Meet Nutmeg, The Worlds Oldest Cat

This tabby kittie, who is a contender to be the world’s oldest cat, has just celebrated his 31st birthday (that’s an equivalent of 141 in human years). His name is Nutmeg and he chose his

Source: Meet Nutmeg, The Worlds Oldest Cat

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The Still Face Experiment (with an observation about Caylee Anthony).

I was reminded of the Still Face video again today and think it’s so important because it shows how vital attachment is to develop a healthy sense of self. Watch how quickly this child in the experiment notices the mother’s lack of mirroring and how hard she tries to make an emotional connection.


Caylee Anthony and Casey Anthony

I was watching some Caylee Anthony videos that were filmed by her mother Casey before she murdered her daughter.   The lack of interaction with Caylee in these videos is very creepy and disturbing.  Casey apparently didn’t physically abuse her daughter (at least not anything that could be readily seen), but was starving her emotionally.  She would sit and film her daughter but not interact with her at all.  You can see Caylee reacting in ways very similar to the baby in the Still Face video experiment,except that Caylee almost never cried, which make you wonder if she had already partly given up.

In this video, you can see how frustrated and confused Caylee is.


Lucky Otters Haven

Here is a dramatic video that shows how powerful the lack of mirroring is on an infant. It’s amazing how quickly the baby in this video notices the mother’s lack of affect and responds negatively to it. This is at the root of attachment disorders in children and most personality disorders, especially Cluster B. Without appropriate mirroring a child can’t develop empathy because it has never been modeled for them.

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Melatonin will give you weird dreams.

Credit:  In Eredia’s Room

I’ve been taking melatonin (a natural hormone produced by the human pineal gland that controls the sleep/wake cycle and circadian rhythms) to control my SAD symptoms.  It’s working, but there is a side effect — very weird and vivid dreams.    This isn’t as unpleasant as it seems.  Some of the dreams are interesting, if not entirely pleasant.   One I had last night seemed important enough I’m going to talk about it in therapy this week.  I was still half asleep when I scribbled it down so I would remember later.

There’s a reason for this.  Scientific evidence has shown that melatonin releases small amounts of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) from the pineal gland.  DMT is a powerful (actually the most powerful) psychedelic drug, and also the only one that is naturally produced in the human (and other mammalian) brain and is likely responsible for both dreaming and near-death experiences (NDE’s).

Melatonin is fairly safe and won’t make you high or cause you to trip.  But if you want to remember your dreams more easily or have more interesting dreams, it might just do the trick.  You might not get as much sleep though, because you’ll be waking up from dreams more often.   It has been effective for my SAD.  I haven’t felt as depressed since I’ve been taking it, even though I’m probably getting less sleep.

Even though it’s available without a prescription, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any hormonal supplement.

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Pink Paradise: Lake Hillier, Australia


When I first saw these pictures of Lake Hillier, a saline (salt) lake located in Middle Island, Western Australia, I thought they were Photoshopped, but they are quite real.   I think this lake is fascinating.   It looks like it could be on another planet.





Here is a short article I found that describes how it gets its bright pink color (edited and shortened).

In Australia, precisely in Middle Island, there is a lake that can amaze anyone who visit it. The lake is named Lake Hillier. The unique color of the lake is the primary attraction for tourists that come to visit. The pink color is thought to come from the micro-organism Dunaliella salina and Halobacteria, but some say that the pink color caused by red halophilic bacteria in high concentrations salt.

In Australia, Lake Hillier became a favorite destination for tourists. Pink water in Lake Hillier is safe if exposed to human skin. Travelers who come here can play in the water or even swim freely.  Because the location of Lake Hillier is in the middle of the wilderness and the size is more than 600 meters, Lake Hillier can only be seen fully from the air. Lake Hillier was discovered in 1802 by British explorer Matthew Flinders.  Hillier is not the only one lake that have a pink color in the world. Lake Retba in Senegal also has the same color as Lake Hillier.

