Children and Guns

In the breezeless heat of the late-morning sun, amid the sound of grasshoppers, I felt only the emptiness of a summer with no end, no pleasure, and no meaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your therapist thinking?

When the Old Instruct the Young

Why is it important that we recognize and avoid the stale and hackneyed thoughts and expressions that pass for the conventional wisdom?

The Mind of a Conservative

Why is punishment such an important concept? If one believes in the idea of original sin, that human beings are by nature prone to selfish and immoral behavior, then societal rules and rigid child-rearing practices are the only means by which these instincts can be controlled.

Guns and Mental Health

The overwhelming majority of gun crimes are not the result of mental illness but of ordinary human emotions like anger, hate, greed, and despair.

God and grief

God's absence is revealed in many ways, none more heartbreaking than in the deaths of children.

Pranks and Pretension

We are responsible only for the reasonably predictable consequences of our behavior.

Beware of things on which we all agree

How much can we rely on "conventional wisdom" to guide our perception of the world?

It Is Better to Be Spent Than Saved

Now I warn patients who come to me after reading my books, “I’m better in writing than in person.” People don’t want to believe it, but it’s the truth.

A Murderous Society's Latest Outrage

We don't have to look very far to find plenty of examples of alienated loners who finally become so angry at their inability to get what they want from other human beings that they buy a gun (or several guns) and start killing those who they see as having or being what they cannot.

Old Age Is the Revenge of the Ugly

We didn’t, when young, read the fine print in the contract of life: if you are lucky enough to grow old, you will be marginalized by the society you live in, even by your own children. You will gradually become slow of thought and movement, beset by unexplained pains. You will experience unspeakable losses that, finally, will include the loss of yourself.

Fear and its Antidotes

A central idea of the society is interdependence: the conviction that we are all in this together and that we will succeed or fail based on our ability to hear heartbeats other than our own. This idea is where our best hopes reside.

Falling Out of a Tree

Underneath the air of professional detachment necessary to do our jobs lie our own anxieties and discouragement.

Why should we support the troops?

They volunteered (albeit with insufficient information) to be where they are and do what they do. Like the Roman Legionnaires of old they have chosen to fight their country’s foreign wars. Whether they made the right decision only they can say.

The First Duty of Love Is to Listen

We are aware at some level that the ability to listen is highly correlated with other desirable traits such as kindness, unselfishness, and empathy.

Love and Suffering

And yet the questions of why we are here, how best to live, and the meaning of human suffering remain answerable only by the bargains with life that each of us choose to strike.

Honesty Is a Prerequisite for Courage

We cannot allow ourselves to be lied to, or worse, engage in a process of self-deception. In psychotherapy I am continually confronted with this problem. I point out to people that there are many things about ourselves that we believe that turn out not to be true.

Attachment Is the Source of All Suffering

How each of us confronts loss, in ourselves and in those we would help, defines us as few other attributes can. What we reveal in our attitudes toward grief and mourning determines whether we have anything to teach others.

You Have Never Suffered Enough

And so we suffer twice: the broken lives and withered hopes inflicted by and upon the addicted in their relentless pursuit of the evanescent pleasure that substances produce AND the suffering we as a society exact on those who use and traffic in these substances.

Fear Lurks Behind Perfectionism

We are not taught by our parents or the culture that really good sex occurs in the context of a relationship in which the participants care about themselves and each other equally.

The Risks of Being Honest with Ourselves

We search so hard for heroes to inspire us that the word hero itself has lost much of it meaning. Risk and choice are no longer required; simple competence or the putting on of a uniform is now sufficient.

At the Heart of Anger is Sadness

Our political discourse has been degraded by the rise of an angry and self-righteous minority that thinks it is legitimate to impose their vision of the future through threats to damage our political and economic systems if they don’t get their way.

Faith, fear, and philosophies of governance

Somewhere between the narcissistic belief that we individually are the center of the universe and the conception that we are actors in a preordained play stage-managed by God is a large area in which we operate under the constraints of time and chance, but still have choices about how to live.

Infidelity and intimacy

Infidelity is more than a violation of a promise (“forsaking all others”) it is an unmistakable indicator of selfishness, on the part of someone in whom we have reposed our best hopes.

Lies, loyalty, and fear

It is a challenge to maintain a sense of unity among a people as diverse as our own. There are many who would divide us for political or personal gain. But nothing has the power to unite us like fear.

The best of compasses does not point to true north

Do you believe that people are basically good, inclined to fairness and generosity, or are they born selfish, and socialized only by the application of limit-setting and punishment?

It is a sense of meaning that nourishes the soul

Pleasure is not the absence of pain; nor is health the absence of disease. It is what we do and who we are with that makes us happy. In a larger sense our mortality confronts us with questions of meaning.

Tiger mothers and the case for fear-based parenting

     The debate takes place against a background of concern about narcissism and a sense of entitlement that, fairly or unfairly, are seen as implicit cultural values in 21st century America.

Reflections on a massacre

True paranoia requires that we believe in a malign intent to injure us, to render us helpless, to take from us what is rightfully ours, to deprive us of our rights, our property, our freedom

The role of chance in human affairs.

     An important component of of our knowledge of how the world works is how to cope with the passage of time, especially the all-important process of knowing what to hold onto and what to relinquish. 

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