Dave: I have to take a moment to applaud my good friend and muse, Amy Begel, who has a splendid capacity to wrap complex experiences in words. I am a […]
Parenting advice often describes ways to “manage” a child’s temper tantrums. But temper tantrums, or defiant behavior in kids contain important messages for the parents. Often, without meaning to, kids are responding to underlying tensions in the family. They react in the only way they know how: through their behavior. The message: HELP!
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.
Depression is not a straightforward problem; it typically doesn’t yield to straightforward solutions. Here Dave consults on a case of an elderly depressed woman. His seemingly crazy intervention brings surprising results. Enjoy.
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.
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.
Dave offers his reflections about what it’s like to be a psychiatrist disguised as a family therapist. Hint: The language is different, and no medications required
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.
When family dysfunction meets disease: How a therapy session transformed family patterns and helped a young woman improve her self-care.
Understanding and changing family relationship patterns can make a huge difference for kids diagnosed with ADHD.
Part of the appeal of the “chemical imbalance” metaphor is that it people don’t have to feel ‘guilty” about their depression, or problems with their kids. But it can keep both patients and therapists from getting to the all-important bottom of things.