Ashes to ashes
 

Ashes to ashes

Before Cormac McCarthy’s nameless father and son have ventured more than a few yards down The Road, we realize that…
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Evolution in Europe
 

Evolution in Europe

While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West From Within by Bruce Bawer. Doubleday, 2006. 256 pages —…
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The way things could have been
 

The way things could have been

Back some 30 years ago when I still had some tenuous claim to academic respectability (I taught literature), my teaching…
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Truer and grittier
 

Truer and grittier

If you remember Charles Portis’ wonderful 1968 novel, True Grit (and the subsequent Kim Darby/John Wayne film), you are likely…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 24: Who Should see a Shrink?
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 24: Who Should see a Shrink?

My buddy, “Ralph,” teaches at a major university. He is about as bright a guy as I’ve ever met and…
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Family ties, past and present
 

Family ties, past and present

The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne. Algonquin Books, 2006. All of us bring ghosts to our table. Whether…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 25: The Final Session
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 25: The Final Session

It’s almost time for resolution and termination but first some last minute housekeeping. You should know that I do not…
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Death call Everyman
 

Death call Everyman

When I registered as a sophomore at Western Carolina University (then, Western Carolina Teachers’ College) in 1954, I heard a…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 23: Just Babies, Too
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 23: Just Babies, Too

The theme throughout this book has been: When a person is emotionally messed up, he or she was made that…
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Franklin machinist writes shop book with subtle humor
 

Franklin machinist writes shop book with subtle humor

By Fred Alexander • Guest Writer There’s never been a more entertaining book for those who enjoy working in a…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 22: Who Saved Your Butt?
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 22: Who Saved Your Butt?

When listening to my patients tell about their less-than-perfect, sometimes horrific, childhoods, I sometimes asked myself, “Who saved their butts?”…
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Frank delivers another fine detective novel
 

Frank delivers another fine detective novel

In Marshall Frank’s latest Miami detective novel, The Latent (ISBN 1-4137-9890-X), a serial killer is terrorizing Miami’s gay community. Rockford…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 21: Ways to Screw Up Kids
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 21: Ways to Screw Up Kids

When children are growing up their parents are omnipotent, so it is safe to say they will have enormous impact…
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Betrayed, rejection and self-destruction
 

Betrayed, rejection and self-destruction

15 years ago, Donna Tautt’s The Secret History managed to acquire an amazing following among university students in the United…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 20: The Pissed Off
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 20: The Pissed Off

Many of the maladies that affect our emotional systems are fueled by the amount of anger we have storehoused in…
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Captives and Captivations
 

Captives and Captivations

Narratives of confinement have long held a fascination for readers. From Saint Paul’s account of his imprisonment to modern stories…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 19: The Safe House
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 19: The Safe House

The majority of my patients came to see me because they were depressed. Some were especially down in the dumps…
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Three dark gems
 

Three dark gems

Almost a decade ago, I wrote an unabashed rave review of Howard Bahr’s The Black Flower (1997), a darkly beautiful…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 18: Crying Men
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 18: Crying Men

I was sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch of our house in the North Carolina mountains enjoying…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 17: A Shrink’s Eye View
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 17: A Shrink’s Eye View

People go through life with a multitude of eyeballs. Architects see structures noting design and materials; realtors look for FSBO’s…
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Hope in a rude world
 

Hope in a rude world

In the last 40 years, the living waters of American law and politics have flattened into a bog of faction…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 16: Sometimes We Make Mistakes
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 16: Sometimes We Make Mistakes

Shrinks, like other professionals, are a kaleidoscope of humanity. They are fat, skinny, tall, short, handsome, beautiful, ugly. Some have…
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Chick check
 

Chick check

The word “ubiquitous” is an apt adjective for Chick comics. They show up in motel rooms, garages, pool halls, laundromats,…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 15: Use Eagles, If Necessary
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 15: Use Eagles, If Necessary

Early in our training we were taught that our most important tool to help patients was our intuition, because the…
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An open eye
 

