Some of our most intriguing literary characters come from books that were originally self-published. One of these—Anastasia Steele from the Fifty Shades of Grey series—recently came to me still haunted by some relationship issues from the first installment of the trilogy. Here is an excerpt of our session:
Ana: But I have this one fantasy I’ve never even told him about.
L.S.: What is it?
Ana: I’m a groovy yellow bean bag chair and he’s repeatedly kicking me so hard that my vinyl rips open at the seams and my polystyrene beans come cascading out of me and bury him to death.
L.S.: Holy Cow.
Ana: That’s what I said.
L.S.: Let’s explore that further. Do you think you’re feeling anger towards Christian?
Ana: I don’t know. It says in my contract I’m not supposed to think.
L.S.: Your contract with Christian doesn’t apply here. This is a safe place for you to discuss your emotions.
Ana: I’m not angry. Anyway, that’s not important. What’s important is that I found a place to get a whole case of pleasure balls wholesale.
L.S.: I beg to differ.
Ana: You think I should’ve paid full price for the balls?
L.S.: I meant about your anger.
Ana: Oh, L.S., for the first time in my life, someone really, really needs me. How can I question that?
L.S.: I think there are a lot of people who need you.
Ana: Name one person.
L.S.: There are millions. All the women out there with unfulfilling sex lives that are glued to their Kindles reading about you on their long, boring commutes home.
L.S.: And Jose´ Rodriguez
Ana: The photographer? Oh, please. He can’t even capture a slow-moving barge.
L.S.: Seems like he treats you pretty well.
Ana: Loser with a capital “L”
L.S.: You seem to think every man who treats you well is a loser.
Ana: That’s just an unfortunate coincidence.
L.S.: Is it?
Ana: Holy Moses; what are you getting at?
L.S.: All I’m suggesting is that you deserve to be happy.
Ana: Christian makes me happy. Who else could do what he’s done? Who else could go to Lowe’s and choose just the right shade of red for the Room of Pain without even consulting me? And then spank me with the same color paddle!
L.S.: What does that say about how you feel about yourself?
Ana: Flog me, I’m yours?
L.S.: Maybe it’s time you went on a G-rated date. Perhaps to the Children’s Museum with Jose.′
Ana: You’re not giving me advice are you?
Ana: Because I don’t need any help.
L.S.: I know that. I’m just proposing a little “sexual healing.”
Ana: That song was way before my time.
L.S.: So was The 120 Days of Sodom, but that hasn’t stopped you.
Dx: Self-Defeating Personality Disorder. Rx: More therapy and reading a copy of How to Be Your Own Best Friend
The Literary Shrink is Wendy Aron, a former NY Times contributor, award-winning humorist (Society of Professional Journalists) and produced sitcom writer and playwright. Wendy feels that every good fictional character ought be in therapy primarily because she, herself, has logged thousands of hours in on the couch.