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What is Gaslighting?

July 4, 2021

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting at its essence is an attempt by one person to gain control over another person through mental and emotional manipulation. The primary mechanism of manipulation is the deliberate effort to supply false information that leads the victim to question what they know to be true. Victims often end up doubting their memory, perception, and interpretations. The person gaslighting will deny facts, experiences, or feelings. The end goal is intended to create increasing control and less resistance from the victim.

How it Begins

Often these relationships can start out quite well. A perpetrator may flatter and praise their victim as well as make significant disclosures rather quickly in an effort to establish trust quickly. Although it can happen in any type of relationship, it is most common in romantic relationships. These behaviors often occur throughout the relationship but are also especially prominent when attempting to assert a particular agenda. Over time the perpetrator can gain increasing control over their victims mentally, emotionally, physically, and even financially. This form of manipulation is abusive because it is intended to control another. Tactics and Profile of a Gaslighter Those people who employ gaslighting strategies and tactics often have personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder read more

June 19, 2021

In the last article in this series on emotional regulation, we talk about the different means and mechanisms by which people learn to actively suppress their emotions. The goal of understanding and becoming increasingly aware of this is to help set the stage for healthy emotional expression and release. In this article, we will discuss some fairly simple guidelines and suggestions for expressing feelings. Most people are able to quickly realize how they are suppressing, realize they probably need to stop suppressing, but fear stopping. They fear if they do express their feelings a great dam will burst open and they will not be able to stop the outpouring of emotion. There is some potential truth in this fear. Due to ongoing suppression, people stockpile feelings and they build up like steam in a pressure cooker. We cannot guarantee you that at times you will not lose control over some of your feelings and feel overwhelmed. We can assure you that you will not die or “go crazy”. We can also assure you that over time that pressure will begin to lessen and dissipate, which will make it easier to regain healthy control over your feelings. With some coaching, hopefully, we can teach you how to prevent the dam from bursting open and read more

May 22, 2021

For generations, women have complained about the men in their lives being stoic, flat, unemotional, and even like robots. Whether it is their father, boss, or significant other, many women find it nearly impossible to get an emotional response to the question, “How are you feeling?” Keep in mind this phenomenon is not exclusive to men, as we certainly see some women end up in this place, just as we know there are some men who are very capable of being emotional. In clinical practice, it seems about 80% of men struggle with emotions and about 10-15% of women struggle with expressing emotions. In this three-part series, we will discuss how so many men come to be so emotionally restrained. In the second article, we will discuss how it is that men are able to interfere and hamper their own emotional expression. In the final article, we will discuss the path back to emotionality for our men.

The Two Part Emotional Process

When it comes to feelings, there are broadly speaking, two main components to the process: the experience and the expression. We see many men who believe they are quite in touch with their internal experience of emotions in that they can label and identify what they are feeling on the inside. Some guys are confused about what they are experiencing, and others rarely feel anything on the inside. Where most guys fall down is on the expression side of the read more

March 14, 2021

Many people use the terms guilt and shame interchangeably and are not even really sure what makes them different. There are important differences; especially in terms of the impact they can have on you and how you address them. Let’s look at what makes guilt and shame differently. Guilt: Is an emotion that occurs as an automatic reaction to acting against one’s own morals and values. For example, if Bill values honesty, but he goes home and lies to his wife, he will suddenly feel guilty. Interestingly, the purpose of function of guilt is that it is designed to get you back in alignment with your values, i.e., to be a good person. In our example above, Bill’s guilt will hopefully propel him to get honest with his wife, or simply stop lying to her in the future. Shame: Is an emotion that occurs in reaction to a perception of self-defectiveness. For instance, Beth might believe there is something bad or wrong with her when a guy didn’t call her for a second date. In many instances shame causes people to hide parts of themselves that they believe are self-defective from others in an effort to avoid humiliation. Most people who do this only allow others to see and interact with the persona they portray, because of the fear that if they were genuine and real, they would be humiliated in front of others. The primary diff read more

February 27, 2021

Most parents struggle with getting their children to comply with directions, get chores done, and simply being cooperative. There is a technique called a token economy system that has been around for a very long time and works quite well with most children. It is based on positive reinforcement and a reward system so that if you are a parent who is reluctant to punish and give consequences, this tool should work wonders.

Token Economy System

A token economy system can work with children as young as two and still be effective with kids up to 13-14 years old depending on their maturity level. The principle is fairly simple. The parents select 2-5 targeted behaviors that they would like to see improve, for example putting dishes in the dishwasher or not hitting a sibling. With young children (2-8 years old) we recommend getting a notebook and listing the goals (dishes and not hitting) at the top. Get a supply of various stickers from any craft store; preferably ones your child thinks are cool. Then sit your child down and let them know that you have created a new system where they have a chance to earn stic read more

January 30, 2021

What Are the Facts About Domestic Abuse?

