PL's response to F.J.'s response:

Thanks for the comment, F.J. I'd say you're pretty clear on how you feel about the Huffington Post!
Just for the record, though, the story itself originated on the Associated Press newswire, not with the Huff Post, and the stats themselves on Americans in prison came from the Pew Research Center which is a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take positions on policy issues.
Oh, and for whatever it's worth, and I'm not too sure about that, the Huffington's have been divorced for over a decade, and although Congressman Huffington did indeed come out as gay in 1998, I couldn't find anything about him ever being in a closet with a boy. Interested to know your source on that one. I'm always interested in the truth.

Here's a comment from "F.J." on my "Home of the Free?" blog entry:


Today's Quote (worth repeating!)

"The more laws and order are made prominent,
The more thieves and robbers there will be."

Home of the Free?

Check out this headline today on the Huffington Post: "Record-High Ratio of Americans in Prison" (
"For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America's rank as the world's No. 1 incarcerator."
The report said the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation, far ahead of more populous China with 1.5 million people behind bars. It said the U.S. also is the leader in inmates per capita (750 per 100,000 people), ahead of Russia (628 per 100,000) and other former Soviet bloc nations which round out the Top 10. Four states _ Vermont, Michigan, Oregon and Connecticut _ now spend more on corrections than they do on higher education, the report said.
"These sad facts reflect a very distorted set of national priorities," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, referring to the full report. "Perhaps, if we adequately invested in our children and in education, kids who now grow up to be criminals could become productive workers and taxpayers."

Wow! What does this mean, and more importantly what does this say about us? Here's a startling fact for all of us about this kind of Bizarro World reality. With all of our extravagant incarceration rates, our crime rates are actually higher than most western countries. In addition, it's a statistical fact that in many major U.S. cities, the crime rate has gone down after a decrease in the size of the police force. AFTER! Think about that for a moment before you tuck it into your "Does Not Compute" file. Here's more: with all of our repressive attitudes and laws against sex, our rates of rape, sexual assault and teenage pregnancy are much higher than in other countries where sexual attitudes and laws are more relaxed. (Do we need to be reminded of the microcosm of the Catholic Church and how the oppressive vows of celibacy coincide with absurd levels of sexual acting out by priests? Or how many "Family Values" Republicans have turned out to be pedophiles or closet queens?)

These are not statistical anomalies folks. This is the Law of Attraction at work. Whatever you deny, repress or keep unconscious is what you attract. That's what Shakespeare understood when he had Queen Gertrude decry: "The lady doth protest too much."

Today's Quote

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

Today's Quote

"The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy - I mean that if you are happy you will be good."
Bertrand Russell

Hot off the press from Reuters: "Do Antidepressants Actually Work? Research Says Probably Not"

Here's a clip:
"British researchers have released a report that claims that antidepressants, for the most part, are ineffective. The researchers found that compared with placebo, these new-generation antidepressant medications did not yield clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially had moderate or even very severe depression."

Check out the story at:

PL's response to Rick's response

Thanks for the comments, Rick, thoughtful and thought-provoking, as usual.
I was mainly poking "fun" at the price the illusory "quick fixes" exact from us in so-called "side-effects."
I actually am totally with you on the need for the labelling and warnings, though I wasn't addressing that issue.
I haven't found any real evidence to support the claims that truly natural remedies when taken in proper doses produce any major side-effects comparable to those caused by synthetic, processed chemicals taken in just the prescribed doses. That being said, in our greed driven economic culture, the same forces - “the machine,” as you put it - do indeed invade the manufacturers of natural, as well as synthetic remedies.
In response to your question to the Wizard - "What should we do when our bodies need fixing?" - the Great andPowerful Oz says: "Have more sex, Tin Man!"
Finally, regarding your comment - "If one must quit, it can be understood if that action has consequences for only you and not others for whom you are responsible" - I can say that my experience tells me that whenever you leave a bad situation for a good reason, no one truly suffers unnecessarily, though they may indeed protest initially. I would add, though, that the quitting process can be done thoughtfully and with a proper process, or it can be done impulsively with a haphazard process, and that certainly makes for very different effects.
Thanks again, Rick!

Rick responds to PL's drug company riff, with a noogie thrown in on the joy of quitting!

I can’t figure out your point.

(Forgive me but blogs represent a foreign world to me and I am unsure of its culture. Go easy on me.)

Is this a rant against the machine like the ridiculous unfounded “truths” that are fed to us by the Republicans and Democrats? Or, is it a criticism of our dependency on quick fixes in all that we do?

Our litigious society mandates warnings, however mind-boggling, obvious or even unnecessary, from all manufacturers. We have all seen these warnings and realize how small the chances are of being affected by them. The drug companies have to do this.

