Monday, November 7, 2022

Generational cohorts and the differentiation of self


The idea of the socializing and conditioning of children which occurs facilitated by the culture the child grows up in, of which parents are only one factor among many, is significant in understanding human development.

Sociologically there are certain values, technologies, and political events which define generational cohorts. The popular names we have for these cohorts: boomers, gen x, millennials, gen z is shorthand for the culture that shaped these various cohorts. As a boomer therapist I am very aware of these differences as they shape the cognitive, value, and social filters through which a client may likely view and interpret the world. Being aware of these filters is the first skill of 21 which Cindy Wigglesworth names in her book on spiritual intelligence. The question that Wigglesworth asks to focus on this skill is "Do you think you can explain to others the impacts of your culture, your upbringing, and your mental assumptions on how you interpret the world around you?" The stage of skill development is low, medium, or high.

Being born in 1965 a person's birth occurred right at the end of the boomer generation and the beginning of the gen x. Gen x was the self esteem generation when there were prizes for everyone. You got a trophy just for participating rather than for any merit. Gen x was also the generation which saw the introduction of cell phones and the internet and was the generation raised by parents heavily influenced by the war in Vietnam and the Civil rights era with the assassination of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcom X, Bobby Kennedy. Gen X also experienced  the introduction of managed health care and the explosive growth of publicly funded colleges, both four year and two year community colleges. Gen x also saw the introduction of birth control, the legalization of abortion and the liberation of females in western societies.

One of the questions always in the back of my mind when I interact with people is "To what extent do you know what makes you tick?" This is the first skill in spiritual intelligence and is at a very low level in our society. Most people, 80%, are annoyed with this question and become defensive. This phenomenon is not related to chronological age but to the level of spiritual intelligence the person has achieved in their life.

Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. How many people do you find that live examined lives? Is living an examined life something which our society in general values and supports? It is something that we psychotherapists, hopefully, nurture and facilitate as it contributes to intrinsic rewards of true self esteem and self confidence and what Murray Bowen called "differentiation of self.".



Thursday, November 3, 2022

Your thought system generates the world you see.

There are many ideas to unpack in the preface to the book, "Who's really driving your bus today?" These ideas can be considered as generated by a thought system. Thought systems can be constructive and helpful to the welfare of homo sapiens, or destructive and harmful to homo sapiens. It might be interesting to take the ideas one at a time. 

The first idea described in your preface is “The 21st century has been a time of profound challenge to cultural and personal peace in America. These challenges have impacted our core sense of reality in significant ways.  Political polarization has left the two extremes in mortal combat, leading moderation to be attacked by both sides.  Each side presents different “Truth”.  There has been a growing intolerance and demand for “political correctness“ that leads to superficial soundbites."

We are living in a postmodern age where people have been taught that there is no truth. Truth is relative. As Kellyanne Conway said when challenged about the accuracy of the facts she was promoting that, "There are alternative facts." During the George W. Bush when an administration official was asked about the likelihood that the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction, that truth is what those in power say it is. These attitudes have contributed to what Ken Wilber has called "nihilistic narcissism."

As a therapist I am inclined to share with clients the idea that truth is what works. I will ask, "How is that (belief) working for you?" We mental health professionals have adopted the scientific method hopefully which generates hypotheses, collects data to see if the hypotheses have predictive value, and adds to our knowledge. As a mental health services organizational manager I have always been focused on outcomes. Some key processes get better outcomes than others which leads to the question of "What are the best practices?" There are many factors to consider, and a systems model thought system as well as a linear reductive one is important for understanding that contributes to competence.

The current cultural polarization is over identity and belonging, Maslow's third need in his hierarchy. Whether policies work or not is often not considered. What is important is the affirmation and validation of one's chosen identity. It is by this validation and affirmation that one determines "truth." This agreement with one's preferred identity as the determining factor in determining truth often doesn't work and is not valid from the perspective of a scientific thought system but works very well for an ego driven thought system.

The key question might be "What is the thought system the person is using to determine truth?" It is the thought system the person chooses that is driving the bus. At lower levels of consciousness this choice of thought system is unconscious. It is an evolutionary imperative that consciousness be raised if homo sapiens is to survive as a species on this planet and in our solar system. Raising consciousness has been a prime mission of psychotherapy since its development in the early twentieth century. May our work continue and prosper.

