Therapy That Works...

Coping With The Empty Nest - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia on KTXD Channel 47 discuss how empty nesters can cope with their new found freedom and their kids returning home for the holidays! click here.

How To Catch A Liar, Part 5 - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 25, 2012

Here are three more tips to help you tell whether someone is lying or not:

1.) Liars’ voices tend to soften and get very quiet as they continue to tell their story. They are trying to hide their shame for the lie behind the story and are usually trying to make themselves feel better while lying. The falsely accused are usually frustrated angry about being interrogated when they are telling the truth!

2.) Watch for subtle body movements – they are usually telling the real story. A slight shoulder shrug usually indicates a lie like you would shrug if someone asked you a question you didn’t know the answer to. If the liar is smiling while telling you something that is sad or upsetting, they are trying to mask their own discomfort with a smile. Liars also sometimes indicate their true feelings with their heads – for instance, if someone is telling you that they agree with you but they are actually shaking their head.

3.) A smile can be very informative if you suspect someone is lying. Always watch to see if the liar is suppressing a smile – it could be indicative of what Dr Paul Ekman calls “duping delight” or the rush or joy that liars feel when their lies are believed and accepted.

SOURCE:

The Work of Dr. Paul Ekman

Men’s Health, March 2012

Deion Sanders' Public Divorce - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on CBS 11 discuss Deion Sanders' divorce and the media's role in public court battles - click here.

Why do celebrity divorces play out in the media?

Dual Relationship: Celebrities have a dual relationship with the media. They insist on having the media work on their own terms, and they also need the media to stay top of mind with the public. However, they are also subject to media scrutiny when things are difficult or ambiguous. That puts a lot of stress on top of an already terrible situation.

Publicity Makes Things Worse: As the conflict is played out in the media, the publicity can only make things worse. The spouses become highly polarized in the glare of public opinion. They hear exaggerated versions of their spouse’s conversations and they can become even more enraged. Divorces that could have been handled effectively explode into battles that are waged in the public spotlight.

Why do divorces like this get so heated?

Fusion Delusion: Many powerful people tend to idealize and then fuse with their partner. The line between each individual partner ceases to exist in this kind of relationship. They only feel good when they are attached at the hip.

Idealization & Devaluation: Strong personalities love intensely and hate intensely. With some people, you will inevitably disappoint them and when you do, there is a sudden fall in affection. The idealized become the devalued. The partner becomes a walking injury to them.

Control At Any Cost: Control is how they lessen their injuries. Anger is a direct result of anxiety and a feeling of vulnerability. Control is the central issue in divorces that are highly conflicted. Each partner wants to win and that means that the other partner has to lose - it's a zero sum game. The partners struggle to remain in control by bullying and intimidating the other person. There is a rush in being the one who calls the shots and who humiliates the person they once pledged to love forever.

Is being married to a celebrity a harder road?

Unrealistic Expectations: Celebrities are usually driven by relentless ambition and vision. Expecting one another to be emotionally present all the time is unrealistic, especially with the demands of celebrity life. The challenge is to remain grounded, stable, and realistic in the marriage.

Strong Opinions and Big Personalities: Being a celebrity usually demands a big personality that often comes with strong opinions and a lack of compromise. People of influence are often stubborn and they want their way.

Failure to Listen: They fail to understand what the other person is saying to them. They talk but they do not listen. Therefore, if there is a disagreement, things can get heated quickly. Partners are bound to clash when inevitable disappointment occurs.

Many of us have very strong personalities in our lives. Any advice for coping with difficult people we love?

Here are a few tips:

1.) Remain aware of your own tendency to buy into the idealizations and devaluations of charismatic people. Guard your own self interest in a healthy way—owning what is true but keeping things in perspective. We are all imperfect and must be forgiven for our shortcomings.

2.) On the other hand, if you are chronically feeling unhappy, devalued and criticized, ask two sets of questions. Are you accurately understanding what they are saying? If you are, then ask if you are with someone you can never please.

3.) Strong personalities often insist on taking their unhappiness out on you, even when you have nothing to do with their unhappiness. You cannot reason with someone who will not listen to your point of view and strive to work it out with you.

4.) Stay away from people who overly idealize you. There is always a price to pay if you are on a pedestal. The higher you sit in their opinion, the farther you will fall when things don't go perfectly.

