Heart & Soul publishes a newsletter. You will find some of our newsletters and articles in this section. Executive Director, Tina Calabrese, LCSW is also a writer. You may find some of her published material in this section as well.
GHOSTS IN THE BEDROOM by Tina Calabrese, LCSW
When you become romantically involved with someone something strange happens to your mind and heart especially after the infatuation stage which typically lasts about three months. The transference phenomenon occurs. This means your emotional memory of who you loved deeply in your past reappears. This memory is triggered because, in a sense, you are returning to an old feeling of love, intimacy and attachment. Sometimes you can actually fall in love with someone because they remind you, unconsciously, of that prior love attachment. If there is emotional work to do with that person in your past your mind will especially seek out a similar personality. What does this all mean? Well its means that you have an opportunity in your relationship to heal past wounds. This will only happen if you are aware of your past issues in relationships and you are willing to work them out. We’ve all heard the sayings and comments:
“She married her father.” or “He married his mother.”
Sometimes we are the last to realize this! What is most important to do is to identify the DIFFERENCES between your partner and the past relationships. It is key to separate the past from the present by processing (talking, feeling, thinking) about the prior love and at the same time work towards being that healthy and mature adult in the relationship. There is a strong tendency when the mind and heart feels that familiar feeling of a prior love to act as you did in that old relationship. By prior love I mean your relationship with a parent, caregiver or old love relationship. The most powerful past relationships are with our parents. Those relationships hold the intensity of emotion since we were children and did not have defense mechanisms to ward off emotional pain.
How to deal with the ghosts:
Identify the issue like fear of abandonment, feeling neglected, feeling betrayed
Identify the triggers to these issues like when your partner does not call or contact you for awhile, when another person feels more important
Talk to your therapist and process (thinking, feeling, talking out) the past, deeper issue
Access your “Adult” or mature self to realize what you feel may not be equal to your partner’s intent. In other words if he doesn’t call or answer your text he may later on and it does not mean he will abandon or neglect you.
Learn how to be patient with yourself and your relationship. Try not to react if you have strong feelings take a time out, process it and if it does not go away talk to your partner not with blame but with a sharing of how it was for you in the past and how you were wounded so that he can understand your feelings.
Try to feel compassion for yourself. There is a tendency to project out onto others what we feel for ourselves so if you are critical or unhappy with yourself you may be unhappy and critical with your partner.
Remember that the “ghosts” in the bedroom are just that—ghosts—they are not real. There may be an aspect or feature of a past hurt in a relationship but you are not that old self or that child and most likely your partner is not completely like that other person. If your partner is like someone in the past who has hurt you then you will need to evaluate with your therapist if the relationships is healthy or unhealthy for you.
As always remember that you are only human. You will have reactions, judgments and you will make mistakes in your relationship. The most important thing is to remain open to analysis and feedback, to take responsibility for your behavior and to process the past wounds.
It may feel difficult at times but it is worth it!
References: CG Jung, “The Psychology of the Transference,” Princeton University Press, 1954
SAGE WISDOM: Listening to Older Adults
By Tina Calabrese, LCSW-R
American Indians respected the elders in their tribe. It was their tradition to see the elders as wise and all knowing and because of that tradition they sought their advice and reassurance when there was conflict. Africans, Asians and Mexicans also respect their elders but in the United States older adults are invisible and sometimes neglected.
In Taiwan people greet older adults with their hands on their heart. In older Japanese towns they still hold parades for people who reach the age of eight eight. Older adults were the story tellers, the sages and the wise ones. Today in America according to the National Center for Elder Abuse between one and two million older adults are abused and only one in fourteen of those cases reach the attention of the authorities.
Why are older adults abused, neglected and not respected? When hiring people don’t we want experience? Isn’t experience the best teacher? One of the reasons may be unresolved issues from childhood. The “King Lear Syndrome” is a phenomenon that occurs when adults act out their rage and resentment toward a parent when they are older and weak. (As the King’s daughters did in King Lear) The heart break of this is that it does not have to be the actual parent it may just be an older adult the person is around or suppose to be helping.
Another reason may be that we live in a society where beauty and popularity means being young. Beauty is seen as one dimensional—skin deep. Older adults are a HUGE resource we neglect. They have wisdom from living through relationship break ups, wars, recessions, natural disasters, the rise and fall of new ideas and years of parenting. While they may be physically beautiful their beauty is also in how they see life and spirit.
Issues from childhood need to be resolved in order to find a comfortable emotional place with a parent. Most of the time when the deep pain is processed the power a parent once had is diminished and a sense of compassion may be found. Besides your own parent you may meet someone who is older. If you listen to them they may have a wealth of wisdom to share. Young people especially can benefit from the sage wisdom of older adults. When you do listen it will be stories they tell. These stories will have meaning and validity for today’s time and age.
I encourage you to SEE older adults. Respect them and talk to them. Keep an eye on their care and if you suspect abuse report it to adult protective services. Teach your children not by your words but by your actions. Develop a friendship with an older adult and listen to their suggestions in front of your child. Thank them for all they have done in their life because they most likely have helped people just by living as long as they have. Use discernment, not all are healthy and wise. But for the ones that are the survivors and the ones that are the lovers give them a parade and celebrate their words of wisdom.
Older adults certainly qualify for the job of life coach.
PRESCRIPTION PILL ADDICTION
By Tina Calabrese, LCSW-R
American life over the past decade has not been easy at times. We have had to deal with terror alerts, changes in climate, recession, lost homes and jobs and unrest in the world surrounding us. Anxiety has been on the rise. As the director of a mental health center I can tell you that nervousness, worry, panic and emotionally related medical ailments have been on the rise. Our collective state of mind has not been the same since 9/11/01. This in combination with the medical profession over helping or over treating perhaps in reaction to the psychological stress of their patients has created a severe rise in prescription drug addiction.
This addiction is similar to alcoholism or narcotic addiction in that the body develops a physical tolerance, there are withdrawal symptoms if the person once addicted doesn’t have the drug and there is a psychological and emotional dependence on the drug.
The other day (February 2, 2012) I was driving to work along Sunrise highway and decided to go off onto the service road to stop at a store. I was off the exit only a few minutes when I heard a terrible sound like metal crashing. I looked over and a small size car was flipped over and moving across sunrise highway upside down. Another care swerved to avoid it and crashed next to me and a truck crashed on the other side. If I had not gotten off I might have been in that crash. I pulled over shaken and called 911. It was 9:30 am. The next day in Newsday it was noted that the driver of that crash was high on pills. He was alive but with head and neck injuries.
Unlike driving while intoxicated crashes that mostly happen at night after hours, we never know now when drivers will be high on pills. Obviously this driver took his pills, and too much of them that morning. There are a couple of ideas I have to help everyone deal with this problem. Here are a few:
If you suspect a friend or family member is addicted to their prescription pills CONFRONT them and even consider calling their doctor that prescribes the pills to inform.
Be aware of medical professionals who give addicts addictive pills and who are too quick to give out pills that are addictive especially when treating mental health related illnesses.
Research and seek out holistic medicine which includes counseling, meditation and good nutrition for anxiety and panic rather than an over reliance on pills.
Take medication when needed and utilize the best of medical care not the worst.
Know your body and mind. Know what helps and what does not help. Substance addiction is insidious and sneaky. Roz Block, Diane Tabak, Roz Balaban and myself have all worked in the alcoholism and substance addiction field for over twenty years. We have seen the fads, the fade aways and the reoccurrences of certain drugs. Today I different. It may because pills were not advertised in the past as they are now. Doctors weren’t given incentives, the quick fix syndrome was never as supported as it is today in our nano second tech world and anxiety didn’t seem as widespread.
The best approach to keep your risk of prescription pill addiction low is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Good, clean and fresh food along with exercise is best for your body.
Mental health check ups, counseling when needed and meditation is best for your mind.
Living a lifestyle that makes you feel good about yourself, gives you a sense of purpose and joy is best for your spirit.
ACCEPTING IMPERFECTION IN YOURSELF AND OTHERS By Tina Calabrese, LCSW-R Executive Director
There are many aspects of our society that are linear, black and white, good or bad, perfect or not. At an early age we are socialized to integrate that we should strive to be the best, the greatest, the prettiest, or most handsome. Perfectionism is valued, reinforced and revered. Most of us however are IMPERFECT. We are not the strongest, the smartest or the most handsome. This reality leaves us with feelings of worthlessness and low esteem for just being ourselves.
Perfectionism in an unreality. It is an illusion and not a practical goal. Striving to do your best is good for motivation and skill building but it does not mean you will be perfect. Wanting to be perfect only leaves you with criticism since it is not an attainable goal.
If you find yourself often picking on yourself and others or being critical it may be because you want perfection. Pointing out what you may need from a friend or partner is healthy communication. It is also healthy to ask someone you love to consider changing a part of them that hurts you but remember both you and your loved one are human. Change is difficult and struggle is almost always a part of change. The key point is to allow yourself and your loved one time to grow with the acceptance that both of you will make mistakes. The most important thing is motivation and the acknowledgement that your actions effect those around you.
Strive for awareness, empathy and a sincere desire to be the best person you can be but remember you will not be perfect. You will make mistakes you will wrestle with your emotions and your behaviors.
So welcome your humanity and chill….imperfection is beauty.
The Talking Cure
By Tina Calabrese, LCSW-R Executive Director, Heart and Soul Community Counseling, Inc.
Sigmund Freud the father of psychoanalysis coined the phrase “the talking cure” to represent psychotherapy. After his years of experience and his close observations he noticed that his patients simply needed to talk without interruption or judgment. This holds true for therapy today. Many problems cannot be fixed and even the wisest of answers doesn’t always soothe pain. Most of the time you will just need to come in and talk about what is going on in your life, what you feel and think and why you are most angry. Afterward you may find you feel better—just by having talked out everything that was in your mind and heart.
We learn early on to find solutions to problems and in the mechanical or computer or even medical world its true that answers and a fix are needed. But in the world of the
human heart and mind fixes cannot make things better in fact they may hurt by making someone feel unheard or not validated. Quit often we hear these phrases:
“He always tells me what to do!”
“She wants to fix me and change me.”
“He doesn’t listen!”
To really help sometimes you need to DO NOTHING and LISTEN. Believe it or not its hard to do. When we care about someone who is in emotional pain or has a serious
problem you want to help and just listening doesn’t feel like helping. Its very important to accept that listening is helping more than you will ever know. Think about when you are upset what do you really, really need? It feels comforting just to know that someone was a witness to your pain.
Henry David Thoreau said it takes two people to tell the truth:
“one to tell it and one to listen.”
THE LONG JOURNEY HOME by Stephen Crutchfield, Sr.
It's good to see you again. It's been a long time. We know that, we can say. Been lost a thousand times but I'm glad you say you're home to stay and so sorry for the delay.
Just been traveling from place to place discovering parts of myself long forgotten. I found a memory the other day it made me laugh and made me cry.
It seems true that my life is full of dark and blue with light breaking through. At times I've found myself just grabbing hold of whatever was near.
Thank God it was you. I realize now that you've been there all the while. Shuffling about my dreams so that one day they can come true. You placed obstacles in my way to get my attention then caught me when I fell, well not too hard.
You kept me from breaking bones and now not a dead heart only wounded. So I'm up again feeling bright with you myself in sight just can't explain sometimes why I fight. I'm glad to find you alright. Now I'm altogether with good sight.
I promise never to lose you again for this time I know that God has been the potter in my life. So....
PACIFISM by Sean K. age 12
The definition of pacifism is non violence. Pacifism is important to me because its an idea that can help people not fight and learn how to get along. I first learned about this idea in therapy and I think it is important because the world would feel safer to me and others without violence.
When I hear about violence in the world I feel like I want to hide somewhere. I feel so bad for people who are innocent victims of violence. When I hear what is going on in wars I feel that our country and other countries are in danger.
Martin Luther King was a leader who told people not to use violence to get what they wanted. I respect him and I wish he was still alive. He inspired people and I think some did listen to him. Gandhi was another example of a leader who practiced non violence. He lead his people to victory with acts of pacifism.
If you want to practice pacifism say no to physical fights and walk away. Try to resolve arguments by making compromises. Try to walk away if you are feeling angry at a person and don't try to get them back even if you feel like it.
Practicing pacifism means understanding people even if they are different. These ideas are alternatives to war and destruction. Leaders of countries can try to resolve differences by talking the problems through, hiring a mediator and arresting people who are causing destruction rather than killing innocent people.
Please consider peaceful ways to both your personal and global problems. You will feel better about yourself and the world if you know you are a part of creating good in the world.
DEFENSE MECHANISMS by Tina Calabrese, LCSW-R
Dr. Sigmund Freud was the first to identify that we protect our hearts and minds from anxiety and conflict by certain behaviors that are unconscious or unknown. These behaviors he called defense mechanisms. Just like the physical body has an immune system to protect the body from being harmed the mind creates disguises to help you function even though there is deep fear and pain. The interesting thing is that you are not aware of the disguise many times. The disguise although not who are may become who you think you are. Here you can see why psychotherapy is so important!
Because these behaviors are unconscious we are not aware of them unless someone points them out or if they become a barrier to being close in a relationship. It is important to learn what your defenses are. The goal is not to remove them—would you want to remove your immune system? What is more helpful is to realize when you need them and when you do not. That is the key. In order to grow and evolve you need to allow some of your anxiety and feelings to the surface. Becoming aware of your defenses and when you need them will help you grow and become healthier in relationships. Lets look at some common defenses that may pop up when you feel threatened, afraid, hurt or traumatized. Blaming others or projection. This is a way for the mind to deflect uncomfortable negative parts of you onto another. For example you may say a friend of yours is passive aggressive when its really you that are that way but you are not able to admit to that perhaps because of fears of rejection or abandonment.
Intellectualizing. This is when you go to your head and think and reason rather than feel your emotions. This may happen due to a fear of being vulnerable perhaps in your past when you were open and vulnerable you were hurt.
