Stupid Americans prefer comfort to truth, myth to facts. This amounts to denial at a national level.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth - persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

John F. Kennedy

With this epigram, Rick Shenkman opens the first chapter of his book, which I wanted to write, entitled, Just How Stupid Are We?

Shenkman writes, "Even after 9/11, when fresh thinking was needed most, we neglected as a society to confront the harsh truths about the limits of the public's wisdom. Busy spreading democracy around the world,we refused to reflect bravely on the defects of our own. Instead of admitting our flaws, we settled, somewhat defensively, on the myth that we a good and great people with noble aims." p. 12

Of course this is highly questionable. We had just elected two convicted drunk drivers to the highest offices in the land, President and Vice-President. That alone should give any thinking person pause in considering the wisdom and intelligence of the American people. We not only elected them, we re-elected them rejecting a decorated war hero for two leaders who avoided and dodged military service.

As Shenkman points out, when the American voters are faced with the truth or the myth they vote for the myth that gay marriage is bad, and that abortion is ruining our nation even when the bulk of the information from a public health perspective is the opposite. However, facing up the truths which fly in the face of fiercely held myths  is not something the American public has proved itself good at, and disaster has occured and continues to develop as most Americans aren't smart enough to understand how they have been had by their politicians and the corporate media.

It is easy to blame the policticans for fear mongering, lying, manipulating, spinning, and being bought off by lobbyists, and it is easy to blame the corporate media for skewing the news in their desired directions and not asking the tough questions and digging for the real facts behind the public relations spin, but few people have questioned the myth of the wisdom of the American people. The fact of the matter is that the American public is stupid. We get what we deserve. Perhaps working together we can look at our myths and start questioning "authority" so that we can come to a functional and healthy understanding of our national and international situation.

The American peple are in denial as surely as the alcoholic and drug addict are in denial about the nature of their disease. When first confronted, the alcoholic says, "Screw you. I don't have a problem." But as more negative consequences occur, the alcoholic can't avoid and deny any more. Reality starts to set in as the alcoholic hits bottom. America is hitting bottom. The myth that we are fighting pre-emptive, immoral wars like Viet Nam and Iraq for freedom and democracy around the world because we are morally superior while we loose democratic freedoms at home, and working people become poorer as the rich become richer, is becoming contaminated.

As Shenkman points out, it is not the lies that harm the most, but the belief in the underlying myths which make the lies necessary to maintain order and compliance of a people who otherwise might object to the policies of those in power.

Video with Rick Shenkman lasts about 6:42

Dishwasher, the book

Dishwasher Pete Dishwasher: One Man's Quest To Wash Dishes In All 50 States, by Pete Jordon is a fun and quick read. The delight in this book is the author's self - denigrating no holds barred pursuit of being the biggest and best slacker in the country. He operationalizes this chosen life style  of slacker by glorying in washing dishes. He considers himself the "dish master".

Upon survey, dishwashing was rated the 735th least desirable and lowliest of all occupations in the United States out of 740, and yet Pete loves it and sings its praises.  He gets free food from what he calls "the bus tub buffet". He sleeps in between rushes. He quits on a moments notice and finds jobs from signs posted in windows.

This would be a good beach book this summer. Pete is just folksy enough to be likable, but nobody you would want your daughter to marry.

Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary to Bush, finally confesses and tells the truth.

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan is a huge disgrace for shilling for the President and the Bush administration. He will now make millions off his book saying that the Bush administration was spewing propaganda rather than being straight with the American people. This is nothing new, but it does validate those who have been saying this for some time. Talking Points Memo TV gives highlights of many of Scott's press conferences. It is this kind of mystification that makes Americans crazy. The video lasts 9:30 and is worth watching if you are interested in this kind of stuff.

Adult Children of Parent Alienation Syndrome

Pas On May 24, 2007 Deborah Harper on Psychjourney interviewed Dr. Amy J. L. Baker about her book, Adult Alienation Syndome: Breaking The Ties That Bind.

Dr. Richard Garner coined the phrase Parent Alienation Syndrome back in the late 70s and it has been a controversial contruct ever sense. As they say, "Seeing is believing" and over the years I have been involved with families where parent alienation syndome is present and in my experience this is a very real thing which is often misunderstood and made worse by our Child Protective System, our Family court system, and our school systems.

The podcast lasts about 50 minutes and can be listened to on line or downloaded. I highly recommend it if you are interested in this topic. You can access it by clicking on the link below.

Link: [[Psychjourney]].

Armageddon in Retrospect, the book

Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut was published posthumously and is delightful. It is a collection of never before published stories about World War II with the exception of an address written by Kurt and delivered by his son, Mark, in Indianapolis in April of 2007.

For Vonnegut fans this book is a treasure and will be enjoyed immensely.

The Appeal, the book

John_grisham Bill Moyers interviewed John Grisham on January 25, 2008 on his show, Bill Moyers Journal. I learned that John Grisham is a religious man and takes his faith seriously.

In Grisham's latest book, he tells the story of how corporate interests have corrupted our democratic elections to the point of being able to even stack the state Supreme Courts with judges sympathetic to corporate interests.

The story is about a huge award granted by a Mississippi court to a woman whose husband and son both died of cancer as the result of a chemical company dumping toxic waste which found its way into the city's drinking water. The chemical company pays millions of dollars to get a supreme court justice elected who will knock down the award upon appeal.

This book is important for every American to read who wants to understand how contemporary campaigning is designed and whose interests are being promoted and represented. This book should be assigned reading in every high school civics class in America. Before the kids read it, parents would be advised to read it first so parents know what the kids are talking about when they ask questions.

I highly recommend this book.

Link: Bill Moyers Journal . John Grisham | PBS.

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.

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.