Personality Disorder Under The Lens

Personality DisorderPersonality Disorder – not label, not put down, but no excuse for bad behavior: what is it then?

 

Attaching a mental health diagnosis to each other has become fashionable lately. Recently, statements in the press stating Trump is a narcissist, the neighbor is borderline, and the boss is bipolar are pretty commonplace.

In defense of my likable clients who suffered a great deal, it drives me mad because they are using mental health diagnosis as put downs or labels. I deem this behavior as something profoundly inappropriate and outright mean.

To make matters worse, the assumptions are blatantly false. Donald Trump’s inappropriate behavior is caused by lack of respect and bad conscious choices, not his narcissistic personality disorder.

It is true the other way around as well. Mental health diagnosis is not an excuse for bad behavior. Personality disorders might cause huge challenges in someone’s capability to accommodate his or her environment, but they are not excuses for disrespect or meanness.

 

Personality Disorders

… are diagnostic categories in which the individual has a longstanding , stable, relatively fixed pattern of thoughts, feelings and actions that permeates his or her whole life , including work and personal relationships, that deviates significantly from the expectation of the culture.

It differs from psychosis in that the person’s connection to reality is intact; there are no hallucinations or delusions that are present.

It differs from “depression, “anxiety” and “PTSD” in the extensive nature of the characteristics. Near the personality disorder, the person might suffer from the symptoms of depression or anxiety.

 

Causes of Personality Disorders

Behind them we assume there is genetic disposition with epigenetics that certainly plays a significant role and environmental stressors; especially early childhood abuse or neglect are contributors.

In the case of Antisocial Personality Disorder, James Fallon in his book “The Psychopath Inside” ,proposed the “Three legged Stool” theory that says: “… (1) unusually low functioning of the orbital prefrontal cortex and anterior temporal lobe including the amygdala, (2) the high-risk variants of several genes, the most famous being the warrior gene, and (3) early childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

 

Type of Personality Disorders

The present Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders discriminates 10 personality disorders and groups them in 3 clusters:

Cluster A: the “odd, eccentric” (and its features shortly)

Paranoid Personality Disorder: fears that everybody is out to get them.
Schizoid Personality Disorder: social detachment, in emotional “desert”.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder: odd beliefs, limited social capacity.

 

Cluster B: the “dramatic, emotional, and erratic” (Features shortly)

Antisocial Personality Disorder: no regards to others rights, no remorse, no morals.
Borderline Personality Disorder: intense, unstable emotions, polarized worldview, impulsive behavior.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: grandiose self, entitlement, self-love.
Histrionic Personality Disorder: excessive but shallow emotionality, attention seeking.

 

Cluster C: the “anxious, fearful”

Avoidant Personality Disorder: avoiding social situations in order to protect themselves from feelings of inadequacy.
Dependent Personality Disorder: strong need to be taken care of by other, great difficulty to stand up for themselves.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: preoccupied with rules, regulations or rituals in order to control their anxiety.

 

It seems like a well defined system. Professionals can categorize the illnesses quite well, right? – Wrong. The criteria are vague, and fall into continuum. The “Box” is not as well contoured as you might think.

 

Diagnosing Personality Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders gives a list of vague characteristics that are more or less typical of anybody in certain phases or situation of their lives.

Let’s take the example of Narcissistic Personality Disorder according to the DSM –IV:

“A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes”

Before freaking out by diagnosing yourself as Narcissistic, it should be noted that everybody likes to feel important, admired, having power, brilliance, ideal love or feel entitled, have unreasonable expectations and so on.

We can place people on the continuum regarding these features. We consider it a personality disorder if it manifests itself in rigid and overwhelming emotional states or behaviors that interfere with the everyday functioning of the person.

This categorization raises other concerns as well. In order to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the person needs to show at least 5 of these characteristics from this list. If another person shows another 5, is it the same illness? What if someone shows only 4? What if someone shows 3 from this list and 2 from let’s say the Borderline or the Antisocial Personality Disorder’s list? By the way, it’s quite common.

It is obvious that the category is not as unambiguous as people might think.

 

Treatment options

• Currently, there is no medication prescribed for personality disorder. However, pills can help to withstand the intense depression or anxiety bouts.

• Cognitive Behavior Therapies, as their names imply, are working on the conscious level and can achieve a lot by re-training the “Ego”. Famous among them is the Dialectic Behavior Therapy that manages stress syndromes, and teaches coping strategies for patients struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder. Furthermore, it has proven to lower the suicide rate among them.

• Long term – more often psychodynamic therapies are trying to unfold the unconscious connection in between the trauma/neglect they suffered and the present symptoms. Psychodynamic therapists believe that the symptoms are communications and unconscious attempts to resolve the issue and/or protect the person from the trauma they encountered. The therapy’s goal is multiplex: dealing with the trauma in the emotional level, bringing the unconscious associations into awareness, and modeling a healthy relationship with the therapist.

 

Prognosis varies…

1/ by person. No one can change somebody else but themselves. If the individual has the motivation, primarily by suffering enough, they might change. A real, severe personality disorder that had decades to develop needs more years of therapy to show some improvement.
2/ by severity. The more intense the symptoms, the bigger the challenge to change.
3/ by type of personality disorder.

Antisocial Personality does not react on psychotherapy because they do not have the interest/sensitivity for social clues that psychotherapy works with.

The Cluster A “odd type” disorders are quite stubborn, but at least they might have one trusting relationship with their therapist in the otherwise asocial “hostile” world.

Slow changes might be expected from the remaining types if every other condition including motivation, rapport with the therapist, and time for processing is in place.
4/ Occasionally, family members might suffer more from the symptoms than the client. They might benefit from consultations on what’s the most advantageous approach to handle the person suffering from personality disorder.

 

All in all:

personality disorders are deeply engrained, dysfunctional emotional, attitudinal and behavioral patterns of a person. Its emergence has a genetic and epigenetic background in interaction with the social environment. Its definition is somewhat vague, because of the different manifestations in different persons. Aiming for reasonable changes requires a huge dose of motivation as well as adequate time in committed therapy.

 

Need more help? Contact me at:

Sound.Soul.Counseling@ProtonMail.com

425.280.2643

First published in: YourTango.com

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

4 Reasons Why ADHD Is Epidemic in America (but not in Europe)

Considering ADHD our focus might be in the wrong place

 

Thanks to the challenge made by one professor of pediatrics, the ADHD argument received new momentum recently.

In his published opinion, “ADHD does disservice to children as a diagnosis,” Dimitri Christakis, of Seattle Children’s Hospital said he considers that the “attentional capacity” varies from individual to individual, situation to situation. Also, he found that the bell curve represents it better than a simple dichotomy of whether someone has ADHD or not.

He is not the first one to challenge the main stream medical model. In a 2012 article published by Psychology Today, Marilyn Wedge, PhD, argued that “French kids don’t have ADHD” and published her own book stating that ADHD has become an American epidemic.

Though it makes complete sense to look at ADHD as a spectrum, in and of itself does not explain the difference in prevalence between Europe and America.

Naturally I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings — especially not the children who are suffering from the disorder, or the parents who have tried everything before they reached for medication. This article does not reference them.

I am talking about children whose dysfunctional behavior is a reflection of the non-biological, mostly emotional imbalances in their environment.

 

As a European therapist, I see four factors that contribute to the American ADHD excessive occurrence:

 

1. Children are forced to sit and listen in a school setting instead of getting up and experiencing things first-hand

The makeup of our behavior dates back to the time when our ancestors lived their hunter and gatherer lifestyle. Children learned from the parents and relatives while they lead their everyday life together in groups.

The activity was variable, moving from task to task, while they had a chance to change some words with each other while moving around. The group had to synchronize its activity, but the way how children participated was rather free and self directed.

In today’s schools, children’s activity is not self directed, provides no chance to move around and requires long moments of focused attention with high levels of discipline. This was rarely necessary in ancient times.

Had I been chased through my five, six hours a day, class to class with four minutes breaks in between, like in U.S. middle schools, and had I been given sometimes two or more hours of homework on top of that, I surely would have a shortened attention span. I would fidget, and I bet I would burst out in heavy cursing, quite often without a crumb of ADHD.

Would you not?

In other words, the present day school expectations are unrealistic and not age appropriate in many cases.

 

2. There is less emphasis on structure and discipline

Growing up in Hungary and living in Germany for six years, I agree with Marilyn Wedge. In Europe, there is more emphasis on discipline, structure and compliance than in the U.S., although every culture differs from each other in certain aspects.

Limits, structure, routine, consequence — they are not equal with authoritative parenting style or rigidity, and far away from helicopter parenting.

In my case, it meant I had to be obedient with my parents and teachers. Had I not, there were consequences. There were rules I had to keep; there was a flexible, but steady, daily rhythm we were exposed to.

We had to wait while everybody sat down to the table and everybody finishes. There was very little TV time.

School had 45 minutes classes with 10 or 15 minutes in between. We had enough time to arrange everything in breaks, therefore we were not allowed to leave the classroom for the restroom, or eat or drink during class.

Being loud, bothering others was never allowed and we had to be polite. We even had to give our place to elderly people on the bus.

Naturally, the discipline what our parents provided translated into self-discipline as we grew up. That parental boundary setting doesn’t exist in America.

 

3. Over-diagnosing is commonplace

In Hungary, I was trained to give mental health diagnosis very carefully because of the possible devastating effects. We observed patients for two weeks in different group settings and in individual therapies. We did multiple tests with them.

After two weeks, the whole staff (psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses) would sit together, discuss their experiences and come up with a cautious diagnosis.

We would never diagnose teenagers with psychosis, only “teen age disturbances” knowing that this age is rather turbulent and it might resolve as they grow older. Psychosis manifests itself mostly in young adulthood, not earlier. There was no way to diagnose children with bipolar disorder or other psychosis, with the exception of (very rare) hebephrenic schizophrenia.

In the US, it is common to diagnose children with the most severe mental illnesses in comparison to what we consider as nonsense in Europe. I live with the suspicion that in many cases ADHD diagnosis goes out with the same ease.

It is convenient to think in the medical model. If we can put struggling children in one medical category, we can assume that the problem is solved.

Instead of coming up with an alternative (less medicated) solution — exhausting activities, exercises, structure, routine, reward, consequences, sufficient time for sleep — the child is given medication to keep them from bothering anyone without the need for re-evaluating the effectiveness of the system.

Problem solved? No. Symptom solved.

 

4. Medication is thought to be the only solution

The pills that we use to influence the brain contain serious chemicals — many of them terribly addictive. Until we know exactly how the brain functions differently in ADHD (which hasn’t happened yet), the treatment is mostly statistical trial and error. In some cases it makes the symptom disappear, but in many cases it does not.

I can accept it as the last resort when the behavior of the child is SO troublesome that it restricts his or her achievement or social life — but more often than not, this isn’t the case.

Do we face biologically based ADHD or an “undisciplined” child, perhaps with partially delayed development?

Whether or not we medicate the child, this is the most important way we can help them; by giving structure, limits, appropriate exercises, enough sleep, interesting activities, appropriate diet, predictable daily rhythm, lots of attention and patience together with ever present consistence.

I know — it’s an incredibly exhausting feat for parents.

But, sorry to deliver the bad news — no pill can replace it.

The unrealistic, age-inappropriate expectations in the public schools, the inconsistent socialization of small children, the dominance of the medical model in the culture and the pharmaceutical industry’s interest for profit are all contributors to the ADHD over-representation in America.

 

Published in Your Tango in January 2016

 

More about Parenting:

Considerate Parenting, Grounded Adults

Unconventional Parenting

 

Alternatives: Natural Over the Counter ADHD Substitutes

 

 

Call for Free Initial Consultation!

425.280.2643

 

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Psychotherapy beyond the Magic

Short talk at Mukilteo Chamber – Meet Up Network Group in January the 6th 2016

 

 

You find the slides on the bottom of the page in clickable format.

 

Thank you very much for having me! Good morning everyone!

 

My name is Zita Fekete, my business is Sound Soul Counseling. This is a psychotherapy business, and today I am absolutely delighted to share my delusions about psychotherapy.

 

So, this presentation was made for a longer talk, so what I can do today: just skip many-many slides and focus on one, which I think is the most important for you: I would like to share with you what I think about what is working in psychotherapy.
2nd slide: “What’s the difference?”
Let’s begin with some (other) important thing: if you ever or your friends or acquaintances are in trouble and you would like to have some help in the psychology field, you need to know that psychiatrists are doctors. They are working in the medical model; meaning, they think that mental issues are chemical imbalances of the brain; they give you medication, nothing else.

Of course it’s not black and white always, but mostly.

 

Psychologist are professionals who are mostly trained for evaluation and treatment (I meant testing – sorry. The author.) They are not really or not always interested in curing things (illnesses) or helping people out.

 

If you think you need or your family needs psychological solution for psychological problem, that’s what psychotherapist, or counselors or therapist (do.) … They can have Master’s Degree in mental health field, social work or family and marriage therapy.

 

3rd slide: “Mental/Psychological Disturbances”
This slide I skip, you have it all in the hand outs, if you are interested, please look after that what I do think about different illnesses in very short – hopefully – understandable terms.

 

(You can find the same in the presentation below. PLease click on the arrow to go forward.)

 

4th slide: “Origin of Psychological Disturbances”
The origin of these illnesses are almost always – hiow we learned – “multi-determined. So we cannot say that this caused that or that, or that caused that. No blaming of mothers no blaming of genetics. Everything worked together when someone is suffering from something.

 

5th silde: “’Modalities’ – Psychotherapy Types”
The Modalities of psychotherapy. There are many, many many more. That (list) was just what first came to my mind. Different people are working with different type of therapies.
I don’t go into details.
The most important thing is that… all of the (looking for the right slide, I did not find it) Sorry I lost the right one.

 

What I wanted to say is that researches show that if the therapist believes in his or her therapy modality and the relationship is good with the client, … there is no really difference between those type of therapies. It is all working, if you are in a good relationship. What every research shows is that the relationship itself what really helps to solve the problems.

 

6th slide: “Treatment Options”
Different treatment options for the different kind of illnesses.

 

7th slide: “Jungian Analytic (or Complex) Psychology”
I’ve made a little list of the Jungian psycho-dynamic therapy because this is what I think the closest to the human complexity, the complexity of the human psyche. Most of the time I use this method.

 

8th slide: “what work in Psychotherapy?
Now here is what I would like to concentrate on today…
So, when you think about going to a therapist, and you think that: OK, so what will be the magic? What will work? How will I understand better? How will I feel better after I leave?
There are many, many, many different elements of the psychotherapy that really works.

 

  • First of all before you go: just think about it! You will think through and organize and sort out what you will talk about. It even itself is very helpful.
  • Many times people keep their… uhm let’s say secret. Even it’s happened with me not so long ago, that I told out something loud for my supervisor which was in the long time kept in secret. I was completely aware of it. Still, I experienced that after I was able to put it together and say it out loud, it had a profound effect on me. It really effected how I was thinking about that event what I was talking about.

So, really, keeping secrets can harm you. I mean, I don’t encourage to share everything to everybody, but sometimes it really can help.

 

  • Many times I see that people who are struggling with something, they are afraid that: “Oh it’s surely not normal. I’m crazy.” And you cannot imagine that basically everything is ok. Everything is normal. So we experience so events when feel troubled, confused, we can feel many different way, and it’s all normal.

Just not so long ago I was talking with someone, to whom I said: “yes of course, anniversaries are really hard. It’s everybody, who went through some trauma, the time of the year when the trauma happened triggers lots of stress and…, and depression, anxiety, however you react, but some trouble.

 

  • Ventilation of negative feelings I think, especially … important for women, as far as I see. What I see most of the time men likes to find solution as quick as possible, but for women talking about what’s happened, processing, the process itself helps to get rid of the stress.
    Clarifying expectations, needs, uhm… what else, values, basic self-awareness is a really important part of every cognitive therapy.

 

  • And here come the insight which is my favorite. This is the very focus of my work, to have so… have the clients to see things in the light what they haven’t seen before.

 

The best analogy what I find is how they call: insight learning. At the time when in America and in Russia … in the middle of the last century everybody was dealing with stimuli- response type of learning Koehler in Germany made an experiment with chimpanzees. The experiment was that in a room they hung up bananas from the ceiling which the chimpanzees could not reach, but he put different size and different boxes all around the room. And what’s happened: They let the chimpanzees in, and after the chimpanzees were looking here and there and around, after a short while they put together boxes, climbed up, reach the banana and get it.

 

Nobody believed that at time that this is possible, – of course now we know that we are and chimps are way more capable of doing many more things. But this is this kind of insight or similar kind of insight what I love to work in psychotherapy. When you have different memories, different thoughts, different feelings, different evaluations in different spaces of your psyche, in different time of your timeline, and we can put it together see it in a different picture. See something in a new perspective and having more capability to solve anything what causes problem.

 

We can use all of the others what you can …. here. Jeff just showed me I have to wrap this up…

 

There are many, many, many others what helps. But all together with a selection of art, what time what is the best to chose from: Now relaxation, now I use a little bit of cognitive, now we try to get some insight. I think it is the best way how we can tackle the psyche and really help people to find rational solution for their emotional problem.

 

Thank you very much for your interest and for your attention.
Thank you!

 

Unreasonable Expectations

Unreasonable ExpectationsPushing more assignment into a limited time frame then it is possible to achieve put us under enormous pressure. Whenever someone demands us to accomplish his or her Unreasonable Expectations he/she does not consider neither our rights, interest and/or feelings – nor the reality.

 If no one else does, you need to protect yourself from its devastating consequences.

 

When I was about 16, I was living in a conservatory in a small town in Hungary. During this time, it first hit me: My teachers expected me to spend about 35-38 hours a week in school, practice the flute about 3 hours a day, mandatory piano an hour a day, solfeggio for half an hour, music theory for another half, accord recognition and practice, and complete my homework in the regular high school curriculum. On top of all this, I was commuting about 2.5 hours per day.
 

As I compiled the hours, I concluded that I didn’t do anything but constant work without any breaks. I had 2-3 hours of sleep only to begin the same routine at 6:45 when I boarded the student bus.

It did not take long to realize this is unreasonable, even surreal. I was not able to do too much to resist it; at least I knew it is not my fault if I cannot fulfill these expectations.
 

I did everything I could, and comforted myself with the Beatles song: “It’s been a hard day’s night, I’ve been working like a dog…”
 

I managed to survive the music school. Surprise, surprise! However, with all of this training, I have not become a musician, but switched to psychology. There were “Hard day’s nights” again when I undertook evening courses while working in daily jobs and conducting scientific experiments in pursuit of my Master’s Thesis.

 

At least I chose that path rather than it being imposed upon me. Even to this day, I, have scary dreams that I forgot to go to clean the post office during the night or at dawn which was my breadwinner job for 2 years.
 

At Ph D. school it hit again. I was expected to be organizing the research, conducting interviews and route description with blind people, recording, and statistically analyzing the data. In addition to this, I was expected to have at least 2 publications in prestigious magazines, show up at the necessary lectures, teach, and have 2 intermediate language exams within 3 years. Furthermore, during the week I was suppose to read about 500 pages from the new Ethology book plus be informed about the newest articles in the connecting scientific field.

 

At this time I was even madder than in high school because I expected a more rational approach from scientific researchers. I went around and asked skillful colleagues how many pages are they able to read in English. (Remember: English was the second or rather third-fourth language for all of us, reading it did not go as quick as in one’s mother tongue.) Of course the result was similar to high school. If I don’t sleep and don’t live and don’t do anything else, I might accomplish the assignments only slightly after the deadline.
 

Time after time I got into similar situations and the effect is the same on me. I’m confident it is probably the same for everybody else: STRESS. STRESS and even more STRESS.
 

My husband came home one day and informed me that he got an assignment from his boss. However, the deadline for the design was the previous day. Knowing the circumstances, I had no doubt it is a form of manipulation: “Be anxious because of the late work in compensation and put extra hours to the accomplishment without thinking any compensation.”
 

On two separate occasions, my children came home from school with lots of homework. To add insult to injury, they were unrealistically expected to show up 2-3 hours later in concert well fed, well rested and adorned in concert attire.
 

Did they give it on purpose to stress us out or manipulate children for better achievement? I don’t think so. My guess is they did not even think about that other teachers give the same amount of task to the same children. Or do I suppose they didn’t care how the families were solving those time management problems?
 

Whenever we buy in to take responsibility for accomplishing something that is not attainable under the given time frame, we put enormous stress on ourselves.
 

How can you maintain any element of sanity if our boss, teachers or supervisor pour enormous amounts of assignments onto you?
 

My approach is that that we should apply a little rational effort into analyzing the task. How much time will the subtasks take? How long will you spend in traffic? How much time do you allocate for breaks or eating or any other part of the process? Add everything together and multiply it maybe 2 or 3 times.
 

There are always unexpected obstacles in the process. On top of this you are green therefore slower at the beginning. Additionally, you are tired therefore slower to complete the task at hand. It should also be noted that we have individual differences in our speed and rhythm of work.
 

Once we had to calculate an entry exam evaluation time. We sorted out how much time it will take to opening the boxes, sorting out the questionnaires, counting the right answers, entering one questionnaire’s data in the computer, multiplied with the questionnaire’s numbers, applying the statistics and writing the evaluation…

 

If you found that the expectations exceeds the calculated time for the assignment, you can assume that you will not be ready on time.
 

How do you handle the situation depends on you and the particular problem.
 

I usually argue in the rational way going through point by point why the expectation seems to be unreasonable to me: which part takes how long and how many part tasks add up the assignment. I try to find a workable compromise where we can lower the expectation or extend the time frame, maybe share the workload.
 

If I am unsuccessful in my efforts, I try not to take the responsibility to accomplish something which does not seem possible. I do my best, and get to the point where it is possible. It does not always come easy, but I do my best not to stress about it.
 

If I could not convince my superior about my opinion, I figure out how to leave the situation sooner rather than later. This is not my best interest to live in an environment that constantly pressures me. Of course I consider every circumstance before I decide. However, if I don’t stand up for my interest, no one will.
 

I did my best convincing teachers not to put unreasonable pressure towards our children with unrealistic amount of homework in vain on the contrary of the proof of countless studies. By very few replying to my request, it only proves that they don’t care.
 

The best I can do is to equip them with stable self-confidence, knowing when it is normal, when it is challenging and when it is too much. Of course homework is not supported in my home after 8pm. 12 hours of work time has to be enough for everything important, especially in those early years.
 

On the side note: in hunter gatherer societies it is about 3-4 days a week that they need to actively work: hunt or gather. During that time they are able to provide for the family. So why are our 6-14 years old children need to work more than 6 hours a day?
 

What is really annoying for me is that Unrealistic Expectations DO NOT SERVE and do NOT EVEN CONSIDER the receiving party’s needs and interests! People who demand too much from you DO NOT CARE about what you want to do or how you feel about it. It does not concern them what you would lose if you comply.
 
If you see it through these lenses, you realize that no matter how they pressure you, your worth does not depend on whether or not you fulfill unrealistic expectations!
 

If they don’t care about you, you do not have to care about them! It’s so simple when it is all said and done.

 

PS: Since I finished this article I went a Middle School and a High School Curriculum Night. In both places they prepared us that our children will have home work assignments that add up about 3-6 hour of work in average, maybe more in case of tests. (Which is happening way too often and way to pressurizing way.)
 

In middle school they even have homework assignment from Physical Education, in addition they have to “make up” for PE classes when they are missing class because of illness or other reason.
 

Splendid. Not enough that the child is weakened by the illness and have to catch up with other classes, they have to do double physical activity the days after missed school.

How reasonable is this?

Why do we do it with our children?

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Positive Psychology – with Honesty and Modesty

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Positive Psychology Truly Can Improve Our Quality Of Life

 

I believe I am one of the few people who are the most committed to positive psychology.

I am an incurable optimist.

I love to refer the old psychologist example of the glass half full – half empty pointing out the attitude differences among people.

I pay special attention to find the positive actions of my children and make sure to provide them positive feed-back.

My firm opinion is that the best way of influencing people is by positive feed-back incorporating reinforcement as well as reward.

I convince people to give voice to their positive feelings, especially to their acknowledgment and appreciation.

My psychotherapy practice is based on the Jungian conviction that people are naturally healthy beings. If they show some symptoms, those are mostly their unconscious communication attempts messaging about something that has not been integrated to the conscious yet.

I love the fact that after many strange – sometime oversimplifying, sometimes dysfunction based branch of psychology – positive psychology stood out and spoke: we are OK. We have to focus on the positive side of human development and a satisfactory life.

 

Surprisingly, positive psychology can be misused as well. If it is, it can be as harmful as any other abuse.

 

1 – Blaming the victim

 

The basic principle of “Focus on life’s positive side and then everything will be all right!” speaks volumes but it can be turned around. If you experience difficulty, you are surely focused on the negative side so you are to blame for your misfortune. It is a terrible “Blame the victim” game which makes the life of suffering people even more miserable.
No matter how positive we are; mishaps, illnesses, mistakes or conflicts are finding us time after time. However, most of them DO NOT depend on our basic positive or negative attitude.
Blaming the victim for difficulties infuses the blamer not to feel empathy for the sufferer.

 

2 – Denying our feelings

 

We might undermine our own problem solving skills if we are not willing to accept negative aspects of our lives. Illnesses have to be cured. Mistakes have to be undone. Conflicts have to be resolved. But how can we figure out appropriate actions if we are not willing to realize there is a mistake. There is a conflict, or there is an illness. In order to find solutions, we need to face, acknowledge and accept that those negative things happened.

 

3 – Rejecting other’s feelings

 

Nagging someone who is experiencing difficulties is utterly cruel. Not enough that they are suffering from something and frequently being embarrassed by their imperfection, someone expressing further discontent with them that they are not doing well thinking about their complexes. They “should “think positively about what is bothering them. (Really?)

 

Note 1: “SHOULD “is the telltale sign of manipulation. It reveals the assumption that the manipulator or some arbitrary rules can tell you how you “should” feel or behave instead of accepting what you tell.

 

Note 2: Complexes in the Jungian psychology are not more than contradictory feelings, thoughts, and judgments. Their nature is drawing the person’s psychic energy to them in order to work on them, understanding them and untangle their contradictory attributes. IT IS NATURAL that we turn our attention to our complexes. Investing psychic energy is the way we solve them.

 

4 – Natural balance

 

Having a positive attitude towards life can help us to create and maintain happiness. On the other hand inevitably we will meet the tragic side as well: we will lose very important persons and things. We will experience failures, we might feel lost and we might suffer in many other ways. This is natural as well. We need to accept the negative side of life in order to find solutions for them.

 

Moreover: we need to accept our friend’s negative feelings in order to maintain meaningful connections.

 

There is nothing contradictory in it: we can focus on our blessings and positive feelings while we accept that sometimes life is simply not perfect.

 

Need more help?

Call me at  425.280.2643