Monday, April 23, 2012

another sleaze

There is soooo much out there to try and keep track of that it gets ridiculous.  The idea of keeping up with the new research in brain chemistry, physiology, cognitive therapy, fMRI studies of someone's brain in every mood and situation, of behavioral genetics, of unconscious social forces ..... all kinds of stuff comes rolling in.  So often one study will contradict another one, or someone needs attention so he will hyperbolize even the slightest indication of a determining factor.

Then, this weekend, there was a series of articles in the NYT Magazine section, telling the world that depression is a complex disease of the brain, and that psychotherapy, which is often the most successful  treatment for it, hardly gets mentioned.

Now the psychiatrist who wrote about the brain disease did discuss two things I agree with; first that most of the current psychiatric medications don't work for most people, and second, that the term "depression"  probably covers several very different conditions, some of which really are caused by a malfunctioning brain, and others which are really reactions to terrible, stressful situations. But then he went back to treating the brain, as if it was "the mind" which it isn't, yet.

There was also an article in the Magazine about taking LSD when you're old and dying.  this is stuff I have known about, and I am looking forward to .....but not yet.

Then there was the article  in the Review section by Jonathan Alpert, sleaze-bag who decided that psychotherapy often goes on too long and is done that way because therapist are unskilled and just want the money.  Now Mr. Alpert, who says he has an advanced degree in psychology, right there is showing what a sleaze he is.  He has a MA of some kind, and under NY licensing laws he should not imply that he is a psychologist.  He also has written some book about how to change your life in 28 days.

What is shocking, and harmful, is that the Times gave this guy space.  Somebody must be doing someone some kind of favors.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am not an advocate of endless therapy.  I have even written about it.  But some people need it. And to imply that most psychologists do it is the kind of thing that could discourage people who need help for seeking it, for fear that a therapist will entrap them forever.

He also says that what most people need is an aggressive therapist who will tell them what to do.  Clearly, this guy has not done much therapy.  80% of the people who come to see me know exactly what they should be doing.  It's finding out why they don't do it that is necessary, and then finding a way around those, often self-imposed obstacles that makes therapy work.  If you just need someone to tell you what to do, then send an email to Dr. Phil.

There is so much psychological garbage flowing through the Internet, it is a real shame that the Times has to add to the pile.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Money comes and goes

Last week I was messing around, trying to send a few pictures of my granddaughters to my friends.  I worked out this quick way to take them, edit them and send them, without even using words or anything.  Then I got a call from some guy in California offering me $500 million for the whole idea.  Can you imagine the nerve, $500 million.  I told him not to call again unless he would give me at least 2X that.  Now I'm working on something even better.  It only does pictures of kittens.

Nooo, that didn't really happen.  What did happen was that I was in my office seeing all kinds of people with all kinds of problems.  In fact, on one day last week I saw two different people whose father died, one person whose cat died, one person whose dog died and a woman whose husband was just diagnosed with cancer.  

 I was trying my best to do something for them using the limited powers of my skill set.  I realize they are limited because Medicare, followed by other, "private" insurance companies, cut what they pay me by 5%.  Medicare had been giving me raises of 3% +/-  per year, but this is an election year.   Two of the private companies have not raised what they pay me for 20 years!

But, I also read that the CEO of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company last year was paid $50,000,000.  That's I guess because of his brilliance at cutting what everyone else gets.  His board voted him that salary.  Of course, he pays his board $200,000 to come to four meetings a year and vote on his salary.  That is what they call a "free market."

Money comes, money goes.  If you think too much about it will drive you crazy, You will end up in my office, and I will not be getting rich by seeing you.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Me and Phil

 For the last hour, when I was not just watching the sun,sky and trees, I was reading the reviews of the books of Philip Roth. I guess he won another Mann-Booker Prize this year so there is more about him being written.  He is quoted in the NYT today saying that he no longer reads any fiction.  He said "he wised-up."

 He has written 53 books now. I have read four. He is now eighty, about thirteen years older than I am. He grew up and often writes about the area about five miles from where I went to high school. Some of the streets he mentioned in many of his stories are a block away from where I lived. Mr Roth is a bit more intense than I am, but many of his themes are the same that I deal with every day I'm in my office: family, the lasting effects of parents, sex, trying to determine the right thing, trying and failing to do the right thing, feeling guilty about not doing the right thing. sex,  struggling with relationships, struggling with religion over and over again, struggling aging, and struggling the crazy politics of America.

Reading Mr. Roth has always intrigued me and annoyed me.  I guess because our backgrounds are similar in some ways, and what he thinks about overlaps so much with what I see, and think about.  But he is soooo self-absorbed, and so pedantic that I find myself telling him to just shut up and cope. 
also, the thirteen years difference puts him in a different generation.  His views are shaped more by the depression, war and Holocaust than mine are. But he is so often correct,as  I can see even now as a scan several of his books through the graces of Amazon and Google.  I would not have this easy access to all these writings  even seven years ago, and now I can read it anywhere at any time.

Given that the world works that way now, with everything immediately available, everyone immediately visible, and much too much immediate knowledge, perhaps he's right.  Who needs the creations of a fiction writer when reality is constantly available, in all of it's complexity.

I guess there are still many who want to see the world in terms of good and evil, good guys and bad guys, right and wrong.  That is the fiction.