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Peter Michaelson is an author, blogger, and psychotherapist in Plymouth, MI. He believes that better understanding of depth psychology reduces the fear, passivity, and denial of citizens, making us more capable of maintaining and growing our democracy while flourishing in our personal life.
Tormented Mothers, Endangered Babies
Thousands of mothers are plagued on a daily basis by intrusive thoughts in which they imagine or see themselves doing harm to their children. Scientists attribute such maternal mental health problems to an interplay of genes, stress, hormones, and disrupted brain chemistry. But these experts are failing to see or appreciate the role that inner conflict plays in creating this mental and emotional suffering.
Friday, March 7, 2014(1 comments)
Stressed Out in America
Some stress is unavoidable, of course, given life's many challenges. Yet stress is also produced unwittingly within us, often to a degree that becomes quite painful.
Friday, February 28, 2014(1 comments)
Four Steps to Stifle Our Inner Critic
The inner critic produces much of humanity's anxiety, fear, and depression. It can operate inside us like a cruel aggressive tyrant whose intent is to rule our life. Subduing or taming it can be the most heroic thing we ever do.
Friday, February 7, 2014(5 comments)
Cognitive Therapy's Distorted Thinking
Students aren't getting their money's worth from a widely used, very expensive psychology textbook. The results could be devastating down the road for mental-health treatment.
Friday, January 31, 2014(3 comments)
Indecisive No More
There's something important that chronically indecisive people need to understand: They're not actually interested in making a decision. . . Read on for the explanation.
Friday, December 13, 2013(2 comments)
Free Yourself from Inner Conflict
People tend to think inner conflict is about making a difficult conscious decision. According to conventional thinking, that decision can range from choosing a style of shoes to more serious considerations such as a career move to another city or the compromise of one's integrity over an ethical issue. But much more significant are the unconscious varieties of inner conflict.
Friday, December 6, 2013(1 comments)
Curbing Our Appetite for Brutality
How do we acquire greatness? Mandela's power to do good was rooted in his charisma and love. If we are to be liberators like him, we presumably have to shed our negativity, fear, anger, malice, and violent instincts. We have to liberate our self from the darkness within.
Friday, November 22, 2013(1 comments)
How Worriers Unconsciously Chose to Suffer
Worriers "play" a game of self-deceit. They think their worries are appropriate, but they have a hidden reason for their worries: They're making an inner choice to entertain or recycle old unresolved negative emotions.
Saturday, October 12, 2013(7 comments)
Haters of Barack Obama and Malala Yousafzai
Hateful people hang out in the company of a tenacious trio: denial, resistance, and willful ignorance. They cling to their limited sense of self, embrace the status-quo, and stifle their own inner growth. They are inclined to dislike if not hate anyone who, unlike them, is not suffocating from closed minds and hearts.
Monday, June 17, 2013(4 comments)
The Love Song of the Self
For our purposes, the precise nature of the self is not the main concern. What really matters is our experience of being that self. Is the experience pleasant or unpleasant? To what degree does that experience help us in regulating our emotions and behaviors? As we connect more with this self, we feel more pleasure in the simple fact of our existence.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013(3 comments)
Finding Inner Longitude
A growing number of scientists believe that psychiatry needs an entirely new paradigm for understanding mental and emotional health, though they can't say what that new knowledge and system would look like. Here's something for them and all of us to consider.
Rebutting 9/11 Conspiracy Beliefs
Legions of people around the world still cling to the belief that powerful individuals in the United States government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. More than ever, we need to discern what's real and true about the events and circumstances of modern life. Unresolved emotions can clutter our mind, obstructing access to objectivity and wisdom.
Monday, April 29, 2013(1 comments)
Achieving Inner Freedom
People who have achieved substantial political freedom can still be sorely lacking in psychological freedom. We're likely to feel like prisoners of fate when emotional conflicts limit our creativity and potential.
Monday, April 22, 2013(4 comments)
The Mysterious Allure of Kinky Sex
Kinky sex in a playful setting doesn't have to be a big deal in itself, providing one can take it or leave it. But behind the scenes, deep in our psyche, sexual arousal that is sadistically or masochistically produced tells a remarkable story about human nature.
