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.

Translations Available

This blog is now available in several dozen languages. By entering the name of the desired language in the box which appears in the space below, any page you visit will have been automatically translated into the language you have selected. You can scroll down to view the most recent entries in chronological order, or you can view the most popular entries in the column on the right. By scrolling down the right-hand column, you can also see a list of all the previous entries.

Translate

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E Manahawkin, NJ 08050. Telephone us at(609)709-2043 and (609) 709-0009.Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72, on the road to Beach Haven West.After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Greater Coastal Realty. Then turn right and go past the Lyceum Gyn. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building. We. are the last office at the end. We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.Weekend and evening office hours are avalable.

Search This Blog

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Ultimate Cure for Existential Depression

An existential depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance in the nervous system, but instead it is the result of a disaster in your personal life. This kind of depression is best dealt with not by medication, but by finding a sense of meaning in life. As Nietzche put it, "He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how."

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who was interned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He experienced the tortures and depravities first-hand, and he was a keen observer of everything around him. He recorded his experiences in his book, Man's Search for Meaning, which is now in its third edition and has sold over two million copies. 

In his book, Frankl recalled that on one particularly bad day, a list of "crimes" was announced which would be punishable by immediate death by hanging. These included cutting your blankets into ankle supports because, due to insufficient food, your ankles were too weak to stand on by themselves. Then, a couple of hours later, it was announced that two potatoes had been stolen from the camp kitchen. If the culprits were not immediately handed over to the tender mercies of the SS guards, the whole camp would starve for the day, Since they were starving anyway, the whole camp preferred to fast.

That evening, as the prisoners lay in their huts, the lights went out. For many, this seemed to be the last straw. As they lay there in total darkness, his Senior Block Warden asked Frankl to give them a talk to lift their spirits up. God knows, Frankl wrote, he was in no shape to cheer up anyone else. But he knew he had to say something. He began by noting that the real reason people were dying all around them was not their poor living conditions, horrible as they were, but giving up hope. Even in this Europe in the sixth winter of the Second World War, he continued, everyone could find some reason for hope. He frankly admitted that he estimated his own chances of survival at about one in twenty. Friends, family, careers, could all be restored, and one could suddenly be transferred to a camp with unusually good working conditions, for this was the luck of the prisoner.

When the lights came on again, it was obvious that he had struck a responsive chord. People were limping towards him to shake his hand. Later, when he was liberated from the camp and re-opened his private practice, Frankl realized that in everyday life as well as in a concentration camp, when people gave up hope they were much more ready to die before their time. Instead of seeking pleasure, as Freud would have it, Frankl asserted that the most powerful motivating force in humans is the need to find meaning in life

The evidence for the importance of meaning in our existence s clear, once we begin to look for it. World renowned physicisr Stephen Hawking, for example, was only expected to live a short time after he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in his youth.However, he is still busy in his seventies, lecturing to large audiences about the cosmos, even though his illness has progressed to the point that he can obly move one muscle in his cheek and must use a special device in order to speak. In the video below, Hawking has laboriously be composed his answers ahead of time, despitee the impression of spontaneity. For Hawking, and for the rest of us, meaningfulness is the ultimate remedy for anxiety and depression, and the utimate meaning of his existence, as it is for the rest of us -- or as he put it,, "Look at the stars, not at your feet.!"




But what about the rest of us? The following video by Emily Esfahani Smith Describes how to find mining and purpose in an existence which is not marked by tragedy.














Friday, September 29, 2017

Hypnotic Mistrsses, Goddesses, and Those who Worship Them

I recently ran across a video on YouTube by "Mistress Lisa," which has been viewed over one and one half million times:



If you watch the tape of Mistress Lisa carefully, within a fraction of a second after she completes her induction, you will catch her throwing her head back and with a momentary gleam of triumph on her eyes. There is trouble brewing in paradise! Although she herself does not appear to have followed up on it, there are many other postings of female hypnotists, hypnotic mistresses, goddesses, and seductresses, some of whom merely provide constructive suggestions of well-being, and some of whom seem to be seeking the worshipful adoration of male (and occasionally, female) worshippers who appear to be all too willing to turn their lives and worldly goods over to them. 

These videos are obviously not illegal, and not very many people have complained about them, or YouTube would have closed them down years ago. In addition to YouTube, you can enter the words "mistress" or goddess" on Facebook, or at a Google prompt, and simply follow the links for an in-depth introduction to dozens, and possibly hundreds, of other mistresses and goddesses of varying methods and temperaments. However, I found only one Website, hypnoslave.com. devoted to the hypnotic enslavement of women. 

What are the psychological motives behind these practices? Are they ethical, are they dangerous, or merely harmless role playing? Do they benefit or damage their willing devotees, and if so, how?  Some parents view their children not as individuals to be loved and encouraged to develop their own lives, but as extensions of themselves, whose purpose in life is to flatter the parents' ego. They selectively withdraw love until the child, desperate for affection and totally dependent on the rejecting parent, will do almost anything to get it (Forward, 1989). The parent or parents may also act seductively, and even sexually molest the child in order to gratify their own needs, because "babies don't tell."

As adults, we often tend to re-create an approximation of the family environment in which we were raised. Is it any wonder, then, that some men long for a relationship with a woman whom they can worship as a goddess if this is the kind of mother they had, who is alternately seductive, punitive, and distant and rejecting?


Why are there so many more men than women looking for this type of satisfaction? Although there are documented instances of famous seducers such as Rasputin, who have taken advantagr of women in repressed societies whose motives have been ambivalent because of cultural differences in the way men and women are raised in that society, if a woman wants to dedicate herself completely to a man who only occasionally shows any concern for her, she probably will have little trouble finding one. 

See also: Can Hypnosis CREATE a "Master and Slave" Relationship?

References

Forward, S. (1989). Toxic parents: overcoming their lethal legacy and reclaiming your life. New York: Bantam.

De Rivera, J., & Sarbin, T. R. (eds.) (1998). Believed-in imaginings: The narrative construction of reality (memory, trauma, dissociation, and hypnosis). Washington, DC: American Psychological association.
.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Law of Attraction is FATALLY FLAWED!

The central theme of the book, "The Secret," is that we create our own reality by "the law of attraction." If we send forth positive thoughts, then we attract positive events to us; and if we send forth negative thoughts, then we attract negative events.

If we really do create our own reality by sending forth positive or negative thoughts, then this effect should be apparent not only in individuals, but also in groups, in historical trends, and in society as a whole. Therefore, we should be able to examine the validity of "the law of attraction" by examining the degree to which it operates in these other areas of experience. But does it?

I have listed below some comments which my friend Roy Hunter reports as having been made to individuals who are suffering from cancer and other maladies which should also operate according to "the law of attraction," and taken the liberty of constructing a reply to them.   
  • What did you do to attract cancer in the first place? What about all those people who get cancer because they are living in an area where there is a high level of carcinogens in the environment?
  • You have a disease consciousness. The Black Death killed between 75 and 200 million people, between 1348 and 1350. What could all those people have been thinking that caused such a plague to so suddenly descend upon them?
  • You must have a karmic debt to pay off.  If you have read The Diary of Anne Frank, you will have a good idea of the kind of person she was. Now consider the fate of Ann and others like her as they lay covered with lice and dying of hypothermia in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. What did they do to bring this upon  themselves?
  • Why can’t you create enough faith to be healed? Age is a wasting disease. And the survival rate for this particular disease is zero. Has anybody crated enough faith to get out of that one?
  • Don’t you know smoking will kill you? With 99% of the same genes as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, and over a century of experimental research to back them up, most psychologists agree that short-term pleasure is often more important than long-term consequences in determining our behavior, particularly when it comes to matters of addiction.
  • Fat people are out of control. An African journalist recently stated that her greatest surprise in coming to the United States was to discover that in America, thin people are rich and fat people are poor, since in her own country the reverse is true. If this is the case, how can weight be a function of one's personal discipline rather than one's culture?
  • You have a poverty consciousness. The CIA World Factbook lists the United States as twelfth in per capita income, behind such nations as Norway and Hong Kong, yet most Americans are inclined to think of themselves as the richest nation in the world. If we create our own reality, why are we not in first place?
  • "Get out of the victim trap!" Try telling the survivors of Stalinist tyranny who were imprisoned in Siberia that they shouldn't have been thinking so negatively about their situation that it caused them to end up there.
  • Why did you create this problem? The CIA World Factbook lists the United States as fifteehth from the top in infant mortality compared with other nations. Explain to the parents of the babies who died because they were not given better medical care what they or their children did to create this problem.
  • What is God punishing you for?  If God is keeping quiet about His reasons, then what is the point of punishment?
  • If “The Secret” is not working for you, then you must be doing something wrong.  Maybe so!  On a recent radio interview show featuring a leading theoretical physicist who was commenting upon the latest discoveries in his field, a questioner asked him about the "law of attraction." He forcefully criticized the promulgators of this belief for misleading people, and assured the caller that the universe simply does not work that way. Perhaps what people who subscribe to this false doctrine are "doing wrong" is believing in "The Secret" in the first place!
Of course there can be negative and self-destructive attitudes within the personality which interfere with the successful accomplishment of a goal, and which contribute to the development of psychosomatic conditions. But their causes and effects are well-documented in the American Psychiatric Association's       m m m m m m mmm  mDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and have nothing to do with "The Secret!"

A more disciplined, scientific investigation of psychic abilities is the subject of ongoing research by the Parapsychological Association.  "an international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or 'psychic') experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition.  The primary objective of the PA is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Don't Pay Through the Nose for information!

How will we know when we are on the right track In assisting our clients? 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 can therapists help them to get that way? Irving Yalom, famous 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 and 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. Regardless of whether or not the Academic community points out that there is no scientific support for your claims , you will still be regarded in some quarters as a success. In reality, however, there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars a workshop which is primarily intended to whet your appetite tp sign up for the next one in the series, in order to eventually qualify for a pricey "certificate" which has no legal standing, and no meaning to people who have not themselves embarked on a similar training quest .

"Your Withdrawals Happily Accepted!"
Many people spend a great deal of time and money going from workshop to workshop, either to perfect their therapeutic techniques or to experience the latest trends in psychotherapy for themselves, when the success of a therapeutic intervention actually depends more on the client than it does on them. Since most of these highly-touted and pricey procedures work at least some of the time, this creates a "partial reinforcement effect" which causes people to try even more advanced workshops, in the hope that they will eventually get it perfect -- in the same way that a laboratory rat who is only rewarded occasionally will work even harder than one that is rewarded all the time. 

 It looks impressive, of course, if there is a certificate on the wall stating that you have been certified by the Great Poo-Bah or Swami Rama-Ding-a-Ling (and preferably both!). But most of us are probably not going to know who they are. In addition, empirical research has confirmed that while psychotherapy in general is effective, the relationship between therapist and client is a more important contributor to a successful outcome than whether the degree on the wall (if there is one!) indicates that the therapist has completed a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral program, or the particular field in which the degree happens to be granted, or the theoretical orientation of the therapist. As Irving Yalom famously said, "It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. It's the relationship that heals. My professional rosary!"  

With the coming of the Internet, we are going through an information revolution which is more far-reaching in its implications than the ones which occurred when steam power replaced the horse, and electricity replaced steam. I am not arguing against continuing our professional education; but one thing ought to be clear when our nearest google prompt is a lot closer and cheapter than our nearest ATM prompt. Don't pay through the nose for information! The totem poles are on fire!
 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

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

A few years ago at a hypnosis conference in London, during a discussion of the phenomenon of hypnotic rapport, one of the members of the audience said that she used to occasionally lapse into her native Gaelic during a hypnosis session, and, even though her clients may not have understood a word of Gaelic, the results were still quite effective.

Suppose, instead of using a language that was already fully developed, she had decided to experiment with the language patterns of highly successful hypnotists, and assembled a group of like-minded individuals to help her discover exactly which inductions, and which suggestion patterns, were the most effective. Sometimes the results would inevitably appear to be more powerful in comparison with the patterns which had been used before -- at least with the current sample.

Over time, as these practitioners discovered that sometimes the results were more effective and sometimes they were less effective, we could expect a drift in the direction of ever more complex patterns as more and more elements were added to the mixture, much as the Native American rain dances evolved over the course of many centuries whenever they would dance as rain clouds appeared, because sometimes it did actually rain -- and heavily, too!  So, the obvious conclusion was not that the rain dance was ineffective when no rain was forthcoming,, but that it was necessary to keep working in order to make the dance more powerful


  

Before you continue to expend more time, energy, and money in developing fancier and fancier hypnotic language and induction patterns, you should consider that the effectiveness of a particular suggestion or induction lies in the individual meaning that ii has for the client in terms of his or her individual life narrative, rather than the linguistic style within which a suggestion is composed or the induction within which it is framed (de Rivera & Sarbin, 1998),



I am fond of quoting a well-known story about a boy who had become shy and withdrawn because his face was disfigured by a birthmark -- until his grandmother told him that this was a special sign from God that he was destined for greatness. Although he did not become famous, he grew up to experience a much more successful life than he otherwise would have had were it not for his grandmother's suggestion, which, even without the bebefit of an ibduction,  had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here's an experiment you can perform yourself. If you want to assess the scientific standing of NLP, 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 neuro-linguistic programming is a recognized body of research or a "sacred cow" which cannot be killed, because generates income for those who teach it. 

Reference

de Rivera, Joseph & Sarbin, T. R. (Eds.) (1998). Believed-in imaginings: The narrative construction of reality. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.,

Friday, September 22, 2017

How ro Have a Full and Happy Retirement

"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
The following list of activities, based on the one at at www.smartrecovery.org, can serve as a starting point for getting off the merry-go-round of loneliness, anxiety, lethargy, depression, and despair. You can use this list of activities as a springboard for suggesting others. They can also strengthen the bond between you and one your friends when you do them together. As much as possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people -- and get moving!

• ACADEMIC PURSUITS (Self-help Books, Workshops, Lectures, Skills-learning, Career Development).
• CHORES AND USEFUL TASKS (such as Cleaning, Cooking, Dishwashing, Ironing, Sewing).
• EXERCISES (such as Jogging, Nautilus, Walking, Aerobic Dancing, Stretching orAerobic Exercises, Shadow Boxing, Skipping Rope, Yoga, Weightlifting).
• FOOD ACTIVITIES (such as Baking, Cooking, Barbecuing, Preparing Gourmet Meals, Shopping for Food).
• GAMES (such as Bridge, Checkers, Chess, Go, Jigsaw Puzzles, Monopoly, Poker, Online games, Scrabble, Crosswords, Anagrams).
• GRAPHIC ARTS (such as Cartooning, Drawing, Lettering, Mechanical Drawing, Painting, Photography, Silkscreening).
• HANDICRAFT ACTIVITIES (such as Basketmaking, Bookbinding, Crocheting, Embroidering, Knitting, Leatherworking, Dressmaking, Decoupage, Needlepoint).
• HUMOROUS ACTIVITIES (such as Cartooning, Improvisation Games, Charades, Jesting, Joke-making, Playing Practical Pranks and Jokes, Punning).
•MARTIAL ARTS (Akido, Jujitsu, Judo, Karate, Fencing, Wrestling).
• OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES AND SPORTS (such as Birdwatching, Gardening, Crabbing, Fishing, Canoeing, Sailing, Hunting, Walking, Ice-skating, Skiing, Rowing, Hiking).
• PERFORMING ARTS (such as Dancing, Ballet, Mime, Acting, Improvisation, Modern Dance, Tap Dance, Singing).
• READING (Fiction, Novels, Plays, Poems, Nonfiction).
• SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES (such as Anatomy, Biology, Herpetology, Physics, Medicine, Zoology, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology).
• SOCIALIZING (Conversing, Group Activities, Attending or Giving Parties, Rap Sessions).
• SPECTATING (watching Movies, Plays, Sports, Pageants, Circuses).
• SPORTS (such as Baseball, Basketball, GQlf, Gym, Football, Hockey, Dancing, Tennis, Skating, Running, Volleyball).
• STUDYING ACADEMIC SUBJECTS (such as Art History, History, Language, Math, Music, Science, Social Science).
• TRADES AND CRAFTS (such as Bricklayer, Builder, Carpenter, Foreman, Factory Worker, Gardener, Mechanic, Machinist, Police Officer).
• VENTING FEELINGS (such as Punching Pillows, Yelling, Talking, Writing, Expressing Good Feelings).
See also the book by R. Schwartz, and E. Braff entitled, We're no fun anymore: Helping couples cultivate joyful marriages through the power of play. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.

Additional Links Which May be Helpful:

Albert Ellis has put together a list of false beliefs that are driving you crazy because they set us 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.



 A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." This is a list of false perceptions that are driving you crazy. 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.

Perhaps the most important challenge in retirment is to find meaning in life, which is possible under almost any set of circumstances, as illustrted in the following entry entitled, The Ultimate Cure for Existential Depression.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Don't just toss and turn in bed
when you are having trouble sleeping.
Get up and do something Boring!
When I was working in the New Jersey State Prison, each of us in the Psych Department had to meet with one group of prisoners per week to teach a class in "sleep hygiene," because as you might imagine, it's easy to get your days and nights mixed up in there. We were able to trade notes freely among each other, and over time we accumulated quite a bit of useful information which I'd like to share with you now. I've used it quite a bit myself, and it does seem to help much of the time.
  •  Make sure you get enough daylight so that your body will be able to establish a daily wake-sleep rhythm. 
    • Some people have found commercially-available light boxes to be helpful, especially if you live in a location where there is less sunlight during certain seasons of the year. This lack of sunlight can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder  (more popularly known as "cabin fever"), characterized by periods of depression and interference with regular sleep patterns.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Darkness causes the body to produce melatonin, a natural sleep-inducing agent.
  • Don't play on the smartphone, the computer, or watch television. They all give off light which suppresses the melatonin in your system and overstimulates the brain,    
  • Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Trying to get by on less than this biologically-determined amount builds up a sleep debt which  cuts into your well-being and efficiency, and becomes harder and harder to repay.
  • Establish a consistent sleeping schedule. People tend to become sleepy 24 hours after they last went to sleep, and awaken 24 hours after they last woke up. Significant changes in either time -- especially shift work schedules which frequently change -- disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.
  • If your sleep is troubled by nightmares, or if you have personal problems which prevent you from getting the sleep you need, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance.
  • Have a set ritual before going to bed. 
  • Limit the amount of food you eat for the last two hours before you go to bed.
  • Limit your daily use of caffeine, or eliminate it entirely.  Using coffee or tea, or other drinks which are high in caffeine only makes it harder to repay your sleep debt.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably in the morning.
  • If possible, adopt a life style which reduces your total amount of stress.
  • While most of us prefer not to use prescribed sleep medications, millions of people do use them regularly without ill effects. Melatonin, the favorite of many, is available without prescription. Others prefer nutraceuticals such as St. John's Wort.
  • We frequently do not notice the "aches and pains" in our bodies because we have grown so used to them, but they can still interfere with our sleep.  Many clients find that taking a couple of aspirin or Tylenol work well, particularly when it is early in the morning and they do not wish to feel groggy from sleep medication the next day. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, use the bed only for sleeping and for sex. Instead of tossing and turning, get up and do something boring until you get sleepy. This helps you to avoid a conditioned association between not sleeping and being in bed.  
  • many people find it difficult to sleep because their mind tends to use this as a tine to worry about the problems of their life. which are making them depressed. the depression is environmentally caused, the Blog entry entitled, The Ultimate Cure for Existential Depression may be helpful.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ten Toxic People who can Wreck Your Life


