Archive for August, 2013

Ladies, Is There a Misogynistic Man in Your Life? If So, Beware!

Friday, August 30th, 2013

First off, do you know what a misogynist is? Basically it is a man who dislikes women. He is not gay. He just doesn’t like women.  Often they are hard to detect because that deep feeling is cosmetically covered or deeply rooted in his subconscious.  In either case the negative behavior that emanates from this dislike is hurtful and destructive in relationships – especially in a marriage.

The roots of misogynism grow deep and have been reflected in policy and behavior over the course of history.  Even St. Paul has been charged with being a misogynist, particularly in his Epistle writings in 1 Timothy and I Corinthians. In these Epistles he spoke of how women were created second, sinned first, and should keep silence. Google St. Paul if you are further interested in understanding why he has been characterized as such by some writers.

Religious, political, and business practices have often reflected misogynistic leanings.  Examples would be that women cannot be Catholic priests; women were not allowed to vote; women were held back from responsible business positions.

At a more personal level, in my practice I frequently come across misogynistic men.  One of my first encounters was meeting with a mean spirited, yet superficially charming, misogynist many years ago.  My first clue was that he called his mother by her first name when he talked with me about her. This distancing away from the title “Mom” or “Mother” was indicative of the hostility he had for her.  Part of the reason for this was that she and her husband sent him off to boarding school at a young age. (I do not believe that kids should go to boarding schools.  The academic and discipline gains are usually developed at the expense of emotional growth and capacity for intimacy in relationships.  There are exceptions to this rule, rare to be sure.)

This man married twice, divorced twice. He married “pleaser” type women who were beguiled by his charm and take charge manner.  Once the dust had settled on the marriage papers he turned into a mean, angry, and controlling husband.  I told him that if he didn’t do the necessary therapy to get rid of this misogynistic core he was going to end up as a lonely old man. He didn’t like that message and “shot the messenger”.

A woman perhaps could do a better job of due diligence to see if there are any misogynistic leanings in a man she aspires to marry – or perhaps is married to.  What was, and is, his relationship with his mother? How does he speak to and about her. That relationship has been very instrumental in forming his attitude toward and defense from women who get too close to him emotionally.

(P.S. For those who wonder what a woman who dislikes men is called.  The answer is misandrist. I don’t think I want to be in the same room when a misogynist and misandrist lock horns!)

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

“Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I’m…”? Are You Lookin’ Down the Road?

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Do you recognize these lyrics? The lyrics come from the Beatles.  A couple of stanzas are:

“When I get older losing my hair, many years from now, will you still be sending me a valentine, greetings, bottle of wine? You’ll be older too. And if you say the word I could stay with you. Give me your answer, fill in a form- mine for evermore. Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”

In my practice I see people of all ages, from kids through the elderly.  All are special as they view their respective world and what lies ahead. In many cases there are significant others involved who can make a substantial impact on the direction of these lives. Each person is going through a particular developmental stage.  Each person has issues to be dealt with and needs to be met.

This song, and this article, focus on those living the last fourth of their lives, however long those years may be.  This age group often has health and wealth issues. The members of this age group often become more dependent than they were in their younger years.

To have a loving partner during these Senior years is definitely desirable.  Do you, Respected Reader, have a partner that you are assured of having ad aeternum – to the living end?  If you do count your blessings and do all you can to keep that person close to your heart. If you currently do not have that special person in your life, you may want to contemplate ways to find one. On the other hand, are you the person who is willing to be there for your partner doing whatever is needed?

Every day I am inspired when I think of, or see, certain individuals, male and female, who offer committed every day loving care to a partner who is ailing or on the road to death.  Thank you for your inspiration.  You are one who lives by the motto “just do the next right thing”.

In some cases perhaps you may need to make some changes in the way you treat your significant other to raise the probability that s/he will hang around with you for the duration.  Others of you may need to make changes to attract such a desired partner. If you are a person who is wondering “will you still need me, will you still feed me”, do what you need to do to have that wonderful assurance that your partner means the words “til death does us part”.

No one wanst to end up like Eleonor Rigby or Father McKenzie (I guess you figured it out that I’m a big Beatles fan) – “lonely people”.  Yet, such is the lot of many.  May it not be you!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates

Twenty One “Needs”: Are These Yours? Others?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Whenever I work with a person in Counseling I start with three homework tasks designed to help the person understand how his or her brain is “wired”, issues in the person’s life that should be addressed, and personal needs.  Your needs are the driving force of behavior – whether it be healthy or unhealthy.

The Psychology world has greatly benefitted from the work of Abraham Maslow.  His hierarchy of needs has been a benchmark in helping people understand where they fit on the ladder of personal growth.  In his schema the lowest level of needs are basic things like food, shelter, and safety.  Moving up are the needs of security, belonging, and a loving connection.  If the core these needs are met greater self actualization emerge.

