Dr. Dougs Weekly Checklist

Hard Shit:

Psychological principles can be pretty complicated, and it’s becoming increasingly important for us in academia to find a way to make dense terminology and concepts accessible to the general public. I wanted to share with you folks some of the materials I’ve been reading, watching, and considering. I call this list, “Hard Shit.” (The Urban Dictionary defines “hard” as “cool” and “outstanding”).

What to Read:

Check out the work of Ludia Yukanavitch. She is the author of The Chronology of Water, a memoir which has amassed a cult following, and three novels: The Small Backs of Children; Dora: A Headcase; and The Book of Joan.

Why? In a world where the government is ripping away the hard-won rights of women and people of color, Yukanavitch’s writing offers hope for redemption. With her history of child abuse, substance abuse, and the rollercoaster that is her queer AF love life, hers is a voice of psychological importance.

I’m listening to her new book, Thrust, on Audible. It questions what sort of bleak future lies ahead for our species in the wake of pandemics, fascism, and global warming. Spoiler alert: the whole fucking edifice collapses.

I am riveted by the beauty of her prose. Here’s a taste:

“As rising waters—and an encroaching police state—endanger her life and family, a girl with the gifts of a "carrier" travels through water and time to rescue vulnerable figures from the margins of history.”

So poetic!

Of course, there are people in the future striving for humanity, but they definitely have their work cut out for them.

To learn more, watch this TED talk, "The Beauty of Being a Misfit." It’s been viewed over 3.2 million times.

Watch Video

Want Something More Accessible?

Try Bessel A. Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. This book is more “cognitive” and doesn’t tug at the heartstrings quite as much as Thrust, but it is a must-read. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma and has spent more than three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain in ways that compromise survivor’s capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust.

As a psychotherapist, it is heartening to read how he describes a new approach to healing and recovery through the activation of the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. A very surgical kind of psychotherapy, what we’d call “analysis,” can help patients notice the emotional and/or cognitive traps into which they walk unawares. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk shows how those traps can be identified, labeled, and personified as a separate entity that can then be addressed, much as if it were a problem child.

Preview Books

For Your Overall Health:

Did you know Los Angeles is home to Outfest, the largest Queer Film Festival in the world? Even better, executive director Damien Navarro has emerged as vocal spokesperson for the visibility of black, indigenous, people of color artists. Here’s the festival’s mission statement:

“Outfest creates visibility to diverse LGBTQIA+ stories and empowers storytellers, building empathy to drive meaningful social change.”

If you happen to be in Los Angeles, you have a few more days to check out the offerings! The Festival closes on July 24. You can find the schedule here.

I recommend watching the Legacy Project’s “Far From Heaven” and the U.S. Centerpiece “Unidentified Objects,” the latter of which has a screening at 7pm on July 20. Personally, I’m hoping to catch the Documentary Centerpiece screening of “Mama Bears” at 7pm on July 22.

Closing night on July 24 will feature “They/Them.” If you don’t live in Los Angeles, don’t despair! Outfest has “Eventive,” which is a virtual membership hooking you up online with such classics as “Le Beau Mec.”

It’s a compelling , feature from the golden age of French Gay adult cinema, directed by the American mastermind Wallace Potts. He entreats us to enter the world of athlete, hustler, stripper, and it-boy Karl Forest.

There is also an empowering queer youth project.


For Your Productivity:

As clients work on and through their traumatic selves to become more “integrated,” they may discover new sources of energy and creativity. But what is the best way to harness and organize these newfound feelings of gusto?

Last week, I showered affection on Creative Entrepreneur (and cutie pie) Ali Abdaal. Maybe it’s because I missed the video game craze, but I am fascinated with all these productivity apps! I’m particularly loving Notion, the all-in-one app—I might even be addicted.

To clients wanting to journal but are unsure of how to start, definitely check out the app Day One, which works on your phone and allows you to share a few words each day about your feelings and your wants, while also sharing tips on how to focus and set goals toward achieving greater wholeness.

Sign Up

For Your Creative Healing and Growth:

By way of a recent New Yorker magazine, I am excited to share with you the work of Samuil Yevgenyevich Feinberg (1890-1962). Feinberg was the first pianist to perform the complete The Well-Tempered Clavier by Bach in concert in the USSR. He is most remembered today for this complete recording, as well as those of many other works from the classical and romantic eras. If you’ve been in search of music that can help you settle down while also stimulating an active meditation process, Feinburg is your guy—he reaches toward the sublime. His magical playing soars without the excessive filtering.

The music was recorded in the late 1950’s, and the LP rip has significantly better sound quality than what's available online. Here is Samuil Feinberg playing Book One of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, BWV 846-869, recorded between 1958-61.


When I finally arrived, I felt lost. My visit would be short—a mere week—and I wanted to construct a kind of “container” that would help me ground and navigate my experience. I called these containers “identities,” and they gave an organized structure to the various systems of the mind—the emotional, the physical, and the cognitive…

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