Writing :: Humor/Entertainment
The Wisdom of Dr. Jeffrey Gladstone (pdf version)
In the spring of 1983, a compelling but definitely strange presence
emerged as a guest on radio station WRKO in Boston. Dr. Jeffrey Neale
Gladstone, a pioneer in almost every scientific and psychological field
at one time or another, shared some of his wisdom on THE THOUGHT PROCESS,
a dynamic and provocative show hosted by a psychologist, Dr. Harry Sobel.
We have the rare privilege of gaining access to tapes of several Sobel-Gladstone
interviews in addition to uncovering unpublished bits of Dr. Jeffrey’s
special homegrown brilliance. Here is how it all began:
MAY 27, 1983: THE THOUGHT PROCESS, WRKO
Harry Sobel: We have with us today one of the true luminaries in modern
thinking. Dr. Jeffrey Neale Gladstone has written books on past lives,
astrology, psychotherapy, philosophy, and acufeeding. Among his well-known
titles are: PAST LIVES IN SAMOA, PAST LIVES: SCIENCE OR SLOP?, COMING
OF AGE IN MODERN BOLIVIA, HOW TO SHARPEN A CIRCULAR SAW THROUGH HATHA
YOGA, WERE WE LOVERS IN PAST LIVES?, ANTIDOTAL ASTROLOGY: THE FUTURE
IS NOW, and CREATIVITY THROUGH DIURNAL FASTING AND HIGH COLONIC MIND-BODY
SPLITTING. Dr. Gladstone, welcome.
Dr. Gladstone: Hi Harry, good to be here.
S: We met on the Jersey shore a few years ago and I’ve been trying
to get in touch with you ever since. You’re a hard man to track
G: Yes, that is correct. I remember our meeting on the Jersey coast.
I remember the translucent skin of the young people as they walked on
the sparkling sand on the beach. We had a long conversation about translucent
skin and modern art.
S: But then you just left.
G: But you see, Harry, I am a man of action. I felt a great urgency
during our conversation to phone my cousin in Alliance, Nebraska.
S: Well, I’m glad we finally were able to contact you and have
you on our show.
G: Thank you, Harry. Gooood to be here.
S: I thought today we would take calls from our listeners and you could
help them with your astrology and your reading of past lives. First,
though, I wondered if you could share a little of your background with
G: Certainly, Harry. I was born in the Ukraine, just south of Gronov,
in a small mining community known as Youskrawnyson. When I was six, we
moved to the United States. We arrived in Philadelphia because it was
quite close to the Jersey Coast, but not in New Jersey. You see, my father
hates New Jersey because he cannot believe that anyone with real and
translucent skin would live in Passaic, Secaucus, or the Oranges. In
fact, he imagined that people in the Oranges were all redheaded and had
many freckles. So we settled in Philadelphia. I went to Mrs. Smith’s
Natural Juice Pies Academy until I was sixteen, majoring in deep-dish
pies. Then I went to college, where I quickly lost my virginity to an
older woman. I decided to enter psychoanalysis to find out why this had
happened. I also became very interested in philosophy, eastern volleyball,
and Etruscan art.
S: And then your career just took off?
G: Harry, I have been like a whirling dervish for the past 20 years.
I have been on lecture tour. I have seen things – the fountains
in Greencastle, Indiana; the quarry in Cut Bank, Montana; and the barbers
in Razor Cut, Idaho.
S: That is amazing. How would you describe yourself, Dr. Gladstone?
G: Harry, Harry, don’t be so formal. Call me Dr. Jeffrey!
S: OK. Dr. Jeffrey: what would you say your profession really is?
G: Harry, I am like a handyman for the soul. I will advise you about
anything and everything. I dole out philosophy, psychotherapy, astrological
predictions, antidotes for those predictions, and analyze your past life
so you understand where you are coming from. In my leisure time, I like
to eat figs and granola bars. And I like skydiving, samba shows, and
modern art. But I object to the way modern art treats translucent skin.
S: And what about nutrition, Dr. Jeffrey?
G: I have offered profound nutritional insights on occasion, particularly
after drinking beet juice with a slice of pomegranate.
S: Our lines are open for your calls. Our guest is Dr. Gladstone; he
will be happy to advise you about – anything you want to ask.
G: Harry, you don’t need to call me Dr. Gladstone. Remember my
need for informality!
