Thursday, June 20, 2013

This American Life -- John Perry Barlow

Ira Glass, the host of the radio show, This American Life, has the makings of a fine psychotherapist. (As does his NPR colleague, Terry Gross). It is probably not irrelevant that Mr. Glass's mother, Shirley Glass, is a psychologist. Anyone interested in becoming a psychotherapist could learn something from listening to interviews conducted by Mr. Glass or Ms. Gross. (Johnny Cash, interviewed by Terry Gross shortly before he died, told her, "You're very good at what you do." I have always interpreted this is to mean that she made him think about himself and his life in ways that he never had before -- psychotherapy!)

I heard this episode of This American Life when it first aired in 1997 and I have never forgotten it. In many ways, it is an excellent analogue to a psychotherapy session. The "patient" is John Perry Barlow, a cyber-libertarian, Wyoming rancher, and former lyricist for the Grateful Dead. The transcript of the show is available here, but you really should listen rather than read or else you will miss the emotional tone. Seriously, the entire episode is worth listening to, but definitely listen to the John Perry Barlow story (Act III, When Worlds Collide). One of the privileges of being a psychotherapist is that people share stories like this with you, stories they have never told anyone else.

John Perry Barlow

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