Monday, April 15, 2013(1 comments)
Hooked on Deprivation
People who are lacking in generosity are likely to be entangled to some degree in emotional conflict. That conflict produces negative emotions that shut down the impulse to be generous. Conversely, people who are being generous are less burdened, at least in that moment, by the inner conflict and resulting negative emotions that plague our psyche.
Men's Resistance to Women's Empowerment
Women are up against two forms of oppression: first, the oppression from men and the patriarchal order, and, second, the oppression they inflict upon themselves in the form of self-doubt and self-denial. (This post deals with the first oppression, and a later post will deal with the second.)
Monday, March 18, 2013(5 comments)
The Missing Link in OCD
Experts attribute obsessive-compulsive disorder to various sources such as genetic factors and dysfunctional brain processes, as well as allergies and other sensory problems that produce anxiety and stress. Yet a common cause of OCD--inner passivity in the human psyche--is hardly ever mentioned. The fingerprint of inner passivity can be found on all the common expressions of OCD.
Monday, March 4, 2013(4 comments)
A Hidden Reason for Suicidal Thoughts
An inner weakness in our psyche, one that goes largely undetected, produces the tendency in some people to collapse into helplessness. This weakness is sometimes felt quite acutely even by people coping with just everyday routine matters. We don't need to be facing life-or-death situations to experience this debilitating weakness.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013(4 comments)
Overcoming Fear of Intimacy
Mainstream psychological explanations says that intimacy-dodgers have a fear of rejection (being rejected or abandoned by the loved one), along with a fear of engulfment (feeling controlled and dominated by one's partner, along with losing oneself in the relationship). But there's more to it than that.
Thursday, February 7, 2013(6 comments)
O Shame, Where is Thy Secret Source?
While shame can saturate our emotional life, most sufferers don't understand its roots deep in our psyche. The insight we find when looking more deeply can help us to eliminate the emotional problem.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013(2 comments)
The Correct Interpretation of Our Dreams
Dreams often come to us in symbolic form--as allegories, riddles, and metaphors. Interpreting them correctly can be a challenge. We can be fooled into false interpretations when dreams serve as psychological defenses.
Monday, January 21, 2013(4 comments)
Escaping the Clutches of Helplessness
A chronic sense of helplessness keeps us from believing in ourselves, trusting ourselves, and pursuing our destiny. Our self-regulation weakens, and we fall prey to impulses to overeat, overspend, and overindulge. We also lose our ability to regulate our emotional life or maintain physical health, causing us to sink into apathy or become increasingly bitter, depressed, or ill.
Exterminate Infestations of Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts are like termites that chew up and spit out our happiness. Many of us are frequently overwhelmed by such worrisome, anxious, fearful, and hateful thoughts. These thoughts gnaw at the fabric of our life, yet we're often oblivious to basic knowledge that can eradicate this intrusive infestation.
Saturday, December 29, 2012(11 comments)
The Psychology Behind Mass Shootings
We prefer to believe that the behavior of the shooters is foreign to human nature, not something intrinsic in our psyche. Or we say that a gun-worshipping culture is to blame. Yet might there be another factor, some common element at the heart of human nature, to account in part for these horrendous events?
Monday, December 24, 2012(6 comments)
Our Messy Mix of Aggression and Passivity
The desire to possess assault weapons and large ammunition clips, as opposed to a hunting rifle, is all about seizing an opportunity, out of inner passivity, to experience spell-binding sensations of power. The essential point is this: much of our aggression is phony and self-defeating because it's mustered up as a psychological defense to cover up our readiness to experience feeling controlled, dominated,
Monday, December 17, 2012(2 comments)
Why Our Emotional Suffering Persists
Key findings from classical psychoanalysis have exposed the sources of our suffering. The first principle of this knowledge recognizes that our chronic upset, nagging self-doubt, and persistent complaints are symptoms of unresolved negative emotions that we're unwittingly generating from within us.
Monday, December 10, 2012(2 comments)
Easing Tension and Stress at Family Gatherings
Our discomfort can be traced, in part, to childhood experiences involving broken promises, misplaced trust, willful neglect, unexplained absences, verbal and physical abuse, and the playing of favorites.