S: Sorry, Dr. Jeffrey. Hello? Hi. You’re on WRKO talk radio, welcome
to the show.
Caller: Hi, Harry and Dr. Jeffrey. I have a question for Dr. Jeffrey.
I’ve been wondering – will I ever be financially independent?
G: I might need a little more information before I can help you with
that question. Allow me to ask you something. Can you say your mother’s
maiden name softly to yourself while bending your head toward the nearest
window? (answer is yes). Can you tell me the size of your left foot?
(answer is 9) OK. I am almost ready. Tell me, are you afraid you will
not be financially independent?
C: Yes, I am.
G: And your mother – is she afraid, or was she afraid, that she
would not reach financial independence?
C: Yes, I believe she was also. This is fascinating.
G: I believe that I see the broad context for all of this. OK. I am
quickly doing mindspin astrology. Aha – I see that you will be
living in a hovel within the next decade, but do not despair: there is
an antidote and therefore a path to financial independence.
C: What should I do?
G: What you must do is simple, but you must do it unflaggingly, relentlessly,
without fail. Every other Tuesday, you must fly to Cleveland and visit
the Cleveland zoo. There you must engage in deep eye contact with the
tallest giraffe you can find for at least 6 _ minutes. Continue this
procedure for the next 2 years and 4 months and financial independence
is within your grasp; otherwise, it’s hovel city, so to speak.
C: Well thank you, very much.
G: It is our mutual pleasure. I am enriched from your response.
Next caller: Dr. Gladstone, I’m worried about my future. Can you
tell me a little bit?
G: Where were you yesterday at 5:04 PM? Think, but don’t say it
over the phone. Make a picture inside your mind of that location. Now
listen to the sounds; now feel your stomach as you place yourself back
in time. I will absorb your vibrations. OK. I see that a trauma will
befall you on the 11th of next month, but it is relatively minor. Your
dental floss will become stuck in your lateral bicuspid on the right
side, lower, and remain there maddeningly, for 6 _ days, during which
time you will want to inflict bodily harm on anyone you come in contact
with and you will scare small children.
C: God, I hate dental floss getting stuck. I hate it when that happens.
What can I do?
G: You must hijack a shipment of unwaxed dental floss from the truck
delivering to a Rexall’s pharmacy. You must then immerse them in
carbolic acid for 2 hours. That is all.
C. Oh well, that sounds simple enough. Thank you very much, Dr. G.!
ANSWER TO NEXT CALLER: I see that in the next 5 days, you will be driven
slightly crazy by the phone ringing many times, for a wrong number. Someone
will be trying to contact a fellow named Steve. What is the antidote?
No, you don’t have to disconnect the phone. All you must do is
to eat spaghetti with rice pilaf for three days, then skip a day, and
eat it again the next day. The caller will not bother you at all. Either
he will not call or you will not care if he does call.
AND THE NEXT: From your voice, I gather that Leo is in your 11th house,
opposing Virgo in Holstein. This opposition together with the Moon in
Cancer and the fact that you have Neptune adjacent Mercury in the 4th
house allows only one possible conclusion: that you will go completely
bald within the next 48 hours. There is, however, an antidote: it is
painful, but very simple. For the next month, you must watch Laverne
and Shirley reruns before you eat dinner. You must watch them completely,
even the commercials.
OTHER ANTIDOTES: You must whistle There’s Nothing Like a Dame
whenever you come to a street corner.
You must wrap both of your wrists in tin foil – the heavy duty
kind – and try not to look embarrassed.
You must see erotic shows twice a month for a year and three quarters.
After a commercial, Sobel and Gladstone chat for a while before taking
G: When I grew up in Philadelphia, I had a friend who received a spanking
every single day at 9:30 in the morning, even when he was behaving beautifully.
G: His name is Boris. I remember how we would be playing shinball and
Boris’ mother would call out, "Boris, oh, Boris dear, it’s
time for your spanking." And Boris would run off, saying "Coming,
mommy", while telling me that he would return in approximately ten
minutes. And every day, she spanked him so that he wouldn’t be
bad. Preventative spanking. This became the philosophy of Volvo automobiles:
preventative maintenance. They stole it from Boris’ mother.
S: That is really a remarkable story. I really had no idea where Volvo’s
approach came from. I’d like to ask you a little about your research
on past lives, Dr. Jeffrey. I understand that you wrote your thesis about
past lives in Samoa?
