Monthly Archives: July 2014


To respond means to answer. Responsibility means the ability to do that, answer life and its problems appropriately, intelligently and effectively. Yet control addiction has essentially the same response (I must control this) to every problem, regardless of circumstances or how well it’s worked in the past.  That’s neither appropriate, effective nor responsible.  It’s crazy.



From Bert’s Therapy, session 5:


[][] Bert's therapy [FRAMED, 50%]

You face a choice of symptoms.

Read the rest here.


Some people confuse surrender with defeat.  It’s not defeat.  It’s acceptance.  Surrendering to a reality beyond my control is no more defeatist than putting on a raincoat during a rainstorm.


From Bert’s Therapy, Session 4:

[][] Bert's therapy [FRAMED, 50%]

We didn’t talk at home.

Read the rest here.


Controlling comes in many flavors: healthy and unhealthy, necessary and unnecessary, public and private, conscious and unconscious, choiceful and compulsive, functional and dysfunctional. It’s your job to decide which flavors you prefer.


* * *

From Bert’s Therapy, Session 2:

[][] Bert's therapy [FRAMED, 50%]She says I have communication issues.

Read the rest here.

4th law

The Fourth Law of Control: There are better ways of handling feelings than control. Surrender, responsibility and intimacy are our main alternatives to compulsive controlling. Each is difficult. Each requires endless practice.  Each is a way of accepting life on life’s terms.



From Bert’s Therapy, Session 1:

[][] Bert's therapy [FRAMED, 50%]

 I shouldn’t be here.    

Why not?


Read the rest here.






Bert’s back

Bert's therapy [FRAMED]

Therapy’s for weaklings.






Veteran Monkeytraps readers

may remember that several years ago

my inner monkey Bert

went into therapy,

a process I described here

in a cartoon series.


I have resurrected that series,

and am reposting all the original

cartoons in a new blog

cleverly named Bert’s Therapy.


(Yes, Bert has waived confidentiality.)


New readers wondering

who the hell Bert is

should read “The Meaning of Bert”

on the page titled Start Here.


If you’d like to receive each new post

as it appears, you can subscribe

to Bert’s Therapy

at the bottom of the page.





Some obviously bright people are actually more clever than intelligent — better at defending and justifying themselves than opening up to really learn anything. Doing therapy with such people comes to feel, over time, like chewing bubble gum: lots of activity, no discernable progress.


Maybe, instead of feeling embarrassed by the truth, we should feel embarrassed by our need to hide it.


Any safety or comfort you purchase by hiding your real self is neither truly safe nor entirely comfortable.


If we’re in a dysfunctional relationship I have many ways to control you.  There’s nagging, criticism and open conflict, obviously.  But there’s also the sigh, the smirk, the long silence, the sulk, the raised eyebrow, the sarcastic aside, the body language that shouts Stay Away.  These are powerful weapons, ways to punish you for doing or saying stuff I dislike and coerce you into falsifying yourself.  It’s a kind of domestic terrorism.


The control addict’s anxiety is relieved by obtaining more control as much as the alcoholic’s thirst is quenched by drinking more alcohol.


Lie.  Or at least withhold the truth. Disguise your thoughts.  Hide your feelings.  Never say No.  Read people carefully, anticipate their reactions, then give them only what they want or can tolerate.  Stay in hiding.  Do this until it becomes a habit, your automatic and unconscious default position.  Until no one, even those of us who want to, can spot the real you.  Then sit back and bask in useless safety.


3rd law

The Third Law of Control is Behind all controlling is the wish to control feelings. We assume more control will make us feel better, and that enough control means happiness.  Neither assumption is true.  Reality resists all attempts to control it, and reality always wins in the end.  So fighting reality is tactically unwise.  But most of us take a lifetime to discover that, and some of us never do.

Isn’t/is, continued

Unsolicited advice isn’t helpful, it’s disrespectful.  Constant criticism isn’t teaching, it’s disempowering.  Gratuitous commentary on another’s problems isn’t friendly, it’s annoying.

I mean, who asked you?


Caretaking isn’t nurturance, it’s manipulation.  Enabling isn’t support, it’s exacerbation.  People-pleasing isn’t “nice,” it’s frightened.  Codependency isn’t love, it’s addiction.


Healthy control is functional because it helps us get our needs met.   Unhealthy control — dyscontrol — is dysfunctional because it makes getting our needs met impossible. The big challenge facing recovering control addicts is learning to tell one from the other.

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