Dying Should Be a Selfish Endeavor

This article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

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My patient Rona is dying. She has been my psychoanalytic patient for 30 years and has struggled against her cancer for 15 years. She has had Stage 4 cancer for seven years. She fought the good fight, a valiant fight, and truly, for many years, it had seemed as though she were indefatigable. She has been telling me that she is dying for a few months now, and in spite of her being bone-thin, I still saw and heard life energy in her. Her voice and spirit were strong in spite of her frail body. Although she needed help to make it up the two flights of stairs to my office, still she plowed through it, and never missed a session. Continued

From Symbiosis to Separation: Seeing and Touching Pt 2

Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

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I have heard from mothers, both biological and adoptive, about the feeling of deep connection with their infant children through eye contact. The profundity of the eye contact between mother and infant is one reason why adoption agencies prefer that birth mothers not see their child. They know that when the child gazes up into his mother’s eyes, the mother will recognize their bond, and it will be more difficult for her to let go of her child.

Continued

More Than A Scent: Essential Oils Aid The Immune System

Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

If you do some research into the Royal English Archives, you’ll come across an interesting little tidbit. It’s a recipe for “thieves’ oils.” So the story goes: In the 17th century, when all of Europe was in the thrust of the Black Plague, a small band of marauding thieves seemed immune to the disease. They would enter the homes of Black Plague victims and have no fear of touching the bodies as they searched for jewelry and money. The King demanded to know their secret. Continued

The Innate Genius of Baby Brains

brainercize-tabOriginally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The idea that your baby is a genius is a neurological phenomenon. Renowned child educator Maria Montessori has speculated that if our adult ability is compared with the child’s, we would need 60 years of hard work to accomplish what he achieves in just three. When a child masters turning on and off a light switch, his brain has expended more energy than the most complicated computer that we have on earth. When a child says her first word at the age of nine months, he has mastered a developmental advance that represents millions of evolutionary years in the making. Practically everything your child does in his first two years — every sound, every movement, every mental connection that he makes — places his brain capacity at genius operating level. Continued

Brain Cells: How to Preserve Them

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Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The brain is not too different from the rest of your body. It needs to be well-nourished. All animals except humans know this instinctively; because the head is elevated whenever an animal moves, sleep is the best time to feed an animal’s brain the blood they need for brain nourishment. An animal is always in a prone position during sleep, and its head falls lower than the rest of its body. Continued

How Increasing Your Brain’s ‘Digit Span’ Can Improve Overall Function

brainercize-tab

Article originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

Even though there is a mountain of research on sequential processing, and its usefulness as a measure of intelligence, for decades no one had thought to bring the research to the next logical level — to actually change peoples’ digit-span level. Finally, researcher and clinician Bob Doman decided to train people to increase their ability to do digit span. Continued

How Much Information Can The Brain Hold? Test Your Memory

buckets-img-3

Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The concept of the magic number seven, plus or minus two, has a long, revered place in the history of psychological research. It has been well known since the 19th century when a little observational experiment was done by Scottish philosopher, William Hamilton. Hamilton noted that whenever a handful of marbles were thrown onto the floor, the placement of only about seven of the marbles could be remembered without confusion. G.A. Miller, a Princeton University psychologist, wrote his famous paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two,” in 1956. For many years, this was the most cited non-statistical paper in psychology. Miller’s contention was precisely the same as Hamilton’s: most of us can hold in short-term memory approximately seven units of information. Continued

Brain Health: Is the Virtual World Creating a Virtual Brain?

Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The other day the television stopped working suddenly. I spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to fix it. Then my 17-year-old daughter walked in, took the remote from my hand, and had the thing working again in about a New York nanosecond. I have known, for years now, because of similar experiences with computers, cell phones and cameras, that my daughter’s brain operates in a wholly different way than my own. When any of these electronic devices stop doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I can spend hours trying to figure out how to reprogram them (if that is even the right word) — all to no avail. It won’t matter how much time I take to attend to the task. I won’t figure it out. And my daughter will. Continued

Brain Development From Birth to Old Age: An Overview

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

Comedian Lewis Black does a brilliant riff on the aging brain. The conversation he demonstrates between two adults trying to converse about a film looks something like, at best, a game of charades, or worse, infants trying to communicate wordlessly with each other — (the very etymology of the word “in fans” is “without speech”). One guy makes reference to the movie, trying to remember the name: “You know — the movie with the guy in it — the guy — you know the guy — the guy who knows the other guy, or looks like the other guy — the two guys — you know who I mean — that movie with the guy.” That’s not an exact quote, but close enough for anyone suffering from the affliction of getting older with a modicum of memory loss to get the point. (They tell us it’s part of the normal aging process. But who believes them?) Continued

Just Words

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

One of the criticisms of Barack Obama has been that his presidency consists of “just words.” Ted Sorenson, whose death we have mourned, expressed astonishment at the sentiment. “‘Just words’ is how a president manages to operate. ‘Just words’ is how he engages the country,” Sorensen said in a moment of peevedness. Continued

The Joy (and Benefits) of Skipping

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

Doubtless, you remember skipping as a child. Some of the moments of happiness you had as a child were surely when you were skipping. I don’t mean happiness as in content, or satisfied or feeling good or nice. I mean happy as in joyful. If you look around any playground, you will notice that any child who is skipping is also laughing — or at least smiling a big, broad grin. Skipping induces happiness; it did when you were seven, and it will have the same effect on you now that you are an adult. Continued

In Defense of Slow and Tedious: Quick-Fix Therapy or the Kind that Takes “Forever”?

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

Since the New York Times published an article by psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already” (April 21, 2012), there has been lively debate within the psychotherapeutic community about the benefits of short-term, goal-oriented, advice-driven therapy vs. the longer, open-ended, free-associative linguistic wandering brand espoused and practiced by psychoanalysts. The lengthiness of treatment is a question that Freud, the originator of the notion “interminable” analysis, himself asked. He experimented for a time with what we might call today, “speed therapy” (comparable to “speed dating” — first impressions count for all). Ultimately, he wasn’t particularly impressed with the results. But Freud’s goal (in this seemingly “goalless” endeavor) was radically different from the goal of today’s popular short-term — often with adjunctive psychotropic drugs — therapies. Perhaps the best way of describing the difference is that the goal of short-term therapy is to feel “better,” which can translate into feeling “less.” On the other hand, the goal of psychoanalysis is to feel both “deeper” and more “outward” which, at least in the beginning of the process, might translate into feeling “more” and “worse.” Continued

My Rape; My Illegal Abortion; My Almost Dying: Reflections From 1968

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

I was set to graduate from college in a few months. March 1968. I awoke to a voice telling me: “Don’t make a sound or I will kill you.” My screaming was instinctive, and I suppose I paid for that. I screamed and screamed, and the more I screamed, the more he hit me. Although there were four people in the apartment at the time, apparently no one heard me. When I tasted blood in my mouth from his brutal fists, the realization dawned on me that this man didn’t care how much he hurt me, and was willing, indeed, to kill me. I felt the saddest I had ever felt in my short life: not that I was going to die, but that I was going to die without being with any of the people who loved me. I acquiesced to the rape, and tolerated the soft words of his affection for my “titties,” as he called them. I had become so passive, he could have performed a lobotomy on me and I wouldn’t have let out a peep. Continued

Why I Decided to Enter a Senior Beauty Pageant at the Age of 68

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com.

In early 2014, I made a most bizarre decision for myself. I committed to participating as a contestant in a pageant: the Miss Senior New Jersey Pageant.

