Therapy That Works...

The Role of Family In "Fast and Furious 7" - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Watch Chris and Dr. Sylvia discuss family in the Fast and the Furious film series and how families of choice are made and why. click here.

Survivor Guilt In "Insurgent" (from The Divergent Series) - By Chris Gearing

Friday, March 27, 2015

Watch Chris and Dr. Sylvia discuss why and how Tris (Shailene Woodley) is suffering from survivor's guilt and complex trauma in the new film "Insurgent" from "The Divergent Series". click here.

Christian Grey's Need For Control In "Fifty Shades of Grey" - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing and Chris Gearing discuss why Christian Grey has such a desperate need for control in the new hit film, "Fifty Shades of Grey" - txt to link goes here.

Trauma and Romantic Relationships In "Fifty Shades of Grey" - By Chris Gearing

Monday, February 23, 2015

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing and Chris Gearing discuss how trauma affects romantic relationships in the new hit movie "Fifty Shades of Grey" - click here.

Christian Grey's Childhood Trauma In "Fifty Shades of Grey" - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 20, 2015

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing and Chris Gearing discuss the role of childhood trauma in the new hit film, "Fifty Shades of Grey" - click here.

The Psychopath In "Gone Girl" (SPOILERS) - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Who is the psychopath in "Gone Girl"? - click here.

PSYCHOPATHS - Is Louis Bloom In "Nightcrawler" A Psychopath? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 30, 2015

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss whether or not Jake Gyllenhaal's character in the movie "Nightcrawler" is a psychopath - click here.

What do you think of when you hear the word “psychopath”?

Most of us think of characters in movies like Heath Ledger’s Joker or Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The word has become an umbrella term for describing those we view as violent, manipulative, and dangerous. However, the work of Theodore Millon and Roger Davis on psychopaths has discerned ten distinct types of psychopaths.

Jake Gylenhall’s unsettling portrayal of Louis Bloom in the hit movie “Nightcrawler” is a brilliant portrayal of the unprincipled psychopath.This psychopath lives to prey on the weak, influence others to execute their will, and do whatever it takes to advance their self-centered agenda. They aren’t afraid to take calculated risks, but they truly believe that consequences only apply to those too stupid to avoid them.

Predator or Prey

Highly narcissistic and lacking any conscience, they stalk the streets as a predator looking for an opportunity. Normal human emotions including empathy are discarded since they are deemed unbecoming of the unprincipled psychopath. Exploitative, arrogant, and immune to the pain of others, the unprincipled psychopath approaches the world as a zero sum game. Winning is always at some else’s expense. He considers himself superior, self-disciplined, and incredibly effective.

Friend or Victim

Interpersonally, the unprincipled psychopath is a disaster. They manipulate situations and motivations to seduce others into their exploitative schemes. Other people are interesting only as long as they are useful or exciting. They are often able to temporarily maintain a charming façade and can even be well liked by certain people. Once they have triumphed, people are discarded ruthlessly, quickly, and even sadistically.

Defeat Thy Neighbor

The unprincipled psychopath enjoys using humiliation as an instrument of revenge. According to Millon, their mantra is, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” They extract every useful resource from the other person, and then they sadistically enjoy watching the confusion and subsequent horror of others when they discover the true agenda. Contemptuously, he enjoys the process of seduction and the subsequent suffering of his prey as they struggle to escape his web of deceit.

Source:

"Psychopathy" by Theodore Millon, et. al.

"The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson

"The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout

PSYCHOPATHS – Psychopathy In Gone Girl (Spoilers!) - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 14, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the psychopathic character in Gone Girl and highlights some psychopath red flags to watch out for - click here.

Last chance before any "Gone Girl" spoilers!

Rosamund Pike’s character, Amy Dunne, in the movie Gone Girl is another reminder that psychopaths walk among us in everyday settings. Harvard and Yale educated, Amy Dunne strikes a vivid chord as she details the heart stopping, passionate relationship with Ben Affleck’s character, Nick. We see them falling in love only to fall apart a few years into their diary chronicled marriage.

The relationship takes a dark turn as the couple loses jobs, income, and romantic momentum as they relocate from glamorous downtown New York City to the suburbs in Missouri. Despite the noble purpose of caring for Nick’s dying mother and the setting of a beautiful mansion, the couple descends into heartbreak, infidelity, and ultimately betrayal. Amy narrates her suspicions, her disdain, and eventually her accusation of murder toward the man who is now a shadow of the husband she once loved and adored.

