Chandler shifts in her seat. You know, I was at a restaurant with Dad recently …
I love her father and have always affectionately called him Uncle Jules. He’s a gentleman in the finest Texas tradition, and a noted psychiatrist.
… and we’re drinking wine, waiting for our food, when he starts talking about his work. He’s getting a good head of steam going when I say, ‘Dad that’s all well and good, but what’s the key to psychiatry?’
Of course, he immediately launches into a discourse of the current understanding of the workings of the mind and one thing and another—all of it laced with the usual psychobabble—which is interesting, but I’ve heard it all a million times.
So I break in again and say, ‘Dad, how have you helped so many people? Can you sum it up in one sentence?’
A faint smile crosses her lips.
I thought I’d stumped him because it took him a few beats, but then he gets that grin of his—you know, almost demure—and says, ‘When I meet with a new patient the first question I ask him or her is, Tell me about your mother. Well, they’ll start with that and wander off about their spouse or kids or boss and so on and I’ll say, That’s interesting, but tell me about your mother.’
I don’t get it, I say.
Chandler laughs. I didn’t either so I say, ‘Dad, what the heck does all that mean?’ And he says, ‘If I know the relationship a child has with his or her mother, then I can help that person.’
Did you ask him why?
No, not really. But he did say that one of the core elements to our humanity is the mother-child bond. If that bond is removed or damaged it’s like taking gravity away. All of a sudden that child’s left spinning.
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