Money For Nothing, the book

Money for nothing Edward Ugel has written a light breezy memoir entitled, Money For Nothing: One Man's Journey Through The Dark Side Of Lottery Millions. Ugel describes his career as a lump sum salesman to lottery winners who rather than wait for the annual annuity check decide to sell their win to a financial investment company for a lump sum.

Ugel describes how the lump sum salespeople prey on the weaknesses and character defects of winners to make their sales and collect thousands in commissions. Turns out Ugel has a gambling problem himself and so part of what makes him a successful salesman in this bussiness is that "it takes one to know one."

The thing that makes this book palatable is Ugel's self denigrating stance, his humor, and his humility. He is aware of his problems and he knows that at once they are his greatest assett and his greatest deficit. He makes no bones about it and seems honest in a way that is refreshing and kept me reading to the end.

The book is disjointed and written like a high school term paper, but enjoyable nonetheless and gives the reader an inside glimpse of the underbelly of state lotteries, the people who play them, and the people who prey on the unfortunate winners.

John McCain, Phil Gramm, and George Bush think they're psychologists, but they are practicing without a license and they get it wrong




Here is gaslighting bull shit at its best, when poltical leaders call Americans in a tough economy whinners and needing a "psychological boost". These guys are good. How stupid are the American people? Maybe if they put Prozac in the drinking water like the government used Soma in 1984, they can tranqulize the citizens into accepting their oppressive policies and vote for them.

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Excessive texting is a tell tale sign of infidelity

Texting There was a brief article in the Telegraph, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, on 06/25/08 about how excessive text messaging can be a sign of infidelity. Here is part of what the article says:

Excessive texting and emailing is now the number one sign of infidelity, a leading law firm has said.

Family lawyers said an addiction to text messages or emails has replaced "working late" at the office as the main tell tale signs of an extra-marital affair.

Andrew Newbury, partner at specialist law firm Pannone said: "We see the same features in so many of the marital disputes that we deal with.

In the last 3 months I have had 5 couples where the spouse is objecting to the number and type of text messages being sent by his/her spouse. In one case, the wife objected that her spouse had sent 6,000 text messages to a female co-worker the preceding month. The husband claimed it was merely a friendship with a co-worker and there was nothing romantic going on.

Last night, I saw an upset husband who stated that his wife is getting all kinds of text messages from male co-workers at all times of the day and on weekends and when he asked what was going on, his wife became very defensive and denied any wrong doing. She was further defensive when he called the cell phone company wanting the phone records.

I have several other cases now where text messaging and setting up of accounts on MySpace has concerned spouses that their spouse is engaging in behavior that could lead to infidelity. In my experience, sometimes this has happened. In one case and unhappy wife of 26 years, left her husband to meet some man she had been corresponding with on the Internet who lived in another state. The wife knew nothing about this person other than from the emails.

It is interesting to learn how the new technology is being used in human relationships. Often the concern is for children and protecting them from predators and other questionable activities like taking and circulating nude photos of themselves (which I had one 13 year old client do). And yet, it seems that adults are getting into just as much, if not more, trouble.

Like any new technology, the technology itself is value free - in and of itself is amoral, but the use to which humans put it often raises all kinds of moral issues. With technology like text messaging, we are only being to learn how this new form of communication will affect human relationships.

Excessive texting is a tell tale sign of infidelity - Telegraph.

Praying for clients?

Praying for clients Continuing with the discussion of spirituality in therapy I was struck by Lorraine Wright's statement that she sometimes prays for her clients. Here is part of what she writes in her article, “Spirituality, Suffering, and Beliefs”,

“ Over the past few years, I have on occasion, independently adopted Dossey’s (1993) practice of praying for, although not with, clients and families with whom I work. As Dossey (1993) suggested, if a health professional believes that prayer works, not to use it is analogous to withholding a potent medication or surgical procedure: ‘Both prayer and belief are nonlocal manifestations of consciousness, because both can operate at a distance, sometimes outside the patient’s awareness. Both affirm that, “it’s not all physical”, and both can be used adjunctively with other forms of therapy.” (p.141) In praying for our clients, we perhaps also heighten our connection with them and our investment in their recovery and well-being.”

P. 64 in Spiritual Resources In Family Therapy edited by Froma Walsh

In further research, Dossey's claims have not been affirmed and it appears that there is no physical benefit to praying for someone who does not know they are being prayed for.

However, I wonder if praying for clients detracts from the psychotherapy? Is this a counter transference issue that would enhance the therapeutic alliance or interfere with it in some ways? If you had a student or supervisee who told you in clinical supervision that he/she was praying for his clients without the client's knowledge how would you handle it? Supposing it was with the client's knowledge?

Is praying for clients something that should be encouraged or discouraged? 

I, myself, sometimes pray for my clients and if wishing them well is considered praying, I pray for them all. I think that whether a therapist or a health care provider prays for clients would depend on the therapist's beliefs and spiritual practices. Certainly, clients pay a health care professional for a professional service and not for prayer, but I think that most clients would want their therapist to wish them well and care about their lives and the outcome of the therapy and not just be in it for the money.

Unfortunately, health care has turned into a business. It has become a commercial enterprise and is no longer a human service or a ministry in the broad sense of the word. I do not run my practice only as a business enterprise. I want to be of service to my clients and my community and take a number of clients pro bono and at reduced fees. I could make more money if I only served the more affluent who could pay me full fee, but that is not why I became a therapist and that is not what I believe God has called me to do with my professional skills.

Perhaps it is this desire to serve that is a prayer in and of itself.

Happiness more or less constant over the course of life

Happiness An interesting study done in Germany and reported on the BBC found that happiness is more or less constant over the course of a person's life. Here is a snippet from the article:

Momentous events in your life such as having children, or getting married, may make you happier, but only temporarily, say researchers.

