General Discussion

Shrink Rap: Diagnosing Diagnoses–The Label Game

We go through life with labels that describe who we are. This is a fact of the psychotherapeutic world, as it is in the rest of life. We even label ourselves–shorthand for explaining who we are to others and to ourselves.

Imagine for a moment that each label is a Post-it, with attitude. From our earliest days, people slap so many labels on us so that we begin to resemble chickens covered in ruffles of paper instead of feathers.

Consider the first label the world slaps on us. Announcements of  “It’s a girl!” or “It’s a boy!” are often reinforced by pink or blue blankets and/or knitted caps–to spare people guessing what kind of plumbing our diapers hide and to help them mold our culturally determined, sex-informed behavior. Other labels quickly follow: daughter/son, sister/brother, granddaughter/grandson, Anglo/Hispanic/Black/Asian/Native/Mutt, nephew/niece, cousin.

As someone’s personality is revealed, other labels join the first ones. Is the kid a “Buddha baby” or “fussy”? Is the kid “quick” or “slow” Is the kid “adventurous” or “cautious”? Does this little person take after Grampa, Grandma or Uncle Willie? Continue reading

Shrink Rap: Opportunity Knocks…And Knocks

The people who come through my door don’t often consider their emotional pain, confusion or suffering to be opportunities. As their shrink, that’s my job. But as we work together, it’s my job to help them see opportunities for emotional growth and healing in whatever brings them to my door.

Everyone who seeks counseling wants relief from the pain of grief, the confusion of conflict with loved ones, the suffering of depression–or one of the many other emotional conditions that make life miserable. They want to be given tools to make their suffering go away. Pills, affirmations, advice, coaching and directives can help relieve psychological distress. But these things do not often address the underlying psychological/emotional issues that give rise to those symptoms.

That is where a shrink comes in. Continue reading

Shrink Rap: To Inner Space and Beyond

It’s a crazy world out there. You don’t need a shrink to tell you that. So here’s the big question: Is it possible to be sane in a crazy world?

Yes. But there are times when sanity needs a little help. That’s what going to a shrink is about.

It isn’t the job of a shrink to wrap your brain in plastic to protect it from contagious emotions that come from the emotionally sick culture we live in. It isn’t the job of a shrink to make your crazy-making problems smaller.

Among other things, it is the job of a shrink to help you discover what is crazy and what is not. Among other things, it is the job of a shrink to help you separate healthy thoughts and feelings from unhealthy ones. Let’s face it: There are times in all our lives when healthy actions seem unhealthy and unhealthy actions seem healthy. There are times in all our lives when we like ourselves and times when we despise ourselves. There are times when we like the friends and families we are stuck with and times when we hate their guts.

Perfectly normal. But crazy-making. Continue reading