Sunday, May 19, 2019

Self regulation lessons with Cookie Monster

Holding anti-immigration extremists accountable in Arivaca, Arizona


There is increasing evidence that Trumpism, hating the other, has brought out the worst in American democracy.

There is growing evidence that hate speech and hate crimes are on the rise.

Local citizens, however,  have organized and resisted and held white supremicists and vigilante groups accountable.

One such example is Arivaca, Arizona. You can read about it in the May/June, 2019 issue of Mother Jones in an article entitled, "Not In My Backyard: How One Arizona Desert Town United To Fight Off Anti-Immigration Extremists" by Eric Reidy.

For more click here.

Editor's comment - Many of my clients are demoralized and depressed by the immoral and unethical behavior of their leaders and fellow citizens. It is not mentally healthy to see oneself as a victim.

There are many things that individuals, small groups, and communities can do to resist the immoral and unethical policies and behavior of Trumpism which is defined as the scapegoating of the other.

When bullying and scapegoating is occuring it is very important for the audience, whom the bullies are playing to, to call it out and refuse to support it.

Megan Davern, a bartender at La Gitana in Arivaca, Arizona did just that. Her witness is prophetic and should be emulated to create a world with more justice, equity, and compassion. Every person has inherent worth and dignity and deserves respect. Megan is a brave and courageous woman as are her fellow citizens who took action to limit the activities of the anti-immigrant vigilantes.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

How the media spreads false information



Editor's note:

False information is toxic in the societal consciousness. False information distorts community norms and atittudes contributing to societal dysfunction. The computer meme is "garbage in, garbage out."

Just as we are aware of the idea of "caveat emptor", let the buyer beware, in our economic interactions, we should be aware of media distortions and strive to be "media literate" so we can develop immunity to toxic misinformation.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Articles worth reading - Most Of What We Think of As “Love” is Bullshit

As a marriage counselor, I hear people say all the time that they love somebody or somebody told them that they loved them and when I ask "How do you define love?" most people seem irritated, annoyed, put on the spot, and defensive.

What is "love" and what isn't "love." This is an important question that haunts us our whole lives. "Most Of What We Think Of As "Love" is Bullshit" is an important article which gives a lot of ideas for thought and reflection.

Access it by clicking here.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Gambling is a state sponsored addiction especially with state run lotteries


Gambling addiction is a big deal to the person suffering from it and the person's family and community.

Gambling addicition is a government sponsored and encouraged addiction. All but six states run lotteries (Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah).

About 95% of problem gamblers play state sponsored lotteries.

10 - 15% of people buy 80% of lottery tickets.

Lotteries brought in $17.7 billion in 2015.

For more click here.

To learn where to get help with a gambling problem click here.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Dependence on AI - Be careful!

How does the U.S. economy stack up compared to other countries over history?



The optimal functioning of Democracy depends on educated, well informed citizens. Most Americans are woefully ignorant or they could not have elected as incompetent a chief executive as Donald J. Trump in 2016. One of the goals of this blog is to provide information so that people are better informed of the world around them and can make better decisions about things that affect their own and the mutual welfare of humanity.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Peer psychotherapist support meeting feedback




Supervision Feedback Sheet

Directions:
Please place a hashmark on the line which most closely measures your degree of satisfaction with the indicator. The far left is 0% and the far right is 100%. The middle of the line would be 50%. Complete this feedback sheet as soon as you are able after the meeting. Bring it for discussion at the next subsequent meeting.

Date of the meeting_________________________________

1. I had an opportunity to talk about what I wanted to talk about.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10  

2. I felt understood.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10

3. I was able to clarify my thoughts and feelings about the topics under discussion.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10

4. As a result of the discussion I gained in confidence in my own functioning.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                  10

5. As a result of the discussion I gained in confidence in my purpose in working with the cases and situations reviewed.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10

6. I was able to generate and/or obtain new ideas about how to proceed.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10




7. As the meeting unfolded I felt I could trust the process and be more self disclosing.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10

8. The things discussed were relevant and useful.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10

9. A couple of things I got out of the meeting are:

            1.

            2,

10. A couple of things I would change in future meetings to improve the experience are:

            1.

            2.

11. Please prioritize the benefits below from 1 = most important to 3 = lesser importance.

            ____ Personal and professional support for my work.


            _____ It helped me know better what to do or not to do in my work to facilitate better outcomes.

            _____ It helped me grow in my professional knowledge and skills.

            _____ Other -

12. The time and effort to reflect and provide feedback on this supervisory process is worth it.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10




13. I would like the feedback process to continue to be part of our meetings.

[__________________________________________________________________________]
0                                                                                                                                                   10

14. Some questions I would like added to this feedback sheet are:



15. Questions which can be deleted from this feedback sheet are: (list numbers)

                                                                                               

Nora McInerny - Grief: Moving on or moving forward?


For a video commentary click here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Almost half of Generation Z are people of racial and ethnic minority groups in U.S.

Stat: 48%—Almost half the members of Generation Z—age 22 or younger—are racial or ethnic minorities.

 Story: Step aside, Millennials. There’s a new, younger group out there: Generation Z, which includes anyone born after 1996.

To learn more about this generation, we sat down with Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center. Listen in to hear about Gen Z’s social, cultural, and political inclinations, and what this might mean for the future.

For more click here.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Jurors in capital trials suffer PTSD and other mental health problems

Prophetic women and men is a regular feature of the UU A Way Of Life ministries blog which appears on Sundays.

On 06/24/1994 Lindy Lou Isonhood. as a member of a jury in Mississippi, voted to put a man to death. She has regretted her decision and now become a death penalty abolitionist. Her story is disturbing and inspiring.


 

For a brief commentary about this article click here.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

On average 6 people die every day in the U.S. from Alcohol overdoses

In the United States, six people die each day from periods of extreme binge drinking that lead to alcohol overdose, also known as alcohol poisoning. When taking into account all alcohol-related causes of death (e.g., liver disease, motor vehicle crashes), there were 88,424 alcohol-attributable deaths per year on average from 2006 to 2010. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Social indicators - U.S. has low life expectancy compared to other first world countries and continues to drop

Most Americans think that the United States is exceptional. On most social indicators, however, the U.S.  has relatively low rankings for first world countries. One such social indicator is life expectancy and the United States comes no where close to the top ten countries.

There are many reasons for the U.S. low rankings in life expectancy as compared to these other countries. The several that come first to mind are our terrible health care system, our gun policy, our drug problems, infant child mortality, systemic racism, wealth inequality, and our diverse population.

The life expectancy in the U.S. has actually dropped in the last few years.

In 2015, the United States ranked at 31 in the world on life expectancy.

How are our elected officials dealing with issue? When is the last time you heard a campaigning politician raise life expectancy has a policy issue the nation, state, and local municipality has to work on?

Duing the argument over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), then House Speaker, John Boehner, said that the U.S. had the best health care system in the world. Maybe this is true if you have the ealth and health care benefits afforded to a member of congress, but the same health care resources available to a congressperson is available to the the average American.

The Republican party led by the Republican Senate leader Mich McConnell and former Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan have fought against improving our health care system of the last several years being financed by the health care and pharmaceutical industries. While there have been improvements with the ACA making health care available for more Americans many Red states rejected medicaid expansion which would improve health care services to their citizens. Univeral health care is still a vision for the future which is a right in most first world countries which have much higher levels of life expectancy.

Of course, there are other factors which contribute to the low life expectancy in the United States which are better thought of as being pulbic health problems than health care problems with behavioral health issues being significant especially when it comes to substance abuse, suicide, and homicide.

United Health Care was sued and lost on its policy of denying behavioral health care to its subscribers. Access to behavioral health care is still difficult because of stigma and health provider barriers to access.




For a video commentary click here.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Physical, emotional, and verbal abuse in families



Editor's note:

This is a sad and accurate story of abusive patterns of behavior that develop in some families. This video and story comes from the UK. Here in the US, the narrator and older female sibling can and perhaps should call Child Protective Services who will investigate. In New York State where I live these reports can be made anonymously.

The father, the perpetrator of abuse, does not need punishment but mental health help or perhaps a combination of services from the mental health system and the criminal justice system. In many jurisdictions domestic violence laws first utilized by the police in a complaint driven process, hold people who engage in abuse accountable for their behaviors. It has been my experience that restorative justice approaches work better than adversaril punitive ones.

For the number in New York State is and further information click here.

