Tom Greening has been writing serious and comical poetry for over 50 years and has had poems published in such diverse places as The American Scholar and Ski Magazine. A set of his poems about his trips to Russia has been translated into Russian. Tom says, “Writing poems about psychology, some of them satirical, has helped me maintain a vestige of sanity in the face of what psychology has become.”

 More Tom Greening poetry skewering mental health industry here. 


Tom Greening is both a psychology professor and a poet



Poems by Tom Greening


Here are a selection of a few of the titles of Tom’s poems related to psychology, which are found below:

Freedom vs. Determinism
Kierkegaard’s Paradox
Night Journey
No Time to Feel
A Single Case Study
Weary of Theory
For Ronnie Laing
Lapsed Existentialist
Vonnegut’s Vision
My (Failed) Search for Authenticity
Salvation Lost
Fear of Light
Faculty Memo
Brain Chemistry
Managed Care
Postmodern Prayer
Fussy Mind
Fear of Drugs
Not Guilty
Empirically Validated Psychotherapy
My Genes
Paxil in Pregnancy
Voluntary Admission
Depression Cured
Mental Illness (Sic)
Saner Than Thou
Psychiatric Slavery
My Search for Meaning
Sisyphus Redux
Unfair Neglect
Statistical Evidence
Providence-Based Therapy
Evidence-Based Confusion
Down with Meaning
Faith in Psychiatry


You may reach the author here:


Without further ado, here are Tom’s poems, along with where they have been published if they have.



Just reacting?  Freely striving?
Blindly driven?  Wisely driving?
Who’s the rider?  Who’s the horse?
Who’s in charge?  Who charts the course?
Sort your data, choose your theory,
Argue concepts ’til you’re weary.
Psychologize until you die–
While we argue, life goes by.

Tom Greening

Dialogues: Therapeutic Applications of Existential Philosophy. Vol. 1, No. 2.


Here’s a challenge and a mission–
developing our intuition.
We need more freedom from the known
and must not count on thought alone.
No matter how astute we are
our reason takes us just so far
and cannot help us to discern
the other ways we need to learn.
Instead of logic and precision
we also need a deeper vision,
ways to think in metaphor
and draw upon unconscious lore.
But here I sit, trapped in my mind,
and do not know if I can find
a way to shake the evil curse
that makes me write such stilted verse.

Tom Greening

Dialogues: Therapeutic Applications of Existential Philosophy. Vol. 1, No. 2.


Some more of that, some more of this—
thus will I some day savor bliss.
Or should I abjure everything,
give up the stuff to which I cling
so I can set my poor soul free
and dwell in perfect poverty?
Some days I gain, some days I lose—
I never know which one to choose—
when to constrict, when to expand—
that’s what I cannot understand.
And thus I swing from pole to pole,
confused about my proper goal,
but in the process try to be
alive more existentially.

Tom Greening


As I perused the gloomy paper trail
that marked this patient’s lengthy fall from grace
I realized that I would also fail
and write him off as just a hopeless case
unless I sprung us both out of our trap
and met him in a place we’d never been.
But for this pathless journey there’s no map,
and just a rusty gyroscope within.
We wandered in and out the prison gate
and passed each other in the dark unheard,
then met at last before it was too late
and found we did not need to say a word.
In searching for a better way to care
without a ray of hope or guiding star,
the only way to get from here to there,
is learning how to be the place we are.

Tom Greening


The way that I’ve arranged my life,
I’ve left no time to feel.
This anesthetic works so well
I never do reveal
my feelings even to myself
or to those close to me.
By keeping busy all the time
I act like I am free,
and if I have some time to spare
I fill it up real fast,
and pray this numbing sedative
is somehow going to last.
When nosey people question me
I hasten to explain
this is my plan to get through life
by minimizing pain,
and yet at times I lie awake
obsessed by sudden doubt—
I worry that I’m just a fool
and somehow missing out.
I do not hope to really live
but merely to survive,
but will I mourn when I’m near death
not having been alive?

Tom Greening


As I came into consciousness
there was a war where millions died,
and even when frail peace broke out
life’s anguish left me horrified.

I worked in mental hospitals,
construction jobs and factories;
I traveled where the war had been
and contemplated tragedies.

Perplexed by what I’d seen of life,
appalled by so much misery,
I sought to understand the cause
and thought I’d try psychology.

I hoped I’d find some people there
who cared about the human soul,
but learned instead it was our job
to do “prediction and control.”

And sure enough, some governments
have found psychologists can aid
in customizing torture skills,
a job for which they’re amply paid.

Not all psychology, thank God,
is used for purposes so cruel,
but much of what it’s all about
is tailored to a basic rule:

Whatever does in fact exist
exists in some precise amount,
and so our task is to devise
precision tools with which to count.

Away with fuzzy-minded thought,
away with sloppy sentiment–
Pure science is the one true faith;
the goal of life is measurement.

Do I belong in such a field?
Can such a field put up with me?
When questions such as these grow grim
for refuge I try poetry.

Tom Greening

Dialogues: Therapeutic Applications of Existential Philosophy, Vol. 1, No. 1.


I am an anomalous surge,
a bioelectromagnetic burst.
Study me with EEG topographic mapping
(a great advance over phrenology),
ferret out my subtle energies,
record the markers of my emotion,
sift my positive and negative ions
for signs of virtue,
and measure the build-up and collapse
of my electric dipoles
while I indulge my mood swings.
I’ll gulp down any placebo,
ignorant as I am of
When you’ve done with
the biofeedback stress profiling
please give me copies of the charts and graphs
to frame and hang over the fireplace
so on cold nights when my current flickers
I can remember who I am.

Tom Greening

Behaviorists in all their wisdom
feel it isn’t worth their work
to explore the human psyche,
full of mystery and murk.

They would rather study action,
focus on behavior seen,
not unseen, unseemly insides,
motives, meanings Byzantine.

Humanists, their fuzzy colleagues,
have a very different goal:
They would elevate the species
and affirm the human soul.

Then there’s existentialism,
focused on our finitude,
angst, contingency and freedom,
all with dread of death imbued.

Psychoanalytic pundits
eruditely analyze
our fixations and resistance,
thus attempting to be wise.

Cognitive behavior theorists
study how we learn and think.
I grow weary of these theories—
too much thought drives me to drink.

I have searched such books for wisdom,
but it’s mostly been in vain,
so I merely write these verses,
hoping thus to entertain.

Tom Greening


For all these years I’ve not been here
because I have a chronic fear
that being in the present tense
would strip me of my last defense
against the terror known as “life,”
which I have found to be too rife
with anguish, heartbreak and despair
for any feeling soul to bear.
Thus I have kept myself apart,
pretended that I have no heart,
avoided being too awake,
and searched for ways that I could fake
a pseudo-personality
concealed in much banality
to deftly substitute in lieu
of really being here with you.
I’ve gotten very good at this,
and only dimly do I miss
the warmth that other people feel
who have the courage to be real.
I think my way of life is best,
and so I make this firm request:
Don’t wake me up, don’t make me see
my triumph is a tragedy.

Tom Greening


Who’s mad and who’s sane,
and who decides?
If you have to ask,
don’t ask out loud,
or you could end up
on the wrong side of the keys,
knife, chemicals, or electricity.
What was a nice Scottish doctor
doing in a world like this?
Rattling paradigms, that’s what,
and drinking more than he should.
His time is up,
and the psychiatric pub
is quieter now.
Once he asked,
“Where in the world
are lunatics allowed to bathe
naked in the moonlight?”
At last he has found the place,
but he’s probably splashing
more than God allows.

Tom Greening

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 30 No. 2, 1990
© 1990 Sage Publications


I must confess that I’ve become annoyed
by seeing naught about me but the void,
and so I clutch and cling to lots of stuff
but never seem to gather quite enough.
How many loves and dollars will it take
to fill me up and my grim thirsting slake?
This question occupies each waking hour,
and all the while my mood grows dark and dour.
I wish this could be called philosophy,
yet fear it’s just a dreary travesty.
I’d hoped that for my courage I’d be known,
but ended up a dreary rhyming drone.
I’m nothing but a boring pessimist,
a lapsed and defrocked existentialist.

Tom Greening


“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can
without going over.  Out on the edge you see
all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
Kurt Vonnegut

I’m sitting out here on the ledge,
sitting almost at the edge,
but what I see is quite unclear
and all I feel is lots of fear.
Vonnegut has got good eyes—
he can see through sham and lies.
I just cower petrified,
by illusions mystified.
Please, somebody rescue me—
I cannot live heroically.
Instead of insights new, profound,
I long to tread familiar ground.
If humankind can be set free
it will not be by such as me.

Tom Greening


“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time
and build your wings on the way down.”
Ray Bradbury

Never having bravely jumped,
I must admit that I am stumped.
I don’t know how to build a wing
and am afraid of everything.
I’d panic, shriek, and tremble if
I found myself atop a cliff.
I’d quiver, quake, and quickly run,
’cause that’s not my idea of fun.
At least I do not make a fuss
like that pretentious Icarus.
I’m cowardly confessing that
I live my life down where it’s flat,
admitting with a mournful sigh,
I’m terrified of getting high.

Tom Greening


I’ve always had the secret, haunting fear
that my essential Self will disappear.
For years I’ve spewed much existential blather,
but I confess that now I’d really rather
give up my ranting over love and will
and let my weary mind at last be still.
I must admit I’ve found it very hard
to understand the thought of Kierkegaard.
We never seem to find ourselves agreeing
on what it is that constitutes our Being.
I hope you will forgive these angst-full lapses
as products of my over-worked synapses.
As I survey the shambles of my brain
I see Dasein and meaning on the wane,
while idle chatter rattles all day long
too seldom interrupted by a song.
My failed attempts have forced me to agree:
authentic presence is too much for me.
Because I know I can’t escape my fetters
I’ll leave the quest for freedom to my betters.
The joints of my ontology are creaking,
so now an inauthentic life I’m seeking.

Tom Greening


When my encounters get too deep
I find I tend to fall asleep.
I don’t know what it is could make
me really want to stay awake.

Life being what it is these days
it never ceases to amaze
me that some folk can stay alert
and run the risk of being hurt.

So I doze off, and feel secure
and seldom have I felt the lure
of being present in my life
and risking consciousness and strife.

Don’t take this as a rude affront–
I’m sorry if I seem too blunt.
I beg you for your sympathy–
I’m having trouble being me.

Tom Greening


When there’s no god around
I’m really not annoyed,
because I find my peace
in staring at the void.

I’ve seen no gods today–
I don’t know where they are.
Perhaps they don’t exist–
so near and yet so far!

When I have lost my way
I feel a healing grace
in finding I’m alone
in empty, pristine space.

But I can’t stand that long–
I’ll fill it up with junk.
I’ll find some new beliefs
and end up in a funk.

Tom Greening


“When you realize that everything is light, you are enlightened.”
Anonymous spiritual teacher

When I’m assured that everything is light
it really gives me a horrific fright,
for I prefer to shoot up in the dark
and cravenly evade the local narc.

I quaver, quake, and get extremely frightened
when I meet folks who claim to be enlightened.
I run and hide behind the nearest idol
and pray my fears won’t make me suicidal.

If dawn should come and catch me unawares
I fear it will expose my woes and cares.
I’ll close my eyes and hope I’ll never see
a glimpse of what some call reality

Tom Greening


The faculty of this famed institute
oft finds itself engaged in much dispute
about the proper way to run the place,
and how to do it with some sense of grace.

