Monday, July 31, 2017

A Shirt for All Therapists

From the Daily Mail... a shirt for all therapists:

This slogan was clearly meant to read 'Don't Worry Be Happy' however, poor word placement makes it appear a rather more pessimistic message 

What a difference a juxtaposition makes.

Obama in the Middle East

In a long and detailed analysis David Horowitz makes the case against the Obama administration policy in the Middle East on the Powerline blog. The case is long and detailed. It's well worth a read.

For now, I present the executive summary:

During the eight years of the Obama administration, half a million Christians, Yazidis and Muslims were slaughtered in the Middle East by ISIS and other Islamic jihadists, in a genocidal campaign waged in the name of Islam and its God. Twenty million others were driven into exile by these same jihadist forces. Libya and Yemen became terrorist states. America – once the dominant foreign power and anti-jihadist presence in the region – was replaced by Russia, an ally of the monster regimes in Syria and Iran, and their terrorist proxies. Under the patronage of the Obama administration, Iran – the largest and most dangerous terrorist state, with the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands – emerged from its isolation as a pariah state to re-enter the community of nations and become the region’s dominant power, arming and directing its terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Yemen.

When Is a Marriage Not a Marriage?

Back in the day psychotherapy and especially psychoanalysis had intellectual gravitas. They did not always deliver on the promise, but therapists and patients inhabited a world where everyone pretended to be a serious thinker. Freud might have gotten it wrong, but he was an important thinker, someone who changed the culture… even if, for the worse.

In many ways it was too good to last. Psychoanalysts were mostly physicians and physicians have no real notion of how to do philosophy. After all, Freudian theory does not come from medicine. It is philosophy. Adding psychologists to the mix helped things out, but the need to present the profession as clinical and scientific undermined even the pretense to intellectual rigor.

Even in the academy serious thinking had a place and attracted a coterie of followers. French theorists, in particular, whether Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Derrida, Barthes, Lacan and Kristeva, were read and studied and even respected. Now, we have the sad philosopher clown named Slavoj Zizek and a Belgian psychotherapist named Esther Perel.

Strikingly, the New Yorker now tells us in an overblown puff piece that Perel is the ultimate couples counselor. After all, she had an enormously successful TED talk and is now offering up podcasts of real couples counseling sessions. She has something of a cult following, which might have something to do with her charming accent. It has very little to do with the substance of her thought—shot through with psychobabble and political correct platitudes—and a lot deal to do with great marketing.

The New Yorker has nothing to say about whether or not her counseling is effective, though we all know that couples counseling is notably unsuccessful in putting marriage back in gear.

In any event, Perel zones in on couples intimacy. The New Yorker gushes over her popularity:

Since 2006, when she published her first book, “Mating in Captivity,” an investigation into the fraught topic of married sex, Perel has travelled the globe speaking about couples’ intimacy, or their lack of it. Her TED Talk “Rethinking Infidelity” has been watched more than 7.5 million times; another, on “the secret to desire in a long-term relationship,” is nearing ten million views. This following extends far beyond the ranks of the long-coupled. A source at a recent bachelor party in Brooklyn reported that the groom-to-be declared himself an avid fan.

Apparently, Perel has focused like a laser beam on the conjugal boudoir. Apparently, our sex laden age has produced marriages that are singularly lacking in lust. No one will deny the appeal of such thinking to modern couples, but it provokes a simple question. 

That is: when is a marriage not a marriage? The answer: when it is an affair.

Unfortunately, for those who believe that marriage is held together by libidinal glue, the truth lies elsewhere. If you try to conjure a relationship that runs exclusively on romance and lusty longings, that escapes the tedium of socialization and domesticity, you are talking about an affair. If your love affair loses its spark, it is over. Done, finished. All it has is desire and once the desire flames out, no more affair.

Marriage is a different story. It is a contracted relationship that comports duties and obligations. It involves more than two people. It involves children and families and communities. It confers an identity on both parties. Marriages work when both spouses are committed to a common and cooperative enterprise. When these elements break down, when the contract is breached, the desire will diminish. If you think that the commitment you contracted when you got married can be revised according to the state of your bliss, you have misunderstood the institution. 

If you do not understand the difference between a marriage and an affair you are likely to have problems in your marriage. You might also have problems in your affair, but since an affair is disposable, the consequences are significantly less grave.

In any event Perel seems to be selling sexual desire to couples who do not understand what a marriage is. Considering that said couples would never be able to deal with the truth about marriage, one understands why her message has an appeal:

On the TED stage, she introduces her topics with provocative questions—“Why does good sex so often fade, even for couples who continue to love each other as much as ever?”—and dispenses advice that is surprisingly counterintuitive yet reassuringly practicable. To rekindle desire, stop counting on the magic of spontaneity, a surprise ravishing by the washing machine: “committed sex is premeditated sex.” Betrayal may spell the painful end of a chapter in a relationship, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole thing is done: “Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?” (Her forthcoming book, “The State of Affairs,” expands on this theme.)

