The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist
MAR 2005, Sec.
Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the Phoenix we trust!
Table of Contents
Shrink Rap: A Reader Potpourri: From Phone to a Poem
Readers: Wisdom, Thoughts on Sex and Marriage, More Wisdom
Offerings: Phone Consultation/Coaching
Work Q & A: When a New Colleague Comes on Strong
Main Essay: Jumpstarting and Energizing Your Presentation and Your
Heads Up: West Chester U., LTS, EstrinLegalEducation, Australian
Today's Shrink Rap is a potpourri of items:
a) Phone Feedback. This month I announced a new phone
consultation/coaching service; and already there's feedback from the first
coaching session. (See the end of Sec. I for the Phone Announcement.)
b) Reflections on an Anger Exchange. A poignant letter from an
African-American woman who was motivated to write based on my exchange with
Reggie, an African-American husband and father using my "Four Faces of Anger
Model" to examine the constructive vs. destructive aspects of his own anger
expression. (See Stress Doc Newsletter, FEB05.)
c) Online Romance and Seeking Reader Advice. A provocative letter from a
woman wondering if her online romance is "too good to be true." What do you
think readers? I'd like to get your personal response to her letter, that is,
what would you advise her? I'll will print as many as I can.
d) A Powerfully Honest Poem. Submitted by one of the members of our
weekly chat group who has struggled with a serious chronic illness for four or
five years, I believe. But the poem is really about beginning to face the
demons from her past
e) Practice Safe Stress Book Feedback. A reader who appreciates my
zaniness. As Mark Twain said: "I can live two months off a good compliment"
a) Phone Feedback. The coaching session focused on helping an
experienced administrator not take her boss' immaturely gruff and somewhat
bullying behavior personally. Also, frustrating is the fact that the boss
really is basically lazy, makes excuses and wants others to cover for him. And
he is threatened when the administrator does good work. It's as if his mediocre
effort will be exposed.
The consultee's note:
I feel so much better since you advised me. Today, my boss said a few things
that would have bothered me. However, I looked at him under a different light.
I didn't get upset. Thank you! You have helped me so much. You are making a
And the woman is more convinced than ever that when the timing is right she will
move on. She deserves better. (Will paste a slightly revised Phone
Reflections on an Anger Exchange. I am pleased that you chose to share this
episode with your readers. I don't know that I have much to offer but here
goes. I grew up in a two parent home. There were many days of extreme
happiness & fun. There were a some down days too. All in all, I had a
wonderful childhood. My parents chose to send us into a predominantly white
academic arena and at the early age of 6 years in 1958 I entered Ben
Franklin Elementary School. I attended predominantly white schools throughout
college. Not because Black schools aren't as good as. My parents did this so
that we would grow up with no inhibitions about this whole superior/inferior
thing that has been perpetuated since slavery (that whites were superior to
blacks). We were taught from early childhood that we are no less than the next
person & we are no better but we certainly are not inferior. We had a typical
upper middle class lifestyle. I thank my parents so much because today I can be
free & not tripped up. When a white person tries to practice racial injustice
towards me, I plant my feet & head straight into healthy aggression (I love this
term you "hipped" me to) so that all parties involved learn from the experience.
I am thankful you advised Reg to seek counseling. Black people usually distance
themselves from therapy. We must find ways to work through our mental illness
as a result of slavery. Our parents tried to help us but my parents were just 2
or 3 generations from being considered 3/5 human. Also, the white people that
think they are superior to black people or people of color still carry a
mentality connected with slavery. They too are mentally ill. We need national
therapy sessions because racial problems are still popping up all over the
country. My God, this is 2005 & most still haven't evolved into the wonderful
beings we were created to become. Anyway, that's my two cents worth (as my
parents say). HAHAHA. See we all have stuff that we will take into the next
generation. Let's make sure we keep it on the positive tip. I know you are
right about constructive vs. destructive anger or, purposeful vs. spontaneous
Online Romance and Seeking Reader Advice
Two months ago I met a gentleman online through a dating site. We hit it off
right away and began a correspondence that expanded to include many hours of
telephone conversations. We are both very impressed with one another and seem to
have an unusual degree of compatibility in our values and thought processes. We
have both agreed to 'take it slow' in order to give this relationship the
opportunity to grow and figure out if it is 'the real thing'. We are planning to
meet next month (in a public place) to move this into the f2f realm.
We are both open minded and rather philosophical individuals and have discussed
everything under the sun from the environment to sex. He is a talented writer
and has sent me many letters and essays he has authored, including some erotica.
I consider myself fairly comfortable in my sexuality and found his erotica to be
rather beautiful. However, initially I was uncomfortable because I did not feel
I was ready for this level of intimacy, even virtually. He agreed not to send me
any more until I felt more comfortable with him, which ended up being about a
month. We have since resumed exchanging some erotica, although it is by no means
the bulk of our communications. Generally, we discuss sex in the abstract, and
beyond that he has not pushed for anything (such as phone sex). We have already
agreed we want to take the physical aspect of the relationship slow, and I do
not plan to engage in any actual sexual activity until I feel I know him well
and am confident about our relationship.
The thing that has me confused is the intensity of his erotica. There hasn't
been anything that has struck me as kinky or perverse, but he seems to highly
associate physical intimacy with romance and relationship intimacy. His erotica
(that he has sent me) is all centered on his fantasies about us making love. I
do not find this offensive, but I am confused as to how he finds the idea of our
lovemaking so meaningful when we have not even met f2f. I recognize that he is a
passionate, intense individual, but I am not sure where that crosses the line
into obsessive. For example, I have had to restrict our phone calls because he
has been calling me several times a day and I felt it was distracting me too
much from daily life. Yet even though I have asked him not to call during
certain times, he still does. He always seems to be contrite when he does this,
and has never expressed any anger or hostility or even hesitation at any of my
attempts to set boundaries; he explains his impulsivity in calling as a result
of his eagerness to develop our relationship, but I am still apprehensive about
his apparent need for me.
Recognizing that no one is perfect, and few of us have managed the perfect
relationship, is it likely that these are simply signs of a somewhat needy
individual, or is this a matador sized red flag of an obsessive personality with
problems distinguishing between healthy fantasy and reality? Should I be
thanking my stars that I have discovered someone who values the intimacy of
lovemaking to a degree I only imagined previously, or is this in all likelihood
too good to be true? What signs or clues should I be looking at? How can I
evaluate this? I would really appreciate you help in this. Thank You.
So what advice would you give to our thoughtful yet confused writer? Please
send your response to email@example.com . I'll share my response at a later
d) A Powerfully Honest Poem.
There's a mask I wear
to keep the pain away
to keep the sadness still
to keep the hurt from hurting.
I wear the mask everyday
its easier than feeling the pain
its easier than crying
its easier than being rejected.
I wear the mask to Not Feel
inside I hurt and cry and have pain
with the mask on nobody can see
just how mortal I am...just like them.
I've worn the mask for so long
its embedded into my natural face
its embedded into my brain not to trust
its embedded in my heart not to feel.
I'm tired of wearing the mask now
its beginning to fray at the edges
the paint is wearing off now
the smile is no longer shown.
What if I take if off and they all see
that I hurt and I cry and feel pain
just like they do that I can see
what if I feel shame instead?
What if I take it off and feel nothing?
What if I take it off and find myself?
what if I take it off and hate who I am?
what if I take it off and cannot get out?
I need help taking it off, it's become heavy
I need help feeling again
I need help feeling pain
I need help feeling sorrow
I need help feeling mistrust.
I need to know that its ok to feel afraid
I need to know that its ok to feel anything
I need to know you won't leave if I tell you
I need to know you won't laugh if I share
I need to know you will be there no matter.
I'm so afraid to take it off I can barely breathe.
I'm so afraid to take it off I can barely stand.
I'm so afraid to take it off I can barely talk.
I'm so afraid to take it off I can barely see.
If you hold my hand and say it's ok, maybe then.
If you hold my hand and say you'll be there, maybe then.
If you hold my hand and say you'll not laugh, maybe then.
If you hold my hand and say you'll not hurt me, maybe then.
If you'll be my friend without judging me, I will try to pry it off.
If you'll be my friend without criticizing, I will try to keep it off.
If you'll be my friend without reminding me, I will try to put it on the shelf.
If you'll be my friend and mean what you say, I know I can keep it on the shelf
I don't know..Let me think about this..it's a big step and I'm not sure I can do
it. But I will try if you let me.
e) Practice Safe Stress Book Feedback.
Its barrie m from New Zealand. I enjoyed your book practicing safe
stress very much. Your insights into human behavior are unique with dashes of
zany humor that many people would appreciate. I would be interested how you
weave this information into your presentations obviously in an interactive way.
all the best and thanks
may the farce be with you
barrie miller dc
[Editor's Note: I love it when people quote my word play. And I will include
an article that addresses some of barrie's interest.]
3. Stress Doc Books:
a) The Paperback Version of Practice Safe Stress:
Practicing Safe Stress: Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout, &
Depression; Stress Doc Enterprises
Published: 2004; Pages: 372
Price: $20 + $4.95 priority shipping in US; $3.95 in Metro, DC area; $7 in
Mexico and Canada; other international destinations to be determined
Or, download: The Stress Doc's Store Front: www.stressdoc.com
Ebook Price: $15
Practice Safe Stress tackles the "Toxic-Traumatic Trio" -- stress, burnout, and
depression. Learn practical and playful, inspiring and insightful strategies
for transforming these toxins into life-affirming energy, creative focus, and
goal-achievement. Bringing a personal, professional, and organizational
perspective, the book is alive with imaginative language and memorable "how to"
§ Understanding the "Four Stages of Burnout," the "Erosive Spiral"
§ Rebuilding your fire and developing "Natural SPEED"
§ Achieving liberation through "Emancipation Procrastination"
§ Reducing conflict as a healing or motivational "psychohumorist" ™
There are satirical essays on "lean-and-MEAN" managers and on mismanaged
downsizings. Learn to "laugh in the face of layoffs" and ponder the possibility
of "Van Gogh, Prozac, and Creativity." The Stress Doc also shares his own
trials, errors, and triumphs in battling the "Toxic Trio."
Safe Stress provides many discrete "Top Ten" lists and "strategic tips" essays
useful as educational/informational handouts. To quote the Internet Newsroom:
Your Guide to the World of Electronic Factgathering: "The most outstanding
feature…is his 'psychohumor' essays. Always witty, thought-provoking, and
helpful." With this easy-to-follow, fast-paced, and fun health and wellness
guide, you'll return often to Practice Safe Stress.
b) The Four Faces of Anger: Model and Method
Transforming Anger, Rage and Conflict Into Inspiring Attitude and Behavior
The "Four Faces of Anger" presents an elegantly simple yet intellectually
powerful model that will challenge your beliefs about anger -- both regarding
its range of emotion and its potential for positive communication. The book is
a dynamic blend of popular psychohumor articles, essays, case examples and short
vignettes, as well as Stress Doc Q & As and even "Shrink Rap" ™ lyrics. You
will gain ideas and tools, skills and techniques for personal control, playful
intervention and conflict mastery. Learn to:
Ř Identify self-defeating styles of anger and violence-prone personalities
Ř Transform hostility and rage into assertion and passion
Ř Confront directly or disarm outrageously critics and (passive) aggressors
Ř Bust the guilt not burst a gut
Ř Prevent emails from becoming e-missiles
And finally, his years as a multimedia psychotherapist and as a Stress and
Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service yield a survival and
spiritual mantra at the heart of the "Four Faces of Anger":
Seek the higher power of Stress Doc humor…May the Farce Be With You!
Published: 2004; Pages: 114
Price: $20 + $4.95 priority shipping in US; $3.95 in Metro, DC area; $7 in
Mexico and Canada; other international destinations to be determined
1. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God
and I didn't.
2. I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
3. I work hard because millions on welfare depend on me!
4. Some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.
5. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
6. Don't take life too seriously; no one gets out alive.
7. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.
8. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
9. Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.
10. I'm not a complete idiot. Some parts are missing.
11. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
12. NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.
13. God must love stupid people; he made so many.
14. The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
15. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
16. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
17. Being "over the hill" is much better than being under it!
18. Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.
19. Procrastinate Now!
20. I have a degree in liberal arts; do you want fries with that?
21. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
22. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
23. Stupidity is not a handicap. Park elsewhere!
24. They call it PMS because "mad cow disease" was already taken.
25. He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead.
26. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times
27. Ham and eggs. A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.
28. The trouble with life is there's no background music.
29. The original point and click interface was a Smith and Wesson.
30. I smile because I don't know what the hell is going on.
Subj: Thoughts on Sex and Marriage
Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same."
"Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don't have a good partner,
you'd better have a good hand."
"Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday
"There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal,
particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL."
"Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope."
"Sex is one of the nine reasons for incarnation. The other eight are
"Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole
"Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men.
Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps."
"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch."
"Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he
never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is."
Barbara Bush (Former US First Lady, and you didn't think Barbara
had a sense of humor)
"Ah, yes ... , di * vorce \ de-'vo(e)rs , from the Latin word meaning to
rip out a man's genitals through his wallet."
"Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place."
"According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable
undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women.
They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just
Robert De Niro
"There's a new medical crisis. Doctors are reporting that many men are
having allergic reactions to latex condoms. They say they cause severe
swelling. So what's the problem?"
"There's very little advice in men's magazines, because men think, 'I know
what I'm doing. Just show me somebody naked'."
"See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only
enough blood to run one at a time."
