Monday, October 26, 2015

Presentation -- 1

I've been busy. It has been much more difficult than I ever thought with this unstructured schedule  for me to know where I am and what I'm supposed to do next.  Time fills up quickly, and often far in advance because many people think that I'n not doing much, and therefore they think I could be available to do stuff for them.

Also, many more of my friends aren't doing much any more so they are now available for us to get together and try to figure out a way to be relevant.

Yes, I still work three days a month.  In fact I am going to work tomorrow and I have a very full day. I will be seeing people who feel that their time with me is valuable and well-spent. For most of them, I can see that their lives are improving. Perhaps I am part of that process.

But also, during this time, I am putting together a presentation to give at the fall convention of our Psychological Association.   I am not a very widely published psychologist.  Most of my work has been seeing patients, but every four or five years I get the urge, and a strong urge it is, to tell my profession that most of them are headed in the wrong direction, and this presentation will be more of the same.

But, I've been right before and I'm right this time.

I have spoken in the past, beginning in 1993, about how the world is changing and we are not keeping up.  The insights and methodologies of the vast majority of mental health professionals is both inefficient and often ineffective.  Psychotherapy can work very well for many people, but the process can, and often does, take years, or even forever. There is not enough time or people available to even take a chip out of the huge block of psychological and emotional difficulties that are created by the kind of world we live in now.

Technological and medical research has done a fantastic job of finding ways to treat, and sometimes cure, many of the worst medical conditions that confront humans, but emotional difficulties are so complex that few people know how to do more than target one or two specific symptoms.  But everyone has about eight to two hundred different difficulties facing them these days.  That's why progress is so difficult.

So, I'm working on the paper.  I hope to have time to explain some of it here.  I'm older now, so I have all the answers.  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 19, 2015


I write notes.  I write them all the time.  The only time I write in a session is at the first session.  After that I don't want to be distracted, because when I'm writing I'm paying attention to what my patient said and not what he or she is saying.  After the first session I write a note about what happened, and what should happen next.

I also take notes about me.  I write myself notes.  I record things I want to write about, think about, or things that I need go do.  Sometimes I actually read the notes I've written to myself.

Today I found a notebook full of stuff I had written in 2009.  It was almost the same as the stuff I wrote and thought about yesterday.  That is sometimes true of the case notes I write.  The issues of the people I see remain the same.  We struggle to overcome something, and often we find a solution, but the person, the basic parts of the person, the mind-set, the attitude, is usually the same.

Age changes us.  I can feel that.  Experience changes us; hopefully we learn. Situations change us, as we have to react different to different stimuli.

But the "mind" that we have created, which is really the story we carry around in parts of our brain that we bring up to tell us who we are, that remains the same.  If you get your nose broken, or you get married, it's still you.

At least that's what we like to believe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On World Mental Health Day we....

It Was World Mental Health Day.

I began  blogging on World Mental Health Day, which was Sunday, October 10.  I was too late to add the code to get the sticker, so I won't attract hundreds of new readers who want to learn my views on such an event, but that's Okay, as I'm not clear what my views are.

I'm not sure what we are supposed to do on World Mental Health Day anyway. I guess be mentally healthy.  I didn't finish my bog post that day because I stopped typing and watched football and then went out with some friends.  I'm not sure how mentally healthy it is to watch American football.  I don't really think it's a good idea to watch people literally bash each other's brains out, but this year the Patriots are really good and fun for me to watch.

If Mental Health Day was a fund raiser, I don't know who the money should go to.  There are lots of places doing research, but the findings seem to be all over the place.  Also, the entire body of research done on mental health treatment was called into question in an article in the New York Times last week.  The article stated that most of the studies that get published are the ones that show good results.  the studies that show small, no, or even negative results are not deemed that helpful so they don't get into major journals.  Therefore, the body of evidence is skewed to the positive.

Mental and emotional difficulties have very varied and complex causes.  Most of the studies show small things, such as spending too much time sitting in a cubicle, typing insane blog posts, is not good for your emotional health. Psychology offers a lot of little answers to basic problems: how to control your anger, how to get your child to study, ten ways to relieve stress -- mostly why situation X will lead to behavior Y.  Most of these are interesting and helpful, but they don't put it all together, they don't cover everything that is going on in a person's life. What if your in pain? What if you don't have the money? What if your kid is sick? What your boss is on the phone?  What if you have asthma?  What if all of these things are happening at once?  Why can some people handle this and others fall apart.  Why do some people fall apart when the waves hit their ankles and others can keep swimming when the water is up to their neck?

It's complex.
It is.
Be aware of that.
Be understanding.

It's (was) World Mental Health Day.