cover image Encyclopedia Neurotica

Encyclopedia Neurotica

Jon Winokur, Author, Richard Lewis, Foreword by St. Martin's Press $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-32500-8

Winokur, author The Portable Curmudgeon, The Traveling Curmudgeon and other humorously crotchety titles, shifts his focus from cranky to crazy in an oddball reference book billed as ""an irreverent guide to the wacky world of neurosis."" He offers entries from ""absurd, the"" to ""zero tolerance,"" with stops along the way for ""food contact phobia,"" ""misanthropy"" and ""phallic symbol."" But the book's purpose is not always clear: sometimes it reads like a dictionary, other times like a quote book. There are entries for obscure psychological terms, such as ""Morita,"" a Japanese form of psychotherapy, and entries for pop cultural terms that have little do with neurosis, such as ""gaydar."" ""David, Larry"" gets a five-page study, complete with an analysis of his comic style and two pages of laudatory quotes, but father of modern psychology ""Freud, Sigmund"" gets only two pages, while ""depression"" merits one. It would be easy, but apparently inaccurate, to say the book suffers from ""schizophrenia,"" which is a ""general term for a group of psychotic disorders characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and withdrawal from reality."" Perhaps it suffers from multiple personality disorder, instead? But it's a mildly amusing compilation of phobias, philias, manias and syndromes, perfect for browsing while you're sitting in your shrink's waiting room.