Category Archives: The world around us



Boys carrying spaghetti in a macaroni factory in Naples, Italy. 1929

Psychological and philosophical point of view, brought to you in plain language…


The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy



 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…


Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:


A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?


Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

How would you like to be met?


Mental health and psychological problems are still stigmatized, even if 50 % of us will quality for some disorder once in our lifetime. The stigma can be explained many ways. Sometimes, people don`t know enough about psychology, but even people who`ve read a lot, can have prejudices. I have prejudices and problems with understanding, too, but I try to be aware of it.

Have you heard stories about people with psychological issues who weren`t believed or felt ridiculed if they tried to explain what they felt? Unfortunately, I have, and it scares me more than anything. I might even have acted differently myself, because we show dislike or contempt in many ways (and you don`t always notice it yourself). When busy, I must confess that I have a tendency to not meet the eyes of a beggar, and I have stepped back when I`m approached by for example an alcoholic.

When I do, I remember to watch myself from above, and take a deep breath. Usually, it helps, and I have learnt so much that way.

To illustrate what I mean by prejudice, I`ve included some pretty explanatory pictures.





I`ve thought for a long time that I must write about an audiobook I listened to a while ago. It made me optimistic and happy, and when I stumbled upon a news article on the future we face, I thought about it again. I`ve also read a lot of “inferno” which focus on the same thing: What happens when we become so many humans, that it threatens us all? Abundance takes this challenge, but without scaring us so much that we feel helpless. Quite the opposite; After reading it I thought there is hope, we just have to put our best minds together and work for the future we want.

Abundance helps us understand that we are not entering a “post-scarcity” world, but rather an abundance world. Scarcities and competitions will persist at the leading edge of civilization, and the winners will profit more than everyone else. But at the same time, our accelerating technologies are creating vast new abundance in living standards, and so much capability to take care of our environment, that the scarcities of today will be distant memories just a few generations from now. As long as we rise to the challenges.

Peter Diamandis, Founder and Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, Co-Founder and Chairman of Singularity University, and pioneer of the personal spaceflight industry, is eminently qualified to write this book. He is both a visionary and an accomplished entrepreneur, with a passion for new horizons, and a deep ethical interest in global development. His practical, results-oriented perspective permeates the book, and frankly, it jumps right into the reader’s psyche long before the end. His co-author, Steven Kotler, is a writer of vast experience, and it shows.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis  and Steven Kotler.

If At First…

New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

It is almost impossible to sneak five minutes on the internet or make it through a single television program or radio broadcast without being pummeled by blogs, commercials or advertisements that are connected to New Years Resolutions.

It is like this every year, I know, but maybe because I am more in touch with what people are writing and talking about this year than ever before, I am much more aware of the overwhelming amount of budget and debt relief, weight loss and exercise and return to school to improve your career type of leads.

If your preference is more of a world view or macro perspective, you can read about how the Pope and all many other human rights and world leaders raise their voices in a resounding resolution of hope and a better, less violent, more caring world; while more business-minded experts speak about where they see their particular niche likely to lead this year.


Like most things in life, I’m learning that there are two sides to this resolution gig. The fist way of looking at it would be to focus on what is being said, how people are looking ahead to the brand new year ahead and determining what improvements and changes they are (at least for the time being) willing to commit to because they are trying to make their lives and hopefully the lives of others, better than this past year.

What is not being said, is that there must be a fair amount of dissatisfaction with the way they feel about the status quo – in other words –something about this past year; behavior, occurrences and final outcomes, that can be improved on, bettered and or mastered. This is not a harmful type of dissatisfaction, it is the type that turns into action with motivation, determination and perseverance. It is not about developing a poor self image or a lack of acceptance, but rather one in which we look at the 1st of the new year as a type of blank slate, a fresh start, a new beginning in which we can try again, begin again, reassess and recommit.

One Day At A Time

One Day At A Time

Here is the rub…in reality, each and every single day of the year, holds within its 24 hours, the same exact opportunity to start fresh and try again. Weight loss and exercise regimes do not have to begin on Mondays, or at the beginning of a month, or on the 1st of a new year. In order for them to be effective, they just have to begin – and they have to be kept up. The ingredients that contribute to successful results when it comes to goals (which are a type of resolution) have no correlation to their start date. The only connection lies in the fact that you have to have a starting point, whenever it may be. And if you not successfully reach, as long as there is a new commitment, renewed motivation and a new measure of persistence and perseverance, we are absolutely free to try again.

I wish everybody nothing but complete success in achieving all their goals and in achieving positive results in every resolution considered, but let us keep in mind that we are human and perfectly imperfect and as I learned as a young child….if at first I don’t succeed, I can try, try again….any day and any time I so choose. We all can!

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

BB Barbie


Plus Size Barbie

I stumbled upon something very interesting considering all the time I spend writing about self-image and weight issues. I found it on Facebook of all places on a page about Plus Size Modeling.

