"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 8 May 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Shrink Rap



Some days, life can seem crustier

than a days-old potato salad

sandwich. Our rose-colored

glasses turn a sickly hue, and a

loop of Dr. Dre-inspired

expletives is replayed in our

heads. Not simply a case of "I'm

not okay, you're not okay," but

rather "I'm not okay, and I'm

dragging you down to hell with

me, fuckhead." We'd like to turn

to Freud for guidance, but we

displace that urge into more

productive activities, such as

biting our nails and answering

our email.



Usenet and IRC already filter the

psychosis of thousands - how

much further would the net have

to go to make online therapy a

profitable proposition instead

of just a dream deferred? Face

it: through the magic of email,

you're already organizing social

events, forwarding cookie

recipes, and writing your aunt,

your lover, and the guy two

cubicles down. Why not explore

the jumbled contents of your

head while you're at it?


[NY Psych]

It may be the case that, at the

moment, email-based therapy

would be just another time-suck

on par with the Wired Phrase

Generator. But if you take a

more organized approach, it

might be a nice supplement to

your employee benefit plan - if

work isn't footing your therapy

bill, the least you can do is

deconstruct your childhood on

office time. It may hurt your

ability to meet deadlines now,

but after a few weeks of

"processing" via email, you

might just cut out the

aggressive interoffice spams and

learn how to clear a copier jam

without barking at the temp.


[Psych Online]

Based on much of the personal

email we send and receive, most

heavy email abusers would have

little or no trouble spilling

the contents of their brains

onto the screen and hitting send

on a daily basis. Imagine

selecting a therapist from a

Therapy Online site, featuring

photos and profiles of hundreds

of potential therapists ("Dr.

Haughn is a strict Freudian.

Likes: trains, archaeology, and

golf. Dislikes: taffy, "blaming

others."). Quick, gratifying,

and socially acceptable - it's a

solution no superego could



[Primal Scream]

If the anonymity of the Web makes

it the perfect petri dish for

porn, psychotherapy should also

flourish in its stagnant, sugary

cesspools. Gone would be the

days of sneaking away from the

office mumbling about a

"doctor's appointment" at the

same exact time each week, and

emerging teary-eyed with even

more reasons to hate Mommy.

After all, in cyberspace, no one

can hear your primal scream. Or

see your nose ooze, for that



Besides, despite the supposed

benefits of face-to-face

interaction, do you really want

to run the risk of stumbling on

your own words and inadvertently

telling your therapist something

you'd rather he or she didn't

know? Better to take time with

your confessions, edit them if

necessary, and only then share

them - after all, whose opinion

matters more than your

therapist's? And at least via

email you don't have to watch

your head doctor fall asleep as

you reveal your painful fixation

on Johnny Mathis's feet.



How better to deal with your

"Internet Addiction" than

through a one-on-one email

relay? Shrinks agree that a

comfortable environment is

imperative in order to

facilitate the healing process,

and email is the net addict's

natural habitat. Unlike the old

leather couch, which is

inevitably paired with the

disconcerting realization that

you're living a cliche, the

keyboard is familiar, friendly,

and forces your healing energy

through to your very finger

tips. Can you feel it, can you

feel that healing?


And the home user (or abuser)

gets the immeasurable value-add

of nude therapy. As long as

you're going to be grossly

self-involved, what better way

to get in touch with yourself?

Revolutionary services like

these make those significant

others suddenly seem mighty

inconvenient, if not totally




As for those chat rooms and

newsgroups, well, perhaps

they'll take the place of group

therapy. Of course, group

therapy is like sharing your

date with a carload of fellow

prospects. You might be amused

by your co-confessors,

occasionally touched (if you're

lucky), but you're not gonna get

to talk about yourself nearly enough.

Collective unconscious or no, if

you go too far, you inevitably

end up feeling cheap.



While those who have the urge to

off themselves should run, not

walk, to the nearest

professional, for those of us

who are just occasionally mildly

depressed, somewhat confused,

and spilling over with

deep-seated resentment (i.e.,

the rest of us), email therapy

should do the trick, lickety

split. A little keyboard-tapping

every morning, a souped-up

version of Eliza on the other

end, and suddenly civilization

and its discontents seem



Best of all, at the end of a year

of email therapy sessions

(assuming you save your outgoing

mail) you'll have enough good

material to earn a few extra

credits in that "Journaling the

Journey" course at the local CC.

And that tell-all expose you've

been meaning to get started on

about the trials and

tribulations of working at a

multimedia startup? You may find

that it practically writes


courtesy of Polly Esther