Child Protective Services are available in all states in the United States, and provinces in Canada. I suspect CPS is available in all first world countries.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

How internet "echo chambers" lead to faster radicalization on Marketplace Tech


The audio clip lasts about 6 minutes. Molly Wood is the moderator of Marketplace Tech. Fathali Moghaddam is a professor psychology at Georgetown University. 

Molly Wood: What are the things that move people, ultimately, to violence?

Fathali Moghaddam: It's a slow process sometimes, but it can also be rapid. The key issues are that individuals feel that they are being mistreated, that there is injustice in the world. Particularly nowadays, through the internet, an echo chamber has developed and isolation takes place, so this group radicalizes. The radicalization takes place in relation to other groups. It's what I call mutual radicalization. Gradually they get to a stage where one or two of them are ready for actual violent behavior.

Wood: It sounds like what you're saying is that, not only is the internet particularly ripe for this type of behavior, but that, in fact, as online communities become radicalized, they radicalize each other. They up the ante.

Moghaddam: Absolutely. This is becoming the norm. We see this in politics. We see it in extremist ideology. There is a relationship between these radicalizing movements and the internet. This is taking place in the wider context of globalization.

Editor notes:
People are easily propagandized because of what historically we have called "peer pressure." People want to fit in and belong to something larger than themselves. The norms of the group which influence compliance and obedience can be for positive social good or negative social good.

Perhaps the dangerious step up the ladder of radicalization is when the sense of social justice becomes self righteously personal. The sense of grievance rises to high levels which compels attack on those perceived as being the perpetrators of the injustice. In these situaions, violence and terrorisism seems not only justified but holy to an insane ego. Most of the U.S. public engaged in this behavior when they supported the Afghani and Iraq war back in 2001. The indiscriminate bombing characterized as "shock and awe" by the media was based on the delusional belief that the Iraqis had WMD.

There was one dissenting vote in the congress on the resolution to engage in this delusional behavior. That was Congress woman Barbara Lee. She was the one healthy person in the whole congress and history will remember her brave and courageous behavior in taking a principled stand against trememdous propaganda and social pressure.

The ego likes to play the game of "one or the other." Americans are quick to project their guilt onto people they perceive as different from themselves. The antidote for this radicalization of populations is to provide personal experience of a positive nature with the person perceived as "different" and a reduction in fear with methods other than self righteous attack

For more click here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Alcoholism and its affects on families.

Alcoholism and its effects on families learned the hard way contributing to a loss of innocence in a young teenage girl.

 

Editor's note:

An apparently well meaning mother keeps the secret of her father's drinking problem from her for reasons that aren't detailed in this video. It is a good example of the "don't talk" rule in dysfunctional families.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Teacher who made a difference to a third grader with Asperger's.

Sometimes it takes an understanding person to make a difference. Did you or do you have a teacher who you got alot out of?

 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Is Zoloft a good medication for depressive bipolar symptoms?


Is Zoloft a good medication for bipolar disorder?

Zoloft can help manage the symptoms of depression for people with bipolar disorder. However, a mood stabilizing drug should be considered the basic treatment with Zoloft added to treat the depressive symptoms during a depressive episode.

Zoloft is one of the drugs in the SSRI category of which there are several. These SSRI drugs can be used to treat symptoms of depression other than the depressed episode of bipolar disorder.

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder has entered the popular culture and most of the people I see who are suffering from depression do not have bipolar disorder. Their depression is caused by other circumstances and factors.

You can read more about Zoloft and bipolar by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Is it ADHD or Bipolar?


Is it ADHD or BiPolar?

Both terms have entered pop psychology and are thrown around indiscriminately. There is a difference and telling the difference is important because the psychopharmocological treatment is different.

Also, the psychosocial management and psychotherapy can be different.

The immediate focus of therapy is on symptom management with the longer term focus being on the management of the disorder and what I call life style engineering or developing and implementing a wellness plan.

For more click here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Incorporating the arts in science lessons improves learning

From Science Daily on 03/05/19


Incorporating the arts -- rapping, dancing, drawing -- into science lessons can help low-achieving students retain more knowledge and possibly help students of all ability levels be more creative in their learning, finds a new study by Johns Hopkins University.
The findings were published on Feb. 7 in Trends in Neuroscience and Education and support broader arts integration in the classroom.
"Our study provides more evidence that the arts are absolutely needed in schools. I hope the findings can assuage concerns that arts-based lessons won't be as effective in teaching essential skills," says Mariale Hardiman, vice dean of academic affairs for the School of Education at the Johns Hopkins University and the study's first author.
For more click here.
Editor's note:
There is other interesting research that has shown that singing a lyric can make the content more memorable than just reading and/or stating it. Singing, dancing, and dramatic vocalizations can be a mneumonic device to aid in memory and comprehension.

