The Day Came When It Was Time To Call It Quits

The Day Came When It Was Time To Call It Quits

Well, this is the end of Trauma’s Labyrinth. It’s been a great experience for me, more rewarding than I could have imagined. Thank you so much for reading my writings. I’ve closed comments, and will redesign my website as I proceed in new directions. I also plan to create a better way of searching the blog’s content. I hope you continue…

A Meditation on Love

A Meditation on Love

The Indian union of Shiva and Shakti (also known as lingam and yoni), along with the Chinese Yin-Yang, show the power of love resides in joining opposites. Love overcomes antagonism and dualism, dissolving difference in a complimentary and binding whole. In Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes gave a similar account of love. He told the myth of…

A Sketch of Societal-Based Obstacles To Transformation After Trauma

A Sketch of Societal-Based Obstacles To Transformation After Trauma

In the preface to his book The Order of Things (1966/1973), Michel Foucault shared the following excerpt from an ancient Chinese encyclopedia: “… animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j)…

Good Shame And Bad Shame

Good Shame And Bad Shame

In the West, our introduction to power and dominance comes early. Starting with our first moves towards independence, we learn our desire for freedom can be squelched by someone bigger, more powerful, even Goddess-like. Mom. She is the order of things, purveyor of NO!, steadfast in her exertion of Mother‘s nature. She is the Queen…

A Big Thank You

A Big Thank You

At the end of October, I’ll be ending Trauma’s Labyrinth Blog. I want to thank you for reading my posts. I have greatly appreciated the emails, comments, and exchanges I have had with many of you, and the opportunity to learn and grow together, especially with regards to challenging topics and experiences. I have been…

What They Say – A Fictional Pastiche of True Events

What They Say – A Fictional Pastiche of True Events

At first he was only after his ex-girlfriend, Isabelle told Brad, and had written “Die Bitch” below a photo of her on Facebook, Cecilia pointed out, because he thought they had something going, something serious, said Sam, but she thought they were really just friends, at most, because he really became a stalker after going…

Subjectivity And Being Mentally Ill

Subjectivity And Being Mentally Ill

Mental health care is at crossroads. Again. This time trauma-informed care challenges the biomedical model of mental illness. Some see this crossroad as potentially leading to a revolutionary shift in mental healthcare. Others look for ways to join disparate ideas into an amalgamated whole. Yet for anyone who has spent time in the field —…

Why Survivor’s Guilt?

Why Survivor’s Guilt?

Monday morning my sister was attacked by a pit bull. It bit deep into her forearm, then let go. Just as it was about to attack again – likely, more lethally – two Good Samaritans in a pickup truck intervened, probably saving my sister’s life. Moments later, a nurse also pulled over when she saw…

Why Do Women Have Sexual Fantasies of Rape?

Why Do Women Have Sexual Fantasies of Rape?

The United Nations describes violence against women as a “pandemic in diverse forms.”[i] Thirty-five percent of women have experienced sexual and/or physical violence, often in intimate relationships. In some nations, an unimaginable seventy percent of women have suffered sexual and/or physical violence in intimate relationships.[ii] In every country in the world, the threat of sexual and physical violence is…

Seeking the Muse … Again … And Again …

Seeking the Muse … Again … And Again …

I took time off from working on my manuscript to prepare a short paper and present at a conference. As I shift my focus back to book writing, I feel the weightiness of a large, creative project, along with the need to regain momentum that I typically face after a break. A friend once described…

The Intergenerational Transmission of Recovery

The Intergenerational Transmission of Recovery

Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (c. 1590) is a story of revenge and rape. Titus murders Tamora’s son. Tamora then has her other two sons revenge their brother’s death by raping Titus’ daughter Lavinia. Afterwards, they mutilate Lavinia, severing her tongue and hands to keep her from testifying against them. During Shakespeare’s era (and in some parts of…

Searching For Nirvana

Searching For Nirvana

Nirvana. The word conjures a state of perfect peace. It is the endpoint of the spiritual path and marks the attainment of enlightenment, where there is no more suffering or desire. I’m reading about nirvana for the book I am writing. I am interested in parallels between spiritual paths and the “healing journey” from trauma,…

How Chronic Traumatization Interferes With Meeting Goals and Completing Actions

How Chronic Traumatization Interferes With Meeting Goals and Completing Actions

Trauma-related stress reveals itself in many ways: flashbacks, nightmares, emotional overwhelm, shame, obsessive thoughts, decreased concentration, apathy, and even loss of a sense of self. When trauma-related stress is chronic, which is a common outcome of early life abuse and neglect, these symptoms become a way to live without actively recalling the past. As one…

Michele Rosenthal’s “Your Life After Trauma”

Michele Rosenthal’s “Your Life After Trauma”

Back in my thirties, I stealthily read self-help books that addressed healing from childhood abuse. Stealthily, because I had recently earned my doctorate from Stanford, and was living in Silicon Valley during the first tech boom. At that place, during that time, and with my credentials, appearing other than happy and confident was to risk…

Stuckness Along The Journey of the Wounded Healer

Stuckness Along The Journey of the Wounded Healer

I have shamed myself. Not deliberately, but nevertheless actively. I never dreamed that one day I would research and write about healing psychological trauma. Or the perils of the mental health field. Or its pearls. It was really a matter of bad luck. As a trauma survivor, I turned my fate into destiny. Writing helps me…

“Everyone is a hero. This is a given.”

“Everyone is a hero. This is a given.”

