Summertime

 

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. We travel, visit relatives or cool off in the water, so I cut back a little. There will be no posts this week and from now through Labor Day there will be only one post a week—typically Monday. 

I’m sure by Fall there will be lots to cover.

Have a great summer.

Roger

Diagnosis and the Real World

Under what diagnoses do you suffer? (Curious question isn’t it?)

Let’s Begin Here

Two definitions come to mind at once as we look at this post. Psychiatry is defined as: “the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior.” Psychology has a variety of definition but I prefer: the study of human and animal behavior. The numerous other definitions suggest we aren’t actually sure what psychology is and I share that position. in fact, there is even a philosophical element which suits me just fine.

In Clinical Psychology

When we move on to the clinical area we quickly brush up against mental illness and as a student we quickly learn that diagnoses are generally expected. But how does mental illness fit with the broader definition of the study of human behavior. It seems like it must be a subcategory. What I found was that it is a restless subcategory and won’t keep its mouth shut.

Or at least it becomes a problem when we visit that devise place called the real world. And, of course, I believe in the cusp of reality which means I have questions. Are you hearing the pounding of philosophy at the door?

Then There Is Diagnosis

Freud defined a great deal of what is psychiatry and we entered a world of illness which required treatment and so there must be a diagnosis. The whole process was to be applauded because it moved emotionally disturbed people out of intervention for possession by demons  generally under the oversight of the church. They were in better, more compassionate, hands then. But not all of mental health people were devoted to Freud’s teachings. And that included Carl Jung who took us out into the world at large in a variety of ways. I won’t try to explore him. Take a look yourself.

What’s the Point?

It seems we are lost in a forest of exploration. There are those who believe in specific diagnoses for mental illness and in some case it yields helpful intervention. But there are others of us who believe it is far more complex than that. Sometimes diagnoses lead us down narrow corridors and sometimes it is more effective to shy away from an illness model and take the path to looking for functional factors and something I will call life management.

In This Age

Isn’t it interesting that as we rush forward into the future we are still mired in definitions and differing camps of adherents when it comes to what we call health care. At least we have latched onto prevention and a variety of preventive procedures. Those continue to need exploration and so do our responses to things happening to us that deserve attention.

That’s enough of the meshing of philosophical exploration with the real world. In future posts I’ll move deeper into the world of what we call mental illness and alternative forms of response which includes what I call self management.

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Orlando! The Meaning and Impact of Mental Illness II

 

Have you had contact with mental health professions?

An Ongoing Dispute

When I wrote the initial copy for this post it was entitled The Myth of Mental Illness. That was also the title of the 1961 book by Thomas Szasz that I hold in high regard. He questioned the foundation of psychiatry as do I. His case gets stronger as time passes.

The fact is, I chose to become a psychologist for reasons I’m still uncovering. Probably the chief among them was my need to deal with my mother’s severe depressions. They seem to have been the result of personality problems but mostly reflected a genetically based vitamin D deficiency. I had set out to study particle physics but an unforgivably bad calculus professor turned me off on the mathematics which I viewed as fundamental. And so I found my way into a field I’m still disputing.

Decades later I have concluded that the term mental illness should be relegated to the dustbin of history. Recently I saw that someone had come up with a “diagnosis” for people who are concerned about healthy eating. Diagnosing them has the implication of viewing such a justifiable concern as an aberration or some kind of deviation of behavior.

The Beginning

In college I found the study of psychology interesting but that there were two parts. The clinical people were usually over in the medical settings and the academic setting was closer to experimental studies. They declared psychology was a science. Early on I was not impressed by the science part. I could see philosophy among other things. In the end I went to Duke University to study experimental psychology but within days asked to move to the clinical program which they granted. Steadily I was introduced to psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy.

I was not prepared for the authoritarian nature of psychiatry. I attended Grand Rounds and saw patients paraded on stage while their history of “mental illness” was presented and discussed. (I should say this was decades ago and things have probably changed.) I also learned that psychiatric residents were not permitted to declare a diagnosis. A senior staff member would step forward and deliver the definitive word. 

There were times when graduate students such as myself went to clinical meetings and presented findings from our testing. Our findings were frequently used to harass and haze both medical students and residents. The effect was to build a wall between psychiatry and medicine in general.

Learning By Doing

I realized after the fact that I often was given very difficult cases. One of them was a very pretty, very dysfunctional and hysterical young woman. In her interest I managed to get her diagnosis changed from schizophrenia to a less damaging diagnosis which meant she might get more flexible and dedicated treatment in the years ahead. But one day I got a call from the emergency room. I found her seated on a gurney. A terrified intern was in attendance. In front of her he informed me (and her) that if she had sliced at her arm and throat in a different direction that she would have bled to death. It seemed he had not been prepared for this kind of management.

My supervisor asked that I be very careful with this young woman and said he assumed she had already driven three therapists into research partly because of her extreme behavior and seduction efforts. Her late night forays and partying led to a pregnancy and she wanted an abortion. The nature of the times was such that she had to seek out senior psychiatric staff on her own and plead for a diagnosis to permit an abortion. She was unsuccessful.