Monday, December 3, 2012(5 comments)
Wallowing in the Lap of Bitterness
Bitterness is stupidly self-inflicted by people who refuse to be open to understanding, knowledge, and compassion. Even when bitter people manage to avoid doing evil to others, they do evil to themselves: They prefer to defile the carcasses of festering memories than to dance at the festival of life.
Monday, November 26, 2012(6 comments)
Hidden Dynamics of Marital Strife
Intimacy and love can be restored and enhanced if we look deeper into our personal issues. It's just so easy, though, to blame our unhappiness on the annoying characteristics of our partner--or on faulty genes, biochemical imbalances, the malice of others, or the cold, cruel world.
Monday, November 19, 2012(2 comments)
Psychological Roots of National Disunity
The moral philosophies of individualism and solidarity battle for the soul of America. The clash over which philosophy ought to prevail turns negative and hostile only because the human psyche is, in itself, so conflict-ridden.
Monday, November 12, 2012(2 comments)
The Futile Dialogue in Our Head
Our inner voices or thoughts can take control of our consciousness, make us jump to their commands and suggestions, and produce suffering and self-defeat.
Monday, November 5, 2012(11 comments)
Psychologists of the World, Go Deeper
Psychological science has failed to recognize the existence and vital importance of unflattering facts about our humanity that we've been hiding, denying, and repressing in our psyche.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012(10 comments)
Cultivating a Life of Disappointment
Strange but true, many of us actively cultivate a life of disappointment, meaning we unconsciously look for ways to feel disenchanted, disheartened, and dissatisfied. Whoever would have thought that we humans, so sensible and smart according to conventional wisdom, would be harboring such a self-defeating proclivity?
Thursday, October 11, 2012(20 comments)
A Singular Cause of War
Does war, to put it in the guilt-free passive tense, just happen? Or can war be understood in a way that enables us to take responsibility for this continuing shame upon our species?
Why We Fear And Hate The Truth
We fear and hate many of truth's disclosures because they're often accompanied by narcissistic insults. What's a narcissistic insult? It's a bulletin from reality that, while capable of smartening us up, offends our ego. To avoid such insults, we cling to our illusions and limit our intelligence and inner freedom.
Monday, September 24, 2012(2 comments)
When Eyes Are Blinders of the Soul
We like to think we use our visual faculty in pursuit of pleasure, but we also use it to entertain old hurts, grievances, and longings. Our eyes go looking for pleasure and stimulation--but also needlessly for ways to suffer.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012(1 comments)
When Money Enriches Our Suffering
Money can be greasy to the touch, whether we have a lot of it or a little. A shortage of it provides us with the opportunity to feel deprived, refused, helpless, abandoned, unworthy and unloved. A big stash of it enables us to feel smug, intolerant, greedy, and fearful of losing it.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012(5 comments)
The War-Making Power of Baby Fears
Much is said and written about fear, yet seldom is it traced to its irrational psychological core. To overcome this inner fear, we have to see its existence in our psyche instead of denying it or trying to justify it by imagining Armageddon or "seeing" evil intent in others. Deeper insight makes us more conscious of our fear's irrationality.
Friday, August 24, 2012(42 comments)
At the Heart of the Abortion Conflict
People who are prisoners of their brand of fundamentalism hate freedom, particularly inner freedom. Behind closed minds, they peer through their cell windows, viewing with fury the peace and harmony of free people strolling in the park.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012(11 comments)
Cynicism: The Battle Cry of the Wimp
A cynical view of the world has become a form of conviviality, like social drinking, that's perceived as cool by many students, professionals, and sophisticates when they get together to talk or party. It's cowardly, not cool. Cynics fly the white flag of surrender thinking it's a rebel flag.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012(3 comments)
Being Seen in a Negative Light
Many of us are encumbered with an emotional attachment to the feeling of being seen in a negative light. This problem stems from an unresolved inner conflict. In our conscious mind, we want to be liked, admired, and respected. However, in our unconscious mind where our irrational emotions are rooted, we can expect to be seen in the opposite manner, as if we're unworthy of being liked, admired, or respected.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012(12 comments)
Why We Dither on Climate Change
An assortment of psychological reasons for our paralysis present themselves, including denial, greed, fear, passivity, stubbornness, self-centeredness, self-sabotage, and our species' lack of compassion for future generations. I believe the main problem, though, is our unconscious resistance. Here's what I mean . . .
