The Morass of Medications/Drugs

 

Medications are what we take for health issues unless of course that medication may be something we can take for recreational purposes. And then there is the matter of cost and who benefits from the price of the item and who sells it. It is hardly a clean and open field.

Gaining a Focus

The point of this post relates to management and pricing. And the specific focus is on the crisis we have in this country and much of that has to do with marketing. Back a ways one focus on drugs often related to the dealers in things such as heroin and marijuana. We bungled management of marijuana and succeeded in fostering the development of drug cartels with a particular focus in Central America. That in turn has led to a deep humanitarian crisis in Central America and on our southern border.

The Other Cartel

One way to foster discussion is to cast the drug companies as a cartel of sort. Prices have been spiraling up and it is out of control, posing a major problem for people of limited means and even average means. $3000 per month for one drug crushes families.

As I noted in another post, I needed to start taking a blood thinner recently. I had a choice between a big pharma product (Xarelto) which cost $7100 a year or a long existing one favored by what I’ll call counter culture types (Nattokinase) that cost $240 per year. I chose the later, not just because of the price differential. The one I chose clearly has thinned my blood but does not cause clotting problems. I also know historically it has a good reputation.

Another Issue

And then there is another issue I also mentioned recently. My mother took a big pharma drug and it gave her Parkinson’s Disease. She died a terrible, prolonged and agonizing death. The company did not have a long history of evaluation of the drug which is also true for many current drugs. They tuck profits away and then they have the money to fund the suits when things go wrong. This is a long and winding road with questionable ethics.

Advertising

Television is flooded with advertising by drug companies. Their instructions are bizarre and frightening. But it goes on and on. Isn’t the use of such drugs supposed to be an issue between doctor and patient? I’m supposed to make sure the doctor knows my history of illness and other issues. Shouldn’t he or she already know that?The long and short of this is that many countries ban such advertising and it is my belief we should also ban it. Your doctor should help you make decisions.

Focus and Intervention

It is time that we took a long hard look at the marketing and pricing of drugs. And also how their effects are studied. What I hear too often is that the studies may be with very few people. We clearly have a whole set of issues to deal with about the production, utilization, marketing and pricing of drugs. This is a national crisis. And in this climate it can become terribly personal.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Peripheral Awareness

NOTE: 

Enter for a chance to win an autographed paperback copy of Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise, book 2 in the Gaia’s Majesty Series.

Email me your entry at roger.burt@earthlink.net

Feel free to pass on the offer to others.

 

Peripheral Awareness

Do you think life experiences shape your future?

Building Perceptions and Expectations

It seems unlikely that many of you would say life experiences do not shape us. It depends upon the experience and how substantial the meaning is. Only occasionally is it profound and mostly the day to day does little to shape us except in aggregate. Too many interpersonal rejections and people go into hiding whether it is global, social or seeking a love life. Sometimes, though, there is something deep down. And it may be that we can see the deep down and the profound in fiction. And sometimes we do, indeed, see it in our own life.

An Early Lesson

When I was sixteen my father went on a cleanup campaign and since I was the son who was generally amenable I joined in. There was a dead limb over the drive that needed removal so I went up the ladder. I hit my elbow, destabilized and fell fifteen feet to an asphalt drive. When my father got to me he found my heart had stopped. Being a surgeon, he was able to restart it. He later shared his personal devastation at having almost lost his son under such circumstances. Something deep inside me had changed. It was decades later that I learned what.

There It Was Again

Decades later I was coming home from the office late at night. There was a slow moving pickup in front of me. Then around the sharp curve ahead a speeding black SUV swerved into the pickup. The truck sailed off the road and the SUV continued straight at me. Then he swerved, went off the road and came back in directly in the center of my driver’s door.

Being Strange

My personality is a little strange. I remember things people generally forget—such as trauma. If you are old enough to have listened to stories on the radio, you will recall car accidents meant screeching tires and breaking glass. No such thing. The crash I experienced was a mind numbing thud. My left leg exploded as the bones disintegrated. Flashing through my mind were the words, “that should do it.” I know that’s odd.

