Potty Mouth Psychiatry

fck feelings bookI thought you’d like to know I started reading the New York Times Bestseller (no joke, it’s right on the front cover) F-Bomb Feelings by Boston psychiatrist Michael I. Bennett, MD and his comedy-writer daughter, Sarah Bennett. It’s a self-help book, the subtitle being “One shrink’s practical advice for managing all life’s impossible problems.”

Impossipuzzle solved
The Impossipuzzle, solved.

OK, the title is not exactly right, but Simon and Schuster also couldn’t bring themselves to print the actual word, using F*ck instead.

Before you tackle the main book, you might want to try the other book written by them, F*ck Feelings: Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review”, published by Eureka Books. Besides being much smaller and cheaper, the F-Bomb is not tossed around on every other page like it is in the original book. It distills the message, which is, in my opinion, “Life Sucks, Get a Helmet.” Some people might think Denis Leary did this better and quicker:

Let me tell you something; the shock value wears off pretty soon, which is probably why Leary’s bit is so short. I tried to find F-Bomb on the list of words Lake Superior State University in Michigan bans annually. It’s not there. Oh sure, “frig” is there, but it doesn’t count; it’s just not the same.

It’s a pretty old word. It’s been around since at least the 14th century. No kidding, scholars are taking the time to hunt for it in old literature. Don’t ask me why. And don’t ask me why a Harvard-educated psychiatrist thinks salting an entire book with this and other swear words makes for an interesting read.

In contrast, the most popular word in 2015 was “identity.” It might be awkward, but with all the problems psychiatry has with finding its identity, why not substitute the most popular word rather than the most offensive one in a book written by one of the representatives of what might be yet another identity for the medical subspecialty: Potty Mouth Psychiatry (PMP)? Let’s try it in Chapter One, “Identity Self-Improvement.”

Neuroscience seems to show that many emotional and behavioral problems we thought were caused by bad parents or trauma are also caused by wiring that isn’t reversible. This explains why self-improvement is hard and sometimes impossible, even when we’re strong-willed and well guided. In other words, we’re often identitied.

Nope, doesn’t work. I guess we’re stuck, right? Wrong, and the evidence is that other little book the authors wrote which is all about the key take-home points. It’s 35 pages long, and besides the title, it contains one other mildly bad word, “asshole.” I guess there’s no better descriptor for somebody who doesn’t respect others, lies, cheats, steals, and lives to make life miserable for others, although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)-5 calls such persons “antisocial.” My colleague, Dr. Donald Black, MD has written a book about them, Bad Boys, Bad Men: Confronting Antisocial Personality Disorder (Sociopathy), 2013.

But that would have disrupted the tone, the goal of which was to convey a sense of humor and–anything else? Is this an attempt to speak the language of the common people? Or would the common person feel insulted? Oops, I forgot whe’re not supposed to get hung up on feelings; we’re supposed to F-Bomb them with potty mouth TNT right off the planet so we can live in the nuclear winter of being collectively addressed as though the majority of us used this language every day at the office and at home because it’s assumed we have a limited vocabulary.

That doesn’t mean I think the book is entirely without value as a self-help resource. I intend to read the whole thing, profanity and all. I just think there might have been a better way to remind us that we can’t always get we want out of life.