Wednesday, September 19, 2018


ODD. It stands for "oppositional defiant disorder." According to the DSM V doctors' manual on mental disorders, it's a prelude to a more serious type of conduct disorder.

Children, teens, and adults may suffer from ODD. It can be mild, moderate, or severe in a continuum.

Helen, a university student, feels angry at the world.

At home, she habitually argues and fights with her parents and breaks house rules. In school, she excessively argues with professors and other authority figures.

I find it as no surprise then when she tries to argue, fight, or quarrel with me during sessions. She doesn't want to be in therapy.

According to her, it's "forced" only on her by the consequences of her parents. She blames them for what she's going through.

ODD, like most habits, is a learned behavior. It's usually borne out of a lack of positive attachment to a parent, chronic instability or stress in the home, or even personality disorders. 

IT (individual therapy) and PCIT (parent-child interaction therapy) is a standard combination to address the core concerns and wounds of ODD.

In IT, the ODD person learns to develop personal values and responsibility, practice mindfulness, control impulse, or upgrade anger management skills.

Like other behavioral disorders, ODD has deeper emotional roots. Permanent recovery lies in this curative component of IT.

The PICT, on the other hand, is geared towards developing positive and nurturing communications between parents and children. 

The quality of parenting is often associated to the genesis of ODD. Hopefully, through PICT, the ODD gains a healing breakthrough in its core relational roots.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Taking Charge of Your Fears

Debilitating fears carry a lot of history. They spend too much energy.

Yet so many of us always find ourselves giving in to them. Rather than facing and taking control of them.

"Doc, whenever I'm threatened by rejection, I always imagine a catastrophe. Then I'd feel automatically it's my fault and I'm no good," Jocelyn expressing her fear-thoughts.

Jocelyn was used to weakly assuring herself whenever she received compliments. She doubted her self. Always, in inner turmoil.

Recently, she wondered whether her boss really meant it when he told her how impressed he was of her work. She thought he's just being nice.

Thinking she can't survive rejection or disappointment which she feared a lot, she reduced her expectations. And, second-guessed her self.

By playing to her core fears, Jocelyn made it harder for her to believe that good things can happen. It only cemented her lack of happiness and peace.

In therapy, she learned to pause and process her childhood roots. She did work on the vestiges of her infantile fear-reactions.

At the same time, she took action by taking charge of her fears as she became deeply aware of them.

One way Jocelyn did was deconstructing her fear-thoughts. Reinterpreting her cognitive distortions.

"It's temporary. This too shall pass," she learned to tell her self when she'd think of or experience situational rejection, failure, and disappointment.

Jocelyn realized the feelings won't last the rest of her life.

She got better managing her fears by reframing the specifics of her situation. And, responding positively whatever the consequences.

It's true what James Thurber pointed out: "All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why."

Sunday, September 16, 2018


In the film "Awakenings," actor Robert De Niro plays a hospital psychiatric ward patient. 

He emerges from years of catatonic state after being administered an experimental drug.

In one scene, the hospital staff got alarmed about him. They noticed that the more he awakens, the more he wants to be, do, and see.

The hospital director confronts De Niro, "Are you aware of how much unconscious hostility you are exhibiting?"

De Niro answers gently, "If it's unconscious, how could I possibly be aware of it?"

We all have potential or power to create personal awakenings. 

To begin anew psychologically, emotionally, relationally, or spiritually at any given time.

Celine, 29, was bored. She fantasized, played games, drank. She felt her marriage has become stale and smothering. She escaped through affairs.

In her therapy, she came to know how much she's fallen for a delusion. Yet she couldn't find a breakthrough to change.

Her guilt made her operate from less than her best self. This caused her to be disoriented and not at peace with her self.

When she spaced out after a night with another man, something happened. 

She saw images of her abusive father, and her own husband and kids waiting at home for her, in her mind.

It became a "wake-up" call for Celine. 

As if there was a secret "code" that was released within her. It engineered moments of clarity for her.

Francois de la Rouchefoucauld once wrote, "We are so used to disguising ourselves from others that we end up disguising ourselves from ourselves."

Even a small increase in self awareness goes a long way towards awakening from our disguises. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

How's Your Movie?

I love movies. The best, healing ones. It's art that teaches us about life.

Actors, performers, and athletes use movie making techniques as a tool. Through it, they visualize characters or successful performances before the event.

I'm reminded of my university varsity chess team's movie making techniques in preparation for a national tournament.

We visualized actual moves, tactics, and strategies en route to the championship trophy. In my crucial match in Board 1, those visualized movies paid off.

How powerful those movies we made!

Do you know that we're all movie makers?

We all create "mental movies." And there are two types: good movie and bad movie.

Let me tell you about Adrian. He's a movie maker.

First off, when he entered therapy, he's struggling about a recurring bad movie. His mental movie was his primary way of compensating for his fear, anger, and worry.

Adrian's mental movie cost his life a lot. It was deeply wed to fantasy and unreality.

So much so that it led him to ignore or discount essential real-life functions. Such as, work, study, relationships, experiences.

During and after therapy, Adrian learned to produce a good movie. He got it. The secret to good movie making: walk out of a bad movie.

As psychologist Dr. Neuharth put it, "It's not real, it's just a movie."

Adrian's new life is a beneficial therapeutic mental movie.

It directed him to real-life insights and experiences, which transformed his fantasy and unrealities.

Indeed, the key to healing is to recognize when your mental movie is costly (unhealthy) rather than beneficial (healthy).

The good movie heals you. You walk out of a bad movie.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Feelings Are Not Facts

Feeling something does not necessarily make it a fact.

Objective reality. Real situation or person. As things truly are.

When you treat feelings as facts (specially automatically), that's called "emotional reasoning." It's a phenomenon dubbed by researcher/author David Burns.

"My husband is frowning and silent, so he must be angry at me," remarked Inez in our session. "He's always like that, I feel he doesn't love me anymore."

Ramon was depressed in the office as his guilt of missing a project deadline suggested. He felt weak and helpless about his fear of being fired.

Or, in the case of Marie, she'd always feel sad but can find no logical reason. So she dismissed it. Until she cut herself up and attempted to take her life.

Feelings can imprison the mind. Fears and other negative feelings live in a jail in which they must be true. They're seen as facts.

Thoughts can't question them. The harmful feelings tend to omit details and nuances.

Indeed, in a lot of psychologically wounded persons, feelings are mostly confused or mistaken as facts.

