A recent news article detailed the massive number of psychiatrically ill inmates in state prisons with some dying from suicide or inadequate medical care though still awaiting trial. But this sorry state of affairs should have been expected since, over past decades, state psychiatric hospitals were largely closed and the promised outpatient clinics and community care/supportive housing facilities for the mentally ill went left unfunded with savings going into government coffers. Other critical factors were "civil-rights" lawyers and courts deciding that it was better to die "in freedom," psychotic or drug addled on the street, rather than be forcibly hospitalized; and most psychiatrists becoming mere pill pushers rather than the psychotherapists they had been in previous decades
A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life
Prisons Housing the Mentally Ill
The Shame of America's Schools
Recent news stories have detailed the shocking inadequacies of public school students in many American cities with single-digit percentages of graduating high school seniors achieving only grade-level scores on arithmetic and reading evaluation tests. Having treated many teachers I can't help thinking that the major problem in student achievement reflects less teacher inadequecy than that of the school's administration: inadequate, undemanding principals and rules forbidding proper action against bullying and emotionally disturbed students. But the behavior of parents too: were parents to first read to and then with their toddlers and, apart from emergency situations, to explain parental demands rather than say, "Do it because I say so," which depresses the development of the capacity for abstract thinking, most children would be reading simple books by kindergarten. Math is different since if earlier steps are missed, a child will continually fall behind. I've known very smart children to have problems with math so something may be wrong with how it's taught. Nuff said.
Angela Merkel's Policies
A May 26, 2023 article in The Wall Street Journal ("Did Merkel Pave the Way for the War in Ukraine"), which itemized what were described as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel's disastrous policies, aroused my thinking of an alternate history novel: one in which Germany remained a nation of royal principalities instead of being united in 1871. In it there would be no World War One or World War Two, no Holocaust with many other millions dead, no rise of Communism or Soviet Union or Cold War with many of today's political tensions gone. But what to do about those pesky 1930s Japanese militarists? Hmm...
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Anxiety and Impulsive Behavior
While anxiety is typically considered a problem, it enables healthy functioning since it indicates when danger threatens. But a problem arises when what is felt to be dangerous is not, this reflecting the lingering effect of childhood experiences. Having an immature psychological apparatus, many childhood conclusions are inaccurate particularly if one grows up in a troubled family. Thus if a child is caused to conclude that expressing feelings or behaving independently or that the world outside the family is dangerous, the child, when an adult, wiill hold these views which conflict with his healthier instinct, a conflict that creates anxiety when it arises.
Thus anxiety can indicate both truly dangerous and what is safe but is felt-to be-dangerous situations, and the sufferer should decide which it is rather than behaving impulsively and unwisely.
The recent suicide of forty-seven -year-old Heather Armstrong, who was also known as Mommy Blogger and Dooce, aroused much publicity. While almost everyone has a suicidal thought sometime, the critical factors for its acting-out are whether it is serious, if the person has a realistic plan and means of carrying it out (as a gun or pills), and their degree of self-control.
Because of the biological imperative to live, suicide usually requires that the person's thinking is addled by drugs or alcohol or both as with Armstrong. Conceptually, suicide reflects early life experience during which the person was made to feel worthless, this belief returning later when, as adult and burdened by exceptional stress, the person considers themselves to be unworthy of life.
Suicide is alway a tragedy and, as has long been said, a permanent solution to a temporary condition. I've long thought that, to increase its understanding, psychological autopsies of prominent figues should be publicized regardless of family embarrassment. After all, it no longer matters to the principal character.
The Danger of Ignorance About Psychological Development
Many of today's public problems can be traced to ignorance of well-accepted knowledge about psychological development, and acceptance of the power of unconscious functioning over behavior with early life experiences being the bedrock of adult personality and affecting it throughout life. Seeemingly inexplicable and sometimes horrendous adult behaviors can be explained by these. For example, most youth killings are intended to effect what has been termed "suicide-by-cop" because of depression; road-rage incidents being caused by deeply unconscious feelings of worthlessness; and terrorist acts carried out by people lacking a healthy sense of identity, of who they are or "sense of self," which their identifying with a terrorist group can seem to provide.
That an elementary biological fact has become a political issue is bizarre and reflects the same ignorance. While there are indisputably only two sexes, male and female, what is socially considered the psychological characteristics of one is often present in the other. Thus a man may be the emotional parent in a family, more maternal or "motherly," a role which is usually that of the woman; and a woman may be highly assertive at work, exhibiting a trait that is conventionally attributed to men, with both individuals being completely normal.