Golden Rules of Psychotherapy

If at the onset of the therapy treatment, you have diagnosed your client as a Delicious apple, then at the conclusion they might become a Macintosh apple, BUT, rarely a Banana.

A client’s behavior is always correct. Not good, and not bad. Just the best one can do at the moment. That applies to lying, swearing, hitting, singing, dancing, sulking and refusing to eat Kale!

The psychotherapist must be curious. Absent curiosity, most therapy sessions will be boring, even for the client.

When a client enters the therapy session, they will tell you the truth. Albeit, their truth. The search then begins for both you and the client.

 

Some Good News

 

Hour after hour we are bombarded with news from the White House, Mara Lago, Trump Tower, or leakers. The President will ban all Muslims, some Muslims, bad Muslims. The President will approve slim, oil sands to flow down US pipelines to be shipped overseas. The President will damn Judges, not all Judges just Mexican judges, or Federal Judges, or Appeals Court Judges, or Judge Judy. The President calls for building a wall. The President will repeal, cancel. re-write, or plagiarize Obama Care. The President damns Nordstrom, SNL, CNN, New York Times, and Lauren Bacall, well maybe not her, but certainly Rosie.   And then, by the grace of G-D some good news. BREAKING NEWS! The North Koreans fire a missile into the sea. The Hungarians elect a fascist President. Twelve inches of snow falls in Vermont, stranding two illegal immigrants. Pro-life marchers take over a Planned Parenthood office in Galveston, Texas, and destroy the total supply of birth control pills. Madame.Le Pen wins the far-right nomination in France, and it is the birthday of Madonna. Good news that allow us to turn off the madness. To stop holding our breath awaiting the latest news break or twitter from Mr.Trump. Good news that reminds us there is a world out there, and the wall is not impenetrable.

No Need for Labels

Recently newspapers have printed the diagnosis of narcissism as it applies to President Trump. Increasing numbers of psychologists have identified narcissistic characteristics in the President’s behavior. Professional mental health persons fear professional liability, ethical concerns or career damaging responses if they offer an illness label without interviewing the person. Once upon a time we did not have labels for mental illness. There was a time when one could just declare:  “if it walks like a duck, and quakes like a duck, it’s a duck.” So let us look for a “duck”, and we might find a raving “malignant narcissist.”

During a search, I have found the following clues to our diagnostic mystery. Our President has said: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” “I take out  those ads to wake up the Government…” “Then what does all this…the yacht, the bronze tower, the casinos really mean to you? Props for the show!”  “The show is Trump and it is sold-out performances everywhere.” “I play to people’s fantasies.” “If I put my name on something you know it’s going to be good!” “I know words, I have the best words!” “I’m rich, therefore I tell the truth.” “But my primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff.” “I know far more about foreign policy” than Obama. “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” “I will demand anything I can get. When you’re doing business, you take people to the brink of breaking them without having them break, to the maximum point their heads can handle without breaking them”. “Islamic terrorism is eating large portions of the Mideast. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them.” “I’m the least racist person that you have ever met…” “Every successful person has a very large ego. Every successful person? Mother Teresa? Jesus Christ? Far greater egos than you will ever understand.” “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength.”
“I will absolutely apologize if I’m ever wrong.” Don’t hold your breath!!

Bowling Green Massacre

I know exactly what Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President, meant by the Bowling Green Massacre. It did not make recent headlines, but it was top news in November of 1867, just around Thanksgiving. Near Bowling Green Ohio, a group of Seminoles (on their way to Florida), were given some rotten whiskey by a half-breed Apache (also lost and looking for Arizona). Before they left town, the Seminoles along with the Apache killed, but really killed, like massacred an entire flock of turkeys. They meant to gift the turkeys to gringos. Actually, there was some confusion in the reporting since the owner of the turkeys did drop dead upon seeing his entire flock massacred – I mean really killed badly – like a massacre. So, the blond terror of Pennsylvania Ave., was wrong. What else is new?