Recent studies and statistics reveal that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This can include shoving, pushing, slapping as well as more severe forms of violence. Roughly 10 million people are impacted by domestic abuse each year. Sadly, 1500 deaths occur each year from domestic violence. In sum, domestic abuse is all too common. Abuse and violence can take lots of different forms. Most people are aware of the physical forms of abuse but are often less knowledgeable about the other forms of abuse. Abuse can be emotional, psychological, sexual, economic, and occur in the form of neglect. Domestic abuse occurs across all races, socioeconomics, education levels, religious groups, genders, and sexual orientations. Nurses are typically the first people to encounter domestic abuse, but sadly most perpetrators and victims do not seek out help.

What Motivates and Drives Domestic Abuse?

Most people who abuse others have an intense need to control. Many perpetrators struggle with jealousy issues, low self-esteem, and feelings of inferiority. Many simply cannot regulate their emotions very well, in particular feelings of anger. Unfortunately, for some, it is learned behavior as they grew up in homes with domestic a read more

January 3, 2021

Divorce Facts and Findings

Choosing to get a divorce is one of the biggest and most personal decisions a person can make. It’s a decision that has sweeping implications for everyone involved. It is almost always an upsetting event that leaves people feeling great disappointment and grieving the loss of hopes and dreams. Compounding these losses are people left trying to adjust and cope with the stressors that affect us legally, financially, emotionally, socially, as a parent, all the way down to logistically in terms of living space. For many this is perceived as the lesser of two evils as relationships have become too acrimonious, painful, and toxic. Most Americans believe that it is better to get a divorce than be in an unhappy and unproductive marriage. Overall, the divorce rate is declining, having gone from 50% of all marriages ending in divorce to only 39% recently. Millennials between the ages of 25-39, now comprise 60% of all divorces. Although age 30 is still the average age of divorce, the divorce rate in people over 50 has doubled since 1990 likely giving way to changes in former conservative beliefs in an era that has become more accepting of divorce. Next, let us look at the primary factors that cause divorce.

Causes of Divorce

There are countless reasons and cau read more

December 13, 2020

As an adult, we all grew up experiencing parenting from our caregivers. Undoubtedly, you have your own opinions about the aspects of the parenting you received and which parts were good and which parts were less than desirable. Many of us decide to go on and have children of our own and find ourselves faced with the daunting task of now being in the parenting role. Most of us yearn to do as good or better than what we received as children but realize we may only have a single frame of reference with which to draw upon. In this article, we will discuss the different parenting styles that exist, what they look like, and the potential impact on the child. In the 1960’s an imminent psychologist Diana Baumrind through years of research delineated three distinct parenting styles. In 1983 Maccoby and Martin expanding Baumrind model to include a fourth parenting style. Overarching these different parenting styles are two stylistic attributes that are quite important to discuss. The first is demandingness or discipline. This refers to a spectrum upon which the parent falls in terms of the degree to which they control their child’s behavior and expect them to behave maturely. The other stylistic attribute is responsiveness which refers to the extent to which a parent is nurturing and accepting of a child’s emotional and developmental needs. Some feel it encompasses the degree of lo read more

November 14, 2020

The experience of loss is an unfortunate reality that none of us can escape during our time here. Dealing with losses is one of the more difficult stressors that we all face at various times in our lives. Having an understanding of the process and ways to navigate this process can make it more tolerable. Grief and loss are not specific to the people we care about, nor does it mean the death of someone. Although someone passing away may be the most commonly associated with grief and loss, it also pertains to the break up of a relationship, loss of a job, end of a marriage, loss of abilities, loss of dreams, or treasured object to name just a few. The common denominator with loss is the attachment and strong feelings we possess about whatever it is we lost. Whether its familiarity, nostalgia, compassion, concern, or love, it is these feelings that bring about pain and sadness when we experience a loss.

Stages of Grief

Many people are familiar with the stages of grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. Many people experience these stages and it can be helpful to be familiar with them as it allows us to know what to anticipate and expect when dealing with grief and loss. It should be noted that not everyone goes through all of these stages and they often do not occur in a linear fashion. Often, we see people cycle through anger and sadness repeat read more

November 1, 2020

In the last article, we talked about the incredible impact and effect that suicide has on individuals, families, and the community. In this article we are going to talk about how to prevent suicide. With proper knowledge and awareness, there are things we can do to intervene and hopefully prevent unnecessary losses.

Predisposed Temperament

The greatest triad of factors that account for most suicides are a person’s predisposed temperament and genetic vulnerabilities, severe psychiatric illness, and acute psychological distress. A predisposed temperament can include things such as an impulsive nature, a tendency to be emotionally volatile and reactive, and genetic vulnerabilities can include a tendency to have mental health issues or even a family history of suicide. By severe psychiatric illness we are referring to severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance abuse. If one or more of these are going on, a person is it high risk for suicide. Acute psychological distress are often environmental factors such as loss of a job, divorce, or breakup of a relationship to name just a few. Whether it is yourself or a loved one, being alert and on the lookout for this perfect storm can let you know when you need to be aware and possibly intervene. Temperament may or may not change read more