The awareness of one's thought system is the first skill out of twenty one that Cindy Wigglesworth describes in her model of spiritual intelligence.

Monday, October 31, 2022

The Power of Stories

 

Stories provide a moral model of the world. They teach how things work or could work. The question is what does the audience make of the story? What does it tell them about the kind of person they are, other people are, and the world they are living in?

Does the story enlighten and uplift or deflate and demoralize?

Stories are the basis of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is about the client's story or the couple's story or the family's story, or the community's story, or the society's story.

The significant point here is that stories matter. Tell stories with care.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

What is the goal of psychotherapy?



Along with this idea is the one that the presenting complaint is not the real complaint. The presenting complaint is just the ticket of admission. The presenting complaint is what the client thinks they are supposed to say, based on their socialization, which makes them an appropriate candidate for psychotherapeutic service.


If you ask most people “What makes you tick?” They become perplexed, annoyed, and defensive. It is in this question that psychotherapy begins.


Psychotherapy is not the same thing as “counseling” and “life coaching” and “emotional management skill training.” Psychotherapy is a much more significant, challenging, and revealing journey into the self.


On this journey what will one eventually find? Our Transcendent Source. The basis of our Divinity.


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

What is the experience of experience called?


At the core of IIT is a single measure called “Φ” (the Greek letter phi, pronounced fy). The easiest way to think about Φ is that it measures how much a system is “more than the sum” of its parts, in terms of information. How can a system be more than the sum of its parts? A flock of birds provides a loose analogy: the flock seems to be more than the sum of the birds that make it up—it seems to have a “life of its own.”

…..

In IIT, Φ measures the amount of information a system generates “as a whole,” over and above the amount of information generated by its parts independently. This underpins the main claim of the theory, which is that a system is conscious to the extent that its whole generates more information than its parts.


Seth, Anil. Being You (p. 64). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 


Our usual way of thinking is cause and effect. In Western Civilization we tend to view and understand our experience of the world in a linear and reductive way. Seth’s idea of consciousness is a systems view, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and it is this “greater than” that contributes to consciousness.


This idea of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts is a primary concept in family therapy where the dynamics of the family system, the roles and rules that govern its functioning, is the frame of reference and focus of perception and apprehension. 


From this perspective one might ask “What kind of a family is this?” and “To what extent are they aware of how the system they participate in functions?” In other words, to what extent are members of the family conscious of its existence as a family unit and not just a collection of individuals?


A working definition of consciousness might be “the experience of experience.” The experience of experience is what Seth is naming “Phi.” Phi, claims Seth, is the measure of consciousness.


Monday, September 5, 2022

Being You, the book by Anil Seth

This month there will be a series of articles about Anil Seth's book, Being You: A New Science Of Consciousness.

Consciousness is usually thought of as a uniquely human phenomenon not shared with other living species. And yet, if one is asked what consciousness is, few could give a coherent response.

My definition at this point is "your experience of your experience." I have called it the "witness". A friend calls it the "observer."

The witness or the observer seems to be more highly developed in some people than in others. Ken Wilber, the Integral philosopher, and others teach the there are levels to consciousness.

Follow along this month as we explore the concept of consciousness.

This book is about the neuroscience of consciousness: the attempt to understand how the inner universe of subjective experience relates to, and can be explained in terms of, biological and physical processes unfolding in brains and bodies.

Seth, Anil. Being You (p. 5). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 



Which do we value more in our society: the body or the soul?

The body is the container for the soul, the life force, the consciousness. The word for it without the soul is "corpse." However, the body is more than just a container, it is a generator. As Seth points out the body is more than just a mechanical computer, it is a chemical machine. "I use the word “wetware” to underline that brains are not computers made of meat. They are chemical machines as much as they are electrical networks." Seth, Anil. Being You (p. 6). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 


It is interesting how in our society we are much more aware of and focused on the body than the soul. Our capitalistic system is constantly marketing products for the body and much fewer for the soul. Do you think it is accurate to say that in our contemporary society we value the body more than the soul?

Who are the therapist writers?

