Feedback on Bibliotherapy Podcast

Feedback on Bibliotherapy Podcast

Every day I receive wonderful emails from individuals like you who have heard the Feeling Good Podcasts or read my books or blogs. I just got this amazing email from a fellow named Pete after he listened to the latest podcast on Bibliotherapy. He kindly gave me permission to share it with all of you! 

Dear Doctor Burns,

Your book, Feeling Good, has changed my life. After stagnating for two and a half years in three different types of therapy and getting more depressed, I was shown ‘Feeling Good‘ by a social worker. I read on the page exactly what I was doing that created my anger and depression.

I also learnt what perfectionism really was and its negative effects. So I thought… “If I’m doing this to myself, (through my thinking) I’m going to stop doing it.”

That very moment saw the end of my depression, anger and general unhappiness. By removing my cognitive distortions, it was liberating to discover that I was not at the mercy of other people’s behavior. It wasn’t what other people were doing that was affecting me but rather it was my own thoughts!

I feel that I can cope with anything now. I also have recommended this book to many people so David gets the big bucks! A big thanks to David for all his hard work.

Pete

What Pete “discovered” is not new–Epictetus said the same thing nearly 2,000 years ago, and it is very basic–but it is SO basic that it’s hard to “get” at first. When you suddenly comprehend this notion, that we are all creating our own emotional reality at every moment of every day, you can experience enlightenment. It’s not just feeling a bit less depressed, but a transforming and remarkable experience that’s available to all of us!

One small warning. The Buddha said that we all drift in and out of enlightenment. This means that the negative distorted thoughts WILL return, for all of us! That’s why Relapse Prevention Training is so important.

To learn more about any topic, you can use the search function in the right-hand panel of every page on my website. You’ll really like it! 

David Burns, MD

* * *

Would you like to learn more about TEAM-CBT?

Check Out these Four Cool Upcoming Workshops for You!

The first is coming up SOON!

ACT FAST if you want to reserve a seat. 

TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders:

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

David Burns, MD and Jill Levitt, PhD

When? Sunday May 19th, 2019

8:30 am-4:30 pm PST (11:30 am-7:30 pm EST)

Live Online One Day Workshop

$135, 7 CE hours available

Therapists at all levels are welcome.

Learn new skills to reduce resistance and boost patient’s motivation to change. Practice powerful, practical TEAM-CBT techniques to help your patients overcome every form of anxiety rapidly.

  • Lively, amusing, and immensely useful day of online training
  • Online support and dynamic small group training
  • David and Jill will use a combination of didactic teaching, live demonstrations, and breakout group practice with emphasis on skill building.
  • Workshop will stream live and is easily accessible from anywhere on any device with WiFi. To join, just click on the link provided before the workshop.
  • Completion of this workshop counts towards TEAM-CBT Level 1, 2 or 3 Certification
  • Awesome brief videos
  • Learn how to treat GAD, OCD, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Phobias, PTSD, and more

We Are Sold Out in Person–

But Online Slots are Still Available

 

Don’t miss out on learning from David and Jill, the “dynamic duo”–

TEAM-CBT for Anxiety Disorders–

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists


AND

There will be three awesome intensives

for you this summer and fall!

July 15 – 18, 2019

Calgary, Canada four-day intensive

Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Assoc.

July 29 – August 1, 2019

South San Francisco four-day intensive

Sponsored by Praxis

November 4 – 7, 2019

Atlanta, Georgia four-day intensive

Sponsored by Praxis

112: Truth-Based Techniques

112: Truth-Based Techniques

Hi everybody!

One of the goals for our Feeling Good Podcasts is to bring the TEAM-CBT techniques to life for mental health professionals, patients, and the general public as well. I (David Burns) use more than 50 Techniques when I’m working with individuals with depression, anxiety disorders, relationship problems, or habits / addictions. Today we will compare and contrast the four Truth-Based Techniques, including:

  1. Examine the Evidence
  2. The Experimental Technique
  3. The Survey Technique
  4. Reattribution

These were among the first cognitive therapy techniques ever developed, and they were based on the work of Dr. Aaron Beck, from Philadelphia, as well as Dr. Albert Ellis, from New York. Dr. Ellis is the Grandfather of Cognitive Therapy, and he described many of these techniques in the 1950s. He called his treatment Rational Emotive Therapy, and it’s still popular today. During the 1960s, Beck, who is considered the Father of Cognitive Therapy adapted the ideas of Dr. Ellis to the treatment of depression, and called his version of the treatment Cognitive Therapy.

Beck emphasized that depression results from a negative view of the self, the world, and the future. In other words, the patient may think:

  1. I’m a loser. (negative view of the self)
  2. Nothing i do will be successful or rewarding. (negative view of the world)
  3. Things will never change. I’m hopeless. (negative view of the future)

Beck claimed that the negative thoughts of the depressed individual are the actual cause of the depression. He also emphasized that the disturbing negative thoughts of depressed patients are nearly always distorted and illogical; however, depressed individuals don’t realize that they’re fooling themselves, so they think their negative thoughts are absolutely valid. Beck also claimed that depression could be treated without drugs in many cases, and focused his treatment on challenging the patient’s distorted negative thoughts.

Beck often compared depressed patients to scientists who have a theory about the world that simply isn’t true. That’s why scientists learn to test their theories by examining evidence and performing experiments. Beck suggested that depressed patients could also test the validity of their negative thoughts and beliefs by examining the evidence for and against what they’re telling themselves, as well as by doing actual experiments to test their thoughts and beliefs.

David and Fabrice bring the four basic truth-based techniques to life with actual patient examples. They answer the question, “What’s the difference between Examine the Evidence and the Experimental Technique?” And “How does the Survey Technique work?”

They emphasize the tremendous importance of warmth and empathy, as well as melting away patient resistance, before trying to implement any of these techniques. They also emphasize that these techniques, like all of the techniques, are powerful, and must be used with skill and compassion, or else they can backfire.

Thanks for reading this and listening to our Feeling Good Podcasts. Please tell your friends of forward this to them so our numbers can continue to grow. We are in the range of 60,000 downloads per month, thanks to all of you! Fabrice and I greatly appreciate your support!

David and Fabrice

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Dr. Fabrice Nye currently practices in Redwood City, California and treats individuals throughout the world via teletherapy. You can reach him at fabrice@life.net. You can reach Dr. Burns at David@feelinggood.com. If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

* * *

Two Cool Upcoming Workshops for YOU!

