Psychological Solutions

This site has three purposes! First,this site will help you work through our program to beat an addiction of any kind. The program can be found in our book, "Beat Your Addiction". Second, we will share our ideas on issues other than addiction. Third, we will answer questions you may have about psychological issues, and offer psychotherapy privately to those who desire it from us.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

We are both Clinical Psychologists, each with over 35 years of experience.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Consciousness continued

Since I haven't commented on the consciousness post in over a year I'll continue my thoughts here. Carrying the idea that changing levels of awareness (sensitivity) signal consciousness to us suppose we rig our computer to not respond to anything but the dangerous extremes of stimulation when it is carrying out an unrelated procedure of sufficient complexity. Suppose further that by pushing the right buttons we can call it's attention to the problem. Then "Oh, thanks for warning me to moniter my sensors. I wasn't paying attention because I was preoccupied with solving some equations. It is getting too hot! I'd better retract my arm before I get hurt." In this case the sensors could have been continuing to register properly but , until alerted, the computer was not conscious of that. Those regesterings were the equivalent of unconscious processing in human minds. Can the computer be considered conscious yet? If not, what's missing? Whatever criteria you're using to recognize consciousness , does a six month old normal human baby pass those criteria? Are such infants conscious, sentient beings? Actually, I'm not convinced that a computer can have subjective experiences but I would find it hard to prove that the computer we have constructed in this exercise is not conscious . So, enough for now. Comments, of course are welcome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Martin Sandry

On October 5, 2006 Dr. Martin Sandry died. Many of his patients, addicts and otherwise, mourn and miss him, his support, and wise counsel. Likewise, his family and many friends.

Monday, January 30, 2006

About Us, About the Site

About Us

Kenneth Peiser, Ph.D. and Martin Sandry, Ph.D. are licensed clinical psychologists living and working in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Each of us has about 40 years of clinical practice experience. We have taught at numerous educational facilities, including undergraduate and graduate courses at:

  • Columbia University (New York)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • University of Illinois
  • Northeastern University
  • Columbia College
  • Chicago Institute for Rational Living
  • Illinois School of Professional Psychology
  • Loyola University

We have done research in psychological test development, response-bias in psychological testing, physiological psychology, anxiety and tremor in spinal cord injured patients, the dimensions of memory in stroke patients, body-image psychology of physically disabled children, personality characteristics of drug addicts and of successful contact lens wearers, personnel selection, effectiveness of rehabilitation of the hard-core unemployed, effectiveness of group meetings for stroke victims and their spouses, epidemiological studies of mental illness in the State of Illinois, stress management, predictions of academic success, therapeutic interventions for college underachievement, and predictions of success versus relapse for drug addicts.

We were both trained in Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy directly by Albert Ellis, Ph.D., founder of the Cognitive Behavior school of thought which predominates psychotherapy today. As clinicians, we have worked in a variety of settings including private practice, drug rehabilitation facilities, community mental health centers, hospital-based mental health facilities (inpatient and outpatient), physical rehabilitation facilities for children and adults, and nursing homes. Thus, we have worked with patients/clients with a very wide range of problems. We have authored, together and separately, numerous articles in professional journals and popular magazines. Further, we have co-authored two books which are currently available worldwide: look for them at, b/,, the Compuserve Book Forum and many other sites, your local library, a bookstore, etc.

About the Site

These books are what stimulated us to create this site; we want to offer a helping hand to everyone following our recovery program who wants help or clarification of anything in either book. The newer one (Beat Your Addiction: A Complete Program for Overcoming Any Addiction), published in November, 2004, is the second edition of the first one (The Universal 12-Step Program: How to Overcome Any Addiction and Win), which was published in 2002. For the second edition, we wanted a title that was more descriptive and made sense while still being grammatically correct. We decided, after the first book was published, never to let someone else write the title of our work again: that is, when we can.

This was not one of those times! We don't know who authored the pre-publication front cover of the second book, but the titling was wrong. It was probably soon after we began working on the book when an image of the cover, which necessarily included what the unknown person guessed at what the title would be, was sent out to the usual recipients of information about new releases, including the internet booksellers, book stores, and catalog houses. Thus, all of them used the wrong title. Then, when the book got published, whomever did the final edit forgot to change the inside title page to match the title on the cover; which today, is still incorrect. Otherwise, we believe that the book is a truly great contribution to the field of addiction treatment.

Whatever really happened, many sites and catalogs are still showing the wrong title., b/, and several others have been corrected thanks to our publisher, although many many still have an incorrect subtitle . Strangely, though, the publisher's own bookstore still has the front cover and title page wrong! So to find the book on the net, do a search on Sandry, because there are too many prolific writers out there named Peiser. Simply disregard the four book series, The Circle of Magic, in which a leading character is named Sandry, so Sandry is in the title of all four books.


Because of the wide range of our interests and experiences that we have had during our long careers as psychologists, we also want to use this site to do three more things:

  1. To share our ideas on issues other than addiction.

  2. To answer any questions you may have about psychological issues, general or personal. Note that we don't want to do psychotherapy here unless we believe that the response to your question would be of general interest or assistance to others, and we also don't want to write extensive answers to questions that would be of interest to only one or two persons.

