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Archive for the ‘Intriguing Patients’ Category

It is remarkable how often I listen to clients worrying themselves sick over people who don’t even seem to like them.

The other day a woman complained she didn’t know how to handle a guy who’d treated her like something under his shoe.  He didn’t call, didn’t pay attention to her life or any of the issues she was facing at work or with her family.  He pretty much just talked, and cared, about himself.

But she couldn’t seem to get over him.

He called again, wanted to get together.

“Should I see him?”  She asked me.

The answer was obvious.  Every time she’d given in – and it had happened plenty – the same pattern played out.  He was considerate and nice for a week or two, then went back to the same old routine of ignoring her needs and focusing entirely on himself.

I told her she needed greater wisdom than I could summon.  She needed to listen to Barry Manilow.

You probably have some sort of opinion regarding the creative output of Barry Manilow – which is to say you probably either love his music or you hate it.

If you love it – really, really love it – then you’re a “fanilow,” a Barry Manilow super-fan.

A friend of mine visited Las Vegas last year with his two elderly aunts, and – mostly to humor them – went to see Barry Manilow play at one of the big resort hotels.  He posted his response up on Facebook:  “I’m a fanilow!”

He was wowed – like plenty of people who actually go to see this hard-working, talented performer who gives everything he’s got on stage.

Barry loves his fanilows.  He thanks them, he signs their programs, he tells them again and again that he owes them everything, that they’re the reason he can keep on performing and doing what he loves.  They love him – and he loves them right back.

On the other hand, I read an interview a few years back where the reporter got a bit snarky with Barry, hinting that his music was widely dismissed as camp, mere sugary trash.  I don’t remember Barry’s precise words, but he said something like this:  “I take my work very seriously, and if you aren’t going to treat it with respect, I’ll end this interview right now.”

He had a point, and he made it.  Barry Manilow does what he loves, and there are many people who celebrate him for it. He doesn’t need the haters.

You can learn from Barry Manilow.

(more…)

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There are foods no rational human would knowingly ingest:  the stuff listed on this website.

Why would you eat a double bacon peanut butter egg and cheese burger with chipotle mayo?

Because you think it will taste good.

To be precise, a little child inside you thinks it will taste good.  That little child is unconscious, and he seeks pleasure.  Freud called him the “Id.”  He doesn’t think.  He reaches for something shiny because it’s shiny.

Welcome to the appeal of Sarah Palin.

Sarah is the political equivalent of marshmallow fluff, chocolate fudge, mac & cheese and cookie dough in a deep fryer.

Why does she look like she’ll taste good – and why is she so bad for you?:

FIRST REASON:  Sarah has an easy answer for EVERYTHING.

Millions of Americans without healthcare?  Sarah would shrink government while lowering costs, cutting taxes and creating jobs.  It’s THAT SIMPLE!!

Foreign Affairs?  Sarah would stand tall against our enemies and stop terrorism in its tracks while keeping us the strongest nation in the world.

Immigration? Sarah would stand up for real Americans and protect our jobs.

The environment?  There’s plenty of oil – we just have to drill for it!  Sarah doesn’t believe in global warming.  We can do whatever we want.  That’s what the planet’s there for – having fun!

What else is there?

Who cares!

Sarah would cut taxes, build the economy, create jobs, shrink government, make America strong and bring the family back – like things used to be in the olden days!  Everything would be super!!

You betcha.

Does any of this make sense?

Does washing down a bag of Doritos with a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew and a super-size bag of peanut butter M&M’s make sense?  Does it have to make sense?

It feels good.  Until a few hours later.  When you throw up.

SECOND REASON:  Sarah’s just like you!

Palin’s Tea Party supporters are always stressing how “real” Sarah is.  That word – “real” – is code for “just like me!”  Your Id, like a small child, is by definition a narcissist – he cannot see where he stops and another person begins, so doesn’t see anyone or anything beyond his own reflection.

Neither does Sarah!

She brings you…you.  Not like that weirdo Obama, who’s…well…umm…he looks “different” –  you know what I mean?

Your Id wants to have fun.  He seeks pleasure.  That’s the “Pleasure Principle.”   Your unconscious – this child – is utterly regressed.  He likes sugar, and shiny things.  He likes Sarah.

In case you need a male Sarah Palin?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

That would be Scott Brown.

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Albert Einstein was puzzled by the mystery of his own fame.  He was forever pondering with friends and associates why he – a physicist whose work was a mystery to most non-scientists – should have become the recipient of full-blown Hollywood-style celebrity.  For whatever reason, Einstein chose not to discuss this issue with the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, either when they met in person in 1927, or in their later correspondence.  As one of Einstein’s biographers, Denis Brian, put it:

Einstein…missed the chance for a Freudian explanation of why hordes of people incapable of understanding his ideas threated the quiet contemplation he craved to pursue his work by chasing after him.  Are they crazy or am I?  he wondered.

I suspect Einstein never asked Freud why people hounded him as a celebrity because it seemed a silly and self-indulgent question.  Most of Freud and Einstein’s correspondence concerned serious politics – the Nazi threat, Zionism and the like.  It was also a pretty obvious question.  People flocked to Einstein for the same reason they flock to any celebrity – because they want to be that celebrity. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be Einstein – by popular acclaim, the smartest person in the world – and have everyone associate your name with the very definition of genius?

Einstein might have been loathe to admit it, but he was rich and famous – and we all want to be rich and famous.  In fact, if you were asked what you wanted to be right now, more than anything else – and you didn’t stop to reflect – you might just answer “rich and famous.”

Why?  Because that’s what most people assume they want, until they stop and think, and maybe come up with an answer that’s a little more meaningful.

Even if they do stop and think about it, they still might want wealth and fame, without realizing it – like Einstein.

No one was more consciously self-effacing or less interested in money than Albert Einstein.  He was constantly reminding people that he was only one of many talented physicists, including many great predecessors who laid the groundwork for his theories.  He was also fiercely determined to live unostentatiously – giving much of his money away and using a good deal of it to help others, including fellow Jews who needed to be sponsored financially in order to escape Nazi persecution.

Deep down, though, Einstein sensed something was going on with his relationship to fame and fortune.  As Brian puts it:

Einstein half-seriously speculated that he himself was to blame;  that elements in his makeup of the charlatan, the hypnotist, or even the clown inadvertently attracted attention….He suspected that he might unconsciously be inviting the hunt…

Well, of course he was inviting the hunt.  That’s because, while Einstein’s adult self disdained wealth and fame, his child, given the chance, drank it up.

Your child craves it, too.

To understand why, let’s take a look at what “rich and famous” really means.

Rich means loved.  Famous means paid attention to.  The same things you have craved since the day you were born.

Money, in psychotherapy terms, is a surrogate for security in love.  A patient once told me if he won the lottery he would build a brick house that needed no maintenance and would stand for five hundred years, then he’d create a fund to guarantee that the taxes and every other possible expense would be paid for in perpetuity.  He’d have a place, a safe place, forever, that no one could ever take away.  He could finally feel safe and breathe free.

Of course, that’s a dream.  First, because you’re going to die, eventually, even if you’re hiding inside a brick house.  And second, because sitting alone in a house isn’t a satisfying way to spend your life.  Feeling secure boils down to more than money or a big house – it’s about feeling safe in someone’s affection, and it starts with learning to love yourself.

As a child, you can gauge your parents’ investment in you – their love – by whether they are paying attention.  You learn to do everything you can to keep their eyes on you as much as possible – like a kid at the playground, calling to his mother, making sure she watches each and every trick he performs on the jungle gym.  Attention is like food for a young child.

There’s evolutionary history behind our desire to be rich and famous.  It traces back to the fact that humans, with their gigantic brains, take a long time to reach maturity. An orangutan reaches adolescence at about age four.  He’s in contact with his mother’s skin almost without break for much of that time, then soon becomes independent.  A human doesn’t reach adolescence until thirteen.  He requires more than a decade of childcare – too many years to rely solely on the care of parents.  The human child senses instinctively that his life might depend upon summoning care and attention from others.

No wonder you work hard to become rich and famous.

The problem with chasing wealth and fame is that it’s a child’s mission, not an adult’s.  At some point you must step out of childhood – that long, helpless period of your life – and move onto the independence of maturity.  Instead of needing reassurance that you are loved, you can achieve independence by learning to love yourself.  That big step into adulthood is an affirmation that you deserve love, and deserve to receive it from those you call friends or partners.

You needn’t crave attention as an adult, either.  It feels nice, now and then, to receive praise for your work.  But if you have your own attention – you’ve done the job of living consciously as your best self and winning your own respect – you no longer have to cry for mommy to watch you perform on the jungle gym.  You can learn to feel safe and secure in your own abilities and achievements.

Security within yourself is worth more than being rich and famous.  The ultimate goal is security in the knowledge that you have friends who deserve you and care about you, meaningful work that you enjoy and a partner who is a true friend and ally.

That beats wealth and fame any day.

It’s interesting that one of the most famous photos of Albert Einstein features him sticking his tongue out.  You’ve probably seen it a million times on postcards or posters on dorm room walls.  It seems to speak volumes about Einstein’s naturalness and lack of pretension – his being in touch with his child. Perhaps that’s true.  It was photos like that – and his crazy hairdo – that helped make Einstein an icon of approachable, lovable brilliance.

On the other hand, that photo, which was taken in December 1948, captures Einstein shortly after he was operated on at Brooklyn Jewish Hospital for a large and potentially life-threatening aneurysm of the abdominal aorta.  Brian describes the circumstances of the photo:

After overhearing a doctor say that the hospital was short of private rooms, Einstein insisted he was “getting much better” and asked to be moved to the ward.  That way, his room could go to someone who needed it more.  He was talked out of it when told he would be more trouble in the ward.  Helen Dukas [his private secretary] came to collect him a few days later, and they left by the back entrance through a gauntlet of reporters, newsreel cameramen, and almost the entire hospital staff, who were there to wish him well.  On the way home, pestered by photographers, he was snapped by one of them, sticking his tongue out at him.

The original, un-cropped version of the photo gives a slightly different impression from the familiar cropped version.  The original includes the people around Einstein, who are trying to hurry a sick man home through a crowd of reporters.  Perhaps, when he stuck out his tongue, Einstein the adult was simply annoyed and exasperated at a mob harassing an aging, unwell physicist whose work none of them could even understand.

On the other hand, maybe Einstein’s child was having a bit of fun and enjoying the attention.

Probably both were true.  Einstein might not have been certain himself of exactly how he was feeling at that moment, or why. But however much he unconsciously basked in the glow of wealth and fame – or fled from it – the father of relativity devoted the majority of his later life to ignoring his wealth and avoiding attention while working hard to achieve nuclear disarmament and world peace.  Being rich and famous wasn’t enough.  Einstein the adult needed a more meaningful dream.

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A therapist colleague recently agreed with me that the funniest things we’d ever heard were told to us by our clients.  Summer break (and the week of the bar exam) seems like an appropriate time for a laugh.  So…without further ado…here are some of my clients’ funniest utterances from the past few years:

  • (An Arab client) “Don’t worry, Will – my name is Saif (pronounced “safe”), so all the sex I have is ‘Saif sex!'”
  • “My mother did everything around the house.  If my father asked her to do an extra chore she’d say ‘fine, and I’ll stick a broom up my ass so I can sweep the kitchen floor at the same time!'”
  • “I prefer the term ‘MoHo’ – Fag Hag is so last year.”
  • Diet coke and vodka.  It’s a dieter’s drink.  Just order a “skinny black bitch.”
  • “My best friend and I played a game called “MFK” – Marry, Fuck or Kill.  You pick three random people and decide which you’d marry, fuck and kill.  But that got boring.  The new variation is ‘Oral, Vaginal or Anal.'”

