Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spirituality, Mental Health and Desperate Housewives?

I didn't see it coming, honest. All set to write about spirituality and mental health, my show comes back on the air. And it's about spirituality, and maybe mental health.

We really took a hit with that writer's strike. Three months of no Desperate. No Boston Legal. Let's not let this happen again. Please.

Warning: Although I only reveal one subplot, the following post might be a spoiler if you haven't seen the April 13, 2008 episode of Desperate Housewives.

As soon as I saw the listing in TV guide this morning I emailed all my kids between patients to tell them Desperate would be on tonight. I inserted this announcement in a thread FD started about all the topics we can't talk about at the Passover seder. Only Empath Daught cared in the least bit about my show.

"We'll talk tomorrow!" she said.

Indeed.

Did I tell you that I shlepped the exercycle up from the basement so that I could watch cable and fake a little cardiovascular at the same time? It's a compact little thing that my significant other lifted from someone's basement for fifty dollars, but it weighs a ton. He couldn't believe I got it upstairs myself, having sworn off furniture years ago.

This is what happens when that ant gets going at the rubber tree plant.

Anyway, a few years ago I had a patient who experienced an Aha spirituality moment. Spirituality is a big thing in mental health. I think I wrote in a previous post that the HMO's ask therapists to check off ten or so "specialties" for referrals and that spirituality is on a list of about thirty "areas of interest."

At the time I saw way too many patients for my own health and didn't turn down many HMO panels. This is probably the default reason therapists get cranky, too many patients, too much stress. And to merit too many patients and too much stress, one fills out managed care applications and checks off specialties like, spirituality.

Being kind of religious person, I thought maybe I should check that, since I felt that I could empathize with anyone who used the Higher Power coping strategy thing.

Except on occasion I'd get a call like this:
You're a Christian therapist, right?

Uh, no.

Never mind.
Click.

This made me feel bad, especially since I really like people no matter their race, color, creed, etc., assuming they're not into terrorism or any kind of violent belief system, and yes, I have reservations about taking patients who believe in incest, statutory rape, bigamy, polygamy, and the like.

What's good about being religious, however, is that when a patient wants to talk about spirituality, or his or her concept of the Old Mighty, I'm not afraid of the discussion. In fact I'm totally open to all of it: atheism, agnosticism, as well as a belief in something out there. I'll even tip my hat to aliens, and have.

How DID we ever get on this subject, anyway?

Oh yes. What I wanted to put out here is an Aha moment, a patient's Aha moment. (all identifying details are changed, of course, as always)

Our unidentified patient obsessed about relationships, not unlike many of us. She obsessed about her boyfriends, she obsessed about her mother. She obsessed about her children and her neighbors, the clerks at Nordstrom, even the people she typed for at the office.

Then one day, in the throes of depression, she sat in a chair totally wrecked with despair. She talked out loud to what she thought of as the Old Mighty (what my grandfather, not terribly familiar with English, called Him or Her). She talked to her Higher Power and she cried. She prayed and talked, discussed and argued with her Maker. Would it be so terrible, she asked, if.. . Would it spoil, some vast eternal plan?

Sure, she was Jewish. We do this, argue, try to reason on occasion.

When all of a sudden she had that Aha moment. As she tells it, "All my life I've been wasting my time obsessing about people, thinking what I want to tell them, worrying about what they'll think of me! I should really be talking to Him! I get nowhere with people, and when I talk to Him, not only do I feel He's listening, but it's possible, certainly, that He'll answer. And no one else does, honestly. There's nothing to lose. It's a win-win!"

Do I plug assertiveness training or social skills at this point? What would you do?

It is a tough call. But of course not. What she's talking about is a major coping strategy, one that millions of people use every day. They are believers. They have, at least in their minds, a relationship with their Big Guy/Gal.

So of course, all I do is raise an eyebrow and smile. Whereas, it could be a You go girl moment for another therapydoc. But I'd never say that. These are moments in therapy where the support is all in the look, the understanding, the empathy, it's all in the eye contact. Words pale.

Oh, you want to know what happened on Desperate Housewives. Well, Lynette has an Aha moment in tonight's show. It's Sunday morning and she's watching as her neighbors pile their families into their automobiles, all dressed up, going to church. She's the staunch non-believer in the community, has never had any formal religious education.

