Do We Always Write About Ourselves?

“Write what you know” is the conventional wisdom. It makes sense but, I’m wondering if we always creep into our writing, even when we try to write about something else.  This idea came up for me (again) when I was watching NCIS last week.  The creator of the show is a man named Donald Bellisaro and it seems to be his production because at the end of each show, a wind sweeps sand away from a stone and, lo and behold, we see a  faux carved Latin inscription ‘Bellisarius’. 

 Back to the show’s characters. Gibbs is the boss; the silent Great White Shark, an unquestioned authority. His 3 special agents each have an interesting father – Ziva’s pop is the ruthless head of Israeli Mossad, Tony’s dad is a handsome, sometimes wealthy, con man, and now we learn that Tim’s father is an Admiral. Tim hasn’t spoken to his father in 7 years, Tony quakes at the sound of his father’s name, and Ziva is having a hard time being chummy with a daddy who left her to rot in a desert prison.  And people complain about mothers!

This can’t be a coincidence. All the fathers (and Gibbs as father figure) are incredibly powerful, ruthless men, and all are estranged from their children. I know I’m a psychologist and that makes me annoyingly analytical at times but come on, doesn’t the consistency make  you wonder about Bellisario’s image of himself and/or his relationships with his kids or his father????

If you are an early career clinician, a professor who teaches interviewing skills, or a clinical supervisor, you will find my newest book, “What Do I Say? The Therapist’s Guide To Answering Client’s Questions” (with C. Waehler, published by John Wiley, 2011) a  practical, useful addition to your library. 

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