Therapy That Works...

Courageous TV Anchor Responds To Bullying - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discusses the courageous response from a TV anchor to her bully - click here.

Why would someone write an email like this?

This is a classic example of workplace bullying. This man was shaming, disrespectful, and embarrassing to this woman. His comments emphasized the imbalance of power—he could reprimand her from a distance without direct response. I doubt if he ever dreamed that she would respond live on the air.

This is the pattern that we see in online bullying. Bullies feel like there are no consequences. I can slam you and lie about you without any consequence for me. In a fair fight, the victim gets a chance to respond, but this man chose to humiliate her anonymously over nothing except his own prejudice.

What about her response?

It was a masterful, eloquent statement that directly discredited his attack. She pointed out what all women know—we come in all shapes and sizes and they are not only acceptable but beautiful. She did the right thing by speaking up since silence perpetuates injustice. Injustice then builds helplessness, and this anchor was by no means helpless. She used the very tools of her own professional success—her verbal agility, on air presence and organizational skills—to make this man look ridiculous. A great lesson for children in America.

Why was she targeted?

We live in an epidemic of eating disorders. Around 40% of college aged women engage in some sort of eating disorder behavior. Being thin is sadly linked with being powerful or attractive, and this myth has gathered momentum over the decades. Appearance is still too defining of our worth as women. But change starts with us. Women need to refuse to buy into silly prescriptions of who we are and how we should look.

Is this kind of bullying increasing or are we just more aware of this kind of harassment?

I think both statements are true—bullying is increasing AND we are more aware. With the infiltration of technology and social media into our lives, we all go online to express our opinions and to share with the community. However, such access to others can turn ugly, as we see in this case. A shot at another person, especially a woman with notoriety and power, is easier to do than ever.

Remember that bullying flourishes in an environment of anonymity. This man hoped that she would internalize what he said and feel badly about herself. He tried to offload his own prejudices onto her and she refused to take it. Good for her and good for all of us!

A generation ago, we lived in a society that was more accountable. There was a community that reinforced that accountability. Now with the Internet, you can be savage without your community really knowing how poorly you behaved.

What can women do to support her?

Please support women who choose to stand up and speak out about this kind of prejudice. Refuse to be a victim of others who tell you how you should look. Remember that there is nothing more beautiful in this world than a woman who knows who she is and refuses to be silent about her gifts.

SOURCES:

www.APA.org

Deion Sanders' Public Divorce - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on CBS 11 discuss Deion Sanders' divorce and the media's role in public court battles - click here.

Why do celebrity divorces play out in the media?

Dual Relationship: Celebrities have a dual relationship with the media. They insist on having the media work on their own terms, and they also need the media to stay top of mind with the public. However, they are also subject to media scrutiny when things are difficult or ambiguous. That puts a lot of stress on top of an already terrible situation.

Publicity Makes Things Worse: As the conflict is played out in the media, the publicity can only make things worse. The spouses become highly polarized in the glare of public opinion. They hear exaggerated versions of their spouse’s conversations and they can become even more enraged. Divorces that could have been handled effectively explode into battles that are waged in the public spotlight.

Why do divorces like this get so heated?

Fusion Delusion: Many powerful people tend to idealize and then fuse with their partner. The line between each individual partner ceases to exist in this kind of relationship. They only feel good when they are attached at the hip.

Idealization & Devaluation: Strong personalities love intensely and hate intensely. With some people, you will inevitably disappoint them and when you do, there is a sudden fall in affection. The idealized become the devalued. The partner becomes a walking injury to them.

Control At Any Cost: Control is how they lessen their injuries. Anger is a direct result of anxiety and a feeling of vulnerability. Control is the central issue in divorces that are highly conflicted. Each partner wants to win and that means that the other partner has to lose - it's a zero sum game. The partners struggle to remain in control by bullying and intimidating the other person. There is a rush in being the one who calls the shots and who humiliates the person they once pledged to love forever.

Is being married to a celebrity a harder road?

Unrealistic Expectations: Celebrities are usually driven by relentless ambition and vision. Expecting one another to be emotionally present all the time is unrealistic, especially with the demands of celebrity life. The challenge is to remain grounded, stable, and realistic in the marriage.

Strong Opinions and Big Personalities: Being a celebrity usually demands a big personality that often comes with strong opinions and a lack of compromise. People of influence are often stubborn and they want their way.

Failure to Listen: They fail to understand what the other person is saying to them. They talk but they do not listen. Therefore, if there is a disagreement, things can get heated quickly. Partners are bound to clash when inevitable disappointment occurs.

Many of us have very strong personalities in our lives. Any advice for coping with difficult people we love?

