PRESS RELEASE (11/7/2013) – In appreciating this novel it is important to understand that Dr. Olsson is a recognized expert in the study of malignant and sociopathic figures such as Osama Bin Laden, the Rev. Jim Jones and many others. The book found its genesis when his office janitor asked him if he had treated the Reverend Jim Jones when he was twelve years old would the 918 deaths have been prevented.
The story involves a young man, Will Powers, who is in the throes of malignant self absorption. He becomes involved in psychotherapy with a psychiatrist who has keen insights and is able to handle the counter transference issues that inevitably arise. “Take your fucking hands off me! I’ll report you for child abuse, you queer, crazy person’s shrink doctor!”
In Will’s words during one of his “sermons”: “Most of all, I’d tell the truth about death and being dead. We people are just animals. When we’re dead, we’re gone into the dirt there is no heaven or hell.” Will’s perceptions are aided by his father who is the “leader” of the Last Saturday Night Club, a satanic group that regularly sacrifices animals.
The story is about the unfolding of a productive and, at times, disturbing psychotherapy. As the author notes in the foreward: “However, the more severe and ominous forms of pain, destruction, and even prevented deaths go unheralded. They are unnoticed because, existentially, they are like a suicide prevented-they never exist.” As the psychotherapy unfolds one recognizes what experienced therapists know-that treatment can thwart the evil of destructive cults by an understanding of the dynamics behind destructive leaders. The book reminds me of Robert Lindner’s descriptions of Mac and Charles in his book “The Fifty-Minute Hour.” Dr. Olsson is dealing with Kernberg’s conceptualization of malignant narcissism without the jargon and in an intriguing story. I found this book fascinating, wondering what might happen next and also because of my own experience in working with patients, particularly reluctant and hostile ones. There are some “side issues’ such as the peer supervision/support group the psychiatrist, Tom, is involved in as well as a budding romance.
The book includes a section on “Existential Addendum – A Dream of a Psychiatrist’s Theology of Benevolent Revenge,” which includes a confrontation (in a dream) with the parents of Jim Jones, Charles Manson and others. The author concludes this section noting that “Spiritual salvation never results from simply believing the correct idea or practicing a correct ritual. Spiritual salvation or wholeness requires hard psychological and spiritual work……The mind God created in a child needs to be treated respectfully and gently, like a valuable, delicate flower. Narrow, rigid, judgmental teaching can pervert it…..It takes a long, long time for even a few of those suicide bombers to begin to realize the selfish, evil audacity of their homicides.”
This book is easy to read yet full of depth. I enjoyed it and found it thought provoking. I highly recommend it to mental health professionals as well as the general public.
RONALD TURCO, M.D.
A BOYISH GOD – By Peter Alan Olsson
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co. Houston Texas 2013
ISBN # 978-1-62212-616-3 pp 144 – $15.00.
About the Book
A Boyish God is a troubling novel with deep insights. According to author Peter Alan Olsson, “I was jolted to my core when I learned that a college friend’s son died at the Rev. Jim Jones’ side at Jonestown. Two books and over 30 years later, I am still searching for answers … especially about terror prevention.”
This book probes into the psyche of a schoolboy who deeply needs therapy. On the playground of Saint Thomas Moore School in Houston, Sister Agnes hears young Will Powers’ fiery funeral sermon for a dead bird. At the insistence of his teachers, Will reluctantly stops his explosive eulogy. Will’s parents have apparently turned their back on their son and won’t return the school’s calls.
The school psychologist turns for help to a trusted psychiatrist friend, who is able to delve into Will’s perspective and what is driving him. But can this troubled boy be helped? The novel is disturbing, but deeply necessary. Perhaps the Rev. Jim Jones at one time was also considered A Boyish God.
About the Author
Peter Alan Olsson is a retired psychiatrist/psychoanalyst. His four published nonfiction books are Malignant Pied Pipers of Our Time: From the Rev. Jim Jones to Osama Bin Laden; The Cult of Osama: Psychoanalyzing Bin Laden and His Magnetism for Muslim Youths; If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Advice to a Young Psychotherapist; and Poems Behind a Psychiatrist’s Couch. Visit www.drpeterolsson.com.