Therapy That Works...

Parental Alienation During The Holidays - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 17, 2010

During the holidays, millions of children from divorced families will be spending time with their parents separately. But what happens when one parent begins a systematic campaign to discredit the other parent and make their child hate their ex?

This is one of the worst developments in American families of the past 30 years. Psychologists are calling it “Parental Alienation” and it literally rips families apart. Here’s what it looks like:

Systematic Campaign of Alienation: Parental alienation is a systematic campaign of character assassination. One parent is determined to alienate the child’s affections toward the other parent or toward a grandparent. It is most prevalent in child custody cases and it is worst at the holidays as parents tend to compete for the affection of their children.

Spans the Range: Parental Alienation spans the range from outright malicious intent, legal battles and reckless accusations to careless, self serving comments that undermine the child’s view of their parent.

Emotional Abuse of Children: Parental alienation not only hurts the ex, it’s a form of emotional abuse of the child. Beyond the confusion and pain of divorce and losing a parent, children take their parent’s qualities and characteristics as their own. As one expert says, “ Bad mouth your ex and you simultaneously bad mouth your child.”

Legitimized by Self Absorbed Culture: Most divorces involve pain and suffering and parental alienation flourishes in a family culture of conflict. However, the epidemic of narcissism that has defined our country in recent years legitimizes winning at any cost. Savage and unethical behavior is justified even if it involves waging war against an innocent person.

So if parental alienation is so damaging to so many people, why would someone do it?

Revenge: There are complex reasons to explain this behavior but all explanations boil down to one principle reason -- Revenge. Some people feel pleasure from inflicting pain on people they believe have wronged them. The mind of the child becomes the battlefield for hurting their ex.

Child Is Perceived As A Possession: For some parents, adequate boundaries with their children are absent. The child is perceived as an extension of themselves. They inflict parental alienation on the other parent to banish him or her so that they can have the child to themselves.

Compensating for Inadequacy and Guilt: Parents may try to resolve their low self-esteem and sense of failure by reinforcing their belief that they are the better parent. Posturing as the superior parent makes them feel better even if it is at the expense of their child. They have no conscience about the suffering of the child or the other parent – it’s really all about themselves.

Parental alienation runs rampant at the holidays with children traveling between the homes of divorced parents. But how are children affected by parental alienation?

Brainwashed by Lies: These kids are basically brainwashed and now regard their targeted parent as the enemy or as a worthless afterthought. This kind of betrayal can poison even in the most tender and loving relationships.

Rehearsed Answers: Divorce is very scary for children. Often they feel unstable and they may be worried about the approval of the parent that they are living with. In an effort to feel safe, they orient to the controlling needs of the alienating parent at all costs. They are often unable to specify why they dislike the targeted parent or they exaggerate faults of the parent to justify their rejection. Their comments parrot the alienator’s words and feelings.

Long Term Damage: There is minimal data on the long-term effects of such alienation on kids. However, we do know that the earlier the separation from a parent, the more traumatic it is for the child. The basic tenants of loving relationships—trust, loyalty, and forgiveness--are never learned and the child may struggle for a lifetime because of these experiences.

Now, if you or someone you know is the victim of parental alienation – here’s what you can do to protect yourself and reclaim the love of your child:

Remain Calm: Understand that you have been systematically undermined and that you are taking every step to remediate the situation. Focus on what you can control and don’t stress about other factors. Do not lose your temper, reject your child or insult your ex in front of your child.

Educate Yourself: Parental alienation can be an elusive phenomenon to prove especially in a highly intense forum such as child custody. There are several books with great resources that are “must reads” for parents. Please see the sources for this story for some suggestions.

Work with Great Experts: Hire a psychologist and a lawyer who are proven experts in parental alienation. The therapist must acknowledge the massive psychological impact such alienation has on the child and the targeted parent. Your attorney needs to possess a solid understanding of this type of emotional abuse and they must have the substantial legal skills to protect your child and your interests.

It won’t be easy – but with a great deal of patience, help, and prayer, you can protect yourself and your child from the devastating effects of parental alienation.

Resources:

"Divorce Poison," Dr. Richard Warshak

"The Custody Revolution" by Dr. Richard Warshak

"Divorce Casualties: Understanding Parental Alienation," Dr. Douglas Darnall

The Secrets of Holiday Gift Giving - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Secrets of Holiday Gift Giving: How To Buy Gifts For The Ones You Love

Americans spend up to $40 billion annually for holiday presents and while holiday gifts can be a terrific way to show your love for your partner, psychologists now report that holiday gifts can often be your relationship’s report card.

