One Year of ShrinkTalk.Net, Part 1: The Good

Saturday, this great day in 2008, marked the one year anniversary of the launch of ShrinkTalk.Net, brought to you by the good people at Rudius Media. Let’s review:

When I started writing this site, I had a number of specific goals in mind:

1) Debunk the myth that professional help-seeking is only for “crazies”
2) Demonstrate psychological principles in an entertaining, non-textbook format
3) Show that therapy doesn’t need to be such a secretive, taboo and shameful experience
4) Illustrate the complete human element of shrinks, including the neuroses and quirks that we all experience as part of the human condition

These goals came from an immediate realization upon entering the field that many people do not understand what mental health is really all about. As someone with a degree and some rudimentary life experience (i.e., street cred), I believed I had an obligation to put some sort of dent into these myths. One year and 90-something posts later I think things are off to a good start. Aside from some random idiots who send me moronic and mean-spirited comments about people with psychological or psychiatric conditions, most readers have given me reason to believe the mission is going well:


“Dr. Rob, your blog is great. I’ve applied some things that you’ve written to my own life with success.”

“Rob, thank you for showing us the lighter side of psychology. I didn’t know how interesting your field of work is.”

“Rob, your mother is hilarious! No wonder you’re so neurotic!”

“Dr. Rob, thanks for writing! Knowing you’re kind of a fuck up in both the office and your real life makes me see my own shrink in a new light.”

“Dr. Rob, I’m a high-profile stripper that charges 10K per night. However, your writing is worth so much more than that to me. Could I come over and spend an evening catering to your every whim? I have my own pole.”

These are all fantastic and a pleasure to read (although I don’t know if I’d call myself a “fuck up” in the office. Outside of it, absolutely). I print out each one to show the family I’ll never have and I attempt to contact every reader (with or without a pole) who has reached out. If I’ve failed at any point, please contact me again. I’m also a compliment junkie so feel free to write simply for the ego stroke.
Some reader mail, though, truly cuts to the core of what ShrinkTalk.Net is all about:

“Dr. Rob, thank you your writings. Because of my pride I’ve been very disdainful towards individuals who might help me (i.e., family, friends, psychiatrists). But, after reading ShrinkTalk.Net, where therapy is not just for the ‘weak’ or ‘crazy,’ I decided to contact a mental health professional and start some weekly therapy. My quality of life has improved because of therapy. You inspired me to try it.”

“Rob, your site has helped me learn that being in the care giving field of mental health is so much more, so in depth, and so beyond my means of understanding, that I think you are doing the literary world a major service providing the extent of care you give. That way we can all understand how serious your work really is for your patients and all your colleagues’ patients.”

This one is my favorite, possibly because it was the first serious email I received:

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with a psychiatrist in ______________. I am terrified, and embarrassed, and I honestly don’t want to go (despite the fact that I know it will help). However, reading your columns for the past few weeks has really helped me to see the human side of the therapist, and made me feel comfortable enough to make the very necessary appointment. For that, I sincerely thank you.

I don’t think a shrink doubling as a writer can ask for more than that.

This second career didn’t develop the way I had originally planned. I didn’t begin as a writer on the web. I wrote a book first, thinking that my doctorate and somewhat neurotic take on mental health would make me an instant success. Even though the book was pretty good conceptually, it wasn’t all that well-written, had no real voice behind it and was ultimately passed on by every publisher it was shopped to by my literary agent. Being a nobody didn’t help my case very much either. The disappointment was colossal. I was ready to call it quits on writing, then decided – one Saturday night at 2 AM after a few glasses of pinot noir and a thorough review of all of my rejection letters – to submit some chapters from the book to Rudius Media. Their site talked about helping writers who had been rejected from the mainstream entertainment industry, to help them find their voice and build an audience. Being a reject without a solid voice and no audience made me think I might be a decent fit. Sure enough, they saw some potential in me and my material, gave me a killer editor and together we’ve put together a product I can be proud of. What was the book about? Hopefully I’ll be making an announcement about it sometime down the line and you’ll know all about it.

I feel a strange pressure when it comes to writing ShrinkTalk. I knew very little about the internet world upon starting. Thus I didn’t know who, if anyone, would read my material. A few entries went up in the first two weeks. People started commenting and emailing about the material. Most liked it. Readers started to add my site to their RSS feeds and soon there were hundreds of people who were curious about what I was going to write the next week. My usually high self-esteem was dumbfounded. Who cares what I have to say? This mental commotion was further fueled by an increase in business as new clients called seeking appointments. “I regularly read your blog. You seem down to earth and human. Other therapists are so stuffy. When can I come in?” When I told my own therapist about my surprise and confusion at having any sort of fan base she told me that I was devaluing myself and what I have to offer the world. That’s something I need to work on because I still have a small voice in my head that says “really?” when readers add positive comments or send emails saying how much they like my material.

