Columnists, Articles

June 1st, 2016

The next best thing to being there

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Today there are more ways than ever to stay in touch with family and friends and, as I am discovering, each has its own preferred modes of expression, rules of etiquette, advantages, and risks. For a few days last month, I traded emails with three friends whom I have known for more than 50 years as we shared our reactions to the passing of Daniel Berrigan, the priest, poet and antiwar activist who inspired many of our generation. The constraints of time and distance limit our face-to-face encounters to only a few times a year but emails, texts, and periodic [More]

May 1st, 2016

Pruning our lives

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It is a warm Friday morning in April and my wife is out to an estate sale. If she sees anything interesting, she will buy it or, if it is something big or expensive, she will call me for a second opinion. This is our usual arrangement and it has worked well over the years to keep our accumulation of treasures within reasonable limits. These days we are buying less and discarding more or at least that is our intention. I used to think that this kind of downsizing was an annoying habit of old people too focused on preparing [More]

April 1st, 2016


By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

He said he didn’t care what happened to him so he didn’t seem to be bothered that he was still in the custody of the court and confined to the hospital. His indifference was part of his depression and his depression had invaded the very core of his identity. If he had his way, he would end his life and pass on to the next world or to no world at all. Anything was better than living with the loss of the dream that he was so close to achieving before it all crashed. The man was stuck. Despite the [More]

March 1st, 2016

Marking the passage of time

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

I have always been conscious of the passage of time and my place in its flow. As a small boy traveling by bus and subway from my suburban New Jersey home to visit my cousins in Brooklyn for the weekend, I couldn’t help but notice the train returning on the opposite track and thinking that I would be riding it all too soon. Beginnings carry within them the seed of their endings. If you happen to notice this simple fact, you will either find it hard to enjoy the moment or immerse yourself so thoroughly in it, that you’ll have [More]

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]

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