Thursday, December 30, 2010

Making 2011 the Year of Great Relationships

12/20/10.

WSJ writer Elizabeth Bernstein:

"Increasingly, experts have been telling us how important social bonds are to well-being, affecting everything from how our brains process information to how our bodies respond to stress. People with strong connections to others may live longer. The quality of our relationships is the single biggest predictor of our happiness..."


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203731004576045721718177728.html?KEYWORDS=elizabeth+bernstein#articleTabs%3Darticle

Billy Taylor. R.I.P.

12/30/10. Jazz pianist.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/30/arts/music/30taylor.html?_r=1&hpw

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Denis Dutton. R.I.P.

12/29/10.

December 28, 2010, 11:14 am

"Denis Dutton, founder and editor of Arts & Letters Daily and a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, has died. Born in California, Mr. Dutton received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He created Arts & Letters Daily in 1998. The Chronicle of Higher Education purchased the widely praised site in 2002."

Chronicle of Higher Higher Education
http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/founder-of-arts-letters-daily-dies/29349

The New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2010/12/denis-dutton.html

The New York Times
http://www.city-journal.org/2010/eon1229td.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/arts/01dutton.html?_r=1&hpw

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So Young and So Many Pills

12/28/10. So many children and adolescents benefit from accurate diagnoses of medical and psychiatric disorders --- and sometimes medications offer life-saving benefits.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203731004576046073896475588.html?KEYWORDS=kids+and+drugs

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Quotations

12/27/10.

"I have no race prejudices, and I think I have no
color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed
prejudices. Indeed, I know it. I can stand any society.
All that I care to know is that a man is a human being --- that is enough for me; he can't be any worse."

---Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)


"He who would do good to another must do it
in minute particulars;
General good is the plea of the scoundrel,
hypocrite, and flatterer:
For art and science cannot exist but in
minutely organized particulars.

---William Blake (1757 - 1827)


"Liberty is the hardest test that one can inflict
on a people. To know how to be free is not
given equally to all men and all nations."

--- Paul Valery (1871 - 1945)

The Original Birth of Freedom

12/27/10. Starting in Athens.

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_4_history-of-freedom.html

Friday, December 24, 2010

Book Review: "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life"

12/24/10.

Eric Felten introduces the author Karen Armstrong:

"...A couple of years ago the TED Conference awarded a prize to popular religious historian Karen Armstrong. In addition to giving her a handsome cash award, the TED people offered to fulfill a wish of hers for a better world. And so they helped her to organize a "Charter for Compassion." Suggestions were solicited across the Internet for how we can restore compassion to the center of moral life. This trove of deep thoughts was culled "by leading thinkers from a variety of major faiths" and condensed into a manifesto in favor of empathy, the golden rule and 'a principled determination to transcend selfishness...' "
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704774604576036192104542026.html?KEYWORDS=try+a+little+less+tenderness

The Rational Optimist

12/24/10. Three views on Matt Ridley, including Matt Ridley.

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/three-views-of-matt-ridley/

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Arduous Community

12/22/10.

David Brooks on Erica Brown:

"...Then I invited her to coffee, and it all became clear. Brown has what many people are looking for these days. In the first place, she has conviction. For her, Judaism isn’t a punch line or a source of neuroticism; it’s a path to self-confident and superior living. She didn’t seem hostile to the things that make up most coffee-table chatter — status, celebrity, policy, pop culture — she just didn’t show much interest. As one of her students e-mailed me: “Erica embodies Judaism’s stand against idol worship. It is actually true that she worships nothing other than God, which is particularly unusual in Washington..."
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/opinion/21brooks.html?src=me&ref=homepage

Tracing the Spark of Creative Puzzle-Solving

12/22/10.

"...In a just completed study, researchers at Northwestern University found that people were more likely to solve word puzzles with sudden insight when they were amused, having just seen a short comedy routine..."


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/science/07brain.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joseph Epstein: "The long, unhappy life of Saul Bellow"

12/20/10. Who knew? Joseph Epstein, and others.

http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/The-long--unhappy-life-of-Saul-Bellow-6495

NewScientist: Best Books of 2010

12/20/10. Scientists and authors pick their favorite books of the year.

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2010/12/best-books-of-2010-its-funny-when-a-planet-dies.html

Monday Quotations

12/20/10

“I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.”

--- Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926)


“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the one I used to know,
Where the tree-tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.”

--- Irving Berlin (1888 – 1989)


“In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking
Now, heaven knows,
Anything goes.”

--- Cole Porter (1891 – 1964)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Cope with Adult Temper Tantrums

12/14/10.

WSJ writer Elizabeth Bernstein on relationships and anger:

How do you keep a loved one's tantrums from ruining your relationship? Here are some tips from the experts:
Don't be silent. Ignoring the bad behavior enables it. And withdrawal makes the angry person feel judged, says Joe James, a psychologist and anger-management specialist.

Validate the feelings, not the behavior. 'Say, "Honey, I understand that you are really upset," ' says Karen McMahon, a divorce and separation coach from Oceanside, N.Y. 'You are not validating their reaction; you are validating their emotion. And it is the quickest way to disarm them.'

Explain later why the behavior upsets you. Were you embarrassed? Irritated that an evening out was ruined? Frustrated that the situation caused delays? Say, 'I love you but it's hard for me to be supportive of you when you handle a situation like that.'

Ask open-ended questions. How does the person feel about her behavior? Is she under stress? Try to understand what's going on.

Change your own behavior. Stop upholding your end of the relationship—refuse to cook, say—until the bad behavior stops. 'As soon as one person begins to change, the dance has to change,' Ms. McMahon says. 'The shift always happens when you change yourself, not the other person.'

 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703727804576017430496839642.html?KEYWORDS=This+Loved+One+will+Explode

"Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten out a pile of papers."

---Susan Mancotte

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stephen Hawking's Radical Philosophy of Science

12/12/10. Psychologist and editor of Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer outlines this radical view of science.

Michael Shermer writes:

"Do you think that there is a computer screen sitting in front of you right now?


It would certainly seem so if you are reading these words online, but in fact you are not actually “seeing” the computer screen in front of you. What you see are photons of light bouncing off the screen (and generated by the internal electronics of the screen itself), which pass through the hole in the iris of your eye, through the liquid medium inside your eye, wending their way through the bipolar and ganglion cells to strike the rods and cones at the back of your retina. These photons of light carry just enough energy to bend the molecules inside the rods and cones to change the electrochemical balance inside these cells, causing them to fire, or have what neuroscientists call an “action potential.” ...
http://www.bigquestionsonline.com/columns/michael-shermer/stephen-hawking’s-radical-philosophy-of-science

A Roomful of Yearning and Regret

12/12/10.

Wendy Plump writes from personal experience in her marriage --- how affairs damage trust and wreck lives.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/fashion/12Modern.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=a%20roomful%20of%20yearning%20and%20regret&st=cse

Human Nature and Capitalism

12/12/10. Arthur C. Brooks and Peter Wehner:

"The model of human nature one embraces will guide and shape everything else, from the economic system one prefers to the political system one supports."

http://www.american.com/archive/2010/december/human-nature-and-capitalism

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: "What is Mental Illness?"

