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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Plastic People


Years ago, when interested in understanding the abnormal behavior of serial killers, I reviewed the case of Charles Manson. However, I learned that although he was listed in a number of books related to the topic, and despite having been convicted of murder, Manson never killed anyone.


Although he was ostensibly innocent of the crime for which he was convicted, there was evidence to support the case of Manson having orchestrated the Tate–LaBianca murders. Given his behavior and apparent psychiatric diagnoses, it wasn’t likely that Manson was ever going to be freed from his final incarcerated status.


Of the late Manson’s diagnoses, one source reports, “He had been diagnosed variously on Axis II as schizotypal personality disorder with underlying paranoid and narcissistic features and antisocial personality disorder, based on his history and behavior as an adolescent and adult.”


Personal interest aside, I strive to understand psychological abnormality – the study of behaviors outside of the societal norm. Rather than castigating Manson as a “monster,” I set aside moralistic judgment in an attempt to discover human worth.


When practicing care in the field of mental, emotional, and behavioral health (collectively, “mental health”), I conduct myself in a similar manner. Manson and others may experience mental illnesses and disorders, though this fact doesn’t fundamentally deprive them of value.


At bare minimum, as a means of treating mental health clients with dignity, I explore what elements people retain which may be of some benefit to themselves and others. Using Manson as an example, I value what he expressed about the inauthenticity of some individuals.


Manson reportedly said, “You’re really just living out the life scripts your parents gave you––go to school, get a job, move to the suburbs. It’s all a big factory churning out perfect little plastic people.”


Something I learned long ago is that humans are fallible creatures. No matter what script we’re given, we aren’t capable of achieving perfection. But why let truth get in the way of irrational behavior – actions taken to give the appearance of infallibility?


Go on social media and what do you typically see? Well-manicured lives which don’t reflect your own circumstances. Tune in to Mockingbird media programs and what will you discover? Hosts who don’t appear as though they experience life as you do.


Even within the mental health field, plastic people may be found. Review Psychology Today, Zocdoc, or other platforms which maintain directories for psychotherapists and what may you discover? Many mental health practitioners presenting synthetic personas which can be alienating to flawed individuals.


For full self-disclosure, I maintain a profile on Psychology Today. There, I invite people to review my website. Once on my site, I encourage people to explore my blog. Here, I openly post about my imperfect life.


Since beginning the unofficial practice of life coaching in the ‘90s, I determined that I didn’t want to present myself as an inauthentic person. I arrived at this conclusion when exposed to plastic people in my life at the time.


Throughout the years, I’ve unabashedly revealed myself as who I actually am. Not always has this served me well. In fact, it mostly doesn’t go over nicely when surrounded by artificial caricatures of wellness within the mental health field.


In any case, I present myself as the sort of psychotherapist from whom I’d want to receive treatment or management of mental health symptoms – someone who will be honest and who isn’t put-together so well that one becomes un-relatable. What you see is what you get.


Moreover, when the metaphorical heat turns up in client sessions, I won’t meltdown like one who is made of plastic. And yes, I’m aware of mental health practitioners who breakdown during sessions, because their pseudo-flawless image can’t be maintained when temperatures rise.


Nevertheless, even the plastic people within my field retain worth. Because I understand that not all prospective clients want a therapist who isn’t well-polished, the value of plastic psychotherapists may then be realized.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




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