Archives for Family

Communication

Understanding Trauma and the Cycle of Abuse

Have you ever heard of the Cycle of Abuse? What about Traumatic Bonding? If not, this article is for you. One of the things I find myself doing in my practice with families is providing what mental health professionals call "psycho-education." Psycho-education is education about a topic related to psychology such as relationships, mental illness, diagnosis, trauma or abuse, etc. So many of us can easily become the victim of abuse, trauma, or unhealthy relationships and attachments. Sadly, if you are in a human relationship you are susceptible to the cycle of abuse or traumatic bonding. Both of these concepts will be discussed further in this article to highlight the importance of identifying and being open to the possibility that the cycle of abuse may be happening in your own life or someone you know. It is important to highlight that his article is certainly not specifically about romantic relationships. It is about any relationship that you may find yourself in (working, romantic, platonic, parent-child, etc). 
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Communication

Emotional Attachment: 5 Thoughts of The Needy Person

Do you know someone who struggles with emotional attachment? Someone who struggles with becoming emotionally attached too soon or too fast? What about someone who struggles with putting up appropriate boundaries for fear of losing a person, angering a person, or expressing their own needs? Emotional abuse and bondage may be more prevalent than we all think. You can Google the term "relationships" and find multiple topics on co-dependency, emotional attachment, emotional and psychological abuse, and narcissism. It is a topic that many of us feel drawn to because human beings must have relationships. We're constantly challenged to figure out how to keep them healthy, respectful, or at least somewhat "normal." This article will discuss 5 thoughts the emotionally needy person may have and ways to correct defeatist or narrow views.
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Communication

10 Things You Should Do With Someone Who Suffers Delusions

Do you know someone who struggles with delusional thoughts? A delusion is defined as a belief, that is strongly held to be true, despite evidence to the contrary. It is a fixed and pervasive way of thinking that is not easily derailed by logic. For many people attempting to cope with loved ones who have delusional thoughts, it can be extremely difficult to communicate with the person or live peaceably with them. Another component that results in much stress in families is that the person with delusions does not always seem to be ill. In other words, the individual may go in and out of "consciousness" and show moments of insight, emotional awareness, and engagement. However, this only lasts for a short duration. Are you experiencing a situation like this or know someone who is? If so, this article is for you. This article will discuss the things we can do to make communication slightly better with those who struggle with delusional thoughts. 
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Communication

10 Things You Should Know About Delusions

Do you know what a delusion is? If I were to ask you to define it would you be able to? If not, that's okay. Many people struggle with the thought of what a delusion is. So I will define it here. A delusion is a false belief, held to be true, despite evidence to the contrary. A delusion is a fixed and stable/pervasive belief that is held for as long as the delusion makes sense to the person. The delusion, often a belief that becomes more complicated as the person seeks evidence to support the belief, is as strong as the belief of someone who has evidence to support their beliefs. For example, you may have a belief that your cousin is lying about everything based on the fact that she or he may have a long history of lying. That belief cannot be changed by anyone else, primarily those who contradict what you so firmly believe is true. This is often how a delusion is formed and maintained. The belief makes sense to the person suffering from the delusion and no one, even the closest family member, can change that belief. This article will briefly review delusions and provide tips on what not to do with someone who may be delusional.
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Family

7 Consequences of Having an Emotionally Detached Parent

Do you know an emotionally avoidant and detached parent/guardian? If so, what makes that person so emotionally unavailable? Is it a mental illness, personality disorder, or something else such as a job, career goal, or educational endeavor? Whatever it is, having an emotionally unavailable parent or guardian can lead to a lifelong journey of unstable or failed relationships, emotional neediness, empty voids, identity confusion, poor attachment to others,  low self-esteem and self-efficacy (the feeling of mastery), etc. Research has identified the importance of all infants and developing children having an appropriate, warm, and loving attachment to a mother figure during the developmental years. Without an appropriate, warm, and loving parental figure, children are likely to develop multiple personality, emotional, and psychological difficulties. For many of my clients, the absence of a loving parental figure has resulted in an increase in psychiatric symptoms, school and academic difficulties, fear of abandonment, and many other challenges. This article will discuss the aftereffects or consequences of growing up without an emotionally available parent. 
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Child & Adolescent Mental Health

Traumatic Bonding: 9 Signs You Are Bonded To The Abuser

Abuse. What does that word mean to you? After giving a presentation at a conference, in 2014, of parents and families who have lived through years of abuse, I recognized that not many people understood the full definition of abuse. Some families either minimized the term (made the term sound better than it should sound) or magnified the term (made it sound much worse than it is). Minimizing or magnifying the term only perpetuates incorrect views of the term. Abuse often takes many forms. Did you know that abuse is one of the most traumatizing events that a child could experience? For many children, abuse is unexpected and their ability to cope is often disproportionate to the abuse. Trauma is often defined as a terrible event that outweighs a child's ability to cope (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2015). This inability to cope often leads to mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and even personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, narcissism, or avoidant personality. Even more, trauma can interfere with our ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships (work, marriage, friend, family) and appropriate social interactions. Trauma can also affect development throughout the lifespan and lead to a lifetime of emotional lability ("switchable" emotional states or moods). This article will briefly explore "Traumatic Bonding" and signs to look for that indicate  traumatic bonding with an abuser.
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Caregivers

5 Possible Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder

What comes to mind when you hear the term Borderline Personality Disorder? For many people who are unfamiliar with the disorder, split personality is often a common misconception. Split personality refers to a personality that is not always one way, but often changes in intensity and duration in such a way that it is impossible to predict when the person will switch up. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is best described to the families of many of my child and adolescent clients as an emotional disorder characterized by impulsivity, intense emotions, intermittent anger outbursts, severe bouts with depression or anxiety, repeated suicidal ideation, and self-injurious or risky behaviors. As a therapist, I am often challenged with the duty of educating families, properly, to the symptoms most indicative of BPD. This article will discuss some of the most common symptoms and the symptoms you should aim to identify in someone you suspect might need therapeutic intervention.
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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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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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Child & Adolescent Mental Health

9 Truths That Make Psychiatric Hospitals Scary

Do you know someone who has been hospitalized for having experienced psychiatric symptoms that placed themselves or someone else in harms way? Have you ever been hospitalized yourself? What was the experience like? For many people, staying in a psychiatric hospital can seem intimidating and frightening, especially for children and adolescents. Many people do not know what to expect and will see and hear things that they have never heard or seen before. That's why children and adolescents truly struggle with being away from their familiar surroundings, family, and friends. For adults, the experience can lead to low self-esteem due to having to rely on other adults for help, fear due to feelings of uncertainty, and anxiety because of the surroundings, staff, and other patients. Sadly, even for individuals who truly need to receive an acute psychiatric intervention, hospitals are frightening which leads to many individuals refusing treatment, being incarcerated, or living on the streets. This article will explore some of the reasons for why many individuals, including children and adolescents, attempt to avoid having to be placed in hospital settings. The purpose of this article is to help readers build empathy and insight into the frightening experience of those who have to receive hospital care.
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