Here are a few tips:

1.) Remain aware of your own tendency to buy into the idealizations and devaluations of charismatic people. Guard your own self interest in a healthy way—owning what is true but keeping things in perspective. We are all imperfect and must be forgiven for our shortcomings.

2.) On the other hand, if you are chronically feeling unhappy, devalued and criticized, ask two sets of questions. Are you accurately understanding what they are saying? If you are, then ask if you are with someone you can never please.

3.) Strong personalities often insist on taking their unhappiness out on you, even when you have nothing to do with their unhappiness. You cannot reason with someone who will not listen to your point of view and strive to work it out with you.

4.) Stay away from people who overly idealize you. There is always a price to pay if you are on a pedestal. The higher you sit in their opinion, the farther you will fall when things don't go perfectly.

5.) Remind yourself that the unkindness is not personal in any way. The person striking out at you does not really understand the damage they are doing.

SOURCE:

"Why Is It Always About You?" by Sandy Hotchkiss

Josh Hamilton's Tragic Relapse - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 03, 2012

News broke on Tuesday that the heroic Ranger's outfielder, Josh Hamilton, had a relapse in his long battle with alcoholism. Many Rangers fans are wondering why Josh can't kick the habit and what this means for his future.

So, why can’t people just quit the addictive behavior?

All addictions are unintentional and they begin with the decision to use. No one starts drinking with the idea that they will ever become addicted. But addiction sneaks up on you and before you know it, you can be drawn into a world of confusion and torment. Voluntary users become compulsive users and then you bottom out as a true addict when drugs or alcohols define your life.

The real issue is that addiction is not a moral failing or a lapse in will. At the end of the day, addiction is a brain disease. New research shows that there are literal brain changes in the structure and function of key brain processes that are fundamental in handling emotions, exercising self-control, and reading situations correctly. Addicts are stripped of their accuracy in understanding the world.

How do addictions get started and become worse over time?

Internal Shift: The person begins to turn toward behavior that is relieving his stress. Getting high is fun and it changes his mood for the better in the beginning. He denies how dangerous his usage is as he begins to betray others and himself with repeated use.

Lifestyle Change: A behavioral dependency on the alcohol or drug now emerges. Life is now altered to accommodate the addiction even if he becomes reckless and self-destructive. He moves deeper into the self-sabotaging behavior as he builds his life around getting high.

His Life Destructs: The addiction has now taken over. The individual relies on getting high and ignores or rationalizes the destructive aspects of his behavior. At this point, nothing matters to the addict but the acquisition of the substance. The obsession with the addiction causes a trance state. People don’t matter, commitments don’t count, and honesty isn’t even a part of the conversation.

Unstoppable: People become convinced that they cannot stop the drinking. Since there are significant changes in brain structure that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavioral control, the slide into addiction is accelerated.

How do you know that someone is at rock bottom?

A chronically addicted person tends to psychologically regress suddenly and severely, with no warning. They go down like a stone. Once the addiction switch is flipped, it is incredibly difficult to reverse the emotions and behavior. Insight is gone, judgment is gone, and perspective is shot. If the addictive substance—whatever it is—is strong enough, all bets are off. He begins to destroy every area of his life—his job, his relationships and even his health. Addiction hijacks the mind and better judgment.

What do we tell our children about people like Josh Hamilton who struggle with addiction?

This is a prime opportunity to teach kids about addiction and the inevitable struggles of recovery. Remember these points:

Teachable Moment: Make stories about addiction struggles a part of the conversation. You want your child to be armed with knowledge of addiction so he is never start the cycle. Remember that the child who stays away from drugs, tobacco, and abusing alcohol until age 21 is virtually certain to steer clear of these substances forever. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs or alcohol from their parents are much less likely to try them.

Still A Good Person: Most kids already know what addiction is, since Americans consume two thirds of the worlds’ illegal drugs. Celebrities who have struggled with addictions are always in the news so a lot of kids understand that you can be a talented, good person and still have an addiction.

Constant Battle: Break the addictive behavior down into understandable language. Explain that alcoholism is a disease and that it is a lifelong struggle to overcome it. Tell them that relapse is a part of recovery and that all that matters is how the alcoholic handles their next choice.

There’s Always Hope: Teach them to believe in recovery, believe in the person’s ability to fight against this illness, and to celebrate the gains that people show as they power on to a better tomorrow.

What's In A Celebrity Baby's Name? - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on YouTube discuss celebrity baby naming trends - click here.

With the recent news that Beyonce has named her newborn daughter “Blue Ivy Carter,” many Americans are wondering why celebrities choose unorthodox names for their children.

