Thursday, January 20, 2022
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Therapy discussions are composites and not a transcription of an actual conversation.
The 55 year old female client said, "My life has been just terrible. Bad things always happen to me. I'm on my third marriage and so many people in my life have died. I think my life is at an end. I can't take much more. It seems things are always terrible."
I said, "Golly, that sounds awful. It is amazing you've made it this far."
She said, "Yeah, I don't want to get up in the morning. Nothing ever goes right for me."
I said, "Never? Nothing has ever happened that's good in your life?"
"No," she said, "and even if things do go better they don't last."
I said, "I know what you mean. My brother told me one time, 'There's no such thing as gravity, the whole world sucks.'"
She looked at me as if she didn't believe I'd said this and laughed.
I laughed too. We laughed together at how bad things can be, and if you can laugh with someone, how bad can it be?
This behavior had arisen in my consciousness and I have observed it multiple times but didn’t have a name for it until I read the article in the Washington Post by Marc Fisher about “hygiene theater.”
Hygiene theater is intended to lower anxiety about catching covid while the unintended side effects of the supposed hygienic practices can make the likelihood of catching Covid higher.
The same theatrical management of supposed terrorist threats leads to terrorist theater.
Community psychologists and Social Workers who study macro systems might be on to this phenomena. It might be a good thing if more people, especially the policy and procedure implementers were aware of it.
The concept of hygiene theater might also be helpful in clinical settings if psychotherapists discussed this drama with their clients and how the dramatic “precautions” instill needless anxiety.
Monday, January 10, 2022
I met with a client (23) who told me when I asked him who his heroes are "I don't have heroes. I like the villains better."
Sunday, January 9, 2022
Saturday, January 8, 2022
Therapy discussions are composite descriptions of therapy conversations. They are not a transcription of a discussion with a particular client.
Yesterday , January 5, 2022, was quite a day in the office. In addition to the client who wanted to discuss the blue-footed booby bird, another client brought up "treason day." He said, "Ya know, Mr. Markham, tomorrow is treason day."
Sunday, January 2, 2022
He (Eric Kalenze) also discovered books by E.D. Hirsh Jr. and Diane Ravitch that reinforced his initial feeling that what was called “progressive” or “constructivist” pedagogy didn’t place enough value on building students’ knowledge through explicit instruction “ Wexler, Natalie, Why So Many Kids Struggle To Learn, American Scholar, Winter 2022,P. 41
The basic idea is that reading comprehension depends on stored knowledge so that the reader has a context for the new information being obtained. Without this context the reader is confused or bypassed as the information goes over their head. Explicit instruction of primary concepts and knowledge is needed for understanding to be achieved. Merely decoding words with phonetic articulation doesn’t provide the meaning of the word.
In other words it is important for a person to know stuff if they are to learn more about it.
The even more problematic situation is when people think they know stuff that they don’t. This is a common phenomenon called the Dunning Kruger effect. The Dunning Kruger effect is acknowledged in the slogan, “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.”
The Dunning-Kruger effect also highlights the difference between being “dumb” and “stupid.” Dumb is when a person is ignorant and doesn’t know. Stupid is when a person thinks they know but doesn’t.
Dumbness can be easily dealt with. Stupidity, however, is a whole other challenge.
Saturday, January 1, 2022
The Serenity Prayer is famous and often shared in Alcoholics Anonymous and addiction treatment programs. It seems fundamental to a positive path of recovery. The Serenity Prayer has been attributed to many sources. I was surprised to read this entry for January 1 in the Daily Stoic day by day calendar from Epictetus
The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals but within myself to the choices that are my own..." Discourses, 2.5.4-6
In 2022 I have added a new feature to Markham's Behavioral Health which is called, "Book Of The Month." During the month, articles regarding ideas raised in the book being read will be posted. It is hoped that readers of this blog might also read the book and comment. Even if you don't read the book please add your comments about the ideas raised anyway. The book for January, 2022 is The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim.
Today, as in times past, the most important and also the most difficult task in raising a child is helping him to find meaning in life. Many growth experiences are needed to achieve this. The child, as he develops, must learn step by step to understand himself better; with this he becomes more able to understand others, and eventually can relate to them in ways which are mutually satisfying and meaningful.
Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment (p. 3). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The idea of “moral models” has long interested me. Some might call this a “world view” and others might call it a “meta-narrative.” Whatever it is called, it is the belief system which we unconsciously develop which we believe is real that governs how we think about ourselves and the world.
We act based on what we believe. What we believe is based on what we have been told. What we have been told is based on the incentives of those who have the power to do the telling. This insight leads to other interesting questions like do the storytellers believe the story they are telling or are they being manipulative for the story tellers benefit?
One of the most important results of storytelling, after entertainment, is survival. Survival involves getting basic needs met for food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and safety. Once survival needs are met then there are the psychological needs of belonging, emotional and social support, and lastly actualization of innate desires, talents, and abilities.
Fairy tales communicate what is to be expected from life. They create a perceptual bias.
What were you told as a child what life was like and what to expect? By whom? At what age? For what purpose?
Looking back and becoming conscious now of processes that were unconscious back then, what do you think the motivations were of the storytellers to tell you the stories they told you?