Don’t Panic! About Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks Have you ever experienced a sudden, dramatic rise in heart rate, along with rapid shallow breathing, dilated pupils, and cold, clammy hands?  Convinced you are having a heart attack, you rush to a doctor or the emergency room, where, after a series of tests, you are informed there is nothing physically wrong with you.  “It is ‘only’ a panic attack,” you are told. Advised not to worry, you are given a prescription for Xanax, “which should make it all go away.” When you ask what a panic attack is and why you might have had one, you are…

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General Anxiety

general anxiety

Anxiety is a signal of danger present in your world. If anxiety is your first or foremost response to a great number of situations, even when you know intellectually that no real menace exists, then you are living, emotionally speaking, in a very dangerous world. This is a nightmare, fueled by unconscious expectations of peril. There are many forms that emotional danger can take – attack, for example, or rejection, abandonment, and humiliation – and life can assume the character of a minefield, so that with every step comes the possibility of painful emotional catastrophe. Of importance is that anxiety…

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The Interpretation of Dreams

Dream Interpretation

In 1900, Sigmund Freud taught the world that dreams were not insignificant and ephemeral mental by-products, but rather, important means of discovering what lay beneath the surface of a person’s conscious life. He also demonstrated that there was an organized approach to interpreting dreams that best illuminated their hidden meanings. After Freud, generations of psychoanalysts utilized and refined his theories, developing ever more sophisticated and alternative versions of Freud’s approaches. My understanding of dream interpretation is one of those alternative approaches. It’s really very simple, at least in theory. In order to understand your dreams, you need only to grasp…

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Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

There are three main classes of eating disorders, and all of them can sentence you to a life of misery. The first is anorexia, which is an obsessive-compulsive attempt to achieve a “perfect” weight by restricting food or increasing exercise. The second is overeating, including binge eating and obesity. Finally, there is bulimia, in which a focus on food alternates with a focus on weight. In that sense, it combines aspects of the other two categories. In all eating disorders, the essential issues are emotional. In the case of anorexia, they generally entail a powerful conviction that thin is beautiful,…

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Dealing with Depression

Dealing with Depression

  If you suffer from depression, it is not just some textbook disorder…it is a living Hell. Profound hopelessness, searing shame, and excruciating loneliness make up the painful world in which you dwell. Chances are that these feelings have been with you as long as you can remember. They probably started with the experience of being curled up on your bed as a child, feeling unloved and forgotten, and they eventually took on a life of their own. They lurk in the background of your mind, waiting to envelop you. And when they do, you imagine you will live in…

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Anger Management

anger management

The phrase “anger management” is, to me, a misnomer, because it suggests that the emotion or feeling of anger needs to be managed. In point of fact, anger, like all feelings, emerges spontaneously in response to different situations, and it provides useful information about your relationship to the world in which you finds yourself. The goal with anger, as with all feelings, is to use it to live a better life. It cannot – and should not – be “managed.” On the other hand, what you choose to do with your anger can, in fact, be managed, and often much…

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Your Own Personal Hell

your own personal hell

When I was six, it was a very bad year. Not that it had been so great before. My twin brother and I were rivals for my parents’ scarce emotional resources, and I, the less cute second-born, always lost the competition. In fact, years later, my mother told me, somehow without recognizing how this might have hurt me even then, that when friends and relatives came over to see the twins, she brought out my brother and told her guests, “The other one looks just like this one.” Then, when I was six, my sister was born, and my mother,…

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