Category Archives: psychology

Diary of a Mad, Old Man

old man Junichiro Tanizaki’s Diary of a Mad Old Man is just what the title says. Well, he’s not completely mad. The main character is an old man obsessed with his daughter in law, a former cabaret singer, whose husband’s grown tired of her.

The old man is sickly and most of his life is spent going to doctors and taking medication. His infatuation of Satsuko, the daughter in law who leads him on, but doesn’t let him do more than kiss her legs or eventually her neck, gets him to buy her jewels and later a pool. She’s got a lover and a fondness for Western fashion. It’s an interesting look at desire mixed with a battle against a failing body.

A quick read, the book provides an interesting glimpse of Japan in the post-WWII period when the Japanese were starting to prosper.

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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in classic, psychology, World Lit


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Reviving Ophelia

Published in the 1990s, Reviving Ophelia describes the social and psychological troubles facing teenage girls in America. Mary Pipher, Ph.D., draws on her experience working with girls who face sexual harassment, objectification, emotional stress, family breakdowns, drugs and alcohol more than in the past. Sadly, my guess is that things have gotten worse not better since publication.

Pipher points out that in many cases the problem isn’t so much the family, though sometimes it is, but rather the culture that the girls are thrust into. I hope things aren’t this bad everywhere, but it seems that a lot of girls are taunted, groped and assaulted with terrible frequency.

Lifetime, the cable TV network, made a movie based on the book.

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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in contemporary, non-fiction, psychology, Uncategorized


On Dreams

Finally it was time to read Freud for myself. First I’d been intrigued for awhile after talking with my friend Art who teaches a class in Literature and Psychoanalysis. Then the Great Books discussion group that meets at Skokie Public Library was reading On Dreams for this month’s selection. What better excuse to get the book and dive in.

So much of my knowledge of great ideas comes from watered down textbooks and pop culture. It’s time to go to the source.

When the source is just 76 pages of a book written for the public, not other psychoanalysists this isn’t so hard. Freud explains his theories and insights clearly with a examples from his own dream life and his patients’. I learned about “condensation” i.e. the fact that dream images usally represent multiple concepts and I found it interesting that the more incoherent the dream is the better it is for analysis. Those that seem to make sense have been gussied up to deflect anaysis.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to the Great Books meeting as the car I thought I could use was unavailable. Still I’m glad I read this and would read more. I do think it would make for great discussion. I hope I can make next month’s meeting.

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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in classic, non-fiction, psychology