Wednesday, November 25, 2015

POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2009, 1:28 PM
Filed Under: Personal stories

Dear Dr. Dan,

I've been facing a very painful realization about the impact my work is having on me. I counsel cancer patients both in person and online. I’ve been doing this for years and always felt so good from reassuring people about their diagnosis and care options since I had to go it alone when I had this cancer. But I feel like I’m getting burned out.

I’m discouraged that the therapies are not more effective and that sometimes I have this private knowledge that I know someone will die. I don’t know how oncologists do it.I also worry about being older and how much future I have left and whether I’m living enough for today. I have trouble sleeping at times too. I think about “my” patients a lot, especially one I’m working with who has a recurrence.

POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2009, 9:48 AM

Dear Dr. Dan Gottlieb,A few months ago I heard part of your show on the topic of caring and sympathetic doctors.  The part of the show I heard was unanimous that doctors should feel the pain of their patients. I can agree with that. A few years ago I walked out of the office of a doctor who was not very caring.  Doctors, funeral home directors, police officers, firemen, clergy, teachers, etc. and really all of us in helping professions can be more sympathetic. At the same time anyone who has a career in helping people, especially in their crisis times, has to be able to put away from the pain of others or that professional will not be able to survive emotionally for very long.  I am a pastor, and in one day I presided at the wedding of two very special people and two hours later I presided at the funeral of a beloved person. In the morning I felt joy with one family and in the afternoon I felt grief with another family. In the evening I had to disengage from both of those families and focus on my own family. To carry home the emotions, especially the grief, of earlier in the day would not be fair to my family.   Now speaking as an individual, I do have my special, unique pains that I feel and live through and I can’t expect every person to feel the pain to the same intensity that I do. I don’t want others to pretend.  

Dear Pastor,
thank you for writing this letter as I am going to deal with this subject in my column next week.  Many caregivers suffer with what is called compassion fatigue because those of us who care deeply often have difficulty establishing appropriate boundaries.I will later which will be the subject of my column

POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009, 8:33 PM

Dear Dr. Gottlieb:


What is wrong with me?  I really and truly understand that Mr. Vick had a horrible childhood.  A cruel childhood that led to unimaginable violence, dog fighting and G-d know what else.  I also understand the concept of paying ones debt to society and having a second chance.  But, after reading and trying to understand your column today-I still do not understand how he could kill a dog that did not win a fight in such a cruel and terrible way.  Couldn't he shoot the dog?  No!  He had to wet the dog and electrocute him.  Doesn't that say more about his heart than about his childhood?  What is wrong with me that I find his behavior more than just violent?  To me the man is innately evil.

POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009, 8:49 AM
Filed Under: Current events

Can we rid ourselves of anger, like that felt by some toward Michael Vick?

Dan will be joined by for today's chat, starting at noon, by Dr. Ervin Staub professor of psychology at UMass and founder of the Psychology of Peace and the Prevention of Violence program there.

POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2009, 12:29 PM
Filed Under: Current events

So just when I am thinking "enough with Michael Vick already, everyone has already said everything that can be said way too many times", I receive the following e-mail: 

Dear Dan,  I spent thirteen years working for the Federal Prison Service in various administrative positions from maximum to minimum security. I do not excuse what he did, but he did eighteen months at a maximum security prison in Leavenworth, Kansas with bank robbers, drug dealers, and people serving time for very serious federal crimes.  He was probably in barracks of four hundred other inmates, told when and what to eat, where to work (yes, everyone has a job) for pennies a day, when to wake up and go to sleep. And maybe the worst part of it all is the great shame of having your loved ones having to travel to prison only to see you in these circumstances.  It's all so very humbling, as it should be.  Its part of the price one pays for committing such a terrible crime.
Dan, he was twenty-seven; does he pay for this for the rest of his life?
People do change; I have seen many people living under these very isolating and humbling experiences wake up and realize what they have done.  And then I have watched them return to a community only to meet scorn and rejection.Why are we so vengeful?  Can't we rid ourselves of this anger just for a little while to see if this works? 

Dear Peter 

POSTED: Monday, August 17, 2009, 8:51 AM
Filed Under: Current events

This chat will be about marriage, how to heal what's broken and when to know it's time to end. Dan's guest will be psychologist B. Janet Hibbs, author of "Try to See It My Way: Being Fair in Love and Marriage."

POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2009, 9:20 AM
Dear Dan,

I have been married for 20 years and the majority of them have been unhappy. My husband has been controlling and unloving. And we have two adolescent children.

Recently, a very good friend confessed his feelings for me. I, too, had the same feelings for him. Over several months, we tried desperately to break our relationship off and go back to our spouses.

POSTED: Monday, August 10, 2009, 3:00 PM

A friend of mine was in an abusive (physically and verbally) marriage. AFTER the husband suffered brain injury in an accident, she discovered there was infidelity and other lies. The husband can no longer hurt her due to his injuries, he also does not remember the past. She is considering divorce. What would you tell her?

Your response will be greatly appreciated.


About this blog
Dan Gottlieb is a psychologist and marital therapist and has been in practice nearly 40 years. His career started in community mental health and substance abuse until his accident in 1979 made him a quadriplegic.

Since that time, he has been in private practice. Since 1985, he has been hosting a radio show called "Voices in the Family" on WHYY FM, Philadelphia's NPR affiliate. He was a regular columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1994 until 2008. He is also the author of four books.

Voices In The Family on WHYY

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