Have you taken a look at the side of an extension ladder? It actually tells you not to place it on a loose pile of uneven dirt or rocks. For a kitchen mixer, it tells you not to put your hand in the bowl while the mixer is on. What about the “caution hot” writing on the top of a coffee lid? They are all there because people sued the company for not warning the consumer.

The problem lies in people. Instead of recognizing the obvious, act stupidly or are irresponsible, they sue a company for not telling them that if you drive with the lid of your hot coffee cup off, you can spill it causing 3rd degree burns. What about video games, movies and music “causing” fatal behaviors? Millions of dollars are spent trying to defend these ridiculous assertions. The result is that warnings, although some are predictable and dangerous, are oftentimes thin and do not outweigh the benefits.

Now, as with any stimulant, sedative or other medications most side affects are predictable. Look at herbal stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine, and/or pseudoephedrine and the side affects would be just as alarming.

What about natural sedatives such as Valerian or Ginseng and their “severe” side affects.
How common are the side affects of the drugs mentioned in the original blog? How common are the side affects in the natural “drugs”?

Based on your calculus, people who have an illness or condition should not be “numb” and “dumb” and ignore the side affects, nor should they support “the machine” which by the way includes manufacturers of natural + synthetic remedies.

Oh Wizard of OZ! What should we do when our bodies need fixing?

By the way, if one must quit, it can be understood if that action has consequences for only you and not others for whom you are responsible. Thoughts?

Today's Quote

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive, for the will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object."
Thomas Jefferson

Nader for President? Ain't that America?

Okay, I'm going to do my best now to invite the ire of the left and right of this country down upon me.
First of all, I voted for Barack Obama in the NY primary, and I will vote for him, or Hillary Clinton, in the general election. I am actually excited about a presidential election for the first time in almost three decades. (I basically gave up on national politics with the two elections of Ronald Reagan and the parade of dry-mouthed wimps put up year after year by the Democrats against ever-increasingly evil or moronic Republicans.) Like Michelle Obama, I, too, am proud of our country in a special way this year for the first time in my adult life.
Nonetheless, I welcome the entry of Ralph Nader into the presidential race. Why wouldn't I? As Bob Herbert points out in his otherwise pathetic plea today against Nader running, Raplh Nader is "one of just a handful of people over the past century with a legitimate claim to the designation 'great American.”
(See Herbert's piece in the NY Times at:

Mr. Herbert then goes on to list SOME of Nader's contributions to the well being of our citizenry.
According to Herbert, Mr. Nader is: "owed thanks for seat belts and air bags and cars that hold the road better, that don’t flip or crumple up or catch fire as easily as earlier models. As the nation’s premier consumer advocate, he has waged war with remarkable success against tainted meat, air and water pollution and dangerous food additives. He was a major driving force behind the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Freedom of Information Act? Thanks for your help, Ralph. Food-labeling that’s clear and informative? Thanks again. And, oh yes, it was Ralph Nader who fought for and won compensation for airline passengers bumped from overbooked flights.
Mr. Nader, who will turn 74 on Wednesday, either founded or inspired an astonishing array of public-spirited organizations and citizens’ groups, including the public interest research groups know as PIRGs. He’s waged titanic battles against corruption in government and the unchecked power of giant corporations. I could go on for a few more days, but you get the idea."

Yet, somehow, in the same breath, Herbert says Nader shouldn't run for president because it might hurt the Democratic nominee. Well, I'm sorry, but if Nader running for president creates a challenge for the Democratic nominee, how is that Nader's fault? How is it that a true American hero who wants to (again according to Herbert) express "outrage over the ballot-access difficulties of independent candidates, and the iniquities of the Bush administration, which, in Mr. Nader’s view, is 'the most impeachable presidency in modern history,' wants to talk about a single-payer health plan, 'full Medicare for all,' and a national mission to abolish poverty, and the waste, fraud and corruption that has turned the military budget into a world-class destroyer of taxpayer dollars, and corporate crime" should be told not to run for president?
It a very real way, the reason we finally have two strong candidates running historic races this year on the Democratic side is partially because of Ralph Nader. Al Gore ran an insincere, two-faced campaign in 2000, and John Kerry was so undercharged and disconnected, I don't even know how he got out of bed in the morning. That any Democrat could have lost to George W. Bush, the most sophomoric, uninspiring, intellectually limited and emotionally challenged candidate in modern times is somehow Ralph Nader's fault?! No, maybe Nader's "threat" has helped the Democrats wake up, and put up for a change.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are great candidates, with a great purpose, running for president. Ralph Nader is a uniquely great American, also running for president. Hooray!
Ain't that America?