It seems a debate has sprung up about creating a Plus Size Barbie doll. There are many people voicing their thoughts and adding their opinions about the need for a plump partner to the traditional slim and sexy gal next door that Ken knows and loves.

All in all, I consider myself a pretty decisive person and it usually doesn’t take me very long to make up my mind, but I have to admit, I’m on the fence about this one. My initial reaction to the thought of Barbie packing on a few pounds and still being an icon appealed to me because I instantly thought about how much more accepting girls might become of their own bodies and imperfections. But then I thought that maybe it would send the message of being too accepting of a habit and behavior that was not healthy and could lead to even more severely unhealthy habits and behaviors later on in life. I certainly don’t want to encourage being overweight either.

I see it as a pretty fine line between being okay with our imperfections and encouraging harmful behaviors. Perhaps if Plus-Size Barbie comes with running gear, a sweat suit and a treadmill so she can work out and maintain healthy habits I would be more likely to see it as a good thing. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t feel good about advocating behaviors that cause a person to become overweight.

Very Underweight Model

Very Underweight Model

It is not right to advocate underweight either and I know that historically and even currently, our society still pushes our women to achieve the ideal look which tends to be too thin and unhealthy. It also has been the catalyst of many young girls harming themselves by eating too little and emotionally scarring themselves by failing to accept themselves and their bodies.

Mayo Clinic Health Food Pyramid

Mayo Clinic Health Food Pyramid

Why do we have to go to extremes? I would feel much better about this if we could find the middle of the road somewhere, not advocating too much of anything. Maybe I will start a group on facebook where we could develop a “Healthy-Weight Barbie.” I wonder if that would have a lot of followers. Who’s with me?

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Bang Bang

Arapahoe County High School

Arapahoe County High School

Karl Halverson Pierson. That’s the name of the 18-year old senior who opened fire yesterday in a high school in Centennial Colorado in Arapahoe County. Pierson reportedly was targeting his ex-debate team coach. However, he shot another student and then himself.

My intent is not to give anybody notoriety nor is my intent to add my voice to those who have so much to say about yet another shooting in locations that are supposed to serve the purpose of helping to build and develop our children into the adults they are to become.

My comments are most likely not going to be met with a lot of cheering and approval from my readers, so let me apologize in advance to any of my readers who may feel offended by anything I say. My intent is not to offend, just to observe and state what I believe based on what I observe.

I am going to try extra hard to pose questions to ponder rather than to make statements just to make sure it is not incorrectly interpreted that I am faulting anybody or making any accusations directed toward anybody.

Ironically, today is exactly one year that the horrific shooting in Newton Connecticut, killing 20 young children and six adults occurred in the Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Sandy Hook Elementary School

Sandy Hook Elementary School

20-year old Adam Lanza shot his way through the elementary school after killing his mother earlier that morning. Just recently, the findings on Lanza verified that he was somewhat obsessed with the 1999 Colubine school massacre in Littleton, Colorado in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed a teacher and 12 students before shooting themselves.

We all know what they had and did in common when they died; but what about how they lived? That is the question that keeps going around in my head. What did these troubled boys have in common? What might we as adults look for, that can tell us how to possibly see the warning signs or potential warning signs and maybe prevent the next shooting from happening?

Age is clearly something the shooters had in common, ranging from the ages of 18 through 20. It makes one wonder if there isn’t a particular point and time in a young man’s life when he may be more prone to act out in violence like this? I know as a foster mom who ends up getting teenage boys, I am very aware that these ages seem to be the ones that keep reappearing.

Obsession with video games or other behaviors of violence is another common thread. We had a young man here in our home earlier this year. He was 15 years old and he was absolutely fascinated and obsessed with the details of the Boston Marathon shooting when it occurred. I couldn’t get on the phone and contact his caseworker fast enough, especially when he expressed intense anger over relatively small disturbances.

Anger issues are another warning sign. Many people get angry, but this type of anger is more of a ‘misplaced’ type of anger – where you can clearly see (even if the young man is not able to) that the degree of anger far outweighs the cause. Again, what I am suggesting here is that there be a very obvious imbalance between the amount of anger and the event that causes it.

In all the cases of the shootings listed above, there were previous outbursts of anger displayed – some disruptive behaviors and or some indication that the young man was living a troubled existence of some type even though they may not have looked like it to outsiders.

Yes, all cases report that the boys were ‘bullied’ or didn’t fit in however, that is so generic in today’s schools it is more than likely not a reliable common thread. However, if we look closer at the way the child processes the feelings brought on by being an outsider or by being bullied, we may be onto something.

Breakdown of the Family

Breakdown of the Family

In quite a few instances, families were split up by divorce or in cases where mom’s (almost always due to finances) had worked outside the home and the young man found other places to occupy himself; many times alone and isolated.

