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Kathy Marshack News

7 Things You Need to Know About CTE

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Here are 7 things you should know, so you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the damages of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a devastatingly degenerative disease linked to repetitive head trauma, such as experienced in football or soccer. It doesn’t take a severe head blow, like a concussion, to trigger CTE.

How brain cells are affected by repeated injury:

  • The brain and spinal cord are made up of billions of cells. Specific brain cells called neurons transmit signals to each other.
  • Those signals are sent via axons, held together by microtubules.
  • A protein called tau adds stability to the microtubules and strengthens the axons.
  • Brain trauma causes tau proteins to detach from the microtubule, destabilizing the structure.
  • The loose tau clump together and form clumps or tangles that spread throughout the brain, brain stem and spinal cord, killing brain cells as it spreads.

There are four stages in the development of CTE. CTE starts with headaches and loss of concentration. In time, CTE damage often causes depression, mood swings, explosive outbursts, memory loss, executive dysfunction, language difficulties, impulsivity, aggression, paranoia, and dementia. People with CTE become violent, suicidal, and even homicidal. Sometimes, their personality shifts with little notice.

Seven Things You Need to Know About CTE

1. People with CTE are EmD-2 on my Empathy Scale. That means their empathy comes and goes, so you never know whether or not they’re connecting with you.

2. EmD-2s can also be violent. It’s not just their empathy that comes and goes, but other emotional regulatory functions as well.

3. Mild concussions and head injuries associated with contact sports, such as football, hockey, and soccer can lead to TBI and, eventually, CTE, which is incurable and can be fatal.

4. Helmets cannot protect the soft, Jell-O-like brain from being damaged inside the skull when it is bashed in an auto accident, a football tackle, or a frontal collision with a goal post.

5. Symptoms may point to your loved one suffering from mild TBI or worse, but you no longer need to remain in the dark about treatment. Dr. David Amen has pioneered the use of brain scans and holistic treatment that looks very promising.

6. The tragedy of having a family member with EmD-2 is that you may never get them back. Without proper treatment, people with these brain injuries can become so unreasonable and belligerent that you have to keep your distance to stay safe.

7. Codependency results when you keep trying to protect your EmD-2 loved one. Making excuses for their conduct will not help. They need medical treatment.

CTE affects the athlete AND their families. When my daughter, Phoebe, was five, we enrolled her in soccer. She loved it! Back then, I didn’t know how head trauma could cause severe brain damage, yet I told her —and her coaches—that she wasn’t allowed to do “headers.” Her coaches just laughed at me, then gave me the usual lecture about parents letting the coaches coach. One coach even said, “She’s not working hard enough unless she gets her bells rung once in a while!” as if head injuries were a badge of honor.

Phoebe experienced her first head injury when she was 8 years old. Over the years, she received many more. Her diagnosis of Brain Trauma came from a psychiatrist at the Amen Clinic. It explained so much about her self-destructive and violent behavior. I invite you to read the full story in chapter five of my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”

How to Keep Aspie Negative Thinking from Spoiling Your Happiness

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Learn how to keep Asperger negative thinking from rubbing off on you and spoiling your happiness.Our Aspie’s (People with Asperger’s Syndrome.) can be so negative that it’s infuriating. Do you ever feel like you don’t even want to bring up a topic of conversation, or make a simple request, because you know you’ll get a resounding “NO!”? Or you’re tired of hearing all of their “reasons” why something you’ve said is wrong or awful? Or you just can’t stand being ignored any longer?

Unfortunately, this type of interaction with your Aspie breeds negativity in you as well. Think about it. If you aren’t allowed to have a normal give-and-take in a relationship, your small negative thoughts and feelings can simmer and build unresolved stress that eventually grows into big grievances. Or perhaps your negativity has turned inwardly to depression or even physical illness.

We need better self-care than staying negative in a relationship with a negative person.

It helps to understand how your brain works around negativity. It’s naturally sensitive to negativity as way to signal your body to protect yourself. However, your amygdala doesn’t distinguish between a real threat and your negative family member. So your brain turns an inordinate amount of attention to that negative source – and your happy mood is gone.

Before dealing with a Negative Nelly, it would be good to check to see how much of your negative reactions come from your own internal issues. Identify your triggers – the things that instantly make you mad, bad, or sad. It can be what they say or how they say it. Notice if you can see any similarities between your triggers. What is the real issue - why does it makes you feel particularly defensive and uncomfortable? I’ve found that N.E.T. is very helpful for healing emotional pain.

