Why would a man born in Hungary and living on Manhattan's Lower East Side run down Delancey Street ranting "I'm king of the Puerto Ricans"?
What would compel a physically healthy woman to persuade surgeons to operate on her more than a dozen times?
How was it possible for a man wearing a straitjacket to commit suicide within a locked psychiatric ward while in the company of a well-trained guard?
Though these and the other stories in this volume read like fiction, each is true.
Former practicing psychiatrist Mark Rubinstein opens the door and takes the reader deep into the world of mental illness. From the chaos of a psychiatric emergency room to the bowels of a maximum security prison, the stories range from bizarre to poignant and the people from noble to callously uncaring.
Bedlam's Door depicts the challenges mental illness poses for patients, their families, health-care professionals, and society. More importantly, it demystifies the subject while offering real hope.
Mark Rubinstein graduated from NYU with a degree in business. He then served in the army as a field medic tending to paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. After discharge, he re-entered NYU as a premed student.
As a medical student at the State University of New York, he developed an interest in psychiatry, discovering in that specialty the same thing he realized in reading fiction: every patient has a compelling story to tell. He became a board-certified psychiatrist.
In addition to his private practice he became a forensic psychiatrist because of the drama and conflict in the courtroom. He also taught psychiatric residents, interns, psychologists, and social workers at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and became a clinical assistant professor at Cornell University’s medical school.
He is a contributor to Psychology Today and The Huffington Post.
Before turning to fiction, Rubinstein coauthored five medical self-help books: The First Encounter: The Beginnings in Psychotherapy (Jason Aronson); The Complete Book of Cosmetic Facial Surgery (Simon and Schuster); New Choices: the Latest Options in Treating Breast Cancer (Dodd Mead); Heartplan: A Complete Program for Total Fitness of Heart & Mind (McGraw-Hill), and The Growing Years: A Guide to Your Child’s Emotional Development from Birth to Adolescence (Atheneum).
Rubinstein's high-octane thriller Mad Dog House was a finalist for the 2012 ForeWord Book Of The Year Award for suspense/thrillers. His 2nd thriller, Love Gone Mad, was published in September 2013 and his novella, The Foot Soldier (November 2013) won the Silver award in the 2014 Benjamin Franklin Awards competition, in the Popular Fiction category. His novel Mad Dog Justice (September 2014), tagged as a "pulse-pounding tale of post-modern paranoia," is a finalist for the 2014 ForeWord Book of the Year Award. His novella, Return to Sandara, won the Gold Medal for suspense/thrillers in the 2015 IPPY Awards. The Lovers' Tango, is a medical and legal thriller about which Michael Connelly said, "The tension on these pages never lets you go. Rubinstein is a born storyteller." The Lovers' Tango has won the Gold Award in Popular Fiction for this year's 2016 IPPA Benjamin Franklin Award.
Bedlam's Door: True Tales of Madness and Hope, was published in September 2016. Beyond Bedlam's Door: True Tales from the Couch and Courtroom was published on May 15, 2017.
Rubinstein's new book MAD DOG VENGEANCE, the 3rd in the Mad Dog Series, will be out on October 15, 2017.
The first story, King of the Puerto Ricans, was an excellent intro to the book. The King of the Puerto Ricans, a Hungarian carpenter, was suffering from PTSD that had been delayed by 40 years. He had been in Auschwitz, the only surviving member of his family, and not until he could no longer work due to injury, did the PTSD hit home. It put me in mind of Primo Levi, the Nobel-prize winning author of Survival in Auschwitz who committed suicide 40 years after the camp too. I suppose the horrors of such a time, and knowing that your family have all been murdered by the Nazis, eventually catches up with you. But not everyone.
Years ago, my mother used to voluntary work in old age homes and I used to go along sometimes. There was a lady, Dolly, she was 90 and very fit. She used to wear a lot of makeup and the lipstick and blue eye-shadow were often smeared. She was after men! She was as cheery as they come and when I asked her why she didn't stay in with the other residents, she said, "If I don't do this now, when will I? I didn't have the opportunity when I was young." (She got plenty of old men too!)
The rest of the book was meh. The stories were told like the telling of a very long-winded joke that you get bored with until the punch line and then you think, 'all that just led up to that. The patients and their problems chosen weren't interesting to me, and the writing was as ordinary as it comes.
The tales in this volume about people with mental illnesses read like fiction–just like the blurb says. Ever since the publication of his first novel, MAD DOG HOUSE, I’ve been virtually “stalking” this author and await each new book with great anticipation. After three crime thriller novels and a couple of novellas here comes his first non-fiction work.
