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Kathy Marshack News

The New Face of Bullying

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bullies, who are they? The answer is not what you most likely expect. According to a 2011 study focusing on 700 students in Long Island, New York, 56% of the students had been involved in victimization and aggression. Many of the victims are in fact the bullies.

How does this work? Students are involved in what has been coined "social combat". There is a social hierarchy happening in schools and students are working hard to be at the top. They do this by bullying others. In the meantime they are also being bullied by others trying to get to the top.

Times have changed and bullying is much more stealth. Bullying does not have to be physical. It can take the form of insulting rumors and gossip. These vicious verbal attacks are happening all over social media and text messaging. Rumors boost social status and is an effective method that bullies use to climb the social ladder. (For more information, read - Could Your Child Be a Bully?)  

Thursday February 28, 2013 on CNN will premier "The Bully Effect." This show is examines how social media has changed the face of bullying. I highly recommend this for parents. Understanding what is really going on in our schools can better equip parents to helping their children dealing with bullying whether as a perpetrator or as a victim. 

For additional visit for parents, read Parents - Be Alert to Signs of Bullying

Male Menopause - Fact or Fiction?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Have you ever wondered if male menopause is real? You've probably heard about it, but what does it really mean and does it happen to every man? According to a study at the New England Journal of Medicine, male menopause is rare, affecting about 2% of men 40 and older. In order for a male to have male menopause, he must have low testosterone and three other sexual symptoms like erectile dysfunction, low desire, and poor morning erection.

Hormones changes are consistent with aging. Testosterone in males gradually decreases with age. It's estimated that after age 30, testosterone levels decrease by 1% every year. Every male is different and how their body reacts to changes is testosterone levels is different as well. If you are a male and are concerned about Low T and male menopause, speak to your doctor and have your testosterone levels checked. Don't be shy to share your symptoms with your doctor. They are used to discussing these sensitive issues. Be sure to ask your doctor about the pros and cons to taking testosterone.

If your hormone levels are where they should be and sex and intimacy are not functioning normally, you may want to make an appointment with a marriage counselor. For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Love, Sex, and Intimacy

What Is Your Unconscious Mind Telling You?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Everyone has problems. It's a truth we can't escape. Often times we wish we could escape our problems or have them removed. It is rarely that simple. When you see a problem, do you ever listen to your subconscious or your unconscious mind? Let me explain. 

Our subconscious is a powerful tool to understanding why we do the things we do and why we have the problems we have. Humans have a tendency to play the fool. We say we have a problem or issue, but we don't really look at the real reason why. Usually this is because we won't like what we see. For example, why does a lonely person push others away? Could it be because they don't want to lose that feeling of loneliness? Maybe on an unconscious level they really like being alone because then they don't have to change how they really are. The unconscious mind exposes true motive. Many do not want to go there because it will really show why they do the things they do.

The question becomes, do you really want to change? If you are in a bad relationship, in a dead end job, lonely, abusing substances or any other problem, ask yourself why. This takes deep self-analysis and you may not like what you see. However, after you see it, you will then be in a better position to overcome it. This takes time and a lot of hard work. A mental health care professional is equipped to help you through this process. To learn more, visit Psychotherapy Options

If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, contact my office to set up an appointment.   

Where to Find Empathy in an Asperger Relationship

Monday, February 04, 2013

As promised, empathy in Asperger relationships is up for discussion again. On February 16, 2013, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group will be meeting to discuss - "Empathy Explains It All." I find myself talking about this topic again and again because it explains much about the mismatch in communication between someone with Asperger Syndrome and their Neuro-Typical partner.

 Why is empathy so important in relationships? Empathy is the ability to connect and know where the other is coming from at the same time that you know where you are coming from as well.  You don't have to agree with the other person to have empathy. You don't have to even be terribly interested in their interests. When you listen and are listened to...with empathy...a powerful connection occurs. It is the interpersonal world of connectedness that makes us feel loved and satisfied or even just okay. Empathy is so powerful that even research shows that a doctor who treats his patients with empathy will have better results.   

Empathy is usually lacking in an Asperger relationship. This can cause deep emotional pain for their NT partner. I chose this topic for the upcoming Meetup so we can listen to one another and empathize. Maybe empathy is lacking in the marriage, but you can find empathy amongst others who are dealing with a similar problem. Please join us for this important discussion whether it be in person or online.    

Visit Asperger Syndrome Support for more information. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? is available for purchase. It is a practical guide for a Neuro-Typical individual in an Asperger relationship. 


The Mental Health Benefits of Reading

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Have you noticed that reading is not what it used to be? Thanks to electronics and technology, humans find ways to get information now without even reading. You can look up directions on YouTube, watch TV to get the latest news, or go see the movie instead of reading the book. While there is nothing wrong with any of those things, in fact they can be quite helpful, we should not be quick to forget reading.

Here are some benefits to reading:

Reading is a mental activity. Your brain is a muscle and needs to be exercised. Reading provides exercise for the brain. It is more challenging to the brain to read than to process images. It challenges your intellect and concentration.

Reading helps you develop a wide vocabulary. A skillful reader has a wide recognition vocabulary. He may not know exactly what every word means, but he will have a good general idea of the meaning of the sentence. You will also become increasing curious about new words and be moved to figure them out using the context or looking them up in a dictionary.

Reading trains you to have an active and open mind. Merely grasping the writer's idea is not enough. You must make a positive response to what you read. Be an active, not a passive, reader. Develop the habit of drawing your own conclusions, the habit of active thinking, of agreeing or disagreeing with the author. Keep your mind open; understand and weigh the ideas that you read. A practical part of active reading is the drawing of conclusions.

There is so much to discover when you develop the joy of reading. Grab a book and get going today!   