G: Yes, Harry, that is correct. I discovered that everyone in Samoa
had been either a leopard or a scuba diver in one of their three most
recent lives. This led me to conjecture that homogeneity in culture is
really the result of homogeneity in previous past lives. I was ejected
from the Academy of Past Lives for this heresy.
S: Since then, though, you’ve become quite well known for your
theories on past lives.
G: Much of my insight into this phenomenon is the result of my subsequent
research on leopards. I began to wonder if leopards would then become
Samoans in the future. And whether or not leopards were leopards in past
lives -- or perhaps merely amoebas. Do they even have past lives. My
book WERE WE LOVERS IN PAST LIVES covers much of this.
S: I see. I think it’s time for your calls; we have two available
lines at 720-4080.
Caller: I’ve always wondered about whether I’ve lived before.
Do you think you can tell me?
G: Just tell me the approximate age at which you lost your first baby
tooth? Thank you. Do you ever have itching on your left leg, particularly
on or below the shin bone? That is because you were an amputee in your
previous life: you had your left leg removed at the age of 16, due to
an industrial accident for which you received no workman’s compensation.
S: How can you know this?
G: It is a gift. I am intuitive beyond belief. Actually, most people
were amputees in past lives, so it is not much of a stab, after all.
Harry, stop scratching.
OTHER PAST LIVES:
You were a wandering minstrel.
You were a Labrador retriever named Sooty Cinders from Straw Hollow
and you lived in Amber Valley, Vermont, at the turn of the century.
This is your first life. Sorry. Total blank from the past.
You were Joseph Kennedy’s father in Ireland.
I believe that you studied biophysics in Eastern Europe in the early
1800s, but soon gave that up and became a bouncer at a bistro in Paris.
You invented wallpaper.
G: You were a leopard in Samoa, but you were eaten by a tribesman who
mistook you for his cousin, whom he detested violently. That tribesman
was known for his progressive myopia and lived in ridicule for mistaking
a leopard for his cousin, who was clearly pear-shaped.
You ate with your hands too much in your past life.
Then Gladstone went on to expound about the way people can make changes
in their lives:
G: I would like to impart some wisdom on how people can change when
they have run aground – when self-control has totally failed. I
believe that in any situation where people react compulsively – they
might argue, or overeat, or eat shaving cream – there is a key
moment of choice. Maybe just for a second, when you look back on it,
you see some alternatives. For example, if someone says to you, "You
are a disgusting and malignant tumor on the body of humankind," perhaps
your tendency is to become instantly enraged and to engulf your tormentor
into a Bruno Sammartino half-nelson, all but choking the life breath
out of him or her. Now wouldn’t you like to be able to restrain
yourself, so that this remark might only engender a slight balling of
the fists and perhaps cause you to raise your eyes skyward, while whistling
the Canadian national anthem? Wouldn’t you like to have a choice?
Or course you would. The trick is to focus on another avenue of sensory
information at the moment of impulse. If the person’s words are
triggering your normal reaction, look immediately at his or her chin:
is it single or double or even multiple? Stare intently at the chin while
he or she is speaking. Then you will discover that there are other plans
of action, the best of which might well be "My God, your chin is
ugly!" of "Did you know you have a wart under your second chin?"
G: You know Harry, it is quite important to change your attitude toward
mistakes. One way to do this is to imagine a broad context in which your
mistakes are not problematic. For example, if you are having an allergic
attack at a wedding and are sneezing quite violently and with great frequency,
you might feel ill at ease and wish everyone would stop looking at you.
But the trick is to immediately broaden the context – you could
imagine that the entire scene is taking place on 5th Avenue in New York
City. There are riveters behind you breaking through the sidewalk. There
are muggers grabbing the bouquet. Dogs are sullying the grounds. Cars
are honking their horns, people are screaming obscenities of every conceivable
variety to each other, and a lone unshaven man is talking to himself
about the Vikings and the return of Leif Erikson. Then your sneezing
is a drop in the bucket, barely perceptible. Now of course, we know that
we cannot order up such a scene a la Fantasy Island. But by merely imagining
it, we will relax our bodies to the point where the allergic shock will
cease to bother us: we will not tense up against it and unwittingly prolong
it. And we will have a beatific smile on our faces as we go through this
entire process. Probably the vibes we give off will be so good that everyone
will feel warmed in spite of the sneezing. Maybe years later, the bride
and groom will refer back to this even and smile gently to each other: "Remember
when Dr. Jeffrey lost control at the wedding? I don’t know why,
but it made me feel so special." Perhaps this will create a new
phenomenon -- guest sneezers at all weddings. After all, this is how
the creative process works: out of the ashes of obnoxious blunders come
S: And I understand that you have done a lot of work in the area of
creativity. Can you comment on some of your more profound insights so
that people can understand how they can become more creative.
