Saturday, January 21, 2006

Medical Psychosis

I have to admit--I am afraid to go to the doctor. I have always hated hospitals--they seemed so depressing and scary--which is why I have a PhD and not an MD; I figured fainting at the sight of blood would probably be a bad quality in a doctor. While I am over the fainting at blood part, (you get used to all the blood drawing when you have heart problems) just the thought of going to a medical facility starts my heart palpitating. Yesterday, it was time for another three month check-up of my ICD. My check up was with a heart rhythm specialist who does an interrogation of my cardiac device by hooking me up to a computer and running a magnet over my chest to control the defibrillator. Somehow, just the thought of someone else being able to control my heart is enough to send me over the edge.

In preparation for my appointment, I packed an interesting book, bottled water and some food to calm my nerves after it was over. However, I found that nothing could distract me once the doctor started talking. I can usually interpret with fair accuracy what my own clients are trying to tell me but my translation of what a doctor is saying about my medical condition is so far off the mark, I sometimes wonder if a diagnosis of "medical psychosis" should be added to my chart. My translation goes something like this:

Doctor: Hi, I'm Dr. so and so, nice to meet you.

My Translation: I'm here to give you your last rites.

Doctor: Your potassium is a little low.

My Translation: You're lucky your heart is beating at all.

Doctor: Your heart is beating a little fast, are you nervous?

My Translation: Your heart is pounding out of your skin, you'll be lucky to make it out of this office without a major heart attack.

Doctor: Did you have a nice Christmas Holiday?

My Translation: You're damn lucky you made it to Christmas.

Doctor: We're going to try some new meds.

My Translation: Lord knows, the old meds weren't working--it's amazing you made it into the office without a gurney.

Doctor: Well, we're all done, see you in six months!

My Translation: Sucker! You'll be lucky if you make it three.

Well, you get the idea. For my next appointment, I think I'll bring a tape recorder so I can actually hear what the doctor said!

Update: Shrinkette has more on why it might be risky for doctors to reassure patients.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's Another Podcast!

Worried about Iran and nuclear weapons? Maybe you should be. We interviewed military and intelligence experts Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan, and they had a lot to say. Some of it is reassuring, and some of it isn't.

To hear the podcast, click here. (No iPod required!) You can also get it via iTunes by clicking here.

Austin Bay's blog is here, and Jim Dunnigan publishes StrategyPage, a military and intelligence website.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Self -Made Man

Author Norah Vincent has a new book coming out this week, Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back, in which she describes how she disguised herself as a man for eighteen months and what she learned. The most important lessons? To women, she says, "Men aren't what you think." To men, she says,"You have it harder than people know." She gives us insight into what it is like to date women, what it is like to relate to other men as a man, and who men are when women aren't around.

The book is just now coming out and here is what other blogs are saying about it: Feminine-genius blog really gets it and says to other women, "Assess ladies. Where is our part in all of this?" Dadvocate asks why he has to pass a test to date a woman? and Mr. Snitch says that Self-Made Man hits a nerve.

I look forward to talking with author Norah Vincent in a scheduled podcast about her book next week--it will be interesting to hear her experiences directly from her.

Update: Immodest Proposals blog says I am leading a "one woman charge against the 'War on men.'" I hope a discussion is not considered a war but if so, I think there are far more people leading it--think Warren Farrell, Christina Hoff Summers, and now maybe, Norah Vincent!

Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say

Who says men don't share their feelings? 125 comments and growing in the post about men and marriage. I must admit that reading these comments has made me wince--with pain and sadness for some of the writers--as well as with anger that so many of our laws have unfairly turned against men in order to give women the upper hand in the domestic arena. I can understand why some men stay away from marriage and relationships in general.

Many men in the thread seemed to be wondering where women get this sense of entitlement--that men are supposed to support them, please them, listen to everything they have to say and respond with no judgement at all. I can only fathom that it comes from being told that girls are precious and boys are scum. "Men are pigs" is so common that no one bats an eye anymore--even men throw out this phrase as it is branded into their psyche from a young age. The other day I was at a restaurant and the waitress was pregnant. I told her congrats and asked if she knew the sex of her child. "Thank God it's a girl", she quipped, "we don't need to bring any more boys into the world." Uhh...we don't? Why not? Apparently, the prejudice against boys starts in the womb. And the sad thing is, we are all going along with it--even the men.

So what do we do to change the negative attitudes (and hopefully, the unfair laws against men in marriage etc.)? We change our own attitudes and behavior when interacting with each other. Men don't have to go overboard but being strong and silent has never held more negative consequences for men. Speak up in relationships with women and tell them a little about how you feel. If a woman calls a man a jerk, speak up and say this is unfair and belittling--do not agree for goodness sakes! That will only reinforce stereotypes. Do not go along with everything a woman says in order to get sex--unless you just want sex and nothing else. Call her on her bad attitude and tell her to cut it out--it shows little respect for her fellow human beings.

And sometimes women can be so intent on bashing men that they stop listening. Warren Farrell has a book entitled, Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say: Destroying Myths, Creating Love, that describes some of the problems with male bashing and man hating. Changing this begins not only with men but with women--we need to chastise the female chauvinistic behavior of other women--not reinforce it by yelling, "You go, girl!" Women who yell "all men are pigs" and see women as saints are nothing but trouble. And other women and men who go along with this attitude are contributing to the problem. It is no longer funny and cute that women feel this way--it is destructive and adding to problems between the sexes in the courts and in relationships. Women should realize that men have feelings also, they are not automatons who march to their every whim and desire. Women who need that much admiration and support need a therapist, not a partner.