Today's Quote

"The more laws and order are made prominent,
The more thieves and robbers there will be."

Today's Quote

"God heals, and the doctor takes the fees."
Benjamin Franklin

Thinking Differently About Schizophrenia? NOT!

Isn't this pathetic? There was an article in the NY Times this morning, the title of which - "Daring to Think Differently About Schizophrenia" - got me momentarily excited. Until it turned out to be just another piece of crap about how yet another new drug might be the solution. Ugh! The solution to what? Nature gone bad again? Think about it. That's basically where the Western medical-model approach to all illnesses, including psychiatric illnesses, comes from - the notion that nature randomly fucks up and wantonly, haphazardly attacks us. How wonderfully free from responsibility that leaves us human beings, right? Free to not look at the ways in which we drive our immune systems into the ground or the ways in which we drive ourselves and our children crazy.
"It's not us, it's nature!"
"Hey, Doc, you got a drug for that, right?"
In my early days of clinical training as a psychotherapist, there were actually thought to be reasons rooted in the experiences of a young child's life that could lead to schizophrenia. Imagine that?! There was even a name for a parent who could cause the illness to develop in a child - it's a whopper: the "schizophrenegenic mother." Whew! She was thought to be an emotionally detached, excessively involved and controlling, conflict-inducing parent, who placed her very young child in no-win scenarios called "double-binds." Double binds were manifestation of the parent's ambivalence, for example, about intimacy and control, at once wanting to instill fear and "respect" in the child, but also wanting to be revered and loved by the child simultaneously. The child was then forced to "split" itself internally (which is where the term schizophrenia comes from) in order to deal with this untenable demand from outer reality.
Well, I'm sure you can imagine how utterly politically incorrect that became in the late 1970s, can't you? Feminists, parents and even patients decried the purported hostility behind a "theory" that holds mothers and parents responsible for the mental illness of their children. I was actually a skeptic at the time, too, until I actually started doing some unbiased research and work with schizophrenics and their families, including in psychiatric hospitals and in their homes. Well, guess what? What I found was a plethora of detached, controlling, over-involved parents desperately needing to be loved and feared by their children. And guess what else? Therapy helped! Intensive psychotherapy that included "reparenting," a notion now thought of as quaint by the psychiatric profession, actually helped. But here was the glitch - it was a lot of work for the therapists and the families, and nobody wanted to do it. Interestingly enough, however, in a landmark study at the time, it was found that graduate students actually had a better success rate of curing schizophrenics than seasoned (and jaded) psychiatrists. Why? Because the grad students were more optimistic and enthusiastic in their approach to their difficult patients and could really roll up their sleeves, put in the time, and get into the schizophrenic's world. And those same grad students, me included, didn't mind making home visits to observe and work with the families.
Well, Reagonomics and the above-mentioned political correctness movements ended all that potential. And like a perfect storm, the defunding of long-term psychiatric care coupled with the parents-are-not-to-blame lobbying created an opening for the nefarious pharmacetical industry, ever-ready to provide the illusive AND expensive magic pill. This is a quote from the Times article today:
"Driving the industry’s interest [in schizophrenia] is the huge market for drugs for brain and psychiatric diseases. Worldwide sales total almost $50 billion annually, even though existing medicines have moderate efficacy and have side effects that range from reduced libido to diabetes."

Just read that paragraph again. Take a deep breath and read that short paragraph again.
Thinking differently about schizophrenia? I must've missed it.


Today's Quote

"They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom."

The Joy of Quitting

Searching through my files for something of interest this morning, I found one of my favorite articles from 1999, called "The Joy of Quitting," by Michael Lewis. I used it for a class I taught in 2000 on "Creating Health."
Quitting healthy? What? Aren't I the one who's always talking about "doing whatever it takes?" Didn't I extol the virtues of the Giants in the Superbowl recently for not giving up with only seconds left? Well, yes, but sometimes doing whatever it takes can mean not only perservering where there's hope and potential, but also leaving a situation that has genuinely run out of juice.
Everyone knows the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." And then there's Kenny Rogers: "You got to know when to hold up, know when to fold up, know when to walk away..." Right. That's the difference between a professional gambler and a compulsive gambler. There's perserverance, with courage and wisdom, and then there's stubbornness and masochism, which inevitably exact a high price for little or no return. Sometimes, the healthy choice in life at any given moment is to leave that job or relationship... or political campaign, as the case may be today. (If I hadn't dropped my first major and quit my first college, I'd be an accountant today instead of a shrink who's desperately trying to become a writer.)
Leaving a situation that you once were committed to can be hard, no doubt, even though you may clearly know said situation can't be "fixed." Human beings thrive on change, but they also cling to the familiar. And unfortunately, because of the prohibitions, inner and outer, against quitting, many people only leave a job or relationship when they're really angry and there's been a lot of toxic build up, or when their performance level has deteriorated. How many once great sports figures played one too many games, or fought one too many fights? How many legendary rock stars gave (and are still giving) one too many concerts?
It always comes down to the same thing, doesn't it? Letting go. So much of what makes living in harmony possible is about letting go. Okay.

Here's an excerpt from Lewis' essay:

"Starting with 'The Little Engine That Could,' and trudging relentlessly on from there, the propaganda of childhood is drenched with the message that good things come only to those who persevere. Man's desire to quit what he has started must be very great -- at least to judge from the force with which the message not to do so is hammered into young minds. Perseverance, like honesty, is one of those values that wind up being overrated because no one likes to be seen making the case against them. But people cause themselves a lot of unnecessary grief by caving in to the shame they feel -- or others cause them to feel -- about quitting. There is an undeniable pleasure in ceasing to perform an onerous task. We deny ourselves unnecessarily too much of that pleasure, out of some abstract sense that quitting is bad. The problem with this unthinking bias is simple: finishing what you started is a useful course of action only if what you started is worth finishing. And often you do not know whether it is worth finishing until after you've started it."

You can find the whole essay at:

A related blog posting by me, "The End of the Job," can be found at:

Today's Quote

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
George Bernard Shaw

Today's Quote

"And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself,
that of yourself which you yet know not of."
William Shakespeare

Do it... or don't!

You haven't had really good sex, or any sex at all, in months, years, maybe, whether you may be single or in a steady relationship or a long-term marriage. Your finances are a mess, maybe even a disaster, or... they're not, you're solvent, but still, your work life is ungratifying creatively. You're over-weight, out of shape, having trouble sleeping, feeling old before your time, maybe, or succumbing to the insidious indoctrinations of the medical profession about the indignities of aging and the betrayals of nature. Anti-depressants, high blood pressure medication, Viagra, Ambien in your medicine cabinet? Medicine cabinet? What the fuck?! You have a medicine cabinet?! How did this happen? Some part of you knows this isn't right. Right? Your mind doesn't feel this resigned, this lacking in desire, this irrelevant to the rest of human life, old, for Christ's sake!
Some part of you feels vibrant, engaged, passionate, desiring to contribute. Yet, you are sinking into despair and lethargy and apathy. You're broke, or broken, or close to it. You can't get up or get it up! How is this possible? How did this happen??
Well, ask yourself this - are you commited to doing whatever it takes to open up your inner channels to the fullness of life? Are you willing to turn over every stone in your mental and emotional self to find the negative intentions, stubborn childish wishes and willful attitudes lurking there? Can you admit that being happy, free, healthy, wealthy and wise are not as important to you as being "right," playing it "safe" and being in "control." That your pride rules over all?
Well, having it all, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are indeed our inalienable rights as human beings, but it's a state you have to strive to arrive to. We live in a plane of intense heaviness here on Earth, yet it's a place of potentially great acceleration.
Here's the good news, folks - having a great life, fulfilled in love and work, with a sound mind and body is not only possible, but it is the way it's meant to be for us. But here's the hard truth - there's no short cuts, no end runs, no cheating, faking it, or half-stepping. You've got to reveal yourself - to yourself, and then to someone else. And then, go further and further until there's no corner of your inner life that's hidden and in the dark. Do it. Or don't, but if you don't, don't complain.

Today's Quote

"Military justice is to justice what military music is to music."
Groucho Marx

"Play is Child's Work" by Mary Cavataio

Excellent article on Mary's blog on the very serious subject of play. Here's an excerpt:
"I must say that although this “scientific evidence” regarding play and the development of the prefrontal cortex is fascinating, it is only a small part of an issue. The larger and more significant issue is; that even without “experts,” documentation, and scientific results, we as parents intuitively know infinitely more about our children and how and why they develop certain characteristics then we let on, and if we were to follow our intuitive/instinctual selves and step away from our preconcieved notions and desire to defer to the experts we could really make all the difference."
Check out the rest on The Love We Make at:

Here's Lori's comment on "Normal Killers"

As a college professor, I have addressed the subject of campus killings with my students a number of times, as it seems to be a common occurrence these days. I address it with my students because I feel it's important for them to have the opportunity to express their feelings about it. And they have a lot of feelings about it! The reason I stress this is because ten years ago I was a returning adult student, attending classes with students that ranged in age from 17 to 60. We had the unfortunate experience on campus one snowy day to witness a student shoot his girlfriend and then run in the snow, to the middle of the campus walkways, and shoot himself in the head, in between class sessions. I was stunned, speechless, and horrified. But almost even more disturbing was the way the college handled it. They acted as though nothing had happened. No mention of it what so ever. We were sitting in a first floor classroom and as the professor continued his lecture, the police were taping the area and carting away the dead bodies, right by our classroom window! Later that night on the news, the college president boasted about how well the college carried on as usual and that the incident hadn't impacted classes at all. I can tell you that, as a teacher myself, there is no way I would continue discussing the delicacy of a cooked egg in Jane Austen's Emma as a dead body was passing by my window! If people can't even discuss an outside event, happening right in front of their faces, how can they possibly have a handle on any of their inner emotions? Have we, as a society, become so repressed that we even deny the bloody body that just fell inches from our feet? Carrying on as usual made it seem as though the shooting was usual. When did murder and suicide become "usual"?

Today's Quote

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Albert Einstein

Taking Play Seriously

This is from today's NY Times (
"On a drizzly Tuesday night in late January, 200 people came out to hear a psychiatrist talk rhapsodically about play — not just the intense, joyous play of children, but play for all people, at all ages, at all times. (All species too; the lecture featured touching photos of a polar bear and a husky engaging playfully at a snowy outpost in northern Canada.) Stuart Brown, president of the National Institute for Play, was speaking at the New York Public Library’s main branch on 42nd Street. He created the institute in 1996, after more than 20 years of psychiatric practice and research persuaded him of the dangerous long-term consequences of play deprivation. Brown called play part of the 'developmental sequencing of becoming a human primate. If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being, play is as fundamental as any other aspect of life, including sleep and dreams.'
Psychologists complain that overscheduled kids have no time left for the real business of childhood: idle, creative, unstructured free play. Public health officials link insufficient playtime to a rise in childhood obesity. Parents bemoan the fact that kids don’t play the way they themselves did — or think they did. And everyone seems to worry that without the chance to play stickball or hopscotch out on the street, to play with dolls on the kitchen floor or climb trees in the woods, today’s children are missing out on something essential."

Here's Margot's comment on "Normal Killers"

Just read your article on your blog about the killings at Illinois University. Good stuff.

It's painful that so many people are so afraid and/or out of touch with themselves that [as you mention] they can't bear to look at themselves as being where the problem might lie. Anything that has to do with strong emotion, whether it be anger, happiness or whatever, any strong emotion and they supress, look away, can't deal... "it must be the other person who has the problem." It makes me so sad and frustrated when I see something like what happened at Illinois U happen and all anyone can do is describe this kid in a positive light. And the only answer they can come up with is to put more police on campus and get rid of the "open" environment that makes a college campus fun and inviting. Lock all the doors! Batten down the hatches!

They describe him as "extremely respectful" to his teachers. Right there that sends up a red flag for me. What well balanced kid is "extremely respectful" to anyone? Anyone using the word "extremely" to describe anyone's behavior would make we wonder what's behind that. But if everyone is going along hiding behind their mask to begin with then I guess I could see how this could happen. I can see how people could describe him as well adjusted. How could anyone describe what sounds like a kid who's clearly over-compensating in a positive light unless they were hiding themselves?

Today's Quote

"Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it."
Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha.

Normal killers?

Here we go again! Ugh!
A few years ago, I was invited to be a guest on a national radio program because I had written about the school shootings in Jonesboro and Columbine in 1998 and 1999. I was thought to have an "unusual" perception of these tragic events because I stated that the murderous perpetrators were not normal kids "suddenly gone bad," as the media was portraying them, but rather, I said, these were very disturbed individuals that could have been identified easily by any trained mental health professional who was really looking. (You can find a letter I wrote to the NY Times at the time at:

Look at some of the ridiculous things being written today about the current related tragedy, the killings and suicide at Northern Illinois University this past week:
"Steve Kazmierczak, the man who walked silently into a classroom here on Thursday and opened fire, was not seen as struggling in college. He was not an outcast. And until recently, at least, he was not brooding."
"Mr. Kazmierczak, 27, was described Friday as a successful student — 'revered,' the authorities said, by his professors — who had served as a teaching assistant and received a dean’s award as an undergraduate here at Northern Illinois University, where he returned Thursday, killing himself and five students and wounding 16 others."
"He was personable, easy to talk to, an excellent student, said his professors."
(See the article today in the NY Times at:

