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A few months ago, I spent some time researching my therapist and found out where she lived. I immediately regretted my curiousity and have been terrified to tell my therapist this. Is this grounds for her to dismiss me?

We live in an age where a lot of biographical content about our lives is floating around and others can find it. It’s an unavoidable reality. There are new terms that have not even been invented yet to help us cope with this reality. There are new boundaries we don’t even know how to navigate yet. Until those terms and boundaries come into focus, the best we can do is to try not to drag old models forward into this new territory without testing them. So test them.

How do I identify a sociopath?

My experience with sociopathy is having been married to two sociopathic men. The first marriage was 20 years, the second 10 years. Of course, they had distinct (and intelligent) characteristics, but their underlying behaviors were similar, behaviors that I later learned are sociopathic. This is in hindsight, after therapy and much reading on the subject. I will never marry again, don’t date and am very cautious when making male friends. The emotional pain these men created in my life and my children’s lives was horrific. I am okay after years of healing through prayer, therapy, learning and forgiveness. But the permanent affect these sociopaths had on my children is terrible and something I grieve about.

If you were accidentally placed in a psych floor in a hospital, what would you say to convince the medical staff that you didn't belong there?

First of all, no one is “accidentally” placed in the psychiatric unit. Yes, there are misunderstandings that can occur. So, let’s say you were under an involuntary commitment and have no recollection of the events, no prior psychiatric history, etc. In that case, tell the truth. For example, if you had 3 too many drinks and started acting crazy, then state just that. Also, don’t hibernate in your room. Socialize on the unit, participate in groups, play games, laugh, or in other words, be visible and don’t look depressed. Act like you are enjoying it and we are sure to kick you out the door. Most insurance is not going to pay for a primary substance abuse stay in the inpatient psychiatric unit. Believe it or not, there are physicians who will keep you on the inpatient unit for as long as your insurance allows. Unethical? Absolutely! But, also unfortunately true. Do you have a friend or family member that can attest you were not having mood issues prior to admission? That is worth quite a bit in your favor.

How can you tell if someone is smarter than they let on?

The easiest smart person to detect is the seller, because he is a pleaser (so is the journalist, by the way, always your best friend until he writes his paper!). I knew a man who was selling wine, and he once told me: “never say what you know about wine, you sell the dream, not the wine”. A good seller is usually smarter than you think.

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