Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 703 Mill Creek Road, Suite G #1, Manahawkin, NJ 08050. Telephone us at(609)709-2043 and(609) 709-0009. We will welcome you warmly and will work together with you to develop a plan which is individually suited to your goals, utilizing a variety of therapeutic approaches including cognitive behavioral, family systems, psychodynamic, humanistic, and eclectic approaches as well as hypnosis. We accept Medicare and most other major insurance. Weekend and evening office hours are available.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): Science or "Sacred Cow?"



Many lay hypnotists have seized upon "neuro-linguistic progamming" (or NLP for short) as the basis for a separate, and financially profitable, "science." There is a branch of philosophy called structural linguistics, which is the scientific study of the relationship of language and behavior, but most practitioners of NLP have never even heard of. However, because they conduct workshops which teach and certify students in this technique, NLP has turned into a "sacred cow" which simply cannot be killed.


There is an animal called the blowfish, which has the power to puff itself up to several times its size in order to frighten away potential enemies. NLP also seems to puff itself up to several times its actual size by taking credit for hypnotic phenomena which have been around for a long time by other names. (A suggested response to a specific stimulus, for example, which has long been used in the form of post-hypnotic suggestion. is re-branded and loudly touted as "anchoring," and what has always been referrred to as "waking suggestion" is now "conversational hypnosis," a secret method of influencing people without their awareness. 

The poponents if NLP ithen inflate their size still further by claiming things which are already recognized by simple observation and common sense. But if NLP is really the next big thing, Why is it a phantom area which isn't even mentioned in the mainstream academic books on psychology and hypnosis? Why is there nothing which even refers to it in the annual meetings of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and the American Psychological Association, or in peer-reviewed journals of record such as the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis or the Journal of Clinical and Experimental hypnosis, or in the Handbook of clinical Hypnosis, published by the American Psychological Association? I was not able to find any references to NLP in the appendix or reference lists of any of the current books on hypnosis in my possession. If controlled experimentation is continuing in this area, it is apparently not of sufficient quality to meet the standards required for acceptance in peer-reviewed scientific journals or for inclusion in well-known books published by titans in the field.



Testimonials, of course are easy to obtain, because there are a certain number of people who will always improve regardless of whether or not they have received any treatment; and because of the charisma of the NLP practitioner who treated them. In the words of Irving Yalom, whose researrch in group dynamacs is world-famous, "It's the relationship that heals. It's the reationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. My professional rosary!" There is also little doubt that the principles of NLP can appear quite plausible to non-scientists, who produce a steady stream of their own publications aimed at convincing each other of their latest findings (and which seem very convincing in scripted You-Tube demonstrations). 


There is an old lawyers' adage which states, "If the law is in your favor, argue your case based upon the law. If the facts are in your favor, argue your case based upon the facts. If neither the law nor the facts are in your favor, attack the judge!: In contrast to the relative openness of the scientific community, anyone who questions the potential of NLP is about as welcome in their forums and discussion threads as a skunk at a picnic. When challenged, NLP practitioners are likely to reply with the ad hominem attack that their critics have obviously not read the right material, and that they are blinded by their own ideological presuppositions. 


I generally do not reply to such criticisms, because I refuse to fight a duel with an unarmed man. But if you would  to assess the scientific standing of NLP yourself, the answer is as close as your nearest telephone. Call up the college or university nearest you, and ask to speak to someone in the psychology department who teaches courses in perception. Then, ask him or her whether or not neuro-linguistic programming is a recognized body of research a plausible-sounding compilation of psychobabble. Is NLP a "sacred cow," which cannot be killed because it provides a steady stream of revenue to lay hypnotists, who spend their time training and talking to each other and to the general public, instead of submitting their articles for serious sientific scrutiny in peer-reviewed journals of record? To any and all of these questions, your answer is likely to be a resounding


But all is not lost. As I have said elsewhere, post-modern constructionism is the point of view that since we can never reqlly know what "truth" is, we should help clients to put together any type of conceptual framework which helps them to find the meaning of their existence, regardless of the personal reality that we construct for ourselves about the reality of things which are fundamentally unknowable.. 

