Friday, December 30, 2005

Why Are Jews Liberal Democrats?

There is an interesting post over at the Volokh Conspiracy by David Bernstein on why American Jews tend to be liberal Democrats. Bernstein addresses the assertion that Jews should logically be more conservative economically due to being entrepeneurs.

It's certainly true that many Jews have been successful entrepreneurs--everyone from famous businessmen such Julius Rosenwald, founder of Sears, and Michael Dell, to small-time tailors and shopkeepers. But what isn't often recognized is that a huge, almost certainly much larger number of Jews made their way to the middle class via government.

First, the Jewish population was concentrated in New York City, and until the 1970s the City had an excellent, free, public university system, with CCNY known as the "Jewish Harvard". Many Jews (including my mom) took advantage of this system, often at a time when major private universities had anti-Jewish quotas, and feel they therefore owe some of their success to the government and therefore tend to be statist than libertarian in their politcal leanings:

Second, and relatedly, huge numbers of Jews over the decades found employment with government, especially as teachers. I recall a statistic to the effect that in 1968, when controversy erupted over African American demands for "local control" of New York public schools, about 80% of New York City schoolteachers were Jewish. In the days when whole white-collar industries such as banking, insurance, and more were closed to Jews, civil service desk jobs were open, and Jews vestigially remember the relative lack of discrimination in government with fondness.


My Jewish grandfather left Prussia in the 1920's at nineteen (along with a brother) to come to Ellis Island and lived in New York the rest of his life. He was an entrepeneur and ran successful businesses in the city--maybe this is where I get the Libertarian leanings.

No Money, No Honey

I am in Cincinnati visiting relatives with the family and took the kids shopping at a nearby mall. My neice who just turned fourteen was looking at t-shirts with the snazzy sayings--you know the ones that say things like "Blonde and Smart" etc. Those to me are okay, but her favorite? A t-shirt that said, "No Money, No Honey." I told her that it seemed disrespectful to guys and to women to wear such a shirt and she did not buy it. Should girls or women really be advertising the superficial way they pick a guy? Maybe it is for the best if they do advertise--at least guys know which girls to avoid. Do boys wear obnoxious t-shirts with negative sayings about girls? I haven't seen any but maybe I have just missed out--anyone know boys who wear obnoxious sayings on their t-shirts about girls and if so, what do they say?

Update: Reader Jim sent in this link for the most obnoxious guy t-shirt. I have to agree it is pretty bad but more importantly, would you really want to marry a guy that wore this type of t-shirt to his wedding?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Gender Gap Continues

The Weekly Standard has a great article on higher education and boys. The widening of the gender gap in colleges continues as well as the apathy towards boy's education:

Today's shortage of men, by contrast, is largely ignored, denied, or covered up. Talk to university administrators, and few will admit that the imbalance is a problem, let alone that they're addressing it. Consider the view of Stephen Farmer, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill, where this year's enrollment is only 41.6 percent male. "We really have made no attempt to balance the class. We are gender blind in applications, very scrupulously so."

Why the blind devotion to gender--blindness? Because affirmative action for men is politically incorrect. And at universities receiving federal funding like UNC, it's also illegal. "My understanding of Title IX is that an admissions process that advantages men would be very difficult to defend," Farmer says.


Are we going to wait until no men attend college to address this issue? I expect the answer will be yes, as long as the PC crowd has plenty of women to fill up their schools. Can we really allow this apathy towards men's education to continue?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Staying Sane in NYC? Isn't that an Oxymoron?

Shrinkwrapped has the top ten ways for New Yorkers to stay sane in 2006. My top way to improve mental health for NYC residents would be-- move out of that city, for goodness sakes! I did and have been happier ever since.

Bullies, Meanies and Natural Consequences

Did you ever have a bully in your life that made you miserable? I know I did--I had several. First, there was Will Garland, a twelve-year-old boy who pelted me with rocks every time I tried to leave my house and walk up the street when I was nine. Then there was David Mosier, the terror that lived at the top of the hill, who hurled insults as well as threw rocks. Then there was the worst bully of them all--David Cruz who tortured me with insults about my family at school and hit all the kids in the head during dodgeball on purpose.

Natural consequences saved me from the meanness of each of these kids at some point. Will Garland eventually was beaten up by another boy for throwing rocks and left my end of the neighborhood in shame. David Mosier once tried to attack my sister physically and my dog, Lad, a beautiful protective collie, bit him. And finally, David Cruz was done in by Mrs. Lightner, my fifth grade teacher. In what today would have gotten the teacher fired, if not arrested, Ms. Lightner picked up a long ruler and hit David Cruz on the back.

David had been acting up in class yet again and had been driving the class crazy all year--he was mentally and physically abusive to us. He finally mouthed off to Ms. Lightner and she picked up the ruler and hit him--so hard that the ruler broke in two. She was shocked and so was David--tears fell from his eyes and Ms. Lightner even apologized. So, perhaps she should not have let anger get the better of her, but I and the entire class were grateful. I don't remember one more insult or knock in the head with a dodgeball from him after that.

Fast forward to today. Almost none of these natural consequences would ever happen in today's climate. No one is allowed to fight so Will Garland would most likely have gone on torturing kids with his rock throwing. Some parents would probably tell us we were squelching his self-esteem if he was ostracized from the neighborhood. When my family dog bit David Mosier, even his parents forgave us when they heard that David tried to attack my sister. Nowadays, no one would have been that reasonable. We would probably have been sued and lost--showing meanie David Mosier that it was okay to attack other kids. And as far as David Cruz--I can not even imagine the uproar that a teacher hitting a student would cause.

Today, there are fake consequences for acts of meanness and violence. These boys might be sent to therapy or maybe even medicated if their behavior was bothering the school. If they just bothered other kids, no one would notice and the normal kids are no longer allowed to defend themselves in the school setting. My 15-year-old nephew recently told me that he did not dare do anything to a kid at school who was threatening him as they would both be expelled. There are "bullying programs" that teach kids how to walk away from these bullies but one wonders how well that works. And finally, there is no discipline allowed other than time out and suspension--none of which are natural consequences to bullying.

If all of these methods really work, why do so many more kids now say they are being bullied or victimized at school? Normal well-adjusted kids may just ignore the bullying or find another way to cope but as a psychologist, I worry about those kids who have mental problems, poor coping skills and a low tolerance for being abused. They turn to overreacting to the bullying because so many of the adults in their milieu have been underreacting for years or overreacting with a fake method of consequence--like zero tolerance. Shouldn't we try for some moderation?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Politics of PTSD

In World War II, PTSD was called Combat Fatigue and dealt with differently in different armies. Among the Allies, you got R&R leave behind the lines. If you were a Russian soldier who said he had Combat Fatigue, you were shot. Amazingly, there weren't nearly as many cases of Combat Fatigue in the Russian Army (from James Dunnigan's book How to Make War (Fourth Edition) : A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Warfare in the Twenty-first Century). We no longer deal with PTSD in such a severe way, but is going to the opposite extreme where veterans are told they will never get better the answer?

The Washington Post has an article today on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)--hat tip to immodestproposals' blog for pointing out the article. Basically, criteria for PTSD are that a person has been exposed to a traumatic event, and has recurrent nightmares, hypervigilance etc. as a result of the trauma. See here for a description of PTSD. While I do believe that some people can experience PTSD, my concern is the growing political debate over soldiers who may or may not have the condition. Here is an excerpt from the Post article that clearly shows the politics involved in the diagnosis of PTSD:


The growing national debate over the Iraq war has changed the nature of the discussion over PTSD, some participants said. "It has become a pro-war-versus-antiwar issue," said one VA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because politics is not supposed to enter the debate. "If we show that PTSD is prevalent and severe, that becomes one more little reason we should stop waging war. If, on the other hand, PTSD rates are low . . . that is convenient for the Bush administration."


This professor is correct about his assertion that soldiers will remain sick if they are told they will never recover by the PC crowd:

"We have young men and women coming back from Iraq who are having PTSD and getting the message that this is a disorder they can't be treated for, and they will have to be on disability for the rest of their lives," said Frueh, a professor of public psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. "My concern about the policies is that they create perverse incentives to stay ill. It is very tough to get better when you are trying to demonstrate how ill you are."


There are some soldiers who truly suffer from PTSD, but many of these can be treated, if they seek help or believe that they have the chance to get better. But as long as these soldiers can be exploited for the political cause of the moment, their working lives will be tragically cut short and they will suffer for that, regardless of the size of their disability check. Or vice versa, those who need help will not get it because of the stigma. Whenever diagnoses are politicized, it is bad for the people involved. Those who have PTSD may not go for help and those who are malingerers have the incentive to rip off the system.

