PSYCHOLOGY

  • FOOD JAIL: TO CURE FOOD ADDICTIONS

    A recent survey showed that almost 85% of girls age 13-25 suffer from food addictions – anorexia, bulimia or obesity. When people are bored or stressed, food is often the most handy “mother substitute” and source of quick pleasure. Over-eating is not necessarily a sign of deep psychological problems. After all, most dogs are also overweight today! Every cell in our bodies contains thousands of opiate receptors, driving us to seek pleasure. If we don’t satisfy this need in a positive manner, we are likely to end up either medicated or addicted. 

  • GRIEF

    Up in Heaven, the students were all seriously studying Martyrdom - SURVIVAL SKILLS ON PLANET EARTH one of the most popular classes in the Yeshiva Shel Mala. The room was quite crowded, and there was a long waiting list to get in to prepare for their mission to help the Jewish people, which again was in terrible straits. The Chief Rabbi was showing a live broadcast of events live from Israel and the students were quite shocked. 

  • PLEASE JUST HEAR ME!

    The major source of interpersonal pain is the lack of simple empathy. Empathy means: “I feel your pain. It is okay to feel what you feel. I don’t want to judge you, fix you, change you, cheer you.   I don’t have the power to solve your problems. I don’t have the power to make it all better.  I love you enough to honor your feelings and walk with you in your pain.” Simple…but not easy. 

  • SHOULD I MEDICATE MYSELF OR MY CHILD?

    Almost daily, people ask me if they should put their children or themselves on psychiatric medication.  There is no way to answer such a complex question in a short article. However, I would like to provide some guidelines, as we are inundated with advertising which promises to deliver happiness and tranquility or at least “take the edge off” by merely popping a pill. The ads are certainly effective. Prozac-like drugs for children was up 74% between 1995-99. Mood stabilizers rose by 4000%. Some 85% of young women between 12 and 28 suffer food disorders and most of them will be medicated. Ritalin production increased by over 700% between 1990-98. Just hint to a doctor that you are a bit sad or anxious and bingo - the prescription is in your hand.   

  • FINDING THE MACCABEE WITHIN

    This evening, as I packed up my precious box of Chanukah supplies – dreidels, menorahs and divrei Torah which I’ve collected through the years, I wondered if I would be here next year to unpack this box. It has been a difficult Chanukah, though people tried so hard to be happy, despite the constant terror attacks and “hot alerts.” A week before Chanukah, 11 people, most of them children, were killed in another suicide bombing, and the front page picture of 11 black body bags lined up so neatly on a Jerusalem side street kept haunting me.

     

  • THE REAL WAR – IN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS

    No, I don’t have a sealed room. I can’t bear the idea of no fresh air in my bedroom. And no, I haven’t opened my 1991 Gulf War mask since I tried it on once back then for about 30 seconds and felt like I was going to suffocate to death. I’ve read reports stating that the gas masks are only effective for about an hour and a half, so it seems futile to depend on them. Yes, I’ve head the other side, too, about how important it is to prepare for terrorism, including having a 90-day supply of food. But since I have what is known as a “nervous stomach,” and subsist mostly on fresh fruits and vegetables, canned foods is simply not a viable possibility. It’s not that I’m such a sanguine person. I’m not one of those naturally cheerful types who sail through life without pain or trauma. Far from it! Domestic battles have left me with a high degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So I’m feeling at least as vulnerable and petrified as the next guy. 

  • THE COMMUNICATION TRAP

    Many psychologists and advisors are prone to overly optimistic promises about the power of communication to solve all problems. They urge people to, "Share your feelings," and "Talk it out until the problem is resolved." However, this advice can be disastrous! Not everyone values emotional honesty. Not everyone has time to listen. And a lot of people will use your personal information against you! 

  • THE SINGLES DILEMMA

    Everyone agrees that the singles crisis is real and growing. 

  • ARE THERE LIMITS TO KIBUD HORIM?

    We have a stringent duty to honor our parents.  But are there limits?  A well-known Gemara praises a Roman officer for maintaining his composure even after his mother tore his clothes and spit in his face in public (Kiddushin 31a). Many cite this story as proof that a child must passively submit to abuse by a parent.  This view is mistaken and can lead to terrible tragedies. First, the  Maharshal, wrote that the above situation refers if a parent suffers from dementia and is clearly not responsible for his actions. He states that if a child feels emotionally ill around a parent, he must set definite limits, such as moving far away.  The Rambam states that parents "should not impose too heavy a burden upon their children or be too exacting regarding their duty to honor him, lest they cause the children to rebel" (Mishneh Torah).

  • SINGLE AND FACING THE HOLIDAYS ALONE

    As the holidays approach, I get a lot of desperate calls from singles, as well as divorces and "married widows."  During the week, there is a schedule to rely on and, hopefully, meaningful work and phone calls to distract them from the pain. But during the holidays, those who lack family will need a tool kit of tactics to face what can be a very painful time.

  • AFTER THE DIGANOSIS, WHAT THEN?

    It is relatively easy to diagnose an emotional disorder. The depressed types come in looking, well, depressed. They complain of have no energy for anything. They may have suicidal thoughts and feel the world would be better off if they were not here.
  • EGO NEEDS CANNOT BE SATISFIED!

    Human beings were created by Hashem with insatiable cravings in four disparate realms...
  • INTERNAL WARS: BATTLING SELF-HATRED

    Rabbi Simcha Bunim of P'shishcah would tell his disciples that a truly spiritual person feels as if he is lying on a guillotine with the yetzer hara about to lop his head off at any minute. A follower once asked, “And what if a person does not feel this way?” The Rabbi answered, “Then his head has already been chopped off.”
  • TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT

    Pain can become a catalyst for creativity and sensitivity, or it can isolate and paralyze….One may suffer doubts about one’s selfworth and the existence of a loving G-d.
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