Labels Don’t Define You

Diagnostic labels are typical. You enter a hospital, consult a doctor, and take lab tests. Then, you’re given a Label of your condition.

In psychological care or mental health, labels abound. They emanate mostly from DSM. It’s a doctor’s guide on mental health disorders used by MHP (mental health practitioners) around the world.

Yesterday, I was reading a psychological report on Marino, a teenage client. It’s issued by a registered drug-based professional mental health agency based in Manila.

In the report I found lots of familiar DSM labels. Depression. Agoraphobia. Social anxiety. Depersonalization Disorder. Schizophrenia.

As usual, aside from the labels, the agency required the client to take brain drugs. When the drugs manifested serious side effects on the teen client, his mother chose to stop it.

When the mother reported about it to the agency, she was simply told to comply. Without drugs, they said, no psychotherapy will be allowed for his son.

Labels and the pharmaceutical industry usually go together in psychiatry. Describing who you are as “depressive” or “BPD” or “schizoid” is an attitude often encouraged by the big pharma.

In my initial session with Marino, I’d noticed how much the “labels” given him have already affected his sense of himself. Mostly in our talks, he spoke of who he is as the “labels,” the sickness.

Sadly, in my observation, Marino has come to see himself as inherently dysfunctional. A major part of it was the result of the way he was labeled and boxed in.

Framing one’s identity around some drug-based label is dangerous. It harms one’s overall health. Worse, it can destroy even the core of one’s self identity.

You are more than any diagnostic “label.” You are a person, not an object. The label is just a temporary state or external behavior. It does not exclusively define you.

Transcending “labels” means looking at life beyond them. Labels can be useful in a way. But they can also shape your thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

Be careful then. Discern differences. Labels stick, but they can also be unwrapped. You and any label are two different things.

Most importantly, you can be stronger than the “label.”

When Your Adult Child Disappoints You (Part 2)

An important way for us parents to understand how our adult children turned out is to examine first the part we played. Ours, before theirs. One we can control. Then, learn and improve thereon.

Some parents do too much for their adult children. And some do too little or don’t do enough. Two extremes. A case of “sparing help” vs. “spoiling the child.”

The call is always for balance.

Antonio, now a senior citizen, never held a job all his life. He’s always given allowances by his prosperous mother. Even while married and raising four children, Antonio asked for everything from his Mom, from basic expenses to kids’ tuitions or car gasoline.

As a result, Antonio never found reason to be self-supportive and responsible even for his own family. He’s always in a state of limbo. Even at old age, still a “baby being fed. Antonio’s days as a perpetual freeloader have not been corrected.

Does his Mom’s giving him so much help destroy his motivation to help himself?

Parenting psychologist, Dr. Jane Adams, writes:

“Parents who give too much do so out of their own needs, not their children’s. They give out of unmet desires for love, attention, or self esteem; they give to compensate for early deprivation (in either generation); they give to change their adult children’s behavior or fill up the emptiness inside.”

At times, we parents must rescue ourselves first! While we cannot rescue our adult children from the dysfunctions and troubles of their own making, we do need to save ourselves from the habit of trying to rescue them all the time.

Otherwise, our “adultolescent” children will never be able to manage appropriate to their age and life stage without us. Time for growing up … and not to wait too long before it becomes too late.

Society and Mental Health

Let me tell you something that might sound radical to you: we all live in an addicted society. Society contributes a huge part into the corruption, dysfunction, or breakdown of individuals and families in our world. Would that be so difficult for you to grasp?

One time, I was speaking to a seasoned 80-year-old veteran lawyer. Constantly exposed to human corruption in his decades-long legal practice, he expressed deep disappointment over people and society in general. At one point, he quoted or paraphrased Emerson, to describe his experience, “Everyone in society is a prostitute. It’s just a matter of price.”

Several days ago, Norma came in to see me for “relationship” counseling. She has two boyfriends, and is struggling and hurting over her sex addiction. Often, sex addiction finds its origins in childhood abuse or abandonment. In Norma’s case, she was raised in a normal home with attentive, loving, and godly parents and no evidences of molestation or some trauma. Some other significant factor then contributes to her condition.

Norma described herself as still being sexually innocent when she went away to the city for work after graduation from college. She rented space in a boarding house and was exposed to pornography and sexual promiscuity for the first time. Her fellow female boarders would watch X-rated movies and she discovered their “phone sex” and going out with multiple men for paid sex. In time, Norma “eased into” the addiction gradually through repeated exposures to pornography and sex around her.

Now, aren’t these representations of how society helps condition us toward addiction and psychopathology? In the media, in the world of business, in politics, everywhere, people are “objects,” not persons. Its essence is dehumanization, which encourages us to use people and sell our self for decorative and consumption purposes. As Madonna put it, “We live in a material world, and I’m a material girl.” Human dignity and authenticity be damned.

Think, for a moment, just take a look around you. Society is diseased. This is one part of the reason why countless human beings get wounded and break down – emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Every addiction nowadays is traceable to the addictive virus present in the kind of society and world we live in. It’s not “out there,” it’s everywhere.

We all need redemption and healing from this. But first, we all need to see it as it really is.

Do You Need Financial Therapy?

Everyone of us has a psychological and spiritual relationship with money.

This relationship is not born. It’s bred. Beginning from childhood, the source of our beliefs and “scripts” about money developed over time in our minds.