The New Yorker’s writer finds this all to be brilliant. Immediately this tells you that even this august magazine has sacrificed intellectual gravitas to the gods of political correctness—because it has something to do with white male privilege:

Perel is a master at what she does. She is preternaturally incisive and humane, alert to the sorts of ingrained fears and long-standing insecurities that clog communication. She guides and prods as she interprets, occasionally butting in with a joke or some good-humored chastisement, and, while she lets her patients know when she thinks they’re onto something, she also tells them when they’re way off base. “You have to be able to say, There is another adult down there, and she’s not a total nincompoop,” Perel tells the neglectful partner, in the second episode, when she confesses that she is so consumed with her children because she doesn’t trust her spouse to properly care for them. Meanwhile, the neglected partner worries that they are not having enough sex. “There is nothing that stands in the way more to a woman’s desire than a sense of caretaking,” Perel tells her. “If I have to think about everybody else, I cannot think about me.” In other words, ease off, but also help out. You’re right, but you’re wrong, too. Welcome to life as a couple.

This is catnip for narcissists. Needless to say, in some of these couples counseling sessions, what passes for truthfulness is aggressively rude, insulting, even bordering on assault:

Perel diagnoses them as “splitting the ambivalence”: one takes the positive position, the other the negative, until the suppressed pain finally boils over. The husband tells his wife that sleeping with her was like having sex with a corpse. “Come in five minutes then leave me—that is my sex life!” the woman retorts. They are in a deadlock, seething and hurt. “It’s very rare that I make blanket statements like this: your communication is terrible,” Perel says. She suggests that they create a private e-mail address that they will use only for one another, to begin to learn how to speak to each other again.

Does it take a world class couples counselor to imagine that something positive will come of a man’s telling his wife that sex with her is like having sex with a corpse. You have to give credit to the simpletons who imagine that this will all be solved if the two of them have their own private email address. How brilliant. How intimate. How personal. 

Just between us, when you communicate via email you are not speaking to each other. The same applies to texting. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scenes from Multicultural Europe

Admittedly, it’s difficult keeping up with all the news coming out of multicultural Europe, but at least we can try.

From Hamburg, Germany, the bad news about Angela Merkel’s open arms policy toward Muslim refugees keeps coming at us. From Bloomberg:

Hamburg’s mayor called for swifter deportations from Germany in the wake of a fatal attack at a supermarket in the city by an asylum seeker who was set to be sent out of the country.

Authorities said the 26-year-old man was born in the United Arab Emirates but that his citizenship was unclear because he had no papers and therefore hadn’t been deported. He is accused of stabbing a 50-year-old German to death with a kitchen knife and wounding six others on Friday in the Bambek district of Hamburg. He was apprehended a short time later.

“What makes me especially angry is that the offender is apparently someone who claimed protection by us here in Germany and then directed his hate against us,” Mayor Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democrats, said in a Facebook post. “This shows all the more urgently that these legal and practical obstacles must be cleared away during the deportation process. These perpetrators are anxious to poison our society. They will fail.”

For the record the Social Democratic Party is to the left of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Being seriously multicultural the mayor can only get outraged at the fact that this Muslim refugee was ungrateful. One wonders where he’s been these past years.

As a sidelight, the Free Beacon reports that the German government is having trouble deporting the immigrants it welcomed because they have been filling court dockets with appeals. From the Weasel Zippers blog (via Maggie’s Farm):

Migrants are overwhelming the German court system as hundreds of thousands have appealed rulings denying them refugee status.

Many migrants are suing after being granted “subsidiary protection” status by the German authorities, seeking to become full refugees, the Washington Post reports. Those with subsidiary protection status can stay in Germany for up to three years, but do not have the right to reunify with family.

Two-thirds of cases in Berlin’s administrative court are from asylum seekers, as 250,000 appeals are pending across the country Germany.

“This will paralyze us for years,” a judge told Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel concerning the build up of lawsuits.

Meanwhile in Birmingham, England a 14 year old girl was raped twice in an evening, by two men who are labelled Asian. In the British press Asian means Muslim, perhaps Pakistani. After being raped by one Muslim, she sought help from another Muslim and was raped again. The feminists who are engaged in a culture war about rape culture will, predictably, have nothing to say.

The Evening Standard reports:

Authorities in Birmingham have launched a major investigation after the girl was subjected to a “horrifying ordeal” on Tuesday night.

She was reportedly with a friend at Witton train station at about 7pm when a man approached her and led her to a secluded area, before raping her.

Shortly after the attack, the victim walked away from the area and flagged down a passing car to ask for help at about 2am.

Police say when she got into the vehicle she was raped for a second time by what is believed to be a second offender.

The girl then returned home and the police were called.

Apparently, suspects have been arrested.

In Italy, a Muslim asylum seeker from the Ivory Coast pulled out a knife and attacked a bus driver.

The Associated Press has the story:

A man from the Ivory Coast who faced expulsion from Italy for previous aggressive behavior stabbed a public transit bus driver Saturday in the Tuscan city of Siena, causing a serious injury, police said.

Police said the man retrieved a knife from a home for asylum-seekers where he previously resided after an apparent argument with the bus driver at the end of the line. He returned to stab the driver twice in the stomach and once in the arm. The driver was in serious, but not life-threatening, condition, police said.

