Tag Archives: psychology

The Duggar family failed our daughters.

Many of you have heard about the recent news surrounding the Duggar family – the family best known for being extremely fertile and extremely religious on the TLC reality series “19 Kids and Counting”. If you haven’t heard (or you’ve been locked in a basement somewhere with no internet access), the eldest son, Josh, was recently revealed to have molested a number of young girls (some of whom were his sisters) when he was a teenager. For more information on the nitty-gritty please read here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/21/us/josh-duggar-child-molestation-allegations/index.html.

Now there are those that will defend Josh and his parents in the way they managed “the situation” (otherwise known as molesting innocent children) and there are those (hopefully many more) who would like to tie them to the stake and plan a fricassee. You can kinda get which way I am leaning here, right? Well, I am the mom of a young girl, so I am most definitely biased. That is not the focus of this blog though – there are plenty of these types out there.

I want to focus on how sad it is in this day and age, we continue to hide sexual abuse and “protect” the perpetrator. I can, somewhat, understand Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar wanting to protect their child, but what about their daughters – hell what about everyone else’s daughters? As near as I can tell, Josh never had intensive psychological intervention to address his inappropriate sexual behaviors. Supposedly, psychological treatment was “made available” to his victims, but I am a wee bit doubtful. Am I the only one who finds it unlikely that this treatment was anything more than religious teachings on the importance of forgiveness? I do not see this family taking their kids into the local mental health center to address their trauma.

Sexual abuse should not be shameful for the victims (though I typically prefer to call them “survivors”). Our focus should never be on taking care of the perpetrator, rather making sure the survivors of his deviance develop the skills necessary to lead healthy and happy lives. I am not choosing this revelation about the Duggar family to condemn them for their religious beliefs, their political views or their ideas on family planning. I typically strongly disagree with all of these, but rather I am using this new information as an opportunity to remind us all we need to focus on those who are hurt rather than on those who hurt. We need to focus on the innocents who are harmed. Josh Duggar should not have been protected. He should have been turned over to the authorities to pay whatever consequence legally necessary for his crimes. This should happen every time – no matter who, what, when, where or why. This family failed it’s daughters- and in turn, failed all of ours as well.

Advertisements

The Beautiful People are not Perfect – (and it’s OK)

We all know that celebrities are fabulously attractive people – they are pretty and thin and seem to glow from within. Another thing we know is we can’t trust the images we see of these same celebrities – there is amazing lighting, hair and makeup experts and, of course, Photoshop. There were a number of stories in the media recently showing photos that were leaked of female celebrities before the photos could be Photoshopped prior to publication. There are pictures of Beyonce from a L’Oreal ad campaign depicting less than perfect skin (http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/165572/Beyonce-leaked-pictures-Untouched-photos-of-LOreal-campaign) and photos of Cindy Crawford’s photo shoot for a Marie Claire 2013 issue (http://www.justjared.com/2015/02/16/cindy-crawfords-unretouched-lingerie-photo-goes-viral/) showed she may no longer have the body of an 18-year-old. (Hello, she just turned 49!) I do not think either woman’s representatives have confirmed or denied the photos as real, but in my ever-so-humble opinion, it doesn’t matter at all.

Look, in my book (Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl – http://www.amazon.com/Life-Lessons-Teenage-Girl-Inspiration/dp/1630472026/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1424926550&sr=8-1), the amazingly multi-talented Miss Kat Graham shared with my readers, “what you read in magazines and see on TV isn’t real.  That it’s sometimes the furthest thing from reality.” How are we so shocked that Beyonce may not be perfect – she might actually have a pimple – or two! Cindy Crawford might actually have slightly loose tummy skin after carrying two children and living for nearly 50 years. Seriously? Let’s have a reality check, my friends. They are beautiful people to be sure, but they are people. This means they have flaws – we all do. If we don’t recognize that celebrities might have flaws, how will we ever accept those flaws in ourselves.