Our basic happiness level essentially stays the same throughout adult life, the Economic Journal reports.

Economists from the UK, US and France based their conclusions on a 20-year analysis of the life satisfaction of hundreds of people from Germany.

Even after traumatic events, overall mood dipped but then recovered.

BBC NEWS | Health | Happiness 'immune to life events'

Pharmaceutical companies disease monger to detriment of society

Catherine Arnst had an interesting article published in the May 8, 2006 issue of Business Week entitled "Hey, You Don't Look So Good: As Diagnoses Of Once-Rare Illnesses Soar, Doctors Say Drugmakers Are 'Disease Mongering' To Boost Sales".

Here is a snippet from the article:

Click on article to enlage for easier reading.

Disease mongering  

Disease mongering 2

Discussing clients spiritual beliefs as part of therapy

I have been reading Spiritual Resources In Family Therapy edited by Froma Walsh and there is an article in the book by Lorraine Wright entitled, "Spirituality, Suffering, and Beliefs: The Soul Of Healing With Families."


Lorraine describes herself as a family therapist/nurse educator who works predominantly with families experiencing illness. She says some interesting things like:


The influence of family members’ spiritual and religious beliefs on their illness experiences has been one of the most neglected areas in family work.” P. 62


I wonder why that would be? What is the fear or the constraining beliefs that therapists have that would make it nonconductive to discussing clients' spiritual beliefs as part of the therapy?


Part of the contraints probably have to do with the split between the secular and the sacred, between science and religion, between evidence based practice and the clinical arts, between the psychological helper and the ministry.


I have been trained as a psychotherapist not as a pastor and our roles are different and yet without understanding and taking into account my clients' spiritual and religious beliefs especially when they are suffering, I am not likely to be of much help.


Thankfully, there is increased interest in the health care professions in the role that spirituality and and religion play in a person's physical health and mental well being. To describe someone as "broken hearted" or as having "killed their spirit" is to describe a person who is in need of some sort of spiritual uplift. There is a difference between a physical cure and a healing of the spirit.


My friend and colleague, Ed, recently died on June 30, 2008 at age of 56 of Esophogeal cancer. I last had lunch with him on June 18,2008. Even though physically he was having difficulty his spirits, as always, were good. I am not sure what Ed's religious and spiritual beliefs were, but he loved life, he loved people, and he lived every day up to his last to the best of his ability and for this I am very grateful to Ed for inspiring me with a great example of how to die.


Paul Pearsall, the neuropsychoimmunologist, who had four near death experiences himself, said, that no therapist can hope to be of much help to someone unless the therapist understands at least three basic things about the person's world view. The therapist needs to understand how the client would answer these three questions: Why was I born? What is the purpose of my life? What happens to me when I die?


I usually don't ask clients directly these 3 questions unless they come up in our conversation but usually by the 3 interview I have some good understandings of how they might answer these questions.


"I don't know. I don't know, and I don't know" are not good enough answers and people have to be pushed sometimes to a scarier and more difficult place, but if they trust the therapist enough, they usually can come up with some sort of answer that probably means more than they would like to believe.


The purpose of a healthy spirituality is to decrease suffering as both Jesus and Buddha and other spiritual masters have taught. This is the same goal of good psychotherapy.


50% of children born in the United States to women under 30 are born to unwed mothers

Teenparent There was a very informative and important show on July 1, 2008 on On Point dealing with the number of births in the United State to unwed mothers.

Here is a snippet from the On Point web site:

New research finds that more than 50 percent of all births to women under 30 are out of wedlock. Fifty years ago, it was 6 percent.

It's the unintended consequence of big shifts in culture and policy, and it's got long-range implications for the way we live.

The show lasts about 48 minutes and you can listen on line. I highly recommend it.

WBUR & NPR's On Point : Young, Unmarried, with Children

Consequences of insomnia

Gayle Greene, the author of the book Insomniac, describes the physical consequences of insomnia.

Over the last few years I have inquired more aggressively into people's sleep patterns because I find that many of the symptoms they complain about that have been diagnosed as depression and anxiety disorders are related to their poor sleep.

There is a chicken and egg phenomenon in the sense that is the poor sleep a symptom of depression or is the depression a symptom of poor sleep.

 Americans as compared to people from other cultures get about 1 hour per day less sleep.

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Truth is dangerous

"If the people believe there's an imaginary river out there, you don't tell them there's no river there. You build an imaginary bridge over the imaginary river."

Nikita S. Khruschchev (as remembered by Richard Nixon) in Rick Shenkman's book, Just How Stupid Are We? p. 53

People can only take so much truth. As Oscar Wilde said, "If you tell people the truth you better make them laugh or they will kill you." This is true in psychotherapy as it is in politics and just about any other walk of life.

People do not like cognitive dissonance. They do not like their thoughts disturbed. It raises their anxiety, and they can become dangerous.

My Social Work professor drilled it into our heads to "take the client where they're at, not where they ought to be, not where you think they should be, not where they could be, but take people where they're at."

My Social Work professor's advice has been stellar advice. And so we get the government we deserve. We get the lives we deserve, because people are very unaware. To wake them up might mean a punch in the face or at the least, protest and complaint, and a grump or two. Very few people wake up with a smile on their face, a song in their heart, and expressions of gratitude.

When you tell the truth, tread lightly, stand back, and fortify yourself with large amounts of compassion otherwise it can be a hurtful and destructive experience.

It may be easier and will undoubtedly make you more successful to build imaginary bridges over imaginary rivers, but some would say it is immoral, unethical, and in the long run we deserve the truth if we are to become human beings worthy of our potential.