The New Yorker magazine gets it


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The New Yorker runs a back-page cartoon-caption contest every week. The latest has some relevance. Two people are at the forefront of a circle, speaking to one another. An austere, bespectacled analyst sits opposite. The other participants in the group session are characters from The Wizard of Oz.

The magazine chooses the three most-entertaining entries among caption-writers, and readers vote for the ultimate winner.

This stereotype of group analysis–one might be tempted to enter the caption, “Toto, I don’t think they’re in Kansas anymore!”–does carry its more-thoughtful aspect. No one encountering the cartoon would have any doubt what is going on. Everyone knows what group psychotherapy looks like, and that it has value, when properly conducted, for a range of people and a range of reasons.

A little nutty? Sure. There are six participants. Four are “a fit,” being characters from the L. Frank Baum stories. Two are self-consciously looking to fit. “What are we two ‘normal ones’ doing here?” Yet, even the other four are rationally searching, not without but within: for courage, a heart, a new mind, the happiness of resting with loved ones at home. It is up to the therapist to put it together. He (or she)is not a wizard, but a good listener and facilitator. Maybe he (in this case) will help all these people realize that they all belong, on The Great Journey Of Life.


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