Huma Abedin: Pain-2-Power Person of the Week

Former Hilary Clinton Chief Aide Huma Abedin and I don’t share much in the way of political beliefs.  In fact, that may be understating the case.  But Abedin, whose memoir Both/And: A Life in Many Words will soon be released, did something smart and courageous that merits her being the Pain-2-Power Person of the Week:  She turned down the advice of many friends who told her to leave former Congressman Anthony Weiner immediately after his sexting scandal and tried to stay with him and keep her family together.  In 2013, in fact, shortly after the scandal broke, she said, “”I have forgiven him. I believe in him … I made the decision. That was a decision I made for me, for our son, and for my family.”

Sadly, there were more revelations to come, and Abedin and Weiner eventually divorced in 2017.  Still, she never publicly condemned her husband.

Now, Abedin is sharing the pain of her very complicated married life, which significantly impacted her political life and that of others she advised.  And she’s not hiding the tough stuff.

“We were just two severely broken, traumatized people,” Amedin recently told a CBS interviewer.  “I couldn’t see that he was completely disintegrating. And we just went into our corners.”

She also admits having contemplated suicide.  For this alone—for not pretending that she was a rock and disclosing she is exquisitely human and vulnerable—she is heroic.

In her memoir she writes about a call she made to former Congressman Weiner.  “‘Anthony,’ I said, wanting to shake him through the phone, ‘if she loses this election, it will be because of you and me.’ That night I wrote one line in my notebook. ‘I do not know how I am going to survive this. Help me, God.’” 

I’m very happy that Hilary Clinton lost that election, but that obviously isn’t the point of this blog.  The point is that when anyone—Democrat or Republican—shares the stark realities of her private and public life with millions (I hope) of readers, as Abedin is, she relieves many of those readers of thinking that their own foibles and traumas are unique or unspeakable.  She ushers insight and empathy onto the national stage—things we sorely need at this time.

I don’t like Huma Abedin’s politics.  But I like what she is doing in the world right now, and I understand how hard it is to do it.

Dr. Keith Ablow

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Pain-2-Power Person of the Week: Governor Kevin Stitt

Governor Kevin Stitt is under a lot of pressure these days for refusing to believe that people can be neither male, nor female, but, rather, non-binary.  The issue is particularly timely since the Oklahoma State Department of Health has begun allowing people to be identified on their birth certificates as non-binary and because Democratic State Representative Mauree Turner is the first elected Oklahoma lawmaker to identify as non-binary.

Stitt is clearly willing to endure some pain, in order to empower this country, not to mention our species.  There is simply no evidence whatsoever that human beings are neither male, nor female, but some hybrid of both (other than rare cases that are birth defects and referred to as “hermaphroditism.”)

Stitt will be targeted by the far left, with tacit complicity from the entire Democratic party, because he is willing to say, “The Emperor has no clothes,” by which I mean that he is willing to state the obvious:  People who believe they are neither male, nor female, are psychologically not well.  They cling to fixed and false beliefs that are no different than the belief that one is part canine (which some people do assert, by the way).

Having been canceled myself (more than once, actually) based, in large part, on my views about transgenderism paving the way for a loss of reality in our culture that would threaten all aspects of our culture, I know that Governor Stitt may take some very significant hits for his views.  That’s okay.  He’s obviously willing to take those hits because he knows that the power of truth and character often demands enduring suffering.

It is among the most urgent frontiers for scientific inquiry to investigate whether there is a scientific basis upon which the “I am they” movement (an extension of the transgender movement) can be defended.  Because if all of science were to be unable to demonstrate underpinnings of firmly believing that one is not male, nor female, then it might be wise to consider whether that belief is a disordered way of thinking that, traditionally, has been considered illness.