Monday, March 11, 2019

20% of students with ADHD receive no school support services

From Science Daily on 03/05/19
At least one in five students with ADHD receive no school services despite experiencing significant academic and social impairment, a gap particularly evident for adolescents and youth from non-English-speaking and/or lower-income families, researchers found in the largest study of children and teens with ADHD ever conducted.
The new findings are based on data on 2,495 youth with ADHD aged 4 to 17 years from across the United States, collected through the National Survey of the Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD and Tourette Syndrome (NS-DATA). The survey, the largest to date of parents of youth with ADHD, documents the extent to which students receive school services, the types of services they receive and the factors that may predict what kinds of services they receive.
"We found that although the majority of students were currently receiving one or more school services, only a minority received support to manage their behavior, and at least one out of five students did not receive any school support despite experiencing significant educational impairment," said lead author George DuPaul, professor of school psychology and associate dean for research in the College of Education at Lehigh University. "The gap between impairment and service receipt was particularly evident for adolescents with ADHD and for youth with ADHD from non-English speaking and/or low-income families."
For more click here.

Editor's note:
The ability and willingness of schools to provide support services to students with ADHD varies from school district to school district and depends on the willingness to allocate resources to provide these services. I have been asked by a parent this week to write a letter to the school on the student's behalf to obtain some additional services. This is a common occurance.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The problems with Benzodiazapine drugs.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug. There are many others. While we are focused on the opioid epidemic, the abuse of benzos is growing in the U.S. as well. I see many clients who have been prescribed a benzo for anxiety. It is very easy to develop a tolerance, become addicted, and then have worst symptoms than the ones being treated to begin with during withdrawal.


Friday, March 8, 2019

High functioning anxiety



Editor's note:
Clinically, I usually find that this kind of high functioning anxiety is related to perfectionism which is also the root of OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. People with high functioning anxiety also experience depression, feeling overhwelmed, and suicidal ideas. As mentioned, because of the exceptional performance of the person, few people know or would guess at the anguish this perfectionism causes.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

What is the role of unwanted emotional memories in PTSD?

From Science Daily on 03/04/19

"People exposed to trauma are less able to suppress unwanted emotional memories due to neural and behavioral disruptions in their brain that may contribute to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is characterized by intense reliving of the trauma that is repetitive, intrusive and incapacitating. The intrusive nature of these hallmark symptoms suggests that the inability to suppress unwanted memories may be a strong contributor to the behavioral manifestation of PTSD.
Previous work has shown that healthy individuals can actively suppress emotional memories while individuals with PTSD frequently experience unwanted memories of their traumatic experiences, even when making explicit efforts to avoid them. However, little is known regarding the behavioral and neural effects of memory suppression among individuals with PTSD."
Editor's note:
This research confirms what is known clinically - that people with PTSD have trouble suppressing memories of traumatic events.
I had a client ask me yesterday if it was normal for the perception of certain objects around her home to trigger memories that were upsetting to her due to a traumatic incident that occured in her home.
I said, "Yes it is normal. However, what may be constructive or destructive, normal or abnormal, good or bad, is how you manage these memories when they are triggered." We then talked about progressive desensitization and she said, "You mean it may get better over time?"
I said, "Yes. Track the frequence, duration, and intensity over the course of several weeks, a month let's say. I predict the frequency will decrease, the intensity will decrease, and the intensity will decrease."
Can memories fade over time? Are there other ways of avoiding and evading troubling memories when they are triggered?



