Dr. Sharon Gerstenzang died in a horseback riding accident March 7, 2012. An avid horseback rider, Dr. Sharon died doing what she loved best, riding her horse, Orange. She is dearly missed. You can visit her website www.surfyoursoul.com to find more of Dr. Sharon’s work.

Thank you for visiting her blog.


[Parade magazine, February 12, 2012] : Because being in love means we are, literally, addicted to love, recovering from being dumped has some strategies appropriate to recovering from addiction. 1. Says Professor Helen Fisher, author of “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love”, “If you’re trying to give up alcohol, you don’t leave a bottle of vodka on your desk.” So, store letters, pictures, gifts of/from your ex out of sight, and out of reach. Remove his/her contact information from cell, e-mail, IM buddy list, etc. Don’t go past his/her residence, work station, etc. Re-route. 2. Do novel things. “Whether it’s travel, new restaurants, new hobbies [or re-engaging in old favorites], seeing people you haven’t seen in a while [or making new friends],” Fisher says, “novelty significantly elevates activity of dopamine in the brain [dopamine rushes you used to automatically get from your lover].” 3. Do happy things, from a form of exercise you enjoy, to getting a massage, to hugging people and other animals.   


Breast cancer devastates the woman who is diagnosed as well as her friends and daily acquaintances. When you hear your friend has breast cancer, you may be so sad and worried that you are afraid you’ll cry if you talk to her. You may be so afraid of saying “the wrong thing” that you avoid her. She is sad and vulnerable and will be hurt by those who avoid her although she may understand the rationale behind the avoidance. She doesn’t want to have an emotional meltdown in public any more than do you. Try to behave as normally as possible. Greet her as you always have. It’s OK to ask her how she’s doing or how is chemo going. Accept what she says, taking the conversation to where she guides and then move on. Talk about the things you used to discuss, how the kids are doing in school, what’s for dinner, did she see that movie. She has the same interests that she used to and will welcome the normalcy of the daily comfortable communication between friends. At the end of the conversation, if you want, you can offer some concrete help. Offer to have her son for a sleepover, offer a ride to a Dr.’s appointment, take her dry cleaning in with yours or pick up some groceries when you go to the market. Her life has become much busier and she is tired but she is concerned about keeping up with responsibilities of home and kids. She wants to insulate her children as much as possible so offers to include her kids in normal fun kid activities is great when she doesn’t have the energy. Let her know that if she ever wants to talk, you would love to listen.

Blogged by Karen Allen PhD RN, Dr.KarenAllenRN@gmail.com

We’ve all heard that gossip is an vice in which we should not engage. But it turns out that certain types of gossip can be beneficial. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908074502.htm Rumor-mongering can have positive outcomes such as helping us police bad behavior, prevent exploitation and lower stress. “Prosocial” gossip is the more beneficial kind, warning others about untrustworthy or dishonest people, as opposed to “voyeuristic” gossip about the ups and downs of tabloid celebrities. In an experiment, participants engaged in an economic trust game witnessed one player cheating. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/01/17/gossip/ Heart rates rose at those moments. Then, when they were able to send a warning to a new player of the cheater’s dishonesty, heart rates calmed. The higher participants scored on being altruistic, the more negative emotions they experienced after witnessing the cheating, and the more they tried to warn others. Feinberg said.” Participants went so far as to forgo pay in order to warn new players of participant’s cheating. This self-imposed policing of what was perceived as dishonest behavior through gossip was a pleasant surprise to the study’s designer, Robb Willer, who is interested in the way in which prosocial behavior and sentiments allow us to sustain social order.”

