Old book, maybe in the 70's.
A man hides in a cave and an alien creature drops on his head and they become a symbiosis. It gives him the ability to delve into disturbed minds and help them rehabilitate.

Later he uses the acquired knowledge against some bad people by feeding back the horrors his patients have shown him.

It also starts to rebuild him so he can survive situations, 2 hearts, denser structure, etc.

  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/38443/…
    – Otis
    Oct 23 '15 at 20:08
  • I read this book in the 70s ,it was a stand alone book ,I have also been looking for it and can not remember the title ,please let me know if your research comes up trumps
    – user64658
    Apr 12 '16 at 18:52
  • 1
    @Alex: Have you checked out F. Paul Wilson's Healer?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 13 '16 at 3:17
  • @Zinc: Any luck?
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 19 '17 at 12:34
  • 1
    It must be Healer. I found online text of the book (I guess pirated, so not linking), searched for 'heart' and the creature has built him an "auxiliary heart" and has ideas about the mineral composition of his bones.
    – Ayshe
    Mar 5 '18 at 21:29

The first part sounds like F. Paul Wilson's Healer:

Steven Dalt, travelling to another planet finds himself in a cave, where an alien creature fuses to him forming a symbiotic relationship.

It gives him immortality, telepathy, and the ability to heal with a touch. However, the denouement involves him fighting a set of portal-wielding aliens a few thousand years after bonding with the creature.

Healer originally came out in 1976, and was a standalone novel until Wilson shoehorned it into The LaNague Federation Series.

  • That one looks to have been published in '05 and I know this was an old book. Still it may have developed from the one I read, since its a 3 book series. The one I read was only a single. If nothing else I will look for it just to read. So thanks for the info.
    – Zinc
    Sep 29 '15 at 5:48
  • Healer came out originally in 1976, and was a standalone novel until Wilson shoehorned it into the series (isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?3339).
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 29 '15 at 9:55

This very question has haunted me for years until the author's recent passing (R.I.P. Brian) somehow reminded me to start looking it up! I think the correct answer is Brian W. Aldiss' Hothouse (1961) (also see Wikipedia).

(In the US, an abridged version was published as The Long Afternoon of Earth; the full version was not published there until 1976.)

From the plot summary:

[...] a sentient fungus which attaches itself to his head and forms a symbiotic [...]

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