12/12/10.

Richard J. McNally, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, is the author of just published (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011) "what is mental illness?"

In his first chapter, Professor McNally reviews recent research indicating that mental illness is a public health crises, affecting nearly 50% of Americans, according to a study from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a study involving psychiatric interviews with a sample of more than nine thousand adults.

Not everybody agrees with these staggering results suggesting that the world is an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Paul McHugh, a former chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University, remarked, "Fifty percent of Americans mentally impaired--are you kidding me? Pretty soon we'll have a syndrome for short, fat Irish guys with a Boston accent, and I'll be mentally ill."

Professor McNally's book consists of eight chapters, each chapter asks a question:

1.  An Epidemic of Madness?

2.  Are We Pathologizing Everyday Life?

3.  Can Evolutionary Psychology Make Sense of Mental Disorder?

4.  Psychopathology as Adaptation?

5.  Does Society Create (Some) Mental Disorders?

6,  Is It in Our Genes?

7.  Do Mental Disorders Differ by Kind or Degree?

8.  So What is Mental Illness Anyway?

Professor McNally offers some hope to reduce the confusion over the nature of psychiatric disorders and improve our understanding of the mind and caring for patients.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Do You Remember the Future?

12/11/10.

Matt Ridley writes:

...There is a growing conviction within neuroscience that one of the human mind's chief preoccupations is prediction. Jeff Hawkins, the founder of Palm Computing who is now a full-time neuroscientist, argued in his 2004 book "On Intelligence" that the mind does this by detecting a familiar pattern in its input, then anticipating from past experience what usually follows. The more unexpected something is, the more conscious we are of it...
...This explains a lot about awareness. When I push my foot down on the brake pedal, I expect to feel deceleration. If I do, I am barely conscious of the fact: My mind continues to concentrate on the radio or my conversation with my passenger. If I don't, I am immediately so aware of the car skidding on the ice or the brakes failing that my mind is fully occupied with the failed prediction...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704156304576003432223218682.html?KEYWORDS=matt+ridley

Neurologist Oliver Sacks on Face Blindness Q & A

12/11/10.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2010/12/biology_and_biography

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"The Truth Wears Off"

12/8/10. The following is a quote from science writer Jonah Lehrer's article in the current issue of "The New Yorker" (12/13/10):

..."We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that's often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn't mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn't mean it's true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe."

Jonah Lehrer's blog:  "The Frontal Cortex"

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/frontal-cortex/

How Primary Care Doctors Try to Spot Depression

12/7/10.  Four core components of depression:
  • Impairment of mood.
  • Often sad, irritability often missed as symptom of depression.
  • Loss of previously enjoyed activities and pleasures.
  • Amotivation and withdrawal from activities.
  • Stress intolerance --- no bounce to the tires.
Ask two questions:
  • How's your mood?
  • Still doing the things you like to do, and enjoying life?
Must rule out four things:
  • Suicidal Ideation.
    • come right out and ask the question about ideas about self-harm - the question won't make things worse, Do you plan to kill yourself? What are you planning to do?
  • Psychosis.
    • ask about hearing voices or seeing things.
  • Substance Abuse.
  • Bipolar Disorder.
    • Have you ever had time in the past when you've gone a few days or more the opposite of depressed, not just normal, but so full of energy that other people couldn't keep up with you, your thoughts were racing, you couldn't sleep, you did impulsive things like buy a car on the spur of the moment, or start a love affair with a stranger, or have grand schemes to start a new business?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703471904576003520708615998.html?KEYWORDS=doctors+and+depression

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Destiny of Cities

12/7/10.

Victor Davis Hanson writes:

"Throughout history, forces both natural and human have made cities rise and fall.


The eruption of Mount Vesuvius obliterated Pompeii and Herculaneum.As the world steadily grows more urbanized, with 50 percent of its population no longer rural, it is more important than ever to ask how cities either perish or manage to survive. The question can be hard to answer. Why, following centuries of periodic depopulation and neglect, are Rome and Athens once again capitals, while Leptis Magna and Ephesus—once-thriving imperial powerhouses on the coasts of Libya and Turkey, respectively—are long deserted? Was it climate, or location, or a larger cultural tradition of resilience that eventually brought Rome and Athens back in a way that didn’t happen with the other two cities?"...

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_4_destiny-of-cities.html

Social Science Palooza

12/7/10. David Brooks discusses some recent findings about human behavior.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/opinion/07brooks.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

What's Really Wrong With WikiLeaks?

12/7/10. A psychiatrist examines WikiLeaks.

"...But WikiLeaks goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism...
...The idea behind WikiLeaks is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations. In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life...

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/eon1202td.html

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Quotations

12/6/10.

"Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a style."

--- Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745)


"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education."

--- Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)


"We are so made, that we can only derive intense enjoyment from a contrast, and only very little from a state of things."

--- Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Odyssey Through the Brain

11/30/10. This is your brain in pictures.

Abigail Zuger, M.D. writes:

"Who has seen the mind? Neither you nor I — nor any of the legions of neuroscientists bent on opening the secrets of that invisible force, as powerful and erratic as the wind." ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/science/30brain.html?_r=1&hpw

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Quotations

11/29/10.

"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."

--- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)


"Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship."

--- Harry S. Truman (1884 - 1972)


"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

--- T.S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

NYT Book Recommendations

11/27/10. Three NYTs book reviewers make some recommendations.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/books/26introbooks.html?_r=1&hp

Fragile Urban Families

11/27/10. Many children left behind.

Kay S. Hymowitz:

"New findings show just how bad things are for the kids.


Poverty is on the rise, according to census data, and now affects 14.3 percent of the population, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. A stumbling economy obviously explains the recent uptick. But those who think that poor urban families’ problems have an economic fix would do well to pick up the fall issue of The Future of Children, a journal jointly published by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Brookings Institution . . ."

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_4_snd-urban-families.html

Friday, November 26, 2010

Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty

11/26/10. Dennis Dutton is a philosophy professor and the editor of Arts and Letters Daily:

http://www.artsandlettersdaily.com/

In his book "The Art Instinct," he suggests that humans are hard-wired to seek beauty.

Here, Professor Dutton gives a video presentation (15:33) of his theory of beauty.

http://www.ted.com/talks/denis_dutton_a_darwinian_theory_of_beauty.html

Monday, November 22, 2010

Edge: Richard Thaler's Question

11/22/10.

THALER'S QUESTION

"The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?"

65 scientists answer:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/thaler10/thaler10_index.html

Sample answers:

JONATHAN HAIDT

Psychologist, University of Virginia; Author, "The Happiness Hypothesis."

The closest thing to a persistent flat earth belief in psychology is probably the view that experiences in the first five years of life largely shape the personality of the adult. (The child is father to the man, as Freud said). It's now clear that experiences that affect brain development, such as some viral diseases or some head injuries, can indeed change adult personality. Also, extreme conditions that endure for years or that interfere with the formation of early attachments (e.g., an abusive parent) can also have lasting effects. But the idea that relatively short-lived experiences in the first few years — even traumatic ones, and even short-lived sexual abuse — will have powerful effects on adult personality... this just doesn't seem to be true. (Although such events can leave lasting traces on older children). Personality is shaped by the interaction of genes with experience; psychologists and lay people alike long underestimated the power of genes, and they spent too much time looking at the wrong phase of childhood (early childhood), instead of at the developmental phases that matter more (i.e., the prenatal period, and adolescence).

