Friday, March 17, 2006

Mental Health Blogging

Dr. Sanity has a round-up of the psychosphere up--go take a look.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is Forgiveness always the Answer?

I made the mistake of catching the last few minutes of the Dr. Phil Show today. Normally, I would have turned the channel, but Dr. Phil was in a prison talking with a girl, Brandi, about why she ran down and killed her boyfriend. The psychologist (and voyeur) in me stayed glued to the set to see what this killer had to say. The synopis of the show was as follows:

Brandi was just 17 years old when she hit and killed her estranged high school boyfriend Daniel. She did it with her parents' car that she snuck out earlier that night. She says it was an accident, but Daniel's family disagrees. They say she purposely ran their son down in a fit of rage.

The victim's mother says the following:

"Let me tell you some things that she said to us,” says Dr. Phil. “She said, ‘There is no way Brandi could not have known that she hit him. She said that he jumped in front of the car, but Daniel would have known better than that. There is no doubt in my mind that this was intentional. There is nothing you could ever say to bring my son back. You don't realize the pain that you have caused our family. And I could never ever forgive her. She got a break in court, a slap on the wrist.'

"'We were told that it was going to be first degree murder with no chance of parole. And then she only got 12 years. Every time we entered the courtroom, we were ridiculed. Brandi said, “He got what he deserved.” I will never have any grandchildren from Daniel. I will never see my son graduate from high school. I will never see him get married. I think her mother is a piss-poor mother. I don't care how much I love my child, I would never lie for him. She has ruined our lives.’ What do you say to that?”

Well, Dr. Phil says the family of the victim should forgive the killer--and her family. This is the only way they will make peace with themselves. The victim's sister gives Dr. Phil a look of disgust and says, "We will never forgive Brandi." Dr.Phil insists that forgiveness is the only solution that will make the pain go away. It's no wonder that people think psychologists are a bunch of self-righteous ninnies who are one brick short of a load when it comes to common sense. It seems to me forgiveness in this case is just another name for a "get this girl out of jail free card." Especially since the conversation from the killer's parents then turned to "how would Brandi serving all this time really help the situation, after all, the victim is already dead." I have heard this over and over from attorneys, social workers and family members in the course of when I am doing an evaluation with a defendant who has been charged with murder. Forget about the victim--he/she is long gone and there is no reason the perpetrator should have to be put out too much by spending all that nasty time in prison.

Perhaps Dr. Phil should take some advice from Jeane Safer, PhD, who is the author of Forgiving and Not Forgiving: : Why Sometimes It's Better Not to Forgive. Safer argues in this book that genuine forgiveness is neither easy nor is it always necessary. Carefully choosing not to forgive can also be therapeutic. When this grieving family told Dr. Phil that they chose not to forgive the killer of their son, perhaps he should have kept the therapeutic hype to a minimum--one size does not fit all--and maybe respected their choice, which they've had a lot more time to think about than he has. You would think with all the expertise Dr. Phil purports to have, he would know that.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Podcast on the APA, Destructive Trends in Mental Health and Politics

We talk today to Dr. Nicholas Cummings, former president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and author, along with Rogers Wright, of Destructive Trends in Mental Health. Dr. Cummings spearheaded the successful effort to get the APA to stop regarding homosexuality as a mental disease--and now he is treated as an anathema by the same organization he headed--find out why. He discusses the ultra liberal agenda that has captured psychology, psychiatry and social work, why men have fled these fields and the politics of mental health that affect all of us or our loved ones.

You can listen to the podcast directly (you don't need an iPod!) by clicking right here, or you can get it via iTunes right here.

There's an archive of previous episodes here. There's also a collection of low-bandwidth versions for dialup users, etc., available here.

Please leave any comments or suggestions below.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Carnival of Homeschooling

The 11th Carnival of Homeschooling is up and being hosted at The Common Room.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Shrinkwrapped has thoughts on why those of us in the mental health field are supposed to call our patients "clients" instead of "patients." Go take a look.

Update: So from the comments thus far, we have differing opinions as to whether readers wish to be called clients or patients--personally, I don't give a damn so long as my doctor treats me with respect and is competent. That is what I do for my patients--uh...clients, or whatever. What do you think?

Update II: Ice Scribe has some more thoughts on doctors being called "providers."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

If You're Gay--You Better Stay that Way

Well, the APA (American Psychological Association) is at it again playing the activist role rather than the social science one when it comes to homosexuality (Hat Tip The National Psychologist). The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is a national association of mental health professionals serving men and women who are dissatisfied with their homosexual attractions.

Personally, I'm skeptical about turning gay people straight. But shouldn't the client be the one to choose, not the APA? The APA has decided that the answer is no.

Not only did the APA deny CE (Continuing Education) credit to professionals attending the annual NARTH conference in November, stating that "The program content is not consistent with APA policy" but the APA is attempting to declare therapy to modify sexual orientation unethical (National Psychologist, March,April 2006). Nicholas Cummings and Rogers Wright, authors of Destructive Trends in Mental Health,talk about the APA's attempt to silence those who disagree with their positions:

When writing their newly released book Destructive Trends in Mental Health, Wright and Cummings invited the participation of a number of fellow psychologists who flatly turned them down--fearing loss of tenure, loss of promotion, and other forms of professional retaliation. "We were bombarded by horror stories," Dr. Cummings said. "Their greatest fear was of the gay lobby, which is very strong in the APA."

'Homophobia as intimidation' is one of the most pervasive techniques used to silence anyone who would disagree with the gay activist agenda," said Cummings. "Sadly, I have seen militant gay men and lesbians-- who I am certain do not represent all homosexuals, and who themselves have been the object of derision and oppression-- once gaining freedom and power, then becoming oppressors themselves.

Perhaps the APA should turn the mirror on itself when it comes to being intolerant and closed-minded. APA articles such as this one claim that Conservatives have an intolerance for ambiguity -- but isn't intolerance of ambiguity just what the APA is engaging in on the issue of homosexuality? Isn't it extreme to go from diagnosing homosexuality as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) prior to 1973 to claiming that NARTH has no right to help those who want to change their sexual orientation to do so? Should we really trust an institution that swings to such extremes when it comes to psychological issues, and yet insists that it is right in whatever position it takes?

If clients want to change their sexual orientation, shouldn't they be able to make that choice just like the clients who embrace being gay or heterosexual? (How would the APA act if someone else were trying to shut down therapists who assisted formerly "straight" clients with getting in touch with their "gay" feelings?) Is the appearance of political correctness so entrenched in the APA that they would violate their own ethical code of client autonomy, self-determination or diversity?

I guess the answer to the last question is "Yes."

Update: Please help me in my support of the book, Destructive Trends in Mental Health. I have purchased several copies and hope that others will too--give them to your favorite therapist or mental health professional or read them yourself. The book is chock full of great information on political correctness with chapters ranging from "The Psychology of Victimhood" to "The Dumbing Down of Psychology."

"Wright described the difficulties he has encountered with the American Psychological Association since the Association instituted a "strategic decision not to respond" to their book in an effort to avoid attracting attention to it. Initially, the APA prohibited its member-publications from reviewing Destructive Trends. "So much for diversity and open-mindedness," Wright added wryly."

Update: Listen to our podcast on this issue as well as psychology and politics with Dr. Nicholas Cummings here.