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Steven Kalas

Humans are just making it up as they go along

I nurture the idea that advertising in America is a “tell.” That is, if you pay attention to advertising, you can discern a measure of who we are as a tribe. Our values – what we really cherish. Our relative competence in the noble discipline of critical thinking. Our depth.

Artists must express themselves to live

I’ve got a T-shirt hanging in my closet, given to me one Christmas morning by my mother. It depicts a man alone in a room, hunched over a stack of papers, writing. Outside his window a crescent moon suggests a late night. Or perhaps even the wee hours of the morning. The caption reads, “Artists and writers, alone in their chairs, changing the world one line at a time.”

A husband going through divorce must release the pain healthily

What would you say about a common-law wife that after 22 years together and two kids, decided that life with the partner was enough and within a few weeks met up with an old acquaintance and started a relationship, but still demanded to remain in the residence with the former partner. Once the common-law husband found out about this relationship, he demanded that she leave. This action has extremely hurt the partner of 22 years, and he is in fear of losing his two children because of the anger by this man and his action demanding that she leave. — W.D., San Diego, Calif.

Children may shut the door, but parents don't have to

I love my daughter. She is 40 years old, and I am 69. She was born 8 years after my first three children, who were born within 18 months of each other. I have always found our relationship difficult as she was growing up. I always felt incompetent, separate from her. At one point, I went to a psychologist who said to have fun with her. When she was 16, the psychologist said she wanted to be the parent and worked to convince her to be the daughter and me to be the mother. She was 2 when I divorced her father. I truly want a good relationship with her, but she has stated that she does not want me in her life. She states that I cross her boundaries and has asked me not to connect with her. From relatives, I’ve learned that she believes I was never “there” for her, that all I care about is earning money. This has been true in the past. As a child, I was extremely poor, and when I divorced, I went back to school, acquired degrees and learned I could earn money. I worked more than I needed and became focused on money. Maybe this had to do with poverty and maybe not. Sometimes I think working was a strategy to not have to lead a full life. I understand that is where I was at the time and cannot change that. I also understand that she is where she is, and I believe she is making a choice that is not good for either of us or her daughter, my granddaughter. I finally have understood that she really does not want me to contact her, so I am respecting her boundary. It hurts unbelievably. I want her in my life. I finally have love to offer her and my granddaughter. I know that is not a decision I can make alone. However, I do not want to look back in the future and wish I had known something that I don’t know now. Something that may have encouraged a possibility of a relationship. Have you any words of wisdom for me? — J.D., Las Vegas

A small portion of the population can benefit from anti-depressants

I’m disappointed that your column today seems to advocate long term use of anti-depressants. I am of the opinion that the multibillion dollar drug industry is chemically lobotomizing people. Ten years ago, I decided I must have depression and went to a psychiatrist who I ended up considering a glorified pill pusher. Over the course of a year and a half, I tried four or five of the leading anti-depressants. I hated them. They flattened out my emotional response to a point where I didn’t feel depressed or anxious — in fact, I felt nothing very deeply at all. I was not drinking or smoking, by the way. While I had short periods of “lift” from these drugs, I hate the feeling of being “not me.” While severely suicidal depressed individuals may benefit from short-term use of these chemicals, I was taken aback by your comparison of depression to diabetes and your call for people to accept it as a life sentence requiring drugs. Big Pharma is not our friend, Steven.

Admiring those who admire themselves is OK

As he tells the story of self-respect, fears faced and conquered, boundaries claimed and defended, I notice he seems taller. The timbre of his voice coming deeper. He is absent the anxious energy with which he first walked into my office, months ago.

Watching, cringing, as film family makes real-as-life errors

My private practice is replete with issues of divorce, helping children cope with divorce, parental alienation, postmarital dating and blended families. Single-parent homes. Various custody arrangements. Two birthdays. Two Christmas celebrations. Two vacations. And how the hell do you group photographs at ensuing weddings, bar mitzvahs and baptisms?

Texting and driving and the Long Arm of the Law

I keep seeing the “It Can Wait” public service commercials. There’s a website,, where you can sign a pledge to never text and drive. I’d go there and sign the pledge, but I don’t need to. I have my mother instead. And my girlfriend. Together, they converted me (through strategic harping) to a “no texting while driving” policy.

Sorry, Dr. Freud, sense-seeking may not solve much

The Freudian Mystique is culturally pervasive. People come to therapy hoping to find that dramatic flash of insight. That “ah-ha” moment when they can say “That’s it! That’s the reason! I bite my fingernails as a compensation for my mother’s ‘rejecting, withholding breast,’ at which I did not have a nurturing experience!”