Miss Senior New Jersey is unlike its mother pageant, Miss America, in that there is no financial reward for winning. It does not promise, and then not distribute, most of the money that is claimed to be available (as was revealed by John Oliver’s recent, funny and sad, exposé of the Miss America contest). And unlike its forerunner, Miss Senior New Jersey pageant is not formally conceptualized as a “beauty” contest (though the pageant winners do seem to always look quite wonderful). The post-60-years-of-age contestants are not necessarily outwardly beautiful in the traditional sense of the concept of beauty. As it says in the program, the qualities the judges are looking for in the senior pageants are “dignity, maturity,” and, of course, the always elusively defined “inner beauty.” Continued

Brain Development From Birth to Old Age: An Overview

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

Comedian Lewis Black does a brilliant riff on the aging brain. The conversation he demonstrates between two adults trying to converse about a film looks something like, at best, a game of charades, or worse, infants trying to communicate wordlessly with each other — (the very etymology of the word “in fans” is “without speech”). One guy makes reference to the movie, trying to remember the name: “You know — the movie with the guy in it — the guy — you know the guy — the guy who knows the other guy, or looks like the other guy — the two guys — you know who I mean — that movie with the guy.” That’s not an exact quote, but close enough for anyone suffering from the affliction of getting older with a modicum of memory loss to get the point. (They tell us it’s part of the normal aging process. But who believes them?) Continued

Brain Health: Is the Virtual World Creating a Virtual Brain?

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

The other day, the television stopped working suddenly. I spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to fix it. Then my 17-year-old daughter walked in, took the remote from my hand, and had the thing working again in about a New York nanosecond. I have known, for years now, because of similar experiences with computers, cell phones and cameras, that my daughter’s brain operates in a wholly different way than my own. When any of these electronic devices stop doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I can spend hours trying to figure out how to reprogram them (if that is even the right word) — all to no avail. It won’t matter how much time I take to attend to the task. I won’t figure it out. And my daughter will. Continued

How Much Information Can The Brain Hold? Test YOUR Memory

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

The concept of the magic number seven, plus or minus two, has a long, revered place in the history of psychological research. It has been well known since the 19th century when a little observational experiment was done by Scottish philosopher, William Hamilton. Hamilton noted that whenever a handful of marbles were thrown onto the floor, the placement of only about seven of the marbles could be remembered without confusion. G.A. Miller, a Princeton University psychologist, wrote his famous paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two,” in 1956. For many years, this was the most cited non-statistical paper in psychology. Miller’s contention was precisely the same as Hamilton’s: most of us can hold in short-term memory approximately seven units of information. Continued

How Increasing Your Brain’s ‘Digit Span’ Can Improve Overall Function

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

Even though there is a mountain of research on sequential processing, and its usefulness as a measure of intelligence, for decades no one had thought to bring the research to the next logical level — to actually change peoples’ digit-span level. Finally, researcher and clinician Bob Doman decided to train people to increase their ability to do digit span. Continued

Brain Cells: How to Preserve Them

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

The brain is not too different from the rest of your body. It needs to be well-nourished. All animals except humans know this instinctively; because the head is elevated whenever an animal moves, sleep is the best time to feed an animal’s brain the blood they need for brain nourishment. An animal is always in a prone position during sleep, and its head falls lower than the rest of its body. Continued

The Innate Genius of Baby Brains

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

The idea that your baby is a genius is a neurological phenomenon. Renowned child educator Maria Montessori has speculated that if our adult ability is compared with the child’s, we would need 60 years of hard work to accomplish what he achieves in just three. When a child masters turning on and off a light switch, his brain has expended more energy than the most complicated computer that we have on earth. When a child says her first word at the age of nine months, he has mastered a developmental advance that represents millions of evolutionary years in the making. Practically everything your child does in his first two years — every sound, every movement, every mental connection that he makes — places his brain capacity at genius operating level. Continued

More Than a Scent: Essential Oils Aid the Immune System

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

If you do some research into the Royal English Archives, you’ll come across an interesting little tidbit. It’s a recipe for “thieves’ oils.” So the story goes: In the 17th century, when all of Europe was in the thrust of the Black Plague, a small band of marauding thieves seemed immune to the disease. They would enter the homes of Black Plague victims and have no fear of touching the bodies as they searched for jewelry and money. The King demanded to know their secret. Continued

