Is the digital revolution changing the nature of the adolescent passage?

April 24th, 2016

There is no denying that the very essence of communication has changed. All the various social media , 24/7 news cycles and the ubiquitous presence of smart cell phones keep us connected whether we want to participate or not. As families have become more comfortable with allowing their children to have cell phones, there seems to be a change evolving in the psycho-dynamics of child development. The terrifying events of 9/11 in 2001 have left an indelible traumatic impact on the citizens of the United States. Parents were separated from their children who were in schools where the teachers were as terrified as the students. The world has since been plagued by terrorist activities at home and abroad. Additionally, domestically we have experienced a rash of mass shootings at schools and in public spaces once considered to be safe. Sandy Hook essentially sealed the deal as regards parental anxieties about being separated from their children and relinquishing them to the world away from home. So this is where the cell phone comes in. It has offered parents an easy way to stay in touch (not that it means keeping the kids any safer) and at least have the sense of protective connectedness. The details of phone use are available to the parents who pay the bill. Now the child’s life has become an “open book” for parental surveillance.  They know to whom the child speaks and when, and now with GPS capabilities, even where! More communication goes on now via texting and Instagram and What’s app. The kids stopped responding to phone calls and voice messages…so parents learned the newest technology in order to keep the communication lines open. And this expectation of frequent communication has now extended into the college years, when typically, children called home for more money! Adolescence is a developmental phase that should allow the emerging young adult some private space  to try out aspects of the self outside of parental purview. It’s a time for parental distancing, for re-defining one’s identity separate from parents. Friends become more important and parents may even feel a bit rejected and exploited. That is normal. It is all part of a healthy separation-individuation that is critical for the process of maturation. It is a period of trial and error, failures and successes both socially and academically. There is tremendous experiential learning taking place. In today’s world of parental involvement in extra-curricular activities children seem not to have ample time away from adults to do the quiet reflection that allows them to consolidate the complex learning that goes on in the adolescent years. The everpresent cell phone has now become what I call an electronic tether to the everpresent parent. Parents hover electronically with solutions to everyday problems their children encounter. They coach and guide through every dilemma. This deprives their children of the time and space to sort out their issues and do some of their own problem solving. For each developmental stage our children navigate, the end result should be an internal sense of mastery that is reminiscent of the delight of learning to walk and talk, to feed oneself, master potty training! Parents could not do those things for them. Newly minted college graduates no longer seem able to tackle projects with much initiative. One large organization has even considered including parents in the job interview….how infantilizing! One parent whose child was at an Ivy League college routinely texted asking for a status report! This constant intrusion into young people’s lives is really a boundary violation. And it does not keep our children any safer! Adolescents are risk takers, they lack mature judgement, they feel invulnerable and tend to be highly narcissistic. I contend that given that developmentally that will not change because their brains are still undergoing maturational changes which do not resolve until the mid twenties, they will, in spite of the electronic tethering, continue to do risky things. They will be exposed to the dark side of life …terrorism, car accidents, excessive substance use etc. Parents will not ever be able to maintain that protective function they once so fully experienced when the children were younger. But, unfortunately, what they would have compromised is their offsprings’ ability to forge an independent path with the social skills and problem solving capacities that are essential for becoming an adult who enjoys the toddler feeling of “I did it all by myself!”

Dr. Benoit recommends visiting the MentalHealthChannel

November 5th, 2014

http://www.mentalhealthchannel.tv/

Introducing MHC — an online mental wellness channel for every viewer. We’ll soon have 12 series of original documentaries, 120 episodes in all. Available 24/7 via the web. Free to view, free to share, and commercial free.

Must read Huffington Post article on Sex Trafficking leading up to Super Bowl 2014

January 28th, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/06/sex-trafficking-super-bowl-new-jersey_n_4549064.html

NO LONGER OFFERING TMS SERVICES

April 11th, 2011

Dr. Benoit is no longer offering TMS Services.  This is a bittersweet announcement as Dr. Benoit is unable to offer TMS services due to taking the position of Chief Clinical Officer at the Devereux Foundation.  We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and wish you the best of luck in addressing your TMS needs.

Seasonal depression: Mood changes when the weather changes

November 14th, 2010

Now that we are well into the Fall season, many patients are experiencing de-stabilization of their moods. This is not unusual, and in order to manage this de-stabilization, patients need to take some pro-active measures. The change of seasons means a significant decrease in sunlight, and with the shorter days, a change in the circadian rhythm. Meanwhile, people are expected to function on the usual work cycle of 9AM to 5PM.  Unfortunately, for persons with mood problems, this is not so easily accomplished. Patients begin complaining of decreased energy, lack of interest in social and recreational pursuits, change in eating and sleeping habits, perhaps increase in alcohol consumption, and a general malaise, and even an increase in gloomy thinking, the worst being suicidal thinking. I even hear beginning dread of the holiday season with its demands of time and social interaction. Read the rest of this entry »

Neuronetics selected by World Economic Forum as 2011 Technology Pioneer

September 10th, 2010
Neuronetics selected by World Economic Forum

as 2011 Technology Pioneer

Novel device for the treatment of depression recognized in the Biotechnology and Health category

Malvern, PA, [September 1, 2010] – Neuronetics, Inc., maker of the NeuroStar TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) Therapy® system, has been selected by the World Economic Forum as a 2011 Technology Pioneer. Through a rigorous screening process, the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers program identifies companies from around the world that develop and apply the most innovative and transformational technologies that have the promise of making a critical impact on the future of business and society. Read the rest of this entry »

Be Good to Your Brain: It’s the only one you’ve got!

August 24th, 2010

I have definitely been impressed by how the cardiologists (heart doctors) have been able to get the message out to the public that heart health is important. On food products, on restaurant menus, and in everyday conversation there is mention of what is good food and good life habits for heart and cardiovascular health. Ordinary people talk about their good and bad cholesterol and what their “numbers” are. It would be absolutely fantastic if there can be the same awareness of BRAIN HEALTH. After all, the brain is only THE MOST IMPORTANT ORGAN in our bodies. The brain makes everything in our bodies happen to keep us alive. It oversees and orchestrates the running of all systems. It is now possible to have a replacement heart (even a mechanical one), but we cannot replace brains! This means that we should be doing everything we can to keep the brain we have as healthy as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms (PTSS) & Substance Abuse

July 8th, 2010

It has become increasingly more evident to me (and research corroborates it) that people who have suffered the trauma of abuse and neglect manifest symptoms of what is now referred to as traumatic stress. While the general population has been made aware of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), primarily because of returning veterans, but also because there is more media exposure of child abuse and its role in PTSD & PTSS, the traumatic impact of childhood neglect, verbal abuse, bullying and witnessing violence at home and in the community is not as well appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »

Clinical Depression – A treatable Illness

May 14th, 2010

Depression affects about 14 million Americans each year. It is an illness with significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It impairs functioning at work, school, in relationships, and in a person’s ability to have fun and enjoy life. Depression saps a person’s energy, alters sleep and eating patterns, and affects one’s thinking processes which can become slowed, lack focus, be jumbled, and even begin to look like Attention Deficit Disorder. Most importantly, depression can cause a person to become suicidal and take his/her life. Read the rest of this entry »