iOS app Android app

Blog Entries by Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT

Narcissism: The New Normal?

652 Comments | Posted December 19, 2010 | 12:03 PM (EST)

The other day a patient sent me an email with a link to a New York Times article that reported that the upcoming revision of the psychiatric diagnostic standards manual, the DSM-V, has removed the narcissistic personality disorder from its roster.

She asked me, "Are they crazy?"


Read Post

Stop Shopping and Start Thinking

44 Comments | Posted December 14, 2010 | 09:04 AM (EST)

First in a series of articles on Media and The American Psyche.

A while back a friend told me about a graffiti artist in New York City who'd been covering subway and building walls with a simple declarative statement: Stop shopping and start thinking! This is particularly interesting since we...

Read Post

Should You Forgive Narcissists Who've Hurt You?

269 Comments | Posted December 5, 2010 | 12:52 PM (EST)

In our dialogue about narcissists and sociopaths, many of you have shared your own stories. The damage people do is sometimes beyond my ken. The wounds they inflict because of thoughtlessness or pure malice can last a lifetime. Some of you wrote about your pain. Some were enraged. Some longed...

Read Post

Parricide (Part 2): Is Our Detached Society to Blame?

112 Comments | Posted November 22, 2010 | 08:45 AM (EST)

Surrounded by a culture of violence, Jo Eekhoff, a licensed clinical social worker in Belen, N.M., where the most recent patricide took place, found herself deeply saddened by the situation. She works with the public school system and has a great many ties to the children in the...

Read Post

Parricide (Part 1): A Tragic Failure of Attachment?

126 Comments | Posted November 15, 2010 | 08:49 AM (EST)

This is the first part in a two-part series on children and attachment.

As a result of our brief dialogue on narcissism, many of you have expressed interest in the cause of narcissistic character pathology or its extreme extension, the sociopathic personality, and whether its origins can be...

Read Post

Self-Defense Against Narcissists: Why 'No' Is So Hard to Say

306 Comments | Posted November 5, 2010 | 08:41 AM (EST)

You'd think that saying "no" would be a simple thing. It has a quick meaning and only two letters. It has a strong survival component, and we literally can't live without it.

So why does it pose so many problems?

We know we don't like to hear it; it...

Read Post

Nice But Not Good: The Art of Spotting Narcissists

403 Comments | Posted October 29, 2010 | 09:22 AM (EST)

A woman recounted to me a marriage of alternating abuse and abandonment. I asked her how she'd met him and what led her to marry him. She said so innocently, "He was so nice then." I can't count how many times I've heard that.

Admittedly, I was taught to...

Read Post

Viral Fear and the State of National Insecurity

7 Comments | Posted October 21, 2010 | 06:20 PM (EST)

Lately, when I watch the news from Capitol Hill, I am more and more often reminded of a Star Trek episode entitled "Spock's Brain." In it, the prerequisite nubile alien female humanoids steal Spock's gray matter in order to save their fully automated planet.

We are led to deduce that...

Read Post

The Next Osama Syndrome: America, the Fearful

8 Comments | Posted October 9, 2010 | 01:00 PM (EST)

There is very little that changes people -- or the culture of a country -- as much as fear does. This is particularly true of chronic fear.

The landscape of America has changed quite a bit since the Cold War when we evolved rapidly from an Allied country at war...

Read Post

The Trauma of Betrayal and Verbal First Aid

Posted September 13, 2010 | 12:37 PM (EST)

When people talk about infidelity -- whether in marriage or in committed relationships -- they talk about trauma.

I recently met a man whose wife cheated on him repeatedly. As he told me the long and circuitous story of suspicion, denial and revelation, he moved through a snake pit...

Read Post

Self-Healing Children: The Promise of Verbal First Aid

Posted September 8, 2010 | 12:18 PM (EST)

Communicating therapeutically with children is a big idea even in small ways. The idea that what we say and how we say it can help slow or stop bleeding, can reduce or halt an inflammatory response, can slow a racing heartbeat and calm a panicking child is, quite honestly, a...

Read Post

Addressing the Caregiver Crisis

Posted August 26, 2010 | 07:00 AM (EST)

When Marie had to face the reality of her father's Alzheimer's she knew she was also facing a decision she likened to "choosing between jumping off a cliff or getting hit by a bus."

"It was terrifying, the idea of relinquishing his care to the hands of total strangers,...

Read Post

How to Turn Magical Thinking Into Healing Magic

Posted August 24, 2010 | 12:30 PM (EST)

Samuel Hahnemann, the great 18th century physician after whom numerous medical colleges have been named, once described health as "admirable, harmonious and vital." It included both feelings and functions, both spirit and body.

Healing, then, is more than a technique. It is an art that utilizes every resource a person...

Read Post

Limit Setting and Parenting with the Basics of Verbal First Aid

Posted August 21, 2010 | 05:00 PM (EST)

How Much Information Do Kids Really Need?

The other night we saw a commercial that made us both grimace and laugh. It was a TV spot for a bank that showed a 30-something mother with her pre-teen daughter and friends. Instead of talking to each other, they were--what else?--texting. The...

Read Post

Verbal First Aid: Words As Medicine

Posted August 19, 2010 | 11:30 AM (EST)

Verbal First Aid for Children in Action
A young girl walks up to the stove while her mother has her back turned for just a moment. In the blink of an eye she has pulled a small pot of hot water down onto herself. With a wail,...

Read Post

True Grit Part I: Growing Old in America

Posted August 16, 2010 | 11:00 AM (EST)

Part one of a two-part series on aging

I was sitting near a fountain in Old Town and an older man approached the penny-filled catch pond with an expression so earnest I might in other circumstances have easily confused it with reverence. He closed his eyes and held a coin...

Read Post

Leading With Love: Kid Whispering, Dogs and Verbal First Aid

Posted August 13, 2010 | 12:20 PM (EST)

No one starts out knowing how to raise kids. Even though some people seem to naturally have spot-on instincts, I have worked with hundreds of families for whom the process is a mystery.

For me the stunning lack of understanding was made clear to me when I got my...

Read Post

Early Childhood Attachment: Building a 'Safe Haven' for Your Child

Posted August 10, 2010 | 07:00 AM (EST)

Recently at a restaurant, I watched a woman trying to have lunch with a friend as she struggled with her two-year-old daughter. The little girl whined and clung to her pant leg like a kitten to a silk drape. Nothing shook her off. She tried to distract her with crayons....

Read Post

Verbal First Aid: Healing Children's Pain and Fear With Words

Posted August 5, 2010 | 07:00 AM (EST)

For all our self-assumed scientific sophistication, for all our scans and labs and genetic analyses, healing has not been made all that much more understandable or all that much less mysterious.

A doctor can suture two pieces of skin together, but there is some capacity that lies beyond our ken,...

Read Post

The Wages of Fear

Posted August 1, 2010 | 08:06 PM (EST)

It's axiomatic that you get what you pay for. On observation, however, I believe that there are times we get more than we bargain for, not all of it good. In the case of current media-inducements, we get much more and we are rarely aware of it.


Read Post