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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Things Aren't Always As They Seem

Near Huntington, Long Island's railroad station is a lovely, condo-like, low-income housing development. A young teacher, walking to the home of a student for a parent visit, saw three teenagers sitting on a stoop and became frightened (everyone knows how dangerous teenagers are!). As she nervously walked by, one teenager asked the others, "Do you think she sells vacuums?"

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Sensations While Dreaming:

In a dream yesterday, I held hands with a long-past lover in school and felt the warmth of her hand on mine. Upon awakening, that wrist was painful. Now, this discomfort might have derived not from the dream but from having pulled too heavy a load in a cart that day or holding a tablet for too long while watching a movie. Which got me thinking.

 

Some people dream in color but for me this occurred only once and then momentarily. A coworker of years ago suffered nightmares from which she awoke screaming several times a week, then bearing marks on her wrist where, in the dream, her mother held her down while sexually abusing her. She had experienced this during childhood.

 

Dream content has inspired art and presented the solution to scientific problems. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (Shakespeare/Hamlet)

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The Unspoken Unavoidable Pain of Psychotherapists

A psychotherapist's work is catalytic, fostering the patient's unconscious mind in its quest for greater emotional health and improved functioning. While this cannot be guaranteed, it usually happens and patients leave therapy satisfied. Likely without achieving as great joy as they wished but that is not a reasonable goal since life gets in the way.

 

But there is also sadness for the doctor who, with rare exception, never learns how their patient's life progresses, like reading a novel with missing chapters. Unlike parents who, after surrendering their grown-up child, do learn of their offspring's continuing life.

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The Feared Unacknowledged Reasons for School Discipline Problems

Students misbehave for one or more of three reasons:

(1) A child's ability to control their thinking and behavior derive from basic ego capacities which form within the first three years of life. Their adequate development derives from a healthy interaction with their parents. Inadequate parenting causes weakness of these crucial abilities and the later inability to function in line with chronological maturity.

2. Students with emotional problems will be intermittently uncooperative. Schools, with exception, are clueless about coping with their difficulties and for good reason: teachers are trained to teach, not to operate a therapeutic environment.

3. School principals who do not take discipline seriously, by quickly intervening against bullying or other uncivil behavior, send the implicit message that these are not serious issues. Both students and staff soon get this message and student achievement deteriorates.

While these issues are not easily addressed, ignoring them by adopting the false explanations of prejudice or inadequate school funding will make this impossible.

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Online Moderation Can Lead to Problems

For years I contributed to a professional psychology site, eventually leaving it because it provided me with unneeded angst.

(1) The moderator threatened to remove me from the website because I disagreed with the clinical position of another psychologist and "hurt her feelings." My sense was that if her feelings were hurt (she later told  Read More 
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The Need for Publicized Psychological Autopsies in Mass Killings

Some years ago there was a particularly egregious incident in my area when a retired police officer killed himself and his children. Soon after, I asked a police official whether the results of the investigation would be made public. I was assured that it would be but never saw it.
Serving more than mere interest,  Read More 
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How I Became an Author and the Two Crucial Lessons That I Learned

Years ago, after leaving a stressful job which I loved, I was at loose ends. Not knowing what to do next, I first decided to write a scholarly paper but then a book.
Now, I knew nothing about writing a book. The only thing that I had written was a dissertation which likely few  Read More 
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Adding to the Terror of PTSD Symptoms

While nightmares and flashbacks are frightening enough, another symptom is worse: agitated (anxiety-laden) depression which can seem never-ending. This feeling of being alone and helpless arouses from infancy, a period when the child is completely dependent on their parents for survival. Gradually, the child's mind creates an image of an all-nurturing parent who, when  Read More 
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On The Kavanaugh Hearing, Memory, and Adolescent Development

While concerned with some political issues, I try to ignore the froth. I have several times recommended (without effect) that it would benefit psychologists if our professional organization moved its headquarters to a less insular setting than Washington, D.C. Despite this, I was captivated by the Kavanaugh Hearing for it raised questions in  Read More 
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Explaining the Fear of Flying and other Phobias

Though varying in type and severity, fears (phobias) are a universal human condition. They are how the unconscious mind enables a too-stressed person to function. Their stress is caused by a psychological conflict or feared insight which disturbs the person's ability to function normally on the job or at home or in school.

For  Read More 
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