Good Grief: Part 4

By: Sam Reiner

Over the last few parts we have been discussing the 5 stages of grief, using Zelda to further explain each stage. Now that we are done with the stages and Zelda we must now move on to the next topic, “How long does grief usually last?” Seems simple, but really this is an extremely difficult question to answer for the simple fact that people experience grief in different ways. Some people are able to feel better after 6 weeks while others can take up to 4 years to really get over a loss. In reality, the only one that really knows when you should be done with grieving is you. It is a process whose time table only you can decide. That being said there are ways to help you get through the grieving process a bit quicker. Some ways include:

  • Talk about how you’re feeling with others.
  • Try to keep up with your daily tasks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can make you feel more depressed.
  • Get back into your normal routine as soon as you can.
  • Avoid making major decisions right away.
  • Allow yourself to cry, to feel numb, to be angry, or to feel however you’re feeling.
  • Ask for help if you need it

Now before I wrap this part up I have to mention that it is important to tell the difference between normal grieving and depression. Although they share very similar symptoms, the feelings associated with grief should be temporary. If you don’t start to feel better over time, it is very likely you have depression. But how long is too long? Again, that’s up to you as when you are grieving it is important to be self-aware of your emotions. The only way to know it’s been to long is when you feel that it’s been too long.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

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Good Grief: Part 3

By: Sam Reiner

(once again to understand what I am talking about read the first 2 parts)

Despite all your bargaining, you eventually realize that there is nothing you can do to stop or reverse what happened. With the realization that there is no escaping fate comes the desire to disconnect and retreat inward, which leads to stage 4: Depression. The sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and realize its effect on your life. This is when you will feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely and in the game, this can be seen at the Great Bay. It is here that you me Lulu, a Zora who has lost her egg, simply standing in silence gazing out to the sea. The loss of her eggs has caused her to retreat inward and become depressed, which is very common for people who have just lost a loved one.

However, as the old saying goes “This too shall pass.” Stage 5: Acceptance. This is when you finally accept the reality of your loss, and although you may still feel sad you can now begin to move forward with your life. In game, this is signified by the Land of the Dead, Ikana Valley. It is here that you meet Sharp, a ghost you help reach acceptance with his mistreatment of his brother. A very literal representation of acceptance, but a more symbolic example is the Stone Tower, where you climb up towards the heavens. As you climb you will also need to create 4 twin statues (one for each town) with the 4 being symbolic of the past 4 stages of grief. Much like these statues, during the stages of grief you feel dull and lifeless but they are essential in order for you to go through the grieving process. This is even shown in game as you must leave the statue behind when you go up to the next floor, symbolizing passing though the stages of grief. By leaving them behind you can make your way to the top in order to obtain enlightenment and then flip the tower putting the heavens at your feet, solidifying your acceptance. You even have to fight the Garo Masters, beings literally described as “Emptiness cloaked in darkness.” These are clear symbols to the internal battle between light and darkness on the road to acceptance and also shows your victory over the empty feelings that come with grief. By overcoming the darkness and emptiness inside you and reaching the top, you show that you have accepted the past and are ready to face the future.

And with that, we have reached the end of the 5 stages of grief. Now that you know what to expect when faced with grief, it now becomes a question of how long with it last? Unfortunately this is getting pretty long so I’m going to have to save that for next time.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Good Grief: Part 2

By: Sam Reiner

(Read part 1 first to learn why I am talking about Zelda)

The 1st stage of grief is Denial. When you first learn of a loss it’s normal to think that it isn’t real or that it can’t be happening. It’s a way for you to deal with the torrent of overwhelming emotions. This is exactly what you experience in Clock Town, the 1st town in Majora’s Mask. In this game, you have 3 days to stop a giant moon from crashing down and destroying everything. However, even with this moon clearly inching closer every minute, no one seems to care. In fact, they are actually planning a carnival, openly laughing at the idea that the moon will fall. One person even goes as far to say that he’ll simply cut the moon to pieces with his sword.

Denial can only be temporary however, and when it is no longer possible you get angry. Stage 2: Anger. When reality starts to set in you may feel frustrated and helpless which later turn to anger, causing you to lash out at anything whether they deserve it or not. This is extremely prevalent in the game’s second location, Woodfall. Here you discover that the swamp has been poisoned, the Deku princess is missing, and the king is dead set on punishing a monkey who he believes kidnapped her. The problem is, the monkey is innocent. The king is just angry because of the poisoned swamp and his missing daughter and is lashing out at anyone.

Once the anger settles you then start to feel desperate which leads to stage 3: Bargaining. It’s during this stage you attempt to do anything that can either postpone or reverse the loss. In the case of Majora’s Mask, bargaining is on full display at Snowhead. Here is where the player encounters the Gorons, who are in the middle of mourning the recent loss of their chief, Darmani. Eventually you actually meet his ghost who then literally begs you to bring him back to life with your magic. This is a textbook example of bargaining as he is trying everything to delay the inevitability that is death. This can also be seen in the area itself. The paralyzing cold of Snowhead is basically a metaphor to how in this stage of grief you feel unable to move on, emotionally frozen. And for now, I’ll stop there, so for the next part we will be discussing the last two stages of grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Good Grief: Part 1

By: Sam Reiner

Grief is something that is inevitable in everyone’s life. It is an emotion that can come from the loss of a loved one, moving to a new home, suffering a chronic illness, or even the end of a relationship. It is a feeling that hits hard and can make you feel completely empty inside. Although we all must face grief at one point or another, no one knows what to expect when they are actually faced with it. What will I feel, how long will I feel it, and how can I move on? Over the next few blogs I will try my best to answer these questions.