There are so many groups we try to please—
ourselves, the students, WASC and the trustees—
and thus, to teach psychology it seems
we must resort to rather drastic means.

The outcome of this strife is still unclear,
and this creates an anxious atmosphere,
so while we struggle with unwelcome stress
I thought perhaps it’s time that I confess—

My mind is hardly fit for such discourse
and jumps about much like a skittish horse.
Just when my colleagues need me to be sane
I write these lines that really are inane.

But if my poem lightens up our mood
and makes us somewhat less inclined to brood,
then I will feel that I have done my part
to demonstrate the value of bad art.

Tom Greening

The Spring 1988 issue of ReVision contained an article by Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD and former director of research of Sandoz Pharmaceutical Laboratories, entitled “The Transmitter-Receiver Concept of Reality” discussing our relationship to what we call “reality.”  The following poem was written in response to that article.


Although I’m aging,
my retinas still see
in living color
a few electromagnetic waves,
but just those
from .4 to .7 millimicrons—
that is, from what we call red
to what we call blue.
And, I’m happy to say,
my tympanic membranes
still hear a few waves
amidst the acoustical ocean.
Some we call Bach.
I can’t explain how I taste
certain molecular structures,
but I do,
and so it is with touch and smell.
Thus I keep in contact
with what we call reality,
and I have a lot of opinions about it.
My problem is
I know I’m missing out
on most of the waves.
Why should bees see more,
dogs smell more,
bats hear more?
And even they are missing
most of the show.
Why plunk down
such a small receiver
in the midst of this symphony?
When I die
do I get to hear it all?

Tom Greening

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 31 No. 2, Spring 1991.
©  1991 Sage Publications, Inc.


Up in my head there’s quite a stew–
My brain with chemicals is rife.
There’s something that I wish I knew:
Do neuropeptides run my life?

I’m quite confused and plagued by doubt.
These clever drugs and their receptors,
If they’re not neatly sorted out,
Will make us all into their debtors.

To be or not to be, and who?
I don’t know where my self is at.
Of truth I haven’t got a clue–
Can neuropeptides tell me that?

I’ll struggle on, though I’m a mess,
Pretending I am not insane.
My soul cries out, I must confess,
For chemistry to fix my brain.

I barely have survived thus far
Unmedicated falls from grace.
If this is what we really are,
Can drugs redeem the human race?

Tom Greening

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 35 No. 1, Winter 1995.
©  1995 Sage Publications, Inc.


In his review of a book by Marty Jezer, Abbie Hoffman:  American Rebel in the January 13, 1993 Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Kirsch claims that Abbie died “the victim of a mental illness that may have prompted his many pranks in the first place,” and describes him as suffering from “bipolar disorder.”  Thus, the political activist who was once Abraham Maslow’s student and the court jester of the counterculture is explained away by the medical model.  I must confess that I suffer from the same disease.  But there is a cure, as the following poem reveals.

I have a vexing problem with
a dread disease that is no myth.
I get upset by world events,
by suffering and sad laments,
by children starving in the east
while richer folk carouse and feast.
Genetically I am impaired
and far too often have despaired
about our inhumanity,
thus showing my insanity.
My saner friends don’t sadly dwell
on how the earth resembles hell.
Their biochemistry is fine,
while mine is more like turpentine.
Their neurons fire the way they should,
while I have never understood
the way the world is organized,
and so I always am surprised
by horrors others take in stride,
by innocence still crucified.
While cheerful folk feel they are blessed,
I’m pathologically depressed.
But there is hope, my doctor swears,
new wonder drugs will ease my cares.
He’ll fix my too empathic brain,
he’ll make my sick synapses sane.
My mental illness can be cured
and all the anguish I’ve endured
will no more plague my deranged head,
and my compassion will be dead.

Tom Greening

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 35 No. 1, Winter 1995.
©  1995 Sage Publications, Inc.


Provide, provide some balm to ease our pain,
bestow on us an angel’s healing grace,
an ample dose of Camus or Coltrane,
an antidote to stop our lemming’s race.

What’s covered and what claims will be denied?
Lear’s madness now infects the entire race.
Prescribe a cure to save the old man’s pride,
dispense a drug to save us from disgrace.

What medicine will cool our feverish brow?
What X-rays show us where our souls are cracked?
What treatment plan will clearly tell us how
to find at last the love we’ve always lacked?

Third party payors tightly hold the purse,
and terror grips us in our restless sleep.
Who knows what charges they will reimburse?
Salvation on this earth does not come cheap.

Tight economic limits rule the day,
the bureaucrats will ascertain the price
of rescuing we sheep who’ve gone astray,
and short-term therapy must now suffice.

Be generous, while you contain the cost–
Life’s harder than we ever realized.
We’re floundering, our ark is nearly lost–
Be merciful, if that is authorized.

Tom Greening

The Independent Practitioner, Winter 1993, Vol. 13, No. 1.
Bulletin of the Division of Independent Practice.
Division 42 of the American Psychological Association.


“We have learned that matter is weird stuff.”
Physicist F. J. Dyson in Infinite in All Directions.  Harper and Row 1988, p.8.

As if I weren’t upset enough,
I now am told I’m made of stuff
a physicist declares is weird,
exactly what I’ve always feared.

My mother was no scientist,
but she would endlessly insist
on this same fact about my core,
which did not make my spirits soar.

I don’t believe these physicists,
’cause something deep in me resists,
and still believes there is a God
who only made me slightly odd.

Tom Greening

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Spring 1995, Vol. 35, No. 2
©  1995 Sage Publications, Inc.


So the constructivists and their ilk–and, as we will see, it is a pretty big ilk–are permitted to go more or less freely about their heretical business.
Walter Truett Anderson, Reality Isn’t What It Used To Be.
Harper & Row, 1990, page xii.

Constructivists and their sick ilk
are clearly plotting ways to bilk
me out of my reality,
at least it seems that way to me.
Of course, it’s possible I’m wrong—
my grasp on truth is not too strong,
in which case I’m just one of them,
the foes I eagerly condemn.
I’m not at home on their wild range
with new ideas that are so strange.
I want some truth that’s hard as rock—
don’t tell me that it’s just a crock.

Tom Greening


Psychological research would be easier,
more precise, if God were not
a confounding variable.
I was taught, “If something exists
it exists in some quantity
and can be measured.”
I still have the micrometer
my grandfather used working as a steel roller,
and the diary in which he recorded
the date of my mother’s birth, her gender,
but not her name,
or the dimensions of his faith.
The thickness of steel and skin
surrenders to our calipers,
but God is an enraged whale
who lunges at our leaking boat,
then plunges down and down,
the harpoon fifty centimeters deep
in his mortal flesh,
the rope (an inch thick)
tangled around our legs
dragging us behind him.

Tom Greening

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 34 No 4, Fall 1994.
© 1994 Sage Publications


Most of your waking life
will be spent, one way or another,
worrying about your worth as a person.
Why don’t you just make something up,
and right off the bat
be done with the whole problem?
There must be better things to do
than fret about your relative merit
in the universe.
You could, for example,
blow clouds around the sky
to the delight of small children.

Tom Greening


Alas, sometimes my mind grows dark and dirty
And even can think ill of Krishnamurti.
But Buddha never said we must be saintly,
Just conscious of what is, however faintly.
So when I fuss about my guru’s sex life,
Or worry how he’ll make out in the next life,
I sit until my eager ego’s absent,
So I can twitch in the eternal present.

Tom Greening


Here’s my complaint, my sad lament
when asked to give my signed consent
to let them drug me with their pills
for all my existential ills:

Their chemical surcease appeals
to one like me who sadly feels
that life is full of woe and stress,
whose synapses are quite a mess.

But wait, this is my only brain,
and when its monsters have been slain
or maybe only lulled a bit,
will I be left with any wit?

