Shrink Unwrapped – Blitz

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Humor
Fiction
Publisher: IP Books
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To
treat patients using psychoanalysis, psychiatrists must first undergo their own
analysis. And Dr. Jacob Fink plans to coast through his own stint on the
shrink’s couch as quickly as possible. 
Can
a three
yearold who was unable to sit
still on his carpet square in nursery school and constantly joked his way
through his schooling ever be successful in life?
Can
listening to a weather forecast be dangerous to your health?
Can
a boy get a venereal disease just by thinking about girls?
How
can you get fresh semen stains out of white linen pants and beat a traffic
ticket?
Jacob
is on his way to a breakthrough when something unthinkable happens and he now
has to dig deep to unwrap the last of his inner struggles and finally grow into
the therapist he knows he can be.
Excerpt
Chapter
1
So
You Want To Be an Analyst
My
life was programmed for me.
As
far back as I can remember, my parents repeatedly said
“I
don’t care what you do when you grow up as long as you go to college,
then
medical school, and become a doctor.”
For
my birthday, my father gave me a stethoscope. My mother
gave
me a white coat and a ticket to a medical insurance seminar in Las
Vegas.
The package included airfare, two days, three nights at the
glamorous
Golden Unicorn Hotel, breakfast every morning, one buffet
dinner,
and tickets to the Folies Bergères Revue I was thankful, but
didn’t
know what to do with it. I was only three.
It
should be no surprise that I followed the path that had been set
out
for me.
Often,
people asked me why, after graduating medical school, I
chose
the specialty of psychiatry. I jokingly said, “I’m uncoordinated,
afraid
of the sight of blood, and generally dislike human touch. What
other
specialty would fit those limitations?”
My
friends, always looking for an edge, misunderstood my choice
and
thought I was a psychic. “Tell me what I’m thinking right now!”
“How
much change do I have in my pocket?” or “What’s in store for
me
in the future?”
The
response from my family to my choice of specialty was one of
embarrassment,
not support:
My
grandmother, loving but outspoken, said “I’ll tell everyone my
grandson
is a doctor! I’ll leave out the embarrassing psychiatrist part.”
My
dermatologist father, always questioning, asked, “Do psychiatrists
ever
get their patients better?” I replied, somewhat annoyed,
“Do
dermatologists ever get their patients better?” End of discussion.
My
mother, always the realist, probably had the best response. “Why
in
the world would my hyperactive son pick a specialty where he had to
sit
still in one place for 45 minutes? How are you going to do that?”
I
looked at her knowingly, “With difficulty,” I replied.
I
have always been hyperactive. I was born three weeks early.
My
mother, ever-ready to comment, insisted it was because I couldn’t
wait
to get moving. I never walked. I ran, jumped, rocked, twirled,
rolled,
and twisted my way through childhood. “Harnessing his boundless
energy
was impossible. It was exhausting,” freely admitted my
mother.
“I just couldn’t keep up with him.”
In
an effort to preserve what was left of her physical strength and
emotional
sanity, I was enrolled in the “Little Friends” nursery school
at
age two. That lasted only three months. I was expelled because I
couldn’t
sit still on my assigned carpet square, which was a requirement
for
continued enrollment. The headmaster never did explain to my parents
how
sitting on a piece of carpet was supposed to prepare me for the
future.
One could speculate, however, that sitting still in a confined
space
for an extended period of time might groom someone to become
one
of the statues people see in Times Square in New York City. But
that
was not what my parents had in mind for my future, so my departure
was
not considered a major setback.
Despite
a disheartening streak of failed nursery school interviews,
my
mom never gave up. But, after my fifth rejection, she decided
she
needed some help. Before the next interview, at the suggestion
of
her doctor husband, she doped me up with a tiny dose of
a
minor tranquilizer. Since I was not driving or operating any heavy
machinery,
this tranquilizer would hopefully just slow me down
enough.
However, when I kept nodding off during the interview, she
gave
the headmaster some cock-and-bull story that I hadn’t slept
well
the night before because I was so excited about coming to the
school.
Half awake, and successfully slowed down, I was admitted
to
the Oak Ridge Day Nursery . . . where I spent the next 3.5 years.
During
that time, I was personally responsible for driving seven
early
childhood specialists into other fields, none of which had to
do
with children.
Since
I started out as the youngest child ever in the school by far, it
was
difficult for me to understand why many of the kids left to go on to
kindergarten
at the end of the year, yet I remained in the school. Each
year,
as May approached with the impending departure of my friends, I
would
become sullen, brooding, bad-tempered, and ill-humored. My
teachers
tried to tell me that in a few years (then in a couple of years, and
finally
next year), I would go to kindergarten, but that didn’t help. Time
for
a child is a nebulous concept; for a hyperactive child, it is the equivalent
of
forever.
In
a last-ditch attempt to bolster my spirits, I was given the roll of
Tiny
Tim in the school’s Christmas play. I had one line “God bless us,
every
one!” Excited about my role in the play, I practiced my line continuously
day
and night. “God bless us, every one!” “God bless us,
every
one!” While my gloomy mood had dissolved, the school had
inadvertently
created a monster. My “God bless us, every one!” was
like
the unstoppable brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene in
Fantasia,
an Oscar winning animated film from Disney Studios. The
school,
my parents and even God counted down the days until the play.
