The pampas of ennui

Being Leonardo Boiko's online Journal, featuring Long & Very Sporadic Essays on any Subject.


27 August 2012


Judaism has the institution of the bar or bat mitzvah, which marks the passage to adulthood, often accompanied by a party and lots of presents. If some such ritual were the norm for all children around the age of 13, I would want every person leaving childhood to be given a copy of Leff, a copy of Patterson’s Slavery and Social Death, and a copy of Goffman’s Asylums.

I was throughly impressed by Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. From the wpedia page on Asylums:

Goffman concludes from his investigation that taking a mentally ill person out of his or her life context, hospitalizing him or her to a psychiatric hospital and then returning the person to the same life context is similar to taking a drowning man out of a lake, teaching him how to ride a bicycle and putting him back into the lake.

(This applies in a different way to therapies of any kind. Even if the therapy fix them, it’s no use if they’re just going back to what broke them in the first place. Often the only winning move is to stop playing.)

1 comment

One Comment

  1. I bet all therapists will swear that they are not teaching the patient to ride a bicycle, but teaching them how to swim.

    (Probably with excuses like “See, when we were teaching the patient the leg movements for pedaling, we were actually trying to show him how to move their arms while swimming!”.)

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