the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Therapy, Session Five


One of the things I’ve discovered by going to therapy is that there are different schools of psychological thought that get along as well as the Shiites and Sunnis.

I’m seeing a traditional “talk therapist.”

Pros: By talking about your past, you understand your present.

Cons: You can be in therapy for twenty-five years until you understand shit.

Sophia is seeing a cognitive behaviorist. She makes little snickers now when I mention my talk therapy, as if I am spending my money on the equivalent of Lucy’s Psychiatry Booth in Peanuts (only it’s not five cents anymore due to inflation). She says that even it’s true that I will eventually understand myself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that alone will lead to this big leap of change, as talk therapy presumes.

A cognitive behaviorist spends less time talking about the patient’s mother, and more time changing the patient’s faulty way of thinking. A lot of time is spent on belief work. Sophia’s cognitive behaviorist therapist even gives her homework.

Pros: You start changing immediately.

Cons: Is life really worth living without negative thoughts and passive-aggressiveness?

Despite Sophia’s opinion that her therapist is better than mine, I like Linda, my “talk” therapist. I feel comfortable with her. I told her about my talking Penis on my blog and she didn’t even blink. I had a breakthrough today. Here it is:

I do not like taking responsibility like an adult. I am still like an adolescent, looking for authority figures or rebelling against authority figures, but not truly being ME. I avoid the big adult decisions in my work, in my marriage, and in my life.

I was buying this train of thought, until Linda brought up something close to my heart.

“Have you thought about your blog? Is writing on your blog without making any money from it — a way of avoiding responsibility?”

Well, duh. I don’t have to get a Master’s in Psychology like Linda has to figure that out.

A Year Ago On Citizen of the Month: The Rosh Hashana Challenge


  1. jenny

    hmm. so the only responsible thing to do in life is to make money from everything that you enjoy doing? your therapist’s name wouldn’t happen to be gordon gekko would it? 🙂

  2. teahouseblossom

    Heh. I believe that my boss is currently in therapy. I wish she’d do the second kind instead of the first kind, so she’d start treating us all better immediately.

  3. Ash

    I had therapy today. Mine isn’t talk therapy though, it’s more like wail, cry and gnash my teeth therapy. Maybe that’s the kind you need?

  4. Not Fainthearted

    I think I had the same kind of therapy as Ash.

    Why’d you lose respect for her?

  5. Miss Syl

    The way I see it, it doesn’t matter if you put the milk in the mug before the coffee gets poured in or after it does–the point is, no matter how you got there, are you happy with the end result?

    Similarly, there are different kinds of therapy because there are different kinds of people. What approach works to get one person to healing may not work for another. But neither approach is better or worse; they just allow people to seek out the method that works best for their personalities.

  6. Rhea

    Ow. That hurts. What does that mean about ME and MY blog!?!

  7. churlita

    It sounds like you and I have some of the same issues. Of course, I have big security issues too, so I’ll always work a job, I’ll just resent the hell out of it and never look for a better one, because that would be much too grown up of me.

  8. plain jane

    I don’t care if you make money off your blog–you rule and I’d pay admission to read your blog.

    I must have gone to the same therapist as Ash.

  9. sizzle

    so we can’t say that writing on our blogs is therapeutic?


    there goes my excuse!

  10. melanie

    well, there you go. back to square one. Isn’t the merry go round lovely this time of year? all the same cast of characters going round and round and round… yikes. I am feeling a bit dizzy.

    I wish I could find and afford a cognitive therapist. Instead? I talk. She listens. But, she is a goal setter, and I do have homework. Maybe i found the fine line between the two.

    anyway, good luck and Yeee Haw… Ride em “cowboy”.

  11. Girl Friday

    I’m with Jenny. I’m still trying to figure out what’s so bad about doing something (like blogging) that doesn’t make money; and what’s so great about making money. Sure, you have to make money in order to live, but what you do in order to do that doesn’t have to define you, either.

    Going to a therapist and either talking about your problems or forcing yourself to change the way you think and performing “affirmations” (as if!) doesn’t make you any money, either – in fact, you pay for the privilege and there are no guarantees. Is seeing a therapist a way of avoiding responsibility? of course not.

