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Far Journey: A Psychiatrist's Chronicle

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Far Journey:
A Psychitrist's Chronicle

is the story of therapy,
of mythic symbol ... of the
psychic dance between patient
and healer ... and healer to
his soul. Far Journey
begins and ends at the interface
between psychiatry and religion,
dissolving the boundary which
has for too long separated the
two. It is a remarkable psycho-
spiritual adventure.
---- Ze'ev ben Jacob

With its lively conversational style,
this work reads like a novel. It gives
us an insight into a conscientious
psychiatrist's work and objective: to
help the tortuous human heart un-
derstand and embrace the purpose
of our inward journey. Many ob-
servers are becoming more aware
of the spiritual emptiness of our
society. Hanu's work and book move
to fill this void, namely, to help us
turn inward to the God who is al-
ways seeking us to heal us of our
fracturing egocentricity.
--- James J. Higgins, C.SS.R.
Liguorian, March 1994

There are many paths in Far Journey: A Psychiatrist's Chronicle (1993, 293 pp.), but they all lead to one conclusion -- religion has a place in psychiatry.

Dr. Roy H. Hart, a medical doctor, wrote Far Journey under his ancestral name, Yitzhak Hanu. His book covers a year in one psychiatrist's practice, following the therapy and outcomes of his patients in both private and clinic settings. The case histories and the events are real, with the patients' names changed for privacy.

Interesting as the case histories are, Dr. Hart garnishes the therapy with tidbits of his encyclopedic knowledge on subjects that include history, literature, art, language, science, medicine and most importantly religions of the world.

The result is an insight into the methods available for a therapist to use in helping patients and the many disciplines that are available in treatment. It's also a mini-course in the disciplines themselves.

The book opens with a mysterious dream the psychiatrist has about the Magi. Patients travel in and out of his practice with their with their seemingly insoluble mental problems, until finally explanations and solutions becomes clear to the psychiatrist by the book's end.

One patient, Renata Delacross, holds the focus of the book. Neurotic, marijuana addicted, she comes to the psychiatrist diagnosed elsewhere as supposedly suffering from schizophrenia and is helped psychologically, spiritually and physically.

By the end of her year's journey in therapy, she changes from a lapsed Catholic to a practicing Catholic who is attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist while controlling a long-standing depression.

What makes Far Journey enjoyable reading is the excellent writing ability of Dr. Hart. The reader is drawn along the journey that Renata and the other patients make, including Joey Dee, a schizophrenic who always shows up at the clinic with a bag of oranges and BIC pens. Dr. Hart sees a basis of religion in their therapy and the divine hand of Providence in the outcomes.

The only problem with Far Journey is that the journey ends too soon.

---- Patricia Yoczis, The Monitor, Diocese of Trenton, Trenton, N.J., June 3, 1993.

Far Journey: A Psychiatrist's Chronicle, by Yitzhak Hanu, goes a long way in a short time to reveal in vivid, kaleidoscopic fashion a striking mosaic -- indeed, a brilliant tapestry -- that displays the intriguing fabric of the mind. With an economy of words, the author, better known to his colleagues in psychiatry as Roy H. Hart, M.D., establishes the background, tone, and individuality of his characters via an unforgettable chronicle of events. His steady, unhurried pace lets all the pieces fall precisely into place as he proceeds to build a suspenseful drama befitting a classical mystery.

The juxtaposition of the wealthy and beautiful Renata Delacross and the numerologically oriented schizophrenic Joey Dee, his two leading characters, is especially captivating. Although all along one has the feeling therre will be a resolution for the millionairess, the absorbing question is what. Joey, on the other hand, seems like a repetition wrapped inside a continuum going nowhere, however interesting a character he appears to be. But when his resolution comes, it is with an extraordinary sudden explosiveness -- an ingenious bit of medical detective work. The deductive steps involved rank with the great mystery solutions in literature. Renata's journey is much more varied and has far greater intensity. Her triumph, skillfully guided through a rare, professional talent, should be enshrined in the literature of human achievement.

Basically, Far Journey is an autobiographical fragment dealing with one year, 1993, in the life of Dr. Roy H.Hart (a.k.a Rex Cordis in the book and Yitzhak Hanu, his historical name), with brief but fascinating flashbacks to earlier years in his life. In his preface, the author indicates that he is dealing with true accounts of real people, writing nonfiction in the style of fiction. You are there in the midst of his life.

The author brings to his task a solid background in psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, which he is able to combine with his varied interests in philosophy, literature, history, and comparative religion. The result is that he creates what amounts to a unique style of therapy.

That a religious press, Old Rugged Cross Press, Alpharetta, Ga., would publish Far Journey is evidence of the broad appeal the book holds. For the undergraduate reader, the book is a testimonial to the value of a liberal education and shows what so much knowledge can do to solve crises and enrich living. For the medical student, Far Journey will heighten his or her interest in psychiatry as a career choice, an important consideration at this time when psychiatric residency training programs are faced with dwindling numbers of applicants. For the practicing psychiatrist, if you have time to read only on book in 1994, make it Far Journey.

---- Richard E. FRENKEL, M.D., Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, October 1994, p.458