Joking. A common defense to take the focus off the uncomfortable realities that you may need to deal with.
Denial. This happens when the reality of a situation to too hard to bear and you make it untrue.
Displacement. This is when you are angry at your boss but you go home and take it out on your family. Its important to deal directly with who you are upset with.
Rationalization. Finding a legitimate excuse for your unacceptable behaviors.
Sublimation. This is a healthy defense whereby you put anxious energies into art, work or something constructive.
Dissociation. This is a common defense mechanism that results from child abuse and trauma. It is basically the experience of feeling as if you are out of your body. The mind sharply cuts you off and protects you from overwhelming anxiety and emotional pain by literally taking you away. This is why when someone is traumatized that may not fully remember the incident.
Repression. This also occurs from trauma and especially child abuse. The younger you are when the abuse occurs the more you will repress because defense mechanisms are not in place. Repression just means that you store an uncomfortable and painful memory that causes much anxiety into the basement or the attic of your mind. It is as if the memory is in your computer saved somewhere and like often happens you forget it’s there. In psychotherapy as you slowly face you fears the memory may resurface so you can face it and heal from it.
Idealization. This is when you see someone in your life as too great and wonderful. You idealize the person in order to not feel the anxiety of this person being NOT to wonderful. This can happen when you were abused by a parent, priest or professional.
Introjection. This is the experience whereby the anger and/or hatred for someone who hurt you is taking out on yourself. It is the opposite of projection when you put the anger onto someone else. Introjection can cause suicidal feelings and depression.
Identification. This is when you become like someone in your life as a way to protect yourself. Remember it is unconscious so you may not realize that you did become like your mother or father.
Please consider exploring your defense mechanisms in therapy. Everyone has them and everyone uses them. There is no shame in having ways to protect yourself from harm. Try to not be defensive if you are told by someone or your therapist that you have these defense mechanisms.
Remember that it will help you to learn about yourself and how your mind works. When we are told by medical doctors about issues relating to our bodies there is no judgment and it doesn’t reflect on how we feel about ourselves or our self esteem. If you can deal with your mind and your heart in the same way you will learn and grow and you may even be happier in your relationships!
FEBRUARY 2009 AMERICA IN CRISIS: HOW YOU CAN HELP By Tina Calabrese, LCSW
America is still a young country and like a young child or business it still needs to learn how to prosper while taking care of its people. The past few years have taught us many lessons. Perhaps the biggest lesson has to do with what really lasts in life. You’ve heard the saying “you can’t take it with you,” but what is it you can take? The memories. The feeling. The moments you treasure. The selflessness of sharing your heart, money and even your life. The Greek philosopher Socrates started a revolution and a lot of trouble by going around town and asking questions like: What is courage? What is country? What is love? He made people think.
You can help America and yourself by analyzing your relationship to money, to others and to your life. Consider learning how to respect, share control and power and most importantly how to hold onto a delicate balance of attachment and non attachment.
Here are some practical ideas to support these philosophies. Identify strengths and weakness in your relationship to money, others and self care Ask yourself what it is that makes you happy and feel that you are a good American and person then do that Take risks start a practice or business, support socially responsible capitalism Help others emotionally, financially and spiritually Keep yourself healthy in mind, body and spirit Consider what makes you proud of America and support that. Question authority, debate and get involved with political issues.
Remembers our founders were revolutionaries, rebels and passionate thinkers. Their spirit is our foundation. Make them proud.
KEEPING YOUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL HEART HEALTHY By Tina Calabrese, LCSW
Recent medical studies have shown that the physical heart needs good food like olive oil, fish, nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruits as well as stress reduction, relaxation, exercise, laughter and fun.
As we grow older it is important to pay attention to our bodies and to know what makes it feel good and what doesn’t. When I swim daily eat vegetables and less carbohydrates I feel my best. Try to have more of a consciousness when you are planning meals and even when you are eating. Think about what you are putting into your body and how that might effect it. Certain foods also can cause emotional distress like candy and sweets that effect your sugar levels.
If you tune into your body you will find what foods are best for you and what aren’t. You may also crave foods that you need at a given time. You may feel like having potatoes if you need potassium or eggs if you need protein. Your body is amazing and if you allow your mind to communicate with it you will be surprised at how well balanced your energy levels are.
We all know how difficult it is at times to take care of ourselves. No one is perfect yet if most of the time you take care of your heart with eating well and exercising you will allow your loved ones many more years with you. Also remember that you are a role model and your children will imitate you no matter what they say they will. You teach them the most through your actions. They will pick up your eating habits and addictions.
Your emotional heart needs care too. Suppressing emotions of hurt, grief and anger can cause depression and panic. Learn how to identify your emotions and share them, write them out and analyze them so that you can let them go.
Identify what emotionally triggers you and what wounds need to be healed from the past. If you do not heal these wounds you carry them around like a bag of sand around your heart. It effects your ability to be close to others and to have a healthy relationship. Repressed anger especially can cause great emotional distress. If there is unresolved anger from trauma it will cause symptoms of lethargy, apathy and even suicidal thoughts and feelings.
The emotional heart is a powerful force it helps us to feel great love and therefore great pain. It is a part of you that needs attention just like the physical heart and if you neglect it there may be consequences to your physical heart like added stress and tension and even stress related illnesses. Keeping both your physical and emotional heart healthy is a key to overall health and success in your life. How you treat yourself can be a reflection of how you treat others and the world in general. The healthy heart pumps blood and gives life. The emotional heart helps you color in your life by feeling love.
Reference Brody, Janee, “New Thinking on How To Protect The Heart,” NY Times 1/17/09
EMPATHY By Tina Calabrese, LCSW June 2007
Empathy is th emotional experience of feeling sad, mad or scared along with someone else. It is an identification with another's situation so much so that you care what happens to them. You do not need to have exactly the same experience you only need to relate it to something you went through. Actors call it method acting. The Russian director Stanislavski called it affective memory. Aristotle spoke of combining pity and fear to create catharsis. You may not have lived through hurricane Katrina but you may identify when you lost something that felt secure or you may imagine how it feels to lose your home and pet. To think of the emotional experience of another human being is not only healthy but ethical. We live in a society where personal looks and things matter so much that we can lose a sense of what is really important. What is really important is to think of others and try to help when and if you can. Not allowing an emotional distance or separation from others allows you to not separate out parts of yourself you may not like. So empathy is not only good for mental health it is essential for the human race to coexist in a world without violence and hate.
A lack of empathy leads people to hurt others. If you feel what that other is feeling they become a part of you and its harder to hate them.
Practice empathy and your world may feel more compassionate. Remember we can do together what we cannot do alone.
ON THE RECOVERY FRONT By mlr 7/06
The Little Girl Sat on the Stoop By mlr 7/06
The little girl sat slumped on the sun setting stoop, grateful for the day's anguishing pain to be over.
The fervently wished for deliverance would come with the morrow's sunrise promise
The little girl sat on the stoop.
Decades would expire till that now-woman, having wrentched the searing grief of the sunrise betrayal from her soul; abandons the stoop -
to set forth into her own
The Eternal Question By mlr 9/06
The question in not the hand-wringing
of 'WHY.' The 'WHY' is 'HOW' we arrived here.
The inquiry must address,
Narcissism and Romance
By Tina Calabrese, LCSW Executive Director at Heart & Soul
Narcissism is a complex idea. The idea is about being so self absorbed that it is difficult to see, feel or depend on another human being. Our American culture has reinforced narcissism by selling a message that you can have everything you want and that you need to think of yourself first. Capitalism drives a belief that money and things can solve problems, make you happy and get you the best looking partner you can have. The problem with these current cultural beliefs is that it clashes with reality and with romance and mature relationships. It is important to take care of yourself and have self esteem. It is most important to be assertive and know your needs. It is equally important however to take care of your partner and know their needs and to sometimes think more about them than yourself. This does not mean sacrificing or abandoning yourself. There is a sense in our society that you can be entitled to have a relationship on your terms and your terms only. There is an idea that a relationship can be expendable that you can just go on to the next person much like "Sex in the City" or a match dot com mentality. There is an illusion that if you are not a completely whole and healthy person that you cannot have a good relationship. No. Not true. I do believe in romantic love. Its wonderful if you are in love with the person you choose to spend your life with. As time goes on you may begin to see or feel things about your love that annoy you, are negative or that you wish they would change. You can discuss these issues and point them out but it does not mean your love will change. As long as these issues ARE NOT ABUSIVE or harmful to you, you may need to accept them and grow into liking them as idiosynchronicities. Another idea that involves narcissism and intimacy is the concept that you can be very independent and still have a close relationship. You don't have to need the other. This is a false concept. A big part of having someone to love is to depend on them and to need them at times. It is not healthy of course to be dependent but it is healthy to rely on and trust that your love will be there for you no matter what. It is important to have a mutual love bond in which neither you nor your love runs away when times get tough. Healthy relationships include moments when both can be a little child and lean on the other. When there is not a level of narcissism or withdrawal (emotional or physical) in a relationship the couple can adopt problem solving mechanisms of compromising, improving communication, validation and acceptance of each other's differentness. A good relationship creates an emotional comfort zone so that you can feel free to feel and express without the risk of your love leaving or shaming you. Over time you can feel like you can say or share anything and that your love is also your best friend. Remember that if you experience an unhealthy or abusive/neglectful relationship with a parent there is a tendency to go back to that to be attracted to that in order to re-experience it and fix it. This doesn't work. Therapy does. Be aware of your choices and mostly of your own behaviors. The mind tends to try to repair itself much like the immune system does. While your love relationship should create an emotional and psychological environment for healing and repair it cannot do all the work and it cannot take all the pressure. Being compassionate and empathetic toward your love is very important and essential for a long lasting union. To disconnect either emotionally or physically when your love needs you is a clear way to deaden the love bond. If this continues over time and your love begins to expect you not to be there the relationship has basically ended. Being in love and keeping love takes effort. Just like you take care of your pet, your garden and your children on a daily basis you need to take care of your love. You need to remain special to each other to make each other feel like there is never anyone else you desire or want. Minimize the negative and magnify the positive. Most importantly do not think only of yourself and do not allow yourself to be unloved or have the experience of your partner not being able to receive your love. Stay in the love state as much as you can tolerate. The tragedy is that so many people are unable to be loved and stay with love so they fill up on things and food and drugs and having more children and more gadjets and obsessions.
The key to staying in love and having a healthy relationship is to remain emotionally involved with your partner, to see and feel your love, to depend, to affirm, to nurture and to allow in love for yourself.
As my favorite Beatle said "All You Need Is Love."
Reference Solomon, Marion F., "Narcissism and Intimacy" W.W. Norton & Co, Inc. 1999.
By Tina Calabrese, LCSW
ETHICS: WHEN YOU DO THE RIGHT THING DON’T YOU FEEL GOOD? IN KURT VONNEGOUT’S NEW BOOK, MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY, HE TALKS ABOUT THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN MORAL AND ETHICAL PRACTICE, POLITICS AND THE CURRENT AMERICAN CULTURE. RECENTLY THERE WAS AN UPROAR OVER LIES IN JAMES FREY’S BOOK, ONE MILLION PIECES. POLLS SHOW THAT MOST AMERICANS ARE NO LONGER TRUSTING THEIR GOVERNMENT’S ABILITY TO TAKE CARE OF THEM ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH CARE. TELLING THE TRUTH IS PART OF BEING ETHICAL ALONG WITH TRYING TO BE A GOOD PERSON. DURING LATENCY AGE OR PUBERTY MORAL DEVELOPMENT BEGINS AND WE ARE TAUGHT WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG. PEOPLE WHO HAVE DEVELOPED A SUPEREGO OR A MORAL COMPASS CAN FEEL A DEEP SENSE OF DOING THE RIGHT THING. THERE ARE HOWEVER SITUATIONS IN WHICH THERE ARE TEMPTATIONS, MOTIVES FOR REVENGE AND JUST DISPLACED ANGER THAT MAKES PEOPLE BECOME UNETHICAL. ITS EASIEST TO SEE THIS WITH CORPORATIONS. WE HAVE SEEN HOW THEY HAVE NOT THOUGHT ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYEES AND HAVE OPTED FOR GREED. ITS HARDER TO SEE IN OURSELVES AND OUR INTIMATE OTHERS. IT IS IMPORTANT TO TAKE AN ETHICAL INVENTORY AND TO EVALUATE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL COSTS FOR BEINIG UNETHICAL. UNETHICAL BEHAVIORS CAN CAUSE DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND PARANOIA. THIS CAN ULTIMATELY AFFECT PHYSICAL HEALTH AND WELL BEING. IF YOU TRY YOUR BEST TO BE A GOOD AND HONEST PERSON YOU WON’T HAVE UNNECESSARY GUILT OR ANGER AT YOURSELF.
HERE ARE SOME SITUATIONS YOU MIGHT FIND YOURSELF IN THAT MAY CAUSE YOU TO TAKE AN ETHICAL INVENTORY. A FRIEND TELLS YOU SOMETHING IN CONFIDENCE. A DIFFERENT FRIEND STARTS TALKING ABOUT THAT FRIEND AND WANTS TO KNOW WHAT SHE TOLD YOU. THE URGE MAY BE TO PLEASE THE FRIEND THAT IS ASKING THE QUESTION BUT THE ETHICAL THING IS TO NOT BREAK THE OTHER FRIEND’S CONFIDENCE. ETHICAL DILEMMA’S OFTEN OCCUR OVER MONEY AS WELL. LET’S SAY YOU ‘RE A CONTRACTOR AND YOU ARE WORKING FOR A COMPANY THAT HELPED TRAIN YOU. A HOMEOWNER THAT YOU ARE WORKING FOR ASKS YOU TO DO ANOTHER JOB BY YOURSELF SO THE COST WOULD BE LOWER. THE TEMPTATION IS THERE TO MAKE THE MONEY ON YOUR OWN YET THIS JOB WAS THROUGH YOUR COMPANY AND NOT THROUGH YOUR OWN BUSINESS. THE ETHICAL THING TO DO WOULD BE TO TELL THE HOMEOWNER THAT YOU CANNOT DO THE JOB ON YOUR OWN. THE MANIFESTATIONS OF HATE ARE ALSO UNETHICAL. REPORTING A FRIEND FOR ABUSING THEIR CHILD IS PUTTING THE CHILD FIRST AND IS THE ETHICAL THING TO DO. UNETHICAL BEHAVIORS HAVE A WAY OF EVENTUALLY SHOWING THEMSELVES EITHER BY PEOPLE FINDING OUT OR BY THE PERSON’S OWN GUILT CAUSING A REACTION. THINK THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS AND REACTIONS IN COMPLEX SITUATIONS AND MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION.
Editors Note: this article was published by the National Association of Social Workers Suffolk County Division 2002. Reprinted by permission.
Terrorist Groups: Those Who Sign On By Tina Calabrese, LCSW
Terrorist groups exist because there are people who join them. The people who choose to take part in these organizations are of utmost importance in the study of terrorism. Terrorist cells have been compared to cult groups. Many cults in America have ended in mass suicides, taking their group beliefs tot he final stage of their lives. The main difference between between cults and terrorist cells is that terrorists are often homicidal as well as hypnotized by a charismatic, narcissistic leader. Research snd study have found that the person who joins a terrorist group is most likely male, depressed, dependent and deeply frustrated and unfulfilled. Many have "religionized" politics and found a desperate way out of their harsh day to day realities.
For these men a chance to be part of a mission in the name of God is both appealing and invigorating. Their depression, which often includes feelings of hopelessness, is now trancended into belief in eternal paradise and spitiual approval. This experience can feel like a drug to a depressed person. Depression is responsible for 75% of suicides and we have come to know suicidal depression as a desperate pain; yet it can also be an experience of jubilation and resignation. The "drug" of the terrorists' mission also alienates them from the reality of a murderous rage. They rationalize killing and scaring others to such an extreme that they ultimately see it as truth. They become so dependent on their leader that an enmeshment of idealogy is present and they lose all sense of individuality. THey believe it is their destiny to die for their group and their leader and not to fear death because they will be rewarded in the afterlife, paradise.
One of the great social work ethics involves self-determination and empowering people to make their own decisions, take care of themselves and allow them to come to their own realizations. Our great American democracy is built on the foundation that all people have the right to be free in speech, religion, assembly and even protest. The men in these terrorists groups are so far removed from themselves that they have lost all sense of reality and perhaps have regressed into such a childlike state that the parent (leader) is always right.
They are not free nor do they fight to be free.
Sometimes a person's social state plays a major role in their falling deeper into the psychology of a cult/terrorist member. Some come from areas in which they have seen those in their families and countries dying of starvation and thirst. There is inadequate medical care, poor schooling and no basic infrastructure on which to build a healthy community. When there is great physical and psychological need there is great risk for people of being seduced into believing there is an easy, often dramatic way out.
In short, these men come to believe in a criminal's psychotic fantasies and then carry them out.
As we understand more and more the make up of such people we can be more aware when we see this behavior in others. If you know someone who may be in a cult or has the characteristics described in this article, it is important to try to get them professional help. A "deprogramming" process of helping the cult/terrorist member slowly and gently see the reality of their situation and then separate from it is the suggested approach. The model of empowerment can help these men learn to trust their judgement so that they are not so easily influenced. They can then regain a sense of what they think, who they are and how to distinguish right from wrong.
It is often hard to state your opinion when the rest of the crowd disagrees. It takes what we call ego strenth to resist peer pressure and not go along with the crowd. This can be difficult in a free society, in a loving group even in a family let alone a cult where the norm is to follow the leader. The roots of being in a cult come from this peer pressure or group think that so many of us work hard at resisting.
Now is the time for all Americans to model healthy behavior by reacting to tragic events with a critical, knowledgeable and individualistic passion for justice.
Reference Juergensmeyer, Mark, "Terror in the Mind of God; The Global Rise of Religious Violence" California University Press, 2001. Turner, Frances, "Adult Psychopathology" The Free Press, 1984
John's Journey Through The Gay 90s
By Tina Calabrese, LCSW
Originally published by Heart&Soul Community News April 1999
It was 1990 and I was thirteen years old. Junior High was OK I liked being in a bigger school because I could hide more. I wasn't sure exactly what I was hiding from but I knew I couldn't be found. Dad was gearing up for me to play High School football. I was just trying to pass gym. I liked sports because my dad liked sports and I liked my dad. The truth? I liked to cook. I loved food. Food was my favorite past time. Eating it, cooking it, looking at it. Mom said I was a great cook and that she loved the fact that I could cook a great tuna casserole. Dad liked my pot roast. I wished I could vote. It was 1992 and I liked Clinton. I liked him because he could say a word I couldn't say. And he said it on TV, in the press, to other men and especially to Republicans. Gay. He said the word 'gay.' Mom said that she didn't think any other president ever said it. I was trying to find the right time, the right day, the right mood, the right line, the right food, the right anything.... to come out to my parents. I had a feeling mom would be Ok with it I had heard her talking about a gay friend once. Dad, he was the problem. He was still giving me "space" so I could think about it and realize that I NEEDED to play football. In 1993 the march on Washington happened and I wanted to go so badly. In order to go with my friend Gary I would have to tell my parents. It had been a whole year of contemplating whether or not to tell, how to tell and all the role playing with friends. I was hoping this one Saturday would be the day. I went to the food store the night before to buy dinner to cook for my parents. I went to the 24 hour one after Gary and I had gone out. These guys had followed Gary and I out of the bar. They dragged me past the dumpster to the back of the store. The next thing I remember I was in the dumpster next to a bloody basebal bat. My head had been hit and my top lip was swollen so large it was hard to breathe from my nose. It was so hard to understand why I was so hated....and feared. I watched the march on Washington from my bed. It was wonderful, gay people got married, gay people fought for their civil rights, they hugged and kissed on national TV. For a brief instant I actually felt proud to be a gay man.
It was a cool night in September in 1995 when I cooked my dad's favorite, a pot roast. I told them during dessert. Mom wasn't surprised. She said she felt sad that I had to wait so long to tell them. Dad surprised me. He said he didn't understand it, he didn't like it, he didn't approve of it BUT he loved me more than anything and he would support me no matter what. For a gay child that was incredible! For my 19th birthday in 1996 mom gave me a party and invited all my friends. My dad came later and met everyone. He was really trying. Gary and I broke up and I felt a broken heart for the first time. It was horrible. I couldn' t eat or sleep. I decided to go to therapy and this seemed to help. By the end of the year I had my eye on Bryan who worked for the Human Rights Campaign. He taught me so much about being political and how we had to fight for our rights so that we were not persecuted. I fell in love with him and we decided to live together. I was so happy. In 1997 Ellen Degeneres came out! It was incredible! Everyone was watching her show and really learning about the gay experience! I felt as if homophobia was ending that we were really getting somewhere and that...maybe i didn't have to be so afraid. Bryan said no and that there would be a backlash. I began to see that there was. People were saying that there was too much attention on gays and certain religious groups wwere gaining more power against gay people. Even Clinton stopped saying the word and he did fall short on promises made to the community....twice..each time after he was elected. It was 1998 and I was 21. I felt older and somewhat wiser. Bryan and I were doing well and my father had grown to respect him...and me. I realized that I needed to help in the campaign for civil rights. We still had no protection against being fired for being gay, being thrown out of an apartment for being gay and were certainly could not get married and adopt children. There was still violence against gay men and women and this was many times unreported.
I wanted to fight for our rights! It was a free country!
My parents and I had come a long way. Society too was being less homophobic. I had lived through the gay 90s!
The Human Shadow
by Tina Calabrese, LCSW
A psychoanalyst named Carl Jung who studied with Freud was one of the first to identify the human shadow. The shadow is a part of us that is often hidden. Its like a secret you don't want to tell yourself. There is shame and humiliation about the shadow. The shadow is a reflection of the self that is looked at as dark and negative. Quite often it involves charcteristics that are judged by society. Some of these may be a perceivedgreed, selfishness, cheapness or a general list of things you think badly of. The shadow is the reason we "project" or put onto someone else these negative characteristics. When projection occurs and reoccurs the shadow is forced to remain deeply embedded in our consciousness. This can cause you to scapegoat others or a particular group.
Literature has defined the human shadow through characters. Think of the kind and caring Dr. Jekyll and the deformed Mr. Hyde. Although they are opposite they are the same person.
"Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us. We could add that it may move to a distant place and begin a revolt against us as well" Robert Bly
If you find yourself pointing the finger at someone consider looking inward and asking yourself if this is the projection of your shadow side. If it is admit it and be compassionate toward yourself. This will help you change and modify your behaviors.
Remember to look at yourself if you are feeling intense anger toward someone. Ask yourself if this person has the characteristics that you dislike in yourself. Then see if you are scapegoating them. If you are then you are feeding the shadow.
As a human being you are not expected to be perfect. Once you know the parts of yourself you don't like you can work toward not being defensive and owning them. Then you can let them go and move on. You may find you become more compassionate and tolerant of others.