Update: Medpundit has more thoughts on PTSD.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The War Room

Since a number of readers have expressed a desire to have a public discourse on issues pertaining to the war--here is another open thread where anyone who wishes can join in to discuss the war or any issue pertaining to Iraq. This room will not be monitored although I may pop in from time to time. Try to keep it civil. The War Room will be on my side bar (along with the Playpen) so you can access it at any time.

Along the same topic, my family and I have "adopted" a solider named Brian through treatsfortroops.com. It is an organization my family members told me about where you can send treats and gifts to a soldier overseas. I have heard that the soldiers really enjoy getting the mail and gifts, especially if they do not have a family who can support them.

Sloth: The New New Year's Resolution?

I was never one of those people who made New Year's Resolutions. I figured life was hard enough without the extra pressure of some self-imposed goal that I probably had no chance of meeting. Finally, I have found someone who agrees with me that living as a sloth is the best way to find the path to peace and happiness. Wendy Wasserstein has written a much needed book for those of you who think that working hard is the way to get ahead.

The book, Sloth : The Seven Deadly Sins, is a collection of chapters on how schedules and jogging are for dummies and unlocking the lazy you is the path to contentment. Wasserstein writes the book in the third person voice of a male self help guru--which is a little confusing.

If you had told me six years ago, before I got sick, that hanging out at home staring at the ceiling could be the road to fulfillment, I would have thought you were nuts. Now I congratulate myself on a day where I sit in pajamas until 3:00 in the afternoon contemplating getting up long enough to check my email or post something.

So how do you figure out if you are in need of being saved by your inner sloth? Wasserstein presents three types who can benefit from sloth therapy:

Category One: Do you ever hear some someone say, "I rest all the time, but I'm always tired." Believe you me, this person never rests. They may be lying down, but they are thinking, "I should be exercising, I should be reading, I should be having sex with my neighbor...." etc. By adopting a slothlike lifestyle they will, for the first time in their lives, be truly rested.

Category Two: "I don't need to rest, I get high on life." This is bologna if I ever heard it. Who could possibly get high on life? In life, there is disease, random acts of violence, natural disasters, undisclosed fascist governments, not to mention world poverty and hunger. If you look life in the face, you couldn't possibly get high on it.

Category Three: Here's my favorite--the fellow who says, "There are certain things I need to do." Like what? See the Eiffel Tower? I say watch the Travel Network. Have sex with Britney Spears? Watching her video from the comfort of your living room is a nearly identical experience. Visit your mother before she dies? Buddy, if you haven't been kind to your mother all your life this final visit is not going to make it up to her.


Wasserstein also lists the top ten lies about sloths (although she states she simply does not have the energy to refute them). Here is a sample of a few of such lies:

1) Sloth is dangerous and causes a variety of medical problems.

2) A sloth's life is unbalanced and deficient in human interaction.

3) Sloth is an anticapitalist conspiracy.

4) Sloth leads to mental atrophy.

5) Sloth will lead to the end of democracy and civilization.

Wasserstein states, "To all of these lies, I say no one ever went to war because they were sloths. No one was ever murdered or killed in the name of sloth. Furthermore, sloths don't go on religious crusades. Terrorism requires initiative and cunning. If sloths are fundamentalists, their fundamentalist belief is to rest. Hate takes energy. Destroying the ozone layer requires industry. Therefore slothdom can save humanity."

Well, I guess this is where Wasserstein and I part ways. Unless all people in the world become sloths, we cannot all aspire to crawl into bed. Thank goodness that there are those brave souls out there who are willing to fight on the sloths' behalf to keep them safe at night. Without those who fight their inner sloth, we would not have the beds, lights and creature comforts of being a sloth as well as our freedom to discuss the virtues of laziness and the sins of terrorists. Now excuse me while I go back to bed.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, or Whatever!



Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Blogging this year is the best present I've gotten in a while, thanks to all my readers of all persuasions.

Hope you're having a great weekend -- I'll see you later.

Friday, December 23, 2005

How to Tell if Your Therapist Sucks Like a Bilge Pump

I frequently get calls and emails from people who wonder how to find a good therapist or who tell me that they wonder if the therapist they have is any good. If the person is in therapy, I generally tell them to talk with their current therapist about their concerns. However, there are some general guidelines I can give you to tell if your therapist's behavior or technique should raise a red flag.

Let me start with some personal experiences. I had a good friend in New York who married fairly young and had two children within two years. She divorced and was left to raise the two kids by herself, one of whom had ADHD and was a handful. Because of her stress, she would get tense with the kids and one time, grabbed her son which scared her. She immediately called and went to a therapist. During the intake with this social worker, she told her about grabbing her son and that she was seeking treatment to help her deal with the stress of the kids without resorting to anger.

Instead of help, she got a visit from the Department of Human Services who showed up at the door to investigate this young mother's possible child abuse. My friend was devastated. The DHS investigation turned up nothing but my friend worked in social services and feared that she would be labeled as a child abuser. I told her to find another therapist--one who didn't jump the gun without getting all the facts. (I understand that the law is such that mental health professionals must report suspected child abuse but my friend's act of grabbing her son was questionable as an abusive act and one that should have been explored in more detail than the therapist just getting hysterical immediately). My friend refused to go back for treatment after this negative epsiode--and who could blame her?

I have had my own bad experiences with an unethical therapist. In my last years of doing my PHD, I became stressed about grad school and sought out a PHD psychologist to help--she seemed nice enough but I got the feeling she was not crazy about men. If I talked about fear of relationships, she would say something cheerful like, "Well, most men abandon you after a while." I found out she had been recently divorced and obviously was not handling it well. I left after figuring I could make it on my own.

One day, however, I was talking with my post doc supervisor who told me that she had heard I had seen this therapist for treatment. I nearly fainted, I really did not want my supervisor to know I had been in therapy--it was private. I was steaming. I wrote this unethical therapist to tell her she was lucky that I did not report her to the ethics board and told her that she better not dare do this to another patient in the future. Her response--nothing. Note to other doctors and therapists out there--one of the biggest reasons for law suits is dismissing a patient's concerns. Don't do it.

Anyway, enough of my story. Here are some additional tips on how to find a good therapist or determine if you need a new one:

1) The best way to find a good therapist is word of mouth. You might ask others for recommendations or ask your insurance company to match you with someone who specializes in your specific problem.

2) Once you call for an appointment, pay attention to how you are treated on the phone. Does the therapist call you back promptly if you leave a message on the answering machine? Or does his/her staff act courteous over the phone? Arrange a first meeting to see how you get along with the therapist. You are after all, trying to interview and find out if this professional is right for you. If the therapist is good, they will feel the same way. I let clients know that the first few sessions are a trial period to see if we can work together. If not, I give them three names of other psychologists who might be better for them.

3) Remember that the most important ingredient in patient change is a feeling that the therapist likes you. If you sense that there is no real connection with the therapist or the therapist seems to deal in generalities such as "men are this way, women that way etc.," you should bring your concerns up in the first few sessions and discuss them to determine whether or not you should continue which brings me to our fourth point.

4) Do not be intimidated by the therapist's PHD or MD--it does not give them license to hold their degree out as a reason you should listen to them. Listen to the words of your therapist and see if they are beneficial to you or just downright silly or ineffective. Once a therapist says something like, "Listen to me because I have such and such degree," you might want to be heading to the door. This is not to say that degrees and training aren't helpful--they are as hopefully your doctor has a good range of experience with those of similar problems. But it is the knowlege they have to deal with your problem that is important, of course, not just the fact that they made it through school. Sharing with you their degrees and experience in a form or verbally at the beginning of therapy is normal.

5) Finally, if you are in therapy and you feel that no progress is being made, address it with the therapist and listen to the feedback. None of us is past interpreting our problems incorrectly and it may just be a misunderstanding or miscommunication between you and the therapist. Give him or her a chance to help you change these misperceptions but if that nagging feeling continues that you are not getting the help you need or the therapist does not like you/respect you, it may be time to consider a change.

The Dr. Helen Playpen

There are some commenters on this blog who wish to discuss extraneous topics. I understand that some need an outlet for this type of "chat room" so am designating this post as an area where commenters can speak with each other without interrupting the topic at hand. Please note that in the future, should you wish to belittle, harass or just plain annoy other commenters, you will be sent to timeout in the Dr. Helen Playpen where you will be free to pontificate your views with all other interested parties. Thank you for your cooperation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Can Psychology Become more Diverse?

