Maybe one of the greatest gifts moving overseas has given me is distance from the absolutely batshit health care debate going on in the United States. Before I left, I could barely stomach the yelling, the sign waving, and the pundits’ pronouncements that “the United States has the best health care system in the world!” Ten minutes of the nightly news was enough to bring me to the brink of a coronary incident.

Danger to Self: On the Front Line with an ER Psychiatrist by Paul Linde. 280 pages. University of California Press. $24.95. Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good? by Richard P. Bentall. 384 pages. NYU Press. $29.95. Healing the Broken Mind: Transforming America’s Failed Mental Health System by Timothy Kelly. 193 pages. NYU Press. $25.95. The Sixties by Jenny Diski. 160 pages. Picador…. More…

 

Responsibly following the debate over health care reform? Reading the editorials? Watching the president’s speeches and his opponents’ responses? Casually perusing the 223 pages of Montana Senator Max Baucus’ long-anticipated proposal? If so, you probably didn’t notice that this month — when the country’s efforts to cover tens of millions of uninsured citizens, and lower costs for the rest, is hitting a climax — just happens to be Pet Health Insurance Month.

“You lie!” you blurt out. “It’s true!” I respond.

The effort is of course symbolic: Various agencies and industries have declared September to be National Sewing Month and National Coupon Month and National Preparedness Month and National Cholesterol Education Month. These attempts aim to raise awareness of and appreciations for sewing and coupons and emergency preparedness and cholesterol checks and pet health insurance…. More…