What purple glass? Memory and the expert effect.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Old pictures

Memories.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The thing may be right in front of you and still, you can’t see it.

The tale of the collectible purple glass

For a brief period, I dabbled in antiques and collectibles. The goal here was to make some money of buying and selling these things as I traveled about. The truth be told most things sold in antique stores these days are far from old and many are not all that collectible.

From time to time a friend of mine and I would wander through the antique stores and see what they had, what they were charging for things and then hope that we might find things worth buying and reselling.

If you intend to make a buck off an activity it helps to know what you are doing and in retrospect, neither of us knew nearly enough to make anything off the effort but at the time it sounded like a fun thing to do.

Now the part about memory

One day after walking through an antique store we stopped to talk about what we had seen. “Did you see that Fenton glass piece? ” she said. N, I had to admit I had not.

“What did you think of that display of Boyd glass they had?” she asked. Again I had to admit that I had not noticed that either.

I had to admit I didn’t remember seeing either.

The final straw came when she asked about a large piece of Purple art glass. My answer about missing that led to some harsh words and well it was all downhill from there.

I realized I knew nothing about collectible glass and that no matter how many trips through the story we made I failed to remember the glass items I had seen.

The solution to this problem came when I went to the library and checked out a few books on collectible glass. At first, they all looked alike. But the more I read about collectible glass and the more pictures I looked at the more the various types of glass started to make sense.

Later on, I actually bought a book on some glass styles I discovered I liked.

After reading those books I discovered that now that I knew something about some styles of collectible glass I recognized them when I saw them. Knowing what things are, makes them more recognizable, results in remembering a lot more about what you see.

One term for this is “the expert effect.” A writer notices books; a mechanic notices cars and someone in real-estate notices more about homes than the average layperson.

I have no doubt that had I kept up my study of glass I would know a lot more about it. Having not looked at any collectible glass for a long time now, those memories have faded away. We should talk more about keeping memories intact and reviving memories that have faded in the future.

What about the memory stuff?

Now that I have become a counselor I realize how many things people come to counseling to talk about they have never noticed. People can’t tell me what they feel because they have never studied themselves and their feelings enough to be able to identify feelings.

Becoming an expert on yourself.

One reason we have so much difficulty recognizing our problems before they become unmanageable is we have never gotten to be experts on ourselves.

If you want a better memory, become an expert on the thing you are trying to remember and it will be much easier to spot that thing in the first place. Strong first impressions on our brains get held onto longer.

Happiness expert.

Are you an expert on happiness? What part of you and your growth or recovery do you need to become an expert about so it will stay fixed in your memory?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Memory March – How to improve your memory and motivation

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Puzzle

Memory pieces.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Your memory can be improved with a little effort, some motivation will help.

This month let’s take a look at memory, its role in our life and how you might improve it. Contrary to popular belief a good memory is not something you are either born with or you will never have.

There are ways to work on improving your memory regardless of how good a memory you started with. I want to keep this Memory March discussion on a practical basis. There has been a ton of research on memory over the years. This research has given us some insights into how the brain works but that information has not always translated into anything all that practical.

We can describe memory “systems” and parts of the brain involved, but the systems do not at this point correlate well with the brain parts and those parts of the brain serve many functions beyond memory.

From a practical point of view, there are ways to improve your memory, thinking and mental acuity that has little to do with the way your brain is shaped and how much supposed intelligence you have or do not have. We have noted in past posts that some very smart people can do dumb things and some average people come up with some surprising ideas.

Having a good memory may begin with how much storage capacity your brain has but the efficiency of storage and how you use those abilities can make a tremendous difference.

A long time ago before we discovered ADHD and learning disabilities, there used to be some programs on memory improvement and mind development. New advances in medications and learning techniques have been helpful, but to date, we have found no magic pill that makes your memory better and the elusive part of learning remains learning how to learn.

Things you can do to improve your memory and mental efficiency.

A good memory is not something we are born with. In the early years, children’s memories are primarily stored as pictures. There are processes for consolidating those memories. As children move into the school years what they can remember is largely influenced by how many words they know. Memories begin to be stored in the brain as stories.

Much of our memory is about being a good storyteller. Very young children are often good “storytellers” meaning they can invent fantastic tales full of creativity. What they lack is the ability to consolidate those stories’ so they can be retold time after time. As we get older our storytelling abilities crystallize.

Fortunately for those of us with sometimes faulty memories, learning to remember stories is a skill that can be learned.

Don’t confuse a good memory with IQ or being smart. There are plenty of people who are smart in the IQ sense. They score very well on standardized tests. But can they remember anything? Not much! Those stories about the absent-minded professor have a lot of truth to them. Being smart does not mean you can remember anything outside your primary interest.