But why do gifts matter so much, especially in a relationship?

Perception is Central: A gift is never just a gift. It is a fundamental way we communicate how important the relationship is. Americans, in particular, are really stressed about gift giving because of this relationship rule. Giving the perfect gift can be seen as a true measure of how much we care about our partner--or not. The more thoughtful or romantic we are perceived as being, the more emotional money in the bank.

Avoid Misfires: Holiday gifts can also get you into a lot of trouble if you misfire. Since they really do leave us vulnerable to judgment, they are a form of risk taking in the relationship and they can go very badly. We use gifts to take basic measurements of our partner’s commitment, affection, and understanding of who we are.

Relationships Ending: The ugly truth is that gifts often signal the end of things. For example, a gift left on the kitchen counter in the plastic bag is the equivalent of saying “We need to talk.”

When it comes to your gift giving, here are some common pitfalls to watch out for:

Buy for Them: Avoid giving them something that YOU would like. Buying for yourself—with your preferences and interests—will not be endearing, you will be viewed as insensitive and selfish. Make sure that you buy for them, not for you.

Keep It Equal According to Status: Remember that in families, the comparative value of the gifts will always be measured. It is just fine to give your wife a piece of nice jewelry while giving your sister a robe. But be careful not to “over gift” one relative over another—it will be noted.

Avoid Lavish Gifts: Also, avoid lavish gifts that are going to make everyone else feel weird. You can look like a show off and the gift just backfires.

Avoid Token, Last Minute Gifts: Low expense and minimal efforts in gift giving are recipes for disaster, especially with a woman. I guarantee she will feel like an afterthought.

No Motivational Gifts: Do not give a gift that screams self-improvement like weight loss, better parenting or finding a job. You’re smarter enough not to gift a year’s membership at the gym or a box of diet drinks. It can really hurt the relationship.

Avoid Re-Gifting: Almost one third of Americans pass on gifts they don’t like. Be careful with this since it can really hurt the relationship if they figure it out.

Did you know that men and women care about different things when it comes to giving gifts?

Money Counts with Men: Men tend to be much more aware of how much they’re spending to buy her present. They use the price tag to signal affection, interest, and commitment. They also like practicality and personalization in the gifts they receive—golf clubs, new grilling utensils, things like that.

Women and Meaning: On the other hand, women love to investigate what the present means emotionally. We love hidden meanings and delight in building drama around the moment of receiving the gift—the candlelight at the table, the Christmas tree glow. We will often spend hours devising the perfect gift for him--thinking, dreaming and scheming. She hopes, or really expects, that he will do the same for her, but research shows that men rarely do. They are more likely to think about it for a minute, buy it at the very last minute, and deliver it without any theatrics.

Here’s what I would recommend when you’re out holiday shopping this year:

The Three Rules of Gift Giving: Research shows that great gift giving must include three elements—a wonderful surprise, familiarity with her tastes, and the cost must reflect how much you value the relationship.

Savor the Experience: Gifts that are personal and experiential – like a romantic evening out, a couples’ massage, duo cooking classes, making a gingerbread house together, a horse and buggy ride or a weekend getaway – go a long way. In the end, people do not remember the way you dressed, the actual gift you gave them, or even what you did. They remember how you made them feel.

O Sleepless Nights - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Money worries got you down during the holidays? Ninety percent of Americans report insomnia during the holidays. But tired people are also depressed, angry, and hopeless people. If you’re looking for how to make your holidays happy – start with getting back to sleep.

Now, most people turn to the medicine cabinet next for one of a slew of sleeping pills and aids. Not so fast.

Prescription sleeping medications are fine to get us through a difficult day or two, but if there are more serious issues -- like stress, anger, and depression -- pills do not address the underlying problems. It’s like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.

However, a combination of prescription sleep aids and cognitive behavioral therapy for sleeping issues cures over 80% of sleeping problems. Cognitive therapy addresses false beliefs about sleep, teaches techniques for lowering anxiety, helps people not to worry all night long, and relax long enough to drift off to sleep.

Here are a few suggestions from sleep experts combining behavioral and cognitive cues to get you back to sleep:

Regular Schedule: Become disciplined and keep a regular bedtime and avoid naps like the plague. Bedtimes aren’t just for children, a regular bedtime cues your brain and body that it is time to rest and sleep. Naps disrupt your body’s schedule and can really mess up your natural sleep/wake cycle.

