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 looked for the underlying causes of these difficulties by exploring early childhood experiences that shaped the developing psychic structures (e.g., self-image) and the current interpersonal conditions that interact with the influences of those psychic structures. This helped them and their patients understand what made this particular person vulnerable to particular stressors where others wouldn’t have been so affected. They, therefore, understood that current stressful events do not bring about emotional disorders by themselves. Rather, they interact with the person’s emotional makeup and especially with the vulnerabilities that resulted from his early life experiences (Barlow, 2002, Chap. 8).

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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 put it behind them and move on. You can’t live in the past!! Therapy causes you to be stuck in the past. Why can’t he just move on?!”

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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 guidebooks. This is very understandable since being a self-centered “taker” (a נוטל ) will most certainly destroy relationships. It is not surprising, therefore, that many people conclude that the more giving people are the better their relationships will be, without an upper limit.

In truth, however, any positive attribute taken to the extreme becomes unbalanced and destructive. This article will explore how “extreme giving” can undermine a relationship.

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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 to the positive side as well. Likewise, there is a good likelihood that your fear of a catastrophic result is highly exaggerated.

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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 (especially from the frum community) from agreeing to therapy. While stigma undoubtedly plays a significant role, there are also other, deeper, subconscious factors.

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