Tuesday, May 9, 2017

MANTRA OF THE FRONTAL CORTEX


 
5/9/17. “That it makes you do the harder thing when that is the right thing.”

 

FROM: Robert Sapolsky.  "Behave. Humans at Our Best and Worst"

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On Robert Nozick

5/2/17. I had the privilege of introducing Professor Nozick when he talked to the American Psychological Association in 1998 on Consciousness. He was an extraordinary man.

https://aeon.co/ideas/how-robert-nozick-put-a-purple-prose-bomb-under-analytical-philosophy


August 1998

American Psychological Association
San Francisco

INTRODUCTION:  ROBERT NOZICK


 I am Steve Ceresnie, President of the Michigan Psychological Association, a long-time fan of Professor Robert Nozick, and one of the many friends of Marty Seligman.

Anyone familiar with the remarkable work of Professor Robert Nozick knows that he is no ordinary modern philosopher.   Professor Nozick tell us that “Life or living is not the kind of topic whose investigation philosophers find especially rewarding.” 

But Professor Nozick has the creativity, the guts and  the will to deal with the life, living and the massive problems of the 20th century.  He goes after fundamental questions of human existence that his colleagues ignore:

 “Are there objective ethical truths?”

"Do we have a free will?”

"Is there is meaning to life?"

 In his recent APA Monitor Presidential column, Marty Seligman laments and even says he loses sleep over how  there are so few talented academics who study the guts of human existence such as love, work, and play – and so few talented academics who bring to bear both analytic and synthetic thinking –  Marty  is not talking about our distinguished speaker --- Robert Nozick. 

In his introduction to his book The Examined Life, Professor Nozick writes and I quote:

“I want to think about living and what is important in life, to clarify my thinking---and also my life. Mostly we tend---I do too---to live on automatic pilot, following through the views of ourselves and the aims we acquired early, with only minor adjustments…”

 Later in the same paragraph he writes:

“---would you design an intelligent species so continually shaped by its childhood, one whose emotions had ho half-life and where statues of limitations could be involved only with great difficulty?”

Known by many for his early work as a “political philosopher,” Robert Nozick, the Arthur Kingsley Porter  Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, tells us that his famous book Anarchy, State, and Utopia was written by “accident.” A fortunate accident for us I might add. He says he originally planned to write a book on free will --------but perhaps--- it wasn’t in the cards to write on free will.

Robert Nozick is the author of five books:

Anarchy, State, and Utopia (which received a National Book Award), which I mentioned, Philosophical Explanations (which received the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award of Phi Beta Kappa), The Examined Life, The Nature of Rationality, and most recently, Socratic Puzzles, published in the Spring of 1997.

He has also published stories in literary magazines including the piece “God --- A Story” which begins: “Proving God’s existence isn’t all that easy---even when you’re God. So, I ask you, how can people expect to do it?”

In the Spring of 1997, he delivered the six John Locke Lectures at Oxford University, and a revision of these lectures will be published by Harvard University with the title Objectivity and Invariance.

When you read Robert Nozick’s work, your mind is aroused by  his remarkable gift for offering elegant, witty, and playful cases and thought experiments to represent problems. 

To read his books is to imagine inviting a brilliant friend over for dinner. The following chapter headings from Robert Nozick’s books give you only a taste of the full course meal to come:

 Dying; Parents and Children; Love’s Bond; The Nature of God, the Nature of Faith; Sexuality; Creating; Love’s Bond; Emotions; Being more Real; Why Do Intellectual Oppose Capitalism; The Holocaust.

His brilliant chapter on The Holocaust--- alone--- makes the book worth reading.

You should know that we have two Presidents of APA with us today.  Robert Nozick is the President  --- the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division). He is a member of the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, a Senior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard university, and was Christensen Visiting Fellow at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University in the Spring of 1997. He was a Cultural Adviser to the U.S. Delegation to the UNESCO Conference on World Cultural Policy in 1982.

He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Center for the Advance Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, educated at Columbia College and Princeton University, he has lived in Italy, Israel,  France, and England. He is married to Gjertrud Schnackenberg.

Professor Robert Nozick will speak on:

The Place of Consciousness. A discussion of the function of consciousness and the relation of conscious experience to neurophysiological process and events.

