In an attempt to reenergize his practice, a mild-mannered, blandly ineffectual psychologist organizes an anonymous peer-counseling self-help group that is haphazardly attended by seven divergent strangers—a punk rocker, a teenaged prostitute, a DMV examiner, a food critic, a judge, a priest, and a little old lady.
As the story unfolds in a series of meetings and the motivation of each member to seek group therapy becomes clear, we learn that the punk rocker, a gentle, clumsy dufus, is less than a party animal; that the prostitute, for all of her volatile, angry street smarts, is a virgin; that the driving examiner is on the edge of a job-induced nervous collapse; that the food critic, an amiable four-hundred pounder, cannot criticize anything; that the judge, a meek and mousey public defender until her recent promotion to a judgeship, cannot seem to make her mind up about anything; that the priest, old and acidically embittered, has lost his faith; and that the little old lady is lost in a doddering reverie that shrouds her very being in a fog-like time warp.
As the various conflicts and challenges facing each member gain volition through their group interactions, culminating in a field trip retreat to the countryside, a further twist develops, involving the seemingly inept doctor himself, one that would potentially undermine what little progress the members have made thus far and derail their group altogether.
This story was originally inspired by the comedy of Bob Newhart, in particular, his 1970s television sitcom The Bob Newhart Show, and in many ways is a tribute to this comedian and to this program and, in a larger sense, to the offbeat and abstract profundities of dry humor and the ironies of the human psyche. It is a mostly humorous, poignant story of surviving life, intended to inspire laughter, commiseration, and hope for the underdogs, the has-beens, the losers, and the lost, in a world in which being unbalanced can actually turn out to be the key to staying sane.