We struggled on and she managed to achieve more stable functioning. I assumed there would be a long road ahead. In all regards I found the system deeply flawed.

Moving On

After graduation I went to Baltimore to work in a community mental health program. Our group of dedicated twenty somethings formulated reality based approaches for the people of the community and were faced with obstruction by our seniors in that they had a much deeper self serving agenda.

To be continued:

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Building an Unplanned Business

 

Do you have a life plan?

It Just Seemed Like a Good Idea

The house was finished and we had it furnished. But we weren’t going to move in full time. We had our clinical practice near Baltimore. This was a vacation home and we thought it would be a retirement home someday. We had okayed first to build a cottage but our builder, Wayne, had sold us on the idea that we might want to rent it so we went larger.

How Did That Happen?

We hadn’t actually thought a great deal about the rental process and so we didn’t think about it until the house was set up and furnished. At that point, when we inquired, we learned we were too late for wholesalers to handle it that season. With no other options we decided to simply advertise it for short term rentals in the Baltimore Sun. The winter was filled what felt like almost over night. That was easy!

What’s Next?

In fact we had more people who wanted a vacation in St. Lucia than we could accommodate. In effect people were standing there wanting to know where we could put them. Ooops! So, in desperation we called the real estate company that was managing the house for us when we were away. We found out it was not a problem.

Taking Another Tour

So we went on a tour of other houses that did short term rentals and booked in the people who were interested. The commission was respectable. So we looked around and found other places to advertise rentals. It proved not to be a problem. We had houses of all shapes, sizes, and costs we could offer.

Americans Like to Explore

We learned something else. Americans often don’t want to go to the same place year after year. The Europeans tended to go to the same island year after year and spent a month to six weeks. But Americans were asking “Where else can you send us?” So we crossed the strait and took a look at Martinique. We absolutely loved it. The French were very friendly and the island just as beautiful as St. Lucia. It even had its own active volcano and we stayed at the most romantic resort we had ever seen on the edge of the rain forest. But many Americans didn’t want a place where English wasn’t the first language. On to other islands.

One After The Other

It was so interesting. Each island we went to was different. Our advertising budget was expanding with our clientele. So, we added St. Martin/St.Maarten (French and Dutch), Barbados, and the Cayman Islands. We looked at Puerto Rico and the Turks & Caicos Islands but by then had enough inventory.

A Major Change

We were running the short term rental business on the side along with our clinical practice helping stepfamilies. But along came the insurance companies of managed care. They had found that they could effectively block mental health related practices and save money. Our model for stepfamilies was specific and they basically would not accept it. The mental health field was being torn apart by the insurance industry. So, regretfully we closed our practice and devoted full time to building our villa rental business. 

So Much For That Life Plan

It was an interesting experience. We assumed we would retire from our practice. But we fell in love with a Caribbean island, stumbled into building a house, rented it and, finally had a full time villa rental business. Both of us had always thought you built a life plan but in this instance good fortune, life insurance company depredations and an attractive opportunity sent us in another direction entirely.

Do you see a major redirection in your future? Would you like one?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Freud Versus Jung

Two Forms of Reality

What do these names mean to you?

Once again we encounter the question of what is reality. These two names represent very different views and relationships to the larger elements of society and culture.

Anyone in the mental health field will inevitably come in contact with the writings of Sigmund Freud. Not necessarily Carl Jung. Freud was important in advancing the field of mental health and forming it into a system used to treat what were called mental disorders. He made us aware of the existence of the unconscious mind which we are only now being able to look at in brain imaging. Jung might have come from another planet.

Why Mental Illness?

Freud was very close to the development of western medicine. We had come to the point where there was the thought that people might not suffer infestation by evil spirits. Calling what was happening a mental illness meant they could be removed from not well informed intervention by the church. That was a step forward but as we will see in later posts it was not always to the point.

A Broader Perspective

I’ll be frank to say that Jung fascinated me much more so than Freud. Both men were Europeans but Freud was closer to western thought. Jung foraged the world and shed light on not just our mental systems, but culture and elements of deep meaning.

Both men brought us utility of different kinds. Freud made us realize that there was such a thing as an unconscious mind. It is only now as we probe the brain with new tools that we can see the operation of the unconscious forming up prior to conscious awareness. Each man dealt with reality in their own way.

Myth and Truth

In Jung’s search he related to mythology and he brought us fascinating commentaries and revelations. But he did something more. In searching the world he recognized that there is a personality system in humans. A systematic study of human personality turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with mental illness. The system Jung devised, or perhaps the better word is uncovered, is the basis for the Myers-Briggs Personality Typology which, if you would like to know about your personality you can find it on line. Simply ask our friend Google and you will be taken to it.

Both of these men dealt with reality in their own way. Freud seemed closer to the western scientist while Jung sought reality of other sorts. What I found particularly fascinating about Jung was the mythological components which take us to all manner of alternatives. We can see a great deal about our speculative foragings.

Jung had fascinating perspectives. He wrote an entire book about alchemy. His conclusion was that it was not a search for how to change lead into gold. He saw it as a bridge from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment as people were exploring new ways.
In Jung’s autobiography Memories, Dreams and Reflections is found fascinating revelations about a man who broke the bounds of ordinary reality. It is both about him and philosophical.

