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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Gray Matters

Gray Matters
Dr. Mezmer’s site is not the only place that you can find an appreciation for bad psychology. Psychology Today magazine recently (November, 1997 issue) compared the respective wisdoms of two relationship Gurus: Dr. John Gottman and ‘Dr.’ John Gray. The article, quoted in its entirety below, speaks for itself. However, it must be noted that when the article when to print, a desire to save space resulted in Dr. Mezmer’s own contribution being tragically omitted. I have remedied the situation by including my own completely spurious take on the matter.
The article:
Walk into any bookstore in America, head for the psychology section, and there shelved side by side- until sales do them part- you’ll find two of the gurus of marriage and relationships, John Gottman, Ph.D, and John Gray, Ph.D.
Gottman, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, virtually invented the science of observing how people behave within relationships. From groans and grimaces we scarcely notice, Gottman can predict the likelihood of marital bliss with almost frightening accuracy. He’s a prolific writer, but most of his work appears in scholarly journals. A few years ago he penned a book for nonprofessionals, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail (Simon and Schuster). It sells respectably.
But Gottman’s royalty checks pale compared to those of John Gray, who at last count had sold 10 million copies of Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (HarperCollins) and its four sequels. His latest effort is Mars and Venus on a Date – hey, why restrict a hot concept to married folks? Of even adults: Gray is already developing a Mars-Venus approach to raising kids.
Of course, we haven’t even talked about Gray’s audio tapes and videos. Or his one man show on Broadway earlier this year. The Celebrity Line cruises, CD-ROM, Seminars. A recent prime-time television special. And the first franchise deal to his psychotherapy: for a few thousand dollars, plus a yearly renewal fee, you too can buy the right to call your therapy practice a "Mars and Venus Counseling Center." Lack the appropriate professional credentials? So does Gray, who isn’t licensed to practice psychology but is allowed to work as a "spiritual counselor" in California because of his nine year stint as a monk.
John Gottman and John Gray, side by side. The placement invites-nay, demands- a comparison of the two. How do their information and advice stack up? The short answer is that Gottman is the gold standard while Gray is the gold earner. Gottman creates top psychology, while Gray mines pop psychology (or "poop psychology", in the words of one PT reader). Below, we’ve compiled a handy crib sheet from their writing and saying. Judge for yourself.
Issue Gottman Gray Mezmer
Academic Credentials
Ph.D., University of Illinois
Ph.D., by correspondence course, Columbia Pacific University
(an unaccredited institution)
Ph.D. Academy of Lagado
(a completely fictional institution)
Marriage, fishing
Best Selling Book
Why Marriages Succeed (55,000 copies sold)
Men Are From Mars (6 million and counting)
Dr. Mezmer’s Guide to Love, Sex, and Carburetor Repair
(3 copies given away)
Academic Research
Naturalistic observation of couples living in apartment laboratory, (physiological monitoring)
Naturalistic observation of couples seen from behind venetian blinds.
Cardinal Rule of Relationships
What people think they do in relationships and what they actually do are two different things.
Men and women are different.
Men pick up the check.
Defining Statement
It’s the everyday, mindless moments that are the basis of romance in marriage.
Before 1950, men were men, and women were women.
Before 200,000,000 B.C. men were mice, and women were shrews.
What Makes Marriages Work
Making mental maps of each other’s world
Heeding gender stereotypes
Great sex, great abs, and great sums of money
What Makes Marriages Fail
Heeding gender stereotypes; reactions to stress
Gender differences in communication style.
Heeding the call of the wild
Relationship Heroes
Men who put the toilet seat down.
Men who escape to their "cave"
Lois and Clark, Bill and Hillary, Lewis and Clark
Key Gender Difference
Men’s and women’s bodies respond differently when negative emotions become intense.
Women talk too much about their feelings.
Men have piddlers, which to women is an often piddling difference
Basic Reason for marital conflict.
It’s virtually inevitable between two people
She hates Super Bowl Sunday
He hates cleaning the toilet bowl on Sunday
Men’s Biggest Mistake
Failing to take a deep breath during conflict.
Trying to solve her problems.
Forgetting anniversaries, birthdays, and when to call the plumber
Women’s Biggest Mistake
Stating complaints as criticisms
Giving Advice
Buying men’s underwear that’s a size too small
Why men don’t help out at home.
They weren’t trained to notice domestic concerns.
They give their all at the office.
They find dust bunnies make cute pets
What the John’s say about each other
"I envy his financial success."
"John who?"
"Where’s the John?"

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