Magazine article Newsweek International

Red, White, Blue and Cuckoo

Magazine article Newsweek International

Red, White, Blue and Cuckoo

Article excerpt

Byline: Malcolm Beith

After 12 years of therapy, my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes: 'No hablo ingles'."

So goes the old joke by comedian Ronnie Shakes. After five years of living in Manhattan, where everybody is neurotic, thinks he is or wants to be, I've started thinking about therapy. Growing up in a family that was always very accepting of quirks, in others as well as themselves, I never thought I had any problems. But here in New York, you simply have to have "issues." After all, this is the neural hometown of Woody Allen. What--no problems? Who do you think you are?!

Lately, friends and colleagues have kindly taken to diagnosing me. A mildly depressed bipolar codependent workaholic narcissistic addict, they conjectured--in denial about all of it. Another friend pronounced me a "free spirit trapped in a practical mind." ("A hippie trapped in a bald head," I replied.) An online Church of Scientology personality test labeled me "unstable." Yet another friend insisted that I am "out of touch with my emotions." (Of course, darling, I'm British.)

Blithe spirit notwithstanding, I must confess that it got to me. I became defensive. Heck, I'd say. We're all depressed. Angry? Well, I think to myself when so accused, you work at a TV network and take an air-conditioned limo to work. I ride the stinking subway every day! Bipolar? Perhaps. I am the product of an emotional German mother and a sensitive-not-so-stiff-upper-lip British father. Maybe my genetic wires got crossed? I must say I do like Ping-Pong. (The sport, not the emotional game my occasional young "Sex and the City"-type dates like to play.) And yes, I do have "intimacy issues." Few of my relatives have lived within 1,000 miles of one another since our clan fled the Scottish Highlands a few hundred years ago. …

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