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. Of course,actual diagnosis and treatment should only be undertaken by a mental health professionall but There is an old saying, "If it wlks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck -- it's a duck!"

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. (Since no two personalities are exactly identical, however, you cannot stereotype them and treat them all exactly the same way.)

Histrionic Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed 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 cannot “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 narcissistic antisocial convict (sometimes referred to as a psychopath), 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 treatment.

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").

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 professional. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to insult people is to let them know that you suspect them of having a personality 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 such people on a daily basis, and to seek professional assistance in order to better cope with them if you need to do so. 

Print Sources

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 statistical manual, DSM-V. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Is Donald Trump Using Hypnosis, Hyperempiria, or NLP?

Many of my psychology clients have been asking whether or not Donald Trump's success might be due to his using hypnosis or hyperempiria. Whenever you use "alternative facts" in place of the real ones, as his advisor Kellyann Conway recently admitted, it is an attempt to harness the power of suggestion. But if no induction is used and if the situation is not defined as hypnosis, why is it still sometimes effective?

A recent article in Psychology Today stated that half of all Americans couldn't come up with a sudden demand for $450 in a crisis. Although Trump may be unwittingly using some techniques which are commonly referred to in lay hypnosis circles as NLP or neuro-linguistic programming, almost everyone now agrees that there are a lot of angry voters out there. on both the right and the left, who supported Trump because they feel that the system has failed them (see below).




My wife grew up in New Jersey, and I have lived here for 25 years. We have read the first-hand newspaper accounts of how Trump has bankrupted several casinos ans walked away with millions, paid his workers sub-standard wages, and stiffed his contractors by paying them much less than they were actually owed. Beneath his outward bluster lies a narcissistic personality disorder with antisocial traits, but don't just take my word for it. Here's a link to a story in The Independent which bears the headline, "Donald Trump has Dangerous Mental Illness, say Psychiatry Experts at Yale Conference." 

The biggest tragedy of all is that people often tend to make up their minds based on emotions rather than  facts, and hear what they want to hear. Trump's base has shrunken only slightly, but All we have to do in order to set things right is to stop ignoring the problems that are making people "mad as Hell." This is not as difficult as it may appear. There are a lot of people who stayed home last time because they didn't like either candidate and are now as energized as a space probe. It will become increasingly difficult for special iterest groups to persuade them either not to vote at all, or to vote against their own best interests. The following video, by former Republican columnist George F. Will, and the one which directly follows it after it has stopped playing, directly examines the question as to whether or not it is in the best interests of the Republicans who elected him to continue their support:




Is President Trump using hypnosis, hyperempi4ia, or NLP, thren? In my opinion, he has a narcissistic personality disorter combined with a dementia which can only get progressively worse as time goes on. But he still knows how to energize his base, or at least his extremely conserative advisors do. The resulting backlash against this form of right-wing Republicanism may last for genertions, but as a nation we have survied much worse. We survived the Civil War and the Great Depression, and we will survive Trump too, regardless of whether or not he is impeached and removed from office.  Our days of world leadership, however, have been dealt a severe blow  -- although many people overseas will say that this is not such a bad thing, as long as we don't all end up speaking Russian or Chinese. But, as I have stated, dementia becomes progressively worse over time!!

Давайте, до свидания! 

再见