Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Orlando Christian Counseling’ Category

I’m watching a Batman movie the other night and found myself psychoanalyzing the movie, particularly the main character. What is it about a superhero that people find so intriguing? I think identifying with a superhero is reminiscent of a quote from Henry David Thoreau, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I find Batman perhaps the most interesting of all the superheroes. Batman leads a life of two identities that would make Sigmund Freud proud and perhaps provide for a strong argument for the basis of Freud’s id, ego and superego. The id plays the villain, Bruce Wayne plays the ego and Batman is the superego. Bruce Wayne sees the moral problems of the id and must turn into the superego (superhero) in order to counterbalance the issue.

But wait a minute, isn’t this behavior of playing the superhero a type of codependent behavior? After all, isn’t rescuing someone in distress a type of controlling behavior? I think it all depends on how you look at the situation and the motivation behind the behavior. What is driving it, working behind the scenes? Yes, I am overthinking this, but there is something at work here, a dynamic at play that affects many people who seek counseling. Batman can be used as a metaphor of how people hide their problems and mask their true identity. What a lonely place that must be, always hiding and afraid to be truthful and out in the open of being your true self. I wonder what it would be like for Batman to stand in front of an A.A. meeting and peel off that mask. Oh, the vulnerability of true identity can be terrifying.

This is not an attempt to tear down Batman or deconstruct his character, I love the creativity and full richness of the story lines. Kudos to the creativity of the writers. This amounts to nothing more than a therapist’s musing of the psychological observations I have made.

The superhero, in my opinion, is a type of person who is caught up playing a role that is trying to fix, rescue or control an outcome for others. In modern terms, it’s male codependence. For the superhero it’s about more than just a person, it’s all of humanity. By the way, who decided that Batman knows best for everyone? Yes, there is evil in the world that creates destruction on a widespread scale and there are those who come together for the greater cause of mankind to lessen those evil schemes. But there is a common theme found in superheroes, something must be done and that something must be done by me.

I guess for me and my psychotherapeutic mind, this is about a man who hides in a cave and does not allow his real identity to be shown. I found myself confused when I began to think about who the main character is, Batman or Bruce Wayne. Perhaps it’s both and Batman is just a part of Mr. Wayne’s identity, or vice versa. When he (Batman/Mr.Wayne) emerges into public he comes into view as one of two identities. I’m having trouble trying to figure who the real person is and who he wants to be, Bruce or Batman.

If this man were to sit in front of me during a therapy session I suppose my best question to him would be two-fold going straight to the core issue, “what is it about your parent’s death (they were murdered) that causes you to do what you do today, and how has this affected your identity as a person?” I cannot help but wonder if this is not really a question of identity, but a boy who is lost and angry. Batman never resolved his anger of his parent’s death and has swore to himself to uphold justice wherever he finds it. In some circles, this might be even construed as being passive-aggressive. Mr Wayne, please get therapy for your unresolved anger because people are becoming too dependent on you for helping them out of their perceived predicament of helplessness.

I admire the author’s of Batman and how the story originally developed in the 1930’s. I cannot help but wonder if they realized that they may have been creating a story from their own psyche or that of another. There are countless stories throughout history of someone who was wronged and vowed justice or revenge in return. Yes, Batman and superheroes for that matter are all fictional characters, but they represent something that is very real and that is the projection of human behavior. A feeling of being wronged put back into being right. Does that include destroying bad guys? Or is this an issue of unresolved anger?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Usually on this website I write about mental health topics. I normally don’t write in the “I” voice as most of my work is for educational purposes to help people. I recently came across something I wrote in a journal a few years ago and I wanted to share it. Those who know me know how profound Christ is in my life. I have found no greater joy than being with Him in this world. I was saved 13 years ago and I am very thankful for my life…and He knows it!

Meditating The New Day

Embrace today, it is unique, special and beautiful.  There will never be another one like it. 

I went on a camping trip down the Suwanee River over the weekend and discovered some things about God and His wonderful creation. I awoke on Saturday morning I took a stroll down a trail near the river while everyone was still sleeping.  The new day brought a mist over the water and the sun’s rays were breaking through the trees.  Each ray of light was individually on display fanned out evenly as if it’s direction was intentionally being directed upon a specific object.  A beam of light so intense and direct and no matter how I changed my direction I could not escape it. 

