You Gotta Be Crazy to Go See a Psychiatrist

People who think they need a psychiatrist are nuts. I cannot count the number of times where I’ve read or heard about a famous actor who feels that by going through sessions on a couch it helps him get through life as a better performer and/or human being.

Those of you who swear by the “can’t we all get along?” approach to life will immediately express disapproval at the above statement. Yes, I am aware that there is a difference between a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst as well as a psychologist.

I also understand that the do-gooders in the judicial system think that by sending a habitual criminal to see a therapist that it is either going to cure the jerk or help the authorities understand what makes a person violent so that they can prevent others from doing so. And then there are the guys who break into computer systems, spend time in the clink and go on to a lucrative career helping Big Business deter others from breaking into their computer systems.

Going to a psychoanalyst is like pouring gasoline into a fire. Anyone can call themselves one. A psychoanalyst may not always be a licensed medical doctor so he or she may not be in a position to dispense a drug prescription when it is truly necessary. The shrink also tends to develop a tight relationship with the patient and insist on seeing them more than once a week whether the patient needs a holding hand or not. Especially if the therapist’s bank account needs love and affection.

Nor does a psychologist dispense medicine but deals with non-clinical and emotional issues. He or she is there to be a professional listening post when there is no one else you can talk to.

Our high school had two guidance counselors. The one that I preferred to use was a lady who was just a little older than Ma and treated me as if I was one of her own as well. I was able to say things to her that I could not to Ma. The other counselor was older and had seniority. It was his job to give us a kick in the rear in order to get us to think about college seriously. Everyone at my school went on to college.

Except that he did a lousy job for our graduating class. He screwed up the date for taking the ACT exam. We ended up getting two days notice to sign up and take the test.

I went to a guidance counselor while attending college to help figure out what major I wanted to take. The fellow also had a framed diploma on the wall stating that he was a psychologist who earned the respect of being called Doctor. I enjoyed writing back then as much as now and would visit him once a week. I’d bring with my latest written attempts at fiction. After a while it dawned on him that I wasn’t really interested in having him help me declare a major but that I wanted an adult to pay attention to me and not laugh at my writing. He had no interest in nurturing whatever talent I possessed. He was just a guy who punched a clock and filled out reports that let the University administration see how good he was at helping eighteen and nineteen year olds decide what curriculum to take.

After a couple of months of our interaction he threw me out of his office and told me to stop visiting and to “grow up”. So, I declared my major in English and stopped trusting grownups, those over the age of twenty-five, for a few years until I joined the ranks.

None of my siblings nor my parents ever visited a psycho-whatever, at least that I am aware of. You know, they say you are what you eat. Well, everyone in my family likes to eat nuts of all types. But, we’ll keep that a secret, okay?

With Respect

As a kid, if I opened my mouth to an adult, I’d get a smack in the spot the words came out of. If that were to happen in today’s world, I’d be visiting the person who did it- even a parent- as they sat behind prison bars. Nowadays, when a kid says something adult-like, the parent smiles and says how cute and smart they are. Recently, while visiting at a friend’s house, his three year old daughter said to me, “you’re fat.” (ed. note: I’m not and I’m not rail thin. Like everyone else, I’m somewhere in the middle) Her father looked at her and said, “is that nice?” She replied, “I’m just kidding!” This from a three year old!
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Class Action

September of 1960 I turned eight, ready for third grade. The previous autumn I made a fool out of myself the earliest that I could remember when I rushed home to our new apartment in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood a half block from school to proudly tell my mother that I saw a 1964 car. Ma told me that there was no way as it would be four more years before that year’s models would be introduced in the fall. “But”, I insisted, “Perry told me that we both saw a 1964 car pass by”. She then explained to stupid me that my buddy probably meant that the two of us had seen a 1960 Ford car.

Another dumb thing I did that second grade school year was beat up a kid a year older than me during lunch recess. When we returned to class, a student representative from the third grade class was sent to my room to come take me for a dressing down by the ex-nun who taught the eight years old kids. She told me that it was wrong to hit other kids. I tried to reason with her that he started it and that he was a year older than me and should have been able to do a better job defending himself. She didn’t like my answer and had a look on her face that indicated that she couldn’t wait to get a hold of me the following year.
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False Alarms

During the spring of 1970, my final year in jail- I mean, high school, our beloved principal got even with all the aggravation my fellow schoolmates and I had ever foisted upon him. One day unexpectedly the fire alarm went off in the school building but instead of being told to do the normal drill we were instructed by loudspeakers blasting in all rooms as well as the corridors to head in proper formation to the lower level school auditorium. We were also told that we were under an air raid alert for possible nuclear bombs attacking the United States.
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Cheater’s Proof

It was tough being a kid. I was taught a whole litany of golden rules such as: don’t lie, cheat or steal. Along with that came a caveat: “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me”. This was told to impress on me to be a good person but if provoked to avoid fisticuffs and just go about calling each other names. I guess this way you could go home to fight another day.

Of course, being a kid, I hardly paid attention. I considered it a challenge to figure out a way to cheat in playing a board game and not get caught. After all, the purpose was to win, right? And I was going up quite often against a couple of siblings- fair game- who should be held nameless when it came time to playing Monopoly, Sorry and all the other ruthless challenges involving the roll of the dice.
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Egypt Revisited

Watching and hearing what is going on in the news regarding Egypt gave me pause to revisit the past. My senior year in high school started in the fall of 1969 and I graduated in June, 1970. We had a small class of 48 split into two home room divisions. So when a newbie joined us in the middle of the school year it was cause for excitement.

Mauro (we’ll call him that) was tall and wide and had a scowl. He looked like a nose tackle for the Chicago Bears. It was not his fault- that’s the way he was crafted. His attitude was totally the opposite. He was fun loving even if he did look like Oddjob, the hat-tossing foe of James Bond in Goldfinger. He also had a deadpan sense of humor so you couldn’t always tell if he was trying to be funny or telling the truth.
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