Please welcome Professor Nozick.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lucky or Smart?

5/1/17.

"A simple rule that every good man knows by heart / It's smarter to be lucky than it's lucky to be smart."

--- Pippin

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A prescription for mental-health policy

4/18/17. Doctors Sally Satel & E. Fuller Torrey

About 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. They aren't getting the help they need.

http://www.aei.org/publication/a-prescription-for-mental-health-policy/

Monday, April 10, 2017

"No One Cares about Crazy People"

4/10/17. Review of a new book about a family's experiences raising two schizophrenic sons; the history of America's treatment of the mentally ill; and a courageous story of horror, humility, sadness, and resilience.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/04/books/review/no-one-cares-about-crazy-people-ron-powers.html?smid=fb-share

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Words of Wisdom


 
3/23/17
WORDS OF WISDOM

Steven J. Ceresnie, Ph.D.
MPA Newsletter, Spring 2017

The following are some observations, ideas, and concepts that have filled my tires with air over the road covered with the wonder, mystery, and humor of the human condition:

 CHAOTIC WORLD

 When Anna Freud was eighty-five, a depressed young man sent her a lament about the chaotic state of the world, she sent him a succinct statement of her credo:

“I agree with you wholeheartedly that things are not as well as you would like them to be. However, my feeling is that there is only one way to deal with it, namely to try and be all right with oneself, and to create around one at least a small circle where matters are arranged as one wants them to be.”

 --- Anna Freud

 
CONDUCT

Don’t be too sweet, lest you be eaten up; don’t be too bitter, lest you be spewed out.”

 --- Yiddish proverb

 
CONTENTMENT

“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?

 --- Steven Wright

 “The only way one can allow oneself to be content is to remember the dead --- and the let them be in on one’s memory.”

 --- Elvin Semrad

 
DEATH

 “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.”

 --- Richard Dawkins

 “I’m going to live forever. So far, so good.”

 --- Steven Wright

 
DREAMS

 “If you want your dreams to come true, don’t sleep.”

 --- Yiddish proverb

 
ENJOYMENT
 
“Enjoy yourself --- it’s later than you think.”

 --- Chinese proverb

 
EXPERIENCE

 “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.”

 --- Chinese proverb

"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a hell of heaven, a heaven of hell.”

 --- John Milton

 “Self-love is the greatest of all flatterers.”

 “We are all strong enough to bear the misfortunes of others.”

 ---Francois, Sixth Duc, de la Rochefoucauld

 
GOALS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY

 “…the least common denominator of all therapies, and the one to which their claims to success must depend, is their ability to combat a destructive state of mind which characterizes persons who seek psychotherapy, whatever their specific symptoms. The state may be termed demoralization…feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, impotence, isolation…Since the meaning of life derives from the ties of individuals with persons whose values they share, alienation may contribute to a sense of meaninglessness."

 --- Jerome Frank

 Freud was once asked what he thought a normal person should be able to do well. The questioner probably expected a complicated answer. But Freud, in the curt way of his old days, is reported to have said, “Lieben und arbeiten” (to love and to work).

"A man should not strive to eliminate his complexes but to get in accord with them; they are legitimately what directs his conduct in the world.”

 --- Sigmund Freud

 “The most important task of a human being is to make up his mind --- what’s for him and what’s not for him.”

 --- Elvin Semrad

 “…I judge the success of psychotherapy in two ways. Does the patient’s appearance change? Does he get new friends?”

 --- Leston Havens

 HUMOR

 “We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can.”

 --- Will Rogers

 “A sense of humor is just common sense dancing."

--- William James

 “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

 --- Mel Brooks

"I don't use humor with people I don't like. It always comes out wrong."

--- Steven Ceresnie


LIFE

“It’s a very short trip. While alive, live.”

 --- Malcolm Forbes

“Life can be altered by what a patient HAS – diseases.

Life can be altered by what a patient IS – personality and intelligence.

Life can be altered by what a patient DOES --- behaviors.

Life can be altered by what a patient ENCOUNTERS – life story.”

