Friday, December 29, 2017


Grinner’s Circle was the title of an article in the December 10, 2017 The New York Times. The article mentioned that Eliud Kipchoge periodically smiled during the final miles of his fastest ever two hours 25 seconds marathon. Researchers from Ulster University and Swansea University ran an experiment related to running economy, which is a measure of how much oxygen is used to stride at a given speed. 24 men and women volunteers were studied. They had to wear a facial mask that measured their respiration while they ran on a treadmill till they were exhausted. They then rated how they felt and described strategies they used to keep going, ignoring their bodies, discomfort. In a subsequent lab visit, each volunteer completed a series of four 6 minute runs during which they were assigned. 4 different approaches continuously, but sincerely 2. Relax r upper body 3. Frown 4. Use their normal mental techniques. Findings: as a group, the runner’s economy was as much as 2.78% more efficient smiling than during the other trials. A disclaimer per the following commentary. I did not read the original study. Therefore, my critique may be suspect. 2016 Olympic marathon winner Kipchoge’s strategies, training, genetics, etc. would paint a more complete picture of perhaps the greatest marathoner in the modern area. Smiling for him, might be related to the fact that he was running the fastest marathon ever and he knew it. The variables, 24 volunteers was not a random sample, which limits the generalizations; running six minutes on a treadmill limits the findings to running six minutes on a treadmill; and the 2.78% differences may or may not have statistical significance compared to chance. As running performance varies day-to-day, the initial baseline measure of running on a treadmill to exhaustion may or may not be an accurate baseline measure. Further, running track or on the trail is significantly different than running on a treadmill. We can’t conclude that the six minute treadmill measure of running economy or efficiency equates to running any distance longer or shorter in time than 6 minutes. Performing running and smiling sincerely is artificial and difficult to achieve. For instance, when running on the trail, one has to be aware of tree roots, fallen trees, rocks and other hazards. These hazards tend to interfere with smiling. Setting up a field study is difficult, but would more likely lead to more sound conclusions. However, grinning during your runs certainly can’t hurt you. It may even work as a placebo. There’s nothing wrong with employing a placebo if it improves your running. God knows that we have many thoughts going through our mind when running at marathon or ultramarathon distances. Telling yourself to smile, if nothing else, makes you look like you’re enjoying yourself. Smile and keep moving!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Man's Inhumanity Part 2

Psychological understanding can explain, in part, why there is much variation in how man treats man. One explanation suggests that although man’s powerful sexual drive or impulses varies in degree from man-to-man, that it can be limited with a mature rational process within moral constraints. Briefly put, when dominant sexual and aggressive impulses are accompanied with a weak ego and/or poor impulse control {imbalance of executive functions within the cerebral cortex] structure, man’s immature thinking is further weakened with its defense mechanisms [repression, reaction formation, projection denial, etc.]. The result is the individual was not adequate in dealing effectively [inhibiting the behavior] within an exploitive and abusive situation. As an example, is when the perception of the perpetrator is totally false? Employing defenses of repression, denial and projection, the individual distorts the reality by acting as if the other was also sexually attracted [she likes me, she’s giving me positive signals] and very much wanted to engage [ her no really means yes, it’s part of the game she’s playing] in sexual behavior, even though it’s totally not the case. Add spiking hormones, previous and current history of reinforcement or consequences for inappropriate physical and sexual abusive behavior, seduction, temptation-flirtation exchanges, money in employment settlements, influence of alcohol, drugs, exploitation trappings, unresolved mental and physical health issues to the equation, and we are faced over and over again with one individual or individuals dominating and subjecting the other [persecutor- victim or sadomasochism dynamics] to its whims. It’s not very likely that man’s treatment of man is going to change, despite the teachings of religion, education or the rule of law. Paraphrasing Einstein “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is crazy.” Our culture emphasizes and idolizes beauty and power. And with beauty, the beast arises. Happy Holidays

