Saturday, January 2, 2010

Is Blogging the New Talk Therapy?

Sigmund Freud would poke both of his eyes out with his ever-present cigar if he read the title of this post. While I think he was genius in many ways (exploring the unconscious mind & determining that personality is shaped by childhood experiences), I feel he was full of it in many others (sexualization of nearly every aspect of our lives & giving credence dream exploration). But I don't particularly care what a long dead Viennese physician thinks of my opinion. I'm convinced that blogging is the new therapy.

I've seen four therapists in my life: one psychiatrist, two psychologists, and, please don't laugh, one hypnotherapist. In the quest for peace in my own mind, I spent over $10,000 and went on three different medicines to balance my brain chemicals. I finally came to The Big Reveal on my own. Sometimes crappy things happen in this life, sometimes it downright sucks, and that's just life. You need to keep on movin' on.

You will be sad, angry, and resentful if you dwell in those dark and ugly places that we all have. Therapists love to continually explore those terrible events that hide in your past. Of course they do. They make their living by gently probing your pain over and over and over again.

My expensive foray in the world of talk therapy makes me wonder, does anyone really get "cured" from therapy alone? Or does everyone end up feeling ripped off and pulling my signature move of spacing appointments further & further apart until you fade from the therapist's appointment book altogether?

The appeal of talk therapy is obvious. You get to talk about yourself for an hour. A solid hour of talking about yourself and bitching about whatever gets on your nerves. You don't need to listen to someone else. You don't need to worry that you'll say something wrong. You can let it all hang out and the other person has to listen to your rambling. Everyone is so busy multi-tasking with their cell phones, iPods, and laptops these days that you may feel your friends and family aren't really paying attention to conversations they have with you. But in therapy, you are paying someone to focus on you and listen to your crap. The therapist has to pay attention because you're paying them to listen!

The early days with a new therapist are wonderful. But over time you begin to resent them. The good ones won't let you simply talk about the silly nonsense that irritates you. They will start to dig. They'll dig until they uncover a painfully juicy morsel and they'll force you to chew on it over several sessions. You'll be completely wrung out after these difficult appointments. You may have looked fine going in the office, but your face will be tear-streaked and puffy when you exit. I've spent an hour boo-hooing in my car after leaving more than one appointment. Reflection is nice and all, but it can be painful.

Over time, it becomes obvious that you have shared all of your dirty little secrets. And then, having nothing else to exploit - I mean, explore, your therapist will want to revisit the events that caused you so much pain in the first place. That's when you begin to feel ripped off and you break up with your therapist by disappearing from their appointment book.

Writing is an incredibly freeing activity and I have often turned to writing to process my feelings, both negative and positive. But chasing around a busy toddler doesn't leave me with much free time. It has been nearly two years since I've even touched my book. I'm not sure I could put my hands on it even if I did find the time to write.

Speaking broadly, a book is essentially useless unless it's published, but a blog may be read by any number of people. It's harder to write a blog in some ways, but so much easier in most ways. I don't have to worry about whether or not my dialog is realistic, I don't need to remember the characters I've created, I don't really need to sweat point of view changes. But I do have to ruthlessly edit myself because I don't have hundreds of pages to make my point.

I'm in a good place these days. I don't feel the need to talk to a professional about my problems. I feel incredibly fortunate that I don't think I have very many problems. So why start a blog? I don't really know. But writing stimulated creativity that had been long-sleeping in my mind because I ended up mentally rough-drafting at least a dozen posts last night. Simply put, I like words and I love writing. I hope you enjoy reading what I've created.

You see, Dr. Freud, sometimes a blog is simply a blog.

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