This is the reason why tackling one's "emotional reasoning" is one of psychotherapy's tools for trauma-busting and healing.

A variety of things produces feelings. Some are from the present moment. Some come from the past. Still many of these originate from fantasies. Or, lies we tell our selves.

The work of therapy is to differentiate between feelings that come from the imagination and those that are real and verifiable.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Right Wi Fi Mind

Like multitudes among us, I've a smartphone. It's my convenient mobile pocket office and work center.

Daily, I do significant amounts of work through my smartphone with Wi Fi, such as writing, reading, and communicating to patients.

So it's a blessing. The Wi Fi. The smartphone.

But we can realize another side of it. It can also be used as a distraction, vice, or addictive drug.

Eduardo quit his grade 10 to remain at home. Each day, he spends a lot of hours watching porn and playing games from his smartphone with Wi Fi. He gave up school for that.

His parents felt helpless. Their son would turn violent if separated from his "drug of choice." You can imagine Eduardo's groans and wails when it's taken away.

Take note, the Wi Fi and smartphone are not to be blamed. They're mere tools. It depends on what we do with it.

Discover your self by asking these questions:

•  Do you check social media networks, play games, watch porn or movies, etc compulsively for hours throughout the day?

•  What does that indicate about your self and the things you thirst or hunger for?

•  Do the things you view or read online make you a healthy, balanced self?

•  Or, are the things you do with your smartphone and Wi Fi leading you to feed on trash - gossip, abusive negative talks, sexual disorders, material greed etc?

The writer of Proverbs says, "A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash" (Proverbs 15:14).

Have the right Wi Fi mind that builds your self and life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Self Forced by Addiction

My conversations with Imee, 35, as well as her parents kept coming back to one idea:  Imee was addicted and driven by a force she could not control.

Her parents couldn't understand. Their daughter knew too well that her addictions to alcohol, nicotine, casual sex, and excessive gambling are destroying her life,

"Why couldn't she stop? Nobody willingly does what he or she knows is irrational and self-destructive," they insisted.

How I wish it could be that simple.

Plato would say that there are kinds of desires that couldn't be "reasoned away."

He said it's like looking at the ocean. You're severely thirsty and you want to drink its water.

You know damn well that if you drink ocean water, you could get sick or die. But the craving or desire won't go away.

You still do it ... untamed by reason.

I've worked with lots of chronically depressive individuals. That inner "coercive force" seems to explain too how depression takes hold. It's also how suicide thoughts take hold.

It's not enough to say, "I'm going to stop now." You've to work at it. Until you get strong enough to master your irrational, self destructive thoughts.

In psychotherapy, the mind is retrained to overcome that "coercive force." Often, it's an act of the will.

But addictions usually involve a "disabled will," among other hidden factors.

So it's essential that the "roots" (not just the symptoms) of the disability are accurately located first.

After that is done, only then can one start pulling himself or herself together.

Most of the steps leading up to addiction recovery deal with your mind.

"The answer lies in the brain," as Science writer Knvul Sheikh put it. Then, "it's up to the legs."

Monday, September 10, 2018

"In Love with Love"

Zeny is in love. She's in love with love since she's 12. She watches one romantic movie or telenovela after another.

She dates. Different men. But her images and expectations about love and men sound like a film script. It's full of fantasy.

At 27, Zeny took a job as administrative assistant for a married CEO. Months later, her boss invited her to dinner with champagne and romantic music.

It was like one of Zeny's favorite movies and telenovelas. She fell in love and made love with her CEO boss.

In-session, Zeny was telling me that she felt love towards her boss. A state of bliss "till death do us part."

So it was a shock to her when her boss finally told her he's ending the affair. That he no longer loved her. She felt so hurt, devastated, and betrayed.

Zeny's desperation and outrage propelled her to try Psychotherapy. She felt her life was ruined from thereon. She became too restless and out of control.

The sessions helped Zeny unpacked the romantic fantasies that were so deeply ingrained inside her mind. She's a victim of romantic myths she still clung to from her childhood.

That one big thing left her totally unprepared to handle rejection and reality.

Over time, Zeny started to become more whole. She began to experience a growing self-love and well being that's not based on unrealistic, toxic myths about romance and love.

"In love with love." Beware of the romantic myth!

It can move you to live your life with a restricted, narrow, or even false view of one's self and the other.

Psychologists would use the term "love addiction" to refer to it.

"Many who believe their love is normal is actually acting out an addiction," as William Berry in Psychology Today put it.

Each of us is a human being. Life has many dimensions. They're not interchangeable one for the other.

And most importantly, it's based on reality. What really is. Especially love and romance.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Freeing Your Self from Aging

Sometime ago, I co-emceed my high school reunion in a military camp venue. It's a ride I'd say.

Some classmates whom I'd not seen for decades looked the same as I remember them during our school days.

On the other hand, my other classmates looked much older or different from my recollection of them.

Aging is a natural, inevitable part of our human life. It begins the moment we are born. And it continues until we die. It's part of scenery.

This physical body we have is like a machine. Like vehicles, we can "tune up" through exercise, food, and attitudes.

But in the end, it wears out as we get older.

I'm reminded of a near-senior patient Rita who frequents Belo to remove or erase the symptoms of age. She wants to look younger.

She suffered depression when she noticed that her face and body still showed signs of aging as days go by. Her self esteem had gone low.

Surely, we may have anti-aging regimen and lifestyle. However, we cannot stop the process of aging.

We avoid mental health issues as we age when we come to terms with this reality.

Embrace it. Enjoy life. Learn to age joyfully, meaningfully, and happily.

"You can free yourself from aging by reinterpreting your body and by grasping the link between belief and biology," as Dr. Deepak Chopra put it.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Are You Overcontrolling?

Said Nick, in one of our sessions,

"I'm 40. But I can't understand why my mother would still exert a big influence on me and my choices. She's always dictating on my thoughts, finances, speech, and morals.  I can't help feeling her power despite my resisting it."

A case of experiencing unhealthy overcontrol and its consequences.

Different types. There are overcontrolling parents, overcontrolling husbands or wives, overcontrolling friends, overcontrolling bosses, and so on.

Overcontrol takes a variety of forms.

A common form of overcontrol is authoritarianism. It's geared to make people serve, please, or protect the controller.

One's self expression and optimal growth are blocked in the interest of the one controlling.

Are you overcontrolling? Or, how do you know someone is overcontrolling?

