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

Three Important Thoughts About the Frightening Symptoms of Panic/Anxiety Attack

1. Your scary feelings are not dangerous. Anxiety can mimic the symptoms of virtually every medical disorder and what you're experiencing is just an exaggeration of the normal response to extraordinary stress.
2. Don't think what "might" happen.
3. Facing your fear will make it less intense and ultimately vanish.

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The Attempted Murder of Justice Kavanaugh and the Often Ignored Power of the Unconscious

An unfortunate current development is the ignoring of unconscious factors in human behavior. Thus in our "I'm OK, You're OK" era on steroids, virtually any belief or action has now become acceptable no matter how weird it was once considered. But the murder attempt on Justice Kavanaugh evidences the power of unconscious motivation.
That the accused, twenty-six-year-old Nicholas Roske, is mentally disturbed cannot be questioned since he admitted this. "I wouldn't say I'm thinking clearly," he said in court. Yet his preparations--acquiring pistol, pepper spray, the Justice's home address, and more--indicates coherence. Fortunately before acting, Mr. Roske phoned the local emergency services, stating his murderous plan and asking for help. Thus did the sound logical conscious element of what psychologists call the Executive Function overcome the unconscious conflict driving him to kill. As I never tire of stating, the unconscious is very powerful and one must respect its power.

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My Old Black Suit

An article in the June 4, 2022 issue of The Wall Street Journal ("Not Wearing Suits Anymore? Here's What to Do With Them") aroused a memory. During my training at Washington University Medical School's Child Psychiatry Department I had a class given by a gifted child analyst who became idolized by his students. One of his anecdotes impressed several publishers and is in my first book, "Troubled Children/Troubled Parents." He always wore a black suit and I bought an identical one. I no longer remember if I ever wore it (maybe for a job interview) but still have it, occasionally looking at it fondly in the closet and dusting it as one would a holy relic. I will NEVER recycle it as suggested in The Wall Street Journal article.

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Defining Psychotherapy and Other "Therapies"

Therapy has become a popular term with people speaking of music therapy, art therapy, horse-back-riding therapy, and even shopping therapy. Yet though relaxing, these activities are not psychotherapy as it has long been conceived. Ideally, a psychotherapist understands the nature of a person's problems and its aberration, this deriving from their training in human development and unconscious processes which these other "therapies" do not. So if seeking permanent emotional change you know which office to call.

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