How will we knowthen, when we are on the right track? In the words of +Michael Ellner,
The path that the people who beat the odds take does not seem to be as important as the way they walk the path that they have chosen. This is based on extensive experience assisting people with life-threatening diseases and conditions and assisting people living with medically unexplained syndromes and symptoms like chronic pain, FMS, IBS and CFS. What they do — does not seem to be as important as how they do what they do… The people who do what they do with a happy heart, peaceful mind and playful spirit seem to have the best outcomes regardless of what they are doing.  
And how do they get that way? Irving Yalom, fanous for his group work, said, "It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. My professional rosary."  As witch doctors abd medicine men have known since the dawn of pre-history, If you construct an ideology that people accept, and if you relate well enough to your clients to get them to the point that Ellner just described, it doesn't matter much what you do, you will be regarded in some quarters of the culture in which you live as a success!



Saturday, November 15, 2014

False Perceptions that are Driving You Crazy

It isn't what happens to us, but what we think about
what happens to us that matters most.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them;" and Shakespeare said, "There is nothing good nor bad, but thinking makes it so." 

Most of us have probably heard the expression, "Looking at the world through rose-colored glasses." Sometimes, we tend to look at the world through mud-colored glasses! Most of us have one or more ways of perceiving things which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world.

All-or-nothing thinking: Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If you aren't perfect, then you're a failure.

Overgeneralization: A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. "I didn't get a phone call.I'll never hear from anybody again."

Mental filter: One single negative thing colors everything else. When you're depressed, it sometimes feels like you're "looking at the world through mud-colored glasses."

Disqualifying the positive: If somebody says something good about you, it doesn't count. But if somebody says something bad about you, you "knew it all along."

Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

Mind reading: You think somebody is thinking negative things about you and don't bother to check it out. You just assume that he is.

The Fortune Teller Error: You think that things are going to turn out badly, and convince yourself that this is already a fact.

Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: Imagine that you're looking at yourself or somebodyelse through a pair of binoculars. You might think that a mistake you made or somebody else's achievement are more important than they really are. Now imagine that you've turned the binoculars around and you're looking through them backwards. Something you've done might look less important than it really is, and somebody else's faults might look less important than they really are.

Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things reallyare: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

Should statements: You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You"should" do this, you "must" to this, you "ought" to do this, and so on. This doesn't make you want to doit, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger,frustration, and resentment.

Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When you make a mistake,you give yourself a label, such as, "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way,you attach a negative label to him, "He's an ass." Mislabeling involves describing an event with languagethat is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

Personalization: You believe that you were the cause of something bad that happened, when you really didn't have very much to do with it.

Additional Links which May be Helpful:

Albert Ellis has put together a list of false beliefs that are driving you crazy, because they set you up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us are inclined to at least occasionally believe some of them. Take a look at this list and see if you are inclined to agree with any of them, at least part of the time. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them.


What you think is also strongly influenced by what you do -- or by what you don't do! This link provides a list of activities which can also help you to get off the endless circle of anxiety, anger, depression, and despair. They can also strengthen the bond between you and your friends or romantic partner when you do them together. If at all possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people, and get moving! 





  

False Beliefs that are Driving You Crazy


You can get off the merry-go-round of anxiety, anger, depression, and
despair by getting rid of the false beliefs which hold you there!

In ancient Greece, if you were anxious, fearful, or depressed, you would consult a philosopher. The philosopher would probably begin by asking you what you believe about life. When you came to an idea which appeared to be incorrect, he would debate with you until you had cast out this irrational belief. When this was done correctly, your depression, fears, and anxieties would also vanish. 

Just as the Greek philosophers did, you can get rid of these kinds of ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out. The psychologist Albert Ellis has put together a list of ten commonly-held irrational ideas which prevent us from experiencing life to the fullest, because they set us up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us have are inclined to believe them, at least occasionally. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them!



Here's the list of culprits.
I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Many people are haunted by the nagging fear that "something is wrong with them." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance.
If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away: "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"
It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties andresponsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as bases for learning and future growth.
Because things in my past controlled my life, theyhave to keep doing so now and in the future. If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!
It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.  Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as pathways to further growth.