5.) Remind yourself that the unkindness is not personal in any way. The person striking out at you does not really understand the damage they are doing.

SOURCE:

"Why Is It Always About You?" by Sandy Hotchkiss

Does Attachment Parenting Go Too Far? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 11, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on CBS 11 discuss the new TIME Magazine cover about Attachment Parenting and whether or not it goes too far - click here.

When Child Abuse Becomes Murder - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia on CBS 11 discuss how child abuse can lead to murder - click here

Why would a parent do this to their own child?

Abusive parents have a lack of conscience along with a lack of self-control that combusts when the child does something that frustrates or angers them. The child is often just being a regular kid and the parent takes his own irritation out on an innocent child who is utterly helpless to defend himself. Remember that parents who resort to such heinous behavior (such as starving a child to death) lack the fundamental tools to parent effectively. The starvation of this child was most likely the end point of a lifetime of abuse and neglect.

What are the characteristics of these parents?

Cycle of Abuse: Abusive parents have often been abused or neglected during their own childhood. One study estimated that approximately one third of abused children will grow up to become abusers themselves. Remember though, that two thirds of kids who are abused do not grow up to abuse others.

Substance Abuse: Substance abuse is highly correlated with the parental mistreatment of a child.

Harsh Discipline: Harsh interactions with the child are typical. They do not reward the adorable things that children do and remain either detached or critical. Studies find that physically abusive mothers are more likely to use harsh discipline strategies such as hitting, isolation and verbal aggression.

Isolated, chaotic, and financially challenged families are more likely inflict harm on a child who is both invisible and marginalized.

Unrealistic Expectations of the Child: A parent’s negative attitudes, misunderstanding, and attributions about a child's behavior may contribute to the abuse. Moms who physically abuse their kids have higher and more negative expectations for their children. These expectations are inaccurate and unjust. Unmet expectations can lead to lashing out at a helpless child.

Viewing the Child as an Object: Tragically some parents relegate a child to the status of a mere object in their lives. The child has no rights, no voice and is never shown compassion in the face of frustration. Such parents are devastating in the life of a child.

What are some signs that concerned adults could look for in the child we’re concerned about?

Remember that many kinds of serious child abuse are often invisible, inaudible and almost always usually committed behind closed doors. However, there are specific signs that you can detect to if you are concerned about a child:

Acts of Humiliation: The active belittling of a child with contemptuous language and behavior. The child is the focus of reprimands and criticisms that make the child feel unworthy and helpless.

Abandonment and Rejection: The child is pushed away either with words and actions.

Isolation: Often the child is alone in this abuse, unable to really explain what they feel or articulate what is going on at home. It is very difficult to complain about your parent who is supposed to be the guardian of your welfare.

Exploiting Trust and Good Will: Child abuse is the ultimate betrayal of a child at the hands of a parent. Our parents are charged with our protection and any abdication of this role—in any way-- is unacceptable.

What are the long-term effects on children who go through this kind of experience?

Invisible and Marginalized: They feel relegated to the role of an object. In those invisible moments you are being emotionally annihilated. You do not develop the sense of yourself that originates in the interactions with others. Normal developmental milestones-- emotional, cognitive and physical are not completed.

Social and Academic Delays: Academic and intellectual delays are common in kids who are treated this way. Social relationships are often immature.

Emotional Scars: Problems in emotional self-regulation is most common and the most significant. If you cannot control your reactions—both emotional and behavioral, you cannot achieve anything. The child who is systematically abused cannot calm down without avoiding. As they grow up, they begin to turn to alcohol, acting out at school or at work, oppositional behaviors and a host of other problems that indicate a basic problem in emotional self-regulation. They cannot tolerate ordinary stress and underperform in life and in relationships.

What can our parents do to avoid all types of emotional abuse?

Accountable to your Child: First of all, audit your own choices and behaviors. It is easy to harshly turn on our kids in lives overrun with stress and discord. However, your first and final responsibility is to your child. Remain accountable to yourself by maintaining strict standards on verbal and emotional blowups and over reactions with your child.

Parents Must Self-Regulate Emotions: Emotional abuse by parents always comes from either a sense of helplessness or a lack of conscience about the welfare of the child. Do not allow your helplessness to morph into verbal and behavioral unkindness to the child who is under your care. If you perceive your own lack of self-control in this area, see a psychologist and learn the emotional regulation skills that you must in turn, teach your child.

