Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Venting Cure

Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Henry Stack Sullivan and Calvin McCraw.

Most of the names are familiar. They refer to the great minds of psychoanalysis. All but one, of course. Who is Calvin McCraw and why does he merit such renown?

Calvin McCraw is an unlikely psych-hero. He does not have an office. He is not credentialed. No insurance company will reimburse his services. He plies his trade in the open air… drop by when you like, first come, first served.

McCraw is a homeless man, living in Oklahoma. He makes his living panhandling. But McCraw is not just any panhandler. He does not go out and beg; he does not tug at your heartstrings with the sad story of his life.

Not at all. McCraw is in business. He will offer you his own brand of venting therapy in exchange for a contribution.

McCraw’s marketing is limited to a single home-made sign. It reads:


It’s therapy for the disgruntled. In return for allowing you to vent at him, McCraw will remain perfectly silent… as in mute. A stroke of genius, don’t you think?

After all, it beats begging. The Huffington Post comments:

His offer may be unusual, but it’s heartening to see a panhandler offer do-gooders something positive in return for their goodwill.

McCraw has not yet written his theoretical manifesto, but still, he has offered an important insight into how his venting cure works:

I get a lot of people that laugh….I worry about the ones that don't laugh.

You heard it: McCraw has found a way to harness the therapeutic power of laughter.

More than that, he feels empathy for those who do not get the joke.

What more can you ask?


Anonymous said...

I can ask for nothing more. That's priceless, Stuart.

Do you suppose that they end up laughing because they realize in all their venting that their problems are silly and trivial, yet occupy so much of their attention? And do you suppose that the ones who can't get to the laughter part are so immersed in their victimhood that they cannot get beyond it and be responsible for their own choices?

That's what I'm reading in this. And it's quite telling, isn't it? Amazing the people who show up in your life and reflect "what is."


Sam L. said...

Story from Utah Phillips I heard on the radio. He passed a panhandler holding a sign: What is the greatest nation?

So Utah asked him what it was, and was answered "DO-nation". Gave the guy money.