An overcontroller can be described as one or more of the following:

•  Dictatorial
•  Harsh
•  Manipulative
•  Overbearing
•  Smothering
•  Pushy
•  Bullying
•  Doublespeak
•  Irritable
•  Belittling
•  Inconsistent
•  Deceptive
•  Confusing
•  Tense
•  Unyielding
•  Stifling
•  Depriving
•  Aloof

Many adults suffer psychopathology or emotional problems because of it.

Psychoanalyst and author, Alice Miller, has written about healing from a painful, overcontrolled childhood.

She said that it involves allowing your self to experience all the feelings and opinions that arose from years of abuse and overcontrol.

In effect, Miller explained, its "speaking out" after so many years of not being able to.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Brain Health is Mental Health

The brain is human's most important organ. It's our body's main control center.

Some of life's deepest mental and emotional pain comes from the damaged health of the brain.

It's common to see people in trauma doing things that reduce the ability of the brain to process or cope.

Escapist things, like getting drunk, taking drugs, or over eating.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 10 habits that damage the brain, namely:

1.  No breakfast
2.  Sleep deprivation
3.  Overeating
4.  Air pollution
5.  Smoking
6.  Too much sugar
7.  Working during illness
8.  Oxygen deficit
9.  Talking rarely
10. Lack of stimulating thoughts

I think there could be more that can be added to WHO's list. But it's a good start for us to realize how much our brain needs health care.

One time, a couple sent to me their 33 year old son to undergo therapy. They were severely concerned about their son's chronic gambling and bankruptcy.

My problem was, he'd always eat, drink, smoke, and even take shabu prior to our sessions. So, in therapy, he's like "throwing darts in the dark."

Thus he found himself sleepy, having headaches, and feeling bad during talks. His brain could not function enough for needed cognitive therapy.

With damaged brain health, the psychotherapy treatment path indeed can be slow, exasperating, and even horrific.

Brain health is mental health. They go together.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The Facts of Life

Our relationship with our existence is like playing chess.

Our moves need to be based on facts as they really are. Otherwise, we make self-defeating moves and choices.

For instance, Domingo became fused with his work. He reacted as if his life would be finished if he lost his company position.

Diana's self worth merged with his marriage and children. She saw her husband's or children's lack of appreciation as a threat to her whole being.

Pat's sense of self became one with her ability to please and provide for her parents. She saw her mistakes and bankruptcy in business as her last straw.

Domingo, Diana, and Pat all confused their moves.

They reacted out of proportion to their respective "facts of life." And each one of them was not entirely sure why.

When they merged their self worth with external elements, they made blunders handling problems. They got confused about what is and what is not "you."

This error in interpretation of the facts of life, like in chess, only results to unnecessary blunders and  losses.

Once you understand what drives it within you, such blunders and losses can be avoided.

It's an essential start to be able to define who you really are and make self-enhancing moves.

In the "Master's Sacred Knowledge," author Allan Ruffos wrote:

"Life is like a game of chess. To win, you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with in-sight and knowledge."

Monday, September 03, 2018

What do you do when people reject you?

Fred had 40 years worth of problems. He felt rejected. He didn't really like himself. Let alone, love himself.

Whenever I'd see him in the sessions "forced" by his live-in partner, I sometimes got too cautious or irritated.

Many times, Fred would reject me. He attacked by criticizing, complaining, and putting me down.

Later in the course of an abuse legal battle with his partner, he even threatened to file a case against me. Of course, his lawyers found no basis for that at all.

Rejection is a common wound. It happens both in professional and especially personal relationships.

What do you do when people reject or attack you?

Smile. Move on.

In the case of Fred, I saw his horrific experiences of rejection and abuse from his parents and siblings. His deep, abject need for love and security.

He had "blinders" that kept him from seeing the source of his emotional and behavioral problems.

His rejection wound programmed him to be rejecting, unloving, and unlovable himself.

My seeing that gave me compassion and understanding for Fred.

When someone rejects you, most of the times it's not about you. It's about the other person (OP).

That doesn't mean you can be chummy friend with the rejecting person. In reality, healthy boundaries may actually need to be enforced to protect your self.

You also may not be the person who can be used to help the person who rejects you.

Remember that rejection is never the end of the world. It's merely someone else's opinion.

So, simply get on with your next trip. Don't allow rejection to immobilize you.

Know how to move on. Better things await you.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

On Knowing the Other

Controversy exists among psychiatrists and psychologists about the validity of mental health diagnosis, such as one found in the DSM.

Some are serious about it and devote their work to it. Others, like my self, wonder whether the diagnostic labels do justice to the being of the other.

A couple's (Bert and Cherie) consultation hour is a testament to the limits of knowing.

Of the multiple  hours I had with them, what must I have shared? My desire to get them look deeply within? My annoyances, impatience? My personal stories?

Yet I realized that had I spent hours with Bert and Cherie sharing all my data, still I would not have conveyed enough what I know and experience.

Another reason is, we tend to be selective about what we choose to disclose.

Cherie felt hurt by Bert's affair so she'd reveal little of her self to him. Consequently, Cherie also mistook the meaning of Bert's silence and frowns.

I got to know more about Cherie and her hurts and little self disclosure. I also got to know more about Bert and his silence and frowns.

But, I too, mistook their individual personalities and meanings. What I knew about the other remained still but a small fragment.

At best, their knowing what I share and my knowing what they share are only feeble approximations.

Thus, if a doctor relates to people believing that he can categorize and treat them with official diagnostic DSM labels, he misses nurturing their "vital parts" that transcend category.

It would have little to do with flesh-and-blood Bert and Cherie. It would have little to do with their essential healing in their lives.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Overprotective Parenting and Mental Health

In a classic story in "Hinds Feet in High Places," two characters are in a journey. A Shepherd and one called "Much-Afraid."

Much-Afraid is perennially scared. So she pleads Shepherd to carry her.

Kindly, the Shepherd responds:

"I could carry you all the way up to the High Places my self, instead of leaving you to climb there. But if I did, you would never be able to develop hinds feet, and become my companion and go where I go."

Much-Afraid reflects the dilemma of 35-year-old Sharon, one of my clients. She saw me for months with her caregiving Mom who worried a lot about her mental state.

Sharon, since childhood, has been overprotected by her parents, who are overbearing and entirely too controlling.

"Helicopter parenting," as psychologists call it.

Everything is provided and done for her. Even with the slightest discomfort, Mom is in the rescue.

In school, Sharon was lazy. She'd rather have Mom do her assignments. Even beyond her 20s, she found her self feeling disabled to hold a job or a friendship.