G: Hi Harry, good to be here. You look at me quizzically as if that
remark was a non-sequitur. But this is a partial answer to you query.
I was experiencing a newness in talking with you, so I let it out by
telling you "good to be here". That is the first key to becoming
more creative: express yourself even if you might appear a bit peculiar.
S: (chuckling) Glad to have you, Dr. Jeffrey. Continue.
G: Thank you Harry. Good to be here. Becoming more creative requires
that you alter the sequence of your actions to shake things up. Then
you select new behaviors from the disruption that you have caused. I
S: Please do.
G: For example, we tend to fall into fixed sequences of focusing when
we are involved in a particular activity. Suppose I am a personnel officer
at a large holding company involving the importing of porcelain vases
from the Ming and Ping dynasties. Perhaps I have the following rigid
pattern of shifting my attention: when I interview somebody, I might
begin by noticing my visceral reactions (perhaps I have butterflies in
the stomach, or a mild gastroenteritis induced by yesterday’s Pizza
Hut binge) and then shifting to gazing at the client (looking to see
if he or she has translucent skin or counting the number of chins he
or she has) and then asking a routine question (What is your name? Your
sun sign?) to an abstract one (when else have you felt this way?); you
might find yourself periodically going from one friendly questioning
(do you enjoy erotic shows?) to inquisitive and probing questioning (was
your mother grossly overweight?). To become more creative, you must vary
the sequence of maneuvers – this will open you up to more imaginative
possibilities. For instance, you might now begin with an inquisitive
question such as "Did your father spit his chewing tobacco on you
when you were four years old, thus accounting for your obvious fear of
men?" and then ask "What is your name?", finally looking
at the person meaningfully, gazing at their chins, counting them out
loud in French or Spanish, You will then begin to think of creative responses:
the right things to say will come to you.
Another key is to maintain the balance between similarities and differences:
you want to see where a certain experience is similar in structure to
others and also probe its uniqueness. Let me illustrate how you can come
up with creative responses to people who complain about life. Suppose
a friend tells you that his wife has divorced him, that he has lost his
job, that his car was stolen, and that his left leg might have to be
amputated to reduce his stress level. First you listen attentively and
indicate how unusual all this is, acknowledging it with statements like "My
God, that is a hideous configuration of conspiratorial events whose sheer
weight must make you feel as if you were buried under an overwhelming
mound of excrement" and "There is no justice in the world;
you are the victim of the most heinous combination of circumstances imaginable
to anyone with an IQ of over 43." But then you must prevent this
individual from feeling too isolated in his pain and start to stress
the similarities: "On one level, this is similar to what I went
through last month when my wife and I argued about how much to pay the
babysitter. The argument, if extended to its logical limit, would have
clearly resulted in divorce; and you know what else? I saw one of my
neighbors drooling over my new Trans-Am – I knew that if he lacked
proper self-control or wavered for an instant, he would steal my car;
and yesterday, I had this muscle spasm in my left leg; I bet that if
I had given in to it, I might have fallen down the stairs and required
an immediate amputation. So I know what you’re going through."
G: You can also fantasize additional differences. In this situation,
you can come up with "You could be even worse off. You could be
losing both your legs. Or your wife could have shot you. Or the car could
have exploded with you in it." In this way, you are providing your
friend with a broader context. But this is very sensitive stuff. Sometimes,
you just have to guess what to do. For instance, if someone arrives at
your house and within two minutes, begins weeping hysterically, clinging
to your sports jacket and screaming "My kids are driving me nuts;
they always fight", you can respond in two different creative ways
-- you can superemphasize the similarities by saying that "mine
do too; let’s glue all our kids together with crazy glue and make
them work out their problems while we go off on a Caribbean vacation
of indeterminate length." Or you can overemphasize the differences
by remarking that "Yes, they are the worst children the world has
ever seen; what a burden on you to have them; they fight like wild cheetahs;
my advice to you is to threaten them with biurnal enemas."