Watch What You Drink: Do not drink anything with caffeine within four to six hours before bedtime. Also, an alcoholic nightcap will actually keeps you awake.

Don't Remain in Bed: Restrict the amount of time spend in bed waiting for sleep. If you are unable to sleep, don’t toss and turn all night! Get out of bed and go to another room, do something relaxing, and return to bed when sleep is imminent.

Bedroom for Sleeping: Reserve the bedroom for sleep. If you read, watch TV, or work in bed, your body will become confused and will have trouble shutting down at bedtime.

Elizabeth Edwards' Courage and Resilience - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

With the passing of the internationally acclaimed advocate and attorney, Elizabeth Edwards, it is important to consider not only the brave example she set for people worldwide after the infidelity of her husband, former presidential candidate John Edwards but for her lifelong example of psychological resilience she displayed to all of us.

Elizabeth Edwards will long be remembered for her advocacy for national healthcare and for the poor. She was a shrewd strategist, advocate for the less fortunate and outstanding mother to her four children. Perhaps her greatest contribution to this world may ultimately be the extraordinary courage she showed after the multiple traumas she endured.

The loss of her beloved son, Wade at age 16 in a car accident and then the humiliating discovery of her husband’s extensive infidelity were devastating. However, this extraordinary woman showed tremendous self control and class even when her heart was breaking. Elizabeth Edwards epitomized what psychologists call the "resilient personality."

Here are the personality characteristics of the resilient personality:

Challenge: These people show a special strength since they view challenges as opportunities to achieve and even flourish. Their determination to persevere is outdistanced only by their steady focus on achievement and progress.

Control: When they are "hit" with a setback, they focus on what they can control, break down their tasks into manageable goals and ignore everything else. They do not dwell on their own helplessness or ineffectiveness. Adversity is never seen as permanent or insurmountable.

Commitment: They are always committed to a cause greater than themselves. In Mrs. Edwards’ world, her unflagging dedication to the social and emotional welfare of others embodied one of her key strengths. She simply believed in a cause greater than herself. Resilient people strive for excellence because they are convinced that there is a greater meaning in life and their actions will make a significant difference.

Psychologists now know that your achievement in life ultimately depends on how you think about the events in your life.

Your thinking style or how you explain events to yourself is literally the lens through which you view the world. Your thoughts determine your emotions and your behaviors. Facing an unexpected challenge like infidelity, especially in the national spotlight, is a unique situation to encounter. Psychologists report that psychological resiliency is the key ingredient to weathering such losses. It literally may make the difference in whether you pull forward with success or allow the setback to define who you are.

Now we do know that trauma is an inevitable part of life. Up to 80% of people who seek counseling have experienced at least 7-8 distinct traumas in their lifetime. Years of research have revealed that people have four fundamental uses for resilience:

1. To Overcome Adversity: Many of us are from emotionally abusive backgrounds, divorced families or have just suffered the slings and arrows of life in the modern world. We use resilience to create and maintain a positive view of life. Through remaining resilient and optimistic, we escape emotional wounds and focus on creating the adulthood we now choose to experience.

2. Steer Through Daily Hardship: Every life has its ups and downs. If you are resilient, the daily tribulations of life will not interfere with your productivity and well being. In fact, you will view the setback as manageable and surmountable. Having an inability to navigate past daily hardships is where most people get "stuck."

3. Bouncing Back: Most of us encounter a major setback at some point. Depending upon our resilience, we will become helpless and deeply mired in resignation. Bouncing back is a sign of strength and courage.

4. Reaching Out for Good: This use of resiliency is the hallmark of Mrs. Edward’s legacy. As she demonstrated, moving past our own self interest to benefit others is a key sign of psychological resiliency and happiness. At the time of greatest pain, she still championed the welfare of others including writing and teaching about psychological resilience.

People often wonder why some people are so strong in the face of vast suffering and strife and others are not. We do know that some people are simply born with an innate wisdom that cannot be explained by their psychological or genetic background. Intellectual ability only contributes around 20 percent to one's success in life.

We have discovered that emotional intelligence—the ability to accurately identify our emotions and to process them to our advantage-- is really the bottom line in sustaining resilience.

Individuals with more sophisticated social and cognitive skills have better problem solving skills under stress and are better able to understand another person's perspective, even when they are challenged or stressed.