Of course, this list does not cover all the negative beliefs which hold us back from becoming the best that we can be. But you can't get very far in life if there is some idea which is preventing you from performing at your best, such as the belief deep down inside that you going to fail, or that you are incapable of success. When we are faced with a daunting challenge, most of us, at one time or another, have the nagging suspicion that we are not up to the task. Whenever you feel a change in mood and you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, deprressed, or fearful, you can use a table like this one to write down what was going through your mind at the time, and to figure out how you might be able to see things differently. You can use the print command on your computer to print off as many copies as you need, and keep them handy to change your moods by re-examining and changing the beliefs that got you there.



Additional Links Which May Be Helpful:

A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." Here is a link to a list of obsessive wrong perceptions that are driving you crazy, which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world, by causing you to look at life "through mud-colored glasses." If you are inclined to look at things this way yourself, once you recognize that they are not accurate, you can get rid of them too.


What you think is also strongly influenced by what you do -- or by what you don't do! Here is a link to a list of activities which can also help you to get off the endless circle of anxiety, anger, depression, and despair. They can also strengthen the bond between you and your friends or romantic partner when you do them together. If at all possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people, and get moving! 

How to Recognize a Personality Disorder

If a person is obviously mentally ill or has a substance abuse problem, we usually have a pretty clear idea of what is wrong and how to go about getting help for them.. But people with personaliity disorders are usually not even aware that they have a problem. We may interact with them every day, and we may even be very close to them emotionally, even though they are often difficult to get along with because something about them is just -- well, different?

Personality disordered people are not “crazy” in the popular sense of the term, and they usually do not end up in mental hospitals unless something else is wrong with them; but these patterns tend to lie at the very core of their sense of self. They may sometimes even be proud of the traits that make them different and set them apart from others.

While actual diagnosis and treatment should only be undertaken by a mental health professional, the summaries which follow will help you to gain at least occasional insights into the behavior of many of the people you interact with every day, and which probably forms the basis of many toxic relationships in the workplace, and possibly even within your own family and circle of friends. We all occasionally have some of these traits; but if you think that you may have a particular type of personality disorder, you should only consider this question very carefully, with professional help -- and the chances are very good that you don't.

The following descriptions of personality disorders have been compiled by some of the best minds in the field of mental health, drawing upon years of clinical observation and literally hundreds of research studies to find patterns which “clump together” in present-day culture. Please keep in mind, however, that it is possible to have more than one personality disorder at a time, and many people can possess some of the traits of one or more personality disorders without having enough to qualify for a formal diagnosis. 

A word of caution: You Tube is flooded with descriptions of personality disorders, but since anyone can post to You Tube, there is no quality control whatsoever. Even people who may have published books on one or more personality disorders may tend to treat everyone the same, without due regard for individual differences. Like anything else on the Internet, such postings should not be taken as authoritative unless you trust the source!

Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The ancient Greeks used to tell the story of Narcissus -- a lad who was so good-looking that he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, and spent so much time gazing at it that he eventually fell into the pool and drowned. People who are given a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder are often perceived as being selfish or conceited. They may often spend a great deal of time telling you how great they are, or boasting of their achievements or accomplishments.

Some people think of a person with a narcissistic personality disorder as having a superiority complex to cover up for an inferiority complex. When you get to know such people well, it soon becomes apparent that the reason they spend so much time “tooting their own horn” is that deep down inside, they really feel afraid, inadequate, and unlovable.

Narcissists do not always act selfishly in the short term. They are often highly motivated to pursue long-term goals in order to prove their worth both to themselves and others. For this reason, narcissists often tend to gravitate to positions of leadership in business, government, education -- and yes, even churches.

Narcissists often cause a great deal of suffering, particularly when they happen to be employers, family members,  or romantic partners. Yet there are ways of dealing with them, as illustrated in the following video. (Since no two personalities are exactly identical, however, you cannot stereotype them and treat them all exactly alike.)

Histrionic Personality Disorder.