Lake Hillier – Magical Pink Lake of Australia ! |

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Why don’t we have single-payer healthcare?


Today I am going to rant on my son’s behalf (and everyone else who has to deal with this sort of thing).

My son wrote this letter to Aetna.  I think it speaks for itself.  Those of you in developed countries besides the Untied United States of America don’t have to deal with this kind of BS.  But this is the kind of thing we, who have “the greatest healthcare in the world,” (right, maybe if you’re rich) have to put up with constantly.    From 2009 – 2013, I worked in the health insurance industry processing and adjusting claims, and trust me, it gets a LOT worse than this.  Obama hasn’t made things worse; it’s been this bad for decades.  Of course, things were a little better back in the ’80s and ’90s  when companies actually used to care about their employees and provided decent health coverage at little cost to most full-time employees, regardless of their ranking on the corporate ladder.

NO ONE should have to jump through hoops like this to get mental health or any other kind of healthcare.   This is enough to cause someone to develop a mental disorder!  If we had single-payer healthcare, LIKE EVERY OTHER DEVELOPED NATION,  this probably would not have happened and he would still be able to get psychotherapy in spite of having lost his employment and with a lot less confusion and headaches.  I know single-payer healthcare isn’t perfect and has its own drawbacks, but it sure beats a healthcare system that’s based on profit and exploits those who are physically or mentally ill so a few rich doctors and health insurance executives can buy second or third homes or a new yacht.   Oh, but wait!  We can’t have that because it’s (gasp!) socialism!  The Market is God!

Healthcare shouldn’t be tied up with employment anyway.  If you get sick enough that you can’t work, you will probably lose your job anyway and lose your insurance when you need it most.  Most companies won’t even pay for employee health benefits anymore, or they only give you 39 hours instead of 40, so they don’t have to give you health coverage since anything less than 40 hours is considered “part time.”   Not all states have extended Medicaid to those who don’t earn enough to qualify for Obamacare .

There are free clinics in some urban areas, but trust me, they’re not very good (and some are terrible) and treat you like you’re less than human.  It’s very degrading to have to use one and be treated with condescension by some snotty nurse-practitioner who probably isn’t making enough to feed her own family. I pay for my own counseling out of pocket, even though my earnings are at or below the official poverty level.    I do it because I need to and it’s that important to me, but it leaves little to nothing left for anything else.  I just have to pray I don’t get sick.

Here is the letter he wrote.


Here was the faxed letter he received which is described above.





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Reparenting a Psychopath: is it possible?

I’m skeptical about this, and there are VERY few therapists even trained in this, but if it could work, it would be a great (and very expensive!) way to rehabilitate hardened criminals and deter crime. The speaker in this video (Dr. David Bernstein) is riveting.  One thing’s for sure–you’d have to have nerves of steel to make a career out of this.

The only “easy” thing about the patients Dr. Bernstein treats are that they’re not difficult to get into therapy, since these are forensic patients who are already in prison.   They can’t quit when things get uncomfortable.   Such is not the case with most NPDs, who usually aren’t in prison and don’t often seek out therapy for themselves.

Down the Rabbit Hole

David Bernstein thinks it is.  Here he talks about using schema therapy/reparenting techniques to tap into a psychopath’s vulnerable/childlike side. He has worked with forensic patients with psychopathy and ASPD for many years and insists they do have such a side.

We’re not even talking about narcissists here, but psychopaths, who are not supposed to have any soft emotions and make narcissists look like a walk in the park in comparison.  But Bernstein thinks that if a psychopath’s vulnerable side can be tapped into  (which occasionally appears randomly and he gives three examples he’s seen among his forensic patients) then perhaps empathy and remorse can be taught.

I’m really skeptical, but it’s interesting and would be great if it could work–especially as crime deterrent and a way to rehabilitate hardened criminals.  From what I’ve heard, only a very, very few therapists (concentrated in the New York City area) are even…

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Book Review: “PurgeAtory” by Brieanne K. Tanner

purgatory purgatory2

A friend I met on Twitter, a young woman named Brieanne Tanner, has had an interesting life.  It’s been a crazy and enlightening journey in every sense.

