“In Hogart’s debut comedic novel, a New England couple moves next door to an insane psychotherapist who dedicates himself to tormenting them.

Psychiatrist Henry Avalon and his wife, Helena, move into a new home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their new neighbor, Henry’s colleague Albert Prendergast, immediately comes off as socially awkward at best, and worrisomely weird at worst. Henry and Helena’s intuition about him turns out to be unfortunately correct, as Prendergast seems intenton harassing them both, personally and professionally. He leaves dead animals in front of their house, defaces their property, whistles at night to disturb their sleep, and leaves a sign in his window that reads “HOT RED SHORTS!” after Helena wears red, short pants in her garden. He demands that the Avalons build a fence around their property, and after they do, he throws rocks at it and files a false complaint with the local zoning board. When Henry confronts him, he shrilly screams a homophobic slur at him. Henry regularly calls the police about his neighbor’s antics, but without solid evidence, there’s little that the authorities can do. Later, Prendergast strategically claims to need therapy, solicits it from Henry, and then accuses him of malpractice before the state licensing board. Meanwhile, Henry’s reputation at work suffers—no one believes his stories, and his petty co-workers are threatened by his intelligence and success. One is overcome by “implacable hatred” when Henry proves more knowledgeable than he is at an informal book-club gathering. Another bizarrely jogs naked through the woods—with green and red makeup on his testicles.

Author Hogart is a psychiatrist who was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School for two decades, so he’s uniquely positioned to satirize his own profession. Henry’s colleagues, as the author hilariously portrays them, are as eccentric as they are venal; for example, Mendelson, a fellow psychiatrist, reveals himself to be neither capable of nor interested in genuine camaraderie when his wife asks him why he gives Henry the cold shoulder: “I thought I told you. The cost of friendship would have been to become involved in a problem of his.” Hogart also expertly mocks how some psychotherapists put stock in fashionable theories that are so incredibly general that they’re nearly impossible to falsify.

The Avalons, though, are shown to make some strange choices; early on, for instance, they decide that Prendergast’s misbehavior must be the result of loneliness and take out a personal ad on his behalf. Also, given how clearly they recognize their neighbor’s combination of malice and deviant behavior, it simply makes no sense that Henry would ever agree to become the man’s therapist. However, Hogart’s prose is quick-witted and slyly perceptive throughout. He has a comic sense of the absurd that evokes Kurt Vonnegut’s work and an eye for vanity that’s reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s.

The author’s professional peers might be piqued by his novel’s ruthless characterizations, but the remainder of his readership is likely to be thoroughly amused.

An astute, farcical look at the psychiatric profession.” Kirkus Reviews

From Caroline Comeaux Lee’s Review on PsychCentral

Riveting. Humorous. Quirky. Satirical. In other words, I could not put it down. At times funny and others deeply unnerving, Shrunk takes a satirical look at the people who are a part of the psychotherapy profession. . .

What makes this book so superb is that Hogart is not writing from the perspective of a disgruntled or skeptical client. Behind his penname, the author has spent years as a practicing psychotherapist. According to his website, he has also served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.  I am not sure that there is a better position to be in to write such a novel. . .

Within three chapters, I was intrigued. By one hundred pages, I was engrossed and anxious to find out what would happen…

By two hundred pages, I had lost count of the number of times I chuckled, was surprised, or felt infuriated for the Avalons. For those who believe that all therapists are crazy, Hogart’s novel will give them a quintessential example to point to. For everyone else, Shrunk is an enjoyable, entertaining, and humorous dark glimpse into the world of psychiatry.

PsychCentral  Reviewed by CAROLINE COMEAUX LEE

Reviews on Amazon

Shrunk (Paperback) – Amazon review

Practioners of psychotherapy often think of themselves as artists–after all isn’t psychotherapy an “art?” But not too deep beneath the surface of this artistic delusion is a tumultuous world of pettiness, pretentions, back-stabbing, psychopathy and other shmutz that make Christopher Hogart’s satiric takedown of the profession a delight to read. I found myself re-reading sections of the book just to better savor the words and the images they evoked. Hogarth’s intention is not to demolish the psychotherapeitic profession. Rather he intends to humanize it by demonstrating that practitioners share the same slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that for better or worse all of us experience. Shrunk is a fun read. Buy and enjoy it.



Shrunk, Chris Hogart’s first novel, takes academic psychiatrists off the pedestal and into real life. The result: “Shrinks” are “shrunk”, and once the veneer of academic and professional pretentions is removed, some strange characters appear. Prendergast, older and established, turns out to be abusive with his patients and malicious as a human being, while his counterpart, Avalon, is a decent chap but a tad naïve and impulsive. The explosive chemistry between the two permeates their personal lifes and nearly destroys their careers. In his satire Hogart mocks the narrow-minded fondness of promotions and status in this community of academic psychiatrists. But beyond that, Hogart uses humor as a tool and finds an effective way to expose things that have to be said about modern psychiatry. A page turner!


From Jill Allen’s Review of Shrunk in ForeWord Reviews

Hogart deftly exposes the foibles of [the mental health] profession using larger-than-life characterization and biting humor.

…Attempts to pathologize normal behavior via pompous speeches and articles will make readers chuckle.

…Anyone familiar with the controversy about the realness of ADHD or Asperger syndrome will see the humor and the critique of [Affect Deficiency Syndrome].

[Hogart] excels at characterization, critique, and humor .  .  .  anyone seeking broad humor and an expansive satire of psychiatry should read Shrunk.

Jill Allen, ForeWord Reviews



How helpful are psychiatric diagnoses and the treatments they dictate to real people in their real lives?  How much do they help us in our love and work?

A degree of skepticism is in order regarding psychiatry’s diagnoses and grasp of human nature.  Articles raising this concern have appeared in the NY Times: See Nugent’s “I had Asperger Syndrome – Briefly” (January 31, 2012); Wallis’s “On Aspergers, A Vanishing Diagnosis” (November 2, 2009); and Louis Menand’s piece in the New Yorker, “Head Case – Can Psychiatry Be A Science” (March 1, 2010). In “The reliability of Psychiatric Diagnosis” by Phillip Ash, fifty-two mental patients were examined by three well-known psychiatrists, all three psychiatrists reached the same diagnosis only 20% of the time, and two were in agreement less than half the time.

Are diagnosis, treatment, cure, and life itself confused in the way psychiatry thinks about them? Treatments aren’t always cures. Can diagnoses reduce us from whole human beings to “target symptoms?” What’sgoing on inside us, the workings of the heart and mind, are not an exact science. Science helps, but attempts to make our limited understanding more than it is can lead to pseudo science. Still, our inner lives are worlds worth exploring – an exploration that never loses its value. The means of exploration include not just science, but talk, essays, poetry, novels .  .  . or you could just read Shrunk.