The man was known to authorities for previous aggressive behavior and had lost the status of asylum-seeker, police said. He was being housed by a Catholic charity pending his expulsion.

Naturally, the press cannot imagine the motive. Perhaps they should hire a few reporters who have triple-digit IQs.

Back in the good old USA, a Mexican immigrant, protected by Portland Oregon’s sanctuary city policy, raped a 65 year old woman. He had only been deported 22 times.

The Daily Mail has the horror story:

An illegal immigrant with a long history of deportations to Mexico, and who was released by local jail officials in defiance of a federal immigration hold, is now accused of raping one woman and assaulting another in a sickening crime spree.

Sergio Jose Martinez, 31, is charged with 13 counts - including burglary, kidnapping, sodomy and sex abuse - in the knife-point attacks on two women in Portland on Monday.

Six months ago, on December 7, jail officials in Portland had Martinez in custody when they received a request from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, asking the jail to notify ICE before his release.

Yet the local officials released him the next day in defiance of the federal immigration detainer, an agency spokeswoman told the Oregonian

Oregon has a state law forbidding local law enforcement from using any resources to enforce federal immigration law.

Officials of sanctuary cities are going to fight to the death to maintain their policies. They are happy to sacrifice their citizens to sexual predators and homicidal terrorists because they have no quarrel with radical Islam and have no quarrel with Mexican migrants. After all, the Obama administration refused even to consider such people a threat. No, liberal mayors have met their enemy and it is the Trump administration.

When you don’t know your enemy and fight against those who would protect you from your enemy, which side are you really on? At the least you are on the side of cowardice.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Responding to Unwanted Penis Pictures

I would like to tell you that Madison Kohn found an original response to unwanted pictures of men’s genitalia. To my knowledge she was not the first to find the best way to answer such offensive behavior. To be more precise, the pictures were not just unwanted. They had been sent by men she did not know. In another context, it’s called flashing. Unless I miss my guess, if you do it on a subway or on a street corner it’s a felony.

Apparently, today’s sophisticated young men believe that they can entice women to date them by showing pictures of their junk. It’s another sign of a pornified culture. One suspects that men do this because somewhere out there in the Tinder universe are women who actually respond to them.

Somehow or other this sexting thing has gotten completely out of control. At least, the proprietor of this blog has always been against it. Anyone who has promoted sexting, even on the grounds that everyone is doing it, has some ‘splaining to do.

As for Kohn, she found the perfect response. First, she took to Tinder to warn anyone who would think to send her such pictures that, upon receipt, she would send them to their mothers. When one hapless male person decided to test her resolve, she forwarded the picture to his mother and asked politely that said Mom order her son to cease and desist.

The Daily Mail has the story:

A girl who received an unwanted picture of a man's penis tracked his mom down to reveal his son's antics. 

Madison Kohn, 20, a student at Arizona State University warned clearly on her Tinder dating app profile that if anyone sent her explicit photographs, she would pass them on to their mothers. 

And that's exactly what she did when a man decided to test her boundaries. 

Boy I hope you know that girls are better that the FBI when it comes to stalking.

The student's Tinder bio reads: 'If you send me d**k pics I will send them to your mom. 

'That being said I'm pretty chill, are you?'

Having ignored the warning and tracked her down in social media, the man - who MailOnline is not naming - messaged her on Instagram before sending the lewd photograph. 

He said he couldn't sleep because of Ms Kohn, then sent her a picture of his penis before calling her 'amazing'. 

Kohn tracked down the man’s mother on Facebook and send her the picture, along with this message:

Having done so through Facebook, she screenshotted the message her son had sent and wrote: 'Hi, I see that your son is XX. 

'I have never talked to him but he has sent me this picture through Instagram after discovering my profile. 

'Can you please tell him not to send unsolicited pictures to women? 

'I did not ask for it.'


What Do Children Need?

You might think that it comes from the Tiger Mom. In truth, the advice comes from a psychologist and New York Times writer named Lisa Damour.

One admires the simplicity and the cogency of Damour’s answer to the age-old pre-Freudian question: What do children need?

Damour answers that children need affection and structure. Alas, one cannot have put it better. But then, she adds that parenting should focus on providing structure. A child can get affection in lots of places. He can only gain structure at home.

Quartz reports the good news:

Children who are raised in a stern, business-like way may be less happy as adults, but they’ll have the tools they need to function. Children raised without discipline or rules can be stunted and ill-equipped for adulthood.

Of course, this depends on what you mean by happy. We recall the learned studies about the happiness level of millennial adults who were ensconced in their parents’ basements playing video games. We recall that these overgrown adolescents were supposedly happier than their counterparts who were out in the world. 

And yet, it turns out that children need security and predictability. That is, organization and routines… aka structure.

Damour is smart enough not to promise that a more structured household, a more rigorous organization, more routines and more stability will produce the kind of flourishing that our psycho professionals have been touting.

A structured household will prepare a child to compete in the world. This might not make him a champion video gamer and it might not fill him with false pride, that is, with high self-esteem. It also does not provide him with cheap thrills and sensational extremes.
And structure also means discipline and self-control. Damour makes another salient point:

Adolescents actually want structure from their parents, despite their protestations to the contrary. Permissiveness and inconsistency from parents can be unsettling and provoke anxiety, she said.