The doctors claim they know a lot,
but their opinions have been bought.
When they have cured me of my cares,
I fear my brain will be like theirs.

Tom Greening


If you believe in the insanity defense
then you’ve got to exonerate Kissinger
and most foreign policy makers
who valiantly struggle with the handicap
of a chemical imbalance
resulting from an inherited genetic flaw.
They are not bad men, just sick,
and not to be held responsible.
Their sister, Andrea Yates,
is equally afflicted,
but killed fewer children.
In the future, medication
may bring us all peace.
These people do the best they can
in an equally mad world,
and I suspect that Lewis Carroll
is secretly behind it all.

Tom Greening


What works in psychotherapy?
That’s far beyond the likes of me.
I’ve only practiced fifty years,
and still am plagued by doubts and fears.
I muddle on and try my best
to aid my clients in their quest
for ways of being more alive,
somehow in spite of all to thrive.
I wish I knew the right technique
to give them more of what they seek.
The mystery of change persists
unsolved by dogged scientists.
I hope that they will soon impart
quick ways to heal a broken heart.
My efforts stagger, balk, and lurch
unguided by precise research
to tell me how to ease life’s pains,
and thus flawed intuition reigns.
Pray science soon will guarantee
sure cures for human misery,
but meanwhile I’ll do what I can
without a validated plan.

Tom Greening


I’m daily growing more frenetic
in hopes my problems are genetic
for then they won’t be blamed on me
and I can get more sympathy.
I’m grateful to each scientist
who helps me righteously insist
that I’d be perfect were it not
for those flawed genes I somehow got.
There’s ample reason to suppose
those faulty genes cause all my woes
and I myself am innocent
of sins and crimes I can’t prevent.
Thus sadly I can just lament
this biologic accident
and go about my errant ways
quite freely in a guilt-free daze.

Tom Greening


The FDA said the benefits of the drug to the
mother may outweigh the risk to the fetus.

The drugs I take are good for me,
and so I’m really glad to see
that Paxil cheers up pregnant chicks.
It’s just the thing to quickly fix
depression and a tendency
to play upon our sympathy.
Those birth defects are balanced by
less tendency to bitch and cry.
We men can all attest that it’s
replete with rosy benefits.
I hope the stodgy FDA
will see it in this upbeat way.

Tom Greening


When my encounters get too deep
I find I tend to fall asleep.
I don’t know what it is could make
me really want to stay awake.

Life being what it is these days
it never ceases to amaze
me that some folk can stay alert
and run the risk of being hurt.

So I doze off, and feel secure
and seldom have I felt the lure
of being present in my life
and risking consciousness and strife.

Don’t take this as a rude affront–
I’m sorry if I seem too blunt.
I beg you for your sympathy–
I’m having trouble being me.

Tom Greening


Why am I always so apologetic?
I fear I have a flaw that is genetic
that makes me often drastically dyspeptic
or cycle into being quite frenetic.

My so-called friends say I am just pathetic
disturbed, deranged, and not at all noetic,
and that makes me grow wildly apoplectic,
so then they claim I’m borderline psychotic.

In hopes they will become more sympathetic
I’m trying to stop acting so neurotic.
My doctor has prescribed a neuroleptic.
but I’d prefer a cure that’s more poetic.

Tom Greening


I’m happy with my dear delusion
that I’ll be saved by love as fusion.
Beset by my primeval urge
I know that only if I merge
will I transcend my lonely plight
and somehow make it through the night.
I can’t face life all on my own–
Just thinking of it makes me groan.
My therapist claims she is sure
that I’m becoming more mature,
but meanwhile lets me take a nap
curled up securely in her lap.

Tom Greening


Please hear my wail, my sad lament:
I never gave informed consent.
They lied to me and fed me crap
and now I’m caught in their cruel trap.
They ominously said they’ll “treat” me,
which really means they will defeat me.
Long-term effects will last for years
and sorely aggravate my fears.
They give me pills to cool me out
and never leave the slightest doubt
that absent any humane care
I’m on a diet of despair.

Tom Greening


I’m grateful to the docs who now reveal
that my depression is not fake—it’s real.
It does not stem from how I live my life
or whether I’m bummed out by human strife.
I must admit that I am truly pleased
to learn it’s caused by tissue that’s diseased.
No longer need I seek the source within
or in the world so overrun with sin.
A wonder drug will fix each flawed synapse
and never will I fear a grim relapse.

Tom Greening


Electroshock will turn you on–
all your troubles soon be gone.
Bless that electricity–
brings you fine felicity.
Burdened down with woe and sin,
want to fix the mood you’re in?
Jolt your sad soul out of hock–
thank God for electroshock!
(Do not ask him to explain
what it does to your poor brain.)

Tom Greening


There is one thing that I abhor:
a badly misused metaphor,
thus I have really had my fill
of being told my mind is “ill,”
and do not tell me that my brain
is ganz vermischt and quite insane.
Our flesh gets sick, and minds get screwy,
as you can see in Uncle Louie.
Some thoughts, of course, can be bizarre:
Poor Louie thinks that he’s the Czar.
But I get violent perforce
if you mix levels of discourse.
Please use our language as permitted
or I’ll have miscreants committed.

Tom Greening


I know this must sound bizarrely inane—
but now I’m at last synthetically sane.
The pills that I take are making me calm,
providing each day a life-saving balm.
There’s some that prevent my being a creep,
and some of them help me drift off to sleep.
Without my pink pills who knows what I’d do?
And when pink pills fail I’ve some that are blue.
This medicine cures my symptoms quite fast—
my lunatic trips are safely long past.
One problem remains: I doze and I nod
and wake with a start convinced I am God.

Tom Greening


Some people find it odd and strange
that I lack any wish to change.
I’m perfect just the way I am,
and frankly I don’t give a damn
about the fact that some folks grow,
because by now you all should know
that I’ve evolved remarkably
and have no need for therapy.
Perhaps you’d like to ask me how
I got to be more sane than Thou.

Tom Greening


Written in response to Thomas Szasz’s
“Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry”

A pox on psychiatric slavery–
bad medicine’s own brand of knavery.
It’s time we ceased consorting with
this quaint profession based on myth.
I’m tired of trying to explain
the mind is different from the brain.
A foolishness that I abhor
is mixing fact with metaphor:
A “mental illness” can’t exist
no matter what those docs insist.
I rant and rave and beg them, please:
be clear about what is disease.
The mind has thoughts, the brain is flesh
in New York, Rome or Marrakech,
and one thing sure is indisputable:
all cures need not be pharmaceutical.

Tom Greening


My musings are morose and murky,
querulous, quixotic, quirky,
seeking meekly for some meaning
so I can go on as Greening.
On most days I feebly fumble,
curse my fate and numbly grumble.
That is why my dog and I
usually see eye to eye,
and why he’s given to remarking,
“What’s the point of even barking?”

Tom Greening


This rock, this mountain, this man,
this futile perseverance—
what use is such a myth?
Sisyphus gets nowhere,
gravity always wins.
Go ahead, if you wish—
imagine him happy
with or without anti-depressants.
You might as well imagine
the rock is ecstatic
bouncing down the slope, defiant.

So is this struggle any use to us?
We are in it, and outside it.
We view it, and have attitudes.
We are not rocks, not mountains,
not sure we are Sisyphus.
We read the story,
see him sweat,
dodge the rock,
respect the mountain,
climb up to stand on Sisyphus’s shoulders
and peer beyond, beyond.

