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Crazy: Notes On and Off the Couch [Hardcover]

Rob Dobrenski
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 14 2011

Crazy is the story of how one mental health professional deals with his own personal problems and those of the people he treats. Part exposé and part memoir, it reveals what therapists really think about their profession, their colleagues, their patients, and their own lives.

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“The life, times, and thoughts of a New York therapist are put on display in a candid account of what goes on behind the doctor’s door—and in his head—during a day filled with patients and self-doubt. Tackling serious mental-health subjects without being overly reverent, blogger Dobrenski maintains a snappy pace. Patients are not spared his keen observations, which help to answer the vexing question: Am I paranoid, or does my shrink think I'm crazy—and sloppy? . . . But Dobrenski also puts himself under the microscope. . . . Clean, honest writing makes for an engaging read.” —Kirkus Reviews

"Most people who get into psychology as a profession do it because they're crazy, and it's their way of healing themselves. The problem is, they never admit this fact to themselves or to anyone else. Dr. Rob does what very few psychologists ever do: He looks at himself with the same eye for analysis that he uses for his patients.” --Tucker Max, author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

“It takes a truckload of guts to write a book this honest about one’s profession. To pen one as funny and insightful as Crazy is, simply, amazing. You’ll never view therapy in the same light again.” --The Philadelphia Lawyer, author of Happy Hour Is for Amateurs

“If you ever wondered what your shrink was like out of office hours, then this is the book for you. A fascinating, thought-provoking and at times hilarious, read.” --Robin Baker, author of Sperm Wars and Primal

"Fun for anyone who’s wondered what it’s like to make a living by listening to other people’s troubles all day." - Library Journal

"A refreshing memoir...a solid step in the right direction of reminding patients that treatment can be a two-way street."  - Shelf Awareness

From the Inside Flap

An average day in the life of a psychologist is a frenetic one. A 9 a.m. appointment to help a woman manage a husband who won’t take out the garbage (at least with his pants on) quickly shifts to an emotionally intense session with a convicted rapist at 10 a.m. After talking with
a child about his fears of school an hour later, the psychologist then meets with a therapist to deal with his own anxieties, followed by lunch with his socially-phobic colleague who’s already had four martinis by 1 p.m. All this, and it’s
only Monday.
What most of us don’t realize is that while mental health professionals are trying to help people resolve their problems, they often suffer from depression and anxiety, take antipsychotics, self-medicate with booze, and struggle in their own relationships. In other words, they can be just as “crazy” as their patients.
Crazy is the story of how one mental health professional deals with his own personal problems and those of the people he treats. Part exposé and part memoir, it reveals what therapists really think about their profession, their colleagues, their patients, and their own lives.
Ultimately, Dobrenski’s riveting, sometimes humorous, and deeply insightful narrative brings us to one oddly comforting conclusion—namely, the therapist’s not-so-secret secret: We’re all crazy.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! July 21 2011
By vero_em
I bought this book after having read Dr. Rob's ShrinkTalk blog. I really liked his writing style, and the idea of a whole book like it really appealed to me. The book did not disappoint. I read it in less than 2 days and enjoyed it immensely. He managed to normalize the process of therapy that so many people are ashamed of, and show that everyone's a little (or a lot) crazy in their own way. It made me even more passionate for the field of psychotherapy and motivated me to continue studying it. The book is written in a way that everyone can enjoy it, even if they don't already have any background in psychology. Go read it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  71 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, skillfully written June 6 2011
By J. Keiser - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had preordered "Crazy: Notes On and Off the Couch" after I became an avid reader of Dr. Dobrenski's blog "ShrinkTalk.Net". Always humorous, highly charming and at times vulnerable - Dr. Dobrenski's ability to vacillate between his time in graduate school (years ago) to his own personal issues, to his (presently) growing private practice will make you understand that Shrinks have their own trials and tribulations. It's refreshing to take a peek into the mind of a psychologist, both in how he sees & thinks about his patients as well as himself. This book makes it easy to relate to him as a fellow human being; there's no condescending tone or pretension which is often associated with Psychology books, and for that I am grateful! A truly enjoyable, entertaining yet informational read....
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy doesn't even begin to describe it June 10 2011
By Billy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a Rudius Media alum, it's hard not to compare Dr. Rob's Crazy, to the works of Tucker Max and The Philadelphia Lawyer. And, not being one for doing things the hard way, I won't avoid such a comparison.

Tucker has sex with midgets and craps across a hotel lobby. Phila Lawyer drunk drives evidence away from the scene of a crime and shows up to court in even worse states. Dr. Rob's work, the professional things he deals with in an office, for pay, licensed under the law, make those other stories look like child's play. Which is a bit ironic, given Dr. Rob's childish appearance.

Crazy is an intensely well rounded look at the life of a psychologist, both in terms of the patients treated and the mental battles the doctor himself deals with. There's a good deal of humor up front, with a blind patient who finds driving on the highway therapeutic, a high school Screech-type who makes the entirely understandable mistake of confusing agnosticism with terrorism, and a good helping of schadenfreude as Rob tries to cope with not breaking up with a girl he was never really in a relationship with in the first place.

But, it's no surprise that the world of mental disease isn't all fear of sunshine and imagined rainbows. We also see patients struggle with loved ones who have died, accidents that should have killed them, being the victim of sexual assault, and also being the perpetrator. Some patients appear to recover fully, while others are faced with slugging through a life where the best case scenario is marginal improvement.

The writing is gripping, with an appropriate amount of gravitas, while also being self aware that the doctor doesn't have all the answers, and that sometimes there aren't any answers to begin with.

My only complaint is that having been an avid fan of Rob's blog,, it's clear that Crazy is merely the tip of the iceberg of what happens on and off the couch. But, as far as complaints go, being left wanting more is pretty minor. ...And probably the work of some shrinky voodoo.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another Therapist's Opinion June 27 2013
By Avid Reader - Published on
I had to write this review, as I apparently did not like the book nearly as well as most of the other reviewers. I am also a licensed therapist and I strongly disagreed with many of the things that the author says in this book. While it may be true that some clinicians go into the profession to fix their own problems, I disagree that it is the majority. You really must be healthy to be able to help others. It is considered bad practice to work out your issues on your clients. The author is obviously speaking from the limited perspective of a well-paid, urban private practitioner (No one in my area of the country is paid $160+ per hour!). And, at times the author also shows very little knowledge about subjects that he claims to be expert in- for example, child therapy. Extremely few clinicians who specialize in treating children and adolescents would choose directive play therapy as their treatment of choice for a verbal 14-year-old. He has obviously tried to choose a diversity of cases to present, but they are tilted toward the upper class (with the exception of his mental health clinic internship). The one good thing about this book is that he tries to normalize mental health treatment and take the stigma out of it. I personally would not see this man for therapy, or read any of his future books. If you know nothing about mental health, you may find the cases interesting, but please just take it as one "crazy" man's perspective, not reflective of the entire field.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Riveting, Heartfelt, Hilarious June 7 2011
By Tania - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I devoured it in one reading. This book is very well organized, in each chapter you will learn about all the relevant conditions the author is treating, experience his journey and empathize with his patients, and laugh hysterically. All while gaining insight on the profession, questioning your own views of mental illness, and of course wondering if you yourself, are too, crazy! Highly Recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It works because we are alike, like 'crazy' March 18 2012
By bunnynyc - Published on
Reading Dr. Dobrenski's book is of great help for me to have a peek at the world of psychologists (or some 'higher level' : psychiatrists).

The writer is very good story teller.
The book is well organized by two main stream, one is the patients the doctor sees and the other is how the writer himself sees his own psychologist.

It illustrated how psychologists do their job and provide a different view about patients rather than the stereotyping 'crazy' people, so that the readers would understand that at some point being 'crazy' is almost just like something we would experience during the time we go towards death. Some of us do well and we move on, some need the doctors help to finally move on, and some unfortunately will be disturbed by the disease through their life. And therefore there is no point to call people seeing a shrink 'crazy'.

It insipired me that most of the time things exist for a reason, such as mom's nagging in childhood, heart-breaking break up of first love, fear of losing a partner. And once you find out the exact reason / weakness, and work on to conqure it, most of the time you'll be good to move on.

I'm very thankful that Dr. Dobrenski's book taught me to avoid using 'vague' words such as 'upset' 'crazy' 'creepy' or 'mad', and be specific and honest in communications with other people.

It's a page turner to me. And it's one of the few books that I would read more than once. Because every time I read it, there are some situations recalled my own memories when I didn't realize I needed someone like Dr. Dobrenski to guide me to walk through the difficulties. Although I moved on with my good life now, reading it still and finally clear up those old myth in my heart and helps me to truly let things go.

If possible, I recommend everyone read through this book.
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