I had sustained a concussion, broken ribs, a spinal injury, broken left arm and the worst closed femur fracture Shock Trauma in Baltimore had ever seen. Over the coming days every single vision and feeling of the accident came back to awareness.

When I regained consciousness in the car the pain was so intense it cannot be described. Being sealed in a destroyed car with such pain causes a feeling of intense loneliness which I had never experienced before nor since. I crawled into the right side of my body to get away from it and stayed there for twenty years until I was coaxed out by an oriental therapy. The next morning I awakened with my wife at my side while I waited for the first of many surgeries. Again, something was different.

Determinism

At the time it was popular to believe everything that happened to you was of your choosing. In the car I considered and decided that was nonsense and I would waste no energy on such an exploration. I had a wife and four children and I was going to crawl out of the “Pit of Hell”.

The surgeries over the coming years were devastating and since I became friends with the staff they shared how frequently I had died and was brought back in the surgeries. 

Life Energy

Through it all I learned about energy. Often all the energy I had was to hang onto life. The pain was so intense, it was a year before I could turn over in bed. At last victory came and, in time, I finally began to walk again.

The bottom line is that I learned about loneliness and death. I’m not into pain but death holds no fear for me. Naturally I don’t want to leave my loved ones but death is in another sphere. As your energy subsides there is a serenity related to inevitability that may not be under your control at all. I fought back frequently but am left with an understanding about an end, an ebbing of life and peace. Nothing about it stands up to description. It simply is and, quite honestly, I find it reassuring.

What explorations have you had?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called:Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Tyranny of Older White Men

 

The Rule of Men

Throughout history mostly it is older men who have ruled. They sent their people into endless wars, took the riches for themselves and dominated women. Currently in America the domination is clearly in the hands of older white men. While I am an older white man my eyes remain on a time of discovery I had over fifty years ago.

Forced Awareness

Early in life can be a time of discovery but it may also may be a time of innocence from which we have to recover. For me the awakening came in stages. While I am an intuitive personality type and seek what may be, I also begin with an acceptance of how things are until forced to reassess. As I have said, moving to North Carolina in the 1960s was a time of coming to see entrenched racism  But when I took the job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore it became a time of new discovery.

End of Innocence

I had never been close to poverty and what I saw in Baltimore was deeply disturbing. But I thought there was hope. I had taken the job to bring much needed mental health services through the dynamic community mental health movement. How naive we all were!

Our staff was a racially mixed batch of twenty somethings both male and female. We had been given a structure that we had to dispense with immediately. It was a grand idea but we had come not understanding that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. We had to implement a whole new agenda.

The Grand Impediment

We went to work to respond to how things were and what was needed but there were people who did not see it our way. The management of the program was in the hands of men in the university and the state. Those systems were ruled by older white man who cared not at all for our mission. They basked in the glory of having gained the grant from the federal government and wanted to use the funds as they saw fit, not as they were needed. We were young, dedicated and intransigent.

Some Examples

The mental health system generally worked on two levels. There were people who could pay for services or use insurance to get mental health services. Then there were the impoverished people. At the time in Baltimore they were seen by psychiatric residences who generally did not give therapy but medication. And these people were seen as being there for helping to train medical students who passed through on six week rotations. The students knew nothing about the real life of these people and six weeks is much too short to really begin to work with an individual or a family. We found a variety of ways to block the residents and medical students from dominating our program. For that we were not at all popular.

My “Elevation”

We had a resident in our unit who did not particularly like his job and shortly he resigned. By then our intransigence was known but I was elevated to head the unit. I knew it was not an accolade. Psychologists fall just below psychiatric residents in the metal health hierarchy so I was next in line. The new position was fine with me and the staff but was clearly not an affirmation of my abilities. But it put me, along with my staff, in a position to see the operations of senior staff were actually not in the interests of our clientele.

