Takes a toll on mental health

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One night, like many people these days, I found myself out of sorts, grappling with dread over the state of the world. Disorienting bewilderment and chaos fueled by global hypocrisy and double standards seized control. My absorption in fatalistic speculation felt like a bad trance. Trying my best to redirect my focus on life affirming prospects, even fantasizing about my upcoming trip to Utah and the eventual move to Canada next year, did not abate overwhelming feelings of unrest.

The impact of being misled, of things not adding up made me curious about how trance states, specifically those ignited by…


Why we stifle our power

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Daydreaming about being in the public eye receiving acclaim and notoriety is as ubiquitous as the air. Yet push come to shove not many would want that fantasy to morph into reality. Even folks I’ve rendered psychotherapy to who sought to attain and achieved fame expressed serious distress over being subject to the demands of a parasitic fan base and the pressures of always having to publicly measure up to impossible standards.

Indeed being put under a microscope is not tantamount to admiration and certainly isn’t emblematic of love. Makes me wonder if veteran actor Kevin Kline dons the industry…


A Satirical Tale of Theater’s Dark Underbelly

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Chloe ascends the steps of the subway and marvels at the horde of people infiltrating Times Square. The sights and sounds stimulate her senses, reassuring her it was the right decision to relocate from the Midwest. Stopping to purchase a cup of coffee, she sends a quick text to Octavio, replete with heart emoticons and a notification that she is safely in Manhattan.

Nearing 9th avenue she peruses the scribbled address on the crumpled slip of paper stashed in the pocket of her denim jacket. She chuckles, recalling Octavio’s trepidation with her participating in a ‘New Age’ theater workshop. Ringing…


What happens when currency devolves into an obsessive fix

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We can all appreciate the complexity of the legal tender. Technically a form of exchange for goods and services, money assists with establishing a comfortable quality of life. It signifies security, connotes one’s place in the world, renders status and even enhances one’s sense of power.

On the downside however, wealth can fuel ruthless avarice and an insatiable need for hedonistic pursuits. If out of control ones attachment to currency can morph into a reckless, compulsive pursuit devoid of consequential thinking or restraint, despite evidence of obvious harm.

On a global scale the expansion of consumption and environmental degradation is…


Change requires extensive effort

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For over three decades the method of treatment I facilitate is similar to the type of therapy I engaged in throughout my recovery. Albeit, my entree into long-term therapy, although well-intentioned and ultimately reparative, did not contain Dr. Judith Herman’s theoretical framework for understanding complex trauma.

Nevertheless the core principles of establishing a strong therapeutic bond so as to embark on a journey of plumbing the depths of memory and subconscious motivations sustained me through the worst of times and serves as a blueprint for the treatment I now provide as a complex trauma therapist.

I consider treatment that consists…


But the search for meaning is

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Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God. ~ The Little Match Girl / Hans Christian Andersen

One of the fairytales I treasured as a little girl poignantly captured the hardships of childhood. Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Match Girl told of a young abused girl driven to begging in order to survive. Braving the…


The pain and shame of never measuring up

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Even in this day and age of generational shifts in parenting and shared parental responsibilities, the father is still viewed by many as a collateral caregiver whose primary function is to mete out discipline and pay the bills. However, the father is so much more than just an authority figure and a material provider. In fact, the love and engagement of a father with their offspring is an invaluable catalyst for social and emotional development.

The ‘father effect,’ a term used to address the positive impact fathering has across families from all ethnic backgrounds, is vast. As studies suggest, the…


Managing conflictual emotions

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Often when I am facilitating therapy sessions with complex trauma survivors, statements will be made that are suggestive of splitting. For instance, one day a friend is perceived as the embodiment of perfection, but when a disappointing flaw is revealed that same person is suddenly vehemently unacceptable. Conversely, one week a familial abuser might be described as the devil incarnate and in the next session, they will be defended as a well-intentioned martyr.

The commonly relied upon defense mechanism of splitting classifies behavior and circumstances in all or nothing terms, such as all good (idealizing) or all bad (shameful).

When…


After traumatic heartbreak and a five-year hiatus

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I was enraptured by his rakish good looks and unassuming charm. That he loved teaching high school kids and was a devoted father to his regal Bernese mountain dog exemplified strength of character. I believed his displays of sincerity and beneficence were proof of his virtue.

What appeared certain would eventually be dispelled, but when I was smitten and spellbound by infatuation, I did not see Jake for who he was. I certainly could not fathom that he would be my undoing.

Of course, my insatiable desperation and magnetic attraction to polished, garden-variety covert narcissists factored into my blind enchantment…


When familial roles and boundaries are distorted

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The bond between a child and a parent is specifically designed to cater to the comprehensive developmental needs of one’s offspring. In accordance with nature’s plan, the child’s successful attainment of developmental milestones such as the cultivation of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, identity and intimacy (Eric Erikson) is predicated on receiving competent and loving parenting. This means that from infancy to late adolescence, the unconditionally dependent child will rely on their trusted caretakers for their survival and their growth.

However, children who are parentified (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973) have thrust upon them responsibilities and roles typically reserved for adults. These…

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW

NYC Therapist & Author. Complex Trauma & Addiction. Dual citizen, traveler, lover of art and nature. I appreciate the absurd. Sheritherapist.com

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