Thursday, August 21, 2014

When The Religious Becomes A Mental Patient

Do you know that religiosity can be used as a "pill" for emotional pain? There is a difference between "religion" as a psychological defense mechanism and a true "relationship" with God.

A few years ago, at a plush residential village, a religious woman in terrible shape became a mental patient. Her son and husband invited me over to speak to her in their home. When I arrived, she was firmly holding a Bible, reciting Bible verses, while running amok, shouting and breaking glasses, and seeing invisible things around the house. Her husband and children could not understand the "gap" of reality they were witnessing in their loved one.

The religious woman, as well as countless unknown others, lives in the unreal world of religious fanaticism. Something breaks down inside a person and goes to the motions of religion for protection or comfort. A sort of "pill" to medicate some unexplainable pain within. The poor religious woman was stuck. It was fortunate that she was taken to doctors and a place where she could receive appropriate help. 

There are many others stuck in religious fanaticism, though to a lesser degree than this religious woman who became a mental patient. They will never end up in a mental hospital or go to a psychotherapist for treatment. Yet they will go through life rigidly repeating religious acts or ceremonies, not in an earnest desire to know God, but in an attempt to avoid dealing directly with pain.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life is fragile. We are all just passing by.

As human beings, we are all aware of the fragility of life. Time is limited. We are all just passing by.

In chess tournaments, players often play using a clock. The clock is set for the allotted time allowed for each player to make his moves. When it gets to the last 5 minutes of the game, the flag of the clock starts to rise until it falls to signal the end of the game.

70 years of age is equivalent to 25, 568 days or 613, 620 hours or 36, 817, 920 minutes! If you know that that's going to be the length of your time on planet earth, how then should you spend it?  Even if you live beyond 70, life is still short.

The thought challenges us to see the reality of our mortality. The challenge is to number our days, hours, or minutes well, that we may live with lasting purpose and wholeness. It also warns us of ignoring the eternal dimension of life because one day we shall die.

The Psalmist says, "The length of our days is 70 years or 80, if we have the strength; for they quickly pass and we fly away. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  (Psalm 90: 10-12)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Preventing Suicide

A few days ago, I was saddened by the news of the death of Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams. According to enforcement officials, he apparently took his own life. Aside from a history of alcoholism, Robin was reported to be suffering from Parkinson's disease and a severe case of clinical depression at the time of the suicide.

Robin Williams' talent, wealth, love of his family, friends, prestige, and the world's admiration did not prevent him from taking his own life. How could it be? It doesn't seem to make sense. But it appears though that Robin had a deepest need for something which he and nobody around him probably never knew about. I surmise that this huge unmet need is extremely internal rather than external.

To prevent suicide, such as in the severe case of Robin Williams, a person will need professional therapy and counseling. A psychotherapist or counselor must be able to form a relationship with the patient that revolves around more than or beyond the "problem." I say this because when a counselor is purely problem-focused, the problematic behavior is going to be reinforced. Counseling accomplished properly over enough span of time with spirituality-psychotherapy integration can build up the "whole person" to prevent suicide.

Let me say that it's impossible to ignore the fact that most suicide attempters and doers are from unstable or broken families. A lot of them come too from life experiences of trauma. Yes, they all have "a story." But oftentimes, it is not "the story." Unpacking "the story" and healing from it holds the key to preventing suicide.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Projection: Not I, You!

A man attributes his punching another due to the other's "combativeness and inappropriateness" based on his account. A wife accuses her husband of infidelity when she herself is having an online affair with a foreigner. A father says his son is very volatile when he himself is prone to fits of rage like a monster.

When a person makes false accusations about another person that have no basis in reality, it's known as psychological "projection."  It happens a lot, especially when one attempts to conceal his or her own feelings, impulses, or behaviors. Very often, the accusations of one "projecting" is self-descriptive. It is uncanny how often one will be guilty of the very things he or she accuses another person of doing.

People are usually unaware that they are "projecting." Psychologists say that people resort to "projection" as their chosen "unconscious" way to defend themselves from facing their own unpleasant or destructive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. "Projection" is, therefore, not only self-descriptive; it is self-deceptive.

"Projection" is a form of corruption of reality. Because of its internal defensive mechanism, it can be difficult or futile to confront. Yet there is a price to pay in avoiding the disturbing truths that "projection" is corrupting inside a person. A "projecting" person needs to choose to heal.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Potter And The Clay

"I can do this by my self."

That's what some people say, when they get hurt. People can get stuck or unnecessarily linger in pain. That is, when they choose to heal alone ... to self-medicate or self-help.

It's like the Potter and the clay. Only the Potter can mould the clay, isn't it?  Not the clay moulding the clay. Healing takes place in relationship, not in isolation.

As Henry Drummond puts it, "Every man's character remains as it is, until it is compelled by impressed forces to change. Our failure has been the failure to put ourselves in the way of the impressed forces. There is a clay, and there is a Potter; we have tried to get the clay to mould the clay."

Friday, August 08, 2014

Alienated Parents, Alienated Children

Professionally and personally, my heart goes out to parents and children who have become heartbroken and "alienated" in their relationship. I am grateful to families - both parents and children - who have shared with me their painful experiences in our sessions together. They are just too many to count. They have taught me much about the conflicts and distancing between parent and child and about how to protect the children from their parents' battles.

A married mother, who committed adultery and lived in with another man in another country, secretly went home to fetch the kids without the knowledge of the custodial father. She brought the kids away to overindulge them and attend their daughter's college graduation, excluding the father. This is one of the many examples of what psychologists label as "manipulation" in well-documented clinical cases of parental brainwashing and alienation. One noted author/psychotherapist, Dr. Richard Warshak, refers to this type of child abuse as parental kidnapping or "stealing the soul" of the children.

Millions of adults around the world did suffer some degree of estrangement from their father and/or mother when they were children. In most cases, the alienation was produced in the aftermath of their parents' separation or divorce. At such a vulnerable time in their lives, children especially need and deserve as much love as they can get. Blinded by anger, numerous parents "corrupt reality" and undermine their children's affection for the other parent through manipulation, false accusations, and brainwashing. This accounts for much deep "psychological wounding" for both parents and children unless healing steps are taken.

