Wednesday, August 22, 2018

1986 Charles W. Gruffly Speaks

Charles W. Gruffly retired as Executive Editor of the Gotham City Gazette in 2015. Gruffly spent his entire career at the GCG, starting as a copy boy in 1973 and working his way up in the ranks. While he spent his working life in the newspaper business, he was a psychology major as an undergraduate student at Bard College in Red Hook, New York.

We interviewed Mr. Gruffly at lunch at the Tavern Restaurant in State College, Pennsylvania where he was visiting to lecture on his new book, “Psychotherapy is a Load of Crap,” published by Random House and scheduled for release in mid-September:

Wessays: Charles, what possessed you to write a book with a title like that?

CWG: I have been thinking about it for years. As a student at America’s second greatest quirky college I learned all about psychologists from Freud to Skinner and beyond.  And as an observer, reporter and editor, I’ve noticed that most screwed-up people remain screwed up after therapy which is both expensive and time consuming.  And it’s conducted by people who tend to be more screwed up than their patients or clients.

W: You met a lot of people in your decades at the paper…

C: Yes and many of them were the victims of therapists and social workers and gurus and swamis and were no better off after the end of the treatment and sometimes worse.

W: In your book, you recommend an alternative for those who realize their lives are emotional kaleidoscopes or mine fields and it’s not going to sit well with the League of Shrinks.

C: Correct. But to hell with those money grubbing nutjobs.  

W: What do you suggest for people who are more or less nuts?

C: I’m glad you asked.  What I suggest is that people who are more or less nuts, hire a Life Editor.  This is not for people who are certified as completely insane by credentialed therapists who graduated from non-quirky med schools. It’s not for people who are striving to “get well” after a lifetime of drug addiction or abuse. It’s for people who want to get on with life and have no desire or patience for anything short of a cure. This is the cure.

W: What is?

C: Life Editor.  You’re a reporter or writer or for that matter a TV news anchor, you report to an editor. The editor has final say over what’s printed or broadcast.  If you’ve made mistakes, we correct them. If you’re barking up the wrong tree, we send you elsewhere in the forest.  The key here is authority. I am the law.  You do what I say and that’s that.

W: That sounds like Charles Manson or Herbert W. Armstrong or Werner Ehrhardt or Rajneesh.

C: No, no, no.  There are no leaders. No idolized figures. And no one who puts you on a couch or in a trance or anything like that.

W: What then?

C: You walk into my home office which is in a cape cod style bungalow conveniently located near the Long Island Railroad station in Massapequa Park and you find me sitting at a battered old wooden desk.  There’s a desk lamp with a green glass shade.  I’m wearing a green eyeshade.  There’s a fedora on the hat rack. My vest is unbuttoned, my collar is unbuttoned and my tie askew.

You tell me your problem.  I tell you how to fix it. You fix it.  That’s that. You’re cured.

W: But there’s no underlying theory or psych history here.

C: Right. It’s just an editor telling an underling what to do. You want extra sessions? Okay. We can evaluate your progress and do other things that therapists do to prolong your sessions to the limit that your health insurance will tolerate.  Oh, and we’re strictly cash.

W: That doesn’t sound very therapeutic.

C: It isn’t. It’s just fixing your copy.  Who cares about the underlying crap?  Now, let’s cut this off here. I have a big day tomorrow.  Going to be on the Today Show and CNN and then the Gotham City Gazette is doing a feature with a writer and photographer. And in then I’m taping with Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah.

W: No Doctor Oz or Martha Stewart?

C: Nah. He’s a quack and she’s a Julia Child wannabe. She needs my help more than I need hers.

W: But she’ll make you a lovely take-home Souffle.

C: I’m allergic to eggs. And to Martha.

W: Before I close this, one more question: How would you “life-edit” Elon Musk, the Adderall- popping head of Tesla?

C: Oh, that’s an easy one.  Musk should take Arianna Huffington’s advice and change his work habits, but not the way she suggested. He should promote himself to something loftier than CEO and then hire some “car guys” to get that factory popping out the tin.  I suggest he call himself “Chief Hardware Architect,” the title similar to one Bill Gates gave himself when he stepped away from the top spot at Microsoft after realizing it had outgrown his ability to micromanage it.

W: Our thanks to Charles W. Gruffly, retired Executive Editor of the Gotham City Gazette and author of the new book “Psychotherapy is a Load of Crap.” Available soon at, Barnes and Noble and your neighborhood independent bookseller if you still have one.

Gruffly is a fictional character. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. Even guys named Fitzgerald or Fanto or Swayze or Bartlett Monzella or Rattigan.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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