Coming Really Soon!

Act fast if you want to attend.

* * *

Rapid Recovery from Trauma

a two-day workshop

by David D. Burns, MD

November 1-2, 2018–Woodland Hills, CA

You can attend in person or from home via Live Streaming

Includes a dramatic live demonstration on the evening of day 1

For further information, go to www.IAHB.org
or call 1-800-258-8411

Register Now!

* * *

TREAT ANXIETY FAST–

Powerful, Fast-Acting, Drug-Free Techniques 
to Defeat Anxiety & Worry

a 2-day workshop by David D. Burns, MD

November 29 and 30, 2018: San Francisco, CA
(in person only)

and

December 3 and 4, 2018: Portland, Oregon
(in person and live streaming)

PESI is proud to offer an exciting workshop by David Burns, M.D., a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Achieve rapid and lasting recovery with all your anxious clients, just as Dr. Burns has done in over 35,000 therapy sessions with severely troubled clients. Become skilled at treating every type of anxiety without drugs.

In this unique 2-day certificate course you’ll master more than 20 treatment techniques to help your clients eliminate the symptoms of anxiety quickly – even your most challenging, resistant clients.

Dr. Burns will illustrate concrete strategies that provide rapid, complete recovery and lasting change for your patients. You’ll learn…

  • How to integrate four powerful treatment models to eliminate symptoms.
  • How to enhance your client’s engagement in therapy.
  • How to develop a treatment plan that specifically targets each client’s unique problems and needs.
  • …and so much more!

David will provide you with guided instruction and share powerful video sessions that capture the actual moment of recovery. You will take away practical strategies to use immediately with any anxious client. Leave this certificate course armed with tools you can use in your very next session!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of America’s most highly acclaimed teachers!

Sponsored by PESI

To register, or for more information, call: 800-844-8260

 

Solution to David’s Tuesday Tip #13*

Solution to David’s Tuesday Tip #13*

This was yesterday’s paradoxical tip of the day!

Some people think that therapy consists of codependent schmoozing behind
closed doors, with the occasional bit of “advice” or “tell me more” thrown in.
Are they right?

Hi everybody,

I am trying, perhaps without complete success, to say this politely, without enraging anybody too much . . . . but

I am sad to say that I think this Tuesday comment is somewhat correct. Many therapists just talk with patients for months or years without much change, often without specific goals, and without measuring anything from session to session to document change, or the lack of change. When I was a psychiatric resident, this type of treatment actually had a name. It was called “supportive emotive therapy.” The patient talks, the therapist listens and provides support, and encourages the outpouring of emotion at times.

Some experts claim that this type of therapy provides a “corrective emotional experience.” The idea is that the relationship with the therapist will correct some shortcoming or void in the patient because of his or her childhood and lack of support and nurture while growing up.

I’m not convinced this non-directive approach corrects much, if anything. In addition, while I know I have lots of helpful techniques to offer, and some reasonably good empathy, I’m not convinced that a relationship with me will ever correct much of anything, to be honest! I’m quite surprised, actually, that so many individuals–colleagues, clients, and students–are even willing to put up with me.

I can be, to be honest, kind of annoying and difficult at times. I don’t see myself as a “corrective emotional experience” much of the time!

I favor therapy that works rapidly, with specific goals and changes that can be documented by assessments of the patient’s feelings at the start and end of every session. This includes testing feelings of depression, suicidal urges, anxiety, and anger,as well as the patient’s feelings of satisfaction with his or her spouse or partner. The assessment of the therapist’s empathy and helpfulness by the patient after every session is also invaluable and, to my way of thinking, mandatory.

While skillful listening will always be an important part of therapy, it will rarely or never be sufficient to help a patient recover from severe depression, or any anxiety disorder, or a troubled marriage, or a habit or addiction. Much more is required, including specific techniques to help the patient change his or her life, as well as resistance-melting techniques to boost the patient’s motivation and collaboration.

Patient homework between sessions will also be a must, in my opinion. You cannot, for the most part, change your life or learn new skills without practice, any more than you could learn tennis or how to play the piano without practice between lessons with your coach or teacher.

All human beings are corruptible, and we all have a kind of inherently lazy streak. So if a therapist has a full-fee private patient, and the patient just wants to schmooze and vent every week for months or years, without being accountable and without doing psychotherapy homework, the therapist will have a guaranteed income and an easy job, since there isn’t a whole lot the therapist has to learn in order to provide this type of non-specific talk therapy, or if you prefer, “non-treatment.”

I apologize deeply if my skeptical / cynical streak is showing, but I sincerely believe our field is in need of reform, and I am saddened and sometimes frustrated, even angered, by the overall poor skill level among mental health professionals.

On the positive side, last week’s intensive in Whistler, Canada was just awesome. Oops, Lisa Kelley has urged me not to go over the top with language, so let me say it was a bit above average. In fact, the ratings for all four days were the highest I’ve received–by a big margin, actually–in the last 25 years or more of doing workshops. I was thrilled and grateful to have such a warm and responsive group.

My dear colleague, Jack Hirose, who organized the conference, said the ratings were also the highest he has seen in the many hundreds of workshops he has sponsored in Canada. I was helped by my dear colleague, Mike Christensen, who attended and assisted with the teaching. Mike was also my co-therapist in the live demonstration with an audience volunteer who had experienced severe trauma and abuse.

Working with her was an inspiring and riveting experience. We were fortunate to due a high definition video of the session, and I hope it will be available for some type of teaching program for you.

If you would like to attend a similar conference, consider my upcoming San Francisco intensive in a few weeks. I will try my hardest to make it a little above average, too! See the details below.

Thanks!

David

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD.

 * * *

Hey, folks, my San Francisco summer intensive will start in a few weeks. it is always one of my BEST training programs of the year. The group will be quite small, giving you lots of chances for Q and A and personal connection with me, plus networking with your colleagues. In addition, many individuals from my Tuesday group at Stanford will join me to provide feedback for you during the small group exercises.

Here are the specifics:

Coming in San Francisco in August

High Speed, Drug Free Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders–
A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California
For more information, click here
or contact http://www.iahb.org/
phone: 800-258-8411

If you can only attend one of my workshops, consider this intensive! it is simplly

THE BEST!

Seating is limited. Register now  if you want to get in on the action!