  From Stanley Keleman, Myth & the Body: A Colloquy With Joseph Campbell: Everyone is a hero. This is a given. We have a call to adventure.  We refuse.  A crisis ensues. We cannot turn back—and we answer the call. We collect helpers, teachers, guides.  And we cross a threshold into the unknown.  We lose our…

Know Your Habitual Defense Responses And Live Within The Window of Tolerance

Know Your Habitual Defense Responses And Live Within The Window of Tolerance

Here’s the scenario: You are moving across country. Driving from Los Angeles, CA to Sarasota, FL. Everything you own is in your car. EVERYTHING. You need to make it to Sarasota FAST. You start a new job in less than a week. You’ve given yourself 3 days driving — at most! — and 2 days to settle into your new…

An Update on the Journey of a Tortoise

An Update on the Journey of a Tortoise

Almost five years ago, when I finished my counseling psychology degree at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and was a tad bit burned out from the school work yet excited to practice psychotherapy, I wanted to start a Big Research Project. I was interested in exploring how to join Jung’s analytical psychology with trauma-focused psychotherapy. The trauma…

The “Trauma-Focused Turn” in Critical Psychology

The “Trauma-Focused Turn” in Critical Psychology

A Review of: De-Medicalizing Misery II: Society, Politics and the Mental Health Industry Edited by Ewen Speed, Joanna Moncrieff and Mark Rapley Click on link to read the review: The “Trauma-Focused Turn” in Critical Psychology I first published this review at PsycCRITIQUES, June 1, 2015, Vol. 60, No. 22, Article 7. It can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039310…

Transformative Approaches To Crises, Self-Doubt & Extreme States

Transformative Approaches To Crises, Self-Doubt & Extreme States

Crises and self-doubt plague all of us at different times in our lives. A natural response is to want to escape the turmoil and angst, and return to solid ground as quick as possible. Yet when we can remain open to suffering, and not shut down or numb out, troubled times can become opportunities for deep transformation. Murray Stein describes…

Individuation And The Spiritual Aspects Of Healing Trauma

Individuation And The Spiritual Aspects Of Healing Trauma

I am reading Murray Stein’s wonderful book, Minding the Self: Jungian Meditations on Contemporary Spirituality, after spending the weekend assisting a sensorimotor psychotherapy training. On first glance, spirituality and neurobiologically-informed psychotherapy might seem to have little in common. However, one of the topics in the sensorimotor psychotherapy training was the model of structural dissociation —…

We Can Do Better Than Desensitization As The Goal of Trauma Treatment

We Can Do Better Than Desensitization As The Goal of Trauma Treatment

David J. Morris, a former Marine infantry officer and a reporter in some of the most violent regions of the Iraq war, blacked out while watching a movie and ran out of the theater, only to regain awareness of himself in the lobby as he anxiously scanned other patrons for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Morris’ girlfriend…

The Revolution Found Within

The Revolution Found Within

In trauma healing, there is often an effort to create a more bounded existence — a life not struggling with uncontrollable reactions to trauma triggers or the avoidance of them (and instead living within the window of tolerance). However, this shouldn’t be confused with losing the capacity to live freely and openly in one’s mind. For some of us, the…

A Bit Of Kindling For Hestia’s Fire

A Bit Of Kindling For Hestia’s Fire

I am in the process of moving my office to another room in my home. I’ve been going through folders and boxes of paper, some of it I can’t remember why I saved. But I am also finding a few gems, like the notes below that I took at the 5th San Francisco Mayor’s Summit for Women,…

Do we really need the “unconscious” anymore?

Do we really need the “unconscious” anymore?

The idea of the unconscious — that part of mental life filled with unintentional motivations — is often associated with Sigmund Freud, who famously identified dreams and their symbolic imagery as the “royal road” to this untamed aspect of the psyche. C. G. Jung, Pierre Janet, Jean-Martin Charcot, and other theorists of the nineteenth and…

“Toys of War”

“Toys of War”

In this touching and brief documentary by Andrew Berends, children in South Sudan use clay, pieces of fabric, and flowers to narrate the raid on their village that led to murder of family members and their current state of homelessness. Art is known to help heal the psychological rupture that trauma causes. For these Sudanese children, their creative ‘play’ gives expression…

“We Gotta Pray” by Alicia Keys

“We Gotta Pray” by Alicia Keys

According to a New York Times article, “Ms. Keys said she wrote the song in the past few months, moved by the deaths on Staten Island and in Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer. ‘We absolutely feel disregarded as human beings,’ said Ms.…

Longing

Longing

The hollow growl in my stomach when I fill the day gorging on my ‘to do’ list. Idling on the runway, waiting for Gate 64C to pocket our arrival. The way his belly peeked below his shirt when he stretched his arms. Imagining my finger tracing the wrinkles in his worried brow. Realizing the phone…

Is it possible to recover from rape and sexual abuse? Yes and No

Is it possible to recover from rape and sexual abuse? Yes and No

When she was twenty-two years old, philosopher Karyn L. Freedman was viciously raped at knifepoint. She narrowly escaped being murdered and her body disposed, perhaps never to be found. In her memoir, One Hour in Paris, Freedman recounted her efforts to heal from this horrifying ordeal. Nearly 25 years have passed since she was raped,…

Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps The Score”

Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps The Score”

I just started reading Bessel van der Kolk’s new book, The Body Keeps The Score. I’m thrilled one of the pioneers in the treatment of psychological trauma is sharing his wisdom in a style that is accessible to practitioners as well as people seeking to heal their own wounds — two groups that share a lot of overlap. Dr.…

Dreaming of a Safe America

Dreaming of a Safe America

  The airstrikes against the Islamic State, a decidedly violent and oppressive group, are deeply unsettling, bringing forth memories of 9/ll and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, along with fears that America will never extract itself from this region of the world, or be safe from revengeful terrorist groups. At such times, it’s natural to…

“Violence In/And the Great Lakes: The Thought of V-Y Mudimbe and Beyond”

“Violence In/And the Great Lakes: The Thought of V-Y Mudimbe and Beyond”

Last summer I had the pleasure and honor of taking part in a conference devoted to the work of Professor V. Y. Mudimbe and the topic of violence – especially violence in Congo where Professor Mudimbe was born. The University of KwaZulu-Natal Press has just released a book of the papers written for the project, Violence In/And The Great…

A Meditation on Violence Against Women and Nature

A Meditation on Violence Against Women and Nature

“He says that woman speaks with nature. That she hears voices from under the earth. That wind blows in her ears and trees whisper to her. That the dead sing through her mouth and the cries of infants are clear to her. But for him this dialogue is over. He says he is not part…

Imagining Suicide

Imagining Suicide

Twice weekly, I commute across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve taken this route for over a year, yet the view still consumes me. Whether marveling at the Bridge, seeing the sun (or fog) mingle with the Pacific Ocean, or eyeing the cramped San Francisco skyline that signals the end of my workday, I feel part…

“Unfinished Conversation: Healing From Suicide and Loss”

“Unfinished Conversation: Healing From Suicide and Loss”

Robert E. Lesoine’s best friend Larry took his life by suicide on October 15, 2005. Although Lesoine knew Larry was struggling with feelings of disappointment, dejection, and loss, along with the return of debilitating pain associated with a past injury, Lesoine did not see the intensity of Larry’s despair. In his grief, Lesoine, who practices…

Too Stressed To Meditate?

