Dr.Irvin Martin Kraus, DO, LCPC, is board-certified in psychiatry with a focal interest in treating grade school aged children. This message is meant for parents of older children/those on the road toward adulthood, whatever their struggles. I treat children and their families using medical psychotherapy, facilitated by hypnosis and hypnoanalysis and whatever works. I work with other physicians who may prescribe medication as part of their care of patients. Some of the best outcomes is using both medication and psychotherapy. The message I wish to share with you and your adult children is TO BE WITH THEM, rather than to DO WITH THEM. It is better to believe that they are capable to think for themselves, even if decisions don’t work out the way you desire. When my children were a lot younger, I felt impelled to help them along the way, which I considered most important. That met with a lot of resistance. I’ve come to appreciate that there are many pathways toward growth, choices they make for better or worse on their own. It is more myth than reality that as parents we can prevent their suffering through our good advice. In most cases, we need to honor each adult child’s unique qualities that they bring into their own personal lives. I suggest that advice is better accepted when offered by one’s sibling or someone else in the family the young adult trusts, than the parent. Why would this work better, with less resistance? Coming back home (like seasonal visits from college) for an adult child fosters regression. The visiting adult child and parent begin to relive old memories/patterns of behavior that trigger each other into old ways of feeling/reacting. This occurs subconsciously and then it’s like reliving past struggles that help no one. The old ways of relating are better left alone. If not honored, then you might get the humorous comedic misery, the subject matter of many holiday season movies. Put into psychology 101 language, as parents, whatever we have to say has an intra-psychic telescoping-like effect on our young adult children that not only touches the present moment, but triggers past memories/childhood beliefs and subconscious perceptions loaded with strong feelings and high energy that can explode in our parental faces. It also affects you, the parent along similar pathways. It is the responsibility of the adult child to find their own way by gaining counsel and support from whom they feel most comfortable. Too much parental intervention/advise/and doing leads to distancing by the adult child from the parent, the opposite affect most of us desire. Most parents would rather have our adult-like kids come closer to us requesting advice. What I suggest is giving less, so that their struggles stimulate their own thinking about their own initiatives. A little distance between the parent and adult child is healthy and provides space for personal reflection and hopefully emotional maturation. Boundaries allow us to gain respect for ourselves and appreciation for those who love us by accepting where we are at any given moment in life challenges. This may sound easier to understand than to do. It may take time to actually perfect as a parental practice. Don’t give up; practice, practice, practice and you will get better at it. Become curious by looking inside yourself and become closer to your own personal experience.
Happy Holidays,
Dr. I.M. Kraus, Naperville Family Counseling, 630-527-1631

The vicissitudes of your libidinal cathexis (psychoanalytic jargan)

All this jargen just means that if you feel something is right in your gut,chest, heart,groin, or other body part, then it may be tied to very early developmental experiences. It may feel right because it is right for you. It it more than intellectural. It is a truth for you and tells you the WHY you come to believe that something is real and important. No dating service can capture that feeling, nor can any pill. The best test for a good therapist or teacher or coach for you comes from this kind of intuition. It does’nt tell the whole truth, but it is a beginning.