The number of PHD's in psychology is declining :

For the fourth year in a row, the number of students earning PhDs in psychology has decreased, according to the federal "Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities" report, which offers data on most 2002 PhD recipients. In fact, since 1998 the number of psychology PhDs awarded has dropped about 13 percent, from 3,676 to 3,199, the survey found.
.

The trend towards more females in the field continues:

About 67 percent of 2002 psychology PhDs were women, continuing the trend of a majority of women in the field over the past 20 to 25 years. For 2002 doctorate recipients in all fields, 45 percent were women.


Although the APA may believe otherwise, I believe the trend towards fewer PHDs in psychology and fewer men will continue unless action is taken to reverse some of the problem areas in the field. I have to give the APA credit though--they appear to be trying to do just that. They recently requested APA members to email their concerns about the future of psychology to the Policy and Planning Board in Washington DC. So I did my part to help the APA understand how lack of diversity is driving potential members and students away. Here is my email:

My main concern at this time is similar to others who have voiced feeling disturbed with the lack of political diversity of the APA. Although I am a member of APA and have been a Full member since 1994, I do not feel welcome within the organization. I am sure I speak for other Libertarian and Republican colleagues when I say that I feel deep concern when I hear that "disparaging remarks were made about red state officials and the left-leaning documentary, Outfoxed, was shown during the APA convention (page 61, November 2005 Monitor). At least you could have shown another documentary looking at the other side of the coin, such as Michael Moore Hates America.

This discrimination against right leaning thinkers is not only reflective in the APA, but is ingrained in many of the graduate programs in psychology throughout the country. I witnessed a male student who made a politically incorrect remark about African Americans in my graduate program in the 1990's and he was put out of the program. If you want to "make sure that all perspectives are respected and not silenced" then the APA has to be willing to hear views that they do not agree with--I certainly have had to be tolerant of the potically correct views of the majority of APA members for years. I talk with colleagues across the country who do not belong to APA because they do not agree with the left wing politics. One psychologist told me that he quit APA 15 years ago as he feared if he spoke his real views, he would get "thrown out anyway." Although this view may be extreme, it is one that should be taken with concern.

I am writing because I would like to stay a part of the APA--but when I see articles advocating diversity--but only if one is politically correct--I feel discouraged about the future of psychology. Left leaning politics may fly within APA and the academic world but in the real world--there is a mixture of people who share all kinds of world views. How does it help our profession, its students, and our clients when we tout diversity but only if it is the left leaning kind?

In order to remedy this situation, I would recommend more right leaning articles as well as left, more research looking into the traits of liberals like the one on Political Conservatism as Socially Motivated Cognition (of course, it should be written by researchers who are not primarily liberals), more welcoming views of masculinity (no, it is not a pathology to be male--e.g. not all sons are engaged in sex scandals--believe it or not, most boys are pretty decent people), less women as victim articles and books, and more inclusion of those with right leaning political views on the board of APA.

Thanks for listening.

Helen Smith, PHD
APA Member


And here is the APA's reply:

December 21, 2005

Dear Dr. Smith:

I am writing as the chair of the Policy and Planning Board (P&P) to thank you for your letter of November 11, 2005. P&P has a strong interest in APA's future and believes that it will be to APA's benefit to maintain an environment that will encourage an open exchange among psychologists with different views. P&P heard other APA members voice similar positions to yours at the Town Hall Meeting held at the 2005 APA Convention in Washington, DC.

I am copying Andy Benjamin, who will chair P&P in 2006 and asking him to raise this issue for discussion when the P&P meets in March 2006. This will fit nicely into the board’s discussions tracking the activities associated with recommendations included in the 2004 P&P 5-year report (American Psychologist, July/Aug 2005 pp. 512-522). I believe that this is an important APA membership retention issue as well as an issue that psychology may wish to use to demonstrate the positive contributions that it can make to American society.

I appreciate the time you took to raise this issue and promise that Andy Benjamin will bring this to the attention of P&P at its March 2006 meeting.

Sincerely,

Sandra E. Tars, PhD

Chair, Policy and Planning Board


Okay, this response could just be a way to placate members but hopefully, the need to retain old members and reach out to new ones will keep them on their toes, and may be the start of change within the organization and psychology. I sure hope so.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Excuse Me While I go Throw Up

Winston Churchill once said, "85% of the world's work is done by people who don't feel very well." Perhaps this saying applies to bloggers. Is it my imagination or do a lot of bloggers seem to be people who don't feel very well? Every time I read a blog now, it seems like an illness has taken over the writer to the point where they're at a hospital or doctor's office. Heck, even sex-blogger justonebite is having medical problems. I hope she gets well soon--I really like her blog--although maybe illness will keep her blogging even more than usual. I know that feeling sick keeps me at the computer for extended periods--mainly as a way to distract myself from my body.

My husband had set up a site for me to blog four years ago but I never used it and was content to just have a couple of websites. I was busy working and thinking that I could make a difference in the world--my mistake. My profession never gave me the outlet that I needed to do that. However, as my health got worse and my tolerance for people and my job lower, I started blogging a few months ago to feel that I could still get my opinion out in the world in a way that made me feel productive (it may just be annoying to others, but it makes me feel better).

I used to do a lot of mental evaluations for people getting Social Security Disability. When I was healthy (prior to my heart attack), I could not relate very well to the clients who came in with their various illnesses, it seemed foreign to me--from the allergies, chemical sensitivites and fibromyalgia to the heart problems, cancer and strokes. However, once I had a heart attack, I understood the vulnerabilities that people suffered. What I could not understand was giving up the essence of who one was in terms of their working life to receive a social security check.

Which brings me back to blogging. There is something refreshing about the ability to post one's thoughts and tout one's wares (such as documentary films, books etc.) over the internet while barely being able to hold a fork to one's mouth before rushing to the bathroom to throw up from some stomach bug you picked up from your kid's school a few days before. I wonder how many other bloggers are out there posting on a regular basis and keeping the world amused because it is one of the few outlets that requires little physical exertion? I could be wrong but it seems to me that if one is vibrant with good health and stamina, they would be out snowboading, skiing or just enjoying the outdoors. I know I would. Anyone else out there blog to distract yourself from feeling bad--whether physical or mental? It would be nice to know I had some company.

Update: Go read more thoughts on depression at Classical Values and don't miss the Blog-life Crisis at thenonist.com.

Understanding Radicalism

I just ordered this book, Roots of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, and the Left,mainly for professional reasons as it contains a study I mentioned on liberals in a previous post. I thought about the study again when reading Taranto's Best of the Web which included my post on the Thematic Apperception Test, a projective test used by psychologists. Here is the study used to look at the traits of liberals:

A 2003 paper by Rutgers sociologist Ted Goertzel offers some interesting insight into the left-wing psyche:

In the 1970s, Stanley Rothman and Robert Lichter administered Thematic Apperception Tests to a large sample of "new left" radicals (Roots of Radicalism, 1982). They found that activists were characterized by weakened self-esteem, injured narcissism and paranoid tendencies. They were preoccupied with power and attracted to radical ideologies that offered clear and unambiguous answers to their questions.


And here is what the TAT measures:

The 31 picture cards included in the TAT are used to stimulate stories or descriptions about relationships or social situations and can help identify dominant drives, emotions, sentiments, conflicts and complexes.


I loved the TAT when I was in New York doing more psychoanalytic work but I have not used it much in recent years. It is an interesting test--I will post a review of the Roots of Radicalism after I have read it. Maybe there will be more about this study that I can share.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Can This Be True?

Shockingly, this UCLA study finds that 90% of the major news outlets lean to the left. Did we really need a study to tell us that? via Pajamas Media

"New" Sign for Heart Disease

A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that shortness of breath is a new sign for heart disease--especially for women. I already knew that--seems obvious--but read more about it at WebMD Blog.

Dangerous Class Assignments

If you think that boys don't suffer from abuse at the hands of women, than you have to read this. It is the story of a 13-year-old boy who was first abused by his mother and then by the school system who treated him as a criminal rather than a victim of abuse. Why is it that liberals will go to great lengths to fight for the rights of people who are not really victims and then deny the real victims any solace? It is hard to believe that such an abusive counselor is allowed access to a school system--if I were this kid's parent--I would be down at this school in a flash. Here is a portion of the story:

My cousin rarely cries. I figure he picked that up from one of us, his brother, me, or one of my brothers. But now, he’s practically in tears. Why? Because the class assignment was for them to write about their experiences with the causes of rape. The girls had to write about times they felt “pressured” by boys. And the boys… well, they had to write about times they tried to “force” themselves on girls. Not pressure them, force them.


