Doris Bersing, PhD
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Latinas’ Challenges to Come Out of The Closet

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

In the Latin culture the role of women is sometimes defined narrowly and women are brought up to be “super” moms and dedicated wives. The family pressure to keep a clean home, raise well-mannered children and be fabulous cooks can be a little overwhelming. You can add onto that pressure that to be a good “wife” and “mother” implies being heterosexual, and find the right “husband” not the right wife.

Latinas,  are professionals, blue collar workers, students, artists, and they all face their own struggles, successes, and secrets.  For we Latinas are as diverse, as shallow, and as deep as our dominant-culture counterparts. Our stories of immigration and oppression are gripping, but they are not only stories of discrimination or acculturation to tell, we also have our gender struggle stories to tell. Some are wives and mothers, yet individuals, too and some of us are lesbians and proud of it. Yet our culture and family does not welcome, always, our “coming out of the closet”. Our stories are as wide and as varied as the hues we come in.

Even the Spanish language conspires against those women who called themselves lesbians or bi-sexuals, because most of the counterpart words in Spanish have a negative connotation. Activists at the Human Rights Campaign had written that “…Although “gay” has the same meaning in Spanish as in English, the word “lesbiana” still has negative connotations. Many Latina women who love women, however, are purposely using the word to reclaim it from those who would use it against them…” (Read More)

On another article HRC states “… Although Latina/o Americans come from various cultural backgrounds, many who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender share similar experiences and challenges. Some, who were raised Roman Catholic, must reconcile themselves with the church’s teachings that acting on one’s homosexuality is sinful. Language differences often make finding resources and support difficult, and a lack of LGBT Latinas/os in media and entertainment perpetuates invisibility. Fortunately, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of Latinas/os are coming out…”

Find more resources for Latinas y Latinos “coming out of the closet” on HRC: Guía de Recursos Para Salir Del Clóset

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Same Sex Couples: More Stability? More Resilience? More Trouble?

Copyright : Mahdees Mahjoob

Copyright : Mahdees Mahjoob

Research has shown that behavioral differentiation of the sexes is minimal in children. Sex differences emerge primarily in social situations, and their nature varies with the gender composition during socialization. Patterns of mutual influence can become more symmetrical in intimate male–female dyads, but the distinctive styles of the two sexes can still be seen in such dyads and are subsequently manifested in the roles and relationships of parenthood.

On the other hand, research has found that same sex couples develop, in general, a certain resilience that brings more stability to their lives, there are always exceptions but for instance, Drs. John & Julie Gottman, founders of  The Gottman Institute, an institute in Seattle, WA dedicated to an ongoing program of research that increases the understanding of relationships and adds to the development of interventions that have been carefully evaluated.

The Gottmans undertook a 12-year study that revealed same sex couples developed more resilience than some straight couples. have a commitment to assuring that lesbian and gay couples have resources to help strengthen and support their relationships. Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman made a key contribution to research on daughters of lesbians: her work showed that daughters with lesbian moms do just as well as those raised by straight moms. Dr. John Gottman conducted the first longitudinal study of its kind of gay and lesbian relationships using multiple methods and measures. He was able assess the emotional strengths and weaknesses of the relationships, and to learn what makes these relationships more or less stable.Read More About The Study

Same sex parenthood is not an isolated case, studies estimate that between 1 and 9 million children in the United States have at least one parent who is lesbian or gay. There are approximately 594,000 same-sex partner households, according to the 2000 Census, and there are children living in approximately 27 percent of those households. However, we do find many challenges when it comes to fight homophobia and raising a family, one of the biggest challenges facing same-sex parented families is that they must live in a culture that supports heterosexist and homophobic attitudes and beliefs, which can affect these families in a variety of ways. A second complication is that these families are usually part of a blended family and include children from previous heterosexual marriages. Some of these families may deal with disagreement from other family members about the authenticity and validity of their family patterns. Lack of support from a previous heterosexual partner or the other biological parent can cause major conflict and distress within the family system. Today, there are many therapists available who specialize in gay and lesbian issues and provide a safe, nonjudgmental and understanding environment for the family. Frequently, gay and lesbian parented families will seek therapeutic help for guidance, support, and recognition that they may not be receiving from the broader social arena. The AAMFT suggests that psychotherapy could help. (Read More How Therapy Can Help)

 


Therapy for the Elderly

Copyright : Aaron Amat

Copyright : Aaron Amat

Many of us have the impression that old people are sad, depressed, and/or grumpy but it turns out not to be particularly accurate. Many older adults and seniors can lead a very happy life. However, what about those who had experienced multiple losses, heartaches, and little access to therapy?

Moreover, for many of the elders with whom I work, emotional distress is their own business, sometimes a source of shame, and for sure something not to share with “strangers” like the therapist.  Others think therapy is for young or younger people to what even Sigmund Freud noted that around age 50, “the elasticity of the mental process on which treatment depends is, as a rule, lacking,” adding, “Old people are no longer educable.” (Never mind that he continued working until he died at 83.) and as an article in The New York Times by states: “…In years past, too, there was a sense among medical professionals that a patient often could not be helped after a certain age unless he had received treatment earlier in life… ‘that’s been totally turned around by what we’ve learned about cognitive psychology and cognitive approach — changing the way you think about things, redirecting your emotions in more positive ways,” said Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and professor of human development at Cornell, and author of “30 Lessons for Living.”

Treatment regimens can be difficult in this population. Antidepressants, for instance, can have unpleasant side effects and only add to the pile of pills many elderly patients take daily. Older patients may feel that they don’t have the time necessary to explore psychotherapy, or that it’s too late to change.

But many eagerly embrace talk therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral techniques that focus on altering thought patterns and behaviors affecting their quality of life now. Experts say that seniors generally have a higher satisfaction rate in therapy than younger people because they are usually more serious about it. Time is critical, and their goals usually are well defined. Read Ellin’s  article


Alternative Therapies for Mental Illness

Copyright : chachar

Copyright : chachar

Searching for more information about how much or how little the public look for alternative therapies when suffering from mental illness and distress, I found an article titled Surprising Alternative Treatments for Mental Disorders. The article claims what I suspected “…The use of alternative treatments for mental illness is growing in popularity due to concern over the side effects of some medications and a general mistrust for pharmaceutical companies. Let’s look at some of the natural ways people are treating disorders like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

9.6 million Adults (18+) in the U.S. with a serious mental illness; 52.6% of those with a serious mental illness who used prescription pills to treat their condition in the past year; 36.2 million of Americans who paid for mental health care services in the span of a year.

While a combination of medicine and therapy can help many individuals suffering from a mental illness, some people are seeking other methods of treatment. What options are out there? This article explains how the so called alternative therapies “medicine douce” like Acupuncture, Hypnosis, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Bio-feedback, Reflexology, Yoga, nutrition and nutritional supplements can help. Actually $34 billion are spent per year in the U.S. on alternative medicine for general use.

Read More


No Magic Bullet for Treating Mental Illness

Copyright by  Piotr Marcinski

Copyright by Piotr Marcinski

On a medical model oriented society, we always look for the magic bullet to cure all our illnesses. Mental Illness has not been spared of such a mythical quest. There is not one size fits all or magic bullet to makes “whole”.  People in the field of healing and psychiatry like Dr. Stan Grof , author of the holotropic paradigm shift, refers to disease like the manifestation of our “body and soul” trying to move towards wholeness. Thus, health is a total state of physical, mental,  emotional, spiritual and social well-being and yet Western medicine is poor at preventing and treating mental distress otherwise called diseases and keeps looking for the “magic bullet” to cure every disease

Referring specifically to HIV/AIDS related mental illness treatment. Dr. Thomas Insel has written “… Universal prevention has been a focus of psychiatric research for the past 4 decades. Using a public health approach, research has shown that mitigating major risk factors, such as poverty and early life stress, and promoting protective factors can improve behavioral outcomes. In other areas of medicine, we have observed how similar preventive approaches have reduced deaths from cancer and infectious disease. By contrast, while reducing environmental stress and providing better maternal support improve general behavioral outcomes (by preventing the development of antisocial behavior, for example), there are few, if any, examples of preventive approaches in psychiatry that reduce either the morbidity or the mortality of our most disabling illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (Read More)

Dr. Insel expresses the needs of doing the same type of preventive work when approaching HIV/AIDS related mental illness and caution of the myth of the magic bullet. He says “…Imagine for a moment that we had the magic bullet for depression or schizophrenia or anorexia or autism. A single pill, taken once a day, safe and effective, that would immediately and continually keep all of the symptoms at bay. With this magic bullet, an end to episodes threatening job and family, no more hospitalizations, and a chance for a long life not cut short by mental illness and its complications. Now imagine that such a magic bullet existed, but only one in four people received it. Seems impossible?  (See more)

Imagine for a moment that we had the magic bullet for depression or schizophrenia or anorexia or autism. A single pill, taken once a day, safe and effective, that would immediately and continually keep all of the symptoms at bay. With this magic bullet, an end to episodes threatening job and family, no more hospitalizations, and a chance for a long life not cut short by mental illness and its complications. Now imagine that such a magic bullet existed, but only one in four people received it. Seems impossible? – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/couch-crisis/aids-cautionary-tale?GUID=&rememberme=1&ts=15072014#sthash.LXr8RamO.dpuf
Universal prevention has been a focus of psychiatric research for the past 4 decades. Using a public health approach, research has shown that mitigating major risk factors, such as poverty and early life stress, and promoting protective factors can improve behavioral outcomes. In other areas of medicine, we have observed how similar preventive approaches have reduced deaths from cancer and infectious disease. By contrast, while reducing environmental stress and providing better maternal support improve general behavioral outcomes (by preventing the development of antisocial behavior, for example), there are few, if any, examples of preventive approaches in psychiatry that reduce either the morbidity or the mortality of our most disabling illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/neuropsychiatry/prevention-preemption-paradigm-shift-psychiatry#sthash.NKRl0BQW.dpu

Universal prevention has been a focus of psychiatric research for the past 4 decades. Using a public health approach, research has shown that mitigating major risk factors, such as poverty and early life stress, and promoting protective factors can improve behavioral outcomes. In other areas of medicine, we have observed how similar preventive approaches have reduced deaths from cancer and infectious disease. By contrast, while reducing environmental stress and providing better maternal support improve general behavioral outcomes (by preventing the development of antisocial behavior, for example), there are few, if any, examples of preventive approaches in psychiatry that reduce either the morbidity or the mortality of our most disabling illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/neuropsychiatry/prevention-preemption-paradigm-shift-psychiatry#sthash.NKRl0BQW.dpu
Universal prevention has been a focus of psychiatric research for the past 4 decades. Using a public health approach, research has shown that mitigating major risk factors, such as poverty and early life stress, and promoting protective factors can improve behavioral outcomes. In other areas of medicine, we have observed how similar preventive approaches have reduced deaths from cancer and infectious disease. By contrast, while reducing environmental stress and providing better maternal support improve general behavioral outcomes (by preventing the development of antisocial behavior, for example), there are few, if any, examples of preventive approaches in psychiatry that reduce either the morbidity or the mortality of our most disabling illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/neuropsychiatry/prevention-preemption-paradigm-shift-psychiatry#sthash.NKRl0BQW.dpuf


Mental Illness in HIV and AIDS: Interesting Podcast

HIV-AIDSAs we know, Mental illnesses are both caused by and causes of HIV transmission and morbidity. On a podcast published by the Psychiatric Times Magazine, Dr. Treisman from John Hopkins Hospital states”…A risk factor for HIV infection, mental illness brings a number of behavioral correlates that put patients at risk for getting infected. As HIV infection worsens, it begins to affect the brain, and a cyclical relationship between the disease and mental illness begins.

Here, Dr Glenn Treisman provides an overview of the treatment of psychiatric disorders in patients with HIV. Dr Treisman is associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Director of the AIDS Psychiatry Service at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Listen to the podcast

sychiatric illnesses are both caused by and causes of HIV transmission and morbidity. A risk factor for HIV infection, mental illness brings a number of behavioral correlates that put patients at risk for getting infected. As HIV infection worsens, it begins to affect the brain, and a cyclical relationship between the disease and mental illness begins.

Here, Dr Glenn Treisman provides an overview of the treatment of psychiatric disorders in patients with HIV. Dr Treisman is associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Director of the AIDS Psychiatry Service at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/dementia/treatment-psychiatric-disorders-patients-hivaids#sthash.leR9P3S0.dpuf


Chemical Imbalance and Mental Issues: An Oversimplification?

17800976_sIn Psychology and Psychiatry, there are theories of brain malfunctioning and chemical imbalance to explain the presence of symptoms or alterations we would call mental illness, too easily.  Nonetheless, beware, neurochemistry, neurophysiology, chemical imbalances, neurotransmitters have being all explanations that had tried to become the panacea that would help us understand what is inextricable and simplify the grasp of it. The most fatal blow to this “brain disease” model has been dealt by the inability of the research to validate the brain disease hypothesis. The most severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression have been the primary targets of attempts to validate the medical model of mental suffering. Billions of dollars and thousands of research studies have gone into exactly this quest, and yet, according to a large number of highly experienced researchers, scholars and clinicians none of it is substantial. Many claim, in fact, that because the disease model continues to be unsupported in spite of the enormous amount of research that has been conducted in an attempt to validate it, the implications point strongly in the opposite direction—that these types of mental disorders are not caused by a disease of the brain.

Moreover, some doctors believe that they will help the patient feel less blameworthy by telling them,  Dr. Ronald Pies, MD wrote “You have a chemical imbalance causing your problem.” It’s easy to think you are doing the patient a favor by providing this kind of “explanation”, but often, this isn’t the case. Most of the time, the doctor knows that the “chemical balance” business is a vast oversimplification…(Read Dr. Pies’ article)

Could we say, what was first? the chemical imbalance, the symptoms, the wounds, the disease? Cd not this be a minimization of a bigger reality. What’s next? It seems that the only way to deal with this tragic dilemma is to ironically create genuine brain disease (through brain-damaging drugs, electroshock therapy, and/or other similarly harmful means) in an attempt to “deaden” you to your unbearable suffering. What came first? The egg or the chicken?


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