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Psycho Legal Babble

Where Psychology and Law Meet

Earnings In Marriage: Yours, Mine, or the Dogs

As the dust of the arguments have settled, and you have decided to consult an attorney, one of the first questions that normally arises is who’s property is who’s and under what context will you be able to keep those hard acquired earnings you worked for during marriage. Well, the answer is simple, but not that welcoming to the newly divorced.

The fact is that during your marriage the earnings you make are part of community property. This means that anything you earned during the marriage will be part of the community, to be divided accordingly within the divorce proceedings.

Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.

California Family Code Section 760

Some exceptions to this rule are gifts, inheritance, and any proceeds or income earned from either gifts or inheritances.

When divorce occurs, the court will make decisions “in kind” as to the division of your community property. So what was earned during the marriage will be divided accordingly, including debts, liabilities, and assets.

Always consult an attorney when getting ready to dissolve your marriage. While contested court litigation need not always be the case, it is imperative to understand your rights as it relates to the equitable division of your liabilities and assets.

Divorce In California with Attorney Anna Y Maples

Attorney Anna Y Maples speaks candidly about the main issues concerning divorce in California. An invaluable resource for individuals looking for information regarding divorce.

Finding Work and Life Balance: It’s a Family Affair

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Finding balance between work and life is a daunting task for the professional family. As an attorney, the need to meet with clients, draft memorandums, meet statutory deadlines, attend court hearings, and participate in networking events is a full time job. Add to that family obligations to raise children, run a business concurrently with pressing family duties, and find individual time to spend with loved ones, it’s a wonder that practitioners of law are prone to substance abuse and a number of other emotional problems that accompany the stress of the job.

The stress of being an attorney is well documented by both Bar Association and psychological studies. A Johns Hopkins University study found that attorney’s have the highest incidence of depression out of 100 professional fields studied (Eaton, 1990). Attorneys have also overtaken practitioners of dentistry as the profession with the highest incident rate of suicide (Greiner, 1996). Furthermore, an ABA study showed that an estimated 15 to 20 percent of US attorneys suffered from alcoholism and substance abuse problems (Jones, 2001). While depression, disenchantment, anxiety, substance abuse, and the psychological ramifications associated with prolonged exposure to stress are prevalent amongst lawyers, all hope is not lost when it comes to finding a way to balance the daily stresses of life with the beauty of the dreams we once had as first year law students.

This article is co-authored with my husband, Dr. Thomas C. Maples, Ph.D. As a licensed psychotherapist, entrepreneur, business consultant, personal coach, and spouse, he has helped me navigate the road of business as it interrelates to pressing family concerns that can cause undue distress. In this article we explore the psychology behind finding work and life balance as it relates to the practice of law.

The Issue of Issues

A joke published in a Psychology Today article presents the quandary that most attorneys face as they strive to find balance between work, personal time, family life, and psycho-spiritual health. Latham (2011) states that “as long as there are lawyers, there is always going to be a need for therapists… because the very thing that makes lawyers so depressed, is the very thing they are unwilling to give up,” (ie. the law). Although depressing, the answers to find balance between professional duties and a healthy lifestyle is not only attainable, but is found within the very strengths of personality that drives the professional working class to seek and attain advanced levels of success.

Rules of Personality

Every career begins with a dream. The ability to see towards some distant point in the future, plan, schedule, and implement the time, financial, and family resources needed to execute a professional career takes a certain psychological make-up: one built on a strong foundation of success.

The journey towards success often begins early in the life of a working professional. Early success in the classroom drives competition amongst peers, which in turn drives healthy ego development. Having tasted the fruits of success, the future professional then attunes their positive attitude towards increasingly complex goals. However, during early adult life, the budding personality of the successful professional shifts focus, and success becomes linked to learning the procedures needed to attain success in one’s career rather than the personal satisfaction that once drove the healthy ego development of the young adult. The culmination of this right of passage usually manifests in the ability a young adult has to attain advanced degrees and advanced levels of success.

In psychology, we identify the personality that continually strives for success the Type A Subset. This personality make-up is common amongst attorney’s, M.D’s, Ph.D.’s, CPA’s, and other professions where perfectionism is not a goal to be achieved, but a requirement of practice. There is no room for error on the surgery table, in the court room, the psychotherapeutic couch, or on one’s taxes. To error, which is only human, can have catastrophic consequences for both the victim of the mishap and the working professional, who must ultimately accept accountability for the mistake made. As the stakes increase, the ambitions of the high profile professional turns early success into rigidly applied rules that although applicable to professional practice, are not conducive to finding balance between work, love, life, family, and spiritual well being. In the rules of personality, the strengths that drove our initial success are then turned upon us, and become the very demons we must slay in order to find work and life balance.