So, let’s go down the list and start with what exactly will you feel when you are face with grief. Although the process is different for everyone, doctors have identified 5 common stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance (DABDA). Now in order to explain it further I’m going to once again use a video game, this time Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I swear I didn’t even plan this but when it comes to examples of the 5 stages of grief this is probably the best example of it in pop culture as you actually play through all 5 stages of grief via the 5 locations. But I’m going to have so go into more detail on it another day. This is going to take a while to explain and deserves its own blog. In the next part I will be discussing the first three stages of grief.

If you or someone you know is grieving, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Fighting Out-Group Bias

Fighting Out-Group Bias

By Sam Reiner

I want to talk about a game that came out around 2 years ago and I think it is one of the most important things in recent memory. I want to talk about Undertale. In order to understand why exactly it is so important I have to explain how our brains work at identifying people. When interacting with people we are usually dealing with the Social Anthropological Principle of Out-Group Homogeneity Bias, which is that we tend to view people of other groups as more similar than those in our own group. To simplify, we generalize or stereotype groups of people we are not familiar with. This is a big reason why stereotypes and prejudices exist but why would we do this to ourselves? Well a prevailing anthropological theory states that this happens as a way to preserve our identity. Every single human is a complicated mix of likes, dislikes, fears, experiences, and beliefs which makes it difficult to actually describe what makes you “You.” Think about every time you’re asked to tell someone about yourself and you struggle to answer, it’s exactly the same thing. So instead of defining ourselves by what we are, the out-group bias leads us to identify by what we are not. We are not Them. We subconsciously draw a very clear line in the sand to say this is who I am and I would never be one of those people.

So how does this connect back to Undertale? Well this game is determined to force players to fight out-group homogeneity bias. It’s even the main premise of the game, Humans vs. Monsters, Us vs. Them. In any other game monsters are simply that, monsters. Just obstacles for the player to overcome in your quest to rescue the princess and save the world. In Undertale however, it’s a different story. Creator of Undertale, Toby Fox, went on record to say that he wanted every “enemy” in the game to have their own distinct personality. They range from grunts and bosses to characters like Sans, Alphys, Torial, Froggit, all with their own hopes dreams fears and insecurities. This is probably one of the most genius parts of the game’s design as even though they are labeled as “monsters,” they are so much more.

That is why this $10 game is so important, it’s message. The message that nothing should be judged or hated because of a label and that you should always try to find the peaceful resolution. In fact, Undertale is what taught millions of people the meaning of the word pacifism, which is no exaggeration. Global search trends on Google show a huge spike in the number of people who searched the word pacifism and pacifist around Undertale’s release. For the first time in what feels like forever, people were talking about peaceful resolutions to conflict all because of a video game. It’s also important to remember about Undertale is that people over funded it on Kickstarter, a game that pitched itself as “a game where no one has to get hurt.” During a time where people are actively talking about building walls, it is important and comforting to know that there is a great number who care about bringing people together despite their differences.

If you or someone you know feels depressed or alone contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources: http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/out-group_homogeneity.htm

Breakups: High School Sweetheart not so Sweet

By: Emily Mulhaul

To all of the silent sufferers out there who feel as though they are being dramatic for grieving a loss of a relationship for over a year now, you are not alone and you are not dramatic. Breakups can take an emotional toll on us that sometimes prolong for a year or more. Often times, our past experiences shape our present situation, meaning the termination of one relationship may affect our future relationships. Not only may it shape our present relationships with others, but it shapes relationships with oneself as well. Breakups may deprive us of the self confidence and hope we once had because it seemed to have vanished alongside the memory of the relationship.

Whether your break up is affecting your relationship with others or your relationship with yourself, experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

 

Relationships: Abusive Relationships: Why We Repeat the Past

“Why didn’t you just walk away?” “How could you let this happen to yourself again?” These questions are not uncommon for survivors of domestic abuse to hear. When a person has numerous maladaptive relationships, it leaves them and others baffled. Why on earth would someone put themselves in an abusive situation again? The answer to this lies in a psychological phenomenon called “repetition compulsion.” In repetition compulsion, a person either puts themselves into a situation where abuse is likely to happen again, or they reenact the past situation with another partner. Below are some theorized reasons why people repeat the past in their relationships.

  1. Change can be a scary or anxiety-provoking thing. Most of us stick to what we know, even if it means regularly dating partners who are physically and/or emotionally abusive.
  2. Some think that by putting themselves in the same situation, they can change the outcome this time. They think that they will be able to master this relationship, and this will make up for the last bad one.
  3. We might believe that if we act in just the right way, our partner’s behavior will change and they will treat us right.
  4. We begin to internalize the beliefs that we are unlovable and deserve to be mistreated.
  5.  Unconsciously or consciously, we seek out abuse from others due to conditioning.
  6. “Winning” an argument with an abusive partner may lead us to believe that we are able to do this again and the abuse will stop.

