Articles on Mental Health Through the Lifespan

Do You Have a Favorite Child? (1)
Of course we love all our children the same. Or do we? When we are asked this question by our children we usually give the standard stock answer: “I love you all the same”... (Read More)

Do You Have a Favorite Child? (2)
Sibling rivalry is one phenomenon. It is normal and part of the developmental process. But overt parental favoritism is not normal and can damage a child well into adulthood... (Read More)

The Importance of a Loving Mother
When I was a young undergraduate I didn’t give much thought to good parents versus bad. I had observed my own parents’ numerous shortcomings as a teenager but also had a sense that there were a lot of my friends’ parents that I wouldn’t have been keen on swapping my own parents for... (Read More)

What Makes a Psychopath?
Recently, Josef Fritzl, the Austrian father who imprisoned his daughter Elisabeth in an underground enclosure and fathered all seven of her children, was sentenced to life imprisonment himself. Ironically he was to receive the same sentence that he had hoped to give to his child and grandchildren for many more years... (Read More)

Still Waiting For Mr. Right?
I recently had a discussion at a social function with a woman in her late 30s. She was divorced and on the lookout for another partner. But she said something to me that seemed more than a little odd. Her thesis on marital happiness was that the sex had to be great and if the sex wasn’t great then there was no point in going on with the relationship... (Read More)

The Desperate Housewives Effect
An increasing number of women in their 30s, 40s and even 50s are succumbing to eating disorders, even full-blown anorexia, in an attempt to maintain their youthful figures. Dubbed the Desperate Housewives Effect, the condition takes its name from the series Desperate Housewives but also reflects the array of Hollywood stars whose fortunes are inversely related to the size of their waistlines... (Read More)

The Importance of Boundaries for Good Mental Health (1)
The term “having good boundaries” is often used when describing psychological situations or relations between two or more individuals. A boundary is like your own personal fence, and if you have a good set of boundaries, you will largely control what you allow people to say and do to you... (Read More)

The Importance of Boundaries for Good Mental Health (2)
We touched on this issue in a previous article on this subject where we looked at how much damage a person with no respect for personal boundaries can inflict intense psychological damage on those around them. Today we will look at the case of Noreen... (Read More)

The Importance of Boundaries for Good Mental Health (3)
We have recently looked at how Marcus was forced by his father to do a dentistry degree that he wasn’t interested in and also how Jane fought a several month battle against her mother to not use a pacifier for her baby daughter... (Read More)

The Importance of Boundaries for Good Mental Health (4)
...But what of Jane? What could she have done in her situation with her mother? Remember that Jane spent months verbally telling her mother firmly that she did not want her baby to have a pacifier... (Read More)

Trauma and Trouble: Is It Always Bad for You?
...trauma is not all bad, and many people who have experienced emotional difficulties are enriched by them, despite the enormous pain that accompanies the illness... (Read More)

Children’s Parties and Future Mental Health
Ever noticed that the amount of time and money that is spent on a child’s 18th birthday party is starting to look like the amount parents might spend have spent on their children’s wedding in the not too distant past? (Read More)

Optimizing Development of Your Baby
We all want a happy, healthy baby and. although the uterus is an exceptionally safe and comfortable environment for your growing baby, there are additional precautions that all expectant mothers can undertake to ensure that their baby receives the best start in life… (Read more)

Behavior Patterns in the Womb
Your baby has a personality of its own at birth, but did you know that behavioral patterns can also be tracked during gestation? Prenatal development not only consists of the physical process of organ and skeletal development and growth, but by the age of 14 weeks, the developing embryo is already capable of rudimentary forms of behavior… (Read more)

Crying Babies and the Possibilities for Abuse (1)
A baby's cry is a survival mechanism as it draws attention to an infant in distress. Three distinct patterns of crying have been documented in newborns and it is interesting to observe the way primary caregivers relate to each of these specific crying patterns… (Read more)

Crying Babies and the Possibilities for Abuse (2)
We looked at the three types of crying in infants in our previous article as well as the established notion that adults actually find the sound of a baby crying aversive. Today we will look at ways that parents attempt to overcome their natural instincts towards the sound of babies crying, and the varying levels of success in doing so… (Read more)

Babies and Dreaming
While adults spend less than a quarter of their sleep time engaged in dreaming (or REM sleep), young babies engage in REM sleep for over 50% of their total sleep time. So why do babies dream more than adults? Why should infants dream so much when they have far less activities during the day that might trigger dreams?… (Read more)

Adult Reactions to Beauty in Babies
We all think that our babies are just the most beautiful babies in the world. And, for the mental and physical wellbeing of our babies, that is a good thing. Yet the reality is that babies are relatively unattractive, with their overly-large heads, often misshapen by difficult births, their podgy pot bellies and their tendency to be chinless, bald and far removed from the classic understanding of beautiful. Part of the magic of being a parent is falling in love with your own child, and for that child, that is all that matters… (Read more)

TV's in Children's Bedrooms (1)
I'm not a fan of TV's in children's bedrooms and I know not everyone will agree with me on this one, but it's not only my personal preference. The detrimental effects of televisions in children's bedrooms have long been a topic of interest among psychologists… (Read more)

TV's in Children's Bedrooms (2)
I observed firsthand the problems of having TV's in children's bedrooms back when my daughter was in elementary school. One of the girls in her Year 4 class had one in her bedroom and she was the envy of her peers. Naturally this girl boasted about her new-found televisual independence and I'm sure there were cries of "I want one, too!" in more than our household… (Read more)

