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A compelling story of the author's childhood experiences that led him to become a psychologist and take up a writing career.
The author minces few words in describing his early childhood and reasons for becoming a psychologist. This book should resonate with the “boomers” who are now in their fifties and approaching retirement. The extensive training in becoming a clinical psychologist is described in highly defined, visual sequences that follow the author through college, graduate school, internship, and postdoctoral training. Patient stories bring the reader inside the therapist’s office to listen to the remarkable people brave enough to come to therapy to seek meaning and stability in their lives. The book is a touching account of one psychologist’s struggle to address the two most important questions of our existence—who are we and why are we here?
I was born on the island where they run the ponies, on the eastern shore of Virginia. My father was a young Naval Lieutenant who had just completed duty in the Pacific on board a destroyer in 1943. My mom like most war brides followed my dad from duty station to the next duty station. It was an anxious time with the threat of war and the paranoia of the enemy overtaking our shores, but my parents knew how to survive and have fun with their naval buddies. There was bridge, cribbage, parties at the Officer’s Club, bowling, boating, fishing, and drinking. Officers convened at four-thirty p.m. at the club for thirty-five cent-drinks and it didn’t take much to get a buzz. My father enjoyed the navy, having grown up in a strict Methodist family and graduating from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
His grandparents were cotton farmers who emigrated from Czechoslovakia. My father’s dad was a veteran of WWI and never did seem the same since the war and suffered from what we know as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). He took a job in an ice-cream store and it was a real treat to follow him on his rounds and to check out the “coolers” where the dairy products were kept at forty degrees.
I remember walks to eighteenth street back in the fifties with my grandpa as he treated me to ice cream. He pontificated about life and stressed looking nice and being a good speaker. He was meticulous with his shaving and his appearance was impeccable. He retired to his recliner where he had an assortment of magazines and newspapers and was well read on world events. The farmer’s almanac was on the kitchen wall. The calendar predicted weather for his vegetable garden in the backyard that he took great pride in cultivating--I guess a continuance of his agrarian heritage.
My dad’s mom was very stoic, but warm and gentle. I do not remember her kissing me as she placed her hand to shake the hand of a young boy. This was my first introduction to boundaries and how to respect privacy and distance. The emotion was subtle. One felt loved and valued but it was understood that to show emotion might distract us from the task of accomplishments. They were a hearty couple who lived into their seventies. I never saw them kiss each other or hold hands but at least they shared a double bed that surprised me. Later they would move to another bedroom in which there were twin beds. They cared for each other and were always gracious in opening their home to us.