Friday, April 28, 2006

Who are my readers?

Who is my audience?
At times I am hesitant to write for a couple of reasons. For one thing,I am new to writing. I have written a personal journal for years, but no one reads that, and it is mostly half sentences and short data entries of events and emotions .Out here in the internet anyone can read what I write. “Anyone’ doesn’t concern me so much as the people I know. It gives me pause.
Before I gave it much thought, I emailed just about everyone I was starting a blog and they were invited to read it. I copied the entire email address book.
Now that is a diverse audience. It ranges from colleagues to Friends of Dorothy to my family. Such an audience would require a “G” rating site, lest I upset or shock (particularly the relatives). This careful editing sounds suspicious. Writing to interest all/please all will translate quickly into the banal. What to do?
Ideas to consider;

#1< The “survey” approach.
I suppose it is a bit tactless to directly ask everyone I knew ‘do you read this drivel?” And would the data be valid? Most of my kin and kind are from the Midwest so they would respond ‘Yes, I read it” regardless, to not hurt my feelings.

#2 < the “proceed with caution” approach.
I write my medical notes this way (i.e. will the patient or someone else someday read this?) Perhaps this should apply here too. The old ‘what if your parents read this’.

Or #3< The “Publish and be damned” approach. Fill up the blog with whatever thoughts and reports that strike my fancy. No doubt family members and some others will be titillated or shocked – or stop reading.

Dunno. I will think on this some more. Comments anyone?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Lonely Spo Cowboy

Loneliness makes life’s problems seem tragic. Yet there is nothing in the DSM IV (my psychiatric diagnostic manual) that takes in loneliness as a disorder or matter. Yet it is a common complaint. People come in to see me with all sorts of symptoms but more often than not isolation is a big part of it.
I now live in Arizona where the majority of people seem to come from somewhere else. Lots of patients feel ‘cut off’ and ‘new’ and don’t know anyone. Their family, friends etc are back east or in California or Mexico. They don’t have any idea how to alleviate their loneliness. Then there are the lonely sorts who have people around them but these people are not ‘available’. Women often report their spouses are too busy/working away or too tired to do much things as a couple (besides him wanting sex which doesn’t count for most of my patients). When I ask the men where they go when they want to talk to someone, the usual reply is ‘no one’. Studies show that men who have two close male friends live longer. I see the correlation.
This hits a sore spot for I too am a displaced person, in a strange new land, with no local network. My friends are scattered throughout the nation. For distraction, I have a lot of work to do, and there is house maintenance and hobbies to keep me busy as I want to be. But at times – especially at night – it all breaks down. It would be nice to have someone close by, someone with whom to do mawkish things like make a new dish for dinner or go hiking.
So, I take up my own advice that I daily dispense to the lonely – join some groups and socials and therein you may inadvertently stumble on some new chums. I joined a men’s club and the church bell choir. Both meet on Wednesday nights. My only two social outlets and they want the same spot!
So far I haven’t had much luck making new friends. Like my attempts at gardening, I can’t get much to grow. Joining the local bell choir is a big disappointment. Some friends of friends over as supper invite haven’t reciprocated or called back. No word yet on the men’s group, but a weekend long party/fundraiser dinner is coming up.

So like a lonesome cowboy in the desert, I’ll keep trekking, hoping to stumble across some oasis of friendly sounding people.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

All work and no play makes Jack get abducted by aliens

It is late saturday night; technically early sunday morning. It is Shakespeare's birthday. This reminds me to call my nephew who has a birthday today as well. I am giving the munchkin man a collection of stories from Shakespeare. I hope this is not too dull or lofty for a 8yo boy - or is he 9? My how time flies.
Speaking of time, it feels like an eon since my last entry. I have been swamped at work with new patients. They are labor intense and require a lot of paperwork. I could scribble illegible detail-less notes as I talk with them but these don't hold up later on. So I type them. I write as if the patient or an attorney could see them, but mostly I write for another MD. Iif I were to drop dead tomorrow no one would have any trouble picking up where treatment left off.
So there isn't time to write witty and thoughtful spo-notes. This is being composed off the cuff and without editing (jolly good fun but a bit giddy).

