Articles, Columnists

February 1st, 2016

Learning new ways to connect

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

With the gift of time that retirement brings and the opportunity to continue doing some clinical work, I am noticing a change in the way I talk with people in and out of the office. It may have something to do with a change in perspective that comes from shedding some of the trappings of professional life and having more time to be truly present in my encounters with others. In a hospital where I consult, I see a man who is far from home and family. He was depressed to begin with and the holidays hit him hard. Now [More]

January 1st, 2016

Criminal responsibility at heart of case

By Edward Stern J.D.

Every so often a case comes along that raises a curious question. One such case is Commonwealth v. Shin, cited as 86 MASS. App. Ct. 381 (2014). The case is presented as having a single issue: “whether at the time of the incident the defendant was criminally responsible?” The facts of the case, abridged from those presented in the published decision, are that “the defendant lifted his hand and touched the victim between her legs on her upper thigh, within ‘two inches’ of her genital area.” This event occurred on a crowded trolley car in Boston, Massachusetts. The victim pushed [More]

January 1st, 2016

What we miss along the way

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

On a recent trip to Colorado to visit our daughter, I found myself obsessed by the desire to see the Rockies covered with snow. I had a particular view in mind, probably an amalgam of what I had seen in documentaries about climbing Mt. Everest, a scene from the movie, “Lost Horizon” and my ever active imagination. In my mind’s eye, I am standing on the top of a mountain or at least sitting in my car at a scenic overlook, looking out on layers of mountain tops receding into the distance, each layer smaller and fainter than the one [More]

December 1st, 2015

Constructing the world together

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The first time I realized that none of us sees the world in quite the same way I was just a kid riding in the back of the car with my aunt driving and my mother sitting in the passenger seat. In the way of small children before the days of seat belts, bored with adult company and itching to be out playing, I was lying on my back with my feet up against the front seat, watching the tops of telephone poles gliding by the side window. Suddenly it occurred to me that I was the only one in [More]

November 1st, 2015

A night with my invisible friend

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When my friend had to bow out of an educational event we had planned to attend together, I thought I would be on my own. I never expected to be sitting with a guy who snuck into the auditorium by registering under my name. He was my younger self and he’s been popping up more and more these days since my retirement, reminding me what I used to think and feel about anything and everything. He surprised me that late summer evening when he appeared at a videoconference featuring Dr. Irvin Yalom at Stanford University being interviewed by Dr. Bob [More]

October 1st, 2015

Smartphone summer

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

This was the summer of my first smartphone. I wasn’t the last holdout among my friends and family, but I was close. My wife is going for the record of having the oldest flip phone on the face of the planet but she convinced me that it was time for one of us to join the rest of the world in having instant access to everything we want to know and communicate to others. Information technology has developed so quickly over the past 50 years that it is difficult to believe that we didn’t even have flip phones until 1996. [More]

August 21st, 2015

Re-thinking what useful means

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Sometimes, the obvious distortions in the thinking of a person with mental illness can lead us to examine our own assumptions about the way we live our lives. One of the most hopeless people I know believes that he does not deserve to live because he is useless. He is confined to the hospital because he says, and we believe, that he will kill himself if he was not closely supervised. He suffered a catastrophic loss for which he blames himself and he cannot imagine a life other than the one that is no longer available to him. He looks [More]

July 1st, 2015

Taking the next step

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

I find it hard to believe that it has been a full year since I wrote about “The Retirement Readiness Test,” a three-day weekend rehearsal of a retired psychologist’s schedule that led me to conclude that I wasn’t ready. I find this hard to believe because when this column appears on July 1, I will have been retired for a little more than two weeks. Well, sort of.  I will be retired from my full time position of 39 years but I will still be doing some part-time work in psychology. In the past year, my thinking about retirement has [More]

June 1st, 2015

Airline suicide raises issues for psychologists

By Edward Stern J.D.

On March 24, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in the French Alps. One hundred forty four passengers and six crew members died. It’s now believed that the co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane – killing himself and the people aboard it. Germanwings is a subsidiary of Lufthansa airlines. The co-pilot had a history of depression going back to at least 2009. According to CNN, there are five previous incidents with planes that may have been deliberately crashed by pilots: Nov. 29, 2013, Mozambique Airlines Flight 470, with 27 passengers and six crew members died in Bwabwata game park in Namibia; Oct. 31, [More]

June 1st, 2015

Why place matters

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The man had just explained how his violent behavior was the norm in the poor urban neighborhood where he was raised and I responded with a simple acknowledgement of how difficult it must have been to grow up there. Then he surprised me with a question. Did I know anything about Mallorca? Only that it is a beautiful island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain, I replied. The world traveler agreed and added that in his eyes, the rough neighborhood of his youth is every bit as beautiful. Of course it is, I reflected silently and wondered what [More]

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