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The Danger of “the Other”

We are witnessing the fallout from at least four years on increasing divisiveness in our country. With results of the 2020 general election not yet finalized and accepted, the intensity of the polarization remains all too apparent. We know that the heat of polarization has been inflamed, so that “different” became “unrecognizable,” and this, in turn, became “unacceptable” or even “intolerable.” Is this suspiciousness and rejection of “the other” avoidable?

In some ways, the sobering and alarming answer is, “no.” For more, see Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein.

A hard-wired feature of our brains is to rapidly detect what…


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Building Solidarity

It was during World War I that Hans Berger was thrown from his horse while serving as a soldier in the Army’s front lines. Moments before being crushed under the wheels of an oncoming horse-drawn artillery carriage, which thankfully stopped just in time, his mind was flooded with thoughts of his likely imminent death. At the same moment, many miles away, his sister, with whom Hans was very, very close, awakened her father to urge him to telegraph her brother, Hans, and ask about his welfare. She sensed he was in mortal danger. Hans was so struck by this moment…


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Beneath the “Big” Picture

We are beset each day by the enormity of challenges we are facing; To name but a few: The pandemic. Climate change. The November election. The world economy. Family and health security when facing joblessness. Any one of them can feel overwhelming. Together, they can leave us feeling swamped by a global tsunami of worry, despair, fear, disconnection, and loss.

All are overwhelming in part because the sheer enormity of the problems feel well beyond the effectiveness capacity of any single person. And yet, I suspect, this paralyzing perspective is very likely a myth. The key lies in the scale…


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An Eco-systemic Point of Viewpoint

Biology describes an ecosystem as a diverse group of living and non-living things that exist together in a cooperative and collaborative way. That description is helpful, too, when we explore the nature of our personal struggles to remain healthy and to regain our health when we aren’t. Each of us stands as an individual ecosystem of internal pieces and parts that live — ideally — in cooperative and collaborative balance with each other. …


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What Does Perfectionism Sound Like

“I should have done better.” “I’m ugly (…or fat, or stupid, or unsuccessful, or undeserving, or unpopular or unworthy, or…).” “This isn’t good enough. I’ll never be good enough.” “I promise I’ll do better next time.” “Everything seems to come more easily for everyone else. I just can’t get it right.”

Do these thoughts sound familiar? They should. They are all forms of a rapidly exploding belief system that has more than doubled among people young and old in the U. S. in the past 20-years. They are all forms of unattainable perfectionism.


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Shared Unhappiness

If I had to identify the one common denominator that every client I have ever seen brings to their sessions with me over the past 30 years of practice, it would be their unhappiness. That unhappiness comes in many forms and sizes. But one way or another, it is always there.

Conversely, whether the therapy focus is on a relationship, work, a painful personal history, facing an uncertain future in the face of physical illness or pain, fear and worry, or mood disturbances and depression, the client’s goal is often described in terms of wanting to be “happier.” …


HERE’S WHAT’S REALLY CAUSING YOUR IBS (and it’s not what you think)

Chasing Symptoms and Misunderstanding Causes

In today’s world, we expect answers to our questions, and we expect them quickly. When it comes to managing IBS, chasing simple and quick fixes can be as much of the problem as the IBS pattern itself. Too often, we chase symptoms and settle for narrowly focused ideas of their causes and how to tackle them: “Just eliminate gluten.” “Eat more fiber.” “Practice meditation.” “Go on an elimination diet.” “Go on an anti-inflammation diet.” “Take Nexium.” “Worry less.” “Exercise more.” “Exercise less.” …


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Why Diversity Matters

Diversity, it seems, is hardwired into Mother Nature’s plans. The culture wars currently raging around acceptance of expressions of individual diversity in our culture would argue otherwise. Who’s right? Is a rich, diverse and multi-faceted melting pot of ideas, races, faiths, ethnicities, orientations, lifestyles, and practices, where all is acceptable and where “doing your own thing” is perhaps the mantra and goal? Alternatively, is the goal the limiting of options what is acceptable living restricted to those options that have “stood the test of time”? It can be argued that without conserving the established norms of clans, tribes, communities, and…

David Alter

Psychologist, Author, Photographer, Engaged Observer

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