Are You Addicted to Your Phone?

Recently, David Matthau from 101.5 FM radio commented that he was stunned to see so many drivers using cell phones to text and make phone calls, despite the illegality of such actions and the knowledge that distracted driving, and texting in particular, leads to many accidents, some of which include fatalities.  We discussed the question of whether this type of phone use is addictive, and if so, what actually causes addictions.

           An addiction is a compulsive repetition of a behavior that ends up causing us to repeat the behavior so frequently that it impairs our judgment, relationships, and work.  There are two types of addictions. The first involves chemicals, and actually changes our brain chemistry. All addictions to substances such as drugs, alcohol, and tobacco fall into this category.  The second, sometimes referred to as “process addictions”, involves excessive behaviors such as eating (binge eating, bingeing and purging, and anorexia), spending, gambling, shoplifting, sexual activity, computer and hand held device use.

Read more Are You Addicted to Your Phone?

Support Bipartisan Mental Health Reform Legislation

From the American Psychological Association:

Please contact your Congressional Representatives

Urge them to support Bipartisan Mental Health Reform Legislation (H.R.2646 and S. 2680)

Following every horrific mass killing in our schools, theaters and other locations, the conversation inevitably returns to the paucity of adequate mental health services in America today. That is why I am writing today to ask you to reach out to your elected congressional representatives (see below).

Mental disorders affect more than 40 million Americans each year — including roughly 10 million Americans with serious mental illnesses — and these disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Read more Support Bipartisan Mental Health Reform Legislation

Meeting with a Psychologist: Overcoming Misconceptions

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There’s a misconception that going to meet with a psychologist is shameful, or it’s a sign that there is something wrong with you. I am going to give you two reasons why it is actually very smart to meet with a psychologist.

Is it shameful to attend school? Of course not! We realize that it is smart to attend school to gain more knowledge and skills. That’s why we admire people who are improving themselves through education.

So why do we have such a backward attitude when it comes to the ways we deal with our emotions and stress? Read more Meeting with a Psychologist: Overcoming Misconceptions

Some Words of Understanding and Comfort…

Some of you know that my family suffered a heart breaking loss not long ago. My seven and a half week old grandson passed away May 4, 2016. To provide comfort, a friend sent me this lovely post, which appeared on Reddit. It was written in response to a query from a person who was in grief, after the loss of a friend. Not only did this eloquent post provide comfort to my entire family, I found the description fits well for loss by death, as well as losses from many other heartbreaking situations such as divorce or infidelity. Hence, I am sharing this post with you today.

To my knowledge, this was written anonymously.

“Here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must feel to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

Read more Some Words of Understanding and Comfort…

Inner Critic’s Mapping and Mastery of the Inner World: An innovative guide to self-empowerment

Years ago, African Americans popularized “your mama” jokes, which involved one person insulting someone’s mother, leading the other person to defend his mother by hurling an even greater insult at the first person’s mother. This typically led to an exchange whereby the two people would escalate in the outrageousness of the insults that they launched at each other’s mothers. “Your mama” jokes exemplify the idea that we do not tolerate other people criticizing our parents. Yet, that does not mean that we are exempt from that same taboo. As a psychologist, I have often heard people list many grievances about their parents vociferously; yet, if I say “sounds like your parents were very mean,” those same individuals immediately jump to defend their parents.

This same dynamic operates when it comes to self-criticism. Often, we judge ourselves negatively and harshly. Yet, as soon as we are reproached, we immediately jump to defend ourselves by launching a counter attack on the other person, or by explaining how the other person’s judgment of us is incorrect. We humans exemplify the notion that the best defense is often a strong offense. In this article, I hope to highlight and explain the role of the inner judgmental critic, which I introduced in my previous article: Mapping and mastery of the inner world.

Read more Inner Critic’s Mapping and Mastery of the Inner World: An innovative guide to self-empowerment

You Can Learn to Love Yourself

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This article is the second in a series, Mapping and Mastery of the Inner World: An Innovative Guide to Self-Empowerment, by Dr. Tamara Sofair-Fisch.  Click on this link to read the previous article in this series.

Eighteen months after Susan’s1 husband lost the fight to cancer, she was still in such inner pain that she was wondering if she’d ever find her old self again, and whether she would ever regain a sense of inner peacefulness. Susan, a widow in her 50s, described that the feelings of grief and being alone were just excruciating and unbearable.  Read more You Can Learn to Love Yourself

Mapping and Mastery of the Inner World: An innovative guide to self-empowerment

Previously, I described that our psyches shift from being boundary-less like play dough, which merges and gets lost when it is combined with any other soft substance, to hard headed like a baseball, which protects itself by creating an inflexible and uncompromising tough exterior, to being as flexible and resilient as a squish ball, which can bend with stress and pressure without losing its core characteristics. In addition, equally opposing needs govern much of our intimate behavior: the need to belong and be loved versus the need to remain separate and protect our identities. The ideal state of mind is best represented by the squish ball, which is flexible, but still able to retain its core characteristics.

Now I’d like to begin describing my innovative method of strengthening our psyches’ boundaries, so that we are more emotionally flexible and able to protect ourselves, without resorting to hard inflexible boundaries.

We live in two worlds: the world outside of us, and the world in our heads. Just as a rock thrown in water produces circular, outwardly bound rippling effects, we generate activity in the outside world and the external world triggers all sorts of reactions within each of us. While the outer world is easier for us to master, our unobservable and intangible inner world is harder to explore and navigate. And yet, to be as cohesive and flexible as the squish ball, we must explore, navigate and gain mastery of both our inner and outer worlds.

Read more Mapping and Mastery of the Inner World: An innovative guide to self-empowerment

Why do we argue so much?

Jennifer and Jonathan were so looking forwards to their vacation. They were finally going to get a break from the busy grind of their hectic lives. Much to their disappointment, the vacation was marred by many arguments that left each of them feeling sad and more alone than when they were home, busy in their daily routines. Scott and Meredith were ready to tear their hair out. Their 14 year old daughter was continually lacking in discipline, and there were ongoing arguments Read more Why do we argue so much?

The Car as a Metaphor for People

“When a guy talks about his car, listen carefully. He is actually telling you about himself. If the car is running well, so is he. Likewise, if the car is having problems, he is too.” A supervisor gave these instructions to me when I was a psychology intern at the Institute of Psychiatry at Northwestern University Medical School in the late 70’s. Read more The Car as a Metaphor for People