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Help! I Pulled My Neighbor's Hair!

Dear Armchair Psychologist, I'm a single mom with a young daughter. I have a great profession in the arts where I get to be creative and add value in people's lives. I live in a nice brownstone with a garden. I don't really use the garden much but since COVID-19, I have been using it every day. It satisfies my creativity and it has been my sanctuary. A new neighbor moved in last autumn. Her garden is next to mine. On a sunny Saturday, around 2 PM circa 2 weeks ago, this new neighbor stuck her head over the fence and shouted that I must not use my phone in the garden. I tried to politely explain that there is no law against it, but I had barely started the sentence before she was screaming at me. I filmed her, but I didn't engage. She stopped and went inside her house. Two hours later, my doorbell rang and I was greeted by two police officers investigating a complaint against me, a complaint that accused me of having hosted illegal BBQ parties with 7-10 people in attendance.This was just the start of the nightmare.After ten incidents with her throwing the garbage into the garden, putting her dog poop on my door stoop, filming me in the garden, and swearing at me etc, it finally reached a new level two days ago when she jumped over the garden wall and tried to physically attack me. I fended her off until she said she was going to spit on me. At that point, as a defensive method, I grabbed her by the hair and turned her face away from me. The police arrived and lo and behold, it was my word against hers. I'm at my wits end. Help!- Don't Dump On Me

Dear Don't Dump On Me

I am so sorry you are being harassed and physically attacked by a neighbor. You say your neighbor attacked you and pestered you with dog poop etc. It is a shame that you are being traumatized as you are practicing your zen and gardening. The ordeal frankly sounds like out of a nightmare and your neighbor, as you describe, appears to be an extremely unstable person. If this was simply a dispute, I'd have advised you to try and have a talk with her, however due to the physical violence etc. you are far past that point.

It's fairly common for neighbors to have disputes, and you're not alone. This awful neighbor terrorized his entire neighborhood by chasing them with screwdrivers and screaming in demonic voices, among many other offenses. All in all, he was involved in so many incidents, it amounted to 800 pages of police reports. These neighbors duked it out in the Supreme Court over 20 inches of a fence dividing their properties.

Your version of neighbor from hell sounds like she certainly has committed at least a trespassing offense by hopping over into your yard. I recommend you stay away from her and get a restraining order ASAP. If it's your word against hers, as you say, then you also need to get legal counsel. Lastly, if you have the means and opportunity to, it would be wise for you and perhaps your daughter to seek support with a professional therapist. Hopefully soon, instead of pulling your hair out over this dreadful woman, you'll be busy pulling weeds from your pretty garden!

– The Armchair Psychologist

Dear No Steinbeck,

Hi there in Oslo! I am sorry that you're unable to get your creativity flowing. Writer's block happens so often to even the most famous and productive writers. It is a sort of creative block that is psychological in nature. Some scientists have suggested it is due to unhappiness or anxiety. In the 1970's Yale psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios created a therapy that included a series of directed imagery and visualization exercises that proved to be very effective.

If you're unable to visualize yourself into positive imagery and goals, you might just have to force yourself to write whether the work is any good or not. As Charles Bukowski famously stated, "Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all." For more extreme measures, there is an app called "The Most Dangerous Writing App" that forces you to keep writing and punishes you by deleting all of your work if you stop typing for more than 5 seconds. Get to work!

– The Armchair Psychologist

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