I didn’t know what to expect from group therapy. I felt reasonably comfortable talking one -on -one to my shrink, but not so relaxed with a bunch of strangers. Besides, I recognized that I had a certain quirkiness about me, but I was no weirdo. Frankly, I was scared to be in a room with misfits. Allow me to introduce the cast.
There’s a group of old timers. Most in this group have been coming weekly for at least several years. When they introduced themselves, each announced their respective seniority in the group along with their history.
Ted was schizophrenic with a compulsive disorder. Every five minutes he would wash his imaginary friend’s hands.
Don was suicidal. Unfortunately, his psychiatrist has a window office on the 78th floor. He takes medication for his depression with the warning label. “CAUTION: LEDGES appear closer than they really are.”
Sam went to Assertive Training so when he was late for a session, he slipped his written explanation under the door.
Bill goes to class for impulse control. For obvious reasons, there’s no Waiting Room. Jill’s hypnotist charges $5,000 to get her off painkillers. Jill doesn‘t have that kind of cash so she replies, “For a hundred bucks, can you just make me believe I’m a masochist?”
There’s a bunch who are semi-regular. They’ve been attending off and on for around a half-year. The lineup looks like this.
Thelma is so paranoid, she can’t watch, “Cops” in Surround Sound. Warren is so far removed from reality, he thought he was a zombie, one so traumatized, he almost had a near-life experience. Jim has multiple problems. He’s claustrophobic and broke — so his shrink pushed him out the window. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
The newbies seem to be more of a guilt ridden collection. Each person revealed his or her past. Some attempted to glorify and rationalize behaviors, but most spoke somewhat shamefully.
Gary discussed his childhood and the difficulties of being the class clown. For punishment, his teacher made him write 1,000 times, “I will not talk back to Mr. Barnum. I will not talk back to Mr. Bailey, I will not talk back to Mr. Barnum. I will not…” You get he idea.
Paul was also attending a Tuesday session for kleptomaniacs. Can you believe it was $1,000 per session! I know it’s a lot, but can you imagine what the shrink pays for homeowner’s insurance? The group leader wrote a book called, “Are You A Kleptomaniac?” There’s 600,000 in circulation, but only three sales. They produce results, but not many receipts.
Jennifer broke up with a schizophrenic. He wanted to start seeing and hearing other people. Tom talked about what life is like for an Anal-Retentive. During the ink blot test, he brought, “White-Out.” Judy discussed her disorder. She’s a paranoid/schizophrenic, which means her imaginary friends have formed a conspiracy. Tony has ADD, but not ADHD, ’cause he loses concentration after, you know, three letters.
Me? I’ve got body image issues. In other words, I’m extra, extra large. I tip the scales near 500llbs. I wear a shirt that says, THE GAP, apparently, there being none between lunch and dinner. When I go to the mall, those sensory/automatic doors open when I’m in the parking lot.
I guess I don’t have it so bad. One guy went to AA, NA, and GA. He finally found the root of his problems. Turns out he had a fear of last names.
I forgot to pay for three sessions, so the psychologist is treating me for amnesia. He sent me twelve, “Past Due” notices, so maybe he’s the one with a compulsive disorder.
The real winner is the shrink. He cures the schizophrenic of his imaginary friends and then he starts treating him for a separation anxiety.
Can’t wait for Wednesday.