You’re at this week’s CFHA conference. You’re glowing in the bucket list elation of a
just-finished speech from a professional hero. And then, a flock of
Questioners swoops to the microphone mid-way up the center aisle. Like the
cicada, this noisy species only makes a brief appearance and then disappears
for months or years. During their moment in the sun, they torment the speaker
and audience with randomness.
Vox populi, vox diaboli.
And yet, after
years of plenary sessions, this annual rite seems far less random. Over
time, the Questioners and their statements gain familiarity and order. If you
focus closely on the Questioners’ gait, tone, dress, and breath, you can easily
discern their genus and species.
Here is a first
attempt at classifying the types of Questioners the astute observer might sight
at next month’s CFHA conference in Charlotte:
Niche Gadfly — This Questioner attends every plenary with the fervent
expectation that all speakers explicitly frame their material around the
Questioner’s particular pet cause. If not afforded satisfaction, the Gadfly will
counter with “I enjoyed your presentation, but you failed to address how
your material relates to _____”. Common subspecies of the Gadfly include
Family Systems, RCT, Social Justice, ACEs/Trauma,and
the never abiding Pan-Umbrage.
Sycophant — While gushing is his sine qua non, always specify if of the Brown Nosing(secondary
gain)or Boot Licking (primary gain)genus.
Humble Braggart — Don’t be fooled by this ostensibly lowly supplicant.
Hubris belies her genuflection. Typical humble brags include “It’s been a
real struggle for me to grasp the full implications of your oeuvre, which I’m
painstakingly deconstructing as part of my Harvard fellowship” or
“Thank you for mentioning medical family therapy because I’m still licking
my wounds from when I was put in my place by Susan McDaniel over dinner at
Gramercy Tavern”. Please specify Primarily
Humble or Primarily Braggart.
Political Hack — Cherry-picks statements from the speaker to make
overtly political commentary. While Blue Hacks typically
far out-number Red Hacks in the CFHA population, North
Carolina might provide a counter-veiling microcosm.
Idealist — Neophytes are classified as either Reverants
(i.e. “Would you please autograph my copy of your CV?“) or Comeuppants (i.e.
“Never trust anyone over 40”).
Intractable Dilemma — Easily
identifiable by its “Yes but! Yes but!” chirp, this species
presents an insolvably complex conundrum in hopes that stumping the
presenter will justify his case for martyred sainthood. The genus declares
itself according the urgency of the request, with varieties including: Here
and Now, Immediately After the Plenary,or Through Escalating
Long-Winders — All of this species have hypnotic powers, but not all
speak in soothing tones. Drones are typified by their
meandering fizzle while Warblers demonstrate characteristic
bursts of imploding and rallying, imploding and rallying.
Long-Worders — Two sub-species: Sesquipedalian (uses lots of big words, like “sine qua non” and
“sesquipedalian”) and Catachrestist
(uses lots of big words inaccurately, like “irregardless”).
Confessor — This tormented soul finds secular
Jesus amidst the cadence and crescendo of the keynote and approaches the pulpit
seeking the presenter’s public forgiveness. Please stratify according to the
magnitude of the confessed sin: Myself, My Colleagues, My Privileged
Class, or Western Medicine.
So, there you have
the 24 known species and sub-species of Questioners. There are inevitably
more that have been observed in the wild, but not reported in the scientific
literature. If you’re aware of any other species please describe them in
the comments section below.
AND, for your
conference-going pleasure, we have created Keynote Questioner Bingo
cards, see linked document below. Simply print out the card, randomly fill in the squares
with the species and sub-species, and bring the card to the major conference
sessions. Each time you sight a new breed of Questioner mark the
appropriate square until you have Bingo.
You might even be the first player to
achieve Black-out! Obviously, there is considerable overlap among the species
(notably Sycophants, Idealists, and Long-Winders).
As such, you will need to classify each Questioner within a single category for
purposes of the game.
|Randall Reitz is the Director of Behavioral Sciences at the St Mary’s Family Medicine Residency in Grand Junction, CO. He runs a pre-/post-doc fellowship for medical family therapists With CFHA he is a current board member and the previous executive director. His Questioner species is the unseemly product of a ménage à trois between a sycophant, a sesquipedalian, and a humble braggart.