The Collected Works of John Suler


Strange Adentures of a Psychology Intern


Is the therapist a madman, or is the madman a therapist?

Based on real life experiences and written by an internationally recognized expert in emerging fields of psychology, Madman immerses the reader into the world of a psychology intern working on the psychiatric unit of a modern teaching hospital.

With irreverent humor, a surreal imagination, and undercurrents of eastern philosophy, this coming-of-age novel captures the point of view of a young clinical psychologist, Thomas Holden. A keen observer with a comic eye, Holden’s ongoing musings about his strange experiences with patients and staff expose both the absurdity and the idealism inherent in psychotherapy.

The Story

The depressed patient Holden discharged was run over by a mail truck. Was it suicide? Is he responsible for her death? His new patient Richard Mobin is an obese, rather disgusting, and violent schizophrenic who drowns baby birds and thinks that men in raincoats are trying to kill him. If that isn't enough to handle, Holden is assigned yet another difficult patient - a "John Doe" who apparently has no memory or identity, whom police found wandering the highway, collecting and burying road kill. Ultimately overwhelmed, Holden wonders whether rational knowledge can truly grasp the human mind, and whether he himself is losing his grip on reality.

The Un-Textbook for Teaching Psychology

As a professor of psychology, John Suler kept his own psychology students in mind while writing the novel. Holden’s story helps them understand the professional and personal life of the psychologist in training, while excerpts from his journal interspersed throughout the novel encourage students to understand important and controversial issues concerning mental health and psychotherapy. Suler’s students rave about this unique “un-textbook” that is nothing like any of the standard texts for teaching psychopathology and psychotherapy:

“It pulled me in from beginning to end!... Hilarious!”

“It puts everything we’re learning {in class} into perspective."

“One of the best novels I have read in college.” “An informative glimpse into the world of the psychologist. It gave a clear impression of what life is like as an intern on a psychiatric unit.”

“I loved the character Thomas Holden. He was amazing. I would be reading along and then all of a sudden he would say something so outrageous or funny that I would have to highlight the sentence or reread it.”

“It’s really intriguing to see the therapist’s point of view rather than the patient’s.”

“I have a better view of graduate school, being an intern and what to expect (oh boy!)”

“I liked every aspect of this book. It kept me wanting to read more. I never wanted to put it down.”

Professors love Madman

Students gain an understanding and respect for the complexity of our field and the rigors of clinical practice. Their career choices are informed by deeper knowledge of the adventures that would await them in their graduate training, internship and clinical practice. The events taking place in the story, as well as short essays written by the intern Thomas Holden in his journal, explore a wide variety of concepts in psychopathology and psychotherapy.

Madman Integrates into Your Syllabus

John Suler also has prepared a free instructor teaching packet that describes a variety of discussion formats and exercises revolving around the plot, characters, and themes of Madman.

Psychology Topics Explored in Madman

The Profession of Psychology

- the lifestyle of the psychology graduate student and intern
- the various motivations for becoming a psychotherapist
- life in a psychiatric unit of a teaching hospital, including morning report, grand rounds, intake interviews, admission and discharge, reports, community meetings, and the use of isolation
- the relationships among different mental health professionals
- the training of the psychologist vs the psychiatrist
- psychoanalytic institutes
- the psychological and social significance of coffee among professionals
- how the psychotherapist relates to family and friends
- publishing in psychology
- burn-out among professionals

Mental Health and Illness

- defining normal vs abnormal
- the prevalence of mental illness
- test battery interpretation, including the MMPI and Rorschach
- the DSM and the process of diagnosis
- the mental status exam
- depression, schizophrenia, cognitive disorders, borderline disorders
- personality styles (compulsive, schizotypal, narcissistic, etc.)
- stress reactions, insomnia, suicidal symptoms and assessment
- the role of family relations in mental health
- dreams and dream states
- catatonia and amnesia
- identity, selfobjects, and the sense of self
- ambivalence and conflict
- secondary gain

