Since June of this year, there has been a growing concern among mental health professionals as their business has seen a dramatic decrease. "At first, we couldn't figure out what was going on," said local psychologist Sigismund Freed, smoothing his unruly white hair. "All my colleagues were seeing the same thing – this summer people stopped coming to talk to us. We thought it was just vacations, but now they should be back, and they're not." Dr. Freed's gnarled hands shook as he covered his face in despair.
A committee of concerned scientists and counselors lead by Annabelle Phyllgoode began investigating the phenomenon after Independence Day, and came to a startling conclusion. Their research revealed that an on-line community of real estate professionals known as Active Rain has given over 5,500 people a comfortable and supportive environment in which to talk. While many discuss issues of their work, others find that writing about even some personal topics is helpful. "Our patients have taken their mental health into their own hands!" exclaimed Ms. Phyllgoode. "They vent, rant, share, perhaps even go so far as to lie down while they type. It's intolerable!"
The discovery of this community of self-helping people has caused great dismay among those who depend on providing therapy for a living. Sales of medicines, massages, alcohol, and even chocolate are down from the same quarter last year, and concerns about a "retail therapy bubble" are being whispered on Fifth Avenue.
At the recent annual conference of the Society for Human Reasoning and Inspired Natural Knowledge (SHRINK), the well-known therapist Joy Sisters, Ph.D. declared, "This is really just too much! People should not be solving their own problems like this; that's our job!"
Asked what they intend to do about this threat to their livelihood, Ms. Phyllgoode and Dr. Sisters could only shake their heads. "I don't see how we can fight it," said Annabelle dejectedly. "I guess we'll just have to work with more accountants. At least we can count on them to need our help."
Repeated requests for comment from members of the Active Rain community received only one response from a Realtor in Maryland. "Sorry," said Margaret Rome, "I'm too busy earning points and gold stars – and sharing – with Active Rain."