The Bottom Line

I could go into extensive details but the point is already made. My naivete was gone. In my twenties I saw the domination of older white men as they served their own interests and not the interests of the people. This lesson has been carried forward through my life and I consider it entrenched corruption. 

The other major event was the women in the program who began to work for their empowerment. My support of that movement has also been carried forward. I believe their empowerment is going to be important in overcoming the often corrupt rule of older white men.

These life lessons fueled my interest in writing my magical realism series, Gaia’s Majesty. 

The Overlords represent the older white men I had seen and the activist women the dedicated women I had seen and suggested the future I believe we must see.

In time the dedicated and rebellious twenty somethings moved on and were replaced by more compliant staff. The system and the innovation collapsed and it moved back to the origin system. The breadth and revolution had been destroyed. What has not changed is that we are still ruled by the older white men. Need I say I believe its time to have them taken down from power?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Guns in America

 

Standing Alone

With the extent of gun violence America stands alone in the world. The time to do something about it is long overdue which should be apparent to everyone. But it is clear that gun manufacturers are in control of Congress and the president.

At Least There Is A Debate

Currently we are debating about options. One of the options relates to mental health. As a psychologist I have an opinion which is relevant.

A First Question

It is relevant to ask if mental health problems are at issue for the perpetrators. It would be absurd to assume it is not, All we need to do is look at their history, their rantings and their claims and it is clear that they are unstable and dysfunctional in a variety of ways. Then comes another question.

Can We Respond With Mental Health Treatment

The simple answer is “NO”. First of all we have no viable way to screen for the issues, the instability and the intent among many other factors. Then, if we could determine that the person is a danger we would have to ask if we can make them get help. The answer is also “NO”. No one can be forced to accept treatment in a meaningful way and even if we could force it they are capable of not responding.

Taking The Option Off The Table

While it would be desirable to get help for these people for many reasons, it is almost impossible to identify them. The answers to the problem of gun violence lies elsewhere.

The First Step

Most of these mass shootings involve assault rifles. Military people are clear with us. Assault rifles are weapons meant for the use of the military to create mass casualties in war time. They do not belong in the hands of ordinary citizens.

The Way Ahead Is Clear

Assault weapons must not be in the hands of ordinary citizens and should not be for sale to the public. The ammunition likewise should not be available for purchase. These are the first clear steps.

Our Focus

The National Rifle Association is clearly in the hands of gun manufacturers. Likewise there are many people in our government who are doing their work for them. They must be voted out of office.

The Way Ahead

Our direction is clear. Mental health is an issue but one which we cannot use for greater impact. The weapons of war must not  be sold. We need to clear our political house and remove politicians who do not serve the public interest.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

We Created The Cartels & Crisis At Our Border

 

On Our borders

It is important for us to step back and look at the real reasons we have a crisis on our southern border. We have people coming to our country seeking a new life in many parts of our country but our attention is focused on our southern border.

Stepping Back 

Again we need to step back away from the proclamations regarding politics. The reality is that this crisis has been building for decades and our lack of vision is primarily responsible for it. For much of my career as a psychologist it was inevitable that I would help deal with the problems related to drugs and addiction. 

Looking at Some Elements of the Basic story

It felt like it came out of nowhere but suddenly there was marijuana and the opportunity to use it as a recreational drug. I have to admit I tried it. It made me very hungry and so I would eat a great deal. After just two episodes I walked away. I didn’t want to weigh 400 pounds.

But many did like it. It has been decades now and we are finally legalizing it for recreational and medicinal purposes. But a lot of damage has been done. Drug cartels seized a significant opportunity. They could sell marijuana and offer other addictive drugs. Their businesses grew.

A major focus of their basic business operations was in Central America and it had  devastating effects on those countries.

