I wrote a book review by my therapist, Steve Hauptman, some time ago.
I was thinking it would be good to introduce the man behind Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop. 🙂
Below is our email interview. Yes, that’s how we communicate, since ours is a long distance relationship via Skype. He’s in New York while I’m in Asia.
Psychology book author interview: Steve Hauptman
About the writer
Could you introduce yourself?
I’m a 66-year-old psychotherapist in private practice on Long Island (New York). Married, two kids, two grandkids, and a pit bull with a personality disorder. I love mystery novels, jazz and sushi. I hate Donald Trump.
What made you decide to do what you do now?
The same reason most therapists have: a painful childhood, and years of struggling with emotional problems. Spend enough time working on yourself and after a while helping others do the same seems the logical next step.
How many years have you been in this line of work?
Twenty-five years, initially as an alcoholism counselor.
Could you share with us a bit about your work? What are your areas of expertise, what types of clients do you see?
My main interest is the idea of control, which I see as a universal addiction. I work with all sorts of clients – anxious, depressed, addicted, codependent, parents and couples – but eventually I get around to this idea with each of them. Most people have no idea how controlling they are, how it damages their emotional health and relationships, or that there are healthy alternatives to controlling.
Which part about your work do you enjoy the most?
Knowing (or at least thinking I know) why people feel what they feel and do what they do.
Which part about your work is the most frustrating/devastating?
When I can’t help people feel or function better.
Is there anything you’d like to tell someone who is considering therapy or counselling?
Yes. Shop around. There are plenty of good therapists out there, well-trained and sincere people. There are also lots of people practicing therapy who should be receiving it.
About the book
Why did you decide to publish a book? When did this idea come about?
I’ve wanted to write books since I was twelve. This particular book began cooking in me not long after graduate school, when I began studying the idea of control. I couldn’t find any books about it, at least none that saw control as I did. So I decided I’d have to write one.
How long did the entire process take? From conception to holding the book in your hand?
I began writing the book in my head twenty years ago. The physical writing took about two years.
What inspired you to write a book about control? Is this a pet topic of yours?
As I said, control has been my main interest for years. It’s an incredibly rich idea which manages to pull together everything I know and believe about people, their relationships, their psychopathology, their needs and fears, how they get emotionally sick and how they can emotionally heal.
The autobiographical portions, were they intentional — did you want to tell your life story? Or did that occur naturally as a means to connect to your audience?
The autobiographical pieces began as posts for my blog Monkeytraps (www.monkeytraps.com). I felt sort of obligated to write them, since I didn’t want to pretend I had somehow escaped this universal addiction. So I created an alter ego, my control-addicted inner monkey, whom I named Bert. Bert became the blog’s co-author, and his job was to explain things from the viewpoint of the addict. It seemed only right to include him in the book. If I hadn’t he would have been furious.
What was the easiest thing about writing your first book?
The easiest thing was picking the subject.
What was the hardest?
Organizing the ideas, and finding an accessible way to present convoluted material. I struggled with that for years. Eventually writing blog posts taught me that less is more, that it was better to keep chapters short and to write tight.
What was the most enjoyable part?
Discovering, as I wrote, that I had stumbled onto a genuinely coherent theory. I found that my ideas about control actually fit together like one big jigsaw puzzle, and I was able to answer just about any question or objection anyone threw at me. Pretty cool. It still excites me.
Which part did you dislike greatly?
Paranoia. I spent years convinced that someone would read whatever I wrote and sniff, “Well, obviously you haven’t thought this through.”
Which feelings did you experience most with regards to your book — Mad, Sad, Glad, Scared?
Scared first, glad later. Writing rarely makes me mad or sad.
What is the one thing about control that you want your readers to be made aware from your book?
That control is the most important idea in their lives, as inevitable and natural as breathing, and that understanding it better is essential not just to their health and happiness but to that of the people they care about.
If nothing else, what would you like people to take away from your book?
What I just said.
I love the illustrations! Are you able to share what you use to create them?
Thanks. They were all created with Microsoft Paint.
I understand this is the first in a series of books. Could you tell us more about the upcoming titles?
As currently planned, the Monkeytraps Series will have six parts.
Book 1: Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop. An overview of the topic, structured around the Four Laws of Control: (1) We are all addicted to control, (2) This addiction causes most (maybe all) of our emotional problems, (3) Behind this addiction lies our wish to control feelings, and (4) There are better ways to manage feelings than control. Published December, 2015.
Book 2: Monkeytraps in Everyday Life: A Handbook for Control Addicts. Modeled on R.D. Laing’s odd little book Knots (1970), this will be a description of how – moment to moment, thought by thought – we think our way into the control problems that torment us. Due in 2016.
Book 3: Monkeytraps for Adult Children. A book for everyone — but especially people who grew up in dysfunctional families — based on two key ideas: that (1) there is no such thing as a grown-up human being, and (2) controlling is the main weapon and emotional default of all children, age notwithstanding. Due in 2017.
Book 4: Monkeytraps for Parents. Meant to help parents become aware of their controlling, distinguish between healthy and unhealthy forms, learn healthy alternatives to the unhealthy sort, and teach them to their kids. Due in 2018.
Book 5: Monkeytraps for Couples. Compulsive controlling and healthy relationship are mutually exclusive, mainly because controlling destroys health communication. This book will teach partners to become aware of their controlling, distinguish between healthy and unhealthy forms of it, and learn healthy alternatives to the unhealthy sort. Due in 2019.
Book 6: Monkeytraps for Therapists. Every therapist deals with control issues. This book will help all them — especially those without experience in addictions work – use the idea of control addiction as a way of understanding and treating the most common problems clients bring to therapy. Due in 2020.
Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop
I hope you now have a better idea of the man behind the book about Control with a capital “C”.
For me, the book wins with its simplicity; it’s extremely easy to understand yet it’s able to shift one’s paradigm and illuminate your understanding on what “control” means!
Have you heard of this book yet? If not, does it pique your interest, after getting to know the author better? Share with me in the comments below! Know anyone who might like this book—go ahead and share this post with them!