Taking the High Road

It seems there are a lot of people in my life lately (both personally and professionally) who are processing through a divorce. None of them, unfortunately, are currently in that friendly divorce stage we all fantasize about. You know that fantasy stage, right? The one you talk about when you are still happily married and joke how , if you ever get divorced, you would keep it super friendly and civil and would ALWAYS put the kids first before any hurt feelings. I love that fantasy stage, but I can say I have rarely, if ever, actually seen it. The closest I have ever come has been several years post-divorce, when all the garbage has already been resolved.

OK, as I was saying, I have experienced a lot of divorces in my life lately. People who are getting divorced are inundated with advice from anyone and everyone at all times. Everyone feels entitled to give insight based on their own experiences. They are told not to be the “nice guy”; to fight for themselves; to lead by example and take the high road; to love the kids more than they hate each other. So much conflicting information!

I am here to advocate for the high road. You are not doing this for them, but for yourself. You can get consumed by anger and hurt and rage and not be able to recognize yourself in the mirror. Your Ex may not deserve the high road you are taking. They may deserve all of your revenge fantasies (and worse). But, and here’s the big but, you don’t deserve what that negativity will do to you and your life. You are not letting them off the hook by taking the high road, you are letting yourself off.

You are free to think they suck, to be disappointed they were not who you thought they were, and to generally not like them as a human being. But, I want you to focus on you. Focus on finding happiness in your own life. Choose positivity instead of negativity. If you have to see your Ex because you share children, be civil – you don’t have to ever be friends, but make it easier on yourself (and your children) and be civil.

I am a firm believer that people ultimately get what is coming to them in life. You don’t have to be the harbinger of their doom. Live your life. Focus on positive things for you and yours. The high road is all about you.

Vilifying the Victim

Have you ever noticed people often have the tendency to attempt to vilify someone they have wronged? Think about it – how many people do you know that have cheated in a relationship, only to explain away their behavior by making their Ex out to be a bitch or an asshole or frigid or whatever? It’s almost as if they need to depict this person in the worst possible light in order to justify their own behaviors.  There seems to be a need to vilify the person who they have hurt in order to alleviate their own guilt about the wrongdoing.

It’s like they have to decide between two choices:

  1. I did a horrible thing which makes me a bad person.

-or-

  1. I did a horrible thing, but he/she is a bitch/asshole so I am justified.

When I was in college (many moons ago when the dinosaurs still roamed the Earth), I had a brief “thing” for/with a college friend. This “relationship” was never going to go anywhere (he was wholly unsuitable for a long term partnership and he, honestly, never thought of me that way anyway), but there were feelings involved. One night while we were all at a party, he drifted away with one of my good friends (not my best friend, but the one with whom I spent most of my time – an important distinction). I didn’t realize it until the next day, but he had never gone home and had spent the night with her. At the time, I was temporarily “devastated” – upset, perhaps more so, by the perceived betrayal of her friendship than by the loss of any “relationship” with him. Now, everyone could have gone their separate ways quite easily, but I quickly learned through the grapevine that she was angry with me. She was telling anyone and everyone she was going to kick my ass” (not the most mature way to express her anger, I know).

At the time I was flummoxed (I really like that word – flummoxed). But now, eons later, I can recognize what was going on. She wasn’t comfortable being the person who had slept with her friend’s crush – this was not consistent with her vision of herself, so she needed to distance herself from our friendship. I needed to be a horrid bitch in her eyes, so she wouldn’t have to be one instead. I have no idea what happened to her after college, but, hopefully, she no longer wishes me ill.

Consider this the next time you feel someone who has done you wrong has unfairly turned the tables on you with regard to blame/responsibility. Chances are – it’s not about you. It’s what they need to do to live with themselves. It doesn’t make it fair, but maybe it, at least, explains it. Maybe you can pity them rather than fear them and you can gain comfort in knowing you probably didn’t do anything to deserve it.

