Medications for Psychological or Psychiatric Issues


I have to write about something that really upsets me.

Just the other day I was working with a couple who had come to me because their sixteen year old daughter was having problems in school, at home, and overall seemed unhappy.  They discovered she had been drinking to the point of getting drunk, and when they made that discovery, they took her to their family doctor.  The family doctor put her on an antidepressant medication, Prozac. It wasn’t the correct medication.

If you had cancer would you let a cardiologist treat you? 

If you had a heart problem would you ask an a dermatologist to figure out how to cope with your heart condition?

The questions are ridiculous because we all know that medicine is very specialized, and we want the right person to address the situation that that person was trained to treat.

Family physicians need to refer patients to psychiatrists when there is a need for psychiatric medication–even short term medication that seems obvious.  For example, often after the death of a loved one, a person might feel unusually anxious or depressed.  Family doctors prescribe medications for these conditions all the time.  Psychiatric medications are vast and have become more particular over the years.  While family practitioners mean well, they often choose the most common medication and don’t fully evaluate the patient to make sure that person gets on the specific medication that is right for him or her.

I believe family doctors and patients collude to avoid a trip to the psychiatrist.  The stigma of “mental illness” is attached to receiving medication from a psychiatrist rather than from your friendly family doc.  This mutual collusion does not help patients and it fosters a continuing stigma against proper mental health care.  I am not a fan of excessive use of mediation, but I know that the right medication at the right time can be salvation to a person who is suffering.

Please–if you or someone you love needs psychiatric medication, make sure they get it from the right person. 

Learn From the Daisy


Recently my dear friend Annharriet Buck the longtime resident psychologist, meditation teacher at the Golden Door Spa in Escondido, California recommended a book written by buddhist teacher Orygen Chowang Rinpoche Our Pristine Mind


On her advice, I dove into it.  The book teaches a particular form of meditation that essentially helps the mind settle into its natural state of being. He likens it to a snow globe–the way little bits of snow swirl around when you shake the globe, but if you let it sit, slowly the swirling settles into stillness.  The mind is like this.  This meditative practice is not focused on an object or even the breath, and the eyes are kept softly open, not closed as is the usual practice with meditation.  The aim is to be present in a natural state of awareness.  As I have tried to follow this practice, I have noticed a sense of being present in the midst of my environment and all that is part of that–the trees, the house, my dog…  This book is not a page turner, but is worth it for anyone who is interested in enhancing meditative practice.

One of the results of this practice is that I began to notice more of my surrounding and reflect more deeply about it. I am fortunate to live in a very beautiful spot, high up in the coastal redwood forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

In summer wild daisies pop into bloom, so if you drive to my place, as you come down the single lane road to the house, the edge of the road riots with them.

The meditation of the pristine mind, settling into the natural mind made me feel deeply connected to my environment, not in it or separate from it, but belonging to it just as much as the trees or the daisies.  The contemplation of the daisy brought me to the notion that I, and you, are just what we essentially are. You would never hear a daisy saying, “I sure wish I had those nice prickly thorns that the rose over there has.”  Or “Gee, how come I’m only yellow and white?”  We can’t do better than to settle into the essence of the unique natural being each of us is.  The daisy reigns there by the side of the road.  It waits for me to cut a few stems to put in a vase and set on my dining room table.  It waits to be picked by a lovesick individual who will pluck each petal, “He loves me; he loves me not.”  It waits for the gardener who gathers the seeds from the blossom so she can plant daisies in a new location.  The daisy can be used in many ways–always in alignment with daisy-hood.

Many of us spend time trying to make something of ourselves, when in truth, coming back to the essence of who we are, and allowing ourselves to unfold from that place is the challenge.  We need to be used in ways that are consistent with the essence of who we are and well–in that way we’re not all that different from the daisy.

 I’d love to hear from you–

how you’re unfolding from your essence

and how you’re allowing yourself to be used in that wonderful and unique way.


Are Dreams Meaningful?

The earliest systematic study of dreams goes back to 1893, when Mary Whiton Calkins, an American philosopher and psychologist, the first woman to become president of the American Psychological Association, described one of the first studies in her article “Statistics of Dreams”

Mary Whiton Calkins
Mary Whiton Calkins

As far back as 5000 years ago, the Sumerians in Mesopotamia recorded dreams on clay tablets.  From that time until modern era when Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams  (1900) the meaning of dreams has been a great curiosity.  Today some neurological researchers proposes that dreams are the result of random firings of the brain, while many others find meaning in dreams.



Carl Jung
Carl Jung

Carl Jung wrote many pieces on dreams, complied in Dreams, an anthology of his writing on dreams.  Jung, unlike Freud believed that the unconscious was a source of creativity, not just a receptacle for repressed psychological and emotional material.  He also believed that the dream did not masquerade for a hidden meaning.  He believed that the images of dreams were symbols, part of a symbolic language that could be deciphered, in a way similar to the way a translator would decipher an unknown text.

My own view of the dream rests on the belief and intuition that nothing about the human being is superfluous or meaningless.  We are constructed so that our physiology responds in the direction of health, healing and wholeness.  When we cut a hand, cells “know” to march toward one another to seal off the wound.  When blood sugar fluctuates, insulin is dumped into the system to regulate the those levels.  When the system needs hydration we feel thirst.  Could it be that only the dream is random and meaningless?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.