Archives for March, 2010
Part 2: We had just started to discuss the brain-heart connection in Part 1 of our interview with Dr. John M. Kennedy. We continue here: DJK: We all need to understand the brain-heart connection and work with it. The heart and brain are in constant communication. We are learning that the heart has its own mini-brain. It sends impulses and signals to the brain, as well. We have to pay attention, though. When we have sweaty palms, dry mouth and other symptoms of stress, those are bodily cues that remind us that this conversation between the heart and brain is going on. These cues are an invitation to us to stop stress in tracks. Now, if we relax instead of stress, we lower the heart rate, blood pressure, inflammation and so on.
This introduction to Part 1 of our interview with cardiologist, John Kennedy, M.D., is a bit longer than usual because of our passionate feelings about this subject. To skip our comments and go right to the expert, Dr. Kennedy, scroll to the bold sentence beginning: We spoke with Dr. Kennedy on the phone ... The heart is like no other organ of the human body. To it are ascribed feeling, emotion, and intelligence. Courage, kindness, envy, hate, anger, grief, and of course, love reside in the heart—and if they don’t, that heart is cold.
To give our readers a better sense of what an effective mental health treatment plan looks like, I have been recreating a treatment plan here through a series of blog posts. To see other posts in the Mental Health Treatment Plan series, please click here. The next section of the mental health treatment plan is called Schedule of Services. Don’t let the simplicity and the brevity of this section fool you. It is every bit as important as the other parts. Basically the schedule of services outlines or lists your therapy session schedule and frequency as well as the schedule and frequency of any other therapy or service that is helping to address your problems. Of course any schedules are subject to change. In fact, I would be surprised if your schedules didn’t change over the course of therapy. During therapy, as you do more intense work, the frequency of your sessions might increase, and as you improve, the frequency will usually decrease.
Today we continue our interview with former magician Steven Diamond. (Part 1 of our interview is available here.) We begin where we left off -- with Steven telling us how his life changed after he collapsed while on tour with “The Osmond Brothers”: I remember waking up a week later in my Las Vegas apartment feeling very different. It was as if I had lived my entire life in black and white and for the first time I was seeing the world in color. The difference between wanting to end my life and wanting to live forever was contained in 40 milligrams of Paxil. That tiny magic little pill. It had finally kicked in. Still, I knew I needed more help. I knew that if I was going to live, I had to find someone that believed “it wasn’t all in my head.” I embarked on a journey to find the right doctor. At the time, I had no idea that what I was looking for was a therapist. They were all “doctors” to me. One day someone told me for the very first time, “I think you are suffering from a combination of Manic Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder combined with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” To which I elegantly replied: “Huh?”
Today’s blog post contains Part 1 of a very dramatic interview with Steven Diamond, magician, entertainer, speaker, and author who graciously shared his life story with us. Richard Zwolinski (RZ): Hi, Steven. Can you start by telling us a bit about your background? Steven Diamond (SD): I was born on October 1, 1968 into a very dysfunctional American family in Portsmouth Virginia, though I didn’t know it at the time. It wouldn’t be until decades later that the true depth of the scars left on my life would be revealed. All of the males on my mother’s side of the family were abusive, raging alcoholics, and I hardly knew my father’s side. My mother was consumed by mental illness and sought refuge in her Southern Baptist religion, where she would learn to hide.
There are correlations, sometimes causative, between physical illnesses and mental illnesses. For example, the American Diabetes Association says that people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than those without the disease. Diabetics are not alone. After a heart attack or cardiac surgery, patients are naturally likely to feel depressed. But for some, especially those with cardiovascular disease, as many as 15 percent experience major depression. For those who've had coronary artery bypass surgery the number is as high as 20 percent. There may be many reasons why this is so. For some, the fear and sadness triggered by having a debilitating illness, if left unchecked, can develop into major depression. But sometimes the diseases themselves can cause physiological changes that mimic depression, especially in the case of diabetes.
To give our readers a better sense of what an effective mental health treatment plan looks like, I have been recreating a treatment plan here through a series of blog posts. To see other posts in the Mental Health Treatment Plan series, please click here. The next section of the mental health treatment plan is often referred to as “Recommendations.” Recommendations are closely related to our previous post in the Mental Health Treatment Plan series, the section about Partners in Therapy. Recommendations, which may require serious thought, fine-tuned perception, as well as practical research by your therapist, may actually refer to some of your partners in therapy. For example, your therapist may recommend that you see another type of professional while you are in therapy, such as a psychiatrist, a medical doctor, a social worker, and so on who might also be described as a partner in therapy. He might be specific—for example, he may recommend you get a complete physical in order to determine that your symptoms don’t have a physiological basis. Or he might suggest that you do a particular activity with a supportive friend or family member.
Rarely do opposing viewpoints divide people so dramatically, or influence people’s lives in so many areas than the two main opposing outlooks on the subject of victimhood. The question of one’s status as victim—specifically as it pertains to emotional problems and psychotherapy—is something we write about in Therapy Revolution. On the one hand some people might need to affirm that they were at one point innocent victims in order to get rid of crippling shame/blame/guilt. On the other, some may have to give up their status as victims, in order to learn to take responsibility for their thoughts, speech, and actions.
In part four of the video series "Skills for Psychotherapy Patients" Richard talks about concrete communication. It is a basic but important skill that calls for unambiguous talk about specific feelings, situations, and behaviors. This short video explains what concrete communication is and why it's...
Are those suffering from schizophrenia more likely to commit violent crimes? It depends. Most people with schizophrenia though suffer quietly. The disease usually only makes headlines when bad things happen, skewing our perspectives of this sometimes unsettling mental illness that affects nearly one percent...