  12. Danny

    Eek, I have a therapy session in an hour but you just nailed my main issue so maybe I should skip it today: “I am still like an adolescent, looking for authority figures or rebelling against authority figures, but not truly being ME.” BINGO! I agree with Miss Syl’s assessment of different therapeutic techniques. As long as the therapist doesn’t let us “hide” behind our tales of woe from the past, or focus exclusively on the past, I think so-called talk therapy can be amazingly helpful. I think the therapist raised a legitimate question that we bloggers needn’t interpret as an attack. I don’t think for a second that everything we do needs to be for money but I also know that I want to work on the blocks I have to earning more. I understand her question but I still say the overall benefits of writing in my blog outweigh my fears that it represents any evasion of responsibility.

  13. Tuck

    Clearly, Linda is not taking you and your talking penis seriously. If she had, she’d be charging for two. Time for a new shrink.

  14. MammaLoves

    Lemme at her. Linda’s saying we’re all immature and irresponsible??!!! Well she’s a…a…a…nose picker.

    I’m taking my blocks and leaving!

  15. Jenny from Chicago

    I quit therapy and have never been happier (tick, tick, tick). Monetize your blog and then monetize mine too, okay?

  16. sassy

    Eew ! Your therapist is a money-blogger. I just know it !

  17. Juliness

    I think therapy is pretty much like anything else – take what you need and leave the rest. Use the techniques or behavioral approaches that resonate with you and let go of what doesn’t feel right. Positive change should feel good on some level even though every therapy session may not contain an Aha! moment.

  18. Neil

    I did ask Linda why therapy is only an hour. Wouldn’t it be better being ninety minutes? Or just paying for a weekend of consecutive meetings and getting it over with in two days? She thought I was joking.

  19. scarlet hip

    I told you that six months ago. You owe me $200.

  20. Jody

    Miss Syl – well said! Find the therapist that you are comfortable opening up about yourself and whatever methods they may use should suit your needs for that time. Therapy is an evolving process and while talk therapy may work for you now that doesn’t rule out a cognitive behavorist in the future. The therapist will or can guide you to the best methods. You didn’t get here overnight and you aren’t going to change overnight either. Be well Neil.

  21. butterfly

    I don’t doubt that your issues are real and accurate as described by Linda — especially if they feel like they are ringing true to you, it’s a pretty good measure…but, I do find the comment about your blog a little odd and unfair. Who says you have to be making money from it — can’t it just be something that makes you happy, relaxes you, gives you an outlet to vent, creates connections, WHATEVER, for you? Are you doing it INSTEAD of working? Are you refusing to work because you want to blog? If not, you can do whatever the fuck you want on your blog — it doesn’t make you irresponsible to blog — being irresponsible makes you irresponsible.

    Also, I wonder about this dynamic of Sophia being critical of your therapy choice — first, the problem was you wouldn’t go to therapy? — now you do, and your form of therapy choice is something of a joke? Doesn’t seem very supportive. To be fair to Sophia, none of us knows what really goes on, but what you report, so I take what I am saying here with a big grain of my own salt. Would it be accurate to say there is a bit of critical-maternal-figure vs immature-love-and-approval-seeking struggle going on here? I’ll totally shut up and fuck off if I am way off base. 😉 V

  22. rach

    Ooooooh that therapy issue is a tricky one. Personally have never favoured therapy prefering the stiff upper british lip treatment…..
    go to the pub and get smashed
    smoke a pack of cigarettes
    snog and rummage with some innocent stranger in the car park
    fish and chips on the way home

  23. better safe than sorry

    i think of my blog more as a hobby, is your being a writer the reason why yours can’t be a hobby? don’t writers sometimes write purely for pleasure? shouldn’t there be somethings in life that we can do and enjoy that aren’t linked to cash?
    sorry, i just have more questions, no answers on my end.

  24. Neil

    Butterfly – No, she’s very supportive. She just is very secure with her opinions and has a healthy sense of humor about everything, including therapy. She was in regular talk therapy for several years, with no results, and just adores her new therapist. I’m not exactly sure what my “issues” are, but I don’t have too many hangups over my parents, etc., and she’s not sure what taking about stuff will do. Her therapist would more focus on specific fears — like my insecurity over asking for help, and try to change my way of thinking about it.

    I do portray Sophia as fairly assertive on the blog – and in reality, she can be — but it’s a little unfair, because she is also very sweet and always super supportive. She wants the best for me.

    As for what the therapist said, I don’t think she meant that blogging was bad. I just sometimes forget my priorities in life — like working first, and writing another blog post second.

  25. savia

    Maybe you could sell watercolours of your talking penis to make some money? They are pretty good, after all. Ask her next session and see if she approves.

  26. wendy

    You share common issues with my daughter. I’m the hated authority figure. Maybe you guys should talk.

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