Bobbi Kristina: The Perfect Storm

I was recently contacted by a journalist writing an article about Bobbi Kristina Brown – she was seeking information how domestic violence can occur within a celebrity household, why a famous person would stay and what friends and family could have done to help her. We’ve talked about domestic violence in this blog before and the facts we discussed don’t necessarily change just because someone is famous. There was a whole twitter campaign following Ray Rice’s videotaped beating of his now-wife in a New Jersey casino elevator (#whyIstayed) that deals with all the myriad of reasons people have stayed in abusive relationships. I won’t rehash this conversation. If you have time, I really suggest you Google it and read what these people have written. It was very interesting and very moving.

From what I have gathered, there is not definitive “proof” that Bobbi Kristina was in a domestically violent relationship, but there have been a number of allusions to it. I am going to have this discussion as if this is true for the sake of conversation. There are a number of additional reasons why Bobbi Kristina may have stayed in an abusive relationship – the death of her mother, Whitney Houston, three years ago rocked her world and further estranged her from her father, Bobby Brown; her relationship with Nick Gordon was reportedly not well received by friends and family which created separation from those who loved her; and her issues with substance abuse might have caused her to feel trapped in a relationship with a man who had become her whole world. She was raised in a household rife with domestic violence and parents with substance abuse issues. Her life being so chaotic might have actually made it feel normal to her.

The difficulty really comes in what friends and family can (and can’t) do for loved ones struggling with substance abuse and/or domestic violence. If the individual in question is a legal adult, your options are somewhat limited. We, as adults, are free to make whatever decisions we choose – regardless of how detrimental they are. As doctors we have the option of involuntary hospitalizing someone if they are a danger to themselves, a danger to others or gravely disabled, but, unfortunately, substance abuse and domestic violence do not apply. Though these can often be a slow-ride to suicide, they do not apply as a “danger to self” situation.

So what can you do?

  1. Express your concerns. Often times this can alienate your loved ones. It is a delicate balance, but they need to know you have concerns and what you are willing to do to help them. You might offer your place as a safe place to start over or to research rehab programs. Try not to spend too much time bashing the violent partner – you don’t want to create a Romeo & Juliet situation where you end up pushing them closer together.
  2. Recognize the limitations of what you can reasonably do. You cannot want their health and safety more than they do. You will make yourself miserable (and frustrated) if you spend all of your time brainstorming ways to get them out. Sometimes they may need to hit bottom before they are ready to change.
  3. Identify when you are becoming more of an enabler than a friend. Are you doing things to make it easier for them to remain in the relationship (with the person or the substance)? Do you help to make excuses for the abuser? Do you give money to cover when she is short because her money was spent on drugs? Support the person, not the illness.

Finally:

  1. Know there is only so much you can do. You cannot force sobriety or the end of a relationship. It is possible the outcome might be bad – very, very bad. In the case of Bobbi Kristina, it seems likely she will pass as the result of her relationship (either with drugs or with Nick Gordon or both). This can happen even when people repeatedly try to save someone. If this happens to your loved one, it will be horribly, profoundly tragic, but it is in no way your fault. You need to find a way to put the responsibility where it truly belongs – the addiction, the perpetrator or both.

Relationship Reincarnation

Have you ever noticed some people keep going back to the same jerk over and over again? The jerk can be the same jerk even if he (or she) is in a different body. You’ve seen this, right? Maybe your friend consistently dates guys who cheat on her. Maybe you are only attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable or are total commitment phobes. Maybe your brother is only into people who are emotionally needy and cause him to run in the other direction. They are consistently unsatisfied in these relationships, but keep getting drawn back into them again and again.

This reminds me of part of the theory of reincarnation. The idea is people keep getting reborn to the same life until they resolve whatever problem/issue is keeping them from moving on. There are a number of religious and/or philosophical doctrines which follow these tenets. Basically, people are faced with a life challenge and, if they do not overcome it, then they will be reincarnated as a human to face the same challenge again. This happens until they finally overcome it and are able to move on.

I see relationship repeaters the same way. They don’t need to die and be reincarnated per se, but, instead, the relationship is reincarnated – over and over and over again. These individuals are doomed to repeat their relationship until they are able to identify their specific challenge and conquer it. This will enable them to move on and find a healthier relationship in the future. In my teen years and early twenties, I repeatedly dated “the player”. (I blame this on “Daddy issues” – mine is a bit of a man-whore and so were the guys I was dating.) Maybe I was trying to fix my dad through my relationships. Somehow I needed to “fix” him and turn him into a relationship-valueing guy. Huh? Gross. It finally came down to recognizing I didn’t need to find a guy to change, but rather a guy who was already relationship-quality.

What I want for you is to recognize when you are in a repetitive cycle – are your relationships on a self-destructive loop? If yes, take a moment to work on why you are being drawn back to this same type of person. What is the challenge they are representing to you? Do you need to learn how to accept healthy love? Do you need to learn “drama” isn’t necessary to feel excited about someone else? Are you learning you don’t have to “make” someone love you to have worth? Whatever it is – work on sorting it out. Hopefully you can break the cycle before you are too many incarnations into it.

As Fame ↑, Common Sense ↓

Have you ever wondered where the line gets crossed for celebrities? You know the line where they cross from being “regular” people making “regular” money to becoming someone who doesn’t bat an eye at a $3000 handbag. They jet set around the world, wear expensive and designer clothes (even when designed to look casual and inexpensive), drive luxury cars, and live in humungous houses. Most of these people (but not all), were born average people who lived in average houses or apartments and had parents who made ends meet working more typical jobs.

You may wonder what made me think of this – well, it is something that has bounced around in my mind for years, but, recently, it was Gwyneth Paltrow who has received a lot of media attention for a recommendation for a “V-steam” she made on her GOOP website or in its newsletter. Now, from what I can gather, this is a relatively inexpensive indulgence (I think it was something like $25), but to families making ends meet, $25 to have your vagina steam-cleaned (seriously) seems the height of idiocy.

I read a lot of magazines largely geared toward a female readership. Often within the pages, there is a section dedicated to celebrity product recommendations (either direct or indirect). These can include anything from food products or beverages, makeup and skincare, clothing and accessories and/or furniture/décor. Rarely are these items anything a typical reader would ever be able to comfortably afford. Now, I know there are a percentage of readers who might simply enjoy learning some intimate detail about their favorite celebrities without ever hoping to purchase those items themselves, but I have to think there are those who are actually seeking product recommendations. Do these celebrities understand most people cannot manage $145 for 0.5 oz of La Mer eye cream?

Do you think this is a gradual process? Do they start out feeling comfortable and confident with a $30 purse from Target only to move onto a $150 bag from Fossil? Are there Coach bags and Michael Kors on their way to Louis Vuitton and Berkin handbags? Does your average celebrity marvel at the cost of her clothing (even though she can afford it or gets it for free)?

What do you think? How does it happen?

Finding pleasure in the effort, not in the results.

I was recently sitting with a client discussing why he wasn’t making progress on his goals – he has many of them and they are fairly clearly defined which might make them more achievable, but each week he comes to see me and has made absolutely zero progress on his goals. For a while, we talked about the importance of breaking his goals into smaller, more manageable pieces. We talked about how they need to be quantifiable, so he will know when his goal is complete (i.e., writing 3 blog posts per week). We discussed the importance of not having too many goals operating at the same time – you really CAN spread yourself too thin. We talked about it. You know what we didn’t talk about? Fear.

Fear about what happens once your goal has been reached and is now outside your control. I know a little about this – I wrote a book last year (Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl: Quotes, Inspiration and Advice for Women by Women, Morgan James, 2013). For the longest time, my goals were to make contact with various famous/successful women, research specific sections or work on writing certain chapters. I could control whether or not I accomplished these goals. Do you know what I couldn’t control? What would happen next. Would anyone actually buy the book? Would they think it sucks? Was I wasting a crap-ton of time and energy?

