Put Down the Duckie: A Therapeutic Study
July 12, 2007
Ernie is a 37 year old single male (?) muppet with borderline intellectual functioning (vs. ADD?) who presents with a chief complaint of a “silly squeek” when he plays the saxophone.
The patient is self-referred to Mr. Hoots, a wise psychotherapist & jazz musician, with a full practice (a “busy bird”) who is experienced in a number of psychotherapeutic modalities.
After a brief period of observation, Mr. Hoots identifies the source of the squeek: Ernie is holding his support rubber duck while trying to play the saxophone. Mr. Hoots points out this maladaptive behavior pattern to Ernie and identifies corrective measure for him (“put down the duckie”). Despite repeated behavioral directives, Ernie is not able to follow through with Mr. Hoots’ treatment recommendations and the issue of compliance is raised. Frustrated, Mr. Hoots uses self-disclosure as a psychotherapeutic maneuver, telling Ernie, “I’ve learned a thing or two, through years of playing in a band, it’s hard to play a saxophone with something in your hand!”
Ernie remains resistant to Mr. Hoots’ interventions. In the video rendition of the psychotherapy, during the Put Down The Duckie refrains, Ernie is shown to be participating in group psychotherapy with a number of celebrities (Madeline Kahn, Danny DeVito, Paul Simon, Wynton Marsalis, & Jeremy Irons) who all instruct and encourage Ernie to Put Down The Duckie while modeling the appropriate behavior of playing their instruments without a squeeky support animal.
Acknowledging the failure of these behavioral interventions, Mr. Hoots turns to a more psychodynamic understanding of Ernie’s persistant dysfunctional behavior. Addressing the separation anxiety which prevents Ernie from parting with his duckie, Mr. Hoots reassures Ernie that he does not need to permanently part from his duckie, and adding a cognitive component, he takes Ernie through stages of imagining progressively more difficult forms of seperation ranging from putting the duckie in his pocket, to sending him off on a train, and finally to flying duckie off on a rocket! With his internal conflicts identified, his fears exposed, rehearsed, and allayed, Ernie is at last able to Put Down the Duckie in what is truly a successful psychotherapy.