At the Black Gate

Small bloggers rejoice! If the New York Times can be believed, one’s literary ambitions are best served by keeping one’s daily readership under 1k per day.

Past as prologue

The New York Times embraces the myth of “the new normal” in an attempt to evade the obvious:

The new normal challenges the optimism that’s been at the root of American success for decades, if not centuries. And if it is here, the new normal could force Democrats and Republicans to rethink their traditional approach to unemployment and other social problems.

Some unusual suspects, like Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Business and an economic adviser to George W. Bush, are talking about a new, expanded role for the government in addressing the problem. In particular, Mr. Hubbard favors investing more in education to retrain workers whose jobs are never coming back. “If there is a new normal, it’s more about the labor market than G.D.P.,” he said. “We have to help people face a new world.”

For his part, Mr. Gross, also a free-market advocate, believes that it’s time for the government to spend tens of billions on new infrastructure projects to put people to work and stimulate demand.

First, if you believe it is time for the government to spend billions of dollars to put people to work and stimulate demand, you are not a free market advocate. Second, how is spending government money to “stimulate” the economy anything but a traditional approach to unemployment? The problem is debt and adding more public debt to the equation is only going to make matters worse. You would think this would be obvious, given that both Hoover and FDR tried spending billions of dollars to put people to work and what they got was the Great Depression. It is intriguing, but not surprising, to see all of the politicians and media figures so intent on taking the very actions that will cause the outcome they hope to avoid. What is remarkable is that they are doing this with the benefit of hindsight.

Get over yourself already

First, “psychiatric therapy” is complete, utter, and total BS. It’s not therapy of any kind, it’s nothing more than paying someone to listen to you talk about your favorite subject under the guise of a pseudo-scientific veneer. A pastor (religion) or a pill (science) would do anyone more good. Some of us see this right away, it takes others 40 years of incessant “therapy” from a multitude of “therapists” to realize it. Second, it’s obvious that what is wrong with the author is nothing more than an extreme case of conventional female narcissism. That being said, reading this endless solipsism of the self-centered mind does nicely illustrate how a focus on yourself is ultimately crippling and provides women with a warning of the peril presented by constant snowflaking.

The truth of the matter was that in more than 40 years of therapy (the only person I knew who may have been at it longer than me was Woody Allen, who once offered me his own analyst), I never developed a set of criteria by which to assess the skill of a given therapist, the way you would assess a dentist or a plumber. Other than a presentable degree of intelligence and an office that didn’t set off aesthetic alarms — I tended to prefer genteelly shabby interiors to overly well-appointed ones, although I was wary of therapists who exhibited a Collyer Brothers-like inability to throw anything away — I wasn’t sure what made for a good one. I never felt entitled to look at them as members of a service profession, which is what, underneath all the crisscrossing of need and wishfulness, they essentially were…. Just as some people believe in the idea of soul mates, I held fast to the conviction that my perfect therapeutic match was out there. If only I looked hard enough I would find this person, and then the demons that haunted me — my love/hate relationship with my difficult mother (who has been dead now for four years), my self-torturing and intransigently avoidant attitude toward my work, my abiding sense of aloneness and seeming inability to sustain a romantic relationship and, above all, my lapses into severe depression — would become, with my therapist’s help, easier to manage.

The byline says: “Daphne Merkin is a contributing writer. She is working on a book based on an article she wrote for the magazine about her struggle with chronic depression.” Of course she is. It’s eminently clear that she couldn’t possibly write about anything other than her own precious little snowflake self.

Quote of the Day: “Neurotics are a rabble, good only to support us financially and to allow us to learn from their cases: psychoanalysis as a therapy may be worthless.”
Sandor Ferenczi, President of the International Psychoanalytical AssociationSigmund Freud

However, I’m not saying that all therapists are con artists. The ones who actually help people are those who provide a service politely telling people to stop acting like self-destructive morons. But that’s not “therapy”, that’s just being paid to cushion the obvious blow.