Knowing why something happens is a lot different from knowing how to fix it. If you want to understand and intervene in these two very different aspects of negativity please join my video conference: CLEARING NEGATIVE THINKING IN ASD/NT RELATIONSHIPS, which will be held Tuesday, October 16th and Tuesday, October 23rd. Learn to stop your Aspie’s negative reactions before they get started. And learn to soothe your own heart in the face of this type of Empathy Dysfunction.

Learn more about Empathy Dysfunction: I invite you to download a free chapter from “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”

Does Your Love Relationship Feel One-Sided? 10 Signs it Is!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


My Neuro-Typical clients describe their relationships with their Autistic loved ones as feeling one-sided.

When you fell in love with your life partner, you, no doubt, had expectations that your emotional and physical needs would be met. As you got to know each other, you opened up and talked. You were on your way to building emotional intimacy. When you began a life together, you felt loved and wanted. But what do you do when your life dramatically changes on you? Is there any way to cope when you feel like you’re married to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?


That’s the life many of my Neuro-Typical clients live. They often describe their relationships with their Autistic loved ones as feeling one-sided. It’s odd isn’t it that our Aspies don’t feel the same way? As long as their needs are met, they don’t seem to notice that we’re lonesome, sad, or frustrated. Worse, when we try to explain how we feel, they draw a blank look or get defensive. Once again it’s one-sided…and not in our favor.

So how do you know if you’re in a one-sided relationship?

  1. You have to initiate conversation.
  2. Your partner takes, without giving.
  3. You give up your friends for his or quit socializing altogether.
  4. You apologize for things you shouldn’t have to.
  5. You’re always soothing ruffled feathers.
  6. You justify his behavior to friends and family.
  7. You never feel peace, but you’re always walking on egg shells.
  8. You’re made to feel like you’re a burden or an afterthought.
  9. You’re loving gestures aren’t reciprocated.
  10. You feel alone.

Feeling like your relationship is one-sided doesn’t necessarily mean your partner doesn’t care about you, in his or her own way. Lack of empathy is the reason for this one-sidedness, but that reason isn’t comforting is it? Instead we need tools for interacting with our Aspies, since they aren’t wired to connect. We also need tools to keep from going crazy over these one-way relationships.

One of the necessary tools is our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, where you can at least connect with others who get it. Support is essential to your mental health. But there are other more direct tools too. There are ways to problem solve with your ASD loved ones, even if their default mode is one-way.

If this topic interests you, and you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please make plans to attend our Video Conference: “One-Way Relationships.” It will be held on both Tuesday, October 2nd and Thursday, October 11th. Let’s explore all of your options.

If you prefer one-on-one counseling, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to Simplify Your Life and Get More Done

Monday, September 17, 2018


To get more done, realize your brain is working against you because of the “mere urgency effect”. We choose urgency over importance. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is an excellent way to organize all your tasks. The other day, I Googled the phrase, “how to get more done.” It turns out this is a very popular query, and there is A LOT of articles written about it. In fact, Google gave me 2,070,000,000 choices. Then I Googled, “websites about productivity” and received 101,000,000 results.

Productivity, decision making, and procrastination are topics that the U.S. population can’t get enough of. They read about them over and over again…and still don’t get enough done. What’s the source of this dilemma?

Why do we have the desire to get more done, but we don’t get it done?

Obviously, reading the articles isn’t enough. If you want to get long-term projects done, you’ve got to do the work! However, your brain is working against you, and it’s because of a phenomenon called the mere urgency effect. According to a recent study, our brains choose perceived urgency over importance. Here is what the researchers said:

“In everyday life, people are often faced with choices between tasks of varying levels of urgency and importance. How do people choose? Normatively speaking, people may choose to perform urgent tasks with short completion windows, instead of important tasks with larger outcomes, because important tasks are more difficult and further away from goal completion, urgent tasks involve more immediate and certain payoffs, or people want to finish the urgent tasks first and then work on important tasks later. The current research identifies a mere urgency effect, a tendency to pursue urgency over importance even when these normative reasons are controlled for.

Specifically, results from five experiments demonstrate that people are more likely to perform unimportant tasks (i.e., tasks with objectively lower payoffs) over important tasks (i.e., tasks with objectively better payoffs), when the unimportant tasks are characterized merely by an illusion of expiration.”

The bottom line is that people seem to need deadlines to perform their best. How can you use this information to your advantage?

President, Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” He developed The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which is an excellent way to organize any task you need to perform. Here’s how it works:

First, list all of your tasks according to these four factors:

Priority 1. Important / Urgent – Do these today!

Priority 2. Important / Not Urgent – Schedule these to do as soon as possible.

Priority 3. Not Important / Urgent – Delegate to someone else.

Priority 4. Not Important / Not Urgent – Do these if you have spare time or not at all.

