In men whom men condemn as ill
I find so much of goodness still;
In men whom men deem half divine
I find so much of sin and blot;
I hesitate to draw the line
Between the two–where God has not.
—R.T. Bradley (upon the death of Jesse James in 1882)
Shrinks I Have Known
1. My mom sent me to her therapist when I was in high school. The therapist asked me to call her by her first name, Carol. She wanted to know why I hated my mom. She led with that question. Apparently I had expressed this sentiment on too many occasions. I went once.
2. In college, I saw a psychologist who was part of University Health Services. He had red hair and a red beard and he actually sat there and smoked a pipe while we chatted. We talked about why in the world did I eat soft-serve ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? They had all-you-can-eat dispensers in the “Ratty” (the school cafeteria.) It was a big problem. Went to that guy once.
3. In my twenties, I took a tarot-card reading class in the West Village. There I met a therapist named Ruby who I saw for several years, sometimes for free, a fact she came to resent (as I found out later). She called me ungrateful, we fought, and she disappeared. She told me she was moving offices, and that she would call me later with her new phone number and office address. Never heard from her again.
4. After a long break, I tried a therapist in Washington, DC. I was late for our second appointment, and was taking a short cut through a lush, “embassy” neighborhood near Rock Creek Park. I was driving recklessly, and I ran over a cat and killed it. I rang at all the nearby mansion doors; maids in uniforms answered. Few spoke English, none claimed the dead cat. Finally, I abandoned the cat and made it for the last five minutes of my therapy session. I was crying about the cat. The therapist asked, “Do you have any idea why you are so upset?” Never went back.
5. I saw a woman in New York who had helped my friend quit smoking. She uses a self-hypnosis technique that involves tapping yourself with a finger at your acupuncture pressure points. I never once used the technique when I wasn’t with the therapist. Though I am sure it would have been helpful. Luckily, I don’t smoke.