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

The Fear of Intimacy

A common complaint, about which there have been many self-help books, is of problems with intimacy, without which life has been said to lack meaning. The capacity for intimate relationships develops in early infancy, its prototype being the mother-infant interaction. If the child's needs are (as usual) satisfied when needed, the child develops a positive view of intimacy and the world in general. If not, these becomes absent and create a corollary view: that intimacy is dangerous and to be avoided, and that the world is unfriendly. And because early life experience is the bedrock of personality and adult behavior, these negative feelings won't change without psychotherapy, or a lengthy, continuing loving relationship which can be difficult to achieve with these fears.

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The Value Of Psychological Autopsy After A Publicized Suicide

The motive of all suicides is complex and can range from long term distress since childhood to the loss of a loved one and more, being particularly puzzling when the deceased is relatively young and successful. I was reminded of this upon reading of the recent suicide of fifty-five-year-old Jeffrey Parker who successfully led the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) after providing noted public service in Connecticut and Massachusetts. While the virtue of privacy is often sadly ignored, I believe that conducting a psychological autopsy after a widely publicized suicide can serve the public good as do medical treatment case histories, by educating people about the complexity of behavior and power of the unconscious. Thus, hopefully, dissuading others from such tragedy while creating a fitting memorial to the deceased who, as has long been said of those who suicide, chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

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Special Education Consigns Students to "A Treadmill of Failure"

A January 7, 2022 letter in The Wall Street Journal, "The Tragedy of 'Special Ed,'" insisting that these programs consign students "to a treadmill of failure," aroused my long-past memory. While doing psychological research in a Mid-West school, I sensed the similarity between a school and a factory.

Both operate on a rigid timetable where products (widgets or students) must move smoothly along the production line. With students this involves flowing without interruption from classroom to lunchroom to dismissal, with interference being removed. Thus defective widgets, or slowly moving/uncooperative students, are removed, with the latter being sent to Special Education to begin their struggle along the "treadmill of failure." The reason for this is simple: while academic failure can result from several reasons, it usually reflects psychological causation which schools, lacking sophisticated child development knowledge, are ill-equipped to remedy.

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When Children Are Given An Atypical Birthname

This past weekend, an article in The Wall Street Journal ("Harry Potter and the Children Whose Parents Named Them After Wizards" - The Wall Street Journal Article) jogged a personal memory.
In my grade school class were two children with my first name. Being the one with a middle name, I was long addressed as that, later hating it when a laughable TV teenage character was given this name. There were also a famed actor and a government official with this name but I didn't know it and children don't always think logically.

Years later, while walking a beach, I met a grade school friend cavorting with a bikini clad woman. He immediately jumped up, ran toward me, and warmly exclaimed my hated middle name to which I impulsively responded, "Shut up!" Don't ask me the name since I still hate it though I once told it to a young child who vowed to keep it secret.

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