However, the true story is quickly revealed.

Amy is a psychopath who has been meticulously plotting revenge against her husband for months. Little by little, she has assembled the pieces for a slam-dunk conviction for first-degree murder. Amy isn’t going to settle for life in prison either; her goal is his eventual execution for her very staged death.

As a psychologist, I found Amy’s biased version of events quite familiar since psychopaths are experts at presenting a convincing and stylized view of reality. It is as if they live in a parallel world from which they select only the facts that will favor their version of reality. They are masters at drawing us into a highly rearranged presentation of facts and events that make us question our own sanity. Good is bad, up is down, and black is white. It is incredibly easy to get lost in the labyrinth of lies and deceit.

The worst part is the eventual sacrifice of the welfare of those around them in the blink of an eye.

Without empathy, without regard for others, and (most importantly) without conscience, the psychopath seeks only an outcome that is singularly triumphant for them. Your complete and utter destruction is just collateral damage. They are psychological predators of the highest order and they are increasingly common in the business world, the professional fields, and even your neighborhood.

For more information, make sure to watch my upcoming Psychopath series featuring ten types of psychopaths and critical signs you can watch out for.

Sources:

"Psychopathy" by Theodore Millon PhD DSc, Erik Simonsen MD, Roger D. Davis PhD, Morten Birket-Smith MD

"The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout

"The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson

Violence - The Effects of Violent Movies on Children and Teens - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the effects of movie violence on children and teens and how parents can limit violent movies and maintain their relationship with their child - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior. Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are wondering how to gauge which movies their kids should be watching or if their kids should be seeing violence at all!

State of Development

Be aware that adolescent brains, when compared to adult brains, are especially vulnerable to what they see, hear, and experience. They are still building their beliefs about the world, about other people, and about themselves. Always remember that your teenager’s brain will continue to unfold and develop until their mid-twenties.

External Influences

Neuroscientists warn us that by the time the brain reaches adolescence, brain development is heavily governed by external influences. What the adolescent brain sees, it encodes and internalizes. As parents, you want their movies to include appropriate themes and stories of empowerment, virtuous beliefs, courage & persistence, and age appropriate romances.

So, how can you keep your relationship with your child intact while also keeping your child away from violent movies?

Risk Factors

Violence from children and teens is often correlated with predictors including neglect or abuse at home, bullying at school, and serious mental illness. However, showing your child a violent movie does not mean that they will automatically become violent. There are hundreds of factors that keep children from turning to violence including a loving and supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and mental health counseling. Make sure that your child has all of the facts and fully understands the responsibilities and consequences of violence and gun use.

Just Say No

While it is always difficult to tell a child that they cannot see a movie that all their peers are seeing, you will thank yourself in the long run for holding the line if you believe that the movie has too much violence. “No” is a complete sentence and telling your child “no” is not an invitation for negotiation. Children and teens need compassionate, thoughtfully explained limits from their parents who are emotionally responsible. The best thing you can do is to draw those boundaries long before the trip to the movie theater, and make sure your child knows that violent movies will be fewer and far between.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians

"The Primal Teen" by Barbara Strauch

Violence - Your Children and Violence In The Movies - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the recently published report from The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians about children and teens being influenced by violence in movies - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior.

Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are asking what effect can this movie violence have on their child?

Here are a few important points to keep in mind:

Weapons Effect

We do know that just seeing a weapon can increase levels of aggression and forceful behavior in certain people—what psychologists call the “weapon effect.” Studies clearly show that violence in movies can increase aggressive attitudes, values, and behavior.

Learning By Example

Watching an entire movie in which glamorous people you identify with or admire use guns may do several things: 1.) increase your comfort level with guns and gun violence, 2.) desensitize you to violent actions and gun violence, and 3.) decrease empathy and understanding for the victims of gun violence. Therefore as parents, it is advisable to limit your child’s exposure to gun violence in the movies.

Who To Watch

However, this finding does not mean that your child is going to automatically become violent if they are exposed to violence in the movies. There are hundreds of mitigating factors that would prevent them from becoming violent including a supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and the absence of significant mental health issues. The real vulnerability to violent imagery lies with children who are from neglectful or abusive families, who are bullied and marginalized at school, and who lack substantial psychological coping skills to deal with rejection and failure. These children often feel lost and the images of gun violence restore a sense of empowerment and control that is missing in their lives. These “at risk” kids are the ones we need to worry about.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians


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