 

Uncharted Waters

Today, February 9, 2017, Senator Mark Warner of the great state of Virginia stated that, “we are in uncharted waters.” Other political leaders and commentators have said phrases of a similar sort, e.g. “This is a new day,” and “Little seems the same.” and most painful, “It is difficult to know what to do – so many things are changing daily”.

Fellow Americans, the only person in the entire country who is “uncharted” is the President of the United States. The only citizen who can change opinions, desires, attitudes on a “daily”, or “hourly” basis is Donald Trump – Our pathologically disturbed President.

Perhaps, Senator Warner, and his colleagues feel that they are in “uncharted waters.” I feel sorry for them. It must be difficult for them to remember right from wrong, or truth versus lies. Have Senator Warner and ‘friends’ (those in Congress always refer to one another as ‘friend’) lost their moral compass and as such cannot distinguish between ill-will and respect. Have they totally suppressed or deny the teachings of their parents, teachers, church leaders? That Donald Trump resembles a buoy bobbing in the sea is not my fate. That Donald Trump is troubled by demons that deny him guidance and safety, is not my state of mind, nor body. I fear not uncharted waters, not because of some exquisite seamanship, but because of my humanity.

God – Pay Attention

Six dead and several injured children in a school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During an interview with a woman who lived on the street of the crash, she said that she saw a child lying on the ground, and it was God’s will that led her to help the child. The woman went on to say that all the neighbors joined to help. She once again attributed that helpful gathering to God’s presence.

Where was God several minutes prior to the crash? What was he watching over as the driver increased his speed? Where was he when the driver decided to take an unauthorized route? Was he preparing to watch the Macy day parade and make it safe? Was he lost in thought about the bombing in Aleppo? Was he cleaning the lead pipes in Flint, Michigan? What was God attending to. Clearly God has a lot to do in one day. But give credit, when credit is due. Good credit, or bad credit. You may not believe it, but God can be blasphemed. God can handle wailing. God can handle the greatest ill will that you can muster. God can handle the good, the bad and the ugly. God is truly powerful, flexible and always forgiving. God will be there the next day. God isn’t moving not now, not ever, so give God your best shot!

The New Tower of Babel

The election for President was once decided by the Democrats or the Republicans. Now times are ‘a-changing’

We now have:

Democrats, Republicans, Evangelicals, Right of Center Evangelicals, Left of Center Baptists, Center-right Disabled, Center right Suburban Women, Progressive Democrats, and Conservative Democrats, Left wing Liberals, but also Right Wing Urban Dwellers, followed by Rural Progressives, not to be outdone by Communists ( one or two in Brooklyn), White Woman Liberals, and Black Southern Blacks, Main Street Republican, Libertarians, Post-Modern Democrat, Less Than Modern Republicans, Reactionary Seniors, Latino Agrarian, College Educated Men, High School Transsexuals, Worker Party Deadbeats, and so on and on…..

Kings were not all that bad.

What is Aleppo?

Gary Johnson was correct when he said “What is Aleppo.” Gary Johnson may have amazed millions of MSNBC viewers, but Gary Johnson spoke to a different reality. Like it or not, there is no Aleppo. Aleppo is no more. After years of barrel bombs, poison gas, millions of mortar shells, machine gun bullets, underground mines, dynamited buildings, and jet bombers destroying every structure over and over, the grand city of Aleppo is no more. No medicine, morphine, bandages, plasma, and no standing clinics and hospitals. No flowing water, no electricity, and barely any food. Food that is available is outrageously costly. Once a glorious Syrian city with more than 2 million citizens, but now just several thousands of adults and children huddled in cellars with air full of the fumes of burning oil, and decaying bodies. Aleppo is no more. Just as Carthage is no more. And the 10th century Turkish city of Ani is no more, and Jordan’s ancient city of Petra is long gone. Perhaps, Gary Johnson was truly blindsided by the inquiry. Perhaps he had a senior moment of dull. Perhaps he spoke out of ignorance, but in fact Aleppo joins ancient cities that are long gone. And so, “what is Aleppo” is not so strange.