In her first book, PurgeAtory: You Can Purge Your Karma, she tells the story of Liv, a fictional woman whose life experiences are based on Brieanne’s own.  Liv’s memoir-like tale starts with a near-tragedy, the suicide attempt of her sullen and rather antisocial golden-child Kurt Cobain-lookalike brother, Reid.  Liv, an INFJ–introverted, dark, artistic, and introspective–is the scapegoat in her narcissistic family, ignored by her father and constantly berated by her mother who can’t or won’t appreciate her daughter’s unique qualities.

A turning point arrives at a party at which Liv is given a date-rape drug and the unthinkable happens.   Liv grows into adolescence hardened and cynical but still open to new experiences.  She’s Gen-X personified–embracing her generation’s ’90s incarnation of who-cares grungy, gothic edginess.  She worships the Cure, the Grateful Dead, and Nirvana, wears loose black clothing, and writes dark angsty poetry.

Later, she loses herself (and sometimes finds herself) in music and for awhile, psychedelic drugs–and meets a lot of odd, scary, and unforgettable people along the way.   She suffers great losses and seems to have lived the life of an 80 year old even though she is only in her early 30s.

Through a new mentor, Liv finally discovers yoga and begins to write, and finds both of these activities to be cathartic and healing.  She begins to contemplate her own karma and the meaning of everything that has previously happened.

I won’t say more about Liv’s story so as not to spoil anything–you just have to read it for yourself.   It’s one woman’s spiritual and emotional journey from an abusive childhood to wellness and wholeness.  It’s about fulfilling one’s destiny and moving on from the limitations of the past without forgetting their lessons.  It’s a story about narcissistic abuse that is so much more than that.

PurgeAtory is not long–just 83 pages and even includes a glossary.  It’s a mix of short essays, vignettes, poetry, drawings, and profound and sometimes funny ruminations about loving and living life to the fullest.

I recommend this book to all survivors of narcissistic abuse, and all survivors of just having lived life, which is itself a potentially traumatic experience.  You don’t have to be into yoga or Eastern religion or a member of Generation X to appreciate and learn from Brieanne’s message of hope and healing.

PurgeAtory is available for purchase on Amazon.

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Dear Father…

“Dear Father” by Taming the Tiger

I usually shy away from anything too spiritual or religious, because I do realize many of my readers are atheist, agnostic, or of differing faiths–and I respect their right to believe as they wish.   But today in church when the priest asked us to “add our own prayers,” I felt inspired to pray a particular prayer that has great meaning to me, for a myriad of reasons.   I would like to share it here, so maybe others can join me in prayer for these things that are so important to me.


Dear Father,

You have created us all in your own image. I don’t believe you have left anyone out of your great bounty and the hope for eternal life, in spite of what some Christians and others believe.      I don’t believe that Christ’s death on the cross was a “limited atonement” meant only for a select few (as Calvinists believe).   I believe he died for us all, and offers all of us the chance for redemption and healing, no matter how hopeless things may seem.

PTSD, C-PTSD, and narcissistic abuse survivors.

God, please shower your grace and compassion on all victims of narcissistic abuse and all people suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD, that they may find comfort in your arms and be able to trust again, realize that there is still goodness in the world, and eventually, that they may find loving, healthy relationships and friendships that do not turn abusive.  Many survivors have turned to you when everyone else seemed to be turning away from them and rejecting them, and found that you were there and were listening.  But many, especially if they were rejected or scapegoated by their own families, are so damaged they have trouble trusting anyone at all, even You.   Please give them the courage to turn to you when things are at their darkest and it seems like they have no allies.  Please help them to trust you, and to heal from abuse, regain their sense of self worth and self-esteem,  and be whole and happy again. Please show them that what happened to them didn’t happen in vain, and that they are so much stronger than they realize because of the adversity they had to face.  Please let them feel the loving arms of Jesus Christ holding and protecting them from harm.  Guide them on the path to become whole again, and to use what they learned to help others heal, should that be your will for them.