Profile of the Ohio School Shooter - By Chris Gearing

Monday, February 27, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss the tragic Ohio high school shooting - click here.

With the tragic news of a school shooting at an Ohio high school this week, many Americans are shocked that shootings continue to occur in a post-Columbine world.

Since the tragic Columbine shootings in April 1999, psychologists have assembled a list of common denominators between school shooters.

Teenage Males: They are usually Caucasian males between the ages of 11 and 18 with the average age being 16 who are engaging in their first act of lethal violence. Boys between the ages of 13 and 19 commit about 1/3 of violent crimes.

Rural Settings: School shootings usually occur in the rural or suburban areas outside larger cities. The kids are from a blue collar or middle class backgrounds.

Seasonality: Time of year has a lot to with this kind of crime with most of them occurring between December and May (usually in the Spring).

Tough Home Life: Family background is usually highly dysfunctional and attachment to the parents has been compromised in some ways. The family often looks fairly normal to the community and people are often surprised that the child becomes a murder. Discipline is overly harsh and applied inconsistently.

Cold Blooded: Premeditation is a central part of the crime. Smuggling a gun or guns into a school takes forethought and cunning. There is a plan that has been carefully constructed somewhere along the way. Acquisition of firearm—almost always from the home-- is necessary as is the requisite clothing to hide the firearms as the enter the school.

What would push a teenager to engage in this type of lethal crime against his peers?

Vengeance is the primary motive for almost all of the school shootings and again, this teenager has a history of being bullied and being socially isolated. The second motivation is to achieve notoriety.

The shooters are often perceived as nerdy and physically unattractive and are the common targets of ridicule from other children. Anger and resentment build up over time.. Suddenly there is a precipitating event that forces them to lose control and to lash out in a murderous rage.

If the target is a school official, then a teacher or a principal has had to take disciplinary action against the child.

If the targets includes peers, those who are deemed responsible for the torment are targeted almost exclusively. Many of the kids who have been shot in the past are the more popular or successful kids who are perceived as having wronged the shooter at some point in time.

What are these kids like emotionally and psychologically?

Socially Withdrawn: Most of the time, school shooters are emotionally immature, isolated and socially withdrawn. The emotional centers of the brain are not fully connected to the logical analytical parts of our brain that tells us that “no injustice is worth taking someone else’s life.”

Violence Unites Them: If they do have friends, the friendships generally revolve around their dark view of the world—militaristic, violent, “dog eat dog” kinds of views that justify their social isolation and bond them to one another. They enjoy bragging about their interest in violence and killing and are fascinated by the weapons of violence—guns, bombs, knives, and online or media depictions of violence or death.

Hypersensitive to Criticism: Cognitively these kids are very rigid and simplistic in how they view others. They don’t examine their judgments of others and are quick to assume that others are criticizing them. They are distrustful and view themselves as victims of others. Hypersensitivity is common and they anticipate rejection. They do not usually trust adults.

When does the child cross the line to violence?

Prior to the crime, the child begins to:

  • Feel justified to kill
  • Perceive few or no alternatives
  • Believe that the consequences will be worth it

Here are some warning signs if you are concerned about your child:

Learning to predict violence is the first step to preventing violence. Remember that most of the time, these crimes are well rehearsed. The school shooter fantasizes about revenge against those who are perceived to have harmed him. They often have protracted mental and behavioral rehearsals of their acts of violence in which they carefully select the victims, the time, location, means of killing and how it will play out.

Remember that their violence is calculated--it is not a crime of impulse or passion. It is a crime of intentional revenge.

Here are some warning signs of school shooters:

  • Lack of Conscience
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Depressed, Sullen Behavior
  • Tendency To Follow "Leaders" No Matter What
  • History of Oppositional Behaviors
  • Actual Threats—Written or Spoken
  • Past Acts of Violence
  • Access to Weapons
  • Past Suicide Attempts
  • Family History of Violence or Bullying
  • Cruelty to Animals

Sources:

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The Classroom Avenger by James P. McGee Ph.D. and Caren DeBernardo, Psy.D.

The Health Effects of Nostalgia - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on YouTube describe how nostalgia and remembering the good times can actually be good for your health - click here.

Part of the magic of family is getting together and revisiting family traditions – eating a family meal together at the holidays, watching the same movie, or singing the same songs. But did you know that those nostalgic feelings are actually good for you?