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Extrinsic rewards can squelch creativity and high quality performance


From Larry Ferlazzo's Web Sites Of The Day blog on 03/04/19
"One early and well known experiment found that children who were promised a reward were less interested in creating art than those who did not get that promise (it’s cited in just about every motivation study you can find).
In this Freakonomics episode from last October, though, Teresa Amabile talks about a variation on this experiment that she organized.  In it, students were told their artistic creations were going to be judged, and those children’s creations turned out to be much less creative than those from the control group.
She goes on to say:
I think that the biggest mistake we make in our schools, and I’m talking about everything from kindergarten now up through college, is to focus kids too much on how the work is going to be evaluated. Part of that is the extreme focus on testing in the United States right now and the past several years….
There’s too much focus on “what is the right answer, what are people going to think of what I’m about to say?” and too little focus on “what am I learning, what cool stuff do I know now that I didn’t know last week or a year ago, what cool things can I do now that I couldn’t do before?” And I think that if we could if we could switch that focus, we would do a lot to open up kids’ creativity.
In other words,  teacher judgment itself, especially, I assume, if it’s handled poorly, has the potential of being as damaging to student creativity as any other kind of more explicit reward."

For more click here.

Editor's note:
I noticed this phenomenon when teaching at a college level as an adjunct professor. When I asked students at our first class in the course they were taking what they wanted from the course, the immediate response was "An A." When I asked further, "Assume by virtue of the fact that you registered for this course you automatically get an A, now what would you like to learn and get out of it." Often students had difficulty answering this question.

Students have been well trained to adapt and accept the teacher's curriculum. Curiosity, creativity, motivation based on intrinsic rewards only created barriers to success in the course which is defined by the professor's grades. The effort, then, is to give the teacher what the teacher wants.

This phenomenon of being graded and grades dependent on compliance actually undermines human learning.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

How will New York State's "Red Flag" law actually work?


From WXXI, 03/04/19.

New York's so-called "red flag" law takes effect in about six months.
It authorizes teachers, school administrators, and others to petition a court for the removal of guns from individuals who they believe pose a serious threat to themselves or others.
“The petitioner has to show clear and convincing proof that the person in question is likely to engage in dangerous conduct,” said Rochester attorney David Tennant, a former co-chair of the New York State Bar Association’s task force on gun violence. "That clear and convincing standard is unusual, it's heightened, it's hard to meet."
For more click here.
Editor's note:
While a step in the right direction, these laws are reactive and not proactive and extremely bureaucratic and difficult to enforce and implement. I doubt they will have much impact on the gun violence problem in the U.S.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Children: An oppressed group.



From "Children's Freedom: A Human Rights Perspective" by Peter Gray, 02/28/19

"In fact, children today are far more deprived of liberty than they were when I was a child more than 60 years ago, or when my parents were children 90 years ago.  And children are suffering because of that deprivation.  As I’ve documented elsewhere, children today are suffering at record levels from anxietydepression, and even suicide (Gray, 2011; 2013).   The estimated rates of Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety disorders among young people, based on analyses of standardized clinical assessment questionnaires given in unchanged form over the decades, are now roughly eight times what they were in the 1950s; and the suicide rate for school-aged children is six times what it was then.  Serious mental disorder in children has gone up in direct proportion to the decline in children’s freedom; and there is good reason to believe that the latter is a cause of the former (Gray, 2011; 2013)."

For more click here.




Friday, March 1, 2019

Physicians have the highest sucide rate of any profession.


From "Remembering Ricky: Losing a friend to suicide by Andrews Wilner

"During my reading, I also learned that physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession, with one completed suicide every day.[3,4] That's twice the suicide rate of the general public. I don't have any intention of joining my friend, but I don't like being in a high-risk group!"

For more click here.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

How lies become the new truth.

What's the deal with re-cycling plastic bags?



Editor's note:

Increasingly municipalities and governments are banning plastic bags. You can make the switch yourself using paper or re-usable grocery bags. I was at Aldi's on Thursday, 02/21/19 and brought 5 paper bags at $0.07 a piece. I used them and then folded them and plan on using them again.

Now that "Eco therapy" has become a thing, perhaps a practice that would decrease guilt, and anxiety about the environment would be to switch from plastic to paper or re-usables.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - A summary



The four factors that contribute to flow = focus, freedom, feedback, four percent challenge.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Patricia Hasbach describes "eco-therapy" to help people with concerns about climate change.



For more information click here.

Editor's note:
One of my daughters lives in Pasadena, CA and when she visited in Western New York last September, 2018, she asked me what I knew about "ecotherapy" and whether I was helping people with their concerns about climate change.

She was visiting at a time when there were the wild fires in California. Here in Western New York, 10 miles from the south shore of Lake Ontario, people were dealing last summer, 2018,  with high lake levels which were destroying lake front property, docks, and boating harbors.

One of the things not dealt with in the short interview above is the symptom of "impending doom" that many people struggling with depression experience. Colloquially, this is the "sky is falling" phenomenon of the Chicken Little children's book.

In addition, one can speculate about the general level of anxiety of the population which gets focused on border walls and nationalism as we are on the brink of climate migration which is predicted to increase in the next 50 years in significant ways.

The climate denial of Republicans in our Federal and State governments adds further anxiety and angst to a potentially victimized population who believes that their leaders are not working for their longer term best interests on the planet.

To what extent do these factors contribute to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and the rise of suicidal behaviors?

"Ecotherapy" is not a modality of treatment per se, but it is an attempt to address the contributions of climate change in the course of therapy for other diagnosed psychiatric disorders.

Monday, February 25, 2019

American Psychological Association takes position against spanking


The American Psychological Association passes a resolution against spanking.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association recognizes that scientific evidence demonstrates the negative effects of physical discipline of children by caregivers and thereby recommends that caregivers use alternative forms of discipline that are associated with more positive outcomes for children.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the APA engage in competency based public awareness, education and accessible outreach activities to increase public knowledge about the effects of physical discipline on children and knowledge regarding alternative forms of discipline and their effectiveness and outcomes for children and parents.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the APA engage in promoting culturally responsive professional training and accessible continuing education activities regarding alternative discipline strategies and their effectiveness.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the APA support funding for research in the U.S. and other countries on: • The factors that underlie parents’ supportive attitudes about physical discipline; • The factors that lead parents to rely on physical discipline; • Differences in cultural understanding and values, including socially shared beliefs and norms of practice related to the use of physical discipline; • The factors that promote parents’ best practices in supporting their children, and in developing positive parent-child relationships with their children; and • Interventions that may help to diminish parental reliance on physical discipline and enhance parents’ access to culturally sensitive alternative approaches.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the APA encourage efforts to increase access to positive parenting supports for underserved groups.

For more click here.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Media literacy - When can you believe your eyes?



Editor's note:
One of the positive things that President Trump has done for the American people and people around the world is make them aware of the prevalence of fake news. Scott Adams, the cartoonist who created Dilbert, and an expert on "persuasion techniques" teaches that 80% of news is fake.

One of the definitions of mental illness is to be out of touch with reality. There is "fundamental reality" which is our experience based on the laws of nature wherein we manipulate phenomena and there are consequences apart from our human interpretation, opinions, and meaning making. And then there is "constructed reality" which based on social consensus, norms, selective perception, confirmation bias and projection.

Most images and videos fall into the area of "constructed reality" and what is depicted is not "real" in any tangible, concrete sense. Images, as in the case of the map is not the territory, are always fake and not the real thing. The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon.

Being able to tell the difference between "fundamental reality" and "constructed reality" is a higher level cognitive function that most people have not attained, but, with effort, can learn.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Care plan for child after a suicide attempt

From Social Justice Solutions on 02/11/19

During the last decade, the number of emergency room and hospital visits linked to suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among children nearly doubled, according to a study in Pediatrics. This was especially true among youth 15 to 17 years of age. Experts say that bullying, trauma, and abuse are often underlying factors.
Fortunately, with the right type of support from health care providers and others, children and their parents can find the resources they need to heal and prevent mental health crises in the future. If you are a parent whose child has attempted suicide, hope and help are available—and creating a plan to move forward is an important place to start.
For more click here.
Editor's note:
Over the course of my career I have done over 15,000 suicide evaluations. It is a myth that if you talk about it the suicidal person will be triggered to engage in suicidal behavior. Just the opposite is the case. Talking with a caring, concerned, trusted person decreases the liklihood of suicidal behavior.
Evaluation by a trained professional is always appropriate. This is best done in person. Calling a "crisis hot line" or "support line" can be helpful but is no substitute for personal clinical evaluation and care.

Friday, February 22, 2019

STD cases on the rise in U.S. - 39% 2013 - 2019

From JAMA 01/29/19

Emergency departments around the US are seeing a 39% increase in the number of visits related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to a recent report from the CDC. The flood of patients ending up in the emergency department for STI care is just 1 symptom of a growing public health crisis.

