As seen in Albemarle Magazine:
The Meeting of Minds
Why was he here? His dead father may have liked his long-time psychotherapist, but that didn’t exactly hold water with his son, considering their relationship. Joe pushed open the office door and Dr. Jacob Berke emerged from his inner office and greeted him. “Joe, It is so good to see you again.” Joe murmured hello and offered his hand as he tried to wrap his head around the fact that this splendid looking man was not the decrypted doctor he imagined. Berke enveloped Joe’s extended hand in a warm two-handed embrace. “I was delighted to hear from you this morning and even more so to meet your charming daughter.” He laughed shaking his head, “I remember clearly meeting your father over 20 years ago. He was my very first patient.” “Please, make yourself comfortable and please call me Jacob.”
“As you know from our conversation this morning, I’m dealing with some difficult things,” Joe explained. He had gotten a phone call at his office in Charlottesville, Virginia two days before from his eldest daughter, Stuart. Stuart wasn’t exactly an angel to begin with, but she had recently fallen into some very bad habits that consequently nearly ended her life. Hospitalizing her had frightened Joe. “I need some help with my daughter. When I saw her this morning, I was unable to control my temper.”
“Let me try to help you understand,” Jacob said with a languid wave of his hand, “Our minds are controlling us. Most of us have no concept of the power our minds have over us. One way is by setting us up to emulate our role models.” He leaned towards Joe and asked, “Could you give me a quick description of your father and mother–your role models?”
Joe grimaced. He described his father as a know-it-all bully who always had to have his way or else. Joe’s father was an addict, but Jacob already knew that. His mother meant well. She tried to be a good parent, but never stood up for herself and she left the job of child rearing to Joe’s father.
“Excellent,” Jacob said, leaning forward again. “When I spoke with Stuart, she briefly described your reaction to her present circumstances. Would you care to give me your perspective of that interchange?” he said, giving Joe an easy smile. “I think you will find it most illustrative.”
“Sure,” Joe said. “I was furious. I attacked, bullied and found myself acting exactly like my father. Interesting, in light of what you just said,” Joe frowned. “I then decided I was ill equipped to handle the situation so I left the heavy lifting to you. Does that mean I am destined to be like my parents?”
“An excellent question, but the answer relies on the assumption that you have no control over your own mind – and you do.” Jacob settled back into the sofa this time propping his feet up on the coffee table. “Our minds operate best, most efficiently, with clearly defined goals. The lack of a specified goal leaves the mind to follow what has been learned in the past from our role models. For example, from what you have said, you vacillate between bullying and passivity. Neither works particularly well, but well enough. It’s what gets us in trouble.” He paused for a moment. “My studies have shown me that if you set a specific goal and stay focused on it, you have immensely more power and control over your life.”
Jacob finished with a nod in Joe’s direction. “If you had walked into your daughter’s hospital room with a specific goal for the conversation, chances are your mind would not have lead you to do what you did.”
“I gather mind control is not considered conventional thought in your field,” Joe said.
Jacob laughed placing his hands behind his head. “No, but they will catch on eventually! I fortunately have a highly successful practice, but then I choose my patients carefully. I believe everyone can control their actions and reactions if they are mindful enough. My approach is not for everyone, but I firmly believe it will work for anyone open enough to embrace it. The problem is that it goes against — to use your phrase — conventional thought. Although I argue that is a misnomer. It is, in fact, it is not real thought at all.” He laughed again. “Nobody likes to hear that!”