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Well, the loathesome Daphne Merkin, the most-published worst writer, has engendered a new category here in juicespace. Every now and then, clearly egged on by editors like Tina Brown, she just wigs out and writes the most repulsive kind of Uriah Heep piece that pretends to be feminist, but is in fact passive-aggressive misogynism -- about labioplasty, linked to above, about being spanked. Only a narcissist of the stature of Daphne Merkin could make those two topics even more creepy than they already are by delectating over elective deformation, and boring in the maleficent way mental illness is boring.


It's not exactly a My Eyes Glaze Over (MEGO) lede. It's kind of like a train wreck, watching the LDM write self parodies. Seriously, somebody could make a Lady Gaga dance tune or a Youtube viral hit reading this shit with irony. Mega MEGO, you might say. My Eyes Roll Back (MERB)! Each sentence is more ghoulishly awful than the next.

New York Times Magazine
August 4, 2010

My Life in Therapy


All those years, all that money, all that unrequited love.

Oh Lord. Why do the wicked prosper?

It began way back when I was a child, an anxiety-riddled 10-year-old who didn’t want to go to school in the morning and had difficulty falling asleep at night. Even in a family like mine, where there were many siblings (six in all) and little attention paid to dispositional differences, I stood out as a neurotic specimen. And so I was sent to what would prove to be the first of many psychiatrists in the four and a half decades to follow — indeed, I could be said to be a one-person boon to the therapeutic establishment — and was initiated into the curious and slippery business of self-disclosure. I learned, that is, to construct an ongoing narrative of the self, composed of what the psychoanalyst Robert Stoller calls “microdots” (“the consciously experienced moments selected from the whole and arranged to present a point of view”), one that might have been more or less cohesive than my actual self but that at any rate was supposed to illuminate puzzling behavior and onerous symptoms — my behavior and my symptoms.

To this day, I’m not sure that I am in possession of substantially greater self-knowledge than someone who has never been inside a therapist’s office. What I do know, aside from the fact that the unconscious plays strange tricks and that the past stalks the present in ways we can’t begin to imagine, is a certain language, a certain style of thinking that, in its capacity for reframing your life story, becomes — how should I put this? — addictive. Projection. Repression. Acting out. Defenses. Secondary compensation. Transference. Even in these quick-fix, medicated times, when people are more likely to look to Wellbutrin and life coaches than to the mystique-surrounded, intangible promise of psychoanalysis, these words speak to me with all the charged power of poetry, scattering light into opaque depths, interpreting that which lies beneath awareness. Whether they do so rightly or wrongly is almost beside the point.

Nevertheless, the next sentence she writes will make you squirm.

IT WAS A SNOWY Tuesday afternoon in February, and I was inching along Fifth Avenue in a taxi, my mood as gray as the sky, on my way to a consultation with a therapist in the Village who was recommended to me by Dr. O., another therapist I had seen in consultation, who in turn was referred to me by a friend’s therapist.

Would that not, in the hands of Lady Gaga, make you caper with joy? Ow, ow, oooo Mau Mau! Mista Docta Docta Docta Big Man!

And then, the horrifying but absolutely inevitable news in the author info cutline, complete with a link to the chronic depression piece, like it was addictive and you couldn't get enough:

Daphne Merkin is a contributing writer. She is working on a book based on an article she wrote for the magazine about her struggle with chronic depression.

It makes you wonder not if she's giving BJs to the NYT editorial board, but who on that board would accept one. What you understand, in a moment of dreadful insight, that Merkin is constantly rewriting The Story of O, except poorly, with really ugly underwear, bad (if any) low-end fortified Mogen David wine, and with shit for brains (pillhead, anyone? The sneaky little white girls' drug of choice.)

You will apprehend, first of all, that the worst thing about The Sopranos is the extended psychiatric fantasies -- what was that shit when Tony goes to heaven? -- and it is the least funny, if not quite the most reprehensible, thing about Woody Allen. The whole beat generation of black turtlenecked Village Voice analysands were about, it seems to me, Getting It On, sometimes with, you know, Spades. Merkin is, as she takes pride in saying, about getting it off.

And the NYT buys this crap -- the spectacle of a woman making an idiot of herself by waving her stump in your face -- as humor, or "style" stories. They let Joyce Wadler, who is not funny, do it; the whole Modern Love series is of the ilk. It's an odd sensibility. Let's just say Upper West Side, to be polite. My long love affair with snotty, liberated, German Jewish princesses -- headed up by my darling former mother-in-law -- does not encompass one who plays the dirty girl.

She writes about getting a pedicure for Yom Kippur in the Jewish Daily Forward.

I think my mother-in-law (born in Berlin in 1900, died in D.C. in 2000), who once told me she got her 1929 PhD. in economics because In my day, you went to school until you got married, would have some very snotty killer German/French compound word for that. Flittchen manque? Not even close. God bless you, Fraulein Doctor Lotte, wherever you are.


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January 2012



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