While case studies and clinical research papers can give one a factual insight into the hardships of those suffering under the yolk of mental illness, a local author and doctor is seeking to cast a revealing light upon such maladies in a far more accessible way to the general public.
Dr. Jeffrey Deitz of Massapequa is a licensed psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who has been working in the field for 40 years and counting. His debut as a fiction author, Intensive Therapy: A Novel, was published on June 16 by Greenleaf Book Group out of Texas. The book is currently available both in print and digital forms online via marketplaces such as Amazon and at select brick-and-mortar retailers nationwide such as Barnes and Noble.
“The relationship, when it works, can be life-saving,” he said. “A lot of people have misconceptions, that they just go in and talk to a therapist, but that’s not true; illness can kill and therapy can save lives.”
The way that is illustrated in the book, according to Deitz, is by showing the relationship between a woman and her doctor over a number of years and how, by working together, they can save both her and her family.
Deitz’s novel, while a work of fiction, nonetheless draws heavily upon his many years of experience in the treatment of mental disorders. After writing several research papers on psychology throughout his career, he said that the idea to actually compose a fictionalized tale arose after being exposed to a new audience by writing and publishing several newspaper articles.
“My audience stopped being professionals and I started talking to everyday people,” he said. “My writing changed. My interest in the brain and the mind didn’t change, but who I was writing to did, so that meant learning how to be more journalistic and out of that grew a natural urge to tell a story of mine. The fiction medium, as opposed to simply writing case histories, allows the writer the liberty of getting inside the mind of the patient and the therapist and their relationship that you can’t do in any other form.”
However, actually learning how to craft a dramatic tale—as opposed to a detached, factual case study—took some effort and learning on his part, Deitz said. His book, from start to finish, took him a number of years to compose, refine and complete.
What initially attracted Deitz to the world of psychotherapy as a career in life was an early interest in chemistry and the mind, he said.
“I wanted to learn how the mind and brain worked and it seemed to me that if I was going to be a doctor, the field of study that was going to be the most natural for my interest would be the treatment of the brain,” he said. “The treatment of the brain and emotional disorders takes you right into psychiatry and it’s been beyond fulfilling for me. For someone that has interest in the biology of the brain and the psychology of the mind, to be able to put those two together…I get paid to do something that I’m intrinsically interested in and that I enjoy.”
Thus far, early response to his novel has been wildly positive, Deitz said, with rave reviews coming both from the mental health community and casual readers alike.
“Professionals are saying that it’s a great insider’s peek into how therapy really works,” he said. “As far as readers go, one review notes ‘I got lost in the story, I didn’t want it to end, I’m sorry that I had to leave the characters, and I learned a lot about myself.’ They get vicarious therapy by reading this book. People are finally getting it.”
Deitz has been on the promotional circuit locally, doing book signings and readings to help get the word out about the novel. In addition, he is already laying the groundwork for a sequel that would mark the return of the protagonist in his debut, Dr. Jonas Speller, but this time the story would be told from the viewpoint of one of his patients as opposed to his own.
But regardless of where his newfound career path takes him in the future, Deitz hopes that his book is not only entertaining and engaging for readers, but that it may belay some misconceptions about the role of psychotherapy in treating mental illness and, as a result, prompt people on the fence to seek out help that they may have been avoiding otherwise.
“I’m not just proud…to me it’s exactly what I had hoped for,” he said. “I worked hard along with the publisher on every aspect of the book and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that I was able to do this and make it a reality.”
To find out more, visit www.jeffreydeitz.com. PsychologistBook_070315B