  3. To offer personal attention to those who desire psychological treatment or advice on a specific issue. This can be done in person at our offices in Chicago, or via telephone. To arrange for an appointment of either kind, call (312) 266-6046. As soon as we learn how to do so while meeting the criteria of the HIPAA Privacy rules, we will offer therapy online also.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Purpose of Our Book is...

to help people who are addicted to anything change their addictive behavior(s). We have taken special care to accommodate those people, such as atheists and agnostics, who find that the traditional Twelve Step programs and meetings are unhelpful because of their religious basis. But the book is equally helpful to religious people who have no problem with the concept of higher power. This is not a book simply to be read; it is important to do the exercises because they are an integral part of the recovery program. In other words, this is a practical workbook rather than a feel good "inspirational" book. In addition, since we teach you how to apply the methods of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (see our post about REBT and the ABCDE Method) you, by doing the exercises, will learn to overcome more than just your addictive behaviors. It also teaches you some basic skills to help you cope with the realities of your everyday life.

The Covers of Our Book

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Meeting Format

Format for Beat Your Addiction (BYA) Meetings

Kenneth Peiser, Ph.D. & Martin Sandry, Ph.D.

There is no formalized, rigid format for BYA group meetings. The purpose of group meetings is to help its members to work though the twelve step program. Also note that one of our intentions while writing the book was to enable persons addicted to anything attend Anonymous groups meetings when BYA, SMART, or other alternatives to Anonymous groups are not available in the area in which the addicted person lives. This involves learning to translate or reinterpret what is said at Anonymous meetings into the more rational alternatives as presented in the BYA program; that is where the Glossary at the back of the book is most helpful.

As in other self-help groups, BYA meetings serve to support and encourage member’s attempts to recover from their addictive behaviors. BYA meetings, in addition, help people to use REBT on their own in their daily lives, even when they do not have outside support and encouragement.

Suggestions for Chairing BYA Group Meetings

In small groups, everybody should introduce themselves and state why they want to recover, such as,

“I’m Sam. I want to recover because I don’t want to get into trouble with the law.”

“I’m Bruce. I want to recover because I don’t want my six year old daughter to be disappointed in me.”

“I’m Angelina. I want to recover because I want to save my marriage.”

"Hi, I'm Joe, and I'm just about out of money.

The reasons should be specific and concrete like the examples just given, rather than general and abstract, such as, “I want to be a better person,” or “I want to be true to myself,” or “I want to improve my relationships with other people.” The chairperson or any group member could follow-up on non-specific responses with, "What do you mean?" or "Can you please be more specific?"

In large groups, only new members and people who want to tell the group something or ask for help would introduce themselves as above, right before they tell or ask.

After the introductions, the chair-person can open the meeting with something like, “Does anyone here want to report how they are doing with the exercises you’ve been working on since our last meeting or ask questions about how to do their exercises,” or “Does anyone want to share their responses to the exercises you’ve been working on?”

If nobody volunteers, the chairperson could ask individuals at random what exercises the person selected has been working on.

The format presented above are merely suggestions of how the meetings can go. If the chairperson has a different idea, then by all means do it that way! However, what is not optional is that the exercises and the meaning of at least one step, as in the book, be discussed at each
meeting. We say at least, because sometimes you might want to discuss two steps at the same time. For example, steps one and two, three and four, five and six, etc. can logically go together.

Toward the beginning of all meetings at which there is even one new member, the ABCDE Method should be presented. All meetings should be conducted by the chairperson in a style which emphasizes everyone’s personal responsibility for their emotions and behaviors.. For example, when discussing problems that members have, instead of “How did that make you feel?,” the language would best be altered to something like, “How did you make yourself feel about that?” When discussing members’ behaviors, use language reflecting the individual’s decision to act in the manner they did, or their intention while doing so, something like, “Why did you decide to do that,” or, “What did you hope to accomplish by doing that?”

Another kind of thing that could be discussed is members’ current problems, and how to apply the ABCDE method to those problems. This means, of course that someone in the room, hopefully the chairperson, is familiar with the method. Wherever the group members live, it is likely that there are REBT practitioners in the area who could help; if not, then the authors may be contacted (see pg. xix in the book). It would be a good idea if, in each meeting, one or two problems get processed by the group. The purpose of this is to teach the group members to use the ABCDE method on themselves, rather than to have the meetings become group psychotherapy, as this requires very well trained professional therapists.

Five or 10 minutes before the time scheduled for the group is up, it is recommended that the chairperson ask the group for suggestions about what to talk about during future group sessions. This helps the group members to take responsibility for, and to become more active in their recovery. It also gives the chairperson time to prepare him- or herself for whatever the topic may be.

The authors would appreciate feedback from chairpersons as well as meeting attendees so that we may keep improving the format of the group meetings. This should be done via our web log at

Monday, December 12, 2005

Test Yourself for Addiction to Anything!!!

Are You Addicted to Anything???

Here is a way to find out.