WHAT?! How can anybody say those things with a straight face? When's the last time anyone of you reading this blog was in a really bad mood and randomly went out and killed a bunch of people? And more importantly, why are we so invested in the ludicrous idea that an otherwise healthy, successful, friendly young person can suddenly go off and decide to mow down a couple of dozen human beings? Here's why: we don't want to take responsibility for our society's mental health, especially our children's, and ultimately for our own. We would rather believe that mental illness is genetic, hormonal, chemical, a product of aging or otherwise mysteriously caused. Anything other than the result of our own neglect and abuse of ourselves, our kids and each other. All we really want to hear in these situations was that we had nothing to do with it. "It's life." "It's nature gone bad." "It's God's will." "It's Murphy's Law." "Something." "Anything." "Please, don't make me look at myself. Just give me a drug. There's got to be a drug for this!"
Oh, yeah, this is from the same Times article today: "Family members told the authorities that Mr. Kazmierczak had stopped taking his medication. Law enforcement authorities would not say what the medication was for, but said Mr. Kazmierczak had grown erratic, according to his family, in the days after he quit taking the drugs."
Oops! Now why would a "personable, easy to talk to, revered" young person be on prescription drugs for a mental probem, first of all? And why would stopping those drugs make him SHOOT TWENTY-ONE PEOPLE?!!? Think about it, that's all I ask.

On a related subject, and as a follow-up to my comments yesterday about the drugging of our kids, I'd like to relate two stories. One took place at a GAP store, where I got to talking to a young man working there. When he found out that I was a psychotherapist, he told me that he'd seen shrinks as a kid and that he took ritalin while in elementary school. He wanted to know what I thought about that. When I told him that I was very outspoken back in my social worker days against ritalin for kids, he started to cry. He told me that he felt like he didn't have a childhood, that he "felt like a zombie" all throughout the years of taking the drug. He thanked me for being against the heinous, irresponsible and greedy acting out of our doctors and Big Pharma.
The second story involves my own step-son, who saw a "learning specialist" when he was 8 years old. At some point, when said specialist gave us his evaluation of our boy, he brought up medication as a possible aid to help the child focus better. When we indicated that we didn't approve of medicating children, he told us an anecdote - that was supposed to encourage us - about another 8 year old he knew , a girl. He said that the girl, similar to our boy, had a tendency to daydream and drift off, etc., when in school or when approaching homework. But then she began taking a drug for her attention problem, and voila! You ready? These are the learning specialist's exact words, and he delivered them proudly: "She lost a little of her spark, but she got a lot done!"
We fired him.

Today's Quote

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding."
Kahlil Gibran

Please read this!

Of all the various criminal elements in our society for the last fifty years or so, Big Pharma is the capo di tutti capi - the worst of the worst. The numbing of our populace is their business, and they are tragically very good at it.
Judith Warner writes: "Americans are being vastly overmedicated for often relatively minor mental health concerns. This over-reliance on quick-fix medication is numbing our nation and dulling our awareness of real and pressing social issues and of non-psychopharmacological therapies and treatments. The notion that American children and adults are being over-diagnosed and overmedicated for exaggerated or even fictitious mental disorders has now become one of the defining tropes of our era."
Go to Judith Warner's article called "Overselling Overmedication" at:

Today's Quote

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Albert Einstein

Just Say Yes!

There was an article in the NY Times today about Obsessive compulsive behavior and how it plays out in places like a restaurant. (
Here's an excerpt:
"Many of the situations that unsettle people with obsessive-compulsive disorder — driving, for instance — provoke at least some level of anxiety in just about everyone. But restaurants are designed to be calming and relaxing. That is one of the main reasons people like to eat out.
To many of us with obsessive-compulsive disorder, those pleasures are invisible. We walk into a calm and civilized dining room and see things we won’t be able to control. This feeds directly into one of the unifying themes of the disorder: an often crushing inability to handle the unknown. 'The common thread, I think, has something to do with certainty,' said Dr. Michael Jenike, medical director of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorders Institute at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. 'If you have'O.C.D., whatever form, there seems to be some problem with being certain about things - whether they’re safe or whether they’ve been done right.”

I do agree with Dr. Jenike that many obsessive types have major fears about the "unknown" and tend to prize the illusion of control above all else. The question is: why are so many people this way? Those who are aware of my thinking know that I obviously don't let myself get away with a simple "medical" explanation, which of course would lead to drugs as a solution and lots of profits all around for everyone except the patient. No, obsessive-compulsive disorders are first and foremost about the word "no." That's right - "NO!"
Here's a quote from the famous developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson: "Too much shaming does not result in a sense of propriety, but in a secret determination to try and get away with things."

Ah-ha! Getting away with things. Yes, the OCD person is acting against something forbidden, but what? Here's a quote from Dr. Freud: "Many obsessional acts turn out to be measures of precaution and security against sexual experiences."

I wholeheartedly agree with the great master. I would add, however, that anger and inner aggression are almost as equally feared as sexual feelings in the obsessive person.

