Sunday, June 17, 2018

Too Many Suicides Part 3

All of us, have had mothers primarily responsible for our upbringing. And men have been largely responsible for sending sons off to war. Suicide is not legal in most states, regardless of one’s mental or physical condition. Jack Kevorkian was a pathologist in Michigan my home state. He assisted approximately 130 patients to end their life on their own terms. Government interfering in that most personal decision did not make any sense to me. In fact, the medical board in Michigan revoked his license; and he was found guilty of second-degree murder, despite the fact that Michigan had no law against assisted suicide. This was a miscarriage of justice. The right to life slogan is just a slogan and means what? Wars don’t count, do they? Our government protects Big Pharma and the food industry by not fully warning the consumer of the consequences of use of pesticides, chemicals and other GMO’s that contaminate our food and are used in household products .I would argue that poor physical health{ cancer and obesity associated with these elements} contributes to depression and likely harmful behavior to self. My friend Dr. Jim Steere was awakened while studying in Denmark on a Fulbright scholarship. Denmark with zero population growth had complete medical coverage for its citizens, and they viewed suicide as humane. To quote Jim in “It Has Nothing To Do With Age.” According to Jim, “in Denmark, suicide does not carry criminal charges or have a religious connotation. Jim’s grandfather, California pioneer. committed suicide by ingesting strychnine. In the US, shame and guilt are associated with suicide. It’s not openly discussed and is a crime and therefore punishable. The Danes are both more humanistic and progressive when it comes to depression and mental illness.” Source: Basic Handbook of Child Psychiatry, Disturbances of Development, Joseph D. Noshpitz, Editor

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Too Many Suicides Part 2

Suicide and suicide attempts by children, adolescents are troubling with the fact that the first attempt surprises everybody, and as a result, prediction becomes difficult. Suicidal ideation is often a closely held secret. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and youth in United States. It is been estimated that about 12% of suicide attempts in our country are with adolescents and 90% of these by adolescent girls. Moreover, since 2010 there has been a 70% increase in suicide rate among girls ages 10 to 19. Ingestion of barbiturates, psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers and drugs combined with alcohol are typical. As far as childhood suicide attempts, they appear to be impulsive acts, often motivated by feeling badly treated. And by the desire to punish those who would grieve at their death. Often the child who threatens to kill himself is expressing rage towards parents, usually his mother. Those who do seriously attempt to kill themselves are usually emotionally disturbed with a pathological family situation as a rule with a very sick mother. Parental feelings toward the child include feeling the child was a burden and the child feels that he was expendable. Suicidal children often do not take part in school activities outside the classroom. They may have reading our learning difficulties. The child may also feel that he can no longer tolerate the pain of living and that his adaptive attempts to fill his need come to nothing. Regardless of the concept of death, he views it as a solution to his difficulties. Children suffer depression with behavioral and somatic symptoms as the outward manifestation. Essentially, they want to punish the significant persons in their life. A few statistics regarding suicidal behavior with children and adolescents. For example, 20 percent have a parent who attempted suicide; 40% have a parent, relative or close friend who attempted suicide; 72% have one or both natural parents absent from the home-divorced, separated or deceased; 84% of those with stepparents felt they were contending with being with a not wanting stepparent; 58% of the parents were married more than once; 16% have had serious problems with a current parent due to the parents alcoholism; and family show marked residential mobility. Specifically, an unusual number of school changes, and siblings leaving the home are common findings. To Be Continued

