One Year of ShrinkTalk.Net, Part 2: The Bad

Like all writers I have to accept that fact that not everyone will appreciate my work. And I don’t mind the negative comments about my style of writing or even the content itself. Even though it’s one of the few sciences that is accessible to everyone and is something to which we can all relate, psychology isn’t appealing to every person who comes across the site:

“This is supposed to be entertaining?”

“Am I supposed to be laughing when you argue with a patient over the pronunciation of the word leaf?”

“Note to writer: psychology isn’t funny. This is some kind of unfunny joke, right?”

Fair enough.

Some have been a bit more adamant of their disdain for the field:

“You’re actually publicly admitting you are a Psychologist? Psychology is a fucking pseudoscience and you’re a fucking quack cunt. Go and steal money from the needy and sell your shoddy fucking goods and psychobabble elsewhere you fucking cunt. I hope you get gang raped…”

“You’re no psychologist, and you’re certainly no different from the rest of the idiots on the internet. You’re about as introspective as a grain of rice.”

“…It [psychology] is a fucking load of quackery and it never achieved a thing but filling the world with neurotic assholes who spout psychobabble and waste their lives.”

“…you claim to be an expert on the mind…you don’t have a fucking clue I really hope you’ll be killed. You won’t be mourned.”

I can name at least two or three people who would mourn me so at least get your facts straight before writing about me.


What is unacceptable, however, is when people question my ethics, stating that I’m violating confidentiality. This is patentaly false. I have a Disclaimer, but more importantly I go to great lengths to protect every client involved on my site. Pick up a psychology textbook with case studies in them. Where do those vignettes come from? They aren’t made up. They come from clinical experience, as do my stories. Just because I’m not writing an undergraduate textbook doesn’t make me unprofessional or unethical.

A second downside of the site is having to deal with colleagues who don’t like reading anything about shrinks that paint them in a negative light. Dr. Pete and Dr. John love reading about themselves and can’t get enough because they can have a good laugh at their quirks. They are the exception, however. Dr. Jane stopped talking to me immediately upon reading my material and Dr. Allison refuses to have any conversations with me that aren’t about the weather. “I’m just afraid that you’ll write contumelious diatribes about me if I let you into my world,” she said. Not knowing what ‘contumelious’ meant I had no counterargument. And Dr. Steve? I’m just glad he doesn’t use the internet much, otherwise there would probably be hell to pay.

The worst side effect of ShrinkTalk, however, was being forced to choose between writing and my job at Dr. Gail’s practice. When I told her that I’d be working with Tucker Max’s company she frowned upon it. That is to say that she blew a gasket and wouldn’t allow it. The reality is that I can’t blame her. She has a very upscale practice. Clients are sometimes curious. They’ll Google you, research you. We all know that Tucker Max has a very strong voice and being connected to that won’t fly with some highly conservative people. Gail has a business to run, needs to make a living and has every right to see ShrinkTalk as not in her best interests. We parted as good friends and hopefully it stays that way. Unfortunately that job was a significant source of my income and, while I don’t consider myself a starving artist, losing that gig was a major blow to my financial situation. A wise man once told me that writing needs to be a labor of love and not about money. I learned that firsthand from this site.

So what now? Well, I went to a Bible study class recently – I’m exploring alternatives to my current Agnosticism – and the Pastor there said that Jesus’ message will keep coming, inexorably, unrelenting and unyielding, until it reaches everyone. Then the class ended so I didn’t get to hear what that message actually was but it made me think about my own goals. I may lose friends, colleagues, even clients who read my material and don’t approve, but I believe the objectives I described are important and I’m not stopping. Until I’m sure that I will not impact one more person I’ll keep writing. Unless I run out of things to say. Then I’ll stop and learn to play piano or something.

Thank you to everyone who generates the material for this site. That means colleagues, teachers, researchers and, most importantly, the people who seek out help when they need it: the clients. And, of course, thanks to you, the reader. Without you these stories would end up as countless, protracted emails to my mother. She definitely wouldn’t want that.

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36 Responses to “One Year of ShrinkTalk.Net, Part 2: The Bad”

  1. Mike says:

    It’s always funny that people that don’t like you want you to die. Not just shut up, but die in some horrendous kinky sexual way. Their’s a paper in that somewhere.

  2. range says:

    Congrats,
    it sucks about Dr. Gail.
    Tucker Max is controversial, I can see how conservative people would react to this, just like they would react to Dick Masterson.
    Lately, I’ve been getting out of agnosticism as well. Buddhism and Jesus, they make a great pair.

  3. lil'bit says:

    Honest writing sometimes makes people uncomfortable, and even angry.
    I’d say those people are just a good sign that you’re doing something insightful, and important. Unfortunately making yourself vulnerable to the people that really enjoy your work makes you vulnerable to those that don’t understand it as well.
    As one of the ones that thinks you’re a fantastic addition to Rudius, thank you!

