New research on bullying outcomes underlines the alarming unmet need. Effective interventions reviewed include anti-bullying, trauma-informed, family-based, and systemic approaches.


  • Bullying is an epidemic that is not showing signs of improvement.
  • At least one in five kids are bullied, and a significant percentage bullies. Both are negatively affected, as are bystanders.
  • Parenting style can reduce the risk of PTSD from bullying.
  • Evidence-based bully prevention programs are generally effective, but school adoption is inconsistent and anti-bullying legislation weak.

According to the US federal government website

“There is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying. …

“Doorknob comments” define the boundary, when they come up.

Co-authored with Fara White


  • “Doorknob comments” are things ripe with unexplored significance people say at the end of a therapy session.
  • There is usually no time left to address their significance unless there is an emergency or other reason to extend the time.
  • Doorknob comments become less common over the course of one’s therapy, as the capacity to communicate and collaborate deepens.
  • Working through doorknob comments, their impact, and the meaning they convey contribute to personal growth.

There’s a phenomenon called “doorknob comments” by therapists. Recently podcast cohost Fara White and I, on the Doorknob Comments podcast, explored this phenomenon…

Beware romantic partners who try so hard to help you grow as a person. The relationship may start out seeming to be what we always needed, but end in suffering and want.


  • Well-functioning relationships serve appropriate developmental needs for all involved.
  • In “personal development relationships”, one partner is an unofficial therapist to the other, making healthy intimacy less and less possible.
  • In relationships where pathological narcissism meets excessive dependency, PDRs become abusive.
  • Addressing unmet developmental needs in an appropriate setting frees one up to build mutually beneficial, balanced relationships.

People seek close relationships for many reasons: the need to be loved, for a family, longings for a life partner with whom to grow old, for mutual edification, for fun and enjoyment, for pragmatic purposes, for financial advantages, and so on. …

New research on self-enhancement in personal and professional relationships.


  • Bragging is seen as a social liability, but that’s overly simplistic; sometimes we need to share positives with others.
  • Bragging is problematic in many cases, but fear of being seen as a braggart can interfere with intimacy in close relationships.
  • Learning how to distinguish when bragging is negative and when sharing positive news is healthy is a key achievement.

We are socialized that it is bad to brag. And, it often is — perhaps, by definition, always given that bragging almost never has a positive spin. …

Part 2 in a review of psychoanalytic work on how we do what we do to each other.

In Part 1 of this two-part post, we looked at how psychoanalyst Harold Searles thought about how we drive each other crazy. On one hand, he describes many pathological reasons for doing so, in his focus on maladaptive parental and family dynamics. He notes there are other reasons people have difficulty maintaining a grip on reality and our own emotional states than how we are raised, but his focus is on developmental factors and how they play out in adulthood, and particularly in therapy. In this follow-up piece, we review the reasons why — the motivations for — driving the…

Part 1: A review of psychoanalytic work on how we do what we do to each other.

Harold Searles was a brilliant, controversial psychoanalyst who worked with patients at Chestnut Lodge for over 15 years. Chestnut Lodge, a well-known sanatorium in Rockville, Maryland where patients with chronic psychiatric illnesses lived and received intensive treatment, ended its over century-long life, metamorphosing from boarding house to hotel, asylum, and finally proposed high-end condos before succumbing to a fire of unknown origin in 2009.

Many of the patients with whom Dr. Searles worked had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1950s and 60s. While some may have met modern criteria for a psychotic illness, it is likely that a large…

Provocative new research opens up dialogue about less familiar aspects of male desire and need to be wanted.

  • Interviews with heterosexual men in relationships revealed that feeling desired was “very important” to the vast majority.
  • Only 12 percent of men reported that their partners made them feel as sexually desired as they wanted to feel.
  • Expressions of desire include compliments, dirty talk, and communicating about sex, flirting, romantic touch, and initiating sex.
  • Sexual scripts and stereotypes can be limiting. Recognizing that men and women both want to feel desired may contribute to healthier relationships.

There’s no question that our culture is — ahem — still evolving when it comes to sexuality. Male heterosexual desire is still highlighted more…

New research looks at core drivers of sexual dissatisfaction and enjoyment.

  • “Good-enough sex” does not have to be perfect, but requires collaboration from each partner.
  • Sexual boredom is associated with reduced overall well-being, and also with personality factors such as narcissism (which correlates with overall proneness to boredom) and with other risky behaviors.
  • Men generally report greater sexual boredom than do women.
  • The widely-held assumption that sexual satisfaction will decline can undermine good sex, even for long-partnered couples.

Is monogamy synonymous with boring sex, or do vibrant long-term committed relationships open the door to satisfying sexuality? Expert consensus provides an answer: it depends. It depends on the quality of the relationship…

Formal analysis of life narratives reveals what moves us beyond ourselves.

According to researchers Reischer, Roth, Villarreal, and McAdams (2020) in the Journal of Personality, self-transcendence “is the phenomenon of experiencing one’s self as expanding both backward and forward in time; a feeling of connectedness to all of humanity, the earth, and the cosmos; and a turn toward existential concerns such as the meaning of life and future death.”

They note further that self-transcendence is connected with positive outcomes: greater well-being, positive emotions, optimism, higher self-esteem, greater self-integration, and enhanced life purpose, and with lower depression and neuroticism.

Study authors describe that self-transcendence is related to important personal development concepts, including…

New research shows where recovery from depression and perfectionism may be helped by targeting the connections between them.

Perfectionism is defined as a personality trait characterized by efforts toward and desires for flawlessness. A perfectionist sets unrealistically high standards for oneself, others, or both. Although in some cases, perfectionism drives performance, it can often undermine achievement of goals when people succumb to highly critical attitudes.[1]

Types of perfectionism

Smith and colleagues (2021) consolidated a multitude of studies on perfectionistic concerns and perfectionistic strivings to determine in what way perfectionism and depression feed off of each other. Perfectionistic concerns center on the belief that perfection is required of oneself, shading into obsession.

Those with high perfection concerns over react to errors, often…

Grant H Brenner

Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Advocate

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