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Replacing Therapy

A Conversation Between Tom Rusk And D. Patrick Miller

Therapy-bashing has been all the rage lately — and I don’t use the word “rage” lightly. The backlash against psychotherapy is typified by a bitter anger. Not only has conventional psychotherapy actually harmed some of the people who turned to it for help, say its critics, it has encouraged in many others a degree of self-absorption that harms the social commons and depletes the very soul of the world.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

An Unbelievable Illness

There’s a lot wrong with me. Researchers in Maryland have cultivated several viruses from my blood and spinal fluid, revealing that those viruses are rampant in my body. My body’s immune system flails away at them without success. It fails to respond to common viral material introduced in a skin test — antigens for mumps, tetanus, and candida — that ought to drive it berserk. At the same time, my system is so hyperactive that for nearly three years I’ve experienced the intense flu-like symptoms of a person whose body is waging war with foreign invaders. So my immune system is both energized and sluggish, parts of it working overtime and other parts on strike.

My Campaign Diary

I once read an interview with a Taoist farmer in New Age Journal. In the spring he’d throw some rice grains on the ground as he walked around his land, then forget them. Around August he’d notice plants growing. One day, he’d pick the grains. Later, someone visiting his house would offer him money for them. “Years go by and I forget I’m a farmer,” he said.

Forever And A Day

Past darkened fields, houses whispery with sleep, I drive to the office: a sliver of moon in the sky, a cup of black coffee on the dash. No monk, I’m in love with monk’s hours, when the only distraction from being alone with myself is me.


Last Year’s Poverty Was Not Enough

The day hadn’t begun well, but it was just another day in a long line of mean, anxious hours. Time mashed in on her like a couple of hands folded hard in prayer. You could call it a religious experience or you could call it withdrawal. Either way it seemed like piss-poor pay for wanting to fly. She spent days and nights with the filaments in her legs dancing: kick, kick, kick. She kicked the sweaty sheets in the dance of deprivation. Then the phone rang and the voice asked her to come to lunch at Bar Tejas. She said yes because it was a chance: a sunny opening leading to normal people. She wanted a break. Even hell can be a rut.

Siren’s Song

Yesterday after breakfast they drove over the barren mountain to the very tip of the cape. The photo he snapped of her there would show a lighthouse in the background, tall and white against an implausibly blue sky. On the way back, from a spot where the road pitched and curved, he glimpsed a cove far below. The climb down would be difficult but with the beaches in the village so crowded, the inlet’s seclusion beckoned. Yet she’d been counting on a visit to the museum that day, and it was open only during the morning, so they drove back to the village instead.


In January of my senior year my brother Jake committed suicide at the Air Force Academy. A rumor went around the high school that he’d done it because he was gay and his lover had dumped him. I got cut from the basketball team when Rick Anderson asked me if I was a faggot like my brother, and I hit him so hard I jarred his teeth loose and blood drooled from his mouth onto the polished hardwood, as he sputtered and cried that his dad would sue the shit out of mine. My father, who was reffing the game, peeled me off Rick before I rammed my fist down his throat.

Readers Write


Veronica and I were best friends through eighth grade. The day before junior-high graduation, we walked home together, assuring each other that our friendship would endure.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


“You seem to be reacting to your boyfriend as if he were your father,” your shrink may say stonily (unless she is a strict Freudian, in which case she’ll shut up and wait until you think of it yourself, a process that usually takes ten years. This is why strict Freudians have such lovely summer houses.).

Cynthia Heimel

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