Susan O'Doherty

Susan O'Doherty, Ph.D. ( is a writer and clinical psychologist who specializes in the creative process. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Mama, Ph.D. She is the author of Getting Unstuck without Coming Unglued: A Woman's Guide to Unblocking Creativity (Seal, 2007). Her popular advice column for writers, "The Doctor is In," appears each Friday on Buzz, Balls & Hype.

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July 29, 2012
Since he first learned to walk, Ben has been passionate about any any activity that involves a ball and running around. He loves playing, watching, and talking about baseball, basketball, football (both kinds, but especially the one we used to call soccer), and, more recently, cricket and rugby. Bill shares many of these interests, and for the most part, I am happy to leave them to it.
July 22, 2012
Each summer for the past four years, Ben has attended a five-day baseball intensive. It is held in the Bronx, only an hour's trip from our home, but since he stays in a dorm and is engaged from early morning until late at night, our experience is not that different from the one we'd have if he were in another state, or another country. I like to mark his growing independence, and my acceptance, by charting our changing responses to this repeating event.
July 15, 2012
I had many strong reactions to Louis J. Freeh's finding that Penn State officials had been active in covering up Jerry Sandusky's ongoing abuse of young boys. Unfortunately, surprise was not one of them.
July 8, 2012
I have wanted to write about the "having it all" media flapdoodle, but the published responses have gone off in so many different directions I have had trouble keeping up. So I am grateful to Libby for her elegant distillation.
July 1, 2012
Jill at Feministe linked to Nora Ephron's 1996 commencement address at Wellesley. The entire speech is worth reading, but this passage struck me as particularly relevant, despite some dated references:
June 24, 2012
On the eve of his high school graduation, Ben told me he had a recurring fear that his diploma would actually be the blank sheet that the principal hands students who have not completed graduation requirements, but wish to walk with their class. I assured him that if he was missing or failing something, I would know about it — but in the event, we both checked.
June 17, 2012
As of this writing, Ben will graduate from high school in four days. On the one hand, this doesn't feel like a big deal — he, and most of his close friends, will stay in the city for college and continue to live at home, so it's not that different from being promoted to the next grade. On the other hand, of course, it is huge. In important ways, this  ritual marks the official end of his childhood, and of his emotional dependence on his father and me.
June 10, 2012
Last weekend, I traveled to Virginia to visit my first college roommate. As described here, I took an instant dislike to Peg based on such substantial attributes as her slender good looks and nice wardrobe, and the fact that my mother approved of her. Thanks to her decency and good sense, I was eventually able to see past my ridiculous prejudices, and we became good and lasting friends.
June 3, 2012
We've paid the deposit on Ben's cap and gown, so it looks like this is really going to happen. In just a few weeks he will have completed the journey he began on his first day of kindergarten. I cried then, and I'm sure there will be plenty of tears shed when he accepts his diploma, as well.
May 20, 2012
A few years ago, I took a 2-hour music improv workshop at the school where I was studying straight (acting) improv. The teacher, Rob, was first rate, fun and supportive, but were all terrified. (Of course there was no objective danger, but as we know, people tend to be more afraid of public speaking than of death, so imagine the terror involved in spontaneous singing in front of a group of strangers.) A few people abstained from singing through the entire class, which they had paid for, waiting for courage that never came. I forced myself to participate, but it was a real stretch. The payoff was enormous, though. I felt I was exploring areas of my brain that I had not known were there.


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