A confluence of topics dealing with mental health, substance abuse, health, public health, Social Work, education, politics, the humanities, and spirituality at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. In short, this blog is devoted to the improvment of the quality of life of human beings in the universe.
Jon Stewart does a great job interviewing Scott McClellan about his book , What Happened. It is interesting to hear the administration's representatives say things like "this isn't the Scott we knew". Jon asks McClellan insightful questions about how the administration developed the strategy of obfuscation which they employed to lie to the American people.
If you are interested in the immoral behavior of our polticians as they go about their activities in pursuing their own agenda which is contradictory to the interests of the nation, and the world, Jon's interview is well worth watching.
"It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not place there by logic in the first place."
Gordon Livingston, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, p.13
Yesterday, in two different sessions, clients asked me why people do self injurious things like cutting and wanting to be abused by people they provoke.
In Freudian psychology there is the idea of the internalized object which means that a person incorporates the expectations, desires, and treatment by others into one's own sense of self. A 4 year old child offered a cookie who says, "Mommy says I can't have one until after I eat my dinner." has incorporated the maternal object and is guiding his own behavior in compliance with maternal expectations to maintain her approval and avoid her disapproval. Similarly, a child who scolds himself after spilling his milk saying to himself, "Bad boy! You're such a slob! You're a clumsy brat!" has internalized the bad maternal and/or paternal object.
As adults these tapes continue to run in our heads. We not only treat ourselves the way we were treated but we also tend to treat others the same way. As paradoxical as it sounds, abused children, as adults want and expect abuse. Without it, they get anxious. It is like going through life waiting for the other shoe to drop. Until we get what we expect we are uneasy. Most of this process is unconscious.
When we becomes consciously aware of these tapes, of these internalized objects, we can then choose whether we want to continue to act according to them or change them. To change them takes repeated effort over time. It is a challenge.
To cut oneself to obtain psychological relief seems totally nonsensical until you understand that somewhere along the road, the person learned that they are a bad person who deserves to be punished, to suffer, to experience pain, "because that's what you deserve!"
Exorcising these psychological demons is not so much a rational process although reason helps, but rather it is more a psychological process. Like ducklings following its mother after birth, we are impinted, and reconfiguring the neuropathways of the old imprint takes repeated effort over a period of time, resisting the old behaviors and developing new, more constructive and functional ones. Practice makes perfect.
As Tom Robbins, the author wrote one time, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."
You deserve to be happy. You deserve to have a high quality life. To create a better life for yourself is a challenging project but one well worth pursuing.
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.
This is an essay I have wanted to write for some time, but have never felt confident that I had the words to accurately express my thoughts and feelings. I have looked for other authors who could state the ideas more clearly and succinctly than I can, but having found none, I have decided to take the risk and try to express the idea myself.
On this memorial day, I have a great deal of difficulty honoring and paying tribute to people who have engaged in immoral, unethical, and perhaps even criminal behavior. I am talking about soldiers who willingly and readily engaged in the killing in the immoral wars in Viet Nam and Iraq. Participating in the immoral wars of empire is not an honorable or moral activity. The defense that the soldier is “only doing their job”, and “just following orders” is the same as the German soldiers who transported the Jewish people and manned the crematoriums during the Holocaust. This defense was judged to be inadequate in the Nuremberg trials after World War II and it is not adequate for our soldiers immoral activity in a war of imperial conquest now.
There are courageous and heroic people who objected to the criminal activity and said “Hell no, I won’t go!”, and who rejected further service. I call these soldiers, “Soldiers of conscience” because they have reflected on the activities they were being ordered to participate in and judged them immoral and objectionable and at great personal sacrifice said so and refused to participate. They're people of conscience I admire, honor, and respect and yet the majority of Americans seem embarrassed by them because they force us as a nation to examine our nation’s policies and activities and we are conflicted and ashamed. It is another example of the classic case of the little boy saying to his mother, “The king has no clothes on!” and she tells her son to “Hush up!” because she fears the reprisal and retribution for his honesty.
As a therapist, I hypothesize that a great deal of what gets diagnosed as PTSD is a case of overwhelmingly guilty consciences at what was done, or what was seen done, and what was participated in, and yet there is no socially acceptable mechanism for individual soldiers and us, as a nation, to confess our sins, acknowledge our guilt, ask for forgiveness, and repent. This spiritually cleansing strategy has been labeled by the current Republicans and conservative pundits as “cut and run”. And yet it is much more psychological and spiritually healthy to call a spade a spade, take the bull by the horns, determine the nature and degree of harm done, and attempt to rectify and repair the harm.
Our current political climate and culture is too imbued with hubris to admit mistakes, take responsibility for immoral and illegal behavior, admit wrongs done, and apologize and make amends. So the iconic images and ideas of Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo, of extraordinary rendition, of deceit in justifying a pursuit to war, makes us as a nation hide our shame by sporting yellow “support the troops” magnetic ribbons on our cars and pretend that memorial day is a day to celebrate the heroic sacrifices of the activities of soldiers who have engaged in immoral, illegal, and unethical acts in our name.
We do no service to ourselves and to them when we lie and deceive ourselves and others about the horror we have inflicted on Iraq, Viet Nam, and other people’s around the world.
As Nuremberg trials concluded, at the end of the day, the individual conscience is supreme and to excuse one’s moral choices saying “ I was serving my country” or “I was following the orders of the Commander in Chief” is no defense.
When we look at the indicators of mental health among our soldiers: the rates of PTSD and other psychiatric problems, the suicide rates, the dysfunction among military families, I have to ask myself on Memorial Day, who is kidding who? If this activity is so grand and noble why the terrible psychic sequelae?
We have allowed ourselves as a nation to follow a delusional administration, and a dysfunctional congress into engaging in a pre-emptive, immoral, and illegal war. As Michael Moore pointed out on Larry King live over 100 million Americans, about 1/3 of the voting public knew the war was wrong. Millions more around the world knew the war was wrong. The United States essentially declared war alone with many more nations being unwilling than the touted few who were willing. The Pope and other major religious leaders around the world declared the war immoral. How can this be the occasion for honor and tribute? It will only make us crazier. It is better to call sin what it is – sin, and then go from there.
I honor the prophets, like the little boy who saw that the emperor had no clothes on, and thank them for their enlightened witnessing when those in power and the “moral majority” who support them have lost their way.
This Memorial Day should be a day of reflection and repentance. Let’s stop glorifying and honoring what is morally ugly. Let’s provide opportunities for truth and reconciliation instead of military jingoism and chauvanism. What many of our soldiers need is moral cleansing, along with our leaders, and then maybe it wouldn’t be necessary for them to kill themselves and go nuts.
Here is video with Darrell Anderson who is one veteran whom I admire and honor very much. The video lasts a little over 4 minutes and is worth every second.
It is too easy and vulgar to say that George W. Bush is a lying sack of shit. It would be more professional to say that he is delusional and psychotic. If not crazy, he is disengenous and it makes one wonder if he truly believes what he says.
When our government leaders tell us lies it is a mystifying experience which makes us wonder who is crazy, them or us? This is not good government. This is crazy making stuff.
As usual Jon Stewart on the Daily Show makes more sense than our government and/or the corporate media pundits. His video piece, Bless o Potamia lasts about 5 minutes and is worth every second. Watch it and let me know what you think.
"As a society, we have erred in assuming that education should be something done to our kids by some external agent called 'school' and that it should conclude when a person finishes formal schooling and begins a career. The shallowness of this concept has motivated many parents to make learning their own family value, to encouare their kids in their education, and even join them in that great adventure.". 239 Ibid
One of my favorite bumperstickers says, "Don't let public schooling interfer with your education."
No child left behind is another travesty visited on the citizens of this nation by a government intent on keeping the citizens under control. The emphasis on drilling kids in math and reading focuses on lower level skills but skips the elements of critical thinking necessary for citizens of a free and democratic society.
"Teaching children to think critically is not a parental responsibility much talked about in America today, for reasons we'll soon make clear. It's also a responsibility about which many parents would rather not be reminded. Show your kids how to think and there's no telling what they'll start questioning - their religion, family rules, the need to graduate." p. 240 Ibid.
This fall, 2008, I will have been in the Mental Health field for 40 years. In addition I have raised 9 children of my own with my wife, and now I have 10 grandchildren.
I feel over the hill in some ways working in my private practice, being an agency executive, and teaching undergraduate social workers. Recently though, for the first time in a long time, I agreed to accompany a 16 year old client and his mother to an IEP meeting at his high school. The meeting was called to discuss his returning from a special ed 12:1:1 classroom to normal programming. I was appalled at the arrogance of the Principal who lectured the mother and the student about his zero tolerance policy for misbehavior and seriously questioned whether the student was prepared to function in this "higher expectation" environment. The mother started crying and said to him, "It seems that you are expecting and waiting for my son to fail!" at which point he demurred saying that he was not making a judgment only issuing a warning of what was expected. I thought to myself, "What an asshole!"
After he left the meeting the chairperson of the meeting, the Director of Pupil Personnel Services, tried to minimize his behavior saying that they like to play "good cop", "bad cop."
My wife and I wound up homeschooling our kids and most of my grandchildren are now homeschooled by their parents thank god. I am reminded of Pink Floyd's song, "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control! Teachers!!!!!! Leave those kids alone!!
Schools blame parents all the time in the U.S. as well as policy makers for their children's poor functioning and misbehavior. It's outrageous really. In the U.S. there is very little parental support of any kind unlike in U.K. and Europe. Parents are left to struggle and when they lack the resources to respond to their children's problems there is an intimation that they are bad parents.
Today, I came from a meeting with a psychiatrist and a family intervention team trying to keep a 16 year old young female out of placement. The Psychiatrist kept saying every time concerns were raised about her behavior, "You have to understand, she's very sick. Her brain is not working right." She was trying to refer the father to NAMI support groups so he could learn more about mental illness. Under my breath, I am whistling, "I can't believe this shit!"
It's been a long time since I was on the front lines in this way, and it is appalling at the lack of compassion and inability of the systems we have created to respond in my human, respectful, and dignified ways. Now days it seems to be all about the money and the regulations requiring compliance with certain standards. Service providers are no longer working with clients and families but for some invisible agenda setters whom the service recipients never see and probably are not even aware of who are calling the shots.
In case you're wondering about the High School Principal, he said was an interim principal whom the school board had brought in from retirement to "clean things up", and the Psychiatrist is the director of a clinical research program hired to run drug trials. So the hidden agendas are veiled, but lurking behind the scenes, and students, patients, and their families are mystified as to why they are reduced to tears and sent off to support groups to learn that "mental illness" is caused by bad chemicals which can be rectified with phamaceuticals from Big Pharma.
I have increasingly enjoyed the blog, The Last Psychiatrist. It is thoughtful, relevant, and stimulating. The current article has to do with how People Magazine treats the personality of Heath Ledger, the star of Brokeback Mountain, who suddenly died recently on 01/22/08.
I, of course, can't speak for The Last Psychiatrist, but I think his point is that People Magazine wants to hook readers and sell magazines and is not necessarily interested in the truth. Therefore, the reader should beware that he/she is reading a spin that may not provide information that is entirely accurate. I have long been interested in media literacy which are skills rarely taught in schools, even colleges, any more. The Last Psychiatrist makes a good case for readers to get out their media literacy skills and apply them to People's schlock.
Here is part of what The Last Psychiatrist writes:
All of this is subtle, I'll admit. But that's why it's so important to see it. If it was blatant, we'd be arguing it; subtle is a virus, it's unconscious. Individually none of these photos or phrases mean anything, but taken together they signify something; like the use of the green filter in the movie The Matrix.
If you ask, "are you saying People thinks he is gay?" you've misunderstood. People has no interest in the truth; it is inviting speculation, it is causing confusion.
In order for you to understand what I'm saying, you'll have to accept that the media doesn't just select the "best" photos or quotes for their stories, but carefully selects ones that fit their story-- story that's not necessarily explicit.
On Monday, September 17,2007, Amy Goodman interviewed Naomi Klein on Democracy Now about Naomi's new book, "The Shock Doctrine". Naomi's observation is that free market capitalists wait until a societal crisis, or create a societal crisis, in order to implement their economic ideas, ideas which free and democratic people would never accept, approve, and implement had there not been a crisis. It is a fascinating thesis and Naomi makes a compelling case. She is a very articulate, and intelligent speaker and I highly recommend listening to her on this program. Below is a description of the show from the Democracy Now web site. Click on the link below to listen on line or download the show.
Pinochet's coup in Chile. The massacre in Tiananmen Square. The collapse of the Soviet Union. September 11th, 2001. The war on Iraq. The Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Award-winning investigative journalist Naomi Klein brings together all of these world-changing events in her new book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." In her first national broadcast interview since the publication of "The Shock Doctrine," Klein joins us in our firehouse studio for the hour. Klein writes, "The history of the contemporary free market was written in shocks." She argues that "Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market reforms." [includes rush transcript]
The Associated Press reported on August 11, 2007 that The United States lags behind 41 other countries in the world on life expectancy. Why is the richest most powerful country in the world so poor in its health? There are a number of reasons of which three of the biggest are: lack of health insurance which limits health care to over 45 million of its citizens, the fact that a third of its citizens are obese, and the high infant mortality rates caused by conditions of poverty among African Americans and other poor.
It seems ironic to me that while it appears that Americans will spend One Trillion dollars on its war in Iraq, the ignorance of its social problems at home is allowing its citizens to die at younger ages than 41 other countries around the world.