Eight Psychologists Who Became Fiction Authors

Eight Psychologists Who Became Fiction Authors


The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.


Whether it’s writing about a thrilling crime drama or a suspenseful mystery, psychologists can make great authors with their professional backgrounds in mental health. When it comes to telling an inspiring story, these eight psychologists have put together worlds and situations that pull from their resources and experiences. 

1. Jonathan Kellerman

Kellerman started his own private practice in the 1980s while writing novels in the evening. He’s best known for his mystery novels featuring Alex Delaware, a psychologist consultant for the LAPD. Kellerman says he tries to develop Alex as a realistic psychologist, pulling on his own experience working in a child’s hospital and his private practice. 

2. Steve Bergman

Known for his best-selling novel House of God, Bergman bases much of his psychological fiction on his experiences as an intern and throughout his residency. In an effort to connect with others and bring about a form of therapy through literature, he uses his writing abilities to create a deeper understanding of treatments and the formation of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. 

3. Irvin D. Yalom

Yalom uses his knowledge of early psychoanalytic treatments to depict the development of practices through his fiction novels. While Dr. Yalom has also been a part of developing models for treatments like existential psychotherapy, he brings together a collection of past and present ideas in stories like When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession.

4. Frank Tallis

As a clinical psychologist, Tallis focuses on obsessive-compulsive disorder. While he’s best known for his crime novels like the collection of the ​​Liebermann Papers, he also writes stories on horror fiction and psychology and makes an effort to depict the bridge between love and madness. While he doesn’t necessarily believe love is equivalent to a mental illness, he says “it does resemble and overlap with a number of clinical conditions.” 

5. Benjamin M. Schutz

Schutz was a forensic and clinical psychologist, who used his knowledge of treatments, avoidance, and the daily challenges of mental health conditions to influence his writing. He wrote a number of stories covering the investigations led by PI Leo Haggerty, an expert in attempting to balance the stress and conflict of his profession with his personal life. Schutz covered the difficulties of being exposed to violence, illness, and evil on a regular basis and trying to reduce those effects in a regular routine. 

6. Sam Osherson

Osherson has a private practice and also teaches counseling and listening skills at Stanley King Counseling Institute. While he makes an effort to help teachers, counselors, and other personnel connect with their students and clients on a deeper, meaningful level, his work also translates into his writing. He writes to create a connection between his audience and the characters of his story, depicting their mentalities and challenges in a way that creates an empathetic bridge between the reader and the individual. 

7. Salley Vickers

Vickers uses her extensive background knowledge of various jobs and careers to develop realistic characters and realities throughout her novels. With her background in helping children with special needs and in psychoanalysis, she explains she always bases her characters on a piece of herself and her experiences. Vickers makes the connection between learning about her past clients and writing her new characters, unfolding their personalities, and getting a better understanding of their inner workings. 

8. Jacqueline Sheehan

Sheehan finds parallels between her clients and characters. She builds an understanding of their backgrounds and their personalities before feeling that she can help them. While she found her “tribe” in working with other psychologists, she never left writing behind and continues to combine her knowledge for both practices. 

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