We hear a lot about brainwashing and manipulation of religious cult leaders in the media. Brainwashing, bad-mouthing mothers and/or fathers claim far more victims than these cult leaders, and more are added to the list each day. Yet, up to this day, very little professional attention and competent guidance are available for this type of psychological abuse, which violates children in a most cruel manner. Mental health professionals, lawyers, judges, and others who are involved with families will find it so important to pay special attention to this destructive phenomenon in our society.

I hope to be of help to you heal, if you are either an alienated parent or an alienated child. I know your pain and I do offer significant insights/program I've gained in my psychotherapy work as well as in my own personal journey to help you heal. I wish you a successful journey and recovery.

Monday, August 04, 2014

It's A Jungle Out There

We live in a world full of "jerks." In this life, everyone of us has to face and deal with "jerks" who abuse or wound us. There is a full jungle of this out there!

 In my work, I have dealt with literally countless examples of individuals, couples, and families victimized or traumatized by "jerks." A major source of many psychological and emotional breakdowns is the presence of at least one overwhelming "jerk" in a person's life.

How do you survive a world filled with narcissistic, harmful "jerks?" People who feel entitled to everything? Those who selfishly use human beings to grab what they want? The sickos of society who enjoy controlling, abusing, and dominating their fellow humans and not feeling any guilt about the pain or suffering they cause?

Here is a good beginning: admit first your own lack of perfection. Then, you must go on to admit that part of you has some "jerky" nature. That's true, just as part of everyone you love, deal with, or work with is going to be a "jerk." at least to some degree. None of us is perfect. Reality says all of us, definitely including my self, have some "jerky" reality inside us.

As you start accepting, learning from, and healing your own "jerkiness" degree, you are then ready to learn how to survive in a jungle full of "jerks." That's something that may not make you feel good. But it is pure reality. We are all going to have to live with "jerks" in this world. And a major weapon is managing our own narcissistic tendencies or degree of "jerkiness," making our self "whole" enough first.

That's a first step towards surviving this jungle and conquering them!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Two Colors Of Self

Chess depicts our self as having two colors.

We all have a kind of internal chessboard. It constructs self and life as having two sides. Two pictures.

In the chessboard, we use two colors. The subsequent two sides of the chessboard are the white and black pieces. They symbolize the "good" and "evil" sides of our self. That's true of the world too.

Usually, in our life, we may be more easily influenced by one side, giving more power to "good" or "evil." Often, one attacks and the other defends. With this, there can be two kinds of people in the world.

Self - two narratives. As a man thinks, so is he.

"For the good that I will to do, I do not do. But the evil I will not to do, that I practice."  (Romans 7:19)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Times Are Changing For Psychology and Spirituality

Several years ago working on my doctorate, I have had the good fortune of doing my dissertation with Dr. V. Bautista, a professor and chair of the Clinical Psychology department of the University of the Philippines (U.P.). In my "debating" and interaction with professor Dr. Bautista, I sensed myself "coming out" as a hybrid counselor taking seriously the integration of psychological and spiritual dimensions in psychotherapy and mental health.

Toward the very end of the 20th century, professional and scientific psychology have rediscovered psychotherapy-spirituality integration (e.g. Hartz, 2005; McMinn and Dominguez, 2005; Plante and Sherman, 2001; Richards and Bergin, 1997). The American Psychological Association (APA) now supports the connection between mental health and faith in its growing body of research and clinical practices. Even international magazines such as Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report have all devoted cover stories on multiple occasions to this very topic.

Dr. John McDargh of Harvard University and Boston College is one of today's leading authorities on the intersection  of psychotherapy and spirituality. He explains that a great deal hinges on how you understand "spirituality" - encountering the sacred in psychotherapy. Dr. McDargh describes it as "staying focused on relationships between one's self, others, and a Higher Power or God." This, he says, implies a difference between spirituality and religion. According to him, it's a case of so many people self-identifying themselves as "spiritual but not religious."

Psychotherapy and spirituality integration is here to stay. Despite the challenging waters, it has countless benefits to both professionals and the public in the healing of the "whole person."

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Heart Work at the Voice Kids

My stint as resident therapist/counselor of the kid-artists and their parents during the just-concluded first season of ABS CBN 2's The Voice Kids this past several weeks is one of my most touching memories in my practice.

The tears. The tensions. The confusions. The heartbreaking moments. The hugs, smiles, and prayers. Grief and breakups before and after. The hurts/trauma of the kids' lives, parents, and their families.

Professionally and personally, all these together brought a deeper dimension of experience, fulfillment, and commitment inside me in helping parents and children heal and overcome life's struggles.

LYCA Gairanod, the first VOICE KIDS Grand Champion, exemplifies hope and victory amid pain and deprivations of life. The unschooled 9-year-old daughter of a scavenger ("magbobote, magbabakal") mother and a fisherman ("mangingisda") father, rose from the "ashes" and faces a bright, new morning and future.



















Learn from the child. Never give up whatever your circumstances. Go through the pain so you can get to the other side. Winning is waiting for you.




"When we set out on a consciously chosen course of action that accents the good of others and is for the most part a hidden work, a deep change occurs in our spirit."  -- Richard Foster

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pebble in the Pond

A pebble dropped into a pond.

Affair or adultery, for example, is like a "pebble." The concentric rings that emanate from the pebble in the water are after-effects of the affair.

The sense of betrayal. The break-up of the family. Your spouse's depression. Your children's shame, fears, and embarrassment. Financial costs of the adultery or divorce. Loss of friends.

Healing, individually and relationally, entails "righting the wrong." Some call it repentance. Others say it's restitution. At times, it's not enough just to say sorry. You've to own your "pebble" and take responsibility and action to change.

So it's true with other types of "pebble."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Healing From Church Wound

Just a few days ago, I was browsing inside a little bookshop when a book caught my attention. It's about healing and recovery from "church hurts." Some people suffer psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually due to spiritual abuse or neglect in the church.

I came to know the story of a man who got divorced due to his wife's affair. Bumped by his therapist/counselor one time in a mall, the man was asked how he was doing. His response: "Great everywhere but in church." He cited that his friends and brethren from the church did their best to avoid speaking to him. He felt neglected and alone.

