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HomeEducation / CultureTony and the toxic psycho

Tony and the toxic psycho

By Tony Deyal

One of my favourite stories is about three engineering students who were discussing the possible designers of the human body. One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.” Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has thousands of electrical connections.” The last said, “Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?” Unfortunately, when it comes to toxic, the people you need to deal with are psychiatrists.

There are two main types of toxic. The best known are substances that are poisonous to living organisms, like lead in drinking water or car exhausts. However, the ones to fear and worry about are toxic people whose behaviour adds negativity to your life by being harsh, malicious or even harmful. What makes it worse is that the cure is worse than the disease. “Toxicity” is the name of the town where the psychiatrists settle and have their offices and fun at our expense. Before we become toxic, we need to spend some time on psychologists to understand what they’re all about.

A man was walking in the street one day when he was brutally beaten and robbed. As he lay unconscious and bleeding, a psychologist, who happened to be passing by, rushed up to him and exclaimed, “My God! Whoever did this really needs help!” Then there was the person who did not know how to deal with people he could not stand. His psychiatrist advised, “The best thing to do is write letters to the people you hate and later on burn them.” On his next visit the man was even more upset.

As he explained to his doctor, “I wrote the letters to the people and then I burnt them. The problem is that having done so, I don’t know what to do with the letters!” In my case, I once spent Christmas night with some family in an apartment in a high-rise building in Toronto and every few minutes somebody pressed the fire alarm. This meant that the elevators were automatically stopped and we had to rush down the thirty sets of steps, reach the ground floor and then either realise it was a false alarm or run out into the snow.

After a while, all of us decided, “If we have to burn to pieces, let it happen. We will stay upstairs and whatever happens, happens!” When I told a psychiatrist that since then I was really scared of living in tall buildings, his reply was, “What you have is an Apartment Complex.” Worse, his advice was that I should start with a ground-floor apartment and when I was able to manage that go to the next level and so on. He explained, “You have to take it one step at a time.”

That was also his advice on how to deal with toxic people. Essentially, some of the signs of toxicity include self-absorption or self-centeredness; manipulation and other emotional abuse; dishonesty and deceit; difficulty being compassionate to others; and a tendency to create drama or conflict. I’m not sure if any of us can pass this test. Just as bad are the signs given out by toxic persons. The experts say that toxic people are inconsistent to the point you never know what they’re going to do next.

They’re your real friends one minute and then they write you off in seconds. Worse, they always demand your attention because they forever want something from you. You get tons of phone calls and texts with a lot of drama. You might say, “Listen, I on my way out. Later!” and all you get is, “Wait! Wait! Don’t go yet. I wouldn’t take long but I need your help badly.”

One way of dealing with toxic people is to confront them but most of us find that impossible since the person could be your brother, sister, best friend or even your Mom. Another suggestion is that when you’re dealing with toxic people you must set stricter boundaries.

In one case, even if I put two sets of barbed wire, three thick walls, with cameras and armed guards, they will still find their way inside into my time, space and mind. I’ve also been told to “Cut them out of your mind! Pack them up!” Even a Vevor Electronic Concrete Chopper can’t stop them from coming on like the Energiser bunny. If you have an Angle Grinder they will come at you from a different angle. Even if you get a chopper and they can’t block you from taking off, they know you’ll have to come down for gas at some time and they’ll be waiting for you with smiling faces and troubled minds.

I decided to take another look at what the psychiatrists recommend. The first one I read was about a client who went for his first therapy session. He had a cucumber up his nose, a carrot in his left ear, and a banana in his right ear. He asked the therapist, “Can you figure out what’s wrong with me?” The reply from the expert was, “You’re not eating properly.” On the other hand, they pick and choose who they deal with. His receptionist told the psychologist, “Doctor, the next patient is someone who thinks he’s invisible.” The reply was, “Tell him I can’t see him right now.” Worse was the man who told the psychologist that he was having suicidal thoughts. He now has to pay in advance.

Still, a psychologist is better for dealing with toxic people than a proctologist. He analyses the problem but the proctologist analyses it. Most psychologists, especially those who deal with narcissistic people, believe that toxic people are masters of “gaslighting”. In the old days, I thought that a “gaslight” only had one flame but in today’s world, it has many. There is “countering” or people telling you, “Are you sure about that? You have a bad memory you know.” Some are adamant, “I think you are forgetting what really happened.”

I get a lot of that at home. There is also “withholding” or pretending you don’t understand the conversation and force people to doubt themselves; “trivialising” when a friend tells you, “You taking that too seriously, cool down and forget it”- “denial” when they protest, “You know I will never say that about you!”; “diverting” or “Nah, don’t take them on. I didn’t mean that.”; and “stereotyping” when race, sexuality or nationality, especially in the Caribbean, is the topic of concern.

Looking back at the topic of toxic, just thinking about it is enough to put you on detox for months or keep you intoxicated for life. Seeing a psychologist is worse. As the young child said when he walked passed his parents’ bedroom and looked inside, “And they want to send me to a psychologist for sucking my thumb?”

*Tony Deyal was last seen talking about the man who was hired to engrave the tombstone of a psychotherapist. He broke down the word into three parts, with ‘the’ in the middle.

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