It matters that people have a way to use the latest findings in psychology beyond buying a pill for depression. It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live – and that this is supported by therapists and mental health professionals.

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Posts tagged with the category Case studies

Each person thinks that he has the formula for triumph over life’s limitations and knows with authority what it means to be a man….”-- Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, p. 255 This is precisely the question right now in not one but two headline cases. One concerns 13-year-old Jahi McMath in Oakland, CA, who developed...
Painting by By Maria Raquel Cochez.
Long ago in my practice, I worked with a woman who was struggling with bulimia. She would binge and purge daily, a struggle that she didn’t want, but couldn’t see how she could stop. She was ashamed and demoralized. One day, I put some clay in front of her and asked her to show me what her bulimia looked like. She began to model the...
Photo by Nickolai Kashirin.
80 times a day, or a hundred, or more. Seemed like a million, by the end of a shift. The man with Korsakoff's syndrome repeats the same question over and over, each time forgetting whatever answer he has obtained usually within a few seconds. Can anybody tell me where I'm at and why I'm here? We try to be patient with him. Those of...
Photo by Attila Malarik.
It was some years ago, while in my late 20s, that I began therapy and an apprenticeship of sorts with an admired existential psychotherapist. I was intrigued to work with him because of his training and life-long friendship with the controversial and pioneering Scottish psychiatrist, R. D. Laing. As a student of consciousness and existential...
“The way to value life, the way to feel compassion for others, the way to love anything with greatest depth is to be aware that these experiences are destined to be lost” -- Yalom, 2008 It has been three months since I returned from the Bay Area. In some ways, it still feels surreal, to be back to a place that used to be so familiar...
Over the course of the past seven months, I have been asked countless times by loved ones, friends, co-workers and strangers, “So what have you learned?” (by moving to the Bay Area). While most may be expecting some concrete answers on theories and concepts of therapy, and useful therapeutic skills or tools, I find that my answer is...
Edmund Leighton's 1919 "Sweet Solitude."
Isolation vs. Relation As I began to make conscious efforts to be more present with myself and how I live my life, my heightened sense of self-awareness also led to the increased awareness of my sense of aloneness—the life anxiety that Otto Rank (cited in Yalom, 2008) warned us about. In coming to the Bay Area, I experienced first-hand,...
As I immerse myself in “the work” and struggle to seek a new way of experiencing and being, I was able to appreciate the meaning of the four important paradoxical concepts of our human existence Irvin Yalom described in his book Existential Psychology (1980) from a whole new perspective. Freedom vs. Responsibility I flew many miles...
Photo by David Yu.
[Editor's Note: I am honored and delighted to be able to write this brief introduction to a series of blogs written by a courageous Malaysian student and her journey into her own existence. The person that I'd like to introduce to you is JoAnn Loo who I met during one of my workshops in Malaysia. Prior to our meeting, Joann had already...
Berlinghieri's St. Francis of Assisi (1235).
“What was your experience of taking Ritalin like?” She shot back a look, somewhat surprised, almost shocked at my question. It seemed she found it incredulous that anyone would ask for HER account of her experience. And why not? Having been diagnosed multiple times by different people in different institutions, she was not unfamiliar...
British WWI Recruiting Poster, 1915.
I worked a few years at our state mental institution on a unit for people with chronic problems and especially problems of violence, escapism, and sexual predation. Most of these men were relatively low-functioning, and the longer they had been on the unit, typically the lower their level of function: years of isolation and drug treatment made...
Dammit women! Get down! Those dirty Naps are coming! A forceful yank and then a gentle shove to the cold concrete ground startled me. The lights in the hospital room dimmed and the shades drawn. The metal-framed door slammed quickly shutting off human contact and other intruders. Shock, fear, and adrenaline racked my body. Three psych techs...