Anyone out there have other ideas to reduce the negative attitudes about males so prevalent in our society?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dr. Sanity's Best of the Psychosphere

Dr. Sanity is taking a look at mental health blogging this week and my previous post on marriage piqued her interest. Go take a look.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Carnival of Homeschooling is Up

Go check out the Carnival of Homeschooling--week 3. I found this link to an article by George Will quite interesting:

In 2002 the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education declared that a "professional disposition" is "guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice." Regarding that last, the Chronicle reports that the University of Alabama's College of Education proclaims itself "committed to preparing individuals to"—what? "Read, write and reason"? No, "to promote social justice, to be change agents, and to recognize individual and institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism," and to "break silences" about those things and "develop anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist community [sic] and alliances."

Wow, time for indoctrination but our kids can't read or reason--no wonder so many parents are homeschooling. But my real question is, with the shortage of male teachers, who is "breaking the silence" about institutionalized sexism?

Udate: Ann Althouse also discusses the gender gap in education.

Podcast #3 with Ana Marie Cox and Musician Todd Steed

We have an interesting discussion with Ana Marie Cox, the ex-Wonkette, and internet musician, Todd Steed. Ana Marie discusses women bloggers, sex, her new book(s) and how she feels about quitting the blogosphere. We also discuss, drugs, high school and rock and roll with Todd Steed-- Take a listen here to the podcast. Or subscribe via iTunes or the RSS Feed.

If this interests you, check out Ana Marie's novel, Dog Days, and Todd Steed's new CD, Heart Break and Duct Tape, some of which you can also hear online for free here.

And, as always, if you've got any suggestions, put them in the comments!

Update: For those of you who just want a highlight of the podcast in written form--sisu has it here.

Marrying Well....Make That, Why Marry?

I started out this post thinking I would be writing about all the wonders of marrying well (I did, but that is a whole other story) but after reading over some of the reasons men don't want to marry, I started wondering if marriage was such a good deal for men. I have read recently that fewer and fewer men are getting married. Perhaps this is for the best but when I read stories like this, I feel sad. Maybe I shouldn't and men who don't marry really have the best deal, but I can't help but feel that some men who want families will miss out because of politics and really bad advice. Here is an example of the political problems men feel they face in marriage:

Men are refusing to marry, says a report just released from Rutgers University. Professor David Popenoe attributes his finding to a fear of "commitment" by men and the ease of obtaining sex outside marriage.

Yet the men themselves express a weightier explanation of why they fear marriage: For many men, starting a family is a one-way ticket to jail, and even worse. Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson, [in the preceding article], found that many men now realize that any family they start can simply be taken away from them at any time, through forced divorce. Worse, once you have a child you become a likely candidate for false accusations of molestation, impossible child support payments, jail, and suicide.

Here is some of the advice guys are getting from other men about marriage:

What I'm saying is that human beings are nasty weak treacherous creatures that are for the most part totally untrustworthy. Experience is my basis for this statement, both mine and others who I know or who have written reliable histories. If you can find a woman to be your companion who is not treacherous, a deceitful little actress, a sly whore or a manipulative nag or a shrieking hag, then you are among the lucky few. Congratulations. I hope your luck continues to hold out.

Wow...are women that bad? I would think there would be some really wonderful women out there who would make great companions. Hint--it's probably not the one who wants a $10,000.00 engagement ring from a guy who makes only double that a year.

Are there any guys out there who have had some positive experiences with marriage that you could share?

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's About Time

Congress finally acknowleges that family violence strikes men too. What a novel idea.

Last month, in a little-noticed end-of-the-year action, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. The final version includes text that, for the first time, recognizes male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. This is a step in the right direction of a balanced approach to family violence—but only the first step.

As Cathy Young points out, we still have a long way to go, but sometimes awareness is the first step to recovery.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Jails are Just Today's Asylums

The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has compiled a list of the top twenty "meanest" cities for homelessness in the US.

Four of the cities are in Texas, two are in California and two are in Arizona. All are locations that a report accompanying the list finds reflect a growing willingness over the past 25 years “to turn to the criminal justice system to respond to people living in public spaces.”

Michael Stoops, acting executive director for the homeless coalition, put it more bluntly: “There's open war on the homeless population.”

No, it is not a "war" against the homeless. It is poor forethought and planning for the homeless when good Samaritans opened the mental institutions and turned the mentally ill out onto the streets--a large portion of the homeless are mentally ill-in some studies up to 50%. In addition, the gentrification of downtowns by urban yuppies and city planners caused a rush of condeming, closing or knocking down Single Room Occupancy Housing (SRO) which was devastating to the poor who lived in cheap housing. For example, in New York City in 1960, there were 640,000 people living in SRO's and rooming houses and by 1990, there were only 137,000. No wonder there are so many homeless there.

Here in Knoxville, we had a cheap motel downtown where one hundred people lived called the 5th Avenue Motel--the hotel was condemned and the residents forced to leave. Many went to live with friends and family, some were lucky enough to be provided with other housing but some, I bet, are back on the streets. There were a number of news interviews here with the residents saying that the 5th Avenue motel was their home. It would seem that living there would beat living in a shelter or the streets. I have even had homeless clients who commit crimes so they can get in jail, get three hots and a cot and maybe some mental health treatment. So the next time the National Coalition for the Homeless wants to blame states for being big meanies who wage war on the homeless, they should ask themselves why these people are homeless in the first place.

Update: Assistant Village Idiot talks about the complexities of social problems and why throwing housing and money at the homeless does not necessarily work.