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Autumn's Castaway: September Edition of Ask the Rock Doc: 
Sound Advice for a Song 
By psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. B.L.T., 
the Shrink-rappin' Rock Doc 

Details, and, in some cases, the method of communication associated with the following letter may be altered, to protect the confidentiality of the distressed person. 

Dear Dr. BLT: 

I am a fifty-something housewife from Wheaton, Illinois. My husband is a retired marine.  I found out about you after reading your interview with Barry McGuire. I know that you keep the identities of musicians who write you confidential.  Actually, I'm disappointed about that for selfish reasons.  I haven't had a hit song for a long time, and I'm afraid I've been all but forgotten.  I was in a famous folk band called ________________ in the early '60s.  We actually landed a string of pretty big hit songs, but those days are gone and I'm just a plain, old housewife now. Every autumn when I notice the leaves from the giant Oak tree we have in our front yard, falling and then blowing around in the wind, I feel like blowing away with them.  On 9/11, I lost my son, Stan who was a firefighter and hero of 9/11.  This year, my only remaining son, Brian, decided it was about time he visited his girlfriend, Emm in New Orleans. Fortunately, he returned home about one week before the hurricane struck, and he took his girlfriend with him to visit us. We're all worried sick about her relatives over there, so please pray for them.  Thinking that my son could be right there, right now, absolutely terrifies me.  I'm still having nightmares almost every night about the first son I lost.  Now, after the close call with Brian, I'm constantly watching his every move and warning him about dangers. While he's been visiting us, it isn't enough that he and Emm are staying with us. I call him on his cell phone several times per day, even when he's just stepping out to grab a bite to eat with Emm. Thank I've got an appointment with a psychiatrist this week, because I'm afraid I'm going nuts.  I've been praying about this every Wednesday night at the prayer meeting held every week at our church. I'm seeing a psychologist too, but that doesn't seem to be helping.  I hope you can help. 

Autumn's Castaway 

Dear Autumn's Castaway: 

I haven't forgotten you, and, in fact, I'm a big fan of your music.  I hope that doesn't interfere with my ability to be objective as it concerns your concerns.  First of all, there's no such thing as a "plain old housewife." Mothers who work at home should be held in high esteem for their tireless efforts to make the home a place where family members feel comforted and nurtured.  Second, in the music world, if you've got talent, there's no such thing as a has-been. It's important that you don't allow your record sales to define who you are as an artist. You are the same talented artist whether you sell one million records, or one record. Your legacy as an artist will never be diminished. You have cast yourself as a castaway, and so I have assigned the name Autumn's Castaway to you as a way of getting you to see how you see yourself.  You are a treasure, not a dried up autumn leaf, cast away but the cold and the north wind.  I hope the following musical prescription, a song I co-wrote with DJ EJ, who performs the song on this free MP3:

Autumn's Castaway: words by Dr. B.L.T., music by Dr. BLT and DJ EJ (c) 2002, 2005 

As far as your son is concerned, I was trying to find a way to express my appreciation for the sacrifice he made.  I looked in my doctor's bag and pulled out this song.  It's my cover of David Bowie's classic, "Heroes."  Of course Bowie's a hard act to follow, but I hope the song will be received by you as a tribute to your son. 

Dr. BLT's cover of David Bowie's "Heroes:" 

Your son's hero status gives you something to really feel proud about, (although you are likely proud of him for many other reasons as well). Your son's status as a hero, on the other hand, does not take away any of the emotions generally associated with the grieving process.  In addition, due to the horrifying conditions surrounding Stan's death, you are likely also suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  When a person suffers from this condition, anything that happens from the moment they were intitially traumatized---anything at all that reminds that person of the initial event(s) is experienced, in some sense, as a reoccurance of the initial event(s).  So when you see those autumn leaves falling and you turn the page of your calendar to the month of September, everything seems to have 9/11 written all over it.  When you think about the huricane that could have harmed, or even killed Brian, who is still with you, you think about Stan, and 9/11.  One horrific act, though it be an act of nature, is deeply connected, in your mind, with another horric act, an act of ruthless terrorists. 

So how will you ever forget what happened on that day?  The fact is, that memory will be permenantly etched in your mind, on both a conscious, and an unconscious level. Trying not to remember will cause  you to remember more.  It's like telling yourself not to think about oranges.  What's the first that comes to mind when you tell yourself that?  Of course, it's oranges.  Instead, (as my post-9/11 lyrically altered edition of the Tom Jones classic Try to Remember suggests), the memory is meant last and to make you strong. 

In time the pain you associate with the memories will grow faint, though it to will never go away.  I'm glad that you are scheduled to see a psychiatrist, so that you can explore the role that psychiatric medication may play in reducing your anxiety.  I'm also glad that you're seeing a pscyhologist, but I'm concerned that it doesn't seem to be working for you.  Patients and psychologists/psychiatrists must be adequately matched.  Your psychologist could be extremely skilled, yet his or her personality and yours, may not represent the optimal combination. I'd suggest first exploring the sense that "it's not working," with him, and if, after a few weeks, you still feel the same, try seeking out a new psychologist.  I'm also glad that you are spending time praying about this.  What I call, psychoPRAYERapy, is the only way to go.  Remember, the Bible says that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Stand on God's promises, and He will demonstrate his love, his steadfastness, and his power in your life. 

Attention Musicians in Distress 

***If you are a musician in distress, be sure to e-mail Dr. BLT at 

Dr. BLT, aka Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, is a Christ-centered licensed clinical psychologist and university instructor who specializes in the psychology of modern music.  He uses his original songs as well as those of other artists to address the problems of his patients, including his biggest, sickest, most challenging patient--society.

His face and name recognition, particularly with teens, comes from his short part on a long Cake music video--the Cake video for “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” that earned the band a nomination for Ground Breaking Music Video of the Year on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. 



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