And she's married to a Catholic and has a bunch of children, so she's thinking maybe they should go to church. She watches her friends going off to pray and she makes a decision.

"We're going to church," she tells her husband. He fights it but she wins in the end when her son says, "Sure I know who Jesus is. He helps Santa Claus."

But which church? She relies upon Bree's church initially since Bree is the most religious of her friends. It's obvious that Bree has made it through some serious problems and she credits that resilience to her faith.

At the Presbyterian church, Lynette, unfamiliar with the formal culture, raises her hand and asks a question, something you just don't do in a Presbyterian house of worship, apparently. The minister is truly surprised, but patiently answers Lynette's questions. Bree is mortified. "You don't do that here," she whispers to her friend, desperately trying to get her to stop interrupting the service and asking the minister questions. Everyone just wants to get out of there, apparently.

Lynette continues peppering the minister in front of the congregation and Bree is dying of embarrassment. Later Bree tells Lynette, "We just don't do that in our church, ask questions of the minister."

"Huh?" Lynette asks. "I thought religion was for answering questions."

"Well, yes, but we wait for the minister to answer them in his sermons. We don't ask him anything. We hope that he'll get to answering everything eventually." Then Bree does the unthinkable, she intimates somehow that Lynette embarrassed her. Lynette gets upset and decides her family will go to the Catholic church down the street.

The next week the Presbyterian minister asks Bree, Where is your nice new friend? He's so happy she came to their church. He thanks Bree for introducing the Scavos to him, for bringing them to church.

"But she asked questions!" Bree objects, seeing the error of her ways, regretting sending Lynette away. "I thought the church is about answers, not questions!"

He corrects her, "Of course it's about questions. It's more about the questions than answers. First the questions."

You'd think he's a Jew.

Bree hurries over to the Catholic church. "You must come back, Lynette! I miss you! Please. Please leave this place and come with me to my church." Lynette doesn't fall for it.

Bree persists, "Please, let's talk outside."

They go outside to talk and Lynette tearfully confides to Bree, "I've been through cancer and a tornado and I've survived both of them. I need to know why!"

Bree gets it. Lynette isn't going to church because she feels she has to go, like everyone else. She's going because she wants to go. She's looking for answers. "Why didn't you talk to me? I had no idea. Of course you're right. Faith shouldn't be blind. We should question things. I want you to have faith, and I want you to have faith in our friendship, too."

So they make up, and I'm happy, because I hate to see friends fighting. And Lynette, bottom line, does trust her friend and they talk about the ideas of faith as the camera fades to the next scene about Susan catching her cousin in bed with. . .

Those Aha moments are really fantastic, you know. I'm pretty sure they're all about slowing it down, stepping outside of our lives and reexamining what we're doing, how we're doing it, and thinking, I should change. And the funny thing is, that although those moments surely happen in therapy, and we do speed them along, we really do, there's no reason they can't happen at home.


copyright 2008, therapydoc

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a child of a conservative often unemotional home we always went to church.

As an adult who suffers with medically refractory recurring major depression, I find it very difficult to maintain faith.

I do believe that there is a god so I guess I do have faith; it's just not the RIGHT faith manifest in the right behavior. I have to believe(or go crazy, which is a debatable point) in my line of work. However, my personal relationship with the Higher Power is one of distance. I can believe but I am not certain. I am not certain because I find it very difficult to connect. For me, the depression is all about being unable to connect with anything.

Somehow, after coping (and not coping) with this disease for the majority of my life, I finally found a peace with it all. I have accepted that my road was not meant to be a happy one, that the glasses that I wear will always be blue, and sometimes black, and never have a tint of rose. By accepting that my life is at best blue, perhaps there is finally a truce. I no longer ask "why" and feel anger about that. Often that anger was directed inward -- I was so angry with myself for not being better, for not getting better. Perhaps, that is my Aha...by not fighting what I am the depression has lost part of it's power. Not everyone can be "fixed." In that acceptance of my road as being one that is not meant to be happy, I somehow can more easily believe in God, and I no longer feel the anger that I don't feel/can't find God when I am very depressed. I do not understand why my life and my brain where created this way, but likewise, I don't understand why rotten diseases such as cancer were allowed to exist.

(btw, I amaze therapists and psychiatrists. Despite the depths of the mood, I have always managed to wear a shell that allows me to function in the real world, and most of the time, the people in the real world have no clue...)