Why?  Why would I rank this subject of scientific inquiry on par with, say, cancer research?  It is because the unexamined acceptance of a massive assertion like “I am they” paves the way for adapting our culture—including our language, of course—in massive ways.  It paves the way for people to insist on all manner of things as real, without the kind of foundation that society has relied upon to grow and to confront challenges. As strange as it may seem, a close cousin of “I am they” could be the assertion that one is disabled, when there is no evidence to suggest it, other than that belief.  Another close cousin could of “I am they” could be the assertion that one has had cancer and defeated it, through a new way of dancing.  If a person can be “they,” then a person can believe, without any diagnostic test whatsoever backing up the assertion, that he or she or “they,” had a massive brain tumor causing headaches (without a CT scan or MRI to corroborate that) and that eating Cheerios cereal made it go away.

The “I am they” movement is, therefore, a direct challenge to all of science.  And if science isn’t going to stand up for itself when under assault, it is going to be a thing of the past.  Note, for instance, how easy it has become for an important government agency to assert at one moment that masks prevent infection with Covid-19 and to assert at another moment that they do not, or that they might, under particular circumstances.

With all the news about UFOs lately, how long do you think it will be before human beings begin asserting they are actually aliens and insisting they be addressed as such.  Funny, right?  No.  It will happen.

Why would I, the Founder of Pain-2-Power, want science to address the “I am they” movement?  Because the presence of the “I am they” movement (and others), if untrue and embraced unchecked, can shake what we might call the true self movement.  It can urge people—including those in the “I am they” movement and others forced to accept it—to exit the path leading to toward true, core identity, from which true strength derives, in favor of a fiction that sets the stage for future problems like depression, anxiety and weakness.

Let’s resolve to do what will be, in some ways and for some people, the painful work of determining if there is a basis for an individual to be regarded and addressed as “they.”  That is the powerful way forward.


Dr. Keith Ablow

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Achilles Heal: The Limits of Healing Through Technology




Human beings turn out to have an Achilles heel that may also be our Achilles heal.  We cannot resist new technologies if those technologies replicate or attempt to replicate human behaviors.  Hence, robots galvanize our attention, almost as if we are all children saying, “Look!  Look!  A machine that walks and talks!”

When we stroke a key on a computer keyboard and a letter appears on the screen that is the precise letter we had in mind to “write,” we are mesmerized.  We jump headfirst into the machinery that, seemingly magically, manifests just what we were thinking.

There is, seemingly, almost no limit to this childlike Achilles heel of fascination with technology.  We aren’t stopping for a moment to wonder whether “meeting” with people many hours a day through Zoom is actually doing damage to our ability to connect with other people in “real life” or not.  We didn’t pause an instant before porting over our lives into Facebook, pretending to have dozens or hundreds or thousands of “friends” (and words have had meaning, until we started to bastardize them).   We don’t question whether Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chip company, which is developing a computer chip to implant in the human brain and connect the brain to the Internet, is a wonderful idea or something that should be stopped before it fundamentally alters the nature of what it means to be human, to be alive, to be creative, to be intelligent, to solve problems for ourselves, etc.

This Achilles heel of fascination with things technological and things robotic and things related to artificial intelligence is also impacting the field of health care in unprecedented ways.  Virtual office visits to the doctor or therapist are not office visits, after all.  They may turn out to lack enough of the human dimension of healing to render healing less powerful—maybe not even powerful enough to combat certain illnesses.  Without knowing the impact of a handshake with a doctor, or a determined look in the eyes or the power of human touch, we are dispensing in a wholesale fashion with all of it.  And why?  Sure, part of it is Covid-19 and the restrictions that have come with it.  But part of it is because we are profoundly vulnerable to substituting Zoom for in-person meetings, thereby substituting two-dimensional, lighted displays of humans, generally from the shoulders up, for full bodied, three-dimensional versions of humans who lean forward to make a point, who look away deep in thought, who leave a room and walk back in when they forgot to say something—especially if it was something important and worth walking back in the room for.

We don’t even know what the therapeutic value of the waiting room might be or might have been—wherein patients saw that others were voting with their feet to visit the same healer and that some of them looked like they were steady on their feet.

We don’t know the first thing about rushing healing into two dimensions, turning doctors into on-screen characters or, even more vexing, creating avatars who function as “therapists.”

Maybe the epitaph on our humanity will note that our intellectual arrogance paved the way for the destruction of the human soul.

