Family

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Sometimes my mother would act strangely.

I remember when she told me that she remembered when my tiny behind could fit entirely into her hand, and that for that reason she did not have to listen to anything I said.  I did not follow the logic, but since I certainly could not remember when my behind was that small, she had me.

It seems that wherever I go, whatever clinical situation I have found myself in, my female colleagues on the staff eventually start talking about mothers and daughters.

The following statistic is not from valid research mind you – just from casual observation – but every mother wants to have a daughter just like her.This does not happen, as I patiently explained to my mother, because of the DNA getting all jumbled up through something called genetic recombination. I would probably have a daughter who was as charming as Great Aunt Gussie, the woman who had stolen the family inheritance and had not been known to be particularly polite in polite society either.

Butch Cassidy and his Hole In The Wall gang

Probably the most famous outlaw gang in history -- Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

The fact that mothers and daughters are genetically different is only one reason moms just never get someone “just like” them. Mothers and daughters grow up in different eras. A woman of my mother’s era may feel that her professional options were limited — teacher or nurse, maybe, but these were generally some sort of “skill builders” until Mr. Right came along.

My mother told me that her mother wanted to do something vaguely medical, even had some kind of an interest in laboratory analysis.  But she ended up being some kind of a religious philanthropist, starting Jewish institutions.  Nice, but not hands-on caring for other people, if that is where your passion is.

There are other differences, in family and upbringing, that are too great to describe.  Here is a superficial if not-otherwise bad article on this from our friends at Good Housekeeping and Web MD.

But wait, there’s more.  Consider the 32-year-old woman with allegedly healthy five and seven year old children at home, who said she was wildly depressed because her mother did not visit, did not come around at all, and could not seem to have a good, happy relationship with her.

I asked her the obvious question.  What kind of activities did she enjoy with her mother? I tried not to jump when I heard the response.

“Armed Robbery.” Read more on Family Bonding As Outlaws…

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I have grudgingly accepted that we live in an anti-intellectual society but I find it extremely difficult to take care of people who do not know if they are pregnant or not — and have no interest in pregnancy tests. You might ask what business is it of mine?

Teens Having Babies Is Hardly News AnymoreIt is my primary business – giving people prescription drugs or natural alternatives to same.  If these people are women of child-bearing age, I have to know – and advise them – of potentials for birth defects, transmission of substances through nursing, and other eventualities.

So it is extremely important in my line of work to determine if a woman is pregnant, nursing or even just planning to have a baby. Read more on Children Having Children Is Not A Sustainable Model For Society…

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We have chosen collectively, as a society, to use the year-end holidays to mark the passage of our years.  This means that both memories and emotions seem to pour out of the heavens and clobber us all. None of us has had, to my knowledge, a Thanksgiving that looked anything like the Norman Rockwell painting of everyone sitting at the table being fed by a loving grandmother — a reality that has been soundly parodied.

Despite efforts at legislating “political correctness”, there are plenty of people who are not Christian suffering through Christmas — especially those with children who watch television and assimilate its methods. When I was very young and going to a Jewish religious school, the intensity of the group identity made it easy, even though there were several group activities my parents did not let me participate in. They were mostly the Sabbath-oriented ones, as we drove in cars and turned on lights and did other things the very Orthodox, who ran the place, did not do. It was clear even to a very young psyche, that Chanukah was a warm and light-filled time, with special games and special treats and special songs and special joys. Read more on Christmas For Religious Minorities…

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I had never seen this slightly disheveled 52 year old woman before and she was crying her heart out. Her father had died 24 hours earlier from what she could only call an “all over the place” kind of cancer. His struggle had been long and hard and she thought she had done a good job of preparing herself psychologically. But still, the depth of her grief was pretty immense, so I managed to get her to talk. She said that all her life, she felt she had never been able to please her father, and now she knew she never would. He wanted all kinds of academic achievements and prestigious jobs for her, none of which she got. It simply made her feel like a failure.

Well, even though I am mainly a “pill pushing mama” to the world, I wanted desperately to say something to ease her pain. It would not help much if I told her the truth of what is going on, that she was crying not for dad, but for her own feelings of inadequacy. Read more on Pleasing Daddy — And Failing…

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“I really don’t need medicine.  I am fine and I applied to the fire department and I will be a firefighter.”

This is a typical response from a man.  In our culture, we raise junior John Wayne types — tough and independent.

