Online therapy, counseling & psychoanalysis

Moving towards health, success and well-being


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Me & My Dad: a selfie

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What are the bridges from low-self worth to the real self.

The real self, the authentic self is equally neurotic in grandiosity as he or she is in self-defeat.  Fearing that we are not enough we strive to meet an ideal that we create for ourselves.  This ideal is filled with over-compensation and is therefore as unreliable as our fearing self in relation to giving us the feeling that we are enough and therefore prideful in who we are.

The chronic question of who we want to be over-shadows the who we are in such a way as to blur reality.  In the state of chronic striving we miss the importance of the nuances of life and miss, as well, the feeling of warmth that we get from the experience of life.

Moving from cold toward our real selves is a movement toward warmth–life is warm.  Death is cold.  In this equation it is our task to live as well as we can within the boundaries of human limitations.  We can want to be better, we can want to learn a new skill, we can want more things and even a happier life; we just can not want as a chronic condition.

At some point in the process of a psychoanalysis we face who we are with certainty.  This is not the end of the process.  While at the still point of facing ourselves it becomes important to make the choice that is most comfortable with the self…This is fundamentally different from what we hear about in the media and what we grew up believing.

The comfortable choice allows for the thoughts to come from the ego, but does not buy into the idea that the ego’s voice is the only alternative.  Listening more closely to our body, the anxiety that arises, the lethargy that may impose itself; or the somatic complaints that we may have, need to be heard.  Because these sensations are often un pleasant we at times try to ignore and dismiss the feeling.  When we chose this option the voices of the body come back in a louder and stronger manner.

A question oriented toward self-understanding is the better option.  What am I trying to tell myself with the activation of this anxiety?  Am I on target?  Am I aiming for well-being?  These questions posed to the anxiety can shed light on an otherwise very dark place within our subjective self.

If we are aiming to please others rather than aiming for our well-being first we will lose focus and the lack of clarity actually exacerbates the power of the anxiety or the power of the somatic complaint.

It is important to remember that the idealized version of ourselves is as important to dismantle as is the condition of low self-confidence.

 

Below is an article written by a counselor in Texas.  It is short and it is accurate in its mission.

Happy reading.

 

 

http://www.bettertherapy.org/blog/low-self-esteem/

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Announcement of resumed services

Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis will resume hours in Providence, RI at the 16 Trenton Street office.  If you have not already contacted me to schedule an appointment please do so before Sunday of this week.  

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Telephone Consultations are still available if that is the most convenient–although, I would like to see everyone in person who I have not seen in the last seven weeks.

 

All appointments will be in Providence this first week back.  Appointments in Charlestown will resume when I am fairly certain that the road is passable and the drive way is cleared of ruts of ice.

Both the Tuesday and the Wednesday groups will meet as scheduled.  I would appreciate a count of who is returning this semester.  We will accomplish 13 weeks of group between February 25th and June 20th.  

If you know anyone who would enjoy or gain help from a group please have them contact me as soon as possible…

Be Mindful, As Ever,

 

Dr. Dussault


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You’ve Been Taking Breaks All Wrong. Here’s How To Do It Right.

The tittle betrays everything I talk about on a daily basis with patients, friends and even those few family members who are willing to listen to the old-man philosopher.  Nothing is right or wrong I like to say.  Suspend judgement, know your intent, be deliberate and above all move away from even using the words, “right” and “wrong”.

This tittle I swiped from the Huffington Post.  If you would like to read the entire link click on below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/youve-been-taking-breaks-_n_4453448.html?ir=Healthy%20Living&utm_campaign=121913&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-healthy-living&utm_content=Title

Here are a few snippets from the article that i strongly advocate:

2008 University of Illinois study found that the brain’s attentional resources drop after a long period of focusing on a single task, decreasing our focus and hindering performance. But even brief diversions, the study found, could significantly increase one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods of time………

There’s no way to perform at your highest level without allowing time for rest.

The article goes on to describe seven ways of taking a better break.  My favorite is the one I copied below.  Thanks for reading

Make it a mindful break.

meditation

The most effective breaks are those that involve calming the mind through practices like deep breathing, meditation or yoga (mindful movement), which allow for maximum renewal in minimum time. Meditation and deep breathing can be particularly effective in relieving stress.

You may not notice a difference immediately, but research has shown that over time, cultivating mindfulness is correlated with lower cortisol levels. Plus, practicing meditation could boost your creativity and compassion.


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A Note from a Colleague: CLAUDIA LUIS

 

Claudia Luiz
Author, “Where’s My Sanity?” Is available on Amazon
 
 Below is a recent note that I received from a dear colleague.  She recently authored a  book that will be of interest to many of you.  By way of introduction here is her note.

To my psychotherapy colleagues:

It never ceases to amaze me how — when people hear the word “psychoanalysis” — they still think of Freud. I mean yes, of course he’s the father of psychoanalysis. But really, if you stop to think about it, his first introductory lectures in the US were delivered at Clark University in 1903. That is over a hundred years ago!

Just forty years ago, my mother started studying psychoanalysis. And after that, my whole world changed. We went from being a family that loved each other but didn’t talk, to being a family that had a lot of anger that got talked about. And amazingly, all that anger being expressed, and dealt with, and processed and healed, brought us all so close together, and each individually, to such a better place. And no cigars!

Now, I’m a psychoanalyst. So I know even more about how far therapy practices have come. About emotional communication, emotional experiences, how we use countertransference (to understand not only our patients, but ourselves!) – and how art and science come together to guide our interventions…this is where it’s at.

It has become my mission to educate the general public about what a rich emotional experience therapy should be, and to restore hope and vibrancy to it. Because it seems like even our greatest advances in clinical practice are mostly unrecognized by the general public. People still think of therapy with an element of dread. It shouldn’t be that way. 

Now — I did not write an academic treatise or even an expository non-fiction book to fulfill my mission. I thought, “who would want to read that?” Instead, I wrote a set of moving stories about people in treatment, suffering from our most common-day afflictions – anxiety, depression, being stuck, unhappily married or raising difficult children. I wanted the everyday reader to experience – not just know – how therapy today can work to create deep and lasting change.

I am very pleased to report that “Where’s My Sanity: Stories that Help,” is being endorsed by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, and by the Society of Modern Psychoanalysis. Chapter Four, about my experience in clinical field studies with a schizophrenic called “Anita,” has been included, to date, in the curriculums and reading lists of four leading psychoanalytic institutes in the Northeast. 

I am so happy that the book’s solid foundation in clinical theory is being recognized, but what makes me even happier is when readers tell me that they couldn’t put the book down. People need faith that programs of change will help them, and I hope my book will help to stoke that faith, and that you will be interested in reading it and using it to help draw positive energy to your practice.

The book is available on Amazon (I can’t put a link to it in this letter) but if you go to amazon.com and put in “Where’s My Sanity?” you will see all five-star reviews, and be able to take a look yourself. Please feel free to request a copy of the chapter that is currently being used in classrooms – I will be very happy to send it to you myself via e-mail.

Very best,

Claudia Luiz, PsyaD

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 


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The Conflicted Child: ambivalently connected

The Conflicted Child

the conflicted child

The behavior of the difficult child has long been debated in the infamous “nature vs nurture” arguments—everyone chimes in with opinions; but fact and statistics do not

squarely fall on one or the other as having the answer.  We are a divided mind much in the same way that we possess divided cells.

Our cellular makeup can be measured as a wave or as a particle.  In a similar fashion our difficult children must be looked at as well from both perspectives.  Frequently our investment in one or the other comes from a personal interaction with the parents of the child and with the child itself.  But, when we view an insecurely attached child we are pretty sure that we are witnessing a cry for help, be that a cry that suggests help my parents to bring me up, or help me to be more attentive to the wishes of other.

Out of this simple paradigm we can see the conflict forming.  With a wild need on the part of the child or the parent to be accepted and to feel connected to something secure, we see fears conducting both sides of the equation.  It is difficult for us to conceive that a child of two or three years old can engage in a drama that is primarily reserved for adults.  It is hard to comprehend that the instincts of the child may be reacting not only to what is being done or not done to help the child to be conflict avoiding, but to how the parents themselves are reacting to each other.

