Articles

Going Rogue

Baltimore Style, October 2017

One hot summer morning in Baltimore in the late 1940s, Dr. Robert Lindner, chief of psychological services for the Maryland Department of Corrections and a psychoanalyst in private practice, received an unusual telephone call from aphysician at a classified government installation in New Mexico. The doctor was calling about a patient whom he wanted to […]

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Junkie in the Joint

Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2016

When I first got to college, the excitement of my new independence led me to experiment with a changed-up self-image. Before long I’d settled on a punk-Goth look. This involved a beaten-up black motorcycle jacket worn over a sweater with the collar and sleeves torn out, a skirt ripped to midthigh, fishnet tights, eight-hole Doc […]

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Sex, Lies, and Literature: Learning from Mr. Hyde

The American Scholar, October 27, 2016

One of my first academic positions was as a visiting professor at a large university in the Midwest. Among my other responsibilities, I supervised 11 PhD students in the planning and teaching of a multi-section course called Major Figures in Western Literature. Each semester, the students had to select an archetypal character (such as the […]

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Jane Austen’s Ivory Cage

The American Scholar, May 9, 2015

When I was working on my doctorate at Oxford, I lived in a large Victorian house with about 10 other students. My room was on the ground floor at the back; in the room above me lived a Canadian woman named Lenore—after the “rare and radiant maiden” in Poe’s “The Raven,” she once told me, […]

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Under the Spell of a Name

Modern Love, New York Times, November 13, 2014

A palm reader once told me I was going to marry a man named Andrew. I guess it could still happen, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. I have been married once and it wasn’t pretty. I have no plans to let it happen again, though if it does, odds are it won’t be […]

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Lusty Ladies and Naughty Dogs

Psychology Tomorrow, October 14, 2014

In the arms of a fashion icon like Paris Hilton or Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, there’s no doubt that a well-dressed lapdog can be a charming fashion accessory. Yet older ladies who are inseparable from their little dogs, such as 84-year-old gossip columnist Cindy Adams, or socialite Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to […]

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Seeking a Glamorous Gertrude

Nameberry, February 17, 2015

“If you will call a dog Hervey,” said the English author Dr. Johnson, “I shall love him.” This quirky adage was meant to praise the unconventional Hervey family, whom Dr. Johnson found excellent company, but he also put his finger on an important truth, which is that the magic of a name doesn’t lie in […]

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