Tensions in marriage are normal, and unavoidable. They’re part of the price of intimacy. Problems only occur when these underlying tensions are ongoing, and not acknowledged. They are semi-buried. Children are geniuses at feeling these latent tensions; they often help magnify what hasn’t been addressed. In fact, in their own way, they may be trying to help.
In contemporary culture, as portrayed in commercials for pharmaceuticals, family members are portrayed as bystanders to suffering, having to “manage” the symptoms of their bi-polar loved one, or “suffer” the effects of the depressed person’s symptoms or behavior. But families, couples, all of us, can unwittingly get stuck in patterns, sometimes destructive patterns, of which we are unaware. Those patterns can cause distress in ourselves and others, which can show up as a “symptom” in one person. This is rarely intentional, more a product of the tricky, powerful and subtle nature of relationship dynamics.
Eating disorders are no exceptions. Most of the clinical writing and popular assumptions about anorexia and other eating disorders note that these conditions are characterized by the need for individual “control”. There’s truth to this. But if you expand the lens to include the family, you learn a lot about what this “control” can look like.
The psychological defense mechanism of projection can distort a parent’s judgement about their kids, or it can create a wedge between a couple, since projection interferes with the ability to see one’s partner as she truly is. The (unconscious) grip from the past gets in the way. Here’s a therapy session that looks at how this projection process played out in one family, and how it was–for the moment-transformed.
We all know about Family Group Psychosis. We just never had a name for it. Check out Dave Keith’s description of that heightened state of (often disguised) insanity that occurs around important holidays–like Christmas–and significant events, like weddings. Here he tells us about a madcap clinical case where Family Group Psychosis led to a woman’s surprising transformation.
This is some advice from Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of Business. In today’s New York Times, Grant writes about how allowing for healthy […]
This is a Two-Part Post: Dave: This illustration gives a picture of how the use of a psychiatric diagnosis and treatment with medication can affect a family’s living over a […]
In this post, Dave shares his clinical story about a young woman with severe depression and her recovery, without the use of medications. It again reminds us about the power of relationship, and the power of creative caring.
These days kids are reflexively and routinely given stimulants like Ritalin if they are designated as having ADHD. Dave Keith offers an alternative perspective: He works with the family relationship patterns in order to treat the child. The side effects are good.
Good physicians take a clinical history in the interest of arriving at a diagnosis. While the clinical history is a review of ‘facts’, there are in fact, few ‘facts’ about human experience. Different examiners will get different histories depending upon what they ask about. Different family members give different reports of the same set of events. In my view clinical histories are a form of fiction pretending to be ‘objective’.
It’s common for people to carry childhood wounds from their parents into adulthood. Sometimes they seek individual therapy for these painful issues. See what happens when the parent becomes part of the therapy.
Difficult Husbands seem to come in two brands: The Overly-Cautious Guy and the Know-It-All. These guys often look good on the surface, but they can spell trouble in a relationship. Here are some thoughts on what makes these guys tick, and how they inadvertently stand in the way of real intimacy.
Teenage “cutting”: Teenagers are often seen in individual therapy for the self-mutilating behavior called “cutting.” Here’s a family therapy approach that stopped the cutting by revealing what was behind her apparent self-destructive behavior.
The modern Child Psychiatry perspective is limited to focusing on the child, without including the family culture in which that child lives. This narrow understanding contributes to the child’s isolation. That little person is usually worried about, and trying to help, the parents. No matter how it appears.
To be a parent is to know worry. There’s no escaping it, and there’s really no cure for it. As my blogging buddy David Keith says, “If you can’t stand guilt don’t become a parent.”
Kids instinctively “worry”, that is, feel responsible for their families. Don’t forget that. Children worry about their families. They are trying to help the parents become not only better parents but better people. But their therapeutic methods get diagnosed as mental illness.
For Amy and Dave, common psychiatric “disorders” are part of relational patterns, usually embedded in the dynamics of the family. You just have to know how to look.