  • “My husband’s an investment banker and works in Abu Dhabi half the year.  I’m a ‘gulf widow’.”
  • “I tried to detard him.  That’s when you un-tard a retard.  Needless to say, I failed.”
  • “I’m a ShoMo – a big Broadway musical queen.”
  • (An obstetrician) “Dr. Jones, at your cervix.  Dilated to meet you!”
  • “I thought my boyfriend was a guido, going to Atlantic City to party with his yo-bro’s.  It turned out he was a ‘mo.  Those yo-bro’s were his mo-bro’s.”
  • “My boyfriend is kind of kinky.  I call him a ‘BOB’.  A ‘bend-over boyfriend.'”
  • (A leather queen patiently correcting me): “The phrase ‘ass-less chaps’ is redundant, Will.”
  • (On a Skype session with a client in Japan) “I feel like I’m having an earthquake.” “You mean, from the session?”  “No, the house is shaking.” (Indeed, she’d been experiencing an earthquake during our call.)
  • “When I was 11 years old, a bully beat me up and I refused to go to school the next day.  My mother told me we were immigrants, and I had to be brave.  She gave me a $10 bill and said, find a big kid and pay him to beat up the bully.”
  • “He wasn’t really hot.  He was “lawyer-hot” – as in, I was stuck at work and horny.”
  • “My friends have a party game – match the most unlikely Asian surname to a Western given name.  My personal favorite is ‘Tyrone Ramachandran.'”
  • “So he came on her back while she was sleeping and stuck the sheet on it.  That’s called ‘superman-ing the bitch.'”
  • “He rolled his foreskin over my foreskin – that’s called ‘docking.'”
  • “What do 9 out of 10 people enjoy?  Gang rape.”
  • “He tried to omelet me.  That’s when he comes in my ear and folds it over.”
  • Told by an attractive young blonde: “This cab driver in Rome asked me the time.  He was about 70 years old, four feet tall and didn’t speak English.  I shook my head.  So he gestured like this (facing the palms of his hands over one another like two people in bed) and said ‘meesh-meesh?’  Now I say “meesh-meesh” instead of ‘have sex.’ (So, eventually, did the rest of her therapy group, after hearing that story.)
  • “I’m Filipino.  I don’t talk about sex.  But we did stuff.  That’s all I’ll say – we did stuff.”  (…which is how “did stuff” became the official euphemism for sex in my other therapy group.)
  • (Asian client) “Once you’ve had Asian – there’s no more Caucasian.”
  • (Black client) “Once you’ve had white – you go white back to black.”
  • Client in my HIV+ gay men’s group: “My thing is low-hangers.  I love low-hangers.” (This brought the group to a stand-still.)

  • “I went to a meeting of a nudist book club, but it was movie night.”
  • “She DIH-n’t!” (Said by a gay Latin client.)  “Yuh-huh she did!”  (I was coached to say this precisely in sync with him.)
  • (A Cameroonian client) “My mother’s family tried to bury my aunt on our property, so they could build their house there – but we chased them off.  It is our land still.”
  • “A sidecar, in a wine glass, with three cherries.  That’s a drag queen drink.”
  • “He ‘Houdini-ed’ her.  That’s when you do a girl from behind, against a big window.  Then you pull out, and your buddy takes over, while you run around the front of the window and wave at them.”
  • “I suppose my boyfriend might have been more aware of my feelings if he weren’t FUCK-TARDED.”
  • How is a moped like a fat girl?  They’re both fun to ride until your friends see you.

That’s enough for now.  You get the idea.  Enjoy your summer and good luck on the bar!

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A lot of people thought Ludwig van Beethoven was an unpleasant person.

He could be impatient, and often tempestuous.  But most of the time, when people thought the composer was being gruff or imperious or rude, it was the result of his trying to hide the fact that he couldn’t hear a word they were saying.  For many of the final years of his life, Beethoven was stone deaf.

Here’s how he explained the situation in a letter:

Forgive me when you see me draw back when I would have gladly mingled with you. My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished; I can mix with society only as much as true necessity demands. If I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me, and I fear being exposed to the danger that my condition might be noticed.

It would  have been embarrassing, and jeopardizing to his career, if anyone other than Beethoven’s closest confidants discovered his deafness.  So he did his best to hide it, and in so doing often appeared rude.

Many of the people who encountered Beethoven assumed he didn’t like them, or was simply a snob – in other words, that it was all about them.  But it had nothing to do with them.  It was about Beethoven.

My point is that mind-reading is impossible.  You will never know what someone else is thinking – what’s really going on in his head – unless you ask him, and listen closely to his answer.

I often watch patients react badly to something a friend has said or done, operating on the assumption that they knew what their friend was thinking…only to be proven wrong.  That’s how misunderstandings occur.

Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re feeling.  Maybe that’s why Beethoven felt driven to write music, even to his last breath, when he could only hear it in his head.

If you want to know what Beethoven was really thinking and feeling, listen to a little of this – music written in the mind of a deaf man:

Beethoven wasn’t the only misunderstood musician.  John Coltrane was often described as a very serious man who never smiled.  In reality, he was a sweetheart – just self-conscious about his crooked teeth.

Here’s what Coltrane was really thinking:

Miles Davis, too, was accused of being hostile and aggressive because he sometimes turned his back to the audience during performances.  In reality, he was conducting.  At that point in his career, Miles was playing very sophisticated, partially improvised music. He’d created an involved, customized system of hand signals with his band, and needed to pay attention in order to give them complex musical cues.

Here’s what Miles was really thinking:

People are complicated.  Some of them – like Beethoven, or Coltrane, or Miles – you could spend a lifetime figuring out.

The first step is to stop trying to mind-read, and understand it might not be about you.  It might be about them – and understanding who they are before you jump to conclusions.

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A young woman I worked with last week told me three thoughts that kept playing in her head like a tape:

I’m not special.

I’m not good at anything.

It would be better if I were just dead.

Listening to those voices took her down a familiar path to depression and self-destructive behavior.  She admitted the suicidal thoughts were mostly directed at attracting the attention of a guy she’d been dating who now ignored her.  Maybe if she didn’t exist, he’d finally notice.  And that would somehow mean she’d gotten him back – so she could feel like she was worth something again.

I proposed another path.

I asked if she could formulate counter-voices to answer those tapes.

She said it was hard.

The best she could come up with was:

I’m a nice person.

and

I’m a good friend.

It didn’t seem like much.  But it was a start.

In fact, those two observations represent some sort of universal human bedrock.  The beginning of everything else.

You can’t achieve anything in life – anything meaningful – unless you like yourself.  That means believing in yourself, and considering yourself someone worth being.

It begins with sitting down with yourself – just as you would with anyone else – and deciding you’re someone worth having as a friend.

A person worth having as a friend is someone who tells you the truth, and holds a connection with you.  Someone who is real.

This young woman told me she is a nice person, and a good friend.  And she likes people who are nice people, and good friends.  We all do.  That’s the basic bedrock – when everything else, all the clutter, is cleared away – it’s why you like another person.

Where do you go from there?  Anywhere.

This young woman’s favorite performer happens to be Lady Gaga.

If you look at Lady Gaga’s biography, one prominent fact jumps out at you:  it didn’t have to happen.

There was never any guarantee that Stefani Germanotta was going to become a humongous pop sensation.  Actually, it seemed next-to-impossible.  Somehow or other she found the strength to ignore all the nay-sayers – and the odds – to drop out of college, and work night and day at her song-writing and performing.  She also followed her heart to create an outrageous persona, locate the wildest conceivable costumes and pull off something new.

Obviously, we can’t all become Lady Gaga.  She’s a talented musician, dancer and performer, and most of us are not.

But you can take a page from her playbook – and believe in yourself.

My young patient reminds me a bit of her hero.  She is delightfully unconventional, with pink hair and tattoos and a stunning eye for outre fashion.

If she can learn to take another path, away from self-attack and towards self-acceptance, there’s no knowing where she’ll end up and what she’ll accomplish – the possibilities are endless.

You can’t create talents and aptitudes – you’re born with those.

But you can learn to believe in yourself, and nurture and support the talents and aptitudes you have.

Like every single person on this Earth, you are an original work of art.

Your life can be a work of art, too.

It starts with giving yourself a chance.

So go ahead – stop beating yourself up.

If it worked for Stefani Germanotta, it might work for you.

Get in touch with your inner Gaga.

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Towards the end of a session a while back, one of my patients, who was African-American, laughed out loud, like he was sharing a personal joke.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know.  I still can’t get over the fact that my therapist is a white guy.”

I shrugged and smiled – there wasn’t much else I could do.

But I was pleased.  I admit it.  I liked being his therapist.  And that patient has referred a bunch of people to me since, mostly African-Americans.  That felt good, too.

I wish I had a simple, clear answer to the question posed by the title of this posting.  But like so much else in psychotherapy and human life in general – it’s complicated.

On the one hand, a strong case could be made that a person’s background, and his experiences, should shape who he is, and his ability to connect with someone who has had a similar or different background or experiences.  By that logic, an African-American should be better off with an African-American therapist.

But it doesn’t always work out that way.  For one thing, the patient I was working with was gay – so did he have to find a gay African-American therapist, or was a gay white therapist okay, or a heterosexual African-American therapist?  And what about the fact that I’m Jewish?

