Monkeytraps is a blog about the oldest human addiction:  control.

It takes its name from the Asian method of trapping monkeys using heavy narrow-necked jars with bananas inside.  The monkey smells the banana, reaches in to grab it, and trap himself by refusing to let go.

Stupid monkey, right?

Except we’re not so different.  Our monkeytraps, though, are  psychological.

A psychological monkeytrap is any situation which tempts us to try to control something we either cannot or should not control.

We spend our lives moving in and out of monkeytraps, over and over again.  We do this waking and sleeping, consciously and unconsciously, out in public and in our most secret thoughts.

We’re so used to seeing control as a solution to problems we fail to notice it can be a problem in itself.

Why is it a problem?

Because the more we seek it, the unhappier we get.

In fact the most common symptoms people bring into therapy — anxiety, depression, addictions, broken communication, and unsatisfying relationships  — are rooted in their addiction to control.

In other words, control is the most important overlooked idea of your life.

Here at Monkeytraps we believe that nothing is more important to human happiness than healing our relationship with control.

So we’re determined to learn all we can about it, and to share what we learn.

Please join us.

Steve Hauptman, LCSW is a Buddhist-flavored therapist practicing in Mount Sinai, New York.  A Gestaltist and leader of Interactive Therapy groups, he is author of Monkeytraps: Why we try to control everything, and how we can stop, available here.

Bert is Steve’s inner monkey.





27 responses to “START HERE

  • Deb

    YEAY Steve!!! I look forward to reading your insights, they always keep me centered and calm…

  • rob kunzler

    “WOW” I look foward to reading more of your blog without Bert you wouldnt be writing this blog so thanks Bert for allowing Steve to help all of us. Lord knows we need it!

  • Donna

    I will be one of the first in line for The Illusion of Control. Ready to read it cover to cover.

  • WG

    What an awesome blog. I’m now going to read the whole thing which will mess with your stats no end 🙂



    • fritzfreud

      Thanks, kind stranger.
      Checked out your Therapy Tales website (, which is a hoot. I love the Land of Therapy map. (Looked closely and was able to pick out both my birthplace in the Quagmire of Communication and my vacation home in the Swamp of Narcissism.) Planning to ask my kids for a framed print for Father’s Day.
      ~ Steve

  • Edward Nagel

    Steve, We just got connected on LinkIn, I am a literary artist, playwright,novelist who has made the Jungian transformative experience trip from alcoholic trial lawyer, into the belly of the beast,and came out with Joe Campbell’s Monomyth of. separation,initiation and rerturn. I use this as the central psychology and mythology of all my books plays as in Meister Eckart’s “When the soul wants to experience something she merely throws out the image and steps into it” You are bogged down in a Newtonian definition of “control” have cast it in the the rigid pejorative sense when control of everything, everybody, is possible, benign, and efficacious as I control my characters in books, by changing my context and perception of them, take characters from neurotic lives into the splendid lives of Jungian inviduation and archetypal energy, without which every other therapy is bandaids. I am from NYC. Where is Mt.Sanai? Ed Nagel

    • fritzfreud

      Thanks, Ed. “Bogged down in a Newtonian definition,” huh? (Doesn’t surprise me. Been bogged down pretty much everywhere else.) Actually I’ve never been entirely comfortable with using “control” to describe this thing we’re all addicted to. The Buddhist term “attachment” seems preferable, but then “control” is by far the commoner word. In the end I reconciled myself to it after checking the etymology. “Control” comes from the Latin contra rotullus, which means ‘against the roll,” a term which refers to a bookeeping method of checking figures for accuracy against (contra) a master roll (rotullus). Seems to me that all our controlling comes from a similar process of comparison: we compare the reality we’ve got with the reality we want, and then try to bring the two closer together. But you misunderstand me if you think I see this as always “possible, benign and efficacious.” Far from it.
      Mt. Sinai’s on Long Island.
      ~ Steve

  • Cheryse

    Hi Steve, Thanks for introducing yourself on Linked In. What an awesome site. All your information is fascinating…And Bert is so CUTE. Why is he an inner Monkey? (as opposed to another species)

