Caregivers

A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: 5 Possible Signs of Teenage Sociopathy


How many signs would you need from an adolescent to convince you that he or she could develop into a sociopathic adult? What specific incident or incidents would cause you to identify a teenager as a developing sociopath?

For many of the parents I see in my office struggling with adolescent behavior, the number one predictor of sociopathic personality traits is often an indifferent and cold disregard for the rights, personal space, and privacy of others.

Explaining sociopathy to parents is one of the most difficult things I have to do as a child and adolescent therapist. Why? Because teenagers are not only a "work in progress," but also a conglomerate of genes/biology, social environment/peer influence, and nurture. It is also very difficult to convince a parent that their highly intelligent, charming, and manipulative adolescent is likely to become a highly intelligent, charming, and manipulative (and possibly dangerous) adult. For these parents, reality is too much to handle and many retreat into denial or succumb to the manipulative behaviors of their teen. When this occurs, the adolescent gains control of not only the household but also the parent(s). It is a very sad cycle of confusion.

This article will briefly discuss traits often identified in adolescence as sociopathic. This article will also list five signs of sociopathic behavior to watch for in teens.

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General

2 Frightening Hallucinations: When Waking Up Is A Nightmare


How do you sleep at night? Are you comfortable or do you experience the stress and anxiety of the day coming down upon you? Does your mind race or does it calm down to prepare for rest? Do you sleep in the dark or with a light? However you choose to sleep, sleep is supposed to be a peaceful "journey" for the heart, soul, and mind to de-stress from the daily activities and heal your mind for the next day's activities. Sleep is not supposed to disrupt your life but heal and mend the body for the future. But sadly, many people struggle with sleep - not just falling asleep and staying asleep, but experiencing the process of sleep without stress and anxiety. For example, sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or insomnia can create a great deal of stress for the sleeper. In many other cases, sleep disorders, also known as parasomnias, can create some of the most frightening symptoms ever experienced. This article will explore and discuss 2 hallucinations that often affect the individual before falling asleep and during the process of transitioning to a sleep state and a wakeful state. 
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Communication

Positive Communication: 10 Things To Say To Someone With A Mental Illness


Last week we discussed the worst things to ever say to someone with a mental illness.

Many readers commented on what their personal experiences have been and how someone's words  tore them apart, confused them, hurt them, or even empowered them in the long run.

What we say to an individual who is struggling has a great deal to do with our knowledge-base, belief system, life perspective, and ability to care for someone. What we say also has a lot to do with how we have been treated when we have needed help. We are social animals who learn by experience. What we say and do has most likely been learned from some early experience in our lives. Sadly, we rarely consider the impact we have on someone with the words we use. But in some cases, if individuals are taught what to say to someone who is struggling, those individuals can change their perspective and ultimately how they communicate with the sufferer.
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General

Frustration: 10 Worst Things To Say To Someone With Mental Illness


It's not easy living with a mental health condition or someone who is suffering from mental health challenges, especially when it is severe or chronic. It's even harder trying to get others to understand what it feels like to struggle or what it feels like to watch a loved one struggle. Until you experience mental illness (either yourself or through someone else), you have no idea how sensitive everyone is and how important it is to be careful with what you say.

Have you ever experienced depression or know someone who has? What has been your self-talk (things you say to yourself to help yourself overcome the depressed mood) or things that you have said to others who appear depressed? Perhaps you make statements such as "cheer up!" "It will get better" or "you won't be depressed forever." Do you think such statements are helpful? It wasn't until I became a therapist and started working with families and young children that I learned what should and should not be said to someone who is struggling with a mental health condition.
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Advocacy

Mental Health: 4 Qualities Dr. Martin Luther King Emphasized


As you read the headline I’m sure you questioned what relevance Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is to the discussion of mental health and the field of psychiatry. Rarely do we ever hear people emphasize the importance of following the example of Dr. King in our “fight” against society’s lack of knowledge about severe and untreated mental illness. But Dr. King embodied so many sophisticated qualities that add such a rich tapestry of cultural legacy and inheritance to my own life and society in general.

