If you listen to the radio, you can hear all sorts of advice shows, but you have to wonder if the people dispensing this advice on the air regularly are fully qualified to do so. Maybe these self-proclaimed advice givers should learn to follow their own advice because they could be crazier than people might realize. With that in mind, I wrote the following skit to demonstrate that not all radio advisers should be treated with respect.
HOST: Good morning. You’re listening to “The Mental Health Morning Show,” where we help you get the help you need before you have to plead temporary insanity. Our guest for today is Dr. Dyslexic, the Reverse Psychology Psychiatrist. Good morning, doctor.
DOCTOR: What do you mean by that?
HOST: Nothing at all. It’s just the standard way I greet all my guests to my show.
DOCTOR: You call all your guests Dr. Dyslexic, the Reverse Psychology Psychiatrist?
HOST: Uh, no. I meant that I always greet all my guests by saying good morning.
DOCTOR: Well next time you should choose your words more carefully. Perhaps your fear of clarity in your communication stems from a latent Oedipus complex. Did you ever find your mother attractive?
HOST: No, but I believe that my father did at one time. As many of you may know, Dr. Dyslexic is the founder and world-renown expert of reverse psychology. Doctor, for the benefit of our listeners, could you briefly explain the principles behind reverse psychology?
HOST: You don’t want to tell us about reverse psychology?
DOCTOR: Well, now that you put it that way, sure. Reverse psychology is the well-founded psychiatric technique where you can motivate someone towards a goal by imploring them to choose the complete opposite.
HOST: So how would you apply reverse psychology to treat a common psychosis?
DOCTOR: That’s easy. Why the other day I treated a patient who was afraid of heights. Now the standard psychiatric treatment would be to delve into that person’s past and look for the childhood incident that triggered the patient’s initial fear of heights; perhaps a painful fall occurred at an early age or the patient made a subconscious emotional connection with a traumatic incident that involved an item of extreme height, such as a ladder or a flight of stairs. But reverse psychology works much differently. To treat that person’s fear of heights, I simply dragged him to the roof of a nearby skyscraper, told him to jump, and walked away.
HOST: And that cured him of his fear of heights?
DOCTOR: I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since. After a week, I just marked him off in my appointment book as cured and sent him a bill for all the follow-up appointments he’s already missed.
HOST: I see. Reverse psychology certainly seems to be a powerful psychiatry tool in the hands of a specialist such as yourself. Now have patients ever resisted a reverse psychology treatment?
DOCTOR: That’s the beauty of reverse psychology. Unlike ordinary psychology where the patient’s fears may be repressed and buried within the subconscious for years involving subsequent probing and exploration, reverse psychology forces the patient to confront his fears right from the start.
HOST: So you’re saying that patients rarely resist a reverse psychology treatment?
DOCTOR: That’s right. In the case of my patient’s fear of heights, after I left him on the skyscraper roof, I told him that if he jumped, he’d fall thirty-six stories to his imminent death, but whether he lived or died didn’t matter to me. By the way, did I also tell you that he was suicidal?
HOST: No, you didn’t, but I’m sure that reverse psychology managed to treat both his fear of heights and suicidal tendencies at the same time. In your experience, has a reverse psychology treatment ever backfired? For example, with the man on the skyscraper, were you ever concerned that if you told him to jump that he might actually do so?
DOCTOR: Now that would be stupid. If he jumped, he would have killed himself and that would have defeated the whole psychiatric treatment now, wouldn’t it? Certainly I have to give my patients more common sense than that.
HOST: Well, you’re the doctor so you obviously know what’s best. Perhaps you could lend your expertise and suggest ways our listeners could apply reverse psychology in their own lives.
DOCTOR: Certainly. Let’s say you have a boss that you absolutely can’t stand. Ordinary psychiatry might look for an unconscious attachment you may have placed on your boss as a potential father figure. But with reverse psychology, I’d just advise the patient to go right up to their boss and punch him in the mouth.
HOST: Now wouldn’t that cause a person to risk losing his job?
DOCTOR: As a doctor, I’m interested in purely mental health issues. I can’t be expected to consider the financial or legal ramifications of someone’s actions at the same time.
HOST: Of course. Now I know that many people are unhappy in their marriage.
DOCTOR: You mean my wife?
HOST: No, no. I mean with two out of three marriages ending in divorce, is there are way that married couples might be able to apply reverse psychology to help save their marriage?
DOCTOR: Why, yes! In fact, the first thing a married couple should do is set aside some time to be alone with their spouse and list all the different aspects of their spouse’s personality that they truly enjoy.
HOST: That’s certainly sound advice that everyone can apply right away. I take it that after telling the other person what you like about them, you help both sides understand the reasons why they enjoy marriage with that particular person all these years?
DOCTOR: Oh no. That would be normal psychology but we’re talking reverse psychology here. By giving compliments to your husband or wife, you’re really letting off steam and telling that person how much you can’t stand being around them. It’s a well known fact that expressing your feelings, no matter how frightening they might appear on the surface, is an excellent way to reduce stress in your life. And may I add that reduced stress can lead to lower blood pressure, which has been scientifically proven to decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other stress-induced illnesses.
HOST: I’m sure our listeners will be anxious to put your advice into practice as soon as possible. Our time is nearly up, but before you go, could you share how reverse psychology has helped you in your own life?
DOCTOR: Certainly. Why just the other day I used reverse psychology to save time.
HOST: Oh, and how did you manage to do that?
DOCTOR: Last week a former patient sued me in court for malpractice. When the judge asked me if the charges of fraud, deception, and incompetence were true, I could have denied the charges and dragged the trial out for several months. But instead, I admitted all those charges and even volunteered a few more that my former patient had forgotten about. The judge was so impressed by my reverse psychology defense that he shaved nearly six months off my trial, which allowed the jury to reach what the judge stated was the fastest judicial decision he’s ever seen in his life. Incidentally, saving that much time from my life has allowed me to appear on your radio show today.
HOST: So would it be safe to say that reverse psychology helped bring the lawsuit against you to a swift and inevitable conclusion?
DOCTOR: Yes, indeed. By avoiding a lengthy trial, the judge could give me the five to ten years in the slammer that he said I deserved while also ordering me to pay a million dollars to each of my former patients. I would be in prison right now if I hadn’t used reverse psychology to appeal my case, but that just goes to show how you can use the power of reverse psychology in all aspects of your life.
HOST: It certainly does, and I’m sure you’ll find many ways to apply reverse psychology with the many interesting, new people you’re sure to meet in prison. You’ve been listening to Dr. Dyslexic, the Reverse Psychology Psychiatrist on “The Mental Health Morning Show,” where we believe everyone is innocent by reason of insanity until a court of law decides otherwise. Until next time, so long.