A Boyish God
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 fascinating yet terrifying 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. View the Press Release
Houston’s Homegrown Terror
When two bombs explode at St. John’s High School in Houston, psychotherapists Tom and Andrea Tolman assist their friend, Houston Police Detective Mark Lane, in the intense investigation. They need to find the terrorists before they can strike again!
Andrea is a former nun who left her order to marry Tom, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst with expertise in treating adolescents, and in understanding destructive religious cults and terrorist groups.
After 9/11, the couple and the detective became friends when they helped a family threatened by the father’s involvement with a Satanic cult. Now, ten years later, they are challenged by these local bombers.
The story explains the depth of psychology as well as the powerful motivations of the American homegrown terrorists and their group. View the Press Release
A Psychotherapist’s Sanctuaries from Soul-Sadness
As psychotherapists, our patients share with us the joys and sorrows, pain and pettiness, betrayal and cruelty, the lies and misery in their lives and relationships. We listen carefully and empathically.
Between the lines of dialogue, however, therapists hover along a continuum of self-protection located between soul-sadness at one extreme, and a cool, isolated detachment at the other.
Natural disasters, genocide, suicide bombings, hostage executions or beheadings, and sick and starving children leap to our attention in the media. Our patients often mention these events, and we try to listen empathically to their feelings and fantasies about them. We suppress or deny our own strong emotions so we can work with our patients. But our feelings can accumulate and lead to soul-sadness.
Psychotherapists can use art, music, poetry, or creative writing to help contain and manage soul-sadness. This works by discharging, soothing, containing, or sublimating these realities in our daily work life.
During 45-plus years of practicing teaching and writing about medicine, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy, I have come to realize how draining psychotherapy is for the therapist. The use of writing as a means of catharsis and processing of stress has been valuable for me, so I wanted to share writing as a means of healing soul-sadness and preventing burn-out.
Prevention soul-sadness and burnout in psychotherapists is very important for us and our patients.
Malignant Pied Pipers: A Psychological Study of
Destructive Cult Leaders from Rev. Jim Jones to Osama bin Laden
For more than twenty years, I have studied destructive and apocalyptic cult leaders
like Jim Jones, David Koresh (Waco), Shoko Asahara (Aum Shinriko), Marshall
Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate), Charles Manson (Helter Skelter Murderers), and Luc
Jouret and Joseph DiMambro (Suicidal Solar Temple).
These cult leaders, the mesmerizing Malignant Pied Pipers of our time, led idealistic,
father-hungry, or disillusioned young people away from their homes and toward
Having an understanding of cult mentality and the pathological personalities of cult
leaders is essential, for there are striking similarities between these deadly leaders and
the newest examples, Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cult of ultimate terror. The
death toll from Jonestown, the Branch Davidian disaster at Waco, and Al Qaeda/ISIS
terror cults of the last 30 years is horrendous.
My previous book, A Boyish God, is a troubling novel with deep insights. I was jolted
to my core when I learned that a college friend’s son died at the Rev. Jim Jones’s side
at Jonestown. Over 30 years later, I am still searching for answers, especially about
Of Heart and Mind: A Psychiatrist’s Poems
In his new book, Of Heart and Mind: A Psychiatrist’s Poems, retired physician, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst Dr. Peter Alan Olsson shares the poetry that made his difficult career meaningful.
He notes, “My personal use of poetry, or prose writing, helped me manage soul-sadness by discharging, soothing, containing or sublimating the realities of my work life in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. At a personal level, I often feel that my poems write me in an almost mystical sense. They help me heal my pain, celebrate my artistic gift and express my feelings.”
As he writes in his poem “My Lovely Dream Dancer”:
In the delicious, relaxed, loving domain before dawn, we touch like two dream dancers reluctant to awaken … and the music of our love is too sweet to interrupt. The grasping demands of the day loom like mine fields, but become bearable because we will dance again tonight.
About the Author
After attending Wheaton College, Peter Alan Olsson trained at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Following his internship in mixed medicine at the University of Vermont, he took a psychiatry residency at Baylor (1968 to 1971), and later was a psychiatrist at Oakland Naval Hospital from 1971 to 1973, where he ran the substance abuse unit and worked with POWs returning from Vietnamese prisons. Dr. Olsson graduated from the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute in Houston and practiced psychiatry and psychotherapy while teaching psychotherapy in Houston for 25 years. He was an assistant professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School and an adjunct professor of clinical psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine. Now retired, the New Hampshire resident previously wrote three nonfiction books and a novel.