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Saturday, February 25, 2017

My professional code of ethics prohibits me from complying with some of the policies of the Trump administration.


As a member of the National Association of Social Workers and a Licensed Clinical Social Work Psychotherapist in New York State, I am bound by my professional ethics not to adhere to or support many of the policies of the Trump administration. I am committed to treating all my clients and their families and all members of my community with dignity, respect, and honor.

Videotherapy - I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

Jean Paul Sartre, the existential philosopher, said, "Hell is other people." I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a 93 minute film which takes this theme and runs with it.

When Ruth, a 30 something, single Nursing Assistant's home is burglarized, her depression deepens with her sense of violation which morphs into anger about "not wanting people to be assholes " and she wants her stuff back.

The story then kind of careens through a series of attempts to make things right.

Ruth recruits a socially awkward single neighbor, Tony, as her "back - up" as she goes on her quest to track down the burglar(s) and her things.

The story is told in ways that are comedic and grizzly.

The creative tension is developed between Ruth's righteous indignation and the selfish, greedy, exploitative behavior of her fellow human beings. It is a conflict that most of us can identify with, on the one hand being angry and repulsed by the behavior of our fellow human beings and our desire to love them and be at peace when things are more just.

Ruth's assertiveness in channeling her anger into making things right is to be admired. There is a slogan in psychology that "you can be mad or sad." When working with client's of mine who are depressed, I often observe their moving from sad to mad as a step in the direction of health. When people say, "Gosh darn it, I'm not taking this any more! I'm going to do something about it to make things right!" I am reassured that the person is on the track to make the world a better place.

I recommend "I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore." I give it a 4 on my 5 point scale.

For more from IMDB click here.

"I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore" is on Netflix streaming.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Racism is bad for your health

From the Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley on September 8, 2016:

Researchers compared the racial biases of nearly 1.4 million people nationwide to death rates in more than 1,700 US counties. Their findings suggest that blacks and, to a lesser degree, whites who reside in overtly racist communities are more prone to dying from heart disease and other circulatory diseases.

For more click here.


Racism is not a psychiatric disorder in and of itself. Social groups often take pride in their group and feel and think they are superior to others. 

Individual racism can be distinguished from institutional and structural racism where  a culture and system are rigged by the group in power to oppress and dominate the minority group. Individuals tend to act out the beliefs and values of their reference groups. It may be more helpful to think about racism as a cultural phenomenon with individual behaviors and beliefs being a symptom of more deep seated dysfunctional norms, values, and beliefs.

Mental health professionals are not only concerned with the dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of their clients but also with the emotional systems in which these individuals participate such as their families, communities, states, nation, and religious and civic organizations.

Are some communities, organizations, institutions, and political and religious groups more racist than others? Could we then say that some communities, organizations, institutions, and political and religious groups more mentally healthy than others?

Mental health professionals are not interested in enhancing the mental health of individuals, but with families, communities, organizations, institutions, and cultures as well.

For more click here.

"It is what it is" leads to resilience and a miracle


Two thirds of Americans report Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which predict poorer health and more problems in adulthood. However research has show than people who can accept their childhood trauma seem to do better. This acceptance does not imply agreeing with it or condoning it.

In reading this description of the study done, and the observation that "mindfulness" helps with managing memories of the trauma, the saying "it is what it is" comes to mind. In the recognition of the trauma and the acknowledgement of it, we can rise above it.

This recognition and acknowledgement often happens best when the person can have his/her say about what happened in the presence of an understanding, trusted other. It is the non anxious listening of another who becomes an enlightened witness that this transformation can occur. Some might call this transformation a "miracle" in the sense that there is a shift in perception and understanding that is liberating and facilitates peace.

Videotherapy - Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things

Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things is on Netflix streaming and might be helpful for people considering existential concerns about the meaning of life and how to create a life that makes one happy. 

The thesis of the movie is that the pursuit and acquisition of material things while promoted by advertising and marketing in our society doesn't work. The slogan at the end of the movie is "Love people, use things, not the other way around."

The Dali Lama said that the purpose of life is happiness. This statement begs the further question of "What will make me happy?" This question is the basis of all psychotherapy even if it is not addressed explicitly in the therapy.

The movie got poor reviews on IMDB because of it superficiality which I think are justified, but for the less aware this movie can be eye and mind opening.

You can get more information from IMDB by clicking here.

The relevance to hoarding and compulsive shopping etc is apparent, but its relevance to all of us in our consumer society and growing ennui is germane.