Also, although anger is a necessary stage of healing (in order to leave an abusive situation or person), please allow victims who become trapped in their anger and hatred to be able to move on from it, because only then will healing be possible.   I’ve seen too many survivors who remain so mired in rage that they take on the traits of their abusers and acquire a victim mentality that does not allow them to move forward in their journey to healing.

As for myself, please don’t let me stray from the path you have set me on, which is beginning to be revealed to me. Please don’t allow me to become bogged down by envy, selfishness, or pride.   Don’t allow me to let my own will get in the way of what you have planned for me, for whenever I have forced my own will, it always turned out to be all wrong.

People with NPD, BPD and other Cluster B disorders.

God, please show these broken people who have made so many bad choices and act out toward others–usually because as children they were shamed for their own vulnerability by abusive caregivers or parents–that they do not need to rely on primitive defense mechanisms, abusive or aggressive behavior, or a “false self” in order to survive and be happy.   Please show them the beauty of their own inner vulnerability and that being sensitive can be a great strength and is never a weakness.   Please lift the scales from their eyes and show them that the things they have learned to believe about themselves and others are lies–and the truth is the opposite of what they have always believed.  Please remove the fear and shame  keeps them trapped inside cold, dark walls that separate them from their own vulnerability and the light of your grace.   If there’s a glimmer of their original soul left in them, please help that spark grow like a mustard seed within them and burn away the darkness that surrounds it.  Make them aware that their defense mechanisms are only allowing them to live the stunted, painful life of an emotional cripple, and that by jettisoning authentic feeling, they also jettison love, empathy and joy. With fewer people with narcissism and other “predatory” disorders in the world, there will be fewer abuse victims too.

In particular, please make my mother aware of what has happened to her (due to no fault of her own) and what she became, even at her very advanced age.   Even if it’s too late for her to be healed, at least remove the scales from her eyes and allow her the grace of redemption.

Our increasingly narcissistic society. 

Over the past 30 – 40 years, our western society–especially in America–has become increasingly cold, callous, lacking in empathy and compassion, materialistic, hubristic, and narcissistic.   Wealth and power are valued over compassion and love.   Individual achievement is valued over community involvement.   Greed and an “I got mine!” attitude is valued over altruism and compassion for the less fortunate.

Even families buy into this lie to the point of scapegoating family members who fail to “keep up” (or who are vulnerable or attempt to expose the family dysfunction).    Intolerance of those who are different, hatred, and racism abound.   Every day people die because they are the wrong color, wrong religion, or have a lifestyle that the Powers That Be believe is wrong.  Our society is like a huge dysfunctional family, complete with its narcissistic and abusive leaders, its golden children, and its scapegoats.  This should not be the case.  God,  please heal the hatred and fear that permeate our society and keeps people from being neighborly and charitable toward one another.  Please make dysfunctional families whole and healthy again, and give the scapegoats of both society and of dysfunctional families relief from their suffering and pain.  Make “the least of these” realize they are as worthwhile and valuable to you as the powerful ruling class who seems to have every earthly thing.

I ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Trying to appreciate fall.


Appreciating fall isn’t easy for me.   It’s my worst time of year and when my SAD is at its worst.   I find fall depressing, for reasons I’ve already discussed in this post.

Most of the trees around here aren’t very pretty in the fall.   In my part of the country, we don’t get too many of the brilliant fall colors that so many people crow on endlessly about. Every year, no matter what the summer weather has been like, the trees change from green to dull brown or sometimes this ugly shade of maroon and finally to bare.   It’s a depressing sight, and I’m not a fall holiday sort of person at all so that doesn’t make up for anything.   I don’t see what the big deal is about pumpkins and why everyone gets so excited about them.   They’re just an overgrown squash and nearly inedible too.  (Gourds are a little better because they’re more interesting looking).