I enjoy your blog.

therapydoc said...

Anon, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Perhaps the most common "feeling" in depression is anomie, not feeling, not caring, and detachment. So a relationship to a Higher Power is out of the question. You don't feel connected. And spiritual people love that feeling.

In fact, some therapists, and certainly clergy, who specialize in spirituality consider depression the enemy. Here's why:

When you're depressed, you don't feel connected to anything, anyone, or to any so-called higher power.

And clergy depend upon you wanting to be connected for a living (joke, joke).

A therapy doc like me would say that going through the motions of prayer is mental and physical work (talking's work), and when you're depressed, you can't work, can't talk, don't want to talk. Hopefully, you tell yourself, He/She understands.

So it's a trick box, this spiritual stuff. Depressed? Pray (assuming you want to pray). But if you pray you won't necessarily feel connected and you may feel that you're wasting your most precious resource, energy.

The rabbis, and probably all the other clergy might say, It's not about you. Even if it feels like a waste of time, talk to Him anyway. For all you know, He's listening and pocketing the prayers.

So you have to hand it to them and to those who think this way. It's a more than decent cognitive coping strategy. The answer is No. But He's pocketed the prayer for another day.

Perhaps they call this hope. I sure would.

linrob63 said...

Yikes!

Here it is again -- that spirit stuff.

When I told my BFOP (best friend on the planet) a few years ago that I was finally going visit a therapist to work at and out my 'kid stuff', she got me a card offering best wishes on my spiritual journey. I growled at her something about it being a healing journey and that spirit stuff has nothing to do with it. I said gee, you'd have me stripping down, painting myself blue and howling at the moon. She said it might do me some good. She is an MSW.

A few weeks ago, I talked with my therapist about my only real effort to appeal to God -- when I was a kid in real trouble with a stranger. I was not reared in a family of faith so when I determined it was time to pray, I tried bargaining instead. She asked where I was with the spirit stuff now. I told her I think I could hav made a better bargain. Then I laughed instead of growling and said gee, you'd have me strip down, paint myself blue and howl at the moon. It might do you some good, she told me.

I describe myself as atheist. For a time, I was virulent about it. I call my dog Darwin (though Darwin was a deeply religious fellow. Maybe my dog is too -- sometimes he appears to be doing some combination of yoga and prayer and it seems to arouse such joy in him afterward).

I do sit from time to time at the Shambhala meditation center here, however. This past weekend, I did a three day contemplative program at the center. I cheated some. Instead of contemplating a particular teaching, I sat thinking about how I can open my heart...the possibility of wearing away the stone that seems to have grown around it.

Aha! I heard Leonard Cohen, in that bass so deep it is sometimes hard to hear the words, sing 'there is a crack...a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in'.

I do not listen to Leonard Cohen. I hardly know his music at all. But there it was -- a way in. And I found it while I was sitting there, riding the energy of twenty five or six others doing due diligence to some combination of contemplation, meditation and maybe even prayer.

Hey, I am not ready to strip down, paint myself blue and howl at the moon (even if it might do me some good) but I will allow that there might be something here for me.

Thanks for the post -- looks like I am going to keep bumping into this spirit stuff for awhile.

therapydoc said...

I would NEVER tell you to strip yourself down, paint yourself blue, and howl at the moon.

Dress up, paint the town, maybe howl a tune from Cabaret or Hello Dolly maybe. For sure.

Chana said...

Watching Blue Man Group
is pretty therapeutic to me, and they wear clothes. ;)

Even more therapeutic would be having at that piano or bass drum!

Esp. during Passover cleaning.

Eh, rabbis prefer you save your questions for the end too, LOL.

P.S. We need more frum therapists!

therapydoc said...

Are you sure about that?

Chana said...

Well... LOL. How did you read that?

"We need a larger number of therapists who are Orthodox Jews"

or

"We need Orthodox Jewish therapists who are even more religious than the ones who are currently out there"?

Chana (<---stirring the pot)

therapydoc said...

Frum, if it means observant, doesn't necessarily mean good or better in this biz. I like to think imaginative, open-minded, well-trained, sensitive, assertive but diplomatic, matter more to the therapeutic process. And respect for the patient and his or own world view.

phd in yogurtry said...

those aha moments are magic, aren't they?

and I agree with your therapeutic skill set priority list - imaginative, open minded, trained, respect for client world view. definately. well said.

