The Psychiatrist and the Girl
Original title: De psychiater en het meisje
- 2 Seas Represents: World (Excl Dutch) Rights.
- Detailed English synopsis & English sample available!
- Over 15,000 copies sold
- Shortlisted for the Hebban Debut Prize for Fiction!
Debutant Erik Rozing is following in the footsteps of Myrthe van der Meer with this semi-autobiographical novel that for once shows life in a psychiatric clinic not from the point of view of the patient, but from that of the psychiatrist. (…) The Psychiatrist and the Girl offers a realistic and agreeably sober inside in the daily habits in the clinic. – Trouw
Gripping and fast-paced. You seldom find a description like this of day-to-day life in a psychiatric hospital. – Anna Enquist
The Psychiatrist and the Girl is a well written, fast-paced and captivating read. The description of the characters is based on reality, very frank and often witty. Recommended. – ***** Hebban
‘A fast-paced debut novel. With humour and skepticism Rozing describes the goings on in a psychiatric hospital. The Psychiatrist and the Girl fits in a tradition of novels set in psychiatric hospitals, but it stands out because it’s written from the point of view of the psychiatrist. – De Volkskrant
A surprisingly light-hearted, and sometimes even funny, novel about a psychiatrist in training. An accomplished debut. – De Limburger
A fascinating inside in the world of psychiatry, that’s what Rozing has to offer. Above that the book is also an interesting pageturner. The relationships between characters in Rozings novel are never black and white, making his story very convincing. Reading The Psychiatrist and the Girl is almost like listening to a good friend telling a story. Rozing’s debut is recommended for anyone interested in psychiatry, but certainly also for anyone interested in a good story. – Cleeft
Writing in a smart and fast-paced style, Rozing depicts an often hilarious and nearly complete image of the day-to-day life in modern psychiatry. – Medisch Contact
This book is definitely highly recommended! The Psychiatrist and the Girl is the very successful debut novel by Erik Rozing. Hopefully, he will write more novels of the same quality. – Chicklit.nl
Rozing is a master in creating realistic and fascinating characters without going over the top. The Psychiatrist and the Girl is the convincing debut of a unique voice. – Alexhoogendoorn.nl
Anyone with an interest in psychiatry should read this novel. It conveys how hard it is to judge, and perhaps also just how easily things can go wrong. – Leestafel.info
The vivid style and the incredibly realistic characters make it very hard to put the book down. – Dejongepsychiater.nl
Rozing has an evident talent for satire, and uses it in interesting ways. This thick novel is captivating, funny, compelling and extremely interesting. A must read, not only for psychology students, but simply for everyone. – Tessaheitmeijer.com
A page-turner! Hilarious and moving. – Boekenbijlage.nl
The Rosie Project meets Girl, Interrupted meets The Shock of the Fall, set in a Psychiatric department of a General Hospital.
December 18, 2009. Dr. Edgar Simons, a twenty-six-year-old resident psychiatrist, is on call at the Huygens Medical Centre and is paged to the emergency room because a young woman has attempted suicide. Twenty-two-year-old Stella, an attractive young woman in a black dress and with gothic make-up, has the reputation of being one of the most severe borderline patients. Edgar takes care of her and despite her destructive side, he is instantly drawn to her vibrant personality and her keen sense of humour. When Stella figures out where Edgar works, she has herself referred to him. She does not make any effort to hide her attraction to Edgar and he struggles to keep her at a professional distance.
Edgar has recently been abandoned by Aisha, his Moroccan girlfriend, who got engaged to her cousin. He is depressed and drinks too much. So does his grandmother, who is becoming more and more isolated ever since the death of her husband. When she calls her grandson late at night, after having one too many drinks, and tells him she no longer wants to live, Edgar suggests that they should end their lives together. Edgar drives to her house with a box of Vesparax and a deadly tranquilizer as though it were a prop in a play. A paradoxical intervention in order to convince her to stay alive, he then realises that he is not motivated to keep on living himself. His intervention works, however: his grandmother insists she does not want him to die, telling him that she will not be able to cope without him and that he should get some sleep.
Edgar is in his second year of training as a psychiatrist at the Huygens MC in the Dutch city of Leiden. The professor, his tutor, has placed him under surveillance because of a disciplinary complaint. After a suicidal patient reached out to him, Edgar suggested he should jump in front of a train – a paradoxical intervention that he had read about, ending dramatically in the patient’s actual suicide. Edgar is being supervised by Christa, a psychiatrist at the department for the part-time treatment of psychosis and personality disorders. She is very committed to her patients and surprises Edgar when she takes them out to the beach and invites them all into her home for dinner.