Both Offer Meaning

Sometimes there is a debate about truth and these men. I see no such debate needed. Each offered something fascinating and brought us forward. I have to admit I feel much closer to the work of Jung because we are the same personality type. Freud did good work but his thinking did not enroll me in his world. Both men speak to us about important elements of the human experience and, in the end, they may have nothing to do with mental illness.

Have you encountered the work of these men? What was your reaction?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Fog We Are Living In

 

The present status of America justifies deep concern. Suddenly we are no longer the leader of the Free World. Even worse, we are foundering. It is as if we are living in a fog of indecision and quandaries. Have we forgotten who we are? It seems we cannot see ahead.

Our Present Malaise

In past eras in America I have seen celebrations of who we are and enthusiasm in regard to possibilities before us. Granted there were major conflicts among our people but we prevailed and forged ahead. Now it seems the fog and conflict are so deep we cannot even grope our way ahead. Some of it is political but too often that is all we see it as. To me it seems it goes deeper. Take away the party rhetoric and we still seem to be somewhere between unable to see ahead or not paying attention to what is going on. We seem unable to forge dreams for our future.

Having Lost our Way

Have we lost our way in this fog? Or are there other reasons why we seem so lost and stuck in pointless conflict? I’m not sure that we can address the problem globally. Perhaps it makes more sense to look at specific issues which can be addressed. They may take vision or they may be addressed piecemeal but in whatever regard we need to begin.

The Future Takes Shaping

One thing about the future. It will not wait. It comes whether we want it to or not. And left to itself it will take shape. It would be better if we sought to take on the challenge.

Opportunity

When we step back and look we can see that there is a dynamic future which is accelerating. Perhaps that is part of the problem. It is accelerating in all regards and it is difficult to adapt. But if we don’t adapt, we fall victim. It’s better to not be arrested by alarm because the opportunities are numerous and stunning. Maybe first we each need to examine what is holding us back personally. From there we can address specific issues. It would help if we restored the balance between conservatives and liberals. I happen to believe it was a dynamic partnership. If conservatives are described as people devoted to preservation and improvement then they can join liberals to shape a view they see of dynamic change. But balance is required and we each have a contribution to make. Unfortunately we seem to have lost our sight of this partnership and the partnership need not be seen as political but rather social dynamism.

More Than an Abstraction

We can describe the partnership but what we need to address is not abstract. We can agree there are changes needed and if we will honor the dynamic differences between Conservatives and Liberals we can make important partnerships. Unfortunately much of the rhetoric is abstract and designed to feed emotions. Again, perhaps it is worthwhile to approach specific real world issues where we can employ our partnership.

What would be your first target task?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Life’s a Beach (Not the other word)

 

What does the beach mean to you?

Allegories Abound

The term in the title is often made as a complaint about hardship or complications. But it also can be interpreted as an allegory. How we love the beach! Glorious in summer it offers us motion, change, ease and cools our days and nights with gentle breezes.

But the most prominent feature of the beach is the waves. They touch our hearts as the most prominent feature of our planet interacts with us. It also represents the very essence of our existence. Our lives are ruled by waves as are our social interactions and the larger experiences of humankind.

Succession and Change

Of course, we understand change but the waves of the ocean are enduring and, while repetitive, they are also ever changing with tides, gentle caresses and tempests. Surfers understand to wait off shore for the very special waves. And they do come in, yes, waves. And what we are learning is that our lives are ruled by the goings and comings of tides and successions of waves of entirely different kinds.

It is fascinating that economists are focusing on theories of waves currently. In recent history we can see the waves as conflict built leading to World War I, turmoil of a different kind and then the building tumult of the rise of naziism culminating in the next wave of conflicts called World War II.

In America we saw the tide of people coming off the farms to factories and the crush of such movement in the war effort. Then the men came home, built families and we had unexpected prosperity.

Information Technology

Of the greatest interest is the rise of information technology. It appears to be the beginning of one of the largest wave movements. Humankind went from feudalism to the industrial revolution to market capitalism and now information technology is apparently leading to what is being called a postcapitalistic society.

I won’t go into all the fascinating details in Paul Mason’s book Postcapitalism but he makes a compelling case. At first it is hard to grasp but he gave one example which was illuminating. Did you know that 75% of the world’s music is stored in a computer in Cupertino, California. The cost of storing is minimal, given the magnitude of data and that and the means of distribution and sale has brought the cost of purchase down dramatically.

Tsunami of Change

As a young person I recall getting on a bus near my house and riding it to a nearby town to a record story. I would go in and request to hear certain records I was considering purchasing. I took them into a booth where I would listen to them and make a selection. Then I climbed on the bus and went home with my purchase.

Need I say more, as I sit here at my computer considering what I might want to purchase. The ramifications are amazing and the argument is made that these processes will put an end to capitalism as we have known it. The playing out of the effects into all elements of society are endless. And, in world conflict, we are seeing the waves of our future.

How has information technology changed your life?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt