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Posts tagged "Mental Health"

The Narcissist In Your Life

The Narcissist In Your Life

In her booklength essay on narcissism, Kristin Dombek enumerates the varieties of Narcissisms that plague the world order these days. There’s the Narcissistic Leader, whose ego runs the office you work for, the Collective Narcissist whose group or tribe is the best in the world, the Sexual Narcissist whose libidinal prowess must always be tested by new conquests. There’s also the Corporate Narcissist, the White Coat Narcissist, the Spiritual Narcissist and, of course, the Conversational Narcissist. The list is several pages long. (I wonder if you, like me, will be able to effortlessly match a face you know with each…

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Walker Percy’s Two Classes of Maniacs

Walker Percy’s Two Classes of Maniacs

As the Mental Health Issue is coming together, it is becoming quite apparent that one of our chief navigators in the strange land of the human mind will be the one and only Walker Percy. This passage comes from his wildly original and heartwarming novel, The Second Coming. It is a portion of a letter written by the novel’s leading man, Will Barrett, a successful and well-respected retiree who has recently taken a fall into the “mentally unstable” category…by the grace of God. For Percy, his salvation can come only by way of the absurd–by truly examining the absurd existence he finds himself inhabiting. You will notice here that…

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Condemned By Illness to Passivity

Condemned By Illness to Passivity

This amazing passage from Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology is perhaps the best reading of Mark 2 ever written. As we prepare for the Mental Health Issue, it has much to say about Christ’s office being (quite literally here) at the end of our rope. And that pastoral care–in every facet, from simple friendship to hospital chaplaincy–does not mean giving power to those who are powerless over their afflictions, but instead digging the grave they are too powerless to dig for themselves.

The pastoral dimensions for the healing of the person with schizoid characteristics can be seen in the Gospel record of the healing…

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Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Leslie Jamison’s book of essays, called The Empathy Exams, has a lot to say to about the reaches (and limits) of human love and compassion in their modern expression. The second essay in the collection, called “Devil’s Bait,” is about a group of sufferers who share a rare, controversial illness called Morgellons Disease. With Morgellons, strange fibers grow beneath the skin, causing the sensation that the skin is crawling. The term is formication—the sensation of crawling insects under the skin.

It is a controversial disease, though, because it has no known medical cause and no known medical cure. While it remains…

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Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

Thou Shalt Never Feel Bad: Inside Out for the Ivy League

Sadness is having a cultural moment, and that makes me happy. Much of this is thanks to Pixar’s Inside Out, that rare film which deserves all the success and acclaim being heaped upon it.

There are any number of reasons to laud the movie, as DP pointed out a couple weeks ago. Its artistic merits are beyond question, but so are those of, say, The Box Trolls (seriously!). What makes Inside Out so remarkable is its message. Pete Docter, et al, are saying something that strikes the almost impossible balance of timely, courageous, and, well, true. Which is that sadness, grief,…

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Does The “Age of Anxiety” Ever End?

Does The “Age of Anxiety” Ever End?

I’ve been a rather anxious person for most of my short (thus far) life. I was anxious about grades while in middle school, I was anxious about getting into college while in high school, and I was anxious about getting a job while a senior in college. Today, I’m anxious about an ever-lengthening “to-do” list that never seems to diminish. Tonight, I’m guessing I’ll be anxious about getting up early to go the gym. That being said, an article written by Daniel Smith (author of an anxiety-focused website, The Monkey Mind Chronicles) on what some have called our “Age of…

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Romancing Depression (Or Not)

Romancing Depression (Or Not)

The past few years have brought us a rash of popular studies in evolutionary biology and psychology that seek to assign redemptive purposes to negative emotions such as anxiety, anger and depression. An upside, if you will, such as increased problem-solving skills. Clinicians have, by and large, expressed considerable skepticism about these findings, decrying the “pastoral” naivete of such claims. Dr. Richard Friedman is one such voice, and he offered up a refreshing perspective in The NY Times last week, “Depression Defies the Rush to Find an Evolutionary Upside.”

Dr. Friedman raises a couple of objections that we might share. Above…

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Another Week Ends: Achievement Freaks, St. Jobs, Luxury Disorders, Von Trier’s Obstructions, Self-Made Religion, Boardwalk Empire, and Lactivism

Another Week Ends: Achievement Freaks, St. Jobs, Luxury Disorders, Von Trier’s Obstructions, Self-Made Religion, Boardwalk Empire, and Lactivism

1. As if we needed another reminder of the frightening heights the achievement curve has reached in recent years, James Atlas attempted to trace the cultural and economic forces contributing to the ‘excellence glut’ in his NY Times op-ed last week, “Meet the New Super People.” Atlas seems less interested in the psychological (and spiritual!) fallout of what he calls the “achievement freak” phenomenon, and more interested in the increasingly egregious disparities this trend is already creating in our country/the world, questioning where it could all possibly be heading:

It’s a select group to begin with, but even so, there doesn’t…

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