Once you have your priorities set, put a deadline to each task using specific hours and dates. If you have an unrealistic deadline for things that are not important, reschedule them or delegate them.

Now that you’ve mapped out your tasks, chunk them up into tiny goals that make them more manageable.

If a deeper issue than being disorganized is keeping you from creating the life you desire and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Do You Know What to Do When People Let You Down?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


How do you handle it when people let you down? When feelings get hurt, we often do things we’re not proud of. Here’s a warrior technique for handling disappointments so you have fewer regrets.  We’ve all experienced it...You confide in your best friend, and she betrays you, by telling someone else. To her, it’s not a big thing. To you, your friendship is OVER, because you can’t trust her anymore. While this scenario may seem somewhat juvenile, it illustrates how often and how easy it is for people to let us down.

So how do you handle it when people let you down? Do you overreact and keep everyone at arm’s length, refusing to trust or rely on anyone from here on out? That’s not really a reasonable or practical response, is it? Because you’ve let them down, too. You can’t expect people to be perfect, just as you should be glad that no one expects you to be perfect.

People disappoint people. It’s a fact of life we have to learn to live with. We can’t get all bent out of shape every time it happens, because we’d soon run out of friends. And we can’t afford to lose them. We need relationships for our own well-being. Loving relationships are the number one predictor of a happy life. Without trust you can’t be happy. So how do you balance the hurt with the happiness?

Put it to the test

In situations like this, I often encourage people to increase their ability to show empathy. And yet they say, “How is THAT going to help?” I know they’re thinking, “How is MY empathy going to change HIM? He’s the one that needs more empathy!” But increasing your empathy is a warrior technique for managing your own attitudes and emotions. And that is what will improve any situation.

One way to turn on your Radiant Empathy powers is to put situations that make you feel used or betrayed to this test:

Ask yourself how you would feel if the tables were turned.

What if you didn’t realize the importance of a confidence and you told someone what you knew. How would you feel if your friend cut you off, because she felt betrayed? Wouldn’t you want an opportunity to explain? Wouldn’t you want a second chance? Wouldn’t you want to be forgiven?

Forgiveness is a necessary part of life. When you forgive, you’re not just giving to the offending party, but giving to yourself. And as much as forgiveness is a virtue, so is taking responsibility for one's mistakes and correcting them. Simply saying "I didn't mean to" doesn’t take full responsibility for the error. It's as if you’re saying that no wrongdoing was done if you "didn't mean to." So the next time those words start forming on your lips, stop and make a straightforward apology for your actions and offer to clean up the problem, whether you committed the deed "accidentally" or intentionally. The more you practice this, the more others will respond in kind.

People will cause you problems — but they also will be your biggest source of happiness. That’s why I’m busily working on a training program that will help you develop the highest form of empathy. Does this interest you? Visit this post on my Facebook page and let me know. The more I know about your needs, the better the training will become.


Expats - Do You Know How to Ask for Help?

Monday, September 10, 2018


Expats - Do You Know How to Ask for Help? Don’t you love it when people ask for your help, when you’re in a position to give it? It makes you feel needed, useful and valued. Yet, when the roles are reversed, and you need help, do you hesitate to ask? Perhaps you think, “I don’t want to be a bother.” Why do we have so much trouble asking for help?

"Do it yourself." "Be self-sufficient." "Don’t rely on anyone." Many people, especially those who have grown up in the United States, embrace these ideas and pride themselves on being self-reliant. However, you simply can’t do everything on your own. And when you’re an expat, living in a strange and new location, the sense of isolation can become intense.

To become part of your new community, you need to turn your thinking completely around. You’re not showing weakness when you ask for help; you’re providing an opportunity for others to show kindness and to feel good.

To help overcome your reluctance to ask for help, remember these three important points:

Don’t expect people to be mind-readers. We’re taught to mind our own business, and that offering unsolicited help makes us a busy body. We also develop inattentional blindness as a protective mechanism against the immense amount of information coming at us daily. So people will hold back until you pointblank say, “Could you help me with something?”

Don’t be vague. Be specific with your request and make sure your helper knows why you’re asking him and not someone else. This will make them feel invested in your success and want to help.

Don’t push, if they say no. If the person you’re asking doesn’t have the time and resources to help, don’t take it as personal rejection. Turn it into a request for a referral by saying, “I appreciate your honesty. I really need help, so can you recommend someone else?”

On a practical note: Find the telephone numbers for the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for each place you plan to visit and keep those numbers with you at all times. If you lose your passport or are a victim of a crime while living overseas, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for help as soon as possible. If you don’t have that number, contact the Department of State in the U.S. to obtain information on local services.