"It's been so long since I've had sex, I've forgotten who ties up whom."
"Sex is one of the most wholesome, beautiful and natural experiences money
"You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little
things like being spanked every day by a middle-aged woman. Stuff you pay
good money for in later life."
"It isn't premarital sex if you have no intention of getting married."
People who live in glass houses should make love in the basement.
Never read the fine print. There ain't no way you're going to like it.
If you let a smile be your umbrella, then most likely your ass will get soaking
The only two things we do with greater frequency in middle age are urinate and
The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
To err is human, to forgive - highly unlikely
Do you realize that in about 40 years, we'll have thousands of old ladies
running around with tattoos?
Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a
Porsche than in a Hyundai.
Drinking makes some husbands see double and feel single..
Living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.
In response to recent interest, and a sense of universal time pressure, I have
decided to formally announce the start of a phone
consultation-coaching-counseling service as a complement to my private
practice. My expertise is based on years of experience as a therapist and
OD/team building and critical incident consultant. Of course, I continue to do
unique keynote & kick-off speaking and workshop programs as a "Motivational
In general, sessions will be for 30 or 60 minutes. Fees to be determined. Feel
free to pass the announcement on to friends, family and colleagues.
I appreciate your consideration and trust.
[Based in Washington, DC]
New Phone Consultation-Counseling-Coaching Service from the Stress Doc ™
Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, the "Stress Doc," is an uncommon psychotherapist with
nearly 30 years experience. Why the distinct perspective? Mark is also a
popular keynote speaker and workshop leader, Executive/Management Consultant,
Organizational Development/Team Building Expert, Critical Incident Specialist
(with 25 years experience as a consultant and coach, including a stint as a
Stress & Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service).
Much information can also be obtained from his multi-award-winning website --
The Stress Doc is also the author of two books: Practice Safe Stress:
Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression and The
Four Faces of Anger: Transforming Anger, Rage, and Conflict Into Inspiring
Attitude and Behavior. The Doc runs a weekly "Shrink Rap ™ and Group Chat"
on America Online.
Mark is pleased to announce a new professional service...
The Doc's areas of expertise include:
+ Stress and Burnout and Rebuilding the Fire
+ Anger Management and Managing Difficult People
+ Growing from Loss, Grief and Depression
+ Couple Counseling and Family Issues
+ Career/Life/Relationship Transition
+ Conflict Resolution and Team Building
+ Executive and Management Coaching
+ Organizational Downsizing and Change
+ Time Management and Personal Organization
+ Motivation and High Performance/Anxiety Issues
Phone Sessions, in general, are for 30 or 60 minutes. Hours of consultation are
flexible; day and evening availability. Fee to be determined during the first
contact/consultation. The first phone contact/consultation (up to 15 minutes)
information, call 202-232-8662 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizational Clients have included:
Corporations: Dupont Corporation, SAP--Human Capital Forum/ASUGS, Celebrity
Cruise Lines, America Online, Kelley School of Business/Indiana University, Day
and Zimmerman, Tellabs, Computer Sciences Corporation, SkyLink: The Airline
Ticket Center, Biography Magazine, US Pharmacopeia, Skadden Arps (Intl law
Firm), Patton Boggs (Intl Law Firm), LTS, Blackbaud, Georgetown University
Associations: Human Resources Association--Natl. Capital Area, Society of
Human Resource Management, Business Owners and Managers Assn Intl, Airplane
Owners and Pilots Association, Association of Legal Administrators,
International Personnel Management Assn, Association of Insurance & Financial
Advisors, American College of Physicians, National Wildlife Federation, Defense
Research Institute, American Industrial Hygiene Association
Government Agencies: Australian Embassy, Centers for Disease Control,
Health & Human Services--Div. of Acquisition Management, DOD/Population Health
and Health Promotion, Department of Justice, National Institutes of Health,
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (including National
Weather Service), Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Sea Systems Command, Department
of Commerce, US Postal Service
Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a psychotherapist, an
international/Celebrity Cruise Lines speaker, training/OD consultant and author
of Practice Safe Stress: Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout
& Depression and The Four Faces of Anger: Transforming Anger, Rage, and
Conflict Into Inspiring Attitude and Behavior. The Doc is also America
Online's "Online Psychohumorist" ™ running his weekly "Shrink Rap and Group
Chat." See his award winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" --
www.stressdoc.com (recently cited as a workplace resource by National Public
Radio (NPR). Email for his monthly newsletter showcased on List-a-Day.com. For
more info on the Doc's speaking and training programs and products, email
email@example.com or call 202-232-8662.
(c) Mark Gorkin 2005
Shrink Rap Productions