Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Letter

Before I get to wishing everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, I would like to say, once again, that the job I have is "endlessly fascinating" {that's something my mother always said when she couldn't figure out what was going on} and also, often, a bit weird.

I worked hard this week for two days, getting people set to deal with whatever variation of family they have to co-exist with, when I got a letter. This is not the way I am usually introduced to people. These days a phone call, and now more often an email, is the method most people use to try to arrange a first appointment.

This letter was about seven single spaced typed pages. It gave pretty graphic descriptions of stuff that is supposedly going on in private in a town close to where I work. None of the exact details were included that would allow me to verify that the people mentioned actually exist.

The situation described in the letter was not actually that unique or that terrible. It was the letter itself, it's format, language and detail that makes me wonder what is really going on. who would write all this and why? I have my ideas, but ... those are just hypotheses.

At the end of the letter the writer said I would get a call after Thanksgiving to set up an appointment.

Perhaps things will be revealed.

Now, it is time to wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous, even in these times,

Remember, appreciate the people around you. They are doing the best they can.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

results of financial meltdown

I get to see some of the unexpected fallout from the downturn in American personal wealth. Yes, I have to deal with couples who have re-financed to pay their credit cards and now they can't pay their mortgage and their house isn't worth what they owe. Then they get tense and blame each other for it. All that stuff is commonplace.

What I see now are some things that are a bit unusual. I have two (2) situations in which there are three adults living in one house. In one case a man and two women, and the other a woman with two men. In both cases there was a marriage that was not going well. The resulting emotional distance morphed into one person becoming involved with a person outside the marriage. What followed were the usual hurt, anger, arguments, threats and general disruption

Then, as is often the case, one person threatens to move out. The other says fine, I am bringing my lover in. BUT, there is not enough money to move out and pay for another place to live.

In one case a man is living in the basement while his wife is screwing some guy in what once was his bedroom. In the other case the "other" woman is sleeping on the couch, while the family, kids and all, goes on with life as usual, treating this woman as if she is invisible.

Not a very emotionally enriching situation, but it does show that diplomacy and compromise is better than living at the shelter.

I am not sure how either of these will end.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Too much

As a discipline I try to post here every two or three days. It's supposed to be good for my brain, and it should help to live a more "considered life." But often, life gets in the way.

At those time I have so much to say and so much to sort out, but ther isn't time to do it.

Right now I have several personal and family experiences that illustrate how complex health care has become here in the U.S. of A. It's a mess but there are reasons for that, but it don't have time to get into that.

There is also so much going on with the family, and even more going on at work, and the world is going through a great deal of flux in politics, in the economy, and this has its ramifications on everyone, and everyone has their effects on the economy and politics.

And then the Internet connection won't even work for a while, for reasons that I totally can't understand, so I can't even get started.

"Still,tomorrow is going to be another working day,
and I'm trying to get some rest,
That's all I'm trying to get some rest."
P. Simon

Friday, November 14, 2008

More though times

Beside the financial crisis there seem to be other bad things that just pop up in clusters. Maybe it has to do with everyone being tense, but these things don't seem related.

My father-in-law, who I have mentioned here before, is 95 and has really been a tough old bird for many years. But now his body and mind are slipping away. It is taking a long time and is tough to watch. He fell and is in the hospital, but he isn't sure if he is in jail or visiting one of his old customers. When the nurse asked him what year it was he answered 1980, which was the last year he worked.

A good friend of ours is back taking chemo-therapy for a re-occurrence of her cancer. It is very difficult to know how well she will do. Then today, my son told me that one of his friends who had moved away and started a new life in a far-off land was shot and killed in a robbery.

We don't live in Baghdad or Mumbai but there are times when it feels like the world is crumbling around me. My wife gets upset, as well she should. I think I have developed too much of a clinical detachment. I have a circle of about six people, and if anything happened to them I would be rocked to the core, but beyond that, I can feel bad, but I have learned to just kind of shrug and go on.

It could be from working with so many people, and getting to care about them, at least to a point, and still realizing that in many cases, their lives are not going to improve that much.

Or it could be that I'm just really not that nice a guy.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Back at it.