In describing transference and the repetition compulsion Freud discovered that we humans tend to have an unconscious memory of early interactions and we will use those old patterns in regression (reverting to an earlier pattern of feeling or behavior)

in order to make sense out of our current world.

The addiction to old patterns is a well documented story, but nonetheless needs to be repeated for we adults of difficult kids to understand that the difficult behavior that we are witnessing is a survival mechanism that arose as a means of dealing with an early conflict.

Don’t we all wish it were that easy–”Oh, I know where my last “asshole” behavior came from, so now I am cured.”

No!  It will not work like that.  A behavior that has its antecedents in early childhood development will have consequences beyond our conscious mind.  The repetitions will emerge in a time of stress.  Stress in a young child can be as simple as the child not getting his or her way in the cocoa puff aisle of the supermarket.  The parents know it is  not a good source of food, but the child reacts as if it will not survive if it does not get what it wants.

In this scenario it is not the content (box of sugar cereal) that is the problem, it is the lack of understanding on the part of the parent that the cereal represents a perceived need that appears to the child as if it is life threatening.  This deeply seeded transference can emerge over nothing at all if the child is tired enough.  Children often do not appear as if they need more sleep, but in reality most children need a lot more sleep than they want to get.  And with our school schedules that meet the needs of the corporation first, children are not getting the sleep they need.  This is pretty much true across the board for children of any age.

Once again the parental ambivalence is at work if both parents are not on the same page with regard to helping the child to calmly learn how to sooth themselves and put themselves to sleep.

The child who does not experience a secure connection to the parents is often feeling that not because the parents are not trying to do what is best for the child, but rather they are negatively engaged with each other over any variety of things that a young couple can begin to have differences….money, how the house should look, free time, who has it and who does not, work, who does too much and who is perceived as having it cushy, sex, we are having too much or not enough….the list goes on, and on, and on.

The position of the child who is brought up within the context of an insecurely attached relationship, can adopt the behaviors that the parents have to each other rather that to what we are generally accustomed to seeing as a transference, that is, how the child is attached to the parent.

This “adopted transference” as I might like to call it is as prevalent and as decisively dysfunctional as a direct transference might be. If the parents are unhappy with themselves and by extension with each other the child being brought up by this bond will feel insecure about the bond because the bond that the child is attached to is, indeed, insecure.

Since the 1950’s we have been avalanched with advise from physicians, psychologists, talk show hosts, and new age realism.  In the process we hear at best confusing, if not conflicting messages about what is needed.  We hear a great deal about nature and nurture and as we listen to one side it sounds reasonable and then we listen to the other side and it too appears reasonable.

But most often we are hearing about the attachment to the child….The real hidden problem in our age of anxiety and multi-media bombardment is the lack of conversation that we are having about the impact of a dysfunctional marriage at the helm of the home ship.  If we are conducting our lives within conflict that conflict by contagion will impact the children.

Because every child possesses his or her own unique share of DNA and genetic history, we find it difficult to pose the question to parents.  “Is your dysfunctional marriage influencing the baby in such a way that he or she is picking up on conflict and descent

and using that conflict as a manner of relating to the world.

One of the methods of treating child hood mis-behaviors is called the child-guidance model. That model has the parents or parent being the object of the therapy.  The resistances to change are addressed in the parents and in the process of doing so, the parent is brought into a more direct attunement with the child.

The bulk of the problem for the discontent and disobeying child is in the lack of consistent boundaries.  It is frequently difficult for a parent to be as attuned as is needed to bring about a slow and steady sense of consistency.   We live in a world where the corporate mandate asks of us that if we want to keep our jobs we must make it the main priority in our lives.  That does not square with what a family needs and it certainly does not square with what a child needs.

Bed times are a major cause of protest from the child and if the parents are exhausted

by two long days at respective offices, the child’s  need for a boundary may be too exhausting to execute….In this example the child “winning” the boundary skirmish would have the effect of exacerbating the insecurity of the child.  Further if one parent gives in and the other becomes angry, that will further increase the anxiety and boundary attachment.