What can you do when the very people who are supposed to demonstrate the love and healing of God don't care while your world is falling apart? Well, don't get angry at God;  He didn't do it! People in the church are fallibly human. So don't be attached to or focused on them to meet all your needs. If you're not being helped to heal in your present church, go find another church. Nourish your walk with God. You need Him in your ultimate therapy and life recovery.

If you're seeing a therapist who is trained in the integration of psychotherapy and spirituality, you may ask help or recommendations from him/her. It could spell a big difference in your journey.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Risk To Heal

Life is full of risks. Yet many people think that they can avoid taking risks to get whole and heal. That's not seeing reality as it is. It's fantasy thinking.

Helen Keller, who overcame the adversity of being blind, deaf, and mute, once said:  "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

If there is a person in the world who can be entitled to be withdrawn, isolated, or avoiding risks in life, it was Helen Keller. Yet, her life was a demonstration of taking risks every time she took steps. She became one of the world's famous educators and leading humanitarians. Keller traveled to 35 countries on five continents to do her work. At age 75, Keller embarked on the longest and most grueling trip of her life: a 40,000-mile, five-month trek across Asia. Through her many speeches and appearances, she brought inspiration and encouragement to millions of people.

If you're in an emotional trauma, breaking down, or suffering from some loss, you cannot protect your self from pain. You are subject to the human condition. By attempting to escape from or avoid taking risks, you harm your self. You get disconnected from family, friends, and support you need. You'll be obsessed with your safety and comfort. And so, your condition can get worse.

The simple truth is that, in order to heal, you need to take risks. If you are going to live, you will face risks. Life demands it. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Healing Your Loneliness

We all suffer from times of loneliness, in varying degrees. It's pain. But it's pain that tells you and I that we have something important to work on.

David never learned to get emotionally close to anyone. He was lonely even before he got married and later separated from his wife. That's largely because he was raised from a family where the interaction did not make him feel he belonged. His marital separation increased this traumatic feeling of not belonging or being lonely.

If you're severely lonely or feeling you "don't belong," as in the case of David, possibly the crisis itself can be used to help deal directly with the problem.  You need to work through your loneliness so you can get to the other side. You need to develop new resources within your self to spend time alone without needing to have another person around or choosing to establish healthy connections with others.

A mentally healthy person is balanced. He or she strives to establish a proper balance between being alone and being with others. That's how to heal your loneliness. Through your working on that balance.

Here are a several signposts to know that you're making progress in your balance in healing your loneliness:

*  You have stopped isolating, hiding, or withdrawing into your room or home.
*  You have learned not to allow your feelings of loneliness to control your thoughts and behaviors by engaging in addictive activities, such as drinking, gambling, pornography, overeating etc.
*  You're taking time being with people rather than working long hours trying to run from loneliness;
*  You're not hiding from your loneliness by being with people you don't enjoy being with.
*  You are filling up your time with activities alone and activities with others in good amounts to stay active and engaged with life.
*  You are comfortable being alone and have aloneness time.
*  You avoid or refuse having instant attachment or love relationship just to avoid being lonely. 
*  You educate your self on how to establish healthy relationships and apply them.
*  You choose to enter into romance or dating rather than needing it to overcome loneliness.
*  You've learned to take time for your self rather than keeping overly busy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Walk-and-Talk Therapy

If you are experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fear, I recommend walk-and-talk therapy as your best option.

Like Clay Cockrell, I find it so effective in my practice and helping people heal. You should try it!


Psychology and Chess Performance

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), one of modern psychology's most scientifically proven clinical therapies, is used to improve chess players' performance.

In a 2009 study done in the University of Almeria in Spain, a brief ACT protocol was applied to international-level adult chess players and it was proven effective.

Another study with an equivalent ACT protocol was also applied to a group of young players. Results showed that 5 out of 7 participants that underwent ACT had statistically improved chess performance.

Sports psychology is a growing trend nowadays. In the case of chess, the use of therapy approaches such as modern psychology's scientifically proven ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) are evidence of the value of psychological preparations in sports.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dance With My Father

Dance with my father. A father abandoned his child when she was too young. The child expresses her feelings towards her father. 

Lyca, 9-year-old daughter of a fisherman, approached me one time inside my psych debriefing room of Voice Kids at ABS CBN 2 studio and gave me a sweet hug and kiss.

Here below, she sings a winning Tagalog version of "Dance With My Father" on the way to the Grand Finals of the hugely popular singing reality show, The Voice Kids, over at ABS CBN 2 where I served as resident therapist/counselor of the kid-artists and their parents during the season.

I'm touched by the song, Lyca's performance, and her teary mother and father watching her. It's a "tune" by countless children all over the world.


Laura's True Story

As a member and advocate of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry, I have the privilege of knowing numerous psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, etc. from around the world doing "wholistic" non-drug psychotherapy. One of the organization's board members is Laura Delano. Her true to life testimony struck me so well for I'd witnessed cases in my practice similar to her story.

I'm taking the liberty of "reprinting" her story below from the ISEPP file as an endorsement of her as well as a lesson that we can all benefit from. I am with Laura as well as others in this crusade of setting millions of people around the world free from the captivity of false medication for mental health.

Here's Laura's true story (from the ISEPP):  

"Laura Delano was first labeled 'mentally ill' at the age of fourteen, when she was told she had “Bipolar disorder” and was subsequently put on Depakote and Prozac.  After fighting back in high school, she eventually surrendered to the diagnosis as a freshman in college, when she embraced her psychiatric label and the belief that she needed 'meds'."  

"Laura spent the next ten years on nineteen psychiatric drugs, in and out of locked wards, outpatient programs, and intensive psychotherapy, and believed she had a life-long biochemical 'disease' requiring life-long 'treatment'— a belief that led her to hopelessness, isolation, and suicide."  

"Since September 2010, she has been free from psychiatric labels and psychotropic drugs, and she firmly believes that the human experience should never be pathologized.  She lives in Boston, Massachusetts, is a blogger, editor, and consultant at www.madinamerica.com, where she has been writing about her thirteen-year journey into and out of the mental health system, and works as a coach with people freeing themselves from psychiatry."
 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Transforming Connection During Illness

Chronic illness in general and terminal illness in particular is frightening. They can be isolating experiences for a patient and his or her family members and friends. What's sad is, at a time when a person needs support the most, he or she often gets it the least. Terminally ill patients can be so profoundly lonely.