The problems grew and grew as the cartel activities impacted Central America and our country. For awhile we offered some help to Central America but not enough. For some time I consulted with a drug treatment program and saw the widespread and diverse effects.

The Opioid Problem

And more recently we have seen another issue. There are always people who suffer chronic pain for one reason or another. Management is challenging and there are many responses. Unfortunately, the big drug companies saw an opportunity and they pushed the marketing of highly addictive drugs. And with little awareness the medical profession too often gave out prescriptions which made matters worse. And as a country we failed to look at the issue and develop the important set of needed responses.

Immigration Crisis

Our population has been manipulated. Suddenly there is a distinct increase in opposition to immigration.  I’m of mostly northern European origins except for my 1.5 % West African component. Another whole story there. My people came here 250-300 years ago. Then came the Irish, Italians, Germans and on and on. And suddenly we have objections to the arrival of latinos?

The cartels have created a dangerous atmosphere which is driving desperate people out of their home countries. Of course they are desperate and we have major responsibility for their plight. And in response are abusing their children and tearing their families apart.

Rather than engage in immoral attacks on vulnerable and desperate people we need a clear plan of management which includes significant aid of all kinds to those Central American countries. The cartels need to be defeated, our management of the issues improved and we need to resume a humane and MORAL response.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

——————————————–

Stepfamilies – Struggle and Triumph

Do you know what a stepfamily is?

A stepfamily is also known as a blended family or a remarried family. It happens when people who have children from a former marriage marry. If there are no children, it is simply a remarriage.

Years ago people used to hide the fact that they were a stepfamily. Children were adopted or the fact of the nature of the family was a secret. And then in the 1970s a stepfamily movement took shape and people began to discuss their existence and the problems they faced.

A Host of Adjustments

At the time the divorce rate was higher than it is today. People marrying earlier was one problem. But there were many contributing factors. There is an adjustment to a divorce or the death of a spouse which must be dealt with. Too often people moved quickly into another marriage and brought their children with them. Adjustments weren’t finished and the children had to deal with their own adjustments. They had to adjust to a new family they didn’t want.

Looking Back 

My wife and I suffered divorces at the same time and remarried in that period. Together we had custody of our children—in crisis. It was stressful, is one way to state it. And that is a simplistic statement.

Soon we sought understanding and refuge in the stepfamily movement and became national experts in the experience and its adjustment. Now we are here having been married for forty-four years this summer and our children have been on their own for a long time. There are now grandchildren. Survival was not easy.

The Struggles

Families of any kind can be stressful. Careers have to be maintaining and children have needs and grow fitfully. But a stepfamily begins in crisis. Everyone is in crisis and the threat of it tearing itself apart is clear and present. The adjustment period for the adults is between six and eight years in general. And during this period the children are working on their own adjustment. 

But there is help and understanding. The adjustment period is long but people need to understand it gets better during the period in fits and starts.

Inspiration

It was clear people needed information and understanding. Many of us wrote books to help others. My wife and I wrote a book which we later revised in another form. It is called Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership. The title is telling. Getting help is important for very many couples. But there is no reason that all the wisdom needs to come from someone else. The adults involved can understand and help construct their own helping and healing system. So, it can become a partnership. Or, of course, the couple may simply find the book sufficient and useful.

We now have an important body of knowledge and don’t have to be alone in a difficult period.

How many stepfamilies do you know? Probably more than you think.

Echoes From The Past

 

Life’s Promise

Somehow we have a dream that a stable and glorious future will open before us. It is unlikely. Our lives are not ours alone because we share it with family and intimates, but also must share it with the world at large which is not under our control. But the past has a way of reaching out to us which is not necessarily a bad thing. It may tell us about how the world is and such things as the variability of opportunity. 

From My Past

In 1967 (yikes that’s a long time ago) I took a job in the inner city of Baltimore. I was one of the first people hired in one of the first community mental health programs in the country. I was just leaving Duke with my doctorate in hand and I was definitely ready to depart academia. The whole idea of community mental health was to bring mental health services to the public using a public health model. It was a marvelous idea.