S: That is fascinating. Earlier when we were talking during the commercial
break, you mentioned that you had discovered ways to open up people’s
G: Hi Harry, good to be here. That is quite correct. I believe that
you can learn to become more creative if you discover the edge of ambiguity
and let your perceptions bounce feely on either side of it. Allow me
S: Please do, Dr. Jeffrey.
G: You know, Harry, if I photograph a drop of milk striking a surface,
you would look at it and comment "that is a drop of milk striking
a surface," perhaps shrugging your shoulders as if to indicated
non-verbally "Who cares?" But if I enlarge that photograph
many times, there will come a point in the enlargement process when the
milk drop is no longer clearly visible as a milk drop. That is the edge
of ambiguity. Then your perceptions are free to bounce, because they
are liberated from the bonds of the milk drop experience. You might see
wild and beautiful white shapes; they might become clouds as you continue
to stare; or swans sweeping gracefully across the sky. So you can open
your perceptions by spilling milk – you don’t have to cry
over spilt milk any longer. But Harry, you cannot use just anything:
you know the Mobil Oil commercial in which Brooke Shields’ skin
is enlarged 1000 times and ends up looking like a filthy carburetor?
The point is that anything enlarged 1000 times can look like a carburetor.
Human skin is too emotionally loaded to serves as a focus for this experiment.
You will only see skin or carburetors and perhaps some filth. Nothing
in between. Do not use double chins either.
S: I’ll have to try that.
G: You will find it quite provocative, Harry. By the way, I understand
that you do a significant portion of the vacuuming in your home?
S: That’s true. It’s not my favorite job, but I do it a
G: Would you like me to tell you how you might make it more meaningful
and less of a burden on your psyche?
S: I would be interested in hearing about it.
G: You must find new dimensions of awareness within the task. First
of all, forget about vacuuming. Let’s take sweeping, an activity
which is even more inherently boring and ungratifying. What you must
do is reorient your perceptions. Look at the broom handle and move closer
until the grain of the wood begins to entrance you. You are now on the
edge of ambiguity. Spend two minutes at the edge. Then as you sweep shift
your attention from the motion of the broom to the way your feet contact
the floor. Vary the pressure you exert on the broom so that the bristles
are resting lightly on the floor and commence to dance with it, a la
Fred Astaire. Bend your knees. Point your toes. Roll your neck. Being
to sing wildly. Feel the line of movement from your arms on the broom
handle down through the bristles onto the floor. If you become inexplicably
depressed doing all this, open all the windows and poke your head out,
and then announce in a bold and stentorian tone, "I love life and
I want to live." You must control yourself however. You might find
yourself trying to sweep everywhere you go. But this is not something
that one can do on the Jersey coast. I knew two crazed sweepers who attempted
to cleanse the shore of sand. They were institutionalized and diagnosed
as suffering from terminal gout.
S: I think that some of your suggestions will be difficult to implement.
G: Harry, don’t be a drag. I will have to prod you gently with
a fork, leaving imprints on your midriff. Just joking, of course.
S: Is that an example of your controversial brand of psychotherapy that
I’ve been reading about lately?
G: Yes, Harry, I specialize in a rare form of psychotherapy. It is called
DISRUPTIVE THERAPY. I try to say jarring things to a client at a propitious
moment so that he or she will suddenly see a different world-view.
S: Can you give us an example of the way in which you might do that?
G: Of course. Supposed I have a client who comes into my office and
says, "Dr. Jeffrey, I feel so miserable today and I don’t
know why." So I say, "It is because you a total sleazebag." They
are shocked. I wait 3 seconds and then say "Just joking" and
slap my thigh and laugh uproariously. You would be amazed at the results.
S: So they know you’re just kidding them, but for a moment, they
take you seriously.
G: Yes, and that is where the therapeutic growth comes. It is the combination
of the worst fear being confirmed (Oh my God, I knew I was a sleazeball)
and the absurdity of thinking that way (he’s laughing: of course
I’m not a sleaze, I am a wonderful and fully actualized, self-motivated,
responsible, conscientious, dependable, certifiable, and centered human
being; I am cured and will now be able to save the world as I have always
wanted to). But I make sure that my clients are unarmed when they enter
the office. On occasion, disruptive therapy makes them want to reach
out and shoot someone.