Why is early childhood such a draw when people try to explain adult personalities? I think it's because we think in terms of stories, and it's almost impossible for us NOT to look back from Act III (adulthood) to early childhood (act I) when we try to explain someone turned out to be a hero or serial killer. In stories, there's usually some foreshadowing in act I of events to come in act III. But in real life there is almost never a connection.


JUDITH HARRIS

Psychologist. Author, "No Two Alike."

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In other words, people tend to resemble their parents. They resemble their parents not only in physical appearance but also, to some degree, in psychological characteristics.

The question is: Why? Two competing answers have been offered: nature (the genes that people inherit from their parents) and nurture (the way their parents brought them up). Neither of these extreme positions stood up to scrutiny and they eventually gave way to a compromise solution: nature + nurture. Half nature, half nurture. This compromise is now an accepted belief, widely held by scientists and nonscientists alike.

But the compromise solution is wrong, too. Genes do indeed make people turn out something like their parents, but the way their parents brought them up does not. So nature + nurture is wrong: it's nature + something else.

The evidence has been piling up since the 1970s; by now it's overwhelming. And yet few people outside of psychology know about this evidence, and even within psychology only a minority have come to terms with it.

You asked for "examples of wrong scientific beliefs that we've already learned were wrong." But who is "we"? A few thousand people have learned that the belief in nature + nurture is wrong, but most people haven't.

Monday Quotations

11/22/10.

"The heart of man is made to reconcile the most glaring contradictions."

--- David Hume (1711-1776)


"It should be noted that children at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity."

--- Montaigne (1533 - 1592)


"There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people."

--- Adam Smith (1723 - 1790)

"It's All Your Fault"

111/22/10. Psychiatrist Theodore Dalrmple enlightens us about the many sides of resentment.

http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/71383/sec_id/71383

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Doing Battle with the ADHD Industrial Complex"

11/21/10.

 Katherine Ellison writes:

"As the mother of a teenager who got a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in 2004, I wasn't surprised to read the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said the number of ADHD cases in children jumped by 22 percent between 2003 and 2007 - an increase of 1 million kids."...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/19/AR2010111902894_pf.html

Saturday, November 20, 2010

World Clock

11/20/10. http://www.poodwaddle.com/worldclock.swf

Psychopathy - Socially Challenging

11/20/10.

"WHAT makes people psychopaths is not an idle question. Prisons are packed with them. So, according to some, are boardrooms. The combination of a propensity for impulsive risk-taking with a lack of guilt and shame (the two main characteristics of psychopathy) may lead, according to circumstances, to a criminal career or a business one. That has provoked a debate about whether the phenomenon is an aberration, or whether natural selection favours it, at least when it is rare in a population. The boardroom, after all, is a desirable place to be—and before the invention of prisons, even crime might often have paid."

http://www.economist.com/node/17460702

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"The Anti-Semite's Pointed Finger"

11/18/10. Ruth R. Wisse, professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard University delivered that talk in August at the Conference of the Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

"How Jews have been tricked into believing they can cure the hatred of them when the hatred has always existed because it is politically useful for the haters."

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/the-anti-semite-s-pointed-finger-15563

Monday, November 15, 2010

"When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays"

11/15/10. The ability to concentrate, focus, and lose yourself in the challenge of an activity are key components of the pursuit of happiness.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/science/16tier.html?_r=1&hpw

Monday Quotations

11/15/10.

"Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind."

--- W. Somerset Maugham (1974 - 1965)


"In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves:  the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy."

--- Ivan Illich (1926 - 2002)


"Falsehood has a perennial spring."

--- Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

Robert Sapolsky: "This is Your Brain on Metaphors"

11/15/10.  Robert Sapolsky is John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biology, Neurology and Neurosurgery at Stanford University, and a research associate at the Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya.

Professor Sapolsky is the author of "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers."

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/this-is-your-brain-on-metaphors/?pagemode=print

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Desire in the Twilight of Life"

11/13/10. Mark Lachs, a Professor of Clinical Medicine and a Director of Geriatrics writes:

"Despite the stereotypes and bad jokes, intimacy is alive and well in our aging population."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703848204575608663772413510.html?KEYWORDS=desire+in+the+twilight+of+life

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nearly 1 in 10 U.S. Kids Have ADHD, Study Finds

11/11/10. These results about ADHD are based on a survey of parents of children age 4 through 17, completed at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey covered 73,000 children, in kids of all races and family income levels, and across all regions of the country except the West. Of note, about half of the sample who had ADHD, had a mild form of the disorder.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703805004575606793870558632.html?KEYWORDS=adhd

RECOMMENDED READING: "Self Comes to Mind"

11/11/10. A core question in understanding people is:

How Does the Brain Create the Mind?

The short answer is:  We don't know.

In his new book "Self Comes to Mind," Antonio Damasio begins to outline the answer to this core question. Dr. Damasio is the David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Neurology, and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103713700

Monday, November 8, 2010

Best Books of 2010

11/8/10. Do you have any favorite books to recommend?

http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=2486012011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=right-csm-3&pf_rd_r=0Z5WZBV3RGDQSX5ZN7GY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1278200082&pf_rd_i=507846

Why Philosophy?

11/8/10.

Steve Pyke has been photographing philosophers for more than two decades. In compiling his work for an upcoming book, Mr. Pyke asked his subjects why they had spent their lives in philosophy. Click on each portrait to read their statements.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/01/opinion/20101101_Stone_Profile.html

Monday Quotations

11/8/10.

“Hypocrisy is a tribute which vice pays to virtue.”

--- Francois, Sixth Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1615 – 1680)


“The man who believes he can live without others is mistaken; and the man who thinks others can’t live without him is more mistaken.”

--- Hasidic saying


“Beware of charisma…’Representative Men’ was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1850 phrase for the great men in a democracy….Is there some common quality among these Representative Men who have been most successful as our leaders? I call it the need to be authentic---or, as our dictionaries tell us, ‘conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance or belief.’ While the charismatic has an uncanny outside source of strength, the authentic is strong because he is what he seems to be.”

---Daniel J. Boorstin (1914 – 2004)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Did Physics Kill God?"

11/5/10. More on the never-ending struggles between science and religion. I wonder what would happen if we discovered that G-d is a scientist.

http://www.american.com/archive/2010/november/did-physics-kill-god

"T.S. Eliot and the Demise of the Literary Culture"

11/4/10. Joseph Epstein writes:

"No one writing in the English language is likely to establish a reigning authority over poetry and criticism and literature in general as T.S. Eliot did between the early 1930s and his death in 1965 at the age of 77...

...Eliot was the equivalent in literature of Albert Einstein in science in that everyone seemed to know that these men were immensely significant without quite knowing for what." ...

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/t-s--eliot-and-the-demise-of-the-literary-culture-15564

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"A Delta Drifter Keeps His Southern Accent"

11/3/10. Mose Allison is an original in a time one can ask, "How many originals do you want?"