An open eye

Let’s imagine for a moment that it is Election Day in some unspecified city, and the proper government officials have…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 14: Herr Professor Doktor Sigmund Freud
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 14: Herr Professor Doktor Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud, M.D., of Vienna, Austria, is known as The Father of Psychoanalysis. Note, that is the Father, not the…
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In need of help
 

In need of help

Steve Salerno’s SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless (ISBN 1-40005409-5, $24.95) is not only an attack on the…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 13: Dreams
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 13: Dreams

At a social gathering I am introduced to someone. The conversation goes like this: Mutual Friend: “Helen, I’d like you…
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Real Mountain dialect
 

Real Mountain dialect

Like hundreds of other mountain folk who grew up listening to “the old folks talking,” I always wanted to be…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 12: Gotcha
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 12: Gotcha

Rush hour traffic is heavy in all directions as you come to a red light. You are in the left…
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Money verses morals
 

Money verses morals

During my senior year of high school, my brother, some friends, and I went to a James Bond film festival.…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 11: Oh no, not again!
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 11: Oh no, not again!

Albert Einstein said that insanity is when someone does the same thing over and over but expects different results each…
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Amazing language found in a lost novel
 

Amazing language found in a lost novel

Recently, the New York Times set off a hotly contested literary skirmish by naming what their literary staff considered to…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 10: Transference
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 10: Transference

Like so many of the psychic forces that affect our lives, transference is mostly conducted at the unconscious level. (I’ll…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 9: The History of You
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 9: The History of You

Carl Jung was a workaholic, and unlike his wife he needed little sleep. After Mrs. Jung (Emma) went to bed,…
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Hard times and happy days
 

Hard times and happy days

On March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. Frank C. Davis, the author of My C.C.C. Days, says…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 8: Sex and Sexuality
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 8: Sex and Sexuality

We shrinks have been accused of starting the sexual revolution, which began in the mid-20th century. This isn’t true. A…
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Discovering the dawn
 

Discovering the dawn

In April I began working a few weekend hours in a bookshop in Asheville. Having operated my own bookstore for…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 7: Making a Diagnosis
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 7: Making a Diagnosis

The emotional system is subject to illness just as are the various parts of the body, but to isolate an…
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A Melange of murder and myth
 

A Melange of murder and myth

If you have a TV, you probably know that the film version of Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel is scheduled for…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 6: What It’s Like To Be a Shrink
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 6: What It’s Like To Be a Shrink

Many people thing being a shrink is a mysterious, even glamorous, profession. It is, but only at cocktail parties. The…
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Love sex print: Two different treatments of this oh-so-important ritual
 

Love sex print: Two different treatments of this oh-so-important ritual

Well, it’s spring — a beautiful spring indeed this year — and that time on the calendar when a young…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 5: It Is Not Academic
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 5: It Is Not Academic

One of the first things we learned as psychoanalytic candidates was that a person’s I.Q. (basic intelligence) and his or…
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A lost soul finds a home
 

A lost soul finds a home

On a spring night in 1929, Mary Seneca Steele escapes from her home in Charleston, taking only her two children…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 4: My First Patient
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 4: My First Patient

When my session on a Friday was over I got up and proceeded to the door of the consultation room.…
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Of Rhyme and Reason: Books to celebrate National Poetry Month
 

Of Rhyme and Reason: Books to celebrate National Poetry Month

Besides being what T.S. Eliot called “the cruelest month/Breeding lilacs out of the dead land,” April is also National Poetry…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 3: Can a Catholic Do It?
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 3: Can a Catholic Do It?

Early on psychoanalysis was dubbed “The Jewish Science” because nearly all of the first practitioners were Jews. Although Christianity was…
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King’s zombie nation
 

King’s zombie nation

Yes dear reader, when Stephen King’s dread armies of the mindless begin their apocalyptic trudge through the devastated towns of…
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Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 2: Why I Became a Psychoanalyst
 

Use Eagles if Necessary, Chapter 2: Why I Became a Psychoanalyst

I had become a dedicated analysand (patient) and continued to see Veryl after my wife and sons moved back to…
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Simple significance
 

Simple significance

Writers typically aim to give the reader a protagonist who is likeable. Most of us don’t want to spend hours…
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