Progressively, Sharon got worse. She had to be confined to hospital psych wards intermittently for chronic depression and manic episodes.

In my sessions with her, she once told me, "I don't want to go out. I just want home or be in the ward."

Sadly, Sharon got deeply stuck in an infantile state, child-type dependency.

"Prolonged immaturity," observed psychologist/author Dr. James Dobson, "is a frequent consequence of overprotective parenting."

Physically, Sharon is fit. She's also very conversational.

In fact, outside her long-lingering issues or wounds within, she appears capable of normal productivity.

Always, the way out is the same as the way in - internal programming from dependency to independency.

No drugs or cash on hand can give Sharon that.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Go Find Someone to Serve

One time, a psychotherapist was about to give up on a patient. After two years of treatment, his patient remained depressed and self-harming.

"I've done my best, Laura," the doctor said, "but I've one more assignment I want you to do before you come back."

"What's that?" Laura asked.

"Go find someone to serve." The doctor's Rx.

After a month, the patient Laura came back to his sesssions.

Beaming with a wide smile, she reported, "Doc, how happy I was sharing my paintings to the kids in the orphanage, teaching them my art, and giving them foods! It's awesome!"

The world needs your service. Your work. Your art.

You shouldn't have to struggle with depression. Serving others can help you heal in a deep way.

We all have creative gifts to use to serve others. Whether that's a cooked meal, a dream for a community, a book, or sharing music or art.

So what does it mean to serve others?

It means you move beyond your self. You do things that matter the most to you as a gift to others.

It means building a life of giving as your best therapy.

If you don't want your self to die with you, you must train your self to think, feel, and live differently than the ways of me-centeredness.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

Go find someone to serve. The world needs you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Time to "Unfreeze" People

I'm thinking of a therapeutic term for you today:  "Unfreeze."

It's from the root English word "freeze" (frez).

An example is a process that turns liquid to ice. We "freeze" foods, liquids, etc in the refrigerator for preservation purposes.

We also "freeze" people. Even our own self. That is, in time.

A long time ago, a young man saw me to deal with his anger. He just punched his father on the face and ran out of the house.

When asked about the reason behind his punching, he said his father was cruel when he was a child. He'd hit him with wood and tie him in their stairs.

The unprocessed emotional wound left him raging within. It "freezed" his father in time inside his brain and heart.

The wound also "freezed" his self in time. By way of free-floating destructive emotions that affect his present well being and relationships.

People are capable of change. With the proper conditions, I believe it's possible for everyone.

As Walter Mosley graphically put it, "We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us."

When you "freeze" people or your self, you get stuck. Unable to transcend, move on.

That includes remembering mistakes or abuses forever. As well as refusing to grant people and ourselves the opportunity to change.

 "Freezing" people in time then results in unnecessary additional losses, wounds, and sufferings.

Who would want that?

No one needs to remain frozen in their darkest moments.

One can learn. Embrace. Forgive. Confront or limit if necessary. Heal and grow in love.

In grace, we can choose to "unfreeze" people in time. Especially our selves.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

You're alive today. But you're mortal. Someday you'll stop existing. So what now?

William started our session with an unsettling thought: "I'm 55, and I've lived more than half of my life. I've accomplished beyond what most can. I'm ready to go."

We each face our mortality or death in different ways. Some confront. Some embrace. Some give no or little attention.

Some deny. Some become pessimistic. Some overreact.  Some struggle. Some get too anxious.

Others feel sad from time to time. Still others function optimally by finding peace with the fact.

Indeed, facing your mortality can be imprisoning or freeing.

When the manifestation is psychological dread or death anxiety, then it can imprison.

In his book, "Staring at Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death," psychotherapist Dr. Irvin Yalom says that the good news is you can use the knowledge of your mortality to your benefit.

He puts it this way, "Though the physicality of death destroys us, the idea of death saves us."

Though I don't totally agree with Dr. Yalom regarding what he perceives to be the deepest meaning of death and after, I affirm his "saving" point.

We are here now alive. But we are mortal. We won't exist in the physical some day. That's simply inevitable reality.

The "saving" point is the liberation that comes when you accept and embrace this reality. And, the life beyond earthly existence to prepare for.

That's where you find lightness, forgiveness, peace, and eternity.

It frees you. Not letting go of the temporal makes you desperate or sick.

Monday, August 27, 2018

How Self-Deception Happens

"The easiest person to deceive is one's own self," writes Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Self-deception happens to everyone. No one is exempt, including my self. We're all humans.

The difference is only in the matter of degree. Or, the object of deception.

Psychopathology results with chronic or severe self-deception.

How does self-deception work in a person?

It's like falling asleep. You're unaware at the moment of falling asleep. It just overtakes you even though you're the one doing it.

Self-deception is similar. Just as you're unaware of what's happening at the moment of falling asleep, you're unaware at the moment you enter self-deception.

Endlessly, an over-controlling father verbally and physically abuses his children. He'd just snap even with the slightest provocation.

But in a candid moment, I asked this patient if he feels good about it. He said he never did. He felt bad every after he bursts.

He's just one among multitudes. Self-deception takes many varied forms.

Like, overspending wildly amid stream of debts. Repeatedly entering inappropriate, abusive romantic relationships. Overpromising.

Dwelling on resentments. Tardiness or procrastination. Blaming. Shifting responsibility to justify one's own offenses.

Psychologists call the internal phenomenon that happens to self-deluded people "counterfactual thinking." It's thinking and perceiving contrary to reality or facts.

It's distressing to witness or experience. We wonder why we can't see what really is happening!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Real Love or Fake Love

A few days ago, I heard of the story of a man who bought a Rolex watch for $40.

That's super cheap, since Rolex watches cost around $10,000!

The man was excited. The watch looked Rolex and he had easy cash to buy it.

But after a month or so, the watch broke down.

He felt angry. Disappointed. How could he not be?

But, come on! The watch was fake, not a real one. It's designed to break down in the first place.

Love is the same. It's either real or fake.

I'm reminded of this foreigner who married a local woman raised in a very poor family. He got her from a bar where she worked as a GRO.

After paying for sex with her for several months, the man professed love to her. And she did too towards him.

They lived in for a time before they got married.

When this married couple saw me, the woman was caught having sexual affairs with a fellow local. The man was understandably devastated.

In our initial session, the wife expressed remorse. And promised to never see the other man again.

But only days after, she was caught by her husband seeing the other person again.

This was all revealed in my last session with them. The woman walked out after being exposed of her true colors.