He is a jazz pianist, a blues singer, a country-music storyteller, and an author of more than 150 songs, including, "My Wife Says She's Out Jogging, But I think She's Running Around."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703846604575448021314855534.html?mod=WSJ_Leisure%26Arts_LEFTFeatures

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Alice: Dancing Under the Gallows

11/2/10. Alice is 107 years old this month --- and is the oldest living Holocaust survivor. "Every day is beautiful," she says. The unexplainable miracle of resilience, hope and optimism --- this is.

http://www.youtube.com/user/AliceTheFilm

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Quotations

11/01/10.

“Everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation. Between us and everybody else on this planet.”
--- John Guare (1938 - )


“Some people are far more sensitive to resemblances, and far more ready to point out wherein they consist, than others are. They are the wits, the poets, the inventors, the scientific men the practical geniuses. “

--- William James (1842 – 1910)


“There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes,
She drawled, When Ah itches, Ah scratches!"

--- Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Quotations

10/25/10.

"Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christmas without hell."
--- Frank Borman (1928 - )

"Angles can fly because they can take themselves lightly."
--- G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

"The best ideas come from jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible."
--- David Ogilvy (1785 - 1849)

"Life is short, the art long."
--- Hippocrates (460 B.C. - 357 B.C.)

"In my youth ...there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl; now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl.'"
--- Tom Lehrer (1928 - )

"Age is a high price to pay for maturity."
--- Tom Stoppard (1937 - )

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Bringing in Family to Combat Anorexia"

10/18/10. Not a new idea to bring in the family to treat anorexia. But if you wait long enough, many old ideas become new discoveries.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/health/research/19anorexia.html?_r=1&hpw

Monday Quotations

10/18/10

"Gentleman, include me out."

"I read part of it all the way through."

"A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on."

--- Samuel Goldwyn (Samuel Goldfish) (1882 - 1974)


"It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger."

--- David Hume (1711 - 1776)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WSJ Henninger: "Capitalism Saved the Miners"

10/13/10. Read this article and weep ---- tears of joy. And give thanks to the profit motive that created the
equipment that allowed the rescue of the 33 miners, buried 2,000 feet.

WSJ deputy editor Daniel Henninger highlights some obvious truths about capitalism --- that often elude the elite class:

Henninger writes:

..."It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism.
Amid the boundless human joy of the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.

"In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost.

"The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:"


'The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.'

"Uh, yeah. That's a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that's right. Ask the miners."
"If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?"

"Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit."

"This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive."...

Two cheers for Capitalism.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703673604575550322091167574.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Quotations

10/11/10.

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

--- Max Planck (1858 – 1838)


“The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility…The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.”

--- Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955).


“I firmly disbelieve, myself, that our human experience is the highest form of experience extant in the universe. I believe rather that we stand in much the same relationship to the whole of the universe as our canine and feline pets do to the whole of human life. They inhabit our drawing-rooms and libraries. They take part in scenes of whose significance they have no inkling. They are merely tangent to curves of history the beginnings and ends and forms of which pass wholly beyond their ken. So we are tangent to the life of things.”

--- William James (1842 – 1910)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Benny Gurvitz R.I.P. --- 10/10/10

10/10/10. Ben would have been 100 years old today --- we were all planning a party to celebrate his remarkable spirit.

Over the years, Ben said he was going to live to be a 100, "because when I turned 50, I felt half-dead."

Ben said at his age, G-d was a local call...now, I'm sure Ben has a direct line "to the man upstairs."

Below is a link to Benny's stand-up comedy riff he gave at his 99th birthday party.

When we hear G-d laugh, we know who's telling the jokes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EopGBkqxees


My article about Benny in the Michigan Psychological Association Newsletter, 4th quarter, 1997:


                                                       My Friend Benny
Psychiatrist George E. Vaillant, who recently spoke at our Fall Convention on aging well, has said that mature humor allows us to look directly at what is painful. Humor, he says, permits the expression of emotion without individual discomfort and without unpleasant effects upon others and he adds that miraculously humor transforms pain into the ridiculous. (1)

I think Vaillant would approve of my friend Benny.

Benny is the funniest human being I have ever met. He lives alone, drives a car, plays golf, travels, has lots of friends, and loves to watch sports. There is nothing funny about this list, although Benny says he’s bringing a fire extinguisher to his next birthday when he lights the candles. Benny’s birthday is 10/10/10 --- yeah, he’s 97 years old. As Benny reminds me, at his age, God is a local call.

I met Benny about 10 years ago when our lockers were next to each other at the Jewish Center Health Club. When I found out Benny’s age, I asked him whether he attributes his longevity to regular exercise. He thought for a moment and said, “My attitude towards exercise has always been when I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down and wait until the urge passes.” Benny is a strict vegetarian, although he reminds me that he could walk across the street tomorrow and get run over by a meat truck.

Benny is a retired pharmacist who maintains his license. We have attended our share of Continuing Education Seminars together. I drive, listen and learn, and Benny picks the meetings with the best food.

He reminds me that he is so old that “When I was a kid, the Dead Sea wasn’t even sick.” His family was so poor that “The rainbows in my neighborhood were in black and white.”

Benny brings to mind the emerging field of positive psychology with the focus on the study of positive subjective experiences and the study of positive individual traits.

In their 800 page book on positive psychology classifying strengths and virtues, Peterson and Seligman (2) offer a “Manual of The Sanities,” that includes chapters on the following strengths:

• Wisdom and Knowledge
• Courage
• Humanity
• Justice
• Temperance
• Transcendence

In this book, Willibald Ruch (3) writes the serious and informative chapter on humor – under Transcendence – which makes me think of Benny. Ruch writes that individuals with the humor strength strongly endorse such statements as the following:

• Whenever my friends are in a gloomy mood, I try to tease them out of it.
• I welcome the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day with laughter.
• Most people would say I am fun to be with.
• I try to add humor to whatever I do.
• I never allow a gloomy situation to take away my sense of humor.
• I can usually find something to laugh or joke about even in trying situations.

No doubt psychologists use humor often in their work. Humor does much to buffer life stress and hassles, reminds us that “we are more simply human than otherwise,” (4) and helps us re-interpret life-story events for our patients to promote hope and optimism.

Benny sets the bar high as an example of hope and optimism. He once quipped that he knew he was going to live to be 100 “Because when I turned 50, I felt half dead.”

As you can imagine, Benny has weathered his share of tragedies and losses. Benny claims that the only exercise he gets these days is being a pallbearer. He mentioned he went to a party last weekend and he was the only one there with his original hips.

I wish I had enough space here to tell you more about Benny. But Benny is one resilient human being who treasures each day, never complains, and helps everyone who knows him stay optimistic about the species. Researchers and clinicians at the ground level of the new Positive Psychology movement are working to discover how to nourish and develop our character strengths and virtues. It is time we had a Manual of The Sanities.

