The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head by Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan
I’m a big fan of non-fiction books about things so crazy and unbelievable, they make you forget that they’re non-fiction in the first place. Which is why when I first cracked open my copy of The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases, co-written by Dr. Gary Small and wife Gigi Vorgan, it took so much willpower to put it down just so I could quickly finish my chores and run my errands fast enough to get back to reading. Both entertaining and informative, it even made me question my own sanity after reading.
Written in chronological order following Dr. Small’s career from psychiatric trainee at Harvard Medical School to research head at UCLA, The Naked Lady details some of his most eclectic psychiatric cases. And by eclectic, I do mean crazy weird: from the guy who purposely injured his arm because he wants to get it amputated; the lawyer with a shrinking penis; the worried mother who’s read every single medical textbook and has started diagnosing herself and everyone else around her; and yes, even the naked lady who stood on her head.
Full of humor at every turn of the page, The Naked Lady reads like a hilariously bizarre short story collection that I often tend to forget that these accounts actually happened to real people. And while extremely funny and often times thought-provoking, it also gives us an inside look at the world of psychotherapy and how crazy things can sometimes get, even for the most well-trained psychiatrist. The medical jargon, though only few, are so well-explained; I’ve actually learned a thing or two about psychology that might come in handy if I ever consider taking an Introduction to Psychology class myself. Dr. Small is not only a really good doctor, he’s a gifted storyteller as well.
My favorite would be “Gaslight,” where a middle-aged couple, whose kids have all left for college, goes into couple therapy with Dr. Small for what was initially diagnosed as an empty-nest syndrome. But then things take a twist, and the husband, who turns out to be a sociopath, not fools one, but two psychiatrists into thinking that he’s perfectly sane.
Perfect for those who are curious as to how our minds work, or if you’re into the bizarre or amusingly strange, The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head is a definite must-read for everyone, crazy or otherwise.