When Media Lies Hurt: The Destructive Impact of Sloppy Journalism on Real People

(Originally published in USA Today Magazine, July 2016. A few updates were made for reposting to this blog)

It’s safe to say that most people have long since given up on the idea of unquestioning trust for the media. Walter Cronkite died in 2009. Despite vague mistrust, people are vulnerable to the effect that repeatedly hearing things has. Hearing something over and over engrains it in our brains, even if it’s not true. The repeated lie tends to rise to the top when a related topic comes up. This is one reason so many people believe that, for example, violent crime is up all over the country (it’s not) or that we know for sure exactly what schizophrenia is, or what it’s caused by (we don’t).

As a psychotherapist, I see the pain that sloppy journalism creates for real people on a regular basis. I don’t mean transient worry; I mean the possibility of a lifetime of unnecessary anguish inflicted upon people who believe that the information hurled at them by media must be based in truth.

Three examples will suffice to illustrate; you can no doubt generate plenty of examples of your own.

Media Misrepresentation: People considering suicide always give clues about their intention, and thus friends and family have an opportunity to see it coming and intervene.

According to A. Dadoly in the Harvard Health Newsletter (2011), professional estimates are that 30-80% of suicides are impulsive acts, with little or no planning beyond the immediacy of the moment. That means family members could usually not have read the signs, and could not possibly have intervened. Yet, most people believe, because they’ve been told repeatedly, that warning signs are just about always there and thus are tormented with guilt and self-reproach for failing to see something that was, tragically, probably not there.

Media Misrepresentation: Depression is a medical illness that is a lifelong condition. You’ll be on medication forever because there is something wrong with your brain.

The truth is, depression, or “major depressive disorder,” as it is currently labeled, is a construct. It is diagnosed off a checklist of symptoms. Meet enough of the symptoms for a two-week period of time and, bingo, you can be diagnosed, whether that sadness, poor sleep, lack of energy, poor concentration, etc., is due to grief because someone you love has died, or to some other life circumstance…or, perhaps, something medical. Some research indicates that most cases of depression will improve within 7 weeks whether you do anything to treat it or not. Plenty of evidence shows that lifestyle changes such as proper sleep, diet and exercise, plus social supports and a bit of emotional support via therapy, will create improvement in less time and leave you more resilient the next time life throws you a challenge (which, of course, it will). You can find a wealth of scientific research as well as specific steps to apply that research to real life in Stephen Ilardi, MD, Ph.D.’s wonderful 2009 book, The Depression Cure. There’s plenty of other research out there, of course, but for busy readers, Dr. Ilardi has done a masterful job of tying together many researchers’ work and working out a useful process.

Yet millions of people have been sold the lie that their symptoms are evidence of a brain disorder that requires lifelong medication. The medications change the brain, cause all sorts of unpleasant side effects, such as weight gain, loss of sexual interest and/or function, and general apathy towards others, and often cause terrible withdrawal symptoms. They also carry a risk for impulsive acts of self-harm, including suicide, and violence against others. Almost every adolescent and young adult mass killer in the US in the past couple of decades, with the exception of avowed Islamist terrorists, has been on one or more psychiatric drugs, including many antidepressants.

Do these medications help some people? Apparently so, according to them and their doctors. That does not, however, prove that everyone who is sad for more than two weeks has an incurable but manageable brain disease and is “mentally ill.”

Media Misrepresentation: Your gay son or daughter is going to burn in hell just because he/she is LGBT.

This lie is a criticism of many religions, and recently has been part of the background of a television show called “The Real O’Neals.” One part of the plot involves a gay young man whose supposedly Catholic mother is consumed with despair because “her religion teaches her that her son is going to burn in hell because he is gay.” That’s a paraphrase from interviews I’ve read with a star of the show. I have seen many families suffer under this belief. Parents are alienated from their children; children believe that their parents are condemning them; parents and children alike reject their faith. I will address this from my Catholic perspective; you can do the homework on your faith.