People who have been diafnosed with histrionic personality disorder may often be compared to an adult version of the “spoiled child” who will do anything to remain the center of attention. If histrionics are able to “show off” and remain the center of attention by doing a good job, they often accomplish a great deal. But if they feel that they are being ignored, or that the attention which they crave so deeply is denied them, they may become angry and disruptive in order to get it back again -- even if it’s unfavorable attention this time! ("I don't care what yor say about me," one publicity-hungry histrionic is reported to have said to a reporter for a scandal magazine. "Just be sure you spell my name right.!")

Antisocial Personality Disorder.

People with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder did not incorporate our society’s standards of right and wrong into their personalities as well as the rest of us have. They begin getting into trouble with the authorities by the time they are adolescents, and don’t grow out of it. As you might suppose, this pattern is much more common in men than in women.

Since personality disorders are so difficult to change, many such people keep going back and forth to jail from their teen years until middle age, when they seem to mellow out of their own accord. They make up the bulk of most prison populations, and often have a history of substance abuse or substance dependency. However, people with antisocial personality traits (I like to call them stealth antisocials) may be encountered almost anywhere, even at the highest levels of many organizations; and they may not be found out until their behavior gets them into trouble. (The discovery and apprehension of stealth antisocials in high-profile positions is the basis of many of the news stories we read about every day.)

Borderline Personality Disorder.

To understand the person who qualifies for a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, think back to some of the stormiest days of your own adolescence, or the adolescence of someone you know well. With an incompletely developed sense of self, the borderlines have no firm idea of who they are and where they are going. Their lives are often erratic, with frequent job changes and alterations in long term goals, and intense and unstable friendships and romantic involvements.

Because of their poorly developed sense of self, borderlines often have difficulty with so-called “boundary issues,” or the ability to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate in a given situation. Some borderlines, in fact, may find it difficult to even talk to a person of the opposite sex for very long without acting as if they are falling in love with them. As would be expected, the romantic lives of borderlines tend to be especially intense and tumultuous. The manipulative abilities of people with borderline personality disorder often enable them to deceive those who do not understand the inner storms which produce such behavior, which frequently causes their sudden bouts of passion to be mistaken for genuine love.

Borderlines often engage in “splitting,” with either extremely positive or extremely negative feelings towards others, sometimes suddenly reversing from extreme friendliness to extreme rejection and vice-versa. This changeability frequently leads them to engage in behavior that is highly manipulative. This splitting may also be the reason why the interpersonal relationships of borderlines are often centered around real of imagined fears of abandonment. (One book on borderline personality disorder is entitled, I Hate You - Don’t Leave Me!) These tendencies to engage in splitting may also explain why borderlines also seem to have a strong ability to divide those around them into separate camps of friends and enemies.  

Borderlines usually have very low self-esteem, and suicidal gestures, genuine attempts,
and successful suicides are not uncommon. Since many borderlines have a history of cutting themselves, or other forms of self-injurious behavior, it has been speculated that this represents an extreme attempt to combat the overwhelming numbness of an otherwise empty life.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.


People who have been diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be popularly known as a “nit-picker” or “neat freak.” They may become so involved with orderliness, perfectionism, and control that efficiency suffers as a result. This culture tends to place a high value on preoccupation with detail in certain jobs. With proper training, people who have milder forms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may become excellent law clerks, college registrars, bank auditors, or personal physicians -- in which case, it may not be a personality disorder any more, unless it interferes with their functioning off the job!

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is closely related to another disorder with a similar name, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD for short, which is similar in nature but more limited in scope. Obsessive-compulsive disorder refers to a pattern of continually recurring thoughts (obsessions), or behaviors which one is compelled to continually repeat, such as checking a door several times in a row to be sure that it is locked.

Avoidant Personality Disorder.

People who carry a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder have had such unpleasant social interactions in the past that with the possible exception of one or two close relatives or special friends, they have come to fear all human contact. Avoidants are frequently not merely shy about most social situations, they are genuinely phobic about them. Their avoidance is often centered around a core belief that if people really got to know them, it would immediately become obvious how incompetent and worthless they really are, and the immediate result would be scorn, rejection, and loss of employment. People with an avoidant personality disorder often tend to gravitate to solitary occupations -- researchers, librarians, or forest rangers, for example; and they may be attracted by certain monastic orders. (Of course, not everyone in these types of occupations could be diagnosed with an avoidant personality disorder!)