Having a good memory is more a skill than something you are born with. Skills can be learned and they can be improved with practice.

Over the course of Memory March, I will try to offer some everyday suggestions on how to improve your memory, your mental efficiency, and your productivity. There will be some suggested exercises. You may do them or not. I have borrowed some of these ideas from old memory improvement and mental efficiency texts but where possible have updated them for our current terminology and understandings. Can’t say the ideas are all that original and I will try to give credit where credit is due.

My hope is that these memory posts will be helpful. We will also need to say a few things about motivation. Being motivated to remember things helps the memory. I have written in the past about internal and external motivation. Through the month I plan to talk some more about motivation.

Links to a few of the older posts on both memory and motivation will appear at the end of these posts.

Let’s end this post with a simple memory prompt.

Please remember to leave a comment about memory, motivation and how this may lead you towards your happy life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Is it the Bipolar or is it me? Confusion and self-doubt.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Who am I?
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

The struggles to find you when you have Bipolar or another mental illness.

People who grow up with a mental illness have a difficult time finding out who they are separate from their disorder. The younger you are when the symptoms start the more difficult it is to find out who you are during those times the symptoms are at a severe point. People with other mental illnesses may experience this same confusion but it is easiest to illustrate by discussing the effects of Bipolar Disorder on self-doubt.

Youth with Bipolar disorder have a second set of tasks to navigate over and above those all teen’s experience. Finding you who you are is a necessary task of adolescence. Much of that sense of self is developed as a result of the experiences you have. For the person with Bipolar Disorder, the person who has those experiences changes depending on the severity of symptoms.

In the early stages of the disorder, the disease goes largely undiagnosed. The person who will someday get that bipolar diagnosis may spend 20 years or more struggling with out of control emotions before they discover that those unpredictable mood swings are a result of their disease, not some defect in who they are.

When you have symptoms, try to control them, but find you are out of control more than in, it is easy to begin to doubt yourself and to begin to hate yourself. Before receiving their diagnosis many youths with Bipolar Disorders have been led to believe they are “bad kids” and that they should be able to do things they find far outside their abilities.

The person with Bipolar Disorder will experience a large discrepancy between who they are supposed to be and who they are. Despite their best efforts, who they feel they are, will change depending on whether they are in a manic, hypomanic, depressive or mixed phase.

The peak onset for Bipolar is between fifteen and nineteen years of age, precisely those late teen years when you need to establish who you are as a separate person from your caregivers and friends.

The earlier the onset of Bipolar Disorder the more difficult it becomes to define what is the disorder and what part of these feeling and behaviors are you.

Often the person with Bipolar will report that they don’t know how they feel. A given situation will make them feel happy one day and sad or angry the next. This creates extreme self-doubt.

Having a mind or body that betrays you can lead to self-hate. In the early stages of Bipolar Disorder, before the diagnosis, there is a high risk that you will come to hate yourself for having uncontrollable and unpredictable moods.

Clients sometimes report during a severe episode “This is not who I am.” They have the feeling that there are three or more of them, the depressed person, the manic person and sometimes there is that person that is them without the symptoms.

Someone with Bipolar Disorder may find that they shift between being an introvert and being an extrovert depending on the state of their illness. They can easily become confused as to which is the real them.

After a particularly manic episode or a really low depressive episode, the person with Bipolar Disorder may find themselves saying “That is not me, I don’t want to be like that.”

The result of all these conflicts in their self-image can leave a person in the early phase of Bipolar Disorder with negative self-beliefs. These beliefs are likely to persist into adulthood and then change slowly if at all. The person that they find themselves to be on medication or after therapy is a whole different person to the previous untreated person.

One risk for the undiagnosed person is the tendency to become a chameleon. Not knowing who they really are deep down they try to blend in and assume the roles of others around them. This results in an unstable self that is one way today and another tomorrow.

A common refrain is “I don’t like myself.” Or “I can’t do anything right.” Shaking these beliefs and sorting out who you are separate from your disorder is a difficult but necessary process.

Because of the mood swings between depression and mania the person with bipolar disorder faces unique challenges in finding who they really are separate from their diagnosis.

People with other mental and emotional problems will expertise these conflicts in varying ways. The key task is to learn that you are not your diagnosis and that your condition does not define who and what you will become.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Fear, anxiety or phobia?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Fear.

Fear.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is it fear, anxiety or have you developed a phobia?

 

The textbooks tell us there is a difference between Fear and Anxiety. The researchers use some specific criteria to differentiate the two. In our own lives, even without looking it up in the dictionary we know if we are anxious or in fear. Like so many other words, fear and anxiety may have different meanings to different people.