The stories in this collection, not unlike those by Oliver Sacks, Atul Gawan­de, Perri Klass, Danielle Ofri, and a growing number of physician-writers, are teaching tales that offer hope and humane reassurance: in the midst of a struggling health-care system, there are some who understand medicine as ministry.

As I read the above sentence in the book review for Tornado Of Life by Jay Baruch by Marilyn McEntyre, I got thinking about all the books I have read by therapist writers about psychotherapy. There are many. The most memorable for me are "The 50 - Minute Hour" by Robert Lindner and Love's Executioner by Irvin Yalom.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

What professional group provides the most mental health services?

Social workers provide the majority of mental and behavioral health services in the country.

In New York State there are 61,685 licensed social workers compared to 15,309 licensed psychologists, 9,292 licensed mental health counselors and 1,403 licensed marriage and family therapists.⁠


For more click here.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Quiz question of the day - What is the primary motivation for a psychiatric social worker?

 What is the primary motivation for a psychiatric social worker?

  1. The money

  2. The prestige

  3. Intrinsic satisfaction and a faith in the development of humanity

  4. Fixing other people






The correct answer is C. Intrinsic satisfaction and a faith in the development of humanity.


The labors of Hercules - 54 years as a Psychiatric Social Worker



I am reminded of the phrase "The labors of Hercules."

I was thinking yesterday, "After almost 54 years in the field, what do you have to show for what you have produced in your field?"

The answer is "nothing." What we do is not tangible, not concrete, there is nothing to show for all our work.

Some of us have written articles, books, maybe created institutes or organizations, etc. but most therapists labor with nothing to show for all their work.

However there is an intrinsic satisfaction and a faith in the development of humanity which keeps us going. There is the saving of souls when we have facilitated the maturing of higher levels of consciousness that has enhanced the quality of their lives and the people they are in relationship with. So how can our labor be said to produce nothing?

What we generate though is ephemeral. It is unseen. It's of the type of experience we attempt to describe by saying, "Well I can't put it into words. You would have had to have been there to know what I am talking about."

"Aren't you David Markham?"

"Yes, I am."

"You probably don't remember me. I am 43 now and I saw you when I was eleven and you saved my life. Your office was on Ridge Rd, right?"

"Yes, that's right, about 30 years ago."

"I always wanted to tell what a difference the counseling made to me."

We talked a bit more. What a gift.

So this labor day, I celebrate such experiences. We never know, do we Frank, what our work is producing? We are creating and intentionally producing experiences, not things, and so there is nothing to show but sometimes there are memories and the experience of a higher quality life which contributes to a greater sense of well being which some call happiness.

What have we done with our lives? We have helped people experience happiness.

Now that is labor well worth engaging in even if we have nothing to show for it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Medicare For All would be good for mental health services

 

How Medicare for All would also be a Huge Investment in America’s Mental Health

F. Douglas StephensonAugust 20, 2022
Health

Gainesville, Florida (Special to Informed Comment) — The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was supposed to contain costs and make insurance for health / mental health care affordable. It did bring coverage to 20 million but 30 million remain uninsured. Data indicate that the bad outweighs the good. It’s too expensive, unsustainable, overly complex and bureaucratic. Even worse, it’s a gift to private insurers and other 1% corporate stakeholders and profiteers in the neoliberal medical-industrial-Congressional complex. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in March, 2010, Big Insurance has lobbied Congress hard to ensure that most non-elderly Americans become compulsory customers of the private insurance industry and approve taxpayer financing of massive subsidies for that industry. The private insurance industry is very happy that with ACA. Americans are forced to purchase the product of their private industry plus give huge tax-financed subsidies to their industry in the amount of a half-trillion dollars per decade.

Because the for- profit, private insurance industry so thoroughly dominates our health care system as indicateds above, the basic concept, purpose and system of health insurance is defined by them. The U.S. subscribes to a private business model of health insurance that defines insurers as commercial entities. Private insurers maximize profits by mainly limiting benefits, maximizing health policy premiums or by not covering people with health problems. Like all businesses, their goal is to make money. Under the business model, the greed of casual inhumanity is built in and the common good of the citizens and nation is ignored; excluding the poor, the aged, the disabled and the mentally ill is sound business policy, since it maximizes profit.

Although health insurance affordability for the majority of US citizens still remains elusive, President Biden’s health insurance plan wants to shift many more dollars into private, Wall Street insurance industry hands. The takeover of health insurance by private Wall Street entities continues apace as Democrats/Biden propose to increase taxes and give it to the private profit insurance industry—the basic source of our profound administrative waste, along with the costly administrative burdens they place on the delivery system that requires large profits. Profiteering continues unabated as private insurance sells us services we don’t need/want , such as deductibles and other cost sharing, maintenance of narrow networks, requiring prior authorization with increased administrative costs, excessive ongoing paperwork/documentation requirements, all while avoiding paying for surprise bills and other denied benefits.

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE NEOLIBERAL HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY:

1). Promote deregulation—working/lobbying for the removal of government control over the industry. Historic examples of deregulated industries in the U.S. include the airline, telecommunication, and trucking industries.

2). Maintain, strengthen and increase privatization—promote the transfer of ownership, property, or business from the government to the private sector. Examples of privatization include the health insurance industry, the correctional system in the form of for-profit private prisons, interstate highway system construction, privatization of public schools into private charter schools, privatization of medical diagnostic and treatment services such as dialysis centers, speciality hospitals and other outpatient units.

3). With neoliberalism, increase transfer of ownership and control of economic programs/services from the government to the private sector; promote the private sector’s influence on the economy by achieving deep reductions in government spending via austerity and large cutbacks; discourage/block spending on all social welfare/mental health / public jobs programs (similar to the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930’s) and other state/local/federal government programs. Governmental austerity paves the way for more profiteering by those who seek to replace government programs with private corporate entities.

Against this background, a burgeoning mental health crisis where millions of Americans cannot access or afford mental health care has emerged. More than 10% of Americans with mental illness have no health coverage, but even those with costly commercial insurance plans can’t afford care. Commercial plans discriminate against mental health care by limiting choice of covered mental health providers; paying mental health providers far less than other health providers; and restricting or denying common treatments such as prescriptions, psychotherapy/counseling and hospitalization. A growing body of evidence shows that ignoring mental illness leads to more sickness, more death and higher health costs for everyone.

SOBERING MENTAL HEALTH STATISTICS:

1). Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S., and the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults aged 10-34. The suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

2). In 2019, 20.6% of U.S. adults suffered from at least one mental illness, up from 17.7% in 2008. The percentage of Americans with serious mental illness in 2019 increased to 5.2%, up from 3.7% in 2008 https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRPDFWHTML/2019NSDUHFFR090120.htm

3). Nearly one in ten (9.7%) youth in the U.S. had severe major depression in 2018. The State of Mental Health in America

4). Drug overdoses caused more than 70,000 deaths in 2019, a 57% increase from 2013. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7006a4.htm

5). Mental health conditions have increased even more sharply among younger adults. The percentage of Americans aged 18-25 with mental illness went from 18.5% in 2008 to 29.4% in 2019. The percentage of young adults with serious mental illness more than doubled, from 3.8% in 2008 to 8.6% in 2019. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRPDFWHTML/2019NSDUHFFR090120.htm

OPPOSITION TO PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH/HEALTH PROGRAMS AND INSURANCES

Even with the dangerous coronavirus pandemic, big insurance and big pharma continue opposing legislation for the new Medicare for All. These resistant, self-serving industries have the most to lose if their huge profits are redirected to direct patient care for all. Individual and corporate predators regard democracy, government and community as obstacles to their greed and avarice, always placing profits over individual patients, families and public health. It’s no wonder so many beholden members of Congress want to protect the interests of big insurance and big pharma, industries that spent $371 million on lobbying in 2017 alone.

HEALTH INSURANCE PROFITS-2021

US health insurance companies beat analyst expectations and reported billions in profits in the first quarter of 2021, after making a windfall in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The insurers’ success comes as small healthcare providers face unprecedented financial stress and millions of Americans struggle to cover health costs. The large profits reaped by the insurance firms are also likely to increase criticism of the US healthcare sector.

The nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, reported $4.9bn in profits in the first quarter of 2021 compared to $3.4bn in the same period in 2020 – a 44% increase. The higher than anticipated profits prompted the company to raise its projections for the year. Anthem also beat estimates in its report of $1.67bn in profits in the first three months of 2021, a 9.5% increase from the same period last year. Humana’s net income was $828m in the first quarter, a 75% increase from the same period the year before.

CVS Health, which owns the Aetna health insurance provider and drugstores, reported $2.2bn in profits, up from $2bn in the same quarter a year before. Cigna reported its net income fell to $1.17bn from $1.19bn in the same period last year, but it still raised its forecasts for the year. Together, the companies represent the country’s five biggest health insurers by membership. (The Guardian, May, 2021).

Neoliberalism support for privatization of health insurance is grounded in the philosophy espoused by University of Chicago economist, Milton Friedman. Friedman said “the corporations should not take into account the public interest” and added that “the government itself should not take into account the public interest. The job of the government is to simply let everybody make as much money as they can, however they can”.

Classical economist Michael Hudson notes that Big Pharma , like Big Insurance, doesn’t want any kind of anti-monopoly legislation . “Essentially you have what is called a free market, as advocated by Milton Friedman. A free market means the wealthiest people dominate the market and the supply of credit, the management of the economy that allocates credit, and who gets what shifts from Washington to Wall Street. It shift’s from the government to the private financial sector, and allows the financial sector to do the planning. One problem with this is the financial sector lives in the short run. So, it means that they only look for the next three months, the next year’s balance sheet, because the free market is so complex you don’t know what’s going to happen. Well, of course, since you’re managing it from Wall Street you in reality do know what’s going to happen but you don’t want to tell people exactly what’s going to happen”.

We have several decades of experience with neoliberal conversion of mental health services/insurance into a business. Our health care is being rationed, with care guidelines determined by profitability and secrecy decided in private corporate boardrooms. To realize large profits demanded by Wall Street investors, our health system must attract the healthy and turn away the sick, disabled, the poor, many of the old, and the mentally ill. So far, this country has been unable to eliminate private control of health insurance even in spite of the small value it offers when 15 to 25 percent of the health care dollar is skimmed off for private corporate profit and overhead. Neoliberals avoid the fact that if the existing public, non-profit Medicare program could be extended to all citizens for both mental and physical health and still containing lower costs.

UNINFORMED VOTERS MAKE IRRATIONAL CHOICES

American voters have fallen victim to an elections marketing system who’s task is to create uninformed voters who will make irrational choices. In a private business-run society, you market commodities, you market candidates. Most electoral campaigns are designed to marginalize and avoid serious policy issues like inequality, insurances, mental health services, public health, Medicare, Medicaid, social services, women’s health, DACA, progressive taxation, climate change etc. Important economic issues are avoided with political energy deflected onto wedge issues, superficialities, personality, rhetorical style, body language, mood swings, tweeting and other topics that amount to us foolishly chasing our tails. In the end, this allows the country to be run by a few big 1% economic interests looking only after themselves. Many voters are not deluded because they just don’t really see any real choices or significant differences offered to them by Democrats or Republicans in the business-managed electoral system, where unfortunately the most heavily funded candidate almost always wins.

Not only have both major U.S.political parties abandoned ideas and innovation, but also abandoned most voters. Republicans and Democrats alike are merely reactive to events/problems as demanded by their sponsors/donors in big business, oligarchs and large unaccountable corporations. 2022 politics in the US has devolved into one party, the “business party”, with two branches, democrats and republicans., who engage in and promote distracting contests giving us the illusion that they are basically different from one another on basic economic issues.

Since a reality TV star and real estate developer was elected president of the US, it’s clear that celebrity culture is an essential component of the corporate controlled economic system that govern our lives under the “business party”. Buffoon politicians from both parties have become shameless, beholden tools and lackeys of corporate America. They offer us a devil’s bargain mix of self-serving toxic programs and policies, frequently changing their positions as fast as others change socks. Will Rogers wrote: “A fool and his money is soon elected”.

