In “Hollywood Shadows,” (New Yorker, March 21, 2011), Dana Goodyear profiles Barry Michels, an LA therapist who uses Jungian psychology to help screenwriters become unblocked, among other things. The profile paints him as kind of a cheesewad, but, man, are there some compelling ideas in it.
For one: dust.
Dust is a “super-technique” for conquering performance anxiety in front of people you want to impress by imagining them covered with inches of undisturbed, ancient dust. Picture it now: your boss, CEO, the board, whoever, sitting motionless under tranquil layers of dust as in a century-old attic. Interesting, huh?
But my favorite part of the story concerns Michels’ mentor, Phil Stutz, who moved to Hollywood with no clients and began cold-calling prominent shrinks to ask for referrals:
“Every day, he’d force himself to approach the scariest person on his list, an undertaking that he described as eating “a death cookie.”
You with me on that?
Most rejected him, Goodyear writes, but Stutz found it “regenerative.”
“The risk you take has a feedback effect on the unconscious,” he says. “The unconscious will give you ideas and it wants you to act on them. The more courage you have when you act, the more ideas it will give you.”
What death cookie will you eat next?