Friday, March 11, 2011

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Many therapists-- and people in general-- like to analyze things that that have no deep meaning when they don't understand them. I think part of the reason is that what they don't understand makes them uncomfortable. Whatever the case, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as Sigmund Freud (who I otherwise think was a bag of hot air) said.

Growing up with undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome, I encountered over-analysis from my first therapist, Dr. Klein, and sometimes my own parents, a lot. For example, I was never a huggy person, except with animals. Give me a dog or cat and I will hug it, kiss it, and tell it I love it. I very rarely hug other people. My mother struggled to figure out why I would shower the family dog with love and affection but would never hug even my own parents. I struggled, too, because I had enough insight to know that most people liked to hug and be hugged. I felt like there was something wrong with me. Finally, my father came up with a very simple answer: "I don't see what's not to understand. The dog is soft and furry. People are not." Isn't it funny how the most straightforward, simple answer is often the correct one?

Dr. Klein, my clueless therapist I saw when I was 11-14 years old, analyzed a lot of silly things. I often showed him a lot of drawings I did, and one day I brought one that I colored in. He said, "I've noticed that you're coloring in your drawings now. Why?" Why? I felt like it. Coloring is a labor-intensive process and isn't as much of a creative endeavor as actual drawing, so I rarely did it. But once in a while I felt like it and did it because it made my artwork look better. Why was this worth analyzing?

Around that time I was into The Addams Family type humor. I drew a lot of pictures and comics that rivaled the violence in Itchy and Scratchy on The Simpsons. Once again, my father saw it for what it was: I thought it was funny. But he was still a little concerned, mostly because I did it so often. My mother, on the other hand, was terrified. Dr. Klein? Well, he didn't act freaked out like my mother did but I could tell he was still shocked. He thought I was doing it to "blow off steam." Many people think that if a child draws violent pictures it means he or she wants to hurt people or is venting in some way. No. Not in my case. All of the characters that I drew in violent pictures were either characters out of The Addams Family or characters of my own creation: They were MADE UP. I never drew real people getting hurt. Besides, I just had a strange sense of humor. I still do. I like humor that deviates into the wicked and absurd: I'm a huge fan of South Park

Sometimes there are reasons to be concerned about somebody's behavior, sense of humor, and so forth and you may want to analyze. But bear in mind that sometimes, more often than you would think, a cigar is just a cigar.


  1. Now I understand why you often mention Doc Brown of BTTF in a lot of your Facebook postings.

  2. Huh? This has what to do with the price of tea in China? o_O

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