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Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 2075-3470

ISSN (online): 2311-9446


License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Started in 1992

Published quarterly

Free of fees
Open Access Journal


T .Greening's anniversary 653

Greening T.
Clinical Professor of Psychology, International Editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Saybrook University, USA

Leontiev D.A.
PhD in Psychology, Professor, Head of International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Full text


In this review of a book by Marty Jezer, Abby Hoffman: American Rebel in the January 13, 1993 Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Kirsch claims that Abby died «the victim of a mental illness that may have prompted his many pranks in the first place», and describes him as suffering from «bypolar disorder». Thus, the political activist who was once Abraham Maslow’s student and the court jester of the counterculture is explained away by the medical model. I must confess that I suffer from the same disease. But there is a cure, as  the following poem reveals.

I have a vexing problem with

a dread disease that is no myth.

I get upset by world events,

by suffering and sad laments,

by children starving in the east

while richer folk carouse and feast.

Genetically I am impaired

and far too often have despaired

about our inhumanity,

thus showing my insanity.

My saner friends don’t sadly dwell

on how the earth resembles hell.

Their biochemistry is fine,

while mine is more like turpentine.

Their neurons fire the way they should

while I have never understood,

the way the world is organized,

and so I always am surprised

by horrors other take in stride,

by innocence still crucified.

While cheerful folk feel they are blessed,

I’m pathologically depressed.

But there is hope, my doctor swears,

new wonder drugs will ease my cares.

He’ll fix my too empathic brain,

he’ll make my sick synapses sane.

My mental illness can be cured

and all the anguish I’ve endured

will no more plague my deranged head,

and my compassion will be dead.



Provide, provide some balm to ease our pain,

bestow on us an angel’s healing grace,

an ample dose of Camus or Coltrane,

an antidote to stop our lemming’s race.

What’s covered and what claims will be denied?

Lear’s madness now infects the entire race.

Prescribe a cure to save the old man’s pride,

dispense a drug to save us from disgrace.

What medicine will cool our feverish brow?

What X-rays show us where are souls cracked?

What treatment plan will clearly tell us how

to find at last the love we’ve always lacked?

Third party payers tightly hold the purse,

and terror grips us in our restless sleep.

Who knows what charges they will reimburse?

Salvation on this earth does not come cheep.

Tight economic limits rule the day,

the bureaucrats will ascertain the price.

Of rescuing the sheep who’ve gone astray,

and short-term therapy must now suffice.

Be generous, while you contain the cost -

Life’s harder than we ever realized.

We’re floundering, our ark is nearly lost -

Be merciful, if that is authorized.


Psychological research would be easier,

more precise, if God were not

a confounding variable.

I was taught, “If something exists

it exists in some quantity

and can be measured.”

I still have the micrometer

my grandfather used working as a steel roller

and the diary in which he recorded

the date of my mother’s birth, her gender,

but not her name,

or the dimensions of his faith.

The thickness of steel and skin

surrenders to our calipers,

but God is an enraged whale

who lunges at our leaking boat,

then plunges down and down

the harpoon fifty centimeters deep

in his mortal flesh,

a rope (an inch thick)

tangled around our legs

dragging us behind him.


Results from studies indicate

that we should amply medicate

our soldiers fighting this good war,

and thus inure them to the gore

so they will calm down well before

they all go bonkers and implore

our government to end this mess

that causes them such dreadful stress.

In fact, let’s drug the rest of us

so we can be oblivious.


This rock, this mountain, this man,

this futile perseverance -

what use is such a myth?

Sisyphus gets nowhere,

gravity always wins.

Go ahead, if you wish -

imagine him happy

with or without anti-depressants.

You might as well imagine

the rock is ecstatic

bouncing down the slope, defiant

So is this struggle any use to us?

We are in it, and outside it.

We view it, and have attitudes.

We are not rocks, not mountains,

Not sure we are Sisyphus.

We read the story,

see him sweat,

dodge the rock,

respect the mountain,

climb up to stand on Sisyphus’s shoulders

and peer beyond, beyond.


Who’s mad and who’s sane,

and who decides?

If you have to ask,

don’t ask it loud,

or you can end up

on the wrong side of the keys,

knife, chemicals, or electricity.

What was a nice Scottish doctor

doing in the world like this?

Rattling paradigms, that’s what,

and drinking more than he should.

His time is up,

and the psychiatric pub

is quieter now.

Once he asked,

 “where in the world

are lunatics allowed to bathe

naked in the moonlight?”

At last he has found the place,

but he’s probably splashing

more than God allows.


Before I take that final feeble breath

I'll show you that I'm not afraid of death,

and though you scoff and claim that I am lying,

you'll see I don't dread death but only dying.

I'm far too proud to graciously let go

and I'll fight off my death like some vile foe,

so when at last this mortal bout is done

in points it will be I, not death, who's won.


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