(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington


ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Conflict & Communication
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Advice for Singles Only
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Press Center
Related New Stories
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

How to Clear Away Brain Fog and Regain Mental Clarity

Friday, November 16, 2018

Brain fog is when your mind feels like there’s a wad of cotton blocking your ability to comprehend information; some people describe it as feeling fuzzy or disconnected.Does your mind feel like there’s a wad of cotton blocking your ability to comprehend information – you can’t think, calculate, or remember familiar words? You may even feel like you need to tell people to slow down and speak more slowly, because you’re just not getting it. Some people describe it as feeling fuzzy headed or disconnected. If so, it’s quite likely you’re experiencing brain fog.

There are a number of causes of brain fog. Some of the most common are:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Food allergies
  • Chemical exposure
  • Depression
  • Medication side effects
  • Medical conditions like MS, fibromyalgia, iron deficiency anemia, hypothyroidism, or menopause

Treatment for brain fog depends on the cause. If you suspect your brain fog is connected with a medical condition, seek the assistance of your primary care physician immediately.

Making some simple lifestyle changes can help reduce or get rid of brain fog if it’s not caused by a medical condition. Here are five ways to lift brain fog naturally…

1. Avoid toxins. You’re already feeling poisoned so why add to your load by smoking tobacco or marijuana, consuming alcohol and abusing drugs?

2. Eat brain healthy food and drink water. Don’t skip meals. Avoid inflammatory producing items like saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugar. Choose lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of beans, fruits and vegetables.

3. Support your brain as it cleans itself. You need plenty of restorative sleep to allow the brain time to clear out wastes from the day’s activities.

4. Get moving. Physical activity increases your blood flow to your brain. More blood means more oxygen, which stimulate growth of new cells and blood vessels in the brain.

5. Enjoy the sunshine. We need the full spectrum light from the sun to get our daily dose of Vitamin D, as well as, enabling our bodies to produce energy required for cell repair and regeneration.

Many people have found relief from brain fog, as well as improved overall health by making these lifestyle changes. If you’ve tried and can’t seem to make these lifestyle changes on your own, I can help you develop holistic strategies that will support your total mind/body wellness. 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 your busy schedule.

Marketers Are Using Empathy to Get Your Money

Monday, November 12, 2018

Marketers Are Using Empathy to Get Your Money | Kathy MarshackBig corporations spend huge amounts of money to collect all the data they can about your buying and browsing habits. The better they know you, the more they can tailor their marketing message to appear like they really get you, so you trust them enough to pull out your credit card and spend money on their product. Now they are actively using empathy in the creation of their marketing campaigns.

While we think of empathy as a means for deeply connecting with another person in a beneficial way, marketers are using empathy as a marketing weapon against us. A number of online article titles that I grabbed from a Google search highlight this point:

  • Empathy Is the Key To Great Marketing Campaigns - Forbes
  • 8 Genius Examples of Empathetic Content Marketing in Action - Hubspot
  • How brands are using empathy to enhance marketing - Econsultancy
  • A Brand's Guide to Empathy: Marketing's Latest Buzzword
  • Empathetic Marketing: How To Connect With Your Customers ...
  • Empathetic marketing: focus on listening to your customers - Think with Google
  • How To Do Effective Content Marketing: Use Empathy - Column Five Marketing

To further show how they are using empathy as a way to manipulate us, I stumbled across an article in The Atlantic about a recent Marketing to Moms Conference. According to them, “American mothers are estimated to make the vast majority of household purchasing decisions and collectively spend more than $2 trillion per year.” So the attendees of this conference put their thinking caps on to discover what moms worry about. They did this for the purpose of tweaking their ads to make their products appear empathic, as solutions for those specific worries.

But I wonder...would these big corporations be concerned about a mother’s worry, if they didn’t make money? I don’t think so, do you? Their empathy is driven by their own self-interest, which doesn’t sound like real empathy at all.