In a recent study, nostalgia was found to have a physically comforting and relaxing effect on the body. Subjects had lower blood pressure, calm heart rates, and lower levels of anxiety.

So if you’re looking to take the edge off of your stressful day, take a trip down memory lane and remember everything that you have to be thankful for.

Source:

“The Power of Nostalgia at Thanksgiving” by Jacque Wilson, CNN.com

How To Protect Yourself From Domestic Violence - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 27, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on YouTube explain how you can protect yourself and the ones you love from domestic violence - click here.

A recent study released by the CDC found that one in four American women have been severely beaten or assaulted by a romantic partner.

Here’s how you can protect yourself from a violent partner:

Denial Is Your Biggest Liability: Most women underestimate the threat and do not recognize the warning signs such as a history of possessiveness, intimidation, and overly jealous behavior. These are psychological "red flags" warning you of potential danger. Pay attention.

Intuition Is Your Best Defense: Thirty one thousand women die each year in America and the majority die at the hands of a romantic partner. Respect your own intuition about your partner and don't talk yourself down or normalize violent behavior. Stop debating and prosecuting your own observations. Your brain is hardwired to protect you, pick up on signs of danger, and tell you to run.

Speed Is Your Best Strategy: If you are threatened, respond quickly. Do not hesitate and remain frozen. Experts estimate that you have approximately five seconds to make a difference in your own self-defense and potentially save your own life. Move quickly and get out of the dangerous situation.

If you fear your partner, you must surrender your life to getting away from him and remaining safe. Remember that you cannot reason with him, convince him, or change him since he is intent upon reclaiming you as a possession. He only wants to regain control.

Make sure to not take this step on your own – please contact a local group, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or visit TheHotline.org. These organizations can help you find a safe place to live, set up new jobs and bank accounts, and can help you take care of your kids. They all have the strategies and knowledge to help you leave safely and successfully.

Source:

“1 in 4 US women victims of severe violence” by Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

The Work of Gavin De Becker

The Warning Signs of Potential Domestic Violence - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on YouTube discuss warning signs that you may be in danger at home - click here.

A recent study issued by the CDC found that one in four women had been severely beaten or assaulted in a previous romantic relationship. Many women are wondering how they can protect themselves against a possible threat at home.

Here are some warning signs of a potentially violent partner:

Fast Paced Relationships: Societal definitions of how long a couple should be together before getting married were established for a reason. Many violent men and predators want to move very quickly in a relationship and go too fast. They are trying to establish control over you and get you into a bad situation.

Won’t Take No For An Answer: Anyone who will not hear “no” as an answer is trying to control you. Too often, when men say “no” that is the end of the conversation. However, some men view a “no” from a woman as the beginning of a negotiation. When you say no, mean it and follow through on it. Whether it’s for coming upstairs after a date or a marriage proposal, don’t let him bully you with what looks like persistence.

Symbolic Violence: This behavior includes the destruction of objects dear to the partner or symbolic to the relationship. The intention is to intimidate the other person and cause emotional havoc. Destroying wedding pictures, personal items like perfume or lingerie, or even violence against a beloved pet are all efforts to symbolically bully.

Physical violence can never be undone and has permanent effects on relationships. Make sure to protect yourself and watch out for these red flags in your relationship.

Check back tomorrow to learn how to protect yourself from domestic violence and how you can stop it.

Source:

“1 in 4 US women victims of severe violence” by Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

The Work of Gavin De Becker

High Rates of Domestic Violence In America - By Chris Gearing

Monday, January 23, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on Viddler discuss why domestic violence rates are so high in America - click here.

A recent study released by the CDC found that one in four women have been severely beaten by their intimate partners while in a relationship. With the rates of violence so high, many women are concerned about their safety.

But first, why are relationship violence rates so high?

We’ve known for years that women are more often the victims of domestic violence, but these numbers speak to a deepening problem in American couples. Too many modern couples replace words and negotiation with intimidation and bullying.

Bullies believe that if they don’t get their way, that they can threaten or intimidate others to control the outcome. Such behaviors in general society have translated into how we act in our marriages. These violent habits now thrive in intimate relationships where there are no witnesses and very sadly, no accountability.

Check back tomorrow to find out how relationship violence develops in relationships and how it can get out of control.

Source:

“1 in 4 US women victims of severe violence” by Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

The Work of Gavin De Becker


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