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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2003
Our Last Column
Joseph J. Palladino, University of Southern Indiana
Mitchell M. Handelsman, University of Colorado at Denver

Let's not beat around the bush: This column will be our last humor column for Eye on Psi Chi. Our first column appeared in 1994, so we are invoking the Seinfeld rule and quitting after nine years, only four years after the peak of our powers. We want to thank all of the nice people in the Psi Chi National Office who put up with our continually missing deadlines (we did meet one!), who encouraged us to be all that we could be, and who were patient enough to explain to us repeatedly what "puerile" means.

Writing a humor column is not easy, and I'm sure you can understand that nine years is a very long time to continue recasting worn-out ideas from the Journal of Polymorphous Perversity and feel good about it. However, we feel like we have to come clean about the real reason we are getting out of the Psi Chi humor-column business: We have been ordered to by our attorneys. You see, it has come to our attention that our accountants have been overestimating the extent of our humor for several years. Please be assured that the two of us, and the staff of Psi Chi, are entirely blameless, because we did not know about this. It was all our accountants' fault. We have fired this accounting firm: Consultants for Humorists, Educators, and Teachers (CHEAT). But the damage is done.

As it turns out, we are not humorous people. Joe never smiles, and Mitch smiles consistently, but at consistently inappropriate times. We thought we could get away with pretending to be funny, and we did for a long time. Be clear, though, that we only did it for the benefit of our readers. We didn't know we were doing anything wrong--we have been pretending for many years. For example, we have pretended to students that we knew everything about psychology. We have pretended to journal editors that we knew what we were writing about. We have pretended to our colleagues that we were awake during faculty meetings. And we have pretended to our deans that we were ordering university-approved statistical packages while we were really ordering cartoon software. Apparently, all of this pretending was OK, but pretending to be funny was not.

Why was it not OK to pretend to be funny, and for CHEAT to overestimate our humor? It turns out there is a federal law, enacted in 1988, called the Humor Accounting Honesty Act, or HAHA. There is also an even earlier federal law, the original version dating from 1943, called the Statute for Honest and Ethical Mirth and Pranks (SHEMP). These laws prohibit the inappropriate use—or reporting—of humor among several classes of people, including but not limited to: statistics professors, deans, Pauly Shore fans, and neuropsychologists. We started small—inventing new mental illness, telling jokes about public figures like Albert Bandura ("Some people think he's written 400 articles, but he's actually written one article 400 times"). Our accountants did not warn us, however, that making a profit from our pretend humor crossed a legal threshold and was in violation of both SHEMP and HAHA. Apparently, we were not allowed to alter psychologists' names when we marketed our line of psychology drinks ("Try the new 'Psi Chi Mai Tai' at our Do-Zim Bar!"). I guess maybe we should have known that it would have been illegal to charge a $40 royalty every time a professor laughed at a Psi Chi Induction Banquet. (We made only $200 on that one.)

To avoid scandal, we are stepping down before we are subpoenaed by the Senate Subcommittee Targeting Offenses Of General Ethics (STOOGE), and would have to face John McCain and Hillary Clinton without smirking. But don't cry for us, Arjen, Tina, and you other students. We have found a new business to go into. Our new endeavor will make ample use of both our cooking skills and the 11 or 12 things we have picked up about clinical psychology—all of which we learned at the new distance education school, the Clinical Health University of Meal Preparation (CHUMP). We are going to open a restaurant! And because so many people meet the DSM-IV-TR-R-II-RR-III criteria for diagnoses (even outside of our families), we are going to cater (literally) to the dietary and emotional needs of our customers at our new restaurant: Chicken Soup for the Neurotic Soul. We already are lining up several guest appearances on Oprah, Phil Donahue, Dr. Phil, Hadmy Phil, and Ricki. We will appear along with some of our customers, and we'll plug not only our cuisine but our series of live seminars and CDs about our new line of psychotherapeutic canned soups, "for people who will swallow anything." The fundamental concept of our restaurant is based on matching the food and services we offer with the emotional needs of various diagnostic categories. Here are some examples:

  • For those with narcissistic personality disorder: We'll seat you at a table in front of a large mirror in the front of the restaurant where you can be seen by everyone. For breakfast, you can have "Ego" waffles.
  • For those with borderline personality disorder: We'll have revolving doors, so it will be easy to make dramatic exits and then come right back in. It'll be the best, worst, food you ever had.
  • For those with dependent personality disorder: We'll tell you what to order, how much to eat, and how much to tip.
  • For those with obsessive-compulsive disorder: All of your utensils will be sterilized and individually wrapped with your safety in mind. The soup de jour will be the same every day.
  • For those with agoraphobia: Don't worry, we deliver.
  • For those with paranoia: Our high-tech, revolving cameras will allow you to watch us preparing your food. Additional cameras mounted outside will allow you to watch those who have been stalking you for years. We'll seat you facing the entrance, with your back to the wall.
  • For those with bipolar disorder: If you are in the manic state, we'll serve you your minute steak quickly and clear the dishes quickly, as we know you have lots to do. If you are in the depressed state, we won't serve you at all. After all, it won't be any good.
  • For those with somatization disorder: Each of our specially trained waiters will stop by your table at least once during dinner to listen to your litany of symptoms. They will serve you hearts of lettuce, kidney beans, and lady fingers for dessert.
  • For those with dissociative identity disorder: No sharing charge.
  • For those with schizophrenia: Enjoy our word-salad bar.
  • For those with antisocial personality disorder: We'll serve you first, of course. And when the meal is over, we will deliver your check to someone at an adjoining table who will be more than happy to pick up your tab.
  • And for those with delusions that they are Jesus: We have tables for 13 (you and 12 guests). We'll provide wine glasses and water; you do the rest.

Bon appetit!

In closing, let us just say that we have been thrilled to bring you this column for the last nine years, and to make a contribution to Psi Chi that didn't actually cost us any money. If we have been able to provide just one chuckle to one of our readers in all our columns over nine years, we will be happy, knowing that we are as good at this column as we are at teaching. Thank you.


Copyright 2003 (Volume 7, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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