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Mount Misery [Paperback]

Samuel Shem
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Jan 1999
Dr Roy Basch is starting his residency at the Mount Misery psychiatric hospital. As he immerses himself in the system, he soon discovers that the process of treating the patients has less to do with making them better and more to do with maintaining the flow of insurance company money.

Product details

  • Paperback: 570 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (2 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552998133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552998130
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 715,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'An engrossing read...darkly entertaining...One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest for the 90s'" (San Diego Union Tribune)

"'Provocative, complex and disturbing...[Shem] writes with enough passion that we care and enough wisdom that we are able to understand'" (American Oxonian)

"'Outrageously funny...a sage and important book'" (The Boston Globe) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A blackly comic tour de force which does for psychiatrists what Catch-22 did for war. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny but oh, so flawed 25 Feb 2001
Samuel Shem's The House Of God was mandatory reading as a house officer/intern (as I was when I read it), in the dark days when as a newly qualified doctor you felt alone, put-upon and frightened. It highlighted a lot of the absurdities of hospital medical practice while ramming home, urgently and compassionately, the message that other people have been through this, it's hell, but you can come through the other side. Wherever you work as a doctor, the US or the UK or elsewhere, the first book is essential.
Now, Shem (and the pseudonym's understandable, if not forgiveable) takes on the psychiatric establishment. Anybody who has worked in psychiatry, anywhere in the world, will find elements of truth in Mount Misery, and anyone who has fought against a lot of the stupidity and dogma portrayed so starkly in this book and carried on regardless, will find that the novel's central ethos, expressed particularly in the last few chapters, will get right up his or her nose. Shem tackles various theoretical viewpoints, artfully portrayed as the hero, Dr Roy Basch, whom many of us encountered in the first book, rotates through different placements in his first year as a psychiatric resident (equivalent in most respects to the senior house officer or SHO grade in Britain). The author systematically and vividly rips apart the thinking underlying the blind adherence of so many psychiatrists to two of the most pervasive doctrines, namely the psychodynamic (broadly, Freudian) and phenomenological (mainstream or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)). He concludes that effective psychiatry consists of 'connecting' with the patient in a way that he leaves relatively undefined.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Mount Misery doesn't come up to the high standards of Shem's first book, "The House of God". Despite that it is a fascinating account of the personal development of a young pyschiatrist's first year of training at a prestigous East Coast private psychiatric hospital, his own personal development and the development of his relationship with his long term not quite live-in lover.
For the British reader the novel provides a chilling insight into the working of an insurance based health care system, with the perpetual struggle of the medics trying to get funding for the care of particular from the apparatchiks at the Insurance company or the Health Maintenance Organisation who authorise the payement for their health care forming a recurrent theme. Since primary care groups are HMOs by another name, is this novel a warning of what those working in hospitals in England & Wales are going to have to face up to as the latest set of health service reforms start to bite?
This is an excellent book that should be read by everyone involved in training young doctors, young doctors in training (any specialty, not just psychiatry), in providing or managing health services or who might finish up needing to claim on their health insurance.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hilarious and disturbing read, and so, so true. 4 April 2006
Having thoroughly enjoyed House of God, I was intrigued to see what light Shen might shed on the darker aspects of psychiatry.
Mount Misery continues on chronologically from House of God, so it makes sense to read them in that order, if you fancy both.
Dr Roy Basch, shell-shocked and battle scarred from his stint in the House of God hospital decides to specialise in psychiatry, hoping for a quieter life and a chance to regain his shattered faith in the medical profession. The novel charts his journey through the fairground hall of mirrors that is Mount Misery mental hospital.
Fasten your seatbelts, and prepare for a wild ride through the crazy world of the head-doctors who are truly mad, bad and dangerous to know!
Mount Misery is a gem, luring you in with laugh-out-loud gallows humour, then hitting you over the head with what really goes on in modern psychiatry, and the outrages against humanity perpetuated daily on the most vulnerable amongst us.
As someone who has a fair amount of insider knowledge, I was delighted that Shen chose to reveal and condemn some of the more distasteful habits some shrinks choose to indulge in- it certainly cheered me up no end!
Highly effective is Shen's enthusiastic depiction of many of the faintly ridiculous theories that abound within the profession, creating scenarios both surreal and absurd, a kind of psychiatric Magical Mystery Tour, which manages to be shocking and blackly entertaining in equal measure.
I found the concluding passages slightly irritating, but that is a minor issue, and does not detract in the least from the book as a whole.
Mount Misery is a heady mix of wild comedy and dark truths, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Stuck for a present to give the shrink in your life? Look no further!
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3.0 out of 5 stars ok 15 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
a bit heavy going
not as much fun as the house of god
the sex is intrusive
overall interesting
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