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

When the Fantasy of Having Had a Loving Mother Must End

After telling me his nightmare, a patient rejected my interpretation of it as reflecting anger toward his mother. "No, my mother always loved me," he said. Which may have been true for her relinquishing of parental rights enabled the patient's life to dramatically improve after his adoption and psychotherapy.


It is hard to accept being unloved at birth. Though the helpless infant can survive without physical care, psychological neglect can equally damage their future. And the most important person in their earliest years is their mother or mothering figure. Viewing the world with an immature mind, every child considers their parents to be omniscient. Thus if the child is unloved, it must be their fault.

 

Only with maturity, and possibly psychotherapy, can one accept a basic psychological truth: that while all children are lovable at birth, some mothers ore incapable of providing it. For this realization to occur, two things must happen: an acceptance of their parent's limitations, and their own.

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On Anthony Weiner and Unconscious Motivation

Though knowing only published reports, Weiner’s self-defeating behavior has one positive element: it reminds people of the power of unconscious motivation. A gifted psychoanalyst once wrote of his patient, a surgeon, who repeatedly exposed himself publicly. This risky behavior ended after the doctor’s interpretation: the surgeon’s behavior lay rooted in early  Read More 
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On Donald Trump, Editors, and The Psychological Judgment of Politicians from Afar

It has long been accepted that it is improper for a mental health clinician to publicly express a judgment about a politician unless they examined them and had their consent to do so. Still, this disgraceful behavior is common.

And one must be especially careful when speaking with reporters though with some this doesn’ Read More 
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A Toddler's Advice: How my parents can best help me develop

1. Watch over me.
2. Monitor me for safety.
3. Help me when I need help but don’t be intrusive or bossy.
4. Sometimes, just be my playmate.
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The Value of Narcissism and the Denial of Truth

“Narcissistic” is often used pejoratively to describe an immature person though it, and the denial of truth, are normal ego defenses against anxiety. While these mental mechanisms, if broadly used, are pathological for adults, they have valuable benefits.

When confronting knowledge of an exceptionally painful situation such as a serious illness or severe  Read More 
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Murder, Mayhem, and Evil: The continued media ignorance of the etiology of mass murders

During my first job, as a psychologist at a psychiatric hospital, I told my psychoanalyst/supervisor my adolescent patient’s statement. “That’s psychotic,” the doctor replied. Though able to define “psychotic,” until that moment I hadn’t grasped the power of this condition.
Similarly, when the latest horrors became public–the mass murders  Read More 
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Psychology: The Emotional Experience of Writing

I was once interviewed by a trade magazine reporter for an article relating to my book, Through Children’s Minds: The Marketing and Creation of Children’s Products. She has a Ph.D. in art history, writes long, engaging restaurant reviews, and has begun writing fiction. We had several phone conversations that became personal  Read More 
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Psychological Development, Schools, and Poverty

Schools are often blamed for their students' downward economic mobility based on the conclusion that had the children learned more they would, in adulthood, be employed at skilled, higher paid jobs. But even in the least effective school, some children do excel. As I once described a school system  Read More 
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Excessive Video Game Play By Teenagers

On a bulletin board on Amazon.com, a mother spoke of her distress at the excessive video game play by her teenager. This was his major interest and interfered with his school performance and family life. So intense was his involvement with these games that he would become enraged when his parents attempted  Read More 
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The Fallacy of the "Healthy Troubled" Adolescent

Parents and others often consider adolescence to normally be a period of strife. They believe that all teenagers have personal difficulties and will behave in odd, inexplicable ways but this is false.

The normal teenager has no greater difficulty coping with the tasks of adolescence than they did with the demands of earlier developmental periods. Then it  Read More 
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