“Beware of the Leaven . . . “

Thursday, February 21, 2019. 11:32 PM.

“Beware of the Leaven”

“In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and whatever you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.’“ -Luke 12:1-3 ESV Study Bible.

An Imaginary Conversation Between a Client and Social Worker

Social Worker: “So, how are things going, lately?”

Client: “OK.”

Social Worker: “What does that mean?”

Client: “No complaints.”

Social Worker: “Anything else?”

Client: “Just remembering my first psychiatrist back in 1968. Didn’t have a social worker back then at 17.”

Social Worker: “What was he like?”

Client: “Well, he was just right.”

Social Worker: “What do you mean?”

Client: “He was easy on me.”

Social Worker: “What do you mean?”

Client: “We came into the room and sat down. And he said nothing. No pressure. No questions.”

Social Worker: “Then what happened?”

Client: “Well, eventually something would come to mind and I’d tell him.”

Social Worker: “And then what?”

Client: “He would write something on his clipboard or notebook. Don’t recall exactly what he used.”

Social Worker: “Then what?”

Client: “More quietness until I said something else.”

Social Worker: “How did you like him?”

Client: “No complaints.”

Social Worker: “How do you like me?”

Client “Not so much.”

Social Worker: “Why not?”

Client: “Why do you think?”

Social Worker: “Think what?”

Client: “Why do you ask so many questions?”

Social Worker: “Do I ask that many questions?”

Client: “What do you think?”

Social Worker: “About what?”

Client: “About so many questions.”

Social Worker: “What questions?”

Client: “Yours.”

Social Worker: “Mine?”

Client: “Yes.”

Social Worker: “Yes, what?”

Client: “Why are you pretending you don’t have a clue?”

Social Worker: “A clue about what?”

Client: “Why do you reply to every question with a question?”

Social Worker: “Do I do that?”

Client: “Are you human or just an android device made to look human and programmed to respond the way you do? You’re not showing any humanity or heart or soul.”

Social Worker: “OK. Session is over. See you in two weeks.”

Client: “Why?”

Social Worker: “Why what?”

Client: “Why do you ask about what?”

Social Worker: “Are you going to leave or am I going to call my supervisor?”

Client: “Why do you ask?”

Social Worker: “Excuse me?”

Client: “Excuse you for what reason?”

Social Worker takes a deep breath and exhales slowing while eyeing the client with a hard look. Then she gets up and walks out of the room.