Hope to see you in San Francisco in August! David

 * * *

Also coming up soon on David’s Sunday FB Live Broadcasts

Sunday, July 15th, 2018, at 3 PM: The Disarming Technique–Taking a Deeper Dive, with special guest, Mike Christensen

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018, at 3 PM: The Shouldy Approach to Life–How to Crush Should Statements, with special guest, Jill Levitt, PhD

If you attend live, you can ask questions and be a part of the show. However, they are all recorded so you can tune in anytime on my Public FB page!

095: The Recovery Circle: A Case of Public Speaking Anxiety

095: The Recovery Circle: A Case of Public Speaking Anxiety

“Help! I’ll mumble and look nervous when I give my talk! I’m scared stiff!”

In the last two podcasts entitled “50 Methods in 50 Minutes,” David and Fabrice rapidly described 50 powerful ways to challenge and crush the negative thoughts that trigger depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and habits and addictions. Today, they describe how to select the techniques that will be most helpful for various kinds of problems, and how to individualize the treatment for each patient.

Remember that we are talking about the new TEAM-CBT. Here’s what the letters stand for:

T = Testing. We test the patient at the start and end of every therapy session to assess therapeutic progress, or the lack of progress.

E = Empathy. We use the Five Secrets of Effective Communication to provide a warm empathic connection with the patient.

A = (Paradoxical) Agenda Setting. We find out what, if anything, the patient wants help with, and bring resistance to conscious awareness. Then we will melt away the patient’s resistance using a variety of powerful “resistance busting” techniques before using any methods to try to help the patient change.

M = Methods. This is the focus of today’s podcast. We will use the Recovery Circle to select and implement the most helpful techniques, from David’s list of 50, for each patient.

The patient we will discuss is a Korean man named Daeshim who’s working for Google, and he’s been worrying for weeks about giving a presentation to a large audience at work. He explained that he does okay with small group presentations but feels totally freaked out by the idea that he would have to present to so many people.

On his Daily Mood Log, Daeshim reported many negative feelings, and rated all of them at 90 (on a scale from 0 to 100), indicating they were severe.

  • Unhappy, down
  • Anxious, nervous, panicky
  • Defective, inferior, inadequate, incompetent
  • Ashamed
  • Alone
  • Embarrassed, humiliated
  • Hopeless, discouraged, defeated
  • Frustrated
  • Angry, Upset
  • Tired and exhausted from worrying

Daeshim recorded these two Negative Thoughts on his Daily Mood Log:

  1. People won’t understand me because my voice is soft, and English is my second language. 100%
  2. I’ll mumble and look nervous and use filler words like “uh” and “umm,” so my colleagues will conclude that I’m not very intelligent. 100%

Daeshim wanted to work on the second thought. I put the thought in the middle of a Recovery Circle, as you can see here. Then I selected more than 20 methods that could help Daeshim challenge the Negative Thought in the middle of the Recovery Circle. I only listed 16 of them on the Recovery Circle, but there are many additional methods that could potentially help Daeshim.

The purpose of the methods on the Recovery Circle is to help Daeshim develop a Positive Thought that he can record on his Daily Mood Log. To be effective the Positive Thought must fulfill the Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for emotional change. Do you remember what they are?

  • The Necessary Condition for Emotional Change. The Positive Thought must be 100% true. Rationalizations or half truths won’t help anyone. Cognitive Therapy is based on the Biblical notion that “the truth shall make you free.”
  • The Sufficient Condition for Emotional Change. The Positive Thought has to put the lie to the Negative Thought (NT). In other words, the patient’s belief in the NT must go to zero, or at least be drastically reduced. The very moment the patient stops believing the Negative Thought, the negative feelings will go down dramatically, and may even disappear entirely.

When I’m treating public speaking anxiety, I think in terms of the “Internal Solution” and the “External Solution.” The Internal Solution is changing the way you think and feel about public speaking. Once you’ve done this, your feelings of intense anxiety will be greatly reduced, along with the rest of your negative feelings.

Here’s the good news: You’ll be feeling much better. Here’s the bad news: you’ll probably still be crappy at public speaking!

But there’s hope. The External Solution involves developing better public speaking skills, and those methods will be quite different. For example, Daeshim could attend a local Toastmasters group and get all kinds of tips on how to speak in a more dynamic and effective manner.

David and Fabrice bring several of the methods to life during the podcast, just to give you a feel for how the techniques on the Recovery Circle can help the patient challenge the Negative Thought in the middle. They do not include many crucial techniques because the goal for this podcast was on how to select techniques, from the list of 50, for the Recovery Circle, and how to individualize the treatment during the M = Methods phase of the session. If you are interested in learning more about the treatment of public speaking anxiety, contact David or make comments at the bottom of these show notes and we’ll be glad to follow up for you!

Why do we have so many methods for challenging negative thoughts? There are several reasons:

  • Different kinds of problems respond to different kinds of therapy techniques. The M = Methods I would use to treat depression are very different from the methods I would use to treat someone with an anxiety disorder, although there’s a little overlap. The methods for treating someone with a relationship problem, or a habit or addiction, are very different. It simply isn’t true that one size fits all!
  • Two individuals with what appears to be the exact same problem, such as public speaking anxiety, panic attacks, or depression, will rarely respond to the same methods. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to predict what method will work for which person. One person might be transformed by the Feared Fantasy Technique. Another person with the same problem might respond dramatically to the Hidden Emotion Technique, or Shame Attacking Exercises, or Self-Disclosure. If you have lots of Methods on your Recovery Circle, you won’t panic when one or even many of them do not work.
  • You may have to try many techniques that don’t work with a patient before you find the technique that does work. If you have lots of techniques on your Recovery Circle, you can “fail as fast as you can,” going from technique to technique until you find the one that works for each patient.

We hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. We’ve got tons of great stuff coming up, including a live session with a man asking for help with a marital problem. David and Dr. Jill Levitt worked as co-therapists, and the session was dynamic, emotional, and incredibly helpful. It will be broken down into three consecutive podcasts, with tons of live material from the actual session, along with helpful commentary and questions by our wonderful host, Dr. Fabrice Nye.

So, stay tuned!

David

 

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

Subscribe

Attend my 2018 Summer Intensive in San Francisco!

This year, I am again offering my annual SF summer intensive in August at the South San Francisco Conference Center. This four-day intensive is almost always my most exciting and rewarding workshop of the year.

