Tag Archive | Coping

Attachment Issues and Women Abandoned

If you can struggle through the first half of this movie, with its extreme versions of a woman who appears to be histrionic, you will get a second half that is much more intense and mature. This is typical with Bollywood films. They start out with characters who seem like people you have never known (unless you work in a psych hospital) because they often have bizarre personalities, overact their emotions and then there is the dancing and usually lip synching. In this film they actually added what appears to be a real singer. What I found sad was the deterioration of their society by trying to imitate western culture instead of embracing their own. However, the attachment issues are what this film is really about. Something I did not even realize until they finally brought in the psychotherapist, who was actually portrayed in a realistic and therapeutic way, to give a nod to an acceptance of psychology in a culture that does not embrace this at all (not unusual as most cultures don’t).

The therapist is played by Shah Rukh Khan, a very famous actor in India who has played everything from a person with Asperger’s to a psychotherapist. The last film I saw him in he acted like someone sniffing cocaine through the entire movie, so it was refreshing to see him in a more serious role. They actually show the psychotherapist with ethics in this film. Of course there is some suspense now and then as they try to bait you into thinking he might do something very bad. It made me tense because I am tired of seeing these disturbing portrayals of psychotherapists in the media. I even kept thinking, please, please, don’t do it. He didn’t. However, what the psychotherapist is able to uncover, with his unconventional, but appropriate, modalities are the young girl’s attachment issues.

Attachment issues occur in infancy when a child is removed from the mother and father for whatever reason. I have seen this occur with a woman who’s mother was taken from her at birth for quite some time because of the mother’s mental health issues. A young man I know had yellow jaundice and was hospitalized for a week – with mother coming in each day but for only an hour. Another young man was kidnapped at a year and a half by his father and the mother had no idea of his whereabouts. All foster babies in social services end up with attachment issues. In this movie, the girl’s father’s business goes under and the parents leave her with grandparents and go in search of work via new business deals. She writes to them daily but they never respond to her letters. Mom returns with a baby, temporarily and still does not return to take daughter back until later when her child fails miserably in school.

Thus the real concern here is mother being taken from baby or young child and the child is unsure whether they will return. As a result of this, the child develops coping mechanisms to survive. In this movie, the child sought to get attention from her parents, when they did return and she was seen as an unruly child. The parents (this is not unusual) do not take responsibility for the fact that their child is behaving as a result of their actions early on. As an adult, she is unable to attach to the men she believes she is in love with and runs away from them before they have a chance to abandon her.

Many women come to me with an inability to have healthy attachments as a result of birth trauma (or trauma as a young child). I have spoken about Narcissism on here quite a bit and this is similar but not the same. With Narcissists, the parent (s) is there but they do not form a healthy attachment to their child or they are not warm and nurturing and able to respond to the babies needs. Attachment issues can be seen in a variety of diagnoses as it really depends on how the person has interpreted the situation, their emotional intelligence level and the meanings they have placed on scenarios around them. The only constant I see is an inability to have a healthy relationship with a partner. I see unhealthy relationships with parents as well because it is hard to fix these things. The parent (s) is not in therapy. Sometimes the parent is a Narcissist, a substance user still, have mental illness, or they are ignorant to self-awareness in general because they live in denial. With foster children or adopted children, if they are able to find the biological parent, the parent is unsure how to attach to them after all these years. This causes more trauma.

In this Indian movie, “Dear Zindagi,” (2016) it appears that everything comes together within about ten sessions. This is not realistic but it is a movie and they had spent an entire hour or so showing you a histrionic woman doing things like bouncing around in her apartment so you could watch her hair twirling around (about three times there was a scene like this for several minutes). Several scenes of she and her work mates getting drunk, and the second break-up scene was very confusing because I wasn’t even clear they were in a relationship in the first place (mistake in scriptwriting or editing, who knows). In real life, it is easy for this therapist to see attachment issues but not so easy to help a person turn it around.

Childhood wounds are not as easy as having a nice conversation with your parents or bringing them flowers, as she did in this movie. It is not easy to grow up and act like an adult with your parents, when you have been behaving like a teenager around them for most of you adult life or just rejecting them completely. It is difficult when there are multiple babies from fathers and finances are more of a priority then self-awareness and healing. When a couple comes in for therapy and working on communication issues are taken over by dual self-esteem problems that are very deep and untouched. So you are not looking at a simple process. Nonetheless, I think the movie did do some good things. Show psychotherapy in a positive way – to get people to consider this as an option. It opened the door to a conversation of attachment issues, though I don’t believe they actually ever used this phrase. It became an intellectual discussion about life, even though it did not start out this way.