My younger sister, many years ago, was dying of cancer. During one of my last hospital visits to her in the ICU room, her tears just erupted. She simply expressed her deep but hidden need to be profoundly touched, visited, and cared for even in the middle of her ordeal. An old adage says about the dying, "You got to walk that lonesome valley by yourself." The nature of terminal illness and eventual death can be so difficult to grasp. Thus, any feeling of isolation from family and friends that such conditions produce may make people feel kind of dead already.

After the initial besieging of food, gifts, and calls from visitors, these may begin to disappear in a chronically ill patient's life as people want to go back to things as they were before. It's common that a patient reacts with feelings of self-doubt - "Perhaps, they don't love or like me anymore." "Perhaps, I was not able to give them attention during their visits." "Maybe, my husband has already changed since my illness."

If you're seriously ill or suffering from a terminal illness, you need transforming connection to help you cope or heal better. You need a safe haven and "space" where you can express your feelings that others may not be capable of handling or not want you to express. The pressures on the sick to keep their spirits up, force cheerfulness and superficiality, and think only positive thoughts can feel isolating. A wise, caring therapist or a support group can be a powerful therapeutic tool at this time. Seeking this help can be life-saving.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why Do I Keep Choosing The "Wrong" People?

I feel for Alice. She isolates and disconnects. She has had five failed relationships with men - all of them physically and verbally abusive. Growing up as a child with an abusive, neglecting father, she currently continues to choose men who feel familiar, feel like home.

If she's treated with kindness, compassion, and respect, she feels anxious and guilty. Even in our therapy sessions, Alice expects to be "abused." She simply has no working model to encompass such benign, calm, or encouraging one-to-one relationship and interaction.

I'd like to call it "bonding to abuse." Some experts, such as Dr. Jon Allen of the famous Menninger Clinic, labels the phenomenon "trauma bonding." A classic example of "trauma bonding" or "bonding to abuse" is the concentration camp victim who learns to love or idolize her captor and tries to please him and gain his favor. According to Dr. Allen, "trauma bonding" requires two conditions:  there must be an imbalance of power and the victim must be isolated from other forms of support.

Children who grew up in homes with addiction, abuse, emotional deprivation, or psychological illness fulfill the conditions for "trauma bonding." There is this power imbalance between parent and child and the hurting child is often isolated and disconnected from other forms of support because of family secrecy and shame. This is how "trauma bonding" wounds are formed. Left unhealed, such as in the case of Alice, a victim can be bound to re-traumatize herself in the same way that she was previously traumatized.

Brain science and research also confirms the dynamic behind this "trauma bonding" phenomenon. It discovers that experiences or behaviors we had as a child become a "script" literally imprinted on the brain. We then operate from the contents of that "script" even into adulthood, choosing life circumstances that match up with the information stored in the "brain file." Thus in relationships, we are likely to choose, albeit unconsciously, what we know because that is what we have stored in our brain's filing system.

There it is. Knowing this, being aware of it, is the beginning of recovery. We can use the reenactments or repetitions in our lives to understand the location of where our "core wounds" lie, and where we need to heal.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Our Addicted Society

Let me tell you something that might sound radical to you: we all live in an addicted society. Society contributes a huge part into the corruption, dysfunction, or breakdown of individuals and families in our world. Would that be so difficult for you to grasp?

One time, I was speaking to a seasoned 80-year-old veteran lawyer. Constantly exposed to human corruption in his decades-long legal practice, he expressed deep disappointment over people and society in general. At one point, he quoted or paraphrased Emerson, to describe his experience, "Everyone in society is a prostitute. It's just a matter of price."

Several days ago, Norma came in to see me for "relationship" counseling. She has two boyfriends, and is struggling and hurting over her sex addiction. Often, sex addiction finds its origins in childhood abuse or abandonment.  In Norma's case, she was raised in a normal home with attentive, loving, and godly parents and no evidences of molestation or some trauma. Some other significant factor then contributes to her condition.

Norma described herself as still being sexually innocent when she went away to the city for work after graduation from college. She rented space in a boarding house and was exposed to pornography and sexual promiscuity for the first time. Her fellow female boarders would watch X-rated movies and she discovered their "phone sex" and going out with multiple men for paid sex. In time, Norma "eased into" the addiction gradually through repeated exposures to pornography and sex around her.

Now, aren't these representations of how society helps condition us toward addiction and psychopathology?  In the media, in the world of business, in politics, everywhere, people are "objects," not persons. Its essence is dehumanization, which encourages us to use people and sell our self for decorative and consumption purposes. As Madonna put it, "We live in a material world, and I'm a material girl." Human dignity and authenticity be damned.

Think, for a moment, just take a look around you. Society is diseased. This is one part of the reason why countless human beings get wounded and break down - emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Every addiction nowadays is traceable to the addictive virus present in the kind of society and world we live in. It's not "out there," it's everywhere.

We all need redemption and healing from this. But first, we all need to see it as it really is.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

When Drugs Produce Abnormal Behavior

Numerous medications can produce abnormal behavior. An article in a medical magazine for physicians in March 1992 edition of American Family Physician listed 44 different medications capable of producing abnormal behavior.

This evening, I've read one report to the FDA's MedWatch team on the violent side effects of psychiatric drugs. Aggression tops with 7, 250 reported cases;  mania, 2, 795 cases;  homicidal ideation, 872 cases;  hostility, 607 cases;  physical assault, 504 cases;  homicide, 359 cases;  psychosis, 191 cases; violence-related symptoms, 177 cases. To know more, you may check it out at http://www.cchr.org.

In the case of mental or emotional disorders, it's important to notice that countless numbers of them are placed on medicines, admitted to hospitals, given shock therapy and so on. They are told that their problem is medical or physical or organic, so they're given brain drugs. This is despite the fact that there have been no objective laboratory tests that prove it. None of these psychiatric diagnoses and procedures are supported by objective evidence of physical disease, illness, or science.