Here are the details:

David’s TEAM-CBT Summer Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California

For more information, click here, or call IAHB.org at 800-258-8411

Here are just a few of the really cool things about this intensive:

  • You will have the chance to practice techniques in small groups after I demonstrate each technique with a live demonstration in the front of the room.
  • You will get immediate feedback and personal grooming from me and from many of my colleagues from my weekly TEAM-CBT training group at Stanford. They’ll be there to help you, and I’ll be there to help you, too!
  • There will be a live demonstration on the evening of day 1. The amazing Dr. Jill Levitt will be my co-therapist. Last year’s live demonstration, and in fact all of them in recent years, have been jaw-dropping and incredibly inspirational!
  • You’ll get a chance to practice TEAM-CBT in real time the evening of day 3. This will be an incredibly challenging but rewarding “solo flight.”
  • You will be able to do your own personal work on the last day of the workshop using the Externalization of Voices and Acceptance Paradox. In previous workshops, at least 60% of the participants indicated they experienced jubilant enlightenment during this exercise. Their fears and insecurities suddenly vanished!
  • You’ll learn how to do Relapse Prevention Training (RPT).
  • You’ll learn how to improve your empathy skills.
  • You’ll learn tons of powerful cognitive, behavioral, and motivational treatment techniques for depression and all of the anxiety disorders.
  • You will have the abundant opportunities to schmooze with colleagues, network, and have fun.
  • You will have two fabulous free luncheon banquets featuring talks by Sunny Choi, LCSW, who is using TEAM-CBT successfully with an underserved population in primary care with limited resources and language skills (“I must apologize for my success.”), and the wonderful Vandana Aspen, PhD, who will speak on “New Treatment Strategies for Eating Disorders.”)
  • And much more.

If you can only attend one of my workshops this year, the South San Francisco August intensive is the one to attend!

 

094: 50 Methods in 50 Minutes! (Part 2)

094: 50 Methods in 50 Minutes! (Part 2)

Hi Everybody!

In today’s episode, David and Fabrice describe and discuss the remaining 26 techniques on David’s list of “Fifty Ways to Untwist Your Thinking.” They fall into the following categories:

  1. Uncovering Techniques
  2. Motivational Techniques
  3. Classical Exposure Techniques
  4. Cognitive Exposure Techniques
  5. Interpersonal Exposure Techniques
  6. Interpersonal Techniques

Hope you enjoy today’s podcast! We’ve got lots of good stuff coming up soon, including:

Do you have a “self?” Can your “self” be judged?

Why do people resist using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication? (a very exciting topic!)

Live therapy: David and Jill treat someone with a relationship problem.

So stay tuned! And please spread the word among your friends and colleagues if you like our show. We are trying hard to expand our audience. We are now seeing more than 50,000 downloads of our Feeling Good Podcasts every month, but would love to grow even larger. Feel free to share them with your friends.

In our next Feeling Good Podcast, we will show you how to use the Recovery Circle to select the most helpful techniques to challenge your own negative thoughts so that you’ll be Feeling Good!

Thanks so much!

David

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD

 

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

Subscribe

Attend a Summer Intensive!

This year, I am offering a July summer intensive in Whistler, Canada, and one in August at the South San Francisco Conference center. The intensives are almost always my most exciting and fun workshops of the year. Hope you can join us at one of these locations.

Here are some details:

Advanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: 

A Four-Day Intensive Training in TEAM-CBT

July 3 – 6, 2018 Whistler, BC, Canada

For more information, contact Jack Hirose & Associates Inc.
Phone: 604.924.0296, Toll-free: 1.800.456.5424

* * *

High Speed, Drug Free Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders–

A Four-Day

Advanced TEAM-CBT Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California

For more information, click here, or call IAHB.org at 800-258-8411

If you can only attend one of my workshops, consider attending one of these intensives!

 

 

 

093: 50 Methods in 50 Minutes! (Part 1)

093: 50 Methods in 50 Minutes! (Part 1)

How to Break Out of a Bad Mood

Hi Everybody!

For a long time, Fabrice has wanted to do a show on my list of “Fifty Ways to Untwist Your Thinking” called “Fifty Ways in Fifty Minutes.” So we finally did it, and it was fun!

If I’m helping you overcome depression or anxiety, I’ll ask you to fill out a Daily Mood Log, so you can list your negative thoughts and feelings at some specific moment when you were upset. You may be thinking, “I’m a failure,” or “I should not have made that mistake,” or “I’m unlovable.”

Your negative thoughts will nearly always be distorted, but you’ll still believe them, and that’s why you’re feeling depressed and anxious. And the moment you discover that your negative thoughts aren’t true, you’ll immediately feel better. But that’s not going to be easy, because you’ve probably been giving yourself the same negative messages for years, or even decades.  And friends and family members, and even your therapist, may have been trying, unsuccessfully, to talk you out of them.

That’s why I’ve developed more than fifty methods to help you crush the negative thoughts at the heart of your suffering. So today, you’ll take a look at the landscape!

However, it took two fifty-minute shows to cover all the methods. In today’s episode, David and Fabrice describe and discuss 24 of the 50 techniques, which fall in the following categories:

  1. Basic Techniques
  2. Compassion-Based Techniques
  3. Truth-Based Techniques
  4. Logic-Based Techniques
  5. Semantic Techniques
  6. Quantitative Techniques
  7. Humor-Based Techniques
  8. Role-Playing Techniques
  9. Philosophical / Spiritual Techniques
  10. Visual Imaging Techniques

Next week we will complete the remaining 26 techniques on the list.

Why are there so many techniques? Well, if someone has a negative thought, like “I’m a hopeless case,” or “I’m a worthless human being,” you never know what technique will be effective for that person. So the philosophy is: fail as fast as you can. That’s because the faster you fail, the faster you’ll get to the technique that will change your life!

Hope you enjoy today’s podcast!

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD

 

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

Subscribe

Attend a Summer Intensive!

This year, I am offering a July summer intensive in Whistler, Canada, and one in August at the South San Francisco Conference center. The intensives are almost always my most exciting and fun workshops of the year. Hope you can join us at one of these locations.

Here are some details:

Advanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: 

A Four-Day Intensive Training in TEAM-CBT

July 3 – 6, 2018 Whistler, BC, Canada

For more information, contact Jack Hirose & Associates Inc.
Phone: 604.924.0296, Toll-free: 1.800.456.5424

* * *

High Speed, Drug Free Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders–

A Four-Day

Advanced TEAM-CBT Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California

For more information, click here, or call IAHB.org at 800-258-8411

If you can only attend one of my workshops, consider attending one of these intensives!

