During residency training in psychiatry, when I was learning how to do psychotherapy, I learned that the lady at the front desk ran the clinic.  She did the “statistics.”

I thought she was hyper, but she told me she subsisted on coffee and crashed on the weekends.  She actually told me so much personal information, I suggested she become a patient at the resident clinic.  She said there was a rule against it.  I told her to go to another clinic, but she told me she could not get time off, something I never quite believed.  But she told me, also, that she understood what was going on with me.  This was news to me, except that I knew I was struggling to be a good psychotherapist.

The stories of everybody’s lives that they told me were so terrible I thought I might just go home and cry every night.  I did a little at first, but I got over it.  Then, she told me my “statistics.” It seemed that more of my patients came back for more visits than anyone else’s.  They liked me. Read more on You Don’t Have To Be A Jewish Mother To Have Empathy…

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He was an urban youth.  I could not even determine his racial origin and I had to ask him (county regulations – tracking who it paid for – not my choice). It was mixed, and essentially indeterminate, a regular American melting-pot.

His head was shaved, so I could not make any guesses on the basis of hair type. There were facial tattoos, of the tribal sort, lots of triangles, but nothing as fiercely antisocial as some of the obscene drawings or sayings I had seen tattooed on prison inmates faces.  Or in the case before me – ex-cons. And there was one of those little cylinders in his earlobe –the kind that men wear to stretch the open hole in their earlobes large enough to allow passage by a small sparrow.  I believe the tradition is for tribal identity to prove something about achievement in the face of pain.  It differs according to whom you ask, and this young man was not ripe for asking about that topic.

baby daddy

“I’m depressed.  Real depressed.”

I wanted to know why.  “I got kids.  Seven of them, three different states.  The seventh one was born three days ago.  I was with the Mommy, and we were really happy because he looks just like me.”

Quite an achievement for someone only 22 years old. However, my congratulations did not bring him solace. “I guess you aren’t feeling too great about it, though, or else you wouldn’t be here, feeling depressed.”

At least he wasn’t suicidal.  I could treat him as an outpatient. Read more on Male Postpartum Depression (Yes — MALE!)…

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She was twenty four, and beautiful – magazine cover, MTV video beautiful — with long black hair and exotic features.  She was telling me about her childhood abuse, her drug abuse, and how she left childhood for pregnancy and married a husband who was in many ways more abusive than her own parents had been with her.

Although the precise details do not matter, this woman gradually revealed herself to be a victim of physical, emotional, and sexual battering so severe that that she actually looked back fondly on her time spent in a variety of foster homes.  I rarely hear this.  She told about her abuse with a certain flatness of facial expression and vocal tone, a certain acceptance.  This is not uncommon in those who have survived a lot of emotional abuse.  It is a survival mechanism; a way to put up a wall.  I could understand that.

Time Magazine Sex Education

She was actually a fairly reasonable person to interview.  She did not have many holes in her memory and managed to answer most of my questions with believable facts.  I had to ask about her education.  She had been doing well in school when she dropped out because of pregnancy.  She had not used contraception then, still didn’t.  When I asked her, she told me simply that since her family was Christian, such topics were not discussed. Read more on The Harm Done By NOT Providing Sex Education…

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I first heard the term “helicopter parent” on some news broadcast.  I started my search, as I do with all new concepts, with Wikipedia.  Despite or perhaps because of its imperfections, I have come to rely on Wikipedia as my first line on what people think and do.

These are the folks who originated the name tag, and sell the products that are supposed to help fix the problem.

helicopter parent

Read more on “Helicopter Parenting”: The Ultimate Over-Protection…

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