Mental Ophthalmology This Emotional Life - PBS

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Depression / Blog

Dr. Paula Bloom

Dr. Paula Bloom's Bio

Dr. Bloom is a practicing psychologist, speaker, and frequent CNN contributor.

Mental Ophthalmology


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WARNING: This post is one extended metaphor and may illicit a strong “yes I get it, move on” reaction. Proceed with caution.

Last week I picked up my new glasses. I hadn’t updated the prescription in years. When I put them on I thought I was about to throw up. I felt so off balance. As I walked out of the optical store I swayed, not exactly knowing where to put my feet. I am surprised they let me drive in this condition. Next time I’m bringing my own designated driver.

It is amazing how uncomfortable newfound clarity can be. In our physical vision or a mental vision-it throws us off balance. If you have seen the world a certain way for years it is hard to change, especially if you have no idea that there may be some distortion. Two of the biggest challenges to change are knowing you need to and believing it is actually possible.

People come to therapy feeling like life is a bit blurry. The find out what their unique prescription is for how they see the world and help grind the right lenses. Based on style and personal preference they choose the right frame that works. It may be that the distortion is “I am worthless”, “people can’t be trusted” or “the entire world is a hostile place.” The mental correction involves counteracting these distortions with our thoughts, hearts and actions.

The most important part of this process is staying motivated to actually wear the new lenses. Some people’s vision correction is obvious (glasses) and some imperceptible  (contacts). Some people even have laser correction  which is supposedly permanent.

This post may not make as much sense to those of you blessed with good vision. Aging is the great equalizer so if you haven’t needed glasses yet, just wait, your time will come. When things become blurry you may think fonts are getting smaller or lights are getting dimmer. Consider the possibility that is your vision, not your arm length.