Archive for October, 2015

group therapy

October 15th, 2015

This past weekend I attended the Washington School of Psychiatry Group Therapy conference in Washington, DC where we focused on attachment theory applied to group therapy. Because I wholeheartedly believe in attachment theory, and I also believe wholeheartedly in group therapy, it was a terrific synergy of my own theoretical approaches.

Group therapy is a rare opportunity to learn about oneself as you help others learn about themselves. I sometimes think of it as a post-graduate level of therapy because it really does require solid ego strengths as well as a resiliency when others provide direct, honest feedback. In other words, it’s not for the newcomer.

As I continue to stretch and learn as a group leader, it always keeps me on my growing edge as there are so many variables each group session to track. I feel privileged to have three groups in my practice: a co-ed therapy group, a men’s therapy group as well as a consultation for my interns and former interns. If you ever have any questions about group therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

“healthy” narcissism

October 3rd, 2015

Although narcissism is generally seen as a negative set of traits, healthy narcissism is actually a critical component of child development—as a result, self-esteem and confidence take shape. According to psychoanalysts such as Freud, children all possess a sense of omnipotence and grandiosity as they enter the world and strive to receive the gleam in the eye of their caregiver(s).

Theories about narcissism developed by Otto Kernberg and Heinz Kohut-both renowned psychiatrists and psychoanalysts–describe pathological narcissism as a result of unempathic, inconsistent early childhood interactions. As an adult, narcissists tend to struggle with empathy for others and as a result, they usually have very few meaningful relationships.

Freud coined the term narcissistic injury to describe the person who perceives an emotional threat resulting in a walling off from others or lashing out at others. Narcissistic wounds often result in narcissistic rage as Kohut describes. Narcissistic rage can look different at different times—anything from withdrawal to irritability to violent outbursts. Narcissistic rage can be expressed outwardly but often gets internalized and imploded.

This is possibly the most important message in this blog entry. We are all narcissisticly-inclined. It’s part of the human condition because we’re all born with the need to be seen, heard, understood and valued. In order to thrive, all babies require parents (or caregivers) to have the capacity for unconditional love, empathy and presence. Yet, there are always gaps—sometimes smaller and sometimes bigger so narcissism is part of being human and can be useful or highly-destructive. Our awareness and response to that primitive part of ourselves is what really counts.