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Stephen Soreff, M.D.
Office 603 895-6120; Cell 603 568-3202
e-mail soreffs15@aol.com







Insights for Better Mental Health

This represents a monthly idea which will lead to you have better mental health. We all can learn and improve.

August 2019: Life’s Three Stages

It is time to combine some of my favorite life’s developmental schemes with Henry David Thoreau.  I want to link the life stages Freud, Erikson, Piaget and Kohlberg with the dictum of Thoreau- “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify”. Freud advanced  a developmental sequence of  a 5 stage psychosexual model.  Erikson presented it in a lifelong   psychosocial scheme in 8 stages.  Piaget created a 4 stage  cognitive developmental model. And Kohlberg offered a 3 stage moral development model. So simplify things I have created  a three stages of  life  model: acquiring, maintaining and divesting.

In the early years, one’s life is based on the acquisition.  It means attaining things.  From birth to your highest level of graduation, one is gaining knowledge. Physically, you go from not moving to crawling, to walking and to running, In language one starts with cooing to dada and mama to sentences to vocabulary and to syntax  as for some a second language. With writing one begins with scribbling to letter to sentences and paragraphs. In information,  you travel from few a facts to a mental encyclopedia.  You do so with a new job.  Meanwhile, you are accumulating  material things: clothing, toys, cars, homes, appliances, and furniture.

The next stage is based on maintaining and preserving all the accomplishments and achievements.   It takes many forms.  Professionally, it means doing the continuing education to keep your license and certification.  In health, it translates into annual examinations and tests not to mention holding steady with your weight and blood pressure.  In the home, ones not only pays the mortgage but also a house insurance policy.  And some folk fence the front and back yards.

The last stage is marked by divesting.  People of giving away things,  In their homes, they are downsizing.  A term, now popular, is a Swedish Death Cleaning.  This means parents and grandparents give away their prized processions to others or non-profits,.  because their children and grandchildren do not want those items. By doing so, upon their death, this relieves others of getting rid them.  And yes, your final will and testament represents the last act of this stage.

So there it is-the three stage model of life: acquiring, maintaining and divesting.  Simple, applicable and where are you in this sequence?


July 2019:  Exercise makes me a better person

After I have jogged, I feel  and act as though I am a better parent and partner.  This how that works.  I love jogging.  It is my time both  to exercise and for  creative thinking. But it  also a very selfish activity.  Unless I am running with another person, it is a very solitary experience.  It is my time for myself.   However, what I have discovered,  after jogging , I  come home in a more open, caring, sharing  and giving mood.  I played more with the kids and listened attentively to my partner.

Here is my explanation.  I love Erik Erikson’s eight stages  of life.  In this developmental  sequence one goes from  I  to we or me to us.   Erikson’s  the sixth stage Intimacy versus  Isolation  covers  ages 18 to 40.  There one discovers importance of another person in your life.  Remember, before this stage, if someone asks you for dinner, you might quickly replies, “sure.”  However, once you have an intimate relationship, with the  supper request, you now say, “Let check with my partner, first.” In the seventh stage,  Generativity versus Stagnation for ages 40 to 65, one becomes more focused on giving to family, the community and organizations. Ask any non-profit organization or college alumni office what group they have most been successful with.

So metaphorically, in my run I have traveled from I to we.  Because I have done something for myself, I am now prepared to do things for other,

The take home message:  Do something for yourself, be it jogging, mediation, listening to music, reading and knitting.  Then you are in more open, sharing generous to others. 


June 2019:  I hear the birds: I am not depressed.

“I hear the birds; I am not depressed” is a power statement.  Many of us wake up with too much “noise” in our heads.   That noise is a result as long list of  “things”  running through our minds.  These include things I have to do today, things I did not do yesterday, things I want to do  today but I cannot, wondering how can I avoid annoying others, and wondering whether my kids will call me today.  And that is just to name a few.

Admit it.  You all have entertained some of these mental ramblings.  Regardless of our mental noise, the birds sing every day.  Yes, everyday, even in the winter, they sing.  But some days you hear those birds and some days you do not.

The reason you can hear the birds is that your “noise” is silent or really turned down.  Too much noise is because you are stressed, worried and/or perhaps depressed.   So when you  hear the birds, whether around your house, while jogging or on the golf course, you know that you are not depressed!!!

Take home message.:  Did you hear the birds today?  If so great.  If not, take a self-inventory .  Pay attention to your noise.