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Mount Misery

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  501 ratings  ·  37 reviews
From the Laws of Mount Misery:

There are no laws in psychiatry.

Now, from the author of the riotous, moving, bestselling classic, The House of God, comes a lacerating and brilliant novel of doctors and patients in a psychiatric hospital. Mount Misery is a prestigious facility set in the rolling green hills of New England, its country club atmosphere maintained by generous co
Paperback, 576 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

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It took me a lonnngggg time and many stops and starts to get through this book but in the end, it was okay. The book is about a doctor doing his residency in a psych hospital and all the crazy patients he deals with. Of course, the craziest people turn out to be the doctors. Some of the stuff about how the doctors would change patient's diagnoses to get the maximum from insurance is funny but also really disturbing too-I have a feeling it's not all made up.
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I had never heard of Mount Misery by Samuel Shem, but my buddy EJack was giving it away in his moving "sale," and who am I to turn down a free book?
I found this review/synopsis from the School Library Journal at Amazon (which is important, I think, that it's the SCHOOL Library Journal):
Roy Basch, protagonist of House of God (Dell, 1981), has survived his internship and now begins his three-year training at the aptly named Mount Misery, a posh New England psychiatric hospital. Things get off to a
Dark and heavy. Fans of The House Of God should not expect the same kind of hilarious exhuberance from the author in this sequel; there is too much real human pain and suffering here. But this novel feels more mature and is much more likely to stay with readers, I think. (It has been a decade since I read this book and I'm STILL affected by it.)
A lot of people don't think this book is "as good" as House of God. It might not be. It's certainly not as *classic* as its prequel, and I feel there's a bit too much trying to be packed into <600 pages than can be comfortably introduced, explored, and resolved, but my five star rating isn't meant to relay an objective perspective. I loved reading it, I love to read Shem/Bergman's work, and sometimes his descriptions are juicy, robust, and just perfect. Other times I can feel they're a bit st ...more
Dec 28, 2010 Elizabeth rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Elizabeth by: A friend
Shelves: fiction, drama, comedy
Try as I might, I cannot help but see Mount Misery as a repeat of the events in its predecessor, The House of God. Granted, the tone of the novel itself is a little bit grimmer, the humour a bit darker than it was before, but what hasn’t changed is the main character’s journey into the seedier side of hospital bureaucracy, staff cynicism, corruption and drug embezzlement. This has all been encountered in Shem’s last novel, The House God. The bawdy jokes and the tongue-in-cheek impishness which m ...more
This is the sequel to The House of God: The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital (the classic medical intern novel). It's dense, somewhat all-over-the-place, occasionally fluid with consciousness, pretty hippie & a lot like its predecessor. [This is immaterial, but the book starts out weird because House of God ends during Watergate & Mount Misery picks up a year later... somehow during the Clinton administration...?] The main character Roy then embarks on a "new" adve ...more
I initially loved this book for about the first 100 pages, probably simply because, as a 2nd year psychiatry resident, I just don't run across enough satire of psychiatry residency programs, unless it's generated by my peers and myself. So on those grounds alone, I was enthusiastic about it. However, the author really tried too hard to be clever, and made such extremely stereotyped parodies of his characters that they weren't even human enough to care about. The main character was far from compe ...more
Cory Lewkowicz
I really enjoyed this book - points to the foibles of psychiatry/psychology, especially when each method of treatment is taken to its extreme. It was hard to get into - took the first hundred pages or so - and I found the names he used to be really pretty hokey. That said, I really liked his underlying message.
It's a continuation of Roy Bausch, the young doctor from "House of God". After a year of travelling the world with his lover, Berry, he's decided psychiatry is the way to go. The book is about his first year of residency at Mount Misery, a fictional "best hospital for the mentally ill". As he goes through each of the departments in rotation, he seems to take on the general attitude of it - none of them real. His personal and professional life falls apart. How he gets it all back together is pret ...more
I found this book thought provoking and interesting but could not finish it because of the harshness, intensity and length. It is a parody and expose of institutional psychiatry told through the eyes of a fictional first year psychiatric resident. Full of black humor and extreme characters, the book makes one begin to wonder if all therapists are WAY more crazy than the people they treat. Perhaps I’ll go back and read House of God, the author’s previous novel about internship first, and then try ...more
Brianna Murray
This book was very captivating at the beginning and end, but dragged a bit in the middle. It was interesting from a psychologists standpoint, but I think anyone else would get bored by the never ending prose of a clearly awkward main character. The main character was confused and rambled throughout the novel, leaving the reader wondering about his sanity many times. The facts in psychology were interesting, although not always factual. I would say it is an informative read, but difficult to comp ...more
Being in school when I was reading this, I don't think I gave it the attention it deserved. I really enjoyed this book, and talked about it to anyone who would listen - a sure sign of a great read! However, in the end I know that in order to give a fair review/opinion on it, I need to spend more time with it, which simply wasn't allotted for in school. I definitely recommend this to anyone who has ever been interested in psychology and has the ability to spend some time with it.
Greg Crites
If you look at the whole concept of psychiatry with mild chuckle, this book is for you. It is brutally dark humor—not laugh-out-loud funny. Still, you will come away with many things to consider, ponder, and carry with you. It's long, somewhat boring in sections, but worth the effort. I rate it a five as I can appreciate the level of intelligence behind this novel. This is consistently advanced thinking applied to the psychiatric industry.
Gave it four stars mainly for its honest and frighteningly realistic depiction of McLean hospital and Dr. Gunderson of borderline fame. To an outsider, the picture of mental health care may seem here to be an exaggeration, and it an extent. But several of the disturbing scenes were true to life, no doubt about it. The tawdry love affairs of the protagonist were dispensable, but the story kept my attention until the end.
Sequel to the House of God in which the doctor completes his residency in psychiatry. HORRIBLY DEPRESSING in some ways: when the shrinks in power aren't driving the sad, vulnerable patients to suicide or killing them with medication, they are are mind-fucking and just plain fuck-fucking them. But, worth getting to the end to see how the dude learns to cope with it all. Also, as a side note, explains why there are Jews.
Elizabeth Nesbit-comer
At times this book will blow your mind with the way he hilariously picks apart the mental health community. Each style of psychiatry is analyzed down and shown for all of it's absurdity. My favorite being the many diagnosis of split personalities and the crazy Freud lady. I will never be able to think about hospital mental health without picturing a couch...and bananas.
Dazzling wit and prose, a vivid journey through the landscape of psychiatry (Freud to pharmacology, introspection to insurance) but ultimately too grotesque, too cruel, too self righteous and too didactic.

