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Have The Child-Free Fur-Parents cracked the Code To Happiness?

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In 2022 there was  a “pope-dog”-craze , after the Pope criticised young adults for choosing to have pets over children. The observation is legitimate, as 1 in 4 of members of Generation Z choose to have a pet instead of a child, citing the high cost of children, focus on career, and climate change. Incidentally, a  study  out of Michigan is among the first to differentiate between those who don’t yet have kids or otherwise can’t, and those who choose not to. Finding that the latter, the group with the euphemism “child- free”   also refers to a 1 in 4 proportion of the subjects. It also claims that child-free couples are happier than the others. Why couldn’t the pope leave people to live their lives as they please?  I understand the attraction, a pet gives you unconditional love without making you change anything in your romantic, professional or residential life. But is it love, or is it the guarantee that someone’s always happy to see you? I have been told that cats would eat their ow

Time to Place the Concepts of Self-Esteem and Self-Worth on the Shelf Next to Hysteria and Lobotomies

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  “ Doctor, I’m here because I don’t have any self-worth, and that’s the cause of all my problems. I need help getting some, after which I’m sure I will be much happier.”   Some version of this is the opening score of so many psychiatric consultations, and I am sure many personal conversations you have been involved in. Self-esteem, self-regard, self-worth and self-love are all synonyms in a psychological context and refer to a value judgement about one’s character. Self-worth has become so prominent as a concept, its deficiency is a diagnostic criterion in a range of psychiatric diagnoses, as well as a frequent topic of my children’s television shows. Maybe other therapists are great at dealing with it, but when I’m told “ my self-worth is at zero, please do something about it ”, I break out in hives.  Maslow inserted self-esteem into his pyramid of human needs in 1943, although when he published it, he had no empirical evidence to support it. The father of the self-esteem movement, h

To The Priests In The Temple Of Neuroscience

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The root of psychiatry is psychos, the Greek word for soul. What we today call psychiatric disorder, used to be seen as ailments of the soul, the religious institutions used to be the place to go for its’ treatment- spirituality and community. When someone tells you they believe in God, what’s your first thought about them? How many therapists do you think would call themselves spiritual, or let alone religious? I haven’t encountered many, and even fewer who would know how to incorporate it into their sessions. Ever since Freud called religion a collective neurosis of mankind, research on the  positive effects of religion and spirituality  has been pouring in like the proverbial flood, still we see little change in our psychotherapeutic ways. Unless you count the want-to-be spiritual elements out of the east, that have been all the rage since the 90’s. I had an interesting conversation with a fellow Jewish therapist I worked with, and he told me about discovering Mindfulness at a retre

Strive, Don't Die For Dignity

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This coming spring, Canada is set to allow those who suffer a mental illness to apply for medically assisted suicide. Belgium and Netherlands already allow it for mental illness that is deemed insufferable, mostly depressions, which make up around 1-2% of their total assisted suicides. In Switzerland the total rate of assisted suicides tripled from 2003-2014 , it’s estimated 4% are psychiatric patients . The general consensus in the public conversation about assisted suicide seems to be support for it given old age, insufferable and untreatable illness, and an alternative to a shameful way of living. It’s not difficult to agree that someone shouldn’t be made to suffer unnecessarily. The largest organization who offers assisted suicide here is EXIT; they advertise self- determination and dignity in death. For many, suicide is a serious solution and something to be considered given the right circumstances. However, during my training I was taught that suicide monitoring and preventi

True Quality Of Life

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In Zürich I am surrounded by people (including my husband) working in the finance sector, big 4 consultancies, banks, insurances - all the big corporations. The stories I hear, the way they speak to each other about their workplace, I am surprised they can function properly at all. I know statistics is where fun goes to die, but just to bring you onboard: Psychopathy in the general population is only thought to be about 1%, in a prison population its around 15%, and the percentage of corporate senior leadership who display psychopathic traits is 12% . The hallmarks of the psychopaths we are talking about here are grandiosity, inflated self- importance, fantasizing about power, success and brilliance. In relations to others, they are exploitative and manipulative; they will use you to provide material to push them forward in their ambition, when you succeed, they can shine their light of confidence on you. This feels very bright and nice, a contrast to how they deprecate you when you

When you bet your life on therapy, how to have and keep the faith.

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You’ve been down in the dumps lately, getting tired easily, not feeling rested in the morning, it’s difficult to look forward to things, the kids are bugging you and you are looking for a way to be left alone. Must be your partners fault, because why else would you feel this tired if they were pulling their weight? Then, after having thrown some passive aggressive (or just aggressive comments) your partners way, you feel guilty about all of the above and have to compensate for them, which in turn exhausts you further and then you are on the merry-go-round once again. Probably most people read this and think “sounds like any given Tuesday”. But sometimes life is too difficult to bear, usually when sleepless nights are involved. People undervalue the importance of sleep; sleep deprivation is after all an effective torture method.   Eventually, you take the advice given by many and “go see someone”. After having discussed whether or not to seek help ad nauseum, and having seen the GP fo

What's Your Label?

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 It was the first year I was working at an outpatient clinic in Zürich, I was seeing a patient for the first time. I didn’t have much of an idea of what it was about, just that this 40-something year old woman, a mother, was going through a rough time. We were sitting opposite each other, and with my pleasant, but not too off-putting therapist smile, I was about to start my usual first-encounter questions. But she turned around and rummaged through her bag, pulling out a folder of papers and laid them out on the table. “I found these questionnaires online; they are very relevant to what I think I have and I’ve already filled them in for you”. This woman had diagnosed herself with light autism and ADHD before I’d asked her if she had managed to find our office easily enough. She continued: “you see, my daughter just got the Asperger diagnosis and since its hereditary, it probably also explains why I’m having issues.” I was baffled, I did not know which words to push from my mouth. But