Sunday, May 04, 2014

Mike's Story Part 13: Amateur Shrink Gone Wild

By Jenna Orkin

   If cities had the equivalent of national pastimes, New York's would be psychotherapy.  While no match for Woody Allen, I've put in my share of time in therapists' offices and been grateful for what one or two of them had to offer; (the others ranged from indifferent to dishonest to insane themselves.)  A well-known side-effect of such therapy is an eagerness to put one's newly acquired knowledge to use with, or on, friends, acquaintances and anyone else who asks.
   Mike was fertile ground for this amateur "shrinkage," as a friend who's an actual Clinical Psychologist pronounces it, with an ironic French accent.  He was both beset by problems and unfamiliar with the M.O. of psychotherapy which meant he did not consider the observations offered to be cliches.  In addition, his loneliness rendered him more open to any lifeline that presented itself.
   With this in mind, I responded lightly to his burundanga confession: 

2 hail maries. if you don't know the words, you're surrounded by people who do, albeit in spanish."

   And when he wrote about watching with more than passing interest the TV program in which Socrates was forced to drink hemlock because he threw people's bullshit in their faces:

would you stop the fuck please thinking about fucking hemlock for fux sake?  the reason you got into that mess is that you're leading a life of extremes; like a kid who was overly disciplined, reaches adolescence and goes fukkin berserk. you've been leading an overly disciplined daily life, beyond the monastic. at least monks have other monks to commune with. i'm told even the silent ones are acutely aware of' each other and communicate with looks - like characters in a silent movie, i suppose.  [Actually, silent monks find other ways to communicate; it is they who invented the tactile manual sign language which the reknowned Annie Sullivan used to teach blind and deaf Helen Keller to communicate.]

your berserk adolescence was the night with the floozies or whatever they're called these days.  (putana?)... 

it must seem as though whatever pleasure you seek, you get punished for. there's also a whole self-punishment element to this...

Indeed.  If he couldn't go out via a hero's death, next best was la nostalgie de la boue, yearning for the "mud," the urge to debase oneself.  And what better way to do that than via women?

I pointed out the link between the two women at the bar who presumably drugged him (a South American doctor says that in order to avoid exposure themselves, women can transmit the drug by wearing patches or adding it to their nail polish) and Lindsay, the ex-employee who had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Mike, which she would later win.

I remembered when [the female employee] had first been hired.  Mike was excited about this graduate with a Masters' Degree and a 3.9+ average who spent her weekends rock-climbing.  She had it all!  Within weeks, the twenty-five-year-old was given her own byline and was included in meetings among the most trusted staff members - those dedicated scribes who sometimes stayed at the office after hours.

It was during one such evening that Mike and the female employee kicked back, sharing personal stories which led to the female employee's showing Mike a porn site.  Mike thought it terrific.

When he relayed this drama on the phone as it unfolded (in large part to show me his enthusiasms lay elsewhere, lest I get any false ideas,) the phrase, "sexual harassment lawsuit" wafted through my mind.  But he was in no mood to listen to such scolding so I held my peace.  (Mike's and the female employee's clashing versions of these events, incidentally, have been a matter of public record for a number of years.)

When I brought up the female employee in the email to Venezuela, he responded:

I understood what you meant when you wondered about my stated attraction for [the female employee.] 
[I had not wondered anything; my memory of his phone-calls from that period remained intact.]  It was purely physical, but I think it was also a product of having loved women who abused me [he mentioned two.] I wasn not attracted to her intellectually [Yes he was, but no guy, at least, is going to condemn him for taking this tack] and certainly not emotionally.  It was like Dracula´s victims were usually drawn to him. I was a moth fighting a light intent on destroying it (and others) and resisting my own attraction at the same time. 

Got it?

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