They call it pareidolia. It is all right if you never heard of it — you have probably experienced it. We don’t just love stories. Our brain seems to need them. We take what is inanimate and give it an identity, a spirit, a character, a story. In 1944 a couple of psychological researchers at Smith college showed an unimaginatively dull and insipid movie of black triangles and lines and such moving about to 34 “subjects,” probably unpaid Smith students (who may also have been emotionally or even sexually frustrated) when all but one of them described this 2 1/2 minute movie with amazing “humanity.” They saw scenarios like two male triangles keeping a female circle prisoner. Read more on Seeing Virgin Mary or Christ In Stains…
People often want to know something about their psychiatrist.
There is this thing called “transference” where their past relationship history can certainly color what they think and feel. I have no big secrets to hide from my patients, so I can usually be direct and take only an insignificant amount of time on these issues. Usually it just takes one of my stabs at humor.
For those to whom religion is an important facet of life, I am often asked about my beliefs. I often end up saying things like, “I am very sorry I am Jewish and not the Christian you would have preferred, but do you think Christ could work through a crazy old Jewish lady like me who would work really hard to help you feel better?” A “yes” and a laugh and we get straight into the meat of things with that one. Read more on Liberal or Conservative — Different Brains or Different Opinions?…
I have heard just a little too much about suicide among the religious — from patients, from others, now this; to the son of a published pastor who gave an invocation for the Obama folks.
I really do feel for the family, for death of the younger generation before the older one by any means including suicide by his own hand, is a horrible thing that is anti-nature and has a profound wrongness, a too-deep effect on all involved.
I was way back in residency when I attempted to gather some statistics on the association between religion and psychiatry in Kansas, sending a basic questionnaire on feelings about mental illness (and referral patterns to mental health professionals) to a big list of Wichita area “religious professionals.”
First, I had already made the assumption from the French part of my education that not too many people actually went to church, but none of them seemed to much care about mental health professionals.
In Kansas, with the world’s worst statistics (no major support on this from my
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…