Person of Interest: Keith Ablow

The good doctor is about to alienate all of Massachusetts.

Photograph by Deborah Feingold

Photograph by Deborah Feingold

Dr. Keith Ablow’s 14th book — yes, 14th — is a curious one. In its way, it’s more shocking than anything the Newburyport psychiatrist has written, quite a feat given that Ablow once published a book calling convicted murderer Scott Peterson a sociopath…without having met the man. What’s jarring about his latest volume, out January 4, isn’t its content but its co-author: Glenn Beck. For a man like Ablow, who built a practice, and then a writing career, and then a daytime television persona by appealing to and giving advice for as broad an audience as possible, working with Beck seems to undermine 21 years of we’re-all-the-same homilies.

Beck, after all, is a polarizing personality. Surely Ablow knows this. Surely half of his audience — those living in his native Massachusetts, anyway — will look at this new book, The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, look at the bylines, look at that gooey cover of Beck holding a child with Ablow in the background admiring the scene, and think, What of that tough yet still amiable bald man I once knew from Oprah? Has he, too, moved to the screaming, clown-footed fringe of the Republican party?

And the answer is — we don’t know. But only because this book is not about politics. The 7 is a self-help guide disguised as a memoir, with all the unflinchingly candid and completely noncliché revelations that accompany real emotional duress and not a few bestsellers. (Beck’s mother committed suicide when he was 13, and it would take decades — and a failed marriage, bouts of depression, and AA — for Beck to forgive himself for her death.) “I’ve never had a clearer sense that I’m working with someone who’s genuine,” Ablow says, completely genuine himself. Still, the psychiatrist is asking a lot of his reading public: to look beyond their own political beliefs, and then beneath Beck’s doughy, pink-fleshed exterior, into the scarred (but healing) regions of Beck’s psyche. The book’s theme — one of the seven, at any rate — is to understand that being courageous means sometimes acknowledging how scary a situation is, and then proceeding anyway.

The doctor has taken his own diagnosis.

  • federica

    if you would follow glenn Beck, you should notice he is less loud, thoughtful and dr Ablow is showing once more he has no prejudices of any kind, he works with people he considers great no matter what. Glenn changed in these few months and maybe also because of his friendship with Ablow. You should put your prejudices aside and read this book seriously. Ablow is always Ablow, Glenn Beck is more thoughtful

  • Kevin

    “The good doctor is about to alienate all of Massachusetts.” Really? I hope the good people of Mass are not all as close-minded as the author of this piece. We often fear what we do not understand. I encourage the reader to give this book a try, and read it with an open mind. It might not only give you a better understanding of yourself, but a better understanding of Glenn as well. You may discover that Glenn is not the Bogeyman he is portrayed as. Don’t succumb to the negative hype. Peace.