Psychiatrists and their children
By Naseem Hrab
February 25, 2004
My mother is a psychiatrist, and I am noticing more and more that
her work hours are extending long into the night. Perhaps the fact
that her office is located in our home à la Dr. Jason Seaver
in Growing Pains makes it impossible for her to distinguish between
work and play. Or maybe one can be addicted to psychoanalysis just
as one can be addicted to, say, chelo kabab. After all, it only
takes one hit, right? Either way, it seems as though there might
as well be a framed needlepoint hanging above the hearth that reads: "Free,
Unsolicited Psychiatric Evaluations Available 24/7: Act While You
Still Live at Home!"
Before I detail my life with Dr. Mom, I'd like to clear up
some misconceptions regarding the lives of the children of psychiatrists
and psychiatrists themselves. Firstly, many people believe that
all children of psychiatrists are maladjusted and this is not always
true. Most of us are fairly well-adjusted, and having a psychiatrist
for a parent does not guarantee one a room with a view at the local
institute. Secondly, as much as "Dora" and "Little
Hans" make for great bedtime stories, my first exposure to
the written word was not Freud's Case Histories. And thirdly,
to my friends, my mother is not analysing most of what you say
and do, she is analysing all of it. But don't worry, I'm
the prime victim of her overanalysis.
There have been many recent occasions where I believe
that overanalysis has occurred. For example, after I discussed
the symptoms of a
nasty case of food poisoning with my mother, I was accused of being
trapped in the anal phase of my development. When I asked my mother
what that meant, I was told that I have a preoccupation with...Well,
you figure it out. I did some reading and one is supposed to go
through the anal phase when one is a toddler. At twenty-two-years
old, I'm lucky that I still find toilet humour funny or else
I would be really offended.
I also think that she is overanalysing what I like
to call my "falling-disposition." For
years now, I have had a somewhat-chronic habit of falling down
when using the staircases in our house. I have a tendency of missing
a step when walking up them and slipping when walking down.
Personally, I blame it on my own clumsiness and carelessness. Others,
perhaps optometrists, might blame it on poor depth perception.
A trades person who works in floor refinishing might blame it a
slippery surface. I believe that these three hypotheses are both
logical and rational. However, I fail to recognize the existence
of either of these characteristics in my mother's diagnosis.
My mother blames my falling on my "fear of
my mother first told me that I had a fear of sex (there have been
many other occasions), she provided me no explanation regarding
the link between my falling down stairs and my fearing sex. I was
left to ponder the connection between staircases and sex for months.
It was only during my second year in university when I took a class
on Freud that I found the link: My mother believes that my apparent
repressed sexuality has been channelled into neurotic symptoms,
that is, falling down stairs. Or at least that's what I think
I know that my mother is a very intelligent woman,
after all, she has worked successfully as a psychiatrist for decades.
she has single-handedly raised three functional human beings who
have thrived in most of their respective endeavours. Yet, this
overanalysis can be quite problematic and contagious. It has even
encouraged me to diagnose myself with several physical and mental
disorders. So far, I have diagnosed myself as being phobic, having
an anxiety disorder, a false-self disorder, fallen arches, and
a scorching case of hypochondria. Thankfully, I have a skilled
physician who dismisses my diagnoses with excellent reasoning.
I must admit that it's quite sobering to hear your fears
of death abated with the remark, "Oh that? It's nothing."
My physician's deft ability of shutting down my
tendencies towards hypochondria made me wonder if I had the power
my mother from overanalysing me. Unfortunately, the phrase "Ha!
Ha! Your psychobabble won't work today!" just doesn't
have any effect on my mother. I also found diverting her attention
by pointing out the apparent faults of my brothers doesn't
work very well either. She is just too smart for that. Maybe my
theories about them are just too farfetched: "What do you
mean he's not a narcissist? He's always looking in
mirrors! He has two of them on the outside of his car just so that
he can check himself out as he walks away from it!"
The more I wonder if my mother's overanalysis has
been increasing over the years, the more I wonder if she's not
me. What if she's right? Am I the poster child for psychiatrist's
kids gone wrong? Could I be another casualty of the Cult of Freud?
Or maybe my mother's overanalysing me is a brilliant
attempt to get me to move out of the house. Maybe she is trying
me to the point where I just can't take it anymore. I can
see her planning how she'll renovate the house once I leave:
Naseem's room = Sauna. I'll bet there's even
some sort of book that they handed out in medical school called "How
to Get What You Want Using Psychoanalysis." I wonder if my
theory has any merit. I could ask Dr. Mom about it but she'll
probably just tell me that I'm suffering from an acute case
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