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January 7, 2009

Analyze This

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In therapy, you learn what ails you and — bonus! — you can figure out what's wrong with everybody else, too. Here's a handy guide to using shrink lingo off the couch.

When your ne'er-do-well sister says she's worried about your freewheeling lifestyle, she's not concerned; she's projecting.

When your boss rips you for a pitch she calls the worst she's seen in 20 years, then adds that your skirt is cute, she's not a bitch; she has borderline personality disorder.

When your ex, on whom you cheated repeatedly, says you were the best girlfriend he ever had, he's not an amnesiac; he's fantasizing the lost object.

When your roommate gets drunk and sleeps with her professor, she's not a slut; she has fatherhood abandonment issues.

When your new boyfriend stalks you, he isn't a creepy psycho; he has a fearful-avoidant attachment style. But you should still dump him.

Our Favorite Pop-culture Shrinks, in Descending Order of Hotness

Dr. Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne), In Treatment
Can you say "erotic transference"?

Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), Batman Begins
Burlap mask = scary-hot!

Dr. George Huang (B.D. Wong), Law & Order: SVU
Expert witness; voice of reason; cutie.

Dr. Tyrone C. Berger (Judd Hirsch), Ordinary People
Tough love in a cozy cardigan.

Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), Frasier
A face for radio, but we love him anyway.

Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), What About Bob?
Does it with hand puppets.

Dr. Tobias Fünke (David Cross), Arrested Development
Can you say "never-nude"?

Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), Silence of the Lambs
Loves us for our brains.

By Matt Passet

ME: Oh, hi! Dr. Erving...

[Dr. Ervingnods]

ME: I didn't think I'd see you here ... I just, I mean, I wasn't assuming you wouldn't be at the mall ... not because of anything about you or your clothes, but because I try not to assume things about people. I was just going to the drugstore, actually. I need some toilet paper and soap ... I mean, I'm not totally out of toilet paper ... I'm not irresponsible like that ... I'm just planning ahead ... I have to start planning ahead, right? ... Cuz we always discuss that I need to...

DR. ERVING: Mm-hmm...

ME: So, yup, just the drugstore, and then that's it for today ... Well, I might see my parents for dinner later on. If I want to. I'll see them if I want to. Not if my mom wants me to. If I want to see them, I will. But I don't have to. Should I not go? I should go.

[Dr. Erving nods and looks down at his watch]

ME: But I feel good, I guess ... doing well ... feeling alright, because I control how I feel.

[Dr. Erving looks down at his watch again]

ME: Guess you probably have to get going...

DR. ERVING: Yes, I really should be running along.

ME: Right, of course ... I understand you're busy. Just the toilet paper, which I don't need need, and then maybe, mayyybe dinner with my parents.

DR. ERVING: Have a good day.

ME: Of course. A good day. I can do that. Thank you, doctor!

What are the options?

If your troubles run deep, psychodynamic therapy (Freud's baby) focuses on intimate relationships and hidden feelings to achieve change through insight, but it can mean years of work.
For anxieties and phobias, cognitive behavior therapy is more structured and focused (you'll spend less time in the past) and involves months, rather than years.
To manage stress, lose weight, quit smoking, or deal with physical or emotional pain, a few sessions of hypnosis will often do the trick.


An M.D. can prescribe medication, and many do little else.
A Ph.D. spent at least four years in grad school and has ample clinical experience.
An MSW or a CSW (master of social work or certified social worker) spent two to three years on graduate study (including in a clinical setting).


Ask a friend or a relative whose life was improved by therapy — but don't see the same therapist. Just ask him or her for a referral.

You should dump your shrink if he or she...

wears a toupee.
diagnoses the other people you talk about.
decorates with framed Anne Geddes posters.
has a catchphrase.
pokes you on Facebook.
won't prescribe happy pills.
gives you his/her psychic's card.
refuses to make eye contact.
refuses to break eye contact.
calls you by the wrong name.
has been treating Courtney Love for a decade.
wears those milky Marilyn Manson contact lenses.
has a vanity plate that says DR-CRZY.
twitters during your session.
catches up on sleep while you talk.
smells like patchouli.
suggests "hugging it out."
has copies of Juggs in the waiting room.
has an office at the Celebrity Center.
moonlights as a fry cook at McDonald's.
has track marks.
wears clogs.
slept with your husband.

TAKE THIS QUICK QUIZ: Do You Need Therapy?

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