When I lived in Switzerland I worked in a neuroscience lab for a while looking at brain scans of depressed people. I noticed that what we did in the lab and what the public thought we did were two entirely different things. I was doing my doctorate in clinical psychology and was well aware that there’s always going to be a gap in what the public understands about science but this particular misunderstanding disturbed me because of its implications.Read More
Jeremy's Silent Fight *
Jeremy was a twenty-year-old man who came to my practice in Zurich at the insistence of his parents and doctors. He had stopped speaking, wouldn’t go to his university classes, and had withdrawn into his apartment. When his parents visited him he sat completely still in the corner, wouldn’t talk to them, and didn’t even make eye contact. They forced him to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with Selective Mutism Disorder which is a type of social anxiety that makes one clam up in certain situations. The diagnosis didn’t make any sense to his parents since Jeremy had always been outgoing, so they sent him to another shrink.
Is Dr. Zwig Crazy?
I have a very strange relationship with the field of psychology: I’ve dedicated my life to studying it despite the fact that I consider most of it to be bad science. You may wonder why anyone in their right mind would spend so many years doing something he doesn’t believe in. Well, the old saying goes, “Only crazy people go into psychology.” And that may be true, but there’s a more interesting reason I do it: After decades of research into the human condition I’ve arrived at the conclusion that psychology—the study of the human mind—is the royal road to understanding not only ourselves and the world, but all of life. Why? Because the mind is the foundation of everything. It generates all that we know and experience—from the simplest sensation to the grandest scientific discovery to the most sublime spiritual experience.
Bob’s Mysterious Depression *
A client of mine, Bob, a thirty-nine year-old waiter, complained of chronic depressed moods despite the fact that nothing particularly depressing had occurred in his life. He couldn’t figure out why he always felt down since everything seemed to be in order—he had a good marriage, a decent job, and great friends. He claimed he was depressed “for no reason” and told me he had a chemical imbalance in his brain. In a rare moment of rudeness, I laughed, and said “In the words of the great Tom Petty, ‘You believe what you wanna believe’. Let’s find out what’s going on. What’s it like to have depressed moods all the time?”