Columnists, Articles

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]

July 1st, 2014

The retirement readiness test

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The question I hear more and more often these days concerns when I’m planning to retire. Never mind that I’m the one doing most of the asking, but I hear it from friends and colleagues as well. It’s a stage of life thing, something my fellow baby boomers and I toss around in meandering conversations about life, work and our hopes and plans for our so-called golden years. My first response to this question was a glib, “When I meet my first happy retired person or after I’ve paid all my big bills, whichever comes first.” It didn’t take much [More]

June 1st, 2014

How to build a model ship

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Since the first Egyptian was entombed with a miniature boat to meet his travel needs in the afterlife, people of all cultures have been building model ships. Sailors whiled away the time at sea carving replicas of their vessels and often left these models in churches throughout Europe in thanksgiving for their safe return. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, naval architects in England built exquisitely detailed ship models to submit to the Admiralty Board for approval. Admiralty models remain the finest examples of the model shipwright’s craft and the standard to which serious builders aspire. Needing neither a boat [More]

May 1st, 2014

Becoming a group

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When it comes to psychotherapy, the coin of the realm in our hospital is group treatment. If there’s a human malady or body of knowledge associated in any way with mental illness, we have a group where it can be discussed, taught, explored, contemplated in respectful silence or ignored. In bigger groups all of these things can happen at the same time. Someone opens the discussion about how to handle the stigma of mental illness and a few people share their personal experiences and ideas on the topic. Others sit quietly, some following the speakers with their eyes, a few [More]

April 1st, 2014

The Psy who came in from the cold

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It’s cold – deep, penetrating, bone-chilling, soul-killing cold. That sentence may be a peculiar thing to read when this issue hits the streets on the first of April but now, as I write at the beginning of March, it’s cold. It has been one of the coldest winters in history with snow as far south as Georgia and the entire eastern part of the country swallowed up in one polar vortex after another. Last year, no one even knew what a polar vortex was and now it’s just another phrase to describe the weather, taking its place alongside familiar Bermuda [More]

March 1st, 2014

Counting what we do and doing what counts

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

These days, we count everything in the hospital. On Tuesdays, an email comes to remind me to submit my weekly encounter form by 10 o’clock the next morning. That’s where we count how many patients we’ve seen and how many minutes we spent seeing them. Risk assessments ask us how many times a patient has been arrested, charged with violent crimes, convicted, hospitalized, restrained and secluded. We need to know how many times they’ve run away from home, tortured animals, set fires, skipped school, bullied classmates, sassed teachers, got suspended, expelled or expunged from the rolls of the good and [More]