Friday, December 22, 2017

Man's Inhumanity

There has been much recent “news” about discrimination, sexually abusive behavior, racism, and exploitation between people. We know that Homo sapiens can be classified as being sexual, aggressive, irrational and amoral. The hunters and gatherers demonstrated their sexual prowess and the fittest survived despite numerous external threats and obstacles. As we changed to a more agrarian society, religion was established. Wonderful and humanitarian ideas arose in an attempt to place limits or control man’s characteristics. Killing was considered to be bad and sinful. Within marriage, adultery, was punishable and prohibited along with incestuous behaviors and marriage between relatives. There were other moral standards established, regarding theft, dishonesty and coveting with various interpretations and traditions per religious groups. Because of limitations and the fact that committing a sin was not a powerful enough deterrent in the way that man treated man, societal rules of law were established with punishable and concrete consequences. In fact, in 1986, our Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Despite religious covenants and commandments, state and federal laws attempted to influence man’s treatment between human being. We have witnessed much abuse. From US presidents, US politicians, movie moguls, movie stars, media and sports celebrities, the examples of abuse and/or assault continue. Even with consequences like settlements, loss of employment, divorce, the negative behaviors are still expressed. To Be Continued

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Keep Moving

An article in the November 26, 2017 edition of the New York Times titled “Stepping Backward” highlighted a study conducted by psychologists at Brunel University, London and the University of Birmingham. In this particular study, 100 healthy boys and girls ages 13 and 14 were employed. Apparently, these subjects were socioeconomically represented and incorporated a broad cross-section of adolescents. These young students filled out questionnaires about how they felt about their exercise and their fitness. Every subject was given an activity monitor as part of the program. The goal was 10,000 steps each day. These results were recorded on a “leaderboard” that highlighted the most and least active in the group. After two months, the students completed more questionnaires and participated in focus group discussions. The student’s interest seemed to diminish after about a month or so. They started complaining about the monitors and reported that it made them feel lazy if they didn’t manage the 10,000 steps each day. Many said they considered themselves more physically inept than they had before the start of the study. A fairly large percentage of the students reported that they felt less motivated to be active now than before getting the monitor. According to one of the psychologists “You can’t just give a child a fit bit for Christmas and expect him to be active.” This study was not about the monitor, but about physical activity. Linda just mentioned to me after her walk “I hate walking, it’s not fun even with the distraction of music.” Physical activity can be boring and difficult regardless of age. Psychologically, physical activity can be enjoying depending upon the meaning for that individual. Then, if one has a high need for achievement, that individual can find a sport in which physical activity plays an important part in its success. Or, if one has a high need for affiliation then one can find a physical activity that has to do with a partner or partners. Remember, Hamlet “there’s nothing either good or bad, but thinking, makes it so.” Recently, Thom Darden told me that he bought his mother, a gym membership because he was concerned about her lack of physical activity. He then accompanied her to the gym. When he returned home, he found out that she was no longer attending the gym. Like those teenagers having a gym membership or a fit bit does not translate into physical activity. Physical activity works best when it is incorporated and is a significant part of one’s psychological makeup {history, need structure, intrinsic, pleasure, fear of failure etc.}, gives or provides immediate and concrete benefits or results [not because it is necessarily good for you or would likely increase one’s lifespan etc.], and is in the here and now. In conclusion, “life is like riding a bicycle: to keep balance ,you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Kyle Busch, Move Over

I just returned from the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School in Las Vegas. According to the brochure, the school “offers high-performance driver training to improve driving technique, provide professional racing instruction, or simply enjoy the opportunity to drive one of America’s fastest production cars.” The brochure also said “participants are trained to test driver and vehicle limits on an exhilarating, purpose- built road course in a safe, controlled environment.” Further, “the racetrack offers an exciting combination of fast sweeping corners, quick esses, off camber turns, over 125 feet of elevation change and four high-speed straights with replicas of some of racing’s most famous corners, including Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 5a and 5b, the Watkins Glen “Bus Stop”, Road Atlanta’s Turn 1 and Laguna Seca’s “Corkscrew.” I was scared, impressed and had my adrenaline flowing during the two days of classroom and track experience. On that first day, I was intimidated and not sure that I could incorporate the eights steps to cornering along with launch control through the racetrack. On the second day, my confidence, driving ability, and muscle memory took over, especially after being a passenger with the pro-driver. He was fast, smooth as I experienced G force motion. I realized that the Corvette was not going to roll over going around those “S” curves at breakneck speed. Then I was the driver as the pro was now the passenger. I eventually learned that I was not going to roll over my Corvette either, as I became more efficient and faster over the racetrack. Then I had opportunities to show what I could do on my own. Linda was in the pace car with the pro-and I was in a group with three other Corvettes. The instructor would comment and give instruction to us rookies during our runs. Linda said that I was keeping up with the pro who was traveling 120 mph. I didn’t have time to notice the odometer as I was visually scanning ahead and downshifting attempting to make sure that the cars balance was appropriate as I was clipping the apex of the curve. By the end of the class, and my last track driving rush, I was thrilled by the experience. I now have a better appreciation of the amazing engineering of my Corvette and what that automobile can do. As far as I can tell, Detroit gets an A for its engineering. I am impressed. As I said before, keep moving.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Working for a Living

The article titled “Why the Pain Persists Even As Incomes Rise” found in the September 17, 2017 The New York Times explained the reality for many in our country. Per the article, the research team evaluated actual earnings starting in 1957, for working individuals ages 25 to 55. The findings were disheartening. Back in 1957, a 25-year-old with a high school education entered the workforce with the median income that we will call X. A few years later, a new individual with a high school education entered the workforce with the median income that we will call Y. The trend that was established until about 1967, was as follows. Each new younger worker{Y} entering the workforce would make significantly more money than the older worker {X}. Simply put, annualized lifetime income of men, adjusted for inflation, rose for the younger worker {Y}. After 1967, the median income for the younger worker{Y} entering the workforce declined. This now meant that the annual lifetime earnings of the younger workers decreased over a lifetime of working. In 1957 many of my high school friends entered the workforce. There were many opportunities with good paying employment back then. The so-called American Dream slogan was alive. It superficially suggested that one would get a job, get married, have children and buy a home. Nowadays, that idea is just an old idea. Some statistical figures illustrate changes. For example, the median income for a high school educated individual age 25 in 1967 it was $33,900. However, in 1988, the median income for a high school educated individual age 25 was $29,000. If your high school educated parent entered the workforce prior to 1967, then the male child offspring was unlikely to earn more than his parent. In other words, there were better paying jobs in our country over 50 years ago. Further, one didn’t have to attend college to earn a decent living. That is not true today. Another example of the stagnation occurring in Middle America is as follows. In 1973, the inflation-adjusted median income of men working full-time was $ 54,030. In 2016, the income was $ 51, 640. Doing the math, that’s about $ 2, 400 less. Now in the global economy, the individual has to have a marketable skill. If not, this reality results in doom, gloom and anger. It’s not a surprise, that we have opioid, alcohol, poor health, and suicide on the rise. Without a skill, one might attain a part-time job in large companies. Walmart and Amazon have positions available for part-timers. It’s not uncommon for the high school educated to have more than one part-time job. One alternative is to attend college and go into debt. A second alternative is to attend some trade, technical, or community college program. A third alternative is to become a part-timer and stay with that line of work in order to develop some specialized,-marketable skill, experience or other opportunity. This alternative is much more palatable for those men that disliked high school or had difficulty learning. If one found learning difficult during the school years, one certainly is not likely interested in attending school to experience failure again. PS A recent example of a marketable skill goes to college football coach Jimbo Fisher. Fisher left his coaching position at Florida State and reportedly signed a 10 year $75 million contract to coach Texas A&M.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thank Goodness for Competitiveness

