Saturday, October 02, 2010

It's Not You, It's Your Bedbugs

It’s hard for me to relax, you know, sit and watch teev, read the newspapers. But Saturday mornings I catch up with many of these, newspapers, a week’s worth of WSJ, even if it’s just to scan the headlines. When you skim it all on a Saturday morning before shul (rhymes with bull, Yiddish for synagogue), you reduce the odds that whatever you read will upset you.  There's just not enough time.

Today, however, by the time FD and I catch up after our respective jaunts into the community, I'm still upset from what I have read, and greet the poor guy with
Did you read that incredibly insensitive piece in the Wall Street Journal about bedbug phobias?
He has not.

And it is likely that you have not either. It seems that my favorite newspaper is reaching to satisfy the populist psychological appetite, which is fine, the more the merrier; the reviews of academic findings can be captivating.  A new regular, Jonah Lehrer, for example, specializes in decision making, reminds us that if decision making is hard for you, it is because you are actually mature.  You see all kinds of alternatives, lots of gray.  Gray is something we like, the people of my cloth.  Lots of gray, lots of leeway, as much as we can live with.

And I like that he recommends (this week, Kant on a Kindle) that we read things that make us think.  He differentiates between processing with the ventral route versus the dorsal stream. Chick lit readers go the ventral route, it is correct to assume, don't like to have to reread many sentences.  Those who prefer Kant, however, flex the dorsal muscles, mixed metaphor not mine, don't spleen me.

Anyway, Amy Bonnaffons passed her editors with a tongue-in-cheek dig at variants of both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other serious anxiety disorders, phobias.  She writes a Dear John letter to her ex, Mark, technically a Dear Mark letter, page 13, section A.

The piece, I'm sorry, doesn't belong in a newspaper that professes serious journalism and a mission, apparently, of psychological edification of its readership. Tongue and cheek is fine*, but when it comes to being cheeky about disabilities, not.

Ms. Bonnaffons writes:
Dear Mark,

This is really hard for me. My hand is shaking as I write. . . Mark, I don't think we should be together anymore. It's not you—it's your bedbugs.

I know they've been gone for six years, but since you told me about your 2004 infestation I can't get it out of my mind. . .

You have to be patient with me. Yes, it was perhaps excessive to require your grandmother to wrap her sofa in plastic before our visit and to put on that hooded poncho and face mask before I hugged her. . .She has so many health problems already that she might not notice a little itch here or there. . .

I won't even ride the subway anymore. Who knows who might have sat there before me? It's exhausting to commute on foot every day. . . especially when I need to sidestep constantly in the more crowded areas to avoid accidentally brushing up against a stranger's clothing. . .

You get the idea.  Is this funny?  It isn't for those of us who have treated people who suffer with these thoughts, behaviors.  Can you imagine having a germ phobia and reading this?  It could be that Ms. Bonnaffons really does suffer from obsessive thoughts, and that she has compulsive behaviors that are dysfunctional, so dysfunctional that they distance her from others, obliterate her potential for intimate relationships.

I doubt it, somehow.  But it's my job to tell you, Amy, it happens, and funny, it isn't.

*For an example of fine, in the same paper, on page 11, section C, by Joe Queenan suggesting that bloggers deserve stimulus money. If the government forks a few bucks our way, we’ll surely buy “more IPads and Droids, netbooks, and tickets to see Pavement.”


Ms. Adventuress said...


Anna said...

No, it's not funny.
Neither is the local radio talk show host who was commenting on two recent cat hoarding episodes in my hometown.
"It's not like it's a psychological disorder! HAHA!"


therapydoc said...

Oy vay.

Syd said...

I don't have a germ phobia or a bug phobia, but I do believe that I will even check the beds more closely in hotels where I may have cause to visit. Since being retired, I am happy to not be going to as many meetings that would require me to stay in hotels. I do trust that my boat is bed bug free.

Better Things-- Seeing Ghosts