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March 2008
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Deceit and manipulation by corporate media is undermining our democracy. Are Americans smart enough to see through the propaganda?

Brave New Films has a brief 4 minute video on how Fox News has distorted the record of Barack Obama. It is very interesting not just because of the lies that they have tried to spread about Barack, but the techniques they use to distort, spin, spread untruth through innuendo and false hoods.

The video is interesting to watch not so much for the content but for the technique. Do you think Americans are smart enough to see how they are being manipulated and deceived by the corporate media?

Bad Therapy: Master Therapists Share Their Worst Failures, the book

Psychotherapy_session Bad Therapy: Master Therapists Share Their Worst Failures by Jeffrey A. Kottler and Jon Carlson was published by Brunner-Routledge in 2003. They interview 20 of what they call "master" psychotherapists some of whom I have heard of and some of whom I have not and ask them to describe a case of "bad" therapy which they conducted.

Some of the therapists made a distinction between "failed" therapy and "bad" therapy. All therapists, if they are honest, have cases where the therapy failed, but "bad" therapy implies more than just "failure". It implies that the therapist did something "bad" to cause the failure.

There also is a distinction between "bad" therapy and "unethical" therapy. Unethical therapy is blameworthy because the therapist intentionally misbehaved, and broke a code of ethics which they have promised to comply with and uphold. None of the therapists interviewed reported unethical therapy.

Bad therapy are the cases where the therapist blew it, bungled it, made mistakes which alienated the clients, and clients quit therapy feeling unhelped, disrespected, misunderstood, etc.

The most common cause of "bad" therapy is the treatment based on protocol or mental models in the therapist's head which he/she were hell bent on imposing on the client and the client's situation whether they were appropriate or helpful or not. Now days the debate is over "evidence based practice" vs. "client centered practice". The drive by a therapist to impose models of practice onto his/her work with clients is based on arrogance, narcissism, and insecurity. Rather than listening to clients and being responsive to the client's needs, concerns, and preferences, the therapist proceeds thinking that the therapist knows best leading to bad therapy.

It seems that most therapists mean well. They want to do good work and be helpful to clients, and they are saddened and embarrassed and sometimes feel guilty when they fail. A number of therapists say that they became humbler and were better able to learn from reflecting on their practice as they got older and had more experience.

Another thing which was apparent to me was the appreciation that good therapy is very very hard work. It takes an ability to be attentive and empathic in sustained ways with people who are emotionally distressed and often times with significant problems in functioning in important areas of their lives. I am struck how psychotherapy is marginalized, trivialized, and ridiculed in movies and popular culture and yet is soul saving and life saving in its mission and accomplishment. Perhaps psychotherapy gets marginalized because it makes people uncomfortable to think of our imperfection and difficulties in living our lives and achieving happiness as human beings.

Bad Therapy is not a great book. It probably holds little interest except for psychotherapists. I am somewhat disappointed with it and yet I find it interesting because it presents psychotherapists struggling with their own practice in helping people and that presentation puts a human face on the enterprise which is something of significant value as we strive to understand the practice of psychotherapy better. Kottler and Carlson and the 20 brave therapists who participated have made a contribution to the field for which I am grateful.

Americans are addicted to TV.

Kill_your_tv Americans are addicted to TV. This is Turn Off TV week, April 21-April 28. 2008.

First you've heard of it? Did you expect to see this on TV? Of course not. Advertisers would not pay for advertisements if no one was supposedly watching them. The materialistic, capitalistic enterprise that we have come to know as American democracy would be cut off at the roots for a week.

The majority of Americans could not go a week without TV anyway. We have become so addicted, TVs now appear in our restaurants, sports arenas, camping grounds, shopping malls, churches, everywhere. If someone were to swear off TV like an alcoholic swears off alcohol, where could you go where your addiction would not be triggered?

There are real withdrawal symptoms. The kids become irritable and fight more initially. Mom and Dad are out of sorts and their anxiety and tension goes up. Cravings become pronounced the first few days as your mind is full of vivid images of your favorite shows and you become distressed about what you are missing.

If you doubt my statement that Americans are addicted to TV, I encourage you to test the statement for a week and shut the TV off. Let me know how it goes.

Here is a brief video on how to break TV addiction. It lasts about 1 minute.

Quote of the day

"I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are."

George H.W. Bush, after a U.S. Navy warship shot down an Iranian commerical airliner killing 290 civilians in 1988

World Made By Hand, the book

World_made_by_hand World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler is an interesting book about our possible future in the United States when the oil runs out. Here is a brief description from the Amazon web site taken from a March, 2008 description by Publisher's Weekly:

Robert Earle has lost his job (he was a software executive) and family in the chaos following the breakdown. Elected mayor of Union Grove, N.Y., in the wake of a town crisis, Earle must rebuild civil society out of squabbling factions, including a cultish community of newcomers, an established group of Congregationalists and a plantation kept by the wealthy Stephen Bullock. Re-establishing basic infrastructure is a big enough challenge, but major tension comes from a crew of neighboring rednecks led by warlord Wayne Karp. Kunstler is most engaged when discussing the fate of the status quo and in divulging the particulars of daily life. Kunstler's world is convincing if didactic: Union Grove exists solely to illustrate Kunstler's doomsday vision. Readers willing to go for the ride will see a frightening and bleak future.

I liked the book. I liked the characters. I was sad when it ended because I would like to have learned more about how life went on in Union Grove.

I recommend this book.

Here is a trailer for the book which lasts about 3 1/2 minutes

Video book review by a reader - Lasts 3 1/2 minutes

Appreciating our natural world - In Living Color

Weisman Another one of my favorite radio shows is To The Best Of Our Knowledge, TTBOOK, which is an NPR show produced by Wisconsin Public Radio. On 04/13/08 TTBOOK broadcast a show entitled "In Living Color". Here is a brief description of the show from the TTBOOK web site:

Imagine the world as we know it, only without us. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, a writer imagines a world reinventing itself without human beings. He sees the New York subway system returning to its watery origins. The re-absorption of carbon into the earth, and endangered wildlife coming back from the brink. Also, one man finds the extraordinary in encounters with birds. And, garbage island - the bobbing plastic wasteland that's plaguing the Pacific.

It is a fascinating show in three segments which lasts about 55 minutes. In the first segment Alan Weisman talks about his book, World Without Humans. I was so fascinated I went out yesterday and bought his book. What would happen if the earth suddenly had no humans?

In the second segment, Thomas Morton described the Pacific gyre. I didn't even know what the pacific gyre is. It is the place where the ocean currents coalesce way out in the pacific and fills up with garbage. Mr. Morton hires a boat to take him out to the gyre and he describes his experience. Also, Sam Keen describes his spiritual experience with nature through bird watching, and Erec Toso describes his experience of being bitten by a rattlesnake in his front yard in Arizona as he was walking home one night in the dark with his two little kids.

Overall, a very good radio show and I recommend it. You can listen on line by going to the TTBOOK web site by clicking on the link below.

Link: 080413A In Living Color.

Quote of the day

"I'm a general semanticist who believes it's never possible to say all there is to say about anything, and that any time you say something, at the end you should say, 'etc.' - because you haven't said all there is to say about anything. Etc."

Stehen Gaskin, An Outlaw In My Heart, p. 145