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

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.

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Psychology: The Amazing Power of the Unconscious Mind

Long ago a co-worker revealed a persisting nightmare which caused her to awake, screaming in panic, several times a week: that she was being held down by her wrists and sexually abused. This happened to her repeatedly when she was a child. Upon awakening there would be marks on her wrists where, in the dream, the attacker held her down. As I never tire of repeating: the unconscious mind is powerful and one must respect its power.

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Anxiety Disorders, and the Retreat from Relating to Unconscious Motivation

This past weekend’s edition (April 29-30, 2017) of the Wall Street Journal contained the review of a book describing the author's painful experience with anxiety (“On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety” by Andrea Petersen). Her long-term symptoms included the usual: multiple fears, and non-medically caused, odd bodily sensations.
After years on various medications and ( Read More 
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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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