Monday, February 4, 2019

Games people play - "Be Afraid" on the Macro level

"That thing that you do," or "that thing that always happens to you" is the key idea of Schema therapy.

Back in the 60s this idea of repetitive patterns of behavior was popularized as Games People Play by Eric Berne, the father of Transactional Analysis.

Several decades later the idea of dysfunctional repetitive patterns of behavior became offical with the DSM - III (Diagnoses and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, third edition) axis 2 diagnoses of personality disorders.

There is a new tag being created on MBH, "games people play" which will identify articles which describe these repetitive patterns of behavior at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of human interaction.

One of my favorites which is played on the macro level by politicans is "Be Afraid."

The thesis is that if the politican can manipulate people with fear, (s)he can get their votes and/or support for the policy they are promoting. There are new examples of this game presented to us daily in our news. The memorable examples are "WMD," Weapons Of Mass Destruction, which garnered support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during the George W. Bush administration. Most recently we have experienced the "Caravan Invaders" game perpetrated by President Trump and the Republicans.

The way this game "Be Afraid" is played at the macro level is described by Hermann Goering, Hitler's right hand man and founder of the Gestapo,

"“Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America nor, for that matter, in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ... [V]oice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” 

The aim of the game is to generate fear to obtain supporters for one's election and policies.

The targets of the game are willing victims. They are the dupes in a con job.

The roles of the victims of the game are to vote, cheer, and fight, if necessary, for the perpetrator.

There are nemeses of the perpetrator who unwittingly attempt to fight the perpetrator's moves but often only reinforce them, and strengthen them through polarization from the generated adversity. The nemeses moves makes the bogus fear  real and credible through repetition and heightened visibility.

The best antidote for this game is simply not to play by changing the subject, redirecting the focus, side step the whole attempt to propagandize, and offering the perpetrator's targets more attractive options.

What was the antidote to the WMD hysteria? Focusing on the grief and fears of our nation after 9/11 by having more rituals of mourning and analsyis of factors which contributed to the attack, and efforts to rebuild and repair our relationships around the world.

What was the antidote to the Caravan Invaders? Focusing on what other candidates would do to address the real problems of the American people. This is what was done, and these candidates obtained the votes from the targets of the game to move the nation's functioning onto a more constructive path.

The key idea in game analysis is to be able to name the game. The ability to name the repetitive pattern of dysfunctional behavior enables our ability to manage things better. Rather than being victimized by social, political, and emotional forces we don't understand and are confused by, we see the game being played, and once we are aware, we have the power to choose to do things differently and in a better way.

What do Child Protective Workers think about their jobs?

Child Protective Workers in Hennepin County Minnesota describe their work. Hennepin County gets 20,000 CPS reports per year which is 60 per day. This video was published on 01/15/19.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Psychologists find that adults take girls' pain less seriously

From Science Daily 01/25/19

Gender stereotypes can hurt children -- quite literally. 

When asked to assess how much pain a child is experiencing based on the observation of identical reactions to a finger-stick, American adults believe boys to be in more pain than girls, according to a new Yale study in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology

The researchers attribute this downgrading of the pain of girls and/or upgrading of the pain of boys to culturally ingrained, and scientifically unproven, myths like "boys are more stoic" or "girls are more emotive."

For more click here.

Is it helpful to talk about past abuse?

Question: Is it helpful to go back and talk about past abuse?

Answer: It is to identify the trauma that occured so that the thoughts and feelings about it can be managed. Dr. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said that you can either talk it out or act it out. Children act things out all the time and their parents tell them, "Stop crying and use your words."

Once the trauma has been identified strategies have to be developed to manage it to diminish or eliminate the influence that it has on one's current functioning.

A trauma informed therapist does not ask, "What is wrong with you?" but rather "What happened to you?"

It is not helpful to prolong a sense of victimization. To rise above victimization a person has to identify what happened, figure out how to manage it, and move on. This work is often best done with a professional but can be done with nonjudgmental others as well.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Media watch - Is Twitter good for your mental health?

