Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness month, though, I’d like to think that through a steady drip of conversations about mental health, and that includes compulsive use of substances and other behaviors, that we will become as alert to symptoms of inner unrest as we are of the common cold.  Few things stick in my craw more than careless tossing around of mental health conditions for the purpose of fending off personal responsibility in relationships.

If you are saying that your partner, parent, boss, whomever, is:




Always the Victim


In denial

Passive Aggressive


Self Centered

Overly sensitive

Ad infinitum

Ask yourself if, in fact, by labeling the other in these ways you, yourself, are deflecting responsibility for your own actions, what you say, and how you react to others?

Are these labels simply a defense against being somehow in the wrong?  And, if so, what is so wrong about being in the wrong?

My mother always used to remind us as we were growing up to “taste your words before you spit them out”.  While it is unrealistic to believe we are always going to be perfectly circumspect in our words, it is always good practice to continue to be open to new levels of awareness of what we are actually doing and saying.

Be well.




This is a Gem

I continue to advocate for trauma-informed treatment of  addictions behavior attachments and ferreting out terms and expressions that serve more to blame, shame, and judge than to facilitate understanding of what is the unacknowledged driver of compulsive use of chemicals or behaviors to achieve perceived wellness.

I came across this blog and its effective blasting of the term “enabler”.  When bandied about by therapists, the judgmental flavor of the term is unavoidable.  Among 12 steppers there seems to be a sort of satisfaction in labeling someone in this way, but professionals?  We are above labeling.  This one term, among others I have written about is banished from my clinical vocabulary.  Gone.  Poof.

Today, I just put the finishing touches on a webinar presentation that, it is presumed, will contribute to the movement toward establishing trauma-informed practices in treating the attachments.  How many are truly aware that most substance abuse “treatment” programs fail to assess for complex trauma?  This is mind blowing, especially when it has been determined that nearly 3/4 of all the “addicted population” carry a significant trauma history.

All it takes is asking 10 simple questions interspersed within a full assessment to determine the extent to which complex trauma has contributed to the behavior.  Ten Questions.

And I digress.

Enabling is surviving in a world that requires constant vigilance that results in a state of chronic distress.  This is a good read.  Good for building empathy and broadening understanding of complex trauma.

Stop Nurturing Your Inner Child

We can thank John Bradshaw (Healing the Shame That Binds You) and  other progenitors of the so-called “Recovery Movement” who from out of the drug induced haze of the 1980’s convinced the masses that we are Diseased, Dysfunctional, Co-Dependent, In Denial, Adult Children, Addicts.  “Inner Child” work became implicit in the 12 Steps and it somehow was able to very surreptitiously shift personal responsibility from the recoveree to their families of origin whose parenting styles neglected the needs of the blessed Inner Child. It’s almost embarrassing to note the number of therapists who  fed into this Inner Child business.   Many were remunerated  handsomely  for spreading the New Age Gospel of  disease and victimhood.  Admittedly, I have to count myself among the masses who were bedazzled by the feel-good, warm and fuzzy messages that were promises of healing to an inner being that, as I see it now, does not exist, at least to the extent of the energy devoted to its care.

The other day I was a bit irritated to hear a client of mine report that her very well-meaning family member (in recovery) continued to harp away that she, my client, was not doing any “inner child” work.   This resulted in my hard working client’s questioning the value of her success in our work together.    Oh, the value of the “reframe” in explaining that all the Trauma work we had done could be seen as “Inner Child” work and that if she wanted to call it that, then we would.  She was driving the therapy bus, after all.  In the end, I was rather tickled at her response when she said that having read Bradshaw, she thought he was “pretty whiney” and couldn’t  really wrap her expanding self appreciation around his “wimpy message”.

Up to this point, I had not given Inner Child work much of a second thought, but I was so dumfounded that the term was still out there I did a bit of reading and assimilating of my own accumulated knowledge and experience in my work with Posttraumatic Stress using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, to re-imagine what the heck an inner child is.

Here it is.

The Inner Child is actually an Inner Bully.  A wolf in sheep’s clothing, one metaphor trumping another metaphor.  In my experience, there are probably several Inner Bullies whose sole function is to elbow their way into the front of our consciousness and to interfere with the process of our maturation  into adults.  They have a way of preventing us from behaving in a way that instills pride, reward, and empathy for our fellow travelers.

These little monsters, as I would call them, appear with a goodly amount of predictability in times of stress when decisions, choices, actions, and consequences require a steady hand to navigate, and they make it nearly impossible to think logically and with circumspect.  Their messages, aka, maladaptive thoughts, incite strong and toxic emotions upon which many have learned to react with excessive use of chemicals, gambling, binge eating, cutting, shopping, or sex, just to show the tip of the ice burg.

Not good enough.

Don’t fit.

Have to be perfect.

If something goes wrong, it’s my fault.

I’m a total failure.

The emotions that are aroused are powerful.








There is a physiological response:  We feel it in our gut, throat, heart, head, throughout our whole body.

In my estimation, the force behind these arousals is no innocent child.  There are a growing number out there who are coming up with the same conclusion.

9 Ways to Shush Your Inner Bully:

Casting Out The Inner Bully

Many have developed the cognitive skills needed to muffle the sound and effect of the Inner Bully and are able to circumnavigate their false readings.

Many are simply not able to resist.  This is where good solid work with a therapist can help.