Big Personalities: Big personalities love big names for their kids. People in the spotlight are usually larger than life, artistic, and highly independent--and they want their child’s name to be a reflection of them.

Obsessed with Being an Individual: Our society at large is obsessed with being an individual and unique. For example one study found that over a 40-year period in California, there were 228 different spellings for the name “unique.”

Generation Me: The younger generation of parents love any symbol of individuality. They choose to express themselves in a very personal way with things like tattoos, piercings, clothing style, and music. Baby’s name is extension of that philosophy for many young parents who walk their own path.

Source:

Parent Magazine

“Generation Me” by Jean Twenge

“Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Could Baby Names Negatively Affect Your Child? - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on CBS 11 discuss whether a baby's name could negatively impact them - click here.

Is Reality TV Bad For Your Daughter? - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss how reality TV affects your daughter's development - click here.

What Jerry Sandusky Was Really Saying - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Coach Sandusky’s interview with Bob Costas this past Monday, he acknowledged showering and playing with young boys.

But what was he really saying between the lines?

Highly Distorted View of Reality: Obviously this man is presenting his own highly distorted version of reality. What was most striking is that he continues to try to justify and even legitimize the actions that he admitted to in the interview.

Authority Figure: As a man in authority, he wielded enormous influence over these boys. The behavior that he did admit to—showering, wrestling, some touching on the leg—was fundamentally wrong in and of itself. Sandusky seems totally unable to understand if and how he crossed a line. He has no insight into his behavior and certainly has shown minimal remorse.

Different Kind of Abuse: In my opinion, what he did admit to crossed such a serious line that it was abusive. A grown man showering and horsing around with boys is highly inappropriate and confusing for those children. Somehow he views his actions as normal, but showering with and touching children can have lifelong effects on their development.

Some pundits are saying the his interview answers seemed rehearsed or pre-written.

Absolutely, the conversation on the phone call seemed rehearsed, controlled and premeditated. Some of the hesitancy in phrasing, the monotone of his speech, and the obvious avoidance of certain questions lines up with scientifically proven lying behaviors. People who are telling the truth do so instantly and don’t answer a question with a question.

For example, his answer to the question of being attracted to children was very odd. First, he restated the question back to Mr Costas twice. He then hesitated and replied that he enjoyed young people and that he loved to be around them. It was as if, in his own mind, he was normalizing his behavior. It took him over 15 seconds to deny that he was attracted to young boys.

Innocent people say no emphatically, emotionally, and repeatedly. Liars are more careful and analytical. They are trying to control the pacing of the conversation to buy themselves more time to come up with a good answer.

Coach Sandusky's Interview With Bob Costas - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia discuss the Penn State scandal and Coach Sandusky's interview with Bob Costas - click here.

Complex Trauma In Children - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss Judge Adams and complex trauma in children on CBS 11 - click here.

With the recent shocking video of Texas Judge William Adams beating his daughter, many people are wondering what kind of horrors may be lurking in their own neighborhoods. Many people do not fully understand trauma and how it can affect children and adolescents who are traumatized in their own homes.

How does physical and emotional abuse affect a child?

It is completely disastrous. The harm to a developing child is much more serious than to an adult. Adolescence is one of the worst times to expose a child’s brain to violence of any kind. Their brains are still developing and the brain can be fundamentally de-regulated during the most important years of development. The emotional parts of the brain are over-stimulated and they do not develop in unison leaving the child more vulnerable to a host of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, addictions and post-traumatic stress disorders. Such conditions have massive effect on the child's personality, how the treat others, and the choices that are made in jobs, spouses, and education. This is kind of child abuse can have lifelong effects.

Does parental physical abuse affect the child more than other kinds of abuse?

Without a doubt, physical abuse from a parent is much more devastating to the child. We know that trauma is worse when someone we know—a friend, neighbor or even acquaintance--inflicts it. Suddenly, someone you know trust is now a threat, and mistrust of others is a natural consequence.

In cases in which the parent inflicts the abuse, the betrayal is even more traumatic. We underestimate the effect that a parent’s cruel and abusive behavior can have on a child. The one person in the world you were supposed to trust—your parent—has now turned on you.

Worse then that, the behavior is legitimized by the rest of the family. There is nowhere for a young child to turn. The abuse is “crazy making” since the parent who has abused their authority is unapologetic, and the other family members blame you for the family turmoil. Children in this situation commonly develop complex traumatic disorder as a result of the chronic cruelty.

What is Complex Post-Traumatic Syndrome?