My dislike of fall is weird because during my teens and 20s, fall was actually my favorite season.   I don’t know when this began to change.  I also don’t remember what I liked so much about it.  Maybe I never really did, and just convinced myself I loved fall because all my friends did and liking fall was considered much cooler than liking spring.  Only old people liked spring best.  Or so it seemed at the time.  But I really am kind of old now, so I don’t have to feel guilty about liking spring best anymore.

I’m trying to like fall.   I really am.   The weather is pleasant, at least through early November (then it’s all downhill).   We do have a few colorful maples here and there.   There are actually quite a few at the shopping center where I was this morning (probably planted there on purpose for their colors).    I decided to pick up a few of the fallen leaves that are actually showing pretty colors and arranged them on a black velvet pillow for this picture.

This coming Friday, October 21, the foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be at its peak, and I’ve taken the day off work anyway, so I plan to drive up there and just try to appreciate the fall scenery and spend some time in nature before the dreary November rains come and finally winter is once again upon us.

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Donald Trump, narcissism and diagnosis as political sport.

There have been many articles written about Donald Trump’s alleged NPD, some written by bona fide mental health professionals, others by armchair wannabe psychologists–but this is the first one I’ve read that actually talks about Trump’s strange and painful childhood and his spotty memory of important events in his early life–and the surreal way this rather tragic figure (in spite of his billions) is now self destructing in front of the whole world.   This entire election has been like a huge reality show — and no doubt the end of the show will prove to be very bit as dramatic.

Donald Trump, Narcissism, and Diagnosis as a Political Sport

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Southeastern Livestock Pavillion on October 12, 2016 in Ocala, Florida. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2016

The consensus as to Donald Trump’s psychiatric issues is nearly unanimous. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” according to clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, quoted in Vanity Fair. He is just one of many who have reached the same conclusion. Noting his motor mouth, chronic inability to pay attention and shockingly deficient impulse control, others diagnosed Trump as a severe case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter for his 1987 bestseller, The Art of the Deal, reported that his client had no attention span and fidgeted “like a kindergartner who cannot sit still.”

In an election cycle where a candidate has been accused of unprecedented misconduct, including the latest allegations of sexual assault by multiple women, psychiatrists are bypassing the long-held professional standard, called the Goldwater rule, which stipulates that no psychologist should make a diagnosis of a person he or she has not examined face-to-face.

As a stressed electorate tries to make sense of a campaign unlike any other, they’re demanding to know: What is the root of Trump’s bizarre displays?

Making inferences about someone’s mental health is common sport with public figures. We don’t have the same data a psychiatrist or psychologist might have, but as candidates’ histories are revealed in biographical articles or books, and their behaviours are scrutinized in public forums, certain patterns become clear.

What we perceive as the adult personality often reflects compensations a helpless child unwittingly adopted in order to survive. Such adaptations can become wired into the brain, persisting into adulthood. Underneath all psychiatric categories, Trump manifests childhood trauma. His opponent Hillary Clinton evinces her own history of early suffering, even if milder and far more muted in its impact.

The ghostwriter Schwartz reports that Trump had no recollection of his youth. There is always a reason for such amnesia. People have poor recall of their childhoods when they found reality so painful that their minds had to push memories into the unconscious. “I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see,” Trump admitted to a biographer.

According to biographers, Trump’s father was a workaholic, a ruthless, cold and authoritarian man who believed life is a competition where the “killers” win.

Donald’s elder brother drove himself into alcoholism, a common escape from pain, and to an early death. The younger, favoured child is now self-destructing on the world stage.

Lying is such an endemic aspect of Donald Trump’s personality that he does so almost helplessly and reflexively. “Lying is second nature to him,” Tony Schwartz told The New Yorker. “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”

Read the rest of this article here.

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