I realized this is what was going on with my client. He was so focused on whether or not people would like this final outcome, he couldn’t get anything done. We need to change the way we look at things. It isn’t about the results, but, instead, needs to be about the process. You goal is about completing the process to the best of your ability. If no one likes it – OK, that sucks, but it doesn’t change the fact you accomplished your goal.

Here are some examples:

  1. A client told me he was always afraid his girlfriend was going to leave him someday. We talked about the importance of knowing he was doing everything he could to be a great boyfriend. He could not control her feelings, only his actions. We can never make anyone stay with us (at least not legally), but we can know we’ve done everything we could.
  2. My book. Hey, it may suck. I don’t think so, but you might. I cannot control how you might feel about the book. All I could do was my best to make it good. I can’t control the outcome, only my efforts.
  3. I have a number of high school seniors in my life right now (both professionally and personally). College applications are all submitted now and all they can do is wait for the acceptances/rejections. I have had a number of conversations about how they have now done everything they could to submit strong applications (grades, extracurriculars, essays), but it is now out of their control. Satisfaction needs to be found in the process.
  4. I have mentioned a few times that my daughter is a dancer – she dances in competitions with her studio. All the kids can do is go out and do their best (and hopefully enjoy it). The results are completely in the hands of the judges. Whether they like your music or costume or dance style or your face all impacts on how well you fare in the competition. Enjoyment needs to be found in performing, not in winning.

This is a long, perhaps drawn out, way of explaining we need to find our satisfaction in our efforts. Too much in life is out of our hands for us to be able to rely on the outcome for our pleasure. Learning to be proud knowing you have done the best you could will carry you farther than inconsistent trophies, raises, promotions or praise.

Super Bowl Commercials: Winners and Losers

These are placed as ranked by Ad Meter which rates viewers responses to various commercials. I might have rearranged them a bit and added/dropped one or two, but no one asked me.

  1. Budweiser, “Lost Dog” — Ad Meter rating: 8.10

Let’s be real – Budweiser knows how to pull the heartstrings. Cute puppy being cared for by gigantic Clydesdales – it’s a gimme. Hot farmer doesn’t hurt…

  1. Always, “Like a Girl” — 7.10

I really like the idea of this commercial. It sucks that women were even making fun of running or throwing “like a girl”. It was a “nice” commercial.

  1. Fiat, “Blue Pill” — 6.87

I don’t mind admitting my initial concern this was a commercial for Viagra. I have nothing against Viagra per se, but I really didn’t want to see a commercial for it – ageism? Loved when I realized it was a car commercial. Clever.

  1. Microsoft, “Braylon” — 6.74

I love the story. I love that Microsoft was working to help this little man – at least I think that was what they were implying. Not sure if this makes me want to buy a computer or not, but it does give me squishier feelings for Microsoft than I may have had before. I think I am being manipulated. Oh, wait – they are commercials – of course I am being manipulated.

  1. Doritos, “Middle Seat” — 6.71

Who hasn’t wanted to pull out this bag of tricks to avoid having someone sit in the space-invading middle “bitch” seat on an airplane? Cute idea. Nice twist at the end being forced to fly next to a baby – potentially one of the nine circles of hell.

  1. Dodge, “Wisdom” — 6.64

At first, they shared very positive, sage (kinda boring) advice. Just when my attention started to drift away, they got twisted and funny. What a great idea to show another side of centurions. Great tie in.

  1. Toyota, “My Bold Dad” — 6.59

OK – I may be slightly biased toward this one. I am a mom of a little girl and I chose a really amazing dad for her. I was weepy within a few seconds of this commercial. It really pulled at my heartstrings. I loved how they showed the dad always being there for his girl and what a subtle twist of having her enter the military instead of the more expected college drop off.

  1. Coca-Cola, “Make It Happy” — 6.50

I really love the idea of changing digital interactions from negative to positive. I have to admit I am not 100% on board with this commercial – it fell a little flat for me, but, again, I really liked the concept.

  1. Nissan, “With Dad” — 6.47

I am a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t really get this one. I understood the dad travelled for work (as a race car driver) and that the son and mom missed him throughout the years. Not sure I knew he quit to be home with his family though…

  1. McDonald’s, “Pay with Lovin’” — 6.45

OK – McDonald’s – don’t sue me, but I don’t eat McDonald’s. I have allergies and try to eat pseudo-healthy, so McDonald’s is not on my go to list. (I will admit that while I was pregnant, I craved McDonald’s sundaes with wild abandon). Despite all of that, I liked this commercial. It made me feel slightly warm and fuzzy about McDonald’s. I even found myself thinking about stopping by the fast food restaurant on my way to work this morning. I didn’t, but they definitely mind-melded me!

And I could not forget:

The Hall of Shame

The Nationwide Dead Kid Commercial

Oh Dear Lord! This commercial was absolutely horrible. It was so bad, I immediately started talking with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter as soon as it was over. So… the kid never got to travel or get cooties or get married… because he died in an accident. This is the Super Bowl people! What a downer. Someone (or a lot of someones) needs to be fired. I wasn’t planning on contacting Nationwide for my insurance needs anyway (I am all good in this department), but now they are permanently associated with a dead kid in my mind. No thanks.

What do you think? Am I full of crap?

Internet Shaming

I am not all about shaming fellow parents based on their parenting decisions as a rule – we have all been there and have all made some not-so-great choices here and there, but I do have to question when a parent chooses to post those decisions on the internet. Have you heard about the dad from Missouri who posted the note sent home regarding his 8-year-old second grader’s lunch? (You can read the article – and letter – here, if you are curious: https://gma.yahoo.com/dad-posts-meddling-note-sent-home-teacher-over-215755494–abc-news-parenting.html). Supposedly a cafeteria worker reported to the little girl’s substitute teacher that the little girl had four chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, Ritz crackers, and a pickle in her lunch. The teacher did not believe this was a healthy enough lunch and wrote a note home requesting the child bring a healthier lunch to school the next day. Now, I see a lot of overreaching here on the school’s part here:

  1. She is a substitute teacher. While she is still a concerned adult in the child’s life, the teacher should have been the one to contact the parent when the teacher returned to the classroom. This sub did not know about any existing agreement that might have been in place or how best to interact with the family.
  2. When contact was made, it should not have been accusatory – the implied message in this note was that these parents suck at providing an appropriate lunch for their child.
  3. Finally, it was assumed that what the cafeteria worker reported was 100% factual. I’m sure she was busy working and may not have been able to watch this kid the entire time.

The father (a physician) noted the child also had four pieces of ham and a piece of string cheese – no sandwich because the family does not eat much bread. OK, here is where I go after the parents a bit. We have all made questionable parenting choices – my daughter’s own lunch (and dinner and breakfast) has been far from nutritiously sound on occasion, but I don’t post about it on the internet as if I am doing the right thing. I am often embarrassed when these situations occur and I would hate for anyone to know about it. (Who hasn’t had the occasional “frozen yogurt for dinner” kind of night?). The father also comments that his daughter is a very independent second grader and packs her own lunch – well, maybe this is a sign she could use a little more guidance. I think it is great for kids to take on responsibility, but, perhaps, she could be selecting from a more limited pool of available options – i.e., which type of fruit to take or what type of lunch meat.

There are better ways to address the teacher/school/principal/school district than to post a letter on the internet. It seems to me the school, though misguided, well meaning. Is this a new thing we are doing as a society now? Are we posting other people’s mistakes for the world to see rather than dealing with the problem directly? Oh crap, did I just do that? What do you think? Who was out of line?