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July 23, 2009

Holy Shit - I'm a Textbook Case of Dysfunction

Feeling Too Much Isn’t Bad

by Melissa Karnaze on July 23, 2009

Last week Terry Gross interviewed comedian Michael Ian Black on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” In the show, Black talks about how he lost his father at the age of twelve, and he opens up on the role comedy plays in his emotional life:

“I think comedy for many, many people is a coping mechanism. And as a kid I was incredibly prone to just bursts of emotion and tears and hypersensitivity. And I realized that I couldn’t live my life like that. And I sort of started sublimating that to a point where — now it’s hard for me to express emotion. And comedy is an outlet for that.”

Admitting to how you sublimate your real feelings and how that damages your ability to express yourself – is no easy feat.

It’s not comfortable or admirable.

It doesn’t showcase the stoic stereotype of masculinity with any charm or glory.

But it’s real. And it’s honest.

And emotionally intelligent. Like right-on-the-mark intelligent.

Gross: “That’s really funny because you were saying that you were kind of hypersensitive. And your comic persona is kind of the opposite?”

Black: “Yeah.”

Gross: “Is it fun to play that person who you play on TV?”

Black: “Well, it can be. I mean, I think the word snarky has often been applied to me – in a way that makes me feel very uncomfortable, because I don’t think of myself as snarky, even though I guess I probably come off that way. Because I still see myself as this hypersensitive kid – who, everything touches. I feel like… I feel too much.”

When feeling your emotions feels like it’s too much, the logical thing to do is turn down the volume, or sublimate.

But the sorry side is that tampering with the controls will have negative consequences later in life. Consequences that impact your emotional health, your communication, and your closest relationships.

Painful feelings can really hurt — you are feeling them after all.

But they are there for a reason. They are there to keep you connected to the world. They are they so you can express them and follow them back to any dysfunctional beliefs they may have come from. They are there for you to grieve as you need to grieve.

The pain isn’t bad.

It’s painful. It hurts. It takes water from your eyes without asking.

But it isn’t bad.

From Mindful Construct


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Stacey E

keep yer crying to yourself, sissy


Congratulations on becoming a Case Study!


Welcome to the dysfunction wagon! So glad you could make it! No strangers here, just one big ol' pile of crazy. =)

We all love you, Michael. Dysfunctional or not.


Wow Mike! Hot. I could be off, but it just looks to me like this Melissa here wants to play "Doctor" with you. Call her! Maybe she's Asian!


Yikes Mikes!


Dude, you're a total fag.


Aww, I wish I heard the whole interview! But I only heard the very end. All of you were saying your "good-byes" and "thank-yous," and that was it. I felt sadness, and burst into tears.

Stacey is non-feeling. And Rylee is an ass who I really hope gets arrested tonight.


As Jackson Browne sang:

Doctor, my eyes
Cannot see the sky
Is this the prize
for having learned how not to cry


I think y'all are thinking that Michael wrote the above. He didn't! This is an article written by Melissa Karnaze. And she is reviewing an NPR interview by Terry Gross. Melissa quotes a few things Michael said in the NPR interview. Just note: The above is all Melissa Karnaze's words: Not Mike's!


You sure are a textbook case...of awesomeness!


you are a textbook case of "AHOY WILL YOU MARRY ME AND CAN I HAVE SOME GELATO?"

you kick ass i wish you the best


Michael! I was so intrigued I went and listened to the whole interview. Enlightening.

Here's the link, for all those curious souls:


The mindful construct website makes me feel psychologically icky. Psicky. It's creepy how it very subtly implied at the end of the post that humor is not a coping device, but rather a masking of psychological pain. That it somehow impedes genuine acknowledgment of trauma, an act which psychology all too often claims will lead to 'recovery.'

Thank you for the new show.


"It's creepy how it very subtly implied at the end of the post that humor is not a coping device, but rather a masking of psychological pain. That it somehow impedes genuine acknowledgment of trauma..."

R. Kaboff -- I totally agree with you. I was with it, with the acknowledgment of honesty in his admission and the departure from centering on a stereotypical masculine stoicism, and I also appreciated that. Until the end of the article. The end was creepy. Good word.


“...I think the word snarky has often been applied to me [though]...I don’t think of myself as snarky...Because I still see myself as this hypersensitive kid – who, everything touches. I feel like… I feel too much.”

I like to say you're bratty :) But I think your snarkiness and brattiness always always comes at such an absurd or surreal level or with a soft enough edge so that it never _really_ reaches that truly mean level, but I can see how it might put out the impression to some non-textbook-cased-emotionally-intelligent folks that you are just one big calloused untouchable "can't hurt me" dude, when it seems like you are more quite the opposite. And I think if you are someone who feels emotions in a way that is very raw, you need _some_ distance from those kinds of overwhelming emotions so you can hash them out. Karnaze makes the point that painful feeling aren't bad. Sure, but they aren't good either.

And I think brattiness and poking at someone, good-natured smugness, amiable jerkiness, all that can actually be quite flattering, because you are very good at tugging braids vs. actually pulling them out. You being a "good person" as Showalter says, really comes through. Sorry for the long post(s), but I really enjoyed this interview. Thank you.


(Bottom line? You rock. Can you just delete the last two posts for this one??)

Reen, PHD

In closing: I'd say the way you are dysfunctional, for lack of a better word, has to do with the negative way in which you appear to view yourself. And consequently, the negative way in which you appeart to view others who see you in a positive light.

Thats "hookah" smoking material buddy, right there.


wow, some of the people commenting are fucking dicks, and I apologize for that

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