Good Anger vs Bad Anger and Asthmatic Attacks in Adolescents

I recall when I was a first year resident in Psychiatry at Michael Reese Hospital many years ago, we tried social medical project that involved young poor teens and their moms These youngsters were frequently readmitted to the hospital with bad asthma attacks. What I recall is that we were not very experienced as therapists and the moms were very concerned (highly motivated) about their sick kids and that most of the kids were at that oppositional stage of development when they just wanted to try new things, as most teens do. We set up separate teens groups and separate moms groups. We tried supporting the moms in allowing their kids to take age appropriate risks and we talked to the kids about what were safe vs. not so safe risks. We met every week for several months (maybe 5 or 6 months). The outcomes were very interesting to us residents, nurses, psychologists who volunteered to work with this group of moms and teens. (1) The moms who could allow their kids to socialize outside the house, take some risks and had some trust that their kids would make mistakes and that this was part of the learning process. These kids did the best. They had the fewer readmission to the hospital for asthmatic attacks. (2) The moms who were more enmeshed, worried/anxious and fearful regarding their child’s asthma, did the worst. They had the most frequent admissions to the ICU for severe asthmatic attacks. What does this have to do with anger? When a mom and child understood that angry feelings were just part of give and take in a relationship, and that in an age appropriate way, each person needed to take on part of the responsibility of seeing the other’s concerns and worries and each held those mixed feelings respectfully, then the anger was good and sort of just flowed through both parent and child. Bad anger,in contrast, was when there was rage between mom and child. Each took a rigid position and each believed they were right without the capacity to tune in to the other. There was difficulty in appreciating the other’s point of view, then there was no flow through of anger by either. There was blame/shame/anxiety and in the kid’s mind, and a lot of stress hormones. This is bad anger reflects a physiologic change in which ones immunity and response to stress becomes compromised, The kid was more prone to end up in the ICU with an asthmatic episode. Asthma like all chronic illnesses is not just an allergy or one thing. It is a mixture of things happening in an ongoing way that also includes the social/family environment. If a parent or the kid is chronically stressed out, be it a current situation or chronic unconscious one, this will have an impact on the individual parent as well as family members. Chronic stress that is subconscious may be explored with using hypnosis and hypnoanalysis as well as getting the family involved and on the same page. Medication may be helpful and necessary as in all medical conditions, but to limit treatment to medications alone, is to miss the social impact on any described medical condition.


Does your child complain that you don’t understand him/her? Your response: I know what is good for you and I know what are struggling with because, I struggled too at your age with the same things. Kid: But you don’t understand me. Parent: I understand that if you don’t buckle down and do what you need to do, you’ll be lucky to get a job working in a fast food joint, if you graduate.

  • Parental Statements: I just can’t stand this anymore, we’ve given you so much, not have to struggle like we did, we love you and want the best for you, we want to be proud of you, your just ungrateful and full of anger, I don’t know what else to take away from you, I really don’t like you this way, you are a painful wart on the back of humanity, you leave me feeling helpless, angry, confused and you name it.
  • The Child’s Statements: You just don’t understand me, I hate you, etc, I can’t wait to just get out of here, you suck, home sucks, school sucks or maybe so does life in general.

If this sounds familiar or it’s variation, I want to give you some new hope. You need support right now if things are spinning in a downward spiral. You need a therapist who will work with the child and parents to get everyone on the same page. First of all, an angry person is in defensive mode and cannot process new information. The anger is a sign of the fight-flight stress response (primitive survival mode thinking) to something that you need to understand. Usually this is not fully understood by the child because they don’t have the capacity to look at it from a comfortable distance and process it. You as parent just need to know nothing goes in when somebody is angry and upset. Stop beating your head on a brick wall by trying to explain and reason. The only time to talk to your child in a reflective way is when everyone is in a calm state. The brain circuits are in receptive mode when both the right left hemispheres are both working together and the emergency circuits of the limbic system are quieted down and less reactive. In anger, the child is just trying to survive, is defensive, ready for flight, fight or just shutting down in isolation. Put in simpler terms, the brain that is calm is less chaotic, less ruminating, less rigid and more able to be flexible toward problem solving. The parent needs to learn about the child’s challenge at the time of worry and concern that generates this core of negativity. You must learn a new way of listening, attuning to the child’s struggles. If this is not worked on, the struggle will lead to more distancing rather than reciprocity between the two of you. At the bottom of rage, may be hurt, confusion, shame, feelings of inadequacy and worry. When you address the outcome of their laziness, not doing their work, not being dependable, not staying on task and all the things that go along with not doing their job as you see it, then you are missing the child’s main issue. It is something that they’re experiencing that they cannot even articulate. It is like something right in their face that feels bigger than they can put into words because it’s all new to the developing child. For example, when there are body changes associated with puberty, these are not only external, but also hormonal, and brain changes with new experiencing, perceptions, feelings, wishes and wants. There are not only external changes, but also new brain connectivity. They need time to grow into their new ever-changing embodied brains and the meanings they attribute to everything going on inside and outside themselves. They desperately want to feel less weird and more normal and acceptable. They may be anxious and upset because they are losing their old familiar selves. Like one youngster shared with me, “I used to feel smart, now I feel like I’m just barely able to keep up”. Girls at age 9 or 10 may be concerned about their appearances, maybe feeling that they are getting too fat or that they’re concerned about being accepted by the female peers as well as how to better deal with all the feelings of embarrassment that they face given their anxiety going through these changes. For pubertal boys, common concerns may involve gender identification (what do I do with all the sexual feelings that are flooding me), capacity to compete as well as feeling acceptable. Boys may complain feeling as if they’re falling apart. Understand that teens and younger kids can’t even voice or totally comprehend the cause of their worry and concern, as it is right in their face. When you remind them of the reality of what they need to do, they feel you miss the point in being with them in the moment of their concerns and crisis.

