Recently I received the following message from a reader, who has given permission for me to share it here. I have changed a few details to protect the privacy of the people involved. My favorite uncle who is in his late fifties recently remarried after his first wife died. His second wife is someone he’s known for several years as a member of the same church. She is about his age, and this is her first marriage . I had also met her a few times while my uncle was still married to his first wife, and she seemed a nice and likeable person. After he became a widower and was “available,” she began pursuing him. He was vulnerable to her overtures, and they married after about six months of courtship. I and other family members were surprised at his quick remarriage. We also saw this romantic pairing as too contrived, since they were not friends in the past, but only acquaintances through church. But none of us disliked this lady, and no one had any reason to distrust her or to … [Read more...] about Don’t Fall in Love With a Schemer
How do we come to make sense of our daily lives? How can we gain a strong grasp of who we “really” are and how we fit in the world? And how can we naturally connect to important others in our lives? Life stories are one of the prime tools we have for understanding ourselves and the people important to us. Humans are natural storytellers. We use stories to make sense of our daily lives, to draw insights from our pasts, and to anticipate future goals and opportunities. Thus, storytelling is central to our lives—whether privately recounting an experience years ago, journaling something that happened earlier in the day, or sharing mundane stories at dinnertime. Parents reading a story to a young child Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels But it is not only our personal stories that are important for us. The stories of our families are critical in many ways. Family storytelling is key for many aspects of development. Storytelling is a form of rich engagement between … [Read more...] about Our Stories and the Stories of Our Families
I normally write about overeating , but today I feel moved to share more of the experience of being a psychologist. See, the other day I woke thinking it'll soon be 30 years since I got my Ph.D. , which means I've been a psychologist longer than I haven't been one. Beyond this, I grew up in an extended family of therapists. My mom, dad, sister, step-mother, step-father, cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunt and great uncle all are (or were) in the field in one way or another. When something broke in the house we all rushed to ask it how it felt, but nobody knew how to fix it... and you do not want to come to our family reunion! I've also seen thousands of clients myself, engaged in exhaustive research, written a popular book, supervised a dozen other psychologists, coaches, and social workers, and developed and executed programs on an international scale. The point is, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who's thought longer and harder about what it's like to be a … [Read more...] about The Four Weirdest Questions I’ve Received as a Psychologist
Source: jordan benton/pexels When I was 17, I got a summer job at my uncle’s factory. He would pick me up every day at 6 a.m. so we could beat the traffic and arrive to the office early. I was excited at the opportunity to make some money and spent the first day getting to know all the nuts and bolts of the job (which in this case were quite literal, since there were bolts all around my desk). The next few days, however, I found myself feeling less and less excited. Waking up that early, day in and day out, had started to take its toll on me. I felt constantly tired. I wasn’t motivated to learn anymore and I felt like I didn’t even have the energy to socialize. I became a factory zombie, sneaking to the restroom to steal a few precious moments of sleep. No matter how early I tried to go to bed the previous night, I couldn’t get anywhere near the sleep hours I desperately needed before the alarm kicked me out of bed. After a week at the job I came home at 6 p.m. and immediately … [Read more...] about What Is Your Sleep Type?
Journalist and film critic Neal Gabler once argued that movies have “conquered reality.” It's a bold thesis, but one of increasing relevance in today’s surreal climate of pseudo-events and fake news . While movie-reality is only part of the entertainment complex, films can influence our perceptions about the way the world operates. For example, villains with facial scarring and female characters playing supporting rather than leading roles reinforce negative stereotypes and make the world harder for many people. Studies have also shown that negative mental hospital portrayals dissuade people from seeking treatment. As part of my research on the cultural history of mental hospitals, I have watched over 250 films. I uncovered so many repeated tropes, that, as Yogi Berra once said, I felt “déjà vu all over again.” I realize I am late for awards season, but I cannot resist offering up my top picks for Worst Asylum Tortures in Film History, by category: Hydrotherapy : In real … [Read more...] about A Brief Movie History of Psychiatric Torture