S: So you accentuate to clients’ worst fears and then make it
G: Yes, Harry, I am convinced that this brings up their vulnerability
and allows a small window for change through which I pass quickly, unannounced,
foiling their defensive home security system for the soul. I must disarm
the alarm mechanism, if you follow my metaphor.
S: Dr. Jeffrey, I’m having a hard time following you. But let’s
talk to some listeners and see if they have any questions for you about
disruptive psychotherapy or if they want you to help them over the phone.
G: Sounds good to me Harry. Shoot. Just joking!
C: Dr. Jeffrey, I have a problem. I keep worrying that people are looking
at me in a funny way.
G: They are. You have ring around the collar. Just joking!
C: Thank you Dr. Jeffrey. I am totally cured!
G: Not so fast, young man. You have one other item to contend with.
How is your sex life, if I may ask?
C: Why, it’s fine…I think.
G: It will end tomorrow. Just joking! Got you that time, right?
C: That did give me a bit of a start. OK. Thank you, Dr. Jeffrey.
S: I can see that you have to be very careful in doing disruptive therapy.
G: Yes Harry, I always do it barefoot. I feel connected to the ground
when I have no shoes on. In fact, I also vacuum best and wash dishes
with great intensity when I am barefoot. I also swim well barefoot.
S: Let’s get back to the calls. Hello, you’re next on WRKO.
C: Hi Dr. Jeffrey?!?
G: Is this Chris on the phone? Chris from New Zealand?
C: No, my name is Bob.
G: Oh, for a second there, I thought I recognized your voice. Bob, go
C: I’m really nervous about asking out this girl: she’s
real popular and I’m afraid she won’t like me. Can you tell
me something I can do so I won’t be so uptight around her?
G: Bob, the problem is your breath. Also, tell me: what deodorant have
you been using lately? Just joking. Bob, just joking. Actually, you secretly
crave being treated like dirt. Just joking!!
C: Oh, OK, Oh, I see. Thanks a lot. (hangs up)
G: You see, Harry, Bob is confused right now. But that is good. He will
have his insight later on in the day, perhaps while drinking a cup of
S: Speaking of which, I would like you to share with us some of your
profound nutritional insights you spoke of earlier.
G: You are perhaps referring to the science of Acufeeding, which I invented.
I will be happy to give you my famous food sensitivity diet. I call it
FOUR DAYS TO SANE EATING THROUGH ACUFEEDING. It goes like this: on the
first day, you must ingest massive quantities of hearts of palm au vinaigrette,
accompanied by steamed kidneys, lima beans, and diced apricots. For snacks,
canned kidney beans and Spam are recommended. Drink two quarts of rennet
custard a day, but do not let it cool. On the second day, you can only
inhale odors of certain steamed foods: for example, make a pot of Postum
and sniff it, leaving your nose _" from the rim of the cup. On the
third day, you might be consumed with erotic thoughts. You must then
go back to the combination of Spam and rennet custard of the first day;
you are permitted to eat Sara Lee chocolate cake, provided that you sprinkle
tartar sauce and horseradish on it. Finally, it will help to do Geezel
Mediation: lie in a fetal position and repeat silently to yourself "Geezel,
Geezel, Geezel." This will take care of some of the erotic overload.
S: I’ve heard that many of your ideas have been nurtured by first
your father and then your wife. Would you care to comment on that?
G: Yes Harry, I will be happy to share all this. My father is a very
compelling man. People used to call him Father Gladstone, even though
he is not a priest – that is because he is the quintessential father
figure. He doles out advice and insight wherever he goes. He smokes a
small cigar and is constantly flicking it, so you must be careful that
you do not catch on fire if you are in his presence. He was always saying "Jeffrey
boy" to me when I was young – and even now, he calls me "Jeffrey
boy" rather than Dr. Jeffrey. He gave me important advice, such
as "Jeffrey boy, not to overdo" when he thought I was getting
too intense; and he would exclaim, "Jeffery boy, do it complete" when
he felt my attention lagging. And when I came up with a new idea, he
would always praise me: "Very creative, Jeffrey boy."