Here's a description I put together for a class I taught on the subject listing some of the main characteristic of many people with this disorder:

- Intense anxiety and shame about sexual and/or aggressive impulses and feelings with irresistible urges, expressed in repetitive behaviors, to undo imagined damage to the self or others “caused” by the impulses; most commonly the compulsive behaviors are cleaning, avoiding, repeating or checking;
- Ruminating, worrying, procrastinating and indecision occupying an inordinate amount of daily life (for fear that the forbidden impulses will create some imagined disaster or “mess”); perfectionism serves the purpose of preventing action, while simultaneously bolstering a false sense of superiority;
- Preoccupation with rules, lists, schedules and order in general is so intense that it goes far beyond any practical considerations and prevents opportunities for pleasure, or ruins pleasurable experiences after the fact with anxiety, shame, doubt and/or guilt;
- Leisure and social activities tend to be avoided as “wasting time;” spending money is also thought of as wasteful, so belongings, food and artifacts are kept and collected even though they are outgrown, spoiled or worn out; in some cases this may be accompanied by compulsive spending binges that are extreme and appear to reinforce the concern of wastefulness;
- The person is aware of the irrationality and extreme nature of the obsessions and compulsions, but feels unable to resist either.

Whew! That's a lot of pressure, isn't it? Especially when one could be having hot sex and telling off a few rude cashiers or contractors instead! Ha! Just kidding! If only it were that easy. What really needs to be addressed is one's inner prohibitions against hot sex and aggression. Acting out sexually, or blowing off steam at somebody, just like binge eating, doesn't solve the problem. Discovering why you think your thoughts and feeings are unacceptable when they are, after all, just thoughts and feelings, is the real solution, but that requires a fair amount of uninhibited excavating.
Full Permission Living, which is what I call the process that I practice and teach, is the based on the understanding that human beings are, by first nature, sane, loving, cooperative, creative, humorous, intelligent, productive and naturally self-regulating. It follows then that the inner judgements and prohibitions that we develop against our inner lives are exactly what cause us to act out dysfunctionally.
Just say no? Sorry, Nancy Reagan, but saying no actually is the problem. Learning how to say "YES!" to our human feelings and healthy desires is the real inner solution to self-destructive behavior.


Has anyone been watching the new HBO series, “In Treatment?” It’s on 5 nights a week for a half hour as it follows the scenarios between three individual patients and one married couple with their therapist (Gabriel Byrne) and then ends the week with the therapist having a session with his supervisor (Dianne Wiest). Two weeks into it, I have to say that so far, I’m impressed by the subtle intensity of the interactions between the characters, and by the presentation of therapists as “real” people.
It has taken the better part of a century for the western world to begin breaking down the wall between analyst and patient and start exploring in earnest the very human nature of this most powerful and unique type of bond. It is, in the final analysis (sorry, couldn't resist!) the relationship between patient and therapist that effects healing moreso than any particular intrapsychic and historical content that is discussed or examined. I have said many times to patients of mine that what we talk about in therapy is only a vehicle for what’s really happening in therapy.
It’s easier to understand this when you realize that many of our earliest (and worst) traumas hit us at an age when language with words was not our primary way of thinking or relating to the world. In other words, most of our character defenses and dysfunctional adaptations were created during a pre-verbal time, and therefore held mostly in our bodies, and in our feelings and emotions. That is why therapy had to evolve from the highly intellectual (and removed) process of psychoanalysis to more humanistic approaches in which the humanity of the patient and the therapist are understood to be part of the healing equation. Karen Horney, a famous psychoanalyst well ahead of her time over sixty years ago, once referred to the need for therapists to be “wholehearted” in their approach to patients. “In order to approach the ideal of wholeheartedness, we [analysts] must be able to surrender to the work, letting all of our faculties operate while nearly forgetting about ourselves. This is like surrendering ourselves to music or a work of art.” (I would add love to that list.)
Horney continued: “As our knowledge and experience become an integral part of ourselves, we are barely conscious of all that we are while at the same time being all that we are. We can extend the boundaries of ourselves and be more open to the being of others.”
In all relationships, there is an energetic attraction and connection that has brought two people together for a particular purpose, to mutually experience something. That purpose may be accomplished through different forms: parent-child, teacher-student, employer-employee, doctor-patient, colleagues, teammates, friends, lovers, etc. Each of those relationships are as real and valid for growth and learning what it is to be human as any other, even though the exchanges of energy in each may vary greatly.
In the therapeutic relationship, the format is that the therapist and the patient are both focused overtly on the inner life of the patient, with the therapist providing guidance and reflection and a nonjudgmental, accepting environment in which the patient may delve into those inner areas that are unconscious or too painful or frightening to experience alone. (I say “overtly” because the therapist in this situation must simultaneously be focused internally on his or her own feelings and thoughts, while outwardly helping the patient focus on their thoughts and feelings.)
The therapeutic relationship, again, is a real relationship. As in all relationships, feelings are stirred up in each participant according to the dynamics of the interaction and the internal dynamics of each person. As in all relationships in which the two people are not fully actualized, there are degrees of transferences made by each person, relating to the other in a way that is not in accordance with present reality. Ideally, in this relationship, the therapist is aware of his or her tendencies to make transferences to a degree that the patient is not at first.
As in all relationships, the deepest healing occurs when there is trust between the two participants, surrender to the nature of the relationship, and finally, when there is genuine love being exchanged between each person. In her book, “The Intimate Hour,” psychologist Susan Baur courageously posed the question of whether there can ever be a successful psychotherapy without love between therapist and client. The HBO show's characters pointedly debate this subject, and I would add my voice to the discussion by saying that love has to be distinguished from "erotic transference," which frequently occurs in therapy, and is more about the unmet sensual needs for affection from childhood than about real adult attraction. And yes, it is necessary for the therapist to maintain a certain level of anonymity in the therapeutic relationship about the details of his or her personal life so that the patient is not distracted from the purpose of self-reflection, but that does not mean that the therapist isn’t a real person to the patient or that the therapist isn’t really “there” as himself. What the therapist may share about himself personally must always be done with the therapeutic purpose in consideration. (i.e. - for teaching purposes, for challenging idealizations, for bridging a communication gap due to a fear of intimacy, etc.) At the right moment, sharing a personal experience or feeling with a patient can have a deeply healing effect.
So, back to our show, “In Treatment,” I feel that the creators, cast and crew are doing a good job of bringing us inside the once mysterious intimate hour, and I highly recommend it.

