The Hyphenated American: The Hidden Injuries of Culture by John Papajohn

By John Papajohn

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He laughed at himself because of the hackneyed phrase that often reverberated obsessively in his head: Michael, you can’t— and you don’t want to—go home again! IRISH-AMERICAN CULTURE 33 NOTES 1. E. M. Corrigan, The Irish (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970). 2. M. McGoldrick, J. Giordano, & J. Pearce, Ethnicity and family therapy, 2nd ed. (New York: The Guildford Press, 1996), p. 20. 3. K. Miller & P. Wagner, Out of Ireland: The story of the Irish immigration to America (Washington, DC: Elliot & Clark, 1995).

Again, this was not a conscious goal-directed effort. It was only in therapy that he was able to understand what his decisions at those junctures of his life really meant. He attended a nonsectarian college, dated “WASP” women almost exclusively, and was determined to follow a professional career path. IRISH-AMERICAN CULTURE 29 The cultural pull, however, was too great, and he found himself in a career that was very much consistent with his Irish values. His friends in this work were almost exclusively IrishAmericans.

Steven moved back home to his parents’ house and began looking for a job—only vaguely conceived—in the banking in dustry. He recommenced his socializing with friends and relatives from his home neighborhood, which settled him somewhat emotionally but not enough. His distress increased, and each time he masturbated he engaged in the anxiety relief rituals he had learned. But they too were ceasing to have the calming effect they had before. It was at this point that Steven was referred to me by the doctor to whom his mother had taken him for help.

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