In Praise of Shrinkdom

Psychotherapy is fundamentally a Good Thing. Here’s the essential reason why, in my humble lay opinion:  There is no other way to unload your problems to somebody who is (1) professionally bound to keep his mouth shut; (2) is trained and paid to listen, truly shut the fuck up and listen; (3) is nonjudgemental and reasonably objective, having no dog in your fight, and yet (4) has your best interests in mind. There’s no civilian that you know personally who can meet these criteria, because whoever knows you and your life personally is thereby involved in it, and can’t be objective.

What’s the downside? Let’s see, there’s the expense. No small consideration, depending on how shitty your insurance is and how pricey your shrink.

What else? Oh yeah, I almost forgot:  the stigma. I know a several people who assert that they’ve never been to a shrink but think they could benefit from one. So you ask them why don’t they go ahead and do it and they’re like, gee, I don’t know, too busy, not hurting bad enough. Maybe so, or maybe a bullshit rationalization. If it’s the latter, the likely true reason, IMHO, is that they are deterred by embarrassment, shame and stigma, even when they are in or close to a subculture in which being shrunk is supposedly no big deal, indeed almost de rigueur like some other hot consumer product. I think a lot of people are embarrassed to pick up the phone or hit a find-a-shrink website. Or maybe it’s painful to admit to yourself that there is more on your plate than you care to handle alone. So Step One, if you fit this description, is Get Over It. It’s nobody’s business but your own, so fuck ’em and go do what you gotta do to take proper care of yourself. No one should expect you to govern the People’s Republic of You without at least one good professional advisor on your payroll.

Step Two may be more challenging than Step One:  find a good one. Finding one that is both good and good for you may require some patience. You are the employer and they work for you, so keep auditioning shrinks until you find one with whom you feel completely comfortable. Some shrinks are a lot more equal than others, and one essential requirement is that they be your intellectual equal or superior. You are going to be having a lot of deep conversations with this person and if you aren’t on the same wavelength in this regard, it ain’t gonna work.

Once you hook up, make sure your expectations are appropriate. Shrinkdom isn’t a panacea. It is, at a minimum, a chance to unload your woes for a little while in a way that is clean and harmless. At best, it is a way to come to a deeper understanding of what the fuck’s up, which might actually turn out to be helpful.