Blogged by Karen Allen PhD RN, Dr.KarenAllenRN@gmail.com


GOOD AND BAD: Narcissists will be thrilled to hear that as a group they are rated as more attractive and likable than everyone else at first appearance. They are, as a group, significantly more stylishly clad, cheerful and physically appealing at first sight, exuding more competence,  interpersonal warmth, and humor than those who score lower in narcissism. On the dark side, people scoring higher in narcissism also engage, on average, in more disagreeable verbal behaviors: drawing conversations back to themselves, “glazing over” when others speak, talking loudly, arguing and cursing more—and using more sexual language. Both their charming and their disagreeable behaviors can be seen as aimed at maintaining power in an interaction without having to cooperate. On the other hand, some see it a more as an effort to gain social influence than actual intention to exploit or dominate others. Seeking admiration is a like a drug for narcissists’ self-image, and putting  others down may be an accidental side effect of that pursuit. Research by Lorna Otway and Vivian Vignoles suggests that creation of a narcissist may indeed occur as Freud long ago suggested: from a whiplash combination of parental coldness alternating with excessive parental admiration. Non-narcissistic people everywhere inadvertently reinforce this dynamic by being overly positive at first impressions so that fading of interest is felt by the narcissist as punishment all over again. Getting positive feedback at first but then being devalued in the long term would certainly be irritating…a possible explanation for the narcissist’s prickly side. [taken from Scott Barry Kaufrman, PhD, personality psychologist at New York University, “The Peacock Paradox” in July/August 2011 Psychology Today]  BAD INTO GOOD: To help a narcissist (and yourself) out of the alienating dance, be dignifying of yourself by expressing curiosity and interest more than enthusiasm and (overzealous) admiration over their charm and energy. Be firmly and respectfully honest and committed to vocalizing your own thoughts and disagreements (think iron hand, kid glove). Narcissists at their cores (albeit often unconsciously) crave honesty, understandingly delivered, to make sense of the roller coasters of their own unfortunate social cycles. Handling a narcissist with respect and dignity for both yourself and him/her will grow both you and the narcissists you love or hate—or both—deeper and wiser.           


In a recent study from Science, researchers may have found a way to use opiates in a new way that will not merely keep pain at bay for four hours at a time. The new high dose, short-term therapy with opioids  actually causes the reversal of cellular changes which are thought to play an important role in pain memories, therefore possibly eliminating one of the causes of chronic pain. High doses of intravenous opioids over the course of an hour — normally opioids are delivered at moderate doses over a longer period — were able to completely resolve. The memory trace for pain was therefore deleted and the pain amplifier switched off. This study may hopefully signal a paradigm shift in treatment of chronic pain.

ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2012/01/120113204933.htm  Original article: R. Drdla-Schutting, J. Benrath, G. Wunderbaldinger, J. Sandkuhler. Erasure of a Spinal Memory Trace of Pain by a Brief, High-Dose Opioid AdministrationScience, 2012; 335 (6065): 235 DOI: 10.1126/science.1211726

Blogged by Karen Allen PhD RN, Dr.KarenAllenRN@gmail.com

Botox may hinder people’s ability to recognize other people’s emotions. The reason seems to be that empathy relies heavily on our ability to reflect emotional expressions in our own faces that we see in other people’s. If we can’t move our muscles to match, we have a much harder time knowing what another person is feeling.

In one study, the 31 women who had received either Botox or Restylane were FAR LESS ABLE to identify emotions shown in facial images than non-injected women. In the second experiment, the 95 men and women received a gel application to amplify facial muscle signals to the brain were FAR BETTER at reading emotions than non-gel-application participants. Buyers beware! http://naturalsociety.com/botox-may-deaden-perception-study-says/


Anxiety can take over in the holidays: so much to do, so little time to do it, and so many new and different tasks added onto everything else that regularly has to get done.

The good news: anxiety is actually a friendly emotion… when you befriend it.

Kick up your happiness level by mastering anxiety.

Try some simple physical moves to harness your anxiety:

o        Fake a startled jump

o        Pout and slouch pessimistically (pull out your lower lip if you have to)

o        Make strong kung fu arm motions through the air: you got the power!

