The final post regarding this week’s “definitions” theme is on what it means to be a shrink. From one of my first ever Minding Therapy entries, now deleted:
Q: Why is it that therapists are often called “shrinks?”
A: Apparently this stems from someone in Hollywood in the 1950’s comparing the work of a psychiatrist to “headshrinking,” a cannibalistic practice involving decapitation. This later evolved into referring to therapists as “shrinks.”
In truth, although many clients in psychic pain do express a wish to have their heads removed and replaced with something better, no therapist has yet successfully achieved this.
The second paragraph, of course, is tongue in cheek. Consult any regular old dictionary, though, and it will tell you that shrink is in fact a slang term for a psychotherapist.
One might expect this widely used word to have a slew of entries in the slang-oriented Urban Dictionary, but, disappointingly, there’s not all that much actually.
Of a total of nine, the first couple definitions and several later ones confirm that a shrink is “a psychiatrist or mental doctor” or a “therapist.” The derivation from “head shrinker” is also mentioned.
But a few of the more elaborate contributions are, not surprisingly, reminiscent of the Urban Dictionary definitions for social worker, therapist, psychologist, and psychiatrist, which were addressed in previous posts this week.
Number three definition of a shrink: Someone who matches your symptoms to whatever random disorder they’ve just pulled out of their ass. [Example: My shrink told me I get SAD over winter and now I have to sell my car so she can tell me how much I suck each week.]
And four: That damn stranger who keeps coming to my house whenever my parents believe im crazy.
(Really? When’s the last time someone’s shrink made a house call?)
Finally, number eight seems to ask whether assistance is indeed provided by a shrink: someone to “help” you with your problems. If you’re “helped” as opposed to helped, I think there’s still a problem.
Alas, on such an un”help”ful note, my week of posts about the Urban Dictionary‘s unfortunate descriptions of mental health professionals must come to an end. See you next week, when this “severely damaged person who cannot be helped” (social worker) and therapist continues despite my issues to blog about therapy: A process in which a false relationship between a counselor or psychotherapist and patient is created. The process fosters dependance [sic] and attachment and blames parents for all the problems that the patient has. The process usually ends in a painful abandonment and makes the patient feel way worse than when they started.
Oh my. If wanting to help improve the image of therapy and those who practice it has ever been a part of my mission, I surely do have my work cut out for me.