An Attorney’s Perspective

As an attorney, I understand the hardships my colleagues undergo to practice law. We were not born attorneys, but we’re born with aspects of personality that drive us to replicate the positive feelings associated with success. However, those positive feelings can then turn negative by our professional demand to succeed in everything we set out to accomplish.

After beginning my law career, I began to feel the grind associated with the practice of law. Not only did I have a profession to learn, a business to run, client’s to market myself to, and a family to raise, I soon began to realize that the dreams that were the driving force behind my aspirations were becoming reality. For better or worse, I was now a professional, juggling career and family, striving to find balance between personal and professional life. While the stress of career ambitions and family obligations were still present, having a supportive family helped me achieve balance between my professional and personal life, and allowed me to further my personal and professional ambitions.

In The E Myth Attorney, Michael Gerber states that all businesses are a family business. Whether we are an employee of a firm,the owner of a business enterprise, a solo practitioner, or just starting out in the workforce, we can never truly separate the work we do from the relationships we share with loved ones. Financial problems at work affect finances at home; just as stressful days at work are often carried over to the home. We cannot,nor should we categorize our lives into such rigid structures that would impede our personal growth. We grow within our careers, just as we do within the life journey we share with loved ones. If Michael Gerber is right, and all businesses are a family business, than the practice of law should be a family affair that allows for the continued growth of all parties involved.

Advice from the Doctor Tom.

Set Attainable Goals – The successful professional often fears the woes of failure. The early taste of success combined with fear and anxieties caused by early failures oftentimes drives neurotic compulsions for control. The need to assume control of one’s personal life and career underlies the difficulties many professionals have to keep work and life in balance. However,  the anxiety that accompanies perfectionism does not have to control ones life. Instead, if we look at our personal success story, we will find that it was built on a number of small successes that ultimately became engrained into our personality makeup.

The key is to let go; set realistic and attainable goals. The need for perfection is a fool hearted pursuit; perfection ultimately stagnates our need for continued personal growth. Life is a journey to enjoy, not a barrister to conquer. In the pursuit of attainable goals, nurture and enjoy the journey you undertake to achieve success. This will ultimately become the story of your life, and the story your family will know you by as you find work and life balance.

Prioritize – The first individuals to suffer when career and family life is not balanced are the very individuals we strive most to keep from the stress of the profession we practice. The professional class is consumed by time; but many of us fail to schedule family into the daily grind of the workday. Time Matters! And the best use of your time is set some aside for your personal and familial needs. It is about quality, not quantity of time spent. Your family, friends, and loved ones will thank you, as you notice your life and work habits begin to stabilize.

Manage Your Stress and Emotions – When time becomes an issue, take heed of your emotional state and stress level. If you are stressed out, listen to your body and thoughts. They are warning you of a need to prioritize your time and re-evaluate your life goals. Take control of your life by prioritizing time around what is most important. Your emotional state, mental health, and stress level are not solely personal problems. They affect all members of your family. Achieving work and life balance is a family affair, and when integrated, the payoff is exponential, each nurturing the other to help ease the personal burdens associated with professional life.

Conclusion

Finding balance in life and work is attainable. As professionals, we are used to success; and the need for success often drives secondary needs to establish degrees of control within our home and work life. However, success is not an enemy to conquer through battle. Oftentimes, the root of our stress is found in the idea that our work and home life is somehow separate. But as any spouse of a professional will understand, stress on the job equates to stress in the home. Do not kick the cat because you got into a fight with the boss. Instead, listen to your body, your mind, and your heart, as it moves you towards the heartfelt calling of your dreams.

Dreams manifest into reality by setting attainable goals and taking that first step into the uncertainty that accompanies a new journey. As children, we first learned to crawl before we learned to walk. We subsequently had to master walking before we learned to run. As adults, we often forget this fundamental lesson, running from one dream to the next without savoring the journey that brings continued success. Just as the tortoise overtook the hare, burning himself out too early in the race, we must also take heed of our emotional state, stress level, and psychological wellness to avoid burnout. Slow and steady wins the race every time, and allows for life’s most precious gift: time to enjoy the fruits of our labor with those whom we love. As The Buddha once said, “it is better to travel well, than to arrive.”References

Eaton, W.W. (1990). Occupations and the prevalence of major depressive disorder. Journal of occupational medicine, 32 (11), 1079-1087.

