Therapy That Works...

The Warning Signs of Violence - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mental Disorders Are Not An Excuse For Violence - By Chris Gearing

Monday, January 31, 2011

How Breaking Up Affects The Next Relationship - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Attraction and Breaking Up

How Men and Women See Rejection Differently

Yet another difference between men and women was revealed by a new study from the University of Michigan that says how you react to your partner’s previous relationship may actually depend on your gender. Here to tell us more is psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

So how does your last relationship affect how your new partner sees you?

This study really surprised the researchers because the opinions were so strong, but who-breaks-up-with-who seems to set a tone for the beginning of the next relationship. Apparently, whether you were rejected or were the one who rejected gives a certain appearance that is either relationship enhancing or detracting depending on your gender. Here’s what the study reports:

Men’s rating of their girlfriend improved when she has been rejected.

Women want the man to be the rejecting party and finds men more desirable if they were the ones to walk away.

Why would men be attracted to a rejected woman?

Men are very sensitive to their own hierarchy and power. Since men apparently like women who have been dumped, they may feel more important and secure in their power from the beginning. They may be reading her previous loyalty to her former partner as a virtue and feel reassured that they are less likely to be rejected. Many men also enjoy “rescue” relationships in which they feel needed, sought after, and truly valued. The fact that the last guy walked away makes them feel that they are making a difference in her life and that she is completely open to him. They do not see the fact that she was dumped as a problem with her, but rather as a new and wonderful opportunity for them.

What about how women react?

Women are Sensitive to Being Excluded and Included. We know from female psychology that women feel the ultimate insult is excluding someone from your life. Women prefer guys who pushed their last lady away since such actions offer a fresh start to a new relationship. The fact that he put an end to the relationship also seems to give it more closure – they feel secure that he won’t go back. They seem to view the rejecting male as stronger, more decisive and able to make difficult decisions about important matters.

Any parting advice for our viewers?

Attraction is Complex: Remember that attraction in a relationship is a complex response, especially when it comes to the female brain. A woman’s attraction to a man is much more complex than we ever thought possible. Forget personality, looks, or even money -- women seem to be drawn at times to unlikely partners for reasons as simple as his relationship history.

Consider the Entire Picture: Both genders need to make sure that they include many factors in deciding whether they want to pursue a relationship or not. Make sure you don’t judge him or her too harshly—you may be missing a great person. Each person that you date should be understood as an individual who made the best decision he could at the time.

Ask More Questions: If you are unsure about someone, ask more questions. For example, if you are a man and are dating a woman who walked out on a relationship, make sure you understand exactly what her reasons were. She may have shown extraordinary strength of character in leaving.

In the reverse, if you are a woman and dating a man who was left, consider that he may have been loyal and true until the very end. How he acted with her can be predictive of where he goes with you.

Source:

"Rejection Hurts" by Christine Stanik

Reaction To Past Relationships Depends On Gender - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Psychosis In Black Swan - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 14, 2011

The movie Black Swan depicts the disturbing descent of ballerina Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, into psychosis. Most analyses of the film focus on Nina’s obsessive compulsive and anorexia symptoms and her preoccupation with physical and professional perfection. But I believe that some of the most important issues in this movie may have to do with a more common issue faced by millions of young women. Challenged by an already tenuous sense of herself, Nina falls into a deepening state of anxiety as she strives to define herself as an individual separate from the opinions and expectations of others – particularly her mother.

All too often, as young women emerge into their adult roles-either as a dancer, as a student or as a professional-they lack the pivotal skills to handle the anxiety that is a natural part of any positive change. Instead, as this character’s downward spiral illustrates, their ability to cope can falter and in some rare and extreme cases, they can become psychotic if certain factors occur at the same time.

Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

New Opportunities Create Anxiety: New environments such as going to college or getting a promotion require new coping skills or even honing the skills we’ve already been rehearsing. Anxiety often hits us and hits us hard just when we need to be the most independent, clear thinking and capable. Many girls sabotage themselves because of the unrelenting anxiety that causes increased impulsivity, carelessness and even reckless behavior. Sadly, they have absolutely no idea why they are faltering.

Independent Thinking Embraces Many Sides of Our Personalities: Most of all, these new opportunities require us to define what we expect of ourselves separate from the expectations of others. For example, in this character’s case, Nina’s mother kept her sheltered as a little girl – giving her baths, brushing her hair, and pretty much determining every second of her life outside of the world of ballet. When she landed the role of the Swan Queen, Nina had to recognize not only her sweet and tender side but to embrace her seductive, playful adult self – and it was tearing her apart. She failed to recognize that she could be a sweet woman who also enjoyed pleasure and seduction.

Lack Of Self-Definition: If you have grown up with parents who insisted on defining and controlling you, your ability to build an independent and strong reality is often challenged. If you’re paying constant attention to what they want you to feel and how they want you to feel it, your inner world retreats and you constantly orient to the outer world. You grow up without a fully developed ability to think and feel for yourself, often with disastrous outcomes--as the movie illustrates.

The World of Performance: Physical perfection at any cost is often the gold standard in professions that emphasize public performance. Whether the young woman enters the world of dance or corporate sales, she is rewarded for remaining rail thin, toned, and sexual. Caloric restriction that is often unsustainable over time gives her the control she seeks, but it can literally erode her body, her mind, and her sense of reality.

Sexual Harassment: Tragically, some men in power exploit the women in subordinate positions just because they can. The inequity in power disables the young woman’s confidence in supporting herself and in challenging his reckless, harassing behavior. Such stressors can be especially disturbing for a young woman who has been taught to substitute the opinions and expectations of others for her own thoughts – her own painful feelings are pushed aside as she focuses on the gratification and praise from the man taking advantage of her. She will ignore her own rights and view the harassment as her fault or will even defend his behavior.

The Tragic Gabrielle Giffords Shooting - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mental Illness is Not an Explanation for Violence

The tragic shootings in Arizona of US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords once again highlight the link between mental illness and violence. The suspect Jared Loughner reportedly had shown symptoms for years but was never treated. Many of us automatically think that a psychological disorder will predict irrational or even violent behavior in the future. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Millions of people struggle with mood disorders, eating disorders, addiction issues and a host of other problems and are never violent.

In fact the real danger to your physical safety comes from some one who is using some kind of substance—either alcohol or drugs.

In a 2009 analysis of nearly 20,000 people, researchers reported that an increased risk of violence was associated with drug and alcohol problems, regardless of the presence of any mental disorder such as schizophrenia.

We do know that violence is more common when there is paranoid thinking that convinces the offender that others are against him. He feels persecuted, misunderstood, the victim of wrong doing and badly mistreated. If paranoid thinking becomes psychotic-- meaning that he loses touch with reality--things can get very dangerous. Although, he is systematically capable of planning a murder and execute it at this point, he will have no understanding that his judgment is impaired and that is completely out of touch with reality.

So what are some warning signs for violent behavior?

The prediction of violent crimes include the following:

Violent Language: Words are often our first signs of murderous intent and as we see in this case, the suspect had used plenty of violent language on the Internet and at school. When someone is planning to commit violence, their language has themes related to:

  • Revenge
  • Conspiracy
  • Entitlement
  • Grandiosity and attention seeking

Justification for Murder: When someone is about to commit a violent act they begin to justify their crime at least to themselves if not to others. Not only are they convinced that violence is an acceptable choice, they begin to argue that it is the only choice they can make.

Here are the four steps they move through on their way to violence:

  • They believe that they have justification for the crime.
  • They have no alternatives for the achieving the outcome they want
  • The consequences for their actions are acceptable
  • They have the resources and the abilities necessary to carry out mass murder such as access to guns, bullets and tragically the victim.

Danger Comes with Warnings: I am convinced that danger comes with warnings almost every time. However, odd behavior or even threatening behavior is often explained away or misunderstood as something more innocent. Our tendency is to ignore such threats since we conclude that its either none of our business or the person has no malicious intent.

Now, as this tragedy in Arizona illustrates, we have a responsibility as a society to speak up about people we are concerned about. Our community mental health systems must receive the requisite funding to handle the mental health issues of those who need it most.

Advocate for increased mental health services. This young man who allegedly committed these crimes was obviously in serious trouble yet was never treated. We must fundamentally reexamine our mental health system and mandate the new laws and harness new social resources to save not only the victim’s life, but also the life of those who commit such crimes.

Most of all, we need to make sure that our own intuition trumps our rationalizations. If you see disordered behavior, take it seriously. If you are the victim of threats to your safety, do not disregard this. Violent behaviors are predictable if we increase our awareness, learn the warning signs and act to protect ourselves. Pay attention to what is happening and remember that in most cases, the only person who can save your life is you.

Road Rage At The Holidays - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

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 Office Holiday Party - By Chris Gearing

Monday, December 06, 2010

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.


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