A note to parents: Take time to read to your children every day. Starting when they are young will build in them an appreciation for books and for reading. It will also improve their language skills, cognitive reasoning, and intellect. This is something that will benefit them in the long run. It also builds a strong connection between parent and child. 

The Impact of Perceived Empathy on the Common Cold

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What does a patient want from a doctor? Knowledge and experience are of course a must, but what about empathy and compassion? According to current studies, empathy plays a vital role in the recovery of a patient.    

Physicians, Dave Rakel and Bruce Barrett, led a study about perceived empathy. Patients with a common cold were studied. There were three groups of patients. Group one had no interaction with a doctor. Group two received "standard" care from a doctor. The focus was on the examination with little eye contact. The last group received PEECE. PEECE is the Perception of Empathy in the Therapeutic Encounter: Effects on the Common Cold. Doctors focused on showing empathy and building a connection with the patient.    

The results were astounding. The patients who rated their encounter with the doctor as "perfect" recovered from their cold quicker than those who felt a lack of empathy. Dr. Rakel comments, "Compared to earlier findings, this shows even more powerfully how patients’ perception of empathy can support their immune function's ability to recover from the common cold more quickly and with fewer symptoms. This study gives us a lot of hope that relationship-centered care really matters. There is power in the process before the pill even takes effect.” To learn more about this fascinating study, read - Final Study: Physician Empathy Helps Patients Overcome Colds Faster   

Lack of empathy goes beyond helping the common cold. I believe lack of empathy to be related to many of the problems we see. Stay tuned – I will be writing more on this topic. 

New Location Added for Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD

Monday, December 31, 2012

Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group continues to grow. There are three locations in Oregon: Eastside Portland, Westside Portland, and Beaverton. I am happy to announce that we are moving to California!    

This Meetup will be based in the Los Angeles area, but will rotate to different locations since LA County is so large. The first Meetup will be held in Pasadena on January 26, 2013. The following month, the Meetup will be in Redondo Beach. 

If you are interested in attending, please visit the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD webpage. Don't forget you can also become an online member if there are no meetings in your local area.

I look forward to hearing about the continued success of this group! Click here to read about how to find the right support group for you and your needs. 

Help Your Children Cope with Tragedies

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In light of the recent tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few tips for parents. Whether you live in Connecticut or on the other side of the world, we are all effected. Parents often times struggle to find the right words to explain tragedies to their children. Children are not blind to what is going on in the world. They watch it on TV, read it on the Internet or hear adults discussing it.   

Here are a few tips to help you discuss these sensitive issues with your children:   

Draw them out. Ask them what they have heard and how it makes them feel. Be prepared to give brief and honest responses, but avoid going into detail.

Stay calm. Wait until your emotions are under control before speaking with your child. They will pattern their own behavior after yours. That doesn't mean you have to be devoid of emotion, but if you are overly upset, they may not listen to a word you are saying.    


Be available. Let them know you are there to talk whenever they need you. Get back into a routine as quickly as possible and spend some quality time together as a family. Maybe as a family, look for a way to memorialize those who have lost their lives. 

Reassure them. Help them appreciate that these tragedies are not common, but they do happen. Explain to them what is being done to prevent these types of things from happening again. Focus on the positive things that can come out of a tragedy. 

At times, children might need the assistance of a mental health care professional to help cope with a tragedy. Click here to read how to pick a therapist for your child. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, contact my office to set up an appointment. 


Parents: Help Your Child Fight Obesity

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.5 million children between the ages 2-19 are obese. If you are a parent, these number are frightening. Childhood obesity is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and emotional pain  

How can a parent help a child ward off obesity? Here are a few simple tips:

Make it a family affair. Even if the rest of the family is healthy, all family members must be on board. If the child feels isolated and is the only one who has to exercise or eat differently, it will only add to their low self-esteem. Talk about "family goals" and how to implement them. This includes diet and exercise.    
Associate food with fuel. Teach your child that food is fuel for their body. The better they eat, the better their bodies will work and they will be able to do more fun things. 

Make if fun! Changing a lifestyle into a healthier one isn't always easy or fun to say the least, but in order for it to resonate with children, it must be fun. Can you make exercise into a game? 

Give choices. It's easy to start patrolling your child's food or exercise choices. Give your child some measure of freedom. You can do this by giving them choices. For example, they need to exercise. Ask them if they would like to go for a walk or ride their bike. Exercise is not an option, but what they do for exercise can be. had an inspiring story about a young girl who lost 65 pounds. I highly recommend the article! The parents set a fine example in helping their daughter and I also appreciated the suggestions from Dr. Denise Wilfley, director of the Weight Management & Eating Disorders Program at Washington University School of Medicine.   

For more information, visit Mind and Body Health - Healthy Weight Control

Remedy for Holiday Stress

Monday, December 10, 2012

Do you feel stress this time of year? If you do, you are far from alone. Often times people do not acknowledge that this time of year is stressful. Financial strain, family tension, poor diet, darker days, and missing loved ones are all factors that contribute to stress.

What causes you stress? The first step to resolving or lessening of stress is identifying the triggers. For example, are you anxious about seeing a relative that you have had conflict with? Are you worried about racking up credit card debt?

When you have identified what is causing you added stress, ask yourself: What can I do to resolve it? Ignoring the problem is not the solution. Tackle the issue. If it involves another person, then do what is in your power to fix it. Even if nothing changes, you can change your attitude and the way you look at things.

Remember to also take time for yourself. Self-care is not selfish. It is vital for your well-being. Whether it is taking a bath, reading a good book, going for a walk, or even making an appointment to see a mental health care professional, do whatever you need to do to get back on track and handle your stress. By taking care of yourself, you will enjoy your time with family and friends and they will enjoy your company as well.

For more information, visit Managing Stress.

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