He was in the room with his mother, who was fighting back tears.  “I have tried everything to make him take medicine.  I can beg him, but he does not take it very often.” Read more on The Mother Who Learned To Trust…

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My husband and I went to the movies yesterday.  We are not excited by hype or first run or being the first on our block to see or do anything. So we went to a second-run movie and saw the third in the “Shrek” series.  Now the story was fine and the animation was impeccable.  But me, being me, I always look for the “meta-message” in movies.  What “message,” what lesson are the children (and adults) who sit through this movie getting pumped into their subconscious mind? I am assuming we are talking about the subconscious mind, since I have never heard other people talk very much spontaneously about this issue, which to me is a very fascinating one. First, a little about Shrek III for those adults and children who may have missed it.

Shrek is bored with the non-ogre like life as a father of a family with Fiona, his own true love.  So much so that he signs a pact with Rumpelstiltskin – who seems to have purchased the embodiment of evil franchise from Satan.  This launches him into a plot that is essentially the same as Jimmy Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life” (and if you’ve never seen that movie, just wait until Christmas season and it will be on every TV channel night and day for a month). Read more on Movies Give Us The Meta-Message…

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Of all the trials and tribulations we can suffer in life, none is so devastating as the loss of a loved one.

Unfortunately, we will all eventually suffer such a great loss and the grief that it brings.

Believe it or not, a properly trained professional can help minimize the grief and help those sufferers to cope. Much of this horrible experience can be truncated, if not removed, by people who know what they are doing.

But it seems that most people don’t believe this, and some people will never learn. Read more on No Need To Suffer Through Grief — Get Help!…

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The Fourth of July has come and gone this year. Once again, I have managed to avoid every parade and every fireworks display. This time, I did not even hear a firecracker.

The last time I saw fireworks was several years ago when a chronically depressed and critical (but on some level intellectual, highly cultured, and fun-loving) threw a party as she happened to be living in a rented home from which three fireworks displays were easily visible.  I remember that although I was my usually pretty stone cold sober self, many of her intellectual, highly cultured, and fun-loving friends had no trouble becoming rip-roaring drunk.

Perhaps patriotic holidays are one of those days, like New Year’s (Eve) when the “amateurs” get drunk; the people who otherwise are not terribly likely to do so.  The “professionals,” the backbone of Alcoholics Anonymous, probably watch fireworks stone cold sober while smiling at the “amateurs.” Read more on Public Displays of Patriotism…

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During residency training in psychiatry, when I was learning how to do psychotherapy, I learned that the lady at the front desk ran the clinic.  She did the “statistics.”

I thought she was hyper, but she told me she subsisted on coffee and crashed on the weekends.  She actually told me so much personal information, I suggested she become a patient at the resident clinic.  She said there was a rule against it.  I told her to go to another clinic, but she told me she could not get time off, something I never quite believed.  But she told me, also, that she understood what was going on with me.  This was news to me, except that I knew I was struggling to be a good psychotherapist.

The stories of everybody’s lives that they told me were so terrible I thought I might just go home and cry every night.  I did a little at first, but I got over it.  Then, she told me my “statistics.” It seemed that more of my patients came back for more visits than anyone else’s.  They liked me. Read more on You Don’t Have To Be A Jewish Mother To Have Empathy…

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He was an urban youth.  I could not even determine his racial origin and I had to ask him (county regulations – tracking who it paid for – not my choice). It was mixed, and essentially indeterminate, a regular American melting-pot.

His head was shaved, so I could not make any guesses on the basis of hair type. There were facial tattoos, of the tribal sort, lots of triangles, but nothing as fiercely antisocial as some of the obscene drawings or sayings I had seen tattooed on prison inmates faces.  Or in the case before me – ex-cons. And there was one of those little cylinders in his earlobe –the kind that men wear to stretch the open hole in their earlobes large enough to allow passage by a small sparrow.  I believe the tradition is for tribal identity to prove something about achievement in the face of pain.  It differs according to whom you ask, and this young man was not ripe for asking about that topic.

baby daddy

“I’m depressed.  Real depressed.”

I wanted to know why.  “I got kids.  Seven of them, three different states.  The seventh one was born three days ago.  I was with the Mommy, and we were really happy because he looks just like me.”

Quite an achievement for someone only 22 years old. However, my congratulations did not bring him solace. “I guess you aren’t feeling too great about it, though, or else you wouldn’t be here, feeling depressed.”

At least he wasn’t suicidal.  I could treat him as an outpatient. Read more on Male Postpartum Depression (Yes — MALE!)…

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