Gutfeld’s Book ‘Not Cool’ Psychoanalyzed – Mental Health & Personal Growth Messages

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on April 7, 2014

As a Psychotherapist who specializes in Marriage, Parenting, and Personal/Relational Growth and Wellness, I found Greg Gutfeld’s new book ‘Not Cool’ offers tons of mental health/wellness messages. Yes, believe it or not! ‘Not Cool’ – A SELF HELP BOOK!? Ha, ha. Sounds like an oxymoron. Certainly not intended to be a self help book, and really is not by ‘self-help’ book standards in the traditional sense. If the reader can move past Greg’s humor and consistent rant (lol), the reader will find within the rant – woven through and through important messages of the philosophical beliefs to possess in order to have personal, professional, and relational (e.g., marital, familial) growth and mental wellness as well as valuable parenting messages.

For anyone who has watched Greg on FOX News Channel’s; ‘The Five’ or ‘Red Eye’ and has seen any of his interviews discussing his book, and thus is familiar with his style of communication, perhaps this seems like an odd reaction to his book. I just call it like I see it. Although Greg rants and raves endlessly throughout his book and certainly ‘Not Cool’ is not a read for all, it is a read for a certain bunch and others may find it quite offensive and perhaps confusing. My perspective: Greg offers important messages that are of therapeutic value. I found it interesting to say the least. Below you will find a few examples taken straight from his book that I categorized into several mental health topics, so that I may share the lens of which I have viewed his assertions. These are just but a few, there are many more as truly throughout his book are mental health and wellness themes.

Directions: Consider Greg’s quotes under the categories I placed them, and analyze why those statements are of therapeutic relevancy. 

Talking Point Examples:

Mental Health:

“Stress is now a word used to describe everything that was previously known before as life.” (p. 15)

Dr. Karen Says:

We all experience events in our life that are stressful. Each of us experience moments within our day that are stressful. How we view our life stress, the lens of which we view it from, how we cope, adapt, and respond to the stress affects how we feel emotionally. Life is quite stressful for most. It is imperative we as adults make the choice to cope with our stress in a healthy way and develop techniques to move forward rather than allow our stress to drown us. It is oh so important that we help our children to deal with stress in a healthy functioning way. Far too many allow stress to define them rather than how they cope with stress. Far too many allow stress to stop them from achievement and rather become focused and obsessed with their stress. Far too many do not take ownership of what action choices they can make during stressful times and rather point their finger at the stress or at others which keeps them frozen. Bottom line: life is stressful and we must deal with that, not use it as an excuse to feel incapable, dependent, and defenseless. 

Personal/Professional, Relational, Familial Mental Health/Wellness/Growth:

“When government intrudes, community is replaced by entitlement and everyone gets in line, not just the folks who need it most.” (p. 226)

“The more we rely on government, the less we rely on ourselves.” (p. 227)

“When you offer the option of government as daddy, it robs the community of actual daddies. It robs us of the initial human response, which is to solve these problems among ourselves, first.” (p. 225)

“The more we rely on government, the less we rely on ourselves.” (p. 227)

Dr. Karen Says:

What the mind believes the body can achieve. Be the master of your mind so that fear, doubt, and anxiety serves you, not the other way around. Far too many feel incapable and thus dependent which further creates dependency. Far too many are living as though they are incapable when they are quite capable. Self-reliance, taking ownership of one’s actions, taking action in one’s life – these choices allow one to feel empowered. The feeling of empowerment allows one to feel healthy emotionally. The gift of governmental involvement is just that, a gift, and originally intended to be there truly for the needy.

As an empathetic human I say; having a safety net for those who are truly in need, not capable – that is the gift of government and it is wonderful. The problem is that far too many are not needy, but are feeling needy. The government has become the enabling parent to the drug addicted adult-child. This, is awful, horrific, and damaging to our America. It is a shame, as there are so many adults who have the skill both mentally and physically to provide for themselves and for their family but . . . choose to rely on the government which increases symptoms of anxiety and depression. For when a person feels not in control of their life, their destiny, it leads them to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. Rather, when humans feel in control they experience feelings of self-worth, self-empowerment, and experience the increased opportunity for mental health and wellness. This concept applies to all areas of one’s life: marriage, personal health, professional growth, the family relationship dynamic, adults, children . . . 

If you find my statements above of interest, check out an old interview of mine when I appeared on FOX News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor – Psychoanalyzing Occupy Wall Street. This interview received much reaction from those who agreed with my assertions  to those who disagreed, to put it mildly. 

“The truly cool are those who achieve greatness without giving a second thought to impressing others. It’s about doing things for the right reasons.” (p. 229)

Dr. Karen Says:

I love this message for adults as well as for parents to show by example this concept for children.

“As the king of the uncool, Ronald Reagan, once said, ‘Work and family are at the center of our lives, the foundation of our dignity as a free people.’ ” (p. 150)

Dr. Karen Says:

Great quote – so healthy for mental well being. Seems like far too many do not live by this.

