The Naked Lady Who Stood on her Head: A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases, by Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, is a fascinating study of a psychiatrist who learns just how unique the human mind can be. Although there is some artistic license involved, each chapter takes on a new patient who is in much need of professional help. Names and identifying details are changed so as to protect privacy. The dialogue may be slightly altered, but it’s real to a certain degree. In other words, nothing is the book is 100% accurate, but not a complete bunch of lies.
Small is just starting his residency when the book begins, so he finds out in a short period of time just how little he actually knows and how much he has to learn. For example, the mentors are not always right. One of these, Dr Lochton, sees most patients as having an issue related to early childhood trauma. What’s wrong with that, you ask? The patient with the “Sexy Stare” is better defined as a borderline personality disorder. Teetering between reality and insanity, a moment of inappropriate behavior drives home the lesson of considering other possibilities.
Medication can often help those who require psychiatric care. It is an asset that a psychiatrist has medical training, so he or she can prescribe if necessary. Plenty of cases of mental malfunction are due to some sort of physical cause. In the story where the book title comes from, orange juice clears up the bizarre behavior. Acute hypoglycemia is another term for blood sugar crash, which the juice helps.
“Brain Fog” describes the vicar of a man with a high stress job. He doesn’t understands why he keeps having periods of not being able to focus. Small understands only after watching him play a game of racquetball. Using Evian as liquid refreshment makes for salt depletion. Switching to Gatorade is a big help.
A different kind of problem exists in “Gaslight.” Marital issues between a husband a and wife can be a common issue. Making matters worse is the fact that the wife is a therapist. She thinks there might not really be a disaster in the works, but cannot help but feel something is amiss. She’s right, but the answer comes from a totally unexpected source.
Through the chapters are snippets into the private life of Dr. Small. By meeting and marrying Gigi Vorgan, he has someone to bounce ideas off of. The key is not revealing information which is kept confidential. These two work well as a couple, and tales about the kids add an extra layer to this book.
“Sigmund Fraud” is perhaps the most poignant tale of all. A longtime friend of Small’s needs his help in discovering an authentic self. Depression might dig in, so a brain scan gets scheduled. The result shows a condition much, much worse than anyone ever imagined.
Small describes each case with an understanding that not every reader will get what’s he talks about. These people are fascinating, and readers will want to finish the book cover to cover without stopping.