Too Stressed To Meditate?

Buddhist psychology claims there are three primary feelings, or sensations, which meditation can help access: Pleasant, Painful, and Neutral. Arising from these primary feelings are our reactions to them, the so-called secondary emotions. For example, we feel desire or joy in reaction to pleasant feelings, anger or fear in response to painful feelings, and boredom…

The Sensorimotor Approach To Storying Trauma

The Sensorimotor Approach To Storying Trauma

Far too often, getting on with ‘everyday life’ requires suppressing the impact of traumatic stress on body, mind, and spirit. This self-imposed desensitization to one’s own suffering also lessens how empathetic we are to others’ suffering, including to their stories of trauma. Much like the Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and blog aggregates that keep us…

Dismantling Altars

Dismantling Altars

Last fall I took a writing workshop with Dennis Slattery, PhD at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Among the writing “meditations” he had us do, one was called Dismantling the Altar. As Dr. Slattery wisely noted, we have a tendency to create altars, and other “as if” edifices. Although we create altars to support or even inspire us, they also…

Maya Angelou On What It Takes To Truly Live

Maya Angelou On What It Takes To Truly Live

  In Remembrance of Dr. Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014 “Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they…

Neurobiology, Symbolic Imagery & Jung — And A Book That Brings Them Together

Neurobiology, Symbolic Imagery & Jung — And A Book That Brings Them Together

The Neurobiology of the Gods (2012) first gained accolades for grounding CG Jung’s ideas in modern neuroscience. Yet Erik D. Goodwyn’s explanation for why we create symbolic imagery makes this an important book not only for analytical psychologists, but also for evolutionary psychologists, traumatologists, and anyone interested in the central role of symbolic imagery for human…

Take Time. Be YOU.

Take Time. Be YOU.

“There can be an intense egoism in following everybody else. People are in a hurry to magnify themselves by imitating what is popular — and too lazy to think of anything better. Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success, and they are in such a haste to get it that they…

Need help loving humanity? How To Evolve Beyond “Us” Versus “Them” Thinking

Need help loving humanity? How To Evolve Beyond “Us” Versus “Them” Thinking

One of the greatest threats to humankind is our tendency to create what sociologists call in-groups and out-groups. While such distinctions contribute to group solidarity, increased safety, and a personal sense of belonging, they can also lead to the us versus them thinking that underlies humans’ greatest acts of cruelty. Each of the following precipitate from us versus them…

“Goddesses” By Joseph Campbell

“Goddesses” By Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, as the popularizer of the hero’s journey, has been criticized by feminist scholars for creating a somewhat lopsided and masculine view of the role of mythology in personal and cultural development. For example, in a lecture* on Joseph Campbell’s chronicling of the hero’s journey, Christine Downing argued the myths shared in Campbell’s classic…

The Nature of “Healing”

The Nature of “Healing”

Ideas about the nature of “healing” are regularly batted around the culture of psychotherapy. The word “transformation” also comes up, which feels sympathetic with a depth psychological perspective, but can also sound somewhat grand and mysterious, although not in the following poem by Stephen Dunn. I like how Dunn highlights the resistance to change that is a…

The Secrets in Our Silences

The Secrets in Our Silences

I began reading the book History Beyond Trauma by Françoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudillière during a turbulent time in my life — when deaths, losses, and uncertainties continually piled up. Despite my best efforts to remain optimistic and push forward with life as planned, traumatic stress was threatening to be more than a subject I…

The Human Response to Scarcity

The Human Response to Scarcity

In most places around the world, human societies have changed more in the past two hundred years than they have in the previous forty thousand. Nevertheless, we have the same emotional needs as our humble hunter-gatherer ancestors. We can travel to the moon, talk on a cell phone in Dubai to a friend in Montreal,…

When Soul Informs Psychotherapy

When Soul Informs Psychotherapy

Research on human attachment has improved the practice of psychotherapy in part because attachment theory gives therapists permission to be “real” people with their clients. One of my favorite books on the subject is David Wallin’s Attachment in Psychotherapy, which describes how to practice attachment-focused psychotherapy. (He’s working on a new book that looks at how…

Capitalism Exploits The Body’s Response To Traumatic Stress

Capitalism Exploits The Body’s Response To Traumatic Stress

The Great Recession, like financial disasters before it, took its toll on bodies and psyches as much as it did on bank accounts and lifestyles. Suicides, family violence, stress-related diseases, and mental disorders increased during the crisis. For many, these hardships continue. Yet even during the best of times capitalism’s dependency on social hierarchies —…

When A Woman Leaves Her Batterer

When A Woman Leaves Her Batterer

Leaving a batterer is never easy. A woman is at greatest risk for murder when she leaves a physically abusive partner. Her decision to leave is a sign to the batterer that he has lost control, and loss of control is what batterers fear the most. Not loss of love. Not loss of a partner. Not…

Globalization: The Age of Psychological Neoteny

Globalization: The Age of Psychological Neoteny

Neoteny refers to when a species’ traits that are typically associated with juvenile stages of development are carried into adulthood. A common example is the Mexican salamander, or axolotl. At full maturity, the axolotl continues to look like a tadpole, which supposedly is more adaptive to its environmental niche than the adult salamander body. As the…

“Dear Survivor”: A Letter About The Hard Truths of Healing From Child Abuse

“Dear Survivor”: A Letter About The Hard Truths of Healing From Child Abuse

Dear Survivor, “Because then I knew it was over.” That’s what most strive to feel about the lingering effects of childhood abuse, although not about the actual events. Those are long gone, and often dissociated from awareness. Rather, most want to end sleepless nights and startled awakenings; feeling as if they live in a parallel…

A Civilized Heart?

A Civilized Heart?

At the beginning of the Enlightenment, the story of the world was pictured a bit like this: Homo sapiens standing at the top of the evolutionary pyramid, the pinnacle species. Although not all homo sapiens — just the white man distinguished by his capacity for reason. One giant step down the pyramid stood the white woman,…

What is the function of the brain?

What is the function of the brain?

Based on her ethnographic study of psychiatric residency programs, anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann concluded psychiatry is “of two minds”: one “mind” emphasizes the role of neurochemistry, while the other “mind” places more importance on the context of our suffering, including relationships past and present. Identifying the origins of mental illness likely depends on both interpretations. There…

Want to reduce mental illness? Address trauma. Want to save the world? Address trauma.

Want to reduce mental illness? Address trauma. Want to save the world? Address trauma.

Different explanations have been given for the increased number of people suffering from mental illness. Some have claimed the increase is the result of ever-expanding diagnostic criteria and syndromes that risk medicalizing normal emotional reactions. Others argue the increase is the result of the pharmaceutical industry financially courting the medical establishment as well as using…

When Holidays Stir Longing Rather Than Cheer

When Holidays Stir Longing Rather Than Cheer

For many, the holiday season is a season of longing. Whereas some long for time with loved ones, others long for loved ones to spend time with. Children and grown-up kids long for the coveted gift. Many long for a new life or new sense of self, hence New Year’s resolutions. Still others long for…

Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy Puts The Body – and Love – Back In Mental Healthcare

Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy Puts The Body – and Love – Back In Mental Healthcare

For the past 50 years, psychotherapy has taken a back seat to biomedical psychiatry, largely due to reliance on medications for the treatment of mental disorders. Yet clinical evidence increasingly points to chronic, unresolved traumatic stress as the source of many — if not most — mental disorders. Furthermore, longitudinal analyses show continued use of psychotropic medications…

Where would we be without writers?

Where would we be without writers?

Lately I have been “filling the well,” as Julia Cameron likes to describe our creative souls’ need for a regular diet of stimulation. You might be able to tell this from my recent blog posts. Lots of reviews — articles, books, a documentary. You can tell a lot about a person by what she puts…

“Stories of Complicated Grief: A Critical Anthology”

“Stories of Complicated Grief: A Critical Anthology”

I had the pleasure of taking part in this very special project on complicated grief, titled Stories of Complicated Grief: A Critical Anthology, edited by Eric Miller, PhD. The book’s dedicated website gives this description of the project: Death. Sadness. Depression. Heartache. Pain. These are words commonly used to describe the range of emotions that…

Documentary: “24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine”

Documentary: “24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine”

24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine from EM Residents' Association (EMRA) on Vimeo. I attended the documentary premier of 24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine, and was deeply moved by the commitment and drive shown by the people who fought for improving patient care in emergency departments across the country. The documentary connects the development…

The Missing Peace

The Missing Peace

“Certainly physics designed the bombs, biology the germ warfare, chemistry the nerve gas and so on, but it will be the unhealthy emotions of individuals that will trigger these horrors. These emotions can only be controlled, reshaped and re-channeled by technologies developed from successful inner science.” — Dalai Lama I like to think the Dalai Lama…

Attachment Theory Through A Cultural Lens

Attachment Theory Through A Cultural Lens

In an article titled “Attachment and Culture (citation below),” Heidi Keller exposes attachment theory’s Western, middle-class assumptions. She argues: … the definition of attachment in mainstream attachment research are in line with the conception of psychological autonomy, adaptive for Western middle-class, but deviate from the cultural values of many non-Western and mainly rural ecosocial environments.…

“Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness”

“Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness”

I taped the following list to my desk as a reminder of the mental framework that supports a life lived mindfully. I found it in Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language. I hope you find it as useful as I have. “Mindfulness means to be aware, awake. To be alive, attentive,…

Brain Scans Used To Replicate Jung’s Word Association Test

Brain Scans Used To Replicate Jung’s Word Association Test

A central tenet of CG Jung’s analytical psychology is that the unconscious has drives strong enough to override conscious will. Hence, he stressed ‘listening’ to dreams and fantasies that arise from unconscious stirrings through active imagination and other forms of creative expression. Jung believed listening to the unconscious could increase psychological integration and reduces internal conflict —…

“You are the conspiracy”

“You are the conspiracy”

“Our past is not our potential. In any hour, with all the stubborn teachers and healers of history who called us to our best selves, we can liberate the future. One by one, we can re-choose — to awaken. To leave the prison of our conditioning, to love, to turn homeward. To conspire with and…

History After Trauma

History After Trauma

In 2012, I saw on display at SFMOMA Sam Durant’s “History never ends, I hate to bother you”: Sadie Coles HQ gave this explanation of the piece: “The show’s title [History Never Ends, I Hate to Bother You] may furthermore be read as a sardonic refutation of Francis Fukuyama’s famous postmodern thesis ‘The End of History?’, which proposed…

“The Red Book”: A Primer For Healing Madness In A Mad World

“The Red Book”: A Primer For Healing Madness In A Mad World

Through his meticulous design of The Red Book, CG Jung interwove his experience of madness with the collective suffering of his era. Such syntheses are rare — and just what the current mental health field desperately needs. In what follows, I look at how The Red Book became Jung’s journey out of madness as well…

CG Jung and the ‘Leap of Faith’ Into Individuation

CG Jung and the ‘Leap of Faith’ Into Individuation

The Red Book has been described as Jung’s creative response to the threat of madness, yet it has also been seen as a deliberate exercise in self-analysis. I believe it’s likely both. When creating The Red Book, Jung knew he was on the verge of madness, and he also knew his analytical skills and expertise as…

Taking That Leap of Faith

Taking That Leap of Faith

One of my teachers at Pacifica Graduate Institute called psychotherapy “the hope manufacturing business.” And frankly, if my first meetings with a therapist left me feeling dejected, I’d likely think that person was pretty lousy at her or his job. Psychotherapy is time-consuming, expensive, and shines a spotlight on the painful stuff we have difficulty getting over…

Embracing the Shadow Side of Creativity

Embracing the Shadow Side of Creativity

In a blog post, “What is Creativity?,” Maria Popova quoted designer Charles Eames on the cultural obsession with the creative process: “Recent years have shown a growing preoccupation with the circumstances surrounding the creative act and a search for the ingredients that promote creativity. This preoccupation suggests we are in a special kind of trouble —…

Descent Into The Underworld

Descent Into The Underworld

”We Americans love to think ourselves innocent of the tragedies — personal and public — that the past and our compulsions have visited upon us, all of us. Most of all, we want to be innocent of how much the ghosts and bones of our beautiful landscape have shaped and twisted virtually everything that has…

Trauma Nation?

