The current issue of The New Yorker has an article on Barry Michels, a “therapist for blocked screenwriters” as well as blocked and anxious agents and actors. In the article, Adam McKay, a writer and producer who came to Michels for his fear of “the red carpet and talk shows,” shares some of the help he got for $360/hr.
Michels gave him an index card bearing the mantra “YOU ARE MARKED TO BATTLE THE FORCES OF JUDGMENT” and one with a drawing of a stick figure radiating arrows to symbolize the internal seat of authority, which McKay keeps in the visor of his car. Michels taught him a tool called Cosmic Rage, which entailed his shouting “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” in his head to a roomful of faceless critics. (Kelli Williams, a patient of Michels’s who plays a psychiatrist on the television show “Lie to Me,” told me that when she does her version of Cosmic Rage she just pretends she’s running lines.) After McKay finished his next movie, “The Other Guys,” he said, “I decided, I’m going to do every bit of press on this. Fuck it.” He visualized the worst-case scenario and told himself, If I get shaky, I get shaky, who the fuck cares. “I did Jimmy Fallon, the red carpet, all the press junkets where you’re filmed a hundred times, and I did great with it,” he said. “But for some fuckin’ reason ‘Charlie Rose’ got me again.” During the show, which also featured Ferrell, he forced himself to engage in the conversation, even as he started to tremble. He said, “I talked to Judd Apatow about it and he said, ‘That’s because you know President Clinton is watching.’ ” McKay still sees Michels once a week.
“Cosmic Rage,” eh? I didn’t know that, um, technique had a name.