Hey, you. With the banana.



Welcome to monkeytraps.com.

Thanks. What’s a monkey trap?

“A cage containing a banana with a hole large enough for a monkey’s hand to fit in, but not large enough for a monkey’s fist (clutching a banana) to come out. Used to catch monkeys that lack the intellect to let go of the banana and run away” (Wikipedia). Other versions use heavy bottles or anchored coconuts to hold the banana.

This is what you’re blogging about? Catching monkeys?

No, it’s a metaphor.


Psychological traps. The sort we all get stuck in.

More specific, please.

A psychological monkeytrap is any situation that pulls you into holding on when you really need to let go. 

I know I’m in one whenever I find myself trying to control something that can’t or shouldn’t be controlled.

Such as?

Well, feelings can be monkeytraps. 

So can relationships. 

So can stressful situations of all sorts. 

Anything that scares us or confuses us or makes us uncomfortable.

Seen from this perspective, life itself is pretty much one monkeytrap after another.

That’s cheerful.

That’s realistic.

And you’re writing about this because…

Because not understanding monkeytraps makes people sick.

I’m a therapist. Thirty years of doing psychotherapy have taught me to see just about every emotional problem as rooted in some sort of monkeytrap. 

Anxiety, depression, addictions, relationship problems, family problems, problems with parenting —

all of them usually turn out to be caused by someone holding onto something when they really should let go.

Too much control makes us sick?


Too much controlling

Control itself, that’s usually an illusion.

Excuse me?

I know. 

Radical thought. 

But consider: 

What in your life can you finally, absolutely control?



We spend our lives grabbing for it anyway. 

Control is like a train you chase but never catch. 

And most of the time we don’t even know we’re chasing it.  

“Ideas we have, but don’t know we have, have us,” James Hillman said. 

Control is just such an idea.    

Like an addiction.

Exactly like that. 

We’re all addicted to control. 

I know I am.

How can you tell?

Because the opposite of controlling is being able to accept the reality you have instead of trying to replace it with the one you want.  

(The reality you want, that’s the banana.)

It means being able to relax and do nothing and trust that everything will work out okay. 

And I know I can’t do that very often.

Can you?

Almost never. Who can?

Nobody I know. 

I’ve known people who can do it occasionally. 

I’ve never known anyone who could do it all the time.  

I doubt any human being can. 

We’re the monkeys who simply must control things, or die trying. 

(And like most therapists, I’ve known people who did just that.)

It’s one of the reasons I dislike the term control freak. 

There’s nothing freakish about trying to control reality. 

What’s freakish is being able to stop.  

Why is that?

Why is one of the questions I hope to explore in this blog.  I have some ideas about it. 

I have ideas, too, about how to better understand and deal with this universal addiction.  I created monkeytraps.com as a way to road test those ideas.

Road test how?

Unpack them in public, ask readers to think and talk about them. 

Start a conversation about all this.

Okay.  Anything else I should know?


I have a book out about this, and more in the works.

The first is titled Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop.

You can buy it here.

The next will be Monkeytraps for Adult Children: There I Go Again.

I‘ll let you know when that one drops.

I’ll also be starting a YouTube vlog soon where I’ll be talking about how we can recover from our addiction to control.

And publishing new blog posts, and reposting old favorites.

Leave me your email and I’ll let you know when. 

Come back soon.

And bring your banana.

3 responses to “Hey, you. With the banana.

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