In medicine, diagnosis is made on the basis of organic changes in the physical body and established clinical test results. By contrast, in drug-prescribing psychiatry, diagnoses are made on the basis of subjective reports and behaviors of a person based on a set of symptoms. Psychiatry starts with a theory and then prescribes a pharmaceutical drug for a non-organic problem.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Expecting Instant Result?

Therapy is like running a marathon. You take it slow and pace enough so you can have enough energy  towards the finish line. When you go faster than you're supposed to, your body may break down and not be able to complete the race.

Put it in medical terms when you just underwent a major open heart surgery, how long do you think it's going to take before you can walk, jog, or run again? How long before you can run the marathon again if you're a runner? Doctors say it may take 4 to 5 years of recovery.

Addiction, divorce, or any kind of trauma wound is open heart surgery - emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. You need to give it enough time. When your expectations for healing are too fast and you force the recovery too quickly, you have to do it over again and you get a relapse. You wasted time, money, and energy. What would normally take 2 years is going to take 6 or 7 years because you've done more damage to your self in the process.

You will heal. The prognosis is good. But be prepared for therapeutic exercises, workups, time for rest, going back into work in stages, and to allow people to be of support to you. When you have a lot of healing left to do on your inside, you need patience, wisdom, and resources to take things slow enough to have healthy gains. We are all by nature designed in this way.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A Disorder That Does Not Specialize

Feeling chronically empty, bored, and numb, Lito, whom I met in the set of one GMA 7 TV shoot of "Out of Control," desperately seeks "excitement." To feel something, not to kill himself, he slashes his wrists and other parts of his body. He overdoses in alcohol and cigarettes, instigates brawls, and sexually acts up with multiple partners. He says, "I feel so dead, cutting myself and doing these other things are the only ways I know I'm alive."

What I notice to be a "disorder that does not specialize," BPD or borderline personality disorder, according the DSM-IV/V, is characterized by at least five of the following:  1. Impulsivity;  2. Unstable and intense interpersonal relations;  3. Inappropriate or intense anger;  4. Identity confusion;  5. Affective instability;  6. Problems being alone;  7. Physically self-destructive acts;  8. Chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom.

Individuals with BPD often experience unprocessed emotional wounds. That's why BPD is also called and known as "emotionally unstable personality disorder." Underneath the madness lies a deep emotional abandonment trauma. I'm reminded of a book on borderlines by Dr. Jerold Kreisman. His book's title aptly describes a lurking overwhelming emotion inside a BPD:  "Don't Leave Me, I Hate You."  Because of the depth of abandonment wounds, clinicians working with BPD must walk a narrow path between giving support without rescuing and encouraging independence without signaling abandonment.

BPDs are known in mental health care to be one of the most difficult of patients to care for. There is usually a lot of work ahead to explore unconscious wounds that fuel breakdown on the surface. A lot of structure, consistency, and trust-building over time are needed to reach significant progress that leads to a point of stability and wholeness. There is no other way.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chess Therapy For Mental Health

Chess therapy is now used by numerous psychotherapists and doctors. It has become a popular creative psychotherapy technique in the past 20 years. This therapy has been known to produce positive results with children who have bipolar disorders, depression, ADHD, and neuro-behavioral disorders.

Chess therapy is a form used to form bonds between the psychotherapist and his/her clients. It is an alternate diagnosis for neuro-behavioral and mental issues that a client may suffer from. Chess therapy helps in cultivating an intentional rapport and connection between the psychotherapist and his patient to help him through any psychological or emotional problems that he may be facing.

Unlike other forms of therapy, chess therapy does not require the patient to lie down on a couch and pour his heart out to his therapist. Chess therapy involves active participation from both parties―the client as well as the therapist―to engage in a game of chess.

One time, Mark, a university-educated young man from Italy, visited me in the hospital. He's hungry for chess and wanting to inquire about chess therapy. When he arrived, I asked him to join my group session and share a bit about himself. After a short conversation, he's truly a "philosopher" guy immersed in heady ideas and abstract concepts.

But, most of all, Mark was going through some emotional difficulties and seeing me for psychotherapy to unpack his unexplainable psychological blocks. His preferred way: chess therapy. Chess did fit him despite his seemingly normal exterior or mindworks. It can be good emotional therapy too for "philosophers" to play chess.

Chess therapy was founded as early as AD 852-932 by a certain Dr. Rhazes who was chief physician at Baghdad Hospital. Dr. Rhazes uses chess strategies and tactics as metaphors in real life to help patients think clearer.

Wikepedia reported, "One of the earliest reported cases of chess therapy involves the improvement in an isolated, schizoid, 16-year old youth that took place after he became interested in chess. Chess provided an outlet for his hostile impulses in a non-retaliatory manner. Good use was made of the patient's digressions from the game and his newly acquired ability to speak about his feelings, fantasies and dreams which the particular emotional situation of the game touched off. The report demonstrates how the fact that chess is a game, and not real, enabled the patient to exert some conscious control over his feelings and thus learn to master them to a limited extent."



 World Boxing champion Manny Pacquaio's Therapy
before and after fights.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

The "Idol" Factor

Whenever I meet people suffering from some type of addiction or brokenness, I keep running into a conspicuous common factor:  the "idol" factor.  It's such a widespread personal factor in the lives of millions of people all over the world. Despite life-damaging circumstances and warnings, people with entrenched "idols" in their hearts still allow themselves to be taken captive.

Virtually every kind of stronghold, addiction, or adultery involves the worship of an "idol." For example, the stronghold of arrogance or pride is associated with the worship of the "idol" of self. The stronghold of addiction (e.g. sex, money, power, gambling, relationship, drugs etc.) is associated with the worship of an "idol" of object, habit, or substance. In one way or another, something has become "god" or object of chief focus of one's life, which then contributes to disease of self and life in general.

As long as our minds welcome and rehearse the lures of our "idols" in life more than the strength of God or the values of emotional health, we will be sick and impotent. Healing is a choice.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Betrayal Blindness

One time, Mary saw me for counseling. She just checked her husband's emails and social media accounts. To her shock, she discovered that her husband has been having secret multiple sexual relationships with various men in all their 20 years of marriage. Her husband is a gay sex addict.

