Friday, June 01, 2007

Should it be a Crime to Take a Nap while Babysitting?

I saw this story about an 18-year- old-babysitter who might be held responsible for the deaths of two toddlers:

A teenage girl could face criminal charges after the two toddlers she was baby-sitting drowned in a nearby pond in a rural Pennsylvania town.

The coroner says the deaths were accidental. But the 18-year-old, who is related to one of the girls, could be held responsible if she is found to have been negligent or reckless.

The baby sitter told state police she put the girls down for a nap Wednesday and took a nap herself. When she woke up, she said the two girls were missing from the house.

So, if taking a nap while babysitting turns out to be a crime, what would napping while parenting be called? And if cases like this are prosecuted--isn't it too dangerous to babysit for anyone, relatives included?

Should Psychologists be Used to Assist the Thought Police?

Last night, I watched Evan Coyne Maloney's new documentary, Indoctrinate U, about political correctness on college campuses. The film shows various cases of conservatives, libertarians or even liberals who do not toe the leftist line 100% being shut down, shut out or shut up on "liberal" college campuses around the US. One thing that struck me about the cases is that several of those who had conservative or pro-American leanings were told by administrators that in order to stay at the university, they would need to see a psychologist who, I suppose, could vouch for their mental condition.

Lest you think that perhaps there was more to these cases than a few conservative thoughts or actions, the examples used were such innocuous actions as a conservative student who posted flyers for Mason Weaver's book, It's OK to Leave the Plantation: The New Underground Railroad, and another student from Kuwait who wrote a pro-American essay. The only psychological dysfunction that I can see present in these examples is going on in the mindset of administrators who seek to use psychologists as disciplinarians for thought "crimes" rather than mental health experts.

Should psychological treatment or evaluation be seen as a punishment? Should students be sent to psychologists to evaluate their political positions? Of course not. It's telling that if someone is truly a threat like the VT killer, no treatment is forthcoming. Yet, utter something politically incorrect and off you go to the Gulag -- I mean, psychologist's office -- to be evaluated for mental disturbance. Perhaps it's time to send administrators off to psychologists to evaluate their authoritarian personality characteristics to determine if they are suitable for their jobs. As soon as that happens, you can bet that psychologists will be seen as the pursuers of evil, an example of Nazism at its worst. Until then, if only conservatives, libertarians and other dissidents to leftist dogma are the ones being affected, no one will utter a word....


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is Your Job Killing You?

I think mine was. Yesterday, I saw my electrophysiologist for my bi-annual interrogation of my ICD and he noticed that my irregular heartbeats had lessened. He asked me about my job and I told him that I had cut the stress of the job over the past few years by reducing the number of patients I see substantially and in addition, not taking on any more cases of those who are violent or potentially violent at the current time. He nodded and said, "it shows, because those heart palpitations have lessened--decreased stress could be the reason."

Now, as a psychologist, you would think that I would know that there is some link between stress and heart problems and I do intellectually, but emotionally, it finally sank in that perhaps my job and the subsequent stress of dealing over a number of years with patients with severe mental illness and anger issues might have contributed to my heart attack, or at least to the subsequent ventricular tachycardia that followed as a result of my messed-up heart.

I should have known something was wrong when I once did a research project during grad school in 1990 on the effect of my behavior on subsequent patient behavior and vice versa. I found that when doing evaluations with highly agitated patients, I felt highly angry and stressed (but did not show it, I hope). "Oh, what an interesting chart," I thought when I turned it into the professor (with all clients coded with numbers and data changed for confidentiality purposes, of course). I should have seen that chart as a red flag and warning sign that I was perhaps not good at dealing with stress, but at the time, I was just glad to turn in the project and go onto something else.

I didn't realize how much I internalized the stress of my job until I had enough perspective and real physical data in the decreased irregular heartbeats to see what was going on internally by taking on such serious cases. I wish that I was heartier and more immune to stress, but I have to accept that in certain areas, I am not. My life's work has been compromised, but I suppose that is what being a realist is about--understanding that although one can have a love and a propensity towards a certain kind of work, that one's body can often dictate what one is able to do. I only wish I had realized it earlier but I guess late is better than never.

Anyone else out there think their job may be contributing to a shorter life span and if so, what do you plan to do about it?

Women "Innocent" if They Kill their Own Children?

This week, a 25-year-old mother from Texas hung herself and her four children, one of them survived:

A young mother who may have been depressed apparently hanged three of her small daughters and herself in a closet using pieces of clothing and sashes, authorities said Tuesday.

A fourth child, an 8-month-old daughter, was also found dangling in the closet but was rescued from the family's mobile home.

The article ends up with some observations about four other Texas women who had killed their children. All four of those women were found "innocent" by reason of insanity.

Compare these cases of women who kill their own kids with a recent one for a Texas babysitter who is to be executed next month:

But just weeks after Henderson started working for the Baughs, 3-month-old Brandon was dead and Henderson had fled the state. The infant's body was found buried 60 miles away with his skull crushed, wrapped in his yellow-trimmed white blanket and stuffed into a box that previously held Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers.

Henderson, 50, is set to die in less than three weeks for the 1994 slaying that made her one of the most hated women in Texas. She would be just the 12th woman among the nearly 1,100 convicted killers executed since capital punishment resumed in the United States in 1977....

Henderson insists Brandon died in an accidental fall and that her decision to bury him and flee was made in panic, not in cold blood.

My question, why the "lighter" sentences for killing one's own kids vs. killing another woman's? Is it because children are seen as women's property so it is "okay" to kill one's own but not another woman's? If so, isn't this a little sick?

Also note how few women are actually executed at all. They make up 10-15% of homicide offenders but only 1% of executions have been women.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Grand Rounds

Medical Grand Rounds is up in celebration of Memorial Day at

Update: Also up: Carnival of Homeschooling: Alaska.