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Google This
By Harlyn Aizley

It took at least a year of therapy before I had the courage to Google my therapist. Digging up information beyond that which she had control over seemed wrong, antithetical to the whole process of transference and psychic healing in which I was personally, as well as financially, investing. I knew my therapist prided herself on being as close as any human being can be to a blank slate upon which I might safely plaster each and every one of my plentiful neuroses. She shared with me nothing about herself, and I knew better than to ask.

Though once I did see her underwear. She was wearing a skirt that was far too short, if you ask me. When she sat down, it hiked up higher than any pair of cut-offs I ever had worn to her office. When she crossed her legs, I could see thigh, perhaps a whole six inches of flesh above and beyond her knee. And when she uncrossed her legs, hesitating just a fraction of a second in the in-between position where both legs are spread, readying themselves for the opposite cross, there they were -- sans apology, sans remorse -- her white underpants. Externally, I didn't gasp or giggle. I'm 43 years old, sane but for an inherited mutation on my anxiety and decision-making genes; I knew better than to miss a beat. But internally, well, it took months to get over. Why were they white? White underpants are like diapers, like finding out someone thinks it's dirty to have oral sex or to be gay. And why did she stop mid-cross for that fraction of a revealing second? Surely some unconscious counter-transference type of seduction thing was going on.

Needless to say, Googling my therapist not only would violate some antiquated, yet legitimate, code of psychotherapeutic conduct, it also packed the potential to blow this mind, the one that could barely manage a brief accident of bodily repositioning, the one that had required weekly two-dollars-a-minute sessions in the first place. Not to mention, I had myself partially convinced that somehow my therapist would find out, like each web site I visited might send her an immediate email with my name on it and a picture of me at the computer all bug-eyed and nervous in my pajamas and uncombed hair. So I refrained.

Here's what I knew about my therapist before Googling her: That she lived in a large brown house in an affluent Boston suburb. (A no-brainer since her office was in her home.) That she drove a green Honda Accord. (Always in the garage.) That's it.

Not Googling my therapist made me feel virtuous. I had not tugged at the little thread that threatened to unravel the delicate fabric of our relationship. I had not cheated on her, had not violated her myth of anonymity. Perhaps most importantly, I had not uncovered some piece of information that would stand like a wedge of cement between myself and psychic peace, until I revealed it to her and confessed all -- including the white underpants.

And then my therapist fell asleep during one of our sessions. And that was the end of that.
It's not just that by falling asleep she had cast an inadvertent (or not!) blow to the gentle surface of our mutual respect, it's that in its shock and pain my shattered ego insisted I tell everyone I knew that my therapist had fallen asleep.

"Her lids got droopy, and then heavier, and heavier, until in mid-sentence -- mine, that is -- she fell asleep!"

There I was sharing with everybody that I had a therapist prone to narcoleptic attacks, which led to them questioning her competence and credentials, which led to my stating that I knew very little about her, except for the house and car, which led to them saying, Well, that's not much, is it? This led to my reiterating the rights of all mental health professionals to remain anonymous, which led to my friends telling me that, for crying out loud, everyone Googles everyone, especially their therapists; that, in fact, people Google their therapists all the time, as in sometimes right before and after each session.

Up until that moment, I had even felt shy about Googling myself. There was something akin to masturbation about sitting back and typing your own name into the computer and waiting to see who you were. I assumed it was degenerate of me to want to glimpse the shape my own profile would take should anyone else decide to search me out. Would it be any worse to graffiti my own name all over town, to hike up my metaphoric skirt and demand sex from a friend?


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