 

I then began to thank God for such a glorious new day, His presence was the beginning of this day and I began to think about how creative our God is.  He is magnificent and holds each day new and unknowing what it will be like.  How many different ways the sun will rise, how it will set and how different and yet beautiful every time.  On some occasions the sun doesn’t shine, at least not the rays but clouds abound throughout giving yet another angle or perspective on His creation, His works, how marvelous.

 

I began to reflect on my life, and this new day and how many days of my life were similar to what was before me.  I thought about how I was saved and made new.  About how sinners are forgiven and made new.  About how Christ gave us the New Covenent and a new life.  I thought about the passage in Rev. 21:5 “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”   This is so true and everyday we experience it.

 

Life in many ways is like the birth of every new day.  Every day we are given a new day, and a renewed chance on life.  Christ through His infinite love gave us grace, it kinda works like a get out jail free card but there is something you have to do first, ask Him for it.  The new day brings new life, a new sunrise, new opportunities and a new chance to receive Christ in your life.

 

Brian

Read Full Post »

narcissus-and-echo-500x280Narcissism was on the verge of being abolished this year. In the mental health community ego-centric behavior was almost deemed no longer relevant, and for good reason. Narcissism is often associated with regarding someone who is self centered with a strong ego. Narcissism was founded in two ancient myths, one is Greek and the other is Greco-Roman. The difference between the two is the Greco-Roman myth is a little longer than the Greek but both end pretty much the same. Below is the historical and ancient myth explanation of Narcissus.

The Greek Version of the myth of Narcissus

NARKISSOS (or Narcissus) was a young man from the town of Thespiai in Boiotia, a son of the river-god Kephisos and the fountain-nymph Liriope. He was celebrated for his beauty, and attracted many admirers but, in his arrogance, spurned them all. The suffering of two, however, brought down upon him a deadly curse. First there was the nymphe Ekho–a girl cursed by Hera to repeat only the last words of what was said before. When she was rejected by the boy, Ekho faded away in her despair leaving nothing behind but the haunting voice of her echo.

 

The other admirer was the youth Ameinias who became distraught when Narkissos cruelly spurned him and slew himself before his door, calling on the goddess Nemesis to avenge him. His prayer was quickly answered, when Narkissos fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool. Gazing endlessly at the reflection, he slowly pined away and was transformed by the nymphs into a narcissus flower. Others, however, say he was filled with despair and remorse and killed himself beside the pool. From his dying life’s blood the flower was born. Narkissos was the ancient Greek word for the narcissus flower or daffodil.

So what does this have to do with modern psychology?

The father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud, described Narcissism as a person who “denotes an excessive degree of self-esteem or self-involvement, a condition that is usually a form of emotional immaturity. “  The American Psychological Association came out with a new and updated diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM) this year. This manual is used by mental health clinicians to diagnose their clients. Historically Narcissistic Personality Disorder was listed in the older versions and the new version, DSM-V, was originally going to eliminate Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Why?

The Greeks had a very interesting way of pointing out something in someone that was amiss. They told a story. Through that story people could identify others or themselves something that was going on and the destructive results that occur as exhibited through the story. So why after thousands of years of recognizing Narcissism would a professional psychiatric organization want to remove Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Many circles blame social media because it gives the Narcissist the reflection of themselves they are looking for.

There are two rule outs in the DSM; cultural norms and within the context of religious practices. Guess what? Narcissism was considered as becoming a cultural norm and therefore was originally going to be left out of the new DSM.

It is interesting that an entire Greek culture turned a condition into a myth as an example of something unusual has transformed into a norm in modern society.

There are some behavioral red flags that a person can look for when dealing with someone who is Narcissistic.

  • Just like Narcissus, they reject others when others no longer serve them a purpose. This is common with Narcissists and codependents (not all codependents, they just make good candidates). For example, when a codependent discovers the Narcissistic behavior and draws a boundary the Narcissist will usually toss them aside and find a new person. Professionals call the people that the Narcissists surround themselves with Narcissistic Feed. They need this feed to feel grandiose or special.  (all about me)
  • Artificially and overly charming. They buddy up to people they want something from and when they get it they tend to disappear. That is until they want something else. This is the nice Narcissist and often make great business owners, entertainers and politicians as they can be very resourceful. Just be on the lookout if using the word “no” with them.
  • Using “no” brings wrath. The thinking here, and this is the ego defense mechanisms kicking in, is “how dare you.” This is the not so nice version of a Narcissist. They often become so wrapped up in themselves that when someone does not want to do what the Narcissist wants, the Narcissist gets defensive, angry and sometimes hostile towards others. Remember emotional immaturity? In the show Everyone Loves Raymond, Raymond’s mother Marie is an example of a female Narcissist.