This is the sort of fmnst trite that keeps boys silent. I wonder how many of the boys in that class have been abused. I wonder how many of them have been raped. I wonder how many of them go home to a house full of violence and say to themselves, “I won’t be like this when I grow up” only to have some moronic narcissist say, “You have a penis. Yes you will.”


Since when do counselors in schools have a right to abuse children in this way? And any 13-year-old boy who dares stand up to one of these "feminists" is made to feel powerless, both by the school who allows this indecency and by the lack of support from other parents and school administrators. Everytime something like this happens in a school--there should be a backlash--against the person who advocated such a stupid assignment and against the school that allowed such a person to victimize innocent young people. Raising hell against this state-run form of mental abuse is the only way to get this outrageous behavior to stop.

Update: Now this rape indoctrination is extending to college campuses--read Lionel Tiger's article in the Wall Street Journal--thanks Instapundit.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Carnival of the Insanities

Dr. Sanity has her Carnival of the Insanities up. I always find some interesting links here. Check out #20--a blog on-- get this--public restroom ratings. I wish I had known about this site when I was making my documentary around rural towns in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. I have never been in such rough public bathrooms.

Sunday Brunch

Me and my dad.
Thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post, Family Ties. It seems that post struck a nerve with many people, as family relationships often do. I certainly do not mean to seem pollyannish about hoping that relatives can get along. It's just that I have seen the damage that can happen to people over time if they do not. Many of my young patients have grown up without fathers, have had mothers who are abusive or neglectful and extended family who see them as trouble. They often are, of course, but there is a loss you can see in a youth's eyes when his family has fallen apart. It is not an excuse to do damage or harm others, but family discord can set the stage for a life time of pain and depression.

I learned a lot about forgiveness from my father. I was very lucky to have a great dad, although he had his share of problems in life. Besides being saddled with five kids, he fought schizophrenia since the age of eighteen. That year, he lost his memory and ended up riding a subway car from one end of the Bronx to Brooklyn. The story I heard from family is that my grandfather was called and found him on the subway; my dad spent the next year of his life in a mental hospital receiving electroshock therapy. Despite his problems, my father went on to graduate from NYU and then the University of California at Berkeley with a PHD in mathematics. He was, and still is, my inspiration.

Sometimes, during the years I was in my teens and twenties, we lost touch and I felt very far away from him. He had remarried after my parents divorced and had another five kids to support with his new wife. Needless to say, he was very preoccupied, as was I while in graduate school. He visited me once in New York and I still have a lovely picture of us together. But at that point in my life, I felt isolated and alone. I felt at that time that I had no support from family at all when I needed it the most. But loneliness and sorrow have a way of changing over time. I realized that I had made the decision to move to New York and when I got the chance to finish my PhD. in Tennessee where my family lived, I took it. It was the best decision I ever made.

In addition to hooking back up with my later-to-be husband, I had the luxury of time with my father after I moved back. For the last six years of his life, he watched my daughter and talked with me endlessly every Sunday about the goings on of his life. By this time, he and his second wife had been divorced. In our Sunday Brunch conversations, he taught me about relationships, mathematics and forgiveness. We would sometimes chat about other family members and I would comment to him why I felt upset with one or another of them. My father never became ruffled about his family and had what seemed to me an endless supply of love for us. If someone in the family had hurt him in some way, he would often shrug and say, that is how he or she is, that's just her/him. I could tell he loved each of his kids unconditionally, while overlooking all of our flaws--and I know we had some!

In the end, this is all I remember about my father--his love for us despite the differences and the pain we might have caused him. A bit over four years ago he was diagnosed with a rare form of duodenal cancer. He had never been physically sick a day of his life so it was quite a shock to me. He died three weeks to the day of being diagnosed at 68. I remember the day before he died--my family and I sat with him in his apartment and he was sitting up reading the very last book he would ever read--it dropped from his fingers onto the floor and after he went to lay back down, I picked it up. My father died the next night and I carefully picked up some pictures and the book he had been holding before he died: A First Course in Stochastic Processes. It sits on my shelf as I write this as a reminder that despite our differences, that the only thing I remember most clearly about my father is how he loved me despite my flaws. I am very lucky.

This beautiful poem by Charles Black, who was my husband's law professor at Yale, captures for me the essence of my father's life and the love that, despite imperfection, is there in abundance:

It is called "Letting Go," from his book The Waking Passenger.

In the process of letting go the breath
Moment for relieving your eyes' ache,
You see bark patterns, a child's hand
Catching and throwing, next to the tree.


You have to relive all your days
To receive the gift of surprise
At words you didn't quite hear, once riding.
Do what you can; everything will come


In memory if never in experience.
Revisit, retell. Love sounds deeper
Out of time than in time. Act love imperfectly;
You will remember love itself.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Family Ties

It's that time of year when everyone gets together for the holidays. I very much enjoy celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas with both sides of my family--they're a terrific group of people. When I lived in New York, I remember talking to a group therapy class I was in (we were learning to lead groups but for all intents and purposes, all of us should have been participants). The entire group groaned about going home for the holidays with their respective families. The group described the putdowns, insults, and general malaise they felt when being around their family members. There was not a single person in the group who liked their family but me. Okay, this was probably a select sample of misanthropic New York grad students who had run away to New York and were living alone to isolate themselves from their follow human beings, but I do have a point here.

My point is that many people do not get along with their family members for one reason or another--and it is sad. However, why not make the family friction into a learning experince for you and the kids? Dadvocate gives an example of how he no longer feels comfortable around his family because of the difference in political views which, in turn, may affect his children. This is indeed, a concern.

However, in the raising of children, perhaps it is best to expose them to different groups of thought and help them to sort out why Aunt Becky or Uncle Tom is the way he or she is and to learn to understand their differences. This does not mean buying into whatever asinine thing the relatives want to say, but rather using it as a springboard to help children understand and broaden their perspectives on how people behave. And who knows? Aunt Becky with her liberal views may be the one who pushes little Johnny into a great career in the army or little Debbie into advocating for male rights after her son is forced by feminists to be medicated for his masculine behavior. Or on the other hand, Uncle Tom's racist views may lead another child to examine his own prejudices and decide to become more aware of his own racist attitudes in daily life.

So maybe rather than becoming upset and boycotting family members, we can see them as a training tool for ourselves by learning about patience and for our children by teaching them the intricasies of human psychological functioning. After all, in our work life and in the world of everyday living, we must learn to interact with and deal with people we do not agree with or necessarily like and the sooner kids learn to do this successfully--the better.

Update: Okay, I admit defeat--the stories in the comment section are heartbreaking--I can completely understand why some of you are unable to cope with abusive, threatening and just plain obnoxious families. Thank you for sharing your stories here and I hope you will continue to post, not only about your bad experiences, but perhaps share how you overcame the dysfunctional family curse yourselves. All of us can learn from your experiences and those who have not learned to cope thus far, may learn something.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's not Worth the Hassle

The American Medical Association is concerned about a proposed pay cut in Medicare reimbursements but some doctors say it's not about the money.

"Surveys conducted by AAPS show many physicians ALREADY refuse new Medicare patients. In fact, about 33 percent. But even more alarming is that 40 percent already restrict services the services they'll perform to current Medicare patients. (See Disheartened Doctors, Patient Problems: AAPS Biannual Survey of Physicians on Medicare and Patients' Access to Care, Journal of American Physicians & Surgeons, Winter 2004.)

"But here's what you need to know: the reason they do so is NOT because of money. When asked, it's the government 'hassle factor.' The two leading reasons given were 'billing and regulatory requirements, and hassles and/or threats from Medicare carriers/government.' Payment rates were down the list.

"So it's really about FREEDOM, not the money.


Having dealt with Medicare and Medicaid frequently in my practice, I can vouch for how these doctors feel. The red tape is great and there is always a nagging threat that you will be accused unfairly of doing something wrong after an audit or investigation with a government bureaucracy. It is easier not to deal with the hassle of Medicare or Medicaid which means I either work pro bono at times or take on very few clients with these means of payment.

Update: The Medical Blog Network has more thoughts on Autonomy for Doctors and Patients.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Do You Really Need those Christmas Lights?

I went Christmas shopping yesterday after work--it lasted about twenty minutes. I wandered around a few specialty shops in Knoxville looking for some gifts for my sisters. Is it my imagination or is everything really expensive? Maybe I'm just a cheapskate but $118.00 for a plain dumb t-shirt is a lot to me. Multiply this by twenty or thirty gifts and I could fund an IRA (or a SEP in my case) for the year. That is what I would rather do. I have never understood why people spend so much on gifts or luxury items and then complain that they have to work two jobs, have no retirement or are forced to suck up to a boss they hate. I have never done that--nor would most people if they didn't buy items that they can't afford. This overspending seems to be a lifelong problem for many Americans.

I always laugh when I read articles such as this that describes why young people are in debt. The cause--rising college costs and easy access to credit cards they say. Uh, could it possibly have something to do with making $42,000 a year and spending $25,000 on your wedding? I realize this is not an expensive wedding but if you are in debt and crying about leading a "poor lifestyle" at the age of 29, it seems like you would pay off your debts first and have a tasteful but inexpensive wedding.

Now, of course, once you are married, you have to outdo the neighbors on the decorations every Christmas. The same people who will tell you that they are too broke to live the "American dream" are able to part with up to $4500.00 for a professional decorator at Christmas. And then, there are the elderly who tell you they are broke and living on a fixed budget yet are getting in on the Christmas action:

``A good percentage of our customers are elderly,'' said Clint Marsh, who is licensed and insured to hang the lights. ``You're helping people out who are afraid to get up on a ladder and do it themselves -- or are unable.''
Still, others concede that for some, the motivation might be to keep up with -- or perhaps even outdo -- the Joneses.
Each year, U.S. households spend $50 to $60 more on holiday decorations than they did the year before, with many blowing more than $8,000 on pulsating lights, mechanical reindeer and inflatable Santas, said Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group in Charleston, S.C.


At this spending rate, it is no wonder so many boomers feel that they have not saved enough for retirement.

Axe Chops off Toddler's Leg--Mother was just a Bystander

A 21 year old mother in Australia chopped her toddler son's leg off with an axe--her "punishment?" Looks like a stay in a church run psychiatric group home. Luckily, the police were compassionate to this young mother--after all, why console the kid who just had to have his leg reattached when his mother had to suffer through this horrible ordeal? Apparently, the mother is only being held until March of next year. So in Australia, this is what constitutes justice if you are female--wonder what would happen to a man who chops off a toddler's leg if the Aussies are already up in arms if a man sits next to an unaccompanied minor on a plane? Thanks to reader,Trevor, for pointing out the article.

Update: Well, here is the answer to my question about justice in Australia for men--here is a man who had the audacity to drag around a tree branch--he got four months in jail--thanks to commenter Dave for pointing out this absurd tidbit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Keep Your Boys out of those Dangerous Hallways

The Tampa Tribune ran an article posting the results of a self-report survey of the school district's middle and high schoolers views on sex, health and safety. More boys than girls admitted being physically abused by their significant other. Here are some more results of the survey:

More male high school students - 16 percent - reported being physically hurt by their significant others than female students, at 11.8 percent.

•More than 9 percent of male and nearly 12 percent of female high school students said they were physically forced to have sex.

"I know that is happening, because my son constantly gets letters from girls who want to do sexual things to him," said Paula Thomas, mother of five children ages 9 to 16. "It starts in the sixth or seventh grade."

At school, the Citrus Park mother said, "They know to stay out of certain hallways because of the girls."


Sounds like these Tampa school girls could use some anger management classes as well as sensitivity training in sexual harassment. Thanks to reader Fred for pointing out this article.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Maybe there are Monsters under the Bed

Here is an interesting article looking at how fearful women are of crime in Britain (Thanks to reader Trevor for pointing this out). Single women are keeping knifes, bats and clubs under their bed for protection against burglars or rapists. Seems reasonable to me but the article portrays the women as a bunch of nervous ninnies who have been watching too much television and are worrying needlessly. The Brits seem determined to keep women from exercising any self-defense techniques that might require them to be active in their own protection. Here is some sage advice from a forensic psychologist who apparently would rather see women raped or killed than use a weapon against an intruder:

Question marks in any case surround the wisdom of keeping a weapon close at hand.

"I would want people to think very carefully about exactly what they would do with a weapon and what the costs might be," said Dr Gilchrist. "If they are trying to deal with their fears, there may be more appropriate ways such as contacting local police for advice and information, installing panic alarms, having a mobile phone by your bed or having a light that you turn on to signal to a neighbour to call the police for you.

"If you encounter someone in your bedroom, a pretty high level of violence is needed to be effective and I'm not entirely sure people have thought through the consequences," she said.


Although the article points out that crime is dropping in Britian, others such as Bristish constable, Ben Johnson (who is American), point out that violent crime and break-ins where people are home are common:

Although overall per-capita gun crime is lower in Britain than in the United States, British criminals seem far more bold and less fearful of confrontation, injury or punishment, Johnson said. He attributed it to the fact that Americans are permitted to guard their homes with guns - and would-be burglars know it.

"Here, it's quite common that burglars will break in while people are asleep in bed in the middle of the night," he said. "It is a common thing, which I think does reflect on the legal right to protect your home."

Without the deterrent effect of a homeowner's gun, he added, "there's not that threat to burglars, so we have a much higher rate of home break-ins (with the occupants present), whereas in the States, it's close to zero."


Maybe instead of making fun of women for worrying about monsters under the bed, Britain should take the concern of these intuitive women more seriously. Laws that advocate for criminals would leave anyone feeling insecure and frightened.

Update: And they think the women are paranoid and overreactive in the UK--take a look at this article where police point real guns at a family for having a toy gun in their car--thanks to a commenter for pointing out this article.

Domestic Goddess

I am home today with a sick kid (just a cold) and doing housework. I suppose most people, particularly those of the Maureen Dowd persuasion, would think that reveling in this type of work would be a bit of a sell-out. I, however, see it as a chance to prove to myself that I can still function in the world, despite having a heart that pumps worse than most 85 year olds. I have been cooking lemon chicken soup which is incredibly good.

When my daughter was five, we went to a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma, where we learned to make several dishes. I have never been much of a cook due to being absent-minded and leaving things to burn on the stove--despite sitting only a few feet away reading. My husband bought some really bad cheap cookware at Target for me after I burned several of his nice Calphalon pans. I have a history of doing this since childhood. When I used to babysit, I burned a number of pans up and was chastised for it and later, I almost lost a roommate for ruining her nice cookware. Anyway, here is the Lemon Chicken Soup recipe--it's really quite easy even if you are a complete klutz in the kitchen:

Lemon Chicken Soup

16 cups water
one fourth Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
4T Chicken Base
one and one fourth Cup Flour
three-fouths cup Cooked Rice
6 oz. butter (I use cholesterol-free butter here)
2 Cups Cooked Chicken
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Mix water, lemon juice, and chicken base. Heat. Make a roux in sauce pan with butter and flour; cook 2 minutes. Whisk into simmering liquid and cook until thickened. Add rice, chicken, salt and perpper. Garnish with lemon slice and fresh parsley.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Potato Guns!


This weekend, my order for these POTATO GUNS showed up. At first glance, looking at the potato gun, I thought, what a dumb toy. Boy, was I wrong. The guns are a blast and a good way to get your kids outside and getting some exercise. Upon opening the potato guns, I loaded one and snuck up on my daughter and tried it out on her. My daughter, who is generally feeling pretty sluggish after school all week, laughed and ran after me. She picked up a couple of the guns and took them to a friend's house where they played all afternoon outside like kids used to do. They had a blast.

Remember when kids could play with toy guns and they were not a symbol of all that was evil in the world? My daughter doesn't. She warned me that she could never bring the potato gun to school without the risk of expulsion. The sheer joy of running around being a kid is denied to our children today. It is a shame--it is no wonder our kids are so fat today. The slightest hint of rambunctiousness is medicated out of them and diagnosed as ADHD. A pointed finger becomes a symbol of a weapon that requires therapy or suspension. The whole world is now a place where mean adults (especially males) will kidnap you if you dare venture out into the world. It is best to just stay home, watch tv and eat junk food to squelch whatever desire you have to be autonomous in the world. Do we ever realize what joy we have taken from our kids in exchange for safety?

Update: Gina from ginasrantings blog has tracked down some more potato guns. Amazon is sold out.

Update II: Look what Gina has started by finding more potato guns--groups of carpooling potato gun addicts--what will be next? Potato gun office fights?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Should Bias be a Mental Illness?