Are you an Enabler?
Do you have a friend who is hopeless at budgeting and you're constantly lending her ten dollars here and twenty dollars there? Do you have a spouse with an alcohol problem and you phone his or her boss to call in sick instead of making them do it themselves? Do you constantly take on extra duties each time your older teen has an assignment due instead of allowing them to feel out of control themselves? If the answer is a resounding "Yes" then you could be an enabler... (Read more)

Are You Enabling Your Adult Child?
What exactly does it mean to "enable your adult child?" What the act of enabling does is to actively prevent your child from achieving appropriate developmental milestones as they age. Thus continually refusing to make your child/teenager/young adult take responsibility for their omissions and commissions of duty effectively leaves them as underperforming adults... (Read more)

Walking the Tightrope of the Mother-Daughter Relationship
When a mother gives birth to a baby girl, there is potential for a tremendously strong bond to develop. Having a female child allows a mother to re-experience her own growing-up process, this time though the eyes of an adult... (Read more)

Having Trouble Talking to Your Teen: Try the Car!
How common is it to have a problem with some aspect of your teen's behavior and be told to sit down and have a good heart-to-heart with them? And how often has it ended in a screaming match and a series of slammed doors?... (Read more)

Are You Breeding a Frankenkinder?
A Frankenkinder is the 21st century version of a spoilt child - a monster created by the emotional neglect of its own parents. Yet these kids look far from neglected. They are dressed in designer clothes and have all the latest Playstation games and personal electronic gadgetry. They are wise beyond their years and yet are also extremely immature. So how did we end up with a generation of these kids?... (Read more)

Setting Healthy Boundaries for Your Children (1)
In Are You Breeding a Frankenkinder, we looked at the preponderance of overindulged and underdisciplined children in today's society and how we are actually doing our children a gross disservice to "give them everything." It's not easy being a parent today. But it's never been easy being a parent. Or at least, an effective one. We can blame the media for creating a world where our kids just want more and more, but in doing so, we as parents are just passing the buck and refusing to take responsibility for our own actions... (Read more)

Setting Healthy Boundaries for Your Children (2)
The most important gift you can give your child is a healthy set of boundaries. It is the ultimate gift of love, even though in setting boundaries, your child will probably tell you that you don't love them. They may even tell you they hate you. But that is okay... (Read more)

Setting Healthy Boundaries for Your Children (3)
In the previous article in this series we looked at the most common violation of childhood boundaries: that of discussing adult issues such as financial difficulties and marital problems with your child. The other common boundary problem involves the physical boundary violation of childhood sexual abuse. So common is this phenomenon that, by the age of 18, over 70% of females report some level of sexual abuse... (Read more)

Setting Healthy Boundaries for Your Children (4)
The process of setting healthy boundaries in your child starts very early in life. By the time a child can say "No" he or she has long grasped the concept of personal boundaries and so it is the responsibility of the parent to let their child know one very important concept: They can't have everything... (Read more)

Marriages without Sex (1)
The concept of marriage without sex is a strange one, yet cases do exist and they are not as infrequent as you might imagine. Situations occur in which the woman remains a virgin during the entire course of the marriage... (Read more)

Marriages without Sex (2)
In our first article on this topic, we looked at the marriage between Sue and James, who had only had intercourse on one occasion two years after the wedding in order to satisfy Sue's longing for a child. You can read about the courtship and immediate post-wedding experiences of Sue and James in Marriage without Sex (1). So, two years into an unconsummated marriage, Sue allowed James to have sex with her over a period of three nights and the result was a beautiful baby boy... (Read more)

Marriages without Sex (3)
Today we conclude the story of Sue, the wife who only had sex with her husband on two occasions throughout the course of their marriage. This was specifically in order to have her two children and the times and dates of intercourse were meticulously planned in order to maximize her chances of conception... (Read more)

The Empty Nest Syndrome (1)
"Help me. I miss my little girl!" This was the opening cry for help from the middle-aged female client who sat before me. "How old is your little girl?" I inquired. The woman dabbed her eyes and looked at me and looked away. "She's 21." This lady was in real distress. Her daughter had moved away to college and she was a SAHM of one, and her "one" had just flown the coup. She was profoundly sad. She had what is commonly known as the "empty nest syndrome."... (Read more)

The Empty Nest Syndrome (2)
In the previous article on the empty nest syndrome we looked at the grieving process that often accompanies the departure of an adult child from the family home. This phenomenon commonly occurs when the oldest child leaves, as that represents a break in the family circle... (Read more)

The Empty Nest Syndrome (3)
Today we begin to look at ways to avoid or at least minimize the effects of the empty nest syndrome. As discussed in previous articles, the empty nest syndrome occurs when one or more adult children leave the family home and the parents, commonly the mother, experience bouts of intense grief in the period immediately following the departure... (Read more)

The Empty Nest Syndrome (4)
Today we look at ways to minimize the effects of the empty nest syndrome which is both real and painful. As mentioned in previous articles on this topic, the process of separation from your child and your child from you is both normal and healthy. It's just that sometimes normality can be a little hard to bear... (Read more)

The Empty Nest Syndrome (5)
Today we look at the story of Emma who, despite having four children and devoting part of her working life to caring for them full time, has successfully managed to avoid the distressing feelings that characterize the empty nest syndrome... (Read more)

There is No Time Limit to Grieving
During the time that I was writing the series of articles on the Empty Nest Syndrome, I came across a comment on a pseudo-medical site which suggested some rather bizarre but also quite dangerous advice on how to deal with this phenomenon... (Read more)

Coping with Death
We all have to cope with death. As the saying goes: "No one gets out of this world alive!" We know it must inevitably happen yet we are often not educated or prepared for it when it does come. We cope with the death of loved ones largely by avoiding its certainty for as long as possible, and hope that when the time comes we will somehow muddle through it... (Read more)

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