Tom Greening


I must say I get quite annoyed
when colleagues honor Sigmund Freud
instead of deifying me
as Father of Psychology.
Carl Rogers gets far too much praise,
which never ceases to amaze
me ’cause I really am quite sure
that I’m the one who best can cure.
Some oafs look up to Otto Rank–
For what do they have him to thank?
Mad febrile fools get in a frenzy
admiring old Sandor Ferenczi.
There’s Maslow, Jung, and weird Fritz Perls,
around whom adulation swirls,
and other dolts, to my dismay,
pray piously to Rollo May,
while I, the wisest one of all.
am overshadowed by their gall
and left here spurned, alone, abject,
the victim of unfair neglect.
Thank God I have become inured
and know that someday when they’re cured
they’ll wake at last and know it’s I
whom they should praise and deify.

Tom Greening


I wish that I could merely yawn and shrug
each time they peddle a new dandy drug,
as if the cure for basic human ills
can be supplied by pretty little pills.
Do these slick doctors honestly suppose
that thus they’ll solve our existential woes?
Do they expect they’ll get me to believe
that clever chemicals can fast relieve
the angst endemic to the human race
and put a cheery outlook in its place?
They try so hard to con us and convince
that I can only cower, quake and wince,
and if I blow my psychic thermostat
they’ll offer me a magic pill for that.

Tom Greening


My response to a review by Jay Neugeboren of Elyn Saks’ The Center Cannot Hold.  The review appears in New York Review of Books titled “Infiltrating the Enemy of the Mind” (vol. 55, #6, April 17, 2008).  The reviewer writes, “One problem, when evidence-based medicine is applied to chronic mental illness, is that it is easier to measure—to quantify–symptoms and symptom reduction, and, thus, the efficacy of medications, than it is to measure intangibles that, in often grim, unenviable lives, pertain to quality of life, however diminished the quality of those lives may be.”

I’m lacking any confidence
in what some label “evidence.”
My quarrelsome penchant still persists
in spite of hordes of scientists
who juggle numbers with great skill
and bend them to their clever will.
I’ve never learned quite how to deal
with truth that’s only partly real.
Statistics muddle up my brain
so deconstruction is a strain.
If I knew what I could believe
it would help greatly to relieve
the questions that so plague my life
and often plunge me into strife.
Now that I have my doubts confessed
please give me numbers God has blessed.

Tom Greening


I have no hope of being cured,
but pray to be a bit inured
by summoning some fragile faith,
a feeble and elusive wraith
that dissipates as days go by
and leaves me meekly asking why,
if we were meant to live on earth,
there’s such a stark, appalling dearth
of all but rudimentary care,
and thus I meekly do not dare
to think my health plan will provide
a therapy I can abide.
I’ve given up on evidence
and place my faith in providence.

Tom Greening


Is my current state of utter confusion
evidence-based or just a delusion?
Reality shifts and I cannot keep clear
if existence is what it seems to appear.
But don’t call me mad, vermischt or insane
because I treat factoids with utter disdain.
I tried being normal but failed every time–
psychotically driven, I babble in rhyme.

Tom Greening


The 5th Biennial International Meaning Conference
Toronto, July 24-27, 2008.
Conference theme: Living well and dying well:
New frontier of positive psychology, therapy and
spiritual care. The existential/spiritual issues that
confront individuals in their journey through life
and the character strengths they need to survive
and flourish in trying situations.

My friends excel at making meaning;
such efforts leave me crazed and screaming.
I’d rather have some simple fun–
let’s run away and chase the sun
and all assert we do not care
to be like Hegel or Voltaire.
I’ve found there’s little recompense
in trying to make any sense.
I am by scholarship annoyed
and much prefer the vacant void.
Immune to academic strife,
sheer nonsense is my key to life.
If sages do my poor brain filch
I’ll twaddle on, blissed out on zilch.

Tom Greening


I am a fan of bogus science–
for good advice I seek a seance,
and I believe psychiatry
can really help mad folks like me.
Their neurotoxicology
is better than phrenology.
Just place your trust in what they say
and you’ll get better day by day,
and if you don’t and are frenetic
that proves your illness is genetic.

Tom Greening