Fear is about a sense of specific danger. We are afraid of a person with a gun or an animal chasing us. We might also be afraid of a relationship like marriage or an act like public speaking.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a heightened sense of awareness, a being on alert looking out for danger. New situations, places known to contain dangerous items or risky relationships, can provoke anxiety because of the uncertainty.

Some authors suggest that fear is or should be about a real danger; though in practice many of the fears people are most worried about hold a small risk of harm.

One other distinction between fear and anxiety is that fear is largely about the future while anxiety is about the present. Anxiety is about not knowing.

Specific Phobia is a mental health diagnosis involving excessive anxiety when exposed to a feared object or situation. This used to be called Simple Phobia. This excess anxiety begins interfering in the person’s life to the extent of disrupting relationships, keeping them from school or work or making them personally unhappy.

Both anxiety and fear are survival mechanisms.  Fear tells us to avoid things that are known to be harmful. Anxiety is about being extra careful when in new, novel situations or at times of increased danger. Anxiety is often free-floating and attaches to any and all events that are not expected.

Fear becomes a problem when it is attached to things with a low likelihood of happening and this fear keeps you from doing things you need to do. When that fear becomes debilitating and prevents having a job, family or friends, then it has gone out of control.

Fear is commonly learned as a result of three factors, personal experience, watching others and verbal accounts.

A child who climbs on the roof of the house and falls, breaking a limb, may forever after be afraid of heights. People who grew up in homes where violence was a standard part of life may be afraid of relationships or commitment to a long-term relationship.

You do not have to experience the event personally. If you witness someone being injured or killed you will have an increased fear of whatever caused that injury or death. Social learning theory tells us that humans have a phenomenal ability to learn from the experiences of others.

Those experiences of others do not even need to be real to create fear in us. Children told often enough about the boogeyman become frightened of the dark. People of all ages can develop intense fears from watching events unfold on television. As parents discover, the young child may be unable to tell the difference between reality and fantasy and may become fearful of things they saw in fictional movies.

There is a long list of common fears below. This list is far from complete and is not in any particular order. The fear involved often greatly exceeds the risk of something happening but as anyone who has a specific fear (phobia) will tell you real or not that fear can cause great suffering.

Fear of Public Speaking or performing in public.

Public speaking is reported to be the most common fear exceeding even the fear of death. The principle concern here is that the larger the group the more likely you are to say something that alienates someone or causes them to judge you negativity.

This is especially crippling for people whose occupation requires them to appear in front of the public.

Fear of Snakes or Spiders.

The majority of snakes and spiders are not poisonous to humans. Still, this is no comfort if you are bitten and die. Being afraid of particular creatures helped people who lived in rural areas survive.

If your fear reaches a point that you can’t leave the house, it has gotten way out of hand.

Fear of Flying.

Despite plenty of statistics to show that flying in a plane is safer than driving a car on the freeway people are still afraid of flying. There are two reasons I believe for this heightened fear of flying.

In driving, we are largely able to maintain the illusion that we are in control. In flying there is no question that our lives are in the hands of a person we have probably never met.

Plane crashes are spectacular and widely publicized. We see extensive media coverage of these events. This heightened awareness results in an increased perception that flying is dangerous.

Fear of Failure.

Fear of failure is especially troubling for those who were raised in a home where success was everything and failure was interpreted as you were defective. If you have to always be perfect to be worthwhile any failure is catastrophic.

Other common fears include intimacy, marriage, heights, water, clowns, death, terrorist attacks, and violence.

Some of these have clear reasons for causing fear and others are likely learned from experiences and tales we were told.

If fear is impacting your life and the fear you feel is beyond the real risk of danger there is help available. Several therapies, as well as medication, have been shown to be effective in reducing the impact fear has on your life. Systematic desensitization is known to be effective in conquering many of these fears.

Have you been troubled by Fear, Anxiety or a Specific Phobia and are you willing to do something about those fears?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Valentine’s Day and the search for love

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Feeling of love

Looking for love.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Today is the official day to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

There is some dispute about how Saint Valentine and the idea of love got connected in the first place. The most reasonable explanation appears to be that Chaucer noted that on Saint Valentine’s Day, falling in the spring as it does, the doves were commencing to mate. His poem connected that matting with the idea of romantic love and we have been chasing that connection ever since.

Eric Fromm in The Art of Loving made note that there is no other human activity that is so regularly begun with great hopes and expectations and yet so often fails. He also tells us that we take the intensity of this new infatuation as a reflection of our intensity of love when it is only a reflection of our previous loneliness.

No, I don’t mean to disparage those of you who have or are about to fall in love on or about this annual springtime holiday. Undeniable there is no other human emotion that is so exciting, so rewarding or as crazy-making as falling in love.

There have been those couples who have spent their entire lives together in a great love. What many of those couples will tell us is that those initial feelings of romance and attraction were not enough to sustain the relationship and that staying in love is a much greater task than falling in love in the first place.

Having one significant person in your life, most often a primary love and sexual partner has a profound influence on your mental health. A seriously mentally ill person who has that one person, they perceive as loving, living in the home with them is half as likely to end up in a psychiatric hospital. Love has its advantages.

If only love lasted. If only it had a slightly better shelf life.

With more marriages ending in divorce than those staying together these days, it is easy to be cynical about marriage. I fear the out of love spouse who has just found out their partner has been cheating more than the paranoid schizophrenic. Especially if that jilted lover has a gun.

Living together without marrying is even less secure. Unmarried couples are more likely to dissolve the relationship than married ones, particularly within the first year after the birth of a child. Something about not sleeping while being up all night to care for a sick child and the resulting irritability takes the bloom off any flowering love.

There is also an incredible disconnect between those wonderful romantic things that couples say about each other in that first bloom of love and the hurtful things they say about each other in mediation and family court appearances when the relationship comes unraveled.

Most of the time that person we fall in love with is less real than the cartoon characters on the Saturday morning show. We see in this other the reflection of what we want and need and we project back who we think we need to be in order to have them love us. The masks do not come off until the crying child and the stress of earning a living deter us from keeping up pretenses.

Beware listening to that siren sound that tells you, if you could just find that one person who has the things you lack, that person who could complete you, then you two will live happily ever after. Two partial people are not able to create a whole relationship.

Recognize on this day devoted to another love quest that no one will be able to love you more than you love yourself and if you feel empty and incomplete alone you will feel equally lacking when you are with someone.

Those people who like themselves and feel good alone have something to give to another. Two complete and happy people have a chance that two wounded and suffering people never will. If you want a happy relationship, get happy first and get relationshiped second.

Having said all this about caution in the matters of love, I know what is about to transpire. The days are getting warmer. The flowers are blooming. The birds are falling in love and mating and the hormones in we humans are on the rise.

Let the illogical falling in love begin.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Lincoln visits Mardi Gras

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why these holidays are getting me confused.

My calendar shows that this year Lincoln’s Birthday and Mardi Gras fall on the same day. The juxtaposition has me wondering more than ever about holidays, what they mean anymore and why they keep changing.

This getting old has its disadvantages, one of which is that I am in a perpetual state of confusion. I might get even more confused if I keep trying to make sense of all this instead of just observing and reflecting on this occurrence.

Do Lincoln’s birthday and Mardi Gras have any connection? Why are they together and the president’s birthday a full seven days later?

 

One connection clearly is the occurrence of hallucinations. In that way, the two days have something in common. They both also remind us that the modern idea of hallucinations and delusions and the ancient belief in spirits and demons are not all that far apart.

There has been some debate over the years about the state of President Lincoln’s mental health. Clearly, he presided over our country at a very perilous and traumatic time. No war in our history from the colonial days till now has resulted in such universal military service and such horrific loss of life as that war which was fought to keep the union of states together despite unresolvable, for the times, differences.

Lincoln has been described as Melancholy, an old name for what we now call Major Depressive Disorder. Some accounts report he would stay up late at night and believed he saw spirits. Having to make the sort of decisions he did that resulted in such massive suffering, no doubt could drive most any man insane.

So a reasonable case could be made that this President whose policy’s made such profound changes in so many aspects of American life, could easily have suffered from Depression with psychotic features, or Bipolar disorder, some have even suggested a more pronounced psychosis. Still, with or without a mental illness, this president was in touch with massive sadness and the mental images of the spirits of those who died in that war.

Personally, from this distance of 150 years, I can tell you that the number of family members on my tree who fought in that great war is too many to count. I also know, though in a more fragmentary manner that many of those ancestors and their offspring developed an addiction to drugs, alcoholism, and a wide variety of serious mental illnesses in the years following that war.

I am not sure we can blame all the insanity in the family tree on that one war, like all families we had black sheep and bizarre behavior before and after that war. But the connections are too specific and close in time for me to not take notice that the effects a horrific war play on the psyche of individuals, families, and countries for a long time after a war officially ends.

As for Mardi Gras, the costumes involved look to me like a tangible representation of a Jungian dream analysis on Hallucinogenic drugs.

