Licensed Psychologist

What Steve Jobs Wrote Days Before He Died

Read what Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple software, wrote days before he died: "I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to. At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death. In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of God and of death drawing closer. Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth... Should be something that is more important: Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days... Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me. God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth. The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love."

Concerns About "Tele-Health"

Just read in a magazine about a new IOS app for the iPhone called Talkspace. It claims to let you text a mental health coach constantly for $32 a week. They also offer a full package, which includes four live video or audio sessions a month for $69 a week. There are serious concerns that arise with commercial tele-health enterprises that fail to adequately consider the ethical and regulatory aspects of the mental-health service they purport to provide. They offer an unsafe and potentially dangerous approach to mental health care. Todd Essig has written a series of articles for Forbes that you might enjoy reading. Be very careful when contracting with any commercial tele-health entity.

This May Be Comforting

If you wear a hijab, I'll sit with you on the train. If you're trans, I'll go to the bathroom with you. If you're a person of color, I'll stand with you if the cops stop you. If you're a person with disabilities, I'll hand you my megaphone. If you're an immigrant, I'll help you find resources. If you're a survivor, I'll believe you. If you're a refugee, I'll make sure you're welcome. If you're a veteran, I'll take up your fight. If you're a LGBTQ, I won't let anybody tell you you're broken. If you're a woman, I'll make sure you get home ok. If you're tired, me too. If you need a hug, I've got an infinite supply. If you need me, I'll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me, too.

Coping With Infertility

Listen to this podcast, a conversation between Dr. Richard Lustberg and Dr. Marlene Kasman on how to cope with infertility. This was originally published in 2007 by Suffolk County Psychological Association.
  If the audio file doesn't play in your browser, click here to download to your computer.

Maybe I Have An Eating Disorder

  • I think about food all the time
  • I panic if I eat too much
  • I am terrified of gaining weight
  • I feel fat, friends tell me I'm thin
  • I don't get regular menstrual periods
  • I prefer to eat when no one will see me
  • I have lost more than 15% of my normal weight
  • I find myself compulsively eating
  • I exercise a lot
  • I tend to be a perfectionist
  • I consume less than 1200 calories a day
  • I want to be thinner than all my friends
  • I hate my body
  • I have been depressed and irritable lately
  • I use laxatives or diuretics for weight control
  • I binge and make myself vomit
  • I feel food is my enemy
  • I am preoccupied with food and weight
  • I have extreme mood swings
  • I feel tired all the time
  • I often feel cold when no one else does
  • I have noticed that my hair is dry and brittle
  • I have noticed my skin is drier
  • I have noticed my nails break easily
  • I have more cavaties recently
  • I have noticed my teeth are discolored
It would be a good idea to consult an eating disorder specialist if you have more than five of these behaviors.

Mother's Day or Doomsday

Mother's Day. Images of mothers and happy children are everywhere. It seems that everyone is part of this joyous celebration. Everyone, that is, except the woman who has not been able to conceive. For her, Mother's Day is a nightmare, a painful reminder of her failure. She feels disappointed in herself, disillusioned that her body has betrayed her, and defective as a woman. Men have been socialized to think of parenthood as one possible ingredient in their traditional adult roles; girls are programmed to think of the achievement of motherhood as an absolute necessity to their identity as adult women. They perceive a threat to their ability to become mothers as a threat to their ability to be seen as legitimate adult females. No other activity can substitute for it. A woman without children often feels cheated, angry, depressed, jealous and anxious. She doesn't have what she's dreamed of all her life. Her body isn't cooperating with her desire to become a mother. She feels like a failure. She is jealous of people who have children, and guilty for feeling jealous. She is tired of all of the questions and advice from family, friends, and even strangers. She is frustrated that the medical tests and procedures have not worked. Each month she rides an emotional roller coaster first hopeful and then devastated. Caught up in the quest to have a child, women forget that they are anything other than childless. It is important for infertile women to reclaim their lives, regain control and once again feel joy and meaning in their lives. There are powerful psychological tools that women can use to help themselves. They can learn to change their negative thoughts. They can learn how to nourish themselves. They can improve communication with their spouses. These techniques have helped many women feel more optimistic, and less anxious and stressed. They feel better, their lives feel more meaningful, and sometimes, once they have have done these things, they may find themselves pregnant.

The Flight from Conversation Part 2

We use conversation with others to learn to converse with ourselves. So our flight from conversation can mean diminished chances to learn skills of self-reflection. These days, social media continually asks us what's "on our mind," but we have little motivation to say something truly self-reflective. Self-reflection in conversation requires trust. It's hard to do anything with 3,000 Facebook friends except connect. As we get used to being shortchanged on conversation and to getting by with less, we seem almost willing to dispense with people altogether. Serious people muse about the future of computer programs as psychiatrists. A high school sophomore confides to me that he wishes he could talk to an artificial intelligence program instead of his dad about dating; he says the A.I. would have so much more in its database. Indeed, many people tell me they hope that as Siri, the digital assistant on Apple's iPhone, becomes more advanced, "she" will be more and more like a best friend - one who will listen when others won't. During the years I have spent researching people and their relationships with technology, I have often heard "No one is listening to me." I believe this feeling helps explain why it is so appealing to have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed - each provides so many automatic listeners. And it helps explain why - against all reason - so many of us are willing to talk to machines that seem to care about us. Researchers around the world are busy inventing sociable robots, designed to be companions to the elderly, to children, to all of us. One of the most haunting experiences during my research came when I brought one of these robots, designed in the shape of a baby seal, to an elder-care facility, and an older woman began to talk to it about the loss of her child. The robot seemed to be looking into her eyes. It seemed to be following the conversation. The woman was comforted. So many people found this amazing. Like the sophomore who wants advice about dating from artificial intelligence and those who look forward to computer psychiatry, this enthusiasm speaks to how much we have confused conversation with connection and collectively seem to have embraced a new kind of delusion that accepts the simulation of compassion as sufficient unto the day. And why would we want to talk about love and loss with a machine that has no experience of the arc of human life? Have we so lost confidence that we will be there for one another? We seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship. Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone. When people are alone, even for a few moments, they fidget and reach for a device. Here connection works like a symptom, not a cure, and our constant, reflexive impulse to connect shapes a new way of being. Think of it as "I share, therefore I am." We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings as we're having them. We used to think, "I have a feeling; I want to make a call." Now our impulse is, "I want to have a feeling; I need to send a text." So, in order to feel more, and to feel more like ourselves, we connect. But in our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves. Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don't experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves. We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely. If we don't teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely. To make room for conversation, we can create sacred spaces in the kitchen or dining room. We can make our cars "device-free zones." We can demonstrate conversation to our children. And we can do the same thing at work where we are so busy communicating that we often don't have time to talk to one another about what really matters. Employees asked for casual Fridays; perhaps managers should introduce conversational Thursdays. Most of all, we need to remember - in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts - to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another. I spend the summers at a cottage on Cape Cod, and for decades I walked the same dunes that Thoreau once walked, looking at the water, the sky, the sand and at one another talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing. Even when they are with friends, partners, children, everyone is on their own devices. So I say, look up, look at one another, and let's start the conversation.