Processing her grief and pain, she reached a point when she realized that she had to require something from her husband in order to heal. It's "get help or get out." She became so anxious and frightened about the possibility of her husband leaving her and cutting his support if she requires him to get help and rehabilitate. In the end, she chooses not to confront her husband. She chooses to look away.

"Betrayal blindness" is a state of mind in which you choose to keep a secret from your self. You have it when the reality that's happening in your world and the consequences of that reality are actually more frightening than you walking in through it to heal. So, in essence, you lie to your self. You turn a blind eye. You don't look at what's actually happening because it would cost you too much.

Indeed, we can be too afraid to look at and embrace truth. As a result, we choose to stay sick instead of heal. We tolerate the intolerable because we don't want to deal with the ramifications. It's "betrayal blindness," one of the most horrible bites one may suffer from away from recovery and wholeness.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Self-Compassion

He didn't see it coming. Around the last rounds of a singing reality contest on TV, I watched Lito so focused and reality was treating him well. The coaches were picking and advancing him. Then, reality slap came in. He was removed from advancing to the semi-final round.

Lito saw me right after the loss. In the psych debriefing room, he was sobbing and crumbling a lot. Clearly "spaced out," he can hardly speak and on the brink of harming himself with his behavior. There felt a huge amount of sadness, sorrow, regret, fear, anxiety, and anger beneath Lito's surface.

When we are hurting or have suffered a loss, we all need to learn to be kind to ourselves. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done for many. For most of us, the default setting of our mind is to be harsh, critical, uncaring, and judgmental of ourselves. In every case, what's involved is learning to accept and embrace the gap between the reality that we've got and the reality that we want.    

So, we need to learn the therapy of "Self-Compassion." It's extending compassion to one's self in situations of perceived loss, failure, inadequacy or pain. Psychotherapist Dr. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Basically, this therapeutic tool, self-compassion, is the act of "holding your self with care." With it, we can find calm amid the chaos, heal the wounds, and come through stronger than before. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fatigue

"I'm tired all the time."

"I feel run down."

I'm all worn out."

Fatigue is a very common complaint people consult physicians about. It's a normal expected part of life. We all experience it. According to a medical source, fatigue is defined as "nonspecific cerebral perception of neuro-mascular sensations, chemoreceptor input and neural reactions to external stimuli."

Fatigue is subjective. It cannot be measured by clinical, objective diagnostic tools. It's hard to assess. In fact, the physical body can be weakened or susceptible to having symptoms when there is nothing wrong medically.

Ruling out medical causation or physical roots for the fatigue, that's where counseling and therapy can be of great help. Some questions can give significant insight in dealing with the problem of fatigue.

What problems or stresses are currently present in your life? How are you responding to those pressures? How much sleep do you get every night? What chemicals do you put into your body? How much time do you spend with your family or friends?

Many times, a change in focus will bring benefit of actually reducing or eliminating the effects or damage of fatigue. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Double Father's Day

It's "double" Father's Day I have today, June 15, 2014. I greeted my Dad a Father's Day. My 3 kids - Christine, 20; Paul, 17; and Angel, 11 - celebrated the day too with me dining out and strolling around.

At the same time, today is also the exact 80th birthday of my Dad. Though pretty frail and ill physically, his mind and zest are still in the optimum. While conversing with him several hours ago, my "father wounds" are no longer there. And my kids' "father wounds" appear to also be healing well. Hahahaha!

Here are surprises -my Dad still uses and reads an old Bible given to him by a friend/missionary from Canada, Paul and Alice Blackmore, in 1989. My Dad comes to seek and know the Lord through this Bible.  Also, my Dad does not text or go to the internet, he does not even have an email, and he still uses his antique typewriter for his writings. 
My amazing Dad!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Simply This: "Listen"

No matter who we are, we are all looking for someone to listen. A number of years ago, in a group therapy course in Ateneo, my psychology professor simply sat down and listened to each one of us in the circle. It was new to me. I hated to show my displeasure but I expressed it in her journal homework for us.

But the more I thought about it later -- what my psychology professor demonstrated -- I realized that she was teaching us something significant. She was right! Listening can heal. Everyone on earth is at least just a little bit lonely. There is no better recovery booster than simply this: listen. I love this lesson my professor taught us. It's so true.

Is there someone in your life, in your family, in your school, or in your office who needs your support?  Are you willing to make an effort to reach out to them? I hope so. For I have discovered that life is richer, the horizon is brighter, and the road gets shorter when traveled with kind, nurturing, and listening companions. Those who make such an investment find that it pays off all through the years in terms of personal growth and friendships.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are You A Victim Of A Jerk?

It took a while. But Helen was finally able to let go of her sexually addicted, unfaithful, and abusive boyfriend. To help Helen with her growing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, I got her in touch with reality and to see what really is. She finally realized that she was victimized by a con man and predator who successfully preyed on her, and successfully victimizing a lot of other women.

Our world is full of "jerks" and you can be victimized by one or more. In its simplest form, being a jerk means "being selfish" or "anyone who selfishly uses or abuses any human being that is ultimately harmful to the other." The root of selfishness in a jerk is a sense of "entitlement" that simply shouts, "I deserve to get, be, and act the way I do."

In the psychiatric manual DSM IV/V, "narcissistic personality" is one of the recognized mental disorders. Narcissistic personality is another definition of a jerk. Of course, it came from the root word "Narcissus" in Greek mythology. The character, Narcissus, sat gazing at his reflection in a pool for so long that he fell in love with himself and became so enthralled with his appearance that he turned into a flower that bears his name. Simply put, narcissism is self-centeredness.

In my practice and in the lives of countless people, I've observed too many lives damaged by jerks or narcissistic personalities. The pendulum has swung too far, creating enormous grief and suffering in the lives of victims. I've known increases in abuse, in compulsions, in addictions of all kinds, and in existential despair over the fallout and abandonment committed by jerks.

You can overcome the abuse and damage of a jerk in your life.  You begin by walking away and getting your healing ....

Monday, June 09, 2014

Why Not Sing Your Own Song?

All her life, 48-year-old Patty followed the control and dictates of others. These people include not only her domineering father, but her husband of many years, who would soon become her ex-husband due to his serial infidelity.