I don’t know.

No one does.

That’s the point I’m making.


Dr. Keith Ablow

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One Magic Question to Ask to Connect with Anyone, Forever

We’re deluged with opportunities to pose these days.  The power of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and the rest of social networks is deployed to coax us to fictionalize our circumstances and “fake better,” as psychologists would say.  Very few people use these platforms to be authentic, most succumb to using them as ways to seem to be successful, happy, smart or connected.

People don’t happen to connect through their success, though.  In fact, were you to sit around a table with four or five other people and swap stories about times you’ve been lucky in love or an astute investor or thrilled to achieve a new level of physical fitness or to have been promoted, you would all remain strangers to one another.  You might even kindle more envy and ill-will than admiration.

The truth is that people connect—for real—around those events in life during which they felt most challenged, most uncertain, most hurt or most in need of help.  Empathy is a far more powerful force than admiration.  Self-disclosure is a far more powerful act than self-celebration.

If Facebook were more about facing the tough stuff we’ve lived through, rather than wearing  masks of unlimited false friendship and “fake better” fictions, it could potentially be a tool for good.  Instead, it is a toxic, addictive force that separates people from themSELVES and from one another.

How can you combat these forces that would mask you and prevent you from truly connecting with others?  I have a question that you can ask and be prepared to answer that will be a kind of immunization against being a fictional character in your own life story and allowing others to remain  fictional characters, too.

Here it is:  If you were to think of yourself as a book—a biography or autobiography—and imagine reading that book, what one page or chapter of your life story would you be tempted to remove because it was so stressful, embarrassing or painful?  Mind you, not a word would actually be removed; we’ll acknowledge from the beginning that every event can make you more strong or more loving or more sensitive.  But if you were tempted to remove one paragraph, page or chapter, going all the way back to early childhood, what would it be?

For one person, the answer might relate to a profound loss that person suffered.  For another person, the answer might relate to a wrongminded decision he or she made or a really risky move he or she made.

Whatever the answer is, if the person you ask will share it with you, and if you will do the same using your own life story, then the two of you will cease being strangers in one another’s life.  You’ll be connected for real.

Human beings, you see, connect because they can resonate with one another’s pain, not because they resonate with one another’s curriculum vitae or bank account balance or trophies.

Keep the magic question handy and start using it.  I bet you’ll be amazed how quickly you understand its power—which is the power of truth.


Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

You Never Need Be Without Personal Power

The great psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived being imprisoned in a Nazi death camp during the Holocaust, gave the world a gift of insight that has stood the test of time.  That insight, which is central to the logotherapy form of healing Frankl developed, is that people can endure a tremendous amount of suffering if they suffer in service to an identified purpose.

Finding purpose in life is like a North Star that shines through any cloud cover, even through hurricanes.  Purpose, after all, is what allowed Americans to jump off barges at Normandy and face the very real possibility of death to stop the Nazis from conquering the world.

Every one of us can develop a sense of purpose.  One form of purpose, by the way, is the very decision to endure pain without it eclipsing one’s faith that the future can be bright and without it destroying one’s empathy for others.  Allowing that there is no way to predict what chapters of our life stories will be written next deprives desperation of its footing in our lives.

Here’s one hint about how to talk yourself through the really rough times:  Substitute the silent observation, “Hmmm, interesting,” for “This is a mess,” or any other negative thought.  Observe your situation as a third party might.  Inspect it for opportunities to demonstrate your strength, optimism, resourcefulness or courage.  Then exploit those opportunities.

This isn’t a lot different than martial arts that advise using the weight and momentum of an opponent against him to hurl him to the ground.  In order to do this, you need remain observant and aware and have a sense of purpose, even while being attacked.  You need to find the opportunity—the opening—to put your power into play.

You need never be without purpose or power.  Expressing any form of love is a great focus for both.  If you can define your goal as providing an example of courage and grace for someone you love, then you can live through most anything.  If you can define your goal as never giving up on the art you love, despite discouragement from so-called “experts,” then you can outlast lots of other artists looking for the same success you are.  If you can define your purpose as telling the truth, despite all attempts to choke off your voice, then you will not trade being heard for comfort.