Trauma Nation?

Medicine is where hope is alive and well in America. During the past fifty years, due to rapid advances in microbiology, many persons who once might have died prematurely, or suffered debilitating diseases or disorders, instead enjoy productive lives, albeit often with chronic illnesses to manage. Through its near-miracle successes, the field has engendered the…

Shopping Our Way To Extinction

Shopping Our Way To Extinction

We humans have been destroying environments and eradicating species throughout our history. When some of our ancestors arrived in the Americas over 10,000 years ago, they wiped out at least 70 genera of large mammals and literally millions of animals — including ground sloths, camels, wild pigs, and several species of horses. Not much seems to…

The Mental Health Field Has A Branding Problem

The Mental Health Field Has A Branding Problem

For over two centuries, the mental health field, and psychiatry in particular, has actively cultivated a “brand,” distinguishing itself as a remedy for societal ills, largely by adapting its philosophy and methods to the dominant social agenda. In 1793, when Dr. Philippe Pinel initiated reforms in the Salpêtriere and Bicêtre Hospitals in Paris where the…

America Just Got Safer: The End of the Defense of Marriage Act

America Just Got Safer: The End of the Defense of Marriage Act

“The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” — President Barack Obama In response to the Supreme Court ruling that the Defense…

How I Practice Psychotherapy With Minimal Intrusion From The DSM

How I Practice Psychotherapy With Minimal Intrusion From The DSM

I started critiquing the DSM about sixteen years ago. At that time, I was conducting research for my dissertation on mood disorders as well as team teaching an advanced graduate seminar on the phenomenology of madness. Back then, mood disorders were called depression and manic depression. Both terms resonated with what it felt like to suffer…

Let there be love!

Let there be love!

In The Red Book, CG Jung declared, “the brightness of love seems to come from the fact that love is visible light and action.” This may be one of the more expansive definitions of love, and it shows the reach for hyperbole that love inspires. But love is both elixir and curse, comfort and torment.…

An Ambivalent Writer

An Ambivalent Writer

I spent the weekend at my alma mater, Pacifica Graduate Institute, attending “The Writer’s Journey” conference. In a plenary given by Michael Meade I learned some Native Americans believe that if you don’t give away what you possess, what you possess will rot inside you. When I heard this juicy, albeit necrotic perspective of the…

What to Call “Terror”?

What to Call “Terror”?

Lately I have been working on a paper about the phenomenology of violence, focusing on the present atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. On the days when I am not trying to grapple with the inconceivable brutality haunting this region of the world, I often sit with people…

A Sensorimotor Approach to Becoming Indigenous (and Healing Trauma)

A Sensorimotor Approach to Becoming Indigenous (and Healing Trauma)

Trickster plays with me. Last week I wrote about Indigenous wisdom as a “gentle” trickster for violent, destructive times. This week, while hiking among the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park, I learned the Paiutes Indians called these rock pillars the “Legend People,” who coyote trickster turned to stone because of their evil ways. Looking…

A Gentle Trickster

A Gentle Trickster

Consider the following classification of animals from an ancient Chinese encyclopedia: Animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camel hair brush, (l) et…

The “Ides of March” in the Cycle of Growth

The “Ides of March” in the Cycle of Growth

“Beware the Ides of March,” says the soothsayer to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s drama about the leader’s demise. This phrase, which once forewarned Caesar’s assassination, you can hear uttered each spring by mental health professionals. According to folk wisdom, the season coincides with an increase in mental disorders and symptoms of psychological distress. “March Madness”…

“The Why Factor”: Cultural Memory and PTSD

“The Why Factor”: Cultural Memory and PTSD

BBC’s The Why Factor posted two short podcasts (18 minutes each) on trauma — one on cultural memories of traumatic events and the other on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Cultural Memory” explores how societies respond collectively to traumatic memories, such as war and extreme human rights violations, which often involves silencing memories of the past as…

The Impact of Trauma on Protecting and Preserving Earth

The Impact of Trauma on Protecting and Preserving Earth

Do you worry about the nuclear waste and bombs squirreled away in underground bunkers? And wonder what would happen if there weren’t humans constantly monitoring these stockpiles? Such questions once led me to read Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us (2007), which explores what would happen to the planet if humans suddenly disappeared. His book answers the…

Let Joy Be Your Guide

Let Joy Be Your Guide

“Every day you must arise and say to your heart, ‘I have suffered enough and now I must live because the light of the sun must not be wasted, it must not be lost without an eye to appreciate it’.” — Simone Schwarz-Bart

ADHD: When meds (and genes) become a failure to act

ADHD: When meds (and genes) become a failure to act

While reading a 2007 press release from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), I became unusually hopeful for youths diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A study performed jointly by the NIMH and the National Institute of Health revealed the brains of youths with ADHD develop normally but at different rates. In the prefrontal…

A World Without “Narcissists”

A World Without “Narcissists”

The Committee responsible for revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has gone back and forth in their deliberations over Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but it looks like the diagnosis will remain. Never mind their concerns. I doubt omitting narcissism from psychiatry’s Bible would curb the common practice of hurling the label at foes…

The World Needs Our Love

The World Needs Our Love

“The world is too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.” — William Sloane Coffin

“Crazy Love”: Leslie Morgan Steiner on Staying with an Abuser

“Crazy Love”: Leslie Morgan Steiner on Staying with an Abuser

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, and love certainly deserves celebration. Except, of course, when it is “crazy love”— a phrase Leslie Morgan Steiner gave to her memoir, Crazy Love, of domestic violence as well as to the TED talk below. Her brief, 16 minute account of her experience of domestic violence is…

Finding Heart

Finding Heart

A long time ago, before the One God replaced the many gods and before Man ruled Nature, two children were born the same instant under a full moon, yet on opposite sides of Earth and to very different clans. The boy child, called Gabriel, was born to a matrilineal clan, the Amazonia, and learned to…

All Those Lingering Lusty Images…

All Those Lingering Lusty Images…

There’s something untoward about a married woman of my age writing about lust, let alone feeling it. I should be spending time managing my hormones rather than hot flashes of an entirely different sort. But I am here to disclose that, yes, lust continues well into middle age. And here lies the problem: lust continues…

The Loveless Trajectory of Sexual Abuse

The Loveless Trajectory of Sexual Abuse

Long before their falling-out, Jung wrote in an intimate letter to Freud, “… as a boy I was the victim of a sexual assault by a man I once worshipped” (cited in John Kerr’s A Most Dangerous Method). Jung also wrote of his infatuation with Freud: “… my veneration for you has something of the…

The Eternal Marriage

The Eternal Marriage

My husband and I have been together almost 28 years, 24 of them married. We know couples past the 50 year point; they like to trump our landmark. “Pshaw. Newlyweds.” But in a nation where half of marriages end in divorce, and about half the people wanting a relationship are having trouble connecting, my husband…

On Imaginal Ground

On Imaginal Ground

In Waking Dreams, Mary Watkins wrote the following on engaging the imaginal on its own, watery ground: “How would we deal with the image in an imaginal way? What would that mean? First of all, we would have to watch carefully as we relate to an image for the points at which we try to…

Love and the Split Self

Love and the Split Self

The other night, I watched the movie, Take This Waltz (2011). (I try not to give the ending away, but if it’s in your movie queue, you might want to pass on reading the rest of this paragraph.) The protagonist, a young Canadian woman, is happily married, although not excited about her life.  She writes…

1.Stop. 2.Blink. 3.Imagine. (Repeat)

1.Stop. 2.Blink. 3.Imagine. (Repeat)

Chaim Potok wrote: “Life is like the blink of an eye. What is it worth? Nothing. But the eye that blinks — that is something.” Yet Tamami Nakano of Osaka University and her colleagues are discovering the blink is meaningful. Rather than just a mechanical reflex that keeps the eyeball moist and flaps away dust,…

Taking for Real the Imaginal

Taking for Real the Imaginal

In my current research, I am exploring the role of the imaginal (i.e., dreams, fantasies, the imagination) for the evolution of the human psyche. I am also looking at how the imaginal supports transforming traumatic events into a return to growth, which often involves creative acts of self-expression. I have found the early works of…

Does Globalization 3.0 Need DSM V?

Does Globalization 3.0 Need DSM V?

The slated 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) wobbles like jello. It can’t tell the difference between psychopathology, normal misery, or bad habits. When you know there is something definitely wrong and need help, it won’t necessarily confirm your problem. Allen Frances, MD gives a good breakdown of some…

The World I Wish For

The World I Wish For

I wish for a world where we understand what it means to be human as a species among other species, without the pretext of superiority. I wish for a world adapted to our social and emotional needs, and not the dominant economic theory. I wish for a world where our most adaptive traits—empathy and creative…

“The Wisdom of No Escape”

“The Wisdom of No Escape”

For several days, I felt a physical uneasiness in response to the Newtown tragedy. From my sensorimotor psychotherapy training, I interpreted the activation in my body and my unusual emotional sensitivity as evidence that I was outside the window of tolerance. You know you are in your window of tolerance when you are resilient to…

The Long Shadow of Massacre

The Long Shadow of Massacre

On the eve of World War I, Carl Jung had a vision: “I saw a blood-red glow, like the flicker of the sea seen from afar, stretched from East to West across the northern horizon. And at that time someone asked me what I thought about world events in the near future. I said that…

Dioramic Visions of a Forgotten Past

Dioramic Visions of a Forgotten Past

Do you remember childhood field trips to science museums, gazing into dioramas of our distant ancestors? Perhaps you saw artistic renditions of Homo erectus huddled around a fire, or sitting near a faux cave carving stone tools—a nod to our ancestors’ fledgling cognitive capacities and more human-like traits. Saber-tooth cats or woolly mammoths were sometimes…

“Flail” Your Way to Authenticity

“Flail” Your Way to Authenticity

“I had to learn to think, feel and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world. I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink. The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers…

“Soul Repair” and Veterans of Trauma

“Soul Repair” and Veterans of Trauma

A program called The Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas studies the moral injuries of combat. The Center’s members believe a moral injury happens to warriors when they must make decisions during combat that oppose their moral convictions. Their website shares the following description of the moral injuries of war:…

The Lessons of Loss

The Lessons of Loss

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they’re right. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself. And sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” —Marilyn Monroe

Shopping for Families

Shopping for Families

After decades as an American consumer, I have finally developed the acumen necessary for surviving the holiday shopping season. With the exception of a few hectic hours, I have so far successfully avoided malls and online shopping. Truly, I feel blessed this holiday season. Unfortunately, I have not escaped saturation with advertisements for the makings…

Compassion Fatigue and the Fear of Being a Victim

Compassion Fatigue and the Fear of Being a Victim

What if there is something fundamental about empathy such that when we cannot act on it, we lose part of ourselves, perhaps even our humanity? What if we have unwittingly created a world in which we chip away at our capacity for empathy, and with it, one of the unique traits of humankind: the ability…

Grief Following Natural Disasters

Grief Following Natural Disasters

Since 1975, natural disasters increased by 430%. Yet percentages mean little to those whose homes, communities, and livelihoods are destroyed when monster storms like Hurricane Sandy (2012) collided with the Atlantic Seaboard. Thank goodness for volunteers, places of worship, civic-minded organizations, and professionals who plan for the unthinkable, and are there when shock and disaster…

Born To Be Raised

Born To Be Raised

I often wonder what it would take to heal centuries of violence, oppression, complicated grief, and emotional neglect. And yet the impulse to heal, social engineer, and reform often seems symptomatic of what is traumatizing about the US and the West in general — that perpetual need to fix a broken system. We know things aren’t right with the…

Introducing the Communal Response to Trauma (CRT) Index

Introducing the Communal Response to Trauma (CRT) Index

Given the continual stagnation of the US economy, it’s not surprising the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has become a questionable measure of our country’s worth. But what should take its place? For some time, the small Buddhist nation of Bhutan has preferred Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an indicator of progress—a reflection of the culture’s…

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I typically ignore national awareness initiatives saddled to particular months. There are simply too many of them. For example, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; Crime Prevention Month; Health Literacy Month; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender History Month; National Breast Cancer Awareness Month; National Cyber Security Awareness Month; National Disability Employment Awareness Month; National Family Sexuality…

Pat Ogden on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Pat Ogden on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

