Book Review: You Can Feel Good Again (For Depression)

A fellow therapist recommended Richard Carlson’s book, You Can Feel Good Again: Commonsense Strategies For Releasing Unhappiness and Changing Your Life. I had asked her because she is a sex therapist and a couple I was seeing had a particular sexual issue. They did not want to change therapists, so I searched out the best possible advice that I was aware of. Instead of some complicated, family-of-origin work, which is what I expected, she recommended a book which falls into the Cognitive Behavioral approach. Now, here is the interesting part, before I get into the details of this book. The book is really targeted at combating depression and I told a client to read it whose depression didn’t seem to want to leave her. She read it and perkily texted me that she was doing fine and happy. So, whatever negatives I will say about this book — and there was really only one — I recommend it. I recommend it for –obsessive thoughts –depression –self-punishing thoughts –low self-esteem Highlights The author’s premise is that we control our thoughts. Thus, any negative thoughts we have are of our own invention and ought to have zero power over us. That makes complete sense to me and is in line with my work (which says that feelings are within our control because they begin with thoughts. On the other hand one of his points is that if you happen to be depressed, don’t think because that will make things worse. A wonderful point is that we are all capable of healthy thinking. In fact, before being messed up by adults, children...

What’s Wrong With Anger Management?

      Let’s say you were an alcoholic. Would it be better to be what the people in AA programs often call a “dry drunk,” i.e., someone who isn’t drinking but is white-knuckling it the whole time, or, on the other hand, someone who actually doesn’t even think about taking a drink?   The second person, if offered, could take it or leave it. I enjoy coffee, and am sure to have a cup every morning, but if someone offered it to me in the middle of the day, I might say, “No, thanks” because it just didn’t appeal to me at that moment. You see where I’m going? – The dry drunk wants that drink sooooo badly. The other person is not attached to his or her drink. The drink is pleasant at the right time and not of interest at other times. That “not attachment” is the ideal place for anger. It is useful at times and not at all of interest at other times. Times Anger Is Useful Anger at oneself may be useful. If you did something wrong, it is better to be really upset with yourself over it than to gloss over it as if it wasn’t important. Of course, there is another aspect of anger which is that there is an endpoint to even useful anger. Sometimes, enough is enough. We are not supposed to wallow in self-flagellation. Anger at another could also be useful. You love your child so much, that in your eyes he could do no wrong. But he just did wrong. You may have to work yourself up just a...

How to Get A Good Night Sleep

This was not new for him. It was 3 AM and Herb was wide awake. Forget the fact that he’d just gone to bed at midnight and that he was bone tired. His brain went into action: But what did Gloria mean? What if she really wants out of the relationship? But no, that can’t be because of what Brian said she said…… And on and on. His anxiety was in full control. A worrying mind flits from one branch of a decision tree down another. Every branch is visited and new ones sprout as the worrier looks. Each branch must be examined and re-examined. Yes, that’s part of it: revisit each worry again and yet again because there could be a new slant on an old situation that went unnoticed before. The new slants produce more doubts, more worries, more questions, more obsessive negative thoughts, and the entire tree must be explored again with the new slant in mind. The hours tick by and sleep is a gift of the past, the one thing that eludes the watchful eye of the worrier. Insomnia. This is not just a nocturnal thing; it goes on all day, getting in the way of relationships, work, driving, studying, and living. Our brains were not meant to function this way; it’s just not efficient. And it inhibits doing the very thing that seems to be hogging the controls: thinking. Paradoxically, when we stop worrying, we can easily get the answers we want. Here’s why: We are consciously aware of only a small fraction of what we experience. The rest gets filed somewhere in...

How Your Anxiety Hurts Your Spouse and Children

The snow was piling up and Maggie paced the floor. She was so anxious, she started to feel as though she were getting a heart attack. One time, she went to the E.R. thinking that she really was having some kind of cardiac episode but after a night full of tests, they told her she was “just” having a panic attack. Just. Harrumph. They should only have one and then see if they still have the nerve to say it’s “just” a panic attack, she thought. These things are not small potatoes. And now it was happening again. She kept looking out the window. “Where is he?” She repeated to herself almost like a mantra. “Where is he?” It started to look almost like a choreographed sequence: First, she’d look out the window; then she’d pace a little; then she’d repeat her question to no one there, and then back to the window. When Ethan walked in the door, she shrieked. Then Maggie threw her hands over her face and burst into tears. Ethan was 1 hr. 15 min late. Given the weather conditions, that wasn’t bad. But for Maggie, the first minute he was not home on time, the worrying began. Ethan cradled her in his arms. They’d been through this before. “It’s a good thing you married me,” he crooned, “because I understand you.” “Yes, you do,” Maggie sobbed, “so you know why I got frantic when you weren’t home on time.” Your Anxiety Hurts Others Ethan smiled benignly. He could afford to be relaxed. After all, he knew where he’d been. He only got equally upset...
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