In the end, the life of Elizabeth Edwards reminds us that we all have a choice in the attitude we use to face the world. The loss of her son and the loss of her marriage to infidelity could have overwhelmed the less resilient soul. But her life taught us that we can view setbacks as chances to grow and flourish and to discover our better nature. Choosing to allow our failures to define our lives and to direct our choices was not an option for this magnificent woman. In the end, she demonstrated that wisdom in life involves not only emotional accountability but remaining doggedly hopeful about the future. We are never better than when we remain constant to those values.

How To Impress At Your Holiday Office Party - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 03, 2010

As the season of office parties begins full tilt this holiday season, many of us will be tempted to let loose and have a little too much fun. But a new study reports that around 40% of us have been embarrassed at a holiday party and a shocking 23% of attendees have been reprimanded for their misbehavior.

So why do so many people get in hot water at the annual holiday party?

There is a basic misconception about these parties - this is a business event and you must remember that. Even if it’s supposed to be social, similar office expectations prevail. Your boss and coworkers do not want to see you dancing the night away after drinking too much! They want to see the relaxed, congenial side of your personality behaving appropriately. Whether it is fair or not, you are being evaluated on some level by everyone in the room. The bottom line is that you can use the office party to enormously enhance your career or you can land yourself in a heap of trouble.

More than 1 in 10 Americans say they know someone who has been fired for their inappropriate behavior at a holiday party.

Here are a few ways to get in trouble at the office party:

  • Saying Something Inappropriate to a Colleague or Boss
  • Drinking Too Much – please stop at 2 drinks and nurse them throughout the event.
  • Hooking Up with a Coworker
  • Disinterested and Arrogant Behavior
  • Overly Friendly or Familiar Behavior
  • Forgetting Someone’s Name – take a look at the nametags!

Looking to make a good impression at this year’s holiday party? Here are the do’s-and-don’t’s to have a great time AND impress your boss:

Please Limit Alcohol: Even though that open bar looks inviting, that is the last place you need to park yourself. Have a drink or two and then chase it with club soda. Never, ever get drunk at the party—it is career suicide.

Talk It Up: Use the event to demonstrate how conversational you can be. Since most business, especially at the higher executive levels, requires an excellent ability to interact well with others socially. If you’re looking for a promotion, it is vital that you work the room: move with confidence, sincerely show interest in others, and shake everyone’s hand.

Dress Well: The office party is not a time to deck yourself out with your most seductive attire. Remember, this is a business event so you need to be festive but professional. Your boss and other superiors may not make the rounds in your direction but they will get a glimpse of you and you want that moment to serve you well. Reserve the wild ties and low cut dresses for your personal party time.

Don’t Gossip: Please come prepared to talk about something other than your job—your children, their children, the best hamburger in town, etc. Most of all, avoid gossip that can be repeated by your inebriated coworkers. Office parties mixed with booze are renowned for inspiring inappropriate disclosures.

Follow Up: A lot of people are careless about making promises at office parties to provide information—like a phone number or a business lead—and then fail to follow up. This is a huge mistake since people tend to only remember what you don’t do for them. Following up is an opportunity for you to gain credibility by being the one person who actually sends the information after the party is over. People truly appreciate the self-discipline such efforts require.

Make Some Friends: We know from new research that social interactions are like medicine. In fact, a review of 148 studies found that socially connected people have a 50% lower chance of dying. In addition, the holidays can be stressful for all of us and these office parties can be a great place to enjoy an interesting conversation and lower your stress. Even if you aren’t interested in the corner office, friends will keep you alive longer!

And finally, show some gratitude. The party planners never get any attention. People love to be thanked and genuine appreciation creates enormous good will. When you depart, find the people who were instrumental in hosting the party and thank them generously. Your appreciation will never be forgotten.

Addicted Mothers - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The number of women ages 30 to 44 who report abusing alcohol has doubled over the past decade, while prescription drug abuse has sky rocketed over 400%, according to a federal study. But most addicted women hide their secret well – often, with disastrous results.

So, why would young successful women begin down the long road of addiction?

No one who becomes addicted intends to be a junkie. But substance abuse among young mothers is becoming an ugly reality since the stress on this generation of women has never been greater.

No one ever considers that a busy, engaged mom in the prime of her life may actually have a serious addiction. Here’s why:

More Stress, Less Time: More women with young kids hold down full time jobs and they are the most sleep-deprived part of our society. A sleepy brain is a stressed brain. Addictions begin when we use something to bridge the gap or take the edge off of your daily stress.