The First Sounds of Separation, Pt. 1

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

For a few decades now, as both a mother and a psychoanalyst, I have puzzled over what I consider to be an essential question that all mothers must ask themselves: as mothers, how do we embrace the togetherness, the fusion of selves between mother and child that characterizes his or her first relationship? Continued

From Symbiosis to Separation: Seeing and Touching, Pt. 2

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

I have heard from mothers, both biological and adoptive, about the feeling of deep connection with their infant children through eye contact. The profundity of the eye contact between mother and infant is one reason why adoption agencies prefer that birth mothers not see their child. They know that when the child gazes up into his mother’s eyes, the mother will recognize their bond, and it will be more difficult for her to let go of her child. During the time of my search for my own daughter (who I adopted when she was one week old), I met a woman who had traveled to Romania to find “her” child. She had seen him on a “60 Minutes” television segment about the plight of orphaned children in Romania. She felt this one specific child calling out to her. It took her nine months of living in a foreign land, traveling all over the country from orphanage to orphanage, learning the language, to find this one child whom she had seen for only an instant on her television set. I asked her what about him had inspired her to undertake such a monumental task. She said, without a moment’s hesitation, “It was his eyes.” Continued

Psychoanalysis: A Treatment for the Soul

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

Throughout my 40 years as a psychoanalyst, many of my patients have expressed interest in wanting to enter the territory of spirituality and authentic soul searching. They are surprised when I present the possibility of using their psychoanalytic therapy as a portal with which to explore this interest. When we understand the roots of what has come to be called “the talking cure,” we can see how deeply spiritual the psychoanalytic process is meant to be. Continued

The Joy (and Benefits) of Skipping

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

Doubtless, you remember skipping as a child. Some of the moments of happiness you had as a child were surely when you were skipping. I don’t mean happiness as in content, or satisfied or feeling good or nice. I mean happy as in joyful. If you look around any playground, you will notice that any child who is skipping is also laughing — or at least smiling a big, broad grin. Skipping induces happiness; it did when you were seven, and it will have the same effect on you now that you are an adult. Continued

In Defense of Slow and Tedious: Quick-Fix Therapy or the Kind that Takes ‘Forever’?

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

Since the New York Times published an article by psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already” (April 21, 2012), there has been lively debate within the psychotherapeutic community about the benefits of short-term, goal-oriented, advice-driven therapy vs. the longer, open-ended, free-associative linguistic wandering brand espoused and practiced by psychoanalysts. The lengthiness of treatment is a question that Freud, the originator of the notion “interminable” analysis, himself asked. He experimented for a time with what we might call today, “speed therapy” (comparable to “speed dating” — first impressions count for all). Ultimately, he wasn’t particularly impressed with the results. But Freud’s goal (in this seemingly “goalless” endeavor) was radically different from the goal of today’s popular short-term — often with adjunctive psychotropic drugs — therapies. Perhaps the best way of describing the difference is that the goal of short-term therapy is to feel “better,” which can translate into feeling “less.” On the other hand, the goal of psychoanalysis is to feel both “deeper” and more “outward” which, at least in the beginning of the process, might translate into feeling “more” and “worse.” Continued

My Rape; My Illegal Abortion; My Almost Dying; Reflections From 1968

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

I was set to graduate from college in a few months. March 1968. I awoke to a voice telling me: “Don’t make a sound or I will kill you.” My screaming was instinctive, and I suppose I paid for that. I screamed and screamed, and the more I screamed, the more he hit me. Although there were four people in the apartment at the time, apparently no one heard me. When I tasted blood in my mouth from his brutal fists, the realization dawned on me that this man didn’t care how much he hurt me, and was willing, indeed, to kill me. I felt the saddest I had ever felt in my short life: not that I was going to die, but that I was going to die without being with any of the people who loved me. I acquiesced to the rape, and tolerated the soft words of his affection for my “titties,” as he called them. I had become so passive, he could have performed a lobotomy on me and I wouldn’t have let out a peep. Continued