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General

7 Psychiatric Labels: How Do Labels Make You Feel?

Having worked with children and adolescents for over 6 years I find that each and every one of their family members either mention that they do not believe a diagnosis is correct or mention that they absolutely hate diagnostic labels. With high levels of stigma, social pressure, cliques in workplaces, school, and communities, and media portrayals can you blame them? If you are someone who has received a psychiatric label what were your thoughts at the time and how did you cope with it? Many of my clients often disregard the label and act as if it doesn't exist, defy treatment recommendations, or accept the diagnosis but become buried in deep depression. This article will discuss the labels that clients often have trouble with to emphasize their challenges and their emotions. 
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Personality traits

8 Things That Scare Clients Away From Therapy


Have you ever had a therapist? Do you know someone who does (or did)? How long did it last? If it ended, why did it end? Sadly, for many of my clients, their therapy ended because they either lost interest, did not feel they were growing and learning, did not see any changes in their behaviors, thoughts, or emotions, and/or felt the therapist was not benefiting them in any way. Finding a good therapist who upholds ethical practices and who is able to provide clients with competent therapy is difficult. It is even more difficult to find a therapist who is naturally nurturing and caring. It may take multiple rounds of therapy before a client is able to determine if the kind of therapy they are receiving is either good or bad. By the time a client notices that their therapy is useless, it is too late and much money, time, and energy has been spent. After a bad experience like this, many clients walk away from therapy and never turn back. This article will discuss 8 reasons for why clients refuse to return to therapy after bad experiences. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the common challenges of therapy and when it is time to say you've had enough.
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Trauma

6 Complex Trauma Symptoms: Pain, Confusion, & Rooted Evil

If I were to give you a certain estimate of the number of kids and teens I currently see for trauma, I would say about 7 out of 10 cases every 30-90 days of the year. It's scary to look at the large numbers of people within our society who have struggled with (or are currently dealing with) some form of trauma. It's even scarier to observe the after-effects of trauma and the evil that triggers the symptoms that are expressed as complex, confusing, and even deceptive. I use the term deceptive to refer to trauma symptoms that are complicated and hard to treat with medication and even therapy. Some symptoms are so rooted in the trauma history that it takes months, if not years, to properly treat and understand. After 8-10 years of working with trauma cases, I found myself beginning to conceptualize the traumatic histories of all of my cases as having a "rooted evil." There is no other explanation for why an innocent child has to experience the turmoil often brought on by a traumatic past. This article will briefly explore the complexities of trauma (the "rooted evil") and describe the debilitating nature of re-enactments, triangulation, emotional dysregulation, and suicidal thoughts.
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General

Christmas Time Stress: 5 Ways To Cope & Find Meaning

It's amazing that Christmas has always been described as one of the most beautiful, magical, and divine holidays of the year. This time of  the year often opens the heart of many strangers to the needs of others. Homelessness, world hunger, giving and sharing, love, and joy are just a few words that are frequently used during this time of the year. People are so much more conscious of the needs of others and are more willing to spread love and warmth. But sadly, Christmas time can also bring a great deal of stress, primarily for individuals who have struggled with income, family relationships, a marriage or parent-child relationship, hunger, homelessness, medical conditions, and mental illness among many other things. For the stressed and the oppressed, Christmas only reminds them of the daily pressures they have to cope with. This article will explore some of the common issues that occur around this time of year and offer ways to cope.
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Advocacy

Mental Health: 12 Things Adopted/Foster Children Wish You Knew


Do you have an adopted or foster child? If not, have you considered fostering a child or adopting a child? What is stopping you? What inspired you to do it? Whatever the case, adopting and fostering a child is one of the most difficult, intimidating, and humbling experiences for many families. It's also quite admirable. Adopting or fostering a child (or teenager) will take a great deal of support from your "village" and knowledge about attachment, trauma, and patience. Sadly, for many eager adoptive and foster parents, the idea of adopting or fostering a child often outweighs the potential downsides and challenges that come with raising an adopted or fostered child. Many families find themselves helplessly searching for support when their adopted or foster child begins to show signs of mental illness, attachment trauma, or behavioral problems. One of my previous families described it like this:
"I went to Uganda and adopted MiMa and she was the sweetest child I had ever seen. Once back in the U.S., she began to scratch me, bite me, hit and kick me, I didn't know what to do. Not only did we not bond, but she was developing behaviors I had never seen before. It was awful!"
Does this sound familiar? This article will explore the challenges often faced by adoptive/foster families and discuss 12 things that adoptive and foster children with mental or behavioral health challenges  wish their parents knew.
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