References:

(1) Vaillant, George E. Aging Well. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2002, pages 62 – 63.
(2) Peterson, Christopher, & Seligman, Martin E. P. Character Strengths and Virtues. A Handbook and Classification. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004.
(3) Ruch, Willibaud. Humor. In Christopher Peterson & Martin E.P. Seligman. Character Strengths and Virtues. A Handbook of Classification. Washington D. C.: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004. Pages 583 – 598.
(4) Harry Stack Sullivan.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Quotation

10/8/10.

 
The Ten Carrots:
  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
  10. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

 
--- William J.H. Boetcker (1873 - 1962). published 1916.

"A Light in Oslo"

10/8/10. Guy Sorman writes:  "The Nobel Foundation does itself proud by honoring Liu Xiaobo and Mario Vargas Llosa."

http://www.city-journal.org/

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Does School Choice "Work?"

10/5/10. Frederick M. Hess writes:

"These would seem to be dark days for the school-choice movement, as several early champions of choice have publicly expressed their disillusionment. A few years ago, the Manhattan Institute's Sol Stern — author of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice — caused a stir when he backed away from his once-ardent support. Howard Fuller, an architect of Milwaukee's school-voucher plan and the godfather of the school-choice movement, has wryly observed, "I think that any honest assessment would have to say that there hasn't been the deep, wholesale improvement in [Milwaukee Public Schools] that we would have thought." Earlier this year, historian Diane Ravitch made waves when she retracted her once staunch support for school choice in The Death and Life of the Great American School System. "I just wish that choice proponents would stop promising that charters and vouchers will bring us closer to that date when 100 percent of all children reach proficiency," she opined in her blog. "If evidence mattered, they would tone down their rhetoric." Harvard professor and iconic school-voucher proponent Paul Peterson has characterized the voucher movement as "stalled," in part by the fact that many "new voucher schools were badly run, both fiscally and educationally," and in part because results in Milwaukee were not "as startlingly positive as advocates originally hoped." Likewise, Peterson argues, "the jury on charter schools is still out."

http://nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/does-school-choice-work

Hard Rock Band

10/5/10. Hard rock band speaks out for metal health reform. It's about time.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/quiet-riot-speaks-out-against-nations-poor-metal-h,18174/

Monday, October 4, 2010

LATER -- It's Just My Procrastination

10/4/10. No hurry to read this article now.

"Procrastination is a powerful example of what the Greeks called akrasia—doing something against one’s own better judgment. Why do we seem to want what’s bad for us?…"

"... it’s possible to see procrastination as the quintessential modern problem.
It’s also a surprisingly costly one. Each year, Americans waste hundreds of millions of dollars because they don’t file their taxes on time. The Harvard economist David Laibson has shown that American workers have forgone huge amounts of money in matching 401(k) contributions because they never got around to signing up for a retirement plan. Seventy per cent of patients suffering from glaucoma risk blindness because they don’t use their eyedrops regularly. Procrastination also inflicts major costs on businesses and governments. The recent crisis of the euro was exacerbated by the German government’s dithering, and the decline of the American auto industry, exemplified by the bankruptcy of G.M., was due in part to executives’ penchant for delaying tough decisions. (In Alex Taylor’s recent history of G.M., “Sixty to Zero,” one of the key conclusions is “Procrastination doesn’t pay.”)...
http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/10/11/101011crbo_books_surowiecki

Monday Quotations

10/4/10.

“In North America there is the general belief that everything can be fixed, that life can be fixed up. In Europe, the view is that a lot can’t be fixed up and that living properly is not necessarily a question of mastering the technology so much as learning to live gracefully within the constraints that the species invents.”

 --- Jonathan Miller (1934 - )


“No, Groucho is not my real name. I’m breaking it in for a friend.”

--- Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx (1890 – 1977)


“All our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.”

--- Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662)


“Man, an animal that makes bargains.”

--- Adam Smith (1723 – 1790)


“A man is a kind of inverted thermometer, the bulb uppermost, and the column of self-valuation is all the time going up and down.”

--- Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841 – 1935)

National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior

10/4/10. A comprehensive survey completed by the Center For Sexual Health Promotion, Sexual Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Indiana University - Bloomington.

http://www.nationalsexstudy.indiana.edu/

Friday, October 1, 2010

Diane Ravitch: "Stop Trashing Teachers"

10/1/10.

As a child psychologist, I always depend on good teachers --- their observations of students, their commitment to teaching difficult kids, their insight into ways parents may guide their child ---- A good teacher is a gift to a student ---- and I try to enhance this gift to help the student make the most of what good teachers, chums and the educational climate have to offer.

"Diane Silvers Ravitch (b. July 1, 1938) is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and former United States Assistant Secretary of Education who is now a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Obama’s misguided policies and the over- hyped doc Waiting For "Superman" have turned America against its teachers. Education expert Diane Ravitch on why the vitriol is so dangerous.

For the past week, the national media has launched an attack on American public education that is unprecedented in our history. NBC devoted countless hours to panels stacked with "experts" who believe that public education is horrible because it has so many "bad" teachers and "bad" principals. The same "experts" appeared again and again to call for privatization, breaking teachers' unions, and mass firings of "bad" educators. Oprah devoted two shows to the same voices. The movie Waiting for "Superman", possibly the most ballyhooed documentary of all time, explains patiently that poor test scores are caused by bad teachers, that bad teachers are protected for life by their unions, and that the answer to our terrible test scores is privatization..."

My experience teaches the following. Good teachers are everywhere, private and public schools. Bad teachers are everywhere, private and public schools. The Principal is a key leader that sets the tone for the staff and students. Teachers' unions sometimes help education and sometimes hurt education. Without sound rules and effective compromises, no school works well for students.

Educational vouchers work well in some communities, allowing minority youngsters to attend schools of their choice. Do vouchers always work? Of course not. But when they do work we should not stop youngsters from finally getting the education they deserve. Are unions always a bad thing for students. Of course not. Unions protect  teachers, but it is a process sometimes easily distorted into a protection racket for some incompetent teachers, leaving many children behind.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-09-29/education-crisis-why-testing-and-firing-teachers-doesnt-work/full/































.

"Democracy's Laboratory"

10/1/10. Editor of Skeptic Magazine and a psychologist, Michael Shermer introduces his article in this month's Scientific American:

"DO YOU BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION? I do. But when I say 'I believe in evolution,' I mean something rather different than when I say 'I believe in liberal democracy.' Evolutionary theory is a science. Liberal democracy is a political philosophy that most of us think has little to do with science..."


http://www.michaelshermer.com/2010/09/democracys-laboratory/

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"How to be happy (but not too much)"

9/28/10. Review of psychological research aimed at enhancing happiness --- and why being happy makes evolutionary sense.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727791.000-how-to-be-happy-but-not-too-much.html?full=true

Meredith Maran - "My Lie"

9/28/10. Remarkable interview on National Public Radio --- a true story about false memories.

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2010-09-28/my-lie-meredith-maran

TED - Ideas worth Spreading

9/28/10. "TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize."

Don't miss TED's community of creative people passionately talking about what they know, about art, about science, about spirituality, and many many more topics aimed to broaden our perspectives, make us laugh, and help us appreciate being alive.

http://www.ted.com/

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lionel Tiger, Professor of Anthropology on the Brain and Religion and more...

9/27/10. This is a interview with Professor Tiger.