--- Paul McHugh and Philip Slavney


METAPHOR OF THE MIND

 “The ego’s relation to the id might be compared to that of a rider to his horse. The horse supplies the locomotive energy, while the rider has the privilege of deciding on the goals and of guiding the powerful animal’s movement. But only too often there arises between the ego and the id the not precisely ideal situation of the rider being obliged to guide the horse along the path by which itself wants to go.”

 --- Sigmund Freud

 
NOW

 “Let’s have a merry journey, and should about how light is good and dark is not. What we should do is not future ourselves so much. We should now ourselves more. Now you is more important than Know thyself. Reason is what tells us to ignore the present and live in the future. So all we do is make plans. We think that somewhere there are going to be green pastures. It’s crazy. Heaven is nothing but a grand monumental instance of future. Listen, now is good. Now is wonderful”

 --- Mel Brooks

 
SELF-RELIANCE

 “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

 --- Goethe

 
SCIENCE

 “I cannot give any scientist of any age better advice than this:  the intensity of a conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing on whether it is true or not.”

 --- Sir Peter Medawar

 
SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-RESPECT

 “You can have too much self-esteem but not too much self-respect.”

 --- Charles Murray

 “Your two-cents is as good as anybody else’s two-cents.”

 --- Anonymous

 
THEORIES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL THERAPY

 “All therapies attract a loyal following, and I have yet to hear of a school that has disbanded because it became convinced of the superiority of its rivals.”

 --- Jerome Frank

 
THERAPEUTIC TECHNIQUE

 “Respect is conveyed by mean of all aspects of the therapist’s behavior and has its basis in the therapist’s self-respect.”

 “Do not engage in far-fetched constructions. Learn to feel comfortable in acknowledging that you are at a loss. It can be a powerful lesson in reality testing.”

 --- Hans Strupp and Jeffrey Binder

 "We must help the patient to acknowledge, bear, and put into perspective his feelings.”

 --- Elvin Semrad

 “The greatest power of psychotherapy may be precisely this power not to confirm the patients’ expectations, not to collude in the games they and their personal world have long played, but, slowly to turn them toward a more natural and happy course.”

--- Leston Havens

 
TRUTH

 “When in doubt, tell the truth.”

 --- Mark Twain

 “As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes.”

 --- Mel Brooks

 
WISDOM

 “The art of being wise is to know what to overlook."

 --- William James

 “You cannot exert influence if you are not susceptible to influence.”

 --- Carl Jung

 “You cannot control the length of your life but you can control the width.”

 --- Anonymous

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Shelby Steele: The Promise of President Trump

1/20/17. Wall Street Journal 

The Promise of President Trump: Shelby Steele

‘Mr. Trump’s special charisma is that he seems to function entirely outside the framework of today’s cultural liberalism.’

By                  
What I hope for in the Trump presidency is exactly the cultural battle that he already seems to have engaged. Even before taking office he has put himself at odds with America’s entrenched cultural and institutional liberalism, and brought deep insecurity to its standard-bearers.

             Shelby Steele. Photo: Rita Steele        Perhaps the greatest problem with post-1960s liberalism is that, in the end, it is always driven by dreams. No matter the circumstances, it always sees the way ahead in idealisms that are static rather than dynamic: “equality” in which injustice is anything less than perfect parity between all people; “diversity” that is color-coded and optically correct; stressless “spaces” of social and moral perfection. This liberalism was born of the shame America came to feel after acknowledging in the 1960s its history of racism and sexism. The essence is a longing for innocence against the accusations of history. If the intentions were good, the actual practice has been disastrous. The War on Poverty, the Great Society, affirmative action, political correctness—all this failure reveals a stopgap liberalism of expedience that sought only the fastest route back to moral authority and thus to power. Beyond this it was all dreams and self-congratulation.Mr. Trump’s special charisma is that he seems to function entirely outside the framework of today’s cultural liberalism. I hope he will not be a “redemptive” president, as his predecessor longed to be. There should be no posture of contrition, no undercurrent of apology, when he discusses social inequities. Inequality is a fact, a problem that will—fairly or unfairly—require pragmatic solutions and something close to heroism in those who suffer it. No government can change this.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thomas Sowell: A Conflict of Visions

12/1/16. Conflict of Visions --- our political differences are based on unexamined beliefs about human nature. BRILLIANT!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkCSbANBeuI

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D. Political Polarization et al.