The one answer that remains consistent is the need for a couple with a dysfunctional child to get family help.  Once a family is taken hostage by an unattached or a ambivalently attached child, the road is a slippery slope.  As the child ages the consequences become more and more dire to the child’s well-being.

If we want to teach well-being to our children we need to be in a state of well-being ourselves.  If the marriage or coupling relationship we are in is one of negativity, the child risks the chance of becoming not like either parent, but like the relationship that the parents have and are displaying in front of the child…..

If this article resonates, find a way to become engaged with a professional who is able to see this paradigm as a possible cause and therefore a possible solution to the problems of a conflicted child..

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Groups Work: Things Are Never Only As They Seem

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Charity begins at home.  Group work teaches the elements of a functional community

It may not be necessary to start with the biological evidence that the space between objects, be they cells or planets, is charged with a dynamic that responds or at least carries data between one organism and another.  This “empty” space between objects has primarily been referred to as “nothing.”  Starting with that reputation and continuing right into the present, the study of the subjective has not  been considered a matter for science.  The physical world, the what-you-can-see-and-touch world was the physics of everything.

Common sense, and our sensual perceptions, however, tell us something very different.  At least in our atmosphere there is air between objects and when we are speaking of the space between two people in relationship there is a perpetual transference that exist between the two people and that transferences is at work all the time assessing and re assessing and internally commenting, or subjectively judging the quality and the quantity of the relationship between the two.

Human evolution has complicated these relationships by the, (in geologic time), relatively recent introduction of language; that is, a form of communication that allows for not only the perception of data but the synthesis and the analysis of data.

Language, or “just words” as a recent patient called it, makes use of the space between the two and uses that space as a vehicle to communicate symbols and sounds that are organized in such a way allowing for one person to pretty accurately render a thought and/or an emotion from one to the other.

It is that very space between the two that defines the differences and explores the similarities.  Psychoanalysis is the science that has in the last one-hundred plus years provided the most convincing data that relationships are not only random bumpings into each other.  Instead, psychoanalysis has shown us through clinical research that human interactions are froth with not only what is happening in the moment; but our dynamic interactions contain transferences that may come from not only an earlier event in our lives, but might be handed down in some kind of genetically coded ancestral characteristics.

We are a complicated lot, we humans.

My favorite place to acquire knowledge and understand about my patients is in groups.  I find groups to contain the metaphors for all that we encounter in the rest of our lives.  The circle, the intimate group is a setting in which the negative union is guaranteed a fair hearing.

There is a quality to family life that is evolving in a way that bothers me greatly.  Often I see alienation and disconnections between people and especially in families.  This lack of connection grows into a disrespect because frustrations and negative union are some how not permitted to exist.  It is as if we are homogenizing into a purity of intention that is so fearful of the bacterias that might contaminate, that we are avoiding dynamic differences between us altogether.  We have grown to despise differences in our politics, our society and our families.

As we unconsciously move forward to where we all wear a size nine shoe.  Many of us can not and do not want to keep up with the mis-guided marching forward unconsciously.  We are marginalized and even legislated against.

Let’s get rid of the safety net for the poor and the unfortunate because they are a drag on society.  In the same way we have become use to not calling Mom because she will probably say something that we do not agree with and we do not want to be subjected to an opinion other than our own.  We seem to have become unable to disagree without hating and defending.

We are closing down at home and at work and in our politics.  Differences are seen as dangerous to my greed and growth so they are witnessed with caution.  Eventually the disenfranchised are arrested and punished for the discomfort they cause us.  In families the tendency is to simply drift further away until connections become simply too inconvenient.

The very compassionate and loving feeling of sadness has been trampled into anger, and where there use to be life long attempts to resolve differences, we are seeing major cut-offs in contact and communication.  This further causes the ennui from which our age suffers, but in many cases the new feeling of ennui is also transferred or put onto “The Other”, further complicating resolution, repentance and restitution.