Mark Rubinstein is a trained psychiatrist and in this capacity had worked in clinics as well as operated a private practice. He had appeared in court as an expert on psychiatric and psychological issues and authored forensic assessments after meeting defendants in prison. One could say, with a clear conscience, that this man knows what he’s talking about when it comes to mental illness.
A book intended for laypeople about those illnesses can easily become a tedious matter when overloaded with medical jargon or written by someone who simply cannot write. Fortunately, this is not the case here. Mark Rubinstein’s professional expertise paired with his talent to write thrilling stories result in an engrossing and–dare I say?–entertaining read. The cases depicted in BEDLAM’S DOOR are real, but names, locations, and time-frames have been altered, so that inferences to the people involved are impossible. Each chapter is divided into two parts: the actual story, usually the interaction between the patient and the “shrink”, is followed by an afterword in which the respective case is discussed and placed into the broader picture of psych-science. While the story-parts could very well serve as a nucleus for longer, fictional, stories, the afterthoughts are necessary too in my opinion. Here the author not only fills in some gaps but also doesn’t hold back with criticism.
The most interesting tales for me where the ones in which the author had to appear in court as an expert witness. Mark Rubinstein just has a knack to deliver this kind of courtroom-drama that I already appreciated in his novella THE LOVERS’ TANGO.
The final chapter is called “A brief last word” and it’s too brief for me. In it the author wraps up and provides a rather short history of how mental illnesses had been dealt with in the past. From the “madman’s towers” in the middle ages, the superstitions and exorcisms, the fruitless attempts to cure by lobotomies and aggressive ECT (as depicted in Ken Kesey’s famous novel), the “loony bins”, “nuthouses”, and “insane asylums” all the way to today’s efforts the stigma of mental illnesses pretty much remains in the heads of many people, even though great progress has been made in the last years. This book should help to de-stigmatize mental illnesses and see them for what they are.
"Bedlam's Door" is a non-fiction book that focuses on stories from Mark Rubinstein's career as a psychiatrist. The brain is an amazing thing that does not always act like it should. Rubinstein explores some of the various mental illnesses he has treated through case studies. He has had a long career and the stories seem to span his entire career.
Mental illness is a serious issue that poses a threat to public health. Although the treatment of some mental illnesses have seemed to advance over the years, Rubinstein points out that there is still a long way to go in order to fully understand some mental illnesses and treat them effectively. The case studies in this book from people dealing with severe depression to schizophrenia.
One of the case studies that pulled me in the most was about a woman who was convinced that there was something wrong with her and got doctors to conduct multiple surgeries on her when there really was not anything wrong. This woman had lost a twin when she was very young and that even had affected her in such a way that it channeled into her perceiving herself to be in massive pain all of the time. I can't imagine going through such a
The writing of the book was enjoyable. There were some sections of the book that could have been scaled down more as they got very wordy and delved into the telling, rather than showing realm. I liked how the chapters were broken down by case study, which made it very easy to follow the book!
Why would a man born in Hungary and living on Manhattan's Lower East Sid run down Delancey Street ranting, "I'm king of the Puerto Ricans"? What would compel a physically healthy woman to persuade surgeons to operate on her more than a dozen times? Though these and these and the other stories in this volume read like fiction, each is true. Former practicing psychiatrist Mark Rubinstein opens the door and takes the reader deep into the world of mental illness. From the chaos of a psychiatric emergency room to a maximum security prison, the stories range from bizarre to poignant and the people from noble to callously uncaring. Bedlam's Door depicts the challenges mental illness poses for patients, their families, health-care professionals and society. More importantly, it demystifies the subject while offering real hope.
"Psychotherapy is both an art and a science."
Bedlam's Door begins with a brief forward giving a brief rundown about the book and it's author, followed by a preface from the author. The book is broken down into 14 case studies, followed by a glossary of terms, which would be helpful for anyone who isn't familiar with mental illness or psychology. Most of the case studies begin when the patient is admitted or the first time that the author meet them. He then briefly explains what is going on with them and the chapter proceeds to explaining more about the situation or person, while giving dialogue from conversations. Each case study ends with an afterward, where the author explains a bit more about the individual and the mental illness they were suffering from. While I found all of the case studies to be unique and interesting, I enjoyed "A Deeper Cut", the last case study in the book to be the most interesting, as I previously had not read about that particular mental illness.
"One Hundred people suffering from a similar condition, for instance depression, will have one hundred different stories to tell."
Before I continue my review, I do want to say that I am a big advocate for mental illness education and awareness, so if I sound a bit intense about anything that is why. I really enjoyed this book; I previously have not read anything involving case studies of actual patients and I found it to be very interesting. The author presents it in a way that would be easy to read and understand by someone who was not familiar with the area of psychology. My one issue with the book is the use of the word "mad" and "madness". I only briefly studies psychology in college, I have a degree in Anthropology, but I do know words such as mad, madness, insane and crazy are not actually psychological terms. Right in the first case study the author uses the term "mad" and "mad odyssey" which I wasn't a fan of. I image that when he is using the term "mad" or "madness" he is referring to delusions or hallucinations. These terms are also often used to describe things like psychosis or dissociation as well. I just prefer when authors, whether it is a book, blog post or article, use the correct scientific terms when referring to mental illness. It teaches the public to not use words like mad, crazy or insane and helps reduce the stigma of mental illness.
Speaking of reducing stigma, the authors talks about this in the last chapter before the glossary and I thought that was great. Like I said, I am a big advocate for mental illness awareness and education. The case studies themselves help explain mental illness in a way that I hope does bring awareness and education to people who were formally uneducated or unaware of these type of disorders. I really liked that the author wrapped up the book by addressing that all of the mental illnesses described in the book are real diseases and "not in your head". Overall, it was a very interesting book and I think that a great deal of readers will find this book to be both interesting and educational. Thank you to the publisher for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Happy reading!
Although case studies are a well-recognized form of scholarship, in the nonfiction aisles of retail bookstores it can become a sobriquet for “war stories.” Their presence and popularity grew immensely with the popularity of books by neurologist Oliver Sacks. Many authors, though, have difficulty equalling his prowess.
Mark Rubinstein deftly avoids the many pitfalls of the genre in Beyond Bedlam's Door: True Tales from the Couch and Courtroom, his second book of vignettes from his four decades as a psychiatrist. It follows the same format of his first such book, last year's Bedlam's Door:True Tales of Madness and Hope. Both tell the stories of a variety of patients, each followed by an "Afterword" addressing the particular issues or conditions at play. In this way Rubinstein seeks to not only make each patient's story personal and relatable but to explain psychiatric conditions and their ramifications for the individual, their family and society.
Bedlam's Door, a term used when an emergency room becomes "a revolving carousel of psychosis," portrays patients Rubinstein encountered at various medical facilities. Beyond Bedlam's Door is just what its title and subtitle suggest: accounts of his work outside the institutional setting, whether treating someone in private practice or as a forensic psychiatrist.
Rubinstein uses an almost parable-like approach in the 21 stories in Beyond Bedlam's Door to illustrate the diversity of psychiatric issues and what psychiatrists do. Among the topics he explores are professional malpractice, the difficulty of treating adolescents, the importance of doctor-patient boundaries and the difference between crossing those boundaries and violating them. His method of recounting patient histories in the form of reconstructed conversations provides a foundation by which Beyond Bedlam's Door intelligibly explains and demystifies a variety of mental health issues, from panic attacks to depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. More important, Rubinstein shows that the stories of his patients really weave “a tapestry of human thinking, feeling and behavior” in which “we see reflections of ourselves.”
Rubinstein's background as a forensic psychiatrist -- a psychiatrist who works with attorneys, courts, or other parties involved in actual or potential litigation -- also allows him to provide an inside view of the interplay between law and psychiatry. He furnishes easy to understand explanations of various psychiatric issues in the law. For example, Beyond Bedlam's Door concisely and coherently spells out the recurring question in workers' compensation cases of "physical-mental" and "mental-mental" injuries. Likewise, he describes the job of an expert witness, the so-called "gunslinger" expert and how forensic evaluations differ from evaluating a patient for treatment.
Beyond Bedlam's Door sporadically repeats information from Rubinstein's prior book, at times verbatim. To be fair, that likely is simply the nature of the beast when it comes to describing and explaining mental health conditions. Some may also be put off by the fact that while the reconstructed dialogue makes the book more literary, it can also feel artificial. That said, Beyond Bedlam's Door is a top-notch look at the reality and relevance of psychiatry in today's America.
I found the stories in this book to be fascinating and at the same time very enlightening. I have read many books where the author has been an expert on the subject matter that they were writing about. This is where I can encounter a problem as the author can sometimes come off as showoffish by using big words and long winded explanations that are way over my head. This causes my reading experiences to be difficult. Yet, this was not the case with this book. Dr. Rubinstein had a nice way of explaining the cases in a way that I was able to understand and even learn from.
I have always said that I could not be a psychologist because I did not really have the patience for people. After reading this book I do applaud Dr. Rubinstein and others like him that do have that patience and compassion for the people in need like the ones in this book. Although, these people are not always special cases but more common then me or anyone else is really aware of. Therefore, the reason that I do support the need for better access and treatment for mental illnesses. With each case, Dr. Rubinstein would at the end of each one give an afterword that would include an update on the patient as well as explain the cause and even how someone like me could look for signs to help someone early on get the treatment they needed. This book is one that people can learn from.
A terrific book for people studying psychology and for everyone interested in mental illness and the medical world.
Mark Rubinstein, MD, is a novelist, physician, and psychiatrist. His ability to tell a story with vivid details is what makes this book great. This book reads very much like a compilation of short stories, but the difference is that each of these stories actually happened.
As the description on the back of the book reads: "Bedlam's Door depicts the challenges mental illness poses for patients, their families, health-care professionals, and our society."
Some lines from the book that really struck me include:
"If I could tear open my chest, and if you could lick my heart, it would poison you." (page 15)
"Four times as many women as men attempt suicide, yet four times as many men succeed in killing themselves." (page 25)
"I'd grown accustomed to the medley of moans, groans, shrieks, and rantings of a nighttime psychiatric ward." (page 34)
I highly recommend this book for its excellent writing and the glimpse it gives readers into the world of mental illness.
This book tells it like it is. I have worked for a mental health company for the past three and a half years working as a daily living assistant to client's with diagnosis including severe depression, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Schizophrenia and taken classes in Mental Health which would allow me to function as a case manager within the system. This book gives incredible insight into theses illnesses and also gives some insight into how our American mental health system is dysfunctional and in desperate need of repair.
Dr. Mark Rubinstein is a physician and psychiatrist, but in his heart, he is a storyteller. He has published several novels and medical nonfiction works over the years in addition to practicing psychiatry. Bedlam's Door, his newest book, is a series of reminiscences about patients he encountered through his years as a psychiatric resident and then in his private practice.
Each chapter of Bedlam's Door is a case study, from a Hungarian man who thinks that he is the King of the Puerto Ricans, to a suicidal woman suffering from post traumatic shock following the death of her husband. Each story is unique, heartbreaking, and eloquently told. Rubinstein says: "It's really quite ironic. I fell in love with psychiatry because each patient—through sharing human commonalities—has a uniquely personal story." Following each case study, Rubinstein outlines the diagnosis and the pathology, or the reason for the treatment. Often he offers a postscript to the story about how the patient fared following treatment. The after words are extremely valuable to help the reader understand the case.
My favorite story concerns a man named "Mr. Smith" who was brought to the hospital by the police. He had been hanging around a famous New York hotel, saying that he had plenty of money and that he wanted to rent a suite at the hotel. He was dressed in expensive, although worn out, clothing and was carrying a large briefcase and said that he had a lot of money inside. He looked around the hospital and decided that instead of the fancy hotel, he wanted to rent a room in the hospital. Dr. Rubinstein played along with the charade all the while trying to assess Mr. Smith's mental stability. But it was not until Mr. Smith opened the briefcase to show the money—thousands of dollars of Monopoly money—that Dr. Rubinstein concluded that Mr. Smith really did need a room in the hospital.
Patricia, the suicidal woman suffering from post traumatic stress following her husband's death, had been under treatment for several weeks when Dr. Rubinstein visited her and found her much calmer and more in control of her life. He mentioned that what she had needed was a chance to begin healing. Her response spoke volumes. "Thank you for not letting me make a permanent decision in a temporary frame of mind."
The tag line of Bedlam's Door is True Tales of Madness and Hope. Rubinstein illustrates graphically how there is almost always hope—hope that comes with intense counseling and balanced medicine. This is the great value of the book; while the stories are fascinating, the upbeat tone and implicit sense of hope pervades everything.
I have been trying to think about who benefits most from reading Bedlam's Door. Certainly it would be valuable for medical students deciding whether to pursue careers in psychiatry, but it would also be valuable for families facing psychiatric treatment for loved ones. Dr. Rubinstein's message of hope will resonate in many settings.
Linda Fairstein, a well known novelist, recommends Bedlam's Door. “Bedlam’s Door is a riveting read about madness and mental illness. Mark Rubinstein—award-winning novelist, physician, and psychiatrist—is the perfect guide for this journey through the mysteries of the mind, from despair to hope, and he does it in brilliant form. If you enjoy psychology, crime fiction, a good story, and forensics, this is a must-read book.”
