In a town in which gossip is like oxygenated air and political power struggles make Darwinian theory seem tame, in a world where politics is the most tense and fierce, ego-pumping and ego-deflating game in town, someone had to ask...and I suppose it might as well be The Washington Post:
Does the Stress Doc have any stress tips for the Presidential Contenders? Why not?
Below is the The WashingtonPost.com article that came out this afternoon (Nov. 28th); tomorrow (Nov. 29th) you can find a shorter print version (with a fun pic) in the newspaper (click here for image), The Washington Post Style Section, P. 3, Reliable Source. Enjoy! Mark
Dealing with Post-Election Stress
The Reliable Source can be reached at email@example.com, or c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20071.
By Lloyd Grove
With all the post-election stress that presidential wannabes Al Gore and George W. Bush are surely suffering, we thought it prudent to seek out some professional advice on their behalf. So we called up "The Stress Doc" (TM), otherwise known as 52-year-old Washington psychotherapist Mark Gorkin.
Gorkin who hosts a weekly chat on America Online and is the author of the new book, "Practice Safe Stress With The Stress Doc" told us that both men are experiencing a huge amount of emotional strain and that can result in physical ailments, like the red boil that Bush recently developed on his face. While Bush blamed the boil on an ingrown hair, Gorkin said: "Seventy percent of all doctor visits have something to do with stress. While the timing may well be coincidental, if you're under long periods of stress, you're going to see some mind-body stress smoke signals" like Bush's boil.
Gorkin praised both Bush and Gore for taking steps to combat their stress, such as getting regular exercise and seeking the counsel of their families and friends.
"It's very important to get feedback from people who know you before the crisis, to help anchor you through this transitional identity storm," said Gorkin, who said he voted for Gore but at this point would just as soon see Bush in the White House. "I don't think this kind of issue requires long-term therapy," Gorkin continued. "I assume they have enough spiritual advisers, family, friends. But I do think there's value, in times of crisis, of getting really objective feedback. Somebody who's not just going to say 'Oh, Al' or 'Oh, George, you two are the best,' but really help them take a look at their strengths and their vulnerabilities."
Turning to the specific candidates, Gorkin told us that Gore needs to face the very strong possibility that he has lost. "I know it's not over," Gorkin said, "but I would start doing some anticipatory grieving with Gore." And what exactly is that? "I liken it to opening the Pandora's box," he explained. "It's allowing yourself to feel all the different emotionsthe sadness, the rage, the feeling of unfairness, the anxiety." Grieving can bring very positive results, Gorkin added. "There really can be new possibilities once he's done the grieving," he said.
"I don't think Gore's being a political animal has to come to an end. Like an animal he's got to lick his wounds. He's got to do some healing and he can come back stronger than ever." In addition, being out of the limelight will allow Gore to "really be himself and work on some aspects of his personality, like his communicating and relating," he said.
As for Bush, he would also do well to do some grieving, Gorkin said. "If he does win, he doesn't have a big mandate, for sure," he said. "He has to know that half the country really doesn't support his presidency that much. Certainly there are a lot of people who have serious questions about his qualities as a leader." "He has to resist being the aggressive winner," Gorkin added. "He feels a little bit that Gore tried to steal this away from him. I can understand there's some reflexive tendencies to want to show him. But this has really been a very divisive race, and we're going to need someone who really can embrace the enemy as a way of getting things back on track."
© 2000 The Washington Post Company
Mark Gorkin "The Stress Doc" (TM)