Archives for July, 2011


Mental Health and Social Media

Social Media is ubiquitous—there seem to be as many ways to use it as there are people using it. Underlying its success is the drive we have to connect with other people and have them connect with us. People like us, people different from us, people we already know, and people we have yet to meet.

It seems astonishing that in just a few short years entire communities have been created online, such as PsychCentral’s Mental Health Social, as well as the PsychCentral forums.

Many of you (but not all, as we recently learned) are using Social Media to connect. And overwhelmingly, you say you are gaining from your interactions.
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Leiby Kletzky’s Murder: We Cannot Understand, We Can Act

We live literally a few blocks from where the kidnapping and heartless murder of Leiby Kletzky took place. I have to admit that like everyone else, I felt shell shocked at the nature of this crime. Over the years, in both psychotherapy and addiction treatment, I've worked with victims of violent crime (and their families) and also with perpetrators of violent crime. Although I've avoided becoming jaded, I have become a bit harder to shock.

The evil of this crime shocked me.

Many people had questions about what happened and I thought I'd share some of the questions I received, and the attempts we made at answers.

Some of the questions from our non-Jewish friends had to do with Leiby's parents' specific and Judaism's broader, response to this tragedy.

Q: How can Leiby's parents thank God at a time like this?

A: The ancient Jewish teachings offers a myriad of insights into how people can best deal with tragedy. Why so many teachings on the subject of tragedy? Because tragedy is a part of each and every human life.

No one escapes pain in their lifetime. Our tradition teaches us that we may never know the Heavenly reasons for why Leiby or any other innocent is harmed, but we can instead, focus on what our response should be.
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Is It Possible To Love An Abusive Mother? Film As Therapy, Part II

We're back with Gayle Kirschenbaum, award-winning television producer and documentary filmmaker who's talking with Therapy Soup about her relationship with her mother and her upcoming film, My Nose: The Bigger Version.

Gayle, when you say in the film your mom told you no one would marry you because of your nose, it brought back things my mother said when I was a girl—full-force. My mother, too, was glamorous and beautiful and I was in awe of her.

The scene that really had my adrenaline on full-alert is where you interview bystanders along the Hudson River and one of them proposes. You turn to the camera and say: Mom look, this man would marry me.

But despite your talents, fame, and beauty, you aren’t married. This kind of mother-as-prophet disclosure really hit home with me, frankly. How important is proving her wrong (or proving her right)?
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My Mother Hates My Nose: Film As Therapy Part I

In American literature, film, and television, the relationship between mothers and daughters is often characterized as fraught with angst and conflict. Despite the strength of the mother-daughter bond, anything and everything from mother-daughter rivalry to outrageous and even physical fights has seen the film-studio light.

Gayle Kirschenbaum, Emmy-award winning director of numerous television shows and an award-winning documentary about her dog, has gone a step further. She’s directed a short comedic award-winning film called “My Nose,” which touches humorously and bitter-sweetly, on the love-hate triangle between herself, her mom, and…her nose.
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Is Medication Always The Answer To Mental Illness?

A recent NY Times article, In Defense of Antidepressants, is one of several passionate articles about psychiatric medications, for and against. I stand firmly in the middle.

Not the wishy-washy swampy middle, but the place where scientific evidence, common sense, and holistic viewpoints all merge.

Correctly prescribed and correctly used psychiatric medications do help people. They can literally save lives. So, in what kinds of cases of mental illness (depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.) might psychiatric medications be helpful or even necessary?

It depends largely on the skill and medical philosophy of the prescribing professional. Still, most psychiatrists generally agree that:
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Don’t Tell Someone With PTSD To “Get Over It”

Neuroscientistific research shows that our memory is strongest and lasts the longest when our emotions are heightened. This helps explain why we might remember every nuance of our wedding day or our valedictory speech in college.

It also holds true for our memories of traumatic events such as abuse or even one-time events such as severe accidents.

Trauma and abuse seem etched in people's memories, while "important" information, such as remembering the Capitols of the states, is more easily forgotten. Often, treatment techniques used in the treatment of PTSD (and other disorders such as depression and anxiety which are sometimes related to painful memories), assume that traumatic memories are the hardest to let go of.

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Three Ways To (Begin To) Repair The Hurt And Pain

It's easy to count the ways in which others have harmed us emotionally. It's not always so easy to count the ways in which we've harmed others emotionally.

Whatever "side" you're on, remember that  although forgiveness is often touted as the best way to move on, it's easier for the injured party to get beyond pain when real effort takes place.

Verbal apologies, no matter how heartfelt, may just not be enough. Often, action is needed.

In the world of commerce, if a corporation produces a product or sells a service that causes harm to a client, the victim can sue. Though there are plenty of frivolous lawsuits that do take place (unfortunately), it doesn't mean that all law suits are frivolous or even merely vengeful.
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God In Therapy: Big, Bad Mouth

If you're new to the God in Therapy posts, we'll reintroduce the theme, briefly. In the God in Therapy posts we discuss (and sometimes even attempt to answer), the following questions:

Do discussions of spiritual/religious beliefs belong in the psychotherapy session? How do different therapists view the subject of God in psychotherapy? What are the "rules" and parameters? Is the traditional monotheistic God of the Bible relevant to the psychotherapy and addiction treatment processes? How does *spirituality/religion relate to our emotional well being? And, since the authors' spirituality is rooted in the traditional Jewish mystic perspective, what does Jewish wisdom have to say about the connection between spirituality and mental health?

Kabbala and most other Jewish texts and commentaries place what at first glance might seem an extraordinary emphasis on the connection between who we are and:

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