The relationship we have with money is a result of slow, significant accumulation of lessons we absorb from the adults around us.

If our experiences of money are not healthy but rather painful or traumatic, they easily become the foundation of our financial struggles in adulthood.

Unconsciously, when wounds are left unprocessed, we may come to associate money with anxiety, crisis, or void in relationships.

Albert’s confusion over money persisted for many years during his adulthood. Until he got bankrupt. Zero. Nothing, even the basics.

Borrowing millions from his family, relatives, and friends, he pursued a business to earn big money. He did so for he needed to be independent of his parents.

But as soon as he earned profits, he spent it as fast as he earned it on women, drugs, and gambling.

In my work with Albert, we touched on his money “script.”

He didn’t see the connection then but his mother had serious issues with money when he was growing up.

His father, on the other hand, was hands off her mother’s financial habits even if he disagreed with her.

Albert remembered how his mother would always complain about not having enough money. But then, he’d watch her spend like crazy, go on shopping sprees, traveling overseas, and buying expensive stuff.

So here, as a result, Albert grew up having no real concept of finances. The discipline of wise spending, saving, making money work for you, or knowing how to manage it …that was beyond Albert.

Maybe you see a bit of your self in Albert. Maybe not.

But all of us have early life event or series of events associated with money. They leave “scripts” or imprints that can last into adulthood.

Do you see some of your own money “scripts” or imprints?

If you struggle with spending, saving, budgeting, paying off debts, severe luxury or frugality, gambling, or other money “scripts,” financial therapy could help.

Financial therapy can help you recognize and change psychological, emotional, and spiritual patterns you have about money that aren’t serving you.

To help you start, you may take advantage of a free one-hour financial therapy consultation session that I have with individuals, couples, groups on an appointment-basis.

Just drop a note at +63 9090833374 or email psychotherapy@drsubida.com if you want to avail of the free one-hour financial therapy session.

(Note: Your personal financial therapy evaluation letter from Dr. Subida comes in a handsome form …plus practical takeaways!)

Rich Kid Syndrome

I woke up this morning thinking about a mother and son in my session not too long ago. Well, it’s like watching a story in a movie. Expert clinicians in the psych field have dealt with their condition, which they call “affluenza” or “rich kid syndrome.”

Entitlement. Addiction. These two words pretty much describe the current condition of the now middle-aged son. A college drop-out and never held a job in his life, he has become addicted to drugs, alcohol, car racing, women, and casino gambling. Heir of family wealth, he feels entitled to too much money without having to work for it.

The mother brought her son to me because she’s confused about what’s happening to him. For over a decade now, her son has been under psychiatric medication, in and out of psych facilities. She doesn’t see her son recovering but worsening day by day with depressive and nervous breakdowns. Since he was a little child onwards to adulthood, it’s his mother who’d be by his side, protecting and insulating him with access to lots of money, bailing him out when he does something wrong, and seeing to it that everything is done for him.

As it turns out, the mother never realizes the “abuse” she’s been doing to her son for so many years. When I started inviting them to explore the “roots” of their situation, they got nervous. The mother stopped me. The son did not want to let go of his usual “comforts” so he can begin healing. Truth hurts. Both mother and son, in this case, are in dire need of appropriate help and support. Unfortunately, they rejected it and would rather prefer to remain in bondage and misery outside of truth.

Let’s stop for a moment and think about our own family situation. Our parenting. Our children. Do we abuse our kids by giving them too much? By the way, this disease is not only common among the wealthy or middle-class families. It can be as common too even in poor families. It is no respecter of persons or status. It’s a hot battle in the mind.

Money and Mental Health

Howard, a senior citizen, hoards. He stashes money in the bank, which he says is for his future. He does not want to let his adult children know about it. So when he flies away, his children will not be aware of any of their father’s huge savings.

In the meantime, Howard makes his children feel obligated to give to him a monthly allowance. He always feel insecure and worried regarding his material needs.

Money often reveals your state of mental health. Money “drug” can be like sex, power, alcohol or marijuana. The more you lust, the more you become dissatisfied! It never stands still. It keeps grasping.

It is addictive. To be fulfilled, you’ve to keep increasing the dosage of this drug-of-choice. That’s when it develops into a kind of mental health problem we can call “greed.”

In Howard’s case, the problem is not the saving of money. There are indeed times in our lives that need economy. The problem is the greed that motivates the saving of money.

This greed is both psychological and emotional as much as it’s also spiritual. The anxiety over money that underlies the hoarding has much deeper roots that need to be attended to.

Are You Wounded By Money?

Today, lots of people get wounded by “money” – psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. We live in a world where people are measured by their net worth. As a result, individuals often get intimidated by the cultural consciousness and deception that says they are what they earn. They appraise their self-worth with monetary worth.

Men sacrifice inner fulfillment and joy for higher salaries. Women marry for money or “convenient meal ticket.” Young people cheat or commit crimes to get what they want. Parents and children alienate each other due to money issues. Government officials turn corrupt for money. Real-life examples of “money disorder” are endless.

We have no quarrel with “earning” money. We all need it to live and have means to provide for ourselves and those who depend upon us. But its entirely different from basing our self-esteem on it. That’s already “serving” or loving money. When such is the case, ethics, morality, or integrity matters less than the fact that we get rich or the money.

Too many people bring unnecessary pain (even tragedy) upon themselves because the emphasis is wrongly placed.

“You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

“Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)