Tag Archives: Psychology

je t’aime plus qu’hier moins que demain

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”
Viktor E. Frankl

During the several years I worked as an inpatient mental health therapist, I completed somewhere around 900 mental status exams on children (5-17) admitted for severe psychiatric concerns. Entering the program for stabilization, many of them were experiencing severe symptoms of depression and had attempted suicide. During my work with these kids–when they were ultimately able to identify a “reason” to continue living–9 times out of 10, their reason was a connection with another being.

More and more I am discovering and re-discovering that people aren’t meant to be alone. The soul searches and longs for companionship and connection. Love connects us. Psychologists and researchers have proposed a number of different theories of love. Love is a basic human emotion, but understanding how and why it happens is not necessarily easy. In fact, for a long time, many people suggested that love was simply something that science couldn’t understand.

Psychologist Zick Rubin proposed that romantic love is made up of three elements: attachment, caring, and intimacy. Attachment is the need to receive care, approval, and physical contact with the other person. Caring involves valuing the other persons needs and happiness as much as your own. Intimacy refers to the sharing of thoughts, desires, and feelings with the other person.

According to psychologist Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues, there are two basic types of love: compassionate love and passionate love. Compassionate love is characterized by mutual respect, attachment, affection, and trust. Compassionate love usually develops out of feelings of mutual understanding and shared respect for one another. Passionate love is characterized by intense emotions, sexual attraction, anxiety, and affection. When these intense emotions are reciprocated, people feel elated and fulfilled. Unreciprocated love leads to feelings of despondence and despair. Hatfield suggests that passionate love is transitory, usually lasting between 6 and 30 months. Hatfield also suggests that passionate love arises when cultural expectations encourage falling in love, when the person meets your preconceived ideas of an ideal love, and when you experience heightened physiological arousal in the presence of the other person.

Ideally, passionate love then leads to compassionate love, which is far more enduring, and what long-term relationships are based on. While most people desire relationships that combine the security and stability of compassionate with the intensity of passionate love, most researchers believe that this is rare.

So what is the point? What happens when you have a broken heart? The term is used to describe those terrible feelings of unreciprocated love, damage to our ego, and ultimately disappointment. But I would suggest that it is not only humans who break our hearts, but society as well. We become disillusioned and jaded when injustice occurs, when we suffer despite our best efforts, and when there is no end to this suffering in sight.

However, I would argue that love is bigger than a broken heart. In all of its complexity, love remains capable and present, despite being bruised and battered. When I look at the ways in which a person can love and be loved, my spirits are lifted. We form attachments that include caring for others and their needs. We value other peoples needs and happiness as much as our own. We share, respect, and trust. All of these are choices that we are capable of making as human beings, time and time again. We have freedom to choose our attitude, despite our circumstances.

There is no way to describe the feeling of caring for another person, such that it enables them to identify their own reason to live.

I hope that I will always choose to love and serve others.

What meaning do you live for?

Good Men Are Needed. Period.

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The voice of a 7 year old boy.

Panning For Gold?

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If this were me, I don’t think I would be satisfied with my husband’s professional goal either…unless he was really really good at it.

A Journey Towards Cat Ladydom: II

This is real people.

So during the time my brother and I were attempting to successfully pass through Erikson’s 5th stage of psychosocial development of Identity vs. Role Confusion (facing the questions Who Am I? What Can I Be? which all late teens and early twenty-somethings ask subconsciously) there was and additional question/fear of “will I go crazy when I turn 21?” that we each had. You see, as psychology majors, one of the first things that you learn is that most psychological/psychiatric issues surface by the age of 21. It was like waiting to see if a mental time bomb was about to go off. I’m not trying to make light of the issue (as I am a therapist), but when you are an impressionable youth immersed in studies of the abnormal functions of the brain, you start to wonder about yourself.

Should I have a “late in life” transition to cat ladydom, I worry that my psychiatric admit note would be quite similar to the one above.

Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Dysfunction?

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” -Alfred Adler

I recall a story my father would tell to some boyfriends over the years. It was a story of my “cute” dysfunction as a child. Well really it was our family’s dysfunction, but I was the one who shed some light on the subject (pun intended).