I’m not saying marketing your business is wrong. I do it all the time. But to call it empathy marketing is a misnomer. True empathy, what I like to call Radiant Empathy, is caring for another, without there being an expectation for reciprocity. It’s not dependent on getting something back. A person helps another just because it’s part of being a good human being, and that feels good all by itself.

As I promised a few months ago, I’m working on an online source so you can learn to enhance your Radiant Empathy skills. While it’s taking longer than expected, I should be able to roll it out within the next few months. Does that excite you? Leave me a comment on my Facebook page that you’re curious to know what it’s all about.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like some 1:1 time for developing Radiant Empathy skills, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Fatigue Is Normal in ASD/NT Relationships

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Fatigue Is Normal in ASD/NT Relationships Why are you always tired? I mean, bone weary exhausted? When you live with someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, this becomes our normal state. Emotional abuse, lack of respect for boundaries, no reciprocity, fighting for a scrap of time for yourself, and many more issues all lead to a constant state of fatigue.

I’m happy to say that many NT’s in my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, are actually pretty healthy, because they’ve learned how to practice self care. (NT refers to the partner without Asperger’s Syndrome. It stands for neuro typical.) Even so, fatigue sets in. Why? It’s fatiguing because no one is really designed for the daily emotional stress that comes with living with someone who doesn’t fully understand empathy. I suspect it takes years off your life.

According to a 2017 study, “Research and insight into NT/AS relationships” by Faaas, Inc and JA Morgan BEd Grad Dip, “fatigue, resilience and (non-productive) coping were all significant predictors of partners’ anxiety and depression.” (You can read their PDF Report here.)

Interestingly, NTs are not the only ones experiencing fatigue. People with Asperger’s Syndrome also experience a great deal of fatigue, because they have to consciously process things with their intellect, as their brain doesn’t do it automatically.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to join the low cost video conference entitled: Fatigue Is Normal in ASD/NT Relationships. It will be help on Tuesday, November 13th and again on Tuesday, November 27th. In this video conference, we'll get serious about self care and practice boundary setting. Setting strong boundaries with our Aspies is as important as taking time out for yourself.

Would you like personalized help in developing boundaries in your relationship? 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 your busy schedule.

Smart and Autistic: What is Very High Functioning Autism?

Monday, November 05, 2018

Smart autistic still can't put the puzzle pieces of empathy togetherHigh-functioning autism isn’t an official medical term or diagnosis. It’s an informal one some people use when they talk about people on the ASD Spectrum. Notably, they can function independently in today’s world, yet their social skills are lacking. And even though the American Psychiatric Association grouped autism related disorders on a Spectrum, I still refer to high functioning autism as Aspergers, since that is how many of my clients first learned to identify this disorder.

Recently, I began noticing a new trend. Many of the members of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD

meetup are saying their Aspie is "very high functioning." Somehow this is a way NTs are separating their Aspie loved one from the rest of those with Asperger Syndrome. However, the definition of Asperger Syndrome is that the autistic person is "very high functioning." This is the quintessential quality that distinguishes them from other autistics.

I think the notion that our Aspies are "very high functioning" is more than a misunderstanding of the diagnosis. Rather it appears to be a way NTs seek to comprehend the chaotic, yet brilliant mind of their Aspie. Frankly, though I don't think this helps. It leaves you stuck believing your Aspie has more going for him or her than they actually do. Brilliant or not, they lack empathy. Reciprocity in the relationship is nearly non-existent. So it makes more sense to credit your Aspies for what they are good at. But they are not high functioning when it comes to relationships.

Would you like to join our discussion on this topic? If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to join us for a free international teleconference on Thursday, November 15th. It’s entitled: Smart and Autistic.

If you prefer 1:1 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.

Addicted to Sugar? You Can Kick the Habit!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Stop Sugar Addiction - You can kick the habitWith the Holiday season upon us, it’s a good time to re-evaluate how your family’s is going to handle all the sugary treats put before them. We’ve all heard about the dangers of eating refined sugar. It’s over 99% pure calories, without much nutritional value. Yet, various resources report that Americans are still eating 150 to 170 pounds of sugar a year.

Sugar is often a hidden ingredient in many of the prepared foods you buy. It can be labeled “organic,” “raw,” or “unprocessed”; whatever form it comes in, it activates a chemical reaction in your body that is comparable to the addictive effects of drugs like cocaine, meth, nicotine, and morphine.

According to a study on the NCBI website reports, “Sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential.” Another sugar addiction study was published the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Sugar addiction is hard to kick because of the resulting withdrawal symptoms.

What are some of the ways sugar affects your present and future health? Sugar…

  • spikes blood sugar, triggers the release of insulin, leading to a sugar crash;
  • makes people hungry and tired;
  • causes weight gain;
  • contributes to mineral deficiencies;
  • interferes with the actions of calcium and magnesium;
  • suppresses the immune system;
  • increases inflammation;
  • contributes to aggression, depression, ADHD and hyperactivity;
  • raises bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol;
  • feeds cancer cells; and
  • alters learning and memory, according to a study at UCLA.

When your blood sugar drops, your body goes into emergency mode, so you crave a fast fix of sugar. It becomes a never ending cycle that you have to consciously break. The good news is that you can make behavioral changes that support a healthier lifestyle. I recommend a holistic approach because there’s an inseparable connection between the mind and the body. When you learn to manage the complicated interactions that take place between the mind, body, and the outside world, you’ll be able to stop your sugar addiction.

If you can’t seem to break the sugar habit on your own and 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.

How to Encourage Your Teens to Manage Their Own ADHD Meds

Thursday, October 25, 2018

How to Encourage Your Teens to Manage Their Own ADHD Meds Before They Leave HomeOne of the things that ADHD kids struggle with is taking their medication on a regularly schedule. After all, forgetfulness is one of the symptoms of ADHD. And teens or young adults often convince themselves that they don’t need medication, because they hate the way meds make them feel.

As a parent, it’s important to help your teen view taking ADHD medication seriously. Their ability to focus and concentrate during their scholastic years directly impacts their future quality of life.

Nagging doesn’t work. And you won’t be there when they go off to college or move away from home. Just as you’ve created a Behavioral Plan that you shared with the teacher when they started school, it’s important to create another plan for slowly handing over ADHD med management to your teen.

One of the most important things you can do for your ADHD child is to help them become more aware of how their bodies react with AND without ADHD medication. If they see that the benefits of taking ADHD medication far outweighs the side effects, they’ll be more likely to keep taking it when they’re on their own.

The process of turning over Med Management to your teen will take some time and careful attention on your part. Make sure your teen knows these seven vital things about managing their own ADHD meds:

1. Understand that ADHD is a real medical condition. Just as an asthmatic must use an inhaler regularly, so it’s important to keep a constant supply of ADHD meds so they can do the work that the ADHD brain can’t.

2. Develop greater self awareness. Understand how ADHD affects them personally. Help them discern what feelings, behaviors and actions they can control without medication; and help them identify why they need medication to control other feelings, behaviors and actions.

3. Practice conversational skills. They need to have the confidence to speak openly about their condition with their physician, teachers and future employers.

4. Know the medication. Know the name, the right dose and dosage schedule, as well as, what it does to help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.

5. Develop a system for regularly taking and reordering medication. Since they can’t rely on their own brains, help them find visual and auditory reminders that work. A pillbox at the breakfast table, a Smartphone alarm or medication reminder app may be helpful.

6. Continue learning life skills. ADHD creates skill gaps. Enlist the assistance of a mental health professional who can help with time management, self-care, and balanced living skills. They can also address emotional challenges or substance abuse problems, if they arise.

7. Prepare what to say when someone, even a friend, wants to buy or take one of their pills. It’s illegal to share medications. Practice possible scenarios, so they can confidently say “no”, without making an issue out of it.

Medication is only part of the treatment for ADHD. Behavioral therapy, emotional counseling and practical support are also needed. If you’d like help in developing a personalized ADHD Medicine Management Plan for your child, 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.

