Articles, Columnists

May 1st, 2015

Extra people

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Flannery O’Connor has a powerful short story entitled, “The Displaced Person,” where she describes the impact of the arrival of a refugee family on a small Southern farm. The story is set in the period following World War II when masses of people left Central and Eastern Europe in the wake of Soviet occupation of their homelands. In O’Connor’s story, a local priest arranges the placement of one of these families on a farm owned by a widow and worked by black and white farmhands. The established laborers do not take kindly to the arrival of the foreigners with strange [More]

April 1st, 2015

When laughter shows the way

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

In all the years I had known him, through hundreds of therapy hours that sometimes left me feeling as hopeless as he did; he had never stopped talking about killing himself. He had almost succeeded on a number of occasions and we believed him when he said that the only thing keeping him alive was the lack of means and opportunity in the hospital. Like many people who have abandoned hope, he had lost much. He would say everything and that would be only a slight exaggeration. Alone with his thoughts, he cried almost daily. And yet, he wondered out [More]

March 1st, 2015

Learning to trust the process

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The interviews are over, the rankings have been submitted, and the cloud has delivered the names of our interns for the next training year. All of that is done but I am still thinking about an answer one of our applicants gave to my standard question about how he imagined his unique strengths and challenges would influence his performance in our program. After explaining what made him the ideal candidate for the position, he said simply that he was still learning to trust the process. He was talking about the process of psychotherapy but I am thinking about that and [More]

February 1st, 2015

All you need is love

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

In the dead of winter, Valentine’s Day reminds us of the healing power of love in all of its many forms. Cut through the commercial dross of the manufactured holiday and you might be able to see acts of kindness in places you never thought to look. Avoid print and television news where stories of violence and crime predominate and see what’s happening where you spend your time every day. Take along a guidebook to orient yourself to the landscape of love and stroll the boulevards and back streets of familiar places looking for evidence that we have not forgotten [More]

January 1st, 2015

The lady in the chair

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It was time for her annual review and she had been transferred only recently to my unit. A year in the hospital and this was the first time we would be talking together. The nurse pointed me in the direction of a woman sitting in the TV room in her bathrobe and slippers. We were strangers to each other and I can only imagine how odd it must have seemed to her when I explained that I would like to speak with her about her past year in the hospital. To my delight, the woman smiled and followed my lead [More]

December 1st, 2014

Your mailbox is almost full

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When it comes to life’s little annoyances, right up there with greenhead flies on the beach and that wad of cotton in the aspirin bottle, is the email message that threatens to immobilize your workday, “Your mailbox is almost full.” Of course, that’s only one way of looking at the situation. If my automatic thoughts ran in a more positive direction, I would just be grateful for the reminder, prune the mailbox and get on with my day. Past experience, however, has taught me that this is not as easy as it may sound. Maybe it has something to do [More]

November 1st, 2014

The way of the cat

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

You never know what new lesson life has in store or who will come along to teach it. Just when I thought I had missed the pleasures and challenges of pet ownership, our daughter asked us to watch her cat Mushu for six weeks until she came back to bring him home with her to Colorado. I know that most adults own pets because I have seen the stickers on the rear windows of cars, advertising the typical American family complete with parents, kids, a dog or a cat, and sometimes both. Because I fall short in the pet department, [More]

October 1st, 2014

Parade of stars

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The arrival of our new psychology interns at the hospital in September is surely as much a sign of fall as the first hints of color in the New England foliage. Their appearance is the culmination of a year-long process of updating our program brochures and online descriptions, reading scores of applications, interviewing our top candidates and biting our nails through the mutual selection process that somehow delivers these fledging psychologists to our doorstep. The suddenness of their appearance suggests there is magic at work but the work is really done by our directors of training, psychologists from our hospital [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Time and summer time

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

This was the summer of hellos and goodbyes, the summer when I played with time and time played with me. It was the summer of reunions, my 45th college reunion and the 49th time that my closest high school friends and I came together to celebrate our long association and enjoy one another’s company.   It was hello to our son’s future wife and our daughter’s future husband. For every hello, there was a goodbye. Friends gathered and scattered. Children sailed away to distant shores leaving the memory of their laughter and the promise of future visits. With most of [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Should we rethink our procedures?

By Edward Stern J.D.

Over the past year and a half, Massachusetts has been dealing with the custody of a minor from Connecticut. Normally, the name of a minor child would remain confidential but this one has been in the news with great frequency. Her name is Justina Pelletier.   The facts for background purposes, as reported by FOXCT on its Web site: “Justina had been…diagnosed with mitochondrial disease at Tufts Medical Center in 2011. Her parents admitted her to Boston Children’s Hospital in February 2013 with flu-like symptoms. Doctors at Boston Children’s questioned the Tufts diagnosis and said they believed her symptoms including [More]

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