11/17/16. 2016 Keynote Address to the American Psychological Association.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAE-gxKs6gM

1,000 years left on earth

Mose Allison RIP

11/17/16. A jazz and blues master with a wry sense of humor:

I Don't Worry about a Thing...Because Nothing is Going to Turn Out Right

Your Mind is on Vacation...and Your Mouth is Working Overtime

Your Molecular Structure

Everybody Cryin' Mercy

I Love the Life I Live

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/arts/music/mose-allison-a-font-of-jazz-and-blues-dies-at-89.html?_r=0

Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Sexuality and Gender

10/10/16. Findings from the biological, psychological, and social sciences, by Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D.; and Paul R. McHugh, M.D.


http://www.thenewatlantis.com/docLib/20160819_TNA50SexualityandGender.pdf

Friday, October 7, 2016

Protesting Against Big Pharma is One Thing...

l10/7/16. There is much to protest about big pharma --- but when you need a medication for depression, for example, the medication may save your life and soul.




https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-everyone-became-depressed/201609/protesting-against-big-pharma-is-one-thing

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sally Satel, MD reviews "ADHD Nation" by Alan Schwarz


 
9/20/16. My two cents:

         Psychiatrist Sally Satel in her review of NYT reporter Alan Schwarz’s book, “ADHD Nation,” (WSJ 9/12/16) describes the long simmering plague of American children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and take pills to treat the disorder.

 

          Dr. Satel tells us --- in one sentence of her 1000 word review --- that “Mr. Schwarz readily concedes that many children have benefited from the medications for ADHD.” I am surprised that Mr. Schwarz has made this concession given some of his previous articles on ADHD:  “The Rise of the Good Grade Pill” (NYT 6/9/2012); and “Drowned in the Stream of Prescriptions” (NYT 2/2/13).   

 

          In my experience of forty years as a child psychologist, most parents are leery about giving psychiatric drugs to their children --- such as Ritalin or anything else. In fact, it’s hard for kids to comply with eight days of required antibiotic treatment for an infection. There is no questions that stimulant medication significantly improves the social, emotional, and academic lives of many children, adolescents, and adults. This view fits my experience and more importantly, the many years of scientific research.

 

          In you journal a few weeks ago (8/17/16: “Medicating Children With ADHD Keeps Them Safer”) psychologist Susan Pinker describes a 2015 study of over 710,000 Danish children finding that 10- to 12-year-olds with ADHD were far more likely to be injured than other children their age. With drug treatment, the number of emergency room visits by children with ADHD was cut in half – some plague.

 

That doctors promiscuously drug children whose problems stem from temperamental sensitives rather than psychiatric disorders, assisted by intolerant, label craving teachers --- is wildly exaggerated, a view helped along by the anti-psychiatric medication crowd --- that includes the wealthy Scientology cult  --- claiming that the biology of mental illness is a myth. If it is a myth, it is a myth with a strong genetic component.

 

Symptoms of ADHD --- restlessness, distractibility, and impulsivity --- must be chronic (date back to childhood) and pervasive (occur at home, school, and with peers) to fit the diagnosis.

 

A comprehensive psychological and medical evaluation is needed to diagnose ADHD or any other psychiatric disorder.

Until we have a medical test to identify ADHD, no amount of scientific knowledge – and there is plenty, clinical experience, or testimonies from parents and youngsters will convince some citizens of the validity of the neurophysiological disorders such as ADHD.


Most children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD and coexisting conditions never get help --- and some are not lucky enough to get to the emergency room.

 
      I appreciate the concerns raised in Dr. Satel’s review. Children should be protected from the risks of taking medications they don’t need.

 
      I hope this protection does not help to generate the side effects of growing up with untreated ADHD --- side effects such as school failure, depression, delinquency, substance abuse and suicide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Murray: Culture Wars

9/20/16. Does the American political future belong to the authoritarian left or right?


http://www.spiked-online.com/spiked-review/article/a-nation-divided/18697#.V-FZqMsVCie

Friday, September 9, 2016

Susan Pinker: Medicating Children With ADHD Keeps Them Safer



9/9/16. My letter about Dr. Susan Pinker's article, "Medication Children With ADHD Keeps Them Safer."

