Choose your actions, not your feelings

Again and again in therapy I find myself emphasizing the distinction between feeling an emotion and acting on it. Many patients, and non-patients too, take undue responsibility for their emotions, as though feelings were volitional behaviors, the result of a choice. Often there is a stated or implied should: “I should feel this, not that.” […]

Behavioral science versus moral judgment

George S. Patton, Jr. commanded the Seventh United States Army, and later the Third Army, in the European Theater of World War II. General Patton, a brilliant strategist as well as larger-than-life fount of harsh words and strong opinions, was also infamous for confronting two soldiers diagnosed with “combat fatigue” — now known as post-traumatic […]

“Have you seen a therapist yourself?”

Recently a patient asked whether I’d ever been in therapy myself. Without answering his question directly (see my post on psychotherapist disclosure and privacy), I replied that many of us have, and asked what it meant to him. It would be a bad sign: “How can you help if you need help too?” We went […]

If I accused you of being a Martian...

Cross-posted from “Sacramento Street Psychiatry“.

In dynamic psychotherapy, patients often say how hurt and victimized they feel as a result of unkind judgments or criticisms by others:

“My coworker called me a hypocrite!”

“My mother told me I neglect her by not visiting enough.”

“My husband complains I’m too self-centered.”

Although sharing such complaints with […]