Books: The Girl from Atlantis

An adroit portrayal of a hypnotist undone by a 13-year-old patient

Dr. August Perlman's new patient is a doozy, a 13-year-old girl with two personalities. One has a morbid fear of water; the other insists that she is a survivor of the mythic deluge that engulfed continental Atlantis millenniums before humans got around to organizing memory into history. Order a brain scan or a cocktail of antipsychotics? Neither choice is likely, not because the gorgon at the HMO refuses to sign off on the procedures but because Dr. Perlman's clinic for the interestingly unhinged is located in low-tech London at the beginning of the 20th century.

In Perlman's Ordeal (Farrar, Straus &...

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