“Being a teenager feels like you’re out of control and you’re surrounded by people who are out of control,” she said. “You don’t want parents to be out of control.”

Consistency, check. Discipline, check. Strict rules, check. They all contribute to producing structure. It does not mean that a child will always obey the rules, but it is better to know what the rules are than to be left adrift, without rules.

Friday, July 28, 2017

When Life Imitates Porn

The news should be classed under the rubric: What would we do without the Daily Mail?

You should consider it an object lesson. It shows what happens when you decide that you want your life to imitate art…that is, to imitate pornography.

The story comes to us from Germany:

Two women in Germany are in hospital with broken bones after a threesome with a man went badly wrong.

The first woman suffered broken bones in her feet and legs after she toppled ten feet from a balcony in Bad Breisig as she reached her climax.

Her naked friend screamed and ran down the stairs to help her, slipped, and broke bones in her arm and neck.

Medics arrived at the apartment where the embarrassed man explained what had occurred.

A newspaper commented on the incident: 'They better try bondage next time.' 

I'm sure you want to know why the man emerged from this exercise unscathed? Clearly, the answer is: deeply entrenched patriarchal sexism.

Have a nice day!

National Pride In China and America

Two days ago the Wall Street Journal published an article on Chinese national pride. Focusing on the seemingly inexorable rise of Chinese national pride, the article does not address America’s diminishing national pride. Still, it addresses a point that I have often emphasized: personal pride, personal confidence and self-esteem are often influenced by pride in one’s nation, one’s community, one’s company.

Therapists tend to set off in search of some mental mechanism, some brain trigger to explain why people feel demoralized and depressed. They can’t see the forest for the twigs.

In another sense, this article counters the narrative advanced by Francis Fukuyama, namely that liberal democracy was destined to triumph because Hegel said so. In truth, Hegelian individualism has nothing to do with free enterprise or liberal democracy. If we expect people to emulate the American democratic system we need to show that we can make it work. Otherwise, nations around the world will follow the Chinese model of authoritarian capitalism. 

When Chinese people look at America today, they are seriously unimpressed.

The Journal story opens:

Li Xiaopeng once idolized the West. While a student, he broke through China’s internet firewall to read news from abroad, revered the U.S. Constitution and saw the authoritarian Chinese government as destined to fade away.

Now the 34-year-old urban consultant, who studied at both Cambridge and Harvard, thinks it’s China that is ascendant and the U.S. that is terminally weakened by income inequality, divided government and a polarized society. He says so volubly to his more than 80,000 followers on social media.

“In the end, China will supplant America to be the world’s No. 1 strong country,” he wrote on Weibo, China’s homegrown version of Twitter .

President Xi Jinping is holding up China as a confident global power at a time when U.S. leadership seems uncertain. Increasingly, his government can count on swelling national pride among its own citizens.

Li is too kind to say so, but the declining American pride must have something to do with having a decadent president like Bill Clinton, a hapless president like George W. Bush, and an apologetic self-critical president like Barack Obama. If you also have a cultural movement setting out to destroy American pride, to diminish America’s extraordinary success by saying that the nation is an organized criminal conspiracy run by and for white people, you are going to embolden people in China who believe that the future belongs to them.

America has persuaded the Chinese that democracy does not work:

While some Chinese still believe the country will need to embrace democracy to reach its full potential, many others are convinced the country has reached this point, not in spite of the government’s crushing of pro-democracy protests in 1989, but because of it.

Apparently, the Chinese leadership did not misread the national mood in 1989.

As for what Chinese students are learning when they study abroad, it’s not what we would expect:

A small survey of 131 Chinese students studying in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Japan and South Korea published in 2014 in the journal China Youth Study found that while most weren’t markedly patriotic before leaving China, close to 80% reported feeling more patriotic after going abroad. Roughly two-thirds said they agreed with Mr. Xi’s “China Dream.”

While most Americans are dissatisfied with the direction the country is going, such is not the case in China:

Annual surveys by the Pew Research Center since 2010 show more than 80% of Chinese are satisfied with the direction of their country. Three-quarters of the Chinese surveyed by Pew last year see China playing a bigger role in global affairs than 10 years ago, and 60% view China’s involvement in the global economy as positive.

Chinese bloggers have been exploring the possibility that China’s authoritarian capitalism is better than America’s obsession with invented rights and election results:

On his blog, between digressions on Socrates and Ming Dynasty economic policy, Mr. Li writes at length on the superiority of the Chinese political system. Unlike the U.S., where he says charisma is prized over professionalism and money is needed to win office, he argues that China promotes officials based on their performance in spurring economic growth and managing large cities and bureaucracies.

“Among people in my generation, there aren’t many of us now who think we should totally study the West,” says Mr. Li. “To them, China is already a great country.”

America looks more like an international spectacle than a great nation. The more the Chinese know about it, the less they want to emulate it:

The sense that China is on the right track challenges a decades-old tenet of U.S. foreign policy, one that argued exposure to the West would lead Chinese to embrace Western values.

In the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, and amid global fears about terrorism, a generation of Chinese patriots like Mr. Li are projecting an assurance about China as a beacon of strength and stability in an uncertain world.

We are talking about national pride, something I once called psychological capital. Some believe that it’s a function of increasing power, but that feels like too Western an analysis. It’s more about the face you gain when you accomplish something:

“What people are starting to feel is pride. It’s the pride of being listened to, or forcing people to listen to you,” says Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. “The idea of greatness for China—because they’ve experienced weakness—gravitates around the idea of power.”

China’s government exercises near-absolute authority over education, media and the internet. That, along with determined campaigns to quash dissent, give the Communist Party unparalleled power to frame public debate. As a result, patriotism and pro-government views are amplified. Criticisms tend to get drowned out.

And yet, for all the authoritarianism, people are not unhappy. They take pride, not in their power, but in their achievements:

More than anything, Chinese say, their current patriotic sentiment is built on pride about how rapidly the country has emerged from poverty and how well its economy compares with others.

What did one Chinese student see when he attended the greatest universities in Great Britain and America. He saw signs of degeneration:

Doubts about the West crept in when he spent a half-year at the University of Cambridge as part of his doctorate in economics. Compared with China’s brand-new infrastructure, the buildings in most British cities looked shabby. Getting a bank card took days.

A year at Harvard University’s Kennedy School as a visiting fellow starting in 2010 accelerated his change in thinking. He was appalled at the number of panhandlers in subway stations and how unsafe he felt.... 

Seeing the West up close, Mr. Li says, was a defining experience for him. He’s fond of citing an expression now common among Chinese youth: Once you leave your country, you love your country. “If you don’t go abroad, you don’t actually know how great China is,” says Mr. Li.

When You've Lost Peggy Noonan

When you’ve lost Peggy Noonan….

OK, Donald Trump never had Peggy Noonan, but he could have had John McCain. Now that Senate Republicans have failed to repeal even a few pieces of Obamacare the world looks in wonder at John McCain, a man who rose from his hospital bed to return to Washington to save Donald Trump and then… to teach him a lesson. If you don’t think that McCain’s vote was payback for Trump’s disparagement of McCain’s military service, you are not thinking.

Peggy Noonan’s analysis of Trump’s leadership style predated Anthony Scaramucci’s profanity laden rant to Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. We do not know whether the Mooch was speaking on or off the record, but a communications chief ought to know that New Yorker reporters are not his friends. It’s the minimum.

Coming after the Mooch’s decorous press conference last week, his tirade against Reince Priebus and Steven Bannon should have happened out of press earshot. Now that Trump is being forced to eat his tweets and comments about Attorney General Sessions, he and his administration should have learned when to shut up. Failing to do so, they come across as entertainment, not governance.

Somehow the Donald Trump missed the Biblical text which says: A White House divided against itself cannot stand.

Anyway, many people will be talking about Noonan’s critique today, so I will share some parts of it, the better to give you the chance to discuss it.

Noonan attacks Trump where it hurts. She begins by declaring that Trump’s antics undermine his claim to be more masculine:

The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.

He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen. 

Uh oh. She continues to analyze all the president’s tweets—one adds that a majority of the president’s supporters want him to cut down on the tweeting.

Noonan writes:

Half the president’s tweets show utter weakness. They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn. “It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their president.” The brutes. Actually they’ve been laboring to be loyal to him since Inauguration Day. “The Republicans never discuss how good their health care bill is.” True, but neither does Mr. Trump, who seems unsure of its content. In just the past two weeks, of the press, he complained: “Every story/opinion, even if should be positive, is bad!” Journalists produce “highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting.” They are “DISTORTING DEMOCRACY.” They “fabricate the facts.”

It’s all whimpering accusation and finger-pointing: Nobody’s nice to me. Why don’t they appreciate me?

According to Noonan, Trump’s version of manliness is not traditional American. It is the therapy culture version of masculinity. It’s Woody Allen, she says, but without the humor:

The way American men used to like seeing themselves, the template they most admired, was the strong silent type celebrated in classic mid-20th century films—Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Henry Fonda. In time the style shifted, and we wound up with the nervous and chattery. More than a decade ago the producer and writer David Chase had his Tony Soprano mourn the disappearance of the old style: “What they didn’t know is once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings they wouldn’t be able to shut him up!” The new style was more like that of Woody Allen. His characters couldn’t stop talking about their emotions, their resentments and needs. They were self-justifying as they acted out their cowardice and anger.

Of course, you heard much of this here first. Some of you did not like hearing it. But, Trump is in touch with his feelings and he speaks whatever is crossing his mind. One suspects that he never underwent therapy, but his behavior looks exactly like what therapists have been promoting. They will never admit it, but… he is a New Yorker, a proud proponent of New York values. I am sure you are not surprised.

Noonan wants Trump to offer young men a better male role model. Trump believes that he must shake things up and that he cannot get things done if he does not play the role of boisterous, vulgar macho hero:

“It’s so easy to act presidential but that’s not gonna get it done,” Mr. Trump said the other night at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio. That is the opposite of the truth. The truth, six months in, is that he is not presidential and is not getting it done. His mad, blubbery petulance isn’t working for him but against him. If he were presidential he’d be getting it done—building momentum, gaining support. He’d be over 50%, not under 40%. He’d have health care, and more.

Noonan concludes:

Meanwhile the whole world is watching, a world that contains predators. How could they not be seeing this weakness, confusion and chaos and thinking it’s a good time to cause some trouble?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Do We Need More Talk about Suicide?

God only knows how this article was accepted for publication in the New York Times. The author is a recent college graduate, so he offers us a glimpse into what college students are learning. It is not heartening.

Joseph Rigo suffered from depression. When he was a teenager he engaged in self-mutilating behaviors, now called cutting. He was depressed throughout his college years.

And he has figured out that many people around the world suffer from mental illness. It’s good that a college education taught him about statistics. And it has also taught him the solution: we do not talk about mental illness enough. Somehow or other, when he was depressed he did not know about depression and so did not know that therapy (and medication) was available.

Perhaps Rigo lives under a rock, but, in truth, depression and mental illness are all people talk about. One wishes that people would shut up about mental illness. Because, all the talk is giving people ideas. We do know, according to symptom selection theory, that the more you talk about mental illness, the more you produce it.

Where do you think he learned about cutting? Perhaps from a movie of the week. Perhaps in the news, in a magazine or on television? As for depression, did Rigo miss Prozac?

He writes:

In the United States, nearly one in five adults have some form of mental illness in a given year. That means that 43.8 million adults, nearly twice the population of Australia, experience a mental health disorder every year.

Yet more often than not, we don’t talk about mental health. And shows like Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” or artists like indie pop singer Lana Del Rey have sensationalized or glamorized mental illness and suicide rather than taking it seriously.

Obviously, Rigo is running a marketing campaign for therapy. One is surprised to know that he has never heard about medication.

He describes his own condition:

In college, I became even more depressed. I would cry myself to sleep. My weight fluctuated by 10 to 20 pounds each semester. I would drink to forget and in my drunken blurs I leaned far too heavily and unfairly on friends who were just as lost and scared as I was. During what felt like the worst period of my depression, I took a health and wellness class my junior year. In that class, we discussed nutrition, healthy relationships and conflict resolution skills. We even had a unit on “stress management and resiliency.” But we never talked about mental illness or how to recognize or treat it.

Now, he wants us to believe that no one around him noticed that he was not doing well. Does he have parents or siblings? Did any of them see that something was amiss? Don’t they have resident advisers on college campuses? Don’t we all know that more and more college students have lately availed themselves of campus mental health services? What did they know that he did not know? The notion that no one discussed wellness in a course suggests an extremely narrow scope.

Now Rigo wants people to come forth and tell their stories about mental health issues. Has he never heard of William Styron’s Darkness Visible? Or Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon? And let’s not forget Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac? We all recall Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy and Emile Durkheim's Suicide

Rigo writes:

We should not be afraid to come forward or tell our stories about our struggles with these issues. We should be open to learning the symptoms and the signs of mental health disorders. We should encourage everyone (not just those with mental health issues) to seek therapy because therapy is good for your mind just as exercise is good for your body.

If anything, we talk about suicide and depression too much. Why do people know so little? And why do they insist on advertising it?

The Coming OB/GYN Shortage

Obviously, it’s difficult to blame this on Donald Trump, but Lisa Ryan manages to throw this problem into the same basket as Trump’s wish to defund Planned Parenthood.

In truth, the problem dates to well before the advent of Trump. I have discussed it in relation to other medical specialties. In brief, America is running out of gynecologists and obstetricians.

Ryan explains:

According to a report from Doximity, a leading social network for physicians, the majority of the current OB/GYN workforce in the country is nearing or at retirement age — and there are an inadequate amount of younger physicians specializing in the practice. As a result, the number of OB/GYNs in the U.S. will likely soon decline, and those remaining may struggle to keep up with demands for women’s health care.

Perhaps Obamacare has contributed to this. Perhaps low Medicaid reimbursement rates have pushed physicians away from this specialty.

Or, maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with malpractice insurance. Don't OB/GYNs pay far more than most for malpractice insurance? Combined with Medicaid reimbursement rates, it might be that lawyers have conspired to deprive the nation of much needed medical professionals.

Other explanations welcome.

Another Maladjusted Millennial Snowflake

This week our favorite advice columnist, Ask Polly, regales us with the story of a young woman who calls herself a “thin-skinned snowflake millennial.” Said woman is an aspiring writer and dubs herself: A Highly Strung Spurnalist on the Brink. The funny-looking word rhymes with “journalist.” Got it. It's Joycean. One is tempted to tell her to keep her day job, but she is young and that would not be fair.

HSSB wants to be a freelance writer. Yet, she has tried out a series of office jobs and has discovered that she is wildly unsuited to any of them. She cannot afford to work on her own but she cannot work with other people. It’s not an occupational hazard. It’s a generational hazard, inflicting many young people who have suffered the American way of being educated raised. The result: a young woman who wants desperately to have a career as a freelance writer but is suffering from severe anomie and does not know how to get along with other people.

To draw an inference, her letter portrays her as utterly alone in the world. She says nothing about friends or lovers, romantic partners or even family. She would do well to develop some social contacts… just a hint.

Naturally, she has held her coworkers in all of her jobs in magnificent contempt. Having attained to the ripe age of “early twenties” she has tried and dropped out of a multitude of jobs. Perhaps her problem is a lack of grit, an inability to persevere.

She has drunk the politically correct Kool-Aid about the workaday world and spouts the following:

I’ve worked for start-ups, small firms, and huge corporations, and there’s been bad management, bullying, backstabbing, bitching, and bureaucracy at every one. Not forgetting the big board of fossilized white men belittling everyone.

So, she wants to drop out and retire to her study, the better to become a freelance writer. That is why she is writing to Polly, a successful freelance writer.

HSSB writes:

I’ve come up with a two-year plan in which going freelance is the goal (it was five-year, but I don’t think I can bear to wait that long). I hope to buy a treadmill desk at some point. Thing is, I’m petrified of going freelance, too. Petrified like I just saw a basilisk reflected in a puddle. I’m not sure if that big scary snake is me or the thought of trying to survive off writing alone.

I want it so badly I’d write anything to get by: product descriptions, banner ad copy, words to go on toilet-cleaner labels. Anything. I’m willing to get a part-time job to fund it, too. Except I know it would be a stupid idea to even try before I’ve saved up at least three month’s pay. But as I can only afford to save a little each month, I’ll have to wait two years at least before I’ve amassed that amount. And I can’t start while in my current role as we’re not allowed to take other paid work.

Speaking of psycho matters, wanting it so badly means nothing. It's her discipline and good character that will get her through the assignments... not wanting things badly. The psycho world has done young people a disservice by feeding them this idea.

For the record, it is fairly obvious that she is going to write her first magazine article or book about her adventures in the world of real work. Her letter is raw material for a book project. With any luck she will present herself as an engaging befuddled trainwreck... but that would take some considerable writing skill. 

One understands that the world of work is still notably male, so said millennial snowflake, by failing to fit in to a man’s world, is asserting her womanhood.

The letter closes with some incoherent thinking:

I also don’t feel like I’m ready. I want to be edited still. I still feel like I need a lot of molding before I’d even be close to being able to pull off the kind of pieces I want to write.

So I guess my real question is how do I stop hating my job long enough to quit it and go freelance? And how do I know I won’t hate freelancing just as much? Am I just a thin-skinned snowflake millennial who needs to get over it and accept that this is working life?

Of course, freelance writers are edited… unless they work for the New York Times, which just reduced its copy editing staff. And why does she need to stop hating her job in order to quit? Can’t you quit a job you hate? In truth, you can quit a job, regardless of whether you like it or not.

In truth, Polly offers some sound advice here, but not before making an embarrassing attempt at empathy:

But if you subtract age from the defining characteristics of thin-skinned snowflake millennials, I am also a thin-skinned snowflake millennial, and I want to strongly recommend it as a lifestyle choice. Why? Because it keeps you away from offices, which are places where all sense of time and space evaporate and all connection to your own desires and longings, to your own humanity, to the natural rhythms of existence, steadily erode until your life feels like a shadow, haunting a dim facsimile of what a life is supposed to feel like.

I see no special reason to agree to this snowflake’s bad attitude toward work. One understands Polly’s intention. It is misplaced.

After that, Polly gets to the meat of her reply and it is certainly to the point. First, she recommends that HSSB try to learn how to work with other people:

My recommendation is that you keep your two-to-five-year plan but, in the meantime, you train some of your energy on learning to eat some shit and play nicely with others.

She adds the important point, namely that freelancing involves a network of relationships that need to be cultivated and fostered. If you don’t know how to develop relationships and to get along with your coworkers you are going to have problems with editors. Since Polly has a great deal of experience as a freelance writer she does not whine on about feeling her feelings.

The picture of the starving artist alone in her garret creating masterpieces is misleading and false.

Polly writes:

Freelancing is impossible without solid relationships with editors, and my whole career didn’t really take off in the ways I wanted it to until I learned to be consistently kind and polite to all editors, even when they pissed me off. I’m not saying I never revert back to the brat I was years ago, but most of the time I recognize that the people I work for are really fucking busy and overworked and they aren’t dismissive of me or out to get me, even when that’s where my brains used to go on a bad day. So this is the hard truth: You won’t be able to freelance until you learn to be consistently kind and grateful to your co-workers, recognizing that, even though they sometimes reflect the deeply wrong nature of any given workplace, they also have a million-and-one personal challenges that you know nothing about. And yes, that includes the fossilized white dudes in the corner offices.

HSSB says that she hates all jobs. Yet, freelancing is a job. It is a difficult job. It is a job in which you need to organize your own time, create your own workspace and work along. And of course freelancers do not receive a regular paycheck. If our maladjusted millennial snowflake thinks that working in an office is hard, wait until she starts to freelance.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Psychoanalysis and Politics

Desperately seeking relevance, the American Psychoanalytic Association has relieved its members of the duty to follow what is called the Goldwater Rule.

The Rule, enacted by the American Psychiatric Association says that its members should not diagnose political figures they have never met. They should not offer professional opinions about politicians when all they know is what they read in the New York Times.

To be very clear, the Psychoanalytic Association is not a part of the Psychiatric Association. These are two separate organizations. The former is one tenth the size of the latter. Most psychoanalysts have traditionally been psychiatrists, and thus likely members of the Psychiatric Association, but that has changed, to the point that one suspects that the physicians are now approaching minority status. Since the Goldwater Rule was written by the Psychiatric Association, the opinion of the Psychoanalytic Association means precisely nothing... for psychiatrists.

As one ought to know now, the Psychoanalytic Association is a leftist indoctrination mill masquerading as a mental health provider. Its latest manifesto makes the point with utmost clarity.

In response, Ann Althouse says this:

Let them speak, and then the rest of us will speak about whether they are professionals deserving of deference or human beings like the rest of us who can't keep our political preferences from skewing whatever it is we might think about some pressing issue of the day.

Go ahead, expose yourselves. Let us see all narcissism, impulsivity, poor attention span, paranoia, and other traits that impair your ability to lead.

More interesting, for my purposes, are the comments on the Althouse blog. I will reprint some of them to give you a sense of the reputation that the mental health profession enjoys these days. I also quote them to show what blog comments are like: short and concise. 

Anyone who writes essay length comments on this blog will have their comments deleted. I have warned of this before. Certain people ignore the warnings. This is the last warning.

Anyway, the commenters have this to say:


The percentage of hacks, cranks and fools in the mental health "profession" is stunningly high. And many of them are in a position to make individual lives worse.

Michael K (a surgeon):

I personally know several who went into Psychiatry to deal with their own mental health problems. One guy was a former surgery resident who went full psychotic and started to be treated by the chief of Psychiatry at a university medial center. That chief of Psychiatry then accepted him into the residency which he finished. He was brilliant but as crazy as anyone I've ever seen.


Nothing says principled leadership like rewriting your own rules to allow unethical diagnoses!

Michael K:

Psychiatry and especially psychoanalysis, has disgraced itself in many ways since 1964.

We had a discussion at work last week about getting psych consults on problematic recruits. We agreed they are useless but another doc suggested they are useful for ass covering.

If the recruit goes postal (or Full Metal Jacket) in basic, we can say, "Well, we got a psych consult and they said he was OK."

What we are seeing in this country (and in these comments) is something similar to the day care center hysteria of the 80s.

Psychiatry disgraced itself in that hysteria, also.

Traditional guy:

The restraint was to protect the practitioners. The conundrum was the false Honorarium "Doctor" added to the titles used by priests of Freud's talk therapy for wives of rich men that the rich men wanted out of the picture without a divorce. It was always a con by seeking money from whomever pays them the most.


This should be the impetus for removing mental health treatment from the Obamacare coverage (essential benefits) mandate.


Suicide rate among psychiatrists five times that of the general populace. So what exactly did you have to say to me?

Francisco D:

Psychoanalysis is a cult with no empirical support. It always has been and will continue to be. Well trained psychologists and psychiatrists ignore them.

It continues to have some believers, but mostly among the whack jobs and the poorly educated. (Yes. Not all advanced degrees are created equally.)


The "profession" is full of mid level counsellors who have only undergraduate degrees (if that) and easy to obtain "certifications" that pass as acceptable qualifications with government agencies, courts, "clinics," and other organizations. There is no significant supervision once they get into the right (for them) sector of the mental health and counseling apparatus. They are highly influenced by their own prejudices, biases and personal experience. Yet courts and other institutions accept their analysis and opinion as nearly determinative in important cases. I have a well qualified and sensible friend who estimates that maybe 5-10% of the child therapists she encounters in her own practice know what they are doing. The rest are winging it, and being paid well to do so.
It is such a scandal that there has been a literature developing on the issue. But nobody does anything about it.


First, the issue of psychoanalysts changing their rules about "diagnosing" public figures shows the absurdity of psychoanalysis. Talk about pseudo-science, or as it's called these days "fake news". The scientific credibility of psychoanalysis is no better than CNN's. 

Important to say "psychoanalysis" is NOT the same as "psychiatry". AFAIK the rules for psychiatrists belonging to the American Psychiatric Assn have NOT changed. Diagnosing without clinical relationship is still UNETHICAL.

In any case, let's give the creepy psychoanalysts a "diagnosis" of "pandering leftist sycophants, narcissistic type". Sounds like a[n] accurate description to me.

Scientific socialist:

As an internist-and an off and on psychiatric outpatient-I have come to know many psychiatrists and lay psychotherapists well. With the exception of three practitioners, they are among the strangest and most socially awkward individuals that I've ever encountered. Several are genius-level brilliant but as crazy (to use a medically precise term) as their craziest patients. Generally speaking, I wouldn't regard their armchair psychoanalysis of the POTUS to be any more credible than that of the plumber who did work in my house last week.

Those few comments give you a sense of the current reputation of psychoanalysis and other mental health professions.