We now know that the most powerful determinant of psychological harm is the severity of the traumatic event itself. This new disorder goes beyond the traditional descriptions of post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologists now understand that psychological stressors reside on a complexity continuum. At one end are single-incident traumatic events such as a car accident, a mugging, etc. At the opposite end are psychological responses to multiple, extended, and often highly invasive and traumatic events. Having a family member physically strike you on multiple occasions belongs in this range.

Why don't the other family members ever come forward?

Trauma occurs when you feel completely powerless. You must remember that when a person is overwhelmed by terror and helplessness, their ability to self activate is completely obliterated. When neither resistance nor escape is possible, the human self-defense system becomes overwhelmed and disorganized. We are immobilized and literally the problem solving parts of the brain shut down.

Trauma occurs when nothing you do can alleviate the outcome. Traumatic events interrupt our belief that we can control the outcome of our lives. Psychologists now believe that trauma may even deeply affect the central nervous system. Trauma victims feel that their adrenaline is constantly flowing and they are in a state of continuous alert. Victims are convinced, at a visceral level, that danger might return at any moment. They narrow their world and become terrified of new situations.

Can Post Traumatic Stress or Complex Trauma occur in events that are not life threatening?

Both can absolutely occur in events that are not life threatening but threaten us in other ways. Psychologists now believe that trauma can be incurred in a number of other non-life threatening situations, such as infidelity, in which the betrayed partner is made to feel intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and the threat of their safety disappearing.

If you think you or someone you know may be traumatized, here are some of the top symptoms to watch out for:

Hyper-arousal: The person has a persistent expectation of danger and is overly reactive to stress.

Intrusive Thinking: The victim experiences repeated thoughts and memories from the trauma. Intrusive thoughts reflect the indelible imprint of the traumatic moment.

Emotional Constriction: People who have been victimized are often so overwrought with emotion that they try to avoid and restrict their emotional responses to everything. The constriction reflects the numbing response of surrender.

We know more about trauma than we ever did. The success rates for professional treatment are excellent and the sooner you address these issues, the better.

Generation X Women Are Partying Down - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia discuss women over 40 on CBS 11 by clicking here.

The big “4-0” is hitting millions of Generation X women this year who are welcoming their birthdays with gusto. Trips to Vegas, Mexican resorts and a host of other hot spots are party central for women of a certain age.

So, why are all these forty somethings partying down?

Women are coming into their own for the first time in history and I think this is an announcement that they have arrived! These midlife celebrations are the new tribal rites for women. Several decades ago, forty was considered semi retired—your kids were grown and your job was done. For decades we only had power and a voice as long as we were young and fertile and tied to a man. That is simply not true anymore.

Today, our relationships and our appearance no longer define us or restrict us. We now earn our own way and by the time we have reached fortysomething, most of us have “broken up with Barbie” and are more comfortable in our own skins. Our worth in the world now has the value and the longevity of a man’s and these celebrations at midlife are a call to action—stand up and move your body!

Does does this mean that the double standard of men being distinguished at midlife and women being over the hill at the same age is disappearing?

Not only is it disappearing but also now women are sexier at midlife than ever before. We are in better health, better shape and thanks to our self-care we will live longer and in better health than our mothers. We make our own money and we know that money walks if she doesn’t like what she’s hearing. Consider the celebrities we all adore—Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry or Nicole Kidman.

Here are some advantages for women over their forties:

Better Mood, Less Drama: Most women at midlife are better stewards of their moods. Not only are we calmer, we’re better problem solvers and we have more emotional intelligence than ever.

Age of Mastery: We move from a dependence on others to a dependence on our own good judgment. We become more confident in our view of things and we believe in ourselves, many times for the first time.

Smarter, Faster, Wiser: Most people think that intelligence peaks in young adulthood. The new studies reveal, however, that the highest level of intelligence are at midlife.

An interesting aspect of this is that women seem to be taking their female friendships more seriously at this age.

Friendships are a buffer against stress. When we share our deepest feelings, our bodies rebound and our immune systems are rebooted. Women tend to have closer and more intense friendships than men. We also live 10 years longer, possibly because we are such social creatures.

As women we accumulate the best and the most loyal friendships across our lives so that at forty, we usually have some good women around us. It may be one central girlfriend or ten. We tend to define ourselves by our relationships so our friends are essential to our wellbeing.

Here's my last suggestion for midlife women who are missing the spring in their step:

Weave a Female Web: Remember that you are not getting older, you are getting better and a party at forty, fifty, sixty or beyond is a reminder that women never have a shelf life! Most of all stay connected to other women. You will have greater empathy, more energy and a great understanding of others if you stay close to other women.


Recent Posts


Tags


Archive