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About Prabha Milstein

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So far Prabha Milstein has created 3 blog entries.
Aug 28 2019


2023-05-25T12:45:27-07:00By |Scam|

I was the survivor of a scam on August 16, and would like to use this platform to tell the story and utilize this as a cautionary tale.

On August 16, 2019, I received a voicemail from someone claiming to be a Sheriff Todd Hughes from San Mateo County. The voicemail sounded urgent and genuine. I called back at 4 pm when I was finished with my clients that day. The man stated that a certified letter had been delivered to my office on June 11, at which time someone signed for it. Apparently, the letter stated I was to appear as a witness for a grand jury the morning of August 16, and because I did not show the judge issued a bench warrant for my arrest.

He stated I was to go to San Francisco City Hall Sheriff’s Department, and deliver a writing sample to prove I was not the person who signed for the letter. I asked him why, if the case where I was expected to be a witness was in San Mateo, would I have to report to San Francisco City Hall. He said that was where I needed to go. And that was my first red flag. I also asked the name of the case. He said he would reveal that when I came to City Hall. Second red flag.

He asserted that I had to remain on the phone with him throughout this ordeal. Once I got to my car, he asked me to state my name, time, and date, and each time I made a transaction I was to repeat my name, time and date. He advised me that I needed to withdraw $1496.00 from my bank account. I was then told to find either a Safeway or CVS and buy, in cash, three Reloadit cards (which are very much like a Visa or Mastercard gift card) for the total of $1496.00.

I was told by this alleged sheriff to give him the numbers on the backs of each Reloadit card, along with the receipts from Safeway for said cards and mail it to an address in San Mateo, to the attention of Captain Holloway. I did not have postage, but deposited the cards and the three receipts in a postal box because he said it would still be sent to the appropriate address. He assured me that I would be reimbursed once I got to City Hall.

Once I got back in the car, again stating my name, time and date, he stated that the court hearing would begin while I was on the phone. He said he had to speak to the judge and would call me back. Meanwhile I drove down to City Hall, went upstairs to the third floor and the Sheriff’s office was closed. It wasn’t until that moment that it dawned on me this was a scam.

There were two sheriffs seated in the lobby of City Hall. I broke down. One of the folks summoned the chief deputy. He ushered me down to their security office. It was there that I filed a report, giving all the information I had at the time. The deputy tried to call the telephone number “Tod Hughes” gave, and the phone was disconnected – probably a burner phone.

Two weeks later a sheriff with the crime investigation division called to say he would be following up. The letter I mailed is still in the possession of the post office, and requires a federal agent to retrieve. Here is what I learned. This guy was good; he was very authoritative sounding and somewhat threatening. I went into fight mode, with a large dose of panic. I learned that I need to calm down first, if I ever get a call like that again. Then perhaps call my husband, or an attorney I know, to test the legitimacy of the claim, or report it to the police.

This was a hard lesson. I am more than anything outraged at having been duped, but recognizing that I am now properly armed. I wonder why someone who was clearly intelligent and quite sophisticated chooses to rob people rather than seeking lawful work, who could actually provide some kind of service.

My hope is that this provides some usefulness to others. A dear friend said to me to think of this as tuition. Very wise.

Dec 3 2018


2023-05-25T12:49:34-07:00By |Ego, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD|

Quite a number of people were revolted watching the manner in which Brett Kavanaugh so self-righteously behaved as though victimized by having to defend himself against allegations made by Christine Blasey-Ford. From all accounts, he went to a prestigious prep school, and seemed groomed to live and work within the upper echelons of society. How outrageous, thought he, that he was placed under scrutiny by the FBI and the Senate Judiciary Committee. How dare he be questioned at all? And then there was the Stanford athlete, Brock Turner, who had been accused of sexual assault on Stanford’s campus. Turner was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months confinement (of which he served half) and three years probation. Seeing his father so affronted on the news at the prospect of his son being punished was pretty striking.

How is it that a man accused of sexual assault turns into a victim? What is it that allows that process to happen? These are two examples of people who feel very entitled to be given whatever they want, because they seem to have grown up believing they deserve it, and nothing should stand in their way.

