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Narcissism

When a Narcissist Hoovers: It’s Not a Compliment

"A Hoover is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship, gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior." -outofthefog.website   The time period between Halloween and Valentine's Day is a time when survivors of abusive relationships with a narcissist may experience what is known as a "hoover"...often times narcissists will circle back to prior sources of narcissistic supply to see if they can tap (or suction up like a vacuum) prior targets' attention/affection/adulation to fill their psychological void...be cautious and don't be tempted with a re-hook! And beware that a hoover can happen any time of the year, and often without warning!


art intervention with children

When a Child’s Parent Dies: Working with Bereaved Children Part 2

"For many parents, understanding a child's grief while they themselves are grieving demands more energy than they have available." Arbor Hospice Children's Program, Ann Arbor, MI *This blog post is written in the memory of Anise Ojeda Smith, mother, social worker, colleague, friend, daughter, sister, lover of life, metavivor. She lost her battle to breast cancer this last week and leaves behind three children. Following up on Part 1 of this blog series, art intervention is incredibly helpful to the grieving child/teen in the aftermath of a parental loss. As a graduate school intern at University of Michigan, I got to see firsthand the power of art as a healing modality by providing psychotherapy to children, teens, and families in a hospice setting. Children's (and adult's) art is an opportunity to open up a channel of understanding between caregivers and children when words are not enough.


art intervention with children

When a Child’s Parent Dies: Working with Bereaved Children Part 1

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.  Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”– Native American Proverb  *This blog post is written in the memory of Anise Ojeda Smith, mother, social worker, colleague, friend, daughter, sister, lover of life, metavivor. She lost her battle to breast cancer this last week and leaves behind three children. I pause for a moment and collect my breath. This is not an easy blog post to write. It hits close too close to home, but I forge ahead, and I know that it will be helpful for many.


#metoo movemenet

Raising Boys in the Era of Trump, #MeToo, and School Shootings: Part 4

Man up. What a cleverly disguised way to say shut up. Shut up, or fight back, or you deserved what you got." -Riley Redgate, Noteworthy *This blog article is Part 4 in a Series: 1, 2, 3. On Toxic Masculinity: How We Can Help Crack the "Boy Code" and Help Our Sons Be Whole  How often do you hear coaches and parents yelling at their sons on the sidelines of sports games to "man up!" or "shake it off!" or "don't be a wimp!," no matter if your child is writhing in pain or upset about an unfair call ?   Or how about the locker room at school? Ever overhear the dialogues that happen there? " Yeah I'd f*&^ her." " Wait till you hear what a whore Dana was with Tyler last weekend!" "Yeah, I have F&^%ed 22 girls now, and counting!" It's pretty cringe-worthy. But let's be honest. Toxic masculinity is an ugly reality that is pervasive in our western society, this notion that somehow in order to be a strong, confident man, one must stuff his emotions, be tough, and certainly don't cry. And you must be a Cowboy With Swagger and add to your bedpost notches to be a true man. It doesn't hurt to brag about your sexual conquests (or the fictitious version of what you want your friends to know), and most definitely you don't deviate from Bro Code by using any supposed feminist lingo that would appear to indicate that women are to be respected equally as men in all ways and in all manners.


attachment trauma

EMDR and Birth Trauma

"After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment." Judith Herman Trauma-informed clinicians know that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) works for clients in the aftermath of single incident and complex trauma. For women who have given birth and endured what they perceive to be a traumatic experience (emergency C-Section, stillbirth, complications resulting in adverse outcomes for either mother or baby, baby in NICU, long labor, induction of labor, insensitive medical staff), EMDR is no exception in terms of being a helpful modality for trauma recovery.


#metoo movemenet

Raising Boys in the Era of Trump, #MeToo, and School Shootings: Part 3

"New studies tell us that it is the environment we create for our children that has the greatest impact on the way they learn and what they learn." - Dr. Gail Gross *This blog post is part 3 in a series: See posts 1 and 2 on The Savvy Shrink Blog   Young Boys Learning Styles are Different Than Girls Are we really supporting our boys to reach their highest potential at home and at school?  Well, studies show we, as parents and educators, have a lot of room for improvement in terms of helping our young men obtain adequate supports in the educational (and home environment). The neurology of boys' brains absolutely is distinct from that of their sisters (Gurian, 2006), especially in young children. Interestingly enough, as boys and girls develop, there is more commonality in brain structure, and by 12th grade, differences between boys' and girls' neurology is very subtle (Gross, 2014).  More and more, studies show that home environment, friendships, and interests all shape older children's brains more than any other influence.


#metoo movemenet

Raising Boys in the Era of Trump, #MeToo and School Shootings: Part 2

"In all our years as therapists, we have never met a boy who didn't crave his parents' love and others' acceptance and who didn't feel crippled by their absence or redeemed by their abundance. Strong and healthy boys are made strong by acceptance and affirmation of their humanity" - Michael Thompson, PhD and Dan Kindlon, PhD Co-Authors of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys   Part 2 in a Series: See Raising Boys in the Era of Trump, #MeToo, and School Shootings: Part 1 here. Teaching Empathy and Emotional Language Few would dispute the fact that these days our sons have very limited options for emotionally healthy male role models in movies, politics, social media, and in popular culture as whole. Those who are lucky to be raised by psychologically sound caregivers and surrounded by emotionally supportive communities have the best chances to evolve into vibrant, flourishing young men.  So in this politically tumultuous time, what can we do to ensure that our future generations of young men are equipped with the psychological innards to develop healthy relationships in love, work and family?


#metoo movemenet

Raising Boys in the Era of Trump, #MeToo and School Shootings: Part I

"Boys get unfairly labeled as morally defective, hyperactive, undisciplined or 'problem children,' when quite often the problem is not with the boys but with the families, extended families, or social environments, which do not understand their specific needs as human beings and as boys." - Michael Gurian I am honored, first and foremost, to be a mother of two wonderful young men, ages 16 and 12. Like any parent who  is raising children during such tumultuous times where every day one's news feed trumpets the latest sexual harassment claim in Hollywood, another mass shooting by an angry male, a male president who just "grabs them by the pussy," a male narcissistic CEO who doesn't give a royal (fill-in-blank) about their employees.....the list goes on and on and on. I have to say, it's mind boggling and bewildering to navigate what appears to be a really dark time in the U.S. and to know what the heck  you can do as a parent, to not only protect your son from the toxic machinations out in the world, but to also inculcate and teach healthy emotional intelligence to our impressionable young men.