Wait a Minute!

But there was not just one problem. Communities are different, and because of that the whole idea of applying the medical model to our inner lives was flawed and established practice is not so easily changed.

I was given an office and told to give service. But there was no one there except for a woman social worker. She led me out into the city and steadily the staff grew. Young professionals learned about the community and what it needed. It was tumultuous and fascinating.

Wait Another Minute!

But in some ways the least of our problem was adapting services to a poverty environment in chaos. An even larger problem proved to be the conservatism of the mental health establishment. All they wanted was the grant money and the glory of having landed funding for a “glamorous” enterprise. They had been providing services by psychiatric residents and medical students on six week rotations. We dug in our heels. The people of that community needed reliable ongoing services, not a series of inexperienced people passing out medication. Granted, our group of twenty somethings were inexperienced, but we were dedicated as a group to learning fast and meeting real needs. 

What We Concluded

What we found was a need for life management  in a form of partnership. Many “mental health” problems were an outgrowth of the dynamics of the poverty environment more than anything else. Of course, it was much more complicated than that but that is a rough outline. But we had found that a highly beneficial set of services and programs could have been focused.

In the End

At last though, those in power are in power after all. In time the bright eyed, groundbreaking young people moved on and the higher powers invoked a retrenchment. The community based clinics were closed, staff was withdrawn to a central building and business as usual restored.

Across the country the reform movement of that era was coming to an end.  And with its end came the end of community mental health. I tell the whole story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

Now the Lesson

Yes, community mental health came too soon and its time is still not yet at least until we get through our present upheaval when a younger generation with vision may take power.

But, looking back we can see something. On the street we learned a huge amount about such communities, but all the data was kept in our heads and used to formulate a highly focused, problem solving service system. If a system with managers of more vision were to be devised now, the information technology at our fingertips could help us sift, store, integrate and develop data for a viable system. And it could be adapted to fit the community at hand—whatever its form. Then we would truly have a community mental health system, but probably with a more refined name. And if we had had information technology we could have documented and built.

Coming back to one of my original points, I can see that something from the past can be brought forward to a much more adapted use at a future time when new tools and vision are available.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.) 

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before them.

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

(Available now in Pre-Order and goes on sale April 29 on Amazon)

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Time to Revise the Medical Model (PTSD)

The Medical Model and Diagnosis

By now I think it should be clear that I have serious reservations about the medical model and that includes diagnoses. As I’ve said, granted ,taking people out of the realm of possession by demons was a distinct move forward. But now it is time to reevaluate a great deal about what we call mental illness.. Once we have a diagnosis then we are supposed to have a clear course forward. As a psychologist I must say I do not agree with that viewpoint. I’ve seen psychiatrists recommending long term intensive psychotherapy for heroin addicts. I prefer to think of long term guidance and support to gain a viable life course. The difference is notable. Such can be said in many other places.

A Lifetime Issue

Now we have what is called PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder.  It seems to have arisen as a recognized disorder during the Vietnam War. Actually it was discussed at least as far back as World War II and possibly World War I as such things as shell shock. Probably though we have always recognized forms of battle fatigue etc. The problem now is that the disorder often gets in the way of people getting help. The military is struggling with simply adopting post traumatic stress and dropping the word disorder. And we need a clear view that reacting to living months in an environment where you are trying to kill people or be killed may overwhelm people. In fact many don’t seem overwhelmed but some simply shut down and close themselves off. I’ve met such cold and distant people.

What’s The Point?

The point is that we have yet to come to terms with the reality of human existence. It is not an indication of mental illness if a person is reacting to a high stress environment or sudden trauma. It is much more reassuring to tell someone they are having a normal and understandable reaction. Granted reactions can vary from person to person but that is to be expected.

