Volume 81, Number 13ß | August 25 -31, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Analysis: The shrinks of August

By Alphie McCourt

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Was Eve really created from Adam’s rib, or from his backbone, as some, in these changing times, insist?

“August is a wicked month” said Edna O’Brien.

And a month well suited to reflection.

Some of us stay in the city, hardy New Yorkers that we are, or foolhardy — or, more likely, a dollar short. We’ve passed through the buildup of June and July. Now we will cope, as well as we can, with the raging twindexes of heat and humidity. Restaurant reservations are easy to come by. Theater tickets? A cinch, in August. At least that’s what we tell each other. We don’t go, of course. It’s too hot to stir.  Easier to lie to one another, each of us a city sage, all of us nodding in assent.

The chicken and the egg, Eve and Adam’s rib, vexing questions are these. And August tosses one more into the torpor of our debate. It’s the doctors’ diaspora that spurs the question. The good doctors, psychiatrists all; do they hie themselves to mountaintop and seashore, by air, by road and rail, all to escape the dreaded angst of August? Or is it their patients, each with his own index of depression, and many of them in free fall, who drive them out? 

Or could it be that their patients — in anticipation of their doctors’ annual flight, and of being left, bereft of even the comfort of the couch — are driven to the edge, and drift toward the rails?

Happily, it doesn’t last. Even the mighty August, like a rain delay in a baseball game, must, at last, move on. Soon September shows his face and the shrinks, refreshed, are back in town. Patients re-enter routine’s cocoon. Tickets and reservations, much to our relief, become scarce, as always. Whoever He, or She, may be, is already back from the beach. If only for a little while longer, we can loiter in the outfield. But play will resume, soon enough.                                        

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