I remember talk about the break down of family and family values in the news years ago. Some people made jokes about it when politicians addressed it as a societal issue. However, here we are, watching children who don’t turn to their parents, parents who have too much else going on in their lives (sometimes, being purely overwhelmed with the need to survive and pay next month’s rent,) to connect with their children in a way where they can get to know what they are really thinking.

And the result? Well, who knows how many other names and victims will be added to this list next year?

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

What About Feeling?


Emotion Poster

Let’s talk a bit about emotions. I’m not sure why, but most people seem more comfortable referring to them as feelings than as emotions. Perhaps the word feelings sounds more personal and less official in a way and that makes them a bit less ominous.

But whether we call them feelings or emotions, they refer to internal sensations that get stirred up when life happens. We all experience them. Interestingly however, if you do a search to find out how many feelings an average person experiences in any given day, you will find nothing. The options that come up will range from the number of thoughts a person has on an average day to the amount of calories a person should consume in an average day to how many times an average person urinates in an average day. But nothing about how many feelings a person experiences on the average.

According to emotion is: ‘an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.’

If this sounds a bit tough to pin down and measure to you, don’t worry. You are not alone. That is why we can’t determine something like an average amount of them each day for the average person. When it comes to emotions, for all intent and purpose, there is no real average. One person can become extremely emotional when they experience a specific event while another person experiencing the exact same event for the exact same amount of time has no emotional reaction whatsoever. In fact, one person can experience an intense emotional reaction to something one time, and later in the same day, experience no emotional reaction to the same event. How do you measure something that ambiguous and unique?


The confusion regarding emotions doesn’t only impact things like quantifying them. Many times, people find emotions difficult to identify, understand and manage; even their own. Quite often, if you ask someone how they are feeling, they do not really know. This is because as often as we experience emotions, we do not pay them much attention. Many times, this is not a very wise thing, because emotions have a funny way of piling up if they are intense and they are not dealt with.

When we think about the way we feel, we extend the feeling and compound the emotion. This would be a good thing in regard to positive emotions, like if we feel excited about an upcoming event and think about the way we feel, we intensify the excitement. It would not be a wise thing to do when it comes to negative emotions, however. But many people tend to do just that. By thinking about feeling upset, we ‘work ourselves up’ even more and become angrier.

What’s a person to do? This poses a dilemma because we are finding that it is healthful to get in touch with our emotions, yet we are saying it is not wise to think about them if they are negative.

The key is in the word “think.” Getting in touch with our feelings is not a cognitive process. Let me say that again. Nobody ever said to ‘think’ about feelings. Getting in touch means experience them – not think about them.

Just Be

Just Be

Feelings equate to being, not thinking. And most of us don’t know how“to be.” That is not a concept that many of us are familiar with. In fact, it is a concept that most of us are very uncomfortable with.

Now “THAT” is something to think about.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

The Shopping Experience for the SchizoAffected Mind

The Shopping Experience for the SchizoAffected Mind

“It is advertising and the logic of mass consumerism that governs the depiction of reality in the mass media.” ~Christopher Lasch

As someone with SchizoAffective Disorder, there are certain aspects of socialized living that the SchizoAffected mind is unable to fathom and finds horrifying, terrifying and can result in a psychotic episode. One of such experiences, is spending a day shopping or patronizing too many stores, or running too many errands that can involve customizing too many stores. The Shopping Mall is simply out of the question. Also, the SchizoAffected Mind lives a non-druginduced psychadelic experience daily, as such, exposure to bright, flourescent lights, muzak, commercials playing at subvolume, muted and neuromarketed designs on the floors, ceilings, walls and layout of stores can result in information and sensual overload.

This is my experience of shopping.

The following sound painting (what I call the music/mixes/soundscapes I create) is an attempt to describe and illustrate the internal and psychic experience when I must visit a store. The beginning illustrates the first feelings of anxiety that quickly metamorph into an attempt to squelch the anxiety and just try to get through the act of choosing the items needed in order to exit the store as quickly as possible. As someone who also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I often worry that I will be blamed for shoplifting, even though I have not, which causes me to walk about the store with my hands in my pockets or behind my back or up my shirt sleeves. The middle of the piece illustrates the dreadful feeling that slowly creeps in and the sort of sickly childish feeling of behaving like this, but being unable to stop it (hence the horror-like, chilling childrens’ theme). Once the psychosis begins to set in, the SchizoAffected mind begins to unravel and to shatter at the overload (hence, the noise, experimental music) as the end of the song approaches, and can feel as if the mind is trapped in a twisted game (which brings feelings and thoughts of paranoia).


(If the soundcloud player does not show up in your browser, here is the direct link).

QOTD Terence McKenna*Source

*Image Credit (used with permission through CC license and fair use):
“1964. . . check out the check out!” by James Vaughn