CHOOSING A SPOUSE; LOGIC OR SOMETHING ELSE? by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

I’m taking a break from writing about all the illogical people in Washington; since compromise is way too logical for them… So instead I’ve picked a really logical subject to understand — marriage and how we pick our spouses.

Wait! Did I say logical? Hah. Not exactly. Now we have to deal with the logic of the unconscious.
You doubt me. You think that you chose your spouse logically, by your own free will?

“She was a knockout. It was love at first sight.”
“We sat next to each other in class and one thing led to another.”
“He was the only one who wasn’t obsessed with sports. We had so much in common.”

Is it that simple? Lust? Common experience? Meshing personalities?

I don’t think so. Year after year, for 500 years, I’ve listened to the underlying reasons. Most of the time, what is apparent is that ancient parental conflicts do the “picking” for us. The cold and abusive father, the distant and unavailable mother, the father who abandoned the family, the good-time, flirty mother — All are recycled in our choice of a spouse.

Why? Why are spouses picked by the conflicts that tortured us? For sure it’s not a conscious decision. Who in their right mind would marry someone who perpetuates the pain of our childhood?

Once again, it’s the unconscious at work. Freud ‘s concept of Repetition Compulsion is still alive and valid. We keep trying to prove, over and over, that mommy and daddy really did love us. Getting a spouse to do what a parent never did is the object. We’ve replaced our parent with our spouse and can now spend the rest of our lives trying to get him or her to do what daddy and mommy never could. Good luck. There’s a reason 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Does this happen all the time? Of course not. There are many good marriages. But it happens enough to give us all something to ponder. Anytime we substitute an object(person) from our past with an object(person) from the present, there can be major problems. We expect too much or too little from our spouse and get furious when our needs aren’t met. How can our expectations be realistic when they’re driven by old unconscious wounds?

What’s there to do about it?

Sometimes nothing. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Sometimes it is wise to examine our own needs, the past, and whether our expectations are reasonable.

Would you expect anyone else to behave the way you’re expecting your spouse to behave when you use that obnoxious demanding tone? If you did, would they still be your friend?
Is there anyone else that you would dare to demand absolute, utter respect? Aren’t most friendships built on differing opinions? Are you capable of allowing your spouse a totally different perspective from yours? Some people from UCLA still have happy marriages when their spouse is from USC. Who would have thought?

Your ideas and thoughts are always welcome.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks. Continue reading

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A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO SUCCESS, By Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Everyone has a theory on how to be successful — work hard, save money, make careful decisions, listen to your parents, don’t listen to your parents, be true to yourself, get a college degree, follow your heart, don’t be risk adverse and on and on. A good argument can be made for every single idea.

BUT… after reading about Penn State’s president, Eric Barron Ph.D., with credentials in geology, oceanography and supercomputing, I was moved and enthused by his approach to life.

First, it might be helpful to know that before taking the job at State College, Dr. Barron spent two years at the University of Texas building the Jackson School of Geosciences, another two years as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and four years as the president of Florida State University.

Everywhere he worked, he approached the task like the scientist he is, with countless hours individually interviewing key people and then facilitating these people to get together to continue the discussion. Only after all the data was in did Dr. Barron make his OWN decision.

On first thought, this doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but just another logical approach.

On second thought, it really is a big deal. It’s what good leaders and parents and psychiatrists do. Listen. Understand the issues. Validate other points of view. Work together to find a solution. It’s all about evaluating data, both conscious data and unconscious data.

Whatever the goal, if you evaluate what is needed, what a company wants and needs, what your spouse wants and needs, what your child is struggling to say, you will surely be more successful than doing everything in your power to prove how smart YOU are and how much YOU know. MOST people don’t like know-it-alls. Most people love it when they are heard and respected, even if they are proven wrong.

Dr. Barron is a gem and Penn State is fortunate to have such a man leading the university. Also, and the main point of this post, is that we have the opportunity to learn from Dr. Barron and from people like him who are willing to learn from others and use what science and practical experience have to offer. Not knowing something can always be corrected. In fact, knowing you are weak in a particular area is a good thing! Now you know what to focus on…

Art Smukler is the award-winning writer of Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Psychiatry, Raising Children, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

THREE RESPECTFUL RECOMMENDATIONS TO A DISRESPECTFUL MAN, from Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Donald Trump probably has more money than the net worth of every psychiatrist on the planet. What he doesn’t have is the respect of most psychiatrists and the respect of at least 66% of the population of the United States. I know how he can turn this around within twenty-four hours. Plus, this advise is free. It’s for the good of our country and to save all of us from the continued chaos that surrounds the White House and the entire government.

Mr. Trump, you say you are a smart man. You brag about your education from Wharton School of Business. Why are you not doing the two things that would unravel all the criticism and anger towards yourself?

One. Let the world see your taxes. You say you’re not involved with Russia. Prove it! Then there’s nowhere for anyone to go except to say, Sorry. You have been treated unfairly.

