More about Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
On this page, you will find resources, links, videos, recommended books and films, and inspirational quotes and passages. Feel free to download and share!
Selected articles by Jason Seidel as author/co-author
Guerrino and the Wild Man
This is an early Italian version of the Iron John fairy tale, written by Straparola in 1558. The German version (Iron Hans) was written down 300 years later by The brothers Grimm, and there is also a similar story in Russian. Straparola’s story may be more enjoyable after reading Robert Bly’s study of Iron John, because the differences in tone are striking. The Italian tale puts much more emphasis on emotion and relationship (and it’s less mechanical and action-oriented than the Grimms’ version). The two stories tell very different tales of what it means to be a mature and happy man. Bly’s book and view of masculinity has been criticized on various grounds, and Straparola’s tale answers some of these critiques.
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
A short story by the late Ursula K. Le Guin (1973), which won the Hugo award. I tell this story to many clients. It has a disturbing but important theme of how children (and adults) are often sacrificed for some ‘greater good’ for others to enjoy. And those who witness this injustice can choose to ignore it, protest it, or refuse to take part in it. There are many interpretations and discussions of this story online.
The Allegory of the Long Spoons
A very brief parable or allegory of heaven and hell, and how easily we can stay trapped in hell out of hunger, fear, and desperation. In this place of profound anxiety, we are unable to reach out to others or to be aware of our own power to change or shift in simple ways. It is a great lesson for couples in crisis. I first heard this allegory late at night in summer camp at seven years old–and it has haunted me for over 40 years.
What happens in therapy? The rope metaphor
Will I feel worse before I feel better?
inspiring quotes & passages
Poems by Vonnegut, Rumi, and Frost
Click here for the poems. Vonnegut on the state of grace known as having “enough.” Rumi on getting out of your head, relinquishing control, and surrendering to life and the need for calling out. Frost on how we are often looking in the wrong place for the answer.
Man Facing Southeast
“Hombre Mirando al Sudeste.” Until the end of 2016, this film by Argentine magical realist Eliseo Subiela was nearly impossible to find. Now it’s available on DVD. A psychiatrist finds a new patient in the asylum who claims to be from outer space. The robotic visitor is seduced by music and humanity, and he teaches his doctor about compassion and spirit, while the doctor becomes increasingly aware of his own alienation and loss of humanity.
A documentary of the 4-day men’s retreat conducted by volunteers with the Inside Circle Foundation at Folsom State Prison. Based on psychodrama methods used by the ManKind Project, the work is intended to help men strip away their social masks and connect with what’s underneath. The volunteers are often surprised to find that it’s the convicts who help heal them, rather than the other way around. So, both groups of men find redemption.
A lesser-known dramatic Woody Allen film about a middle-aged college professor who overhears a psychoanalyst’s sessions with a female patient who sounds very depressed. The professor resonates with this and winds up in an existential crisis: she begins to realize her life is not as she thought and other people see her very differently than she has seen herself. Also of interest, Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Emotionally exhausting, this play is a classic of psychological abuse and the mutual effort of highly educated people (George and Martha) to break each other down and emotionally dominate each other. The film takes place between 2am and dawn after a faculty party at a small college. A young professor and his wife are trapped with George and Martha, forced to take part in their drama. It captures the brutality and codependency behind the public face of some people, and the anguish and grief that’s even further underneath.
The Razor’s Edge
Existential film based on the book by W. Somerset Maugham. A man returns from World War I, traumatized by his experience, and no longer fitting in with his naïve and cynical Gatsby-esque friends. He goes on a journey to find out who he is now, and how to fit into the world. The film is about pain, loneliness, and ultimately letting go of one’s desperate grasp to control life and relationships.
A violent and callous mercenary finds himself in desperate need for forgiveness and redemption for his brutality. He first wants only to run away but then experiences the path of feeling the full weight of his pain and finally being willing to receive the compassion of others, which he finds in a Jesuit priest and the indiginous Guarani of the Amazon. Based loosely on mid-eighteenth century colonial Brazil, this film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, with Robert Deniro as the Gordon Gecko of his time, and Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel.
A grumpy and opinionated father goes to France to retrieve the ashes of his son who died at the beginning of a trek on the famed Camino de Santiago. Having been judgmental toward his son’s choices (the son is played by Martin Sheen’s real-life son, Emilio Estevez) and moved by his guilt, the father puts on his son’s clothing and walks the Camino as a tribute to him and perhaps as penance. He struggles to maintain his walls and keep others out as he is met by people who keep trying to connect with him and care about him as a fellow traveler. He starts to be able to tolerate the feeling of connection and letting others in, but not without a lot of struggle.
Classic and moving story of depression and alienation in an affluent white family, following the death of an older brother who was the family “star.” Themes of the narcissistic mother, detachment from feelings, profound loneliness, and the presence of a ‘weak father’ are prominent. Conrad, the young protagonist, learns to express his anger and pain that have been smothered under a blanket of guilt, shame, and inadequacy. Possibly the first positive portrayal of a psychotherapist in film. This film appears to be a model for the therapist/patient relationship portrayed in Good Will Hunting.
Fresh is a 12-year-old runner for a drug dealer in the projects. His father (a semi-homeless alcoholic) teaches him life lessons through brutal speed-chess matches. This film honors the bravery and skillful means that a young child can muster in the face of overwhelming odds. The character is a study in how detachment and coldness can become necessary, and strip an adolescent of the joy, lightness, and humanity that could have been there. That single glimmer of grief at the end captures so well what adults who survived being on their own as children can still feel under their hard exterior–and which they struggle to bring to the surface through therapy.
From a reviewer on IMDB.com: “Homecoming is the theme of Garden State. Andrew Largeman [returns to his hometown] to attend the funeral for his mother. While having been gone, Andrew has been on lithium and other forms of anti-depressant medication all prescribed to him by his psychiatrist father. . . Andrew has decided to take a vacation from his medication and take some time to re-connect with himself. From there. . . he connects with old friends and makes new ones and discovers the joys of life and love. . .”
Harold and Maude
Cult-classic dark comedy about a 17-year-old boy (obsessed with death and upsetting his mother) who falls in love with a free-spirited, car-stealing 79-year old woman who teaches him how to feel, let go of his cynicism, and embrace life. Soundtrack by Cat Stevens.
A long, complex, and upsetting film depicting adult children (William H. Macy, Tom Cruise, and others) who are stuck, depressed, enraged, and struggling to overcome betrayals (mostly by their fathers) in their childhoods. A meditation on how people can live out their lives never being free until they break open the core issues driving their self-destructive behavior.
Iron John: A Book about Men
A classic of the “men’s movement,” Bly examines a folktale for its symbolic teachings about masculinity, rites of passage, and how men develop from what their fathers did and didn’t teach them. Borrows liberally from the theories of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.
King Warrior Magician Lover
Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette
Another book on masculinity from a Jungian and European mythological perspective, this time examining “masculine archetypes” and their healthy and unhealthy expression.
I Don’t Want to Talk About It
As with Bly’s “Iron John,” many men will recognize themselves in the pages of this book. It exposes the myth that men are less emotional than women; and it helps readers understand how men have been taught by their fathers and others to manage their feelings by avoiding, numbing, and outrunning them. Surprise: These tactics don’t work, and they hurt men and their ability to have intimacy with others.
Classic tale translated into dozens of languages, in which a prophet who is leaving a village first bestows small jewels of wisdom on the inhabitants before boarding the ship for home.
Swamplands of the Soul
A Jungian analyst goes down into the dank, dark places to show that the point of life is to find meaning, not just happiness. A book about psychological dignity and spiritual integrity.
The Essential Rumi
Coleman Barks (trans.)
Thirteenth-century Sufi poetry about love, religion, passion, drunkenness, friendship, isolation, and beauty.
When You Are Happy
“When you are lonely, I’ll bring my heart in a basket.” The way of connection through love among all the feelings that children (and adults) have and struggle with.
Love You Forever
Creepy illustrations, and bizarre tale that magically captures the intensity of a parent’s loving bond with their child and the grief and gratitude that come from a child who is raised in that. Robert Munsch always goes too far, and does so beautifully in this story. The book is a Rorschach or litmus test for how open you are to deep feelings about love that was had, or love that was missing.
A Bad Case of Stripes
Not for little kids. David Shannon is a genius and his illustrations are psychedelic and terrifying to young children. This story captures the necessity of honoring and blessing what’s different about each of us, and the tragicomic stupidity of adults trying to “help” instead of listen.
A manual for body-focused self-therapy. I often use aspects of this method with clients. The core idea is that we must stop the inner chatter so we can listen more deeply to what we’re trying to make go away. Listening and drawing the experience more near makes it release. Very counter-intuitive for most people, but stunningly effective in many cases. Takes practice, but it’s hard to argue with the efficiency of methods that can generate deep change so quickly and with no side effects.
Waking the Tiger
A wonderfully thorough book about how and why trauma happens, how it is healed, and even how to apply psychological “first aid” to children after a potentially traumatizing injury or event. If you have suffered trauma and read this book, it is possible that you will need to do it very slowly and carefully. Some people can be triggered a bit while reading and may need to set it down every so often to resettle themselves.
Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self
A rich textbook that is already considered a classic on the theory and neurology of emotional development, and the attachment between mother and infant. For the advanced graduate student or clinician, it describes the methods by which normal attachment goes astray and sometimes horribly wrong. We connect to better ‘regulate’–and this gets screwed up pretty easily.
Drama of the Gifted Child
A classic in the field of psychology, read by virtually every psychologist in grad school, this is a sophisticated description of narcissism that resonates for many high-performing people plagued by a sense of inadequacy (those who wish to go to the ‘source’ should check out Freud’s seminal “On Narcissism,” a monograph he wrote in 1914). Written by a German psychoanalyst who assumes the reader has some background in psychology, but accessible for those who are truly interested.
Transforming the Difficult Child
Howard Glasser & Jennifer Easley
I often recommend this to “difficult parents” who want a more satisfying and useful version of behavior modification that doesn’t lead to dehumanization, backlash, and rage the way other methods can. Note the subtitle. The method has to do with massively rewarding the right behavior and becoming boring about holding the boundaries/limits very firmly….and boringly. If done with authenticity and not ‘faking it’ (this can be very difficult), it can be shockingly and immediately effective for even wildly inappropriate acting out.
Anatomy of an Epidemic
Written by the same medical journalist who wrote Mad in America, Whitaker has been hailed by many in the psychiatry reform movement as lifting the veil on what an in-depth analysis of psychiatric research reveals about the disaster of the mental health research and treatment establishment. Readers are likely to be left feeling stunned and enraged. There is a huge literature on this topic, and Toxic Psychiatry by Peter Breggin or Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences by Thomas Szasz are other classics in this area of anti-psychiatric critique.
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