Friday, June 15, 2018

Too Many Suicides

The surprised recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain triggered memories in my past. In the early 1970s, Gail, a beautiful redhead, was the love of my life. She was bright, talented and full of life’s energy. I met her in San Francisco, while separated from my wife. We had a terrific love affair that resulted in her moving to Detroit while I was in graduate school completing my PhD. Unfortunately, we separated, and I did not see her for about 25 years. Surprisingly, I met her at my 40th high school reunion. She had married a classmate of mine. However, she was unhappy in that union. Within the next five years or so, I found out that she had committed suicide. In the late 1970s, I feel in love with another woman that I met in San Francisco at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute. Jackie, at that time, was working on her PhD and also had a volunteer position with Suicide Prevention of Alameda County. One might argue, that these two facts were coincidences. Maybe or maybe not. In any event, Bourdain’s suicide brings back pleasant memories along with sadness regarding Gail. I would’ve liked to been there with her in her last moments. A few thoughts regarding suicide. Aggression is part of man’s nature and frustration leads to aggression. Even though there is a drive for survival, man, not only kills others, but kills self. We do not find any hard data generalizing or duplicating that behavior with the animal world. In the recent mass shootings, the perpetrator becomes the victim of suicide, either killing self, being killed by others, or spending the rest of his life behind bars. Overall, roughly 2/3 of all suicides are by men; and with a greater percentage being between the ages of 15 and 30 or over 70 years of age. There’s been close to a 30% increase in suicides since 1999 and it has been reported that about 70% of individuals committing suicide have communicated with others prior to taking their own life. Further, in 2016 suicide was the 10th most leading b cause of death. For the population at large, mental disorders, including personality disorders alcoholism, substance misuse coupled with feeling alone; being not afraid to die, are associated with intentionally causing one’s own death. To Be Continued

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Biological Age or Psychological Age Part 2

In relating identity to aging, it is clear that this is most important component. For instance, The Dictionary of Psychology defines personal identity as “psychologically, the sense or feeling of being the same person, based on common sensibility and continuity of aims, purposes and memories.” It seems to me that employing a number pertaining to an individual’s chronological age is not a useful description. A more useful description would be more like using the term “psychological age.” My friend Tony sent me a link with the message “somebody beat you to it.” Tony was referring to my term psychological age. In the link, in question, Disabled World published in 2014 and updated in 2017, what they called, was a real age calculator referred to as Biological Age. They claimed to compare Health Age; with Life Expectancy; and Typical Life Expectancy based on a questionnaire. Their questions employed health, medical, and personal habits to determine these actuarial numbers. Obviously, they employed more questions relating to habits and behaviors than to health and medical. One questionnaire does not fit everyone. We know that for Homo sapiens about 30% of who we are is based on DNA. Some disease conditions, height, strength and skin color are linked with DNA. I Disagree with John Watson. Based on DNA findings, human nature is not a blank tablet or tabula rasa. Yes, we are social animals and maybe 70% or so of who we are is based on environment, learning and experience. And because of our four basic processes [perception, movement, emotion and thinking] who we are and what we do is heavily influenced by our individual psychology. All our habits, behavior, beliefs, and mood is based on our individual psychology. As a result, psychological age is more inclusive, accurate, encompassing, influencing, and more specific than biological age. The term psychological age would not only take in aims, purposes, and memories, but more specifically would include important perceptions and expectancies pertaining to levels of physical activity or movement. In order to maintain and sustain activity levels, descriptions of physical and mental health self-talk, mood, feelings, drive and mental toughness are paramount. How an individual trains and conditions for the activity; how and what the individual eats nutritiously; and the other variables like how the individual maintains his life and life space would all be prescribed under the rubric of identity. Another way to put it, identity is not only what the person says about self, but also about the person’s choices and behavior. My purpose is not to come up with a particular number or tables like in life insurance. My task is to provide insight, understanding and a plan of action to be able to take in discrepant ideas for those wanting to change existing self-defeating patterns and dynamics around both birth and psychological age.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Biological Age or Psychological Age