Here is an abridged definition of narcissism, as defined by the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual Fifth Edition (DSM V):

Individuals with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) have a grandiose sense of self-importance. They routinely over- estimate their abilities and inflate their accomplishments, appearing boastful and pretentious. They often underestimate the contributions of others. They are often preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love. Individuals with NPD believe they are superior, special or unique, and expect others to recognize them as such. Their own self-esteem is enhanced by the idealized value they assign to those with whom they associate. They require excessive admiration; their self-esteem is almost invariably very fragile. A sense of entitlement is evident in these individuals’ unreasonable expectation of especially favorable treatment. They expect to be catered to and are puzzled or furious when this does not happen. Individuals with NPD generally have a lack of empathy and have difficulty recognizing the desires, subjective experiences, and feelings of others. They are often contemptuous and impatient with others who talk about their own problems or concerns. Arrogant, haughty behaviors characterize these individuals: they often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals and may leave them humiliated, degraded, hollow, and empty. They may react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.

It is interesting to note that those who live and work with them often feel exhausted, exploited, as though they must walk on eggshells, and never authentically connecting.

We know of at least one very obvious example, though I won’t mention his name. He speaks to others in an offensive tone, often blaming someone else, and when confronted with his words, deflects what is asked of him and then retaliates.

According to Freud, it is thought that all human infants pass through a phase of primary narcissism, in which they assume they are the center of the universe. This phase ends when the baby is forced by the realities of life to recognize that it does not control its parents or other caregivers but is in fact entirely dependent on them. Normally, the baby (at between 15-22 months) gives up its fantasy of being all powerful and becomes emotionally attached to its parents rather than itself. What happens for the NPD patient is that the fantasy persists that the world is his oyster and revolves around him. In order to protect this illusion, he must seal off those perceptions of reality that do not fit or resonate with this grandiose self.

The psychiatrist Kernberg views narcissism as a child’s defense against a cold and unempathic parent. Emotionally hungry and angry at the depriving parents, the child withdraws into a part of the self that the parents’ value, whether looks, intellectual ability, or some other skill or talent. This part of the self becomes hyper-inflated or grandiose. Any perceived weaknesses are split off into a hidden part of the self. Splitting gives rise to a lifelong tendency to swing between extremes of grandiosity and feelings of emptiness and worthlessness.

Additionally, a person with NPD frequently externalizes what s/he cannot allow themselves to feel.

Oct 23 2018


2023-05-25T12:51:39-07:00By |Cognitive Dissonance, Mee Too Movement, Politics|

As a therapist, I am both curious and disturbed by national politics, as well as how it has impacted my psychotherapy practice. The past two years have had clients reeling from all the high drama coming from the White House. I include myself in that group.

This blog is not meant to persuade or criticize those on the right or left. Nor is it meant to judge. This is to be a place where there is no vitriol, no attacks.

Ever since the 2016 election, many of my clients have been deeply troubled by the political ethos. In fact, the day after the election, my office felt like a morgue. People were left shocked, scared, and rendered helpless, similar to how a person feels after a traumatic incident, where the memory feels frozen in time.

Nowhere is this truer than for the ‘Me Too’ movement. After the Kavanaugh hearings in the Senate, many women were again activated. Seeing Christine Blasey Ford appear in front of the judiciary committee, with a look of what I would describe as terror, and based on the committee’s actions not believed, brought into sharp focus what women live with all the time. She came forward because she believed she had to, and the Senate voted that they believed she had been assaulted, but not by Kavanaugh. In fact, Susan Collins remarked that she KNEW it wasn’t Kavanaugh who assaulted her. That astounded me.

A client recently asserted that we as women have been rendered powerless. I don’t believe that. What I see is male bastions being challenged, and in their effort to do so, clamping down on a movement that simply will not be thwarted. In fact, I see many of these folks as quite weak and scared beneath the loud bravado. They feel deeply threatened. But there will be no going back.

But how do we take care of ourselves? I admit that I get caught up reading and listening to the press, and then being anxious and upset. I have had friends and colleagues suggest taking a break from the news. I think we need to find ways to take special care of ourselves. This can include massages, time with good friends, meditation, and exercise. It can also include becoming an active citizen.

We are living in a psychological state of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is defined as the mental discomfort experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a belief of a person clashes with new evidence perceived by that person. For example, Ms. Blasey Ford’s testimony was believed by the Republican members of the judiciary committee, yet they chose to forward Kavanaugh’s nomination anyway.

This is a time when truth is not held by the culture as a high value and it is deeply troubling.