So What to Do?

A person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be treated with Psychotherapy or “talk therapy.” It can and often takes years of frequent counseling sessions for a Narcissist to work through. That is if the person who has it is willing to work through it. This condition is typically rooted with issues that occurred in their formative years and therapy involves reworking everything that they have come to know and identify with themselves. It is a core identity issue and most will run from therapy not realizing it is the condition that is causing them to want to run.

The timing in therapy to expose this is delicate. Timing even off by a little breaches their inner wound too soon and therapy is added to the list of threats to the core identity. Most people who are involved with a Narcissist in their lives catch on after a while that something is wrong or off. Sometimes they shut down and let the Narcissist run everything (codependency) or draw a boundary and move on.  Narcissism can be debilitating and often the person who suffers from it in the long run begins to ask questions when they find themselves very alone staring at their reflection just like Narcissus did in the Greek myth.

“A mirror is like my own personal reality TV show—where I’m both the star and only viewer. I’ve got to get my ratings up.
”
Jarod Kintz,

References:

http://www.theoi.com/Heros/Narkissos.html

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/403458/Narcissus

 

Read Full Post »

Hope“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

Hope can be a powerful force. It drives the future with a sort of romanticized vision with excitement and enthusiasm. Whether it is with marriage, having children, an exciting career or a certain lifestyle, hope and dreams drive the motivation and inspiration to achieve that dream.

Sometimes, however, those dreams get crushed. Reality steps in and begins to paint a bleak picture of that future and over time the anticipation begins to fade. The vision gets lost, the hope disappears, motivation wanes and life can feel stuck. It’s almost as if the color gets washed out of the dream and it loses its luster appearance and develops that sense of hopelessness.

How does someone who is feeling in despair about their life bring hope back into the picture? Feeling like being in a hopeless situation does not necessarily mean they have to abandon hope itself. How a person chooses to view their situation can make a big difference. There is a quote from the Greek Philosopher Epictetus that says “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”  Pastor and author Max Lucado in one of his devotionals UpWords points out this example regarding someone who is optimistic in the midst of a hopeless situation…

On the wall of a concentration camp, are carved these words:

I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine.

I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.

I believe in God, even when He doesn’t speak.

Whoever wrote these words may have been in a tough place, but they refused to surrender their heart. Viktor Frankl in his book “Mans Search for Meaning” talks about how after being held prisoner in a Jewish concentration camp during WWII he lost his wife, children and all his possessions. He explains how he developed the mindset that even though his captors have taken away everything from him they cannot take away “my ability to choose how I respond.”

So what is a person to do when they find themselves suffering, in despair and feeling hopeless? These are normal feelings, however uncomfortable as they may be there are some questions that a person can ask that may alleviate unnecessary suffering. Eric Thomas is a motivational speaker that often talks to college students who are failing or dropping out. He tells them to “get a reward for the pain they are enduring, to go through it, they are already in pain, get something for it.” Mr. Thomas was homeless and took 12 years to get a college degree. He suffered, he endured but when he decided to change his mind about his situation was when things began to change. He helps other students come to this reality.

The people and quotes mentioned have some things in common for not losing hope even though their situation seemed hopeless. They kept their dreams alive by changing the way they looked at their situation. Here are some of the common characteristics they share regarding resolve and keeping their hope.

  • They keep their vision alive by changing their tactics. They understand there are different paths to achieve goals.
  • They learn from life. The take what they learn and apply it to future situations. A setback is not defeat or failure, it’s a learning experience. They gain understanding from it and move on.
  • They keep negative self talk to a minimum. Negative self talk rarely helps achieve goals or inspires hope. Self talk is habit forming, monitor which language is being used.
  • They don’t worry about what others think. This is different than caring, worrying about what others are thinking requires time that could be put toward a goal or self improvement.
  • They understand that results may vary. Two people can do the same thing but they don’t let the results define or validate who they are.
  • They rarely let their emotions cloud up their reasoning. Emotions can tell a person a lot about what they are experiencing in life. Emotional reasoning is about “if it feels bad then it must be bad.” Staying objective and being reasonable is about taking another perspective, or to think of alternative viewpoints. What is another way of looking at the situation that contradicts the bad?

Life can be difficult and at times it can feel hopeless. Changing the view of a situation can go a long way in turning things around. Take some time to examine life, find the good, monitor the self talk, take a different path and look for renewed hope.

 

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis

Read Full Post »

pararescue impFamous author and inspirational leader John Eldredge takes a minute to talk to the nature of a man’s heart. John often writes demonstrating the overlooked masculine side of Christ that men so fondly resonate with. While Eldredge is famous for his book Wild at Heart, this excerpt is taken from another one of his books “Waking the Dead.” John asks a very important question and the expectation of where someone might think of where they should be in life. Where is yours, do you quest to fulfill unmet expectations or are you sleepwalking through life?-BM

From Waking the Dead

John Spillane is a para-rescue jumper sent into the North Atlantic, into the worst storm of the twentieth century, the perfect storm, as the book and film called it, to rescue a fisherman lost at sea. When his helicopter goes down, he is forced to jump into pitch blackness from an unknown height, and when he hits the water, he’s going so fast it’s like hitting the pavement from eighty feet above. He is dazed and confused—just as we are when it comes to the story of our lives. It’s the perfect analogy. We have no idea who we really are, why we’re here, what’s happened to us, or why. Honestly, most days we are alert and oriented times zero. Dazed. Sleepwalking through life.

Has God abandoned us? Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as “part of life,” suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know—we’ve been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that’s true, then why didn’t he _______? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help you out more.

Either (a) we’re blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn’t this where you land, with all the things that haven’t gone the way you’d hoped and wanted?

An excerpt from

Read Full Post »

decisional balance

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ― Steve Maraboli

Deciding to take that first step to call a mental health professional to discuss personal problems can be an intimidating experience. It is normal to feel anxious or afraid when a person begins the process of opening up to discuss their issues especially if the pain has been stuffed or packed away for years. So, if going to therapy is about healing then what makes it so difficult? What causes people to avoid it? Why is it so hard to sort out problems and getting to the bottom of depression, relieving anxiety, or finally grieving the loss of something or someone held dearly? Or, perhaps what is going to take to finally kick that addiction habit that has become a routine part of life?

Often the answer to these questions are multifaceted for many reasons. A famous quote attributed to many famous people goes something like this, “people will only seek changing their situation in life when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than going through the pain of changing it.” Like this quote suggests, when does enough become enough? Emotions are strong and powerful motivators and often people seek counseling when they can no longer tolerate the pain. Emotions are there for a good reason, they say something about what a person is experiencing. Too often people become familiar with their pain, they don’t want to deal with it and results in a dysfunctional comfort zone or a type of distorted truth .

There is only so much emotional stuffing and distorting thinking the mind can hold. It has limitations. Like our dear old psychology friend Sigmund Freud once said “our bodies betray our minds.” In other words, the psychological suffering manifests itself somewhere else in the body. The worry wears holes in the stomach, leads to loss of sleep, stress creates body aches, anxiety can increase heart rate, blood pressure and sweating and in severe cases it can manifest into a panic attack.

A metaphoric way of looking at this is like that drawer at home that has been stuffed so full of junk it comes off the tracks because it won’t open. The drawer is opened and another miscellaneous object is tossed in there never to be seen or thought about again. Out of sight out of mind, right? But it is still there. Over time the junk drawer gets to be too much, it’s overwhelming, it needs to get cleaned out, organized and put back together. Following this is a sense of accomplishment , feeling better about the situation and it becomes more easily managed and maintained.

Where to Begin?

Recognizing that there is unwanted or unmerited pain in life is the first step. While this is good awareness, how does it lead to healing? Therapy now becomes a question of motivation and it might begin to get a little personal. A common reason for the uneasiness has to do with not wanting to roll out of the dysfunctional comfort zone and start breaking it all down. In assessing motivation this is referred to as being either ambivalent or contemplative. It is not action yet. The language of being ambivalent or contemplative says, “I don’t have/or want a problem, I’m okay right where I am” and all the while the person knows deep down inside the problem is there and unsure whether to take action.

A useful tool to help muster up the courage to go to counseling is something called a decisional balance. This process looks at, and weighs the balance of the benefits versus costs of counseling, and the benefits and costs of not going to counseling. For example:

Counseling Benefits:

  • Increased control over life
  • Better marriage/relationships
  • Better work performance
  • Improved health

Counseling Costs:

  • Experiencing emotional pain
  • Increased anxiety
  • Financial commitment

Not Counseling Benefits:

  • Don’t have to deal with problems
  • Easier to keep stuffing emotions
  • Don’t have to think about it

Not Counseling Costs:

  • Job loss
  • Relationship/Marriage loss
  • Increased health risk

These are only examples of how to measure and weight out the decision of whether or not counseling is needed. What side is the balance tipping toward, going or not going? In the long run, seeking out therapy is often a question of motivation. If still contemplating therapy ask and evaluate the answers to these very simple questions; what would be achieved as a result of going, what is the worst that could happen, what is the best that could happen?

Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Read Full Post »

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Sometimes when getting married, people may unknowingly be getting involved with a controlling manipulator. Controlling people manipulate others seeking personal gain in return. It’s a power and control play. They manipulate their spouse, or significant other, into doing whatever it is they want. They do not invest time nurturing the relationship and do this by making everything all about them. It’s a toxic personality.

The controlling person often sees others as a way to serve them or to provide something for them. People are to be used. This type of behavior is often found beyond marriage extending into family and their workplace. People seeking power and position in the workplace are notorious for manipulating others. They lack empathy and absent of compassionate behavior toward their spouse, and usually toward others in general. They can, and often, are very charming at first, that is, until they don’t get their way. Once they don’t get their way this is when the controlling power tactics show up. The superficial charm didn’t work so now force, manipulation and coercion is used instead.

The manipulation is a system of power and control tactics used to control the marriage or relationship. Listed here are some common areas that a controlling person will use to manipulate.

  1. Threatening behavior and intimidation. Examples of this behavior include the use of hard looks (staring) and body postures (stern,rigid), yelling, throwing and smashing objects, showing weapons, punching walls and the destruction of other property. Threats to hurt other people the spouse cares about and at times may threaten to kill themselves to get others to respond to their demands.
  2. Verbal and Emotional Abuse. This includes name calling, constant criticism, correcting your comments, being humiliated or put down in front of others, insulting the spouse’s heritage and family, silent treatment and guilt trips.
  3. Extreme jealousy. attempts to control who their spouse hangs out with and keeps constant tabs where ever they go including constant calling and texting their phone. At work they may email them or call demanding their attention. The manipulator doesn’t want any other person in their lives for the basic reason they are jealous of others getting attention. Remember, to the manipulator it’s all about them.
  4. Using the children. This may include putting pressure to get pregnant, using the children to force the spouse to stay home, threaten to call the state for abuse or neglect, charming the children with gifts to put a negative spin on the other parent (known as “demonizing”, common in divorces).
  5. Money. This includes putting the other spouse on a tight budget, demanding information about how every dollar was spent, expecting favors in return for spending money on them, playing king or queen with the checkbook. Playing king or queen is about spending money on themselves but refuse to allow the other equal portion. This includes belittling the other by telling them they are not worth what they want to spend or they don’t deserve it.
  6. Gaslighting:  Gaslighting is quite possibly the most covert of all tactics. This is a non-clinical term used to describe a manipulator who tries to convince you that how you perceive a certain situation is not what it appears. In other words, your thinking is wrong and the intent is for you to question your won sensibility about a given situation. If gaslighting is done long and frequently enough the victim may even begin to question their own sanity. If you run into a person who gaslights chances are you dealing with the most extreme of all manipulators, usually on the narcissistic and sociopath line of thinkers. Don’t try to convince them of what they are doing, they won’t see it, and again, they will try to convince you that you are the one who is seeing it wrong. These are the crazy makers.

One thing to remember is that a person who is a manipulator in relationship is usually doing these things based on a deep rooted irrational fear of loss of control. Internally for the manipulator, it becomes a power struggle after the ego feels threatened and must take action against you to protect itself. This often when the abusive behaviors show up as indicated in the list.

Know When It’s Time To Get Out

Any time a relationship becomes physically or emotionally abusive it is time to get out. The emotional abuse, manipulation, power and control tactics are all warning signs that something is toxic. Common reasons people don’t leave a relationship, marriage, job etc. is because they feel helpless or powerless, or that the manipulator will actually carry out the threats.

Getting out requires planning, or restructuring of how you live your life. In the workplace it requires boundaries which will be discussed in another blog topic regarding Toxic Bosses. There are many resources available online or in the community that outline what is needed to create a safety plan if you find yourself in a dangerous marriage or relationship. Confronting a power controlling person can and often makes the situation worse. Getting out safely is the main goal…and keep it covert. Stealth is the name of the game when trying to get away from this type of person.

If you or someone you know may be in a marriage or relationship who has been manipulated in some way to the point they are afraid to reach out for help know that help is available. Below are some resource that can be very valuable.

http://www.resourcepoint.org/guides/guides_entry/domestic_violence_guide/

Hotlines and Helplines

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Florida hotline:  1-800-621-4202 (TTY)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: