‘The Shrink Next Door’ follows the remarkable story of a doctor who slowly begins to take control of his patient’s life. What starts as a seemingly unremarkable doctor-patient relationship soon spirals into a bizarre dynamic, with the psychiatrist having a say in how his patient executes his significant wealth.
The relationship between the two men continues for the better part of three decades, making a truly intriguing narrative that becomes increasingly implausible. So just how much of what we see of the wily Dr. Isaac Herschkopf on the show is based on reality? Was there a real psychiatrist by the name who allegedly did something similar? Let’s find out.
Is Isaac Herschkopf a Real Person?
Yes, Dr. Isaac Herschkopf, often called “Ike,” is most certainly real and began treating Martin Markowitz in 1981. The doctor came recommended by a rabbi and was seemingly quite popular amongst his patients, which included the likes of Courtney Love and Gwyneth Paltrow, who he treated at his Murray Hill office in Manhattan.
According to his patient Markowitz, Dr. Herschkopf eventually maneuvered him to break ties with his sister and convinced him to buy the adjacent property to his home in the Hamptons. In June 1987, the first of many legendary parties was held at the property, with Herschkopf reportedly presenting the property as his own while many of the guests confused Markowitz with the help.
In a 2019 interview, Markowitz claimed that the doctor had collected over $3 million in fees from him in the three decades they had been associated. Herschkopf has said on the subject that Markowitz was a “willing partner in everything,” and the latter has also admitted that “he was vulnerable and willingly followed his psychiatrist’s instructions.”
In the podcast by Joe Nocera — the journalist who initially broke the story — two other former patients also recounted their experiences with him. Under the pseudonyms Emily and Sarah, the two alleged that they had both rewritten their wills to include Herschkopf or members of his family in it. In the case of Markowitz and Emily, Herschkopf claimed that they had turned from patients to business clients and that it wasn’t unethical in the 1980s for psychiatrists to have business relationships with their patients.
Where is Isaac Herschkopf Now?
Since the release of the investigative podcast ‘The Shrink Next Door’ in 2019, Herschkopf has remained largely out of the public limelight. He resigned from his post on the Board of Directors of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics and the New York Medical School. He also hit back on the narrative, saying the podcast is “90 percent untrue” and that its creator had a vendetta against him. Nocera has countered this claim, saying that his podcast is rigorously fact-checked by multiple parties.
In 2021, a five-member hearing committee found Herschkopf guilty of “all counts of professional lapses alleged by the state including gross negligence, incompetence, exercising undue influence, fraudulent practice, and moral unfitness,” and he had his license to practice in New York revoked.
Despite the allegations, Hershkopf also reportedly finds support amongst his many prominent friends, some of whom came out in support of his character. However, attempts to get in touch with Herschkopf by a journalist in 2021 remained unsuccessful, and it seems like he is presently staying out of the limelight.