Where on the Spectrum Should Narcissism Fall?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There are many similarities and overlaps between Asperger’s and Narcissism.Both Narcissism and Autism are on a Spectrum. Narcissism is a personality disorder that ranges from mild to severe. And on the Autism Spectrum, Asperger’s is a high functioning form of Autism. Instead of listing Narcissism and autism on separate Spectrums, should they possibly be classified on the same Spectrum? There is some merit to coming to that conclusion, especially if you’re looking at it through the lens of my Empathy Scale.

I am not alone in seeing the similarities and overlaps between Asperger’s and Narcissism. Dr. Khalid A. Mansoura proposes in an article in the Pan Arab Journal of Psychiatry that narcissistic personality may merit classification as an autistic spectrum disorder.

In her Narcissism or Asperger’s article on Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Heitler concludes, “The bottom line from my perspective is that there is often overlap between these two syndromes.”

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that Aspies are narcissistic by the very definition of autism, which means they have Zero Degrees of Empathy, or what I call EmD-0 or Empathy Dysfunction-0. (Read more about Empathy Dysfunction in my new book “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”)

What does differ is the motivation behind the behavior. The Aspie’s narcissism is not for the purpose of harming you, as is the case for a true dyed in the wool Narcissist. Sure, it feels the same either way, but it’s motivated differently.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to sign up for a low cost video conference on either Tuesday, October 30th or Tuesday, November 6th. It’s entitled: Narcissism - The Dark Side of Aspergers. We’ll be exploring the differences between these two disorders. Your Aspie may never acquire empathy, but they can learn to be polite and gracious and follow social rules. It’s not easy to change ingrained narcissistic behavior, but it is possible with Aspies.

If you’ve wasted too much of your precious life trying to accommodate an ASD narcissist, whether it’s a family member, coworker or neighbor, it’s time to seek professional support in rebuilding the life you’re meant to live. 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 your busy schedule.

Why Psychotherapy Doesn’t Help Your Aspie…

Monday, October 15, 2018

People with Asperger’s aren’t wired for the relationship format used by most psychotherapists. Are you at your wit’s end? You desperately want to hold your family together so you’re willing to go to a stranger and bare your soul…but your Aspie isn’t helping at all. It’s a fight to get him to go. (Note: It’s not only men that have Aspergers. Women have Asperger’s too.) And when he gets there, he drag his heals, slumps in the chair and refuses to engage with the psychotherapist. Does he think he’s too smart for therapy; that he doesn’t need it; that there’s nothing wrong with him; that you’re the one with the problem? If you can relate to this, please be assured, you’re not alone. And you don’t have to give up!

If you’ve had less than positive experiences with finding a therapist for your Aspie, don’t lose heart. Typical therapy doesn’t work with Aspies, so you need to find a psychologist who specializes in understanding the Asperger’s thought process.

Why is psychotherapy unlikely to work for your Aspie?

People with Asperger’s aren’t wired for the relationship format used by most psychotherapists. Therapists are trained to build on empathic rapport with clients. You need social awareness for that to work, which is something your Aspie doesn’t have. Expecting an Aspie to have empathy into your internal experience or insight into their own is not realistic.

However, what does seem to work is to appeal to their narcissism. Yes, I mean it. Aspies have the same feelings as the rest of us. They feel sad and angry and depressed too. The ticket is to appeal to a plan that promises to make them feel better, if they just follow the rules.

For this reason I recommend a coaching model rather than psychotherapy. In fact I offer this model on line in my video sessions with Aspies around the world. It works because they need tools. They aren’t motivated by making you feel better. Their main concern is feeling better themselves. Of course they want you to feel better too, but it isn't first on their minds. They fully believe if they feel better, you will feel better about them.

Narcissism --- get it?

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please join us for this month’s free, international teleconference, entitled: “What can I do when psychotherapy doesn’t work?” It will be held on Thursday, October 25th. We’ll be discussing

If you prefer 1:1 counseling, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. Online therapy may also be available, depending on where you live.

Learn more about Empathy Dysfunction: If you haven’t grabbed your copy of my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” I invite you to do so. It’s packed with real-life examples of empathy dysfunction and how you can strengthen your own empathy “muscle” to withstand the callousness in the world today.

