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July 19, 1996 - Image 94

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.




Psychotherapist Dr. Laura Schlessinger
pulls no punches.




he's happily married, and
in every opening to her
daily radio program, she
states, "I am my kid's
mom." Thus she sets the tone for
her show, based on personal ad-
vice and ethically based dialogue
about people and their problems.
The show is broadcast from
Los Angeles — a city she says
She deplores for its lack of civil-
ity and loss of neighborhoods.
Locally, it airs 1-4 p.m. Monday

converting to Judaism at a Con-
servative synagogue.
On Schlessinger's recent
book-signing tour, The Jewish
News caught up with her for a
Q & A interview:

JN: You can be unabashedly
confrontational. Do you think
that people need a firm hand
leading them and that they're
not getting it?

Dr. Laura: "It's always
feelings and needs and
wants, not tempered by eth-
ical and principled concerns.
I think I rudely and abrupt-
ly bring that to people's at-
tention. 'You can't do that.
It's wrong.' But I love ... I
want ... I felt ... I needed ...
I But it's wrong.' "

JN: You interviewed a
15-year-old girl who want-
ed to have two boyfriends
and feel good about it. You
were tough on her.


Dr. Laura: "I'm tough on
everybody who calls. To me,
the point of all the calls is to
have people get by their own
needs and feelings ... and to
have nobler bases upon
which to make decisions —
like 'I don't have the luxury
to play two people against
each other because it's
wrong. I'm hurting them;
therefore, I suffer so they
don't.' "



Me Abdication of Character
&ourage., and Couscietice

Above: Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the
internationally syndicated radio host,
reaches 15 million listeners per

Left: Ten Stupid Things Women Do to
Mess Up Their Lives was
Schlessinger's New York Times best
seller. This is her newest book.


r. Laura


Digs lifoir ell fie to Mess Up Ma Lives

through Friday, 12-2 a.m. Sat-
urday and Sunday, and 2-4 p.m.
Saturday (occasionally pre-
empted for a sporting event) on
WJR (760 AM).
From Brooklyn, N.Y., Sch-
lessinger can be as hard as nails
or maternally delicate as callers
require; she's honest to a fault.
With a variety of academic de-
grees, including a doctorate, the
licensed psychotherapist exer-
cises regularly and looks after
her own safety by studying
karate (she's earned a black
Born of a Jewish father and a
Catholic mother, she was bap-
tized a Catholic, and is, at 48,

JN: So many female
callers — it's like a leitmo-
tif to your show — exhale a
long sigh. It means they're
having to do some tough work.

Dr. Laura: 'They go, 'Oh, but
this is difficult.' And your point
is?' I say to them."

JN: You say you are Jewish
and Italian and baptized
Catholic. When you were a kid,
how did you sort it through? And
which one is now on top?

Dr. Laura: "Are you getting
naughty on me? I didn't know I
was baptized Catholic till I grew
up. There was no religion in my
family at all. This is one of the
reasons I'm really down on
mixed-religion families; virtu-

ally, it means none — because
that's how, in the final analysis,
most dual-religion families work
it out; they just don't do it at all.
That way there's no fight be-
tween them. And the children
miss out on a heritage and a cul-
ture and a philosophical frame-
work for how to lead their lives.
I think it's terrible, so I've got-
ten stronger about that point.
[Parents] ought to be of one
mind with that and I don't im-
pose what mind it oughta be —
just one.
"I have always felt Jewish —
I have no idea what that means
other than I always identified
myself as a Jew."

JN: You're converting to Ju-
daism. Why Conservative Ju-
daism? Is Lew (Bishop, her
husband) Jewish?

Dr. Laura: "The whole ethi-
cal framework of Judaism rein-
forces, supports and enlightens.
The beginning of sophisticated
religions was with the Hebrews
and the concept of an ethical,
one God. The fact that ethics
and actions were infinitely more
important than worshiping idols
or saying you believe in a certain
thing was to me the most pro-
found revelation, probably, that
humans have ever had.
"The point of our whole exis-
tence has been elevating our-
selves above termites and being
magnificent human beings and
doing good and so on. I was on
this journey and then I found
there was a name for it: Ju-
daism. So I said, 'Cool.'
"I went to a Reform temple for
a little while. It's patriarchal
there as well as matriarchal —
you didn't have to convert if your
father was Jewish and your
mother was not. We went to
Passover dinner there, for those
who were either too lazy or
didn't know how to do it. I left
halfway through because I ...
thought the behavior of the peo-
ple in the room — now this is
just one synagogue and one
seder, OK? — but people came
in shorts. I know this is in
Southern California, but this is
disrespectful, and I realized then
that this was not the place for
"I wanted the formality. I
didn't feel constrained by the for-

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