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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

My Love Affair With The AlphaSmart Neo

The Neo is a word processing keyboard which was created by former Apple Computer engineers in 1993. After several earlier models (which were named AlphaSmart after their new company) the Neo was introduced in 2004. I've created hundreds of book chapters and blogs using it and, though costlier such gadgets were created, consider the NEO best.


The NEO is powered by three AA batteries (which often last for a year) and is virtually indestructible. When turned off, the data is automatically saved, to be later transferred to a computer's word processing program for editing via a printer cable.

You can't beat their current (used) price of $15 to $25 on Ebay, I paying $200 for my new one years ago. Their current low cost derives from millions having been sold to schools that used them as a cheaper, more durable substitute for the laptop which slowly became reduced in price and provided internet connection which the NEO lacks.


A later AlphaSmart model, the DANA, had a larger screen and (now obsolete) internet connection though many regard the NEO as the better writing instrument because of its exceptional battery life, auto-save feature, and less glary screen. Neither has been manufactured for years and can buy a DANA for a few dollars more than the NEO. I own two of each.


The cult surrounding the NEO is well deserved. If a writer or a student, consider joining it.

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Two Enjoyable Non-Fiction Books About Women Becoming Independent

I recently enjoyed two non-fiction books about women becoming independent: The Barbizon by Paulina Bren, and The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson. The first is a history of the famed single woman's NYC residence; the second describes England's first marriage introduction service, opened during the 1930s by two, single twenty-four-year-old women.


More than merely the history of a building, The Barbizon movingly describes the era before a woman was permitted an independent life, fearing to be "left on the shelf" and unmarried even while teenagers. Stories of its famed residents which included Grace Kelly whose romantic, dreamy, movie look reflected myopia) and Sylvia Plath (who endured numerous electric shock treatments without anesthesia) are included.


The Marriage Bureau describes the early lives of its founders and how, seeking financially comfortable lives when the only path seemed marriage, they blindly forged ahead and became successful, helping many find joy in an increasingly frightening world. Good reading for our troubled time.

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Why Beginning Psychotherapy is Feared By Many

Beginning psychotherapy is harder than consulting a physician or dentist. With these professionals, people had a lifetime of experience, knowing the routine and what will happen from the time they enter the office. But a psychotherapy office lacks the medical gadgets and aura, it appearing more like the rooms in a home and sometimes are having household furnishings. Nor do many therapists in solo practice have the receptionist present in the usual medical office.
The procedure is also different. After being greeted, questions are personally asked with the lengthy medical office questionnaire being absent, and the treatment length is longer and consistent.
Yet despite these differences the goals of psychotherapists and medical doctors are the same: to heal their patient and make their life more enjoyable.

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The Murderers Among Us

The Killer Across The Table, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker describes the interviews of noted serial killers during which childhood and psychological similarities were found.
All had a troubled childhood, having experienced a far from "good-enough" parenting with much cruelty and/or sexual abuse and, often, a particularly damaging relatioinship with their mother. Which is not surprising since the mother-infant interaction is paramount when the basic ego capacities governing impulse control and thinking are formed.
These killers had a remarkable ability for psychological "splitting," separating and walling-off one aspect of their thinking and emotional life from another. Thus they could murder and bury a young child but later volunteer to join a search party while being concerned that their child get to school.
Rage and power were the domineering factors even in killings with a sexual element. The killer of a young girl from a neighboring home, who came to the killer's house to deliver Girl Scout cookies, knew from the moment he opened the door that he would kill her. This man, a high school teacher who lived with his mother, was told that she would refuse to see him and cut him from her will if he married. This caused him to break his engagement and added to his two types of rage. One that he could control, as when a driver cut him off. But the second he could not, as when the unlucky girl came to his house.
Another killer repeated his crime after being paroled following his rape and murder of a young woman. That these killers are not insane (which is a legal term) is evidenced by the care they took during the murders and in disposing of the bodies to avoid being caught.
This book evidences: the crucial need for more accurate assessment of those who are arrested; to consider even such unlikely suspects as family friends and loving relatives as the potential culprit; and to take reported suspicions seriously since many killing sprees would have been ended earlier had this been done, particularly those in hospitals by medical staff.
According to the authors: all serial killers have psychological conflicts between grandiosity and inadequacy; a sense of personal entitlement causing them to feel that they need not follow society's laws; and the ability to choose, making them deserving of capital punishment.

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