Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Freud? Your slip is showing.

I remember years ago our organisation employed a psychologist. He set up a program whereby he would meet all senior managers on a one-to-one basis to assess their aptitude, managerial skills, suitability for certain position, conflict management skills, negotiating skills, and other hocus pocus skills like swallowing live toads in one gulp.

I really did not want to attend his session when I got my invite. I reasoned that if they were mad enough to give me such a senior position then I was mad enough to make a good or a bad job of it. I promised them to resign the day after the whole business went bankrupt anyway.

I got another invite, then another, until when I could delay the face-to-face interview no longer.

When I went to see the psychologist, he was very polite and sat me down in his office and began to explain, calmly and politely, what his job was and what these interviews with senior managers were meant to achieve. I remained unconvinced and pretended that I was unconvinced anyway.

In conversation, knowing full well he was analysing me, I asked him whether a psychologist was a failed psychiatrist. He hesitated a little and probably thought I was insulting his intelligence.

I honestly was not insulting his intelligence. I was insulting him.

He went on to explain the differences between the two professions and he said that a psychiatrist can prescribe medicine whereas he could not.

I asked him, "Not even a whisky? Can you not prescribe a whisky? Because I need one right now!"

He tried to hide his annoyance ... badly. Because I could still see him sitting at his desk and the fact that he was annoyed.

He suggested I see some cards with ink blots on them and tell him what they meant to me.

I refused. I said, "All those cards look like two rabbits having sex to me. Either that, or they look like my mother-in-law riding a broomstick and eating jelly. What does that mean?"

He put the blot cards away. Took a deep breath and calmly said, "You are a religious man, I understand ..." He had obviously been studying my personnel profile and was trying to find something there he could use as a weapon, or a pretext to get me talking. I resented the fact that this man I had never met before, was somehow put in a position of authority, a position of power, whereby he could form an opinion on the company's managers and whatever he said about them would go in a file and be used to "manage" their careers, their advancement or not, and in fact their very being in this organisation.

I remained calm as best I could.

"You are a religious man, I understand," he said, "imagine you meet God face to face. The God you believe in and you worship. You have the opportunity to ask Him one question. Any one question that is on your mind. What would you ask Him?"

I hesitated for a second or two. Maybe three seconds, then I replied, "Why are midgets always small? Why can't we have big midgets? Or giant ones?"

To his credit, he grimaced a little rather than smile, and then said, "That's three questions ..."

He changed the subject and asked me, "If a member of your team was behaving somewhat erratically ... not as normal shall we say ... and he asked you to arrange a meeting with the company psychologist, with me; would you arrange such a meeting?"

I replied, "No ... anyone who thinks he needs a psychologist needs to have his head examined!"

He tried to go on the offensive to catch me off-guard. He said calmly, "I notice you wear different coloured socks. Is that by accident or is there a reason behind it?"

"How else can I tell my left foot from my right foot?" I asked.

To his credit once again, he maintained his composure. He said he had been asked by the company we work for to arrange team-building events such as outdoor pursuits. He had contacts with an outfit that arranges such events in Snowdonia in Wales. He had planned to take a group of us there hill walking, mountain climbing or even pot-holing in caves there, or elsewhere.

Now there had been rumours in the firm of such events. My team working for me had intimated they would not wish to go for a variety of reasons, including family commitments. One in particular was a little claustrophobic and would not wish to go in caves, never mind pot-holing.

He said, "Let us imagine we are all on a hiking trip in Wales and visiting caves or potholing. A colleague of yours from another department, John Leicester, has got stuck in a tight pothole in a cave. It is getting dark and water is rising in the cave. Do you send the other two members of the team to get help; bearing in mind they are reluctant and scared of getting lost in the cave. Do you go with them and leave John alone? Do you leave them all there and go and fetch help yourself? Or do you all stay with John and possibly all perish?"

I replied, "John is a pain in the neck working his way South. If he is stuck in the pothole the chances are I stuck him there!"

He ended the interview.

I remained in my job, and got promoted further about a year later.

Not sure what it all means. My brain hurts.


  1. You've done it again, Victor! Thanks for filling my day with fun and laughter.

    1. I'm so glad I made you smile, Martha.

      God bless

  2. Hahahaha. The best? A psychologist is just a psychiatrist who finished last in his class.
    You've TOTALLY nailed modern-day profiling and 'team building.' In my case, it was a day-long exercise called Emergenetics.

    1. I hated all those "away-day" team events where we had to do silly outdoors exercises. Like canoe on a lake to pick up something from an "island" in the middle; or give directions to a blind-folded person to do certain things and so on ...

      I mean, how can you balance a glass of whisky when you're in a canoe? The canoe was dirty and wet when you sat in it. I refused to do it. That shows independent thinking does it not?

      God bless you, Mevely.

  3. In my College, every failed engineer was a psych major the next day. They went from slide rulers to jackets with an elbow patch and started smoking pipes. I do not trust psychologists.

    1. Oh no ... don't remind me of those jackets with an elbow patch. They were all the rage with sandal wearing, couc cous and humus eating types, who smoked pipes and whose brain diminished every time they sat on the toilet.

      God bless you, JoeH.

  4. I never met anyone who actually enjoyed the corporate exercises. You had me laughing, Victor. A funny story now but annoying when it happened back in the day. :)

    1. You know, Bill, whenever I met that psychologist at business meetings I always got the impression he was analysing us. We could be talking about finance, or marketing or whatever, but he gave the impression he was secretly analysing the people at the meeting. I just ignored him and every so often made a silly/humourous comment to see his reaction.

      God bless you.

  5. Wouldn't it be great to say a bunch of thoughts and those thoughts get analyzed and all our problems go away...never going to happen.

    You are a character Victor but one that I believe loves to share laughter and make people feel good.

    Thank you and God Bless💮

    1. I like your thoughts idea, Jan.

      About me, I think people sometimes take themselves too seriously. Can you imagine how successful business meetings would be if people were dressed in clowns outfits, or had funny faces?

      God bless you, Jan.

  6. I'm sure the psychologist will NEVER forget you! :)

    True story - when I was a kid my mom sent me to a psychologist. Had those ink blot pictures and all. When I was all done he said, I was 'normal' what ever that means, but that my mom needed to see him!!! She never did go

    1. The psychologist and I were always polite to each other when we met after that. I don't think he liked me very much though. Especially since the team building event in caves never happened because my team and I did not participate.

      God bless you, Happyone.



God bless you.