Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Puberty of the Mind

After re-reading my last post, I started worrying that I might have come off as just a tad bit superior. This, of course, is a problem because I never want to mislead my readers into thinking I’m anything I’m not…and if there’s one thing I am not, it’s arrogant; I’ve always believed my humility is one of my best traits (and I have a lot of good traits to choose from so that should tell you something). So, just to clarify, it’s not that I think I’m all that great…it’s that I think other people are just that bad.

This week’s evidence of just how stupid people can be is especially aggravating to me. At the top of my list of things no intelligent person should ever say is the simple phrase, “you always think you’re right”. You’ve certainly heard this little gem before (and I hope it’s been said to you and not by you)… the situation is usually something like a debate or argument when one person has a command of facts and reasoned opinions while the other person is…uh…well…“open-minded”. The beautiful thing about open-minded people is that they’re always willing to share with others how correct they are in being open-minded and how wrong you are in your close-minded beliefs. If only you would open your mind and stop believing that you’re always right, we could all get along!

You may be asking, “But what’s wrong with that? Isn’t being open-minded a good thing?” Of course it is! Just like puberty is a good thing…I’m really glad I went through it at one point in my life, but I’m even gladder that I outgrew the cracking voice, zitty face, and intense desire to be anything that would make others like me. Unfortunately for many of you (or maybe unfortunately for me because I have to deal with you), you got stuck in “puberty of the mind” and never grew up to form an actual, fact-based opinion. Like the clogged pores that used to cause puss to develop just below your skin, your brain is now clogged up with the puss-like belief that a lack of conviction is somehow a sign of maturity. At least zit-faced kids have the good sense to be embarrassed by their blemishes!

“But”, I can hear you protesting, “I don’t want to be accused of thinking I’m always right…nobody likes a know-it-all!” Did you ever stop to consider the alternative? Don’t you already think you’re always right? Be honest…have you ever said anything that you honestly believed was wrong? If not, try it some time. If you think people don’t like people who think they’re always right, you’ve never spent any time around a person who intentionally says things that he believes are wrong. If you’re thinking about politicians, lawyers, and used car salesmen, you’ve just spread a healthy dose of Clearasil on your brain.

Puberty of the mind may not be a “real” clinical diagnosis, but trust me, it’s an affliction that affects countless individuals. How do I know? I’m a psychologist, and I am analyzing you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

And so it Begins

I can’t do it any longer. I’ve been living a lie and it’s time to set the record straight. What you read in the following paragraphs will not be pleasant…the truth rarely is. Anyway, in this case I’m not concerned with your ability to sleep soundly at night, content in your belief that the world is okay…so pull up your big boy pants and read on. (Yes ladies, I know that statement was not gender neutral…and I don’t even care.)

You’ve probably been in the position of meeting a mental health care professional in some sort of social setting…it really doesn’t matter which kind of mental health care pro, psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist, whatever. In that situation you’ve likely said something along the lines of “Uh oh, I’d better watch what I say…you’re probably analyzing me right now!” How do I know this? Easy. I’m a psychologist and I am analyzing you. I’ve been doing it for years, we all do…and it’s time you knew the truth.

I can hear you now: “but you guys always say ‘I only analyze people when I’m on the clock…unless you’re paying me a fee you don’t need to worry about being analyzed’!” Of course we say that! How else could we avoid the awkward scene in which we’re forced to tell you just how freakishly disturbing your behavior really is? Trust me, it’s far more pleasant for everyone involved (most importantly me) that we just pretend not to notice that your behavior makes 12-year-old girls look like socially secure rock stars in comparison. Yes, it’s better that we casually overlook those mommy/daddy issues that you wear like a badge of honor rather than pointing out the fact that my asking you what you do for a living was not an invitation for a cathartic experience…sheesh, I wasn’t really interested in what you do for a living anyway. And it should go without saying (but, unfortunately, it does not), that for our own sanity’s sake we must ignore the fact that your protestations against being analyzed are nothing more than a veiled invitation to validate your existence as worthy of investigation: “please, please tell me I’m interesting enough to analyze…I’m so lonely.”

The truth is I’m trained to recognize human behavior that is illogical, irrational, and ill-conceived…and I’ve yet to encounter a situation in which there’s a shortage. I’m constantly surrounded by the foolish behaviors I’ve sworn my life to overcome and yet I’m required to pretend I see none of it. Imagine a firefighter who sees an entire city on fire but is required to say,‘I’ll just pretend not to see that inferno because people really don’t appreciate being told their house is burning down unless they ask first (and even then they really just want reassurance that their house is not actually engulfed in flames)’. That’s right people, your lives are on fire and I’m just watching them burn while pretending I can’t feel the heat.

But, you ask, doesn’t that make you judgmental to an extreme? Yes. Yes it does. Doesn’t it make you miserable? Yes. Yes it does…but not for the reasons you might assume. You may think that I’m miserable because of the superiority I see in myself or the disdain I feel for others (please leave the psychoanalysis to the professionals…it’s better for us all). Actually, I’m miserable because I can’t tell you all the things I actually think about the way you live your lives and the way you see the world…until now, that is.

This blog will be my redemption. I’ll continue to live my life as all mental health professionals do, content to be seen as impartial helpers of the human spirit while living secretly as judges of humanity. But within the pages of this blog, you’ll find the truth…a weekly example of just how screwy your life really is. I’m a psychologist and I am analyzing you.