Tag Archives

Archive of posts published in the category: People
May
11

Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle: For Some People, Intimacy Is Toxic

It is practically an article of faith among psychotherapists that an intimate human relationship is good for you. None other than Freud himself once famously said that health requires success in work and in love.

I’m not so sure. It seems that for some people, love and intimacy might not just be undesirable but downright toxic.

Not long ago, a man consulted me about his 35-year-old son, who had made a suicide attempt.

“I was shocked, because he never seemed depressed or unhappy in his life,” the man said of his son. “He always preferred his own company, so we were relieved when he started to date.”

He went on to tell me that he and his wife had strongly encouraged their son to become engaged to a woman he was dating. “She was perfect for him,” he recalled. “Warm, intelligent and affectionate.”

Everything seemed to be going well until, one day, the father got a call from his son’s girlfriend. She had not heard from the son for several days, so she went to his apartment and found him semiconscious in a pool of blood. He had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and slit his wrists.

After a brief hospitalization, where he was treated for depression with medication, he returned home and broke off the relationship. Soon after, he moved to Europe to work but remained in frequent e-mail contact with his family. His messages were always pleasant, though businesslike, full of the day-to-day details of his life. The only thing missing, his father recalled, was any sense of feeling.

I got a taste of this void firsthand when his son came home for a family visit during the holidays. Sitting in my office, he made little direct eye contact but was pleasant and clearly very intelligent. He had lots of interests: computers, politics and biking. But after an hour of speaking with him, I suddenly realized that he had not mentioned a single personal relationship in his life.

“Who is important to you in your life?” I asked.

“Well, I have my family here in the States and some friends from work,” he said.

“Do you ever feel lonely?”

“Why would I?” he replied.

And then I suddenly understood. He wasn’t depressed or unhappy at all. He enjoyed his work as a software engineer immensely, and he was obviously successful at it. It was just that human relationships were not that important to him; in fact, he found them stressful.

Just before he made his suicide attempt, he remembered, he had been feeling very uncomfortable with his girlfriend and the pressure from his parents. “I wanted everyone to go away,” he recalled.

Typical of schizoid patients, this man had a lifelong pattern of detachment from people, few friends and limited emotional expressiveness. His well-meaning parents always encouraged him to make friends and, later on, to date, even though he was basically uninterested in social activities.

“We thought he was just shy but had lots of feeling inside,”

Apr
2

The Bicycle Story | A Tale of People and Bikes

Hi Folks,

After six years of written interviews and stories and blog posts and one year of podcasting, it’s time to close the book on The Bicycle Story. I launched this project on Nov 1. 2010 with an interview with Stevil Kinevil. I wasn’t sure exactly what the path forward would be for the site, but the late 2000s bike culture boom was reaching its peak and there were a seemingly endless number of fascinating characters in the bike world about whom I wanted to know more. Luckily, it turned out there were lots of readers who were also interested in the lives of bike racers, adventurers, advocates, industry insiders, dirt bags and wild women and men.

Over the years, the site grew beyond my expectations and gave me the opportunity to interview so many awesome individuals. Adonia Lugo, Oboi Reed, Ed Ewing and many others illuminated how race and class can remain barriers to cycling. Jeremy Powers and Stephen Hyde and Mo Bruno Roy gave readers a glimpse into what it takes to perform at the highest levels of the sport. Artists and artisans such as Brian Vernor and Martina Brimmer shared their craft. Adventurers such as Nick Carman, Jill Homer, and Alastair Humphreys took us along on their rides to the far corners of the globe.

When I launched the podcast last year, my intentions were threefold: breath some new life into the site, give myself an opportunity to experiment with podcasting, and create a revenue-generating product. The first two items were grand successes. The latter, much less so. In order for podcast sponsorship to work, the podcast needs a fairly large listenership. My hope was to sustain the podcast through listener support via Patreon pledges while building up a sponsorship-worthy audience. Unfortunately neither really happened. There were a handful of extremely generous listeners who made pledges and helped keep the project going for as long as it did. I am eternally grateful for their kindness and support! But ultimately the Patreon base and the overall audience remained fairly stagnant over time and never reached the sort of sustainability I needed.

I realize this might sound like sour grapes, but I promise you it’s not! I recognize there were plenty of things I did (or didn’t do) to help the podcast reach its full potential. More importantly, I am deeply humbled and have nothing but gratitude for all The Bicycle Story’s readers and listeners and supporters and interviewees over the years. It’s been a fantastic and satisfying ride.

Though there won’t be any new interviews or episodes on The Bicycle Story from here on out, the site will remain online. You can help me offset hosting costs (and clear out my closet!) by picking up a Bicycle Story tee from the shop. They’re deeply discounted right now and shipping is free anywhere in the U.S.

So once again, thank you to all the amazing people who shared their stories over the years. And thank you to