Despite how terrible the situation may be, know that you are not alone, there is help available, and there are resources to begin the healing process.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Further reading: “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Source: Esposito, Linda. “Why Do We Repeat the Past in Our Relationships?” Psychology Today. Sussex Pulishers, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016

By: Scout H

Relationship & Dating Tips

First dates can be exciting, enjoyable, and can open up a wide range of possibilities. If you’re about to spend time with someone new, make sure you keep your eyes open for some red flags that may predict the fate of your relationship down the road.

  • If they pay more attention to electronics than to you during the first date, you can easily tell where their priorities are.
  • If they spend the majority of the time talking about themselves during the date, it is possible you might end up with a narcissist.
  • Disclosing how much they hate their job or friend or relative, especially on a first date, should make you apprehensive. This shows that they have a history of tumultuous relationships.
  • Talking about an ex or comparing you to an ex is a huge indicator that your date is still hanging on to the past.
  • Asking if someone is enjoying the restaurant/music/movie is fine. You might find yourself becoming uncomfortable with how many times you need to reassure them. However, asking many times throughout the night how things are going may be a sign of low self-esteem.
  • If during the date they disclose a view that is fundamentally different from yours, don’t ignore it! Having different opinions is fine, but if your core beliefs are too different, this could make for some serious clashing in a relationship.
  • Being unnecessarily rude towards the waiter, a parking attendant, or other person in front of you is never a good sign. If they blow up on people for small things, imagine how they’d treat you if they thought you did something wrong!

If you learn to recognize the red flags, you will be able to know when to call a first date your last date!

If you’re dealing with relationship problems, consider reaching out to the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722 1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Source: Degges-White, Suzanne. “13 First Date Red Flags.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.

By: Scout H

Fighting With Your Spouse: How You Indirectly Effect Your Child

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Being in a relationship has its stresses, but what happens if those stresses are greatly affecting the people you love? Conflict is natural and should be discussed in private however sometimes we do not realize who is listening. It has been found that children who witness conflict between their parents experience more negative behaviors and emotions than that of the average child. These include: decrease in emotional security, feelings of defenselessness, increased aggression, increased distress, and hyperactivity. Parents are role models; their actions are closely observed and usually repeated by their child. There is a higher chance that the child will become easily upset and throw tantrums because that is what they consider to be a normal reaction. Fighting also relays the message to the child that intimacy involves conflict and turmoil, causing the child to stray away from future intimate relationships. Another lasting effect is misplaced guilt. If parents become hostile towards each other and coincidently the same day the child made a mistake or got in trouble, the child might blame him or herself for the altercation.

Interestingly, Brown University conducted a study involving 54 children and their sleep habits. This particular study also consisted of interviewing both parents and children about life at home and any conflicts that had occurred. Over a series of comparing family information and sleep habits, the team discovered that children witnessing moderate to severe conflict at home lost an average of 30 minutes of sleep per night. This loss of sleep can effect a child’s development especially at a young age.

Specialists highly recommend finding a solution by positively communicating with your partner in front of the child to teach that disagreement is normal and can be dealt with in a constructive way.

If you believe that you or a loved one has or may have conflicts with their spouse; the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information

 

Sources: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/effect-parents-fighting-kids-development-1032.html

http://news.healingwell.com/index.php?p=news1&id=530961

 

By: Jennifer Oscherician

 

How to Recognize a Sociopath

Sociopaths: devious, controlling, cunning. If you ever come across someone with this toxic antisocial personality disorder, it is important to know how to recognize the signs for your own personal safety. These people repeatedly disregard the feelings of others while seeking only to please themselves. They are unable to have the ability to organize their emotions and therefore have no shame about their actions, regardless of how it makes those around them feel. Often, they find internal gratification from hurting others. Below are some warning signs to help you identify a sociopath:

  • A discrepancy between what the person says, and what the person does
  • Making excuses for themselves when they are caught in a lie
  • Changing the subject when they are caught in a lie
  • Beating around the bush when asked questions about the lie you caught them in or not answering them directly
  • Knowing others’ vulnerabilities and manipulating them for personal gain
  • Ability to understand laws and rules, but being unable to understand emotionally why those rules are in place
  • No feelings of shame when they know they have hurt other people
  • Repeatedly putting themselves in situations which could get them arrested
  • Disregarding the safety of themselves or others
  • Constant irritability, hostility, and antagonism
  • Performing cruel and gruesome acts on animals

If these warning signs sound like they apply to yourself or someone you know, it is very important to start therapy. With the help of a medical professional, the combination of medication and psychotherapy can help people with this personality disorder.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722 1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources:

“Sociopath X – ALL ABOUT SOCIOPATHS – Sociopathic Personality Disorder and Types.” D for Depression Depressive Psychological Disorders. Depression D, 2010. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.

By: Scout H