jupe’s first shrink appointment and demagoguery



I’m sitting on my porch listening to the rain this morning. It was raining harder when I came out here to do my Greek. Now the rain has slowed down, but it still makes a nice sound and a cool damp breeze is moving past my chair.

So my first therapist attempt was a bust. I guess that’s not surprising. What did surprise me is how deflated and depressed it left me. After our session I walked home passing again through the park. It didn’t occur to me until I reached the park how useless my session had been and that I would have to call the therapist and take her up on my offer to keep looking if she and I were not a good fit.

Why weren’t we a good fit? I think the easiest way to think about this is that we lacked very many things in common. Part of this might have been age, but not all. She didn’t recognize very many of my references. John Hartford, Neil Postman and others might well have been before her time. She had the typical mental health care giver’s quiet and reluctance to commit herself to much. Annoying, but understandable. She did recognize Murray Bowen, but not Ed Friedman. Even then, I outlined my understanding of Bowen theory and its origin because she described church as my family “business.” I told her it was more my family system and that led to a bit of discussion (mostly me talking) about that branch of psychology.

I’m not sure about other references I made. Being noncommittal is a basic shrink technique, I would guess. But the main reasons I know she’s not the shrink for me are her own questions and description of our work together. She asked me what the outcome of meeting together would look like to me (honest answer which I gave her: “I don’t know.”). When I said I was rambling on (which I was), she said I wasn’t rambling I was telling her things that I thought were important. She also said that I would find myself looking at myself differently because of what I had talked to her about (wrong).

Finally during the session she asked me if I knew what enneagrams were. Sigh. I told her they reminded me of the Meyers-Briggs evaluation which is sometimes called “Episcopalian Horoscopes.” She laughed.

I told her that for most of these tools one would not have to scrape very deeply to see they are based on broader wisdom and concepts already present in the culture. I see them as useful, but I myself am a suspicious dude when it comes to embracing them.

She quieted down about enneagrams. Then she asked me if I had ever read any Richard Rohr (no). She was surprised. She recommended Falling Upward.

Sigh. Another self help book. And it looks directed at aging people. I guess she saw me as an eccentric older brainy type. I will look at this book. But I’m also planning to call her today and tell her I’m going to keep looking for a shrink.

Sad! — On The Media’s current show

My brother Mark mentioned how much he got out of this episode so I’ve been relistening to it. Micheal Signer has some interesting things to say. I have read his book on Madison and think he has a great mind (and it’s a great book and very pertinent to what is happening in the us right now).

His ideas were so good I synopsize them here for your dining and dancing pleasure:

In a previous show, Signer said

Demagogues thrive when we are cynical about truth.

They start to deflate when we put faith back again in public reason.


This time Signer describes the current “perfect storm” in American politics which is providing an opportunity for a demagogue such as Trump to get elected

1, cultural cynicism about leadership
2. corrosion of civic knowledge among the rank and file
3. media has shirked responsibility as conservator and influence on values of freedom of speech and separation of powers
4. widespread economic anxiety
5. national security fears that Trump seeks to amplify not calm

How Donald Trump Used the Orlando Shooting to Sow Division | TIME

I have a lot of links I haven’t been putting up. This is getting to be a long post so I’m only putting up a few links. This one falls in line with Signer’s ideas.

Why The AR-15 Assault Rifle Used In Orlando Is So Common In Mass Shootings

From International Business Times. Some stats and information.

The Scope of the Orlando Carnage – The New York Times

Frank Bruni has some solid observations.

4 thoughts on “jupe’s first shrink appointment and demagoguery

  1. Sorry the shrink thing didn’t work for you.

    Enneagrams… yikes. At least with Meyers Briggs there seems to be some possibility of gaining a little insight into the way one relates to the world. I’ve never found enneagrams to be of any real use. Too one dimensional.

    Richard Rohr is a religious type. A lot of churchy type people seem to like him. I tried reading his stuff years ago and found it pretty boring. Progressive Roman Catholics often love him.

    This shrink sounds like she put you into a religious mold without really listening to you. But what do I know?

    1. Thanks for your comments about the enneagrams. It helps me trust my own reaction to this kind of technique.

  2. Oh, and I think you’re not likely to find many therapists who know who Ed Friedman was. His notoriety seems to be limited to those organizations with which he worked while he was still alive: Church being one of them.

    The only therapist I ever met who recognized him and had read him was the step-sister of Jim Kelsey, the now deceased Bishop of Northern Michigan. And, in addition to her PhD in Theology and Psychology from Yale and her M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapist, Anne also had an MDiv from General. So Friedman was someone she had read. And went back to reread after she and I started working together. Anne was a good therapist and I enjoyed the year we worked together. She retired at the same time as I did in order to work on editing a book by one of Jung’s early followers.

    1. Your Anne sounds like a cool person. I am aware of how obscure and berated Friedman is or at least was during his lifetime. He made it clear. I only offered him (and a brief explanation – position not emotional web) because I thought any therapist in this area will encounter a lot of religion in their patients.

      McKnight returned my phone call on our way to Muskegon yesterday. She wanted to recommend therapists more “in my demographic.” She asked me directly how our session had not worked for me. I couched it in a lack of common culture. She however grasped more onto the differences in our age. This is not very perceptive, but I’m certainly not out to fix therapists only find one I can talk to. She agreed to email me names of local shrink types but was skeptical I would find someone. Me, too.

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