We all like to think we’re immune to it, but advertising and market research says we’re not. In the Hidden Brain radio podcast, We’re More alike than Different, Thanks to Peer Pressure’s Relentless Influence, I was reminded of how clueless we are to our own susceptibilities. We’re all familiar with famous athletes being paid to wear certain brands. The basketball player LeBron James made $54 … Continue reading Adult Peer Pressure
A character in the novel Today Will be Different, by Maria Semple, said about psychotherapy: Change is the goal. Insight is the booby prize. It reminded me of what I tell people when they ask, “Why isn’t my wife romantic?” or “Why is my sister always mean to me?” or “Why can’t my husband stop demanding that the house be spotless?” Will answering these questions make … Continue reading Insight is the Booby Prize
I was listening to a podcast from Studio 360 called, Can Laughing Make us Healthier?, and my first thought was, everybody’s got a gimmick. In the 1970’s there was primal scream therapy, where the patient remembers and reenacts a disturbing past experience that occurred in childhood. They express their repressed anger and frustration with spontaneous screams, hysteria, or violence. I’d hate to share a neighboring office with a primal scream therapist. … Continue reading Laughter Yoga – Gimmick or Game?
It’s more fun, and a lot easier, to change someone else than to change ourselves. But is it possible? It makes sense that we want to transform someone into the person we thought they used to be, many years ago, such as a spouse who was once loving and attentive. They can certainly be that person again, can’t they? Have you ever tried rewinding your own history clock and … Continue reading How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 1
Sometimes I look at people around me and marvel that every one of us alive right now is descended from an unbroken line of modern human beings who first walked the earth around 200,000 years ago. If you’re not amazed, and rather impressed with yourself, think about this: In the 4 billion years since life emerged on our planet, over 99% of all species that have ever lived, have gone … Continue reading Designed for Anxiety
I once knew a woman, I’ll call her Michelle, whose daughter died at the tender age of 25. That was 8 years ago, and Michelle still blames herself for the death. “Ellie was an alcoholic,” Michelle says. “But she was so much more. She was kind and funny. She entertained kids at the local hospital with her impersonations of cartoon characters and her homemade puppets. She was a girl … Continue reading Self Blame is Magical Thinking
When I was a girl of 9 or 10, I was the oldest of 3 sisters (eventually there would be 4 of us.) At this time, a girl I’d never met became an unexpected visitor at my house. This was rather mysterious as she’d sprung up out of nowhere. She seemed younger than I, but was quite large — tall and ungainly. My parents said she was … Continue reading Family Secrets – A Popular Pastime
What? An affair? Cheating on your spouse? Am I serious? Kevin (not real name) was a married man with 2 kids. He explained to me, “My wife is bipolar and it’s depressing to be around her. She doesn’t like me and I don’t like her. But I can’t divorce her because she’s not capable of caring for the kids alone and neither am I. She’s often in … Continue reading Can an Affair Preserve a Marriage?
The most popular theme of commencement speeches in high schools and colleges is Follow Your Passion. But how do you figure out what that is? And what if everyone wanted to follow their passion? Are the sanitation workers on the garbage trucks following their passion? What about school custodians, lunch ladies, and school crossing guards? I’ve had the opportunity to counsel more than a few school crossing … Continue reading Can Everyone Follow their Passion?
Every kid eventually discovers this trick. We used to call it “reverse psychology.” Psychotherapists call it a “paradoxical intervention.” Mark Twain says it best in the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence that Aunt Polly made him whitewash on a beautiful summer day. We’re all familiar with how the clever Tom lit upon the idea of bamboozling his friends to not only paint the fence for him, but to pay for … Continue reading Whitewashing Tom Sawyer’s Fence