"Lionel Tiger is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense on the future of biotechnology. An expert on the biological roots of human social behavior, he is the author of numerous books, including The Decline of Males, The Pursuit of Pleasure and The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System. He originated the term "male bonding" and is an advocate for "male studies" departments in universities."



http://bigthink.com/lioneltiger

"It Is Easier to be Brilliant than Right"

9/27/10. Many people are clever, quick, witty ---- and wrong.

http://www.american.com/archive/2010/september/it2019s-easier-to-be-brilliant-than-right

Monday Quotations

9/27/10.

"For what links us are elementary experiences -
emotions - forces that have no instrinsic language
and must be imagined as art if they are
to be contemplated at all."

--- Joyce Carol Oates (1938 -  )

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction...For fiction is
the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it."

--- G.K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."

--- Socrates (469 B.C. - 399 B.C.)

"The rules of morality are not the conclusions of our reason."

--- David Hume (1711 - 1776)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Amazing James Randi

9/26/10. The Amazing Randi, a magician with tricks up both sleeves, spends his life fighting pseudo-science. He will never be unemployed.

http://bigthink.com/ideas/20392

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Is Socrates a Man for the Present?

9/25/10

Angus Kennedy reviews two books on the life of Socrates:

"In his endless, often exasperating pursuit of Truth, Socrates made many enemies. Yet his ideas and his questioning outlook remain invaluable to understanding the present."


http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_printable/9632/

"What Really Scares Microsoft?"

9/25/10. Virginia Postrel, libertarian journalist, and author of the brilliant "The Future and Its Enemies," talks about her November 1999 NYT Op-Ed about the antitrust case against Microsoft.

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/09/24/opinion/1248069085428/what-really-scares-microsoft.html

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TOP 10: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

9/23/10 "... we turned to the experts, asking 125 top American and British authors to list their 10 favorite works of fiction of all time. The results were published in "The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books." Edited by J. Peder Zane and published by W.W. Norton, "The Top Ten" is the ultimate guide to the world's greatest books. As Norman Mailer, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, Margaret Drabble, Michael Chabon, Peter Carey and others name the 10 books that have meant the most to them, you'll be reminded of books you have always loved and introduced to works awaiting your discovery."

http://www.toptenbooks.net/home.cgi

Dr. Antonio Damasio - Neuroscientist

9/23/10 "Dr. Antonio Damasio is a renowned neuroscientist who direct's the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. Before that he was the Head of Neurology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His research focuses on the neurobiology of mind and behavior, with an emphasis on emotion, decision-making, memory, communication, and creativity. His research has helped describe the neurological origins of emotions and has shown how emotions affect cognition and decision-making.  He is the author of a number of books, including "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain," which will be published in November, 2010. Dr. Damasio is also the 2010 winner of the Honda Prize, one of the most important international awards for scientific achievement."

On this video interview, Dr. Damasio discusses memory, consciousness, free will, and the conscious underpinnings of social behavior.

http://bigthink.com/antoniodamasio

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"You're Reading That Book Too? Marry Me"

9/21/10.
Wall Street Journal writer Hannah Seligson turns a new page  on-line dating services.

She introduces her article referring to one of my favorite Woody Allen short stories (1974), "The Whore of Mensa,"  (where)Word Babcock hires an intellectual prostitute named Flossie, a Vassar student, who, for a price, will discuss Proust, Yates, Melville, or anything really." Flossie is especially talented about discussing the symbolism in Melville's "Moby Dick."

There are a growing number of sites that match people based on the books they read Ms. Seligson tells us.

Perhaps being on the same page or book gives some couples the hope of a match made in the library or  bookstore.

Yet relationships are full of mystery. We all know many couples who have so much in common that they can't stand each other and are aching  to split apart. This illusion of common interests sparking romance is fine until you recognize that marriage is made in our unconscious. And if you are lucky, reasons to make a life together will seep into consciousness. And if you are very lucky, you each will be able to stand each other over a life-time of for better or worse and in sickness or health.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703466704575490210959002350.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTThirdBucket

"Benjamin Franklin on American Happiness"

9/21/10. Jerry Weinberger in the "City Journal,"  asks are Americans happy? He turns to Ben Franklin, a wise advisor for troubled times.

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/eon0921jw.html

"When Kids Refuse to Go to School"

9/21/10. Every year, too many kids get up for school with fears, stomach-aches, head pains, and anxieties --- and refuse to go to school. Sometimes kids gets side-tracked to weeks of medical work-ups, and only rarely come out with a medical diagnosis.  Unless the child is physically sick, it is the kiss of death for the child's and family's mental health for the parent to allow the child to stay home --- especially for days on end. This problem used to be called school phobia --- but there is rarely something at school that is the problem, and now the disorder is called school refusal. At root here, most often, is the child's anxiety about separating from his or her parent(s). Many times the child worries about real or imagined sick parents, or a parent getting into an auto accident, or hurt at work, and so on. And the treatment is:  get the child to school.

http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2010/09/21/when-kids-refuse-to-go-to-school/?KEYWORDS=school+refusal

"My Lie": Why I falsely accused my father"

9/21/10. "More than 20 years ago, Meredith Maran falsely accused her father of molestation. That she came to believe such a thing was possible reveals what can happen when personal turmoil meets a powerful social movement." Lives were wrecked, families were torn apart and stunned, and some falsely accused father's lingered in prison for years. I have witnessed the horror and aftermath of family members hear their sisters accuse their fathers of sexual abuse. (see post by Paul McHugh, MD regarding his book "Try to Remember," which documents the horror of these psychiatric misadventures.)

Of course, sexual abuse does occur ---- in 1976, during my doctoral dissertation on child abuse at Children's Hospital in Detroit, Michigan., I saw close-up what some parents did to their children.  

http://www.salon.com/books/memoirs/index.html?story=/books/int/2010/09/20/meredith_maran_my_lie_interview

Saturday, September 18, 2010

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Allen, Woody. Without Feathers. New York: Random House, 1972.

Anderson, Walter. The Confidence Course. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Andreasen, Nancy C. Brave New Brain. Conquering Mental Illness in the Era of the Genome. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Andreasen, Nancy C. The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius. New York: Dana Press, 2005.

Barkley, Russell. Taking Charge of ADHD. The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents. New York: The Guilford Press, Revised Edition, 2000.

Brown, Thomas E. Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.
This is a welcome addition to the ADHD literature. I especially like Dr. Brown's discussion of the executive functions that are impaired in what he calls the ADD Syndrome: (1) Activation: organizing, prioritizing, and activating to work; (2) Focus: focusing, sustaining, and shifting attention to tasks; (3) Effort: regulating alertness, sustaining effort, and processing speed; (4) Emotion: managing frustration and modulating emotions; (5) Memory: utilizing working memory and accessing recall; (6) Action: monitoring and self-regulating action. The book is filled with many real-life examples.

Christenson, Andrew, and Jacobson, Neil S. Reconcilable Differences. New York: The Guilford Press, 2000.
Two experienced psychologists offer sound advice on healing marital ruptures and disharmony and improving marital communication and joy.

