Dr. Benzion Sorotzkin, Psy. D.

Parenting

A Tale of Two Mothers: Reading the Signals Wrong

I recently received a wonderful book as a gift. “A Canopy of Stars” by C.B. Weinfeld (2019) is a collection of inspirational stories masterfully written and indeed very inspirational. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the other books in the series. There was,...

Developing Middos: Learned Or Experienced?

When Hillel was asked to summarize the Torah in one sentence, he proclaimed: “Di’lach sani, lechavrach lo savid ---- What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor; the rest is commentary.”1 This is the minimum level of chessed: do not harm others. A higher level...

Rebellious or Individualist: When the Apple Falls Far From the Tree

[An Interview] [Excerpts from the article:] In “My Son’s Different Path,” a fascinating article published recently by Aish Hatorah, Heather Desilva tells of her experience as a secular mother whose son has chosen to become frum. Describing the dilemma she grappled...

Beginning the Healing Process

“It can happen in the best of families” is an expression often heard in regard to rebellious teenagers. Indeed, when a teenager goes “off the derech,” we tend to blame the teenager himself, bad friends or negative influences. We tell ourselves that even a youngster...

Admonishing Without Destroying

A young couple become parents. They begin to imagine all the positive and uplifting interactions they will have with their children. Admonishing and criticizing children is most likely not part of this blissful scene. Unfortunately, the reality of life and the chinuch...

Honoring Abusive Parents

As a clinical psychologist in the frum community I have frequently been asked by patients to address the question of the obligation to honor abusive parents. As a result, I have researched the issue and have discussed it with some prominent Rabbonim. I would like to...

Corporal Punishment: Have the Times Changed?

Some people have questioned the contemporary, positive, and more gentle approach in chinuch advocated by most gedolim and mechanchim from the gemara in Kesuvos 50a which recommends using a harsh approach when learning with children over the age of 12, including...

The Impact of Marital Disharmony on Children

Through the Eyes of a Frightened Child Mishpacha Magazine, 08/29/2007 p. 64 By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz [Introductory comment by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz: Recently, I posted a comment on my website inviting teens-at-risk to submit essays to my private email address sharing...

Over-Involvement by In-Laws: Recipe for Disaster

Rabbonim and marriage counselors who deal with matrimonial issues report that the over-involvement of parents and in-laws in the lives of their married children is a frequent cause of marital conflict. Even when this over-involvement is not the actual cause of the...

Hashkafa

Bechira: How Free is Free Will?

As a psychologist practicing in the frum community for over three decades, I have frequently encountered the following serious dilemma. A major focus of psychotherapy is exploring the events in the person's past and in his current environment which brought about and...

Elul Anxiety

Therapists who work in the frum community often report a dramatic increase in patients’ anxiety symptoms during the month of Elul. Patients who are, in general, prone to anxiety will often experience a sense of impending doom especially after failed attempts at...

Is Self-esteem Synonymous with Gaavah?

In a March 2011 issue of Hamodia Magazine, a writer who described himself as a “Yeshiva high school teacher and life coach” wrote an article titled “The Self-Esteem Mirage.” In this article, the author states: “The self-esteem movement is exactly the opposite of...

Caution: “Extreme Giving” Is Hazardous To Relationships

A central goal in developing middos is to value peace, to avoid hurting others, and to avoid conflict by being mevater (conceding) to the other person. Likewise, the key role that being a “giver” (a נותן ) plays in good relationships is emphasized in all frum marriage...

Shidduchim

Finding The Bashert: Why Is It So Difficult To Hear The Bas Kol?

The Gemara (Moed Katan 18b) quotes Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel that “Every day a bas kol proclaims that the daughter of so and so [is the match] for so and so.”1 One would therefore imagine that singles need only to sit back and wait for a bas kol to guide them...

Shidduch Narratives: “Disclosing,” or Sharing a Life in Context

A dilemma faced in many shidduchim is how much and when to reveal less than positive aspects about oneself. On one hand, there is a realistic concern that revealing too much too early will doom the relationship before it gets off the ground. On the other hand, not...

Chinuch

A Tale of Two Mothers: Reading the Signals Wrong

I recently received a wonderful book as a gift. “A Canopy of Stars” by C.B. Weinfeld (2019) is a collection of inspirational stories masterfully written and indeed very inspirational. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the other books in the series. There was,...

Admonishing Without Destroying

A young couple become parents. They begin to imagine all the positive and uplifting interactions they will have with their children. Admonishing and criticizing children is most likely not part of this blissful scene. Unfortunately, the reality of life and the chinuch...

Is Self-esteem Synonymous with Gaavah?

In a March 2011 issue of Hamodia Magazine, a writer who described himself as a “Yeshiva high school teacher and life coach” wrote an article titled “The Self-Esteem Mirage.” In this article, the author states: “The self-esteem movement is exactly the opposite of...

Caution: “Extreme Giving” Is Hazardous To Relationships

A central goal in developing middos is to value peace, to avoid hurting others, and to avoid conflict by being mevater (conceding) to the other person. Likewise, the key role that being a “giver” (a נותן ) plays in good relationships is emphasized in all frum marriage...

Torah Perspectives on Boundaries, Restrictions and Sexuality

Boundaries and restrictions A significant portion of the Torah revolves around boundaries and restrictions. Many youngsters’ mental image of G-d and His rules can be described thus: A very powerful god, who for some mysterious reason, needs us to provide him with...

Marriage

Caution: “Extreme Giving” Is Hazardous To Relationships

A central goal in developing middos is to value peace, to avoid hurting others, and to avoid conflict by being mevater (conceding) to the other person. Likewise, the key role that being a “giver” (a נותן ) plays in good relationships is emphasized in all frum marriage...

Perfectionism

A Tale of Two Mothers: Reading the Signals Wrong

I recently received a wonderful book as a gift. “A Canopy of Stars” by C.B. Weinfeld (2019) is a collection of inspirational stories masterfully written and indeed very inspirational. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the other books in the series. There was,...

The Pursuit of Perfection: Vice or Virtue in Judaism?

Chazal exhort us to strive for ever higher goals. It says in ( כג : א ) תנא דבי אליהו רבה לפיכך יהיו אומרים כל אחד ואחד , מתי יגיעו מעשיי למעשה אברהם יצחק ויעקב - ( When will my deeds equal those of my forefathers)? Likewise, the concept of shleimus ( " שלימות " ),...

Quest for Perfection: Avoiding Guilt or Avoiding Shame?

Cognitive researchers have found perfectionism to be a major feature in obsessive-compulsive disorders and depression (Beck, 1976; Burns, 1980; Burns & Beck, 1978; Ellis, 1962; Meichenbaum, 1974; McFall & Wollersheim, 1979). Several cognitive styles are characteristic...

Understanding And Treating Perfectionism In Frum Adolescents

This article will examine issues unique to the treatment of frum adolescents, with a focus on a problem prevalent in this population, namely perfectionism, which often leads to anxiety, depression and other emotional disorders (Blatt, 1995). Perfectionism is also...

Psychotherapy

Chemical Imbalance, Genetic Malfunction, Or Problems In Living?

Not too long-ago psychologists and other behavioral scientists prided themselves for their ability to understand emotional problems in depth. They didn’t limit their perspective and analysis to the proximal, superficial causes of people’s difficulties. Rather, they...

Why Can’t He Just Move On?

“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” – William Faulkner, 1951 When explaining why some people require therapy in order to overcome past traumas, I am often challenged with the following: "Many people have had difficulties in their upbringings. What they do is...

Caution: “Extreme Giving” Is Hazardous To Relationships

A central goal in developing middos is to value peace, to avoid hurting others, and to avoid conflict by being mevater (conceding) to the other person. Likewise, the key role that being a “giver” (a נותן ) plays in good relationships is emphasized in all frum marriage...

Cognitive Strategies for Coping with Anxiety-Provoking Thoughts

1) Realize that you have a tendency to see things in a negative light. Be aware of that and if you see something negative, determine if it is really as negative as you see it or if you are limiting your perspective to just seeing the negative side when there is much...

Refusing Therapy

What causes people to refuse to enter psychotherapy even when they clearly need it? What could teachers, family or friends do to help a suffering person accept the idea of going to therapy? It is usually assumed that it is the fear of stigma that prevents people...

Homosexuality

Same-Sex Attraction (SSA): Beyond the Rhetoric

It has become increasingly common in the Orthodox community for young men to turn to a therapist because of concerns regarding their sexual orientation. Sometimes, even if they give other reasons for their interest in therapy, the concern over same-sex attraction...

Child Molestation

The Denial of Child Abuse: The Rind et al. Controversy

In a recent issue of The Journal of Psychohistory (Sorotzkin, 2002) I discussed the tendency of most societies to deny that many of their children are abused (emotionally, physically, or sexually) by their parents or other adults. One example cited, is the recent...

Sexuality

Psychological Factors in Sexual Acting Out

Some may protest the above title. “Why do we need to look for psychological explanation when someone acts out sexually?” they protest. There is a simple explanation. It’s called taivah (lust) and yetzer hara (evil inclination). Looking for psychological explanations,...

Torah Perspectives on Boundaries, Restrictions and Sexuality

Boundaries and restrictions A significant portion of the Torah revolves around boundaries and restrictions. Many youngsters’ mental image of G-d and His rules can be described thus: A very powerful god, who for some mysterious reason, needs us to provide him with...