My Psychiatric Nerve
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Gary L. Clark is an author. After a thirty year career he retired to write a novel. He then joined a counselor-in-training program at the local community mental health center and worked three years as a substance abuse counselor. He retired again and has written two more novels. He recently completed the annotation of a self-help book on faith-based self-help. Two published novels (available on address social justice. Mr. Clark is the Editor of He lives in St. Joseph, Missouri.

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My Psychiatric Nerve

I have problems; always have had, likely always will.   One of the problems is in naming my problems.  Naming problems is categorically dependent.  When naming a problem, do I use the language of religion, psychiatry, layman, political party – or some variation of modern self-help-ism.  As with most spoken words it depends on the audience.

Words are important.  If I am unable to articulate a problem then I question the validity of the problem.  Where I might normally say, “My leg hurts”, my deeply religious friend says God is humbling me by driving me to my knees.  But my PhD Psychologist friend cautions against sleep deprived hallucinations of painfully crawling before man.

One of my friends occasionally goes off the wagon for a couple of days.   He is presently on one of his drink-abouts.  Is that an interesting choice of words? drink-about?  The psychology guy says he is in a relapse cycle.  His 12 Step friends says he has had a ‘slip” or “…he is back out there”.   The religious man says he has fallen into sin.

My mother is almost 94 years old.  She has never been one to be particularly articulate – no master of the language.  She used to sing the doo doo song.  Like this: “You are my sunshine, doo doo dee doo doo.  Words were never the point of the music anyway.  I was visiting her the other day and she put her hand on her hip and said “I think I pinched my psychiatric nerve”.  What are you gonna do?  Can one sit with a straight face in the midst of glorious humor?

She was not trying to be funny – and she knew she was using the wrong word – but she knew  she was close enough to make the necessary communication.  And it worked.  All of us at the table knew what she meant.

My mother is a hoot.  Born in a house at 12th & Douglass in St. Joe, Missouri, in 1923, my mother never felt compelled to worry much about getting a word right.

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