After sustaining a horseback riding injury in 2009, in which I broke some bones in my neck, my first book “It Has Nothing To Do With Age” was published by Winter Goose in 2011. In that book, I focused on male and female athletes 65 years of age and older that were still competing in extraordinary sports. Many of these athletes were acquaintances that provided me with additional insights about their aging process. Simply put, their physical daily activities had to do with who they were as Homo sapiens. In other words, their competitiveness , their choices, their commitments and their ability to stick and persevere under varying conditions of stress in their particular sport or sports make up their identity. People, age differently which is reflected by who they are. Pay attention to the subject matter when having a conversation with a senior. Some, talk about their aches and pains; past or upcoming medical procedures like surgeries; or go on or bring up the many things that they used to do. These individuals more than likely have a psychological age, older than their birth age. One can argue that they are impaired. For others, talk centers around how good they look and feel; current and future plans regarding activities; compared to the doom and gloom and focusing on the “used to do.” These individuals have a psychological age that is younger than their chronological age. Psychologically speaking, Homo sapiens exhibit 4 basic processes. They perceive and sense. That is, he sees, tastes, smells, touches, and hears. Secondly, he moves and acts. That is, he walks, eats, swims, throws, climbs, etc. Thirdly, he feels or emotes. That is, he loves, hates, fears, becomes guilty, feels depressed, etc. Fourth, he reasons or thinks. That is, he remembers, imagines, hypothesizes, concludes, solves problems, etc. We know that none of these four basic processes are experienced in isolation. If the Homo sapiens perceives that he is different-he views himself looking older than his peers, his posture may be bent over as he walks; he may be depressed about his weight or physical health; and he may conclude that he’s not doing too well. With these Homo sapiens, their psychological state is significantly influenced but only in part by biological limitations. Mind and body are a two-way process. If one thinks he can’t run, then his body complies. If he is overweight and has bad knees, he believes that he can’t run and doesn’t run. Briefly put, how an individual perceives, thinks, acts, lives his life, emotes and feels about his daily activities determine who he is .Focus on actions and the ways in which he spends his time and it begins to paint a picture of his identity. It’s easier when in a career to have an identity related to that occupation. In retirement, one has to fill or re-create that gap in the 40 to 50 waking hours every week. To Be Continued

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Race in America Part 3

While those specializing in genetics are linking DNA to disease, our political system is employing racial categories from a social- political point of view. In fact, respondents on census questionnaires are asked to choose from an arbitrary classification which race or races that they are. I imagine its difficult when one parent is light-skinned and the other parent a person of color. What if they been adopted and had never met or known about their birth parents? What’s being measured? Taking a look at questions pertaining to race from the 2010 U.S. Census: 5. is this person of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, 6. White, Black, African American or Negro, American Indian or Alaska Native, 6. Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, other Asian, Japanese, Korean, Native Hawaiian, Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, Other Pacific Islander, Some Other Race. From these questions, the US has gathered questionable statistics on ethnicity and color of skin .Country, location, ethnicity and nationality are addressed. Maybe, just maybe, eliminating the social construct race from a governmental, political, and prejudicial point of view and referring to humankind as Homo sapiens might be more accurate and truthful. Asking where you were born, where your parents were born and where your grandparents were born would be more accurate and more useful .We are a society of immigrants and Native Indians. PS Yes, even the native Indians migrated.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Race in America Part 2

Dr. Reich argued that we should be careful about drawing conclusions about race that involves constructs that can be modified by the environment. For instance, in studying performance on an intelligence test, factor in such variables as a number of years of schooling, the way a person was reared, and the socioeconomic factors of the parent’s .Genetics do not exist in isolation. Differentiating the percentage pertaining to genetics or nature and the percentage pertaining to nurture or environment are age-old relevant questions. In fact, a behaviorist John Watson emphasized learning and experience, or simply put, nurture, and believed that experience could be inscribed in any message on the tabula rasa, which is the blank slate of human nature. Dr. Watson stated in 1925 “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take anyone at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select-Doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and yes even beggar-man, and thief regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, locations and race of his ancestors.” This behaviorist incorporated the effect of negative learning regarding the development of social and political ideas of race. To illustrate, if a poor person of color is subjected to negative environmental influences, that Homo sapien is likely to develop negative character traits. My sister took part in a DNA testing. The results were 99.6% Ashkenazi and .4% Sephardic. Ashkenazi Jews refers to ethnicity of Jews from Central and Eastern Europe-Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus. Sephardi Jews lived in the Iberian Peninsula-Spain, Portugal, and France. Although our parents were born the United States, both sets of grandparents were born in Russia. Location, location and location. My friend Tony’s early DNA story indicated 45% Europe, South; 20% Europe, West; 12% Caucasus and 11%, Scandinavia. Tony’s mother and grandparents were born in Italy, but he’s not sure about the birthplace of his father and his father’s parents. Does this make Tony half Italian? To Be Continued