The lengths we go for family.

Amidst the loud, garish, Italian-American Christmas festivities of s2 ep6 of The Bear: “Fishes”, a darkly mesmerising – “car crash”, if you’ve watched you’ll get it – psychoanalytic tale unfolds.

The story through aptly-erratic camera work dives into the hidden struggles of a family on the brink of emotional collapse. As the Berzattos gather around the “Feast of the Seven Fishes”, a volcanic scene ensues, simmering with steam and splashed-sauce, where emotions collide, forks are thrown, and love and responsibility intermingle with shame and death.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes, a symbol of unity, morphs into an undulating liquid mirror reflecting the family’s deepest desires and the hidden turmoil swimming beneath. The Christmas tradition becomes a vessel for the unconscious to manifest, and the archetypes emerge in the festivities, vibrating within their shells barely able to contain their parameters. The holiday cheer is many layers removed from the most perceptive characters and only enthusiastically performed by those too drunk to notice their surroundings.
The disturbingly incessant ticking and ringing of kitchen timers promising some kind of eruption or climax, only to be reset again and again and again with increasingly frayed nerves.
The episode serves as a visceral portrayal of big family dynamics and the invisibility of internal struggle, emotional pain and suicidal ideation under the veil of performing and mirroring one’s family’s perceptions, responsibilities and expectations. It’s a masterpiece in showing how love and the familial bond is not enough when we feel the person we’re loved for being, is no longer our genuine self – or perhaps the blended average of our many selves – in that moment.

As the pots boil over in the Berzatto family Christmas kitchen, we witness the human psyche laid bare, simmering with untold confessions, good and ill-wishes and the splitting of selves; confrontation and escapism seem to impossibly become one. We’re left pondering the knife edge that shame, familial connection and death dance on. And the lengths we go to, not to let that, that pains us, into our conscious fore… even if it means what we’re desperately hiding becomes unwittingly visible to those we love.

Within so many families, love is expressed not by words but in the making of food, in fussing, in “making things lovely”. But where does that leave us when we have no appetite?

Social media – the mental health of teenagers

By Georgia Coates, work experience, Esher college.

This blog will look at both sides of the argument and attempt to answer the question: does social media lead to a decline in the mental health of teenagers?
Firstly, I feel the largest problem (and the inspiration for this blog) with social media is that teenagers are self-diagnosing themselves with mental health conditions without seeking specialists. ‘Comprehensive Psychiatry’ published a paper arguing that the TikTok videos of people giving detailed descriptions of their tics, symptoms and eating disorders have influenced the thought processes of teenagers, especially younger ones. There’s a hidden niche of Twitter, referred to as EDtwt (Eating disorder twitter) where people post their weight-loss tips, stories about their experiences, and what they call ‘thinspo’ – slender people, predominantly women, who others wish to look like. Exposure to these not-so hidden sides of social media surely infect the minds of impressionable teenagers and therefore can explain the fact that hospital admissions for eating disorders have increased by 84% in the last five years (according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists). Of course, the photoshopped Instagram photos don’t help this image of insecurity, with girls making their waists impossibly small for children to envy. On top of this, there are many ‘pseudo-therapists’ on TikTok who attempt to diagnose their watchers – making jokes, listing vague symptoms and suggesting a disorder with no one-to-one discussion or psychological training (An example: making a video about how being easily distracted probably means one has ADHD, and therefore influencing people into believing they have this without seeking medical advice). Viewpoint Center make an excellent point in their article on the same topic, mentioning that teenagers overestimate what is expected of them, using the example that a younger person may believe that, because they’re socially awkward with people they don’t know, they must have social anxiety. Overall, this phenomenon is dangerous because the excessive categorising of oneself can lead to a very real manifestation of these symptoms – as is indicated by the ‘Self – Fulfilling Prophecy’.
One of the largest negatives to the huge increase in social media usage has been the sensationalising of life. Edited videos of false lives and photoshopped pictures of fun often lead to ‘regular’ people feeling their lives are lacklustre. So many videos of overly romanticised situations float around social media that teenagers are conditioned into having unrealistic expectations about what it’s like to live in the real world. There’s been an ongoing trend since 2016 where creators record a day in their life and post – but many younger people don’t seem to realise how much thought goes into these videos. People meticulously plan what day of their week will be the most exciting, and embellish almost every detail of their life to try and install envy in the viewers (No one is making themselves a full English breakfast every day.) A viral video is currently bouncing around the different platforms, with social media creator ‘’ making a ‘day in the life’ video as a man with a regular 9 to 5 job. The responses to this video were primarily younger people expressing fear that their lives will turn this monotonous, boring and uneventful. One twitter user responded by saying ‘This video was so depressing that I teared up watching it.’ – only going further in highlighting that clearly the excessive posts of influencers going on holidays with their friends, shopping in the middle of the week and partying every night have instilled a false sense of the future for teenagers.
Another negative aspect social media has given to people, especially teenagers, is the decline of an attention span, which almost certainly correlates with the supposed decline of mental health in teenagers in the newer generations. The TikTok feature not allowing for videos over three minutes has conditioned younger brains into being unable to watch a longer piece of media for a prolonged period of time without distractions. I myself am also guilty of this fault – I can’t watch a film, even one I am thoroughly enjoying, without playing a game on my phone so that my brain has two things to focus on. The online advise columns seem to suggest a social media detox – something which, while definitely a good idea in the long run, seems to be a foreign and impossible concept to me and my fellow teenagers.
This isn’t just the case with videos – Twitter is responsible for the same problem. The short, snappy texts causes younger people to be more used to getting simple, undetailed information as opposed to reading longer books or articles. This seems to be a large reason why (according to 147 minutes per day on average are spent on social media, while the Reuters Institution for the Study of Journalism in Oxford found that 3% of all user’s online time is for the news.

As a teenager and a self-proclaimed social media addict, I feel it is my duty to at least try to defend these platforms. I think it’s a valid argument that perhaps it’s not that more people are falsely diagnosing themselves, but more that there’s more access to information and people feel more comfortable in expressing themselves. Perhaps people feel oppressed in their day to day lives, maybe they don’t have the time or money to see a therapist, and perhaps seeing online videos of people in similar situations can actually increase one’s understanding of themselves. This is the same reason why much more of Generation Z are identifying with different gender identities and experimenting more with their sexualities – Perhaps it’s not necessarily the case that more younger people have mental health problems and are queer, but more that people are now more willing to live their truth in a more open, accepting time. For this argument I can use the oft-used example of left-handed people: the number of left handed people built up gradually in the early 20th century and, by 2000, had plateaued. This isn’t because more people were born left-handed, but because society accepted that there was nothing wrong with these people and so they stopped lying on surveys or trying to hide. The same can be said about mental health.
One of the main counterpoints I would like to put forward is the sense of community that social media gives teenagers. Many younger people who feel unloved, alone and misunderstood, perhaps at school or in their home-life, can find a faction of like-minded individuals. There’s a group for everyone, especially on a platform as used as TikTok – but this blog will focus specifically on ‘BookTok’, a side of TikTok where book lovers come together to their their recommendations and opinions with each other, encouraging younger people to read books in an age where print is in decline. Not only does this improve attention spans, literacy and education, it gives a hobby to those who possibly didn’t feel passionately about anything before. Popular accounts, such as ‘sivanreads’, ‘aymansbooks’ and ‘billreads’ have a collective following of over a million, demonstrating that social media users do have passions and intrigue, and that the more problematic users who are responsible for self diagnosis and mental health issues are actually in the minority. BookTok has increased cultural capital, encouraging the reading of classics and foreign literature (the influx of videos about Toshikazu Kawaguchi are proof of this). I found out about my personal favourite book, ‘The Secret History’ from a TikTok video making a joke about being the ‘Richard’ of their friend group – something that, after reading the book, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The passionate side of social media is not just limited to books – every show and film will have fan-made edits, every sport and activity will have their own community. In this way, social media actually does not ‘decline’ the mental health of teenagers, but instead builds it up by encouraging hobbies outside of the online platforms. 0
In conclusion, while on a personal level I enjoy using social media and reap the benefits, objectively I do come down on the side that social media does overall lead to a decline in the mental health of teenagers. The parading of influencers living artificial realities, the unrealistic body expectations, and the shortened attention span – all paired with the TikTok ‘therapists’ – lead to the confusion and self diagnosing of young teenagers. And, while I am admittedly a hypocrite who won’t give up my social media usage, I do think I would be a healthier and happier person if I did.

‘Yellowjackets’ and the transformative power of trauma.

I’ve been watching Yellowjackets” a series that follows the story of a group of high school girls who survive a plane crash and are forced to survive in the wilderness. The series explores a wide range of psychological themes and concepts through the complex and multifaceted characters of the show. Many of the themes have strangely reminded me of the trauma I experienced training to become a therapist.

Trauma is one of the central psychological themes in “Yellowjackets”. The plane crash and the girls’ subsequent survival in the wilderness cause significant trauma that has long-lasting effects on the characters’ mental health and behavior. The show portrays the different ways in which individuals cope with these difficulties, with some turning to substance abuse, while others become paranoid and detached from reality.

