Friday, September 24, 2004

The Performance

If all the world's a stage, one of my favorite places to perform is sitting opposite my shrink. I have a short chunk of time to convey my existence to a relative stranger so that he can judge me and tinker with my brain chemistry. I get a half-hour consultation to try to give this guy a glimpse of my existence. And honestly, I hold all the cards. He'll only know what I want him to know and see what I want him to see.

I'm not sure how clever this one is yet. Dr. Niedorf, an ancient psychiatrist who's seen thousands of patients, had a bit of insight into me. I wouldn't say he had me pegged, but he knew enough to cut through my crap and I respected him for it. He's an old school doc, a member of a dying profession that understood the value of a bedside manner.

I suppose I'm always comparing my doctors because it gives me a way to judge them like I know they are judging me—or uh, evaluating me in PC terms. You can tell a lot about your doctor by their office and by the games they play.

For example, the more you pay for a doc, the more likely it is that they will give you a choice of chairs. Will you pick the couch? The recliner? The office chair? I'm sure that this is supposed to give them some insight into how to treat you—like if you pick the couch, you're laid back etc. With Dr. Niedorf, I'd always switch chairs, just to piss him off.

It's all about the performance. A picture is worth a thousand words and when every minute determines the course of your treatment, that picture is valuable. But it's also a facade.

Brendan gets frustrated with me when I contemplate how I'll present myself at any given appointment. He tells me I should just go as is. Of course, I counter that obviously my desire to erect a facade is part of my neurosis. The Catch-22. The stage becomes reality.

I don't envy my doctors at all. I think I'd be pissed if I had a patient like me. Or maybe I'd be intrigued.