Escape Hatch: Substance abuse gives you an escape. Most abused drugs and alcohol create intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Self-confidence soars, energy expands, and the worries and challenges of a busy life are gone.

Girls Night Out: “Girls Night Out” has become a national, normalized ritual in our society. But a whole lot of drinking also goes on during these female-bonding events.

Long Standing Problem: Most substance abuse begins in adolescence or in college when there is rampant binge drinking and the young woman carries the problem forward into her social life as a young mother.

Most of what you hear about alcoholism relates to how it is dangerous for the man in your life. But women are at just as much risk, if not greater:

Quick and Painful: Women get drunker faster than men, become addicted quicker, and develop health problems related to abuse such as liver cirrhosis, hypertension, and malnutrition at higher rates than men.

Substance-Fueled Violence: The link between physical abuse and alcohol is well established. Seventy five percent of rapes and seventy percent of domestic violence involves alcohol.

Liquid Diet: Many women are obsessed with their weight and prefer to drink rather than eat a healthy diet. Since 40% of American women are on a diet at any given moment, many women substitute alcohol for regular meals and good nutrition, and they end up harming their bodies.

Long Term Consequences: The effects of alcohol on a woman’s body linger months after she stops drinking. In fact, studies find that alcohol damages a woman’s brain structure and function in lasting and measurable ways. Although women drink less than men, death rates among alcoholic women are almost 100% higher than among their male counterparts.

Most people don’t know that addiction takes root through very predictable steps and stages as a woman surrenders her life to addiction:

Internal Shift: The woman begins to turn toward behavior that is relieving her stress. Getting high is fun and it changes her mood for the better in the beginning. She denies how dangerous her usage is as she begins to betray others and herself with repeated use.

Lifestyle Change: A behavioral dependency on the alcohol or drug now emerges. Her life is altered to accommodate the addiction even if she becomes reckless and self-destructive. She moves deeper into the sabotaging behavior as she builds her life around getting high.

Her Life Destructs: The addiction has now taken over. The woman relies on getting high and ignores or rationalizes the destructive aspects of her behavior. At this point, nothing matters to the addict but the acquisition of the substance. The obsession with the addiction causes a trance state. People don’t matter, commitments don’t count, and honesty isn’t even a part of the conversation.

Unstoppable: She believes that she cannot stop. New brain imaging technology now shows that there are significant changes in brain structure that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavioral control. These changes compromise the brain architecture and cause the slide into addiction.

Here’s what you can do to identify and help the addicted woman in your life:

Be On The Lookout: Whenever you see any kind of irrational, highly self-destructive behavior that just doesn’t add up, there is usually some kind of addictive behavior behind it.

Bad Behavior: Secrecy, deceit, and the systematic betrayal of the trust of others are all hallmarks of this disorder.

Feeling Blue: Addictions often manifest very differently in women than in men with addicted women reporting more depression, anxiety and low self esteem.

Interventions Work: Make a plan, enlist a team of loving friends and family and intervene directly and quickly. Happily, addiction treatment is highly effective and lasting so be encouraged that you are saving her life. She’ll thank you for it once she is sober and safe again.

Addiction is extremely serious, and if you are worried about someone in your life – please contact a substance abuse professional or facility for more information.

Sources:

The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: Report on Substance Abuse and the American Woman, June 1996

Women Under the influence, by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University omen under the Influence

Alcoholism Hurts Women Neuropsychologically Almost the Same as it Hurts Men: Deficits Linger Months into Abstinence, APA, January 20, 2002

Addicted Moms: Everybody Knows Somebody, WorkingMother.com

The National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior - The Science of Addiction"

Addicted Moms - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Addicted Moms

CBS 11 News

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

The number of women ages 30 to 44 who report abusing alcohol has doubled over the past decade, while prescription drug abuse has sky rocked 400%, according to a federal study. But most addicted women hide their secret well – often, with disastrous results. Here to tell us more is psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Why would young successful women begin down the long road of addiction?

No one who becomes addicted intends to end up addicted. But substance abuse among young mothers is becoming an ugly reality since the stress on this generation of women has never been greater. Most importantly, no one ever considers that a busy, engaged mom in the prime of life may actually have a serious addiction. Here’s why:

More Stress, Less Time: More women with young kids hold down full time jobs and they are the most sleep-deprived part of our society. A sleepy brain is a stressed brain. Addictions begin when we use something to bridge the gap or take the edge off of your daily stress.

