Cognitive behavioral therapy is a spooky thing. When a patient's at her worst (i.e., when she's run out of one of her meds and is too stubborn to tell anyone, choosing instead to wait for the good folks at her mail order pharmacy to decide it's time to send her refills, because she's just curious to see what will happen, which is the kind of thing she does when bored)(just supposing), a therapist goes on the offensive, knowing instinctively something's off, even if she doesn't know what. She's all over that like stink on a pig. White on rice. Skank on Paris.
Gives you the shivers, doesn't it? It's like how I know you're reading this right now… And how that's because someone once taught you to speak and read English.
BOOGA BOOGA! Are you in the house… alone?
Therapists can smell all manner of anxiety. They're trained in fancy academies, like those dudes who mix perfumes. They can differentiate fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy, gluttony, avarice and the possibility of eating, drinking or driving without being fully awake, resulting in amnesia after the event.
I bet they'd go crazy in bath and body stores. Zoos. And my house on taco night.
You know how a Jack Russell terrier grabs a squirrel by the neck and shakes it? The cognitive therapy experience isn't like that, exactly. I just like the image. But if anyone aside from your beloved paid friend talked to you offensively, using words like "arrogance," "ego" and "postnasal drip" you wouldn't hesitate to punch them in the nose, right? Or, be really sneaky and fantasize you had that kind of personality, slinking off to hate yourself, instead.
But when it's your doctor who starts flinging this stuff around, and you know you're up to date on your payments, it makes you want to make yourself little and slip between the sofa cushions. Not because you think she's being mean. But because you know she has you, dude. You're totally transparent. So much so she can see you had Pop Tarts and Doritos for breakfast, because they've just dropped into your lower intestine. She knows approximately how much time she has to work with before you're "called by nature."
Lest you get the wrong idea, the context in which a therapist peppers her conversation with "arrogance" and "ego" is different from the spirit married couples are expressing while flinging those words at each other. "Arrogance," in pscyho-talk, is used to describe the false impression you had a choice about something you actually didn't, like being seated next to the smelly guy in math class. Or being born. That kind of thing. If you believe you could have changed, averted, or in any other manner held sway over events out of your realm of influence, that illustrates how freakin' arrogant you are.
And ego? It's kind of like arrogance, I guess. It's not used as in, "You're such an egotistical pig to think that girl thinks you're hot." It's more like thinking you can stop the Universe from using you as its dart board, 'cause you're so great and stuff. I don't know. Look it up. What do I look like, Wikipedia?
The last thing I'd want her to know is she freaks me out sometimes, hitting way closer to home than I tried to direct her. I can point across a field at something I think sounds logical enough to fool the average person, but she'll take her pointy spear out of the fire and poke me in the ribs saying, "What that really means is you're overcompensating for your crappy life. And I see you giving me the finger behind your other hand."
They're difficult to fool, these college-educated sorts. But I can't help feeling there's a way to get around her, to give her hound dog nose a false scent, sending her baying off in the opposite direction while I swing through the trees free as a monkey, snickering like a damn fool. Which I am in either case. It's a mission from gawd, and my higher calling, to keep her in business, and insurance paying for my half-baked experimentation, as long as I possibly can.
They say the best ammunition is a good education. Okay, I made that up, but it sounds good, doesn't it? The hard facts are I have a B.A. in English literature, and in December I'll have a Master's in Library and Information Studies. Have I mentioned that? So I totally kick her @$$ when it comes to knowing the first few lines of The Canterbury Tales IN MIDDLE ENGLISH, and knowing Melvil Dewey was a majorly racist @$$hole.
All I lack in order to level the playing field is the equivalent of both a Master's and Doctorate in psychology. Oh, and experience, yadda yadda. That's why I had kids. To experiment on. Since I have neither the money nor the time for more advanced degrees at this moment, what do I do?
Hmm. Good start.
DUDE! You rock!
All I ask is the satisfaction of feeling the true power of "arrogance" out of knowing I've diverted a trained professional from thinking she has my number. And there's no really good reason for it, come to think of it, save I'm bored playing with chemistry – and my mental state – and am now just whacked out enough to want to kick 'er up a notch.
I know I should probably just get a new hobby. But that's so conventional. I have a higher calling, and this is now a scientific research area. Don't enter without wearing latex gloves, a face mask, and a Halloween costume covering your entire body. Why the costume?
So I can laugh at you, stupid.
And by "stupid" I don't mean "having a lesser degree of intelligence." I mean "being there for my own amusement, until I get tired of you and want you to go away." And by "away," I mean FAR.
Place bets now. Who will prevail? Me, or the whole history of psychological study, coupled with gawd knows how many decades of practice, experimentation, trial and error.
I know. Tough one.
But once you've decided, send me your bets. I'll hold them for you. And by "hold" I don't mean "hang onto, on your behalf, with the full knowledge the money does not belong to me." I mean "spend, on stuff like candy and puppies."
Here we go. Round two.
The lady, or the tiger? PICK ONE!