Sunday, November 04, 2007

Turn That Damn Thing Off!


Good morning. It's Sunday. Have you set your clocks back? I'm on my second cup of coffee with The New York Times, Max is up and barking at the neighbors, Clink has already emailed me about her chocolate consumption, Roy is working diligently on the podcast.

So on today's front page there is an article about the popularity of illegal cell phone jammers. Press a button and everyone in certain radius loses their calls

Gary, a therapist in Ohio who also declined to give his last name, citing the illegality of the devices, says jamming is necessary to do his job effectively. He runs group therapy sessions for sufferers of eating disorders. In one session, a woman’s confession was rudely interrupted.

“She was talking about sexual abuse,” Gary said. “Someone’s cellphone went off and they carried on a conversation.”

“There’s no etiquette,” he said. “It’s a pandemic.”

Gary said phone calls interrupted therapy all the time, despite a no-phones policy. Four months ago, he paid $200 for a jammer, which he placed surreptitiously on one side of the room. He tells patients that if they are expecting an emergency call, they should give out the front desk’s number. He has not told them about the jammer.

I'll be thankful I haven't had to resort to this. I don't run groups, and most people seem to get that they're paying for my time. People-- mostly parents-- do take calls during session, but they tend to keep them very brief. "I can't talk right now, I'll call you back in a few minutes." And I have to admit that sometimes I forget to turn my own phone off-- it rings and I silence it immediately-- I've never actually answered a call during someone's session. Once in a great while, someone has an extended cell phone conversation during their psychotherapy session....always a little weird for me to be trapped listening to the one-sided nature of a private communication, but hey. I'll be glad it's a rare event and extend my sympathy to Gary and his eating disorder group. Perhaps they should just do a group turnoff at the beginning of the sessions?