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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Psychotherapeutic humanities - Do we own our children or lease them?

Linda McCullough Moore writes in her story, "You Choose" in her book of short stories, An Episode of Grace,

My windshield is all but whited out before it occurs to me it’s snowing. I’m getting to be so slow on the uptake. It takes a snowplow broadsiding me for snow to capture my attention. 

“Wow,” Jonah sings out from the backseat as the car in front of us attempts to brake and skids into the empty passing lane. 

“Awesome. That rules.” 

Jonah is eleven and things either “rule” or they “suck.” 

I can’t decide which word I dislike more.

McCullough Moore, Linda. An Episode of Grace . Thornapple Books. Kindle Edition.

Reading this passage, I smile. Jonah is eleven which puts him in sixth grade, the first year of middle school. The power of the peer group starts to exert itself and kids pick up the slang words of their generation. This makes them part of the in-group and fosters a sense of belonging in a group outside of the family of origin.

Slang sets its speakers a part. Slang is a sign of membership and separates the child from his/her parents and family. The narrator, Jonah's mother, doesn't say what she doesn't like about the words that Jonah is using. We can speculate that they are not the same slang words she used in her middle school years and so they seem foreign to her and therefore objectionable.

Jonah's use of his generation's slang is an apron string being cut, a pulling away from a mother-son bond and attachment and could it be that mother feels somewhat jealous, competitive, left out, and sad?

It is hard for some parents to watch their children grow up and leave them which ultimately they must if they are to develop a healthy self sufficiency and autonomy. As one person put it, Our children are not our possessions. We don't own them. They have only been leased to us temporarily by God.

This is a second article on "You Choose" by Linda McCullough Moore.

To be continued

Book - The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband

Wondering how to handle a marital relationship when one of the partners has Asperger Syndrome?


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Psychotherapeutic humanities - When to tell the children about the impending divorce?

Linda McCullough Moore's book of short stories, An Episode Of Grace, begins with the story entitled, "You choose," which begins with this paragraph:

"I’m driving on Route 91, going ten miles over the limit, on the way to my divorce, or, at least, to its announcement. My husband Jake and I decided we would tell the kids tonight. We’ve waited way too long. Our marriage died of natural causes years ago. We are planning that our children will be shocked beyond surprise, but we both know better. Any hesitation that we have about telling them isn’t fear of their surprise; it’s knowing that once we say the words, out loud, to them, it will be official, carved in stone, irreversible. But, of course, that’s what we want."

The childrens' names are Jonah who is 11 and Adam who is 6.

Of all the questions I get asked as a couple counselor and a family therapist by people going through a divorce are when and how to tell the kids?

My stock answer is "Don't tell them anything until you know specifically what the plan is unless they ask."

Kids being narcissistic in a healthy way first ask when told their parents are separating is "What's going to happen to me?" Parents need to have the answer to provide the child with whatever sense of security and predictability they are able.

The narrator in this story has her plan in place and has coordinated the telling the children with her husband and is on her way. But as she travels to the meeting with the children she gets stuck in a snow storm and as the various events unfold her ambivalence was divorcing her husband grows in poignant ways.

The ambivalence partners usually feel about a break-up with the concomitant anger, sadness, fear, hope, sense of failure and regret, are things the therapist witnesses and, hopefully, clarifies with the client(s) into some sort of coherent story that makes sense to themselves primarily and then to others affected.

The key question, often overlooked, in the emotional turmoil is, "What is the purpose of this relationship?" The genuine answers to this question usually lie at an unconscious level that the individual is not aware of and doesn't understand.

The understandings of one's motivations, choices, and responsibilities are key to growth towards greater maturity so that the individual does not jump from the proverbial frying pan into the fire and engage in what Dr. Freud called the "repetition compulsion" to merely re-enact the same scenario over again.

The narrator of the story recognizes that telling the children about the impending divorce is a milestone in the process which she determines as a point of no return. It is an action which will make the rupture permanent and complete. The finality and the closure seems to heighten her apprehension about the decision to divorce rather than mollify it and liberate her.

You choose is a great story and much can be learned as we puruse our study of the psychotherapeutic humanities.

This is the first article on "You Choose" by Linda McCullough Moore.

To be continued


How media spreads false information.



Editor's note:

False information is toxic in the societal consciousness. False information distorts community norms and atittudes contributing to societal dysfunction. The computer meme is "garbage in, garbage out."

Just as we are aware of the idea of "caveat emptor", let the buyer beware, in our economic interactions, we should be aware of media distortions and strive to be "media literate" so we can develop immunity to toxic misinformation.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Self regulation lessons with Cookie Monster

Holding anti-immigration extremists accountable in Arivaca, Arizona


There is increasing evidence that Trumpism, hating the other, has brought out the worst in American democracy.

There is growing evidence that hate speech and hate crimes are on the rise.

Local citizens, however,  have organized and resisted and held white supremicists and vigilante groups accountable.

One such example is Arivaca, Arizona. You can read about it in the May/June, 2019 issue of Mother Jones in an article entitled, "Not In My Backyard: How One Arizona Desert Town United To Fight Off Anti-Immigration Extremists" by Eric Reidy.

For more click here.

Editor's comment - Many of my clients are demoralized and depressed by the immoral and unethical behavior of their leaders and fellow citizens. It is not mentally healthy to see oneself as a victim.

There are many things that individuals, small groups, and communities can do to resist the immoral and unethical policies and behavior of Trumpism which is defined as the scapegoating of the other.

When bullying and scapegoating is occuring it is very important for the audience, whom the bullies are playing to, to call it out and refuse to support it.

Megan Davern, a bartender at La Gitana in Arivaca, Arizona did just that. Her witness is prophetic and should be emulated to create a world with more justice, equity, and compassion. Every person has inherent worth and dignity and deserves respect. Megan is a brave and courageous woman as are her fellow citizens who took action to limit the activities of the anti-immigrant vigilantes.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

How the media spreads false information



Editor's note:

False information is toxic in the societal consciousness. False information distorts community norms and atittudes contributing to societal dysfunction. The computer meme is "garbage in, garbage out."

Just as we are aware of the idea of "caveat emptor", let the buyer beware, in our economic interactions, we should be aware of media distortions and strive to be "media literate" so we can develop immunity to toxic misinformation.