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Monday, July 28, 2014

151 Must-Visit Writing Sites


Now Novel just released 151 sites that are a must-visit for writers, and I'm pleased that The Character Therapist made the cut! You can check out the entire list by clicking on the link below:

I found a lot of sites I hadn't visited before, so perhaps you will too!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Shock Value and Abandoned Teens

Dear Jeannie,

Oliver (aged 17) is – how should I put this – odd. He does things to intentionally make people feel uncomfortable. For instance, on the day that he met his only friend (a quiet, distant, and eccentric girl), Oliver ran a plastic knife across his throat, then coughed fake blood. His father killed his mother, so he obviously has a troubled past. His school therapist calls him mentally disturbed and unstable. I honestly have no idea if his behavior is realistic at all, and if it is, what could he be diagnosed with, and how would he interact with people?

Unable to Diagnose 

Dear Unable to Diagnose,

There are people out there who love to go for shock value, and the more uncomfortable the reaction from others, the more it feeds into this behavior. He's more into the macabre, slitting his throat and coughing blood. If it's remotely realistic looking, then he's going to get an intense reaction. This would appear to be mentally unstable, but I don't know a lot about Oliver at this time. He might have a very good reason for doing what he's doing. Did he have a lot of attention growing up? Was he always told to blend into the background, that children are better seen, not heard? Would this be a reaction against this? As for diagnosis, he could have a simple adjustment disorder, depending on when his mother died or if something else traumatic had just happened. Does he have flashbacks to his father's murder of his mother? You haven't really given me enough to diagnose from. But while I haven't met or treated any personally, there are class clowns, if you will, who lean toward the darker side of it's feasible. But we'd need to talk more.

Dear Jeannie -

Alice and her four companions are all around the age of 13-15 years old. They have been abandoned in a science facility, left there by the scientists who decided to look out for themselves rather than take care of kids. They are the only ones left who aren't dead already. They experience bouts of going hungry because there is nothing to eat, and fighting for survival in hopes of exiting the facility. They finally are rescued after about a month of living there. What would be the emotional repercussions for the abandonment, isolation, responsibility, and fear placed on these kids?  

SciFi Junkie

Dear SciFi Junkie,

What wouldn't be the emotional repercussions? The sky would be your only limitation. I'd believe that lack of trust would rank high on the list. Adults used and abused them as test experiments and then left them. Assuming that it's adults who find them, I'd believe that they would be mistrustful to a high degree. They'd also want to stick together, likely, even if they had arguments between themselves. This type of trauma could form an impenetrable bond between these teens. It's something they went through together, and understand together. They might be hoarders, constantly sneaking and stuffing food into pockets, not quite sure when they will see food again. This is survival mode. Some of the group would likely be more parental than the others. They'd show a large amount of caretaking, keeping law and order, etc. Others are going to be the rebellious acting out type. Think The Breakfast Club.  People assume roles that they think they are to assume. Leaders need followers and rule-breakers, etc. It's a broad question, for sure, and you have lots of room to run with it.

Got Questions? 

I might have answers. Anonymously leave your question in the comment section below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle. I'll post my answers in future Dear Jeannie columns.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Hallucinations and Angels

Dear Jeannie, 

Susan is a good girl, who survived the 60's without falling into drugs or too much social revolution. Mostly because the Dark Woman in the corner didn't like her leaving the house. Susan has enough crazy going on already in her family's home of locked doors and midnight fights, she doesn't need any new hallucinations. But she's come to a point where reality is pretty mixed up, which has led to her being institutionalized for an undiagnosed disorder (not schizophrenia, but close) in the spring of '71. What are some of the treatment options available for her? I'd like for her to get better, but a part of that healing will also involve an attraction to one of her doctors. I'd like for this to be mutual, but right now she's doing a lot of pacing, insomnia, and writing down the Dark Woman's orders so she can tear up the pages. Not mainstream appealing. What boundaries should I be careful of, to make sure that the healing and the relationship both remain stable and healthy? 

Caged in Connecticut

Dear Caged,

Some clarification would be needed to address this question. Is the Dark Woman indeed a hallucination? Does Susan actually see an apparition in the corner of her home? Hear this person talk to her and give orders? Or is this Dark Woman a part of Susan's own self? I'm trying to determine if she actually as dissociative identity disorder (which would have been called multiple personality disorder back then) rather than schizophrenia. However, assuming that she's just hearing and seeing the Dark Woman, as a hallucination, then she'd be institutionalized at the early 70s with schizophrenia, not an undiagnosed disorder. After some cursory research online, as schizophrenia in the 70s is not my specialty (lol!), I found a research paper in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry that discussed on page 160 [second full paragraph] an innovative method started in the 70s to treat schizophrenia that your doctor might just be a proponent of. Let me know what you think! He could be slipping her fish oil tablets to get better....

Dear Jeannie: 

In my book that I started years ago, and have worked on in an on-again, off-again fashion, I have dealt with an angel coming to check on the emotional health of angels who now live on earth. We discussed the main characters way back in the summer of 2009 (June/July time frame). One of the things my angel therapist has to do is counsel a human woman who is a school teacher who becomes involved both emotionally and physically with one of her students. This has been in the news several times, and I decided to make it part of the plot of my book. Can you help guide me with how you would provide therapy to this kind of woman, or at least point me to one of your blog posts that have dealt with this issue? I would be most appreciative. 

"Fictional Counselor"

Dear "Fictional Counselor,"

I remember the plot well. Thought it a most interested twist on angels. You didn't mention the age difference between the teacher and the student, but perhaps that is only secondary to the nature of your question. A few topics come to mind that I'd want to tackle with this woman, namely self-esteem, co-dependency, and healthy boundaries. I'm never surprised when poor decisions are trace back to low self-esteem and confidence. Likely, you'd have to have the angel therapist dig into the teacher's background. How did her dad treat her? Was her mom complicit in this treatment? I'd
probably do some transactional analysis stuff with her (look on my sidebar for all my posts dealing with that subject). The teacher received her view of men initially from her dad. Perhaps, if she had an abusive father, a younger male student was seen as less threatening, someone she could control and not be afraid of. These are just a few of the areas that I'd start with and I'd want to use talk therapy with her, perhaps some artistic pursuits to bring out the creative side of communication. I always let clients decide where we go, so it's a bit unusual of a question, but that's where my initial thoughts went. Hope that helps! Good luck.


I might have answers. Fill out the form below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle, and I'll answer them in future Dear Jeannie columns.