From "The Star Treatment" by Dick Stelzer. Copyright (c) 1977, Richard J. Stelzer. Reprinted with permission of the Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
Rex Reed is an nationally syndicated critic and the author of such books as "Do You Sleep in the Nude?' "People' Are Crazy Here" and "Valentines & Vitriol." He also is the film critic for Vogue magazine.
About eight years ago I was doing an interview with Tony Perkins, who was in analysis with a woman named Mildred Newman. He said, "Well, you're in worse shape than I am" -- because I was talking a little bit about myself -- and he asked, "Would you go to see somebody if I arranged it?"
Well, I was really ready for therapy at that time, and I said yes. And I went to Mildred, and I've been going to her ever since. It's been of tremendous help. It's really taught me to be on my own team.
I used to turn on talk shows and see people talking about me who didn't even know me. And I would take their side when they'd be saying, "He's a monster." I'd say, "Oh, they're right. I have no business being a critic." I was becoming very neurotic and very gunshy. I resented the fact that they didn't understand that this was a job I was doing and that it wasn't personal. I would just go into such a decline. I would have stomach trouble, throw up and everything else.
Now I've learned to live with criticism. How people react to my work is their problem. I couldn't care less. I've learned to separate the public image people have of me from the person I really am -- and you have to do that.
So many people who become well known overnight can't differentiate between what the public thinks of them and what they think of themselves. Being a critic is just a job. It has nothing to do with getting along in society.
I went into therapy because I was really experiencing a lot of pain, adjusting to the sudden public image that people were giving me.
There are different kinds of analysis. There's the kind that tries to change you and make you a better person. And then there's the kind of analysis that helps you to live with your own neuroses and use them as part of your life. This is the kind of analysis I've had.
It was hard opening up in the beginning. I didn't really think my problems were of interest to anyone else but me. I thought they were all very minor. I thought you had to be Blanche Dubois to go into analysis, or somebody who's really totally berserk.
I just knew that I wasn't happy and I wasn't getting enough out of life. I wasn't really enjoying my success, and I wanted to find out if it was my fault or somebody else's.
All a good analyst can do is provide you with the raw materials and give you the weapons to go out and live in society. But they can't live your life for you.
The real pitfall is coming to depend on your analyst as a crutch, which is what I find so many people in show business do. I mean, I know a lot of actors who call their analysts from backstage in the middle of a rehearsal, saying, "So-and-so just yelled at me. What do I do?" And they're in tears. That is really not learning to be an adult at all. It's just using the analyst as a substitute for a mother or father.
It was hard for me to understand right off the bat why certain insecurities I had stemmed from certain childhood roots that I thought I had forgotten and written out of my life. But they were still responsible for the adult problems I was having. Until I could work out those problems, I couldn't really work out the adult problems. And it was hard to go back and get in touch with childhood feelings.
The main thing to remember is that the worst thing you think about yourself is not so terrible. All you need is somebody else to say, "So what? That's the worst? Wait'll I tell you about myself." (KEY OFF) reviously (KEYWORD) I just sort of assumed the blame for things. If I was stopped by a traffic copy, in my own mind I was automatically guilty of everything. Every time I walked out of a department store, I thought, "I wonder if they think I'm stealing something." I just automatically assumed that other people would think I was guilty, because I really didn't have much self-respect.
My biggest problem is that I do not have time for anything frivolous. I don't have time to chat with friends on the phone or to meet them for drinks in restaurants or to have dinners that go on until 11 o'clock at night. I've always got a deadline facing me, or I have to be present somewhere where there is some kind of story to be gotten out of my presence there. I mean, I always have either to be at a play I don't want to see -- because I have to write about it -- or to go to a screening of a movie I know I'm going to hate -- because I have to write about it.
My therapy has given me a much more analytical approach personally to my life and the lives of others and to my work. I just think it's made me a wiser and much more well-rounded person. I'll never discount that. I think that's a very valuable thing to learn how to be.
Now if I'm depressed I just try to think positively about everything. I try to analyze it more carefully. "Why am I feeling low? Where is this coming from?" And I try to deal with it then instead of putting it off.
The main thing I've learned out of all this is that at this point in my life I don't want to be anybody else. When I was little I wanted to be Fred Astaire, but I couldn't dance. I was always very clumsy. I'm still a very bad dancer.
When I started acting I wanted to be James Dean, but I wasn't really right for any of the parts he would have played -- or that Monty Clift would have played.
I became a writer and I wanted to be J. D. Salinger, so I started writing like him. I'm a very good imitator of styles: I can drift in and out of one style and then another. It's taken me all this time to realize that I can just write whatever I want to write my way and that will be me. I don't have to be anybody else.
Now people are always saying that I have a lot of imitators; and that, I suppose, is a form of flattery. I don't really care what they're doing, I just care about getting my own work done and getting on with it and having some kind of time left over for myself.