I have a very social job. My entire workday is listening and talking to people. It’s fulfilling and stimulating, but I may go through an entire day without any time alone. Sometimes, eating a sandwich at my desk, with the door closed, finishing my charting for the morning, I listen to opera. Even just for a few moments, I am transported to another realm before I begin my next meeting. Kate Murphy (“No time to think”, New York Times, Sunday July 27, 2014) notes how “crazy busy” everyone is these days.... Read More
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It is not uncommon for a 40-50 year old male to come into my office with anxiety and confusion. “I don’t know if I’m in love with my wife anymore”, “I hate my job!” “I’m not sure I ever wanted to be physician, now I feel stuck”, “I hate the Puget Sound! Maybe we should move”, or “I want to travel around the world!” These guys are depressed and anxious. They can’t remember the last time they had a good night’s sleep. It’s as if they want to throw everything away that they have built for the last 20 years--take my word for it, they’re scared.
Naturally, their spouses are confused... Read More
Our society is continually on the hunt for new knowledge. We want to understand the physical world, harness it’s energy, create new technology, and delve into the secrets of the universe. Those lucky individuals, who have lived for a century, have seen huge scientific advances.
But what about wisdom? How do we understand that elusive concept? We have the ability to create vast new technologies, but do we have to wisdom to know what to do with them? What do we know of the purpose of life? How do we employ the knowledge we have for the benefit of others?
These questions live... Read More
Turning 40 is a big birthday. The worst thing you can do is give your partner a surprise 40th birthday party! It heralds a new decade that “20 something’s” think of as “getting old”. I remember when I was growing up in the 60s we talked about “never trusting anyone over 30”. We were the original wise guys! My 40th birthday was great! I was about to move to this terrific new place, Seattle, and I was starting a new adventure in my life. I finally felt more secure in my profession. I was enjoying my children, who were a little older, and required less heavy lifting. It was a good moment in... Read More
Perhaps you were disappointed on Valentine’s Day. Mary was hoping that her partner Joe would organize a romantic dinner at their favorite restaurant followed by a romantic evening. But all he did was buy a small bouquet of flowers. She acted pleased, but inside, she felt let down. Bob was expecting a romantic card, but only received a peck on the cheek. He was definitely disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed on February 14th—and I didn’t receive anything! I had just returned from a trip to Florida helping my 91-year-old mom during her recovery from a heart attack, and I was dog-tired. I wasn... Read More
I have worked in healthcare since 1977, when I received my doctorate in psychology. I was pretty young at the time, only 26 years old. I went straight through college and graduate school, largely because of the recession in 1973, one of the worst economic downturns since the depression. Since jobs were very scarce, I figured that finishing my schooling, which I wanted to do anyway, made good sense. In the last 37 years, I have seen many changes in how health care is delivered. I have also experienced many changes in how mental health professionals view mental health problems. For example,... Read More
Most of us have seen images of the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in the movies, tubes hanging down from bags of fluids, and the ventilator tube extending from the patient’s mouth. We’ve heard the rhythmic sound of the ventilator and seen the visual images of graphs and numbers on a screen, all representing the patient’s life force—their vital signs.
It’s entirely another matter when it’s your own mother.
She looks lifeless, with the whooshing sound of the ventilator breathing air into her fluid filled lungs. She is receiving an IV drip of a powerful sedative, which prevents her... Read More
On New Year's Eve this year, a group of retired Alvin Ailey American Theatre dancers performed Ailey’s signature piece—“Revelations.” For those of you that haven’t seen it, watch it on YouTube. It’s a dance piece that soars.
But for this performance, the artistic director asked their retired dancers, ranging in age from 43 to 75 years old, to perform. One of the dancers (With Willing Spirit, a Reprise for Ailey Dancers, New York Times, 12/24/2013), Ms. Fisher-Harrell... Read More
While I never thought of myself as an extrovert, I have become pretty socially comfortable over the years. I wasn’t always that way. I used to think of myself as shy—not painfully so, but just naturally so. At gatherings where I didn’t know many people, I would hang around with familiar folks.
I always admired my wife, who without skipping a beat, could strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. I don’t think she has a shy bone in her body!
But many people are more introverted than shy. They are just naturally quiet and reserved. They’re good listeners. They... Read More
First, there were the Baby Boomers (that’s me), the huge population bubble arriving after World War II. Born into post war optimism and prosperity, we were the children of parents who grew up in the depression. We were the kids of the 60’s who rebelled against authority. Although born into greater affluence, as adults we actualized the hard working values of our parents.
Generation X’ers, born between 1960-1982, are now in their 40’s. In their twenties, they were characterized as disenfranchised, materialistic, and slackers. But according to recent longitudinal studies, these adults... Read More