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Photos On This Site

are all original, and intended to enhance your understanding of the therapy process.

Many photos represent universal shapes (as in my logo: circle, square, triangle). They are also meant to reflect universal themes about how we integrate head, heart, and soul in the therapy process of increasing self-awareness.

That is, many pictures include color (representing emotion), shapes ( representing our cognitive processes) and other soulful elements such as showing perspective and depth, highlighting differences and contrasts, and illustrating paradox and reflection.

 

9/11 Tenth Anniversary: A PSYCHOLOGIST’S VIEWS ON REMEMBERING

As a Psychologist in private practice, I’ve noticed recently a number of my patients NOT talking about the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary soon upon us. Instead, one described a vague sense of unease, like noticing the darkening sky prior to hurricane Irene. Another complained of haunting dreams, but can’t recall what they are. Another’s back ache recurred, but he did not twist or bend in any way to cause it.

Whether or not we are consciously aware, know how, or why, I believe that the tragic events of that blue-sky September day in 2001 changed all our lives, It certainly changed my life. I think about how I walked onto the sidewalk outside my Brooklyn Heights office, a long stone’s throw across the East River from the burning towers. Smoke billowed, and the wind carried papers and debris from people’s desks. A contract that might have closed a deal, or a sweet memo to a friend -- all of equal stature, and of no importance -- now. Their desk was gone. They were gone. I recall thinking: Do it now. Dance. Love. Live now. For who knows what tomorrow may bring.

In addition to the existential concerns about the uncertainties, meanings, and possible brevity of Life, a different kind of change may be happening to us all. Our government, and some pundits said that the events on 9/11 happened partially due to our “failure of imagination.” Whatever data we were collecting about “terrorist” activities, no one imagined t h a t. I could argue that as the century closed, we were a nation focused on left brain abilities, logical, rational, analyses of information in a cyber-age. After 9/11 we’ve been starkly confronted with peoples and ideas from parts of the world so different from our own. We needed to i m a g i n e. We’ve needed to use our right brain more, to appreciate the irrational, recognize patterns, think associationally, and allow emotions a more privileged place. [ Noting a a possible trend, several professional conferences this year will focus on using our “creativity” in our professional lives and work.] Over this past decade, I believe that “Emotional Intelligence” has gathered promise in business settings where the “bottom line” was the singular goal.

So I like to think that integrating heart and mind -- and talking about that synthesis of both sides of our brain -- has become acceptable. In the spirit of that integration, below I am sharing some ideas from a Psychologist’s viewpoint that you may find useful in your remembering the meaning of 9/11 for you.

  1. TIME CAN BE UNCONSCIOUS.
    Ten years is a long time. That was then. But in your mind’s eye, it can feel like yesterday. Even like now. If you have had other losses or major disappointments in your life since 9/11, or even before that, you may want to limit the amount of time you spend watching televised reruns of the day : the visuals can be disturbing reminders of other losses, moments of helplessness, or unaccustomed rage.
  2. MOURNING ENCOURAGES HEALING.
    Every religion has a period of mourning after a death because grieving acknowledges the loss so that we can move on. Rituals (actions) and memorials (objects or places) can be crucial markers, inside an individual’s feelings, and outside as bonding within a family or larger community.

    However, I have met people whose mourning for what happened on 9/11 may still feel like yesterday, i.e. , their mourning may be deeper and last longer than is helpful to them. [What Psychology refers to as “melancholic” mourning.] This kind of melancholic reaction to loss -- e.g. after the death of a loved one, destruction of one’s house in a hurricane, loss of an opportunity for a promotion/ job, or the disappointment of an ideal or hoped for event-- seems to happen more readily when the mourner harbors mixed, and/or conflictual feelings toward who or what is lost.
  3. LOSS CAN BE INTANGIBLE
    While many lost friends and loved ones during 9/11, others of us lost intangibles such as a sense of this country’s invincibility, or lost hope that peace can prevail in our world. You may have lost some sense of safety, or certainty in your surroundings. 9/11 may have heightened your awareness of your own mortality
  4. MEANING IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.
    Take care how your words or actions could be interpreted. Especially to someone who lost a loved one on 9/11. A woman, who lost her husband that day, told me “I get so annoyed when people call me around this time. They think they’re comforting me. Well, I don’t want their comfort. Especially if they are not in touch with me at any other time of the year.”

    You may find it useful to write down the different meanings this day may carry for you. (I have done just that here.) You can make a conscious choice about how much attention to this day would be good for you.