SeaSpray said...

What a GREAT post!

It's tax day and i have much to do yet. Do this to myself EVERY year (last minute scrambling) and you'd think I would learn by now.

I definitely want to comment on this!

I enjoyed that episode and I think there was a good message in the church plot of the story. I was cringing at Bree's attitude and found Lynette's sincere questions refreshing and she actually taught or reminded Bree about faith and what it is really all about.

Okay...I guess I am commenting now. :)

I wholeheartedly agree with you about eye contact and expressions. You sound like a wonderful therapist. I think it is great that you recognized her epiphany moment and and didn't discount it. Some therapists absolutely would have. Or they would not be comfortable with it. And indeed faith is a coping tool. I believe God given to any who really are seeking and are open minded.

I think she did hear from God. It's awesome that you got to witness it and that you were able to recognize and appreciate it. I also believe God works through Doctors/medical personnel as instruments of his healing. Some people view people of faith as weak and needing a crutch but in my opinion they don't understand that it is so much more than that. But to each his own and we all have to find our way with what works for us. I love the hat tip to alien thing. :)

I understand why some Christians won't go to a non Christian therapist. I am a Christian and I have had therapy. My joke is I had so much therapy that I was competing with Woody Allen. :)

I have heard stories where some therapists would give guidance that was contrary to Christian values. It would've been wrong for many faiths. Like it's ok to have that affair kind of stuff. The concern is that they don't want to risk opening themselves up to possibly being influenced toward thinking anything that would weaken their faith causing them to compromise their values. The other is that if they have a Christian counselor, one who promotes themselves as a Christian counselor that they know they will receive counseling with prayer and an openness to God talk mixed in. I am not articulating this very well -sorry. It's not that a secular counselor can't do it but their treatment will be all the more enhanced by involving God and scriptures and Judeo-Christian values. That is my take on it but there could be other things.

I would have liked you as a therapist and am thinking they missed out by hanging up the phone. :)

I got involved in therapy because we needed some serious marital counseling. This was back in the 80s. I met the first therapist through one of my closest lifetime friends who became a mentor to me. She was the wife of our "Presbyterian" minister. We became very close withing 6 months of their moving here. She started at Princeton Seminary in the fall but it was cut short due to her falling and severely injuring her back. She was/is a compassionate, intelligent and fun loving person with amazing insights into life. She also counseled people but more from a pastoral/social work perspective. I learned so much from her. i could go on but don't want to bore you with this.

My point was that her husband was also going to school to become a psychotherapist. In my opinion...he didn't have a calling for being a pastor but he loved counseling. Anyway...I ended up going to see a woman who was part of the same counseling group he was working for. She was the worst therapist ever and I just never once comfortably connected. She was cold and didn't allow me to ever mention God. She didn't even want me to go to Al-Anon because she said it would take away from the energy of the therapy! In the meantime I was living in quiet desperation! Thankfully..."I" had an epiphany moment and terminated working with her! That soured me on counseling for about 2 years. Oh my friend also told me how they all vacationed together and the therapists were MOCKING the patients who believed in God during one conversation. Her husband seemed to lose his faith the more involved he got in pursuing this field. They eventually divorced. The irony is that when he met her she had been a practicing atheist for 10 years and he reintroduced her to God. Her faith took hold and he lost his.

Then through her, a couple of years later I hooked up with an amazing counselor. He was a psychologist who used cognitive therapy.

I was reluctant to go and wary. One of the first things I asked him is if he did Christian counseling. He was also an episcopal priest that did guest clergy work in various churches. He immediately said no...that he keeps it separate from therapy because some people use religion to block the work that needs to be done. Not at all verbatim but something like that.

Anyway...this man was amazing and got me through some horrendous marital times. My husband went in the beginning but soon dropped out but I stayed. I feel like I grew up in his office. I went to him for years and I came to adore him. I know he really cared about me too and gave me extended appointments and didn't charge for the time. He was always there for me. i would have to write War and Peace here to tell you the ways he helped me. :)

If you read my APB stories that I posted last month (I think) then you know the somewhat difficult background that I had suppressed and I opened up and shared that. It was like he parented me, guided me and helped me to find myself along with giving me strength and insights. I wish I knew where he was today because I would write him one heck of a thank you letter!

