We're talking today to R. Gregory Lande, author of The Abraham Man. Gregory is a physician and retired US Army Medical Corps Officer. Dr. Lande completed his medical education at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Lande was commissioned an officer in the US Army. During his career in the military, Dr. Lande was active in a wide variety of clinical, academic and administrative positions. Upon leaving the US Army as a full colonel, Dr. Lande was awarded the Legion of Merit recognizing his career contributions. The next phase of his career involved administrative positions in hospital management, research, and teaching at various civilian facilities.
Thank you for this interview, Greg. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I am a practicing physician still actively engaged in a wide range of clinical, administrative, and research activities. My specialty is adult psychiatry with additional concentrations in forensic psychiatry and addiction medicine. Part of my professional career was spent in the US Army Medical Corps. My interest in writing began, as it does with most physicians, on the medical side. I have authored, and continue to do so, many medical journal articles. Over time, my interest in history gathered steam and I started devoting a bit more time on this topical area.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
The title of this work, The Abraham Man, probably conjures up several different ideas about the book. In this case, the title has a very definite purpose relating, as it does, to the book’s theme that malingering – in all its various forms – has actually propelled the growth of modern day medicine. Malingering was a nettlesome fraud recognized by physicians in the nineteenth century. Much of these physicians’ disdain for malingering came from their Civil War experiences where malingering ran rampant. To these doctors the malingerer had little if any redeeming qualities. From a social perspective, far removed from individual encounters, the malingerer actually sharpened the diagnostic skills of physicians and through the process laid the foundation for psychiatry and neurology. The reader of this book will soon learn that for many centuries the Abraham Man was actually a well-recognized pejorative label affixed to malingerers.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
My interest in writing this book stemmed from an observation gleaned through clinical practice and historical research. . Throughout time, it appears that small numbers of people were stimulated to fabricate illness or injury in hopes of receiving some benefit, advantage, or reward. The social responses varied overtime too. Sometimes the malingerer was viewed with scorn, other times with pity. In the nineteenth century, the Abraham Man encountered a new obstacle. Following the conclusion of the civil war, a veritable explosion in all manner of civil and criminal trials took place. Lawyers increasingly called upon physicians to bolster their cases. As they did so, the malingerer adapted, forcing physicians to explain the role of the Abraham Man. The relentless adaptability of the malingerer was a constant threat to the physician’s credibility. Through the back and forth antagonism between doctor and deceiver grew an ever more sophisticated clinical diagnostician. Even so, the question remains – can physicians infallibly thwart the Abraham Man?
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
The Abraham Man, otherwise more mundanely named a malingerer, left few traces behind. As such, there are scant historical references. This required a lot of sifting through mountains of material hoping to find a few nuggets.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I suppose Algora Publishing would be considered a small press.
Was it the right choice for you?
The staff at Algora Publishing is professional; they are experts at patiently helping authors bring their work to the public. I also am deeply appreciative of the business risk that Algora Publishing must undertake with each decision they make.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I have traditional opportunities through my medical profession such as individual promotions and journal book reviews. I also promote the book through regional and national medical and historical speaking engagements. I am also for the first time doing a virtual book tour.
How is that going for you?
So far so good!
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
I think you need to advertise in multiple formats and be patient.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I am a full time practicing psychiatrist.
What’s next for you?
I alternate my writing and speaking between strictly medical topics and historical interests.
Thank you for this interview, Greg. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?