Two words--Hell, No! Mental health professionals are discussing making bias a DSM diagnosis (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual--the bible of the mental health world for diagnosing mental illnesses). See more on this at Shrinkwrapped and Dr. Sanity.

Update: One of the problems with my profession is that it swings to the extremes--on one hand, no one can get treatment even if they are suicidal or homicidal and then you have idiots like the following who give people treatment because "doctors" don't like what they think. It is no wonder that no one takes mental health seriously:

Doctors who treat inmates at the California State Prison outside Sacramento concur: They have diagnosed some forms of racist hatred among inmates and administered antipsychotic drugs.

"We treat racism and homophobia as delusional disorders," said Shama Chaiken, who later became a divisional chief psychologist for the California Department of Corrections, at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. "Treatment with antipsychotics does work to reduce these prejudices."



This is the biggest liberal hypocrisy of them all. After media reports that mental health professionals might have played a role at Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay detention center, The APA (American Psychological Association) decided to implement ethical guidelines for psychologists working in national security-related settings. APA's own 1986 Resolution against Torture states that psychologists do not direct, support, facilitate or offer training in torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. Apparently, this guideline only holds true for Arab Detainees. Can you imagine the uproar if the US government had shot Muslim prisoners full of antipsychotic drugs to treat their extreme hatred of Jews? Since when is it okay to do the same to American prisoners just because you don't like their thoughts?

The psychiatrists and psychologists who have appointed themselves as thought police and advocate "bias" as a possible diagnostic category should be publicly humiliated and rejected by all others in the field. This is more than absurd--it is totalitarianism at its worst.

Update: Evilpundit has some thoughts on other biases to add to the DSM.

The Killing is the Same-the Methods are Just Different

The rate of violent crime--especially against children--is growing in Japan. Just like US parents, Japanese parents are now having to worry about the safety of their children in going to school. In the Japanese crimes, strangulation and stabbing is the common method of killing. Here are some thoughts from Japan Today.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Prevention is not an Excuse

Many people believe that advocating for prevention for the mentally ill who potentially may harm others is just an excuse for letting them off the hook. I do not agree. Prevention is trying to keep a menally ill person from committing the act in the first place. Once a mentally ill person has committed a crime, it is up to the justice system to decide what is to become of them. As a forensic psychologist, it makes more sense to me to try and stop the person from harming others or themselves. I am not talking about rehabilitation for those who have already killed or hurt someone--but prevention that could save some innocent person's life.

Here is an example of email I get on a regular basis from those who call for punishment and see no place for preventative measures:

I just saw the the City Confidential special on the the so called "kids" who killed the Lillelids. They should all be dead right now - no sympathy for them - this is a clear case where old fashioned justice should have prevailed and all six should have been hung from the nearest tree. I will not spend a fucking dime on your dvd nor should anyone else. The only blame should go on the six twisted punks who did this and they should be glad that the case was not heard in my state of NC - or they would all be on death row right now - except for the youngest one maybe - hope he spends the rest of his life getting b--- fu---- in prison. Get a real job and stop wasting your time.


I can understand this view, but I have to ask the writer, wouldn't it have been better if this murder never happened? Do you really take such pleasure in the idea of six punks being b---fu---in prison that you would rather no effort have been made to keep them from committing the crime in the first place?

Perhaps this writer believes that no one can be stopped from engaging in a crime--that some killers are pre-programmed to kill at some point in their lives. But most killers do not just "snap." Gavin DeBecker, a leading expert on predicting violence, makes an important point about our denial of the warning signs of violence in his book, The Gift of Fear : "We want to believe that human violence is somehow beyond our understanding, because as long as it remains a mystery, we have no duty to avoid it, explore it, or anticipate it. We can tell ourselves that human violence is something that just happens without warning..."

I can see the warning signs coming with those I have worked with and try to get them help before their thoughts become reality. Working with violent people to provide therapy and make sure they take their medication is hard and at times, unrewarding. I do it because it can save innocent people and their families from the wrath of the mentally ill individual. I think this is a real job and an important one--it is too bad that some people would rather see others punished for doing wrong than from the wrongdoing being prevented in the first place.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Robert Kennedy's Legacy

Today is the 25th anniversary of the day that John Lenon was killed by mentally ill Mark David Chapman. And then I heard the news yesterday that a man by the name of Rigoberto Alpizar had been shot and killed by air marshals at a Miami airport; it did not suprise me to hear that he was also mentally ill. The wife of the man shot said that he was Bipolar and not on his medication. This refusal to take medication is typical for those who have Bipolar Disorder, in my experience.

There are a number of reasons for this refusal, but my guess is that the mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants used (Lithium, Topamax etc.) take away the high manic feeling the person gets from the illness and they need it like a drug at times and go off their medication. The patient may also mistakenly feel that there is nothing wrong with them that warrants medication. The families of these patients suffer greatly. I have seen patients in the throes of mania commit some really screwed-up crimes. (Sorry for the lack of psychobabble here but if that is what you want--please consult one of the many Journals of Psychology where one can be bedazzled by the credentials/brillance of the authors while still having no freaking clue as to what the point of the study is).

Mentally ill people like Rigoberto Alpizar are four times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than the general public. Violent episodes of those with schizophrenia and manic depression account for 1000 homicides in the US each year despite what some psychologists and advocates tell us about the mentally ill not being dangerous. My question when I see violent episodes like the Miami one is to ask, "Why was this mentally ill man taking a plane without medication?" The answer, I am sure, is complex. We have 4.5 million people in the US with schizophrenia or manic depression (now called Bipolar Diorder). An estimated 40% of these are not receiving any treatment on any given day. This results in acts of violence, incarceration and homelessness.

The failure of deinstutionalization, civil liberty issues and economic factors have lead to a number of the mentally ill being out in our communities with little or no intervention. When Robert Kennedy called the state mental hospitals "snakepits," he must never have imagined the problems he would unleash into our communities. The community help that was to come from deinstitutionalization never materialized and hundreds of thousands of mentally ill have been left to fend for themselves. Now, instead of being in a hospital or a supervised setting, the severely mentally ill are in jails, nursing homes and homeless shelters -- often receiving services that are more expensive than the state hospitals that should have been equipped to provide them with psychiatric care in the first place.

Ever since Kennedy threw the baby out with the bath water, we have had more incidents of school shootings, mass shootings and just plain bizzare behavior like Alpizar's. No doubt we will see more of this in the future.

Update: Here is more information on the legislation that John Kennedy signed into law before he was assassinated:

The 1963 Community Mental Health Centers Act was the last major piece of legislation signed by President Kennedy prior to his assassination. It has become a symbol for how a well-meaning action can become a total and complete disaster.

The Act’s failure can be attributed to four flaws in its design and implementation. First, it was based on a number of failed assumptions about what was wrong with the severely mentally ill. Those responsible for the legislation did not fully understand brain diseases; assumed that if released from state institutions, the mentally ill could live happily ever after; and neglected to investigate a condition known as anosognosia. Anosognosia is an integral part of severe mental illness. As many as 50 percent of those with schizophrenia and 40 percent of those with bipolar are impaired to such an extent that they cannot recognize what is wrong with them. (See the fact sheet on anosognosia on page 11 of this issue.) So a significant portion of the severely mentally ill cannot live “happily ever after” without direct treatment and supervision.

Secondly, the Act suffered from flawed planning. It bypassed the states entirely and placed the burden of funding community mental health centers on the federal government. The National Institute of Mental Health failed to provide essential oversight of the centers. The community mental health centers were failed by a total unwillingness to take responsibility for center management at both the state and federal levels.

Thirdly, before the movement toward deinstitutionalization, the states covered 95 percent of the financing for care of the severely mentally ill. In the hopes of moving patients out of the state hospitals and into the community, the federal government made patients in state hospitals ineligible for aid while hospitalized, but eligible when discharged from the hospitals, thus providing the states with enormous incentive to empty out the hospitals. Deinstitutionalization quickly became the priority for state mental health agencies and there was no incentive to ask what happened to patients once they left the hospital.

Read the whole thing.

Psychology Grad Student Fights Political Correctness--and Wins

A psychology graduate student, Andrew Geier, took on the administration at the University of Pennsylvania in a stand for free speech. A student Mr. Geier was advising took pictures of two students having sex in a public place and put it up on his personal website through the University's servers. Penn says that the student is guilty of sexual harrassment:

The University has alleged that by featuring the photo on his personal Penn Web site, the photographer violated the school's code of student conduct, sexual harassment policy and policy on acceptable uses of electronic resources.

