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Standing in Love

“In this world there are only two tragedies; one is not getting what one wants, the other is getting it.” This line from Oscar Wilde reminds me of the two most common questions I hear from gay men. The first is ‘How can I find a boyfriend?’ The second, once he shows up, is all-too-often…

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Pride and Resistance 2017

Pride? Who told you that you had anything to be proud about? You were the wretched of the Earth, the lowest of the low – the despised, the misfits, the outsiders, the outcasts, the freaks, the queers, the perverts, the deviants – the ones who had no right to self-respect. You were the marginalized; the…

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Pride and Resistance 2017

Pride? Who told you that you had anything to be proud about? You were the wretched of the Earth, the lowest of the low – the despised, the misfits, the outsiders, the outcasts, the freaks, the queers, the perverts, the deviants – the ones who had no right to self-respect. You were the marginalized; the…

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Twelve Habits of Happy People

Research shows that 50 percent of a person’s happiness level is genetically determined, 10 percent is affected by life circumstances and situation, and a remaining 40 percent is determined by our own behavior. Positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky has made a career of studying the causes of happiness, and in her bestselling book, The How of…

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Vertrumpt!

Because this is a mental health column, I usually avoid political commentary, and I’ll try not to do too much now. But this week the subject is how we’re responding psychologically to Donald Trump, and here politics and mental health overlap. My personal view of Trump’s character was best summed-up by the incomparable Charles Blow,…

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Dysfunctional Family Roles 4. The Mascot

As I wrote in the first column in this series, dysfunctional families are characterized by abuse coupled with denial that any abuse is going on; by disrespect and violations of members’ boundaries; by shaming and lack of empathy; and usually by a fair amount of chaos, often due to alcoholism or drug abuse. Children in…

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Dysfunctional Family Roles 3. The Lost Child

All children in dysfunctional families suffer some degree of neglect, and are also acutely aware of how much chaos, conflict, and pain there is in the family. In their efforts to respond to these difficult situations, they very often adopt one of four stereotypical roles: the hero, the scapegoat, the lost child, and the mascot….

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Dysfunctional Family Roles 2. The Scapegoat

In the previous column, I described dysfunctional families as “characterized by abuse coupled with denial that any abuse is going on; by disrespect and violations of members’ boundaries; by shaming and lack of empathy; and usually by a fair amount of chaos, often due to alcoholism or drug abuse,” and I noted that children in…

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Dysfunctional Family Roles 1. The Hero

The phrase “dysfunctional family” may have become a cliché, but it does describe something real and all-too-common. Dysfunctional families are characterized by abuse coupled with denial that any abuse is going on; by disrespect and violations of members’ boundaries; by shaming and lack of empathy; and usually by a fair amount of chaos, often due…

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Distractions

  “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That saying, which Plato attributed to Socrates, succinctly expresses the basic value underlying psychotherapy and most other forms of personal exploration – the idea that self-knowledge is a fundamental value in human life.   All methods of self-understanding, from western psychotherapy to Eastern paths of spiritual self-inquiry,…

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