 

 

 

047: Tools… not Schools of Therapy

Tools… not Schools of Therapy

Fabrice asks David about the title of his TEAM-CBT eBook for therapists—Tools, Not Schools, of Therapy. David explains that the field of psychotherapy is dominated by numerous schools of therapy that compete like religions, or even cults, each claiming to have the answer to emotional suffering. So you’ve got the psychodynamic school, and the psychoanalytic school, the Adlerian school, the Beckian cognitive therapy school, the Jungian school, and tons more, including EMDR, behavior therapy, humanistic therapy, ACT, TMT, EMT, and so forth. Wikipedia lists more than 50 major schools of psychotherapy, but there are way more than that, as new schools emerge almost on a weekly basis.

David describes several conversations with the late Dr. Albert Ellis, who argued that most schools of therapy were started by narcissistic and emotionally disturbed individuals. Ellis claimed that most were self-promoting, dishonest individuals who claimed to know the true “causes” of emotional distress and insisted they had the “best” treatment methods. And yet, research almost never supports these claims.

David, who is a medical doctor, points out that we don’t have competing schools of medicine. Can you imagine what it would be like if we did? Let’s say you broke your leg, and went to a doctor who prescribes penicillin. You ask why he’s prescribing penicillin for a broken leg, and he explains that he’s a member of the penicillin school. He says he always prescribes penicillin—it’s good for whatever ails you!

That would be like an Alice in Wonderland world. And yet, that’s precisely how psychiatry and psychotherapy are currently set up. If you’re depressed and you go to a psychiatrist, you’ll be treated with pills. If you go to a psychoanalytic therapist, you’ll get psychoanalysis. Or if you go to a practitioner of EMDR, TFT, or Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), you’ll get EMDR, TFT, or RET. David argues that this just doesn’t make sense.

David argues that the fields needs to move from competing schools of therapy to a new, science-based, data-driven psychotherapy. He emphasizes that we’ve learned a lot from most of the schools of therapy, and that many have provided us with valuable insights about human nature as well as some useful treatment techniques. But now it’s time to move on, leaving all the schools of therapy behind. David acknowledges that this message may seem harsh or upsetting to some listeners, and apologizes for that ahead of time.

David and Fabrice also discuss the spiritual basis of effective psychotherapy, and David describes the reaction of his father, a Lutheran minister, on the day that David was born, as well as a tip his mother gave him when he was in third grade.

In the next Feeling Good Podcast, David and Fabrice will describe Relapse Prevention Training, since the likelihood of relapse after successful treatment is 100%. But if the patient knows what to do, the relapse doesn’t have to be a problem.

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An Anxiety Question and a Blessing from Turkey for “David Uncle!”

An Anxiety Question and a Blessing from Turkey for “David Uncle!”

Hi Dr. Burns,

whenpanicattacks-sm  Thank you for your life-saving books and blogs. They really help. I have given your book, When Panic Attacks, to others. It is so good! What I admire the most is your empathy and your desire to seek the truth.

I have a simple request. Can you clarify the use of cognitive flooding and thought-disputing? I find these two methods to be quite useful but confusing at times. For example, it doesn’t seem logical to flood my mind with panic thoughts and then turn around and dispute them. Perhaps morning flooding and evening disputing?

I don’t know that a general answer is possible but any thoughts you have are sincerely appreciated. I understand you do not give personal advice and that if you do answer, it will be for the help of many others who follow your blogs and appreciate your insights.

Bill

Hi Bill, Thanks for your kind comments and question. I am embarrassed that I can’t give you a good clear answer. But I’ll try to babble briefly. Remember that there are four treatment models for anxiety, and I use all four with every anxious patient I treat.

  • The Motivational Model—where you bring the anxious patient’s Outcome and Process Resistance to conscious awareness and melt them away.
  • The Cognitive Model—where you challenge the distorted negative thoughts that trigger the anxiety, using a wide variety of techniques such as Identify the Distortions, Externalization of Voices, the Experimental Technique, and so forth. You call this “thought disputing,” but there are more than 50 ways of disputing and crushing negative thoughts.
  • The Hidden Emotion Model—often the overly “nice” anxious individual is sweeping some feeling, conflict, or problem under the rug and not dealing with it. When the patient brings the problem to conscious awareness and deals with it, the anxiety often disappears completely.
  • The Exposure Model—where you flood yourself with anxiety by facing your fears. If you stick with it, in most case the anxiety will diminish over time and then disappear. You call this “cognitive flooding,” although that’s just one of many exposure techniques.

I describe these four models and methods in my recent series of Feeling Good Podcasts on the treatment of anxiety (Podcasts 22 to 28). You might enjoy listening to them, and can link to the first one if you CLICK HERE. All four treatment methods are helpful, but they work in different ways. You never know which method or methods will be the most helpful to any individual.

But I have to confess I don’t “schedule” them as you have suggested. However, that’s not a bad idea! In my experience, depressed and anxious individuals who work with these techniques, and actually try them, including the written exercises, as opposed to just reading about them, nearly always have the best outcomes. So stick with it!

And of course, if you need help or guidance, it never hurts to check with a mental health professional. However, I would personally tend to avoid a psychiatrist as my first choice, as you are likely to get drugs, drugs, drugs. Although I am a psychiatrist, and have prescribed medications on occasion, I find that most depressed and anxious individuals can now be treated quickly and effectively without medications. In addition, research studies indicate that many people recover from depression anxiety on their own after reading one of my books, but if you need a little guidance from an expert, there’s no shame in that at all! Sometimes, we all need a little help from our friends!

Sincerely,

David

 

Hi Dear David Burns,

feelinggood  Firstly, I want to say thanks a lot for you book, “Feeling Good: the New Mood Therapy”! This book has changed my life! Now I love life and enjoy everything in life.

My story started after reading your book second time! Thanks very much! God bless you David uncle!

Sedef (from Turkey)

Hi Sedef,

Thank you so much for your kind and incredible comments, and for your blessing! I am thrilled that you are now loving life and enjoying life! That is like a miracle and the greatest gift a human being can receive.

It is many years since I wrote Feeling Good as a young man, editing it while we were on summer vacation in California, at Lake Tahoe. You might not have even been alive at that time! It seems like a miracle that my words have now touched you, so many miles away. God bless you, too, Sedef!