A few added bonuses from this year:

Working with the always controversial Dick Masterson of MenAreBetterThanWomen.com and the self-loathing, celebrity stalking Drunken Stepfather.Com. While you and I may not agree with everything they say or believe let me tell you that these are men who are true to their word. I’m finding that this is pretty rare in the internet world. Just because there are people out there who write more benign sites about good-looking women hanging out with meatheads or about the tastes of Caucasian people don’t assume that these are people of integrity. They’re not and don’t follow through with what they agree to.

Being interviewed by Judy McGuire for her new book “How Not to Date“.

Having Shrinks Get it Wrong Sometimes published in Norton’s “The Best in Creative Non-Fiction, Volume 2“. There’s something bizarrely fascinating about holding a published book in your hands, reading your own words that you typed into Microsoft Word ten months before. Even if no one else reads it, it’s quite the rush. That being said, I think the researchers over at Norton must have had a few beers in them when they selected my work because the stories in this collection are far, far superior to mine. Check it out if you have a chance. And no, I don’t get any royalties from the book sales. I specifically asked the publisher because my mother is mentioned in that piece and she wanted a cut.

Very few good things in life come without consequences, however. Life on ShrinkTalk.Net isn’t all strippers and fan mail you know. Stay tuned for some of the less appealing results of this site, including some of my colleagues’ reactions, hateful comments and an unfortunate job change.

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21 Responses to “One Year of ShrinkTalk.Net, Part 1: The Good”

  1. Donika says:

    Dude, if those were your four goals, you’ve done an awesome job. Congrats, and so glad to have you on board.

  2. Jenna says:

    Aw this post made me tear up (that time of the month again, ladies you know what I’m talking about). I’m glad you’ve had success from this. And although we haven’t seen your hatemail yet, I think what you’re doing is really good despite whatever your collegues say. They probably just don’t want you to divulge the secrets of shrinkdom.

  3. Wayland says:

    The dreaded hatemail and consequences of being awesome…I can’t wait.

  4. Michelle says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Rob! I hope you know that shrinktalk.net is a godsend to people already IN therapy as well (not only those seeking it and, of course, sexy strippers). As someone who has been therap-ized for quite some time, I look forward to your posts and even use them in my sessions. Your writing has influenced the topics of many of my discussions with my thera-bitch including what she REALLY thinks of me and whether or not I NEED therapy (she thinks I’m a fucking lunatic and I need it bad!).
    Before I started reading your site, I rarely asked her questions as she was usually stoic and somewhat quiet (for my every thousandth word, she speaks a syllable), but now I have the courage to ask her tons of shit, even about her personal life. Your stories about your colleagues prompted me to ask her about her own education and co-workers, your stories about Jack had us talking about why she dislikes counseling children, and I even had the balls to ask her if she likes me and/or liked me from the beginning (not in a sexual way).
    What all this gibberish means is because of you, I have a much more personal and effective relationship with my therapist. The most important things I’ve learned from her, so far, is that there’s no use fretting over things with which you have no control, without sadness we wouldn’t know how truly amazing happiness is, and that I’m not alone in my “issues.” I could’ve saved my huge co-pay ($9.20) if shrinktalk were around when I started bettering myself with therapy because all of that is right here on your site. That is why you’re so awesome and deserve all the good things that will come to you due to that 2AM drunken, self-loathing night you decided to send your stuff to Rudius. Just make sure you don’t forget about this site after your book is published and successful, because I (and all your other readers!) would miss you.