Dependent Personality Disorder.

A central theme in the life of people who have been diagnosed with a dependent personality disorder is a need to be looked after and taken care of, often accompanied by excessive fears of real or imagined abandonment. Ironically, some people who qualify for a diagnosis of DPD may behave in exactly opposite fashion. Those with milder forms of this disorder may attempt to satisfy their underlying dependency needs by becoming so efficient and thorough that they make themselves indispensable. Others, whose disorder is more severe, become highly dependent on instructions from above, and are reluctant to show any initiative in carrying out their responsibilities for fear that they will have made the wrong decision.

Paranoid Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnoses with paranoid personality disorder tend to see the activities of other people as ill-intentioned -- even when the opposite is true. Compliments may be seen as attempts to gain undue influence through flattery, and offers of help may be seen as evidence that the person to whom the help is offered is viewed as incompetent. The resulting suspiciousness and hostility may tend to bring about the negative attitudes and behaviors which the person with a paranoid personality disorder believes were always there. (The saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!”)

Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The person who has been diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder is an extreme loner or a “cold fish” who just isn’t interested in being around people. Such people are often found in the most solitary jobs which others might tend to shy away from. Because of their extreme lack of social skills, they should not be expected to change simply by inviting them to parties or by introducing them to a wide circle of people.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder typically have bizarre notions of cause and effect, and may practice unusual rituals of their own devising, either to make things happen or to prevent them from happening, similar to those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their everyday speech patterns and favorite topics of converstation are usually regarded by those around them as being somewhat bizarre, although not totally “crazy” in the popular sense of the term. They may also take a keen interest in cults and in the paranormal. Although certainly not everyone who is interested in such topics has a schizotypal personality disorder, the true schizotypal still tends to stand out because of bizarre thought patterns.

Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.

Although the American Psychiatric Association no longer officially lists this as a separate personality disorder, people with passive aggressive tendencies try to disrupt things by sabotaging the success of their employers, their family, or their friends without appearing do so deliberately, because they feel that their own needs for recognition, status, or achievement are not being met, or that other people are more successful than they are. Passive aggressive people may risk an occasional confrontation if it helps them to get their frustrations out, but they can usually gauge their actions carefully enough to avoid losing their jobs or their families.

If they are not frankly and firmly confronted about their behavior, their passive-aggressive patterns may become worse over time as they continue to follow their own “hidden agendas” and they feel that their actions are being accepted or condoned. They may single out for special treatment vulnerable individuals or groups who will not or can not “fight back,” and their behavior may degenerate into outright bullying. Then, when the inevitable day of reckoning does arrive, the consequences may be much more serious -- both for the victims and for the organization -- than if the problem had been immediately and forcefully dealt with.

Limitations of a Personality Disorder Diagnosis.

In order to qualify for any of the foregoing diagnoses of personality disorder, the disorder must be seen to cause people significant distress in their social, intellectual, or occupational functioning, regardless of whether or not they are aware of this fact. Temperamental but highly successful movie stars, for example, whose demanding and self-centered behavior would interfere with their adjustment in another setting, would probably not qualify for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder as long as they can "get away with it." Similarly, people who live alone in a remote location miles from the nearest neighbor would not qualify for a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder as long as they are able to function well their current situation, regardless of how intensely they may dislike having social contact with their fellow human beings.

It's easy to see how more than one personality disorder, or the traits of several, can work together in the same individual. Most of us are familiar with, or have heard stories about, the narcissistic borderline who sleeps her way into an executive position and then proceeds to systematically eliminate all those who are familiar with how she got to where she is, while tyrannizing over the ones who have been hired as their replacements. We are also not surprised to learn about a convict who immediately commits another crime upon his release from prison, which entitles him to several more years of "three hots and a cot," plus free medical and dental care. Many of us have also witnessed instances of a passive-aggressive histrionic, who regularly disrupts public meetings with their oft-repeated tales of woe, to the extent that it becomes next to impossible to get any business done.

