Tag Archive: relationships

Mar 27

Social Media Makes Moods Go Viral

Previously we reviewed evidence that the people we live with (family, neighbors, even the larger community of people in a metropolitan area) have an effect on our mood, so it is not surprising to learn of a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of California, Yale, and Facebook that found that moods can go …

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Aug 21

Pay Attention

We need to be noticed and attended to. It is one of the most important psychological needs we have. For several years, I have been lecturing residents in psychiatry at UCSF on the management of people in crisis. One of the topics, is how to work with people who are potentially violent. On an inpatient …

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Aug 07

Just Be Quiet

I just met with a smart, funny, attractive graduate student who had a severely traumatic childhood. She came in looking obviously frazzled and announced that she had been crying continuously since she got a terrible haircut the previous day.   I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel the urge to reassure her. Especially because, …

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Jul 02

The Loving Brain

Get ready, because the month of July has an exciting event coming up! Rick Hanson, PH.D. is hosting a free interview series called the Loving Brain starting July 15. For the 8 following Mondays, experts will be giving talks on how to develop positive relationships with others and establish a healthy self image. If you …

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May 22

Cling Less and Love More

Right in the midst of working with a young woman who has been struggling with how to accept the possibility that a new relationship might have to end (her boyfriend is still caught up in thoughts and feeling evoked by his ex, who sounds like the kind of intense woman who can easily trap a …

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Apr 25

The Big Fight

How is it that so many couples end up having knock down, drag out fights?  How can seemingly rational people end up saying things that just don’t make any sense? Several people that I’ve seen recently have told me a similar story.  As in every relationship, they have had certain long-standing issues in their relationships, …

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Apr 04

Lowering Your Profile

This is the season (spring) when there is suddenly lots of energy around. I used to regularly run around a local lake. The run was peaceful and pleasant at all times of year except in the spring. In the spring the male geese suddenly felt that that had to make their presence known. They would …

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Apr 03

New Spouse by Friday

I’ve been working with a very successful attorney who has been struggling to find a way of staying in his marriage for a couple of years. The heart of the problem is that his wife had a serious health problem (which is now resolved), but through the process of dealing with this health problem she  became depressed and …

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Mar 14

Compulsions, Addictions and Secrecy

I got an urgent call yesterday from somebody that I’ve been seeing for several years.  His fiancee had just left him.  They had been having problems for several months, problems mostly rooted in his ambivalence about commitment.  She went on his cell phone and found evidence that he had been having flirtatious conversations with seven …

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Mar 10

Creative Tension

I was inspired to write today’s post after watching a video sent out by a colleague as her “Valentine’s Day gift” to a group of mental health professionals interested  in women’s issues. The video was from the TED series (strongly recommended) and had to do with the challenge of having a long-term passionate relationship. The …

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Mar 06

Hot Button Issues in a Relationship


Dealing with a partner with emotional or psychological issues is tricky. We spent some time today trying to figure out an approach that would work for one woman and her partner. This is what we came up with. It may help you if you are navigating in turbulent waters in your relationship. The link will …

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Feb 24

Mistrust in Action

I was talking to one of my clients, a very bright and wonderful woman, mother of a delightful young girl, and usually one of my favorite people. This visit, however,  I began to experience the cycle of mistrust. When she came in I was in a good mood, I smiled and said hello. She looked …

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Feb 17

The “Pause” Button

Do you know the feeling of desperate urgency in a conversation with a close friend or romantic partner? The sense that you have to defend yourself from attack, or make a very important point? This feeling is often a signal that it is a good time to use the “pause” button in the conversation. The “pause” button …

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Feb 15

Give Love


We really liked the recent post from Just One Thing on the practice of “giving love.” It resonated with research on how helping others (altruism) improves your mood, and also on the data that shows that one of the most effective antidotes for depression is to systematically try to act more in line with your …

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Jan 29

Coming Out Can Help Your Health

We saw this article and thought it probably has a lot to say about the reasons to be direct with others about moods, and how they affect you. It is from Psychiatric News, January 29, 2013. The same reductions in stress hormone levels have been shown in a number of studies about disclosing potentially stigmatizing …

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Jan 26

Take a Chance

If you are feeling depressed or anxious, today’s post from Rick Hanson (part of his Just One Thing blog) may be helpful. If you are already feeling energized, you might not need more encouragement to do something risky/taking a chance… Rick’s post is about how, as children, we learn to avoid certain types of conversations …

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Jan 26

The Cycle of Disappointment

Today’s post revolves around the universal desire to find one or more other people who is perfectly attuned to our needs, and the resulting cycle of disappointment. A woman we have seen for years continually experiences a strong sense of disappointment and loss because her highly anxious mother was never really able to be attuned …

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Jan 19

Coming Out Bipolar

When and whether to tell people about a mood disorder is a topic of great interest to readers of this blog. Disorderly Chickadee is a very personal, and very well written, blog about living with bipolar. Yesterday’s post was all about coming out about bipolar – in this case it was about telling your boss. …

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Jan 11

Mismatched Energy

The wife of one of the people I work with sent me a short note saying that her husband was energized (not quite hypomanic), and she was finding it hard to cope with his constant animation and enthusiasm. It got me thinking about scale and how we constantly change the way we talk based on …

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Jan 04

Who’s to Blame?

“Is it my fault?” This is one of those questions that seems to easily dominate conversations between people in a romantic relationship who are having trouble getting along. It is also a question that is usually impossible to answer (who decides? what standards do you use?) and quite unhelpful. I was talking with a recently …

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