Did You Know?

Did you know that Thursday is the angriest day of the week? According to Psychotherapy Finances, a study by Northwestern University researcher Alan Mislove shows that the fifth day of the week is the most tense. By tracking 65 million Twitter messages, Mislove finds that “tweets” begin to show signs of anger on Sunday evening and grow increasingly discontented and irascible throughout the week. The angry tweets reach their climax on Thursday before Friday when the tweets show significantly lower levels of stress and comparatively happy weekends.


Continuing Professional Education

Shelly and Raye Isenberg continue their professional education to fulfill their licensing, board certification requirements and to ensure they keep up to date in meeting client needs

On March 18th Raye and Shelly attended an all day session on Challenges of Change in Couple Therapy sponsored by the Chicago Center for Family Health. Mona DeKoven Fishbane, PhD led the day focusing on the new neuroscience of relationships and how this knowledge can facilitate relational empowerment and personal growth in couple therapy.

Professional Speaking Engagements

On April 22nd,  Shelly spoke  in St. Charles on Adapting to Change: Reflections on Growing A Private Practice. Shelly spoke on what a 42-year career in private counseling practice had taught him about creatively practicing in the private sector. The talk was part of an all day symposium sponsored by Linden Oaks at Edward, a private psychiatric hospital in Naperville, with a facility in St. Charles.   The keynote speaker was Lynn Grodzki, a pioneer in the field of practice building.

Decline Found in Freshman’s Mental Health

A few weeks ago I noted a disturbing article in the Wall Street Journal (1/27/11) which reported the results of a national survey of 200,000 full-time first year students in 280 colleges and universities. That’s a hugh sample! It stated that their emotional health had fallen to the lowest level in a quarter of a century.

While 52% of first year college students rated their emotional health as above average, that’s down from 64% in 1985, the first year students were asked these questions. Unfortunately, the article had nothing to say about the numbers of average to below average percentages for our sons and daughters and how those numbers might have increased with the lowering of mental health in the above average category. I doubt only we over achievers read the Journal.

College administrators and counselors weren’t surprised as the decline has been going down through the past 25 years. One researcher said: “The trend has been more students coming to college who either have been diagnosed with mental health issues or who are proactive at seeking out help.” The article noted freshmen women face “emotional challenges at a higher rate than males” and are at a “much greater risk for depression.”

Well, the bright side is college kids seek out help, but the down side is they are hurting more, especially the girls. So why the decline in psychological resiliency to cope with the challenges of college life? And why are our daughters facing a tougher time? And what does this portend for later developmental changes like full-time jobs and careers, life with and without marriage and family life?

The article was based on the “Freshman Survey” administered by the Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA. We’ll share other news of note from the media that interest us, so stay in touch.

Labels Gloss Over Who We Are

I read Tim West’s Sun morning column on whether he is an old man at the age of 64. I must say this debate about whether those of us in our 60’s are old, and if not when that will be, is getting to be an” old” to this reader. You read about it all the time as some of us struggle with our aging and what that truly means to us. Certainly, that dreaded letter from AARP calls us consider who we are in relation to what aging means to us personally.

Perhaps like all dichotomies it overly simplifies who we think we are and why we have to think about whether we are this or that in black and white terms. I think we are too influenced by a way of thinking too prevalent and is even a useless way of thinking about others and ourselves that exists in our American culture. It dichotomies between people which puts us in little boxes that can be checked off.

Am I old or young and if aging am I a senior citizen yet, middle-aged still, a young oldster on the way to geezerhood? Am I a white man or a black man or an Asian and what should I call myself if I’m of mixed racial parentage? Am I Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic and what should I call myself if my parents are of different religions? Am I a dreaded Liberal or a dreaded Conservative and could I have voted for Brady while voting for also for Obama? Am I heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual or can I simply be a man. And if I’m a man, can I be sweet, kind, and relational without those qualities being called feminine? Can I be a member of the ACLU, but like to shoot guns and believe in the right to bear arms while also believing in gun control and giving the government certain powers to tap my phone to root out terrorists? Can I be a dreaded Zionist while advocating for Palestinian human rights?

What place is left in this country, this marketing culture, for people who refuse to be stereotyped in black and white terms? What place is left for the independent moderate thinker who looks at both sides and refuses to be branded wishy-washy by those who want to brand me in terms they can understand?

Certainly I’m aging, my body tells me so, but “old” or “young” is a frame of mind as is every other stereotype. I prefer to think of whether I still have a zest for life and for being spirited then what category I’m in. The push to segment me into this or that category may make life simpler for some people, but I think is killing the spirit of America. Because once you can put me into some little box that can be checked off, while useful for marketing purposes, is not very useful for understanding others and the way they think and feel being who they are. It kills off any useful discussion about what we really can do about the problems and possibilities of this country and our own personal lives.

So let’s stop the insanity of profiling ourselves and others and just get to know how we each actually experience our lives. Maybe we just might get to know each other and ourselves and give America a chance again.

Appeared in the Naperville Sun, Letters to the Editor, December 8, 2010

Disappointment, Anger, Rage

Originally posted on The Naperville Sun
By Kristen Kucharski For The Sun Dec 1, 2010 9:20AM

When disrespected, a father throws his teenage son against the wall by his neck. When feeling intimate, a husband slams doors and storms around when shunned by his tired wife. When cut off by someone on the road, a man chases the driver down to tell him off. A senior executive punches the table during a meeting when he feels his employees are not listening. Are these examples of anger or rage?

“There is a defining moment when anger turns to rage,” said Sheldon Isenberg, of Isenberg Consulting in Naperville. He e-mailed The Sun in response to the Men’s Health Series article on mitral valve prolapse.

“This condition can contribute to anxiety symptoms. Symptoms such as jittering feelings, heart palpations, tightness in the chest, or feeling like you are coming out of your skin.

“Anger and hostility have a direct impact on the cardio system,” Isenberg says. “Sometimes just breathing deeply and getting oxygen to your brain can help you overcome worry and anxiety to help you think more clearly.”

“The person who takes everything too serious can be stereotyped as a Classic Type A personality. They may feel they can do things better than others, may be difficult to live with, simply cannot relax, are very ambitious without consideration, and are often critical of how others do things.”

Isenberg goes on to say, “this type of person may act out their anger; that action is the defining moment between feeling angry and physically expressing your anger.”

He continues to share an example of a disagreement between a father and son.

“The son may be upset because his father will not allow him to go to a certain social function. The son may begin to swear at his father in the midst of the argument. Here is the defining moment. Does the father ask the son to calm down and work through the argument with a level head, or does the father take action and pin his son against the wall to demand respect? Rage is that out-of-control moment when action takes place.”

So what brings men to the point of seeking help?

“Most men come to see me because something has happened and they have to, or their family has had enough and they feel the pressure of losing their spouse and children and are ready to make changes.”

It’s not just family issues.

“Some men come in because of work-related issues and are being told their behavior is inappropriate in the workplace; their job is threatened.”

Dr. Paul Capriotti, a psychiatrist in Lisle and Naperville, says “this economy has had a negative affect on a lot of men.”

“When I am diagnosing someone, it is not as simple as anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or depression,” Capriotti said. “Sometimes the anger and rage is situational and can be treated with therapy rather than medication.

“I find out what is causing the rage, what is the trigger point and how it is impacting their personal life.

“Sometimes a man can feel he is simply letting his children, spouse, significant others down all the time. Sometimes there is anger, resentment, disappointment and guilt after an emotional outburst. Get help before reaching the point where the action is out of control.”

Isenberg closes with a profound statement. “Money should never be a reason not to get help, maybe an excuse, but not an obstacle. Metropolitan Family Services at 630-784-4800 can offer services for free or on a sliding scale. There are many agencies sponsored by the United Way to offer assistance to a happier and more peaceful life.”

If you have a personal health journey and would like to contribute to the series on Men’s Health, please e-mail Kristen Kucharski at knkucharski@hotmail.com.