Talane Miedaner in her book THE SECRET LAWS OF ATTRACTION (I wonder why so many authors put the word “secret” in their title – a bit overdone in my opinion).  Her goal is to help the reader “discover your true relationship needs.  She sets out a list of needs for the reader to peruse and evaluate to which ones are the most desired. The following is her personal and emotional needs list:

1. Accepted/ liked.   2. Achievement.   3. Appreciated/ valued   4. Clarity/certainty.  5. Control/power. 6.  Heard/Communicate.   7. Independence.   8.Integrity/honesty.            9. Loved/cherished.  10. Luxury/abundance.   11. Order.   12. Peace/Balance.  13. Recognized.   14. Responsible.  15. Right/correct/understood.   16. Security/safety/stability.  17. Supported.  18. Touched/cuddled/held.  19. Useful/needed..  20. Win  21. Work/career.

Ms. Miedaner invites you to rank them in importance, particularly the top four. Having that information you then have further clarity to develop a plan of action to meet those needs. Actions need to be based on priorities and this methodology assists with this knowledge.

The first step to change your life and move away from complacency is to raise your awareness of the quality of your life –and what it is not.  What needs do you have Respected Reader?  Are you going to move forward to meet them?

Hoarding Is Unhealthy! Are You a “Pack Rat”?

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Are you a hoarder?  Live with one?  A hoarded environment is illustrative of an unhealthy perspective for living life.  You may ask, what is hoarding?  The Mayo Clinic defines hoarding as an “excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.”  In popular parlance they are described as “pack rats”. Such a disorder runs the gamut from mild to extreme.

Some hoarders have a genetic pre-disposition to it. A sequence of genes on chromosome 14 is linked with the obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD). Not all hoarders suffer from OCD, however. Other studies of the brain have shown that hoarders have decreased activity in the cingulate gyrus area of the brain involved in decision-making, problem solving, and emotional self control.  All of this affects a person’s brain process while deciding what to keep and what to throw away.

Hoarders usually develop some form of emotional attachment to the things they hold on to. Sometimes the objects are reminders of a significant event and contribute to a person’s sense of identity. Or, perhaps they are illustrative of a treasured relationship.

A recent study found that hoarders are more likely to report feeling distanced from their parents growing up.  Therefore, they develop “possession fever”.  Things can stand in for the love they lacked early in life.  Others who have not cut the psychological umbilical cord from a parent hold on to certain things as a way to continue to feel close to that person or would feel guilty discarding things belonging to that person.

Most hoarders usually have a high level of generalized anxiety about the world – a fundamental insecurity that can be triggered by certain events such as illness, job loss, retirement, traumatic event, widowhood, etc… Holding on to things give them some control, some comfort and security, covering up the negative feelings of fear and stress. Depression often accompanies this disorder. Depressed persons may not have the will power and energy to throw things away.  The more things pile up so do the anxiety  and depression associated with the accumulation.

Changing a hoarder habit is not easy and usually takes time. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the best starting place. Sometimes an anti-anxiety medication is called for to supplement the therapy.  First off, the hoarder needs to acknowledge the problem and then commit to a process of getting his or her life in better balance in regard to keeping or letting go of things. A guided therapeutic process usually is able to change the hoarder disorder or at least minimize its impact on life style.


Respected Reader, may this article inspire you to examine the “stuff” in your life.  What is legitimately necessary to keep and what should be let go?  What rationales do you use to justify decisions in this regard?  Such decisions involving this aspect of a healthy life require balance – not too much and not too little. Take a look around, what do you see?  Do you really need to keep that stack of 1963 National Geographics or Playboys?  Changes needed are……(fill in the blank for your household).

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Want To Improve Your Attitude? Here’s How!

Friday, August 9th, 2013

The word “attitude” has many definitions.  For the purpose of this article I am using one those offered by the Merriam-Webster dictionary – “a mental position with regard to a fact or state”.  It is a way of looking at yourself and the way you interact with the world.

James Van Praagh is somewhat of a controversial person. I do not buy everything he has to say, but do like these thoughts that he eloquently portrays in an article that I recently read, entitled “Life – Live It With Attitude”. I particularly like the following quote that he uses to begin his essay.

“Attitude is vastly important, because it presents your image to the world and defines the driving force behind your behavior.  Your attitude influences your world and everything you do.  … If you have a positive attitude, you are more welcoming and people are drawn to you. A positive attitude opens you to the flow of life.”

He continues, “Having a fulfilling life simply begins with a thought.  The Law of Attraction states, ‘We attract to our life experiences that which we think about, wanted or unwanted’. The intention behind thoughts are communicated by waves or vibrations. You state what you choose to create with your thought.  If you make a choice to be happy, abundant  and loving, your thoughts need to be focused on what is desired, not what is lacking.  If you resonate negative thoughts of fear, anxiety, anger and lack, you will attract more of the same into your life.”

Praagh emphasizes a method to live a positive attitude daily.  It is composed of three self talk perspectives – I AM, I CAN, I WILL.  Examples of each would be:

I am competent.   I am patient.  I am forgiving.

I can lose weight.  I can let go of guilt.  I can handle my children.

I will like myself better each day.  I will feel good things about me today.

Praagh summarizes by saying, “If you want something in your life, first you must think of it, put your intention behind it, and keep your focus on it.”

You have free will.  You can choose your attitude. You can create a better life by learning to use positive self talk emphasizing your strengths, desires, and commitment (I AM, I CAN, I WILL).

Ghandi offered this similar perspective, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  May you be more attuned to what is going on in your head and strive to create “happy thoughts”! You will become a better person with such positive actions.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates