Could Plastics Be Causing ADHD? Along with Asthma, Breast Cancer and More?


A scientific paper to be presented April 8 at a medical conference shows that high levels of a plastic-softening chemical called phthalate in the blood may be linked to inattention and hyperactivity behaviors in children.

The researchers tested blood levels in unexposed children and in children who spent time in a hospital PICU and had one to 12 medical tubes inserted. They found a “clear match between previously hospitalized children’s long-term neurocognitive test results and their individual exposure to the phthalate DEHP during intensive care.” DEHP levels were not detectable in healthy children, but were “sky-high” — up to 18 times higher — in hospitalized children.

What does this mean for your child who may never have been seriously ill?

Perhaps plastic products all around your family could be causing or worsening your child’s problems with focus, distractibility, irritability and high energy levels. (Now, I also would not discount the effect of certain styles of parenting, lack of exercise, over-exposure to technology, developmental trauma, and lack of secure emotional attachment as causes of ADHD. Addressing these in a clinical setting can significantly improve a child’s behaviors.)

Phthalates are added to plastics such as PVC to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. Plasticizers contribute 10-60% of the total weight of plasticized products.

Most Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have metabolites of multiple phthalates in their urine.

Besides being found in medical catheters and blood transfusion devices, phthalates are found in a huge number of products including in the coatings of pharmaceutical pills and nutritional supplements! Fatty foods such as milk, butter, and meats are a major source. Other sources are:

  • shower curtains
  • mini blinds
  • wallpaper
  • vinyl upholstery
  • adhesives
  • food containers (especially coded “3” for recycling)
  • plastic food wrap
  • cleaning materials
  • plastic packaging
  • personal-care products such as perfume, eye shadow, shampoo, moisturizer, nail polish, liquid soap, and hair spray
  • insecticides
  • vinyl floor tiles
  • plastic plumbing pipes
  • adhesives and glues
  • waxes
  • printing inks and coatings
  • textiles
  • building caulk
  • paint pigments

Prior to 1999 phthalates were even used in baby pacifiers, rattles and teethers.

Even infant lotion, infant powder, and infant shampoo have been associated with increased infant urine concentrations of phthalate metabolites. Phthalates are not stable, so they can be in the air, water, or food. They can be inhaled from dust in homes that contains phthalates and this is linked to higher levels of asthma and allergies in children.

Phthalates have long been associated with changes in hormone levels, birth defects including lower cognitive performance, and cancer.

Women may be at higher risk for potential adverse health effects, including breast cancer, due to increased cosmetic use.

There may also be a link between the obesity epidemic and endocrine disruption and metabolic interference caused by plastic products.

It is becoming increasingly clear that reducing the number of plastics in your home is important for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.

Here are more tips and a helpful chart of plastics to avoid.

The NIH has a comprehensive website for many types of toxins.


Fear and Its Effect on Relationships

IMG_1273 (1)


Fear isn’t just about physical danger. Emotional fear can look a lot like anger. But relationships do not thrive in anger or fear.

People who behave with fear, generate fear in others. People who behave with love, generate love in others.

Think about your relationships. Is there someone (…you?) who is behaving with fear? What are the effects of that behavior?

Healthy relationships are built on emotional safety, honesty and trust. Does your shame and fear cause you to punish those in your life for expressing emotional honesty? Will they continue to be honest with you if they fear your response? Emotional intimacy will suffer as they pull away from you and your shame-based and fear-based tactics.

Parents:  If you are yelling and shaming your children, you are generating fear in them. If your children yell, are oppositional and harm others, if is clear proof they are learning in an environment of fear not love.

If you function in a fearful mode, ask yourself: What are you afraid of? Rejection and abandonment? Exposing vulnerability and weakness? Failure and self-doubt? Shame and guilt?

What would happen if you loved yourself instead of got angry at yourself? What if you completely accepted yourself and others, rather than reacted with shame, fear and anger?


The Correct Way to Interview Donald Trump or Argue with Any Difficult Person

Watching a journalist interview Donald Trump is a lesson in psychology, regardless of your political viewpoint. Trump exhibits a complete lack of accountability for his behaviors, the key attribute of what I call “Other-Blamers” in my new “Self-Acceptance Psychology.” Because he is filled with self-shame and feelings of inadequacy, he has learned to develop some successful ways of managing (avoiding) additional shame.

One tactic of Other-Blamers is what I like to call “zigzag” arguing — a visual description that helps people recognize it when it shows up.

Other-Blamers like Trump have great difficulty admitting they are wrong or acquiescing to any fault. So when challenged with an irrefutable fact, they change the subject. They zig-zag to Topic 2 with such speed, ease and poise that the questioner is often pulled unwittingly right along in this scheme. Suddenly the argument is about Topic 2, rather than Topic 1. Success for the Other-Blamer! He gets to distract from his real misbehavior and escapes from the shaming experience of being held accountable. Sometimes this zigzagging can go on for dozens of topics.

I am amazed at the number of national journalists who do not recognize this behavior and do not immediately stop the zig and address it:  “No, we’re not going to talk about Topic 2. I asked you about Topic 1. Why did you do Topic 1?” And when Trump or any Other-Blamer inevitably changes the topic again, the questioner should doggedly but calmly return to Topic 1 and point out the zigzag behavior directly: “I notice you changed the subject — again. It seems you are uncomfortable addressing Topic 1. We need to address Topic 1, so that’s what you’re going to do.”

Many submissive, placating people come into therapy feeling they are “crazy” and taking on all the fault for relationship problems. These “Self-Blamers” are clearly in relationship with an “Other-Blamer” who blames, makes excuses for his behavior, deflects, denies, and zigzags, to the point where the partner loses a sense of reality and starts to assume she is the one who is incorrect, at fault, and even a bit nuts.

I personally experienced this deflect and distract style of arguing hundreds of times with my second husband, so I know it can be quite confusing. I was left emotionally exhausted and bewildered after many arguments, and my Self-Blaming patterns became more entrenched. My father and sister also have excellent skills at Other-Blaming and zigzag arguing, so I experienced this behavior throughout my childhood and early adulthood.

As I have experienced, the lack of any factual basis to their arguments does not stop Other-Blamers. This can be disturbing to many people who do like to base their arguments on some sort of reality! Don’t be unhinged by the lies.  Recognize that this lack of factual basis is exactly the problem — and then address it.

In therapy, I educate the Self-Blamers on the behavior of the Other-Blamer, especially the tactic of zigzag arguing. It takes mindfulness, calm and self-discipline not to get pulled down the rabbit hole of zigzag arguing. But it can be very productive — although the Other-Blamer will not like it one bit. That strategy has served him very well throughout his life and he will not enjoy being called out on his behavior.

As is proven on TV news on a daily basis, Trump behaves this way very, very frequently. But I suspect he also behaves this way in personal and business relationships. His extreme feelings of inadequacy mean that he is unable and unwilling to be humble, accountable, and admit fault, even when the facts all say he is wrong.

The key to fixing this behavior is to develop self-acceptance, so that you can tolerate shame in a healthy manner without Other-Blaming tactics.

Announcing My Latest Project: Self-Acceptance Psychology

Self-Acceptance Psychology-2Consider this…

Why are normal human reactions — such as fear, shame, self-criticism and the need for love and belonging — labeled as “mental disorders?”

Could compassionate self-acceptance be the solution to commonplace self-doubt — and even help people find permanent solutions to anxiety, depression and other supposed “mental disorders?”

I am excited to announce the start of my newest project, based on “Pack Leader Psychology,” but taking those ideas to an entirely new level. Self-Acceptance Psychology is starting as a 55-page booklet for clinicians and website, but I hope to grow it into much more.

That’s because I am so passionate about challenging the mental health profession’s inaccurate, unscientific myths. The current disease model falsely asserts that “anxiety,” “depression” and “ADHD” are caused by imbalances in brain chemistry or inherited traits. Harmful drugs are then pushed as the only solution to these allegedly “lifelong” conditions.

What if there was a system for understanding human emotions and behaviors that….

… was more accurate than the current psychiatric diagnostic model?

… could bring about a real understanding of the causes of human behavior?

… could improve the quality of your relationships with others?

… could improve the relationship you have with yourself?

… could lead to real, permanent change without the use of drugs — bringing contentment and an improved sense of connection?

At the risk of sounding boastful, I believe that system is Self-Acceptance Psychology.

To learn more right now, you can instantly download a 55-page PDF book for just $5. While Self-Acceptance Psychology is aimed at psychologists, social workers and counselors, the general public will be able to fully understand the concepts.

Please share this blog post with any mental health professionals that you know and join me on social media to stay up to date. I’ll be blogging soon on and major anti-psychiatry website — more to come soon!

“Be kind to yourself….”

Book Review: “Feeling Loved” by Jeanne Segal, PhD

41iNFKQs-QL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I just finished a very readable and helpful new book by Jeanne Segal, PhD, “Feeling Loved: The Science of Nurturing Meaningful Connections and Building Lasting Happiness.” (2015, BenBella Books)

Her simple, but powerful thesis: “Feeling loved depends on our ability to communicate emotionally.” (p. 18)

I see problems with emotional awareness, expression, and attunement all the time in therapy. It is especially noticeable with couples and families. Even when in a relationship it is possible to feel lonely, ignored, and misunderstood if your partner lacks the ability to attune to and respond to your emotions or if you lack the ability to properly express your real emotions.

Segal makes an important distinction when discussing her daughter’s suicide death. “Our daughter’s death made me recognize the gap that can exist between being loved and feeling loved. Morgan Leslie was deeply loved by her family and by all who knew her, but I don’t believe she felt loved.“ (p. 10)

“You can tend to someone and provide and care for them, but if you don’t slow down enough or know how to create an emotional connection, you won’t experience feeling loved. Someone can go out of their way to meet your every physical and intellectual need, yet completely miss opportunities to notice and respond to your emotional needs. If they don’t look at you, they may miss the fact that you’re feeling sad. If they don’t hear the frustration or fear in your voice, they may respond in ways that make you angrier or more fearful. When this happens, you realize that you’re well cared for, but you don’t feel loved. Without the facial, body language, and other nonverbal signals that convey emotional understanding and connection, you won’t feel loved and be emotionally fulfill.” (pp. 23-24)

Segal’s work is based on attachment theory, a concept that is essential to me in my work as a psychotherapist. Attachment theory is a very well-researched and well-accepted concept that explains that humans learn relationship patterns starting at birth based on consistent emotional attunement, responsiveness, and empathy of primary caregivers.

A “secure attachment pattern” teaches a child to accept care and develop a sense of connection with others. This helps the child learn a positive model of how another person feels about him and an abiding belief in self-esteem. It predicts that a person will likely grow into someone who has healthy, loving relationships with others and with himself.

Secure attachment also gives a person the experience of trusting relationships, which underlies future behaviors involving empathy and control of aggression.

In contrast, if a parent is emotionally unavailable and unable to develop a strong, nurturing bond with an infant, that child can develop deep-seated fears that he is inadequate and unlovable. “Insecure attachment” in childhood leads to fear and emotional reactivity when a person perceives he will be abandoned or rejected, even later in life.

Those who have insecure attachment often do not learn skills, such as emotional awareness, emotional regulation, self-acceptance, or self-compassion, which are key to self-attachment and good emotional health. In severe cases, because they fail to learn healthy emotional giving and receiving, they fail to learn social reciprocity skills and appear with flat affect and lack of emotionality.

With lack of attachment, a person fails, in some measure, to learn to speak the language of emotions — the unspoken, heart-felt way that humans seek and achieve a deep sense of belonging and acceptance. If you fail to learn this language, you may struggle to connect to your emotions, losing self-acceptance and self-understanding. You may also struggle to connect with others, thereby losing the potential healing power of attachment and emotional connection with others.

With the loss of both connection to self and others, this can cause of an important source of human suffering – loneliness.

Attachment even has implications for the development of neural connections in the brain during infancy.

As Segal notes: “[W]hen an infant feels loved, he or she undergoes profoundly positive effects in brain development. These studies also support the idea that feeling loved has beneficial impacts on our physiology, making us more resilient and nourishing our nervous and immune systems so we can better face life’s challenges. It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that much of the loneliness, sadness, anger, and anxiety we feel are reflections of the emptiness we experience when we don’t feel loved.” (p. 2)

Seal’s book is based on current neurobiological research on the power of oxytocin, the “love hormone;” polyvagal theory; and the threat response. But it is eminently readable for the general public and is loaded with short case studies to illustrate her points.

I especially liked her emphasis on the need to slow down in order to feel loved.

“When we get too busy or too preoccupied to accommodate the slower pace required for emotional communication, we lose the hormonal rush that makes us feel loved. If we are always on the go, planning the next step, multitasking, or just too exhausted to notice, we will miss opportunities to feel loved or to make others feel loved.” (p. 31)

She offers a meditation for improving emotional awareness, a toolkit for change, and chapters on work and family relationships.

I’m looking forward to the book that is next up on my nightstand — Segal’s book “The Language of Emotional Intelligence: The Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships” (2008, McGraw Hill).