And, the foreigner husband was left with me, sobbing profusely.

It's fake love. Pirated love. Not real. It's not meant to be. Or, to last.

What's real love then?

Real love is a commitment. A choice. Not based on feelings, convenience, or benefits.

I like how author Bo Sanchez put it, "Real love is when you're in love after you've fallen out of love."

Something to ponder on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Should You Believe Everything You Remember?

Should you believe everything you remember?

You see, in therapy we do a lot of memory-making. Remembering events or images of the past.

I've always noticed that some things tend to cloud the accuracy of our memory.

My patient, Sharon, once recalled her childhood memories during session. She said that her mother would always hit her when having lower grades in school.

Testing, I suggested that she's always being hit by her Mom with a belt. She nodded and said that the belt would always strike her legs.

When I called her Mom to join in the session, it turned out that her Mom never used a belt. She only used her hands to punish her.

Sharon later corroborated Mom's detail to be the true account. My "social suggestion" seemed to had unpacked a blind spot in the memory.

Memory is imperfect. It can be corrupted. Emotion, distraction, or threat can affect the way we remember things.

Psychologist Julia Shaw, author of "The Memory Illusion," writes that we need to exercise caution when "consulting your mental pictures of the past."

How do you know if your memories are inaccurate, fictional, or imaginary?

Shaw says, "The only truly reliable form of corroboration is hard evidence, like photos, emails, and social media posts that document past events."

Well, I think, there could be more.

But here's a whole point: Be careful of your own account and recollections. Memory imperfection or corruption affects all humans.

Symptom or Root Problem

Emotional hurt is universal. It spares no one. It's simply part of being human.

A woman said to me in the wake of a bitter, painful separation from her husband, "I can't control it, I've always been raging at him, even on trivial things."

"Why do you think you've always been that?" I asked.

"I don't know. I'm just that."

Over time, we processed varied issues in her childhood and younger years. I realized she had grown in a home where both parents were raging at her.

The raging in the woman's life was just a symptom. Her root need was not counseling for her broken marriage and separation.

But ... counseling for the inner emotional wounds that she had carried in silence for over 30 years. Something was festering within her.

Alleviation of symptoms is only temporary.

My woman patient took psychiatric drugs and all kinds of exercise. But none gave her lasting relief.

The woman's wholeness got postponed. Because her symptoms alone were addressed and root causes remained.

If you're addicted to something ... if you feel driven to self sabotage ... if you're always having wounded  or broken relationships ...

Focus on the root, not the fruit.

"If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots," as T. Harv Eker put it.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Creative or Original?

Life takes creativity.

The challenges it presents can be overwhelming at times. They stretch us. They surprise us with the unexpected.

Creativity is one of the best ways to turn pain into purpose during hurtful times.

The opportunity is there. But you need to think and feel creative when you experience yourself getting damaged.

A lot of us don't see ourselves as creative. We often associate "creative" with "original." So we feel insecure. And already blocked even before we start.

The truth of the matter is, you don't need to be "original" to be "creative." In fact, it's healing to realize that there's no "original!"

Music genius and prodigy, Mozart, didn't see himself as "original." He claimed that he never wrote an original melody in his life.

He said that his creations were pulled from varied sources. Recombinations of old folk melodies, lyrics, and songs.

I like what T.S.Eliot said to describe "creative:"

 "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling, which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn."

There's really nothing new under the sun, except rearrangement.

Scripture says you're created in the image of the Creator. Because of that, you must, therefore, be creative.

That means being integrative. Being reflective of all the things He created under His Creation grace.

And, putting or rearranging them altogether to make life work for you.

With creativity, you can start producing all kinds of solutions and plans.

Even the unexpected or surprising in order to face any challenges that life throws at you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Looking for Love in the Wrong Places

In her poem, "Why Do I Love Thee?," Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes:

"I love you, not for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you."

Love makes you to be at your best. Not just for the one you love. But for the whole world as well.

In our times and culture, love can be poisoned. Many are love casualties because of serious psychological problems and emotional hang ups.

Such internal state leads them to look for love in the wrong places.

A few weeks ago, Rowena, a local woman was telling me in-session that she had "no choice."

She's living in with a foreigner overseas, whom she described as "addicted to sex," because he supports her family financially back home.

Rowena was a battered child and sexually abused teen. She'd get hooked with men in order to leave an oppressive, poverty-stricken home.

Each man whom she had sex or relationship with in the past, she'd say "I love you." Even amidst being abused, used, or jilted, she claimed it's love on her part.

Indeed, emotional hang ups or psychological wounds can cause individuals to look for love in the wrong places.

What they say as love is actually "pseudo-love." Its non-love masquerading as love.

Emotional problems involving "pseudo-love" include a variety of other situations or possibilities.

Marriage for money, status, or pride of possession. Marrying a symbolic father or mother image. Rebound romance after infidelity or being jilted.

Jealousy, the big, sick kind. Possessiveness. Sexual addiction. Severe loneliness. In love with "love" magic. Deep or sudden losses. Betrayal wounds.

The list is longer.

When emotional wounds are unhealed or unprocessed, the more a person is prone to look for love in the wrong places.

Truthfully, we can only find love in the right places when we truly love ourselves first.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What You Allow Is What Will Continue

"What you allow is what will continue." One of my favorite quotes. 

It implies permitting something to exist. To continue to happen. Whether positive or negative, healthy or non-healthy.

In therapy process, I call it "tolerating." The negative, the non-healthy.

Usually, individuals, couples, or families "tolerate too much" of it, which lead them to "suffer too much."

With it, a lot of the pain or misfortune we go through are actually caused by ourselves, not by circumstances or people.

I had a young patient who had a traumatizing, unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend. 

He'd smack her in the face, verbally and sexually abuse her. Such mistreatment pushed her to deep depression and suicidal attempts.

It went on for years. By now, this abnormal reality had become normal to my young patient.

Truly, if she had allowed him to treat her like a doormat, this jerk will continue to trample on her. And eventually destroy her life.

As psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud put it, you'd always get a combination of two things: "what you create and what you allow."

Rid yourself of negative, unhealthy, life-damaging "tolerating." Within you, your self. In your relationships. In your environment.

A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.

Take a firm stand. Put healthy boundaries. Care about what you create. Respect yourself.

What you allow is what will continue.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Facing Bad News

Your spouse cheated on you. You've been diagnosed with cancer. Your boss just fired you. Your daughter was molested. A friend betrayed you.

