The Voice of a Therapist: An Interview with Dr. Gerald Stein

When you get old enough, survival becomes a kind of distinction. I was therefore not surprised when my interview by Masters in Counseling was called, Career Longevity in Psychotherapy with Dr. Gerald Stein. For those who would like to know how I sound, here is a chance to find out what this 70-plus-personage knows about that and several other topics; from — pardon me — the horse’s mouth.

If you listen, you will hear my kind interviewer Megan Hawksworth, herself a therapist, tell you why she claims I’m worth attention. My response to her request for “words of wisdom” was, “I have lots of words, but I’m not sure how many of them are wise.” Later however — my brain stirring — I asked myself, “How have I come to know whatever it is I know (or think I know) beyond what I learned in school?”

Well, maybe the most important way was being open to new ideas. A conversation shouldn’t always be about defending yourself or trying to win, but listening and evaluating what the other says. Not to apologize, not to defer, but to enter regions beyond one’s imagination and experience; to be enlarged by such gifted souls as still walk the earth. I can say I prefer the company of people who possess ideas I’ve not considered to those who think as I do or live as I do.

Getting “banged-up” also contributed to my enlightenment. Not just physical dings, and dents, and divots; surgeries and sedation and stitches.

I’ve strived and failed. I’ve tried and triumphed. Once I won a battle and lost some friends who opposed me. I’ve been cheated of lots of money. I gave away plenty, too. I helped a philanthropy I started with friends raise funds. My heart has been broken by a few lovely women and I’ve broken a few hearts.

What might be worse? Breaking your love’s heart and your own simultaneously. It happens.

Are those words of wisdom? If you think so, here are 10 more:

  • Over time I learned to give sentiments a prominent place beside clarity of thought: laughter and tears, both, but love above all.
  • Disappointment and loss are the forge of character, but only if you pass beneath and beyond the blacksmith’s hammer without losing your faith in the promise of life.
  • There are things I cannot possibly convey to you unless you’ve lived some version of the same event. Only music might come close to communicating them.
  • Much as I am a hard guy sometimes, kindness is essential and in shorter supply than macho competition; and therefore, more precious.
  • I know I will never know everything, though I try.
  • Life moves too fast to keep up with all that is important. How do we know what is important? Pay attention, at least, to the words of William Bruce Cameron:

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

  • While the probable is most likely to occur, many improbable things will happen in any life. Be grateful for the ones that give you joy. And perhaps, if you realize your luck could have been otherwise, disperse your good fortune to others by paying it forward.
  • Whatever wisdom I own today applies more to the present version of myself than the 30 or 50-year-old models. I did not know then all I am relating to you now.
  • Smile at the checkout clerks and call them by name.
  • No one can “have it all.” If anyone ever accomplished this miracle, we never met. Life is rich without “everything.”

Enough. If you listen to the interview you will hear the voice my patients heard; hear me tell a joke, a story, and have a good time. I am indebted to Megan and Scott Hawksworth for giving me the chance. I think you’ll be able to tell that, too.

Do remember, you won’t be listening to an immortal personage. I subscribe to Woody Allen’s words on the subject: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality by not dying.”

Here again is the link: Career Longevity in Psychotherapy with Dr. Gerald Stein.

The photo just above is the author during his days as a cowboy. Unfortunately, it does not include the horse’s mouth mentioned in the first paragraph.

What Would You Give For Your Heart’s Desire?

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt OSA211

What is precious to you? What do you want to get or to see or to do? What would you give for love, glory, money, or time?

Anything? Well, here is a little game to play. It won’t take long. Or, I should say, it will take no longer than you want it to.

What would you give for any item on this list? The form of payment is, in most cases, up to you. Perhaps you would beg or borrow or steal to get your heart’s desire. But the “payment” must be equal to the value that you assign to the thing you want.

Choose wisely!

  1. A ticket in the best possible location for your favorite team’s championship game.
  2. Being able to relive the best day of your life.
  3. A cure for cancer available to the whole world.
  4. A day in the body of the person you’d most like to be, with all the abilities of that person.
  5. One less year in your life with the guarantee that you would be the wealthiest individual on earth for all the remaining years.
  6. To be sexually irresistible to those you most desire.
  7. A change in the one physical feature you like least about yourself.
  8. World peace.
  9. The health of those you love.
  10. The love of the person from whom you most wish it, whether it be a romantic partner or a parent or a sibling or a child.
  11. Contentment. That is, perfect acceptance of whatever is your situation in life.
  12. Freedom from your conscience.
  13. A definitive answer as to whether heaven exists and what it consists of, if it does exist.
  14. Immortality (in this life) in a body that would never age beyond the age you wish.
  15. A chance to do one thing over — go back to that moment with all you now know and try again.
  16. The infallible insight as to whether people are telling the truth; to see through every deception, no matter how big or small. Tough Choice
  17. The ability to do one thing you can’t do any more.
  18. The gift of living in the moment.
  19. Fame.
  20. The ability to remember every second of every day of your life.
  21. The capacity to forget anything that you wish to set aside in your past.
  22. The talent to produce at least one masterpiece of art, music, or literature.
  23. Great recognition during your lifetime that will not endure after it ends; or recognition that will come only posthumously.
  24. To be the best possible parent.
  25. To have a job that you can’t wait to get to each morning; one that produces complete fulfillment in doing the work itself, not because of what you produce or the compensation or recognition you receive for it.
  26. To be the author of a great scientific discovery.
  27. A life that allows you to see all of the most beautiful places in the world.
  28. The gift of being a great teacher.
  29. Loyal and loving friends.
  30. A partner who provides you with the most sexually satisfying times imaginable for as long as you both live.
  31. The experience of living in a drug induced state of fantasy, such that you would have the imaginary experience of anything your mind could envision, even though none of it would be real.
  32. The knowledge, in the last possible moment of your life, that you have followed the path suggested in Micah 6:8: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

As you might have noticed, some of these things may actually be available to you at no cost; other than effort and, perhaps, a bit of luck. But, many of them are mutually exclusive, as you’ve probably also observed: you can’t have them all.

Life is a little like a birthday card I’ve seen. On the front it shows a picture of a beautiful woman:


And then, a picture of a birthday cake. It reads something like this: “This is Edith and this is your cake. You have to choose one, because…”


“You can’t have your cake and Edith, too!”

The top painting is a detail from The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. The second image represents a Tough Choice; the third is a photo called Birthday Cake by Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Milan, 2002. The last of these was sourced from Wikimedia Commons.