the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Mama’s Boy


Dear Mom,

I think it’s great that you coming to visit on Wednesday.  I know you think you’re coming for Passover, but before we have any seder, we have one with little matter to discuss —

You see, on Friday, I went to my very first therapy session.   The doctor seemed like a nice enough guy, although all his Peruvian and Asian vases gave off a pretentious vibe.  I would have felt more at ease chatting with him if his office was decorated like a Denny’s coffee shop. 

The doctor asked me several questions while reading from a little red book and making notes on his computer.

“Do you ever feel anxious?” he asked.


“Do you wake up in the middle of the night, feeling anxious?”


“Do you ever wake up wanting to harm yourself?”

“No.   Uh, unless you’re using that as a euphemism for “playing with yourself?””

“No, I wasn’t.”

“Just joking.”

“Do you feel depressed?”

“Right now?”

“No.  In general.”

“Not really.”

“Do you sometimes not want to get out of bed in the morning?”

“That’s depression?!  I thought that was normal?”

After forty five minutes, he told me that I should see someone else, mostly because he was a psychiatrist who dealt primarily in medications, while what I really needed was THERAPY.  And, yes, he did say “really needed.”  He offered me some Prozac and said I should look for a good cognitive behaviorist therapist.

“So, no Thai massage therapists?” I asked.


Therapy = not funny. 

Oh, and what does he think is wrong with me?   Well, he didn’t give me a definitive diagnosis, but he thinks I have a “dependent personality structure,” or as Sophia immediately called it – Mama’s Boy Ailment (M.B.A.)

In other words, IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT, MOM!

So, Mom, I thought of buying the Streit’s matzo for the seder before you show up, but it just tastes so much better when YOU buy it.   See you soon…

P.S. — 

Sophia’s funny tagline of the day:

“Finally, I got a husband with an M.B.A!”

A Year Ago On Citizen of the Month:  The Racist Cabbie


  1. Fitena

    Sophia has the greatest sens of humour! lol!
    I’ve been sick lately. I went to see my “dermatologue” but he now fancies himself a psysomething. “Are you under pressure or stressed? do you sleep well? At which moment does it itch? When you’re home alone?” I mean, how is that supposed to cure me. It’s been a week since am under medication and not getting any better!

  2. Ash

    Don’t all men have that ailment?


  3. V-Grrrl

    Did you hear me laughing in LA when I read your line about not wanting to get out of bed in the morning being normal?

    And let me just say I hope the therapist the doctor refers you to isn’t humor-impaired. I would NEVER confide in someone who didn’t get my jokes. I think you should bring a blogging notebook and take notes while the therapist takes notes, you know, just to freak him out a little.

  4. better safe than sorry

    i have enough people in my life who don’t “get” my humor, don’t know how i’d feel about paying one who doesn’t.
    don’t forget to include your “degree” on your resume.

  5. tamarika

    Humor in therapy is a *must.*
    Oh, and Neil, one more word of advice (take my advice, I don’t use it) … spread the guilt around.

  6. AscenderRisesAbove

    therapy = not funny… too too funny

  7. Karl

    I generally find that psychologists/therapists have a better sense of humor than psychiatrists. Don’t know why this is. I mean, you’d figure shrinks hear all sorts of funny stories from patients. It ought to at least rub off by osmosis or something.

  8. LisaBinDaCity

    Gee, a Jewish Mama’s boy. Who would have thunk it? 😉

  9. ekramer

    what is a mother for unless it is to be blamed for everything that goes wrong with the world. Imagine if i was Barbara Bush.

  10. Not Faint Hearted

    Please promise that you will look for a therapist that doesn’t just blink at you every time you make a joke! This is why you may need to interview more than one before choosing one. Listen to your gut.

    Plus, your humor probably hides some deep dark secrets…

  11. Dagny

    Sophia is too funny for words.

  12. Finn

    Forget therapy and just listen to Sophia… 😉

  13. Rhea

    Therapy makes it hard to get along with your parents sometimes. You were warned.

  14. Katie

    Keep at it til you find a therapist who “gets” you, Neil. Cognitive behavioral therapy has definitely helped friends of mine. Heck, you could even try talking to a rabbi – they receive training in counseling.

  15. Sizzle

    sophia’s side comment is priceless.

    sometimes you have to shop around for a good therapist that you click with. though, i’d also recommend getting a massage. it can’t hurt! 😉

  16. You can call me, 'Sir'

    Beware of therapists who offer medication like its pez. There are situations where that stuff may be necessary, but a person’s problems aren’t addressed by temporarily inhibiting neuron receptors via a little white pill. They often create other more messy ones.

    Also, I thought being Jewish was automatically an explanation for anxiety, as in “I’m not depressed; I’m Jewish”. Or is that Catholicism?

  17. Neil

    Mom? Was that a political joke? From you?

  18. Caron

    Everyone is right in saying you need to find a therapist you jive with. Don’t take meds until you find out that the talking therapy isn’t quite enough. One conversation with someone who didn’t really “hear” you doesn’t warrant drugs yet in my experience. The weight you gain from prozac never goes away. That explains my wariness of drugs. Wishing you many green flashes.

  19. orieyenta

    Take it from this Jewish mother…a Mama’s boy is what we all wish for.