Conditions as described above have led to the observation that U.S.voters popular desires cannot be achieved because there’s no vehicle to express their unhappiness, and there’s no way in which American voters can express what they want either in the Democratic or the Republican parties because they are really the same party and are in full agreement with what they are doing.
The voters don’t matter; remember we are talking about the American definition of democracy, which is an oligarchy. Polls have shown large popular support by citizens for Medicare for All, but neither political party has supported it. Michael Hudson writes that by “conquering the brains of a country by shaping how people think, you can twist their view into ‘unreality economics’ and make them think you are there to help them and not to take money out of them, then you’ve got them hooked.” This is how Big Insurance and Big Pharma maintain control of U.S. health insurance. Our system is privatized, financialized and unregulated so that private, big insurance companies can make money”.

President Biden and many Democrats have spent their careers defending the financial sector, including big insurance and big pharma, whose policy is also to maintain and further privatize basic health care financing and infrastructure. Economist Hudson further notes that, “Biden’s long political career has been right-wing. He’s the senator from Delaware, the country’s most pro-corporate state—which is why most U.S. corporations are incorporated there. As such, he represents the banking and credit-card industry. He sponsored the regressive bankruptcy “reform” written and put into his hands by the credit-card companies. As a budget hawk, he’s rejected Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), and also “Medicare for All” as if it is too expensive for the government to afford—thereby making the private sector afford to pay 18% of US GDP for health-insurance monopolies, far more than any other country. That means blocking governments from providing basic services at cost or on a subsidized basis—education, health care/health insurance, roads and communications. Privatized and financialized economies are high-cost.”

CITIZEN’S UNITED SUPREME COURT DECISION: A DARK DAY IN AMERICAN HISTORY

January 21, 2010 will go down as a dark day in the history of American democracy when editors of the New York Times wrote that the Supreme Court “Citizen’s United” decision that day “strikes at the heart of democracy” by having “paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding by reaching into the political process to hand unprecedented power to corporations.”

The Supreme Court ‘Citizen’s United’ decision opened the floodgates for big money in our politics, allowing giant corporations and a handful of the wealthiest families to spend obscene amounts of money in our elections. Citizens United is just one of a line of terrible Supreme Court decisions holding that money equals speech and corporations are people under the First Amendment — thereby allowing huge corporations and the super wealthy/oligarchs to buy undue access to members of Congress, and to effectively dictate legislative outcomes. This is significant in policy decisions reinforced by influence of corporate lobbies, now further enhanced by the Court’s decision which favors the very small 1% sector of the population that dominates the economy. Our society is run by a class-conscious 1% business community dedicated to reducing the political and economic power of the 99%.

Resistance to true campaign finance reform, and strong support for the U.S.Supreme Court’s, ‘Citizens United’ decision by unaccountable/unregulated large corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals/families, is based on their Machiavellian understanding of the purpose of dark money in politics: to use dark money to change political outcomes to favor themselves, the 001% oligarchs and becomes a threat to democracy because its source is not made public. Dark money is corruption that erodes confidence and trust in local, state and national government and in both major political parties. It’s used to throw referendums and elections from which can come many of today’s social, economic, public health, mental health and environmental problems. Dark money is used to hide conflicts of interests and self promotion with bogus scientific controversies, fake news and fake grassroots campaigns.

Corporate big business ideology asserts that human society is a market, and social relations are commercial transactions with a “natural hierarchy” of winners and losers. Attempts to limit competition, change social outcomes eg, estate tax issue, mandated health insurance, etc. is treated as hostile to liberty and big business interests. Count on the neocons/GOP to crush unions and collective bargaining, minimize or eliminate tax and public protection regulations, privatize public services and promote privatization of all social/mental health/health programs. Inequality is okay since it’s a result of a reward for merit and generates wealth for the tiny .001%, which the false neoliberal myth says trickles down to enrich everyone in the 99%. Tax and other social policies to create a more equal society are dismissed as counterproductive to the interests of the ultra wealthy.001%.

The assumption that whatever the market produces is rational and functional is the bedrock of Western economies. And it’s wrong , says economist Michael Hudson, because It negates the fact that you really need some government power strong enough to override the self-serving special interests of oligarchs and other 1% corporate interests. And that takes a very strong government, which is why the free market people have always opposed strong government and why their economic models don’t give any acknowledgement for government investment in infrastructure that Biden wants or any government activity that is able to override that of the 1% rentier class, the financial class, the property-owning class and the corporate monopolists. That’s the problem we have.