I often find medical non-fiction interesting and really enjoy reading true stories of medical anomalies or stories where patients overcame medical struggles. In BEDLAM'S DOOR, stories of mental illness are told through the eyes of a psychiatrist. Rubinstein shares patients he met while working in a hospital, often meeting the patient as they arrive in the ER via their own admission, through the police, or admitted by concerned family members.
In these true stories, patients are dealing with a myriad of mental psychosis including depression, OCD, and PTSD to name a few. Many of them were living their every day life until something happened to change that chemical balance in their lives. Whether it was a traumatic event, unforeseen stressor, or long buried illness, these patients hit a breaking point and were unable to continue to manage their symptoms on their own.
Even though Rubinstein only sees them at the beginning stages of their admission, he is able to give an update through checking in with co-workers and following the case at least until discharge in most cases. The stories are short, with each chapter featuring a new patient. He offers a bit of background and a review of their initial conversation upon admission. These case studies give readers an understanding of how out of control the disease of mental illness can be and how scary it can be for both the patient and for their family.
I can see those who may know someone suffering from mental illness would find these stories comforting and yet fascinating. In nearly all of these cases, the inpatient and outpatient treatment helped them move forward in their lives and get past the issues that brought the mental illness to the surface.
This book was okay...it wasn't the greatest writing in the world, and though it is obvious that Rubenstein knows his psychology, and has intense passion for what he does, for me, something was missing. I've read many books by Oliver Sacks. His books are very special, as was his compassion. I met him at the University of Pittsburgh once. I was seated up front, and as a Deaf person, I used an interpreter. He came up after the talk...he had just finished his book on the Deaf community. There was something in his face and in his writing that just came across so well...he was very unique. When I saw that reviewers were were comparing Rubenstein to Sacks, of course, I was curious. But it definitely wasn't the same. Sack's books are classics. They describe the human condition. Rubenstein's books are straight-forward telling of what his patient's are going through. It isn't to say his stories were not interesting. They were. But the story in the telling is more than just the bald facts. I think Rubenstein tried to make the cases come alive...but they never reached that point for me.
Bedlams Door Mark Rubinstein Mark Rubinstein has been a psychologist for years. He is treating his readers to his vast experiences working in mental hospitals and crisis units in the emergency ward. There are sad stories to tell and ones filled with the hope of recovery. The most humorous story I read was THE HEAD DOCTOR about a patient who just wanted to be treated like a human not just patient x. The stories are poignant like THE KING OF THE PUERTO RICANS. Dr. Rubinstein writes with pathos and an understanding of the human condition. I will happily give BEDLAMS DOOR 5 stars and recommend it to healthcare professionals.
Insightful look into the mysteries and curiosities of mental illness, a disease that continues to confound the afflicted, their families and friends and the medical profession. Mark Rubinstein is a psychiatrist and a kind and thoughtful man whose dedication to the practice of psychiatry and the patients he encountered shines through in his new book Bedlam's Door.
This book was very thought-provoking and insightful. The stories told were both funny and tragic, shocking, yet true. I really loved how the author weaved many stories together into one book. The author did a fabulous job tying everything up neatly and succinctly.
As entertaining as it is informative. Easy to read, but still masterfully written. This is THE book to give to that friend or family member who doesn't quite get the concept of mental illness. It can even help those of us who suffer with this disease.
Psychology has always been fascinating to me and sadly I was unable to heed my calling and heart's desire to heal the world of emotional/mental anguish or even make a dent in it. LOL...That said...I really enjoyed this book (and the author has more books continuing in the same vein as this one) and found myself connecting and even identifying with the patients (Hello?! If that ain't a lil' scary!!!!!) and the psychiatrists in the vignettes. Mark Rubenstein managed to show the gamut of every emotion, from each person's POV. I felt the humor in the WORST case scenarios. I felt the disappointment when the BEST case scenarios collapsed at their feet. I'll be following Mark Rubenstein and will "PATIENT----LY" (HA-HA-HE -HE-WOOOO!!!!! I made a funny..lol) await whatever he puts out next!!!!😋
I really like this author and downloaded books that he wrote. In this one I soon realized this wasn’t fiction. I thought I wouldn’t read it. But then I thought I’d give the doctor a fair shake and read. At first I thought the stories weren’t rocket science, but that didn’t stop me from finishing the book. I now have a high respect for psychology.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s an insider view of working in psychiatric hospital. The stories shared are surprising, I really like reading true stories where I have no idea how they will end. I also appreciated his reflection at the end of each story where he explains more about the science and context of the story.
Only complaint, I wish each story was a little longer.