We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, December 12. 2014
Reposted and revised -
It's a cliche, isn't it? (I don't know how to put accents on words on this machine.) Lonely and isolated people feel lonelier during holidays.
Let's all think about, and try to include, the lonely this year.
We are told that holidays are supposed to be times of special social fun as well as family time, whether the 4th of July, Thanksgiving (we always try to include some close friends), or Christmas season which many like to use as an excuse for throwing a party for all their 200 closest friends or just a fish supper with a handful of good pals on Christmas Eve after church (with Eggnog of course).
People obviously vary a great deal in the extent of their social connections and (cliche again) one can easily be lonely in a crowd. Many prefer to be isolated but I think there is a basic human need to be "in community," to have human connections of all sorts outside of family. We are tribal creatures. I feel sad for those who lack tribes with whom to touch base and reconnect during the holiday season. That makes it depressing indeed because it's supposed to be about fun fun fun and party party party, right?
(As an ex-drinker who used to have some degree of social insecurities, I have learned how to have a good time at parties anyway. I like to touch base with the people I enjoy, and I like to walk up to strangers and say "Hi. I'm Joy. I don't think we've met." If they don't love me, it's their loss but maybe mine too. Rejection is just part of life, and many people seem to feel that they already know enough people unless you wow them in some way.)
There are many ingredients to constructing a satisfying life, but what a satisfying life means is different for everybody. However, I believe that to be in community, or really a part of multiple communities, is a key component. Some care about it more than others, for certain. With a little luck, the construction begins with an anchor solidly lodged in immediate or extended family, and extends, in separate but often-overlapping circles, out from there depending on what one does or decides to build.
And I do mean "build." Like career, community is never handed to you on a silver platter. I like to connect with interesting, intelligent, positive, and amusing people with interesting and adventurous lives. Who doesn't? On Saturday night, I met a gent, a retired banker, who covered the erection of the Berlin Wall for the New York Times when he was 21 years old. He had taken his grandkids to the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin this summer. I want to include him, and his wife, in one of my circles.
More below -
Continue reading "Lonely at Christmastime, with some comments about civil society's circles of connection"
Saturday, December 6. 2014
"As opposition to the war on drugs grows louder, a movement to challenge traditional ways of treating—and doing treatment with—people who have difficulties with drugs is also reaching critical mass."
After 30 years of Nixon's politically-motivated War on Drugs - the criminalization of almost all drug use and sale except for alcohol - has failed. Anybody who wants illegal drugs can buy them almost anywhere in the US within 30 minutes. All prohibition does is to raise their prices, to create abundant new criminals, violence, and gangs, and to make drugs more appealing to defiant youth.
Things were better before The War on Drugs. I think that drug addiction is a terrible, often soul - and life-destroying thing, but many drug addicts do quite well in life in places where criminalization is less harsh.
We can't criminalize everything we disapprove of. Help for addicts and abusers is plentiful anywhere for anybody who wants it, for free or close to free. I think every sort of help is fine and not worth fighting over, but I remain an advocate of AA.
This week is the 81st anniversary of the end of Prohibition in the US.
Tuesday, December 2. 2014
Maybe the growth of co-education brought rape out of the shadows and onto campuses. In any event, rape and any other crime are matters for the police no matter where they occur.
College administrations need play no role in that. Colleges can, however, try to do what they used to do in the good old days: require honorable and gentlemanly behavior from the men and honorable and ladylike behavior from the women. Punishment is expulsion. Why does that sound quaint today?
Where UVA Went Wrong: Students Need to See Rape as a Felony, Not Just a Campus Infraction
UVA Should Help Police Catch Alleged Rapists -- Now.
The Right and Campus Rape - Calling in the cops is not enough.
“It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene.”
Wednesday, November 19. 2014
The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis - What a growing body of research reveals about the biology of
On reading about this piece, I found myself wondering about the premise of the questions in the surveys. A question like "How satisfied are you with your life these days?" seems like a very American question to me. Most people on this planet think about whether they are satisfied by their meal, or whether their god is satisfied with them, and all sorts of other things other than narcissistic or hedonistic satisfaction.
Monday, November 17. 2014
This has nothing to do with "liberation." Women have always had healthy sex drives, but just kept quiet about it. The illusion of genteel innocence can be sexy to men. On the other hand, the image of dirty, nasty and accessible femininity can be sexy to men too. Almost anything can be sexy to men. Despite modern lesbian feminism, men should never underestimate female sexual longings and fantasies. Female fantasies are at least as reckless as those of men.
Women are, perhaps, more discriminating than guys but their needs for sex are abundant, especially in middle age. Perhaps Mother Nature wants us to get knocked up before it's too late.
Wednesday, November 12. 2014
There remains a trail of destroyed lives from that quackery:
Sunday, November 9. 2014
I endorse this book. The mini reviews on Amazon are informative.
Wednesday, November 5. 2014
As a Psychiatrist, I can tell you that quite normal people commonly contain all sorts of aberrant and "abnormal" fantasies which they would never act on or tell even their spouses about.
For what it's worth, Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?
Friday, October 31. 2014
Some people love horror tales and frightening, high-suspense movies, while some cannot tolerate them.
Every person has his own zone in which fearful things are exciting and interesting.
