Addiction

Signs of a Dysfunctional Religion: Toward a Healthy Spirituality

We know the common addictions of modern life: alcoholism, drugs, and gambling have destroyed many lives. But beyond obvious addictions lurk more subtle ones. As a child, I was addicted to television to distract myself from unhappiness.

The addiction to power, sex, or material things may substitute for a longing to love and be loved. We cling to things that offer diversions from the anxiety of a lonely, disconnected existence.

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Family

Want to Be Close to Someone? Ask These 36 Questions

Can you create a sense of closeness or intimacy with a complete stranger? Psychology research says, yes, you can.

Nearly 20 years ago, a team of psychology researchers led by Arthur Aron (1997) conducted an experiment that demonstrated that you can create a sense of closeness or intimacy with another person simply by asking and answering a set of 36 questions together.

But was the closeness produced in the experimental condition the same as the real closeness we feel with long-time partners and friends?

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Habits

Swimming Lessons

I have always loved water. The sound of it -- from the lapping of waves at the beach, to the pitter-patter of rain making different noises landing on different surfaces. Staying at my grandparents' rustic house when I was little, I could spend hours lying in bed just listening to the tinkling chime of raindrops against the tin rooftop.

Until recently, I made a habit of swimming regularly. I had forgotten how much I particularly love to be in water.

Some people get to think out the thoughts they have been meaning to sort out while on land. Some problems get solved under the water.

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Addiction

How to Write a Daily Journal in Two Minutes or Less

Keeping a journal is often recommended as a powerful tool to aide addicts on their road to recovery. Journals not only help patients reflect on and express their feelings, but also to examine ways to avoid relapse.

However, many patients don’t stick with journaling because it can be a tedious practice. I work as an addiction psychiatrist, and I have developed a highly effective method of journaling that takes two minutes or less every day. This method offers patients personal accountability to understand the cycle of addiction.

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Disorders

Talk Therapy: It’s Not Just Talk

It’s not unusual for people to be hesitant to try talk therapy.

“If I want to talk to somebody, I’ll talk to my friends,” gripes Nicole. “I’m not going to talk to a complete stranger. What for? It’s stupid!”

“If you’ve got troubles in this world, you just have to deal with them,” roars Ben. “What would talking about it do? You have to suck it up and deal with it, not whine about it.”
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Brain and Behavior

Growth through Travel

Journeys of the mind and body are taken so that the self can grow. The self grows through discomfort, by being moved to inquiry and action. Placing oneself in an unfamiliar situation validates this discomfort. Being in a different place affords us a new perspective and unlocks our modus operandi to create change.

From this new perspective or place we can question ourselves and see clearly how we can progress as a human being. We are affected by our immediate environment, at least to some degree. Our thoughts, emotions and actions acquire a routine in our usual place of being or perspective that can make growth stagnate if we become too comfortable.

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ADHD and ADD

Be More Careful with Your Language

I tend to be a little over the top in my criticism of people’s mistaken language and grammar. I am by no means perfect when it comes to these areas, but there are some errors that cause me to want to smack people. (Not in a violent way, but more in a, “I’m taking my glove off and slapping you across the face with it to show you how stupid you are” sort of way.)

One such phrase is, “I could care less.” If you could care less, that means you care some. You should actually be saying, “I couldn’t care less,” because that implies that you have supplied the least amount of caring possible.

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Brain and Behavior

Do You Struggle to Feel Big and Proud?

"Don’t get too big for your britches!" "Don't think you’re better than anyone else!" "Don't get a swelled head!" "Don’t think you are so great!"

Beginning as little children, we hear cultural messages that are meant to socialize and civilize us. We learn to keep our self-confidence in check in order to stay in the good graces of the people around us. Healthy shame makes sure we follow social rules such as not stealing, being honest, or not going to the bathroom in public. Shame is the emotion that ensures we fit in with the groups we need.

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Brain and Behavior

Why It’s OK Not to Make New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? Many of us spend the last days of December thinking about what our resolutions should be in the coming year. This can lead to discussions with family and friends about what we should change and resolve to do differently. Then we make our resolutions and commit to them, or maybe not.

This has become rote behavior for many of us -- a ritual we follow, year after year. We typically choose resolutions to change ourselves into who we want to or feel we should be, but are not. Sometimes we choose something really big to accomplish, which can become too overwhelming. Why do we do this to ourselves?

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Anxiety and Panic

5 Ways to Feel Less Anxious

"Oh no!"
“What happened?”
“What if…?”

These are the mantras of anxious people. However, instead of calming them down as mantras are meant to do, they rev them up. If you’re an anxious person, you know what I mean.

No matter what’s on the horizon, even the good stuff is packaged in danger and darkness. Something could always go wrong.
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Anger

What to Do When You Get Overwhelmed

Daily life is busy. There are constantly things that require our attention. Whether it’s work or family, there seem to always be things we need to do to keep everything together.

We are juggling numerous balls trying to maintain a balancing act on already-tenuous ground.

The point is, there comes a point in everyone’s life when things can get to be too much. We all get overwhelmed at times.
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General

Can You Live with a Judgmental Therapist?

In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal, psychotherapist and licensed marriage and family therapist Paul Hokemeyer admitted that his mind often wanders when his patients are talking.

“Frequently. Most of the time it wanders back to the session I had with the last patient and what I should have done differently,” said Hokemeyer, who sees patients in New York and Colorado as well as Skyping across country. “It can also wander if the patient is avoiding connecting and filling the time with superfluous details. I’ll start to think about the dry cleaning or what I can have for dinner.”
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