We still seem to not have clarity about these facts. There have been several times when I discussed such a reaction with a veteran in a social occasion and they were then in tears. Often they would express relief that they weren’t pathological and that a burden had been lifted.

Just Recently

And just recently we seem to have jumped a barrier. Particularly after the mass murder in a school in Florida the students began to speak about PTSD. Yes! Of course! You go to school on a quiet day and suddenly someone is running through the halls killing your fellow students and friends. What would be wrong is if the other students didn’t have a reaction. They need to accept feelings and work to deal with them either personally or with others. But a reaction is to be expected and may be variable but above all it should be accepted as reality. Life delivers blows to us and we have to respond and cope.

Can we now take a different approach to trauma. Diagnosis really doesn’t show us the way forward. Each person may well have a different reaction or way of handling it. They may need to discuss tactics but need to accept that a reaction is understandable and is not pathological.

A Personal Story

I  can share a personal story. In 1984 I had a catastrophic auto accident when someone drove in my driver’s door at high speed. I went through years of surgery and recovery. Then ten years later I was waiting at a traffic light when a man turned a corner at high speed, spilled his coffee on himself and totaled my car. I got off with a light blow to my head. But within twenty-four hours I recognized that I had been hurled back to the other accident. I called a colleague and we spent three sessions discussing it and my reaction. I was then able to put away my experience with PTS.

The Bottom Line

Life can be difficult, dangerous and terrifying. We need not deal with such events and our reaction with a diagnosis and a declaration of mental illness. And we need to deal with insurance companies and their practices. If it is not pathology then they won’t pay for someone getting help with management of a reaction. But help is often essential. The bottom line here is that there is such a thing as life management which is crucial. And life management often requires help with understanding, restructuring and engagement of coping tactics. Its time to reframe mental illness and life management.

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

Chasing El Chapo

Now that the election is over, how about another change of focus. Now that the shouting is over for awhile we need to focus on many ongoing needs

How important did you think El Chapo was?

Stay Tuned!

El Chapo was a celebrity drug lord. In the news constantly, he showed the extent of his power by who he corrupted and how he escaped. A long television program was devoted to his most recent escapades and recapture. At the conclusion of the show I did not feel like celebrating. All I could feel was “what a waste”.

Chasing Illusive Suppliers

Once again we had wasted huge resources chasing a criminal. Year in and year out we spend billions in this form of “The War on Drugs”. And right behind El Chapo stands a long line of men ready to take his place. We did nothing to stop this trafficking. It makes headlines but little more.

Lack of Vision

It seems we have learned nothing. And it all demonstrates a monumental lack of vision. Our first prohibition was a failure. The supposedly noble effort to end the use of alcohol led to the creation of a large network of criminal gangs which then metastasized into many other illegal enterprises. Then we did it again with the second failed prohibition of the more recent war on drugs. We decimated vulnerable citizens with invasive searches to find small quantities of drugs, gave them long sentences  and swelled our prison population for 1 million to 2.4 million while we destroyed the future of young minority men and the hopes of their families. At last we are bringing that under control and must now contend with healing the wounds created in police/community relations.

Facing Reality

So what are we to do? Drug use is a complicated matter whether you look at the numerous suppliers and profiteers or the victims in the form of users. We do not spend adequately to create the range and levels of treatment programs. What I learned as a clinical consultant in a drug program is that there needs to be a range of flexible options to help move people toward stability. They are probably not mentally ill but more likely disadvantaged in many different forms. They need help rebuilding lives, fighting addiction, gaining job skills and on and on.

It Isn’t Dramatic

But there is a broader front which is often called prevention and includes social intervention. We had  another very damaging drug called tobacco which we fought and it taught us lessons. These kinds of problems do not lend themselves to short term or easy solutions. 

It Is Multilayered

Anyone who has been through addiction knows the complexity. I wrestled with my nicotine addiction and was working on quitting (for the umpteenth time) when I received painful and unexpected help. Someone drove his SUV in my driver’s door and I was flown into Shock Trauma. They do not pass out cigarettes in the intensive care unit. I don’t recommend that solution but it helped.