Psychology graduate student Andrew Geier is serving as the photographer's advisor throughout the disciplinary process. He maintains that because the pair was visible in the window, the photos were taken in public and are completely legal.

"The worst [he] is guilty of is poor taste," Geier said.

"If somebody chooses to make a public spectacle of themselves then they get what goes with that."

His representative received a letter last month from the Office of Student Conduct notifying Geier of a complaint filed against the Engineering junior.


Geier says he was disgusted with the the treatment of Penn students by the Office of Student Conduct--students are often intimidated into signing unfair agreements. But that practice may stop with the help of the media and with brave men like Mr. Geier.

If you would like to see the shocking naked photos that caused this flurry of political correcteness at Penn see this pic at collegehumor.com . It ain't much.

Thanks to the reader who pointed out this interesting story.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Winner (s) of the Liberal Hypocrisy Contest

There were a total of 45 comments and entries for the liberal hypocrisy contest in honor of Peter Schweizer's book, Do As I Say (Not As I Do) : Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy. I enjoyed reading them all but I chose the first place winner based on my being the angriest. It is from Donna B:

An ex-boss, the CEO of a local non-profit. She talks feminism, hires almost exclusively females (except for those jobs she considers "male only" that have anything to do with construction or repair), but pays meager salaries (except to those males and herself).

Most infuriating is the way she demoralizes the few females she's "grooming" in high visibility positions. Whenever they try to spread their wings and fly, she shoots them down with a "my (male) lawyer, accountant, doctor, etc., says that's not wise." The board of this non-profit is hand-picked by her and dominated by male professionals. The female members fill demographic slots she's required by some funding regulators to have and they are actively discouraged from taking part.

I'm proud to have been fired by her for not being a "team player". (I defended Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice during a staff meeting, though the official reason for my "dismissal" was that my position was being eliminated. True to form, she contracted what I'd been doing to an all male accounting firm at triple the cost.) Sorry there's absolutely nothing funny about this "liberal feminist" nutjob.

....I failed to mention the way this ex-boss treated the few male social workers she hired - they were not allowed to work with children and their every word and action was minutely scrutinized for signs of sexual harassment. They were also held to a higher performance threshold, justified by the higher salary she said she had to pay to hire them!


This boss from hell seems to have broken every politically correct rule in the book --she treats females like crap, pays men higher wages (but still treats them like pedophiles), and touts empowerment for women while firing or getting rid of anyone who stands up for themselves. Bravo to Donna B. for having the wherewithal to put up with this woman and keep her sanity.

The entry that made me laugh the hardest came from Addison (runner-up):

Addison said...
Admit it, you're trying to get enough material to fill your own book.

Let's see.

Guy in CA I know:

Screams about "tax cuts for the rich". Insisting bigger government is ALWAYS better.
Makes his living on ebay sales, cash transactions, and brags about not sending money to the IRS for 10 years.

Also, talks about the anger inherent in the "religious right" , then in the next breath, talks about keying SUVs in his parking garage. (Because they were big, SUVs, and probably Republicans).


As a psychologist who works with angry clients, I have to say that Addison's entry was priceless in terms of imagery for me. It reminds me of the logic of past antisocial patients who tell me that they are angry that ordinary citizens can own guns because now they have to carry one too, in case they get "jumped" while robbing a house.

Donna B and Addison, please email me at drhelen@violentkids.com so I can get your prizes to you.

Thanks to everyone for participating!

Is Barbara Streisand on Crack?

As the Magic 8 Ballwould say, "Signs point to yes." Elitist Barbara Streisand is upset that Jonah Goldberg has "replaced" Robert Scheer at the LA Times. Here is Mr. Goldberg's reply.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Love Art--It's the Artists I can't Stand

An insightful reader sent me a link to this cover story in Entertainment Weekly about George Clooney entitled, "The New Politics of Hollywood." Sorry Entertainment Weekly, but your lame title should have been "Politics as Usual in Hollywood." George Clooney was interviewed for the article about his new movie, Syriana, a movie that (you'll never guess) exposes the lies behind the War on Terror. And of course, you'll be shocked to learn that there is a CIA agent in Syriana who thwarts deomocracy in an Arab country in order to keep petroleum flowing, along with some sympathetically portrayed suicide bombers just to give the audience a sense of the filmmaker's sympathy for Arab murderers. Clooney pats himself on the back for his bravery in bringing this charmer to Warner Bros.:

People were afraid to say things. Big stars would come up to me and whisper that they supported me — I thought it was strange that they felt they had to whisper. But people seem to be less afraid now. They're calming down. Lots of people are starting to ask questions. It's becoming hard to avoid the questions. When we started [Good Night, and Good Luck and Syriana], nobody was encouraging us, says Clooney. We jumped in on our own. And there was no reason to think it was going to get any easier. But people in Hollywood do seem to be getting more comfortable with making these sorts of movies now. People are becoming braver.


Sorry George, but preaching to the choir that is Hollywood is not bravery. I didn't hear Michael Moore whispering at the Oscars when he gave his rant about President Bush. Bravery is Mel Gibson shelling out millions and risking his own reputation in the movie business by making Passion of the Christ.

Do you ever wonder how these Hollywood stars such as Clooney can be so clueless about their behavior? I know I do. Clooney and his cronies see themselves as mavericks, even though they live in a world that caters to their every whim. How is it that George can have such sympathy for suicide bombers and terrorists on one hand and so little sympathy for his fellow Americans or even his Italian neighbors while he is filming?

This clueless self-centered behavior is not just an aberration of high level artist-types like Clooney--it trickles down to the masses of artists who seem to believe that their talent (whether good, bad or indifferent) gives them free license to selfish acts of self-expression. How do I know this? Unfortunately, I have lived with a number of these expressive types on an upclose and personal basis.

At the age of 21, I moved to Manhattan to go to graduate school. I lived with a wonderful roommate who was initially an NYU student and then an editor at a big publishing firm. After a few years, she moved in with her boyfriend and left me to the scary task of finding a normal roommate in Manhattan (remember Chandler in Friends with the psychotic roommate--that guy would have been a prize for me!) After meeting with a number of prospects, I finally settled on Dave, a musician and artist at NYU. He was a bit pasty and didn't talk much but I thought that would be a plus. It wasn't. He found girlfriends who talked for him. They talked to me all the time.

I was in graduate school in clinical psych and used all of my time to study and wanted to be left alone. He had two girlfriends who were actually both very competent and cheerful--almost the direct opposite of Dave. Neither woman knew about the other and when not out with them, he was out with numerous other women. It was none of my business except that both of his girlfriends (at different times) were constantly interrupting my work to ask me why I wasn't out partying. Maybe if I was, they concluded, I would meet a great, loyal guy like Dave. I never said anything but would listen and just nod until they left me alone. I never much said anything to Dave and vice versa--until one day, he left his diary out on the kitchen table open to a page of his writing. I figured it was private but he left it out day after day. I figured that maybe this was his way of communicating something to me so eventually I picked up the diary to read the following:

"I know my roommate is in love with me. I already have two of the women of my dreams. I cannot take on another one. I don't know how to break the news to her that I am not in love with her. And maybe I should break up with Kate and Kathleen too. My talent in music and the arts is my first perrogative."

At first I thought I should be angry that he had made such a big assumption--but given his bizzare way of connecting with me, I felt more bemused than anything. A few weeks later he moved out to live with his band. I breathed a sigh of relief but the roommate search continued.

To make a long story short, I next lived with a female photographer who would parade models in and out of the living room (the whole New York apartment was the size of a dollhouse so there was no escape) while I was preparing for exams, even when I asked her not to. Okay, if I were a guy or interested in women, this could have been exciting but I was neither. Next came Alex, a painter who asked if her cousin could stay overnight -- but then she stayed for two months without paying rent. Finally, my old roommate moved back in but we ended up taking in Wendy, a spoiled dancer who was the sister of a friend. She needed a place to stay and had no money for rent. One morning, I woke to a horrible cat fight going on between my kind roommate and Wendy who was fighting her for the bathroom. That was the last straw. I vowed not to take in any more artist types. It was a good move.

I often feel sorry for others who are dealing with some of these artist types who think their purpose in life is to "stand up to the man." I have a friend whose son is an artist and filmmaker. He once showed me some abstract art his son had made of 9/11. It showed men in suits with brief cases falling from the twin towers or running away. My friend told me his son had made it because he "did not feel sorry for capitalistic Americans and they got what they deserved on 9/11." My friend looked at me sadly and asked, "I wonder if his mother and I imparted any of our values on him at all or if he just rejected everything we stood for?" Sometimes I wonder the same thing about the Hollywood crowd.