Per our family history, when I was around 4 or 5 years old, my family (consisting of my parents and my older brother) went to my uncle and aunt’s house for the evening to visit and have dinner. My older brother was the type of child that regularly created mischief and noise, while I was quite the “perfect” little girl (so I’ve been told), being able to entertain myself quietly and without getting into trouble in these types of social situations. However, at some point in the evening, it was noticed that I had been in the kitchen unaccompanied for quite some time. The fact that this was noted as unusual for a child who is able to entertain themselves safely means it was probably quite a long time I was gone before they noticed.

And so my dad enters the kitchen to find me standing at the refrigerator opening and closing the door, over, and over again. Apparently I look up and state quite excitedly “Look! There’s a light in there!” At which time my dad realizes that I have grown up to believe that looking into a dark refrigerator (due to a broken bulb) is completely normal. I’d like to say that my family went and bought a new refrigerator bulb at that point, but I’m sure this story was told time and time again when my various friends and boyfriends came over during the years because they asked why we didn’t have a light in our fridge…

That being said, I walked into my parent’s house this past weekend and was immediately met with a “normal” image from my childhood.

Apparently it’s not normal to have sails spread out all over the living room either. That is, unless you’re a family full of sailors.

“I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” –Popeye the Sailor Man

Locks of Hair Everywhere

The hair is the richest ornament of women. -Martin Luther

Recently I have been battling with my hair. I’m sure this is common for most women. Things like “that awkward length,” come into play, and women inevitably cut their bangs or hair once again because they simply can’t stand the transition stage—which can last years. This I’m certain, is why most women do not have long hair. Somehow, I have managed to grow out the bangs and get back to long layered locks.

I have had long hair for the majority of my life. I was sold on growing it long after watching Blue Lagoon with Brook Shields’ amazing tresses blowing in the wind.

No one can deny the impact this (soft core) movie had on women’s desires to have long luscious hair.

My battle however, is primarily a phsycial one–as in–if I sleep with my hair down it literally wraps around my neck in the night and starts to choke me! Thus, I have become quite fond of creating a “top knot,” as my nightly “do.”

It’s when it’s so long that it becomes a hassle (or safety issue 🙂 ), that I like to take a poll from friends to decide the next steps. The girls say “yeah cut it! It’ll look cute!” and the guys say “NOOO. Do not cut it. Whatever you do.” One male friend even said he wouldn’t speak with me if I cut my hair even an inch! Extreme, but hair is an extreme issue. This gender specific divide leaves me to wonder about the biological undertones of the matter. In talking with a co-worker (also in the field of psychology) we concluded that long hair is attractive to men because biologically, it signifies fertility. Think about it. In extreme cases of health issues such as eating disorders or endocrine problems, hair is one of the first things impacted–becoming brittle, dry, and even falling out. Biologically, men are driven to “plant their seed where it will thrive,” i.e. in a healthy body. Lovely I know (we won’t get into the biology of how often men are planting seeds and in how many places). Therefore, men are likely to be more attracted to long healthy hair. The hypothesis derived at therefore, is that other women are territorial about that seed, and will work to sabotage the competition, encouraging them to be “less fertile looking.” Hmm.

With this logic, I guess I should keep my hair long? Haha ridiculous.

*Disclaimer-this is just silly ramblings and is not meant to be taken very seriously 😉

Creating Cozy

I’d like to think that making things “cozy” is one of my very special skills. It’s a little difficult to define, but can at least be broken down to a the creation or collection of colors, textures, lighting, and events that evokes a feeling of serenity, calmness, and internal warmth.

Similar to the studies of Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi (MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-mə-HY-ee) one of the world’s leading researchers on positive psychology and the effects of happiness and creativity–and the attainment of these–on the individual. In his seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csíkszentmihályi outlines his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter (Csikszentmihalyi,1990). The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.

Creating Cozy will therefore be my own theory similar to Finding Flow.

As an art therapist, I have been specifically trained to understand additional information in regards to how a person’s mind can be effected by the visual language. How color can connect to emotions. How we not only process through words and actions, but through the senses. Most certainly it can be agreed upon that looking at “beautiful things” makes us feel good. Similarly, I should like to suggest that being in a state of “coziness” can support self-soothing strategies we attempt to implement to decrease the anxieties and stress of daily living.

I have had many requests from people through the years–two today alone–to help them organize their homes/lives and make things cozy. This may seem silly to some, but not to those requesting the support! I hope to document some examples of this process along the way, and may even turn this endeavor into a small business of sorts.

Time to get our cozy on!

Reference

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-092043-2