Greiner, M. (Sept., 1996) What about me? Texas Bar Journal.

Jones, D. (2001) Career killers. In B.P. Crowley, & M.L. Wi nick (Eds.). A guide to the basic law practice. Alliance Press. 180-197.

Latham, T. (May, 2011). The depressed lawyer: Why are so many lawyers unhappy. Psychology today. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/therapy-matters/201105/the-depressed-lawyer.

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Generation Why? To Dream, or To Suppress the Dream: That is the Question!

As a father of two, I am often inquisitive about the nature of my children’s dream life. Maybe it is remanent of my training with analytical and psychoanalytical forms of psychology. Or maybe it is a way in which I have learned to relate to my children as a lover of the rich, imaginal landscapes  our dream-life provides. Nevertheless, as a father, and a psychotherapist, I have found a conduit that links my interest in dreams to the growing journey I see my children undertaking to become their own beings.

As a child, I remember vivid dreams, where I would engage with the rich, symbolic content of my psyche’s unconscious playground. Dreams were abound, both good and bad, sometimes waking, and oftentimes sleeping. Nevertheless, I would spend hours playing with my dreams, talking about them with my mother, father, and step father, attempting to find new ways I could actively engage their storylines, and ultimately try and make sense of my life as it emerged during my childhood.

My family was supportive, and would often entertain the imaginal world of my making. They would expose me to stories, let me watch movies, take me to symphonies and museums, exposing me to a world of imagination, rich with symbolic content. However, their was a sharp divide between the expectations of family and that of the schools I would attend.

In the classroom, I was often scolded, put down, and oftentimes made of in front of my peer group by teachers who were not patient with my need to dream life forward. They had lessons to teach, and my dreaming stood in the way of their meeting state mandated curriculum requirements, a fault that had to be purged from their classroom through a ritual of ostracization, segregation, humiliation, and degradation.

In the classroom, I found the work to easy. Being bored, I would often be drawn to the flights of fancy my dreams took me on after my work was complete. This caused problems for the teachers, who in all honesty had enough problems teaching to the 80% Bell Curve so well-known amongst educators in the K-12 setting. Not knowing what to do with me, they referred me to be put through a battery of tests from zealous doctors who were all to eager to start me on amphetamine based medication as a means to suppress my dream life, as a means to help me “focus” and to “concentrate better,” so that I could reach my full potential as an adult. I was labeled ADHD, and even worse, was shown to have emotional disturbance due to a failing systems inability to provide me an education that benefit my needs to actively engage life forward. School became a prison, and I was only 9 years of age.

I tell my story not as an autobiography, or a need for confession, but as a comparison to the ill intent I continue to see children undergo in the school and systemic mental health setting. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control showed “that under the Medicaid health care program, doctors have given some 10,000 American toddlers a diagnosis of ADHD and treated them with ADHD drugs that have not been shown to be effective or safe in children that young.” Furthermore, drugs such as “Adderall and the methylphenidate Ritalin” were actively used to treat one out of “every 225 toddlers nationwide,” with no evidence of efficacy being shown in a population this young.

While much research is conducted by pharmaceutical companies on the efficacy of their products to treat adverse medical conditions, recent studies suggest what many have always known, amphetamines have addictive qualities, are highly sought out by adults for the active effects they induce, and this is no different for children, who only lack to qualitative knowledge of what addiction is.

Why are we poisoning our youth?

As a child, I was never exposed to amphetamines. My parents simply did not believe in medication. As such, I was allowed to develop my own coping skills. My attention flourished when I was challenged, but the traditional Bell Curve oriented K-12 curriculum never accomplished this feat. Instead, I continued to fall through the cracks, and would never enjoy education until I was ultimately challenged in the college setting.

As a teacher and practitioner of mental health therapy, I have seen thousands of children referred to assessment, be given treatment plans, and ultimately be prescribed heavy hitting, side effect laden medications whose adverse effects far outweighed the benefits of use. As a society, I see us poisoning our youth with medications that are not only unnecessary, but also adversely effecting their ability to develop health life skills that will serve them towards a successful adult life. We ultimately are not treating the patients we serve, but are poisoning the next generation for ease of service provision and ultimately corporate / governmental profit motives to make our “classrooms more manageable” and our jobs as parents a little easier.

As a therapist, I must ask myself, who are we treating? The children that are brought to us for help, or the ease and profit potential of the system we ultimately serve.

When dealing with children, the best lesson you can teach is to foster them to formulate, engage, and follow their dreams. We are not all bricks of the same sort to be put into a systemic wall. Instead, we are dreaming beings, who can formulate, engage, and create enormous potential if we are only allowed to dream that possibility forward. Have you engaged or encouraged your child’s or the children you work with dream’s today? If not, maybe it is time to ask them, What do you dream about?

Dr. Thomas Maples

Generation Why? Travels through the Dark Forest of Failing Our Youth Forward!

As a practicing psychotherapist and a former teacher with over 15 years experience working with children, adolescents, and even infants with what is considered to be mental health disorders, I have developed an increasing area of concern as it relates to how we as adults, and a nation are treating the gems of our future. Overworked, and oftentimes stressed out adults are seeking the help of healing professionals, inclusive of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers to help them handle the increasing concerns children present with in the school setting, at home, and within their social environment.

Perhaps this is driven from the often highly publicized, rare incidents of extreme violence that have gained national media attention from individual, rare cases of extreme emotional volatility within the mental status of a few children who had severe pathology present; or perhaps it is due to out natural human plight to make sense of things that go wrong. Nevertheless, Generation Why is present, we are in the process of shaping their futures, and it relates to directly to our incapacity as parents, teachers, and healing professionals to help them make sense of the dark forest that surrounds the journey to find their voice, their purpose, and the simple act of enjoying the journey rather than the end product of the destination travelled.

In the journey of life, development, and our natural tendency towards an individuated state, it is natural to begin questioning the authority of the generation that precedes us. This tendency teaches us to navigate, and ultimately learn from the successes, failures, mistakes, and accomplishments of those teachers the new generation seeks to usurp. However, in today’s fast paced environment of self-absorption, lack of time, and difficulties focusing on one task at hand versus the need to stay busy, busy, busy, we have forced our adult stresses onto the children we seek to assist.

Far too often, I see a divide between parental, teacher, and a child’s expectations. While a child cannot be expected, nor is it advisable to have them control their decisions in a manner that removes adult responsibility, I nevertheless see a dangerous interaction between teacher and parental stress and the increased use of mental health professionals, medications, and justice related controls as a means to curb natural childhood behaviors in name of creating a less stressful environment for the adults who are ultimately responsible to take care of the child’s emotional, educational, and developmental needs.

As a professional, I no longer see the natural innocence of childhood inquiry honored. It is something that does not fit into the busy nature of our fast paced society, where we must multitask 50 texts, emails, and phone calls before we can even enjoy having a breakfast meal with our child(ren). Our need to navigate multiple and often conflicting schedules conflicts with our parental duties to spend time, and pass on the familial values we find important. This is further mitigated by the social acceptance and need of many families to have both parents from the home just to keep pace with our most basic need to survive and earn a decent living. In the end, the responsibility of raising children simply “slips through the cracks,” as social, educational, and ultimately family values are put off in the pursuit of other, more tangible, and oftentimes more materialistic goals. Children’s “think outside the box” predisposition is no longer seen as a strength. Instead, it has been made an area of concern, and is now viewed from the lens of being a series of disorders that are to be treated, medicated, killed, and dispelled from their growing systems as a means to force adherence to values that may, or may not become the values their generation cherishes.

Why do children tax our utmost reserves to help them be the successes we dream them to become? How have we got to this point, where we can legally poison our children with Amphetamines in the plight to make them more compliant in the school, home, and social settings? How are we assuring their success? Or are we Failing our Youth Forward by denying them the ability to enjoy the journey through the dark forest as the means by which they arrive to the destination, where even the Buddha said, “It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

In Generation Why? Travels through the Dark Forest of Failing our Youth Forward! I will explore mental health, child development, and our need to help our children navigate the dark paths of growing up, so they can become successes in their own rights. In this blog, I will offer parents discernible insight, and interventions on how to approach your child’s development from a growth oriented, rather than an illness based perspective. We will not explore boring statistics regarding ADHD, Oppositional Defiance, Aspergers, Childhood Bipolar Disorder, or a number of other diagnoses you have probably been exposed to through growing media attention on cases that are ultimately few, and far between as a means to bastardize the plight children go through to make sense of their emerging self concept. Instead, the behaviors most commonly associated with these disorders will be reviewed thoroughly, normalized as aspects from where healthy growth can occur through productive family treatment modalities and interventions, that will ultimately assist you, your spouse, and loved ones to better understand your children, while helping them grow to advance confidently in the direction of their dreams. Please check in regularly, and openly share the insight attained from these posts if you enjoy.

Dr. Thomas Maples

Acquisition Strategies and Exit Strategies: Why Both Are Important

Acquisition Strategies and Exit Strategies: Why Both Are Important.

