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Insights for a Better Mental Health - Make Like a Snake and Shed: June 2021

Steve Soreff, MD
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I hope this title proves to be provocative. It was designed be to. The idea behind it is that snakes grow, mature and live longer by actually shedding their skins. Yes, I know, we also do the same everyday but not a dramatically. We shed skin cells all the time. Additionality, other animals do the same thing. But the concept here is a metaphor. It means in order to develop and mature as a person; one must periodically not only take an inventory of one ‘s ways of thinking but also be willing to shed and change them. This is done either consciously or unconsciously. Either way, one abandons certain ideas and incorporates others.
To drop back to Psychology 101, Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development chronicles how as one matures that individual moves through a series of ways a thinking. For example, children see the world in terms of black and white aka concretely. As children mature, they see the world in more abstract. Many of us view many areas and answers in terms of gray. Although we have all heard of the idea , "eye for an eye,” our justice system in not based on that Code of Hammurabi. We accept that human behaviors and its consequences are much more complex.
And continuing on the ancient history tact, let me look at many of the stories from the Hebrew Bible. What and when I learned them in Sunday School, they seemed straight forward and simple. Later, I studied them again in both Torah and Talmud classes. There, I discovered how complex they can be. Many of them were not so black and white, but instead several shades of gray. As a result of further study, I have changed my ideas of some of the events and people in the stories in them.
Translating shedding into our lives, means we must often change our views as we mature. We see our jobs, money, family, religion and responsibilities differently as we grow-up. Shedding some ideas and replacing them with new ones is a good and necessary part of life.

Steve Soreff MD is not only the Nottingham Reporter for “The Forum” but also a retired psychiatrist and university professor. He is now a mental health educator and lecturer. His website is http://eduinitiatives.com/.