People are stories.  We are creatures of meaning.  But we can forget to define our own narratives and listen to them, in order to write the next scenes.

So, let’s all remember:  Meaning, mission and motivation is the antidote to giving up or giving out.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Frances Hougen: Pain-2-Power Person of the Week

Frances Hougen is the Pain-2-Power Person of the Week for deciding to turn her outrage and disappointment at the poisonous algorithms use by Facebook into power.  Last Tuesday, she testified in front of the U.S. Senate that Facebook knew that their algorithms—directing vulnerable teens to toxic content—were contributing to depression, anorexia and other scourges, but did nothing about it.

Study after study has documented the fact that the more people use Facebook and Instagram (and other apps like them), the worse they feel.  And that doesn’t just mean feeling envious of others or glum about their lives; it means falling into deep despair and even experiencing suicidal thoughts.  Now, we know (as if we didn’t pretty much know it before Hougen’s testimony) that Facebook puts getting its users hooked on content above the health of its users—intentionally.  Translation:  If you’re a 15-year-old who keeps looking at images of anorexic girls and “liking” them, you’ll get more of that content to look at, even as you get thinner and thinner and post photos of yourself disappearing, even if you land in the ICU, even if you are at death’s door.

One would think that this will be a field day for class action attorneys who can find the thousands and thousands of families grieving the loss of their daughters and sons to anorexia, to depression, to suicide and all manner of other disorders and who can easily be documented to have binged on toxic Facebook content while they were disintegrating.

Some of us have been ringing this alarm bell for a long time—myself included.  Back in 2011, I wrote a blog [] for Fox News that stated:

It should come as no surprise, then, that a new study by Dr. Larry Rosen, a professior at Cal State Dominguez Hills, shows that teenagers who use Facebook are more likely to use alcohol and to become more narcissistic, antisocial, paranoid and anxious. That makes sense: One drug (Facebook) should pave the way for the use of another (alcohol). And escaping reality by using drugs does indeed kindle irrational beliefs about oneself and the world.

Again: Dr. Rosen’s study doesn’t simply assert that narcissistic and antisocial people are drawn to Facebook. His study shows that using Facebook causes these traits.

Even before that, a Public Health Analysis publication [] summarized my views in this way:

Dr. Ablow notes that he has seen dozens of people who use Facebook to duck their problems and avoid dealing with real problems in their lives. Some of these people appear to avoid real human connections with other people by making ‘friends’ online. The understandable result, he points out, is feeling isolated and sad. 

Ablow believes that Facebook will eventually be recognized to be a real public health hazard. In what he claims to be a substantial way, Facebook can have a negative effect on mental health of many people. This can be particularly true for teenagers and other young people, who make up about 20% of users.

Now, Frances Hougen has come forward, with thousands of Facebook’s own internal documents the prove that what I and other critics were saying was known to Facebook, but that Facebook did nothing about it.  That takes guts.  And that’s why she’s the Pain-2-Power Person of the Week.

Imagine if a car company knew their cars were causing brain damage from engine fumes leaking into the passenger compartment and hid it.

Mark Zuckerberg, who presumably knew all about this, as well as other Facebook executives should face criminal charges if what Ms. Hougen alleges is proven true.  And the same should be true if the folks at TicTok or any other app are shown to be aware they are killing lots of people, but prefer to keep profits safe, rather than people.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Yes, Talking to YourSELVES Makes Sense

None of us is just “one” of us.  I don’t mean that in the multiple personality disorder sense.  I’m not urging anybody to start thinking like Sybil.  But I am certain that we retain patterns of thought and behavior in our minds that relate to particular times in our lives, when particularly powerful events were shaping us.

Those idiosyncratic patterns of thought and behavior are like grooves on a track that catch your tires and then won’t let you navigate freely.  They can slow you down or even fail to allow you to make a sharp turn and end up heading straight for a wall.

