Archives for Guilt


Is There Privacy Or Secrecy In Your Relationship?

In a culture of cell phones, text messages, Facebook, tweets and instagrams, the definitions of privacy and secrecy are challenged and at times blurred.

You read my emails?

I can’t report every move I make in the course of a day.

Why can’t I check out my high school girlfriend on Facebook?

When it comes to relationships, partners often underestimate the importance of privacy and the danger of secrecy.

Privacy in relationships reflects trust and enhances intimacy. Secrecy in relationships...
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Recognizing and Understanding Depression After Trauma

Disaster and trauma studies often focus on identifying the incidence of PTSD as the sequel to traumatic events.

Early interventions with those affected after a disaster or traumatic event increasingly utilize psycho-education to clarify and normalize common post-traumatic stress reactions and coping strategies.

While mentioned as a possible response, the high incidence of depression after trauma is less delineated and often goes unrecognized by those suffering.

Depression Occurs after Trauma:

A Rand corporation study reports that nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan - 300,000 in all - report symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or major depression.
In the first long-term study of the health impacts of the World Trade Center (WTC) collapse on September 11, 2001, findings indicate that seven percent of police officers were diagnosed with depression, nine percent with PTSD and eight percent with panic disorder. Twenty eight percent of other rescue and recovery workers had symptoms of depression.
A survey of survivors from the Oklahoma City bombing showed that 23% had depression after the bombing.
Depression affects approximately 15 percent to 25 percent of cancer patients.
After a myocardial infarction, the incidence of major depression is from 15 percent to 20 percent, and an additional 27 percent of patients develop minor depression.

Both major depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occur frequently following traumatic exposure, both as separate disorders and concurrently.

Depression is the most common disorder suffered in conjunction with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Depression is nearly three to five times
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common trauma symptoms

The Psychological Importance of “Our Stuff”

Well beyond the necessities and somewhere between collecting and hoarding…we all have ‘stuff.’

Be it the toy truck, the pasta bowl, the piano, the silver earrings or the old books, we all have stuff because psychologically we need stuff.

Sartre holds that "to have" (along with "to do" and "to be") is one of the three categories of human existence…

Wired for Stuff

Famous psychologist, Donald Winnicott, tells us that long before we could verbalize the need, we transitioned from merged oneness with mother to “transitional objects,” the favorite blanket, pacifier, stuffed animal, or a piece of cloth that was attributed a special value as a means of making the shift from mother to genuine object relationships.

That said, our relationship with objects, “our stuff” never stops. It unfolds throughout our life; reflecting who we are, where we are, whom we are connected with and what we need to be ourselves.

One of the reasons we find it easier to ask others rather than ourselves, “Do you really need this stuff?” is that the actual value of anything is primarily a function of our investment in it and/or our interaction with it. We give “stuff” value and meaning.
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Re-Connect With an Ex? Crucial Considerations

Recycling is a good idea, except when it comes to relationships.

Regardless of what people tell themselves about the time invested, the good times missed, the great sex, or the feeling that things will be different; in most cases the re-connection with an ex rarely brings a better outcome.

Research tells us that rekindling a relationship decreases happiness. Studies of college grads as well as larger national studies of older couples reveal that those people who cycle back to relationships, often over and over again, experience less satisfaction, more uncertainty and more disillusionment in their relationships than non-cycling partners.

Let’s face it – breaking up is hard to do. When it has happened there is usually a good reason on the part of one or both partners.

Why then do people look backwards? Why do they imagine it will be different?
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Renovate Your Relationship: Replace Unsafe Couple Dynamics

Regardless of how new or old your relationship, most couples can benefit from changing relationship dynamics that cause marital deterioration.

In a recent study in The Journal of Family Psychology, researchers, Lavner, Bradbury and Karney found in surveying 251 couples every six months for the first four years of their marriage, that despite the wish for marital fulfillment those whose marriages deteriorated were dealing with unsafe dynamics like...
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Benefits of Laughter

Do You Thank Your Partner? Recognizing Resistance-Understanding Benefits

“ Why Can’ t You Just Say, Thanks?”

If this sounds familiar it is because most of us have said it or heard it.

Most people want to feel appreciated, particularly by the person closest to them but too often the expression of gratitude gets lost in the fabric of couple’s lives.
Recent research in the field of positive psychology informs us that feeling gratitude, the awareness and appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself, has many benefits including positive mood, enhanced physical health and optimistic outlook. Actually expressing gratitude has proven to have even greater benefits in terms of personal happiness and relationship enhancement.

Then… Why is it difficult to express gratitude to a partner?

People are complicated. Add in couple dynamics, prior history, unconscious factors, cultural context and you multiply those complications.

Most partners don’t consider how often they thank their partner or if not-why not?
Few are aware of the proven benefits of expressing gratitude on their personal feelings, their view of the partner, the patterns and value of the relationship.

Consider Recognizing Your Resistance and Understanding the Possible Benefits of  “Just Saying Thanks.”

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Sexless Marriages: A Closer Look

Recently the question was raised by some of my colleagues as to whether there can be happiness in a sexless marriage. An article on the subject refers to the research of Robert Epstein, a psychologist who reports that 10 to 20% of the romantic relationships in the U.S. are sexless.

According to Epstein, a sexless relationship is defined as one in which the partners have had sex less than once a month or less than 10 times a year. Others writing in the field take the word more literally – suggesting that many couples happy with that schedule would not describe their relationship as sexless.

Maybe the question of how sexual a marriage is and whether or not the partners are happy is a far more complicated one than the rate of sexual intercourse over time.

Work with couples would suggest that happiness from sexual relating must account for the trust and special connection partners feel for one another, the way they hold, touch, laugh, tease, celebrate, walk together, worry about, lean on, cry with, nickname, argue, text and call each other -- the many dimensions of sexual intimacy.
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common trauma symptoms

The Death of Bin Laden: Looking Backwards to Heal Forwards

The news of Bin Laden’s death has erupted on national and international levels in a mix of feelings. Attached to the thrill of justice served and military courage recognized are shadows of fear and the pain of catastrophic loss.

For survivors and the thousands who lost so many loved ones on 9/11 this is not only long awaited news, it is a déjà vu of that September day.

Once again there are ongoing calls of condolence and remembrances, non-stop media reports, and the visceral pain of losing a Dad, a child, a partner, a firefighter, a friend, a community, and the illusion of safety.

What Does this Mean for Emotional Healing?

It Invites Revisiting:

Highly charged events like Bin Laden’s Death are quite likely to trigger traumatic memories that unlike ordinary explicit memory for daily events are encoded under fight/flight conditions in those centers of the brain dealing with sensations and emotion. They can be sequestered for years – untold, intrusive as nightmares and flashbacks, haunting but never integrated into the story of one’s life.  While this event might trigger pain, it may offer an opportunity to bear witness, to share and transform traumatic memories.
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Why We Blame: Uses and Misuses

To err is human. To blame seems to be human also.

We blame nature, we blame God, we blame our enemies, our spouses and ourselves. We even blame politicians for never taking the blame!


The definition of blame is to hold responsible, to find fault with, to censure, for something that has happened, has failed to happen or which has had a negative impact in some way.

We need to blame for regulations of feelings, reparation of harm and restoration of order on personal, interpersonal and broadly social levels.

The Uses of Blame

In the best of circumstances blame for wrong doing once acknowledged results in apology, concessions to meet the demands of restorative justice or punishment to meet the demands of retributive justice.
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Could My Teen Commit Suicide?

Once again the recent holidays were pierced by the tragedy of a local high school senior who died by suicide. Having taken pills, she went to sleep. Her parents were sleeping in the next room. She never woke.

The reality of this type of event is horrifying.  Pain and grief reverberate on every level of the community. There are always unanswered questions that haunt family, friends, school and community connections. The unthinkable has happened.  Any parent, if only for a moment, dares to ask, “Could My Teen Commit Suicide?”

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