A Court Divided

Four Liberals and four Conservatives. Four Justices for the Left and four Justices for the Right. Four Justices for the people, and four Justices for business. Four Justices for the right to choose and four Justices for right to life. Four Justices for X and four Justices for Y. The divided Court is a constant source of national anxiety. Four on one side, and four on the other. We are fortunate in that the Supreme Court has nine judges (most of the time). We need only one Justice who is clean of heart, clear of mind, not biased, and totally flexible. Only one Justice who is without a prior opinion. Only one Justice who sees the law as the primary concern. Only one Justice who will be the decider. Only one Justice who can allow the nation to move forward – to avoid deadlock – allow for national tranquility. Who is that one Justice? Who knows? Regardless of your choice, what is needed is a major change in the Supreme Court decision process. Considering the constant possibility of a divided Court, we should just ask that one unique Justice what he/she thinks, and that will be the Court’s decision. The end. Simple. One man/woman, and one vote. Amen!

Target Practice Revisited

For many years, the traditional target used by the military for practice has been a series of concentric circles. In the center a “bull’s eye”. For police training, the typical target used at indoor and outdoor gun ranges has been a full body form. Sometimes a head, and /or a torso.

In an attempt to lessen the deadly results of police shootings, I would suggest that the police adopt a target that contains just arms and legs. Specifically, the arms would begin just at the shoulder and extend to the fingertips of both arms. As for the legs, the targets would begin at the top of the thigh and extend to the tips of the toes. After sufficient practice, a trained police officer would automatically shoot not to kill, but to maim- wound in the extremities.

The culprit would certainly be hurt, perhaps not fall, but several other bullets on the arms and legs should disable any person. The revised targets would allow relatives on both sides of the gun to sleep more comfortably, knowing that the ‘perb’ is not dead, and the police officer is not a murderer.

Racism at Six

 

The boy touched everything within his reach. The cash register, the combs, the hair brushes, the hair sprays, a blow dryer and the bowl of Christmas candies. Since he was behind the counter, I assumed that he was the son of the salon owner. The space behind the counter was cramped with both the child and the beautician getting in each other’s way.

The beautician said nothing to the child as she made change of my twenty-dollar bill while silently suffering the child’s body blocks, and hand thrusts. She was blushing. She seemed embarrassed. She smiled at the boy, and at me while reaching over his body to hand me my change.

I had just had my monthly haircut. While getting my haircut, the woman told me that she recently immigrated from Russia. Her English was limited. Perhaps that was why she said nothing to the child. Clearly she was not of Cossack descent, or she would had closed the register on the boy’s puffy little fingers, as he reached for the dollar bills. I was poised to make a corrective comment to the child, when a woman emerged from a near-by cubicle.

“Joshua, what are you doing?”, she said, while gently primping her newly blown coiffure.

“Oh nothin”, he replied, as he grabbed another handful of M & M’s and mashed them into his dark chocolate cavern called a mouth.

The woman was attractively dressed. Her leather jacket had a mink collar. She wore designer jeans, Nike sneakers, and a grey Tenafly Athletic Department sweatshirt. Her nails were new and artfully designed, although needing pruning. Her hair was painfully teased, and her nose was surgically bobbed. As she approached the candy cane kid, he declared,

“I don’t like dark hair. Your hair is dark.”

“Yes”, she said, with seeming indifference to his comment.

“But mom, your hair is too dark, I don’t like it.”
I wondered if he would get some punitive action.

“Joshua, my hair is dark brown. It is always dark. “  She didn’t show the slightest bit of annoyance.
“Mom, only Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair. I don’t like it.” His voice was firm and strident. In the best of all parental worlds he would have gone through a wall. The wall was untouched.

The mother turned toward him, although she appeared to look through him toward the mirror on the wall behind her son. Perhaps she was assessing the hair color, and its possible ethnic roots. She then looked at the cashier, and then at her walled, her money, the change, and casually she walked to the door of the salon. Following behind, her son pleased, “but mom, only the Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair.”

He looked to be six years old.

Yenta

A Yenta is someone who talks to much, spreads rumors, and can’t keep a secret**.  Forget about the Yiddish implications and history of the word and focus on the men and women of today. FBI Director James Comey is clearly a Yenta in the ‘spreading of rumors’ type. The Donald, though not Jewish does talk too much, and finally Julian Assange. Julian, a classic, born again Yenta. Julian clearly cannot keep a secret. Not one secret, I mean 343,200 secrets. Tens of thousands of secrets ‘leak’ out. Not ‘leak’ as in faucet leaks, nor ‘leak’ as in senior citizen urinary dysfunction. ‘Leak’ as in Wikileaks. More than a million pieces of information ready to be ‘leaked’. Who, if anyone fixes the ‘leaks’? The plumber, the Urologiat ? The Yenta.  Yes,the Yenta fixes the ‘leaks’. The Yenta just does what Yenta’s do best. They talk again, spread other rumors, and reveal other secrets, all to make things better, and repair the damage of the  previous ‘leaks.’

**Definition from the East New York Compendium of Yiddish Terms, First Edition (and only ).

The Readers….

 

Deep in the bowels of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. is located a classified room that has been designated for the sorting, reading and reporting of all emails from governmental officials. Due to the current election, all sorting, reading and reporting of emails has been restricted to those emails from  and /or to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Time : 8 am.

Bob: Good morning Kathy.
Kathy: Hi Bob. Where is Stan?
Bob: He said he might be late today.
Kathy: Why?
Bob: We wasn’t feeling well yesterday, and he worked late last night.
Kathy: What was wrong?
Bob: Stan has allergies. He said that this room is full of mold.
Kathy: Where? Where is the mold?
Bob: I don’t know. I think it is in the air. You can’t see it.
Kathy: Well, what do we have today?
Bob: The computer reads 18,000.
Kathy: Are you kidding.
Bob: No. Actually the count is 18,316.
Kathy: No way can we do that today, or even by Wednesday. This is a joke!
Bob: We’ve got three days till Wednesday.
Kathy: But they said that on Wednesday we will be getting 9000 more.
Stan: Hi folks. Sorry I’m late.
Kathy: You feeling better?
Stan: I’m okay. What do we have?
Bob: Little more than 18,000
Kathy: Let’s get going. I’ll take household expenses, grocery orders, prescriptions, and family stuff.
Bob: Okay. I’ll take Congress – both the House and Senate emails.
Stan: That’s too much. Give me the Senate.
Kathy Who will take the Defense department?
Bob: Forget it. Just set them aside for the moment. Maybe tomorrow we can share them.
Kathy: What about the classified?
Bob: What about it?
Stan: Put them aside also. Say do you think we can get some help?
Bob: I asked Senator Reid. He said maybe.
Kathy: Forget it. When they say maybe, that is code for no way!
Stan: The election is just 60 days away. They want it done.
Bob: Who?
Kathy: The Judiciary committee. They are hot to get it done, and see what’s there.
Kathy: Let’s get going. Will do the best we can.
Stan: O.K.
Worked all morning, and stopped for lunch.

Kathy: I am getting sick and tired of this crap.
Bob: I know what you mean. It seems there is no end to the emails.
Stan: We have read about 37, 000 at this point.
Kathy: And just 7 Classified – just seven!!
Bob: No Kathy. Just 5 that we are sure of.
Stan: That’s right. Remember the one from the President. The C looked like a G.
Bob: Yeh. And the one from the Defense department. We couldn’t understand why it had a C.
Kathy: I remember. That one was a recipe for Brownies.
Bob: Maybe filled with weed, or a unique poison.
Stan: No way.
Kathy: What do you mean?
Stan: My wife made the recipe. It was great!
Bob: Your wife read the email. I can’t believe that you took the email home.
Kathy: Stan, please don’t tell us you did – please!
Stan: Stay cool. I memorized the recipe. I’m telling you they were really good.
Bob: Let’s get back to work.
Kathy: Do we have to?
Stan: Kathy. The nation is counting on us.