We each have the equivalent of a kind of Board of Directors inside our minds—and the members of the Board each keep parroting those rigid, sticky patterns of thought and behavior.  They want to be heard because the life experiences “they” lived through were dramatic enough to qualify them as distinct Board members.

Remember, I am not suggesting that these are separate personalities of yours.  They are all YOU.  But they are ways of thinking and behaving that are inflexible and triggered by anxiety or loss or risk or any number of other events or challenges in life.

Here’s an example:  If you were profoundly disappointed by one authority figure after another as a kid, then that kid still is inside you someplace and can show up at every meeting of the Board of Directors protesting, “Don’t think for a minute that your employer has your best interest at heart.  You’ll be let down soon enough.”

Letting that kid take control of the Board meeting in your mind, again and again, is dangerous because that can convince you to doubt mentors who might actually deliver for you.  And that doubt could damage the relationship and actually lead to false data about that mentor failing you.

You must be the sage, measured, Chairman of the Board.  And that means sometimes talking to the less sage parts of you that to commandeer the Board meeting to quell their anxieties, indulge their needs for risk or cause needless, angry debate.

Does that really mean talking to yourself.  Yes.  Not necessarily out loud, mind you, but, yes.   It might sound something like this, “Listen, I know you’re always ready to rumble.  You were bullied.  Your tendency is to stand your ground no matter what—and fight.  But this time, it sure looks like we’re wrong.  There’s nothing bad about yielding when the other guy has a point.”

See, if you don’t listen to the polarized parts of yourSELF and talk some sense into them, they will talk over the more strategic, balanced, optimistic, loving, confident parts of you.  They’ll dominate the discussion.

Talking to yourSELVES is an art form.  It takes some practice.  But if you don’t learn the art, you’re going to be learning the hard way that the best part of you isn’t the one in control.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Ginny Burton


Ginny Burton


Ginny Burton, 48, could have died a long time ago.  She was a heroin and crack cocaine addict who was arrested back in 2005 and looked close to death at the time.

She has been sober for nine years.

This year the mother of three graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in political science.  The last grade she had finished, prior to getting a GED and enrolling in college, was 6th grade.  She attended 7th and 8th grade on and off, then dropped out completely during 9th grade.

Talk about Pain-2-Power. Take a look at the mugshot of Burton and at her graduation photograph and then try to tell me there is no rebirth in one lifetime.

Back in May, her post on Facebook went viral.  “Stop selling yourself short,” she said, under the photos showing her dramatic resurrection.  “You don’t know what tomorrow might bring, so you might consider starting today.”

Start today.

Take a look at Burton’s photos and think about whatever addiction or self-imposed suffering you are hostage to in your life.  Alcoholism, compulsive gambling, a horrible relationship, smoking, staying in a job you hate when you have real passion for something else in life, addiction to food.  Then, think about starting today.  One day.  This day.

Ginny Burton was a crack addict by age 15.  That’s 33 years ago.  During her 20s, she was in and out of jail.

Her mother had made drugs accessible to her starting at age 7.

“There were seven of us kids and so our existence was really chaotic,” Burton told Fox News. “So I found, in time, that my relationship with drugs actually provided me an escape…My life just sort of unraveled in that way.  And I was becoming the exact thing that I did not want to become, which was my mom.”

She married a man who was abusive.

She was abusing herself just as much.

Now, she’s out of that marriage, out of jail, sober and onto the next chapters of her life story—including having graduated college.

All that would be enough to merit being the Pain-2-Power Person of the Week, but there’s more.  Obviously, Ginny Burton isn’t trying to hide what she went through.  She isn’t hoping no one will find out about her past while she pursues the next chapters of her life story.  She’s sharing the most painful chapters of her life story, in order to help others become powerful, too.

That’s how it works in life.  Run from anything, and that thing owns you and will weaken you, until you turn to face it.  That’s when you realize it was never more powerful than you; it was always a paper tiger.

There isn’t anything you are going through or have lived through that is greater than your greatest SELF, which is the same thing (as least to me) as saying that there is nothing greater than God.

Dare to be your greatest SELF.

You don’t know what tomorrow might bring, so you might consider starting today.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.