How to Have Tough Conversations & Give Useful Feedback

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Learn why we have trouble with this type of conversation and discover 7 ways to ensure you always give fair, objective feedback when it’s needed.Don’t you love to receive praise and commendation? It feels so good. However, receiving, and even giving, criticism hurts. Even though feedback is supposed to makes us better at work and in life, we perceive it to be negative, because there’s a potential to hurt someone’s feelings or even destroy our relationship with them. That’s what makes these conversations so difficult.

Our unconscious biases contribute to this problem. They interfere with giving, and receiving, effective feedback. Your feelings about a person greatly impact how and what you say. For example, if you feel someone needs nurturing, you become gentler. If someone irritates you, you become blunter. Your biases may be influenced by so many things, like a person’s position, gender, financial status, familial relationship, or even looks.

If you want to give fair, objective feedback, first ask yourself, “Why am I giving this feedback?”

It’s helpful to identify what motivates you to give feedback. Are you lashing out and trying to settle a score? Or are you sincerely trying to help someone become a better person? Or does your motivation fit somewhere in between?

You can ensure you’re giving the most helpful feedback possible by remembering the 7 keys to giving thoughtful and objective feedback:

  1. Regularly give commendation, so criticism is easier to take, when it’s needed.

  2. Rather than focusing on personality flaws or differences, focus on actionable items that can be implemented immediately.

  3. Get all the facts. Before commenting, make sure you understand the whole situation.

  4. Be very specific about what’s wrong and what can be done to fix it.

  5. If you do have to give feedback on a personality trait, give specific examples of how the trait affected the task or situation at hand and how specific improvements can be made.

  6. Gather your courage to speak, by clearly defining your reasons for giving feedback. Holding back doesn’t benefit anyone.

  7. Bounce your criticism off of a trusted colleague first, but frame it as a conversation about professional development, not naming names or even hinting, so it doesn’t devolve into gossip.

A way to double check your feedback, to make sure it isn’t biased, is to ask yourself, “Would I give this feedback to anyone else in this situation?” When others see that you’re striving to be fair in your feedback, they’ll be more open to accepting it. And when you strive to see the intent of feedback given to you, it becomes easier to accept.

As a family business coach, I love helping families make it work at home and at work. 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 your busy schedule.

Is Your Brain Getting Enough Sleep for Its Full “Wash Cycle”?

Sunday, October 07, 2018

There’s a continual “wash cycle” going on inside your body…including your brain. What the brain needs to complete its wash cycle is plenty of restorative sleep.Your body is wonderful made to self-clean. You drink water, and it flushes out toxins. You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. You eat healthful food, and the body extracts nutrients and uses the fiber to sweep out toxins. There’s a continual “wash cycle” going on inside your body…including your brain.

What the brain needs in order to complete its “wash cycle” is plenty of restorative sleep. According to researchers, your brain needs 7 hours of sleep each night to complete the “wash cycle.”

While studying mice and baboons, researchers discovered that, during sleep, brain cells shrink and make room for a dramatic flow of cerebrospinal fluid to flush through the brain, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up during waking hours.

And when the animals wake up, the brain cells enlarge again and the flow between cells slows to a trickle. "It's almost like opening and closing a faucet. It's that dramatic," said Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester. She also added, "It's probably not possible for the brain to both clean itself and at the same time [be] aware of the surroundings and talk and move and so on."

Researchers have found that one of the wastes removed from the brain during sleep is beta amyloid, which forms sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. While this hasn’t been observed in humans yet, it’s reasonable to conclude that a similar cleaning process occurs in us. If so, that would help explain a number of problems and illnesses related to sleep deprivation also. When you skimp on sleep, overall blood flow decreases in your brain, disrupting your ability to think, remember, and concentrate. All good reasons to get your sleep and clear out the waste!

High-quality sleep is essential for optimal health. I’ve discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique is very effective for clearing stress and tension that is keeping you awake at night. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. Online therapy is also available, if that works best for your busy schedule.

Recent Posts RSS