The Susan Polk murder trial – in which Polk, acting as her own attorney, was tried and convicted of the murder of her husband and former therapist, Felix Polk – is one of the most sensational true crime cases of recent years. Carol Pogash is one of the leading journalists to have worked on the case. Writing for both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Carol has delved deeply into the back stories of all the protagonists; now, in Seduced by Madness, she offers the richest and most textured recreation of this twisted story.
She explores the decadent culture of California in the 1970s, and how, in this period of drugs and sexual exploration, fifteen–year–old Susan was caught in the manipulative grasp of her eccentric and troubled therapist, Felix Polk. Pogash's narrative reveals the years of physical and mental abuse suffered at the hands of Felix, and how his need for attention led him to draw the family into a highly publicized battle with their son's day care center, who Felix accused of performing ritualistic sexual abuse. Before she made headlines by murdering her husband in 2002, Susan Polk was a seemingly devoted wife and mother of three boys–but as Susan began to confront her seduction at the hands of her therapist/lover, she became defiant, even delusional.
Pogash's book focuses on the deepest mysteries behind the Polk case, exploring the culture that allowed Felix Polk to take advantage of his patient and the deep–seated psychological trauma that caused Susan Polk to finally take revenge. It is the only book that describes Susan Polk's downfall in the context of her experience of repression and abuse, and will engross readers looking to understand the actions of a woman driven mad by her husband and therapist–the man she should have been able to trust the most.