Perhaps, as an expat, you need help dealing with the unique challenges of adjusting to life in a foreign country. Or perhaps you were disappointed to discover that your “old” personal problems or family challenges didn’t disappear when you relocated. If so, I offer online counseling for expats. Please contact my assistant and schedule an appointment. I’d love to help you settle into your new life successfully.

Learn How to Talk About Failure in a Highly Productive Way

Wednesday, September 05, 2018


Even if you feel like you’re going to die of embarrassment, you can learn how to talk about failure in a highly productive way. Here are five things that will help you resiliently turn a failure into a positive experience.Have you heard the expression, “Fail Fast”? It’s a catchphrase that today’s entrepreneurs use to remind themselves that failure isn’t a bad thing, because it informs us on ways we can improve as individuals and companies. If we learn from failure, we can work on a better product, a stronger strategy, and a clearer sense of purpose, and what we need to do to achieve our dreams. Failure cultivates humility, builds resilience, and breeds courage.

But for failure to do the most good, we have to be willing to talk about it. In fact, research shows that talking about failure can make us happier and more productive.

Even if you’re the type of person who wants to hide every mistake; even if you feel overwhelming shame and embarrassment; or even if you physical cringe and feel sick when you think about it – you can learn to see the positive in a failed situation.

Humans are not perfect, so we shouldn’t be ashamed of failing. Nor should we be ashamed of the feelings that come with our reaction to failure. How you feel is natural. The important thing is to reflect on how it can be turned into a learning experience for yourself and others. An informative New York Times article outlines five ways you can turn failure into a positive experience. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Focus on the fact that face-to-face conversations around failure are opportunities to build stronger connections among colleagues.

2. Frame the incident as, ‘Can you help me?’ This dignifies the person as knowing more than you and activates the spirit of helping.

3. Remember that discussing failures humanizes you by showing that you’re not perfect. This makes you more approachable and relatable.

4. When you look for the positive in a failed situation, you develop greater empathy for others when they fail.

5. Failure identifies processes and protocols that aren’t complete, so it provides an opportunity to improve on them.

It takes the Resilience Factor to frame failure as a positive learning experience. If you work with your spouse in a family business, it can be especially difficult to discuss failures, because it affects not only your business life, but your home life too. However, it’s critical that you don’t hide your failures. Learn to use them to draw you closer to your business/life partner.

If your family company doesn’t have a culture that welcomes this kind of openness, it might be beneficial for you to start working with a family business coach. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for you.

What Makes You So Afraid to Speak Around Your Aspie?

Monday, September 03, 2018


Do you fear speaking up around your family member who has Asperger’s, because of how he will react? Do you also worry that others will reject you, if you speak up? I understand. You’re not alone.Many people describe living with someone with Asperger’s as walking on eggshells. This especially is true, when speaking directly to your spouse who has Asperger’s. It’s so easy to say something that will set them off into a defensive tirade.

But this walking on eggshells also extends to when you’re talking with others. You feel like you have to run everything you say through a mental filter of questions like:

  • Will what I say make others think less of my spouse, even though it’s true?
  • Will I reveal too much about my situation and cause others to feel uncomfortable?
  • Or worse, will what I say cause them to reject me or dismissively respond, “You’re overreacting a bit, aren’t you? It can’t be THAT bad.”
  • Will my spouse take offense and bluntly belittle me in front of everyone?
  • Will I face the silent treatment, or worse, once we get home?

After years of running your every thought and comment through this mental filter, you get really good at hiding what you think and feel. Because of your empathy, you still want to protect your spouse from ridicule, even though he (or she) will never appreciate that you’re doing so. You also might think it’s worth it to protect yourself from criticism or open threats and downright terrorism from your Aspie. You just want to keep peace in the family. But is it worth it?

Interestingly, within our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, I notice that roughly half of the members don’t post a photograph or use their true names. This is perfectly fine with me. In fact when I started our group nine years ago, I made a conscious decision to protect the privacy of our members. If people need to protect their identities for safety reasons, I support you.

However, this phenomenon of being secretive is also indicative of fear, the kind of fear that comes from years of chronic emotional stress that comes with living with Aspies. The only way to conquer this fear is to talk about it with others in this group, who really get it.

It’s time isn’t it? Time to take your life back. Time to laugh again. Time to know that the real you is worthy. Time to know that others really want to know you. I do. Please come to the teleconference: “Why are we so afraid?” on Thursday, September 20th and share your story if you wish. Or just support others who take the plunge.

If you’re not ready to open up within a group setting and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy, if that works best for your busy schedule. It’s time you reclaim your life.



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