Dalrymple, Theodore. Life at the Bottom. The Worldview that Makes the Underclass. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001.
British prison psychiatrist describes the destructive worldviews of his patients.

Dalrymple, Theodore. Our Culture, What's Left of It. The Mandarins and the Masses. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005.
Theodore Dalrymple is a psychiatrist working in a British prison and hospital. His collection of essays are profoundly honest, penetrating your mind like conversations with a wise friend who pulls no punches.

Faraone, Stephen V. Straight Talk about Your Child's Mental Health. New York: The Guilford Press, 2003.
Dr. Faraone is a psychologist and researcher at Harvard University. He has published many articles in scientific journals on ADHD and associated topics. This book is addressed to parents and is filled with the latest scientific findings on child mental health. One of the best books in the field on the topic of getting psychological help for your child.

Frank, Jerome D., and Frank, Julia. Persuasion & Healing. A Comparative Study of Psychotherapy. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. Third Edition.

Freud, Anna. The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. New York: International Universities Press, 1966.

Ghaemi, S. Nassir. The Concepts of Psychiatry. A Pluralistic Approach to the Mind and Mental Illness. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 2003.

Hallowell, Edward J., and Ratey, John J. Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder. New York: Ballantine Books, 2005.
Drs. Hallowell and Ratey are both psychiatrists with Attention Deficit Disorder. This book is filled with practical information for adults with A.D.D. about diagnosis, the pros and cons of treatment approaches, information about medication therapies, and guidelines about coping with A.D.D. Their previous book published in 1994 - Driven to Distraction - is a classic in the field.

Havens, Leston. Approaches to the Mind. Movement of the Psychiatric Schools from Sects toward Science.  Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 1987.

Havens, Leston. A Safe Place. Laying the Groundwork for Psychotherapy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Harris, Judith Rich. The Nurture Assumption. Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do. New York: The Free Press, 1999.

Holt, Jim. Stop Me If You've Heard This. A History and Philosophy of Jokes. New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.

Hoffer, Eric. The True Believer. New York:  Harper & Row, 1951.

Jamison, Kay Redfield. The Unquiet Mind. A Memoir of Moods and Madness. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1995.
A classic autobiography on coping with Bipolar Disorder by a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and a world authority on mood disorders. .
Konner, Melvin. The Tangled Wing. New York: Henry Holt and Company, L.L.C., 2002. Second Edition.

Koplewicz, Harold. More Than Moody: Recognizing and Treating Adolescent Depression. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2002.

Kramer, Peter D. Against Depression. New York: Viking, 2005.

Maughm, W. Somerset. The Summing Up. New York: Penguin Books, 1938.

McHugh, Paul R. The Mind Has Mountains. Reflections on Society and Psychiatry. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

"Paul McHugh is one of the best and most original writers in psychiatry or psychology. He is iconoclastic, idealistic, deeply informed, and is one of the most important influences on generations of psychiatric researchers and clinicians. The Mind Has Mountains is the essence of McHugh's ideas. No one will agree with everything he writes - I don't - but no one who reads this book will remain unaffected by the clarity and importance of his thinking. He is a teacher of the first rank." ---Kay Redfield Jamsison, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, The John Hoplkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

McHugh, Paul R., Slavney, P. The Perspectives of Psychiatry. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Second Edition. This book teaches you how to think about psychiatric disorder.

Peterson, Christopher. A Primer in Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Peterson writes:

"Positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and at all stops in between...(an) approach within psychology that takes seriously as a subject matter those things that make life most worth living...What is good about life is a genuine as what is bad and therefore deserves equal attention from psychologists...It is a study of what we are doing when we are not frittering life away."
Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate. The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking Press, 2002.

Ridley, Matt. Nature Via Nurture. Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2003.

Silver, Larry B. The Misunderstood Child. Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities. New York: McGraw-Hill, Third Edition, 1998.

Storr, Anthony. The Art of Psychotherapy. New York: Capman and Hall Inc., 1990. Second Edition.

Seligman, Martin E.P. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press, 2002.
Martin Seligman blends a scientific understanding of the roots of happiness with solid recommendations to improve your moral, mental, and spiritual well-being. I had the good fortune of meeting Marty in 1997, when I invited him to speak to the Michigan Psychological Association where he announced his decision to run for President of the American Psychological Association - he was elected by the biggest margin ever. When Marty was APA President, I was the Michigan Psychological Association President, and with his help I brought in the Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick to speak on "Consciousness" at the APA Convention held in San Francisco.

Seligman, Martin E.P. What You Can Change and What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement and Learning to Accept Who You Are. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.

Wilens, Timothy E. Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids. New York: The Guilford Press, Revised Edition, 2004.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Physician, Humanize Thyself"

9/17/10. Psychiatrist Sally Satel recently attended the White Coat Ceremony at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Getting doctors to be a mensch is not a new idea. But with all the technical gizmos and time-pressures surrounding medical practice, it is easier to get smart people to dress up like doctors than to act like doctors.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703466704575490063047006010.html?KEYWORDS=sally+satel

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Faith, Fortune Tellers, and New York"

9/16/10. Woody Allen (b. 12/1/35) seems as funny and perplexed as ever --- or is that farklempt --- a persona he has nurtured while directing, writing, acting, performing brilliant comedy, and playing the jazz clarinet. His philosophical approach to comedy, infused with his Jewish identity and years spent on the psychoanalytic couch, touch nerves of insight in some chosen few.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/movies/15woody.html?_r=1

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Forget What You Know about Good Study Habits"

9/7/10. NYT science writer Benedict Carey sheds light on the new findings from cognitive science on what makes good study habits.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html?_r=1&hpw=&pagewanted=all

"A Way Out of Depression"

9/7/10. Wall Street Journal writer Elizabeth Bernstein describes ways to coax a loved who is  in denial about depression into treatment without ruining your relationship.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703946504575470040863778372.html?KEYWORDS=bernstein+depression

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Peace of mind: The Battle"

8/28/10. Paul Beston writes a review of Ms. Sissela Bok's book "Exploring Happiness." Ms. Bok brings to bear her formidable talents in moral philosophy to contribute wide knowledge in this area.

"In the end, Ms. Bok believes science, philosophy..., and personality experience all have worthwhile things to tell use about happiness. She reminds use than human beings have sought happiness in all times and circumstances, even when faced with poverty , disease and war. There is thus a great deal of wisdom to draw on."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703649004575437652525950856.html?mod=WSJ_Books_LS_Books_5#printMode

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Still Surprised. A Memoir of a Life in Leadership"

8/17/10, Adrian Woolridge, management editor for "The Economist," reviews eighty-five year old Warren Bennis' book "Still Surprised." I have followed Bennis' writings on leadership for many years, and was surprised by this review.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703960004575427401431015016.html?KEYWORDS=warren+bennis

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"The Power Trip"

8/15/10. Jonah Lehrer, author of "How We Decide," and "Proust Was a Neuroscientist," writes:

"Contrary to the Machiavellian cliche, nice people are more likely to rise to power. Then something strange happens:  Authority undermines the very talents that got them there."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704407804575425561952689390.html?KEYWORDS=jonah+lehrer

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The New Science of Morality

8/10/10. There is a growing body of thoughtful research that clarifies and expands the developing field of the science of morality. This is an Edge conference.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/morality10/morality10_index.html

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Evolutionary Psychology

8/7/10. A conversation with evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby. What makes the invisible hand such a frightening idea? Watch this remarkable video.

http://reason.com/blog/2010/08/05/leda-cosmides-john-tooby

Leda Cosmides and John Tooby: "A Primer on Evolutionary Psychology"

http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"An indecency decently put is the thing we laugh at hardest" - Cicero

Some jokes Benny would like:

I was so ugly when I was born the doctor slapped my mother.

A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar. Bartender says, "What is this, a joke?"

What do a hurricane and a divorce in West Virginia have in common? Somebody's gonna lose a trailer.

What does the snail say when riding on the back of a turtle? "Whee!!"

I went to the doctor and told him, "My penis is burning." He said, "That means somebody is talking about it."

Angry guy walks into a bar, orders a drink, and says to the bartender, "All agents are assholes." Guy sitting at the end of the bar says, "Just a minute, I resent that." "Why - you an agent?", says the angry guy. "No, the guy says, "I'm an asshole."

A Jewish grandmother is watching her grandchild play on the beach when a huge wave comes and takes him out to sea. She pleads, "Please, God, save my grandson! Bring him back." And a big wave comes and washes the boy back onto the beach, good as new. She looks up to heaven and says, "He had a hat!"

A skeleton walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "Please give me a beer and a mop."

Ben Gurvitz, RIP

7/29/10. The world's humor quotient took a sharp decline today.

Benny died last night. He was 99 years old, born on 10/10/10.

Benny was in rehab and he thought he was going home today --- I guess he was right.

My article about Benny in the Michigan Psychological Association Newsletter, 4th quarter, 1997:


                                                            My Friend Benny

Psychiatrist George E. Vaillant, who recently spoke at our Fall Convention on aging well, has said that mature humor allows us to look directly at what is painful. Humor, he says, permits the expression of emotion without individual discomfort and without unpleasant effects upon others and he adds that miraculously humor transforms pain into the ridiculous. (1)

I think Vaillant would approve of my friend Benny.

Benny is the funniest human being I have ever met. He lives alone, drives a car, plays golf, travels, has lots of friends, and loves to watch sports. There is nothing funny about this list, although Benny says he’s bringing a fire extinguisher to his next birthday when he lights the candles. Benny’s birthday is 10/10/10 --- yeah, he’s 97 years old. As Benny reminds me, at his age, God is a local call.

I met Benny about 10 years ago when our lockers were next to each other at the Jewish Center Health Club. When I found out Benny’s age, I asked him whether he attributes his longevity to regular exercise. He thought for a moment and said, “My attitude towards exercise has always been when I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down and wait until the urge passes.” Benny is a strict vegetarian, although he reminds me that he could walk across the street tomorrow and get run over by a meat truck.

Benny is a retired pharmacist who maintains his license. We have attended our share of Continuing Education Seminars together. I drive, listen and learn, and Benny picks the meetings with the best food.

He reminds me that he is so old that “When I was a kid, the Dead Sea wasn’t even sick.” His family was so poor that “The rainbows in my neighborhood were in black and white.”

Benny brings to mind the emerging field of positive psychology with the focus on the study of positive subjective experiences and the study of positive individual traits.

In their 800 page book on positive psychology classifying strengths and virtues, Peterson and Seligman (2) offer a “Manual of The Sanities,” that includes chapters on the following strengths:

• Wisdom and Knowledge
• Courage
• Humanity
• Justice
• Temperance
• Transcendence

In this book, Willibald Ruch (3) writes the serious and informative chapter on humor – under Transcendence – which makes me think of Benny. Ruch writes that individuals with the humor strength strongly endorse such statements as the following:
• Whenever my friends are in a gloomy mood, I try to tease them out of it.
• I welcome the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day with laughter.
• Most people would say I am fun to be with.
• I try to add humor to whatever I do.
• I never allow a gloomy situation to take away my sense of humor.
• I can usually find something to laugh or joke about even in trying situations.

No doubt psychologists use humor often in their work. Humor does much to buffer life stress and hassles, reminds us that “we are more simply human than otherwise,” (4) and helps us re-interpret life-story events for our patients to promote hope and optimism.

Benny sets the bar high as an example of hope and optimism. He once quipped that he knew he was going to live to be 100 “Because when I turned 50, I felt half dead.”

As you can imagine, Benny has weathered his share of tragedies and losses. Benny claims that the only exercise he gets these days is being a pallbearer. He mentioned he went to a party last weekend and he was the only one there with his original hips.

I wish I had enough space here to tell you more about Benny. But Benny is one resilient human being who treasures each day, never complains, and helps everyone who knows him stay optimistic about the species. Researchers and clinicians at the ground level of the new Positive Psychology movement are working to discover how to nourish and develop our character strengths and virtues. It is time we had a Manual of The Sanities.

References:

(1) Vaillant, George E. Aging Well. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2002, pages 62 – 63.

(2) Peterson, Christopher, & Seligman, Martin E. P. Character Strengths and Virtues. A Handbook and Classification. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004.

(3) Ruch, Willibaud. Humor. In Christopher Peterson & Martin E.P. Seligman. Character Strengths and Virtues. A Handbook of Classification. Washington D. C.: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004. Pages 583 – 598.

(4) Harry Stack Sullivan.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Attention Disorders Can Take a Toll on Marriage"

7/20/10.

"Adults with attention disorders often learn coping skills to help them stay organized and focused at work, but experts say many of them struggle at home, where their tendency to become distracted is a constant source of conflict. Some research suggests that these adults are twice as likely to be divorced; another study found high levels of distress in 60 percent of marriages where one spouse had the disorder."
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/19/attention-disorders-can-take-a-toll-on-marriage/?hpw

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"The Battle Over Battle Fatigue"

7/17/10. Dr. Sally Satel's article achieves the delicate balance of expressing compassion, support, and respect for our soldiers, while charting and challenging the history of the political contamination that broadened the definition of PTSD and seeped into our present use of the DSM.

Dr. Satel writes,

"Soldiers can now claim trauma from events they didn't actually experience. Is the diagnosis losing meaning?"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704913304575371130876271708.html?KEYWORDS=satel

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"An Unacceptable Health Care Vision"

7/15/10. Obama, health care, and government as decider.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703792704575367020548324914.html

"Accepting That Good Parents May Plant Bad Seeds"

7/15/10. When I was in graduate school, psychologists were taught that how kids turned out depended almost entirely on how their parents treated them --- nurture mattered more than nature. Mother-blaming was in fashion and reached destructive heights --- such as the belief that "cold" parents produced autistic kids.

Research at the University of Minnesota on identical twins reared apart along with many strands of well-designed studies shows that nature and nurture are both strong contributors to how people turn out.  Children are born with biological predispositions --- parents, of course, influence the personality of their children --- but parents do not "create" their children's personality. So much happens as a result of the genetic roll of the dice, and what happens to children outside of their family's influence is important. The more we learn about the genetics of development, the more we learn about the complexity of nurture on the course of development.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/health/13mind.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage