Saturday, May 17, 2014

One Of These Psychoanalysts Cannot Be Wrong

I made my way from Park Slope Brooklyn to the Upper West Side of Manhattan for my therapy appointment. As I settled into the comfortable chair facing my therapist, I got started on my topic for the day. Jeremy and I were seriously contemplating a move from Park Slope to the Inwood section of upper Manhattan.

After a bit of one-sided discourse, my therapist cleared his throat. I don't usually like to do this, he said. But I feel I would be remiss if I didn't say something. I think it could be a mistake for you to move to Inwood.

This definitely got my attention. The therapist was psychoanalytically trained, and for a young guy, rather orthodox. I was not used to receiving direct, immediately implementable advice from him. Our work together was more amorphous and long range.

Because of the rarity of the situation, I decided to strike while the iron was hot. I was aware that this was a potentially exciting development because the therapist was going off script. Naturally, I asked him to elaborate.

He went into several reasons why he was more comfortable with Park Slope than Inwood. He was also more comfortable with many neighborhoods that were not Park Slope and also not Inwood. He listed some of these neighborhoods.

I just think Inwood could be dangerous, I remember him saying.

As I left my session for the day, I put his thinking into the hopper. I wasn't going to rule out a move to Inwood based on what he said. I also wasn't going to dig in my heels and not listen to him. I was going to think about it some more.

Not far from where I was on the Upper West Side, Jeremy was also meeting with his therapist. This guy was also psychoanalytically trained. He was in fact recommended to Jeremy by my therapist.

If you compared the two of them, Jeremy's therapist was somewhat looser than mine. He could be a bit more direct. However, he was still not fond of outright telling Jeremy what to do. The general idea was for him and Jeremy to talk and then for Jeremy to generate good ideas on his own.

At dinner that night, I told Jeremy what happened at therapy that day. Jeremy found this very interesting because of what happened at therapy with him.

I don't like to tell you what to do, Jeremy's therapist said. But I think that if you don't take this opportunity to move to Inwood, it could be a big mistake. He went into all kinds of reasons why he thought that moving to Inwood was the best option.

During the conversation, Jeremy shared that he would miss riding his bike in Prospect Park if we moved to Inwood. At that point, his therapist became even more opinionated. I don't want to see you pass up what is clearly a great opportunity over bike riding, he said.

Jeremy and I discussed it further over the next several days. We talked it over a bit more with our therapists. We each told our own therapist what the other one said. Both of them found this very interesting. Even my rather serious therapist had to admit that the whole thing was funny.

We also consulted with family members and got more information. Jeremy's mom was especially helpful. Once we ultimately decided to move to Inwood, she coached us through the bidding process on the apartment.

It's been 16 years since moving to Inwood. If this decision were like most things in life, I would say that moving to Inwood has been good, but not perfect, and that each therapist was correct in their own way.

But it appears that this decision did not turn out like most. Moving to Inwood was not a mixed bag. Moving to Inwood was clearly a great idea. It has only gotten better the longer we've lived here.

So in this one case, Jeremy's therapist turned out to be right and my therapist was wrong. It turns out that my therapist was more helpful when it came to how to live, but not necessarily about where to live.

The title of this blog piece pays homage to the song One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong by Leonard Cohen. It is one of my all time favorite songs.

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