Client: And the client sits there for a while alone and considers the interview. And a Scripture comes to mind: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” And he looks at the door and wonders if she was fleeing. And he considers whether she was really a devil. And decides, “Well, maybe not. Maybe it’s just that her interviewing style was so annoying that he had such hard feelings about it that a mean characterization came to mind. And then he wondered if she was human or an android device. And he decided, Maybe it’s just her training that makes her that way. Maybe she was instructed to keep her own heart and soul and feelings and personality and humanity out of the interview. And then he wondered, But then what kind of meaningful conversation can take place if the social worker is strictly behaving in such a clinical intellectual-only rhetorical way of being? And strategic like a chess player. How human is a game of chess? Pure logic. A game of wits.  A game. And then he thought of health care in general. And wondered if, like politics and most other worldly businesses, mental health agencies had become just a business where the employees were no different than employees of a department store who were only there to do a job like stocking shelves or operating a cash register. Nothing personal. And if I told her all that, what would she say, he wondered. “Oh, you want a friend. Well, I’m not here to be your friend.” And what is the difference between a social worker and a friend? Well, a friendship is based on love and honesty, while social work is . . .  She’d probably stop right there and not finish the sentence. Why would I want to answer questions, personal questions honestly by someone who was not being friends with me, but only clinically doing her job? It’s like answering questions posed by a computer program. And he recalled another Scripture: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” -Matthew 6:24 (ESV). And he recalled another employee of that agency who worked in Vocational Services telling him once about the thousand dollars they got paid for a certain program he was in, “That’s how we make our money,” she told him.  And he recalled his first social worker there many years earlier who explained, “I’m just doing my job.” And he considered the psychiatric drugs the psychiatrist there prescribed and which he really had to take, or else. And he thought: Those drugs dumb me down and dope me up and kinda stupefy me. They make me more manageable to them, like a man who is drunk and can’t think so clearly about what’s going on. And he considered the deleterious and insidious side-effects of those drugs and he wondered: Why take these drugs if this is what they do to me? If I don’t take them, I suffer. And if I do take them, I suffer. One way or the other, I’m going to suffer. Maybe it’s better to suffer without them than to suffer with them. At least it is simpler to be drug free. I think I’d rather suffer as a Christian than to suffer as a mental patient. And when I’m off those drugs I can write about many things. But when I’m on those drugs my writing is more like this: “Today is Wednesday, February 20, 2019. It is cloudy today. The temperature is 17*F. I walked outside for 34 minutes.” It may be factual but it isn’t very inspired nor creative nor interesting, except perhaps to a meteorologist scientific kind of thinker. It doesn’t have much heart and soul and spirit. It isn’t very lively nor wonderful. And he remembered his social worker once taking him to another room. She said it was for signing his treatment plan. So, they walked to this other room where there was a computer. And next to the computer was a little electronic device for signing your name electronically, like when signing at a cash register when using a credit card. However, the computer was turned off; so, he could not see the treatment plan. And the electronic signature device was also turned off. So, he remarked to the social worker, “It isn’t turned on.” She relied, “It will take your signature, anyway.” So, in his dumbed down doped up and stupefied state from being on a double dose of anti-psychotic Olanzapine and a whopping dose of 337.5 milligrams of anti-depressant Effexor and about 4 other drugs from other doctors, including anti-tremor drugs and anti-cholesterol drug and anti-triglyceride drug, he signed the turned-off signature reader for his treatment plan which he could not see on the turned off computer. And later, he thought about this event. And he wondered if he was being tested by the social worker to see just how gullible he was; so they could determine just how much he would allow them to do to him. And years later, he came across the word gas lighting. And he read the definition of that word. And he wondered if he was being gaslighted. And a few months later, when the social worker said it was time to sign another treatment plan, he just said calmly to her that he didn’t want to sign anything. And she didn’t insist. And about every six months she asked him to bring in his bank statements. She explained that it had something to do with billing. They used a sliding scale, she said, to determine how much to charge the patient. However, he didn’t pay for his visits. Medicare paid for the social worker and psychiatric appointments; so, he wondered, “What difference does it make how much money I have in my bank accounts when my insurance is paying, not me? And when he brought in his bank account statements the social worker would look at them and then say, I’m going to make copies of these statements. I’ll be right back. And she would leave the room with his bank statements for a few minutes and then return and give him his bank statements. And he felt somewhat uncomfortable about all this; but, in his dumbed-down and doped up and semi stupefied state of mind, he said nothing. And at home he had a computer. His first one. And he was in the habit of checking his bank account statements online every day. And one day he noticed a charge to one of his accounts. It was for $1. So, he called his bank and reported this mysterious charge. And the bank removed the charge. And then, on his next bank statement, he noticed something called a “Fraud Alert.” And every month for about a year that “Fraud Alert” was mentioned on his bank accounts online. And he wondered if it was there to notify any would-be fraudsters that the bank was keeping an eye on his accounts. And no more mysterious charges ever appeared.

Hypocrisy, as defined in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. [the following is only some-not-all of that dictionary’s definition of the word hypocrisy] “act of playing a part on the stage . . . to answer, act on the stage”.  The American Heritage College Dictionary, Fourth Edition has “play-acting, pretense . . . pretend” in their definition of “hypocrisy”. The reason the writer mentions this word and its definition is because of some things he noticed in the way the social worker interviewed him sometimes. For example: the client sometimes asked the social worker a question. And, instead of answering the question, she would ask him, “Well, why do you ask?” And some other times, he would say something and she would reply, “Well, what do you mean?” And sometimes, because she had only replied to the client’s question by asking him “Why do you ask?” he would remind her that she had not answered his question. And she would reply, “What question?” So, it seemed to him—in addition to feeling frustrated by her many questions and her questions of his questions—that she was being difficult and was not willing to be helpful—because she wouldn’t give answers, only questions. So, he began to wonder if she was playing the hypocrite. He even said to her once in a calm way, “You don’t seem like a social worker to me. You seem like a devil’s advocate.” She also told him he shouldn’t give a few dollars to people who asked him for a dollar. He replied that in the gospel Jesus told his disciples to give to those who ask. And she told him he shouldn’t be leaving/placing gospel tracts.







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