At the end of the day I look forward to sitting in my armchair with my feet up on the ottoman, pouring myself a stiff Diet Pepsi, and inhaling several pages of Dalrymple at his driest. Second Opinion, imported from England, is chock-full of amusing tales of life among the savages. I know what you'll say - Dalrymple lacks compassion! And that's what makes him so delectable, so - so transgressive! In this era where we censor ourselves before thinking, Dalrymple dares to announce what we know is true but dare not say publicly or privately. His experience working in British prisons has given him a wealth of anecdote, but his genius is in the telling. Briticisms abound. I constantly flew to the Oxford English Dictionary to translate his language to American. (I learned that supererogatory does not mean unnecessary, as I had believed, but excess. That "instantiation" is not related to "instantaneous".) There were many phrases that were so Brit that I have no idea what they mean. Nonetheless, I got the gist and enjoyed the process. Second Opinion is superbly amusing and goes down painlessly, especially taken with a double dose of Schadenfreude. I want to add that the book contains unexpected grace notes of wisdom, observations about finding meaning in life, as well as the sudden leap of empathy toward the rare patient who embodies a quiet heroism. His encounter with the young man who speaks of Othello with recognition and applies it to his own jealousy is poignant.
Upon reading "Second Opinion," one would hope that the author has grossly exaggerated the stories in order to sell his book. Sadly, this is not the case, as the introduction makes plain. Then too, one might hope that the doctor works in some strange city where the goings on he describes are unique to his urban landscape. Failing that, one hopes that perhaps the situations occur only in England. Unfortunately, none of these is the case. Having worked in mental health for 14 years, I can assure you that the incidents described in this book are becoming increasingly common right here in America. In fact, if the publisher were to release an American edition of the book they might consider changing the title to "Coming Soon to America!" or "Behold the Destruction Wrought by the Therapeutic Nanny State". This book offers a glimpse into a dark present and prophetic hint of a darker future. Take and read!
In reading the dire dispatches of Dr. Dalrymple, it is all too easy to think thats too bad, but thats Britain's problem, not ours. However, this is shortsighted as Britain is akin to a canary in the mine, serving as a foreshadowing of what awaits us in the United States as our base of taxpayers dwindles and those reliant on the government grows ever larger. I fear that in the years to come, stories such as these will be retold in an American accent and in an American context.
The average American may read this book and think that a) the author is crazy, or b) these situation could never happen in this country. Unfortunately, neither of these ideas are correct and if people don't start waking up, we will go the same way as the UK. Take heed America! This country was made great by people who were willing to work hard and make decisions for themselves.