Two. Apologize for your immature name-calling. I saw the expression on your face when you gave a group of young children candy in the Oval Office. You looked like a kind and gentle man. That is what our country needs. Not a clever wise-ass who disrespects his peers and anyone who crosses him. Maybe your counter-punching works in the marketplace, but not when three hundred million people are depending on you. Being respectful and gentle doesn’t mean you can’t be tough when world decisions (like North Korea) depend on it.

Three. Admit you called Africa and Haiti shitholes, AND MAKE AMENDS! Call the leaders of these countries and do what a normal, healthy, caring person would do. SAY YOU ARE SORRY! Too much to say sorry? Then LEAVE THE WHITE HOUSE. You are not fit to serve as our leader.

Respectfully, Art Smukler MD

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.

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WHY DO AT LEAST 67% OF AMERICANS DISRESPECT TRUMP? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

I have never witnessed the level of disrespect for the president of the United States that Americans and foreigners have for Trump. No one even cringes when he’s referred to as a child, or a liar, or a thief, or a moron, or a narcissist, or a misogynist etc. by both democrats and republicans.

You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to understand why these feelings are so pervasive. The man has no clue that he is one of the most insensitive and disrespectful people EVER to have held public office. If you cross him, he simply calls you a name and does everything in his power to humiliate you. “I’m a counter-puncher,” he says. What he means is that if you disagree with him he will attack. Since he’s never wrong, that means no one can ever have an opinion that differs with his. It’s shocking that this man is our president. He takes no advice from his “advisors” and has placed our country in jeopardy.

Disrespect and rage? Of course.

Even in the seventies when Nixon was so reviled, we didn’t fear for our country’s existence. Nixon was a liar, but we felt he still put country before self. Trump is incapable of putting anyone but himself first.

So, it is understandable why so many disrespect the man. It is not so understandable why still so many are not negatively moved by his behavior.

It is also horrifying that more of our elected officials won’t take action.

Children can’t stand up against abusive parents. WE ARE NOT CHILDREN. THIS MAN IS ABUSIVE. WE CAN AND SHOULD STAND UP!

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.

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A PSYCHIATRIST THINKS ABOUT YOM KIPPUR, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

I think a reprise is in order.

Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of atonement, the day when God will either write you into the “Book of life” or not. Holy Moses! (To coin an appropriate cliche). This is serious business. If you don’t make the godly cut, you’re no longer counted as one of 13.75 million jews that make up 0.2% of the 7 billion world population. You are officially part of the stuff that helps plants grow.

Obviously, I’m making light of the most solemn day of the Jewish year, but because I don’t believe that God has a GPS unit tied to all 7 billion of us doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are valuable aspects to this day and valuable moral and ethical things to learn. It is a day of coming together with family and friends, a day of reflection and tradition, a day when we are encouraged to make amends for any hurts and wounds we might have inflicted on another person. It is a day of personal reflection.

In my opinion, the key here is MAKING AMENDS AND REFLECTING ON OUR LIVES AND OUR BEHAVIOR. (Sadly, since the man in The White House never mistakes and is always right, he’s exempt.)

You aren’t absolved of your transgressions by a high-priest rabbi and you don’t have to kill any non-believers. You simply have to do what you should have done all along, fix whatever bad thing you might have done. In some cases, “sorry” may be enough. In others, you may need to do some real cash reimbursing or spend whatever time and effort is necessary to right the wrong.

If indeed there is a god who has all 7 billion of us hooked up to his Garmin or Google Maps, we’d be making him/her very proud. What a relief that he doesn’t have to keep a record of all our good and bad deeds or whether we paid 14% or 50% on our taxes. Acting like a decent human being will take a lot of pressure off the “big guy or big gal”.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.

Posted in Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

IF ONLY TRUMP DIDN’T KNOW EVERYTHING, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

The best leader is a humble listener and willing to be a student. How can a person provide leadership if he/she doesn’t really understand the issues?

We didn’t understand how supporting slavery would create chaos and hate over 200 years after it was abolished.

We didn’t understand the issues in Vietnam and thousands of young men and women were killed and damaged.

We didn’t understand the issues in Iraq and thousands of young men and women were killed and damaged..

So here we are with a president who won’t read or listen and only wants the world to know what a wonderful man he is — how smart, how rich, how powerful, blah blah blah.

He says whatever he wants without working out a strategy with his team (except for the manipulators and cowards who spend their lives sucking up to him). Because actually his team is our country. This narcissist who feels he has the right to blab whatever comes into his head doesn’t understand that he doesn’t just speak for himself, but he represents all of us!

When will someone in congress or the military or the justice system do the right thing and using rules of law, protect all of us from this immature narcissist?

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Bullying, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

DONALD TRUMP, A SUPERHERO GONE BAD, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Donald Trump was elected on the premise that he would “clean the swamp” and have the leverage to be a new force in Washington with no political ties — a true new-age superhero.

Well, he replaced the swamp with a cesspool of impulsive, immature, uneducated tweets supporting neo-nazis and whatever other random thoughts crossed his troubled mind. Even Fox news, a bastion of “support Trump at any cost”, is stating the obvious. There’s something wrong and dangerous about this man.