Escape Hatch: Substance abuse gives you an escape. Most abused drugs and alcohol create intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Self-confidence soars, energy expands and the worries and challenges of a busy life are gone.

Depression and Anxiety Epidemics: Depression is ten times more prevalent than it was fifty years ago and it strikes a decade earlier than it did a generation ago. Women have twice the rates of depression as men and addictions give them a temporary reprieve from their misery.

Women Drinking in Groups: “Girls Night Out” has become a national, normalized ritual in our society. But a whole lot of drinking also goes on during these female-bonding events.

Long Standing Problem: Most substance abuse begins in adolescence or in college when there is rampant binge drinking and the young woman carries the problem forward into her social life as a young mother.

Is alcohol addiction more dangerous for a woman than for a man?

Alcohol More Harmful for Women: Women get drunker faster than men, become addicted quicker and develop health problems related to abuse such as liver cirrhosis, hypertension, anemia and malnutrition.

Violence Tied to Substance Abuse: The link between sexual assaults such as rape and alcohol is well established. Seventy five percent of rapes and seventy percent of domestic violence involves alcohol.

Pregnancy Always an Issue: One out of five pregnant women uses drugs, drinks or smokes with irreversible damage to her unborn child.

Drinking Correlated with Eating Disorders: Many women are obsessed with their weight and prefer to drink rather than eat a healthy diet. Since 40% of American women are on a diet at any given moment, many women substitute alcohol for regular meals and good nutrition, and they end up harming their bodies.

Alcohol Poisons the Woman: The effects of alcohol on a woman’s body linger months after she stops drinking. In fact, studies find that alcohol damages a woman’s brain structure and function in lasting and measurable ways. Although women drink less than men, death rates among alcoholic women are almost 100% higher than among their male counterparts.

Are there stages to addiction?

Absolutely there are and the addiction progresses through very predictable steps as the woman surrenders her life to the addiction.

Internal Shift: The woman begins to turn toward behavior that is relieving her stress. Getting high is fun and it changes her mood for the better in the beginning. She denies how dangerous her usage is as she begins to betray others and herself with repeated use.

Lifestyle Change: A behavioral dependency on the alcohol or drug now emerges. Her life is altered to accommodate the addiction even if she becomes reckless and self-destructive. She moves deeper into the sabotaging behavior as she builds her life around getting high.

Her Life Destructs: The addiction has now taken over. The woman relies on getting high and ignores or rationalizes the destructive aspects of her behavior. At this point, nothing matters to the addict but the acquisition of the substance. The obsession with the addiction causes a trance state. People don’t matter, commitments don’t count, and honesty isn’t even a part of the conversation.

Cannot Stop: She believes that she cannot stop. New brain imaging technology now shows that there are significant changes in the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory and behavioral control. These changes compromise the brain architecture and cause the compulsive slide into addiction.

What can we do if we are worried about a woman in our life?

Whenever you see any kind of irrational, highly self-destructive behavior that just doesn’t add up, there is usually some kind of addictive behavior behind it. Secrecy, deceit, and the systematic betrayal of the trust of others are all hallmarks of this disorder. Addictions often manifest very differently in women than in men with addicted women reporting more depression, anxiety and low self esteem.

Make a plan, enlist a team of loving friends and family and intervene directly and quickly. Happily, addiction treatment is highly effective and lasting so be encouraged that you are saving her life. She’ll thank you for it once she is sober and safe again.

Sources:

The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: Report on Substance Abuse and the American Woman, June 1996

Women Under the influence, by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University omen under the Influence

Alcoholism Hurts Women Neuropsychologically Almost the Same as it Hurts Men: Deficits Linger Months into Abstinence, APA, January 20, 2002

Addicted Moms: Everybody Knows Somebody, WorkingMother.com

The National Institute of Drug Abuse, Drugs, Brains, and Behavior - The Science of Addiction"

Is Your Teen Ready For College? - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, November 04, 2010

As America’s teens are applying to college this fall, millions of parents are wondering if their children are ready for the transition to college. Do they have something to worry about?

Most neurophysiologists report now that the changes taking place in the teenage brain are profound. The teenage brain is like a house that’s being built—there is a steady building of neurological connections that create an often subtle but abrupt refinement in self-control and judgment. There can be a stark difference between a 17 year old and an 18 year old. Their emotional maturity can consolidate and stabilize in just a few months.

