I didn’t want to be a philosopher growing up. From the moment I saw Hey Arnold! season 4 episode 78, “Helga on the Couch,” in which the anti-heroine Helga resists and finally cooperates with a school psychologist, I knew I wanted to be a shrink. I really related to the character Helga. She was mad all the time, not liked very much, and frequently wanted to hit people (sometimes she actually did). Unlike her, I wasn’t a school bully. If anything I was moderately bullied till I was in middle or even high school. But in that particular episode, Helga reminisces on the proverbial couch and we are able to see why she is the way she is. Her hard exterior is the coping mechanism of a neglected child dealing with a distant father, incompetent mother, and perfect but clueless older sister. Ok fine, my life was not totally like Helga’s. Sure my dad was distant but my mom was perpetually (perhaps even oppressively) present. I was a middle child, so that’s a completely different set of things to complain about. Oh yeah, I’m male and had brothers, not sisters.

Another piece of visual media that interested me in psychology was the Nickelodeon movie Harriet the Spy, based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Louise Fitzhugh.

Anyway, for a long time, up into college, I imagined that the best way for me to make a living helping others was by listening to their problems and helping them fix their lives.

Advertisements