expended in writing the book is evident. His prose is intelligent, literate, and OBSESSION is written almost as a research paper dedicated to confirming his theory of Bean's innocence of the charges against her, as opposed to BREAKDOWN, which is written in more standard true-crime style.
Chafetz' style is methodical and consists greatly of quoting Bean's notes of her sessions with Lozano and then interpreting them in such a way to show that Bean didn't do - couldn't have done - what she had been charged with; and it consists as well as of numerous conversations with Bean's lawyers and interviews with Bean herself.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Deanne R. Peterson on December 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was a very thoughtful review that appeared in the Boston Globe on March 25, 1994. The Chafetz book was actually brilliant, fair, and honest. McNamara's book was so biased as to verge on fraudulent.

Boston Globe

Author: By Geoffrey Stokes, Special to the Globe
Date: 03/25/1994 Page: 50
Section: LIVING
BOOK REVIEW
BREAKDOWN
Sex, Suicide, and the Harvard Psychiatrist
By Eileen McNamara
Pocket, 289 pp., illustrated, $22

OBSESSION
The Bizarre Relationship Between a Prominent Harvard
Psychiatrist and Her Suicidal Patient
By Gary S. Chafetz and Morris E. Chafetz
Crown, 365 pp., $25

Geoffrey Stokes, who has written extensively on the media,
writes the My Back Pages column for the Sunday Globe book
section.
By now, of course, everybody knows the saga of Paul Lozano and Margaret Bean-Bayog: After a youth that was both troubled and sunny, with loving parents who sexually abused him, Lozano entered Harvard Medical School in the autumn of 1983. At the end of his second year, at which point he was both close to suicide and a strong, well-adjusted student, he began a course of therapy with Dr. Bean-Bayog. Over the next four years, she simultaneously kept him alive through heroic and innovative therapy and so badly mistreated him -- perhaps having an affair with him or at the very least, masturbating in his presence -- that her therapy caused him to regress dramatically. Finally, nine months after their therapy terminated, he killed himself, proving both that she'd done wonders to keep him alive for as long as she had and that her infantalizing treatment had left him incapable of coping with the world.
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