News Blog

ASSERTION IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM AGGRESSION

  In previous blogs I have written about how anxiety nearly always arises from stressful life events (SLEs). These SLEs often have their origins in childhood, when we have little control over our lives. In such circumstances, children learn that the way they can best survive is through a combination of compliance, secrecy, deceit and manipulation. As they move into adolescence and become stronger and more capable, these strategies often flip into aggression. This occurs, for example, when there is a severe altercation and the teenager is physically large enough to fight back against an abusive parent.  Under pressure, the…

Anxiety should never lead to hospitalisation

  A study released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare this week shows the extent of anxiety in Australia. Anxiety disorders are now the leading cause of ill health among girls and women aged between 5 and 44. The report in The Age was illustrated by the story of an 18-year old woman who had been hospitalised for her chronic anxiety (The Age, Friday 22 June 2018, pp. 6-7). Stories like this break my heart. When anxiety is properly treated, it can be nipped in the bud. It should never lead to hospitalisation. During stressful life events our…

WHEN THE CURE BECOMES PART OF THE PROBLEM

  I have been watching interviews with a Canadian kidney specialist called Dr Jason Fung about the diabetes epidemic in the western world. He argues that the mainstream cure of diabetes is part of the problem. He puts a pretty strong case. Fung compares the progress of diabetes treatment to computers. A mobile phone today has ten times the computing power of a computer the size of a room in the 1960s. By comparison, if we imagine that the diabetes problem in the 1960s took up the space of a room, then it takes up an entire office block today. In…

Exercise your way out of anxiety

  One of the first things I do with every client is to put them on a regular exercise regime. It’s healthier than drugs, it’s cheaper than drugs, and in the long term it’s more effective than drugs. When we experience stressful life events, our brains release Corticotrophin Releasing Factor (CRF), a hormone which speeds up the neural firing in our brains.  Our brains do this to help us become more vigilant and motivated. In the distant past this was helpful because we needed to become more motivated to find solutions to stressful life events like food or water shortages….

STOP PAYING ATTENTION TO ANXIETY AND IT GOES AWAY

  In my experience, many people first seek professional help for anxiety when they have experienced panic attacks, which often involve feelings of dread and terror. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fast heart rate, sweating, shakes and dizziness. In my Smart Therapy (ST) approach, people must learn to stop paying any attention whatsoever to their panic attack symptoms. All awareness of rapid heart rate, sweats or shakes is slipped immediately out of focussed attention and into peripheral attention. It is essential to show complete DISINTEREST in the panic attack symptoms. Instead people must immerse their full focussed attention into constructive activities like mental…

CRY YOUR EYES OUT – SADNESS IS NOT A PATHOLOGY

  I am astonished in my practice at how many people come to me having been placed on anti-depressants because they are unhappy. Their unhappiness arises from understandable causes –stressful life events such as the break-up of a relationship, death or serious illness, physical or emotional insult, and even the experience of blocked opportunity and being unable to progress in a career. Sadness is normal. It is part of the human condition. It is the other side of happiness. If we do not know sadness, we cannot know happiness either. Yet nowadays there is very low tolerance of sadness. People…

STRESSFUL LIFE EVENTS ALMOST ALWAYS CAUSE ANXIETY

  I have been seeing people for anxiety now since 1994. That is, almost 25 years of clients. I’m not sure how many people that amounts to, but it is in the thousands.  In all of these years, I have never seen a single client who has not had some type of stressful life event that was associated with the onset of anxiety. Sometimes it is childhood bullying. Sometimes it is a death in the family. Sometimes it is a relationship breakup. Sometimes it is a blocked career. But there is always something that caused the client deep distress and…

There are always solutions

As hard as life can be, there is no need to take actions from which there is no return!     Many years ago, I saw a young police officer in my work.  He told me that he was called to a bridge with no safety barriers, because a man was on the outside of the railings, completely out of control, screaming ‘I WANT TO DIE, DON’T TRY TO STOP ME, I’M GOING TO JUMP’.  The young police officer gradually moved closer and closer until he was right near the suicidal man.  At that point the man either slipped or…

TANTRUMS DON’T SOLVE ANYTHING!

Letting ourselves lose control is often why we’re miserable.     After more than 20 years working as a clinical psychologist at the Smart Therapy Centre, I find the single main reason why people present for help when they are unhappy and often miserable is because they (over and over again) give themselves permission to lose control. It might be allowing themselves to scream, overeat, kick someone, collapse when things get hard, drink excessively, hide and refuse to go out, take drugs or allow their anxious and depressive mentations to escalate into panic. Whatever the behaviour – the cause is the…

BE ACCOUNTABLE!

In the end, all of us, are the sum of our decisions.      Take a look at two 60 year-old men. One is a dreadful role model: unwell (almost dead), overweight, boring, lacking in curiosity, retired and isolated and narrow-minded. Unpleasant to be around. The other is an inspiring role model: fit, healthy and full of vitality, interesting, a repository of knowledge, working, engaged and open-minded.  An inspiration to be around. Some would say they were born that way. I’d say they made different life decisions. One was accountable to himself and the other one was not. No excuses! Don’t take the easy way out…