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Pink Plastic Elephants

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It Happened To Me

       True crime has two kinds of readers. The first kind are drawn to the procedural elements: the clues and evidence, possible suspects, forensic techniques, psychological profiling, and trial strategy. Books that foreground these elements investigate the criminal mind, describe the hunt, and celebrate the capture. They’re generally written from the point of view of […]

Every Creeping Thing

“Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all fours, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.”   Leviticus 11.41     When I hear the word “creepy,” my heart skips a beat. Sadly, the term is often squandered […]

Crisis Care

When I was at college, I responded to an ad placed in the monthly student newsletter by a retired psychoanalyst, Dr. Beardsworth. He was offering analysis at no charge to students who could not afford the fee. I had no idea, at the time, of the difference between psychoanalysis and any other kind of psychotherapy, […]

Going Rogue

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 a physician at a classified government installation in New Mexico. The doctor was calling about a patient whom he wanted […]

Junkie in the Joint

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 […]

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

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 […]

Jane Austen’s Ivory Cage

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, […]

Under the Spell of a Name

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 […]

Lusty Ladies and Naughty Dogs

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 […]