After decades of progress at reducing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the United States is seeing a dramatic reversal of fortunes. The CDC has documented sharp increases in the number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis since 2013. Chlamydia remained the most common infection with 1.7 million—almost half of which affected young women. Total cases of STIs reached an all-time high of 2.3 million in 2017.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Religion in the psychotherapy office


A client visited my office for the first time shortly after the Christmas holidays and found in my waiting room a pamphlet about Advent.

He asked me about half way through our first interview, "Is this a religious place?'

I said surprised, "What?"

"Are you Christian or something?"

I said, "No, this is a private counseling office. I am not religiously affiliated."

"Oh," he said, "Good."

I was still uncertain about what had precipitated his question and concern. Later when I went out to my waiting room, I found the Advent pamphlet and a brochure about marriage encounter, Retrouvaille for couples considering divorce which is run by a Catholic group and wondered whether these materials had contributed to his concern.

I said further to my client that my office is not religiously affiliated, and I don't discuss religion with clients unless they bring it up. He seemed reassured and the topic was dropped and we moved on to other things.

I was trained in the bio-psycho-social model of Dr. George Engel which Dr. Engel developed in the late 60s and early 70s. Since the original formulation some practitioners have added "spiritual" so that we now have the "bio-psycho-social-spiritual" model.

How is spirituality connected to mental health? A great deal of research has demonstrated that people with a spiritual life live longer and happier. This being the case, a good psychotherapist is attentive to the client's spiritual life as the client experiences and conceives it.

Spirituality is different from religion and, while there may be some overlap, are often confused as being the same thing. Religion is about joining an organization and affiliating with some creed or set of beliefs, practices, traditions, norms, and values. Spirituality is about a relationship with a Higher Power whatever the individual understands the Higher Power to be.

I removed the Advent pamphlet from my office waiting room because Advent is over. Will I put another one out there next year? I certainly don't want to offend anyone or give the wrong impression. On the other hand it is a discussion starter which often leads to rich and worthwhile conversations. For now, we are approaching Lent and I probably will not be putting any lenten pamphlets in my waiting room.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How the sociologists define generations


What's your purpose in life?


Yesterday, I had a full roster of clients, and it seemed that a common theme came up with many of them: the lack of purpose in their lives.

It is easy to lose one's way in life and become depressed and anxious.

Doctors tell people that their depression is related to problems with the neurotransmitters in their brains and that anti-depressants will help. Sometimes they do somewhat, but anti-depressants do not get to the deeper issue which is a lack of purpose and meaning in one's life. What to do about that?

A lack of purpose and meaning in one's life is best addressed by a conversation with someone who is trusted, who understands, who can ask the right questions to help the person examine his/her life so the person can understand better what makes him/her tick, and what (s)he prefers in creating a more satisfying and fulfilling life.

This review and search takes a caring relationship. It is a process, not  a technique or "interention."

With many of these clients, I ask them what they want to have gotten out of life in the next 1, 3, and 5 years. Usually they have no idea. They draw a blank.

It is this lack of hopes, dreams, and aspirations that is the problem.

As W. Edwards Deming said one time, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."

Without a sense of purpose, people are lost. They are wandering in confusion, perplexity, distress.

The three basic questions that we all struggle with throughout our lives whether consciously or unconsciously are: "Why was I born." "What is the purpose of my life?" "What happens when I die?"

The research clearly has shown that psychotherapy works. People do start to feel better and their functioning improves. In fact, research has shown that psychotherapy, in the long run, gets better outcomes than medication.

People often call the office for the first time and their presenting complaint is "I am looking for someone to talk to." What do you suppose they mean by this? They have plenty people to talk to, but they have no one to talk to more intimately about the deeper concerns about their life. It is in this deeper discussion that one often finds, clarifies, and begins to recognize one's purpose in life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Should cannibis be used as harm reduction treatment for opioid addiction?


From Medscape Psychiatry, 02/12/19, by Alicia Ault
Thirty-three states, Washington, DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico have legalized cannabis for medical use, and 10 states and Washington, DC, have legalized it for recreational use, according to the National Council on State Legislatures.
Both New York and Illinois recently amended medical marijuana laws in favor of cannabis as a substitute, which was another factor in writing the article, said Saitz.
New York issued emergency regulations in July 2018 allowing opioid users to become certified to use medical marijuana instead. In August 2018, the Illinois governor signed a bill allowing individuals over age 21 with conditions for which opioids might be used to apply for the medical marijuana program.
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