Mental Health Therapies

- inpatient vs outpatient treatment
- treatment of patients with severe psychiatric disorders
- psychoanalytic therapy
- analytic neutrality, transference and countertransference
- ways to conceptualize the role of the psychotherapist
- the role of confidentiality in psychotherapy
- mistakes psychotherapists make
- biological treatments, such as medications and ECT
- the effects of labeling
- the therapeutic aspects of journaling and fiction writing
- the therapeutic aspects of free association
- the therapeutic aspects of transcendent experiences
- computerized psychotherapy
- the I Ching as an eastern approach to personal growth

Psychological Theory

- psychoanalytic drive theory, behaviorism, and Jungian archetypes
- the debates among different psychological theories
- biological vs psychological explanations of the mind
- neuropsychology and physiological reductionism
- psychophysiological measures and lie detection
- scientism and the limits of science in understanding the mind
- artificial intelligence


BUY NOW on Amazon
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You can also order it for your class through your campus bookstore.

Ordering info:
MADMAN: Strange Adventures of a Psychology Intern, by John R. Suler, paperback, 5X8, 346 pages, ISBN 978-0-9842255-3-8, Publisher: True Center Publishing Available from Ingram and Baker & Taylor, $17.95


MADMAN is the 2010 Winner of the
Indie Next Generation Book Award
for First Novel


About the Author

John Suler is a writer, scholar, clinical psychologist, and Professor of Psychology at Rider University. Internationally recognized as an expert in emerging fields of psychology, he has published widely on topics related to eastern philosophy, psychotherapy, and cyberspace, including the book Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Eastern Thought (State University of New York Press) and his uniquely groundbreaking work The Psychology of Cyberspace, one of the first and most widely cited online hypertext books.

Suler’s popular websites include Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors and the innovative guide Teaching Clinical Psychology. Most recently, his lifelong passion for photography and the role of images in identity expression has led him to develop Photographic Psychology as a way to study how people create, share, and react to images.

Suler’s work has been translated into a dozen languages and reported widely by national and international media, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, US News and World Report and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Much of his work is available online, including his most recent work Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche. The author currently lives with his wife and two daughters in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


Madman is a genuine tour de force, maintaining an emotionally powerful grip on the reader while presenting an intellectually sound introduction to the world of clinical psychology. In the context of an action-packed suspenseful novel Professor Suler presents the fundamental theoretical and historical foundations of clinical psychology side by side with the real-world practical problems that challenge the wisdom of the theories. This is a good read for all mental health professionals and anyone who is contemplating becoming one. I couldn’t put it down until it ended, and I had a hard time letting go when it did.”

- Edward S. Katkin, Leading Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry, Stony Brook University

"A delightful must-read for students who are training to become mental health professionals. Suler's prose is engaging and filled with dialogue that makes for an easy identification with Thomas Holden, the intern and protagonist, who discovers parts of himself through interactions with cagey, cranky, and caring staff, and a caseload that challenges Holden's compassion, insight, humor, and humanity.... There are "teaching points" embedded throughout the dialogue as Holden struggles to understand his clients, his colleagues, and his own experiences. This is the type of book that can kick-start classroom discussions and provide a very nice adjunct to standard psychotherapy texts."

- Jed Yalof, PsyD, ABPP. Professor & Chair, Dept. of Graduate Psychology, Coordinator, PsyD, Program in Clinical Psychology, Immaculata University

"A breathtakingly accurate depiction of the challenges and disturbances facing psychology interns...This is a most dramatic, engrossing, and intellectually engaging novel. Suler makes the challenges of beginning work as a psychotherapist, particularly with a difficult and demanding population, fascinating and recognizable... the intellectual debates are important and cogent."

- Merle Molofsky, psychoanalyst, Board of Directors, International Forum of Psychoanalytic Education, Co-editor, Other/wise


FULL REVIEW by Merle Molofsky
Published 7/11/10 for the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education IFPE book reviews section

Media / Press Kit (pdf)

Sample Chapters (pdf)

Free Instructor Packet (pdf)