Overall addictions in general represent a long road including prevention, incentives to quit, changes in social attitudes. We spent decades in campaigns against smoking and the results are interesting. We have decreased usage and have in place social restraints and legal restraints regarding availability of purchase and acceptability. We are now beginning the same process with marijuana. 

Social Commitment

Where are the ad campaigns regarding all forms of drug use and abuse? They are few in number and rarely heard. Where are the social sanctions and attitude statements about not using drugs. Television is flooded with ads for big pharma products with notations of often terrible side effects but the campaign to reduce drug abuse is almost nowhere to be seen or heard.

The lessons from the war on drugs, from our interdiction efforts and what happened with tobacco is clear. We need a great deal more efforts on prevention, treatment and tending to social attitudes. It will not stop overnight but we can make a significant difference. 

What have you found to be effective?

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

Our New Age Blossoming – 2

 

Looking Back

It is now over 50 years later than when I went to work in Baltimore. For me time offers not perspective as much as confirmation. The only perspective I find is that I can now clearly see the roots of my deep mistrust of the truth and wisdom of older white men. In fairness there is diversity among them but in our present age the fact of their rule is distressing in so many regards.

Designing a Delivery System

The community mental health movement came with a multi-part design. I was stationed in an outpatient facility which meant I was to consult with the community and deliver services. That seems simple enough. Go out and get acquainted so you get referrals and then give therapy with the psychiatrists giving medication as necessary. What fools we mortals be!

What we found immediately was that we had a lot of learning to do. The community was challenging to put it mildly. They were in serious need and mental health services were not at the top of their list.

The Existing System

There already was a mental health system in place. At the hospital nearby people could come for service. Since it was a medical school there were medical students who often were giving service in six week rotations—with little prior experience. Then there were residents. I’ll save you the agony of all the details but they were not acquainted with the needs of the community either and so could not respond effectively.

At the time psychiatric residents were committed to giving intensive psychotherapy. The local residents were not exactly candidates so they often simply got medication. We immediately found a fundamental truth. The biggest enemy of mental health in the area was the stress of poverty. So they suffered from depression and anxiety. Duh!!!

The System We Designed

Each of us took a morning walk-in clinic. We assessed the person’s problems and then spent the afternoon on the phone arranging appropriate services and getting information about availability among a lot of other things. For example, if they had a physically ill child who was not getting service or inappropriate service we sought appropriate help. Every center had a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who got a lot of referrals. Very many of these people needed training and/or education. A job or a better job had a very beneficial effect on their mental health along with the experience of hope.

Not So Simple

Did we have the support of higher ups? Sometimes, but often not. The older white men generally wanted to preserve the existing system and were primarily interested in the aura of getting the money for a grant to a new glamorous type of program. They loved the aura and wanted to look good to each other. Daily we were in the position of fending off orientations and demands which did not serve our community well. One of my common responses was “We’ll get back to you” or ”Let me look at alternatives.”

Allies With the Community

We  had to develop relationships with the community so we could respond to their real needs. In that era of the beginning of the civil right movement the community became contentious and interesting. Assertions of community needs and objections to the mistreatment of black men began at that time. There were issues about health services. At one point growing activism led to a difficult public hearing and I found myself sitting next to the state head of the mental health system who was clueless. Other times we were visited by arrogant “consultants” from Washington who we had to endure. 

I’ll leave it there for now. It was rough and tumble and never-ending as we fought for the people of the community. You might think we would have had allies from the professions but they were too often few and far between.

Another Major Wave of Change

In some ways we didn’t understand what we were seeing either. In the end the establishment brought down the community mental health movement. As the young rebels left, the clinics in the community were closed and the old ways resumed. I tell the full story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

But two things came out of the era that proved to have a long wave and import for our future. One was the civil rights movement and in the next post I’ll go into the other 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