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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Fifty Shades of Grey

by James, E L.

on 16/11/2012

Price: £2.99

Published: Apr 2012

Format: paperback ebook

No Pages: 528 pages


ISBN-13: 9781612130286

Category: Fiction

On the grounds that I am a psychiatrist, and a woman, I felt compelled to write a review on thisbook: the book everyone is talking about, the fastest selling paperback of all time.

50 shades allegedly started  as Twilight fan fiction, but soon took on a life of its own. The plot follows the relationship between Anna, an innocent, in every sense of the word, and, Christian, a charismatic, billionaire entrepreneur with dark secrets. An accidental meeting precipitates a spicy whirlwind romance ending in heartache in book one of the trilogy.

Consistent with its amateur beginnings the writing is at best unskilled and in its lowest points bordering on unintentional comedy. The book is written in the form of the heroine’s contemporaneous first person internal monologue featuring such innovative features as the frequent visual imagery of her ‘subconscious’ and ‘inner goddess’.

Anna’s ‘subconscious’ bears no relation to Freud’s psychoanalytic explorations and I can only hope that the book’s popularity will not further expand the incorrect use of the term into the vernacular.

The ‘inner goddess’ appears to be Anna’s libido. Despite her remarkable sexual and relationship naiveté, Anna soon makes up for lost time.

The BDSM aspect of the book is largely a MacGuffin ("a plot element that catches the viewers' attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction"). Christian has a ‘twitching palm’ but essentially the sex scenes are largely what would be commonly recognised as ‘experimentation’ (I could quote a multitude of women’s glossy magazines on the subject). The story does not concern paraphilias, in the ICD-10 sense. If anything, plot developments in the next 2 booksin the trilogy suggest that the author’s intention is to portray the triumph of traditional family values and standard sexual practises over darker passions and childhood trauma. ‘The story of O’ this is not...

All in all, I would say that the concept may have had potential (BDSM is not a common theme inbooks of this genre), but poor character development and amateur writing skills suggest this is more likely to aggravate than titillate , even in the context of a holiday read.

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