I am training with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute and loving it. Not only have I witnessed amazing outcomes with clients, but practicing sensorimotor psychotherapy leaves me feeling more grounded, mindful, and peaceful, which hopefully also translates into better experiences for my clients (and perhaps even my husband). Pat Ogden founded sensorimotor psychotherapy in the 1980s.…

Attachment and the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma

Attachment and the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma

I have blogged about the connection between love and psychotherapy, and the topic is up again for me after a recent sensorimotor training. In part, the training focused on the relationship between early life attachment, character development, and later life patterns of relating. The gifted (and seemingly indefatigable) Dr. Janina Fisher led the training, tossing…

The Heart of Resilience

The Heart of Resilience

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever….” —Isak Dinesen (pseudonym of Baroness Karen Blixen)

If it feels good…

If it feels good…

“Joy is a better teacher than pain, always.”  —Ginette Paris, Wisdom of the Psyche

Trauma’s Imaginal Worlds

Trauma’s Imaginal Worlds

Few people pass from birth to death without intimate knowledge of trauma’s capacity to alter the landscape of the psyche. So many experiences are traumatizing: war, rape, death, car accidents, hurricanes, earthquakes, bullying, scapegoating, incest, family violence, racism, homophobia—and this, a cursory list at best. Even if you are fortunate enough to dodge trauma, its…

Perseverance

Perseverance

  “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” —Marie Curie

When Psychiatry Retraumatizes

When Psychiatry Retraumatizes

Before I became a psychotherapist, I often wrote, lectured, and blogged about damaging aspects of psychiatry. I am more hopeful now — not about psychiatry improving, but about truly helpful mental healthcare for people who might otherwise be labeled “chronically” mentally ill and forever take medications to tranquillize their internal demons. Since I began combining…

Alexithymia, Emotional Neglect & Capitalism: How are they related?

Alexithymia, Emotional Neglect & Capitalism: How are they related?

Alexithymia. Now that’s quite the word. Derived from the Ancient Greek, it means “without words for emotions,” and identifies difficulties with recognizing and naming feelings. Since emotions are central for understanding oneself and others, not being able to discern what you feel can cause distress, agitation, and anxiety — along with rocky, unsatisfying relationships. (Honestly,…

On Lovers, Madmen & Poets

On Lovers, Madmen & Poets

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover and the poet Are of imagination all compact: One sees more devils than vast hell can hold, That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic, Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of…

“Being Human” From a Trauma-Informed Perspective

“Being Human” From a Trauma-Informed Perspective

I spent Saturday, March 24 at the Being Human 2012 conference with over 900 people who, like me, are preoccupied with the question, What does it mean to be human? Scientists, scholars, and artists addressed four areas where human experience is being redefined: • Perception | Sensations • Mental + Self-Representations | Decision Making •…

Fail Gloriously!

Fail Gloriously!

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” —Samuel Beckett (Because, really, you never have as much time as you think.)

Compelling: “It’s more expensive to do nothing”

Compelling: “It’s more expensive to do nothing”

Just over a decade ago, I spent a summer volunteering in the women’s facility of the San Francisco County Jail. I led a support group for women and did basic case management work. Most of the women were in for drug offenses, prostitution, or both. Some were in for fighting or stealing. Two women were…

EMDR: The Documentary Film

EMDR: The Documentary Film

In the nineteenth century, psychiatrist Pierre Janet was the first to theorize posttraumatic stress resulted from the failure to integrate memories of a traumatic event with otherwise normal mental functioning. Current research in neuroscience and psychology now validates Janet’s original intuitions about the nature of traumatic stress. Treatments like EMDR (“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing”) also…

Research on Traumatic Stress Supports Paradigm Shift

Research on Traumatic Stress Supports Paradigm Shift

In the mental health system, the biomedical model is the dominant paradigm. It depicts mental disorders as chronic diseases requiring lifelong treatment with medication (like diabetes or high blood pressure). This model of mental illness has been under attack in the US, where an estimated 20 percent of the population regularly takes psychiatric medications. Arguments…

Documentary: ‘Til Death Do Us Part’

Documentary: ‘Til Death Do Us Part’


In her documentary film, ‘Til Death Do Us Part (2008), Vita Lusty brings fresh insight to the plight of women languishing in prison for killing their abusive domestic partners. Rather than tackling the perhaps unanswerable question of whether or not killing is ever justified—even in the face of chronic, life-threatening violence—Lusty artfully reveals how justice…

On Social Trauma

On Social Trauma

Every month Somatic Perspectives on Psychotherapy provides interviews with clinicians and thinkers who take a somatic approach to psychotherapy and studying the human condition. The interview below with Eric Wolterstorff focuses on social trauma, which is defined as “the impacts of threats, disasters, deprivation and violent conflict on the capacity of societies to adapt to the world, regulate…

Cautionary Thoughts About Research on Trauma Survivors

Cautionary Thoughts About Research on Trauma Survivors

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed an international version of the Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire, the ACE-IQ. I think this is a wonderful development. The already substantial evidence linking diseases and mental disorders with adverse childhood experiences suggests the connection is a global phenomenon. Yet the questions are very specific about potentially traumatic experiences.…

What Can Nightmares Teach Us?

What Can Nightmares Teach Us?

Few of us make it through childhood without getting the wits scared out of us by a nightmare. Michel Jouvet, professor of experimental medicine and author of The Paradox of Sleep, theorizes such dreams may be behavioral rehearsals for survival, connecting emotions with corresponding actions. The dragon chasing you in your childhood dream is Nature’s…

“A Healing Exhibition”

“A Healing Exhibition”

I spent a good part of my youth in San Antonio, Texas, where Bihl Haus Arts exhibits the work of artist Debora Kuetzpal Vasquez. My grandfather owned a couple of Mexican curio shops on the River Walk. As a child I was given piñatas on birthdays and sugar skulls on the Day of the Dead.  Like many, I am…

At times, hypocrisy is the best we can do.

At times, hypocrisy is the best we can do.

At onearth, David Gessner tells of paddling down the Charles River with environmentalist Dan Driscoll as he talks of the need for “hypocrites” in the green movement: “We nature lovers are hypocrites of course,” Dan says. “We are all hypocrites. None of us are consistent. The problem is that we let that fact stop us.…

Peace in the Crowd

Peace in the Crowd

“Humankind has become a very dangerous species. We need people who can sit still and be able to smile, who can walk peacefully. We need people like that in order to save us. Mahayana Buddhism says that you are that person, that each of you is that person.” —Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

Can DSM Diagnoses Be Other Than Pejorative?