My husband eventually came back to therapy stayed longer the 2nd time, left but this time absorbed more guidance, etc.

We are still together today. I don't know how I would've gotten through the horrendous years with out that wonderful counselor who believed in me. Oh and we did talk about God sometimes after all. He did believe in God but just believed in keeping it separate. But as we got to know each other it all came out anyway and was just a part of who I am.

That is the thing. Faith is an integral part of who I am. If a counselor can't accept that then they are rejecting me anyway. I don't Bible thump...far from it but if I were in counseling today...i would need to feel comfortable and like it was a safe place of acceptance and not be in fear of disdain for my beliefs should they arise in a session. Like I said...BAD experience with first COLD counselor.

Thankfully...we are past all that now. marriage isn't perfect but in some ways it's even better than when we were first married.

I would tell people to not give up, find a GOOD counselor and you can come through to the other side and the work IS worth it. :) Unless abuse or some awful situation...then do what you have to to be safe.

I think there are people that go to church and do all the "right" things that they know to do but they still have a shallow faith because they are just following rules like automatons, then they leave thinking that's it, I did my duty. But there is a saying, "Some people know of God and some people know God." They have the head knowledge and go through the motions but they don't have the "heart" knowledge and actually live the faith 24/7. Makes a huge difference in how you actually live your life and convey that faith to others. That being said, we are human and are a work in progress.

I am new to the show but think I am going to be hooked. Some really funny stuff in there! :)

This is so long-delete if you wish. :)

therapydoc said...

It's okay, it's okay. The Internet gives us all this free space, so why not.

You know how I feel. Keep it clean.

Seaspray writes that a therapist told her: some people use religion to block the work that needs to be done,

which is a profound statement. I think we get through a lot with religious faith, but if it's a relationship issue, then it's the relationship between person-person that needs work.

And face it. It's very often a relationship issue, so asking help from a higher power might get frustrating. He/She's not going to do the lawn.

cardiogirl said...

I don't know why this phrase really tickled my funny bone today and made me laugh out loud for a while:

You're a Christian therapist, right?

Uh, no.

Never mind.

Click.

I am really struggling with depression and spirituality right now. Like Lynette on the show, I want to know why. I almost feel I HAVE to know why or I will never be at peace.

And yet I know I'll never really know the why (at least not in this life). Why can some people cope better than others (better than me?) Why do some people live a charmed life and others really have bad luck/karma/what have you?

How do you keep the faith when everywhere you turn you are tested by something -- God, Satan, I'm not sure what.

It's sort of a hurry up and wait, you know? Hurry up and pray and wait until life ever after when there will be justice. Right now that thought is not helping me.

That later, later, later there will be joy and happiness in the after life but first we must struggle so hard with this messy thing we call life.

I suppose you can't really have faith if everything is always going to go well, right? When your faith and what you believe in is tested, and you come through *still* believing when there's no proof, I guess that's real faith.

Right now I'm afraid I don't have real faith. And that is depressing.

therapydoc said...

I'm always amazed when I think about Holocaust survivors who experienced so much unimaginable horror, yet came to America or Israel and remained religious, raised their children religously.

That speaks, I think, to your words When your faith and what you believe in is tested, and you come through *still* believing when there's no proof, I guess that's real faith.

SeaSpray said...

There is a scripture in the New Testament that talks about when you have faith you can have the peace that surpasses all understanding. I have experienced that through some trying times. For me...it is like an undercurrent of knowing...everything will be ok...even though you don't REALLY know it. Things are actually chaotic and going wrong but there is still this abiding peace. But it comes from that heart relationship from God. Not just book/lesson knowledge (although that is important) but it is mostly the personal relationship you develop with God. Just like in our relationships...we develop a closer bond with someone we communicate/talk with, etc. and so the spiritual relationship needs to be nurtured in the same way and then there will be continual growth and trust, etc.

That is my experience and understanding, others may have completely different perspectives. You can never exhaust God and the knowledge and growth is continually forthcoming from him. Joy is for this life too. bad things do happen and not always justly...but there is still so much good. I always tell people to talk/pray to God. Ask him questions, share your heart and be receptive to who or what he puts in your path to teach you. We all go through those desert experiences and that is where our faith kicks in pulling us through to the other side. i too am amazed at the Holocaust survivors and I believe their persecution strengthened their faith. Why? A lot of people would have and do proclaim there can't be a God if he allows these horrors. But they had good seed planted and they understood and while I don't know...I think their faith is what got them through it.