“GOING THERE WITH DONALD TRUMP”: Adam Gopnik further describes how this problem is exacerbated in his 2016 New Yorker article,“ Going There with Donald Trump”:

(Gopnik excerpts prepared by Paul Street in CounterPunch, Aug 18,2022 article, “The Tendentious Mr. Brooks: the Chickenshit Conformist of the NYT”) …….. ‘an incoherent program of national revenge led by a strongman; a contempt for parliamentary government and procedures; an insistence that the existing, democratically elected government…is in league with evil outsiders and has been secretly trying to undermine the nation; a hysterical militarism designed to no particular end than the sheer spectacle of strength; an equally hysterical sense of beleaguerment and victimization; and a supposed suspicion of big capitalism entirely reconciled to the worship of wealth and “success” It is always alike, and always leads inexorably to the same place: failure, met not by self-correction but by an inflation of the original program of grievances, and so then on to catastrophe. The idea that it can be bounded in by honest conservatives in a Cabinet or restrained by normal constitutional limits is, to put it mildly, unsupported by history…To associate such ideas too mechanically with the rise of some specific economic anxiety is to give the movement and its leader a dignity and sympathy that they do not deserve. In France, Jean Marie Le Pen’s voters are often ex-Communists, working people who also believe their national identity to have been disrupted by immigration. That does not alter, or make more sympathetic, the toxic nature of his program; the ideology that it resonates to is an ancient and persistent one, that thrives through good times and bad. That Trump can dominate an increasingly right-wing nationalist party with a right-wing, white-nationalist creed is neither surprising nor all that complicated. Anyway, the notion that a class cure can be had for a nationalist disease was the persistent, tragic delusion of progressive politics throughout the twentieth century.’

PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE IN FULL CONTROL OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES – STILL

With private commercial insurance companies in full control, they continue to further restrict mental health care by limiting or denying claims for hospital stays, outpatient (office) visits, medication, psychotherapy/counseling, and other common treatments for mental illness and substance use disorders.

1). Insurers are required by law to cover mental health and other health services equally, but courts have found that they routinely deny claims based on financial — not medical — reasons.

2). In one case, United Behavioral Health — the largest managed mental/behavioral health company in the country — was found guilty of denying 60,000 mental health claims for financial reasons. The lead plaintiff in the case was an insured patient who was denied coverage and had paid nearly $30,000 out-of-pocket for medically necessary treatment. https://www.statnews.com/2019/03/18/landmark-ruling-mental-health-addiction-treatment/

3). Commercial plans also restrict access to needed medications: A study of 84 different commercial health plans found that a majority of the plans covered fewer than 50% of antipsychotic medications, which are critical in treating illness like schizophrenia. In one-third of these insurance plans, the majority of antipsychotic medications are only provided on a “restricted” basis, requiring that patients pay higher out-of-pocket costs. https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/Publications-Reports/Public-Policy-Reports/A-Long-Road-Ahead/2015-ALongRoadAhead

4). A review of more than 90 studies shows that mental and behavioral services can reduce a patient’s overall health care costs by an average of 20%. The Impact of Psychological Interventions on Medical Cost Offset: A Meta‐analytic Review

5). Experience with Medicaid shows that eliminating the waste and greed of commercial insurance improves outcomes and saves money. In 2012, Connecticut’s Medicaid program abolished its commercial insurance-run “managed care” model in favor of a nonprofit single-payer plan for enrollees. By eliminating the insurance middleman, Medicaid could invest directly in mental health by integrating physical and behavioral health care and adding community-based programs. Among Medicaid enrollees, emergency room visits have since fallen by 25%; administrative costs dropped dramatically, from 25% to 3.5% of total costs; and overall health costs https://cthealthpolicy.org/index.php/2019/02/18/seven-years-later-connecticut-medicaid-still-saving-taxpayers-money/#:~:text=Seven%20years%20later%2C%20Connecticut%20Medicaid%20still%20saving%20taxpayers%20money,-