Can DSM Diagnoses Be Other Than Pejorative?

Name calling. Cursing. Yelling when a calmer tone could deliver the same message. Who of us at times doesn’t act outside the boundaries of civility and compassion? The material world often gets the brunt of such outbursts. My earlier work writing computer programs in Fortran left me with a childish wish to inflict pain on…

Does Trauma Increase Creativity?

Does Trauma Increase Creativity?

A 2011 study suggests there may be a connection between creativity and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research conducted by Robert Miller and David Johnson revealed PTSD correlates with a greater capacity for symbolic representation, which is necessary for artistic as well as scientific endeavors. The study compared 56 Vietnam combat veterans with 14 veterans who…

Wired For Distraction

Wired For Distraction

USA Today identified 2010 as “The Year Technology Replaced Talking.” Rather than face-to-face communication, it seems a significant number of us prefer using cellphones and other wireless devices to keep in touch, even when the person we want to talk to is just a spoken word away. (93% of Americans have cellphones/wireless connections.) In her…

The Human Need for Fear

The Human Need for Fear

The journal Science recently published a study of a molecule, which, if manipulated, could contribute to erasing memories associated with fearful events. I have written about some of the implicit assumptions of such researches and their potential application to the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. I am critical of these laboratory studies because they fail…

The Hero & Heroine Archetypes in Action

The Hero & Heroine Archetypes in Action

Living in Emergency (2010) offers a sobering view of the lives of physicians and surgeons working with Doctors Without Borders in Monrovia, Liberia after the end of their civil war, as well as in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the Second Congo War, where 5.4 million people were killed. Rather than glorifying the doctors…

More Wisdom From Pema Chödrön

More Wisdom From Pema Chödrön

In her “Smile At Fear” Retreat (2010), Pema Chödrön spoke to the challenges of living with uncertainty —and the fear it produces — during difficult times such as ours. (I also shared about the retreat in this post.) Here are a few more pearls of wisdom from Pema’s teachings: • Fearlessness starts with unconditional acceptance of your basic…

Pema Chödrön & Smile at Fear Retreat

Pema Chödrön & Smile at Fear Retreat

I had the pleasure and honor of attending Pema Chödrön’s “Smile at Fear” retreat (October 2010). Three thousand people went to the event in Richmond, CA, while another two thousand followed the program in real time on the web. It was heart warming to be in the company of such an inspiring teacher and so many…

Documentary: Five Steps to Tyranny

Documentary: Five Steps to Tyranny

“Ordinary people do evil acts” is the premise of Five Steps to Tyranny, an hour-long documentary that was filmed in 2001 yet still has relevance. By tracing the roots of evil to everyday behaviors, this film reveals how atrocities like the Rwandan, Bosnian, and Burmese genocides can emerge anywhere people are unaware of — and…

Responding to the Aging Revolution

Responding to the Aging Revolution

According to author and historian Theodore Roszak, “in another generation, every industrial society will include more people above the age of fifty than below it, an unprecedented condition.” Inevitably, societies will have to change to adapt to a significant part of the population living in the advanced stages of life. However, the scenario does not…

What Good Is There in Remembering Trauma?

What Good Is There in Remembering Trauma?

Would you erase devastating memories if given the chance? By blocking a memory-sustaining enzyme, scientists in America and Israel have successfully eliminated long-term memories in rats. Until now, long-term memories were thought to develop with structural changes in the synaptic connections between neurons, making it difficult to imagine removing painful memories without damaging the brain.…

Listening to Schizophrenia

Listening to Schizophrenia

The National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) website makes it seem the mystery of schizophrenia is resolved: “Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that affects about 1.1 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. People with schizophrenia sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others…

The Reality of Killing

The Reality of Killing

“Every society has a blind spot, an area into which it has great difficulty looking. Today that blind spot is killing,” claims Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman in his book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Calling killing a “blind spot” may seem farfetched in America where killing is…

Can the West Save the World From Mental Illness?

Can the West Save the World From Mental Illness?

When health care is inadequate to nonexistent in a country, mental health care is generally much worse. In places like sub-Saharan Africa, where treating AIDS and malaria burden an already overrun health care system, mental illness is largely ignored. Families in the poorest countries around the world sometimes resort to tying mentally ill family members…

Biological ≠ Medical

Biological ≠ Medical

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a review (2008) that concluded articles submitted to journals by pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric researchers about the effectiveness of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—SSRI antidepressants—gave a rosier picture of this class of drugs than the studies actually show. By mainly publishing studies that tout SSRIs success and…

Foretelling Extinction?

Foretelling Extinction?

Mental illness has reached epidemic proportions. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates twenty-six percent of American adults suffer from a mental disorder each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) claims depression, possibly the most common mental disorder, will be the second leading cause of disability in the world by 2020. These numbers, however,…

Can We Let Children Outgrow Their ‘Mental Disorders’?

Can We Let Children Outgrow Their ‘Mental Disorders’?

From 1994 to 2003, there was a forty-fold increase in the treatment of youths for bipolar disorder — from 20,000 to 800,000 young people in the United States alone. In almost all cases, these children were treated with medications that had not been extensively tested for use in the very young. Thus, nearly one million children and adolescents…

Why is Suicide Increasing in Midlife?

Why is Suicide Increasing in Midlife?

What leads a middle-aged person to contemplate suicide? A failed relationship? Financial devastation? Drug abuse? All of these explanations have been suggested for an unexpected increase in suicides in persons 45 to 54 years old. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-P), this age group had a 20 percent increase in suicides…

Trickster Will Have Its Way

Trickster Will Have Its Way

I have rubbed down to nubs thoughts about my current research interest — how Jungian analytical psychology and trauma-informed psychotherapy intersect in practice and theory. How are they complimentary? Contradictory? Should one subsume the other? Which is more supportive of human experience today? I was beginning to feel stuck in the research process — and just a…

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start

I rushed to put this website together, unsure of direction and focus. In many regards, it has paralleled my life the past several months: devoted to bits and pieces as I started a new psychotherapy internship, finished my counseling psychology degree, and returned to my desk as researcher and scholar in search of new projects. My present…