How can you be a good enough parent? First of all, it’s their reality that needs to be understood. It is not about the future reality that needs to be focused on at their crisis moment. The child is quite aware of your worry and concern, but they don’t know how to deal with the emotional flooding. It is difficult for parents to attune themselves to their youngster, when the parent is also worried and concerned about the child grim future. One mother may believe for example that if she doesn’t keep her early adolescent busy every moment of the day, that he or she may become involved in drugs as a way to find comfort and get into even more difficulties. It’s difficult for the parent to, if they have never slowed down enough to look inside themselves, to be able to do this with their child. In our affluent community of high achieving parents, consider the older teen preparing to go off to college. Many may be terrified. Their parents may have been academic stars and highly successful. How will I measure up, especially when I can’t concentrate on my studies in a state of worrisome anxiety? One failed exam has much more meaning to such a child. At this older age, therapy is focused helping the young adult develop his or her own unique psychological space. They learn to focus on the here and now and learn to modulate the negative feeling states associated with past and future worries. I believe that you can come home again to be with family, when the family can also learn to value the new struggles the young adult is navigating. This is something that I help families with particularly around college vacation times. It’s the therapist’s job working with the child sometimes with family members and sometimes not, helping the older child become aware of their separateness, uniqueness as a budding adults.

If you are locked in a struggle with your youngster and are feeling more helpless, I invite you to explore more of my blogs to hopefully find that there are many ways to regain hope in this ever-changing pathway called life. Feel free to give me a call, if you wish (630-527-1631, Dr. Kraus). I am happy to listen when I have time. There are no dumb questions and each situation calls for individualized creative solution. You are very important to your family, even if they don’t always see eye to eye with you. There is a book entitled, The Dance of Anger (about couples) that also fits this dance between child and parents.


Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000105 EndHTML:0000007116 StartFragment:0000002288 EndFragment:0000007080


