(Ed. Note: This is a humor column. We want to make it clear this is a satirical article about Mattel introducing a new version of Barbie (with a mental illness). This is only a parody. It is just a joke and is in no way to be construed as a factual article or an accurate representation or portrayal of Barbie, the doll, or beliefs held by the Mattel Corporation, makers of Barbie.) Since her 1959 debut, Barbie has attracted controversy the way porcine state senators attract illegal campaign contributions. Little girls admire her for what she is, but whiners, complainers, gadflies, malcontents, rabble-rousers, muckrakers, agents provocateurs, professional cynics, babies, wimps, naysayers, Liberals, Thought Policemen, and college professors are more interested in what she is not. These self-appointed custodians of political correctness, who live to improve the human character against its will right up to the point where it ceases to exist at all, consider Barbie to be the sharp edge of the social engineering ax, mercilessly slicing through the hapless human outliers whose creation, causation, and construction do not coincide with qualities and criteria considered desirable by society.
Funny in the Head
Years ago I was traveling from Philly to L.A. on business and found myself seated next to an unremarkable gentleman – mid-40s, clean-shaven, tall, closely-cropped hair, dressed casually but in all regards neat and presentable. One is captive on a plane and I hoped he understood the difference between friendly and intrusive.
In the damp church basements of recovery it is often observed that the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous are in the order they’re in for a good reason and one should work them sequentially. This tenet is underscored because, as a rule, alcoholics are belligerent, defiant, and rebellious in an infantile, pointless sort of way. Celebrating The Right To Be Wrong Dipsomaniacs simply must do as they please, no matter how much more difficult, time-consuming, and aggravating their idiosyncratic path may be. Whenever “some assembly” is required, rest assured that the very first thing they did after unpacking the contents was throw away the instructions because – well, why on earth would you rely on the opinion of experts when you have your own complete ignorance, honed to perfection over years of not listening to anyone, nearby?
For all of us, and when I say “us” I refer, of course, to those who society might describe in terms less than entirely flattering, for example, “laughing academy graduates”, “strange rangers”, “those who dance to the beat of a different marsupial”, and of course, “Followers of Lord Whackadoomious”, to cite only the most widely circulated, familiar to schoolchild and senior citizen alike, there comes a time and, speaking from experience I assure you it is a time one remembers
Analysis, also known as talk therapy, is slow, very slow. If it were any slower it would move backwards. In fact, I was in therapy on a weekly basis for a year and a half before I realized my psychiatrist didn’t speak English, and was gone the entire month of August. If you dive right in and face your issues fearlessly, you’ll be able to get really serious about emotional growth after a five-year get acquainted period during which you and your psychiatrist engage in what Quakers commonly refer to as silence. People occasionally make fun of psychiatry’s glacial pace, sometimes referred to as “slower than baseball” and “as exciting as farming”. But mirth, merriment, jibes and snarky remarks aside, therapy involves peeling away layer after layer of onionskin, chopping what’s left, and crying. It’s painful, depressing, and feels as if it will never end, like a TED Talk; but unlike a TED Talk, it’s worth the time and aggravation.
Critics call it “a head-first assault” on the First Amendment. Advocates believe it will slow our national descent into narcissism, selfishness, and spandex. Love it or hate it, the SWAT (Stop Writing Annoying Twaddle) Program is here to stay. Brainchild of Reginald Klaxon, Secretary of Psychology, SWAT is an aggressive response to what social critic and handball champion Chance Bazinga has memorably described as, “a bubbling broth of primordial ooze, an orgy of raw id pouring forth across forest and field, an endless outpouring of detritus, meaningless minutia, and abominable, disingenuous self-aggrandizement on a scale unknown since the waning days of the Roman Empire, wafting the perfume of decomposition through cacophonous boulevards and abandoned chicken coops. I refer, of course, to the Internet, and more specifically, the practice known as blogging.” Secretary Klaxon stunned the White House Press Corps when, before beginning the SWAT announcement conference, he asked aids to remove every electronic communications device in the room and deposit them in a brine-filled pickle barrel reserved for the occasion. Now assured of undivided attention he began thusly.
When we gaze fondly backwards and survey the expansive history of medicine, certain names come to mind immediately. Hippocrates, Philip Syng Physick, and Donovan Leitch, who popularized the practice of bloodletting before going on to become a folk singer of some renown. When the focus is on mental health, there can be no debate that Freud, Jung, and Lafayette Ronald Hubbard are elbowing each other for center stage. But there is a world even loftier than these, harder to define and understand. It is a world where art meets science, science meets commerce, commerce meets art and confusion doesn’t merely reign, it pours. I am referring of course to the incomprehensible, Byzantine maze of human activity loosely referred to as fundraising. Until recently, conversations about healthcare funding led inevitably to the great Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente, third son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, made healthcare history by creating the nation’s first, physician-centric Integrated Health Network predicated on an HMO model. Mr. Permanente could not be matched when it came to putting dollars to work in the service of healthcare, some would say wellness. Then came Susan G. Komen®.
I’ve been writing Funny In The Head for some time now, and, as you might imagine, knowing you, as I don’t, writing a humor column for a mental health website is not the easiest hoe to row, if you follow my wake, and if you do, bravo! Week after week I am deluged with emails from irate readers who prattle on interminably with protestations of indignation, hurt feelings, and shock. Surprisingly, the vast majority of them are from schizophrenics. Here is a recent example.
Marketers today are obsessed with “branding” which, in the most general of terms, is the mental picture a prospect or customer has of a company. For example, when you say “McDonald’s” I think of a diabolical clown whose red shoes skate across a smear of grease. Others might think of inedible food in bright red boxes served up by awkward, angry teenagers dreaming of their next tattoos. Companies may project any brand they like, but their actual brand is the image and opinion others have of them.
The insanity defense has long endured contempt and disdain from the general public because it is perceived as a sleazy loophole allowing the dregs of our criminal class to fall through cracks in the judicial system which, we may all agree, is usually characterized by genteel civility and scrupulous even-handedness. One must wonder; has the mentally ill populace not suffered enough – both under the weight of maladies not of their own making – and the bitter, acidic atmosphere of stigma, discrimination, and underemployment? I say “Yes” – yes we have!