Telephone rings:

Bob: Bob here.
Yes
What’s his name?
Sorry. What is her name?
Any intelligence experience?
No. Okay.
She worked at HUD.
Okay.
Tomorrow morning. That’s fine.
Thanks, Senator.
Kathy: What’s up.
Bob: Well we are getting a helper.
Stan: What was that about HUD?
Bob: She was a clerk, and answered emergency consumer calls at HUD.
Kathy: Why her. I can’t believe those people

Stan: Forget it Kathy. Give her home stuff. Car repairs, medical appointments, vacations plans.
Bob: At least we got help.
Kathy: Clearance. Does she have clearance.
Bob: Top secret.
Kathy: So what! At HUD that means she can view rental agreements, and mortgages.
Stan: Cut it out. At least we got someone.

The End

 

Drowning in Lentil Soup

If my brother is in my Mother’s stomach, then where does the lentil soup go? My Mother had just finished her bowl of hot soup, and I was staring at her swollen stomach. With each spoonful of soup she ate, I winced, thinking of my baby brother swimming for dear life in that cauldron called her stomach.

I knew her stomach was really big, but was it big enough to hold a baby and all that hot soup?

I should never have asked her where I came from. She told me that I grew in her stomach. For a little child, the imagery is full of danger. How do you breath in there? How do you eat? Most of all, how do you get out.

Getting out of the stomach may be the most incomprehensible event. Did the doctor just cut open the stomach, reach in and take the baby out? Even if a Mother chanced identifying the vagina as the exit, there was no way a child could reconcile toilet function with the birth of a baby. Phooey! Gross!

We are still left with the dual functioning stomach – food storage and baby brooder. Fortunately, most children do not ask about the food function. If they did, Mother’s would be required to recognize the possible existence of a womb or uterus, or perhaps, a “special place”  just below the belly button. Once another compartment is identified, the confusion can be eliminated. Without some attempt at clarifying the mysteries of birth, a child must wish for their Mother to starve for nine months.

“I hope mommy doesn’t drink a lot today, or my baby will drown.” That night my Mother called me into her room. I came over to her bed, and she pointed to where the baby was kicking her side. Thank God. The baby survived the lentil soup.

Sometimes when I felt the “leg” kick, I was certain that the baby was fighting for life. If the “leg” kick was at the top of the swollen stomach, that meant the baby’s head was at the bottom – right in the middle of lunch!

By the way, how did my Mother know it was a leg and not an arm, or elbow? How could she tell? She couldn’t! It was an educated guess. It may not have been a guess at all, but rather a Mother’s need to answer the unanswerable queries of a child who would believe anything a Mother said.

Pregnancies and birth are unique and memorable events for all except little children. For the young child the magic is gone, because Mothers can account for everything. It is in the accounting that the magic dies and the terror and fear are born.

Divertissement

When unable to write, my first impulse is to eat, drink a cup of coffee, or at least think of food. The following recipe will not satisfy “writer’s block,” but it is delicious, nutritious and rather inexpensive.

Ingredients:
1. One pint of high quality, vanilla ice cream.
2. One or two jiggers of Grand Marnier Liquor.
3. One pint of fresh strawberries.
Procedure:
In your favorite dessert serving bowl, allow the pint of vanilla ice cream to melt at room temperature. When that ice cream has melted, stir it so as to remove any remaining lumps. Take half of the berries and place them into the ice cream. You can cut the berries in half if you would like. Mix them gently. Now place the serving bowl into the refrigerator and remove just prior to serving. When dessert time arrives, put the remaining berries into the ice cream. The initial berry group may have dropped beneath the surface of the ice cream. The latter berries will float until you mix in the one or two jiggers of Grand Marnier. The amount of liquor depends upon your taste. Serve the dessert in individual cups. The recipe serves at least 4, but more likely six persons.

More often than not, your quests will not guess the basic ingredient, and they will insist that the cream is unique, delicious and tres chic!