Returning to school is an ordeal for not only the student but also parents. It’s a new beginning and everyone wants things to go well. Mothers and dads are busily shopping and preparing the child’s return to school, expectations are high, also increasing everyone’s hopes as well as anxiety. The pressure is on. We forget that our minds are a lot more than conscious, disciplined goal setting. We also carry a lot of subconscious baggage based on our histories. How we feel about ourselves, deep down, is not only an individual thing but also a reflection of our relationships at home that have become a part of our working minds on how we view ourselves, being imperfect as human beings. It is our internal road map of how we expect the world to treat us. Anxiety is normal, when we have new challenges. The growing child needs the help of the parents to make sense of these new things that are happening, lets call it the “lens of inner experiencing”. When the lens is clear, parents can help their child modulate their feelings about new experiences. Children lack the words, to even say what is bothering them, other than to know that they may feel sick/overwhelmed and to eventually freeze up and withdraw or rebel and become school avoidant, or refuse to do their homework. Older kids may self medicate with whatever they can get their hands on or self mutilate just to prove to themselves that they can cut, bleed to show themselves that they are alive and can control something (they feel better, relieved after they cut, before going to school). Sounds strange, but that’s what is reported by some of the kids I’ve seen. Naperville is no wonderful island of escape when the expectations are so high. When parents are high achieving, the expectations are clear, even when no one says a word. In simple terms, this baggage is subconscious and the child doesn’t recognize that it’s unfinished business that needs to be focused on and brought up for conscious reworking. This reworking process will reduce anxiety and depression, free up energy to the child can sleep better, and be able to focus on the work at school. Schools generally want to help their students and are highly invested in doing so. They will help in whatever way they can to reverse the downward academic spiral. They make all sorts of accommodation’s and recommendations to help the student. School, however is not the place to try and resolve subconscious unfinished business that builds up and causes problems. The quickest way to get to the subconscious baggage is to use medical psychotherapy provided by a very experienced psychotherapist who can treat the child and include the parents in the process. Parents become a powerful ingredient toward growth, change, and stabilization for the child who is hurting. When the child is relaxed along with the parents, then we get a closer look inside at the child’s struggles and help put it all into words so that we can make new up to date roadmaps that are more age appropriate as well as helpful to the family. What we do is resolve it quickly. This is done usually within 10 to 12 therapy hours once we get a developmental history from both parents and get everyone on the same page to work towards an understanding of the problem(s). Most psychiatrists will prescribe medication, which may help temporarily but never touch the subconscious problem. In the short run medication seems faster, but in reality what you get is a diagnosis that misses the mark of why the child is anxious or depressed. I know and believe that there are specific reasons for what makes for misery. Once we can make sense of the misery, then it diminishes or goes away for good. I don’t think that medication in most cases works that way. When I was involved as the Clinical Director of Dual Diagnosis Adolescent Units and The Residential Units, everyone got medication. It saved lives and helped people function. I still refer people for second opinions, but also value even more a trial of medical psychotherapy, including the parents in the process. When appropriate, you waste precious time fooling around with meds that could be better spent by looking at what’s going on inside someone’s mind and making sense out of it for everyone concerned. Now my focus is on medical psychotherapy facilitated by hypnosis and hypnoanalysis that also includes the parents. I see the family as the support system. We get everyone on the same page. This can turn around a failing child very quickly once the core conflict(s) the problem is understood. This is fast, yet powerful therapy. You are invited to call me for a consultation if you think this may be helpful to your family. Thanks for reading.

Building Your Immune System

Changes of our midwest seasons bring on new challenges. As parents, everything falls upon our shoulders caring for our children. YOU need to give first priority to yourself. If you get sick, then your family suffers. Managing your own personal daily energy resources is imperative toward setting priorities. Do you know that 2000 Units of Vitamin D3 seems to be beneficial toward boosting your immune system? You can fight off a lot of viral bugs with a good immune system. (Milk only has about 100 units per glass) and Walgreen’s multivitamin A to Z contains only 500 Units. Fish oil (without mercury) seems to help stabilize moods. Exercise is a great help toward mood stabilization, heart health, and perking up your brain pathways to take on new daily challenges. As an antidepressant exercise is usually considered equal to antidepressant medication without the side effects of weight gain and libido issues. If these little suggestions also help in your relationships with your significant other and children, then great. Got some of your own Self Care Tips that you would like to share? I appreciate all of your comments. Also take a look at the book by Joel Fuhrman,MD, SUPER IMMUNITY, THE ESSENTIAL NUTRITION GUIDE FOR BOOSTING YOUR BODY’S DEFENSES TO LIVE LONGER, STRONGER AND DISEASE FREE. Thanks for reading and sharing.