Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: Inside House's Head, and Everyone Else's


Some of you might have guessed that I am an avid (some might say obsessed) fan of the show “House MD.” And, it almost goes without saying, highly intelligent. So when I found House and Psychology: Humanity Is Overrated(Wiley, 2011), it had to be on my bookshelf.

After I read it, of course. In two sittings.

This is not an official guide, nor is it the usual fan fluff. Edited by Ted Casio and Leonard L. Martin, the book is an anthology of writings by well-known research psychologists and sociologists who are also avid (some might say obsessed) fans. The latest psychological research (including the most up-to-date studies on addiction) is combined with psychological theory. Liberally peppered with scenes and quotes from episodes, it is great fun to read.

The book is divided into four sections.

Part One, The Good: Unlimited Vicodin;

Part Two, The Bad: Psychological Malpractice;

Part Three, The Ugly: Is That My EKG?

Part Four is “House and The Hero’s Journey,” based on the works of Joseph Campbell. It casts House as a “mythic hero.” This is a view some take of House, but for my taste, antisocial bitter sonofabitch does just fine, thank you. But I digress.

About but not limited to the study of the mind of Gregory House, the chapters address authenticity of self, creativity and happiness, to name a few topics. They also include the psyches of the other people in his orbit, as well as dissections of the actual show itself.

“The Psychology of Humor in House” is easy enough to grasp, but how about “You Are Not as Special as You Think: The Political Psychology of House, MD”?

As an example, an excellent article, “Not Even Gregory House Is An Island,” by Dr. Megan L. Knowles, a social psychologist, is about House and the role social support (and his rejection of same) plays in his life. For obvious reasons, James Wilson, his only friend, plays a large part in offering tangible and emotional support, but there are also examinations of how members of the team provide support to each other, and what types.

Other denizens of Princeton-Plainsboro--Cuddy, Cameron, Foreman and Chase--are all examined through different lenses by different psychologists. So are their dealings with House. For instance, the sexual ambivalent-avoidant relationship between House and Cuddy is examined at length, as is her involvement with Lucas in “Love, Liking and Lupus,” by Lindsey M. Rodriguez and Edward R. Hirt.

House and Psychology: Humanity Is Overrated goes up to the end of Season Six. The examinations of the characters through psychology not only give a vast deal of enjoyment, but as a bonus, a deeper insight into oneself as well.

Ted Casio is a psychology teacher and a writer for the Hollywood PhD blog in Psychology Today. Leonard L. Martin is a professor of social psychology at the University of Georgia.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, for both the casual, avid and obsessed fans. For one thing, you can impress the heck out of your fellow fans with your intimate knowledge of what makes House and his fellow doctors tick.

The book's website is

You can purchase the book either in trade paperback or for Kindle at

Go forth and enjoy!


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