The series also explores the psychological concept of power dynamics and their influence on group behavior. As the girls struggle to survive in the wilderness, power struggles and rivalries emerge, leading to conflicts and tensions between the characters. The show highlights the ways in which power dynamics can shape group behavior and lead to destructive outcomes.

Additionally, the show touches on the psychological concept of identity and the ways in which trauma can influence one’s sense of self. As the characters struggle to survive in the wilderness, they are forced to confront their own mortality and re-evaluate their priorities and values. This experience leads to a transformation in their sense of self and their understanding of their place in the world.
In some this challenge leads to personal growth and development. As the characters face challenges and obstacles, they are forced to confront their fears and weaknesses and find the strength to overcome them. This process of personal growth and development is a central aspect of the show and provides a powerful message about the resilience of the human spirit.

In the midst of all the challenges the girls face it becomes evident that there is the presence supernatural phenomena in the forest, this raises questions about the nature of reality and the extent to which the characters’ experiences are influenced by their psychological states.
One of the key supernatural elements in the series is the character of Shauna’s visions, which seem to provide her with insights into the future and the fate of the group. These visions could be interpreted as a manifestation of Shauna’s psychological state, as she struggles to cope with the trauma of the plane crash and the challenges of survival in the wilderness. Similarly, Travis’s ghost appears to be a manifestation of the guilt and regret that the characters feel about the events leading up to the plane crash. The ghost’s appearances could be seen as a projection of the characters’ unresolved emotions and their need for closure and redemption.
The supernatural elements also highlight the role of belief systems and their influence on human behavior. For example, the character of Natalie becomes increasingly convinced that the group’s survival is tied to the mystical power of the “Yellowjacket Queen,” leading her to make increasingly extreme decisions in pursuit of this belief. This storyline raises questions about the power of belief and the ways in which it can shape our understanding of reality and influence our behavior.

The characters begin to use sacrifice and rituals as a way to cope with their traumatic experiences and to create a sense of order and control in their chaotic situation. This form of magical thinking or superstition, is a common coping mechanism in situations of extreme stress and uncertainty. The use of rituals are tied to the characters’ belief in the power of the “Yellowjacket Queen” and the mystical forces that they believe are guiding their survival. The rituals and sacrifices that they perform are seen as a way to appease these forces and to ensure their continued protection it also feels like a way to assert control over their environment and to create a sense of order in a chaotic and unpredictable situation. By performing rituals and making sacrifices, they are able to establish a sense of structure and routine in their daily lives, which can be comforting and reassuring in a situation where everything else is uncertain.

However, it also highlights the dangerous potential of belief systems and their influence on human behavior. As the characters become increasingly focused, they become more and more willing to engage in extreme and dangerous behaviors in pursuit of their goals. This storyline raises important questions about the power of belief and the ways in which it can influence our behavior, for better or for worse.

Psychedelics and psychotherapy – the rise of wellbeing ‘gurus’

‘I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake’ Hemingway.

Psychedelics have been used for psychotherapy since the 1950s, but were later prohibited due to political and social pressures. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the use of psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca for the treatment of various mental health conditions.
Studies have shown that these substances have the potential to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and end-of-life distress. They can help to promote introspection, emotional release, and an altered state of consciousness that can facilitate therapeutic breakthroughs.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy typically involves a preparatory phase, a treatment session under the guidance of a trained therapist, and an integration phase. The treatment session typically involves the administration of a controlled dose of the psychedelic substance in a supportive and safe environment. During this time, the therapist provides guidance and support to help the patient navigate the experience and process any insights or emotions that arise.

While the use of psychedelics for psychotherapy shows promise, it is still considered an experimental treatment and is not currently legal in most countries. It is important to note that psychedelics can produce intense and sometimes unpredictable experiences, and should only be administered under the supervision of trained professionals in a clinical setting.
Overall, the use of psychedelics for psychotherapy is an area of active research and holds promise for improving mental health outcomes for those who are struggling with various conditions.

The use of psychedelics for psychotherapy can potentially create a guru culture in which individuals who have had profound experiences with the substances are seen as possessing special knowledge or insight. This can be problematic if these individuals start to view themselves as authorities or become overly reliant on the psychedelic experience as a means of achieving insight or healing. It is alarming to note our
increasing willingness to hand over our own sovereignty to healers who profess to know or have the thing — this feels largely fuelled by social media and notion of magic solutions to mental and emotional difficulties. It is easy to watch healers who profess to know or have the thing become distorted over time—to go from seeing themselves as a vehicle for whatever wants to come through them, to believing themselves to be the thing that’s coming through.

Many people are drawn to the idea of having a spiritual teacher or guide who can provide them with guidance and support on their path of personal growth and development. However, it is important to be discerning in choosing a teacher or guide and to be aware of the potential pitfalls of giving too much power or authority to any one person.

Ultimately, the use of psychedelics for psychotherapy should be approached with caution and with an awareness of the potential risks and benefits. While it can be a powerful tool for healing and personal growth, it is not a panacea and should only be used under the guidance of a trained professional. In this country we are far from being in a place where this is likely to incorporated into anyone’s therapeutic experience.


I wish what had happened had never happened.
But there isn’t a family on the planet that will evade catastrophe or disaster.
Out of these unexpected breaks, there will be new opportunities for creativity.

Small brown face, large white space.

I am a brown psychotherapist. I say this because my difference in the profession still feels relevant. I am a very small minority. As a Women of colour I claim this singular identity as indicative of commonality, distinctiveness, and community within the profession. In terms of visibility, the body of the “therapist of colour” is comprised of an amalgamation of all the various identities, mixed into one self. As such there is an implied responsibility to present as a singular representation of all the the claimed communities covered by that label in a professional capacity:

Gender, as well as identity can be a powerful determinant of experience in professional, racial, and ethnic contexts. Beyond any societal categorisations based solely on the physiology of the body, gender affects how we interact with, and are perceived by the groups and environments we inhabit. With regard to the notion of perception, more specifically how one sees and is seen, is defined in multiple philosophical theories of the self. How we understand our individual identity in is part formed in how we are recognised by others and the hooks such recognitions are based on. The absence of appropriate recognition, or even misrecognition is harmful in so many ways, both unconscious and in the conscious way we interact. It will undoubtedly affect how we form our identities in a professional environment.

Social constructs of gender are ever present at work. The hegemonic nature of higher education spaces forces those of different races and cultures to negotiate and compromise identity in order to ‘fit in’. Bodily misrecognition enriches the feminist reading of multidimensional identities. “Bodily misrecognition,” refers to the perceptions of others about the ways in which women of colour interact in the classroom. Bodily misrecognition occurs when women of colour enter hegemonic academic spaces where inaccurate perceptions about them based on racial and gendered stereotypes are prevailing and inescapable. This leads to a need to manage the body, both physically and behaviorally, in order to come to some kind of mutual acceptance of their authority in a room with their peers. All of this leads to a sense of feeling alien and inauthentic. Developing false selves to cope with the difficulty. The phenomenon of body management appears and is interrogated ubiquitously in feminist literature as a negotiation with male-oriented approaches, but further thought needs to be given to how it affects other forms of difference as they present in academic settings.

“Father, Mother, and Me/
Sister and Auntie Say/
All the people like us are We/
And everyone else is They.”
— Rudyard Kipling

The benefit of not knowing.

Most therapies call for the client to ‘transcend their ego’ in some manner. The psychoanalytic schools also invite the therapist to transcend their own knowings by inviting them to embrace a ‘not knowing’ stance 

The not-knowing stance is not a denial of the therapist’s knowledge but a bracketing of its certainty; it is a respectful tentativeness that assumes that the client, and not the therapist, is the foremost expert on their own life. The therapist is free to bring their thoughts and ideas to the conversation but always offers such comments as food for thought.

The not-knowing position entails a general attitude or stance in which the therapist’s actions communicate an abundant, genuine curiosity.  That is, the therapist’s actions and attitudes express a need to know more about what has been said, rather than convey preconceived opinions and expectations about the client, problem, or what must be changed. 

This comes in contrast to the social and cultural pressure to pursue certainty at the cost of our sense of self and personal growth. The desire for certainty can feel like a dangerous addiction. Like alcohol, it may make us feel safe, but it is also creates a form of numbness, and detachment from our environments.

Few notions have become as deeply embedded in our culture as the belief that there is a perfect certainty to be had – and the desire to have it. This can prove to be tricky in the not knowing space we might try to explore in therapy – but siting with our thoughts in a non judgmental space can allow us to find a more authentic form of thought and the freedom to be ourselves without the constraints we may have enforced on our lives.

Deseriderata – Words for Life.

Words for Life.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann.

Christmas on the Edge.

Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, the outhouse of the inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed at cosmic origin.
Christmas sets the centre at the edge.

And from this day our world is re-aligned
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,
The end begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.

Malcolm Guite

Clothing to hide behind

Have you ever felt – like not wanting to be you, unlike you. Not that you wanted to shrink or hide behind things, people objects and become invisible, but rather to not be there, to feel invisible, to wield yourself differently in order to see what was around you and might bring itself forward, what would be willing to show itself or be found.