Because of her marital crisis, she paid me a visit to sort out her "hitting bottom." This began a process of healthy change for her. She learned something important in therapy. She finally saw her reality of being controlled all her life and it's time to take control of her self for a change.

In therapy, Patty realized that she had never been aware of how powerless she had always been due to her need for other-approval. She didn't become disrespectful to her father, but she started becoming more assertive and independent. In regard to her unfaithful husband, tears streamed down her face, but something snapped inside Patty. She took a stand, created healthy limits, and learned not to honor the dishonorable in her husband.

Patty is now sounding better. She is beginning well to sing her own song.

Friday, June 06, 2014

False Hope of Self Change

In hurting, addicted, or broken people, a most common lie is this, "I can figure this out by my self. I can recover alone." I know, this may sound discouraging for those of us who determine to stop some harmful or life-damaging habit. But it's reality of our human condition. Self-change is hard, and powerlessness or relapse is so common among us.

In an effort to understand why self-change often fails, two Canadian psychologists (Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman) did a long term research on it. Their research was published in the American Psychologist September 2002 issue, where they proposed what they termed the "False-Hope Syndrome" (FHS) of self-change.

According to this research-based theory, a factor why self-change often fails is because of "unrealistic expectations." Suppose a long-time alcoholic, drug addict, or serial adulterer promises to stop his or her habit in one month all by himself. Polivy and Herman will most likely qualify this as "false-hope syndrome" because the hopes or expectations are too ambitious and unrealistic. Initial efforts may lead to success. But very soon, however, the change stops. At this point, it's so common to find excuses or reasons why the effort fails.

We all live in a culture that does more harm than good when it tells us, "All the answers to your problems are inside you." It's spoken out of context, misapplied, and giving false hope that compounds failure in people's lives. The fact is, we rarely know how to solve our problems. In the midst of our false hope and confident talk, the glaring reality is we are all somewhat damaged and our minds are "sick" to some degree.

As a result, if we choose to "figure out by my self" with our disabled minds to get us well, we are headed for trouble. Our imperfect, damaged mind on its own does not have the capacity to lead us to truth, wisdom, or the healing we need. We need to choose to connect to others and seek appropriate help. This can bring us to the beginnings of true hope for self-change.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Why Do Psychiatrists Prescribe Drugs?

As I would talk with Dina, I learned that her daughter Liza has been significantly taking psychotropic drugs for over a decade now. During all this time, Liza is also frequently in and out of a mental hospital or psychological facility due to bouts of severe depression, violence, and addiction.

Today, Liza takes additional prescription drugs for her developed multiple organic diseases, including hypertension, gastrointestinal disease, and diabetes, aside from psychiatric drugs she's maintaining. Sadly, Liza's psychological and emotional states continue to deteriorate despite the psychiatric drugs she's taking.

On one side of Liza's situation, we have specific organic causes and objective laboratory results evidencing her physical condition. On the other side are clear non-organic psychological and emotional problems. In between these is this area of unproven diagnosis of "chemical imbalance" (still a theory, not a fact, up to this day), implying that psychological/emotional problems are organic. Liza has been told her mental problem is organic and thus needs pharmaceutical medication.

Since there is no conclusive scientific, objective proof that brain drugs change anything in the brain or body, why are organic drugs prescribed by psychiatrists for non-organic mental problems? Let me share three pieces of thought that could be possible reasons why psychiatrists recommend drug use. First, psychiatrists usually have only biochemical theories to guide their treatment of patients with psychological or mental health problems. Medical protocol requires and justifies their use of medication.

A second possible reason has to do with the psychiatrists' untrained competency in real-life psychotherapy and counseling. They may have been conditioned to accept the "lie" that medication is the answer to mental illness without doing any thinking themselves. They know nothing else far superior or appropriate to find answers to people's mental health problems.

A third possible reason why drugs are prescribed by psychiatrists can be the most grievous: pragmatism. Pharmaceutical drugs are a trillion-dollar industry where doctors profit too. Thus, psychiatrists may find themselves trapped in the hopelessness of naturalistic or materialistic thinking and business pressure from the pharmaceutical industry and medical community in treating mental illnesses.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Catharsis

Catharsis is a therapeutic benefit of inner healing. It's sometimes referred to as "emotional housecleaning" or corrective emotional experience. It involves the expression or the venting of strong feelings.

This therapeutic benefit usually has several components:

*  Reality testing - with aid of consensual confirmation and validation from therapist or support group members;

*  Risk taking - supportive enough therapist or group to permit the taking of risks;

*  Facilitation of deep and honest interaction with others;

*  Recognition of unhealthy individual habits or interpersonal behaviors;

*  Strong expressions of emotion that is interpersonally directed

Part of the curative aspect of "catharsis" is a great relief simply in knowing that one is not alone. Beyond the simple relief of sharing, just knowing that other people experience the same feelings, thoughts, and struggles make it easier to break down internal barriers and start healing. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A Cardiologist Story

For many people, hurts and losses are experiences of brokenness. And before they can rebuild, trust, or go on in their lives, they need to learn to pick up the pieces. Then, choose to begin again.

I heard the story of a cardiologist who was performing heart surgery on a woman patient. In the course of the surgery, he massaged her heart once; nothing happened. Then he massaged her heart twice; nothing happened. He massaged her heart again, thrice this time; still nothing happened. Finally, the cardiac doctor leaned over the ears of his woman patient and whispered these words:  "Mrs. Smith, the surgery is going well. It's ok to make your heart beat again." Shortly after hearing those words, the patient's heart began to beat again.

In our healing journey, we take time. Then we reach a point of development when we need to choose to begin again. To rebuild. To trust again. To make something new. Hope will not manifest itself, good things can't come when we remain stuck. Or shut down before reaching the mountain top.

It's not going to be easy. But you can.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Anton Boisen and Mental Health

This evening, I came across a biography of Anton Boisen. Sometime in 1925, Anton Boisen was himself a patient in a hospital in Boston, U.S.A.  In his loneliest moments in the hospital, he needed someone to whom to address his needs. There was no one in the hospital to meet the needs of his "whole person."

Boisen realized that health is a "whole person" vitality. According to him, health is not attained by medicine alone but also demands the combined efforts of spiritual and psychological instruments. It is in the “wholistic” approach of healing the sick person that medical science, psychotherapy, religious faith, and other allied disciplines join forces and resources to form the “Healing Team."