Try to be patient with the subtitles if you are not a foreign film fan like myself and give this movie a try if you can relate to the above. It is on Netflix and I think you will find it entertaining and enlightening if you can be patient through that first half.

 

Before You Say I Do

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Benjamin Franklin

Weddings cost an average of $26,720, according to costofawedding.com. The average cost of a divorce is $15,000-$30,000 according to a 2006 Forbes.com article. In my experience the latter figure will vary based on children, assets and EGO. The American Psychological Association reports that 40-50% of all marriages will end in divorce. Many couples wait until they are very married and very upset before they come into therapy. When there has been an affair, when there is about to be an affair, or when they are so over this person that it would take a fairy Godmother to make any difference in the relationship. With all this negativity why say I do in the first place?

On the heels of the Benjamin Franklin quote above, which I absolutely love because it sums up what I am about to say right here. Pre-Marital counseling is a must to add to that wedding budget as you will get a greater return on your investment. In fact, pre-marital counseling can be the most important money you will spend before you say I do.  Yes, it is possible that you will realize you made a mistake (but this is $15-$30,000 saved). It is also possible that you will save yourself a lot of heartache in the days after the “big day.” Here are some tips for making pre-marital counseling work.

  1. Schedule the onset of counseling at the same time you are sending your “Save the Date,” cards (six to eight months) prior to the big day. You need time to do the work and it may involve individual as well.
  2. Communicate with your therapist what your specific needs are. Even when the therapist has an agenda, make sure to let them know if they are missing something or a new issue has popped up (I always do a check-in before we begin the session). If you don’t tell the therapist, how are they supposed to know?
  3. Self-Awareness – Therapy doesn’t work if one person thinks it is the other persons fault. It takes two to tango and you have to be willing to be held accountable in counseling.
  4. Respect for the therapist and for yourself – paying for sessions on time, showing up on time, being committed to your partner and your future. Psychotherapy is a business first and a healing profession second. This is why you are coming: to get the advice, coaching, and support of a professional – not from a friend or family member.
  5. Homework is there for a reason.  To practice this new way of communicating. Don’t expect results if you are going home and behaving in the same manner.
  6. Be open to recommendations of the therapist – If there are addictions with one or both parties, couples counseling is not ready yet. If there is domestic violence a domestic violence agency should be consulted first for batterers work and counseling for the victim. If there is a history of abuse, there may be a need for individual work for that person before they are ready to begin couples. Your therapist will assess your situation and let you know what is necessary to begin.

Unmet needs from childhood are the majority of couple conflicts. Think about what you didn’t get from your parents growing up – love, nurturance, listening, guidance, a father/a mother, validation, whatever it was this is what you will look for in a partner. Unfortunately, since you aren’t really sure what this looks like, you often get exactly what you don’t want. This is because we are more comfortable with what we know and so this is what we attract. For example: someone to take care of (rather than being taking care of), or someone who just doesn’t give you the love you wish for and you are constantly struggling to attain this. Couples come in talking about small things but what is behind it is something so much larger. This has to do with expectations that have been mulling around in their head but no one has ever spoken of.

Effective communication is the key to a successful marriage. Each time I have attended one of those 50 years + type anniversary parties, they have all said the cliché phrase “communication,” when asked what made their marriage work. I have listened to couples tell me their grandparents or aunt/uncles have said the same. What this means is something that often takes people many years of mistakes to figure out. For older couples I can tell you it also means a lot of compromising along the way because they were married in a time when there was no acceptance of pre-marital counseling other than a few sessions with their spiritual leader.

When I work with couples, I am using the training I took at certified Gottman.com led seminars. These are the principles of Dr. John Gottman which are based on his years of research with couples. If you just “google search” his name you will find loads of articles, videos, interviews, photos and of course their website. His work was introduced to me long before I began my studies as a therapist and after becoming a therapist, his name came across my path once again and off I went to the advanced trainings.

In my personal background, I was 17 years old when I married and I was six months pregnant at the time. I was divorced a couple of years later because of abuse and addictions on their part. I later learned, while doing my thesis and again from Dr. John Gottman with his partner Dr. Neil Jacobson that I was in a marriage with a Pit Bull (When Men Batter Women: New Insights Into Ending Abusive Relationships, 1998). I have never remarried but I have been in several long-term relationships that did not last. It was a long time before it finally hit me in the head what I had been missing all along. Fortunately for you, who might be working with me, you won’t have to wait at all. The reason why I love doing work with couples is so that I may give them the advantages I never had. Experience, Education, Intuition, Insight, Holistic thought process and continuing education post-graduate school is what you will get when you come into my office.

A therapist cannot promise you miracles because it is up to you two and what you are willing to commit to working on. When my coupleS work as hard in session as they do out of session – on practicing these principles I am teaching them, I do see success. My belief is that a couple should not be married without some form of pre-marital counseling (see paragraph one).