  4. April says:

    Eh, just think of it like art—any reaction at all is better than no reaction. You’ve obviously stirred up something painful in the people that take the time to write hateful things to you, a stranger. It says more about them than it does about you, doesn’t it?
    And just for the record, I am a case where psychiatry has helped—I wouldn’t say there was any deep uncovering of issues or serious analyzing going on with my shrink, but it was the connection with him and the reassurances he gave me that helped me overcome my depression. Saved my life, really, in combination with other things like my husband’s support and Wellbutrin. So you’re going to have naysayers, but just remember, the ones you help are the important ones—that’s why you do this.

  5. John B. says:

    Well, I’ve enjoyed the year of reading you. Those comments are priceless. You do laugh at the guy who calls you a cunt multiple times, right?
    Also, I think bible study made me more agnostic, if not just because the whole thing was written 600 years later by people trying to pull a populace out of the dark ages. Not a bad thing, but some people take it a little too literally.
    Keep up the good writing. I enjoy it.

  6. Dr. Rob,
    One of the things that I appreciate about you is that you’re not a pretentious asshole. You went to school, and now have your doctorate. I don’t know what it is about advanced degrees that causes some of the population to drink with their pinky out, and talk about “summers on the lake”, but you don’t exhibit those characteristics.
    You’re a real person, or as my cousin Fred would say, “You’re on some real shit” (which is a compliment, by the way). You’re so open and honest about yourself. It’s easy to view you as Rob Dobrenski, regular guy. I suspect that quality makes you a very effective psychotherapist.
    It’s too bad that people get so caught up in your title and their own judgments, rather than really looking at what you’re about. I know that you genuinely want to help people. That’s admirable.
    Thank you for a great year.

  7. tom says:

    Don’t listen to the haters. They’re the ones with the problem, not you.

  8. javascript says:

    Buddhism is a pretty good alternative to agnosticm, partly because Buddhism is agnostic, depending on who you ask. It’s also closely connected to psychology.

  9. J says:

    These haters are just jealous.
    Also: Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  10. Wayland says:

    LOL @ the Flying Spaghetti Monster comment. Rob, you rock man. That morning routine in the mirror is paying off, I’m sure of it.

  11. Drew says:

    You’re impacting. Please keep it up. And thanks.

  12. Allison says:

    I want to see your mii. Mine looks like a crackhead.

  13. RCG Tiburon says:

    Try Hinduism. It’s got the best stories by far.
    Oh, and I gotta say, I love your writing style. The ADD way you jump from a serious discussion to talking about your face oddly mirrors the way I go from talking about North Korean nukes to discussing my massive pecs. For what it’s worth, I think you’re one of the top 3 stylistic writers on Rudius.
    oh, and you might want to update your CAPTCHAS to use pictures instead of text.

  14. Charity says:

    WHEW! I thought for a moment that you were going to stop blogging. I think my heart stopped for a moment! Thank goodness that’s not the case.

  15. David says:

    I’m still stunned that people will take precious time out of their lives to find a need to insult somebody who is writing helpful content as you are. Anyone who is anybody at all intelligent knows the importance of the field of psychology and your profession.
    And don’t stop writing, you have a shot to be a sensation with this!
    One request — please, please, please do NOT incorporate Jesus or anything else religious into your writing! Us atheists/agnostics would be heartbroken to see any “Jesus is my savior” material creep up into what is a splendid blog!

  16. Borderline Betty says:

    “So what now? Well, I went to a Bible study class recently – I’m exploring alternatives to my current Agnosticism – and the Pastor there said that Jesus’ message will keep coming, inexorably, unrelenting and unyielding, until it reaches everyone.”
    Oh, great. Well, I guess that explains why Christians can be so unbearably annoying. Not that I’m an Atheist, because They get on every last one of my nerves, too.
    Sorry, Rob, but it’s venting time again! To wit: Why do all you people have to be called Dr. (first name)??? Yeah yeah, I know…you have PhDs (one presumes). Well, I Still think it’s damn pretentious! Of course, I enjoy the creative challenge of coming up with things like “Doc Rob” (I’m just a-brimming with creativity), so I suppose your needy clinging to the title “Dr” is not so bad…
    Apologies, of course, for this ridiculous & childish chip-on-shoulder-itis…I truly wish for my words to be a hearty, reassuring and honestly flattering slew of compliments and comments directed your way, but I guess my diagnosis is acting up again. It’s a terrible burden to be afflicted with. It’s like carrying around a pack of unruly, snarling demons. The unrelenting pain of it all is causing me to capitalize at Random, which is Sure to Annoy Some who read this blog…Where is Jesus when you need him, Anyway?…at least I don’t have to call Jesus “Dr. Jesus”, although having to call him “Our Lord & Personal Savior” is wordy enough, God Knows, not to mention quite pretentious – but I suppose Jesus is nice enough, although rather codependent, don’t you think? Always needing to be prayed to and called “Lord” and “King”…I mean: Get Over It, Jesus!…oh no, there go my voices again…they hate when I mention Jesus in Any way…
    Shut UP, ALL of You!!!
    (They’re instructing me to worship Satan, and be quick about it. I must say, these voices are incredibly Predictable, always repeating the same Damn thing at me…Can’t They Ever say something NEW?):)