Take this self-rating test for anything you think you might be addicted to, or that other people tell you that they think you are addicted to. First, there are some commonly found areas of addiction to get you started thinking about what may be going on with you. If none of these apply, use number 20, and write in your particular concern. Second are the instructions for taking the test. Third are the test questions for you to answer. Fourth, and finally, is the way to interpret you score.

If you have any questions about this self-rating test, or your results of the test, please post your questions on this site.

Categories of addictive behavior:

1. alcohol
2. tobacco
3. exercise
4. sweets
5. gambling
6. sex/romance
7. work
8. a sport
9. self-pity
10. anger
11. shopping
12. stealing
13. procrastination
14. watching television
15. talking on the telephone
16. prescription drugs
17. illegal drugs
18. risky/dangerous behaviors
19. using the Internet (surfing, chat rooms, pornography, etc.)
20. other(s) ______________

For each one of the nineteen potentially addictive behaviors listed here (feel free to add more as needed), list your answers to each of the ten questions (symptoms or criteria of irrational dependence) that follow, as they apply to you. Give each “yes” answer a score of 1, and each “no” answer a 0. If you cannot decide between”Yes” or “No,” use the score ½. For each category, add your scores for the ten questions. You will then have a total score from 0 (no problem) to 10 (serious addictive problem) for each addictive behavior. Please note that any human behavior, even if it is usually a normal or healthful activity, can be considered an addiction if it earns a score of 3 or more. Perhaps you’ll score 7 for cocaine, 8 for smoking, and 9 for sex.

Because it is your choice whether or not to give up any of these addictions, that is, those on which your score is 3 or more, it makes no sense to be dishonest. You have the choice as to whether you want to give up cocaine while increasing your tobacco consumption and being more promiscuous! Only you can make that choice; so be honest with yourself first, so that you can make informed choices with the facts at hand instead of in the fog of minimization and denial. It can be very instructive to ask one or more close friends or family members to pick out behaviors to which they think you are addicted. Be careful! Their answers may surprise you, but rate those behaviors anyway.

The questions: answer yes or no for each of the categories above

  1. Do you continue the use or the behavior in spite of social, occupational, psychological, or physical problems?

  2. Do you continue the use or the behavior in physically dangerous situations?

  3. Do you lose control, i.e., do you indulge in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than intended?

  4. Do you need at least 50 percent more of the substance or behavior in order to get the same effect that you used to, OR do you get less effect from the same amount?

  5. Are you unable to cut down or control the indulgent behavior?

  6. Do you spend much time obtaining substances or tools for the indulgent behavior, OR recovering from the effects of the behavior?

  7. Are you frequently high or withdrawing, physically or psychologically (for example, thinking about it) during important activities at work, school, or home.

  8. Have you given up important social, work, interpersonal, or recreational activities due to the indulgent behavior?

  9. Do you experience withdrawal symptoms (depression, agitation, insomnia, fatigue, poor concentration) after extensive indulgence?

  10. Do you often use the indulgent behavior to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms?


ABUSE 1 or 2 “Yes” answers
MILD Addiction 3 or 4 “Yes” answers
MODERATE Addiction 5 to 8 “Yes” answers
SEVERE Addiction 9 or 10 “Yes” answers

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy [REBT]

What is REBT? It is the first form of cognitive-behavior therapy and was developed by Albert Ellis,Ph.D. in the mid 1950's. It is not based on trying to trace a person's anger, anxiety, or depression back to their origins in the past but on teaching people how to think in ways that reduce or eliminate such dysfunctional and uncomfortable emotions and behavior. The REBT therapist is rarely interested in how or when or from where you learned to think and feel that you are no good. She or he is only interested in discovering how to help you stop believing that you are no good.

The REBT therapist and/or literature will teach you how to discover, challenge, and overcome the irrational and self-defeating beliefs and thinking which makes you feel depressed, anxious, angry, ashamed, inferior, jealous or that makes you think that you have to rely on alcohol, drugs, or engaging in other kinds of self-destructive behaviors in order to cope with the situations which occur in the course of your life.

In Beat Your Addiction we explain the ABC's of how your feelings are created. It is, simply stated (it's easy because it is simple), A is the Activating event, the stimulus, what happens to you. B is your Belief about A, what you think and tell or say to yourself privately in your mind when A occurs. C includes the emotional and behavioral Consequences of telling yourself B about A. People typically think that A causes C as in "I'm angry at you because you lied to me". But actually A is only an indirect cause of C. B is the direct cause. In this case, B would be something like "You shouldn't have lied to me!" or, "You had no right to lie to me!" If instead, the B I had told myself would have been something like, "I wish you wouldn't have lied to me," or, "It would have been nice (or, "It would have been better..." or, "I would have liked it...") if you had told me the truth", I would, have felt and expressed (C) only irritation or dissapointment instead of anger. Anger is usually a less desirable reaction because it is so often followed by saying or doing something stupid, something which you would not usually do if you could help it.

REBT shows you how to change your irrationally demanding, absolutistic B's into rational, accepting, and realistic B's, thereby reducing your tendency to become unnecessarily emotionaly upset.

Cell Phones
Cell Phones