My understanding of Mardi Gras is of course imperfect. The most vivid description of this day I recall must have come from a person who had consumed several bottles of high-proof liquor. It is hard sometimes to tell the descriptive part from the current hallucinations.

I am told that his Mardi Gras falls on “Fat Tuesday.” This is the last Tuesday before Lent. Those of the Catholic Influence seem particularly inclined towards lent. I am told that the objective is to get as much sinning done on Fat Tuesday as possible so that you have the pleasure to carry you through the deprivations of Lent.

This did not sound right to me but my highly intoxicated source swears that this is true. He also swears that extra-terrestrial aliens have taken over the bodies of our Congress and are passing pro-alien laws.

I found the part about congressmen being possessed by extraterrestrials easier to believe than his account of Mardi Gras, so much for drunken sources.

Participants in Mari Gras wear odd costumes that make them look like, demons, spirits and assorted creatures. Creecy as quoted in Wikipedia, a customarily sober if not totally reliable source, describes the Mardi Gras costumes as:

grotesque, quizzical, diabolic, horrible, strange masks, and disguises. Human bodies are seen with heads of beasts and birds, beasts and birds with human heads; demi-beasts, demi-fishes, snakes’ heads and bodies with arms of apes; man-bats from the moon; mermaids; satyrs, beggars, monks, and robbers parade and march on foot, on horseback, in wagons, carts, coaches, cars, &c., in rich confusion, up and down the streets, wildly shouting, singing, laughing, drumming, fiddling, fifeing, and all throwing flour broadcast as they wend their reckless way.

Somehow this time of year seems perfect for the strange, bizarre and the supernatural. Only a short time ago we were watching a groundhog for our weather predictions. Now we are all hoping to get in one last round of sinning before we try giving up our old ways for another brief hiatus. This only days after discarding our New Year’s resolutions.

Which raises the question, “Can you still see the bare breasts, bizarre behavior, and debauchery if you are sober?”

As to the connection between Mardi Gras and Lincoln?

I am inclined to think that Lincoln would have preferred to see this menagerie traipsing through the white house over the specter of the war dead and wounded he had to view in his melancholy nights.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Where have all the neurotics gone? – Looking for your neurosis?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Confused brain

Mental illness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do people still get treated for being neurotic?

On my bookshelves are a whole lot of older books on mental health and mental illness. Many of them talk about neurosis. A couple even has the word Neurotic or neuroses in the title. I mentioned “Be glad you are Neurotic,” by Bisch in a previous post. With all the literature on Neuroses, where have all the neurotics gone?

Neurosis was a pretty inclusive term. In the older psychological literature, you could get three diagnoses, Neurosis, psychosis and that group that seemed to move back and forth across the line got called “Borderline” because they appeared to live at the border between Psychosis and Neurosis.

Today our understanding of the possible mental illnesses is getting much more complicated. For example, one new piece of research from the University of Buffalo seems to suggest to me that over a hundred different genes may be causing schizophrenia because of their effect on one structure in the brain. Eventually, we may diagnose and or treat dozens or even hundreds of different types of psychoses.

The word Neurosis has leaked from psychiatry into the popular vocabulary. It like so many other words mean different things to different people.

Some dictionary definitions include “relating to, involving, affected by, or characteristic of a mild psychiatric disorder characterized by depression, anxiety, or hypochondria” and “overanxious, oversensitive, or obsessive about everyday things.”

So by this definition of neurosis, most of the things that today we break out into anxiety, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and a few other disorders would all be thrown into the category neuroses.

Neuroses have been completely dropped from modern psychiatric diagnosis, largely because neuroses were based on theories of what is going on inside the person like dreams and the unconscious. Current preference is to primarily use symptoms that are visible to others or can be described by the client, like lack of sleep, loss of pleasure or similar characteristics as the basis of diagnosis.

This older term, neurosis, also included most of the currently recognized personality disorders.

One effect of this move from the simple classifications system, you either had a psychosis or a neurosis, has been that people with many symptoms now may get a number of diagnoses.

Neurosis used to include symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Now that the two are separated and further separated into many types of anxiety disorders and mood disorders, many people qualify for both a depressive diagnosis and an anxiety diagnosis. The overlap is so large that a combined depression and anxiety disorder was considered for the new DSM-5. (It did not become a separate diagnosis but there are specifiers for this.)

All the neurotics now get to have dozens or more of new diseases and disorders that are the result of refining our system of classification rather than in any real change in human behavior or the way in which mental illnesses affect people.

So you can go on feeling you are neurotic if you chose. You can say others are acting neurotic, but the diagnoses that the clinician will give you will have one of the newer disorder names.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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