The Diagnosis is a dire warning as to where society is headed. Lightman directly chal-lenges America's prosperity, by observing the dehumanizing effects of the very technology of which this nation is so proud. He explores, and pokes fun at, all our serious, self-absorbed and materialistic habits that take priority over our minds and spirits. .
Technology as an alienating force is the prevalent theme. He observes that the tools in-tended to advance communication are the very ones that cause isolation. Cell phones and e-mail tie executives to their work twenty-four hours a day, increasing the pressure on them to be constantly productive. The escapist aspects of the Internet are a threat to human relation-ships. Lightman explores its effect upon one man's family and career, and as a diagnosis for his recent breakdown. In many instances, his thought-provoking points are put across through careful observation of modern society.
Bill Chalmers, a successful businessman, and the main character in the novel, is intro-duced to us in the Boston T subway one summer's day at 8:22 in the morning. The exact time is carefully noted and this temporal documentation is kept throughout the novel. This por-trays a harsh vision of how the modern corporate obsession with time and productivity leaves professional men and women isolated and powerless. Before Bill Chalmers's crisis, The Di-agnosis creates an authentic, brilliant, satiric picture of the morning commute. There is noth-ing fantastical here, just plain, powerful observations of the way things are. This description supports Lightman's theme effectively. .
We see Bill's terribly productive businessman-neighbor glibly announce that he's read-ing, while in reality he is listening to the book-on-tape version of The Bridges of Madison County. We listen to one of the three voicemail messages Bill has received on his cell-phone in the past twenty minutes. We stop to read a company's tempting slogan, "Work wherever, whenever.