Deb said...

Those AHA moments are gems!

estee said...

I find that most folks ask "Why me?" when things are going badly, and forget to ask "Why me?" when things are going well. How many times have you heard someone win the lottery and say, "Wow! Why me?" Sometimes, when we encounter the terrible misfortune of others we may think, "There but for the grace of Gd..." but (in my experience) many people feel entitled to their good fortune -- it's a sign that they have worked hard and deserve what they got (the good stuff). In my experience, the DH scenario is not quite realistic... most of the cancer survivors I know ask why did I get this disease, not why have I survived.

As for Holocaust survivors, I've found that many raised their children "religiously" (in practice or in identity) so that Hitler would NOT SUCCEED in his attempt to annihilate the Jews. I believe that even now, several generations later, the Jewish population is still smaller than it was before the Holocaust. (Check out http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/h-statistics.htm for some sobering statistics.)

therapydoc said...

I used to tell my kids, It's not fair, but you may as well get used to that.

SeaSpray said...

I heard a priest one time say...why not me? I thought that was an interesting perspective too.

I do think that while some people become embittered and hurt others because of their pain...others are more empathetic/sympathetic and better equipped to help someone else going through difficult times, particularly if they walked the same walk. I do think good does come out of pain but it hurts to go through it that is for sure. It probably makes some of us better people. and then there is a pain that is probably beyond description and I wouldn't say that good comes out of it because...well I don't know that it does. Maybe in the grand scheme of things beyond our reasoning.

sunny said...

"Most psychological pain is the result of avoiding necessary pain"
Carl Jung

SeaSpray said...

That's interesting and I am going to mull that one over as it pertains to me. I can be the queen of avoidance in some things and you're right because it usually compounds the issues because things build up, Then again some things are so bad that I have opted to bite the bullet and forge ahead. I wonder what the difference is for me. I am dealing with some things now that you could say I made my own bed and now I am lying in it but it is not comfortable. they are personal issues that no one can help me with because I know what to do but have been procrastinating significantly.

Chana said...

a-HA! (grin)

Frum, if it means observant, doesn't necessarily mean good or better in this biz. I like to think imaginative, open-minded, well-trained, sensitive, assertive but diplomatic, matter more to the therapeutic process. And respect for the patient and his or own world view.

Of course that would be ideal. Having also had non-Jewish therapists, I'm so grateful to have a frum therapist now because it is so much easier to (NOT have to) explain certain things!

It wasn't personal when you heard the "click", and it was in no way a reflection on your abilities as a therapist. People would just rather talk to someone they perceive is like them. ;) It's hard enough for someone who feels like they're in the minority to begin with - in general, being religious in our society is not "in".

The way I view faith/belief is, I can pray for, say, a raise, but if it doesn't happen, I still have to keep trying to be a better person/worker. Maybe it's better that I find a new job, but I won't get the motivation to do so unless I get turned down for a raise. Then I may look back some time later and say, "Oh, OK, G-d, I get it, and actually I'm so much happier than if I had stayed at that old job, even though the job search was super-stressful." G-d's hand is in everything, and there are no coincidences.

Just my shtick. :)
Chana, who should be cleaning

therapydoc said...

Chana Who Should Be Cleaning writes, in reference to me being turned down for not being Christian,

People would just rather talk to someone they perceive is like them.

It so obvious, you're right. Thanks, and it was okay, I'm pretty thick-skinned (we all wish we it so), and I'm really fine with it.

It's funny to me because most of the people I see are some other religion, they're not Jewish, so to reject me for not being Christian feels so silly to me.

But you're totally right, people don't want to have to explain things and maybe are afraid they'll be challenged about their beliefs, too. Really religious people get all kinds of challenges from their less religious relatives. Enough is enough.

sunny said...

Seems like the the whole concept of faith is a matter of just finding a' new perspective ' regarding a nagging problem that is better than the one that you are using which allows that problem to nag at you .

I think the difficulty usually is just looking at the problem from too up-close and personal (that makes it hard to see the whole thing and judge its relation to reality as a whole, its' real' comparative importance ).