By%20Ellen%20Andrews&text=As%20with%20most%20health%20care,over%20the%20prior%20four%20years.&text=Connecticut%20Medicaid%20accomplished%20this%20without%20an%20increase%20in%20administrative%20funding. dropped http://cthealthpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Medicaid-2019-brief-formatted-copy.pdf

MEDICARE FOR ALL MEANS MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR ALL

Commercial health insurers discriminate against mental health care and keep Americans from getting the services we need. There is a better way: Single-payer Medicare for All would eliminate the greed and administrative waste of commercial insurance and cover everybody in the U.S. for all medically necessary care, including behavioral and mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, and prescription medications. With Medicare for All, coverage is lifelong and portable, and services are provided without the copays, deductibles, and surprise bills that keep patients from getting care. And unlike commercial insurance, Medicare for All provides free choice of any hospital or provider, including psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed mental health counselors, and licensed marriage and family therapists.

SUPPORT MEDICARE— A SOLID INVESTMENT IN OUR COUNTRY

Let’s never forget that Universal Medicare for All is a solid investment in all citizens of our country by simply promoting a social service for universal access to affordable health care insurance for all. Aren’t we a society that cares enough to see that everyone receive the health care they need? That’s the basic purpose of Medicare for All, and it’s certainly the right thing to do now with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The history of our most successful national health insurance program, Medicare, provides one of the best arguments for expanding the program to cover everyone. When Medicare was enacted 57 years ago, following a broad grassroots campaign, many believed the dream of a full national health insurance system was right around the corner.

Unfortunately, five decades later, Medicare still has not been expanded. Most of the changes have been contractions with higher out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries and repeated attempts at privatization by big pharma, the health insurance industry and its “champions” in the White House and Congress.

It’s time to end inadequate and dangerous health insurance programs. Insist on real health insurance reform essential for individuals and families. American history is filled with examples of fundamental, democratic change brought about by successful mass action and public pressure against the counseling of the neoliberal, privatization, 1% self-serving oligarchs/vested interest crowd. No more waiting! Ask your legislators to fully support Medicare For All now. Join the majority of Americans who support improved Medicare for All. Ask your legislator to support legislation now filed in the House (H.R. 1976) and Senate (S. 4204) that would establish this badly needed reform.
Full text-HR 1976.
https://www.congress.gov…(S.4204)


Sunday, August 14, 2022

Graham's hierarchy of disagreement

When you discuss a topic and everyone agrees, the conversation often dies out quickly. But when you disagree, you're putting yourself in opposition to what was said and the discussion continues. Mahatma Gandhi said “honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress”, But are you good at disagreeing? Paul Graham, a computer programmer, proposed in 2008 a “Hierarchy of Disagreement” to rank the quality of disagreements from the least honest and effective, to the most complex and productive. Can you figure out which level you usually use?


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Know thyself.


Principle 3: Integral Psychotherapy accepts there are multiple lines or capacities in addition to self-system development. It expects that clients will be developmentally uneven and posits that interventions aimed at different lines can be useful in therapy.

Forman, Mark D.. A Guide to Integral Psychotherapy (SUNY series in Integral Theory) . State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition. 


Howard Gardner is often credited with the idea of multiple intelligences. In Integral Philosophy this idea of multiple intelligences are called “lines” of development. Gardner originally describes eight intelligences and then added one more for a total of nine. Integral philosopher, Ken Wilber, describes twelve lines of development. Whatever models you prefer, it can probably be agreed there are a core group of intelligences such as cognitive, athletic, musical, artistic, mechanical, social, emotional, spiritual.


The development of these different kinds of intelligences is uneven with some highly developed and others poorly developed. The question might be asked to what extent is psychotherapy deficit focused and strength focused? A good psychotherapy is both deficit and strength focused. It is not unusual for a psychotherapist to find that a client expresses anguish over failure in one line of development while they excel in another. How important is it for a therapist to take a balanced approach to empower a client who expresses a desire to improve in the areas they are deficient in and amplify and expand the areas they are accomplished in?


We often are asked on employment interviews to identify our strengths and our weaknesses. This type of question brings up the old Greek philosophy dictum, “Know thyself.” and “An unexamined life isn’t worth living.”


One of the major benefits of psychotherapy is to improve one’s degree of self understanding.