The Catholic Church has an international apostolate (a fancy term for an approved special ministry) called Courage, focused entirely on providing spiritual, emotional and social support for LGBT Catholics. Its intention is not to “make them straight,” but to help them live Catholic lives with the orientation they experience. The official Catechism of the Catholic Church isn’t exactly politically correct: like the psychiatrists of just one generation ago, it considers homosexual behavior disordered – but you could say Catholicism (and all orthodox Christianity) says about the same about any sexual activity outside of marriage.

However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church also says: (paragraph 2358):

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible…They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter… (that “uniting to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross, is of course, what all Catholics do when, faced with challenges, we talk about “offering it up” – this is not a unique imposition upon GLBT persons).

Paragraph 2359 ends with, “They can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” Hmmm. No ineluctable path to hell and damnation there.

One can, however, imagine the pain of a parent who imagines their child is immediately rejected by God. One wishes they were bold enough to seek right guidance.

Our Responsibility

It’s easy, of course, to blame the media. Journalists go to college and seem to take pride in getting the “real story,” or whatever they imagine they’re doing. So why don’t they do their homework? Why present the easy, available tale? Psychologically, they appear to indulge in confirmation bias: the tendency to seek out and focus on things that verify what they already “know.” We consumers of media need to check the facts.

Bad information creates pain and suffering. Don’t assume what you read is the whole truth. Do your research, and turn to people who might have access to information you don’t have. Someone’s peace of mind may be at stake.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Internet Gaming Disorder? Is that a thing?

Yes, it’s a thing.

Are you (or someone you love) hooked on internet gaming?

An excellent recent article on parenting in Real Simple, “Parenting Against the Internet,” cited a statistic that the average adolescent male spends 20 hours a week playing internet games, and the average adolescent female spends 10 hours a week.

The internet can be great: I can look up all sorts of research, read the news, check the weather, contact family and friends around the world, find obscure used books in a mom-and-pop used book store somewhere across the country…

But for some people, the something good turns into a real problem. The American Psychiatric Association, in its 2013 update on diagnoses, the DSM-5, named Internet Gaming Disorder as a “condition for further study,” rather than an official diagnosis with its own billing code. Tune in within a few years; no doubt, that will change.

Twenty hours a week is a lot of time to spend doing something that teaches little, if any, useful knowledge; isolates a person from contact with real people and real life; is sedentary; and creates a world that is not real but full of very real gratification in terms of the brain’s dopamine system. That’s the average; that means for some people, there’s little or none and for some, it’s the equivalent of a full-time job, absorbing time, energy and mental space that could be dedicated to learning real-life skills, creativity, and other parts of life. Please don’t bother emailing me with examples of games where prosocial behavior is rewarded or you have to know useful stuff to be successful; I know. I also know that at some point it’s unhealthy to live in an artificial land of make-believe, instead of taking that pro-social behavior and useful knowledge and using it to make the world, and yourself, better.

What are the warning signs of this disorder that warrants further expert study? Persistent preoccupation; withdrawal symptoms such as irritability when the games are taken away; tolerance (more time playing games as time goes by); unsuccessful attempts to control the amount of time playing (for example, promising to cut back now that school has begun and sliding right back into excess); losing interest in other activities; continued excessive use of games in spite of problems in relationships, job, school, etc.; lying about how much time is spent playing; using games to deal with other problems (the game is a drug to feel better at this point); jeopardizing or already lost significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunities because of involvement in playing internet games (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Note that these are games – gambling on the internet is already an official diagnosis when carried too far.

Most people can easily see the degree to which these signs are awfully similar to what we would use to assess a problem with alcohol or drugs: preoccupied with drinking? Cranky or shaky when they can’t get their “fix?” Unable to cut back; getting behind in life in all sorts of areas; lying about how much is used…so why are parents apparently turning a blind eye to how much time their kids spend in this world?

Some theories:

  1. Some parents are as active in gaming as their children and have convinced themselves that those excessive hours are better than other things their child might do. Well, yeah; I suppose you could also argue that it’s better for your child to get drunk than to inject heroin, but that doesn’t make getting drunk a desirable behavior.
  2. Some parents are unaware. They do not realize what their kids are doing in their rooms, on their phones, half the night, or when they’re supposedly doing homework, or when they are in a college classroom, not paying attention.
  3. Some parents think it will be outgrown…although the social skills deficits these young addicts have will often interfere with their ability to successfully navigate college, trade schools and work.

Of course, it’s not just teens. There are adults who sometimes work full time, or part-time, and spent 30+ hours gaming each week. They tend to have marital problems, job problems, or both. Perhaps they have neither a relationship nor a job, but do have angry parents who want very much to be empty-nesters, any decade now.

Don’t think this applies to your child, or to you? Try cutting it off for a week. A week’s not that long. No exceptions. Notice what happens. If you’re afraid to even bring it up because you “don’t want to deal with it,” you have just told yourself something very powerful, and somewhat frightening, about your confidence as a parent and your child’s relationship with gaming.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

 

Never put off until tomorrow…

The American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy now estimates that the average couple seeking therapy has been having problems for over 5 years when they finally make the call. If you’re a math person, that’s 5.5 x 365 days of practicing being hurt, resentful, bitter, etc. Rehearsing that much will make you pretty good at just about anything…which you might remember a parent telling you, repeatedly, about the music lessons you didn’t want. Your brain is changing, becoming better at remembering the bad times, the hurt feelings, the resentments: you become more efficient at bringing up anger and contempt. Meanwhile, the old, tender pathways are less traveled and harder to find.

Some problems are transient, but others are a pattern. It’s not the details, usually, so much as the pattern. If disagreements always seem to take the same, predictable, awful path from sarcasm to shouting to the silent treatment, something needs fixing.

Would you keep driving your car with the engine light on and smoke rolling out from under the hood for five minutes, much less five years?

The brain changes in response to experience. Experience isn’t just what happens to us. It’s also what we’re doing in our own heads (thinking angry vs. kind thoughts, for example). This means that, whether it’s a personal problem like social anxiety, depression or stress, or a relationship problem, we have some control over changing the direction our brain takes, developmentally.

Whatever the problem may be, it’s better to seek effective help early, before it gets out of hand.

 

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Surprise! Today is mostly the same as yesterday…

Surprise! For most of us, today is mostly the same as yesterday!

Huh?

Well, maybe I am letting a pinch of my grew-up-in-Jersey show, with an unhealthy indulgence in sarcasm…but I have a point.

Why are so many people surprised when every day, so much is the same?

Why do some sources tell us the “average American woman” tries on four or five outfits before leaving for work? Is it really possible this hypothetical average woman is perpetually surprised by the obligation to wear something besides yoga pants and a slept-in t-shirt? Imagine: “D’oh! Get dressed again???? What the…?” It’s much more likely that what-to-wear becomes, under pressure, an emotional decision (what do I feel like wearing) instead of a practical one. The cool, calm decision on Sunday (what makes sense based on the demands of each day of the week) turns into a workday morning emotion-fest for people who get caught up in “I feel fat” or “I look terrible.”

It’s not just about prepping for the non-surprising workday.

Why is anyone over the age of twelve stymied by the multiplication of dishes in the sink, the need to do laundry, or the fact that garbage cans get full? Worse yet, why are so many couples arguing, night after night, about “what to do about dinner,” as if the need to eat sometime between finishing lunch and going to bed caught them unawares?

I try not to be surprised by the every-day. Maybe I am flattering myself by mincing words here: I am dismayed that Darcy the twelve-year-old cat has once again thrown up in the middle of a wood floor. I am, regrettably, not surprised.

The school year is beginning here in West-Central Florida, and so families all over are waking up to unpleasant (non)surprises: pack lunches? Matching socks? Complying with uniform rules? What??? I am right there with you, folks, amazed that it is once again time to get into the autumn routine.

For me, that includes packing a week’s worth of lunches and ironing a week’s worth of clothes on the weekend. Crazy, right? Until you imagine it taking two minutes to get dressed for work and a few seconds to grab a lunch out of the fridge, instead of trying to figure out what to wear, heat up the iron or touch up shoes, wash fruit and veggies, etc., while the work day morning clock’s ticking. I have it figured out: less than 30 minutes total for all clothes- and lunch-prep on Sunday or cope with 15 minutes or more five times a week. I am saving myself, at minimum, 45 minutes

Emotions are what get in the way for families bickering about “what to do about dinner,” or “how are we going to get the laundry/kitchen/pet duties done.” People are tired, they are hungry, they are stressed out from the day. Tired, hungry, stressed people are not as good at negotiating and decision-making, whether at home or work. Instead of wishing you could come home, magically downshift to a Zen-like mindful state and engage in creative cookery and Pinterest-worthy home maintenance, why not just plan to deal with reality?

The reality is, you will be tired, you will be stressed, and you will wish you had something easy, tasty and nutritious. You will not want to spend a half-week’s worth of grocery money on takeout because the dinner hour caught you by surprise.

The 1990s bestsellers by Elaine St. James (Simplify Your Life, Living the Simple Life, etc.) included very down-to-earth, helpful tips: have a weekly menu that rarely varies. It keeps life simple. That doesn’t mean you can’t have wonderful, complicated meals, but it does mean that you can also plan for: Ugh, it’s been a 14-hour day door-to-door and that homemade soup from the freezer/half a lasagna/whatever ready to go and bag of salad are going to taste really, really good…in about five minutes, instead of spending a half-hour bickering, grumbling, and absent-mindedly eating a half-bag of chips while you try to figure out what to do.

Slices of the culture are having a virtual love affair with simplifying, decluttering, etc. How about decluttering and simplifying the routines of life, the predictable little tasks that are the same each day, so you have more time and mental energy for the things you’d rather do?

 

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Reports, Commands and Rules

Many years ago, on the first day of class in the graduate-level course on Abnormal Psychology, our instructor held up the then-current version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and said,

“Always remember…you never know what flick is playing in someone else’s head.”

Words of wisdom: much goes awry because we forget that simple fact.

Honestly, don’t you ever wonder if some people are actually going out of their way to deliberately misinterpret what is said?

Have you never sat in slack-jawed wonder at the psychological gymnastics required to wrest a particular interpretation from something that meant nothing of the kind, as you witnessed someone gallop away, flush with a gross (and possibly deliberate) misunderstanding?

Sometimes, there may be bad intentions, or at least the intention, all along, to make some point, whether or not it makes any sense in context. We see this often in every level of politics. Commentator Smith had a well-rehearsed point to be made during the allotted few minutes on-air and by golly, Smith is going to find a way to interject it even if it makes no sense in context. Smith hopes that the point thus calculatingly made is so clever, so memorable, that it will be the “take-away” point for most listeners, even though, within the transcript, it seems arbitrary at best.

Among the well-intentioned, the problem may sometimes be a lack of clarity…more often, I think, it is a lack of clarification.

In family therapy and family systems theory, we refer to a metacommunication concept called “Report and Command.” The “report” is what someone actually says. The “command” is the meaning of that statement to them. It is the hidden expectation. In a final exam question for a family therapy course, I give the following example:

Matthew states, “Susan never makes my favorite meal anymore.” From a metacommunication perspective, “Susan never makes my favorite meal anymore,” is the report. The command portion might be:

  1. “I feel hurt because she doesn’t care to do this for me anymore.”
  2. “…And she should make my favorite meal.”
  3. “because she knows I’m supposed to watch my cholesterol.”
  4. There is no command in this communication

Students are expected to pick an answer and defend it briefly. There are multiple “right” answers. It is telling that, given the statement, “Susan never makes my favorite meal anymore,” more than half the students regularly assume that the command – the hidden meaning – is b, “And she should…” rather than the plaintive option, a, or even the matter-of-fact and somewhat complimentary c. The choice of b, of going negative, tells them, and me, a lot about how they make assumptions about what people might mean, and points out the risk of assuming rather than clarifying the deeper meaning of even seemingly mundane remarks. Here, then, if Matthew is passively expressing hurt at his wife’s apparent disinterest in nurturing him, and Susan instead “hears” a chauvinistic, boorish demand that she slave over a hot stove, well, I may have an appointment open, week from Tuesday, at 6 PM.

Another recent example: a friend observed a parent telling a child engrossed in a video game that the child’s sporting event was to begin in 10 minutes. To only the parent’s surprise, this barely nudged a response from the child. The parent actually said, “Hey, your race starts in 10 minutes.” The parent believes he communicated, “Hey, dude, we gotta get going NOW so you can be in position for the race in less than 10 minutes.” Dad made a vague observation about time that meant nothing to a child and the child took it literally: Dad is updating me on the passage of time. I leave to your imagination the subsequent exercise in frustration for Daddy and his swimmer.

Some people claim they don’t have a lot of expectations. Nonsense. Of course they do. They expect the lights to go on when they flip a switch, though for the most part they know not how it happens. They expect politicians to magically create more jobs and higher wages. They expect their spouse to read their mind when they make that little throat-clearing noise and bulge their eyeballs at dinner with extended family or friends. They expect their loved ones to know what they might want for their birthday. We all have lots of other day-to-day subtle expectations, without which we couldn’t get through the business of living. There really isn’t time in a day to treat every iota of experience as a new and undiscovered country. Some things have to be on autopilot (which implies expectations, however buried they may be).

If you are happily married, you expect your spouse to come home; you expect compassion; you expect at least well-feigned interest in much of what you say. You probably have a reasonable expectation that certain tasks will be done and that you will be warned before in-laws or ne’er-do-well friends, down on their luck, take up residence on the couch. If, to your surprise, perpetually unreliable Cousin Pete has been invited for an extended and slovenly stay, you might reasonably say to your spouse, through gritted teeth in a whisper in the kitchen, “I had no idea your Cousin Peter was coming to visit,” (report) with the unsaid (command), “…and I am perfectly right to expect that you would have asked before letting him set foot in our house.” “But honey,” your spouse might say, “Pete’s family.”

Ah, the family card. Now we move from Reports and Commands to Rules.

Everyone has rules. Some rules are overt: my husband has asserted that I am not permitted to give up chocolate for Lent. This is one of a few rules in our house. Have I mentioned his strong survival instinct?

Most rules are not even verbalized; they are taken for granted, as if a law of nature. In the example of your spouse’s unwelcome cousin Pete, “family are allowed to be here without either of us consulting the other,” is apparently the inviter’s rule. You might be thinking, “Yeah, well, maybe a nice family member but not stinky, rude, mooching Cousin Pete,” or, “for dinner, maybe, but to sleep on my couch for some indefinite period of time, no!,” but, you see, that is an entirely different rule.

A lot of clashes arise because people have not clarified their expectations and their rules, both to themselves and to others; and because they speak in terms that they believe are perfectly clear when actually they are not clear at all. Next time you find yourself in a gross misunderstanding with someone you love, perhaps it would be worth revisiting whether you actually communicated what you thought in the privacy of your head…and to ask more questions about what someone means before you assume that what you heard is what they intended you to understand.

 

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

 

Wrestling with OCD

If you have suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), or know someone who has, you are probably familiar with those distressing, intrusive thoughts that create so much anxiety. Traditional psychoanalysis used to focus on the content of those thoughts and seek to uncover the deep, buried wounds and wishes that led to these strange, seemingly alien notions. Thus the woman who was obsessed with the fear that her child would get hurt walking to school might be analyzed and advised that she seems to have a deep resentment against the child and all the responsibilities of motherhood and the worry is really an expression of an unconscious wish to be rid of the child. Talk about a guilt trip…!

Modern research and practice in treating OCD tends more towards the notion that everyone’s brain generates random and sometimes pretty crazy-sounding thoughts. Thus, the treatment is much less about wrestling with the particular content of the OCD thoughts and more about learning to compassionately notice that thought happening among all the other thoughts firing off like popcorn in the typical brain, use strategies to calm down the anxious physical reaction to the thought and refocus, gently and purposefully, on what one would rather think about at that moment in time. It stops becoming “Don’t think about X,” (try that: right now, I forbid you to think about pizza. Ha – how long did it take to imagine a pizza?). Instead, it becomes, “Yup, there’s that thought about X…and now I will take a deep breath and refocus on what I was doing/what’s going on right here and now.”

This is what mindfulness, stress management and cognitive-behavioral therapy can do, together, to help with OCD. The brain changes in response to choosing these behaviors, and the degree of physical distress decreases throughout the whole body.

If you are suffering with OCD, this kind of very well-researched approach may be what you need. Please contact a professional in your area if you think this might be helpful for you.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

Cut Them Some Slack

Doing unto others as we would have done for ourselves…well, there is one thing that most people tend to do for themselves that they are often slow, reluctant and resistant to do for others: cut them some slack. Consider the historical narrative on this:

Jesus of Nazareth: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye but not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” (Luke, 6:41, NAB)

Soren Kierkegaard: “Most people are subjective towards themselves and objective towards others, frightfully objective sometimes – but the task is precisely to be objective towards oneself and subjective towards all others.” (Works of Love)

CS Lewis: “…It is no good passing this over with some vague, general admission such as, ‘of course, I know I have my faults.’ It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives the others just that same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is almost certainly something you don’t know about…” (Essay: The Trouble with “X”, from God in the Dock)

Psychologically, of course, it makes sense: we, after all, know what we intend to do/say; we have deep awareness of all the people and events that obstruct our good intentions. Meanwhile, we have no clue – or concertedly avoid taking notice of clues we trip over – about whatever obstacles and heartaches might underlie others’ disappointing and often frustrating behaviors. We cannot know what it is like to have the particular limitations that someone else has –anymore than they can understand the particular limitations we tote around with us.

Sometimes someone will say to me in the context of therapy how badly they feel that they are struggling with some particular issue – anxiety, or depression, for example – when (from their perspective) other people all seem to be going around, carefree and without this sort of anguish. In a country in which 20% of women and 10% of men are prescribed antidepressant medications each year, and who knows how many various prescriptions for anxiety, it hardly seems fair, to oneself or others, to assume that everyone is skipping along as carefree as they often very deliberately attempt to appear. Then there are physical pains and illnesses; the sufferings of loved ones; the anxiety for a loved one in a danger zone; grief; loneliness. These are so often invisible except for the side effects of passing crankiness or thoughtlessness or scatterbrained-ness that annoy other people who are, to quote Kierkegaard, being “objective” about others.

For the person who is suffering and, unable to see evidence of suffering in others, believes s/he is alone, it is disheartening. To be so alone in suffering…! But no one is alone in their suffering.

Not all the objective/subjective dichotomy concerns suffering. Sometimes it is about unseen limitations or differences. No doubt you have something you are not naturally good at doing. Perhaps it’s spelling, or “being handy,” or math. If you are a grownup who is doing well in life, you may have turned this into a kind of joke, or perhaps you use this as exhibit A, the evidence that you know you’re not perfect: “Oh, I know I’m far from perfect…you should see the disaster my checkbook is,” but in fact you have a certain secret pride that you do not have to bother with this, or that your flaw is so small and even borders on not being a real defect at all…and, after all, at least you are not “stupid/lazy/arrogant/whatever you perceive in someone else.” Yet unless you are in that experience, you cannot understand the frustration of someone with a brain injury who on the one hand knows that a certain skill set used to come naturally but is now a fuzzy memory and source of perpetual struggle. You cannot know what it is really like for someone with an IQ thirty points below yours to struggle through a complex and fast-paced world, when their processing speeds are so much slower, and you likewise cannot know what it might be like for someone with an IQ thirty points higher than yours to bear patiently with you.

Part of good psychotherapy, like good spiritual growth, is becoming aware of one’s flaws – not for the purpose of self-recrimination and useless shame, but as opportunities for growth of oneself as well as a growth in compassion for other people. The process, once begun, is the work of a lifetime.

 

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.