WHY DID JOHNNY FAIL IN SCHOOL? WHY DID Johnny start hanging out with heroin addicts? Why did Johnny get caught boosting stereo equipment? Why did he go to the big house? And why was he released two years later and then apprehended with a Mannlicher Carcano in a hotel room overlooking the President's motorcade route?

Well, Johnny will tell you, in this week's People magazine, that his problems are all about the fact that when he was five years old he was in the school play, and get this, Mummy arrived ten minutes late. You see, Mummy disempowered him. Mummy ruined Johnny's life.

Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but thanks to the notion of the dysfunctional family, every zipperhead in this country can now tap themselves with the Freudian wand and in a flash go from failed frog to misunderstood prince. Tad tubby? Mummy mistakenly thought food was love. You say you're angry. Must have been your brother's midnight wedgie raids. Huh?

Or maybe you haven't fulfilled your sappy little junior high daydream about being the greatest person on earth, hailed by all, from the lowliest bootlick to the richest barons of the industry -- And you just know it would have happened if only your selfish parents hadn't totally ruined your self-esteem by obsessing on paying the bills instead of obsessing on paying attention to you and your silly, talentless antics on the diving board at the public pool.

Listen -- folks, we all have dashed hopes, mere figments of futures crushed by graduations, jobs, marriages -- reality. Sure, it's tough waking up from a deep REM delirium starring you as the focal point of the universe to an Eraserhead reality in which you're the condiment guy at Der Wienerschnitzel. But you know something, that shouldn't give rise to this shrieking cacophony of blame.

Every day we get a new escape hatch from the psychiatric community: Co-dependency, addictive personalities, inherited personality disorder, multiple personality learning disorder, no personality whatsoever disorder, fetal membrane subcutaneous infectious submissive sexuality dislocator, Epstein Roseanne Barr . . . for Christ's sake, we are going over a Niagara of psychobabble in a barrel full of holes.

We have become a community of ragged recidivists dedicated to the proposition that all parents are created equally bad and the progeny/progenitor dynamic should be the landfill for all our personal shortcomings.

And if you're deep enough in denial to actually think that you did have a happy childhood, then your shrink will tell you, you must be forgetting something.

"Think back, think back, way back . . . would some drugs help you remember? . . . Maybe a subtle question or two will help jog your memory, like . . . did your auntie Hortense ever make you take a bath with her? Did your own father ever put his mouth on your stomach and blow? And what for, if not to humiliate you? Sure, there you go, there's a good reason why your friends make more money than you.

"Hey, Jinky, you shouldn't feel bad about flunking out of school and getting fired from the trampoline center. It's not your fault. It all goes back to when you were an embryo.

"Don't you feel better knowing that all your problems were laid on you, man? All right, we have to stop now, Mr. Jinkelstein. That'll be a hundred and eighty bucks. And now that we know you have more personal baggage than Joan Collins on safari, I think you should start coming in twice a day for the next four Olympics or so because I need to pay off my Lamborghini."

Look, I'm not insensitive to the real victims of abuse, the human casualties of alcoholic neglect. There are people out there who have been dealt absolutely fucking brutal cards, and it breaks your heart.

But you cannot join that club solely through intellectual ledgerdemain. Let's be honest; too many unhappy, unfulfilled, people see the bulletproof excuse of dysfunction lying there and pick it up like a cudgel to ward off any personal responsibility for their lives. And as long as we continue to allow people to make the easy turn and casually claim that they're victims, they will never even make the effort to Fitzcarraldo the boat over the mountain and achieve true personal victory.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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