  20. Danny

    Was he really making notes on his computer during your session? Yuck. Forget the shrinks and get a good therapist, that’s all you need. How dare this putz try to push Prozac on you like some kind of consolation prize.

    I looked up your “condition” and found this irritating mnemonic on Wikipedia that is supposed to help you remember the criteria for the disorder:

    D – Difficulty making everyday decisions
    E – Excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others
    P – Preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of self
    E – Exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself
    N – Needs others to assume responsibility for his or her life
    D – Difficulty expressing disagreement with others
    E – End of a close relationship is the beginning of another relationship
    N – Noticeable difficulties in initiating projects or doing things on his or her own
    T – “Take care of me” is his or her motto

    Oy, don’t we all have a touch of that?

  21. Churlita

    If I were you, I’d feel dependent on Sophia too. She’s totally gorgeous, smart and funny.

  22. Long Story Longer

    Yay, therapy! I love therapy. The first part is always rough – they have to do the intake. I can’t wait to hear more.

    By the way, I keep forgetting to say that since meeting you, when I read your posts and can “hear” you reading them with your great, great voice. That’s the first thing I noticed about you. It’s much more fun this way 🙂

  23. Bre

    Oddly enough, my therapist doesn’t have a sense of humour either

  24. Lux Lisbon

    You only get to blame your parents until your 30.

  25. psychomom

    Stupid babies! You quit your damn crying and go to your room and don’t come out until you have a smile on your face.
    You don’t need therapy when you have MOM?

  26. steppingoverthejunk

    this makes me laugh because my health insurance makes me fill a survey out every three therapy sessions, to submit, in order to continue being covered…and my therapist says “don’t make yourself sound too ‘well’, otherwise, they may not cover you”. Which is funny. So in answer to “Do you sleep a full night?” I say “no” because, I don’t. What they don’t know is that it is usually because one of my youngins gets up to pee or needs me to find a sock at the bottom of her bed or something. Heh.

  27. Neil

    Stepping —

    You know, when he was asking me these questions, some of them were so extreme — like “Do you think about hurting yourself?” — that I thought he was almost pushing me to say “yes” so that my health insurance would pay for my sessions. He almost seemed disappointed that my case wasn’t severe enough, and asked for my payment in cash.

  28. Pearl

    I just read Danny’s comment. Oh, no! I suffer from the majority of the same symptoms…except that I’m a DADDY’s GIRL (the only daughter and the youngest child of a European daddy and mommy — those factors alone make for the dependency syndrome I think).

  29. Linda Freedman

    Excuse me. What do you mean,
    therapy = not funny?

  30. Lisa

    Ah, Neil, therapy is not easy. And letting yourself be vulnerable, really vulnerable, in fact, PAYING someone to make you vulnerable, without always being able to deflect with humor, is scary and hard. Good for you for taking this step. It’s one many people who really need it avoid.

  31. Miss Syl

    I find a doctor who is willing to prescribe you medication while you’re not going to be under their care to be highly suspect. Other things people above have mentioned are also off–the typing while you talk, the not laughing at your jokes.

    Reading from a book while talking to you? What, is it his first time with a patient? Did he have to look up what to ask you?

    And offering you even a tentative diagnosis after one session is RIDICULOUS.

    The only smart thing he did was recommend you see someone else. You need to run FAR AWAY from that guy.

    And though it definitely does sound like you need a therapist rather than a psychiatrist, I’d be hesitant to limit yourself to his recommendation of what “style” of therapist to go to. His whole deal seems so sketchy, I’d not take his word as definitive. Just go to a therapist you feel “gets” you, and who, for god’s sake, can tell the difference between a joke and a serious statement.

  32. kanani

    First of all, any anti-depressant takes 3 weeks to see the effects. Second, medication isn’t straight forward. Often, the doctor and patient have to try many before finding the right one. Unless you are clinically depressed or suffering from acute anxiety or OCD traits that are easily recognizable, then perhaps you can hold off for now.
    Consider getting a good psychological workup. It consists of MANY questions on questionnaires. It will also cost you a lot of money, but in the long term, will be worth it.

    Overall, I’d look for someone who is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in cognitive therapy. You might want to sit down and write:
    1. What do I want?
    2. What perceptions do I have about myself that is causing me to seek help?
    3. What are the circumstances that are making me unhappy?
    4. How much work am I able to put into this both time-wise and financially?

    Before going to a psychiatrist, go to a psychologist. Don’t be turned off w/ the idea of medications if after an amount of time, it’s decided you need them. It’s shown, however, that the patients who do the best with medication are also receiving therapy.

    Look here: NAMI

    So the two do go hand in hand, if your issues are organic.

    Good luck, be well.

  33. Think Jacob

    I like how you tried to joke with the psychiatrist. That’s comedy. 🙂

  34. Lefty

    Wives think they are SO funny.

  35. Two Roads

    My original comment got eaten by the blogger god so here’s my substitute:
    The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.” – Rita Mae Brown

  36. sbukophile

    Sort of related topic–I just listened to last week’s This American Life and one of the stories was about a guy whose father sent him a bill for raising him–to the total of $2 million. Watch out, your mom might decide to do that to you!

  37. cruisin-mom

    I say, try the prozac

  38. Roberta

    Me and my therapist have humor. Not all of it at my expense.
    And absolutely get the Thai massage. It’s better than Thai iced tea. It’s like yoga that someone does for you.
    Happy Passover.

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