The Silent Patient by way of Stephen King: Parker, a young, overconfident psychiatrist new to his job at a mental asylum, miscalculates catastrophically when he undertakes curing a mysterious and profoundly dangerous patient.
In a series of online posts, Parker H., a young psychiatrist, chronicles the harrowing account of his time working at a dreary mental hospital in New England. Through this internet message board, Parker hopes to communicate with the world his effort to cure one bewildering patient.
We learn, as Parker did on his first day at the hospital, of the facility’s most difficult, profoundly dangerous case—a forty-year-old man who was originally admitted to the hospital at age six. This patient has no known diagnosis. His symptoms seem to evolve over time. Every person who has attempted to treat him has been driven to madness or suicide.
Desperate and fearful, the hospital’s directors keep him strictly confined and allow minimal contact with staff for their own safety, convinced that releasing him would unleash catastrophe on the outside world. Parker, brilliant and overconfident, takes it upon himself to discover what ails this mystery patient and finally cure him. But from his first encounter with the mystery patient, things spiral out of control, and, facing a possibility beyond his wildest imaginings, Parker is forced to question everything he thought he knew.
Publication date: 8th July 2020
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review
Click here for trigger warnings
Self-harm, sexual assault, child abuse, depression, suicide, graphic descriptions of schizophrenic patient
You would think that being a pharmacist and a medical student, I’d douse myself in holy water and run screaming in the other direction any time there’s even a hint of anything medical in a book. You’d be mistaken. Apparently, I just can’t get enough of stories featuring doctors or medicine in general, especially when psychiatry is involved.
Me not knowing how to separate work from leisure, clearly
I was promised a mashup of The Silent Patient and Stephen King and boy, did Jasper DeWitt deliver.
The Patient is an addictive, terrifying psychological thriller bordering on horror. Parker is an ambitious young doctor who’s convinced he has what it takes to diagnose and cure Joe – a patient who has not only baffled innumerable psychiatrists for over thirty years, but also has the uncanny ability to determine what people fear most and drive them to madness or suicide. Eerily, this book is actually based off a series of posts on MDconfessions.com titled “Why I Almost Quit Medicine”, so you’re left wondering how much of The Patient is fiction and how much is fact.
I was on the edge of my seat the whole time (I would’ve read it all in one sitting if I hadn’t been so busy) – the book is only 224 pages but damn, it packed a punch! The only thing I had a problem with was that Parker arrived at his final (correct) conclusion way too quickly. I mean, I had had a strong hunch about where the story was headed pretty early on, but I have the luxury of knowing this is a fictional story (or is it?!) – I don’t know that I would’ve made the same assumptions in real life even though I’m definitely nowhere near as sceptical as Parker seemed to be.
Parker after his second last meeting with Joe
If you’re planning on giving this a read, keep in mind that there is a lot of medical terminology, and DeWitt does not stop for anyone. If you don’t have a medical background you may find yourself Googling words every few paragraphs (especially at the beginning when Parker is going through Joe’s medical file). Personally, I didn’t mind that DeWitt sacrificed ease of reading for the pacing.
This book honestly gave me the creeps and I couldn’t sleep properly for about a week 😅 If you’re feeling brave and you like reading psychological thrillers from a medical perspective, I would 10/10 recommend this!