Sometimes I call my wife Mrs. G. And I also refer to her as "the
little woman". People told me that this was chauvinistic. But I
reply, after all, she is only 4 feet 11 inches tall, so she is a little
woman. And anyway, I say it with affection. I pose the following question:
is chauvinism in the words on in the spirit? Sometimes, Mrs. G. accuses
me of making chauvinistic remarks when I say things like "women
are more sensitive than men." She says that it is too stereotypical
a statement. So I respond with "Women are brutish, insensitive,
loutish human beings." But she doesn’t like that either. Then
of course, I say, "Just joking."
Mrs. G. is small of stature, but she has enormous lungs. The significance
of that is that her occupation is the lead tuba player for the Philadelphia
Philharmonic. There is no such orchestra? It is just forming. The conductor
is Seiko Omega.
My wife’s brother is strange. He is a waiter at a French restaurant.
Whenever he brings you something, he says "Excuse me" to get
your attention; then he says "Thank you." He always starts
with "excuse me" and ends with "thank you." Last
week, we ate there and I tried an experiment: I complimented him on something
and he said, "Thank you." Once he said that, he became self-conscious
and said, "Excuse me"; of course then he had to say "Thank
you" again. Now he was all confused and went back and forth between "Excuse
me" and "Thank you" until I rapped him sharply on the
left temple with a bread stick and snapped him out of it.
S: Perhaps you should have used disruptive psychotherapy on him?
G: That might have been equally effective.
S: I heard also that you might want to run for president.
G: I would like to do this, Harry. But before I explain my candidacy,
I would like to ask you to ponder the following question: what keeps
us from rolling out of bed each night? You see Harry, I believe that
we are always a little bit worried about this, so that we tense up slightly
in our sleep to keep in the bed. We are unaware of this tension, but
it is robbing us of the depth of the sleep we truly need. So my platform
is platform beds! I will design a special bed which will send out electrical
messages to the skin in your arms and legs whenever you get too close
to the edge. That way, you won’t have to engage in subconscious
worry any longer. Harry, with me as President, people will be able to
finally get that special rest they have always needed. No longer will
people fall out of bed and have to cover up that black eye by pretending
they foolishly walked into a door.
S: Well, you certainly have my vote, Dr. Jeffrey.
G: Thank you, Harry. Good to be here.
S: Good to have you here.
G: Good to be here.
SOME SPECIAL PHONE CALLS FROM DR. G.
Labor Day 1984
G: Hi Harry, good to be here. Yes, it is Dr. Jeffrey. I have come back
to Philadelphia from a long sojourn in the Bahamas, where I engaged in
snorkeling and general resting. I would like to share with you my thoughts
on this day.
First, why Labor Day, Harry? Nobody is working today. It should be
Unlabor Day. But let us not dwell on matters of nomenclature. I have
more serious reflections to offer. I want to speak about some difficult
jobs I have been involved with, when times were harder.
My worst job, Harry, was testing dental floss. You know, Harry, how
irritating it is when a piece of floss gets stuck in your teeth. Then
you have to make the existential choice: do I let bad enough alone or
do I take another piece and use it to try to remove the one already stuck.
It is a true risk Harry, because what if the second piece gets stuck
also? Or pushes the first piece in even deeper? We all confront such
difficult choices every day of our lives. How would you characterize
yourself, Harry? Are you a risk-taker when it comes to dental floss extractions?
Anyway, as a tester, I did not have the luxury of choosing to avoid
the problem. I had to keep sticking different types of floss between
my teeth. Many times, Harry, I cannot tell you how often, a piece of
floss got stuck. And Harry, you know the lines you get on your fingers
from gripping the floss? Well, you might think that is not a big deal
because you only do this for one minute each day. But, Harry, imagine
having your fingers wrapped around pieces of floss for 8 hours a day.
I developed permanent grooves that are still quite visible today. I thought
I would lose the circulation in my fingers. I decided to write about
my experiences and so I published the now famous critical essay IN SEARCH
OF FLOSS followed by the paperback MEGAFLOSS and then the powerful THE
ONE MINUTE FLOSSER.
So that is what I am thinking of today, Harry. I use a water pick now – no
November 1, 1984
G: Hi, Harry, good to be here. I am calling Harry, because it is the
beginning of November. As you know, Harry, from reading my latest book,
November is the forgotten month. You can talk to people for days and
they will never mention November. In fact, Harry, a recent research project
reveals that in normal conversations, September comes up three times
as often as October and October is four times as frequently mentioned
as November! People are just not into November. That is the only conclusion
that anyone could make from this data, except possibly a lunatic who
cannot think straight.
