Addiction

How ‘Mad Men’ Taught Us about Trauma, Shame & Healing

Don Draper, a character on the TV series "Mad Men," was a survivor of childhood trauma.

But when we first met Don, we met a man who had it all. He was at the pinnacle of his career, happily married to his gorgeous wife, Betty, and father of two adorable children. His haughty, arrogant and aloof facade was easily mistaken for genuine confidence.

We soon found out, however, that Don was a man with flaws. An alcoholic, a womanizer and an adulterer, he lied about things, not the least of which was his fake identity. These flaws, or what a therapist would consider symptoms, were an indication that Don was unwell. Symptoms are often brilliant clues that let an individual know they have underlying yet blocked emotions, often from the past, that need attention and release.
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Aspergers

Gender Bias in Diagnosing Autism: Can We Find Something We’re Not Looking For?

Here's your assignment:

Sort through a large, diverse group of birds and find all the peafowl. You are instructed to select the ones with vivid, iridescent plumage in blues and greens, with extravagant tails that open into huge, shimmering fans.

Oh, you're thinking, I'm looking for peacocks. Problem is, peacocks are the male peafowls. How can you find the plain, gray peahens if you're looking for birds that would rival a glittering Las Vegas dance revue?

Why are we missing the females?
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ADHD and ADD

A Day in the Life of a Mom with ADHD

7 a.m.: My 6-year-old, Max, wakes me up because he has to go to school. “Five more minutes,” I moan from under the pillow.

7:15: “Oh my gosh!” I leap out of bed and hit the ground running. We have to be out of the house in 20 minutes and I have to get breakfast made, make sure my son has all of his books, folders, lunch, and the papers that should have been signed yesterday but I put them down somewhere and now I can’t find them. I do, however, find the paper that reminded the parents about Pajama Day … which was yesterday … shoot. I look over at my son to see if I can spot any signs of the irreversible damage that I’ve inevitably already caused the poor kid. He is sitting at the table, eating his cereal, seemingly unaffected by the repercussions of having me as a mother.
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Disorders

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Misunderstood But Effective & Powerful Treatment

Today, psychodynamic psychotherapy tends to get dismissed or outright rejected. It’s seen as ineffective, unscientific and archaic. It’s associated with Freud and some of his “outlandish” theories -- many of which have become caricatures. If you’ve ever learned about psychoanalysis or psychodynamic psychotherapy in college or even grad school, it’s likely your professors got it wrong.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy arose out of psychoanalysis, but it’s since evolved. A lot. As psychologist Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D, writes in this fantastic, myth-busting piece: “The development of psychoanalytic thought did not end with Freud any more than the development of physics ended with Newton, or the development of the behavioral tradition in psychology ended with Watson.”

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is depicted as inferior to other interventions, namely cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
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Anger

What’s Your Intent?

We all say hurtful things from time to time. Sometimes we lash out from anger, saying mean things on purpose with the intent to hurt. Sometimes we just don't think before we speak. We do not mean to cause hurt. But it is easy to forget to use empathy, which tells us to be aware of the impact we are having on the person with whom we are communicating. When we say things without thinking, we sometimes inadvertently cause pain.

When someone hurts my feelings, I find it helpful to question the intention of the one who hurt me. I ask myself, “What do I think was his or her intent?”

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Anxiety and Panic

What it’s Like to Live with Hypochondria

My life is controlled by an endless series of obsessions, intrusive thoughts, rituals, and fears, but I don’t have OCD, at least not technically. Instead, I have a somatoform disorder better known as hypochondria.

Hypochondria, or health anxiety, is a preoccupation with having or acquiring a serious illness. As with OCD, health anxiety can cause persistent fears and reassurance-seeking behaviors, like, say, checking and rechecking your pulse. For the hundredth time. In under 10 minutes.

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General

The Difference Between Sex and Love for Men

As a psychotherapist who specializes in emotions, and as a woman with my own personal history of serial monogamy, I have come to realize that some men channel their need for love, intimacy, soothing, care, and comfort into sexual desire.

Here are some examples:

Dylan wants sex when he feels sad because he likes the comfort the physical holding provides. Dylan, like most people, wants to be held when he is sad. In fact, the need to be held when we feel sad is biologically programmed into our brains.

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Bipolar

Dealing with the Pressure to Succeed When You Have a Mental Illness

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I feel a constant need to succeed, and there are definite moments when I feel desperately overwhelmed with the amount of pressure I’ve put on myself.

For years I’ve had the goal of living in a mountain house surrounded by a large grove of trees. I’ve worked hard to try to get to that point, but here I am, still on Section 8, still receiving money from the government for my disability.

I’m frustrated and, at times, angry with myself for not being able to mentally do what I have to do to get to the point where I’m satisfied.
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Brain and Behavior

Building a Guilt-Free Relationship with Food through Mindful Eating

The primary role of food in young children’s lives is one of sustenance. Young children tend to eat when they’re hungry and push away food when they’re full. Food is a source of nourishment and joy, one of the many joyful things life has to offer.

This role can change as children grow, depending on the messages received. Some children may be told to finish everything on their plate even if they’re full, a lesson telling them they can’t waste food. Parents may restrict eating due to what they perceive is a weight problem for their children. These children may grow up feeling shame for eating, resulting in binge behaviors or eating in secret. Children may witness unhealthy habits, eating only processed foods or having a lack of structure around eating. This can result in making poor food choices throughout their lives or a lack of moderation with eating.

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Anxiety and Panic

An Anxious Comedian Attempts to Talk about It

Being anxious is awful. And one of the worst parts is being too afraid to even talk about it.

Sometimes this reluctance is due to fear of judgment. It's easy to imagine that others will think less of me if I am honest with them about it.

Sometimes it's a more nameless fear. I know it's not rational, but it can feel as if the simple act of talking about anxiety -- of acknowledging its existence -- might somehow make it stronger. Even sharing with a close friend can feel next to impossible.
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General

5 Signs of Covert Narcissism

We all have come in contact with the flamboyant narcissist. Their self-absorption can't be mistaken. But there is also the covert narcissist, who is not so easy to decipher. They are equally as self-absorbed as the outward version and equally as destructive in relationships.

Narcissistic personality disorder is created in one of two ways in childhood. Either the child is given too much attention or not enough. This leaves a large void as they enter adulthood. Their never-satisfied "taker" stance becomes the perfect magnet for the unknowing “giver” personality. Narcissists will attempt to find someone who will give them the attention they either had or lacked as children, putting others at an emotional deficit.

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