Are parents putting too much pressure on kids when we ask them to commit to college, in some cases when they’re only sophomores and juniors in high school?

Without a doubt, we are putting a ton of pressure on kids when we ask them to make an adult commitment in the middle of adolescence. Again, we know that the emotional and cognitive development of the teenager is a complex and lengthy process. There are profound differences between fifteen and eighteen. Sophomores and juniors are being asked to make decisions that are literally, in adolescent development, life-changing.

Here are a few things I would recommend for parents:

Remain Involved: The main issue is what kind of input parents will have at such a profound and intense time of maturity.

Consequences For Life: We know that kids are extremely vulnerable to experiences—good and bad—during this pivotal time. What the child experiences is encoded much more intensely in late adolescence, and parents need to be very mindful of what they allow their teenagers to do.

Caution Around Substance Abuse: Be very cautious about what you enable your child to experience. For example, the teen years can be a devastating time for the brain to be exposed to drugs and alcohol since it is still developing. Parents, be very careful.

Parents, are you wondering if your child is ready for college?

Emotional maturity is a central factor in deciding college readiness for the child. You need to evaluate the following factors in your child:

  • Risk Aversion and Impulse Control
  • The Ability to Self Sooth Appropriately (with exercise, conversation, or distractions like music or movies)
  • The Ability to Self-Correct and to Remain Self-Aware
  • Skills in Self-Regulation such as time management, organization and persistence in task completion.
  • The Capacity to Identify Emotions In Others Accurately
  • The Ability to Understand the Complexity of Emotions and Motivations

Why Women Shrug Off Lousy Sex - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Naked Truth: Why Women Shrug Off Lousy Sex

Does sexual satisfaction really matter to women? A new study from the University Texas says not so much—especially if you’re in a happy marriage!

So, are women just putting up with less desirable sex than they used to?

Accepting Apathy: I think there is an epidemic of low sex and no sex marriages in America and this study illustrates that a lot of women are just accepting unsatisfying sex or even no sex in their marriage.

Sexually Inhibited: According to research, inhibited sexual desire is the biggest sex problem facing couples and the number one reason they seek sexual therapy. One in three women and one in seven men report inhibited sexual desire and the lack of interest can be devastating for a marriage.

Critical For Marriage: Twenty percent of American marriages fall into the category of no sex marriages with another fifteen percent in the low sex category. The lack of sex can rob a marriage of up to 70% of its vitality and can shatter an otherwise good relationship.

Now, interest in sex is often difficult for women to sustain when they’re carting kids around and working a full time job. Women are commonly shown in films and on television as not enjoying or even outright avoiding sex. But do women really not care that much about sex anymore?

Sex Is Not Just For Men: I think women are much more sexually interested than anyone gives them credit for, but women define their interest in sex very differently than men. In my experience, men are much more regularly aroused and interested in sex, but women have a much higher capability for desire and euphoric pleasure! Both genders enjoy and want sex, but just in different ways.

Many Factors Motivate Women: This new study reminds us that sex is very contextual for a woman. Factors such as connection to her partner, body image, emotional openness, and even just how her day was, all contribute to her desire. This new study very strongly reinforces how much a woman cares about sex depends centrally on the state of her relationship.

Happy Relationships, Less Sex: If she’s happy, she’s not so concerned about sex since she’s still connecting to her partner in other, non sexual ways. So in relationships that have more trust and openness, sex doesn’t assume such a central place. However, as a longtime psychologist, I think sexually starved relationships, for whatever reason, are in danger. Sex is an essential part of both physical, emotional, and romantic intimacy – there’s no getting around it.

High Anxiety: For women who are very stressed out about the relationship—insecure, jealous, or just “not feeling the love”--sex is much more important. Sex is soothing to the woman since it allows her to achieve a connection and soothe her anxiety. However, this pattern isn’t entirely healthy either since sex is substituted for emotional intimacy and connection. You can have a hollow marriage but great sex.

Sex is a central part of any romantic relationship and is essential for both emotional and physical intimacy. However, many couples fall into a pattern of going without or even avoiding sex!

Once this pattern gets going, it is much harder to overcome. Couples begin to redefine the relationship as asexual and relegate their partner to a companion instead of a lover and a partner.

There are two obstacles that stand in the way:

Motivation: The first one is motivation. Research shows that if the sexual disconnect does not clear up in six months, it is much less likely to ever resolve. Rediscover your partner and why you love them - reconnect emotionally to reconnect physically.

