In the rarefied world of New York City psychoanalysts and their patients, Dr. Estelle Berman belongs to a dying breed.
A distinguished analyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side, she inspires devotion among her patients. But she has started falling asleep during meetings and forgetting her patients' names. Her colleagues Dr. H. and Dr. Z. observe her mental decline with the objectivity of a Greek chorus, but when it comes to the disappointments in their own lives they are far less detached. And then there are the patients themselves: Justine, a movie star with a penchant for stealing things; Edith, who writes poems in secret and eats to subdue feelings of panic; Anna, a self-harming college student whose depression baffles her parents; and Mike Wilson, a widower whose disgraced son has fled the country. Anne Roiphe's Ballad of the Black and Blue Mind is a novel of psychological realities, teeming humanity, and glorious contradictions.