I think one of the reasons I worked so well with that patient was that I studied African-American history and literature in college, and am a connoisseur of jazz and other African-American music.  It might also have helped that, as the Program Coordinator for a counseling program at a large urban hospital for a few years, I assigned myself lots of African-American patients, partly because I was interested in learning more about their culture and experiences, and partly from necessity.  We had a small, mostly-white staff, and the other full-time counselor spoke Spanish and Portuguese, so he was occupied with immigrant patients.  I became a sort of resident African-American expert.

Maybe that’s why I did so well with this patient.  Or maybe we just clicked.  He was an elegant, educated man, and a jazz fan, and, well, we liked each other.

Choosing a therapist is a bit like choosing a Supreme Court justice.  You collect all the information you can – and then you take your best guess.  An African-American jurist ought to have a better understanding of the issues affecting African-Americans – right?  But then, sometimes you get Thurgood Marshall – and sometimes you get Clarence Thomas.

Many therapist list their “specialties” on their websites, or even their business cards.  I don’t, because I find it limiting.  I don’t see why, if a patient with a new issue comes into my office – whether it’s bulimia or childhood sexual abuse or crystal meth addiction – I shouldn’t be able to get some books, talk to colleagues, and do whatever it takes to get myself up to speed. That goes with human diversity as well.  I’ve treated Kazakhs, Navahos, Cameroonians, Indonesians, Peruvians and Dubaians, among others.  They all taught me something about who they were and where they came from.  That’s part of my job – a fun and necessary part.

I once commented to a transsexual psychotherapist that it must be great to help others within her community.  She let out a rueful sigh.  Sure, she admitted.  But the real issue was that she worked within a ghetto.  She wanted to treat all sorts of people, not just transgendered patients.  Being seen as someone who worked only with other transsexuals limited her practice, and her ability to grow as a clinician.  I realized I was losing something, too, when transsexuals went to see her instead of bringing their unique diversity to my practice.

Seeking out the “logical” therapist for you can have drawbacks for the patient as well.  I once did a session with a deaf woman who was dealing with a domestic violence situation.  We worked with a sign-language translator, but afterward I discovered the hospital had a limited budget for translation services.  An administrator recommended I refer this patient to an American Sign Language-fluent psychotherapist.  I found two names, and gave them to the patient.  She only rolled her eyes.  She didn’t want to see a psychotherapist who worked with the deaf – those two therapists were already seeing all her friends in the deaf community, and she didn’t feel comfortable opening up to them.  She said she would much rather work with me, through a translator.  I was surprised – but I got her point.  I wanted to work with her, too – but I couldn’t find an ASL-translator, so we didn’t have that option, which was heart-breaking.

I ran into a similar situation with a Japanese patient.  His English wasn’t very good, but he could communicate.  I suggested he might be more comfortable working in Japanese instead of English, and proposed two Japanese-speaking therapists.  The problem, he confessed, was that he was gay, and working on coming out to his friends and family.  Of the two Japanese therapists, one was straight, and the other knew all the other gay Japanese people living in New York City.  He wanted a gay therapist to work on gay issues, which are sensitive in Japanese society – but he didn’t want someone who knew his friends.  He decided to stay with me.  Yes, he sometimes had to repeat things two or three times so I could understand him, but we did okay.  He’d come to America, he said, to live like an American – and he liked having an American therapist.

It’s worth pointing out that therapists spend most of their time listening, not talking.  When I do talk, I’m usually asking questions or taking a guess at interpreting something I’ve heard.  My job is to listen, and try to understand.  Theoretically, I should be able to listen to anyone – anyone – and understand him, whether he’s black, white or purple.

I take pride in showing off my bits of cultural competence.  I enjoyed greeting a Chinese patient from Hong Kong the other day with “Please come in!” in Cantonese.  Last month I shared a laugh with a Dominican patient when we realized we both have little half-Dominican nieces who call us “Tio.”

These touches might help make a patient feel more at ease.  But in the big picture, they’re minor details.

What really matters isn’t whether your therapist looks like you, or acts like you – it’s whether he understands you.  Just like a Supreme Court Justice – his competency depends not only on his background or experience, but how well he does his job.

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