Work hard, delay gratification, take ownership, don’t act out on sexual impulses (e.g., teens, infidelity)

Dr. Karen Says:

These are a few themes discussed in ‘Not Cool’ that are relevant points in terms of how we as people must exist for self-health and self-worth in terms of our personal, professional, and relational health/wellness and growth.

Parenting:

“It’s a mistake to worry about how others view you.” (p. 253)

“Treat people who aren’t as lucky with respect.” (p. 14)

Dr. Karen Says:

These messages speak for themselves and I agree indeed.

Kids Mental Health/Self-Confidence:

“The cool hate nothing more than when a genuinely original thinker rejects them… Brave kids help build the muscles of their ego and self-esteem that will be invaluable when they hit the real world.” (p. 29)

Dr. Karen Says:

For anyone who is a parent, don’t you just love this concept? It is such a great reminder to help your children who are empathetic, compassionate, smart, analytical, stand up for what they believe in, take ownership of their behavior, has great character,  . . . to remind those children that their qualities are awesome and not to let some “cool” kid’s reaction to them stop them from being who they are. For parents to be proud of their wonderful children – a solid message indeed.

Being an involved parent, mindfully aware of what is going on in your children’s lives is imperative. Some parents, when their children hit that pre-teen/tween age when kids often really need their parents to be around, parents are MIA, as they feel their children need to be more independent. The fact is, available and attentive parents during their children’s life journey helps children to feel valued and loved and special. Having parents who you know are there helps children to feel brave and display brave behaviors, and have self confidence.

Marital:

“You’re a team and you provide for each other.” (p. 181)

Dr. Karen Says:

As a Marriage & Family Therapist, I adore this statement. Far too many couples have lost their partnership. The philosophical belief going into marriage, and the belief while married that the couple is a team and mutually provides for one another is a very important part of a successful marriage. Yet, too many no longer view marriage through this lens. In my 20+ years of providing counseling I have witnessed the transition of the lens of which couples view marriage through. We are in a transitioning time in this generation of what we view marriage to be, and one’s role and identity within marriage. If you desire concrete do-able tips and techniques for a healthy and successful long term relationship/marriage that is filled with connection, passion, intimacy, partnership, healthy communication, and more . . .  check out: Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual. This book is truly a labor of passion as a Marriage Therapist; I know what works and what does not, I answer all of the top marriage questions and provide the reader with an easy read. Men and women report they love this book for it is my tell-it-like-it-is direct approach with strategies you can take action on right now and see results. 

Alcohol

Dr. Karen Says:

Multiple mentions through the book up until the very end Greg asserts his use of alcohol. I do wonder if it is a plea for help.

I am a believer in living a sober life, as sobriety allows for a clear mind. I have been witness to far too many couples and families destroyed by a spouse’s, a parent’s, a child’s abuse and addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. Within my book; Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual, I discuss the top marital do’s for a successful marriage and the top marital destroyers. Sobriety is one of the top marital do’s as alcohol/drug abuse/addiction is destructive to relationships.

New Cool:

“It’s time for the reign of the new cool. We have the message. We just need the messenger. He doesn’t need a leather jacket. He just needs a thick skin.” (p. 17)

Dr. Karen Says:

Great quote! I feel there are many of us who are speaking out, myself included on air, in print, in my office . . ., although I do own a leather jacket (lol). As far as the thick skin comment, I do understand Greg’s assertion. When I share my perspective on air, there are times where I receive reaction from two differing extremes via email from a wide range of people of whom I do not know asserting their response to my verbalization. For example, when I shared my concern and disagreement with legalizing marijuana on FOX News Channel’s; Your World With Neil Cavuto, I received a large quantity of emails ranging from those thankful that I am standing up for something so important addressing the mental health angle of the issue, and then there were others who sent me nasty emails in reaction. Another time when I discussed my opinion on ‘Your World With Neil Cavuto’ about how to treat young men on the sports field, also a wide response I received via email. My stance on ‘Scream Rooms’ while on FOX News Channel’s; America’s News HQ with Alisyn Camerota led to much agreement in email responses, as well as some parents outraged that I believe children should be treated with respect. I asserted that ‘Scream Rooms’ are psychologically traumatic. To read the bullying responses I received, well, they were ugly to put it mildly. The list is endless, and I will tell you, the nasty emails, the vulgarity at times that comes my way simply for sharing my perspective and standing up for what I believe as a mental health and wellness expert, yes, thick skin is needed indeed.

The way I see it is that when expressing an opinion, there will always be those who agree and those who disagree. Regretfully, often people who disagree assert themselves in a less than professional and healthy manner and rather are quite aggressive. This is true at any phase and stage of one’s life.

“The real daredevils are those who play with their own money. Those who start businesses… The real risk takers build products and then brands.” (p. 43-44)

Dr. Karen Says:

I agree with Greg’s statement, I am a business owner. I started my business from scratch, it was out of pure passion. I expanded my business including a team of skilled and caring therapists. Yes, building a business is a risk for those who do – is it not?  Indeed it is.

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