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Obsession: The Bizarre Relationship Between a Prominent Harvard Psychiatrist and Her Suicidal Patient

Obsession: The Bizarre Relationship Between a Prominent Harvard Psychiatrist and Her Suicidal Patient

by Gary S. Chafetz, Morris E. Chafetz

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This heavily documented but not always convincing probe of a celebrated case attempts to exonerate psychiatrist Margaret Bean-Bayog of charges that her unorthodox treatment of Harvard Medical School student Paul Lozano led to his death by cocaine overdose in 1991. Lozano's family accused Bean-Bayog of luring her depressive patient into sadomasochistic sex that pushed him into suicide. But here, writing in the first person about the case and his coverage of it, Boston Globe reporter Gary Chafetz, drawing on counsel from his psychiatrist father as well as on exclusive interviews with Bean-Bayog, maintains that the psychiatrist's therapy-session notes apparently recording her violent sexual fantasies about Lozano were actually an expression of her counter-transference (her private feelings for her patient). The Chafetzes reject the Lozano family's claim that Bean-Bayog had sex with her patient or provided him with intense erotic stimulation. They portray Bean-Bayog, who in the aftermath of Lozano's death surrendered her medical license and settled a million-dollar lawsuit brought by his family, as a deeply caring, perhaps overzealous therapist who employed unusual techniques with a suicidal patient and who was subsequently victimized by the media and by the Massachusetts medical board under pressure to find her guilty. (For a less exculpatory version of the case, see Breakdown , reviewed below.) (Apr.)
Library Journal
Gary Chafetz and McNamara, both journalists for the Boston Globe, have written accounts of a notorious malpractice suit that made national headlines in 1992. The family of Paul Lozano, a Mexican American who attended Harvard Medical School, alleges that psychiatrist Margaret Bean-Bayog led the troubled Lozano into a state of infantile dependency-and, ultimately, suicide-by using unorthodox psychoanalytic ``regressive therapy.'' The Chafetzes' uneven narrative begins with an account of the first newscast aired in the wake of Lozano's death. Gary Chafetz, who describes sifting through public records and seeking interviews with principal characters, had little success until he gained interviews with Bean-Bayog. Many chapters consist solely of quotes from documents, press releases, and interviews interspersed with Gary's own brief comments or the occasional opinions of Morris, his psychiatrist father. The Chafetzes conclude that Bean-Bayog was manipulated by Lozano and betrayed by Boston's academic and psychiatric communities. In Breakdown, McNamara covers the suicide and its aftermath by interviewing Lozano's family and the colleagues and friends of Bean-Bayog. Examining complicated issues of transference, ethics, and malpractice, she argues-contrary to the Chafetzes-that the press and medical profession protected Bean-Bayog and vilified Lozano. If a choice must be made between these two titles, pick McNamara's account for its comprehensiveness. The titillating subject matter, though, will surely stir public interest, and most public libraries would do well to purchase both accounts.-Lucille Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.69(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

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