Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Part 1: Am I crazy...?

When driving to the office today, I put in one of my This American Life CD's. I had stopped this one in the middle of a piece by a man asked to interview some people with schizophrenia. This survey was a part of a research study, and he was asked to be the interviewer because someone had heard him on the radio and liked his interview style. He knew nothing about the disease, and he felt like he came out of the survey (after meeting all of these people) knowing even less. Sometime during the process, he decided to give himself the survey, and he started to realize that he wasn't "doing so well" on the test. He was afraid to add up the scores because then he would remember whatever the result was for the rest of his life, and that would end up bothering him to no end. Then he imagined what reports from his doctors would be like if he was a schizophrenia patient. This was an odd thing to listen to, because every time I smiled at something slightly amusing, I got a little depressed at the same time because the reason I smiled was that some part of me could relate.

The next story picked me up. It was a story about a Christmas event at Barney's that had nothing to do with Christmas at all. Barney's had made the decision to honor famous dead people through Christmas, and instead of having a Santa Claus they hired an actor to be a Christmas Freud. "Patients" would sit down on his chair and get psychoanalyzed by an actor FOR CHRISTMAS. On top of this, the "doctor's officde' was a Barney's window, so people would pile up outside the window to watch (though they could not hear anything). Personally, I think it's brilliant. Anyway, the piece was given by the actor who played the faux Freud. He had a friend who sat outside listening to the things that the watchers would say. They would say things like, "Is that Professor Higgins?" and "Do you think he's a real shrink?" That last one was particularly funny, and the actor makes a good point -- Can you imagine a real shrink saying, "Yes, next week we'll be having our session in the window at Barney's. You seem a little resistant; do you want to talk about it?"

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