BY DAVID VISCOTT, M.D., POCKET BOOKS; 1987.
David Viscott is probably the most popular psychiatrist in history. I don't know for sure if more people have read Viscott or Freud, but I'll bet the numbers are close, Freud never made it on the Johnny Carson Show:
JOHNNY: Well, Siggy...may I call you Siggy? What shall I call you?
FREUD: You may call me vateffer you like. Vat vould you like to call me?
JOHNNY: Well, Siggy, have you heard the latest psychiatrist joke?
FREUD: As it heppens, Chunny, chokes are ze latest seem of my new book, Vit und its Relationship to ze Unconcious, in vich I deal mit der unconcious manifestations of hostility inherent in chokes.
JOHNNY: That's very interesting, Siggy. Actually, I've never read your book. I doubt if anyone in our studio audience has read your book. Ed, have you read it? Doc? Anyone in the band? Siggy, looks like you've stumped the band. See, this guy goes to a psychiatrist, and...
David Viscott has been on Johnny Carson. He has his own talk-show, which is the most popular program on Los Angeles radio. His roman-à-clef, The Making of a Psychiatrist, was a Book-of-the-Month-C1ub selection. He markets a line of greeting cards with sensitivity messages. "Though love may fade, herpes is forever." He has his own Viscott Institute.
I knew him in high school, when he was the Newton High Tiger, leading the cheers at football games from within his tiger suit and tiger mask. Exhibitionism and glamour on the outside; and within? In residency, a few years ahead of me, he advised me to enter psychoanalysis immediately. When I asked why, he explained, "Michael, you cannot imagine the thrill of having someone listen to you, really listen to your every word, for a whole hour every day."
Some sample aphorisms from his current oeuvre:
—All growth is overcoming doubt.If you weep to Harlequin romances, enjoy long walks along the beach, like chestnuts roasting on the open fire, take inspiration from Billy Graham, and love yourself above all others, you will enjoy this book. I didn't.
—Shouldn't we be able to find the courage on our own, prod ourselves, and reach for the stars? Of course.
—If you haven't committed to yourself, it may explain why committing to another has been such a problem.
—Should I commit? Can I commit? Will I commit? [These are the same questions I ask myself when faced with a psychotic and homicidal patient.]
—You cannot compromise your own happiness.
—The language of the heart must be on the tongue.
—One can talk and say nothing. [You said it, David!]