All the best,

David Uncle

Is Love an Adult Human Need?

Is Love an Adult Human Need?

Hi Dr. Burns,

Hope you have time for another question. Maybe you can post this on your site.

In your Intimate Connections book you say that many people believe that they need a romantic partner to be happy (which you think is a false belief). Doesn’t this imply that people are either happy or unhappy, which is, or course, all or nothing thinking? Doesn’t happiness exist on a spectrum, from say 1 to 10?

Shouldn’t the question be, “Do people need a romantic relationship to achieve a certain level of happiness?”

To achieve a happiness level of 10, do people need a partner? If they could achieve a 10 without one, why would they bother attempting to then obtain one. Why bother trying to find a girlfriend if you’re not going to be any happier? How happy can one be without one?

Shouldn’t you change your statement to: people assume they can only achieve a happiness level of about a 2 without a partner when in actuality they can achieve a level of about a 7?

What are your thoughts?

Richard

Hi Richard,

Happiness, like all emotions, exists on a continuum, and you could measure it on a scale of 0 to 100, for example. So sometimes we are not happy at all, and other times we may be extraordinarily happy. The same is true of sadness, anxiety, anger, discouragement, shame, and so forth. Emotions do not exist in an All-or-Nothing way.

Our culture definitely teaches us that we need love to feel happy and fulfilled. In one of her famous songs, Barbara Streisand’s sings that “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world!” So most people naturally assume that we “need” love to feel a high level of happiness and fulfillment.

When I first heard Dr. Aaron Beck assert that love is not an adult human need in one of the weekly seminars I was attending during my research fellowship at the Penn Medical School, I had the thought, “My gosh, he must be a sociopath to say such a thing!”

But I decided to test what he was saying, spending more and more time alone, just to see what would happen. I did it as a series of experiments, using my Pleasure Predicting Sheet. It consists of several columns, and in the first column you schedule a variety of activities with the potential for pleasure, satisfaction, learning, personal growth, and so forth. In the second column, you record who you plan to do each activity with. Make sure you schedule some activities that you will do on your own, as well as activities you will do with others. In the third column, you predict how satisfying or enjoyable each activity will be, from 0 to 100.

Now you are ready for your experiment. Go ahead and do each activity, and after you’re done, write down how satisfying it turned out to be, between 0 and 100, in the fourth column.

When I did this, I was shocked to discover that I could be maximally happy when doing things by myself. This was a revelation to me, and at first it was hard to accept. These experiences definitely changed my thinking. But the conclusion was absolutely consistent with the basic premise of cognitive therapy, that our thoughts, and not external events, create all of our feelings, positive and negative. I have treated large numbers of people who were extremely depressed, even suicidal, who were very loved; but their minds were loaded with negative and distorted thoughts about themselves and their lives.

I am only touching on this topic in a superficial way here. You can read more about this notion in the first section of Intimate Connections, which is all about learning that you can be happy when you are alone. You can also read more about this in the chapter on “The Love Addiction” in my first book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. And you might want to watch the reality TV show, “Alone,” which just completed its third season. It’s all about being stranded in the wilderness alone for prolonged periods of time, to see how long you can survive. The winner receives $500,000.

The topic is extremely controversial, like so many topics in mental health / psychology. And everyone is pretty sure they are an expert who knows “the truth.” So the post might fire up some controversy.

At any rate, you asked why anyone would want to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or friends at all, if you can be completely happy when you are alone. Well, there is a difference between “needing” something and “wanting” something. For example, I might want a fancy new sports car, but I don’t “need” one to be completely happy.

From a practical point of view, I have treated large numbers of single men and women who were having a terrible time in the dating world, and usually they were telling themselves that they “needed” love to feel happy. This made them come across as “needy,” and their neediness forced people to reject them. That’s because of the “Burns Rule,” which states that “people only want what they can’t get, and never want what they can get.” So if you need someone, you become what they can get, and they won’t want you.

So I always encouraged these single individuals to overcome their fears of being alone before I would teach them how to get people chasing after them. And this was nearly always effective. Once they no longer “needed” people, but had learned how to love themselves first, then they were far more successful in the dating world.

So that’s why all the chapters on flirting and such in Intimate Connections follow the initial section on learning to be happy when you’re lone.

Personally, I love to be alone! And many of the happiest moments in my life where moments when I was lone.

And I also love to hang out with others, and I love to give and receive love from those I’m close to as well. And that includes my family, students, friends, and even, or especially, our beloved cats!

Well, there my answer, Richard, but I’m sure we’ll get a ton of comments from folks who, like yourself, are hooked on the idea that we “need” love to feel maximally happy! I have created dozens of techniques to help folks overcome the fear of being alone, but that is perhaps for another day.

Oh, one last thing. If you have a firm belief that you cannot be happy when you are alone, it may function as a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, I once treated a woman who’d been rejected by her husband, who was having an affair with his secretary. She told me she had proof she couldn’t be happy when she was alone, because she was alone and constantly miserable, for example when eating dinner.

I asked her what she had for dinner the night before. She said she sat in a chair facing the wall and ate a peanut butter sandwich.

I said, “Well, maybe that’s why you were feelings miserable. What would you have for dinner if you had invited your favorite person in the world for dinner? For example, some celebrity you intensely admire?”

She said she’s buy the best food at the grocery store and prepare a gourmet meal, with candles, music, etc. I suggested she might try doing that for herself, as an experiment, using the Pleasure Predicting Sheet. She predicted that shopping, cooking, eating would be 0% to 5%, a scale from 0% to 100%, because she’d be alone.

She also had a luncheon scheduled with her husband later in the week, and had predicted it would be 95%, since she wouldn’t be alone. She fantasized they’d talk about getting back together.

But she was shocked by the results of her experiments. Shopping and cooking a gourmet meal for herself were 95% satisfying. And then she sat down with herself, with music and candles, and ate the dinner, and it was 100%. She said she got so high—no drugs or alcohol, mind you—that she took herself out dancing (in the living room), and just loved being with herself. This blew her mind.

The luncheon with her husband was also mind-bending. He spent the entire lunch talking about what a wonderful lover his secretary was, and how they’d divide up their belongings for the divorce. And of course, he was an attorney, and his suggestions involved pretty much everything for him and nothing for her.

In the Outcome column of her Pleasure Predicting Sheet she recorded 0%. The data were simply not consistent with her belief that she “needed” her husband’s love to feel happy and fulfilled.