    • fritzfreud

      Thanks, Cheryse. Glad you like the blog. I’ll tell Bert you think he’s cute. 🙂

      To answer your question, Bert’s an inner monkey (as opposed to an inner aardvark or something) because he represents the control-addicted part of each of us, which I see functioning like those monkeys who trap themselves in a way I explained in “Bert’s mission” [], where Bert himself writes:

      “Some of you already know that the title of this blog refers to a method used in the East to trap monkeys, where fruit is placed in a weighted jar or bottle and the monkey traps himself by grabbing the fruit and refusing to let go.

      “That’s my thing. That’s what I do. I grab hold and refuse to let go.

      “I do this all the time, even when part of me knows it’s not working.”

      ~ Steve

  • Cheryse

    Perfectly explained. You’re uncovering layers of veils for me

    Yes, I have a brother monkey inside me, too, and he’s a difficult, feisty fellow (probably not as cute as Bert, but just as tenacious). I look forward to reading more of your posts to help ease my tenacious relationship with my monkey.

    Your website is an excellent resource. Terrific job and keep up the good work.

  • Barbara

    Hi Steve ,
    just stumbled on your blog and find it fascinating – ex control freak with Bert influences still occasionally in place that I am – but there’s one major thing missing : you sketch the problem SO well, but where is the SOLUTION ??? How do we get Bert OUT of the picture or just shove the banana in his face so he can finally SHUT up and stop trying to ruin everything ?
    I am too new at this blogging thing; would be grateful for a reply on email
    All the best

  • yazrooney

    I don’t ‘like’ this, I love it. At last, a therapist with a probing mind, one who thinks beyond the text-books. Hard to find. For me, letting go of control is the ultimate human challenge. It’s a process, an unravelling of the mind. I’m so interested in your thoughts and discoveries.

  • Barbara O'Neill (@BarbaraONeill19)

    Wow, I just found this site while looking for a support group in Suffolk County, NY. My “monkey” kept me in an emotionally and verbally abusive marriage for 23 years. I just got out of the jar – barely. I was grabbing for that damm fruit for decades. I don’t want to be a monkey anymore. My ex keeps dangling that fruit. I HATE that fruit, and it poisoned me for so long that it actually made me very, very sick. I’m swearing off fruit – especially bananas. They are toxic.

  • dereknevada

    I don’t know if I have control issues, but it makes sense. I guess I do, but I know alcohol and drug addiction, depression, and all my thoughts are controlling me. My life is so unmanageable and has become such a waste. I could just drop over dead and it wouldn’t matter. I don’t want to live this way. I want my life to have meaning but I am so far gone I don’t know how to get it back. I really don’t want to live anymore, yet I can’t bring myself to take my on life. This little voice keeps telling me things will get better. Yet they don’t. So many times I should have been killed and I lived. Everyone says God has a plan for me. I used to believe it but somehow I keep messing up. In all the accidents I’ve been in I have done so much physical damage to myself I can’t even function like a regular person. I’ve had several traumatic brain injuries that i can’t remember things well. I get side tracked easily, I can’t concentrate, I’m in constant pain and I’m on so much medicine to correct those symptoms I’m hooked on the meds plus after years of sobriety I went back to alcohol to self medicate and that was a poor choice. If you know of something to help me please let me know. I’m scared to death the little voice is going to stop telling me everything is going to work out.

  • Michelle

    Love this, great work and insight!

  • Bev.

    You are one tough, intelligent, compassionate monkey!!!!! Just love your mind!!!! Thank you for being you!

  • Bev.

    If it wasn’t for you, STEVE and Bert, I wouldn’t be the “Me “, I am today…..I like “Me”, A LOT now……. you make a GREAT TEAM!!!

  • Everyday Invalidations What Do You Win When You Win? | Making Wrong and Being Right

    […] you haven’t already visit the addiction to control and try this Power A Users […]

  • Nancy

    Seeking our post about the “bed spring”…….cannot seem to find it.

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