In 1926/1971, Anton Boisen published an article revealing another need for involvement in people's emotional ills:

"We have therefore this truly remarkable situation -- a church which has always been interested in the care of the sick, confining her efforts to types of cases (physical) in which religion has least concern and least to contribute, while in those types in which it is impossible to tell where the domain of the medical worker leaves off and that of the religious worker begins (mental problems), there the church is doing nothing."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Guilt

Guilt is self-blame. It's a realization that one has violated some principle, usually moral, ethical, or religious. It predisposes one then to lower ability to face life's stresses. Guilt, whether true or false guilt, can turn destructive if left unaddressed or unhealed.

Shakespeare, in one of his novels, describes two murderers: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Both murderers suffered intense guilt reactions after the death of King Duncan. Macbeth's guilt produced hallucinations while Lady Macbeth began sleepwalking and compulsive wringing of her hands.

At times, in the hospital, there are patients who complain of guilt and would attempt to punish themselves by suicide or self-harm. Guilt feelings do prey on a person's mind and emotions to bring about a breakdown. In numerous cases of mental illness or psychopathology, the central problem is guilt. Unconfessed, unprocessed guilt inside. Personality disorders are always produced by this kind of real guilt.

How does one heal from this "wound?" It can be radically healed and resolved only by confession and repentance. It's a beginning to total freedom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Parenting and Self Worth

When Teresa blurted out, "I'm dumb. I'm no good!" she was expressing a deep sense of how she sees herself. She felt she was such a valueless person that no one could accept and love her. This feeling and thinking led to Teresa's years of sense of worthlessness, a low regard or judgment of her self.

Yet Teresa's "wound" in regard to her low self worth was exposed during her therapy. Early in life, both her Mom and Dad were constantly evaluating her everyday behavior and performance. Unfortunately, her parents' evaluations of her were consistently negative and critical. This developed a feeling of "badness" inside her. Teresa's shaken foundations of parental care led to her feelings of severe depression and suicidal behavior in her adulthood.

I'm thinking that it takes about 100 compliments to make up for 1 criticism in a child! Children are sensitive. They get easily discouraged and depressed. Healthy parenting of the children's psychological and emotional health means we need to support, encourage, and compliment them freely. We parents need to keep criticisms to the barest minimum to protect our children's sense of self worth.

Indeed, one way of looking at the widespread problem of mental illness in our society is that it's a way to cover up or compensate for lack of healthy self worth. Peel away all the psychiatric or psychological diagnoses down to the heart and core, and you'll discover that emotional problems stem from ancient love-wound or earlier childhood deprivations that developed an inability to love and value one's self.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Trojan Horse

Many parents and spouses ask, "What happened to our family? I can't understand it."

In many instances, there is a "Trojan horse," an enemy that was pulled right into the middle of the home. And some parents and spouses don't even know it!

Around 1200 B.C., the city of Troy had been under attack by the Greeks for 10 years. But they could not conquer Troy because it's strong. So the Greeks came up with a novel plan based on deceit. They built a wooden horse, hid warriors inside, and placed it outside the walls of Troy.

The Greeks mad the mistake of pulling the Trojan horse inside their fortress. While they slept, the Greek warriors slipped out of the belly of the wooden Trojan horse, opened the city gates, let in all the other warriors, and slaughtered the sleeping Trojans! Without realizing what they were doing, the Trojans had destroyed themselves with the self-saboteur wooden horse. They had pulled the enemy right inside into their home camp.

Beware: some modern day Trojan horses may be right in the center of of your home and you are asleep!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Abused, Hurting Parents

Again this afternoon, like in many of my counseling sessions, a hurting Mom cried. She said, "My husband and I have invested much time and money on our son, and he's still violent and in alcoholism and drug addiction." This Mom's energy and hope are progressively being siphoned to a critical level.

Brokenhearted parents, hurting in secret, abound everywhere. These "abused parents" hurt in secret because they do not want to broadcast family and child-rearing problems to the world. "Abused parents" - that may be a new phrase or description for you. But I refer to brokenhearted parents as "abused parents" because I witnessed a lot of what children do is no less than parent abuse.

I wonder why our laws have "child abuse" protection services and interventions but there's none for "parent abuse!"  Surely, there are many parents of misbehaving children who turn to self-destruction. These "abused parents" need help too.  Carefully consider this:  bad parents, yes, but also good parents can have trouble with their children. The wrong company or peers can lure kids away even from loving, nourishing parents. Society and culture have tremendous influences at our children nowadays that are injurious to their mental, emotional, social, moral or spiritual health.

Think about it. To be abused and hurt by your own child is torture. If you are an abused, hurting parent yourself, you can heal. Never instantly decide that it must be all your fault as a parent. Do be reflective and discerning.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Silicon Syndrome

Wearily Ritz' tear-stained face appeared before me. She's wife to an IT/engineer personality who thrives on his job, his technical genius, his career advancement, and his inventions. Ritz starves, from her husband's lack of understanding of her needs, from lack of emotional content, from absence of intimacy, from emotional disconnection.

Author/psychotherapist Jean Hollands calls the union of an engineer/scientist with a non-scientific partner the "silicon syndrome." It refers to a cluster of symptoms that results when a technically oriented thinker mates, works with, or loves a more emotionally oriented person. A major symptom of this is a crippling lack of communication and connection. The "silicon syndrome" couple does not know how to understand and translate each other.

I came to know the "silicon syndrome" in the form of pain in my family circles and in couples who shared their agony with me in therapy. I conduct my practice helping numerous couples heal from individual and relationship wounds. I recognize the "silicon syndrome" whenever the wife says "But he's always busy with his machine or computer." Or, "He's more interested in his technical stuff in the office than he is in me." I noticed that more serious symptoms appear like alcoholism, depression, pornography, affairs, or some type of addiction to signify that there is a disconnect in the marriage.

There could be hope. A purpose of healing is to mend the "silicon syndrome" relationship when it gets out of balance. "Silicon Syndrome" couples can learn how to live, work, and love together even when they're different and do things differently. It can be done. The work required may itch, scratch, or hurt for awhile but it can save the relationship.