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The iPhone and the Psychiatrist
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 by Ron Cruger
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C
          “I can’t help myself. I don’t know what to do. Can you help me? What am I going to do?”
          The middle aged psychiatrist reached out towards the twenty- three year old woman lying on his couch. He didn’t touch her, he just leaned towards her and said, “Now, now, just relax. Everything will be okay. Try and relax.”
          The patient straightened her legs out, smoothed her skirt over her legs and dabbed at her moist eyes with her handkerchief.
          The psychiatrist offered a warm smile and said, “We’ll get to the cause of your problem and pretty soon you’ll be able to smile and laugh again.”
          The young woman sobbed and dabbed at her tears. She had been on this same couch, talking with this same psychiatrist twice before. Three years ago when her mother had died and eighteen months ago when her boyfriend had broken up with her.
          “Now, tell me what’s bothering you so deeply.”
          “I’ve lost my ‘beloved.”
          “So, you’ve lost your boyfriend again?”
          “No, I’ve lost my ‘beloved – my iPhone. Don’t you understand my iPhone is gone, I lost it. I don’t know where it is.”
          “Don’t you understand! My iPhone is my everything. It’s more important to me than anybody or anything, and I’ve lost it.”
          “Well now, can’t you just get a new one?”
          “No, I can’t! my iPhone had my whole life in it. All my friend’s numbers, all their photographs, all the Facebook pages, all my Twitter notes. Everything! I’m ruined, I’m lost. My friends can’t reach me. They don’t know where I am. Don’t you see that my iPhone was my beloved. It was more important to me than anything. Anything! My friends send me a hundred text messages a day and I answer all of them. What will they think of me?”
          Taken aback, the psychiatrist answered, “Well now, you’ve got your health and a good job, you shouldn’t worry so much about your telephone. You can always get another one.”
          “Another one! Another one! You just don’t get it. My iPhone was my best friend. I slept with it under my pillow. It went wherever I went. It was more important to me than anything. And now it’s gone. I just don’t know what I’m going to do.”
          “You make it sound as though your telephone was the most important thing in your life.”
          “Well, doctor, it was! Wherever I would go my iPhone went with me and I could stay in touch with my friends. I knew that as long as they send me text messages they were thinking of me. They liked me. Do you know how important it is to get text messages? That’s how I can tell if I’m popular. You know, liked. I also use it to make reservations for dinners. I watch my favorite television programs on it and I find out where the best parties are. It really is my beloved. I need it.”
          “I know what you’re saying. I see almost everybody in the street walking holding their smart phone in their left hand, staring at the small screen. I even see couples out to dinner, paying little attention to each other, both staring at their smart phones, placed right by their forks and spoons on the table. I see drivers neglecting the law, talking on their phones as they drive. And I know that many people sleep with their smart phones on and close to them, so fearful that they will miss a text message or a call. Among many of my associates we consider the attachment to smart phones as being an obsession – a fixation.”
          “Well, it may be, but that isn’t going to change how I feel. I need my iPhone. And I can’t stand this feeling I have of being without it. What do you suggest I do?”
          “I suggest that you come in for therapy twice a week for the next few months and I also suggest that you leave here and immediately go to a store and buy an iPhone for yourself. And remember, it’s just a phone, a smart one, but just a phone. There’s more to your life than a telephone.”
          The young patient rose from the couch, straightened her blouse and skirt and turned towards the psychiatrist. “You really don’t understand, do you?”
        The psychiatrist opened the door for his patient and waved goodbye to her. He sat back in his leather covered chair and thought, “Maybe I don’t.”