No one likes bad news. It wounds. It hurts.

It can bring you to an unwanted state of dread and despair. Many emotions can mangle in. It feels like your whole world is falling apart.

No one escapes bad news. It's part of life.

So, how do you face it?

Firstly, you take your deepest breaths. Mindfully, slowly. Stop for awhile. Take a long walk. Do proper self-care. Find your place of calm where you can think clearly.

Secondly, be aware of your emotions. Express them healthily. Your emotions can be an opportunity for dignity, self control, and resilience.

Thirdly, mentally process. Fully understand the context. No matter how bad the news, it's likely not the be-all and end-all of your life and existence on earth.

Fourthly, cope spiritually. Pray. Seek the higher power. This aids you transform the bad news into something positive. To see the whole picture. To re-launch your life.

Fifthly, get support and resources. Think about what you have. Your strengths. Your faculties and abilities. Your family, friends, funds, facilities. 

And finally, seek professional help if you're too overwhelmed. See a doctor, psychotherapist, or minister. It's totally ok to cry out for help. It saves you time, energy, and resources.

Be prepared to face bad news. Always. 

Cicero, famous philosopher, was never surprised of anything because he tried to be prepare always. 

He gave the example of Anaxagoras, a fellow philosopher, whose son died unexpectedly. Upon being told of the bad news, Anaxagoras said, "I knew that I begot a mortal."

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Just Google It?

"I'll just google it," said Bob whose girlfriend just recently broke up with him.

He was referring to healing from his wounded Inner Child, which he heard about in-session.

Bob couldn't understand why he's so detached in his personal relationships.

And somehow he felt he'd get better just by googling it!

Listen, if you're hurting or in a crisis, you may have heard of psychotherapy as a form of healing. And it's ok when you have doubts.

Google it. Research. Be well informed.

Don't just accept what anyone tells you, including me.

But if you believe you can find everything in Google, you're wrong!

Information? Yes, lots of it. And they're free from Google or all over the Internet.

But ... "wisdom?" ... "unconscious experience?" ... "interpersonal conflict resolution," "unconditional love?" ... "emotional catharsis?" ... "cognitive reprogramming?" ... "spiritual renewal?"


You can't get those from Google.

And if you're confused about the difference between these two matters, that's exactly why you need to seek help.

Modesty aside, I've individuals, couples, or families who healed significantly from their psychological wounds in my practice.

They have free information in Google. Yet lots still get stuck or remain wounded.

Why? Because that's not how real life works. "Wisdom" or "emotional healing" is not acquired by mere information.

Think about it.

Everyone Keeps Secrets

Keeping secrets is universal. It's human.

Keeping secrets not only from people around. But also, keeping secrets from one's self.

Call it denial, self sabotage, or character flaw, we all have times when we actually don't think or act in our best interests.

Bill, a celebrity attorney and politician, had a long-time sexual affair. When his wife found out, he denied it amidst overwhelming evidences.

"He should know better. His affair partner even admitted it to me," Bill's wife narrated in tears during our conjoint session.

Then, much later, he admitted it. Clearly, Bill engineered his march to progressive marital and family breakdown and dissolution.

What was Bill thinking?

How could a man so intelligent, even famous and powerful, use such poor judgment? In his personal behavior, lie about it, and fail to take into account the damage?

Psychologists speak of "continuum of awareness." That's one explanation.

At one end, you have no or little awareness of your thoughts and actions. Also, the consequences afterwards.

At the other opposite end, you know completely that what you're doing is not in your best interests or health. But you do it anyway.

In between the extreme ends is awareness that may be vague, diffuse, or has conflicting motives to be  able to choose.

No matter where you are on the continuum, something may still be denied internally. Overlooked. Ignored. Unattended to.

I suppose it's part of our humanity. Our imperfection, our incompleteness.

The remedy is deeper, truer self awareness.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

When People's Opinions Matter Too Much to You

Do you hyper-focus on other people's opinions about you?

A few days ago, I received a Skype text message from Gina. She's one of my emergency online therapy patients.

She said, "Doc, I feel I'm breaking down. I can't help not thinking about what my friend said about me the last time we talked. I can't eat and sleep and go to work."

Gina is used to overthinking and overreacting to what other people say about her.  She put too much attention, time, and energy into it.

As a result, she found her self constantly getting depressed, sleepless, crying, and unable to function.

Gina is not alone. Like Gina, a lot of us struggle with OPO ("other people's opinion") about us.

Solution? Practice my two-point "what really matters" healing focus.

There are only two opinions that should matter the most in your life: 1. God's opinion about you; and 2. Your own opinion about your self.

That's your two most important conversations - your conversation with God and your conversation with your self.

Focusing on God's opinion about you yields ultimate truth.

In Mark 12:14, Jesus was known as follows:

"Teacher, we know that You Are true, and care about no one; for you do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth."

 Focusing on your own opinion about you yields self love.

Noted author, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, writes:

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within."

The next time you get hurt by other people's opinion about you, remember where to focus. 

God-opinion. Self-opinion.

Such focus puts a wisdom smile on your face.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Buy Small and Free Your Mind

Several years ago, I bought a small condominium unit to live in. Near a television station area, where I've a lot of work or clients.

Since my children have grown up with the passing of their Mom, this move to a small place from our larger family house somewhat felt mentally freeing to me.

For one, it allowed "adulting" for my children. And a start for me to rebuild life by possibly marrying again.

In our family house, while my grown kids are yet unmarried, they can learn to embrace more adult responsibilities.

Here's another discovery I made living minimally: I experience more personal happiness and health living in a small space!

A smaller space requires less of my time, energy, and finances to buy or maintain. Less time cleaning too, and that's reason enough!

Moving into a smaller space forces me to remove baggage. Pare down my belongings. Strip the inessentials.

My minimalism also frees up my schedule and resources to pursue things that really matter in life.

This includes closer interaction with my loved ones in the space where I am. As well as pursuing purposeful work that makes a difference in other people's lives.

Minimalism is a great booster to one's personal mental health.

As is the case of many of my rich clients, they often tend to be held mental hostage by their possessions.

The more stuff they own, the more they own them!

The cultural mantra of "buy as much and as big as possible" proves to be a lie. It's not actually what can make people truly happy.

I just think you'll be happier and healthier if you buy smaller. Practice minimalism.

It's one of your best keys to liberate your mind.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Top Secret to Get Well

In the work I do, I help people heal. I search for secrets or principles that truly effect life change.

Of the things that matter to really get well, one top secret stands out: taking responsibility for your life.

But I observe that we all seemed more conditioned to blame.

In my sessions, I have yet to hear individuals, couples, or families not blaming any one or anything. For their problems, struggles, or failures.

They often blame their parents, their spouses, their children, friends, co-workers, business partners, the weather, the economy, the government, the lack of money etc.

People often don't want to see where lies the roots of their problem - within themselves.

Psychotherapist/writer John Monborquet once told of a story of a man looking for his car keys in front of a neighbor's house.

His neighbor asked him, "Are you sure you lost it there?" The man responded, "No, I lost it in my house."

"Then, why are you looking for your lost keys here?" the neighbor queried.

The man said, "Because there is more street light here on front of your house!"

Whether in psychotherapy or any aspect of our lives, we all need to take 100% personal responsibility.

This means, you are the main author of your choices, decisions, experiences - whether the result is success or failure, happiness or sadness.

The moment you take 100% responsibility for your life is the moment you heal and become whole.

Such involves letting go of excuses. Giving up the habit of blaming people or circumstances.

As George W. Carver  put it, "99% of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses."

If you want to truly heal, move on, and have a better future, take away the excuses.

Take responsibility for your every move. Your top secret to get well.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Infidelity: Separating or Staying?

Dina is a faithful wife. She has three teenage children and one adult child.

She never looked for another man even if she has lots of opportunities in her sales job.

One day, she thought of checking her husband's iphone. She saw a thread of endearing messages between him and a woman.

She investigated. And she discovered that she's one of her husband's clients in the office.

When Dina confronted her husband, he had no choice but to admit the infidelity. She's deeply hurt and upset. She shouted at him and called him names.

Immediately after discovery day, he became extra nice. But only a few weeks after, Dina found out from their family computer that he never stopped seeing the other woman. He lied.

"Should I separate from him? Will my children suffer if I separate from my unfaithful husband?" asked Dina during session.

Since Dina's situation had complexities, she needed time for deep process during therapy. On the choice to make as well as how to actually go about it.

After one's "best efforts" and the unfaithful spouse remains unremorseful, a healing separation is generally given as an appropriate psychological prescription.

In regard to the children, will they suffer if Dina leaves her husband?

If it's truly the right healing choice, children will only suffer if the parents fight in front of them every day. If they use them as pawns or spies to attack the other parent.

The children suffer too from separation if they're neglected or abused verbally and emotionally. Especially since the parents can't do it directly to themselves.

Ultimately, its Dina's responsibility. Her choice. Her pain. Her life.

This is not a "we" in reference to her children. The children suffer if a parent or both uses them as "crutch."

Dina alone has to be fully responsible for the choices she makes. For herself, her healing, and wholeness. For her marriage and children.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Making Peace with the Light

Imagine a lighthouse. Breathe. Feel the fresh air.

Take a vision of releasing.

From your mind, heart, body, and spirit towards the light.

Permit your self a sense of peace and joy.

A patient, Norie, got tired of it all in her life. Her cage always got rattled.

She hated being such a scapegoat all the time.

Trying to be a "good girl who doesn't confront." A goody-goody that people dumps.

She needed to free her self.

That's when she sought the light. Truth. She pursued it by going into therapy.

Informationally, she realized how much of her current pattern is copied.

From goody-goody Mom to the abusive Dad of her childhood.

She's not born with the pattern. She learned it.

It's her parents' stuff, not hers.

To make peace with the light, she had to make it emotional! Even spiritual as well.

Mere knowledge was not enough light.

Just knowing brings her back to playing out the same old, dysfunctional patterns.

Emotionally, Norie retained a lot of the characteristics of her original hurt "emotional child."

When she became adult, it waged war against her adult intellect.

Truth is, before our brains or intellects were formed, the emotions got conditioned first.

Since the roots were emotional, Norie did something,

In therapy, she became emotionally engaged. Completely.

Awareness. Expression of the hurt. Flushing it out. Detaching from the original pain.

Empowering herself to forgive. Closure.

In doing that, she tore out the roots of her old patterns.

The way out was the same as the way in - emotional re-programming.

In the lighthouse, she did become truly free to live her own life.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Mad at Dad

From childhood till college, Roberto had an absentee and nonproviding father. His father  disappeared when he and his sister were still too young to remember.

He heard stories of his father's multiple women and other children out of wedlock. As well as his addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Roberto's Mom worked to provide for their needs and education. Fortunately, his Mom's relatives put them in a home where they're taken cared of.

Nearly prior to college, his father suddenly re-appeared to Roberto and his sister. He offered financial help (so little though it was). They accepted.

But over time, Roberto discovered his father's true colors.

He had become unbearably mean, demanding, and verbally abusive to him, his sister, and their Mom.

Roberto's father evidenced lack of remorse. Over his past abandonment of them and other abuses.

"I can't stand my father and my relationship with him," cried Roberto.

Certainly, Roberto is not alone. We have many others whose parents' self-centeredness blinded them to their children's developmental needs.

That same self-centeredness may continue to keep these parents from recognizing their own dysfunction as well as the children's feelings about the relationship.

What can Roberto do given the present situation with his dysfunctional father?

He "breaks up" with him. That doesn't necessarily require completely cutting him off.

Just firmly asserting lines of appropriate boundary.

Roberto can't undo how his father treated him, his sister, and his Mom in the past.

But he can change the relationship he has with him from here on.

He has to remember this: he is not in charge of or responsible over his father's emotions, abuses, and consequences.

Whether his father chooses to change or not, Roberto is free to do what gives him life in the situation.

He (as well as his sister, Mom etc) doesn't need anger to establish boundaries with his father.

Just principle, patience, and persistence. Even grace. And saving truths.

Enough healthy boundaries and hopefully Roberto's father may get the message.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Future-Proof Work That Heals

Much of our lives are spent in work.

The work we do is a significant contributor to our overall health.

I've noticed that a host of people's psychological or emotional problems are work-related.

A few months ago, Noreen, a single Mom, was in tears during our session. She hated the employment she's in.

Her heart was not in the work she's doing.

Aside from stress in the office, she had no time freedom nor financial freedom to be able to devote enough attention to the needs of her little children.

Nowadays, the paradigm of "job" is breaking down. Times have changed.

And Noreen can find work healing in its midst.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg talked about it in a Harvard commencement address.

He said that we're now living in an entrepreneurial climate. And the internet has made this possible, leveling the playing field.