A Return to Innocence: Navigating Alzheimer’s, Faith, and Transcendence

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The heavy, locked, dual steel doors swung open with the keying of the secret code, allowing the young, vibrant psychologist to enter the equally heavy, emotionally laden hallways of the infirmary. The smell was overbearing, the sounds enough to make even the staunchest of personalities succumb to the sadness that accompanies the end of life. While fear, physical, emotional, and spiritual despair graced the faces of those who walked the hallway, the patient’s, those infirmed, sick, and dying showed an essence of intense wisdom, hope, and a sense of longing behind those wrinkles that masked the inner beauty of a youth once lost.

We were taught to care for their emotional needs, to assess their mental capacity, to engage them within group exercises that fostered a sense of community and social reciprocation. We worked with them to deescalate the behavioral outbursts that accompanies inner turmoil of not knowing your surroundings, having forgot much of the lessons they worked to so hard to learn during a life long lived. Like an infant learning about their world for the first time, yet having the luxury forgetting more knowledge than most will gain, they saw their world as an infant does, preparing for the next stage in much the same way we push through childhood to take part in our adult life. Their journey, to make sense of the life they have lived, to let go, to enter into the next stage of the unknown.

In a recent article published in Psychology Today, Jeanne Murray Walker (2014) explores the spiritual complexity that accompanies the journey her mother undertook with Alzheimer’s Disease and its effects on the spiritual, emotional, and psychological growth of the individual that accompanies a loved one during that journey. In this beautifully written article, Dr. Murray Walker explores Alzheimer’s as a test of faith, a return to the basic tenets of hospitality, patience, prayer, and letting go of the individual we have grown so close to in our journey of love.

As a young graduate student being educated in the field of psychology, I could not understand how the theory I was taught correlated with the human despair I saw in those sterile halls of the infirmary. The emotional toll was great, but not for those who were sick. Somehow, they were at peace, even as their life slowly slipped from their grasp. I could not help but recognize the paradox that accompanies the end of life; the brunt of the emotional despair came primarily from the living, those who had to face the journey of saying goodbye. The sick and the dying seemed somehow at peace. There sense of life, the looming presence of death, and the wisdom behind those eyes, set deep behind their aged wrinkles written on their faces, masked a sense of knowledge unfathomable to my graduate school experience. They were the elders, the individuals who through their very existence, passes on a knowledge base that prepares us for the lessons of hospitality, prayer, patience, and letting go that our great spiritual traditions teach as being the royal road to God.

The life of the individual is deeply entwined in our innate capacity for growth. Like infancy succumbs to childhood, childhood to adolescence, adolescence to adult life, and adult life to old age, old age succumbs to death, leading us towards the great unknown, the end of our physical journey on this plane of existence, where life slips from the matter that once housed it, allowing our essence to return to its immaterial beginnings. While we yearn, grow, and strive towards goals we set in life, with each passing we mark another period of development lost, chasing the goals of life towards our final destination. However, in the faces of the aged, we often see a return to childhood innocence. Their faces tell a thousand stories, even though they may have difficulties remembering the very stories they have helped to create.

Walker (2014) presents an interesting account of the return to a childhood state of reverie her mother underwent during her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Like a childhood state of reverie, her mother found solace in playing with animals, a simple therapy that assists the patient to reconnect with their sense of childhood curiosity. While their journey might be limited, and they deserve the respect any adult warrants, we must work with them to find their sense of belonging during this final stage of life, honoring the curiosity that exists in the eyes of forgetting more than most of us have learned.
In our return to innocence, we face the difficult transition that accompanies the ending of life. While the survivors must deal with the shattered pieces of loosing a loved one, the infirmed often finds a sense of mature spirituality, as they have come to terms with the finite nature of their life. By honoring the journey of our ancestors, even in the face of the tragedy that accompanies the loss of mental capacity, we help our dying loved ones make sense of their eternal sense of purpose, honoring them for the love, work, and guidance they have fostered in our personal journey.

Bibliography
Walker, J. (2014, April 29). Alzheimers as a test of faith. Psychology Today .

One Addiction to Another: A look at why we move from one app to the next (part 1)

A wonderful article that begins to explore the world of cyberaddiction. Why is it, in this often hectic world, we continue to turn to outside, interfering agents that would distract us from the true beauty of going within.

One Addiction to Another: A look at why we move from one app to the next (part 1).

Love and Growth: Finding a Path Within

Love and Growth: Finding a Path Within.

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