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Mother’s Day for the Not-So-Happy: Our Story

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Mother’s Day for the Not-So-Happy: Our Story

She walks haltingly down a darkened hallway to my room. It’s the middle of the night. She tells me in a slurred voice that it is my fault her life is ruined. She goes on for a half hour or so, then stumbles back to her room. I believe her. I’m eleven years old. She wakes me up in the morning. She’s bright and warm, has made me Swedish pancakes that are properly thin and eggy, not those disgusting puffy cakes! We talk as I slowly come to, her bell-like voice a call to the day. How can I put these two women together? They are the same, the person who strikes me with sharp objects and then...

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Here’s an Idea for Curbing Gun Violence: Stop the Nut-Shaming

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Here’s an Idea for Curbing Gun Violence: Stop the Nut-Shaming

“Say it loud, I’m crazy and proud!” This is a chant I have yet to hear in any Pride or protest parade, but I can only hope. See, I think the discussion about what to do with crazy, usually young, apparently always males who go on semi-automatic killing sprees has gotten way off-topic. Some are suggesting that a history of diagnosed mental illness should be a prohibitive factor. Yeah, like my clients with Complex PTSD are a danger to anyone but themselves. And like somehow its SANE to argue that your right to shoot off rounds with your prized armament trumps the right of children to feel...

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Boo!: In Praise of Getting Scared

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Boo!: In Praise of Getting Scared

On the street where I live, the lights are up! Across the way, huge inflated Dio De Los Muertos heads cover the yard; my neighbors have loaded up their porch with dummies splashed in red paint, or with heads replaced by those of chickens and bulls. My best friend and I proudly stood back from the spider web that we accomplished after watching how to do it on YouTube, and a human skeleton prepares to light the way of trick-or-treaters tomorrow night, as it walks its skeleton dog. I love Halloween! I love the cool weather, the rustling leaves, the decorations and celebrations. The opportunity...

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Where is the Humanity?

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Where is the Humanity?

Recently, I took the opportunity to retrace the steps of my Scandinavian ancestors, and found some powerful wisdom in the Norwegian culture that produced the majority of my heritage.  In Norway, common humanity is of great, perhaps even greatest, worth. The value placed on everyday life, often in the face of great trials, is paramount, and I sensed it as I spoke with the many Norwegians I encountered. From the young Air BNB host and her youthful cooperative, to the new father taking time off from work to tend to his infant, to the proud historians of the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the...

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The Sauna: Managing Conflict Well

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The Sauna: Managing Conflict Well

Conflict. It’s on the political agenda this year, from the more rabid factions of the Trump campaign to the infighting in the Democrat and Republican parties. As a therapist, I’m no stranger to conflict, and in my next series, The Sauna, I’ll be exploring how it can go wrong, and how, when handled correctly, it can lead to greater understanding and trust. Yup, conflict can be good! We’re hopefully familiar with the joys of a healthy debate, or a respectful negotiation. For many, even most of us, we’ve used basic skills to get a promotion, work out the household tasks, and tickle our...

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The Sauna, or, How To Befriend Heated Conflict

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The Sauna, or, How To Befriend Heated Conflict

A woman walks into a sauna. Two men are assailing Hillary Clinton and her “pedophile” husband; they question rhetorically, “who would vote for that woman?!” She answers, “I would.” The fight is on. It’s not a debate. Hillary herself is attacked, and the woman responds with a few choice comments on Trump. In the corner, one man sits, saying nothing. Another man grows silent, then circles from behind for a more general attack. There are others in the room, clearly uncomfortable, and he addresses the women present as “ladies” (fingering air quotes), which the woman also...

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