The Analyst Who Laughed to Death recounts Dr Reuben Moses’ last days as a therapist for suicidal, psychopathic, and depressed patients. Despite his geniality, Moses is tortured. His wife has an affair, exiling Moses to a tiny flat with his neurotic retriever, Jaffe-Jaffe.
His life is spent listening to intractable patients—to relieve tension Moses jogs city-streets at odd hours. He debates a radical theory, The Bubba Complex, where one’s childhood is shaped by the dominant Jewish Bubba.
Moses enters a final analysis with Oskar Pinsky, who battles Moses’ psyche unhinged by his help-rejecting mega-millionaire patient, Paula Blum (who is a Bubba doppelganger). Pinsky sleuths through Moses’ troubled post-Holocaust past, sexual misadventures, and impossible cases. Despite Pinsky’s efforts, Moses jokes away his suffering, dismissing feminists who are infuriated with his theory.
Following attacks on his car, office, and vicious assaults, the police order Moses to leave town. He laughs away warnings and travels to Montreal to present his Bubba Complex to jeering audiences. As Pinsky’s analysis proceeds, the reader sees Moses wrestling with past demons and an unseen enemy threatening to destroy him.
Written as a tragic-comic case-history, this novel, like Freud’s Wolf-Man, addresses the complexity of trauma, memory, and childhood love of a powerful woman. Set in present-day Toronto, Dr Moses represents a vanishing breed, a medical psychoanalyst exploring the meaning of patients’ suffering set against the current landscape of brief psychotherapy and overuse of drugs.
About the Author:
Ronald Ruskin is a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital, associate professor and training and supervising analyst at Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis. He has co-edited texts on psychotherapy supervision, as well as on humanities and medicine, such as his 2011 book Body and Soul. He is a founding editor of Ars Medica, a medical-humanities journal, published over forty-five stories in literary and medical journals, and written a thriller entitled The Last Panic, and The Analyst Who Laughed to Death, the tragic-comic story of a tormented analyst who never escaped childhood.