  17. Borderline Betty says:

    The voices have instructed me to apologize on this site to Dr. Rob, for my being so prickly and quick to make annoying assumptions about him so – I Apologize! (Hey, I guess the voices Can talk about something, other than Satan. That’s a switch)! I’m still going to continue to Capitalize at Random, though, so don’t anyone Else be getting their hopes up about anything…;)

  18. Den says:

    The way I see it, there are 2 kinds of motives for people : achivement, and money.
    Some people won’t leave their ass unless there is a dollar bill attached to where they will go.
    Others will go because they want to go there.
    You want to achieve something, rather than obtain the most goods or money. I think this is an awesome characteristic to have. It shows that you are free from the vice of money for freedom.
    Also, people are going to come to you regardless of where you work. They are sick, and you are a healer. Just because you get paid X amount more at Dr Gail’s place, doesn’t mean that interesting sick people aren’t going to come to your practice. That the good feeling you get after healing them won’t be as strong. It will be doubly so, because you will heal them, and tell about it to people, and enrich them too.
    Keep at it, Dr Dobrenski.

  19. javascript says:

    Charity, I disagree. It would be interesting to read about religion from the perspective of a good psychologist.
    I consider the Abrahamic mindset is psychologically unhealthy. It encourages you to think something is always out to get you, you are always doing something wrong, you must constantly feel guilty and apologize for your sins. But, I am not a psychologist. Most people purposefully avoid anything which would force them to question their religious opinions, but considering how important religion is to our lives it deserves to be questioned.

  20. not a doktor says:

    Hey Dr. Rob have you gotten hate mail from Scientologists? (that you know of)

  21. twink says:

    Dr. Rob,
    Simply put, you rock. As a former patient and huge fan of your site please don’t doubt the good and entertainment your writing provides me and the world.
    Thank you.

  22. Joc says:

    Hey Dr. Rob, greetings from Peru
    There’s something about your writing that even when you’re not telling extraordinaire stories they’re fun to read.
    I don’t even know how I ended up reading your posts regularly, but they always show me something new and quite interesting.
    Keep up the good work.

  23. John says:

    Rob, your blog is a consistently funny, entertaining read that also manages on many occasions to be informative. Having more gentle but nonetheless high quality fare is a nice contrast to the “Masters of the Universe” Tucker and Phila-Lawyer. I hope you manage a great many more years of ShrinkTalk.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’ve noticed that it is so much easier to get some form of “hate” commentary in an open blog, then say livejournal, because you get to give people permission to read your journal and be a “friend.” It’s kind of a pain, but if you want your opinions out there, you are bound to have someone criticize you for the most inane things.
    I barely tumbled upon your blog, and this is the first time I encounter you wanting to find “an alternative to agnosticism.” Not long ago I heard a discussion on NPR Science Friday about depression. This will bring the religion aspect in a bit, even though the people in the show did not address it blatantly.
    James S. Gordon’s position is that depression is not necessarily a disease. That people need to move away from that idea, work with several kinds of solutions (exercise, dietary changes, going to church) in order to get over the depression. He also stresses the need for psychologists and psychiatrists to act as “spiritual guides.” There was another guest in the show, who is also a psychiatrist but who stressed the importance of empirically treating the patient, and their physiological responses to stress. He was hesitant of calling a therapist a “spiritual guide.” It is kinda clear that both doctor come from very different ideological backgrounds.
    Both arguments are very reasonable to me. The first one did call to me in the sense that people often need social interactions and emotional support from others in order to overcome depression. Churches maintain these functions very well, in many cases; so do healthy family relationships and friendships.
    I studied Anthropology and I’m an atheist. As an Anthropologist, I feel there is a very strong connection between the emotional and psychological health of a person and their social environment (even just the availability of it). If I needed to help someone, I’d recommend them to manage a way to find a social environment that is inviting to them, even if it is a church. As an Atheist though, I feel it’s hard to console a person without an appeal to religion. If you can’t tell a person that their situation was “pre-planned in a greater context” or that a family member is still “alive and gone to a better place,” telling them the truth is kinda harsh. Atheists deal with their grief by realizing that their grief is selfish and that the other person is no longer suffering. That death and disease is a very natural fate, and that life goes on beyond us and the person we loved. Sadly often, practical reality does not compare to the immediacy of a collective fantasy. Some people even choose religious beliefs because it helps them not worry about suddenly loosing their loved ones or going through distress. In a way, it makes them feel that the control is not even theirs to have, but it belongs to that “greater plan.”
    I’m not certain is your search for spirituality is personal or if it is influenced by others. But in a very practical way, what do you *personally* find is the better way to help others deal with grief, loss and unforeseen circumstances? Especially when it comes to different ideologies.

  25. Salomé says:

    I’ve noticed that it is so much easier to get some form of “hate” commentary in an open blog, then say livejournal, because you get to give people permission to read your journal and be a “friend.” It’s kind of a pain, but if you want your opinions out there, you are bound to have someone criticize you for the most inane things.
    I barely tumbled upon your blog, and this is the first time I encounter you wanting to find “an alternative to agnosticism.” Not long ago I heard a discussion on NPR Science Friday about depression. This will bring the religion aspect in a bit, even though the people in the show did not address it blatantly.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92921949
    James S. Gordon’s position is that depression is not necessarily a disease. That people need to move away from that idea, work with several kinds of solutions (exercise, dietary changes, going to church) in order to get over the depression. He also stresses the need for psychologists and psychiatrists to act as “spiritual guides.” There was another guest in the show, who is also a psychiatrist but who stressed the importance of empirically treating the patient, and their physiological responses to stress. He was hesitant of calling a therapist a “spiritual guide.” It is kinda clear that both doctor come from very different ideological backgrounds.
    Both arguments are very reasonable to me. The first one did call to me in the sense that people often need social interactions and emotional support from others in order to overcome depression. Churches maintain these functions very well, in many cases; so do healthy family relationships and friendships.
    I studied Anthropology and I’m an atheist. As an Anthropologist, I feel there is a very strong connection between the emotional and psychological health of a person and their social environment (even just the availability of it). If I needed to help someone, I’d recommend them to manage a way to find a social environment that is inviting to them, even if it is a church. As an Atheist though, I feel it’s hard to console a person without an appeal to religion. If you can’t tell a person that their situation was “pre-planned in a greater context” or that a family member is still “alive and gone to a better place,” telling them the truth is kinda harsh. Atheists deal with their grief by realizing that their grief is selfish and that the other person is no longer suffering. That death and disease is a very natural fate, and that life goes on beyond us and the person we loved. Sadly often, practical reality does not compare to the immediacy of a collective fantasy. Some people even choose religious beliefs because it helps them not worry about suddenly loosing their loved ones or going through distress. In a way, it makes them feel that the control is not even theirs to have, but it belongs to that “greater plan.”
    I’m not certain is your search for spirituality is personal or if it is influenced by others. But in a very practical way, what do you *personally* find is the better way to help others deal with grief, loss and unforeseen circumstances? Especially when it comes to different ideologies.

  26. Loi says:

    I don’t know what those people are talking about. Reading this blog is one of my few pleasures.

  27. […] and a researcher of childhood experiences as they relate to adult life.  Despite the fact that she hates me and wanted to have me committed as a danger to others after reading my Twitter posts, she readily […]

  28. […] caught up with Dr. Allison after Thanksgiving.  She’s softened a bit on her Anti-Rob stance since I recently posted her quote (I guess she’s more vain than I had originally thought).  She […]

  29. […] do I know – other than by the hate mail I receive – that some people don’t like me? It’s simple: I’m human. That […]

  30. […] say hi, every colleague who told me that I would fail and had no business writing about our work, Dr. Gail for making me choose between my job and writing and, of course, you. Getting a non-fiction book published is a business […]

  31. Frederick says:

    Have you considered Atheism?

  32. […] early installments of hate mail, click here and […]

  33. Tippy says:

    Hey, Leaf and Leave KILLED.

  34. Tippy says:

    What the hell? What kind of therapist are you?
    Where did you go to school? Psychologists are important, you “Dr.” are no psychologist. What kind of professional writes gossip?!?!?!?!
    All this narcissism? I don’t understand. Is this shrink talk or you bashing other people? Because you are bashing and at the same time complaining people bash you.

  35. […] do I know – other than by the hate mail I receive – that some people don’t like me?  It’s simple: I’m human.  That means at times […]

  36. Seviah says:

    Tucker Max really is an asshole. I like drinking and insulting idiots as much as the next person, but what about Christopher Hitchens (HITCH22) or just someone who has something to say and isn’t, you know, a vile misogynist asshole.

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