“God
bless us, every one!”
Thirty
people attended the Christmas play that year. Of the 30, 16
were
there for me: My mom, my grandparents, two uncles, two aunts,
and
four neighbors and their wives.
You
should have been there. The atmosphere was electric. The
crowd
was hushed in anticipation when it was time for me to deliver my
lines.
My theatrical debut was upon us. There was silence. Then more
silence.
You could hear his teacher off stage whispering “God bless us,
every
one!” “God bless us, every one!”
The
silence was deafening. And then I began “God bless us, every
one!
God bless my mom and my father in Texas, my grandparents,
Uncle
Marshall and Aunt Elaine, Uncle George and Aunt Barbara, the
Fishers,
the Kantros, the Rondos, and all the other people that came to
see
me whose names I didn’t know. God bless us, every one! God bless
us,
every one!”
I
bowed to the audience and then to the people backstage, and
skipped
off the stage. A star or a reasonable facsimile thereof was born.
Fast
forward to today! Somehow—and there are several speculations
how—I
was able to transform and harness my hyperactivity into
productivity
as I zoomed through high school, college, medical school,
and
psychiatric training. The speculations were lost somewhere along
the
way. I had a successful private practice, did some teaching of medical
students,
and supervised psychiatric residents.
All
of this was somewhat fulfilling, but something was missing.
I
wanted to be more than just a simple pill-pushing professional. I
wanted
to go where no ordinary psychiatrist dared to go. I wanted to
talk
to my patients, to probe the depths of their minds, to uncover
insights
that trapped emotions and prevented meaningful relationships.
When
a patient presented a dream where a hot dog was chasing a
doughnut
wearing a garter belt and fishnet stockings through a tunnel
filled
with yellow daisies, I wanted to be able to uncover its hidden
meaning.
I wanted to be a Freudian analyst. That was my dream.
However,
to be an analyst, two things had to happen. First, you
had
to choose an analyst from a small group of specially trained analysts
called,
not-so-surprisingly, training analysts. Second, you have
to
undergo a personal analysis with one of them, a fairly long process.
Initially,
the training analyst would perform a “psycho-colonoscopy”
to
discover your inner problems, followed by a long slow “mental
enema”
to purge you of the emotional shit inside that would interfere
with
your treating others.
To
begin the process, I had compiled the resumes of 10 training
analysts.
Who should I go to see first? I needed expert guidance. This
was
a very important decision and I knew exactly the one to turn to. It
was
Anna, my six-year-old female Jack Russell Terrier (named after
Sigmund
Freud’s daughter), who had guided me successfully in the
past.
Anna had picked five consecutive Super Bowl winners. Anna had
found
my car keys in the bottom of my closet when they accidentally
dropped
out of my pants pocket as I hung them up. Most recently, Anna
had
helped me pick out the perfect fragrance for my wife for our
anniversary.
I
placed the 10 résumés side by side on the floor of the family
room.
“Anna,” I yelled, “Come!” The rhythmic clinking of her dog tags
announced
her arrival from the kitchen where she had just finished getting
a
drink of water. “Anna,” said I. “I need your help making an
important
decision. Look over these resumes and pick the training analyst
I
should interview . . . ”
Anna
scratched her left ear with her left hind paw before walking
over
to the papers on the floor. She stared at the first résumé and slowly
sniffed
herself laterally to look over each one. She looked carefully
at
the training analysts’ ages, their experience, their gender, and what
books
they liked to read. When she got to the next to the last résumé
she
lifted her leg and peed on it. Turns out this analyst lost his license
10
years later because of sleeping with one, maybe two of his patients.
How
did Anna know?
Nine
to go. With her nose, she pushed off to the side the résumés
of
the analysts who were older than 65 years, who had been divorced,
and
who had no interests outside of psychiatry, as well as those who
followed
the Chicago Cubs. She made a separate pile for those who
had
pets and further eliminated some who weren’t named for famous
analysts.
When all the sniffing and pawing was done the analyst left
standing
was Dr. Herman Hermann, a 60-year-old, who had been a
training
analyst for 22 years and married to the same woman for 40. He
was
an avid golfer with a 10 handicap. The thing that sealed the deal
for
Anna was that he had a German Shepherd named Sigmund and she
loved
German Shepherds, especially if they were named for her father.
I
immediately picked up the phone and scheduled an appointment
with
Dr. Hermann for next week.
I
patted Anna on the head and thanked her for her help. I imagined
Anna
thinking “I can’t believe he thinks I have special telepathic powers
when
in reality I picked that particular resume because the paper
smelled
like a dog I met in the park last week.” I often had crazy
thoughts
like this. It made life interesting.
About
the Author

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Dr.
Joel Schwartz is the published author of 7 middle grade novels, including
Upchuck Summer (Yearling, 1983), which sold over 150,000 copies, He is the
Emeritus Chair of Psychiatry at Abington Memorial Hospital, and a board
certified adult and child psychiatrist/psychoanalyst. He is also a professional
speaker, and works with organizations to improve workplace dynamics. In
addition, he is an amateur stand
up comic and wishful golfer.
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