A source of respite for abused children and traumatized adults

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was an adorable and lovable Italian mouse puppet featured on the . He was also one of my few beloved toys. In the midst of a bleak childhood steeped in malnutrition, looming eviction notices and the terror of my parent’s madness, Topo offered a thread of innocence and whimsy. For brief moments I could leave behind the horror of abuse and just be a child with her precious toy.

Topo for me was a transitional object, a term coined by British pediatrician and psychoanalyst . This means it was a valued object imbued with properties…


From etiology to stigma to treatment and trafficking

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The lovely brightly colored poppy flower, known by Sumerians as the flower of joy, is the source of a tragic opioid addiction epidemic in the United States. To a great degree, this jarring reality is an outcome of prevailing neoliberal economic policies and the overriding supremacy of the profit margin.

This economic landscape has contributed to the collapse of fundamental traditions and community-based values, along with a broken infrastructure, unaffordable healthcare, the lack of subsidized housing, the dismantling of social services and vast economic disparity, along with dramatic spikes in unemployment and poverty. Furthermore, the blight of lockdown measures due…


Leaving loved ones who can’t be ‘saved’

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Staking a claim for one’s inherent right to procure basic dignity and peace of mind is fraught with complexity for survivors of traumatic familial abuse. A distressing complication concerns leaving those behind who are plagued by mental illness themselves and yet persist in maneuvering to keep their progeny, spouse and sundry companions locked into destructive roles.

It is an unavoidable fate that befalls complex trauma survivors. As survivors begin to heal and grow they are destined to grapple with the personal feelings of loss, guilt and disillusionment that accompany severing ties with loved ones who are intent on sabotaging their…


A travesty of justice and morality that apparently happens all the time

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There are injustices in life that shake one’s faith in humanity. Witnessing a mother’s efforts to beseech family court to save her toddler-age daughter from a pedophile father defines that description. Irrespective of credible forensic evidence and testimonies by medical doctors and therapists, the horror of child sexual abuse and domestic violence is simply disregarded. The mother is deemed problematic. The father somehow has become the hapless victim of parental alienation.

When a mother is characterized as insidiously maneuvering to undermine and damage the child’s relationship with the father by falsely accusing the father of child abuse, this is known…


Identifying when malevolence is cloaked in philanthropy

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When I was a kid I was enamored with topical folk songwriter and political activist . The abysmal circumstances I was born into was assuaged by his activism, brilliant lyricism and melodic voice. He inspired me and gave me hope. Ochs was emblematic of what the ideology of liberalism was meant to stand for; maximizing individual freedom and civil liberties, protected by free trade and free markets.

Yet Ochs also mocked liberalism as a hypocritical badge of superiority worn by aging progressives. He saw through the false narratives. …


The triumphs and hardships of being a woman

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When I admire the lovely bottles of sumptuous fragrances I gleefully anoint myself with and reflect over how much I appreciate the simple joy of selecting a colorful bouquet of flowers or choosing a silky ornate blouse to wear, I take solace in knowing I enjoy being female and even, typically feminine. As I , although there are restorative rituals that are enjoyed by men and women alike, as a woman committed to recalibrating from the repercussions of being a trauma therapist in NYC, I tend to lean towards choices that are quintessentially female centric.

Naturally, irrespective of my…


Knowing your deal-breakers and points of no return

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No can be a beautiful word. Yet so many of my clients seeking treatment for cannot bear the responsibility of denying another what they want. Even when mistreated and pressured to give more than what is received, they feel conflicted about possibly hurting another’s feelings by refusing to cave and uphold self-sustaining positions. They cringe at the thought of being perceived as mean, inhumane or bad. For these folks being good precludes rules of engagement, discernment and discrimination. Hence they set themselves up as dumping grounds for exploitive, abusive maneuvering.

My extensive experience as a trauma survivor and…


Why we need to embrace it and not resist it

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There once was a man who just couldn’t cry
He hadn’t cried for years and years
Napalmed babies and the movie Love Story
For instance could not produce tears. ~

For two years in interfaith seminary my spiritual practice at my altar consisted of weeping. My emotional tears transformed hate that emanated from years of child abuse and neglect, the torment of complex trauma and the devastation of subsequent victimization, to acceptance. I cried over what I suffered and all I lost, until I could cry no more.

In the aftermath of prolonged emotional release my heart…


It’s a whole lot different than going separate ways

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It’s been over two weeks and prior to that it was a month since we video chatted. A far cry from the handful of weekly check-ins we were doing. Albeit awhile back when I questioned if a lapse in being in touch indicated I might have done something to create distance, she responded with a weird, dismissive ‘think positive thoughts’ diatribe. This certainly gave me pause. When I addressed being hurt and blindsided by her feedback, further disorienting responses reeking of the professional development cult she escaped a year ago, ensued. Her effusive emoticons of hearts and smiley faces interspersed…


A Psychological Analysis

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There’s no doubt that the quest for love is universal. The giving and receiving of love are as fundamental to our well-being as the air we breathe. In fact, according to the infants regardless of whether they are puppies, monkeys or humans will not develop normally unless they receive the warm loving attention of a mother figure to who they can become attached.

The maternal deprivation hypothesis is substantiated by the behavioral patterns of foundling home children studied. Spitz’s term anaclitic depression describes the apathy, social ineptitude, physical morbid rigidity and absence of verbal…

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW

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

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