  5. Borderline Betty says:

    Well, since I’ve only just started reading your fun, informative blog (I really like the witty writings on various, interesting topics), I do not know if you have yet tackled (or even plan to tackle) the dreaded: “ask a shrink a question and get a question back as an answer” device that All shrinks (okay, I’ve only been to, like 3..or 4…scout’s honor) seem to just LOOOOVE to employ Against their clients! (So, maybe I’m being a tad over-dramatic here, therapists. So, deal with it. Ha! Ha! Ha!). Anyway, this question-for-an-answer is my Special pet peeve, even though I have to admit that I can be a relentless, digging machine of tedious woe. It’s Not pleasant to experience. In fact, my shrink deserves a #!!*%%!! GOLD MEDAL in the “Shrink Olympics” (trademarked! – god, I’m sooo !!%$##!! creative!) for the shrink-sport(tm) of “elusive retreating”(tm). So: Hats off to my shrink, for this awesome skill! It’s taught me Alot, all this creative sidestepping and “what do You think about That?”-ing. (Sometimes followed by the dreaded: “shrink glare” of doom when I’ve gone a *bit* too far). This is all Good Stuff, which I can apply to jobs, relationships and what have you, Myself.:) In all honesty, though, my shrink is Not the dreaded “blank slate” of agony, thank god. I’d surely have little patience for That. (Anway, Hats Off, also, to Shrink Talk)!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Happy Birthday Shrink Talk!
    I have been known to pen a hate comment or two… can’t wait to see if they show up!

  7. April says:

    Congrats on the 1 year mark!! This is one of the best written and funniest shrink blogs on the internet—and I’ve read quite a few! I definitely look forward to seeing your new posts in my feed reader. Here’s hoping for many more!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is my first comment on the site – but you’ve succeeded in your 4 goals. Your writing is a joy to read and the subject matter is always interesting – definitely changed my mind about going to a shrink (if i need it).

  9. Den says:

    “There’s something bizarrely fascinating about holding a published book in your hands, reading your own words that you typed into Microsoft Word ten months before.
    Even if no one else reads it, it’s quite the rush.”
    I had this feeling when my articles were published in the student paper. It’s because people think your word is valuable enough to make a hard copy of it, and then replicate it x amount of times.

  10. Jeannette says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while googling for info on how to end therapy… Was hooked immediately. Congratulations on a great first year.

  11. Tracie says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Rob. The Internet as a whole thanks you, even if they don’t know it yet. What did you or will you do to celebrate?

  12. Way to hold it together just enough this year, and not totally bomb as a blogger. I look forward to year 2….just don’t try too hard. If there is anything I’ve learned in this world, it is to keep expectations LOW. 😀

  13. Maggy says:

    Congrats, DocRob. If I lived in New York, I’d look you up for some therapy. I have mom issues just like you. Except I’d like to think my mom is crazier. Hope she doesn’t read this blog.

  14. Fifi says:

    Thank you for allowing us to look at ourselves (and our shrinks) and laugh. Your self-deprecating humor has been the best salve for damaged self-esteem imanginable. Happy Anniversary! Keep up the good work!

  15. Sean says:

    Hey Dr. Rob, congrats.
    I think setting out with real, genuine goals really helps a blog like this stay on track.
    I hypothesized to myself when you first started this blog that you’d probably see a pick up in clients, and it’s good/interesting to see that confirmed. I’m sure it’s also lost you some, but it seems like those are the types who would go with a different shrink anyways, while you’re bringing new people, who would otherwise shy away, into the fold.
    I’m of the opinion everyone should get their noggin checked out occasionally, so it’s good to see someone out there knocking down a lot of people’s misconceptions.
    Looking forward to another year.

  16. Gordon says:

    Hi therem Dr Rob. I’ve been here since the start and I read every single entry, even though I only comment occasionally.
    Psychology’s always interested me, and now that I’m only a couple of months away from finishing school I’ve been considering it as one of my career options. Your writing helped with that.
    I love the site. Congratulations on a year and I hope you keep it up!

  17. Charles D says:

    I can’t believe it has been a year. I remember coming here when you had your first post up and loved it. Looking back at all the archives I can’t believe how much you have written so far Dr. Rob.
    Thanks for helping me get through my work day and teaching me so much.

  18. Amber says:

    Congrats on your first year, sorry I wasn’t around to post this earlier (I was enjoying getting my drunk on in Wisconsin). I hope next year you feel even more a sense of accomplishment with this little blog, and I hope the blog flourishes into everything you want it to be.

  19. Paula says:

    Hi again Rob
    I’ve just caught up on your antics ovr the psat couple of weeks! Your year-in review seems like a good time to touch base again. Your site is always the place I go when I need to laugh. I believe I’ve probably got some kind of humour defence mechanism thing happening. In one of your earlier emails to me, you said that you were going to start publishing your hate mail, so glad to see you could use some of it to create amusement. Oh, and I’m glad I could be one of the poeple that have spared your poor mother hundreds of emails. lol
    I hope you’re well and feel free to keep amusing me.
    Cheers
    Paula

  20. […] is simply a way for me to “therapute myself.” I laid out the goals for the site here and I still see the site as serving these […]

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