Coming out old

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It was late 1968 when my friend Jenny returned to San Francisco, after a year in New York City, announcing: ”We’re going to start a Women’s LIberation Group.” I had no idea what she was talking about. “A women’s group” she repeated, thinking I didn’t hear her. “NO WAY” I responded. Images of a lonely, sexless life filled my mind before I’d even asked her what on earth that was. A women’s group? “No way” I repeated, “No man will ever come near me again.”

“No way,” I said again. ‘Oh yes we are, we’re starting a women’s liberation group.”…

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In 2012, a story by Jeremy Laurence appeared, reporting that a common acne antibiotic was found, quite by accident, to alleviate symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. This was a shocking surprise for some, especially clinicians.

The belief that curing mental illness happens by overcoming childhood trauma has been the anchor of psychotherapy since the last century, despite contrary evidence. The story linking antibiotics and relief from symptoms of schizophrenia is just another piece of empirical data, suggesting that we might be off base in the assumption that childhood trauma explains the etiology of serious mental illnesses.

Another research story pointed…

Why are therapists and clients alike always asking: “When should it be over?”

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How long should long-term therapy last?

Therapy is essentially what happens in a relationship designed to help someone feel better psychologically. In the psyche. In the heart. From my perspective as a prosocial psychodynamic psychotherapist, I think it’s a good idea to stick with my clients until they discover their Buddha-nature, their fundamental goodness of heart, their understanding that all the terrible things they’ve gone through themselves and the terrible things they’ve witnessed really weren’t their fault. It should last until my clients have embarked on living the lives they’ve always wanted.

But really, how long should any helpful relationship last? When should you say a…

How to become a more productive writer

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Anyone who happens to be reading this is a reader, and anyone who is reading can talk. And it’s no exaggeration to say:

If you can talk, you can write.

If you write emails, you can write. If you write tweets, you can write. Anyone reading this–or any other blog, article, or book about writing — is probably already a writer, or if not there yet, (meaning you don’t yet feel “qualified” to identify yourself as a writer), has the capacity to become a writer. A good writer.

To succeed in the modern world, you need to be an engaging…

Maybe Mount Shasta will erupt tomorrow; maybe Mount Ranier is going to blow

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When San Francisco first locked down in March 2020 I started weekly meetings with some old friends. “Saturday night virtual dinners” we called our gatherings.

Some of us knew we were in for a long haul, some didn’t get it at all. it never crossed their minds that it was deadly serious. No one imagined we’d still be holding our Saturday night dinners a year later. …

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Running with the wolves, flying with the eagle

watching with the long-winged hawk, our cat at the window

sunning herself while he stood beneath the tree, eating

a squirrel that used to run in and out of our third-floor windows

cracks in the house are crying for repair

the squeaky stairs get soggy when it rains

the kitchen pipes are blocked I keep insisting

what wilder animal waits until the lights go out

crawling through the tiny hole into the kitchen

How do all those crumbs fall everywhere

making sure the hidden pregnant mama

has way more food than she…

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A few years ago I decided to add an hour of writing to my Research Methods and Statistics class. Initially, I thought of it as a simple “study hall” — offered during our regular class time. I thought it would give my overly-burdened students some extra time to work independently on their dissertation proposals.

My students were all enrolled in our doctoral program of clinical psychology. You might assume — rightfully — that they were all smart and ambitious. They had to be relatively smart to get into the program, and if they weren’t ambitious, they wouldn’t have been out…

In an old blog post, the “base” was already forming, domestic terrorism arising, it was always about guns.

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Awhile back a comment from a Republican Senator grabbed me, reminding me of something I’d written and published, somewhere. In a left-leaning interview, the Senator had been asked: “Why did you even consider voting against the impeachment of Donald Trump, when you knew Biden’s victory was the result of an honest and fair election?” Without a pause, he said “I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the threats against my wife, my family.” It rang a bell. I found the old publication in my blog “Our Empathic Nature,” Psychology Today, January 16, 2013:

Title: “Are Republican Leaders Hostages?
Subtitle: “Does fear of violence…

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Our fascination with psychotherapy has grown since the early years when Sigmund Freud was meeting with women in his home office, trying to help them overcome their problems -their “neuroses”-by delving into the conscious and unconscious mind, supposedly on display through uncensored speech.

Of course, no one can really do that. We’re always censoring what we say. But dutiful patients complied. Instead of protesting, refusing to do the impossible, they put on a show. This was life in the Victorian era when female sexuality was a dark secret.

Given the instruction to say whatever came to mind, one can imagine…

Lynn E. O’Connor, PhD

Psychologist, Professor, Wright Institute, Clinical Practice, Coaching, & Consultation

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