 

The Psych Show and Exposure Therapy

 

I met Dr. Ali Mattu recently at a workshop called “Social Media and Mental Health,” which he and local professional Dr. Ackerman were facilitating. Today I finally had the time to sit down and review some of his videos on YouTube. He has a “channel” called “The Psych Show,” where he covers a variety of mental health topics. The videos are quite entertaining and educational as well. This is an example of one of his videos. Go to YouTube and see what other interesting topics he covers. He makes psychology a fun topic rather than something to avoid.

Making America Great Again

I hope with all my heart to see this take place. Several years ago I saw and predicted the next president of the United States. I told this to people wherever I went that I really felt Trump was going to win. This was a gut feeling not my politics. After returning to Ohio in 2010, I began to be in shock at the devastation I saw in this great State. I was already getting a glimpse of this driving cross country from California and noticing that people had changed to a very drastic level while I was gone. In 2010, this was my third time to drive cross country; once in the early 90’s, then in 2003 and again in 2010. It was difficult to see this change on the West Coast because I didn’t grow up there and people in that state can convince you of anything.  They believe they are in paradise even though so many live a faux existence on loan by a lot of deep debt. Driving cross country in 2010 I was now seeing franchise after franchise taking advantage of our quality of life and stealing the local man’s hard work and dedication to his restaurant that he had been known for, for decades. I saw people who had given up on local people in favor of fast, quick, predictable junk food and having travelled out of the country, the same processed unlovingly made food around the world.

In Ohio I saw the small beautiful farm and factory towns I grew up around, turned into meth labs. I heard about the rising drug culture here and how the doctors and pharmacists were playing a small role in this. I saw how the inner city, once a small segregated population of Columbus on one side of town, was now on all sides of town. People who once did not need to depend on a house key were now installing alarm systems, buying large dogs, and they were talking about their guns as if they were a pet but really a crutch to make them believe they were safe. I saw tagging in small neighborhoods that once were nice decent places to live. I feared that soon we would see bars on the windows and doors, just as I saw in Oakland and Baltimore, MD.

I saw locally a political system that has no term limits which creates a lack of democracy and a dependence on pretense of small victories. The only thing people could tell me that their mayor had done for them was give them a park to walk in downtown – after 20 years. On a national scale I began to open my eyes to the destruction of Made in China, created by Clinton and saw documentary after documentary and began to piece together for myself how the working class person’s lives were in such great ruin in America. Yet the Chinese are upwardly mobile to the U.S. with all the fortunes the company executives were bestowing on their children thanks to our country giving away our own families economy. Locally I am seeing young guys begging for money on the streets, a sight I never once saw growing up in Columbus. These guys are fewer than 30 years of age, who no doubt are unable to pass drug tests, but most likely a product of parents who gave up after losing factory job after factory job.

 I saw how this Obamacare insurance policy not only ignored the recession but also how it created havoc for the average person. Entrepreneurs like myself, who have to pay for their own insurance policy and hoped to get a great system. The mockery of us as a people, ensuring that this was going to be a good thing for us and then learning it was worse than what we had before. Leading us on into a second presidency as the insurance policy did not take place until after that time and then learning what it really meant. Huge unrealistic deductibles and paying 100% until you met them. Medication, in my case, that went from $30 to $700 so that I had to fight hard to find alternative measures. Finally, when tax season rolled around, the entrepreneur is punished for making more money than expected. As a result healthcare.gov comes after you for the discount; thereby making your profit less. For a one person company this is a financial upset that follows you into the next year.

Of course listening to my clients from all levels in these big companies here in our city, I began to see a pattern. The employee is expendable. From the executive down to the phone rooms, I learn about businesses that at one time cared and nurtured their staff, rewarded them for their hard work and then one by one cut back and took away every reason they had to get up in the morning. With the greediness of big corporations, seeing the increase in profits because of outsourcing, they began doing whatever they could to make even more money. Lowering their work ethics, sending mixed messages to the employees, rewarding those who played games rather than stood strong and determined, all to get rid of the larger paid for weak minded cheap labor that is easy to find. Even their customers are no longer people they care about. Why should they when the customer will easily be replaced by someone else. Or, why care when the company holds a virtual monopoly on the product and know people don’t have a choice in the long run. I hear stories of wonderful hard working, dedicated; loyal people who after decades were let go or suddenly given made up reasons by HR to put them on written reprimands which used to be a reason to re-train and now are a used to antagonize and destroy.  The cliché “it is their word against ours.” In my generation 40+, after being let go after years of dedication have a difficult time finding new employment. My own generation weakened by computers that hire people instead of human beings. Amongst my friends, so many unemployed trying to create businesses, using retirement money, taking jobs they don’t want just to make it through the year.

All of these things lead to value systems in the family unit being destroyed. A rise in the use of substances, a continued decline in long term marriages, people creating children to self-soothe their own inner wounds and as a result more and more children raised by one parent. This is creating children raised to feel entitled because they are soothed by guilty parents who give in to their demands because they are too tired to deal with the child’s confusion and frustrations in life. The kids are often pacified by toys and the internet (which replaced the television) and not being taught the value of a dollar or the importance of hard work and education. As a result they don’t feel a need to work, when they get money on the streets, or can become an expendable employee going from job to job without any repercussions. In some cases I am seeing young boys depending on girlfriends as substitutes for mothers, now expecting these young girls to continue pandering to their entitled lifestyle. Young girls than continue the cycle by not using birth control, hoping a baby will change him or get him to love them. Hoping the baby will give them the love they never found at home growing up.

In a modern society for women, fashion has now become about selling the self to whoever will take it. Girls wear skirts only a few inches under private areas with nothing underneath and walk on stilts of 4-6” with their breasts hanging very closely to the exits of tank tops or very low cut pieces of fabric stitched together to form a covering. If not this, they are in jeans that have holes in them because fashion designers have just created the newest look in what to do with dungarees and flip flops. Clothing once worn by miners and farmers are now the most needed staple fabric in America. This is the best we can expect right now and no one seems to complain. We are seeing very low standards in dress that are accepted now in many companies or big corporations that once expected good work ethics and were known for their policies on dress. Now that they are expendable, the company really doesn’t care what they look like. They are going to get rid of them next week, month, or year anyway.

It makes sense that many people in this country wanted to see a better America. Having been raised by working class people who held me to higher standards and taught me good work ethics and the value of a dollar, and knowing and trusting that most of the people I grew up with, from my generation heard the same, I knew our country was desperate for change. I knew they were holding these thoughts in silence, afraid of being politically incorrect, having to hide with friends in dimly lit areas to talk about their fears their frustrations yet online pretending to go along with the flow. The faux sense of socialization and temporary fame garnered from ridiculous ploys online to take advantage of those exercising freedom of speech because it didn’t measure up to their own worldview. A message was sent yesterday. It was a terribly close divide of our country though and will take time to heal from. Major change always takes time to heal and grow. This is a time to break down the political system and re-look at what to do next. It is not going to simply happen overnight and an inexperienced average person (meaning non-political) will be taught quickly and make mistakes along the way. We have a lot more fights ahead of us, people who don’t want change, who don’t want to give up their power, who have enjoyed taking advantage of people, enjoyed being greedy at the expense of so many. It is a scary time right now because of all of this. I am scared because it is a huge change and I don’t know how people are going to react to this and I assume they will try to take it out on others. I am not scared of the person running the country now but of the enemies who will be focused on collapsing this new system and will use the Internet and our country and our world to vindicate their feelings and cause people to join in. The election, more than anything, should show us how disturbing the Internet can be to our sense of right and wrong. Of course I had already seen this in families that I serve because it is destroying them. While there are some good and useful ways of being helped by the Internet, it is getting less and less easier to find them and much more likely you will find the destroyers instead.

As with every presidency that have shocked our systems in the past, and we have lived through it to tell, we must be patient, trust, give it a chance and try to think about the possibilities that could come from this. It is a historical moment and would have been no matter who might have won. Instead of attacking and going on the defense, think about what we can learn. Let’s come together and be a positive part of this change by questioning (because you want to learn) and listening.  How will this change our lives? Where will be in four years? What plans can you make for your future? Take time to contemplate rather than react.

It’s Not About the Nail

A client recently suggested I might like this video and I was very grateful once I saw this. This is a terrific example of couples in communication with each other. The guy wants to fix things (in real life it is not this obvious). And the woman just wants him to listen to her, to be empathic, to “not side with the enemy,” (to quote Dr. John Gottman’s work). She is getting more and more frustrated in the video and he is continuing to try and point out the obvious – just fix it.

What I also found very interesting is that in real life, the example of real pain (with women it is usually emotional not physical) is often seen with men who do not want to go to the doctors. I could see this example much easier in reverse with a man who refuses to go to the doctor yet is in a lot of pain. A woman would go to the doctor because she would want to please her partner. A man wants to fix things but only if they are someone else’s problem, as it is too difficult for them to go into therapy and talk about their innermost feelings or go to the doctor and get a shot or (maybe) learn that they are going to die or learn that they will be weakened in some way so that they are unable to be the man they want to be for their partner, family, self.

A great video because it opens discussion and creates dialogue between couples.