“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. Continue reading
In our culture, the term naricissist is used often, informally and carries a pejorative connotation. Jari Chevalier’s podcast, Living Hero, examines narcissism from all angles and provides a more humanistic perspective on the clinical meaning of the word. Continue reading
This is one of the best articles on addiction I’ve read in a long time. It echoes what I have seen and experienced around attachment and safety the lengths to which humans will go to find comfort in their absence. Continue reading
Anger is a topic that comes up a lot in conversation with my clients. Specifically, the concern around the inability to effectively express anger is what comes up. It’s a question of not being able to express anger and frustration at all until it reaches the level of blind rage at which point it comes out in all manner of destructive ways. Or at least there’s a fear that expressing anger at ALL will result in irreparable damage. The image that comes to mind is one of a pressure cooker without a safety valve. It eventually just blows.
I have to confess, as much as I like to pride myself on being pretty straightforward even in the face of conflict, I often find myself at a loss as to how to express negative feelings to those around me. Continue reading
Of all the books I have read recently, these are my favorites.
What I liked most about Coming Apart is the author’s framing of “failed” relationships not as failures but as developmental tools which promote growth and awareness.
In the interest of “keeping peace”, it’s not uncommon for one or both individuals in a couple to avoid topics that might be experienced as critical, hurtful or contentious. This outlook often reflects a belief that an uncomplicated relationship is a good relationship. While too much conflict can be harmful, emphasizing undemanding interaction can stunt individual and mutual growth and result in a spiral of resentment and emotional distance. Continue reading
I get asked this question a lot and the answer is, “yes.” This is comforting to many and not such welcome news to others. In the psychological world, “screwed up” is better known as “neurotic.” Psychoanalyst Karen Horney described neurosis as “a distorted way of looking at the world and oneself, determined by compulsive needs rather than by a genuine interest in the world as it is.” Yep. Unfortunately we all do this to one degree or another, in one or more areas of our lives. The extent to which this occurs is in proportion to the severity of the mental and emotional suffering we experience. Continue reading
Patience, kindness and the simple act of our LISTENING can mean the difference between unbearable suffering and a life worth living for many people around us. In listening to this episode of This American Life recently, I was struck by the positive transformation of an adopted child diagnosed with an attachment disorder that was likely the result of abuse or neglect as an infant.
I came across this article on shame by Robert Karen in the bibliography of a presentation on narcissistic wounding and the part it plays in addiction. In his article, Karen includes the historical and social aspects of shame as well as the individual experience. He draws a distinction between “normal” and “pathological” shame. “Pathological shame is an irrational sense of defectiveness, a feeling not of having crossed the boundary but of having been born there.”
Karen Horney’s book is like a road map of the human psyche, detailing the ways in which we compensate for damage to the self. Her explanation of avoidance, which I’ve included below, is probably the best I’ve come across. It can apply to work, relationships, social situations and thoughts and can go unrecognized or be felt as life threatening as in the case of phobias. I recommend this book to both clients and colleagues.