By 2020, it's been estimated by noted researches that 50% of the workforce will be entrepreneurs and self employed.

There's an interesting part of this healing work revolution powered by the internet. It's what experts see as an emerging new wave of "cultural creatives."

These are people who like to do creative work that's meaningful. They care for others.

They are workers who want to make a difference in the world.

Work that heals them is one that inspires them and others to be their best self.

It's rewarding, challenging, and purpose-driven.

As one internet millionaire put it, "We are moving from work being number 1 in our lives to LIFE being number 1 - and fitting our work in around our lives."

Yes, I call it "future-proof work that heals" for everyone.

It's value is forever. And it's more possible today and the future than ever.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Albert Einstein's Greatest Discovery

In biological psychiatry, the doctor is a physicalist. He looks exclusively for physical explanations of mental illness.

Psychotherapy, in contrast, is concerned with the mind, which is nonphysical. Often, it dismisses organic brain chemistry.

Notice that both sides appear to mistake the part for the whole. Each is overlooking the other side of the same coin.

The view, then, of human nature becomes incomplete. Unintegrated.

Albert Einstein, the famous scientist of the theory of relativity, shows us the whole coin. He was holistic and integrative.

According to him, the physical brain and the mind are complementary. They exist conjointly. Each is irreducible and indispensable to the other.

Indeed, Einstein's holism was evidenced when he later claimed that ...

"every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble" (as quoted in Abrams and Primack, 2000)

Albert Einstein, even though he's a physicalist scientist, offers us here the nature of spirituality as part of humankind.

He professed this personal belief by further saying, "The more I study science, the more I believe in God."

A long time ago, I started traversing the deeper spaces of psychiatry and psychology.

I did experience the incompleteness, the lack of integration within these fields.

When I discovered spirituality, as Albert Einstein did, it spanned the divide in my understanding of complete mental healthcare.

"I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details," Einstein said to express his longing.

Monday, July 30, 2018

When "Helpfulness" is Toxic

When is "helpfulness" toxic?

When is help not real help?

Donald's young daughter, Mary, related to him as if he were a god.

She felt almost privileged to be the daughter of a famous multi-millionaire businessman.

Along with her hyper-caretaking Mom, Donald provided his daughter with overflowing luxuries.

Anything he and her Mom thought she wanted.

Even prior to completing college, Donald's "help" to his daughter turned out to be in the form of a super-package: a new car, a new house, and a new bank account.

Mary actually did not have to work for anything. In her life.

Despite her gratitude for her parents' "help" and gifts, Mary felt increasing desperation inside her.

She felt tense and exhausted when she's in the company of her parents.

Right after school graduation, Mary disappeared for months. Refused responding to her parents' calls.

The toxic quality of her parents' "helpfulness" (despite their best intentions) became apparent to Mary.

She resented it when she experienced continued feelings of inadequacy and dependency on them.

And so with it, she'd feel unduly stifled in her growth.

Mary seemed to have had enough of her parents' "helpfulness."

Dr. Jerry Greenwald, in his book "Creative Intimacy," tells us:

"When we are interested in the growth of an intimate other, the most effective way of expressing this, as well as avoiding toxic games of being 'helpful,' is to stand out of the way and not impede the experimentation and self-initiating processes of the other person."

Growth is a process that happens from within a person.

We cannot do the growing for him or her. Even with our caring intentions for the person.

Nor can any other person do the growing for us.

Healthy helpfulness comes from getting out of the way!

We allow the other the opportunity to initiate and experiment with his or her solutions.

In this way, we foster the person's potential self growth.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Books and Mental Health

Chris is a young patient of mine who is an avid reader and budding writer.

He loves reading novelist Andy Mcnab, an ex-psychopath. Later, he read Scriptures and found the apostle Paul.

In our sessions, Chris always refers to his books as his "therapy." His writing as well.

He'd always say that he'll more likely end up in the mental hospital if not for his books. They're his friends and guardians.

Most importantly, the books prevented him from killing his father at home!

Bibliotherapy is the use of books to heal mental illness. Or, directly and indirectly, address life's wounds and difficulties.

The word "bibliotherapy" was first coined by Samuel Crothers in 1916.

But historians say that the use of books to change behavior and heal distress has a long history. Even dating back to the Middle Ages, with hospitals taking the lead.

From the psychotherapist's vantage point, bibliotherapy is applied through the use of fictional or nonfictional books and materials.

The books are used in-session for the process of catharsis, identification, and insight. The releasing of emotional tension brings hope and behavioral change.

I'm reminded of another patient who hated being lectured to by her mother. What worked for her was a "story" we used together in understanding her impulsive rage.

After hearing the "story" from a book, she smiled. She began to see and process an alternative reality to her recurring anger outbursts.

Rather than being lectured to or directly addressed about her rage issue, she found insight through a more effective healing medium.

It's a book "story" that allows her to embark on an imaginative journey. And, it clicked!

Author Eric Walters writes, "I'm a big believer in bibliotherapy. Books have the power to change lives: what we think and what we do."

Friday, July 27, 2018

T-person, N-person: Which one are you?

There are two kinds of persons in the world.  T-person. N-person.

The T-person is "toxic." While the N-person is "nourishing."

The T-person is characteristically phony, manipulative, and deceptive. Often, he is rigidly judgmental or moralistic - denying reality, fact-twisting, and hiding information.

The T-person poisons relationships by using others to meet needs that are his own responsibility. He often looks to others to give him relief, growth, and identity.

The N-person, on the other hand, is emotionally and psychologically attractive. He is more self-accepting, open, and authentic.

The N-person is more accepting of others even when they disagree or make mistakes. He avoids being judgmental or critical. He is more self-reliant and trusting of others.

Typically, those emotionally wounded are either T-persons psychologically poisoning themselves or N-persons who got poisoned or victimized by others.

I think each of us can be a mixture of T and N. For none of us is perfect. It's simply a matter of degree of predominance.

Bradley was lonely. He's more a "reactor."

He avoided the pain of his loneliness by surrounding himself with people and volunteering in activities initiated by others.

He seemed busy and active. But he continued to have increasing feelings of anger that hurt others.

Even though he knew he committed a wrongdoing, he found himself acting like the victim when confronted with his verbal abuse.

That mystified him.

Through increasing self awareness of our T patterns, we can start learning to avoid or minimize poison in our life experiences.

Those we inflict upon ourselves and others. And those we allow others to inflict upon us.

Then along the way experiment in our search for new thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which are more N or nourishing to our overall well-being.