The historic week has ended. I am envigrrated for a better world, but right now I have to deal with the one we have. That means that today I got up and went back to the office.

The misery business, as my father-in-law always called it, is booming. Financial pressure puts pressure on relationships; stress is everywhere. People are struggling, people are angry, people are sad. That's OK, that's what I have to deal with.

I'll tell you what's tough. It dealing with the narcissists. When people are in a difficult situation, or have difficulties in their heads, or are just difficult, that's fine. But when someone feels that all the troubles have been heaped upon them, and then they just sit there and complain that no one is lifting them off fast enough, that is when the job seems difficult and taxing.

Understanding your problems is helpful. Explaining is helpful.

Blaming is not.

Hey, don't blame me, I'm just the therapist.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama and Psychotherapy

If Mr. Obama can get people together and try to make significant changes in our society, then some of my clients can make the sustained effort necessary to get their lives going in the right direction. His administration can set the tone that we are working together to make things better.

"But," some of my clients will say in one form or another, "my life is difficult, I was dealt a bad hand, my father left when I was young, my mother was a starry-eyed hippie." Obviously, that can no longer be a lasting cause of bad behavior. Now that there is insight, change should follow. These clients may not have a totally devoted grandmother who will last with them until the very threshold of their greatest achievement, but they do have me. I am here, and I am attentive, and I will be at least until their insurance coverage runs out, and with the new parity bill that could be a long time.

So, let's use this as a time of transformation for all of us. Let us pay attention to each other, help each other along and begin to move in a good direction. But, also, let's raise the expectations of each of us, and we will all benefit.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I will admit that on Sunday I was very confident, but by Tuesday morning I could see a way that the election could be lost.

I sat with friends and family, trying to be friendly without telling everyone just to shut-up and pay attention. When PA was declared fairly quickly I began to relax. An hour later when Ohio was given to Obama I knew, like everyone else, that it was really going to happen. All the TV people seemed to know it all along.

For the first time in eight years I felt hopeful. I drove to work this morning and I did not cringe every time I heard the news. I felt I did not have to be embarrassed about how the people in my government were screwing up the economy, science, world trade, war, energy, the environment, health-care, health,and human relations.

Basically, I have some confidence that the people who will be running this country, while they certainly won't be perfect, and they certainly will be politicians, will at least be smart. They will understand that the world is complex. That it does not just consist of good-guys and bad-guys, and that the problems we have to deal with are difficult. I think they will have a better understanding that even if someone disagrees with them that doesn't make them terrible or stupid (although sometimes they are).

That's all I want, to feel that we have good people who are trying. For eight years I have felt we have had an administration and even a Congress who were stuck in their own mud and couldn't see passed their mind-set, and couldn't understand what they were seeing, and didn't try to understand it.

Now, we will have to wait and see. but I certainly do buy what Mr. Obama is selling, which is hope.

That is really a great deal of what I do in my own work. Get my clients to believe that their lives can be better. I know how necessary that is if any change is to occur.

Monday, November 03, 2008


It's funny about time, but if you don't do anything the world keeps turning and eventually, things come to pass.

This election has been going on for almost two years. I have really been pretty actively following it since last January. What with the wars never ending, the financial ups and downs and downs and downs, the current idiot President who has allowed the Justice Department, the Energy Department and the FDA to all become inept and corrupt, I have always felt that this is a crucial election.

Now, finally, I have seen my last client before I vote. I have encouraged all my clients to vote, but I don't get into politics unless they start. The election has really aroused more interest than even the Red Sox this year, and that was not the case four years ago. Four years ago many more local folks were intensely involved with the Sox, and their own local Senator was running for President. Now they seem to have awakened.

What happens next is completely unknown. The world is in a great mess, to a large degree because of how this country has been run for the last eight years. It will take years to clean it up. But at least, if the election goes well, the tone of national and international relations can change dramatically. The world will look at America differently, and we could be a bit different with each other.

But that has not happened yet. I am working tomorrow and then I will be watching every channel. Mostly I will be watching Florida. For me, that is the first major indication. Maybe I won't have to stay up until two in the morning.