Personality and Psychological Novels: Get The Neurosurgeon!
Personality & “The Neurosurgeon” by Travis Robertson
Personality changes as novel progresses
Regarding Travis Robertson’s The Neurosurgeon:
“…The story’s narrator and eponymous superstar doctor, Ira Stone, is believable but not likable at the story’s start. He’s nasty in his swagger, sexism, and selfish embrace of sex and booze…”
In any story the reader becomes more engaged when the protagonist’s personality, ethics, and emotional state change with time, hopefully change for the better–or maybe not. In this novel, mental health and ethical dilemmas are present but overshadowed by the strong personality of Doctor Stone. Carlin Flora in her excellent writing, Personality and “Metaperceptions: How Do You See Yourself?” published in Psychology Today, points out,
“…We can never be a fly on the wall to our own personality dissections, watching as people pick us apart after meeting us. Hence we are left to rely on the accuracy of what psychologists call our ‘metaperceptions’—the ideas we have about others’ ideas about us…”
It has been said, “One would not recognize his own character if he passed by him on the street.” With addictive drugs in our system, it is as if our character, our true personality, not only has a moat around him or her but also barbed wire. When I watched a video of my birthday party several years ago and while still active in my addiction, I thought the movie was quite funny (I and the many celebrants were a bit inebriated). Now when I view it, I am appalled at the personality of the birthday boy: Is that really me?
Certainly the writer has empathy for the protagonist, for his or her good and bad traits, because the author often sees a part of himself/herself in the character. But does the reader also develop empathy for that main character or for other players in the drama? In his instructive article, “The Psychology of Fiction”, published in Psychology Today, Keith Oatley, Ph.D., concludes in the affirmative:
“…Reading does prompt empathy, which in turn can translate into helping another person…”
Issues of social psychology, cognitive psychology, personality disorders, and psychopathic and ethical behavior arise in The Neurosurgeon. These include those of the surgeon’s mistress as well as the doctor himself. Indeed, visits to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker seem appropriate to many of us. Ira chooses his kind and insightful pastor, the Reverend Peter Shaddox:
From The Neurosurgeon
“..During the past several years church attendance had instilled considerable anxiety in me. Now, I felt guilty about seeking help only in a crisis.
‘As I live and breathe! Doctor Ira Jefferson Stone! So good to see you, Ira.’ Peter Shaddox extended his hand, offering a firm double-grip handshake. ‘We see your wife every Sunday. Everyone misses you. Nadine says your work is going well. And I want to thank you for the attention you gave Joe Cooper and his family in June. Please be comfortable.’ He waved his hand towards a seat, a captain’s chair near the corner of his walnut-veered desk…”
“…I’d always liked the clergyman, a stalwart man with twinkling eyes and thick black hair, flags of gray at the temples. I felt slightly uncomfortable in Shaddox’s presence but content that I did not need to fortify myself against any pious criticism. I found him to be a good listener, a healer of the troubled psyche and soul when Nadine and I sought marital counseling. Perhaps it was because Peter Shaddox had endured his own slings and arrows, refusing now to judge his fellow man…”
But the tentacles of alcohol and Valium continue to drive the man:
“…I was too stressed to think it through. I stood up and gave Peter my hand. ‘Thanks, Rev. You have provided me much to chew on.’ But deep down inside such acceptance was blocked for me by that sucking bog of sweet addiction, a dark sickness for which my brain had refused treatment. I tried standing tip-toe to see over the horizon, but the future remained as dark as a celestial black hole…”
Is psychiatric intervention needed? Should the protagonist seek psychological and psychosocial help? Does psychopathology drive the characters and their personality? While on the surface the answer seems in the affirmative, when addictive drugs are involved, the game changes, becoming much more complicated. If treatment by psychologists or psychiatrists is advisable, the therapists will need to employ addiction therapy in addition to the possible use of medications and psychoanalysis.
Personality & “The Neurosurgeon”
(View another page in this website to see a thesaurus of 2,060 synonyms for “said,” “thought,” and “walked” in the author’s Mini-Thesaurus for psychological novels. Synonyms for these verbs were used extensively in the psychological novel, The Neurosurgeon.)
“The Neurosurgeon” available now at
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Author of “The Neurosurgeon” in ski boat