What can we make of this phenomenon? What are some of the implications?
Think about all those people who are born in November. You see, even
though it is the forgotten month, people are occasionally born in it.
What is the psychology of those individuals? Do they forget their own
birthdays more frequently than the rest of us? Do others forget their
birthdays and bring them small, belated tokens long after the fact? Do
they lie about their birthdays and claim they are in October or December
(depending on which is closest to the actual date)? These are important
issues for us to consider today, on November 1st.
I want to make November 1st a special day, Harry, You know, we have
April 1st, which is April Fools day; January 1st, which is New Years’ Day.
Why not November 1? We can call it November Fantasy Day. You see, Harry,
my research has revealed that people tend to fantasize more in November
than in any other month. That way, they can forget that they are in November.
Possibly because they are turning inward, like a hibernating bear, for
the long winter months ahead – that is an interesting parallel:
depending on how much bear blood you have in you, you will fantasize
more or less in November (a possible new direction for research). It
is a time of transition, a time to take a deep breath and look inside.
You see, Harry, April is different: April is hopeful, because we are
looking forward to spring; November is bleak and foreboding. We tend
to run away from this reality by excessive fantasies.
Now some people will think it is bad to fantasize so much and will
fight against the tendency. But why fight nature? It is a human condition,
to withdraw from the rigors of reality at certain regular intervals.
We must pay homage to our deep biological and psychological realities.
Instead of resisting the temptation to lapse into November oblivion,
let us embrace the truth and let our fantasies flow freely, particularly
around the beginning of the month. Then, we might have reason to celebrate
the coming of November and perhaps it will no longer be the forgotten
month. So today, you should request callers who would like to share the
fantasy with us, to allow us to explore fantasies together, a group fantasy
if you like. This is very therapeutic. In fact, it is the basis for my
new book, NOVEMBER THERAPY, which is largely oriented toward the exploration
and cultivation of fantasy. I am also working on a piece entitled APRIL-NOVEMBER
CONNECTIONS, in which I compare and contrast April 1 and November 1.
Harry, I have a November therapy group therapy going. We have 10 people
in a small, dimly lit room, with a single 25 watt bulb flickering intermittently – one
person will begin with a fantasy and then someone else will cut in, and
embellish it, perhaps taking it somewhere else. It will continue like
this. I have found that those people are rarely depressed now in November.
And Harry, what about November in Scandinavia? You know, they have these
long winters where the days are short and people get depressed. What
about November therapy for Scandinavians? I want to make a contribution,
Harry. I think this may be the ticket for the 80s.
Thanksgiving Day, 1984
G: Hi, Harry, good to be here. Harry, as I prepare Thanksgiving dinner
today, I have been puzzling over the question of free will. You see,
it is not always clear when we have a choice. Consider the fact that
on Thanksgiving, most of us are having turkeys. Of course, there are
some Thanksgiving renegades who have ham instead. And almost everyone
you and I know is aware of that alternative. People who cook turkeys
think that they have chosen this gastronomic route because they prefer
the taste of the bird to that of the pig. However, as clinicians, Harry,
you and I are cognizant of the illusory nature of choice. Is it truly
a preference for turkey or is the weight of societal expectations? Is
it an unconscious choice? Perhaps my neighbor, Claudius Beanbag, eats
turkey because he had a meaningful encounter with such a bird when he
was three years old, an experience he has since repressed, but which
surfaces in an obsessive concern with consuming them on this day. And
Harry, is it truly choice when he have such limited alternatives? Would
you walk into a restaurant which had only two items on the menu? You
might walk in, but you would walk right out again, perhaps not even pausing
to sit down and reflect on the matter. Why not have Braised Bean Curd
au Jus Provencale a la Milanese for Thanksgiving with stuffing on the
side. Let us show some imagination, Harry, some creativity. What if India
celebrated Thanksgiving? What would they have?
G: I have been doing a lot of treading water, Harry. Before I eat turkey,
I like to do a minimum of aerobic exercise and I have chosen to tread.
You know I wrote The Incomplete Book of Treading Water. Now I am working
on the Incomplete Book of Treading Water Part II. If I finish that, I
wonder if the two together might be called the Almost Complete Book of
Treading Water. I have much pondering to do in this regard. Good to be
here. My mind has been racing, but is on low idle right now, in the present.
I await your insights.