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Good Medicine

You know the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine”? Right now, that’s the kind of medicine I’m talking about. (Though there are others, and they too appear on this website.)

This particular medicine comes from the old “Frasier” TV series. The show involves two psychiatrist-brothers (Frasier and Niles Crane), their ex-cop father (Martin Crane), Martin’s physical therapist (Daphne Moon) who later takes on a more familial role, Frasier’s radio-talk-show producer (Roz Doyle), and the cast of characters who populate the radio station where Frasier hosts a call-in show that’s bookmarked by his line, “I’m listening.” The writing on this show both tickled me and impressed me with its knowledge of human foibles (Frasier and Niles are both snobs and social climbers; Frasier can get inflated with his own importance in nuanced and less-nuanced ways), poignancy, and wisdom. And, not surprisingly, the brothers are both loyal to each other and fiercely competitive, at times.

As a fan of the show (its reruns have occurred nightly), I took a special pleasure in the episode involving a writing collaboration between the two brothers.

In this episode, Niles gets a publisher interested in his book on psychology — a book that he hasn’t yet written. As the deadline looms close and Niles hasn’t written a word and doesn’t even have a topic, Frasier seems to save the day by agreeing to collaborate with him. At the start, they are excited, enthusiastic. They will write a book about siblings — how fitting! they rejoice. And because they have only a few days to produce the book for the publisher’s deadline, they rent a hotel room and sequester themselves there to produce the worthy manuscript.

What happens from there — given that they are both eminent mental-health professionals — is, I think, pretty funny (is “hysterical” too hyperbolic?). If you’ve ever dreaded facing the unwritten page, you may laugh too. Here it is. Enjoy!

New Yorker cartoon, books & essays.jpg

The cartoon on the left is from The New Yorker. (Sometimes the cartoons are the best part.)

The notion that having a book (or four) in you that needs to be addressed with “shrinkage” — well, I find it funny.

(Too bad this “patient” hadn’t tried the Writing from the Deeper Self approach. He could have skipped the appointment with this doctor altogether, and listened to himself instead.)