Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Book Review: 'The Psychoanalyst's Aversion to Proof' by Austin Ratner

‘We need to believe in everything Freud said – and perhaps, so did he…’

New York author Austin Ratner earned his MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and later attended the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His range of writing is broad – his non fiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and in a textbook, CONCEPTS IN MEDICAL PHYSIOLOGY. His award winning fiction appears the Missouri Review and in his two novels.

After reading Austin Ratner's debut novel this reviewer wrote the following, repeated here because it pertains to this book as well: `Austin Ratner joins the ranks of physicians-turned-writers (Rabelais, Keats, Chekhov, Somerset Maugham, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Carlos Williams, Michael Crichton, Khaled Hosseini, etc) in his very impressive debut novel THE JUMP ARTIST, a 'fictionalized biographical novel' of Philippe Halsman, considered to be one of the world's top 10 photographers. Ratner proves himself to be not only a fine investigative historian, but also a writer adept at exploring several languages and countries and enhancing the character perception of some very famous people. And he accomplishes this with a gift for story telling that promises he will be around for a significant new career!'

Transfer that praise and magnify it a bit for this new book THE PSYCHOANALYST’S AVERSION TO PROOF - and begin to accept the fact that we have a genuinely gifted writer in our midst. Taking a departure from fiction to science, his new book is one of daring in demystifying the near sanctity of psychiatry. Austin shares benefits from his personal history with therapy and brings that sense of immediacy to his writing. In his Introduction he states ‘The pharmaceutical and health insurance industries make themselves heard and so should psychoanalysts. This book does not attempt to dispute Freud’s and other psychoanalysts’ pessimism about public acceptance of psychoanalysis so much as to diagnose it. Pessimism cannot be disputed anyway, because it is a feeling. As such, it has a context, an origin story, and a psychodynamic architecture…For the time being, I ask only that you consider the possibility that a feeling can intrude in to the admittedly complex business of psychoanalytic validation for reasons specific to psychoanalysis, but also because of emotional conflicts attaching proof and knowledge in general.’

One of the obvious, to this reader, pieces of evidence that Austin Rather is a gifted writer is his subtly clever progressive choices for his chapters: we gradually feel a part of his opinions rather than simply reading them. This is a brilliant and very important book. Read him: Ratner is marvelous! Grady Harp, February 19

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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