Addiction

How Sex Addiction Can Change Mental Illness

I was married to a sex addict narcissist for close to 20 years. My father was a sex addict. I was a stripper many years ago and worked for many years around sex addicts. It started when I visited my father’s house on his weekend to have me after my parents' divorce. He was at work and I was a nosy child. I found a Playboy magazine. I remember it well. Suzanne Somers was on the cover. I slowly turned each page, looking at and soaking in the beauty and perfection of these women.

My immediate thought was that these women looked nothing like my mom. They were doing things my mom would never have done. I think I was only 8 or 9 years old. In that moment, I knew in my mind, like it was complete truth, that if I grew up and became a woman like that, I would be able to keep a man.

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Ethics & Morality

How to Keep an Open Mind — Even During an Election Year

The presidential election is less than six months away and we’re all starting to feel a little fed up. Judgment, opinions, shaming, and finger-wagging are happening all around us. The news media can pump into our homes 24/7. We’re all left thinking, “Can’t we just vote already?”

You know how you feel. You know your values. You’re capable of digesting information and making a decision -- you do that all day long. And you’d definitely be more open to hearing new perspectives if people were respectful of that.
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Ethics & Morality

Collective Compassion: Celebrating Our Humanity

As human beings we are inscribed with natural tendencies to connect with one another, disregarding natural differences that separate us. Despite the vast ways in which people find division and disconnection from one another, there are some glowing attributes that illuminate the human condition.

When we think of the world today and all of its “sham, drudgery and broken dreams” as Max Ehrmann wrote in his 1927 poem Desiderata, we may become disillusioned or feel sad that there is a lack of real or widespread compassion among us. However, as Ehrmann so eloquently went on to explain long ago, “It is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
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Brain and Behavior

The Healing Power of Hugs

One day several years ago, I spontaneously hugged a patient of mine, Gretchen. It was during a moment in which her despair and distress were so intense that it seemed cruel on a human level not to reach out my arms to her, in the event that she might derive some relief or comfort from an embrace. She hugged me for dear life.

Months later, Gretchen reported to me that the hug had changed her. “The motherly embrace you gave me that day,” she said, “lifted the depression I have had all my life.”

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Brain and Behavior

The Joy of Giving

In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm wrote: “Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.” The more we give, the more we experience the world as the creation of our efforts and as a reflection of our aliveness. In the well-being of individuals that we support, we experience our aliveness. In the growth of communities to which we are genuinely dedicated, we experience our aliveness. The entity that we care for, whether it is a community, a fellow human being, or any living or nonliving form, is the source of our empowerment. In it we see our power; through it we feel alive.

For experimental psychologists, a cause and effect relationship, no matter how plausible and beautiful it sounds, cannot be accepted unless it is confirmed by means of experimentation. To test whether giving contributes to our well-being and whether giving is more joyous than receiving, Elizabeth Dunn and colleagues conducted an experiment at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

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Bullying

Community Building After Tragedy

My satirical policy recommendation: Bowling in every street.

You chuckle. But, in the States, we are striking out at the type of grassroots events that bind neighborhoods into communities and transform wary strangers into community leaders.

Robert Putnam’s book is more apropos than ever. In his bestselling Bowling Alone, he tackles the decline of social institutions. We don’t bowl together or host neighborhood parties. Our social connectivity is now through virtual platforms.
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Brain and Behavior

Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Welfare Community

Before becoming a psychotherapist, I had a career in animal welfare. I’ve worn both the boots and the sandals -- that’s jargon for working on the law enforcement side and the shelter side -- and I’ve seen my fair share of trauma.

Whether you’re a humane officer or a shelter volunteer, a vet tech or an animal rights activist, you have likely seen, heard about, or experienced things that most people can’t even begin to understand. Long-term exposure to abuse and neglect, euthanasia, and grief-stricken clients not only can affect your work productivity and satisfaction, but it can also wear on you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you feel like you care so much that it hurts, you may be struggling with compassion fatigue.
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Ethics & Morality

A Life with Meaning

Many things motivate us as people. Living with meaning is a crucial component that helps us to enjoy a fully operational and gratifying life. Like having air in one’s sails, the possession of what matters uniquely to each of us fuels us in many ways. As human beings we need connection to our ideals and to one another. We also need to connect introspectively within ourselves so we can connect to our inner truth, deeper wisdom, and core ideals that drive us in the world.

For some, meaning is attached to the creation of a happy, healthy, and enduring family life. For others, it is the quest for rich and meaningful relationships in our associations and social circles. Some individuals’ driving force lies in their desire to make a difference in their work life, political, environmental or social causes that affect the world stage.

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Ethics & Morality

4 Steps to Setting Healthy Personal Boundaries


Sometimes it just feels easier to please others than to stand up for what we really want. Why? Maybe we don’t like confrontation. Or maybe we just like making other people happy. That’s not a bad thing. It can feel great to give others what they want, but it’s important to recognize when they overstep the mark.

Personal boundaries are how we set our personal limits. They are how we separate ourselves as individuals from the influence and intentions of others. They are an essential tool for communicating our needs, our integrity and our self-worth, both to others and to ourselves.

Without them, negative emotions such as resentment, guilt, frustration or shame could take hold. Your relationships may become frayed, and your self-respect could suffer.
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Brain and Behavior

10 Flimsiest Excuses for Not Taking Action

When a decision needs to be made and work must be done, instead of springing into action and doing what’s necessary, too often the temptation is to offer an excuse. More often than not, the excuse is a lame one, such as the following:

I don’t know how.
Did it ever occur to you that you might have been given this task or project as a way to expand your skills, gain new insights, or expand your abilities? Don't push it aside because you are unfamiliar with it or lack experience in doing it. Doing so makes you look weak, ineffective and possibly lazy. Ask for help if you need it. That’s a more proactive approach when you need to take action.
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Brain and Behavior

The Making of a Happy Mind

The mind, just like any other entity in nature, follows some specific laws. The mastery of these laws can be immensely helpful in improving mental health and generating happiness.

Long before the discipline of psychology was established, philosophers started providing answers to the question of how to reach happiness. Tested by science, some their claims have been refuted, while others were confirmed, such as the following statement made by Epictetus in The Art of Living:
Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control and some things are not. It is only after you have learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility become possible.
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