Is Twitter the crystal meth of newsrooms asks journalist David Von Drehle in the Washington Post on 01/25/19?

The answer is "yes!"

Twitter is not only the crystal meth of newsrooms but of social media addicts and internet news junkies.

Twitter and other social media are having huge impact on human societies around the world. It is an impact we barely understand.

Misinformation, propaganda, illusory understanding, and triggered emotional arousal leading to group think and herd like behavior similar to the two minutes of hate in George Orwell's 1984 are a few of the consequences.

Is Twitter good for our mental health? We will be researching this question and reporting in future articles on MBH.

For more click here.

Will American Catholics be disqualified from death penalty juries because of Pope Francis' declaration that the death penalty is immoral?

Will Pope Francis' declaration in August, 2018 that the death penalty is morally unacceptable in all circumstances disqualify American Catholics from serving on death penaly cases? And if these American Catholics are disqualified from serving on death penaly cases does that make it more likely that the death penalty will be used in the United States?

From the Washington Post on 01/18/19

"In August, Pope Francis declared the death penalty morally unacceptable in all circumstances and committed the church to its global abolition. This pronouncement broke from previous Catholic teaching, which permitted the death penalty in “very rare” cases of “absolute necessity.”

Death penalty abolitionists hold out hope that the pope’s new call to action may eventually sway the American public: Catholic voters and politicians might become more inclined to repeal the death penalty, Catholic prosecutors might increasingly exercise their discretion not to pursue capital punishment, and Catholic judges (including the five Catholic justices on the Supreme Court) might grow more receptive to legal arguments that limit the practice. A change in public opinion could also influence the Supreme Court, which considers society’s “evolving standards of decency” in evaluating whether a punishment is “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment.
But because of the anomalous way we select juries in capital cases, greater opposition to the death penalty among Catholics could, counterintuitively, increase the number of death sentences imposed in this country. Such opposition could even solidify judicial support for capital punishment. This paradox is possible because of a process called “death qualification,” in which a judge can disqualify certain prospective jurors who are opposed to executions. The pope’s sharpening of the Catholic position on the death penalty helps reveal the problems with this system."
For more info. click here.

Friday, February 1, 2019

My Son’s Tutor Slipped Me Entrance-Exam Questions. Should I Report Him?

From the New York Times on 01/22/19

"With some ambivalence, I took him to a well-regarded (and expensive) tutor to help him prepare for the Specialized High School Admission Test. After his session, the tutor asked if my son was also taking the entrance test for a different coveted public high school in the city. When I said yes, he gave me a handwritten paper, explaining that it was a copy of most of the test questions, which he got from “spies” he sent to take the exam. He asked me not to tell others about it. I was shocked and horrified and left with the test. I did not look at it or allow my son to, as I would consider it cheating. Upon arriving home, I put it in an envelope to send to the school’s admissions office, because I believe that it should know its test is available in this way.
Can I send the test anonymously without naming the tutor? Or should I sign the letter and provide his name, if asked? Name Withheld
You can read the Times' answer by clicking here.
I would add my own questions and concerns which are related to teaching our children and other people we interact with integrity. It seems that cheating and lying have been increasingly endemic in our society with the current Presidential administration. The corruption is rampant, explicit, and norm changing. As Tracy Chapman sings in her great song "All that you have is your soul", "My mama done told me; she say she learn the hard way; don't give your soul away; all that you have is your soul."
What this tutor has done beyond encouraging his student to cheat is to corrupt the system and attempt to ingratiate himself with the parent who is paying his fees. This has far reaching consequences far beyond the immediate participants. The tutor's behavior in providing test answers illictly is toxic for our society, not just for the individuals involved. 
The larger question about this behavior is what kind of society do we want to create? How can that society embody integrity and mutual respect?
With 86% of college students admitting that they have cheated in school, many questons arise about the integrity of our educational system.