So , lately , what I try to do is to take a mental trip as far away from the problem as possible . I imagine that I've floated out into space and I'm looking back at that pale blue dot that i live on , and I consider this huge problem that's bugging me as it compares to all the other problems going on on that pale blue dot , and it seems to sort of melt into insignificance.

And then I try to come back to reality with that in mind .

therapydoc said...

such a good idea, sunny

shaya g said...

2 aha moments for me:

1. A "Hagar the Horrible" cartoon. Hagar gets struck by lightning, looks up and yells at the heavens "WHY?". a voice responds "Why not!". that says it all to me. we always ask why, why, why, why me, what did I do. Rabbis and others always try to know Gods mind and give answers. I like the KISS method better. WHY NOT.

2. Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. To long to tell the story, but for those in the know: when zaphod is put into the room that is a punishment and all come out crazy, he walks out happy as can be, because the universe knew who and where he was DESPITE it's vastness.

therapydoc said...

Hitchhikers aside, I had no idea what the KISS principle was until graduate school, when the research prof said, YOU MUST KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Oh, and the second "s"?

Not as nice, if I remember correctly!

shaya g said...

keep it simple, stupid. other variations used as well, but this was the basic.

therapydoc said...

Oh, man. And I've been saying Keep It Stupid Scholar all these years.

:)

estee said...

Keep it simple, silly? Keep it simple, svengali? Like you, doc, I don't like the "stupid" part.

And that dovetails nicely with the religion/faith thing -- since it brings us back to the question of making choices, making mistakes, making the best of whatever it is that is right here, right now (because that's really all we have, right?) I suppose there are (objectively?) stupid choices, but mostly there are just mistakes that we learn from (or not).

What makes me laugh (when I remember) is all of the effort I put into trying to make sense of it -- when there really is no logic (at least no logic that is shared with us). Maybe this *thing* that is happening to me is not even about me, not my "lesson" to learn, but a lesson for someone who is watching me, or someone who is depending on me, or someone I don't even know. Synchronicity, coincidence, Gd's plan... lotsa names for the same thing -- it's not always about us, in fact, it's usually not about us at all...

Of course, it's really hard to take this view when we are talking about child abuse, murder, rape, genocide, etc. Is that kind of suffering *really* necessary? (That's a rhetorical question -- no one could convince me that it is anything other than senseless.)

shaya g said...

actually, a rebbe of mine said that in regards to attempts on my part to over explanations of certain behaviors of mine,, but moved the comma over - "keep it, stupid scholar" :)

chag kasher vi'sameach!!!

therapydoc said...

You've always been an ecological thinker (at least it seems that way!), Estee

therapydoc said...

Shaya, You're hysterical.

Merry said...

Interesting topic and fascinating comments as well!

And I learned a new word today: frum. Excellent!

therapydoc said...

Merry, You're a genius! What this blog needs is a lexicon, maybe an interactive lexicon.

Thanks!

sunny said...

TD - have you considered writing a letter to the producers of Desperate housewives to see if they need a psychological consultant/ script writer ? Why not ... Out in california is the place you oughta be ...da da da da da da .... da da da da
Beverly....

therapydoc said...

But then I'd have no time to blog.

And you know, there's a mission here.

Not that I wouldn't consider this if I was tagged.

Do they tag in Hollywood?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the most common "feeling" in depression is anomie, not feeling, not caring, and detachment. So a relationship to a Higher Power is out of the question. You don't feel connected. And spiritual people love that feeling.

I felt like this for a long time...one summer i called my extrentatal crisis, my spiritual anomie...no one knew what the heck that meant but i felt that way...
Thankfully, I am doing so much better and feel so much better....doctors medicine and Heck of alot of prayer (mine and others-when you can't pray-have some one pray for you and agree with them.) Reading TDoc site makes for great learning/social cognitve therapy>

hat is the thing. Faith is an integral part of who I am. If a counselor can't accept that then they are rejecting me anyway. I don't Bible thump...far from it but if I were in counseling today...i would need to feel comfortable and like it was a safe place of acceptance and not be in fear of disdain for my beliefs should they arise in a session. Like I said...BAD experience with first COLD counselor.

(i didnt' see a counselor for years because of this cold counselor that i had

therapydoc said...

I'm just wondering, if anyone's listening, Is there a particular school that's so into clinical detachment that clinicians are perceived as cold?