I wanted to let my spo-fans I am frazzled but not abducted.
Speaking of alien abductions, have you been abducted by aliens only to have them not give you a humiliating physical examination, but rather a good hair cut and total make over, and are too embarraseed to tell anyone? Please tell my fellow shrink in the far off kingdom of Massachusetts. He can not think of any reason why his patients believe they were abducted by aliens - except they were. I can - perhaps his patient are crazy! Apparently he does not first rule out if they are psychotic or depressed or have a history of abuse.
Once again C.G. Jung comes in handy by dodging the question of 'whether it is true' and talking about the archetypal importance of messengers from beyond (the Self - again).

It is late and I ramble; I have written 12 oh so practical professionally correct psychiatric evaluations and I miss being a bit off.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Being a Shrink

“Are you seeing a psychiatrist?”
This question nowadays gets a punch in the nose, but for many decades it was an ice breaker to share a common positive ground. It implied you were intense, sensitive, interesting – and neurotic. For those too young to remember, a neurosis was a social, sexual, or personal maladjustment, real or imagined. You took your neurosis to a psychiatrist to be cured by analysis. This was based on Freud’s theory that people have repressed sexual matters resulting in mental illness – only a psychiatrist could get to the matter. And getting him to analyze them cost you plenty. This took years, but it left you completely scoured. You knew it was over when the psychiatrist explained you were happy now or ‘cured’. This was sometimes correlated with the doctor becoming bored you running out of money. If you had plenty of neurosis and money the end never came.
It couldn’t get any better. A few times a week a Magus concentrated on you alone. Like God, he knew you better than yourself, but unlike God he wasn’t going to punish you. Nothing was ultimately your doing or fault. Usually it was your mother’s. You were unique, complex and fascinating. You might question the GP, but you didn’t question the shrink.

Then, times changed. Rather than changing square pegs to fit round holes, people made square holes. People dropped the psychiatrists and started pouring out their souls to friends as you once did to the analyst.
Then the medications came. The primary care physician could prescribe them. We have pills to calm you down, perk you up, even out your mood swings, bring down the highs, and elevate the lows. We even have pills to convince people they are not the latest Prophet from God or being pursued by the FBI.
The pills work better, faster, and cheaper, However they struck a blow to the one’s pride. In analysis we were made up of things that were unique to us. Now we are merely a bunch of chemical imbalances common to anyone. Millions take the same antidepressant, the same traquilizer (usually at the same time each day) with the same good and adverse effects. It’s dull too. Medicine pills pay no attention to our motives and inner drives. The psychiatrists became like any other MD, doing 15 minute medicine check ups.
I miss the analysis. They made us interesting. Although we are saving money and getting better faster we are nothing special any more. Rather depressing.

Monday, April 03, 2006

OCD Weekends

With the last entry tucked in, ‘writer’s block’ came to call. I could not think of anything to write this weekend last. I see this in a positive way; if I am to be a writer, then writer’s block is a component, like runners who have to get an injury from time to time. It is part of the deal. Then again, I hope it is not the Muses realizing that another mediocre writer is budding and they, sensible Women, ran off hoping I would get the hint to shut up before things go too far.
I think I have things to say, but I still struggle with how to get them out. It is a bit like being a perfectionist who still doesn’t know quite how to get things right….

The word ‘weekend’ cues me to expand on that. (thank you Ladies) Last weekend we decided to work on the pool. After changing the sand in the filter, buying a new pool vacuum and testing all the waters, we feel some mastery. However, the pool now has a cloudy chalk like colour, most unpleasant. I hope we didn’t do permanent harm.
Poor weekends; they are two fragile paper plates upon which too much are heaped. Besides all that would be fun, there is the week’s paper work, chores, and errands put off until then. Oh, how I would loathe the Father Figure rousing us up on a Saturday morning with shouts of ‘there is work to be done!”. 40 years later I have become this same person (integration of the Father Figure in shrink talk) but alas there is no ‘next generation’ towards which to direct this OCD tradition. Nor is there a wife, who could possibly be snookered into doing some of them during the week. She would probably be working all week as well. I have Someone but he works longer/harder than I. He does not have this conditioned mania of chores on weekends.
So weekends will remain a run around time, doing the laundry and cleaning the yard and paying the bills. I suspect others are out having ‘fun’ but perhaps they have some domestic help.

Maybe a house-boy is indicated, someone to rattle the pots and pans and clean the windows too. In my middle aged years, that seems the best use for such a person.