Friday, February 20, 2009

stuck 3

Well, Dr. Therapist sir, what makes you so special that you can go about writing how other people get stuck in mind traps of their own making? Look at your life, look how repetitive and stuck you are, how you make the same mistakes over and over, each time thinking you have figured things out, when lo and behold, you haven't.

I have been doing my taxes over the last few days, and it's not fun. First I always hate the tediousness of going through all the stuff. I've been running this business for years and it's basically the same stuff with minor various in each line, from income to supplies, to answering service expenses.

Then look at my stock market returns. Of course, this year they were miserable, I guess that can be forgiven, but should it? I had years when I was doing marvelous, but that was when they moved the target in front of my arrow. Now I make the same mistakes over and over. Stuck. I chose the right stocks to buy, I buy them at the wrong time and then wait until just the wrong moment and sell them. I use the same logic to make these decisions, and each time I do I tell myself I'm not, but it really is the same.

And other things too. Each year I start a new project, but it really the same project over and over. I vary the way it sounds or looks, but I work on it for a couple of months and convince myself that I have found the right way, and then I take a month to re-consider, and I see that it really isn't that different. Then I stop, and shrug it off, and put it away. Two seasons later I get an inspiration and start over again, convinced that this time I can do it differently.

Is this the insanity that comes from doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, or is it the dogged persistence and tenacity it takes to succeed.

We won't know until it's over, and I guess it's not over yet.

Half the fun is in trying, but half the misery is in being stuck.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Most of my friends and I can remember when TV first came out, and we were thrilled with color TV, almost twenty years later. Now, of course there are all kinds of new media, and everyone is a star and a celebrity, and everyone's thoughts and actions need to be monitored and recorded.

Wanting to be hip(is that still a word?) and not left behind some of us got on Twitter for a while to see how exciting out lives are.

The initials have been changed here to protect the guilty.)

AB; home eating cookie, drinking decaf.

BC: home, watching CNN

DE: home, reading The New Yorker

FG: home, hanging around waiting.

HI: driving home

JK: Home,watching re nun of Cheers

LM: home drinking 2nd Scotch

AB: finished eating, cutting skin off my corns.

BC: home, watching CNN

DE: Home, asleep with The New Yorker on my lap

FG: Home, my wife went shopping so I'm having sex with my sister-in-law who moved in last month.

HI: home, eating cold steak-sub

JK: home watching rerun of Seinfeld

LM: 4th scotch, yelling at bad memories


AB: home,reading about illness on Web MD

BC: asleep watching CNN

DE: in bed

FG: My wife is home. We are one big happy family, having a glass of wine together.

HI: home, arguing with wife, but I don't know what it's about

JK: watching rerun of Matlack.

LM: no message

fascinating -- maybe everyone should embellish their reports, just like JK.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Sometimes minds don't just get stuck, they get trapped. Trapped in an endless obsessive loop. the worst of these traps is when it becomes physical, then it's called an addiction. An addiction takes over your life, it becomes the focus of your thoughts and actions and you don't care about anything else. You drive your friends away and you steal from your family. You are out of control, way out of control, and you know it, don't like it, but there is little you can do about it.

There are harmful, but not physical addictions, such to your Blackberry, work,exercise, being thin, or the opposite, eating.

There are the obvious addictions: alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, risky behavior,bulimia, things that give that dopamine rush, or things that just make you numb.

I work with people at all levels of addictions. Addictions are insidious because they come in so many forms and that allows for denial and excuses. The addict loses any chance at self-determination. They are worse than stuck. they are trapped.

But, treatment can work. All kinds of treatments for all kinds of people. You've got to find your own special key thatwill begin to set you free. It's very difficult and often painful. It's great when people get their lives back, or even parts of them. It great when you can see brains beginning to work and minds clearing up and becoming reasonable.

Those folks are very gratifying.

The others just stop showing up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

effective mumbling

So she came into my office today for the first time. She was composed but looked a little scared. She had never done anything like this before and wasn't sure what was going to happen. She hadn't even watched "In Treatment." I guess she didn't have HBO.

So I asked her if she had any trouble finding my office and she talked about the traffic and then she said she came from work so she talked about the stress from work, so I asked a couple of questions about work and about stress, and then about the pressure she felt being the most successful daughter in the family, and how her father was quiet and her mother always tried to solve every one's problems bu was always getting it wrong. And she kept talking about work, and her family and then her boyfriend who she like but thought he was lazy, and she didn't know how much that really bothered her, so she cried. Near the end of the session she began to talk about how she was realizing how much pressure she had been living with, and how it has been coming from all directions, and now she has to lay people off in her department and that is braking her heart and mind.

I mumbled (I really do mumble) a few off-handed comments near the end to lighten the mood so she could go back out into the world feeling decent. She thanked me and said this was much different than she ever expected, and she couldn't believe how much just talking about something could be so helpful.

"That's what we do," I said.

Next week I will make quarters disappear while juggling.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I tell you what's wrong with my clients, almost all of them. They're stuck. Their minds got stuck. I can't see what is wrong with their brains but I get to understand what goes on in their mind, and it's stuck.

I got back to work today and two of the folks are still having anxiety attacks. With anxiety, you're mind is stuck in worry and fear mode. Your body is tense and everything looks like a danger. Now, these are smart, insightful people, and they know that eating prepared food or driving on a highway, or walking to the back of a supermarket won't make them keel over, but to them, it sure feels like it. They want to turn their minds off, but they can't, it's stuck.

My job is to figure out how to get their mind out of the trench it is in, to break the loop that constantly repeats itself, and to free up their mind to do other, more fun, things.

To do this I have to create an experience that will detach the strong emotion of fear from the thought, whatever that thought is. Sometimes, medication will help do this, as it will, depending upon what it is, either relax the body, so that the emotion doesn't feel as strong,or slow the thought process, or keep the happy chemicals on the brain longer. Besides medicine, there are lots of experiences that I try to create right in my office, that will help people feel differently, and see that they can move out of their rut.

It is important that I don't get stuck. Everyone is different. Minds are different. There is a big movement on for 'evidenced based" treatments, which are pretty standardized for each diagnosis. I am not a big fan of those because, first the diagnoses are not too accurate, and second, everybody's case is different. Anxiety isn't like a broken nose.

Although it does have the similarity that when it is fixed, you can make it look prettier.

So, relax, don't get stuck. Things will work out. And don't say "What IF..... that only makes it all worse.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I am away, watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, beautiful shades of orange, purple, dark blue and black. I love sunsets. What I don't like is freezing my ass off, but that is what we have been blessed with her in the Sunshine State. Yes, the sun is shining, but it is glistening off of the frost.

The good part is that I can it clearly. I got my new glasses just before we left. They are in new frames and make me look a bit cooler, but I also got a new prescription. I can see better. After all these years I got an improvement. My vision has never been great. My vision, while not terrible, is certainly no where near fighter-pilot clarity, so when I tried on my new glasses I immediately noticed that I could see a couple of notches better -- vision being graded on a scale of notches. That's good and bad. I can read better, even at night, but the news I read still isn't good. I can look in the mirror and see my new cool frames, but the face they are sitting on has aged considerably since the last time I could see this clearly. Look at those crags and wrinkles and jowls, who wants to see that so clearly.

Reality, not the best place to live.