The scariest costume this Halloween would be to wear an ebola costume. The Psychology of Irrational Fear - Why we're more afraid of sharks than car accidents, and of Ebola than flu
Thursday, October 30. 2014
More info on the topic: We Are All Confident Idiots. A quote:
Tuesday, October 28. 2014
There is reason think so, at least for the moment.
Sad to say, Psychiatric meds cannot really fix anything, just ameliorate and prevent. But that is true of many meds. I do not think that our meds have anything to do with the underlying problems whether in the soul, in the genes, or in the wiring. As I am wont to say, a headache is not an aspirin deficiency disorder.
Our ability to control or prevent psychotic episodes is remarkable, but still the patient is never fully well. Quit the meds, and it can return.
Seems like everybody wants to be a therapist or counselor these days.
Everybody has problems of various degrees, and indeed sometimes it is helpful to talk it over with a trusted person. I have no problem with Biblical counseling. Anybody in a "helping profession" needs to know his limits and needs to be humble about his capacities.
My guess is that biblical counseling as some form of psychotherapy (as opposed to help with relationship to God which I would call Pastoral Counseling) can be most helpful for those whose guilt is honestly come by. By that I mean people who have every reason to feel troubled by guilt and remorse because they have done wrong, have not earned self-respect or earned a feeling of deserving God's love (which is another complicated topic). In other words, non-neurotic guilt.
Sunday, October 26. 2014
From Daniel Dennett's Are we free? Neuroscience gives the wrong answer:
Monday, October 20. 2014
Sunday, October 19. 2014
She's right about the winging it, but I believe the wings change.
Wednesday, October 15. 2014
I enjoy Schneiderman's posts, but this one is too black-and-white. He was Psychoanalytically-trained, and so was I. I no longer practice classical Psychoanalysis but I do a lot of what I term "Psychoanalytically-informed supportive therapy" which is sort-of what CBT is.
CBT, DBT, whatever. CBT is no big deal. There are always new therapy fads with new names but they all have one of two goals: glueing together someone who has become unglued, or carefully unglueing somebody who is so over-glued that they cannot live. Or something like that.
That's an absurd oversimplification, I know.
Tuesday, October 14. 2014
Dr. Ekman's work is fascinating, but Is Paul Ekman stretching the truth?
Wednesday, October 8. 2014
At one extreme, there are those who practice as if there were neither mind nor soul, as if there were nothing to a person but a bag of chemicals.
At the other extreme, those who practice as if there were no protoplasm and nothing but a bag of conflict and developmental/situational hang-ups.
Both extremes suffer from some form of psycho-utopianism. Most of us come in somewhere in some grey zone, in a confusing and challenging grey zone which keeps our brains working hard. A zone of ambiguity and mystery.
My close colleagues and I tend towards Dr. Levinson's view: Psychiatry’s Underground Economy. (It's not mainly about money, it's about how we think about patients.)
Tuesday, October 7. 2014
It begins like this:
The Trailhead Queen was dead. At first, there was no overt sign that her long life was ending: no fever, no spasms, no farewells. She simply sat on the floor of the royal chamber and died. As in life, her body was prone and immobile, her legs and antennae relaxed. Her stillness alone failed to give warning to her daughters that a catastrophe had occurred for all of them. She lay there, in fact, as though nothing had happened. She had become a perfect statue of herself. While humans and other vertebrates have an internal skeleton surrounded by soft tissue that quickly rots away, ants are encased in an external skeleton; their soft tissues shrivel into dry threads and lumps, but their exoskeletons remain, a knight’s armor fully intact long after the knight is gone. Hence the workers were at first unaware of their mother’s death. Her quietude said nothing, and the odors of her life, still rising from her, signalled, I remain among you. She smelled alive.
It is a short story. Read it all.
Sunday, October 5. 2014
My impression was that the "disease" model became popular for three main reasons; 1) it made it more comfortable for the addict, 2) it made it more likely to get insurance coverage for treatment and 3) addictions do have a physiological aspect. It never occurred to me that politics had anything to do with it.
Friday, October 3. 2014
I am very much convinced of this effect, and would like to see the idea enter the lexicon. It's from this: Why ’6 Reasons I’m Happier Because I Went to War’ went viral
It's always been my view that difficult experiences can eventually result in painful psychological growth as often as they can result in lasting damage. It used to be called the School of Hard Knocks but I call it "Reality Therapy," and it's all the therapy most people ever get.
Psychotherapy, in it's most penetrating and exploratory forms, is nothing more than controlled psychological trauma, just as surgery is controlled physical trauma.
Sunday, September 28. 2014
Friday, September 26. 2014
Many articles I read about Jihadists refer to "disaffected youth," even this one about the Algerian beheading of the French hiker.
I am sorry to say that these are not "disaffected youth" (as if they were Holden Caulfields or Benjamin Braddocks), they are deeply "affected" people from all walks of life who do not mind dying for their beliefs. They are true believers, Muslim fundies following their scripture and their religious leaders. Any efforts to psychologize them are amateurish, naive, ignorant, and Western cultural-centric.
Multicultural dogma says that we must comprehend people in the context of their cultures, not in the context of our materialist, secular, and therapeutic culture.
Tuesday, September 23. 2014
Freud's approach to his terminal illness was about the same as today's physicians towards their own terminal illnesses.
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