I find that working in groups, we develop more thoughts and  insights into who we are and into the variety of influences that effect or everyday decision making.  I find that empathy and love and compassion and understandings are easier to come come by in a setting where a nonjudgmental atmosphere contributes to intimate investigations that increase our capacity for strength by developing a tolerance for vulnerability…

Group work has been the centerpiece of my psychoanalytic training.  Process and not out-come has been the method through which making the unconscious conscious takes shape.  Group work has also become the centerpiece of my psychoanalytic practice.  When we gather for the explicit purpose of building community we are exposed to our weakness and we are exposed to our strength.  This complete, undistorted view of ourselves, this processing movement toward authenticity provides the new paradigm from which we learn to operate our minds and our bodies in a manner conducive to health, success and happiness…..

Charity still begins at home.

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on-line talk therapy.com (fall-schedule) & a brief blog on perspective

Well, one more summer, one more whirl-wind ride through the universe and we arrive at, now.

summer 2013

I always feel in sync with the  Jewish Holidays, because the new year always begins in September for me.  Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis will have its doors opened on Tuesday September 10th at 297 Wickenden Street in Providence.  Also individual appointments can also be made for meetings at the Lake house in Charlestown beginning on Thursday September 12th.

I look forward to seeing some people that I have not seen all summer and I look forward to continued work with those folks who have maintained their analysis by phone or by analytic scripting.

The Groups will meet at the same schedule as last year:

Tuesday Group:   September 10 through October 12th    &    November 12th  through December 17th

Wednesday:          September 11 through October 15th    &     November 14th through  December 18th

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There will be 12 groups to the fall semester in Providence.  The break in october will be for three weeks and there are a number of options for how to work during those three weeks that I will be in the St. Augustine Office.  Suggestions and opinions will determine how we deal with the three weeks away mid-semester…..I have a capable co-therapy partner is one option I am considering.

Another new item is the method of payment for group.  You can elect to pay in advance for the entire 12 week course, or you can pay as you have in the past at the end of the month or at each session.  If you must use a credit card for pay-in advance then there is a 12% sur-charge for the processing fee.  If you pay in cash or check in advance you may give yourselves a 12% discount.

Of course, talk to me individually about fee negotiating.

If you are new to my practice you may not know that I insist on a negotiated fee.  I feel strongly that this talk about money and the impact that it has on what we can and can not do, is foundational to the analytic relationship.

I hope to see you all very soon.  I am looking forward to studying together some of the patterns that came up over the summer for some folks.  Many of the individual conflicts that we talked about would be great fodder for our collective mill.  As you know about me.  I love the process of analytic groups.  They represent the most basic system of order know to man–the consensus .  We toss our conflicts around and we look around at Other’s tossed-around conflicts and we wonder if order can be made from the chaos.

It can, and it does once the primary resistances are cleared away making room for a new perspective to invade the strong ego.  New perspectives are what is needed to stop the old repetitions.  Often we are so in love with our own beliefs it becomes impossible to tell the difference between a sacred belief and a delusion.

The fear of shame that is at the core of a narcissistic wound, is itself an infant in a pre-verbal stage of development.  Regression, that nasty and hasty rush back to a state of pure sensation is enough to trip up any one of us.  We all have it, we all suffer with it.  It is not a neurosis or a mental condition.  No, it is a source of information.  Information that has lodged itself into our bodies and acts out in a multitude of painful somatic and chaotic behaviors.  When our bodies yell they do so with pain.  But the yelling is in vain if you only quell it, or worst pay no attention to it.  The Pain of a somatic situation is a message that something is wrong with the organism and a “new-perspective” will be needed if the pain of the repetition is to be understood.

New perspectives, (especially those that come from the heart, the instincts, or the soul) are central to our connection with all of sentient life.  They connect us with nature, with the elements of the universe that can have a natural and positive impact on our journey “whirling through space in complete darkness on a spinning ball with no one guiding the ship,” as on patient put it this summer.

PRACTICAL Information:

My hours of Analytic Time are very flexible, my practice is a part of my life, not an addendum or an artificial add-on.  Consequently talking and working with people who are lost in an internal conflict is a challenge that i welcome with great pride and that I perform with a relative high degree of success.  The object of a successful analysis is knowledge.   We need to know  how to get health, happiness and success.  The delusions that get in the way of this work are the resistance that the analysis recognizes.

As Ever & in-joy,

Dr. A. L. Dussault

Mindfulness in Psychoanalysis

aldussault@gmail.com

(401) 447 5765