Also, a bevy of courageous republicans are finally speaking out against this immature, uneducated bully. Yes, I know he attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, but “so sad”, he only learned how to toot his own twisted horn.

Maybe a new superhero will emerge? This one will have his/her brain connected to his cerebrum rather than his tongue.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Bullying, Politics, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

THE 4TH CHIMPANZEE, IN THE WHITE HOUSE, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

In 1967 Desmond Morris wrote The Naked Ape, and in 1992 Jared Diamond wrote The Third Chimpanzee. Both of these scholarly works examined how human beings evolved from our ape-like ancestors.

It took millions of years for man to emerge from the trees, stand up straight, use tools and finally use his brain to form a civilized society. At one time, the United States was a leader among countries — leading the civilized world and setting an example how a free society can work (Not perfect by any means, but still amazing).

It’s taken Donald Trump 6 months to return us to the trees. He is like a primitive chimp pounding his chest and threatening whoever will listen to his electronic screeching. Whenever he has a chance, he tosses a ripened verbal fruit at anyone who doesn’t think he is wonderful.

No one will stand up to him!

If only one man or woman in the House or Senate has the courage to form a strong coalition and put him where he belongs, back in his “Tower” where he can screech all he wants at people who are foolish enough to work for him, there may be hope.

When The Boy Scouts of America has to apologize for his sickening thumping of his own chest, doesn’t this mean something? Why won’t Congress wake up before it’s too late!

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Bullying, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

IS THE HOOK-UP CULTURE AS GREAT AS IT SOUNDS? by Art Smukler, author and psychiatrist

The millennials have it made. Right? Sex without strings. The release of all that pent-up sexual frustration without the chains and legalities of marriage. What more can young (and older) men and women ask for? The equality of the sexes has finally arrived and everyone can “get it on” wherever and whenever.

Women can pursue careers and meet their sexual needs without being tethered by needy male partners and having to raise children.

Men can satisfy their sexual needs and not walk around filled with guilt that they misled a bevy of damsels who only agreed to sex as a prelude to marriage.

We as human mammals can revert to our ape-like and chimp-like roots (The Third Chimpanzee, by Jared Diamond) where monogamy is not a need and only primitive instincts rule.

Well, hang on to your wild fantasy life. For most of us it’s not so simple. Also, the wild hook-up culture isn’t all that new. Remember the sixties and seventies? All that “free love”? Back then it wasn’t called hooking-up, it was called having sex with someone who wasn’t all that special.

There was always, for most men and women, the hope that the next person would be the special one, the one who would fill the emptiness and make life more meaningful.

My experience as a psychiatrist and author and recent independent studies validate this observation. Life, even with a lot of mutually rewarding sex, is still empty. Even though we share over 95% of the same genes as our ape ancestors (sorry bible-based theorists), we have evolved, for the good or the bad, into mammals with special needs. Our tribe often needs to include the clichéd “significant other”, a soul mate, a man or woman who will share our cave and our life. Then with the addition of children the tribe becomes pretty complicated.

It gets even more complicated. Because when we finally achieve the goal of finding our soul mate and having children, we long for the freedom of being able to have a new sexual adventure. Maybe our soul mate isn’t really “the one”. Maybe the sexual adventures from our youth should resume? Is marriage all that we hoped for? The fact that 50% of all marriages end in divorce tells us how needy and complicated we really are.

The answer might lie in how we really pick our mates. It’s not all sex. It’s not all logic. It’s something deep in our unconscious that leads us to making that all important decision. Stay tuned in. I have some ideas about where this all comes from and why we do what we do…

Your ideas and thoughts are always welcome.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Psychiatry, Self Examination, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

SHOULD DONALD TRUMP CHANGE HIS BRAND? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Before Donald Trump ran for president, my naive impression of him was that he was a brilliant businessman. The Art of the Deal, was who he was. When we travelled to places that had a Trump Resort, I saw it as a place where people of means could enjoy a luxurious experience — pricey but worth the value.

Now, if someone gave me a free week at anything associated with the Trump brand, I’d refuse. His brand, in my mind, has changed from gold to feces.

What? You say. How can that have happened?

Simple. I now picture the man as Baby Huey, sitting all dressed up in his blue suit in the oval office.

With his simple-minded take on the world, and self-aggrandizing approach to governing, he has devalued a position I once held in high esteem, The Presidency of the United States. People I respect don’t impulsively tweet abusive, devaluing comments whenever the urge comes upon them.
“I’m a counter-puncher” Donald Trump says, as if that makes it all okay.

Part of being president is to set an example that children and adults can try to emulate. OMG. What if everyone took off the gloves and did and said whatever they wanted? Chaos…

I disagreed with much that both President Obama and President Bush did, but they were both respectful adults. I’d love to spend time with either of them and I have dozens of questions that I’d love to discuss and debate.

Donald Trump needs to change his brand from the impulsive pop-culture, “You’re Fired” to the sensitive, “Tell me more why you think I’m such a jerk so I can do my best to change.” The chances of that happening are less than Global Warming spontaneously going away.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks. Also, please visit Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist — mystery and romance meets psychology.

Posted in Bullying, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments