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Haartman, K. (2017). The Analyst Who Laughed to Death, by Ronald Ruskin, London: Karnac, 2016, 341 pp.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 25(2):143-147.

(2017). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 25(2):143-147


The Analyst Who Laughed to Death, by Ronald Ruskin, London: Karnac, 2016, 341 pp.

Review by:
Keith Haartman

Ronald Ruskin is a training and supervising analyst, who, in addition to his private practice, is a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. He is a mensch in the Toronto analytic scene and has contributed greatly to the vibrancy of psychoanalytic culture in our city. In addition to his various clinical writings on such topics as supervision and boundary violations, he is a founding member of Ars Medica, a medical humanities journal devoted to the synergy between writing and mental health. Ron is also a writer of fiction and is the author of a medical thriller, entitled The Last Panic (1979).

Ruskin's new novel explores the life and personality of one Dr. Reuben Moses, a prominent Toronto analyst whose personal life unravels as he enters into his senior years. Moses runs a hospital clinic for borderline patients, and in his private practice specializes in volatile, recalcitrant cases, including criminal psychopaths. Moses's penchant for creating stress by taking on tragic, villainous individuals underscores his incapacity to slow down, rest, and enjoy life. His acceptance of such cases into his practice thematically mirrors (and reverses) his passive exposure to, and absorption of, the traumatized personalities in his early life—most notably his bubba, or grandmother.

At the start of the novel, Moses begins a second analysis with Dr.

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