Perfectionism and Depression

Perfectionism and depression are opposites that often seem to attract each other, and the combination can be a great challenge for anyone trying to “live creatively with moods.” Depression enhances our brain’s natural tendency to see problems in the world around us… it shines a spotlight on every imperfection. It is a perfectionist’s nightmare. Perfectionism Perfectionism itself is not necessarily …

Distress Tolerance

In A wonderful young woman we have been seeing for a few months asked for some recommendations for skills to help her deal with her experience of moments of overwhelming negative emotions that often seem to come out of nowhere. This post is a relatively quickly pulled together document derived from Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Think of it as a “draft” …

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination may be related to impulsive decision making. This somewhat surprising finding is based on a large study of twins. Most modern explanations of procrastination have focused on avoidance and aversion. You put off things because you are afraid of some negative consequence (doing badly, not meeting your standards, etcetera), in other words, you are avoiding a bad outcome. More recent studies have suggested that …

The Pressure of Perfectionism

  In today’s society, many people struggle with the desire to be perfect. Perfectionism is the view that anything done in a less than perfect fashion is unacceptable.  In a PowerPoint presentation found at this website, Jennifer Marten explains how striving for perfection can take away from personal happiness and success. Perfectionists can be identified by a series of habits. …

Gambling: Sucked into the Slots

Dr. Howard Forman interviewed Dr. David Forest about the reasons behind the great appeal of slot machines. Gambling is a phenomenon that has been sweeping the nation. People are simply captivated by the machines. Dr. Forest attributes the allure of the slots to both players and professionals to the bio-psycho-social attractiveness of the machines. The machines attract so many players …

On the Borderline

I am writing a presentation for the UCSF Bipolar Program on the topic of the relationship between Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder and I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts in a quick post. Borderline personality disorder involves a “pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity” which begins by early adulthood …

Needing to be Perfect

The need to be perfect is one of the “dangerous ideas” that can destroy a life. It often comes from the fear of abandonment that all of us have, and which can be easily activated in childhood by a mismatch in personality with one’s parent. A wonderful, smart, attractive, funny, energetic woman talked with us about her experience of this. …

Borderline Emotions

Originally, the label “borderline personality disorder” was applied to patients who were thought to somewhere  between patients with neurotic and psychotic disorders in terms of psychopathology. Increasingly, though, this area of research has focused on the heightened emotional reactivity observed in patients carrying this diagnosis, as well as the high rates with which they also meet diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic …

Attachment

For most of us there is nothing more important than the quality of our closest relationships. In sometimes frustrating ways, many of us notice that our close relationships seem to follow familiar patterns. Attachment theory derives from the work of John Bowlby, who observed that separated infants would go to remarkable lengths (crying, clinging, frantically searching) to prevent separation from their …

In Memoriam

In memoriam. He was brilliant, a creative artist and writer with a strong and clear voice. He was impulsive and he had a generally paranoid view of the police, which they reciprocated. He had been arrested several times. When we met him he was on probation and that was why he came to see us at all. He could be …

Misunderstandings: Feeling and Thinking

Misunderstandings. There are so many ways that we can misunderstand each other. We like the Myers Briggs for its non-pathologizing approach to understanding and describing the differences among human beings. Yesterday we were talking to a young woman who told us of a “classic” misunderstanding that potentially could have had a catastrophic outcome. The young woman was talking with her …

Dealing with Perfectionism

Society puts a premium on perfection, for good reason. Perfection fascinates and inspires. I am particularly drawn to the symmetry and complexity of buildings, bridges, and visual art, often staring at such creations with awe and wonder at how such perfection was achieved. In addition to architecture and art, perfection is expected in vocations where the slightest mistake could be …

Narcissism

“You’re such a narcissist!” It’s easy to see why people with moods are often accused of being narcissistic. When we are depressed we become focused on ourselves and our mood and our pain. This is also what happens to people with chronic pain of other types. And when we are manic, we become preoccupied with our importance and specialness. But …