Update: Here are some related thoughts from Ed Driscoll at TechCentral Station.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Interesting "Psychological" Tests

The Bem Sex Role Inventory is a psychological inventory that assesses how high one is on masculine or feminine traits. It's been around forever--since the 1970's. I remember taking the test as an undergrad and being more in the androgynous zone--but now I just have full-fledged masculine traits (maybe that's why my family says I act like a "grumpy old man"). I wonder if this test is just out of date now? Perhaps today's women are scoring higher on so-called "masculine" traits such as self-reliance and independence and men are scoring higher on "feminine" characteristics of gentleness or a tendency to yield one's position. I always thought these traits a bit sterotypical.

Try the test and let me know what you think. Thanks to Inside Larry's Head Blog for pointing this test out. Take it here.
Please post in the comments to let me know how you did!

Update: I will take a stab at an updated version of a few of the traits mentioned in this out-of-date test. For those readers of a sensitive nature, this is only a parody. I imagine it would look something like this:

Answer never or almost never, sometimes, often, or always or almost always to the following:

Self Reliant-You live alone and don't want anyone bothering you (male or female).

Yielding-(For men only) Women tell you what to do and you go along to keep the peace. For women--you don't tell a man off for offering to open the door for you.

Helpful-if male, you assist in all politically correct endeavors such as moving your seat on an airline if an unaccompanied minor shows up--bonus points if you do so in a chivalrous manner without making waves. If female--take over the airline seat to make sure the child is protected. No bonus points if you are a female pedophile.

Assertive--you say "yes, dear" to your wife if she asks you to do something if you are male and knock your husband's two front teeth out if you are female.

Defends own beliefs--for men, you reluctantly make a remark at work that it seems slightly unfair that a sexual harrassment charge has been filed against you for looking a woman in the eye. For women, you slap a man with a sexual harrassment charge because he made eye contact with you.

Well--you get the idea.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Carnival of the Insanities

Dr. Sanity has her Carnival of the Insanities up. Go take a look.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

More Trash from the Village Voice

You know, I never liked the Village Voice when I lived in New York and this film review of Homecoming, a horror film with--get this, dead veterans, coming out of their graves to get to the voting booths to eject the president who sent them to war-- makes me like the paper even less. The review was so childish that I thought it was a parody at first, but alas, it was not.The only good news from this review is the following quote from the director:

You can't do theatrical political movies; people don't go to them. You can't do them on television, because you've got sponsors," he says. "Michael Moore's last picture made a lot of money, but he was vilified for it so much he's practically in hiding."


Thank goodness something good came from Moore's last picture. Thanks to Larry's Blog for pointing out this review.

What I love about these liberal filmmakers (which is, like, all of them) is that they have never gotten past the adolescent idea that what they are doing is the progressive work of genius that tells the real truth about what is going on. It's not. It is just simple boring propaganda that no one wants to see--unless you are at an Italian film festival, a self-righteous American Filmmaker or the Democratic National Committee who spent millions on DVD's of Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Dante says that that the point of his pitiful zombie B-rated flick (I'd give it more of an F for poor imagination) is to inspire other filmmakers to make better versions of films about the atrocities of Iraq.

Perhaps, instead, it should be a wakeup call to right-leaning filmmakers to make films that expose the nonsense these liberals spout. We are already off to a great start with filmmakers like Evan Coyne Maloney with Brainwashing 201 and Michael Moore Hates America by Michael Wilson.

Update: This comment is too funny to leave in the comment section--"Dead people voting for Democrats? That's just art imitating life." Here is some video that explains the whole thing.

Update II: In honor of giving more money to right-leaning books and art etc.--here is the bookI am going to request for Christmas (actually--that would be Hanukkah for me).

The Invisible Man

Michael Gurian, a family therapist and author of The Minds of Boys : Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life, has a great article in the Washington Post on the disappearing act of boys on college campuses. These last few paragrahs descibe the problem best:

We still barely see the burdens our sons are carrying as we change from an industrial culture to a post-industrial one. We want them to shut up, calm down and become perfect intimate partners. It doesn't matter too much who boys and men are -- what matters is who we think they should be. When I think back to the kind of classroom I created for my college students, I feel regret for the males who dropped out. When I think back to my time working in the prison system, I feel a deep sadness for the present and future generations of boys whom we still have time to save.

And I do think we can save them. I get hundreds of e-mails and letters every week, from parents, teachers and others who are beginning to realize that we must do for our sons what we did for our daughters in the industrialized schooling system -- realize that boys are struggling and need help. These teachers and parents are part of a social movement -- a boys' movement that started, I think, about 10 years ago. It's a movement that gets noticed for brief moments by the media (when Columbine happened, when Laura Bush talked about boys) and then goes underground again. It's a movement very much powered by individual women -- mainly mothers of sons -- who say things to me like the e-mailers who wrote, "I don't know anyone who doesn't have a son struggling in school," or, "I thought having a boy would be like having a girl, but when my son was born, I had to rethink things."

We all need to rethink things. We need to stop blaming, suspecting and overly medicating our boys, as if we can change this guy into the learner we want. When we decide -- as we did with our daughters -- that there isn't anything inherently wrong with our sons, when we look closely at the system that boys learn in, we will discover these boys again, for all that they are. And maybe we'll see more of them in college again.


Yes, maybe if we made the learning environment more appropriate for boys and stopped demonizing boys and men for being bad learners, airplane pedophiles and just plain jerks, the mysteriously vanishing male might reappear.


Update: Here is a good article on Gurian's methods for those of you who want to read more about boys different way of learning--thanks
Dadvocate
.

Update II: Some good information from the Kansas City Star on raising boys better. I found it refreshing that the article mentioned a neurobiologist who was willing to stand up for his study results, depite them being politically incorrect--thanks to reader Jeff for pointing this out:

Sociologist Michael Kimmel of the State Universities of New York rejected anyone pressing a case that sex differences affect learning. “Really, how could you not call that anti-feminist?” he asked.

Neurobiologist Larry Cahill of the University of California-Irvine, who recently wrote up the topic in Scientific American, took exception: “Laughably wrong, but I believe that view prevails.

“A lot of scientists still don’t want to talk about sex differences in the brain. It scares people…(But) what scares me is seeing my own findings and choosing not to believe them

Friday, December 02, 2005

Liberal Hypocrisy Contest

In honor of Peter Schweizer's new book, Do As I Say (Not As I Do) : Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, I am sponsoring a contest to see who has the best story of liberal hypocrisy. The contest will start today and run until next Thursday (December 8) when I will pick the winner--the person with the best example of liberal hypocrisy. Please see the disclaimer below for full details on how the winner will be chosen and the prizes to be awarded.

I am always amazed by the contradictions between many liberals' words and their actions. Here is an example: I have a liberal friend who harps on helping the poor, instituting a state income tax in Tennessee to help with education, and the greed of corporate institutions. She is self-employed and recently bought an expensive couch for her home. I was admiring it one day and she said, "yes, I got a good discount on my taxes for it." Puzzled, I asked how one did that. "Oh," she said without batting an eye, "I just claim it as an office expense, I do that all the time, don't you?" Uhh---no, I thought, but said nothing. This woman had no idea of her hypocritical behavior. Sometimes now when she goes on about the plight of the poor, I tell her she should donate nice stuff like the couch to the Salvation Army. She usually shuts up.

Enter by reporting your stories in the comment section.

Disclaimer: The winner will be the entry that makes me laugh the hardest, or get the angriest. This contest void where prohibited by law, or by the absence of a sense of humor. The Judge's decisions are final.

Prizes: There will be one first place winner who will receive a DVD of my documentary, Six, and an autographed copy of my book, The Scarred Heart : Understanding and Identifying Kids Who Kill (If you don't think that's much of a prize, look to see what it's selling for used these days!) The winner's entry will also be posted on Thursday on my site for the world to see their wittiness.

Update: If you think we have problems with liberal hypocrisy in the US, try reading Evil Pundit and the Currency Lad to get an idea of what is going on in other countries. Apparently, people are afraid to speak up in Australia and New Zealand--and with good reason, given the politics and laws there. At least here in the US, we can stand up to some of this politically correct nonsense. I found it interesting that one of my commenters to a previous post on the Down Under airlines that demonized men pointed out that one does not argue with the authorites on Australian or New Zealand flights. "It just isn't done." This is shameful.

Update on Thursday: Contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated.