icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

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

Rittenhouse and the Common Teenage Fantasy

Despite the wide public clamor about Rittenhouse's actions when seventeen, there has been no exploration of how these relate to the common adolescent yearning to improve the world.

A not unusual element of teenage dreams is an explosion. Not that the dreamer hopes to blow up something but rather to transform the world. Which seems possible based on their limited knowledge though adults can believe this too. Once, during a workshop in Washington, I was floored by the expertise of the government speakers, naively believing that if our group worked together we could accomplish anything.
Perhaps seventeen-year-old Rittenhouse, when taking up his rifle and medic kit to protect a community, was driven by a similar fantasy, a not inexplicable desire since he had worked as a lifeguard. But, as many more adults than teenagers realize, events don't always proceed according to plan.

Be the first to comment

How Abuse Victims Fall Apart (Psychologically Decompensate)

Abuse victims fall apart psychologically (decompensate) in stages. The victim first denies the reality of imminent danger with a stubbornness bordering on psychotic. When this defense against the reality of the situation fails, the victim tends to lose control of themselves and give up.

As other people fail to help them, the victim feels given up on and enters a state of resignation. Finally, as all sense of a different future disappears, flashbacks of past trauma occur and the victim enters a state of complete surrender. This is not easily breached without outside help or getting a lucky break. Victims who are coerced into behavior that violate their moral code may be at greatest peril.


Be the first to comment

Emotional Desensitization After Trauma

A common characteristic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is emotional desensitization, becoming unable to feel those feelings which make us human such as warmth, closeness, and joy in relationships. What feeling is experienced is rage which may be expressed through unwise, self-defeating, or even violent behavior, the mind having created this blockage as a survival mechanism after the frightening, paralyzing trauma.

The extreme behavior that can follow reflects the anger of frustration and attempt to smash this blockage of feelings, to feel something.
This emotional blockage can derive from combat or civilian experience as an adult or a child, from a terrorist bombing or the continuing child abuse of grossly inadequate parenting. Insight into its nature increases the probability of healing.

Be the first to comment

How To Explain Scary Dreams To A Child

Though scary dreams frighten and can greatly upset, "they are our friends" I tell my young patients. Stories that our mind creates to tell what is bothering us and, like the mystery movies we love, that we must try to figure out.

A scary dream could mean that we are nervous about school the next day or learning a new task like swimming. Or even of growing up and leaving home, which is a common worry as one grows older.
Explaining nightmares in this manner reassures a child and reduces their fear. And, if scary dreams don't frighten their parents, perhaps they are not to be feared at all. Once, having spoken this way to a five-year-old girl and repeating myself a month later, she dismissively said, "Oh I know that!"

Be the first to comment

The Havana Syndrome and the Power of the Unconscious Mind

There has been much publicity about what has been termed the Havana Syndrome: debilitating physical and cognitive symptoms allegedly caused by an unknown foreign government. So certain is this origin that doctors relating these symptoms to psychological causation are ridiculed though experts insist that no evidence of such weapon has been found nor are they conceptually possible.

I have no special knowledge of the Havana Syndrome nor do I wish to minimize the symptoms or pain of its sufferers though the power of the unconscious generally tends to be ignored or minimized. All would prefer to believe they have ultimate power over their behavior. Which is true except when stress or emotions overpower it. Then physical symptoms can occur. Forty-to-sixty percent of those rushing to an Emergency Room, fearful that they are suffering a heart attack, are really suffering the extreme anxiety of Panic Attack during which the normal symptoms of anxiety are misinterpreted as a deadly medical event.

Anxiety symptoms can mimic virtually every physical disorder, even causing visual symptoms when stress causes an optical migraine. Nature behaves economically, having adapted systems to multiple uses with a large gland like the liver performing hundreds of tasks from processing glucose to generating hemoglobin.

A hospital coworker suffered recurring nightmares from which she awoke screaming with marks on her wrists, these being identical to those occurring when she had been repeatedly held down and sexually abused as a child.

The unconscious is very powerful and one must respect its power.

Be the first to comment