Wednesday, July 18, 2012(1 comments)
Avoidable Miseries of the Workplace
This post offers some psychological insight to help workers find greater enjoyment and creativity in their labor. Work satisfies basic physical, psychological, and emotional needs, yet people can find opportunities to suffer even when they hold excellent jobs.
Thursday, July 5, 2012(1 comments)
Taming the "Little Monsters" of Insomnia
A person lying awake at night has none of the daytime distractions that keeps one busy and occupied with doing. The insomniac is stuck with the experience of being. Inner passivity can fill our sense of being with self-doubt, along with impressions of being overwhelmed, at risk, and helpless to still or quiet down the mind.
Friday, June 15, 2012(2 comments)
Teach Your Children Well
Educators need to understand the difference between teaching information versus teaching vital knowledge. This vital knowledge, or self-knowledge, teaches us about the presence and toxicity of negative emotions. We can start at an early age to avoid this negativity and prevent it from holding us back.
Saturday, June 2, 2012(7 comments)
Occupy the Psyche
In the absence of psychological insight, each of us to some degree can be divided from within. Also divided from within is the OWS movement itself, as Rolling Stone magazine reports in its June issue ("The Battle for the Soul of Occupy"). The reform movement has a neurotic undercurrent, and the prospect of its failure is real. Let's look deeply into the problem.
Thursday, May 17, 2012(3 comments)
Deliverance from the Lonesome Blues
Most people who suffer with chronic loneliness are entangled in unresolved emotional attachments. Unwittingly, they're chosing to recycle unresolved emotions from their past. Usually these are associated with feeling unloved, rejected, betrayed, and abandoned.
Thursday, May 10, 2012(8 comments)
Our Global Strategy for Self-Defeat
The complex operating systems we're creating in the world point to the possibility that we're acting out compulsive self-defeat. What is the driving force motivating this dysfunctional behavior?
Friday, May 4, 2012(2 comments)
The Mayo Clinic's Bogus Psychology
The Mayo Clinic's shallow advice says that letting go of grudges and bitterness depends on forgiveness. Forgiveness is sometimes appropriate, of course, especially when we have been gravely victimized. Yet as a remedy for conflict, it can easily be misused and misunderstood. To understand the bogus nature of the clinic's advice, let's take a close look at each of the three examples from the institute's online posting.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012(6 comments)
The Meaning of Evolved Consciousness
We're smart, yet we're not necessarily sufficiently conscious. We're able to build complex technological systems--yet the toxic byproducts might be ruining our planet. Our advanced weaponry can also destroy life on earth if our primitive emotions and aggressive instincts prevail. Our consciousness is not keeping up with our cleverness. So what does it mean to be more evolved?
Monday, April 16, 2012(2 comments)
Lincoln's Integrity, Our Integrity
The nation's future harmony and prosperity may depend on restoring the vital virtue of integrity. We can all consider how to do this in ourselves.
Mark Twain's Mysterious Misery Machine
Perhaps Twain's most significant insight in The Mysterious Stranger is the idea that truth about human nature is not as pleasant as we would like. That in itself is not a popular or pleasant idea. That resistance may account, in part, for why the novel is one of his least popular books.
Monday, January 30, 2012(22 comments)
Four Favorite Ways to Suffer
We have, among many choices, four favorite ways to suffer. We can engorge ourselves at the trough of human misery through feelings of deprivation, helplessness, rejection, and criticism. Chances are good that when we're miserable, we're entangled in one or more of these negative emotions.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012(9 comments)
The Deeper Issues that Produce Meanness
"Tips" or advice won't usually help that much in resolving an emotional problem such as meanness. Insight is a better tool. Mean people have psychological issues that can be resolved with insight. People who are frequent targets of meanness also have their issues, since unwittingly they can be attracting aggressive behavior from others.