Author Archive

Mind Matters: Modeling for the future

Parents may want their children to adhere to the myth, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” However, the truth is quite to the contrary. From infancy onward, children model their behaviors based on what their parents do. Phyllis Magrab, director of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, reminds us that toddlerhood is an age when children ...

 
 

Mind Matters: Post funeral reflections

I sit in the Philadelphia airport terminal waiting through stormy weather to return to Boston. This was not a planned trip but an unexpected journey taken to attend the funeral of a cousin who died suddenly. Last  Christmas her sister died after many years of being ill. All those years, Kris had been her caretaker. After Margie died, Kris, although grieving, also ...

 

Mind Matters: The pain of suicide

“There is no silver bullet to understand why [suicide and self-harm occur]. Suicide and self-harm are idiosyncratic to the individual, unique to a person’s response to stress,” according to Jack Klott, a prominent suicidologist. However, bullets are one of the main causes of suicides in the United States. At a recent meeting in Boston, Klott highlighted the most ...

 

Mind Matters: Talking to children about difficult topics

I grew up in a New Jersey mill town that was literally a stone’s throw across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. It may have been South Jersey, but it was not the south, yet when I was young, my mother told me stories about the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses on lawns when she was young. Their bigotry extended beyond hatred of blacks and Jews to include Poles and ...

 

Mind Matters: Dum-Da-Dum-Dum

Anybody remember “Dragnet,” a TV program from the 1950s? Okay, you’d have to be pretty old to remember Sgt. Joe Friday, portrayed by actor Jack Webb, saying dryly to a witness or victim of crime, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Facts often take a backseat to ingrained mindsets or belief systems. However, with a change of perspective, a new understanding can be ...

 

Mind Matters: A psychologist’s trauma

I was probably a first-grader standing in line waiting to be dismissed from school at the end of the day when I muttered to myself, “I could hit that sister in the head for giving us so much homework.” The tattletale in front of me ran up to the teacher and blurted out, “Sister, Sister, Kathy wants to cut your head off!” With that, Sister whipped me out of line and ...

 

Mind Matters: Everyone lies

Do you lie? Have you ever lied? You lie if you say you never have. Everyone, even a toddler, has lied sometime, somewhere. Our ability to lie goes hand in hand with our wanting to trust others. “Our capacity for dishonesty is as fundamental to us as our need to trust others, which ironically makes us terrible at detecting lies,” says Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (“Why We ...

 

Mind Matters: Resilience revisited

The West has suffered vast forest fires and now the East Coast is being pummeled with hurricanes bringing massive flooding. Meanwhile, not so far from Boston, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and neighboring towns, a domino effect of gas explosions rippled through. The result of this catastrophe has been one death, numerous injuries, houses burnt down and thousands yet ...

 

Mind Matters: Be still, my heart

Labor Day weekend has passed. The journey into Fall has begun: school starts; vacations end; pools close: the pumpkins lay in fields like so many orange basketballs and apples ripen for the harvest. Eschewing the beach, I spent the long weekend at a meditation retreat in the Hudson River Valley. The leader of this event was Jack Kornfield, not only a Buddhist master ...

 

Mind Matters — ACE and US

ACE here is not the winning card. Adverse Childhood Experiences “are any stressful or traumatic events that occurred in childhood.” The experiences include sexual and physical abuse and neglect, but also household and family dysfunction, such as witnessing domestic violence or substance abuse. Adverse events also include parental separation, divorce, or parental ...

 

Mind Matters: Love, conscience, and sociopaths

Many years ago, early in my career in Pittsburgh, a handsome and charming man came to my office to begin the process of a custody evaluation. He was a high-profile professional in a large corporation. Despite his appearance and his impeccable credentials, his demeanor and words worried me. Whatever it was he said as he walked out the door got me to thinking, “This ...