Hypomania and Success

During the 1990s clinical psychologist John Gartner was planning on writing a book about religious movements started by manic profits, but he began to be distracted by the energy and excitement swirling around him as people became immersed in the Internet “bubble”. He decided instead to write a book about the relationship between hypomania and success in the business world (The Hypomanic …

Western Medicine and Mental Health – Lyndsey

True Story:  A shaman visited a mental hospital and was appalled by the way patients were treated. It’s not that the conditions were shabby or the medical advice outdated.  To the contrary, the hospital was renowned and the staff more than competent.  What shocked the shaman was not the facilities but the viewpoint.  In his culture, mental illness is no …

Mentalize

Sometimes a word just seems to show up everywhere.  This past week the word “mentalize” has come up in conversation a number of times.   A colleague who is looking for a referral for therapy says that she needs someone who can “mentalize well.”  One of my patients who just completed a DBT-based treatment program says that she is doing better because …

Attentional Bias Modification Prevents Depression

A middle-aged nurse wrestling with depression said she want to do “everything” that she possibly could to improve her mood. She doesn’t have access to therapy through her insurance, and she’s already vigorously pursuing mindfulness practice, but her request reminded me of an article I recently read on Attentional Bias Modification as both a possible treatment of depression and as …

Spock is Dead

Spock is dead. Leonard Nimoy passed away this past Friday at the age of 83. I have to date myself by saying that reruns of the original Star Trek series were a very important part of my adolescence. And I loved the character of Spock. Of course, I was a nerd at a time when that was not universally recognized …

Boredom

Boredom is one of the most common negative emotions, and yet relatively little explored in the psychology literature. A woman, Kate, wrote to me recently – “I am bored all time.  I have very few friends.  I can’t get motivated to do anything to move my life forward. I don’t know what to do except mess around on my computer, watch movies and generally …

Medical Model

The medical model is something that many people with depression or mood swings feel frustrated about. The whole doctor-patient relationship with its power dynamics can seem exasperating, and at the same time, having an “illness” can seem as though it must be a source of stigma and shame. I’m not going to talk about the topic of the doctor-patient relationship, …

Psychiatrists Don’t Care About “Why”

Psychiatrists tend to be surprisingly uninterested in discussions about why people are experiencing mood symptoms or anxiety symptoms or terrible stress. Let me try and explain this stance, which often seems bizarre to my patients. A young man who was recently married and had been living at home, and hadn’t been working for the last six months because of anxiety …

Law of Attraction – Creating a Hostile World

The law of attraction is the belief that “like attracts like.” Focusing on positive or negative thoughts can bring about positive or negative results. If you are angry or hostile your world responds with anger or hostility. Wikipedia has this to say about the philosophy that is called the Law of Attraction – “This belief is based upon the idea that people …

Wise Selfishness

Wise Selflessness– The Dalai lama says, “It is important that when pursuing our own self-interest we should be “wise selfish” and not “foolish selfish”. Being foolish selfish means pursuing our own interests in a narrow, shortsighted way. Wise selfishness means taking a broader view and recognizing that our own long-term individual interest lies in the welfare of everyone. Being wise selfish means …

Foundations of Wellbeing

Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing online seminar has helped many people enjoy better, richer, happier lives. As regular readers of this blog know, we very much like Rick Hanson’s books and other writings, and now he has created a wonderful online seminar. We don’t usually make such a big deal about programs, but we think this is going to be …

Blowing Things Up: Self-Destructive Responses to Frustration

Why do we sometimes come up with self-destructive responses to the unpleasant feeling of being trapped or the anxiety of an unhappy life situation? I talked about this a little bit in an earlier post that was based on an article in the New York Times. In that article, it was noted that many people  may find it so hard to deal with the stress …

Accepting Uncertainty

We are often trapped more by what we think about how things should be, or “have to be,” than by the reality of the challenges we face.  This week I have been noticing how often the phrase “I can’t stand.XX” precedes a statement that is quite obviously not true.  Someone who has been living with the uncertainty of multiple sclerosis for …

Being Busy is an Antidote to the Terror of Being Alone

My attention was captured when I read an article that suggested that there was a common human experience that many people in our busy worlds find so disturbing that they voluntarily give themselves electric shocks in order to distract themselves from feeling it. No Time to Think. Nowadays, people can keep negative thoughts at bay with a frenzy of activity. …