In order to become a psychiatrist, Edgar has to go into therapy himself. He is not used to talking a lot, however, and struggles with having to open up in therapy. His therapist, a psychoanalyst, advises him to write about his life – about the death of his father several years ago; his mother, who is deeply involved with New Age and astrology; his older, highly gifted but slightly autistic sister, who is dating a younger, beautiful girlfriend.
Edgar’s senior colleagues Stefan and Beatrice are nearly finished with their residencies. Stefan invents nicknames for the most extreme borderline patients. A man who puts out cigarettes on his skin, he calls Ashtray. A woman who has cut up her forearms to the point that they are brutally marred by scars and look like tied-up meat, he calls Pancetta. The Clone is a borderline patient who copies Stella, both in her appearance and her destructive behaviour. She has herself referred to Edgar as well, after her therapy became complicated due to a romantic relationship with her therapist, Beatrice.
Edgar finds the Clone very annoying and immature, until he discovers that she’s suffering from the delusion that she is destined be the sole survivor of a pandemic, with only Stella as her companion. She receives instructions from hearing the voice of Lionel, the main character from Mary Shelley’s novel The Last Man. Edgar concludes that she has psychosis. He manages to persuade her to use an antipsychotic. Weeks later, when she is partly recovered from her psychosis, she is able to go back to college. It turns out the Clone studies English literature and because of their common interest in literature, Edgar feels more sympathetic towards her and rather than calling her by her nickname, he starts using her real name: Nel.
June 18, 2010. Six months after their first meeting, Edgar receives a letter in which Stella declares her love to him. Edgar concludes that Stella idealizes him, which he judges to be part of her borderline pathology. Stella manages to discover his address and suddenly shows up on his doorstep. After Edgar rejects her, she overdoses in his bathroom and he ends up taking her to the emergency room. Stella recovers and soon gets a hold of his grandmother’s phone number as well. She visits her, which is a welcome distraction for Edgar’s grandmother, who immediately calls Stella “his girl” and hopes for a great-grandchild. Stella even meets Edgar’s schizophrenic cousin, whom she also starts seeing regularly.
Stella tells Edgar that Nel wants to have sex with her and asks for his advice on the matter. She decides she wants to sleep with Nel too, but afterwards she concludes that rather than having a relationship, she wants to stay friends with her. When the endless fights with her parents escalate, Stella no longer wants to live at home. Nel arranges for her to rent a room in the student’s house where she herself lives. Against medical advice, Nel stops her medication and gradually her psychosis returns. Edgar fears for a serious relapse and asks her to participate in a patient presentation, in order to get a second opinion from the professor. The professor is brisk, showing little respect, and upholds the earlier diagnosis: borderline. Nel is deeply hurt by the professor’s harsh words. Stella hears what happened, applies for a patient presentation herself and takes revenge by humiliating the professor in front of the residents.
When Edgar is on call again, Nel calls to tell him that Stella is on the fourth floor in the central hall of the hospital, ready to jump. As he rushes upstairs, he catches a glimpse of a woman making a fatal fall – not Stella, as it turns out, but Nel. Stella is still upstairs, but cannot explain to him why exactly Nel decided to jump.
Edgar’s grandmother finally finds her doctor willing to grant her her wish: euthanasia. Edgar is surprised and angry, since she has not received any treatment for her depression, the cause of her death wish.
The cremation ceremony takes place in private. Though uninvited, Stella shows up at the side of Edgar’s schizophrenic cousin, as if she were his girlfriend. After the cremation, much to Edgar’s horror, not only does his mother offer to do Stella’s horoscope, Stella starts flirting with his sister’s girlfriend as well.
After the cremation, Stella starts skipping her psychiatry appointments. Edgar is worried and carries out a house visit. It appears that Stella has assumed Nel’s appearance, has taken up reading Nel’s books and plans to enroll in her literature courses. Despite everything, Edgar realises that he is in love with Stella. Keeping her at a safe distance no longer seems like a moral choice, but rather the result of fear, avoidance and cowardice – character traits he no longer wants to keep him from having a relationship with the one person he loves. He suggests asking someone else to become Stella’s therapist; after six months of no contact they will be allowed to see each other again. Stella thinks that six months is far too much and expresses her doubts whether she will even be alive by then.
December 20, 2010. Edgar finds Stella in a coma in the ICU, after a massive overdose. The IC doctor is pessimistic about her recovery and starts a screening procedure for a liver transplant. Could he have prevented this, a desperate Edgar wonders, if he had agreed to having a relationship with Stella right away, if he had kissed her before now?