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Prosperity preaching is the path to hell

It is ironic that when the economy gets bad people turn to religion.

The major religion in America today, but you will not see it listed as a major religion or denomination in the Pew Research Polls, is consumerism. The God of consumerism is Mammon. President Bush is consumerism's main prophet when he encourages people to engage in the sacred practice of shopping.

Joel Osteen and books such as The Secret promote an economics of spirituality promising people that if they have enough faith and get right with their God material and financial benefits will flow. With a paradoxical theology the proponents of economic spirituality promise that the more money you give to them, the more money the universe will send back to you.

As people have come to believe the economics of spirituality, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer and the middle class has shrunk.

People have not caught on that the economics of spirituality is a scam, a con, worthy of P.T. Barnum and the snake oil salesman of old.

People are not stupid but they are anxious and scared. Scared people will latch on to any hair-brained ideas hoping that by whistling in the dark and being distracted by engaging entertainment and hopeful ideas, no mater how false, will help them feel better and make things better.

None of the great religious leaders preached consumerism, not Jesus, not Buddha, not Krishna, not Mohamed. In fact, they preached the opposite. Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven."

It's not that money and material things are bad, it's that they have there place and there are plenty of things more important like loving your neighbor and caring for our planet and mother, Mother Earth.

As J. Paul Getty said, "The meek shall inherit the earth but not the mineral rights." and as Jesus said, it is hard, if not impossible for the rich to get into heaven, but the prosperity preachers who encourage an economics of spirituality create a hell on earth in the long run. As one wag said when asked his definition of Irish Diplomacy, "Irish diplomacy is telling a person to go to hell in such a way that they enjoy the trip." President Bush must be part Irish when he told Americans that the antidote to their worries is to go shopping. By all means shop til you drop, and let the plutocrats and preachers run the world.

Americans are not stupid, but emotional disturbed and morally corrupt

"I have treated many patients who have been painfully gaslighted in family, work, or organizational settings. I have seen whole organizations undercut by manipulative CEOs. But when gaslighting is done to an entire country as it has been done to the United States, the stakes are chilling. The political use of gaslighting has led to a psychologically impaired and unstable American electorate. The resulting policy decisions have had devastating implications for all Americans and the world."

Dr. Bryant Welch, The Assault On The American Mind, pp. 6-7

Rick Shenkman's book is entitled, Just How Stupid Are We? I have come to understand that it is not that Americans are stupid but that they are emotionally unstable and morally corrupt. We usually don't think of ourselves that way but if this were not true how do you explain the acquiescence to the nation's policies over the last 8 years?

How could Americans support a disastrous and immoral war in Iraq, the abandonment of 1 million fellow citizens in Katrina, the lack of health insurance for over 46 million Americans, the destruction of our planet by driving gas guzzling SUVs, a President who tells the citizens to cope with their anxiety about the terrorist threat which he overplayed by going shopping?

It is immoral to not help one another and the dog eat dog mentality where every person is expected to shift for himself is destroying our sense of security and thereby our emotional stability and moral fitness.

Further, there is a cognitive and intellectual belief in creationism denying evolution, faith based policies have taken over for good public health programs such as abstinence based sex education, a dismantling of governmental programs and then when they don't work because they are underfunded and under resourced turning them over to private contractors with no-bid contacts at exorbitant costs.

When we vote for our leaders and representatives, we pick appallingly unfit candidates. These choices are based on bogus emotional and moral issues and America as a nation has lost its way. We vote against our interests when it comes to financial policy, foreign relations, domestic policy over silly issues like gay marriage and reproductive rights.

A nation which is frightened of bogeymen, impoverishment, inability to obtain health care, education, and a prosperous future for their children is a nation easily manipulated by gaslighters.

A frightened nation is a nation at high risk for harming itself and others. We need to build a nation which is secure, where there is a safety net, where we care for one another, and overcome the dog eat dog mentality where it is every person for himself. We can help each other and in so doing build a better today for ourselves and tomorrow for our children and grandchildren. It is in the security of community which comes from helping each other that our emotional health and positive morality will be restored.

This emotional instability and moral corruption is a curious thing. How is it that two DUI offenders get chosen to be President and Vice President? How does a man who is a self admitted drug abuser until he was 40, who bankrupted several businesses, and was a lackluster student only admitted to Ivy League schools because of legacy admission policies get to lead the richest, most powerful nation on earth into a disastrous war? The whole thing seems nuts, and it is.

Video lasts 24 seconds

Markham's Behavioral Health has passed the half million views mark

Since August of 2003, Markham's Behavioral Health has had over half a million page views, 500,985 to be exact a minute ago. I don't suppose, compared to the big blogs, that is a big deal, because many of those blogs are getting that many views per day and week not over almost 5 years.

So, I don't know what it means that the blog has received a half million views, but I wish that for some folks along the way it has been helpful and in some small way has made our world a better place.

Managing gaslighting - strategy #1 - check it out

Earlier today in the preceeding post I wrote the following:

This will require a level of literacy never before achieved in a society. And more than just literacy, it will require a level of emotional intelligence never before achieved as well. The major question which needs answering is how to manage deceit and dishonesty in people who have power over you? The answer is very carefully. I will write more about his in the next few days.

The first strategy for dealing with gaslighting is to check it out.

Did you ever have the feeling where you started to second guess yourself and doubt your own mind? You thought to your self "Who is crazy here, me or them?" They have you believing it is you. Children who grow up in dysfunctional families often have trouble knowing what is normal and what is not normal. They just need a trusted sounding board, someone to check it out with.

Sometimes it is hard to find someone you trust, someone you feel understood by, someone who will be straight with you, honest, that knows the truth and can spot gaslighting when it is going on. Counselors are often thrust in this role, but other people are put in this role often and it is a great service to clarify the reailty and label dysfunction what it is, othen abuse. It is very reassuring to know that you are not crazy, but that they are gaslighting you.

This person who tells the truth and points out the gaslighting is what Alice Miller calls "the enlightened witness". This is the person who may not be able to change the abuse, change the gaslighting, change the lying and the abuse that is going on, but is a "straight shooter" and calls it like it is.

I have worked with clients who were employees being gaslighted at work by dysfunctional supervisors and to reassure the client that they are not going nuts, that their supervisor's behavior is inappropriate and dysfunctional gives the employee the courage to deal with the supervisor in a more assertive and differentiated way often leading to a positive change in the climate of the relationship.

At a national level, it is perhaps more difficult to know when you are being lied to, but when things don't add up, when things are one way and we are being told they are another, these are good signs that gaslighting is going on. The best barometers in our national life for gaslighting are comedians because they get to bring our attention to things in a humorous way which makes the truth about the untruth more palatable and less crazy making because we can laugh at it. You know the old saying, "You either laugh or cry."

One of the reason that so many people, especially younger people say that they get their news from The Daily Show is because Jon Stewart is one of the few commentators not afraid to tell his audience the truth.

When you wonder about your own sanity, check it out. Chances are it's not you, it's them.

There are more strategies for gaslighting coming.

Here's a video of Jon Stewart catching Mitt Romney gaslighting, Video lasts 1.14

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How to deal with deceit and dishonesty in people who have power over you?

"Gaslighting exploits weaknesses in the human mind and has a debilitating effect on the victim's ability to think rationally and to function independently of the gaslighter. It can take many forms. In all instances, however, it involves the clever manipulation of 'reality' by the predator that undermines the victim's independent mental functioning for the gaslighter's own political, financial, or psychological motives."

Dr. Bryant Welch, Assault On The American Mind, p. 6

One of the more difficult things for me to deal with as a psychotherapist is to sit in the counseling room and watch a spouse swear up and down that he/she is not having an affair, being unfaithful, and lying when it fact there is proof positive evidence that the spouse is having an affair and is lying about it. Sometimes I watch parents tell their children that things are one way when they are in fact another and they are wanting the child's cooperation, compliance, and loyalty. I have worked in organizations when supervisory personnel only told employees what was going on on a "need to know basis" to maintain control over the workforce which might otherwise object to the company's operational procedures.

When politicians lie to their constituents, there is a break down in democracy because constituents can no longer play an authentic role in the life of their community, state, and nation. They are kept blind to what the real agendas are and why things are happening in their name which do not have their agreement and assent. Lying, saying one thing and doing another, creating a charade to project one reality when something else is going on, is a crazy making experience.

It is cause for great concern that the reality projected to the American people has been distorted for political purposes. It has made us all anxious, depressed, confused, and dependent. This is good for the pharmaceutical industry but not good for our democracy.

There are some positive signs with fake news shows like The Daily Show and Colbert Report which daily poke fun at the hypocrisy, duplicity, and inanity which passes these days for leadership. There are the Scott McClellan's whose conscience would no longer allow him to not speak up and openly admit to the deceit. This is hardly news because we all knew it all along, but to have an administrative official publicly admit it, is the first step in recovery.

The ability to recognize gaslighting is a higher level skill. Not all Americans are emotionally capable of reflecting on their own experience, and observing this communication dynamic. Back in the 60s we called gaslighting a "mind fuck" which means that we knew we were being fucked with. Gaslighting works best, of course, when it is so subtle that it cannot be observed, when it is not noticed. The national therapeutic effort is to help people recognize gaslighting and hold the gaslighters accountable. Individually, in our families, our communities, and our nation we would be much better off psychologically, socially, and politically.

This will require a level of literacy never before achieved in a society. And more than just literacy, it will require a level of emotional intelligence never before achieved as well. The major question which needs answering is how to manage deceit and dishonesty in people who have power over you? The answer is very carefully. I will write more about this in the next few days.

Quote of the day

A supporter once called out, "Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!" and Adlai Stevenson answered, "That's not enough, I need a majority."

Scott Simon in Rick Shenkman's book, Just How Stupid Are We?. p.37