I like my guys preshrunk

By Jennifer Kornreich

By Salon Staff
Published August 2, 2000 7:26PM (EDT)

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I couldn't agree more with Jennifer Kornreich and her preference for pre-analyzed partners. At age 30, with two years of intense quality therapy under my belt, I have no desire to date someone enmeshed with his family (different from "close and loving," by the way), guilt-ridden, or fearful of conflict or intimacy.

As a former child welfare social worker, and halfway through my master's degree in counseling psychology, I feel compelled by the article to make one giant point: Many (most?) therapists are mediocre, at best. It's a bell curve -- most therapists are adequate and will do no harm, a few at the negative tail of the curve will cause great damage and a few at the upper end are gifted clinicians who raise psychotherapy to an art form and assist their clients in bringing about great personal growth in their lives. All of those negative scenarios in the article result from inept, unskilled therapists who have their own agendas or are meeting their own unconscious needs through their clients. Almost all therapists enter this field fueled by their own wounds, myself included. Good therapists become and remain conscious of their needs, their triggers and the personal stuff that arises for them in relation to each client. They do not tell a client what to do, how to interact with a partner or spend time in sessions discussing the psyches of partners or anyone other than the client.

-- Deanna Danko

Great article. I recognize the tongue-in-cheek aspect so maybe the author really does know what she doesn't state in print. But some mental dysfunctions can be taken to the therapist but not cured. (Narcissistic personality disorder being one of the tougher ones.) I prefer a non-shrunk guy with a few glitches that are bearable than a shrunk guy who is incorrigibly dysfunctional. My ex being one of those latter sorts. My current husband being one of those who will never go to a therapist despite some quirks, but I can live with the quirks and love him anyway. I am quite shrunk and have a few quirks too!! Perfection is not possible or even desirable if you think about it much. (How would any of us mere mortals stack up if we were hooked up to Mr. Perfection?)

-- Ginny Caputo

What has always baffled me about therapy is how people manage to work it into their budgets. Jennifer Kornreich's article mentions therapy being a staple of Manhattan life. She also mentions people seeing therapists two or three times a week, at $100 per session. If these people are already shelling out for Manhattan rents, where do they find the money to afford therapy as well? If you do the math, these costs come out to several thousand dollars a year. If I were having problems with my personal happiness, I can think of a lot of things I could buy with that much money that would make me far happier than spending several hours per week discussing my problems with a stranger.

Ultimately the solution to any personal problem is going to come from within yourself. If you have to talk about it, why not talk with friends or relatives, people who know you and presumably care about you, rather than paying someone to become intimate with your life? If you need to spend thousands of dollars treating yourself, take a nice vacation someplace where you can clear your head. At the very least, that will create more good memories than all those hours talking to some therapist.

-- Jim Kasprzak

I would like to present the other side of the coin. As a "preshrunk" guy (and still in process), I've found out that analysis has vastly enhanced my ability to relate to my significant other.

However, my personal improvement (that is, my demeanor and interaction) is what attracts my partner, not so much as how many years in therapy I've been.

I, for one, have simply allowed myself to fall head over heels in love with a wonderful woman for who she is, regardless of therapy. As for the pitfalls of "bad habits" learned in therapy, a skilled therapist will point out these dangers and steer you back into productive reflection.

-- Adrian Gomez

Salon Staff

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