Title: The Good Psychologist
Author: Noam Shpancer
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Good Psychologist is the story of an unnamed psychologist and his thoughts and feelings as he goes about his daily life. He sees patients, connecting with a stripper who is unable to dance because of her anxiety levels. He teaches a class at a local college, helping his students understand what it means to be a good psychologist. During all this, he also faces the woman he loves and the prospect that she might leave for good.
The Good Psychologist is the psychological story of one man, whose name the reader never discovers. The reader sees the different compartments of his life, how they interact and affect one another. In therapy, he sits down and listens to his patients. He genuinely wants to help them, especially the exotic dancer, and he makes special accommodations in order to ensure that he is able to be her doctor. Her therapy hits home, though, and in the process of drawing her out, the psychologist is forced to face some of his own deeper and more difficult thoughts.
In class, the reader sees the authoritative expert on psychology. The psychologist goes through his lessons, trying to teach his students what makes a good psychologist. He is patient, welcoming alternate points of view, even when they are difficult. Through these experiences, the reader learns a lot about modern day psychology. The author, Noam Shpancer, is a psychologist and teacher, so it’s clear where the protagonist's expertise comes from.
Because this is a novel of thoughts, there isn’t a lot of description. We know nothing about appearance, race, ethnicity; all we know is what the psychologist is thinking. From his thoughts, the reader is able to understand that the psychologist is a good person who genuinely wants to help others. He can be selfish at times, but doesn’t let that sentiment overwhelm his personality. I appreciated how much he wanted to make the world better for his patients and students, and the way he became involved even though he should have practiced clinical detachment.
The Good Psychologist is an in-depth character study that really shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did. The style, jumping from home to work to class, should have been choppy and unwelcoming, but somehow Shpancer managed to make it compulsively readable. The lack of punctuation for dialogue is a bit difficult, but it serves to underscore the fact that we are in someone’s head. It’s really a beautifully written and well-executed novel, impressive in its simplicity. If you are interested in psychology or enjoy deep character studies, don’t hesitate to pick this book up.