R. Gregory Lande is a physician specializing in adult and forensic psychiatry. After completing medical school, he joined the US Army where he served for 20 years. During his military tenure, Dr. Lande started the military’s forensic psychiatry training program. Visit Dr. Lande at his website.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a physician specializing in adult and forensic psychiatry. I retired from the US Army Medical Corps as colonel. Following that, I held various clinical and administrative positions. I continue to be actively engaged in the clinical, academic, and research activities of my profession.
What made you decide to become a writer?
The transition for many physicians seems natural enough. We spend considerable portions of our professional lives documenting our patients’ stories. A smaller group of physicians, mostly those interested in academic medicine, expand their authorship by writing in medical journals. Even smaller groups, among which I count myself, transfer their interests in writing to non-medical topics.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
The Abraham Man is a purposely evocative title. I suspect that many people, solely based on that title, would be curious about the book’s contents. I further suspect that most readers would never equate the title with malingering [pretending to be ill]. Yet in fact, The Abraham Man is all about medical malingering. The premise of this book is that malingering propelled the growth and development of modern day neurology and psychiatry.
So how did that come about?
In 19th-century America, shortly after the civil war, lawyers increasingly sought the services of physicians in all manner of criminal and civil cases. This was fertile ground for malingering, be it to escape criminal punishment or receive a large monetary award. “The Abraham Man” was a derisive term commonly used for hundreds of years to label malingerers. The term was lost in common parlance maybe a hundred years ago but resurrected in the title The Abraham Man. The Abraham Man carefully lays the foundation upon which the premise is built through fascinating civil and criminal cases of the era which prominently showcased malingering.
What inspired you to write it?
I have an interest in psychiatry, forensics, history, and the military. Malingering is at the intersection of those interests.
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?
I think people nowadays would conclude that malingerers are nothing more than polished medical con artists. There is another side, though. Much as a clever criminal forces a detective to adopt more ingenious methods of discovery, so does malingering force such accommodations in medical practice. The ability to separate the real from the fabricated is particularly important in medical legal practice.
How is your book different from others on the market?
I am not aware of any other book written on the premise that malingering – paradoxically — has social value. I bolster this position throughout The Abraham Man through the use of 19th-century civil and criminal cases which prominently showcase malingering. The cases are like time capsules, too, illustrating as they do the social forces of the time.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
The book is available online in both hard copy and soft cover through Algora Publishing and Books A Million. The soft cover is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
What is up next for you?
I alternate my writing and public speaking between purely medical topics and historical issues.