People with personality disorders are not likely to seek professional assistance, because they are frequently inclined to blame their troubles on everyone but themselves. When they do seek help, it is usually because they are forced to do so (often in conjunction with an assault or a suicide attempt, or because a family member insists on it). They tend to remain as long as they are "hurting," or as long as they are forced to stay. When they are no longer hurting and are in a position to stop, they discontinue therapy. 

Istead of seeing the personality-disordered individual directly,a therapist is much more likely to see a family member, romantic partner, or employee who presents with anxiety or depression as a result of their interaction with someone who has a personality disorder (whom they may refer to as a "toxic person" or an "energy vampire"), r. 

A final word of caution: as stated previously, an actual diagnosis of a personality disorder should only be made by an appropriately trained mental health professiional. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to insult people is to let them know that you suspect them of having a pesonality disorder! While avoiding making such a diagnosis yourself unless you are properly trained to do so, and not communicating your suspicions to the individuals concerned, knowing how to recognize the major symptoms of a personality disorder will place you in a much better position to deal with people who appear to have a personality-disorder on a daily basis, and to seek professional assistance in order to better cope with them if you need to do so. 

References

Cavaiola, A. C., & Lavender, N. J. (2000). Toxic co-workers: How to deal with dysfunctional people on the job. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statisticl manual, DSM-V. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 

See also:



  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Never Grow Old


The world is so full of such a number of things,
I am sure we should all be as happy as kings.
                           --Robert Louis Stevenson

Viktor Frankl was a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. In his book entitled, Man's Search for Meaning, he describes one day when der Herr Kommandant lined all the prisoners up in formation and announced a list of "crimes" which would be punishable by immediate death by hanging. These included such "infractions" as cutting your blanket into strips to make ankle straps because your ankles were too weak to stand on. 

Then, about two hours later, he called them into formation again and announced that two potatoes had been stolen from the camp kitchen. If the prisoners did not give the offenders up to the tender mercies of the Gestapo, the whole camp would starve for the day. Naturally, the entire camp preferred to fast. 

On the evening of this day of fasting, they lay in their earthen huts,  in a very low mood, when suddenly the lights went out. The Senior Block Warden asked Frankel to give the prisoners a talk to raise their spirits. "God knows,"  Frankl said, he was in no mood to cheer anybody up. But he knew he had to try. 

He began by pointing out that the reason that most of the people around them were dying was not becauseof the starvation or the poor working conditions; it was because they had given up hope. Even in this Europe in the second in the sixth winter of the Second World War, he went on, most people could find some reason for hope. He estimated his own chances at about one in twenty, he frankly admitted.. But it was always possible that he could be transferred to a camp with unusually favorable working conditions, for such was the luck of the prisoner. Friends and family could be restored, fortunes could be regained, professions could be resumed, and anyone could find some reason for hope. When the lights came on again, people were limping toward him with tears in their eyes to shake his hand. He knew by the strength of their emotion that he had come upon something of great significance.

At the conclusion of the war, when Frankl had resumed his practice, he began to ask his clients why they did not kill him themselves. One client might say that he was writing a book that he had to finish, another might state that because it was because he deaarly loved his family, and so on. This gave Frankl a central point around which his patients would be able to organize their lives, and it provided the foundation for his therapy.

Today, research has confirmed that people who have a reason for living are much happier and live longer than those who do not. Moreover, the influence of Eastern thought has also helped to balance what many have considered to be an excessive emphasis on materialistic values.


Resources are currently available to help us discover meaning and purpose in our own lives. The folks at www.smartrecovery.org have several forms available which may be of help in deciding just what is important in life and what to go after. They include a hierarchy of values, for helping you to find which values are most important to you; a values and goals clarification list for identifying goals; a decision-making worksheet for weighing the benefits and costs of making a particular change; and a change plan worksheet for help in charting a course to achieve your goals. The information  may be downloaded free of charge by using the print command on your computer, although donations are encouraged.

The importance of having a set of ideals to live by is also shown in the following poem, which General MacArthur kept on the wall of his office to guide him during the darkest days of World War Two.


We Grow Old by Deserting Our Ideals
by Samuel Ullman