Perfection on Superbowl Sunday?

There's an interesting article in the NY Times today about the notion of perfection entitled: "Perfection Is Afterthought, Perfect Examples Say." (
The New England Patriots have won all 18 games they've played this year as they enter today's Superbowl, a "perfect" season thus far. But is it?
“There is no perfect season,” said John Wooden, who coached the U.C.L.A. basketball teams that once won 88 consecutive games. “You can have a season where you win all your games. But that is far from perfect. The other teams you played scored points and your team made mistakes. Maybe a lucky bounce actually won you a game or two. No, winning doesn’t make you perfect.”
Other famous athletes who have attained perfect scores and achieved record-breaking feats of greatness in their sport are also quoted in the article. Most agree that thinking about perfection or breaking records actually interferes with performance.

Winning doesn't make you perfect? I love that! Why? Because perfection, in the way most people think about it, is an illusion, and perfectionism is a crippling defense mechanism that actually prevents someone from achieving even reasonable goals or experiencing even minimal levels of fulfillment.
In reality, perfection is a place we're always heading towards, but never attaining, or conversely, it is the ongoing state of things already, depending on the way you want to frame it. In other words, because we're always evolving, because we're living beings, and therefore never static, anything that we accomplish today in the course of our evolution only sets the bar higher for another achievement tomorrow. Yet, also by virtue of the fact that we are alive, and as such are exact representations in physical form of our soul's intentions, we are already perfect in that we are exactly what we are designing to be in each moment. (Or as John Lennon put it: "Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.")
Perfectionism, then, is a covert way of resisting the very thing one is trying to accomplish, and/or it is an expression of the resistance to feeling gratified by what one actualy does accomplish. (Does anyone know a happy perfectionist?) Put another way, an obsessive insistance on perfection is a way of not giving, a withholding of one's gifts. It is a passive-aggressive act. The perfectionist will say things like: I can't serve our friends this meal, or present this work of art to the world, because my creation isn't good enough yet. Or I can't go to your party because I don't have a suitable outfit to wear, or I can't take my clothes off in front of you and make love with you because I'm out of shape physically. In other words, perfectionism is a disguised way of saying: "No!" No, I'm not going to give of myself to you. No, I'm not going to share my gifts with you. Etc. And that "no" is all too often disguised under the very annoying and false self-effacement of: I'm not good enough, or what I have to offer isn't good enough. Ugh! Get over it. Good enough is good enough! Give something to someone already. If it's from your heart, if it's a genuine expression of your desire to give, it will be of value to the recipient. Can you improve the recipe for that dish? Rewrite that screenplay one more time? Lose a little weight? Sure. And you will. And those changes will always occur over time according to your intentions in the moment.
You're a living, vibrant, fluid, always in flux human being. Don't let that stop you from offering yourself to others. There is no one else like you. No one else has your perspective on life, your confluence of experiences and ideas and imagination. No one else has your body, and I can tell you, your body is already beautiful and perfect the way it is... if you say it is.
And remember, whether it's the Giants or the Patriots today... it's just a game!

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