Then she asked me what she should do next. I told her that now that she no longer “needed” love, it would be pretty easy for her to do some flirting with attractive men she met, and I told her that as soon as she found someone she really liked, and she no longer even wanted her husband back, I promised her that her husband would then come crawling back to her.

And that’s exactly what happened. She met a handsome hunk of a guy who was also recently divorced, and they fell madly in love. That very day her Ex called and said he’d changed his mind, and begged for her to accept him back. But she didn’t. She told him she was far happier without him, and wanted the divorce to be accelerate.

Her husband called me in a rage. He’d referred his wife to me initially, because he was afraid she was suicidal, and he’d asked me take care of her. He shouted in the phone, “I told you to take care of her!”

I replied, “I did, I did!”

If you’re interested, you can read more about the story in Feeling Good. She was one of the first people I treated with cognitive therapy, way back in the early days! But I’ll never forget!

David

 

Hi Dr. Burns,

Thanks for your response. Here is mine.

You keep drawing a distinction between needing and wanting.

I don’t see the importance of that. You say you don’t need a sport car to be completely happy, but you may still want one. If you could be completely happy without one, why would you want one?

Also, in order to be completely happy (long-term, not just for a few seconds) what does one need? Do you agree with many psychologists that to live the happiest life you need four basic things:

1. enjoyable work

2. good friends

3. good hobbies

4. good romantic relationship

Richard

Thanks, Richard!

Excellent response! Can I post your response, and my email on my website, as part of the post, with or without your name? Beyond this exchange, that would be the end of the posting of exchanges, however, as it gets too long, perhaps.

Personally, my answer to your excellent question is no, but that’s just my take on it, and not some absolute truth. I don’t see these as “needs.” But you can set it up like that if you want, and think of these things like enjoyable work, hobbies, love, and friends as basic human “needs,” and this might not be a problem for you. As a “shrink,” I don’t try to teach people about some “right” or “wrong” way to believe or think about things. I simply try to help individuals with problems they are having.

Lots of people do not have enjoyable work, and yet they are quite happy. They see their work as a way to earn money, and they do things that are more interesting to them when they are not at work. There is no rule that says everyone “must” find enjoyable work.

When I was in college, I did construction labor in Phoenix for two summers. It was pretty demanding work, with pick and shovel, and also lots of sweeping with a big broom, and it was hot that summer, with little no shade on the construction sites. The temperature in the shade was usually 105 degrees, and the temperature in the sun where we were working was typically 135 degrees. One of the laborers I worked with was named Carmen, and he was constantly telling me I did not use the shovel or broom correctly, and he would show me better ways to dig or sweep.

I would not say that the work was “enjoyable,” but I was very grateful to have a job and the chance to earn some money. The hourly wage, due to the union, was $3.10 per hour (Local 383 of the AFL), which seemed like a fortune to me, since we did not have much money. Another summer I had a job filing checks in a bank, which was boring, but tolerable, but definitely not “enjoyable.” I did try to make it interesting, however. For example, I tried to learn about the lives of the other construction laborers I worked with, since in my upbringing I did not have the chance to meet lots of people who were doing construction labor for a living. I felt a bit intimidated, but they were all really kind to me, and I worked as hard as I could.

Many people, and perhaps most, do not have jobs that are especially enjoyable. Now, if they tell themselves, “Oh, an enjoyable job is a ‘need,’” then they might feel unhappy and pressure themselves a great deal, thinking they have somehow fallen short of some basic human need.” If they wanted help with their negative feelings, and only if they wanted help, we could use a great many of the TEAM-CBT skills to help them, and this would likely be a really easy problem to solve. But if they were not asking for help, then I would simply “Sit with Open Hands,” since I have no special expertise in what people in general “should” or “shouldn’t” think or believe. My task is to help individuals who are struggling with depression, anxiety disorders, relationship problems, or habit and addictions, assuming they want help.

The most fundamental error in psychotherapy, in my opinion, is trying to help someone who is not asking for help, as this nearly always triggers resistance and a kind of log jam between the patient and therapist may develop. Of course, if someone is ambivalent, and wants to dialogue about that, it can be very productive, and there are tons of TEAM-CBT tools we could use—Empathy, Paradoxical Agenda Setting, and Methods. For example, we could do a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) and balance the Advantages against the Disadvantages of viewing an enjoyable job as a “need.” Then we could balance the advantages against the disadvantages on a hundred point scale. For example, is it 50-50? 60-40? 35-65?

Then we could do a second CBA, balancing the advantages against the disadvantages of thinking of an enjoyable job as a “want,” and balance the advantages against the disadvantages on a hundred point scale.

The way you use language is a personal decision. It is not so much the idea that one approach is inherently more “correct.”

Similarly, when you goof up at something, the way your think and use language will impact your feelings. For example, you can beat up on your “self,” telling yourself “I am a bad teacher,” or a “failure as a father,” or some such thing. These kinds of thoughts contain multiple cognitive distortions, such as All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Labeling, Self-Blame, Emotional Reasoning, Mental Filtering, and Discounting the Positive, and they are hidden Should Statements as well. These distortions will probably trigger feelings of depression, shame, anxiety, inadequacy, loneliness, and hopelessness, because the negative thoughts sound so absolute and permanent.

Or instead, you can focus on the specific error you made as a teacher, or as a father, or whatever, and make a plan to correct it. These two approaches are a matter of personal choice, but they can have massive implications in terms of how we feel.

The idea that our thoughts create our feelings is also a spiritual notion, embedded in Buddhism and nearly all religious traditions. Buddha emphasized the importance of focusing on specifics, rather than thinking about our errors and shortcomings in global terms. He was one of the first to teach that our thoughts, and not our external circumstance or the events in our lives, cause all of our feelings, positive and negative. We are creating our own emotional reality at every moment of every day. This notion is some basic, obvious, and fundamental, that many people simply cannot “see” it, or grasp it. Understanding this notion is one form of enlightenment.

Many people with enjoyable work, good friends, wonderful hobbies, and great romantic relationships are depressed and suicidal—I have treated many of them in my career—and many people who lack these things are very happy. But again, it is a matter of choice how you want to think about your life. If you ruminate about things you don’t have, and you tell yourself that these are “needs,” how will you feel?

I go on Sunday hikes with members of my training groups at Stanford. The hikes are not a basic human “need.” I spent most of my life not going on Sunday hikes. So if the hikes are not a “need,” why do I go on them? That is the type of question you are asking. I go on the Sunday hikes because they are a lot of fun. It gives me the chance to do personal work with students and colleagues, and to get to know people on a deeper level. In addition, it is a nice way to get some exercise.

To me, wants and needs are very different. Why do we do anything? For me, I do things because I am alive, and grateful that life offers so many opportunities and experiences. We have a new kitten—sadly, my beloved Obie disappeared two months ago. He was my best friend and likely killed by a predator in the middle of the night, in the woods behind our house. I will grieve his loss for a long time. I still shout out his name when I am out jogging, thinking he might hear me and suddenly appear, even though I know he is gone. A neighbor kindly gifted my wife and me an adorable kitten they found abandoned by the side of Moody Road, near a trail I hike on. She was three weeks old and it was a rain storm. They took her home and gave her a loving home for several months. But they traveled a lot, and did not like to leave her alone, so they gave us this beloved kitten, Miss Misty, who is now 4 ½ months old. And what a joy she is! So cute and full of life, and love. But I do not think of Miss Misty as a “need,” but rather as a gift, or as a little miracle of sorts.

Dr. Beck once told an interesting story in our weekly training group when I was first learning cognitive therapy. He said he and his wife went to a night club to hear some jazz performance, and the man sitting alone at the table next to them seemed like he was having an extraordinarily good time, even though he was alone, Dr. Beck asked the man why he was so happy. The fellow said he was incredibly happy because he’d just gotten an extremely important promotion at work. Dr. Beck asked him what work he did, and what promotion he’d received. The man said he’d been working in a local bakery for 25 years, and he had the job of making the donuts in the kitchen in the back area of the bakery. But he said that earlier in the day, the manager said that he could actually arrange the donuts in the display area, and gave him a 10% raise, and thanked him for the excellent work he’d been doing for so many years. The man was beside himself with happiness! Dr. Beck talked to him a bit more and learned that the man was living alone and could not read or write, and had not graduated from fifth grade.

I guess the point Dr. Beck was making is that our thoughts, and not the facts of our lives, create our feelings. You can be miserable in the midst of abundance—like many of the depressed individuals I treated—or joyous in the midst of very little. It all depends on how you think about things.

Still, none of this is meant as persuasion, just examples to illustrate my own very different way of thinking about wants vs, needs. In my opinion, we “need” oxygen, food, and water to survive. The new reality TV show, “Alone,” illustrates this very well! But I do not believe that we “need” enjoyable work, love, hobbies, or friends, although all of these can be sources of pleasure and joy.

But that’s just my way of looking at things. Ultimately, we are all free to think about things in whatever way we want. And lots of therapists do like to emphasize the “needs” we have as human beings. And I would say this line of thinking is “politically correct,” too. Your point of view, Richard, is quite popular, and if it is working for you, then there is no real need to change!

David

Hi Dr. Burns,

Yes you can use my first name if you publish our emails. We could go on forever so i will respond briefly.

As far as four things people need for happiness, maybe we could add a fifth which would be good health (depression being bad health).

Also, there are people who are happy who have bad jobs but are they really a 10 on the happiness scale or more like an 8?

Thanks for your thorough response.

Richard

Hi Richard,

You are most welcome! And thanks for the good dialogue which will likely interest a few people. However, this blog may make some people mad (at me, not you), since my thinking is somewhat politically incorrect.

But once again, my answer is no. Good health is wonderful, but not a requirement for happiness, and certainly not a guarantee for happiness, either.

In addition, my hunch is that there is no “cap” on happiness one way or the other. I have had many patients test this theory with the Pleasure Predicting Sheet that I described earlier in the blog. An experiment can be a nice way to check these beliefs out, sometimes.

I’ve treated or known many people with severe illnesses who were tremendously happy and content with their lives. And I’ve treated many, of course, who were in great health, but miserably unhappy.

I had a pretty severe problem with my right hand years ago (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), and had to do hand exercises 18 hours a day for 6 months to get my hand back to normal, or close to normal. I also had to go for hand therapy several times a week in a gym designed for people with serious hand injuries.

I was always amazed at the cheerfulness and friendliness of many patients in that gym who had the most grotesque and horrible hand injuries you can imagine. One was a woman with extremely advanced arthritis in both hands, and her profession was restoring rare paintings. She could barely move her fingers! And I can remember a professional skier whose hand had been crushed by a truck, and it was as flat as a pancake, making it nearly impossible to hold onto those things that skiers hold while skiing. But they weren’t complaining, and had the most positive outlook on life.

And I can remember an African America high school student who was doing some kind of exercise on one of the hand machines next to me, so I struck up a conversation and asked him what he planned to do with his life when he finished his schooling. He said he was hoping to become a professional basketball player. Then I asked him about his hand injury—what had happened?

He explained that he was injured when using a saw in his shop class at his high school, and that both of his hands had been cut off. He explained that they tossed his hands into a bucket of ice water and rushed him to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Emergency room, and that Dr. Osterman (who was also my doctor) had sewn his hands back on. And he told me he wasn’t giving up on his dream!

But there were usually one or two patients in the hand gym who were miserable complainers, nasty, demanding, and hard to be around—and usually their hand injuries were mild. So once again, it is our thoughts, and not the external circumstances, that create our emotions, positive and negative. But that’s just my mind-set, and others will have different ideas for sure!

I remember diagnosing terminal lung cancer in a woman I treated in our hospital in Philadelphia before I moved back to California years ago. I had been making rounds with the residents to prepare for my medical board examination when we moved to California, since I had let me medical license in that state run out and was pretty rusty on my memory of medicine.

The woman was very cheerful, and the residents who I made rounds with kept telling me that she “should” be more upset, as if her reaction to her diagnosis was somehow wrong, or involved denial, or some such thinking. But she told me that she was a deeply religious woman, and that she was extremely grateful that she’d had a good life, with two daughters who she loved and who loved her a great deal. She told me that she had nothing to worry about, and nothing to be upset about, because if it was God’s time to take her home to heaven, then she was ready to make the trip!

David

David’s Ted Talk

Hi Web visitors,

I was thrilled to get this unexpected and wonderful email today:

Hi Dr. Burns,

I just published this post on The Huffington Post entitled The Best Ted Talk I’ve Ever Seen, on your Tedx Talk in Reno. It was amazing. To view my post, CLICK HERE.

James E Porter

I am very appreciative, James! Thanks so much!

David