Browsing: psychotherapy

Currents

Addiction is rampant. Drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, food, social media, digital games, movies, whatever the ‘substance’ the effect is the same—numb out, dissociate, flee from the perception of pain (be it physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual). The number of people who are considered addicts has reached pandemic proportions—no one place, no one race, no one culture is free of this infectious disease.

But, is it a disease as many associations responsible for intervention state? Or is it a reflection of our inability to self and/or mutually regulate our affective state? Are these behaviors, labeled as addiction or addictive, are these monikers—addict, addicted— accurate? Or, do labels simply shadow deeper manifestations motivating people to reach for something to quell their emotional fluctuations, to smooth the ups and downs in their bodily being?

These questions and more are considered in our Winter issue. Our contributors share their thoughts on addiction, on behavioral patterns that become ‘stuck’, automated, reactionary in the face of overwhelm and affective arousal. Possible physiological causes are considered—think trauma and all that comes with that terminology—and potential interventions are pondered.

We invite you to read our articles and to respond to our authors.

Mind/Body/Spirit

“The word wild is like a gray fox trotting off through the forest, ducking behind bushes, going in and out of sight. Up close, first glance, it is “wild” – then farther into the woods next glance it’s “wyld” and it recedes old Norse villr and Old Teutonic wilthijaz into a faint pre-Teutonic ghweltijos which means, still, wild and maybe wooded (wald) and lurks back there with possible connections to will, to Latin silva (forest, sauvage), and to the Indo-European root ghwer, base of Latin ferus (feral, fierce), which swings us round to Thoreau’s “awful ferity” shared by virtuous people and lovers. The Oxford English Dictionary has it this way:

Of animals – not tame,
undomesticated, unruly
Of plants – not cultivated
Of land – uninhabited, uncultivated
Of wild crops – produced or
yielded without cultivation”
(Snyder, Practice of Wild, 2010: 9.)

Reviews

I am, admittedly and unabashedly, enthusiastic about Stephen Porges’ work. I’ve attended his workshops, learned his process for measuring heart rate variability as an indicator of vagal tone, interviewed him for several articles published in this magazine, and have read his books and articles. This review is clearly biased. And with that said, I will offer my honest opinions and not side step points that for some may or may not be considered 100 percent positive.

For those new to Porges’ work, he is noted as the originator of the Polyvagal Theory (PVT), which is his perspective of how our autonomic nervous system, dependent on phylogenetic transitions/shifts that occurred between reptiles and mammals, resulted in specific adaptations in vagal pathways regulating the heart, which in turn impact our lives.

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For many it can be easy to harshly judge the person sitting on the street corner asking for change. Perhaps we might believe they are taking up too much sidewalk space or too much space in general. So, we step over them without stopping.
Psychoanalyst and poet, Merle Molofsky makes us stop before we judge. In this visceral piece of poetry, she asks important questions about psychoanalysis, life, death, sex, love and violence. Her exceptionally engrossing writing style takes us onto the streets and in the presence of her characters. As if we stand face-to-face with the burdens and torments of each person we encounter, we come to realize our own connections to it all. She delves into topics that are still relevant today including topics of greed, drug addiction, heartbreak, loneliness and feelings of hopelessness and depression.

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Walking over to my chair, cell phone in hand, Bev exclaimed (the tone of her voice implying the answer was a given to her upcoming question), “Aren’t these pictures beautiful? Here, look at this one—I took it from the old Fort. Can you spot the house in the background across the inlet? That’s where my father would put the boat in the water to take us up the coast. Those were good times.” Bev’s photographs, composites of her beloved seas and shorelines along Maine’s southern and mid-coast, comprise a visual memorial to the beaches and bays that provided a measure of playfulness and serenity within the more chronic and painful vagaries of her childhood and adolescence.

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Family life can be difficult; the interconnectedness of family can spark conflict that is hard to avoid. Family difficulties take many forms therefore there is no easy solution or magical fix for dysfunctional families. Family members can influence each other but can only control how they, as an individual, respond to the conflict. In his self-help book Overcoming Your Difficult Family: 8 Skills for Thriving in Any Family Situation, Eric Maisel presents eight skills anyone can acquire and utilize to help themselves through difficult familial circumstances, and in turn hopefully influence the whole family unit in a positive way.

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“Writing has helped me heal. Writing has changed my life. Writing has saved my life.” These powerful first sentences of Louise DeSalvo’s Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Stories Transforms Our Lives immediately conveys the author’s strong belief in the curative power of writing. She posits that writing helps people recover from “thorny experiences” and can help heal those suffering from a variety of situations, from dislocation and violence to rape and racism (4). DeSalvo is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Hunter College and is the author of over a half dozen books, so her advice is rooted in her own personal experience using writing as an instrument of healing.

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In Psychotherapy East & West, Alan Watts attempts to bridge the gap between Western psychological thought and Eastern ways of life. Originally published in 1961, his goal was to provide an updated perspective on Western versus Eastern psychological ideas and provoke thought and experimentation in the reader. The 2017 reprinting of this classic instills new life into Watts’ argument that using psychotherapy without an understanding of Eastern ideologies will fall short of helping one to reach a feeling of true liberation. He posited that the groundbreaking insights of influential psychologists such as Freud and Jung synthesized with the Eastern spiritual philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, Vedanta, and yoga could liberate people from the internal struggles within themselves.

Reviews

Michelle Craske provides a straight forward look into the past, present and future of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Within the first few pages, she begins by giving a succinct and general overview of the theory behind CBT and its importance in successfully treating patients. CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. This therapy can be a helpful tool in treating mental health disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder. But not everyone who benefits from CBT has a mental health condition. It can be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations. Craske does not miss a chance to define or explain a concept. This makes it much easier to follow without a dictionary or DSM 5 in hand. Although some concepts may take a bit longer to wrap your head around, the use of examples makes the content a bit easier to swallow. In only about 200 pages the reader is placed in the role of the therapist, soon able to recognize these negative patterns and behaviors. This book is geared towards a narrow audience, ranging from those with a basic understanding of theory in the field of psychology to seasoned practitioners interested in understanding this approach.