Edit: author at talk upon questioning, reveals all the twisted, horrendous characters and the various tales of criminal and sadistic behavior are true.
The first two thirds of this book were difficult to read and I was tempted on so many occasions to throw the book away and start on something else After trudging through it, the last third got better and I'm glad I finished it. If I had it to do over again, I would skip this book.
Michelle Giger
Feb 16, 2010 Michelle Giger is currently reading it
I am reading it in german because I got it as a gift, which is slowing it down a bit and I think since I am taking a break from Psychiatry, I dont really want to read this but I can tell that when I am back doing psych I will want to read faster.
Elizabeth LeForge Yoder
I thought that I would love this just as much as, if not more than, House of God. Especially considering that it's about a psychiatry residency. But, alas, not as good of the first. Still, worth the read though.
Oct 18, 2007 Jeroen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: psychiatrists
Not as good as 'the house of God', yet entertaining. The end is to my taste a bit disappointing. It does however show that psychoanalysis leads to all kinds of a humorous yet cynical way...
Wow. Incredible book. A bit dense a times, and early on hard to follow with all of the character names, but overall very good. Makes you think and catches you by surprise.
Austen Rachlis
The House of God is one of my favorite books of all time, so I probably had some out-sized expectations for this book, but I found it slow and redundant with The House of God.
Tiesiausia ir stipriausia knyga apie žmogiškumą, lygiavertiškumą, pagarbą (ar to nebuvimą) dirbant psichiatrijoje.
Talpinant į vieną sakinį būtų "kaip šauksi, taip atsilieps"...
Really disappointing. I loved House of God, and was hoping for the same gallows humor and insight. Sadly, I was let down.
this book was great, really fun but also very maddening, a horrible depiction of the worlds most infamous psychiatric hospital!
Oct 02, 2012 Patricia marked it as to-read
I could not read this book. Way too involved for me right now. Will wait & try again later.
I need something a little lighter.
The theory in psychotherapy doesn't matter. What matters is the connection between people.
read this while in residency; kind of a rite of passage in medical training.
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Pen name of Stephen Joseph Bergman.
More about Samuel Shem...
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