Books Articles

Culture & Mental Health Stigma: An Advocate’s Story of Struggle and Hope

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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“I wish my son had cancer instead of depression,” an Indian mother told Gayathri Ramprasad.

“If he had cancer, all my friends and family would sympathize with us. How can I tell them about depression? They won’t even understand [what that means]…What kind of future will he have?”

The Alternative Road to Health and Wellness

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

The Alternative Road to Health and WellnessMany mental health professionals have long conceded that while temperament is inborn, personality can change a bit over time. Factors that can influence this susceptibility to change include variables such as family, genetics, environment and circumstances, which all serve to contribute to the shaping of an individual’s unique personality over the course of a lifetime.

One’s environment — which largely is controllable — is a major factor in achieving and sustaining happiness. In Spontaneous Happiness, holistic health pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil shares his secrets to finding happiness based on his own lifelong battle with depression.

Why Men Don’t Ask for Directions

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Why Men Don't Ask for DirectionsWomen often find the male mind hard to understand. Why can’t men ask for directions when they are lost? Why can’t they read an instructional manual when they don’t know how to do something? Why can’t they pore over a self-help book on relationships when it can help them enhance their skills?

An old adage is that women are emotional and men are logical.

So how come men don’t operate rationally when they don’t know something?

Giving Your Child Some Power

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Giving Your Child Some PowerI am reading The Three P’s of Parenting by Jennifer Jones, Ph.D. Are you thinking patience, potty training or poop?

Those elusive P’s are: power, protection and prediction. Jones explains that the P’s correspond with the chief insecurities that plague children.

She states that “when a child lacks power, he feels helpless, so he will assert himself or try to control others. [...] When a child cannot predict what will happen or what those around him will do, he will focus his energy on controlling the behavior and responses of others so that his world feels more certain.”

Sounds like common sense, right? How come, as parents, we don’t follow these models? Why do only formally trained mental health professionals and doctors look deep into our children’s behaviors when the reasons behind the behavior seem so simplistic?

Stress & Schizophrenia: How to Help Your Loved One & Yourself

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Stress and Schizophrenia: How to Help Your Loved One & YourselfA common cause of relapse in schizophrenia is “difficulty managing high levels of stress,” according to Susan Gingerich, MSW, a psychotherapist who works with individuals with schizophrenia and their families.

Learning to manage stress isn’t just important for preventing relapse; it’s also important because stress is an inevitable part of facing new challenges and working to accomplish personal goals — “what recovery is all about,” write Gingerich and clinical psychologist Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D, in their book The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia.

Learning to navigate stress healthfully is key for family and friends, too. Having a loved one with schizophrenia can be stressful. Taking care of yourself enhances your well-being and daily functioning. And it means you’re in a better, healthier place to help your loved one.

14 Recommended Books for Psychiatry Patients

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

14 Recommended Books for Psychiatry PatientsAn effective psychiatrist or psychologist will own a bookshelf stocked with recommended reading for his patients. 

He will have read a host of books on various topics, from sleep strategies to marital advice, so he knows what he is recommending. My psychiatrist has compiled the following list of recommended books for patients. It may be helpful to you too.

An Alternative to To-Do Lists for Getting Tasks Done

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

An Alternative to To-Do Lists for Getting Tasks DoneMost of us use some kind of to-do list, whether it’s tasks scribbled on a sticky note (like me), projects typed into a computer or an app on your phone, or a snapshot of your day written into a planner.

Author Sam Bennett finds to-do lists to be “too dictatorial.” It makes her feel like a high schooler who’s being told to do her homework.

Instead, she prefers creating a could-do list.

These very words, “could do,” remind her that she has a choice about the tasks she works on.

Trying Not to Try: The Art & Science of Spontaneity

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Trying Not to Try: The Art & Science of SpontaneityAnyone who has struggled with insomnia knows that the harder you try to sleep, the more likely you are to stay awake all night.

There have been stories of folks falling asleep in the chairs outside the emergency room of a hospital because it is there that they must do the opposite — stay awake – in order to articulate the severity of their insomnia. Trying too hard can surely backfire with sports, public speaking, any type of performance, dating, and just about everything at which you want to succeed.

Resolving the paradox of trying not to try, or securing relaxation in order to succeed, has engaged great thinkers throughout history.

Why Novel Reading Reduces Anxiety

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Why Novel Reading Reduces Anxiety“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
~James Baldwin, American author (1924-1987)

In The Power of Myth, the late scholar and famous mythologist Joseph Campbell explains that stories help give us relevance and meaning to our lives and that “… in popular novels, the main character is a hero or heroine who has found or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience.”

In response to Campbell’s discussion about how the hero’s journey in myth and literature is about creating a more mature — and better — version of oneself, the distinguished journalist Bill Moyers pointed out how everyday people — “who may not be heroes in the grand sense of redeeming society” — can still relate to a protagonist’s transformation, allowing even the most outwardly meek of us to embark on an inner kind of hero’s journey.

The simple act of reading a novel, then, can give us a psychological shot of courage, encouraging personal growth while reducing anxiety.

How to Build Better Boundaries in Your Marriage

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

How to Build Better Boundaries in Your MarriageImagine the following scenario: A husband and wife are in a session with their therapist. She says that he’s always angry with her and makes mean comments. When the therapist asks her husband why he’s constantly mad, he replies that it’s because his wife tries to control him.

According to the wife, she tries to exert control because her husband doesn’t give her any time or attention. He says that’s because she’s always nagging him. She says she nags because he won’t do anything she wants.

It’s a prime illustration of not taking responsibility for your own actions, attitudes, thoughts or feelings. And that’s where boundaries come in.

The Powerful Parenting Tool of Validation

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

The Powerful Parenting Tool of ValidationThe concept of validation comes from Marsha Linehan, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and creator of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

In her 1993 book Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, Linehan notes the essence of validation:

The therapist communicates to the client that her responses make sense and are understandable within her current life context or situation. The therapist actively accepts the client and communicates this acceptance to the client. The therapist takes the client’s responses seriously and does not discount or trivialize them.

Validation is also a powerful parenting tool.

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Carl Jung’s Psychosis

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

3 Things You Didn't Know About Carl Jung's PsychosisAs the founder of one of the most influential schools of psychological thought — analytical psychology — Carl Jung (also known as CG Jung) experienced what today we might call a form of psychosis. It probably wasn’t a complete psychotic break, because Jung still functioned in his daily life.

His psychosis began when he was 38 years old, when he started finding himself haunted by visions in his head and started hearing voices. Jung himself worried about this “psychosis” — things that today we’d might say were consistent with symptoms of schizophrenia (a term he also used to describe himself during this period).

Jung didn’t let these visions and hallucinations slow him down, and continued seeing patients and actively engaging in his professional life. In fact, he so enjoyed the unconscious mind he had unleashed, he found a way to summon it whenever he wanted.

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