Monday, May 30, 2011

Nature and Nurture

I'm not going down the path of debate of whether people are born crazy or made that way.

For one thing, we already know what causes many mental disorders, so that makes it relatively easy to point fingers (or not, depending).

For another thing, there are plenty of Freudians who will come out of the woodwork and say it's all from childhood experiences, that even people who are born crazy might learn to repress it...(?) And anti-Freudians will follow them out of the woodwork and scoff.

So this post isn't going to take a side.

But here's the situation. A few weeks back, I mentioned a young lady I'd met with the purpose of risk assessment, who I had the unsettling experience of diagnosing as anti-social. (To say the least.)

Her history, in a nutshell:
- Put in temporary foster care at age 4.
- Father committed suicide when she was 5.
- Mother's boyfriend abused her physically from age 6 to 9. Given later information, I am inclined to believe that sexual abuse was part of the deal.
- Put in foster care again at age 9.
- Bounced between foster homes and mother's house between age10 and age 15.
- Ran away at age 16, began a string of petty crimes - shoplifting, fights, vandalism, harassment, and bullying.
- By age 19, was known in three counties and had restraining orders against her by two different people whom she had stalked and had altercations with.
- At age 21, has been in fights with "friends" and "boyfriends" and caused enough physical harm that victims required medical attention. Those fights also resulted in multiple arrests. She has been on suicide watch twice while in custody. She has been diagnosed as "depressed" and given anti-depressants, which she refuses to take. When talking about activities she claims to enjoy, there is the same flat affect. The only time her eyes light up is when she talks about previous instances of causing injury to others, or when threatening it to a pet.

So, you tell me. There's a lot missing from the picture, obviously. Based on the information available, though, my gut instinct is that her childhood sucked, nobody really did much about it, and she learned to discount feelings and values as a survival skill. She's numb beyond belief from not allowing herself to feel hurt or scared, so the only way she can experience those is second-hand, when she creates those feelings in others. It's the only thing she's been able to control for years.

As a grad student, I did a diagnosis on "Patient X" for a forensic psychology course. The family history alone on my patient was heart-breaking and horrific. The neglect was shameful, but the repeated pronouncements by the parents of being unloved were beyond cruel. I scored well, but it was little consolation; this was a real person, after all. I won't give the name here. I will just say that it was a mass murderer, and after everything I learned, I believe that every crime he was charged with could have been prevented.

I don't discount the idea that some people are born evil. I believe in evil, and there are people out there that appear to confirm the idea. Not this guy. It was an eye-opening experience, and while I still feel bad for his victims, I can only imagine what it was like for this man, living in a hell of emotional and mental anguish, twinges of pain from old physical abuse, and daily despair.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Summer Coaching Programs

The words "Boot Camp" really seem hot right now. I think there's something appealing to an intense but short program. With that in mind, I tweaked a couple aspects of my normal coaching and created two Boot Camps for summer, plus two other short-term programs.

If you're jumping on the Boot Camp bandwagon, here's what's on tap for summer:

This is a boot camp for goal-seekers. In essence, a 30-Day Challenge. You can start any day through July 2 and the entire 30 days (with daily contacts and weekly sessions) is $68 - a savings of over 40%.

The other boot camp for anyone who needs a boost with prioritizing and organizing home, work, activities, and time. At the end of 30 days, you'll have a streamlined plan that's simpler and less stressful. This one is $78 and includes plenty of planning templates and lists - but also over 40% off.

Ideal for at-home, one-person businesses. Let's work on your written business plan, construct an indentifiable business image through your marketing materials, and make the most of free (or insanely inexpensive) marketing and client retention programs! Free consultation (of course), and then $24 per session.

Optimize your mental health. I apply a holistic approach to help you minimize your risk of memory problems, defend against depression, and decrease physical effects of stress and anxiety. Be healthier and happier. This is about a 90-minute session on the phone or face-to-face, $27 for most of you. If you're a Maricopa resident, congratulations - you're my neighbor and I'll share this information with you for FREE through July 30.

As always, you can email me or call 480 273 1357. Have a great summer!