  • Then Question And Act:

o        What do I want to do first? Do it ASAP. Next? Jump on it. Keep going

o        What do I partly want to do, but partly resist?

What issue(s) are holding me back? Jump on the interference

o        How pleased am I with getting each step done? Congratulate yourself, or at least allow yourself and a deep breath and smile.

Every day brings new anxieties because every day bring new opportunities, and new angles on old opportunities.

Let each success—however large or small—make you happy.

Happy Holidays!

PS: If you remain uncomfortable with anxiety, think how “anxious” or “anxiety” really mean “eager, yet reluctant to get going”. Think about how you are ready, set, to go, yet also realistic about limitations. Give yourself the time to work through your anxieties, and your limitations.

You can also try working the simple physical moves of anxiety in more depth.

  • Wag your tailbone (think dog wagging tail) feeling excited to get going…on whatever. (That’s the excitement in anxiety)
  • When faking that startled jump, also make a silly grin, as if you’ve just been pleasantly goosed, and tell yourself that you’re in for good surprises.
  • When you pout and slouch pessimistically, think about how when you were a kid… wherever you were anxious to get to… it felt like you were NEVER going to get there.
  • When you make those strong kung fu arm motions through the air, be aware that you are harnessing the simpler moves of impatience (batting stuff out of your way) and aggressiveness (pushing ahead)…and that’s OK. A good thing. Getting obstacles out of the way, moving ahead with what needs to be done.




Hypersensitivity: real, normal, and little understood.

“Highly sensitive people (HSPs) make up 20 percent of the population. Today, science is validating (this) group of people…who are taking in a whole lot of subtleties that the other 80% of the population don’t even notice. HSPs are likely to answer yes to so-called ‘thin-boundary’ questions such as ‘I have a rich, complex inner life’, ‘I am made uncomfortable by loud noises,’ ‘I am really particular about what kind of fabrics I wear,’ “my moods are very reactive to both what’s going on around me and what’s going on inside me,’ “I am very sensitive to smells’ …some to the degree of reporting being disabled by exposure to colognes, paints, pesticides, and other trace elements in air.”

If you are or love an HSP

“HSPs occur at a significantly greater rate among artists and musicians than in the general population. While their moods can lead to greater incidence of anxiety and depression, it also appears that their images of beauty are more vivid…as if HSPs alone see the world in high-def. On the plus side, a simple “nice job” might lift an HSP child into game-changing positive effects…say, by studying extra well for the next test. At the other end, ridicule or bullying could snowball easily into despair and futility for an HSP child. School and parenting practices can dramatically enhance the development of these children by recognizing that they can thrive spectacularly in a mildly encouraging classroom or struggle endlessly in a slightly discouraging one, while a less sensitive child is likely to respond about the same regardless of similar variations in the classroom environment. As adults, HSPs are likely to make especially compassionate friends who truly care about others, channel beauty from the world into art and music, home and work activities, and notice things others miss. So, rather than come down on an HSP to ‘toughen up’, think about the importance of being supportive and patient…which can go a long way with both the giver and the receiver of that support.” 

[Most of material from “Sense and Sensitivity” by Andrea Bartz in Psychology Today, p 72-79, July/August 2011]  


Are your emotions at work stressing you out?

When you don’t have the things you need, or the time, to get your job done properly, or when folks you work with are difficult, handle your emotional pain, fatigue and general distaste on the spot, often, throughout the day. Each move takes just seconds.

Feeling weighed down by roadblocks: Yawn and roll your eyes upward often

Express the fatigue: try breathing out through puffy lips and letting yourself feel limp.

Feel the yuck try sticking out your tongue, ejecting the distasteful aspects right away instead of just swallowing.

At the end of the day: try writing out or typing about your feelings or thoughts. Or just mull a bit, and let it go.

Overall: the above tips will help you get better sleep and recovery from your day.

Check out some specific physical symptoms of how work can make you sick at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02678373.2011.569175