Dear WSJ Editors,

 

ADHD is a well-known disorder that is not well known.

 

Susan Pinker highlights recent research that medication for ADHD can reduce risky behavior during adolescence (WSJ 8/17/16).  As La Rochefoucauld notes:  “Youth is one long intoxication:  it is reason in a fever.”

 

Her article is a breath of fresh air amid the many stale national media headlines that have attacked the validity of ADHD and slammed the used of medication.

 

These headlines have included:  “Ritalin Gone Wrong”; “Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill”; “Drowned in a Stream of Prescriptions”; and “A Nation of Kids on Speed.” These articles are enough to scare any parents from treating ADHD.

 

Many people still believe that ADHD is a myth, promoted by pharmaceutical companies who lobby doctors to promiscuously drug children whose problems stem from temperamental sensitivities rather than psychiatric disorders, assisted by intolerant, label-craving teachers.  

 

In my 40 years of clinical experience, this view is nonsense, a view helped along by the anti-medication crowd – claiming the biology of mental illness is a myth. If it is a myth, it is a myth with a genetic component.  Many people yearn to get off the roller-coaster of distractibility, disorganization, trouble doing nothing, and impulsivity often leading to substance abuse.  

 

Until we have a medical test to identify ADHD, no amount of scientific knowledge, clinical experience, or testimonies from parents and youngsters will convince some citizens of the validity of neuropsychological disorders such as ADHD.

 

As Susan Pinker so eloquently notes, growing up with untreated ADHD may lead to the side effects of school failure, depression, delinquency, accidental death, and suicide --- and treatment, that works, is available.

 

Steven J. Ceresnie, Ph.D.



 

 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

William Butler Yeats: "Education"

8/18/16.


Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

William Butler Yeats: "The Best"

8/18/16. How true.


The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D. Talk on Moral Reasoning and Political Polarization.


8/15/16. Jonathan Haidt gave the keynote address at the 2016 American Psychological Association. His talk is on moral reasoning and political polarization.




http://heterodoxacademy.org/2016/08/09/why-the-centre-cannot-hold/

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

In Defense of Antidepressants

As Suicide Rates Rise, Scientists Find New Warning Signs

New Programs to Help Parents Cope with Stillbirth and Infant Death

The Psychology of Witty Comebacks

A New Theory About How Consciousness Has Evolved

6/7/15. Michael Graziano, Professor of Psychology at Princeton.

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/06/how-consciousness-evolved/485558/

Monday, June 6, 2016

My letter to the APA Monitor on Females and ADHD - 2003

 
My letter to the APA Monitor on females and AHD - 2003
 
 
Women and ADHD
REGARDING NICOLE Crawford's excellent article, "ADHD: a women's issue," (February Monitor ), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a well-known disorder that is not known well. What is not known well is that gender stereotypes contribute to missed opportunities for identification and effective medication and psychological treatments for female adults with ADHD. For example, many females do not present with the classic "Dennis the Menace" triad of ADHD symptoms--restlessness, distractibility and [lack of] self-control. Rather, they suffer severe chronic and pervasive difficulties with distractibility--a difficulty filtering out external distractions that is often misdiagnosed and sometimes associated with disorders such as anxieties, substance abuse and depression.
A core problem in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD is that scientists know much about how brains and minds work but have no knowledge about how brains produce minds. This wide brain-mind gap is often filled by political ideologues--both liberal and conservative--claiming they do not "believe" that ADHD exists, or at least know it is vastly over-diagnosed. Liberal ideologues tell us we mask the problems with medication. Conservative ideologues say ADHD is another myth of mental illness.
Until we have a medical test to identify ADHD, no amount of scientific knowledge, clinical experience or testimonies from those with the disorder will convince some citizens of the validity of neurophysiology disorders such as ADHD in adult females or anybody else. Your article does much to clarify the influence of stereotypes and myths about adult females with ADHD.
STEVEN J. CERESNIE, PHD
Plymouth, Mich.