Anger: The next biggest factor is anger, especially for women. We have twice the emotional memory and we are renowned for holding onto grudges. Withholding sex or avoiding sex can be vengeful in a marriage and it is usually a female reaction. However, men have been known to avoid the bedroom if they are angry.

Sound familiar? Guys, here’s what you can do to physically reconnect with your partner today:

Take The Time: Sex is very emotionally based for women. She must connect to become vulnerable. Take the time to make her feel special and connected to you.

Conversation is Foreplay: Women love words and they love to talk so conversation is foreplay. I know it’s tough guys but even light conversation is good – ask her about her day or how her presentation went!

Emotional Intelligence Is Critical: Women want to be understood, engage in validation of their feelings, and create narratives about their lives. Most importantly, trust, safety, and understanding are central aphrodisiacs for a woman.

Try A Little Tenderness: When all else fails, try a little tenderness—in touch, words, and deeds. Life is hard and she wants you to be her “port in the storm.” Try holding her close and telling her that it’s all going to be OK.

What To Do About Post-Partum Depression - By Chris Gearing

Monday, November 01, 2010

The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that pediatricians routinely screen all new mothers for depression. Every year more than 400,000 babies are born to depressed women and that's not just bad for moms, but can also harm their babies. Research shows babies with depressed mothers show developmental and social delays.

But how widespread is post partum depression in women?

Post-partum depression is much more common than psychologists once thought. Now we know that up to 80% of women are affected by post-partum. Around 30% of fathers also develop depression during the first year of the baby's birth. If left untreated, post partum can become worse over time and can eventually become life threatening. The results can be absolutely disastrous.

So, why is post-partum depression so often overlooked?

The baby blues, common tearfulness, and sadness are often overlooked because everyone is focusing on the baby. It is common to think that a joyous birth will bring only contentment and happiness. The biggest problem is that everyone usually underestimates what is happening. They may sense something is wrong but not guess what it is. Unfortunately, families, spouses and even doctors often mistake post-partum depression for normal baby blues that will pass.

The majority of women with post-partum suffer from this illness for more than 6 months and, if untreated, 25% of patients are still depressed a year later. This condition can get worse, and even lethal, over time if it is not treated with anti-depressants and therapy.

But how does a parent with post-partum affect the baby?

Unfortunately, the effects on the infant can be devastating. By age 9 months, the baby may either cry a lot or become listless and may perform below average on developmental tests--a pattern that can persist for years.

There are two broad patterns that we see in clinical practice:

Outright Neglect: The effects on the child are often much more lethal and traumatic. The child is virtually abandoned by the chronically depressed mother. Other people may not recognize the lonely toddler or elementary school child as being symptomatic or traumatized. But they cannot develop normally if their mother is incompetent and in the grip of depression.

Engulfed by Mom: The other pattern is the over involved mother who soothes her ongoing depression by fusing with the child. There are no appropriate boundaries and the child becomes a kind of “safety blanket” for a mother who is lost in depression. The child often begins to see the world as a fearful place and develops only a partial sense of self.

Now, why is post-partum so rampant?

Because no one is sleeping! The most important issue in clinical depression among new parents is the sleep problem, bar none. Fatigue breeds depression, and these young parents fail to realize that they can be so deeply affected by sleep loss. We know that discernable mood disturbances begin to emerge when someone has shortened their sleep by two hours over a five-day span. Sleepless people have 35 times the rates of depression!

Together, the couple spirals down into the downward depression cycle, and they fail to realize what is happening until the depression has severely compromised their relationship and their lives. Every one loses.

So first things first – get some sleep.

Here’s what I would recommend as a first step for coping with post-partum depression:

First, Having Direction: Getting the right diagnosis is the first step in overcoming this dreadful problem. Talk to your doctor about what you are feeling and ask for a referral to a psychologist for an evaluation.

Consider Medication: Anti-depressants are quite helpful in alleviating symptoms quickly. When combined with psychotherapy, the treatment outcomes are quite positive. But always talk to your doctor before starting any medication.

Get Dad Involved: We need the fathers to get involved. We need them to get involved in supporting both the baby AND mom. So often, they are the secret to alleviating the stress, helping mom sleep and taking turns with baby. Most importantly, fathers play a central role in helping the child unfold socially and cognitively—they are the preferred and best playmates to young, developing babies.

Post-partum depression is a very serious disorder. Please seek the help of a professional if you are concerned about yourself or someone you know.


Recent Posts


Tags


Archive