Asphalt Green has specialized in creating athletic programs for children in the New York schools. This year, the Asphalt Green trainers applied their techniques to older generations in developing a class called “Skills in Motion.”These classes were created to challenge older people to move in ways to preserve and improve their strength and coordination. Preventing older people from falling is a significant issue. The New York State Department of Health stated the cost of hospitalization, because of falls, totaled around 1.7 billion. In these hospitalizations, 60% or so lead to stays in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. One example within their exercise program is as follows: “Throw the ball in the air, clap one time, catch it, and then pass the ball to the person standing next to you.” In this New York Times article titled “A New Workout for seniors” in the November 12, 2017, edition, various instructors stated they were surprised by their student’s competitiveness and enthusiasm for moving in more strenuous and creative ways. In other words, these class activities meet The American College Dictionary definition of exercise “bodily or mental exertion for the sake of training or improvement.” I’m surprised and disappointed that these Asphalt Green instructors were not knowledgeable regarding the competitiveness of seniors. Since when is competitiveness restricted by age? Competitiveness is a human need and lasts and lasts. Thank goodness for our competitiveness. A more educated understanding of competitiveness can be found in “It Has Nothing To Do With Age.” The stories told are of the competitive nature of driven athletes that are highlighted in various extraordinary sports. If playing an adult version of children games, resulted in seniors moving or exercising, I’m all for it. Everyone knows that exercise has a negative connotation, simply because it takes exertion or simply put, it’s often a grind. Exercise is certainly not easy, nor a common activity among our populace. For trail running, I incorporated my birthday, this year, by completing with my Border Collie, Sherry 78 miles during the week. Tony and his Border Collie, Dale joined us for about 30 miles and Chris was there for about 5 miles. When I told my wife about my plan, she said “That should be easy for you.” Remember, keep moving. Physical inactivity has become the fourth leading risk factor for death globally behind high blood pressure; tobacco use; and high blood glucose.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Effective Thinking

In the October 29, 2017 edition of the New York Times, the article “Thinking on Your Feet” got my attention. A professor of exercise and health promotion at Arizona State University in Phoenix recruited 9 sedentary males and females who were overweight. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the following. During one visit the subjects sat for eight hours while using a computer and/or talking on the phone. Twice during the day, they also completed computerized measures of many thinking drills, including working memory and decision-making. During three other visits, the volunteers broke up there sitting time by standing, walking, at a treadmill desk or pedaling on a modified stationary bicycle placed beneath their desks for at least 10 minutes once an hour. The exercise was a gentle- walking pace, a 1 mph or comparable effort while pedaling. These subjects typed and chatted during these breaks. They also repeated the tests of thinking, memory, and decision-making twice each day immediately after standing or exercising. Previous research suggests that prolonged sitting is related to a higher risk for obesity and heart disease. We also know that exercise is better than sitting. Would standing or exercising, impair the ability to concentrate and think? The findings with this limited group of subjects showed that exercise breaks statistically improved scores on the tests .Specifically, it helped with the kinds of thinking skills that help individuals perform their jobs well- Immediately after standing or moving for 10 minutes or more. The volunteers performed better on all tests of thinking compared to those that sat all day. The gains were greatest for those subjects that peddled their desk bikes. Critically, employing only nine overweight individuals and referring to those tasks as exercise is questionable, to say the least. Be careful about generalizing from this study. However, many years ago I eliminated sitting at my computer, and even thought about the idea of developing and marketing a special desk. Secondly, I actually exercise on my trail runs, that last one and a half hours to five hours at a time. I believe, on a subject of one, that my thinking, memory, and ability to organize without interruptions improves greatly. Often, the outline or writing one of my posts happens during my time on the trail. As I said in the past, keep moving.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Panacea Part 2

If one has received an ALS diagnosis, then it is highly unlikely to consider that person achieving a well-being state. In viewing the physical health of many in the United States, we have a preponderance of obesity, heart disease, cancer, stroke, suicide, opiates, and alcohol diagnoses. These illnesses suggest that these individuals are having a difficult time reaching and enjoying any form of well-being. We know the emotional components of hope, optimism and well-being, is being able to experience happiness in the present, and looking forward to the future. When given a limited timetable, with a closing door, one thinks about their bucket list. According to Mike Keller, “the train has already left the station.” The ingredients for positive physical health are relatively concrete. One study, based on a US survey by the California State Department of Public health suggested: 1. Sleep 7-8 hours a night 2. Always eat breakfast. 3. Snack infrequently 4. Keep weight between 5% under and 20% over desirable standard weight for males and less than 10% over desirable weight for females. 5. Exercise frequently. 6 .Some or little alcohol, 7. Don’t smoke. One may agree or disagree with the seven listed. However, there’s not much disagreement when it comes to assessing the degree of difficulty or following through with these recommendations. These seven ingredients, on the surface, do not seem monumental or difficult to achieve. What seems to me, is that not following through with these or other recommendations is the result or inability of an individuals in making good choices or decisions. Is it simply man’s nature? Man is irrational and employs various defense mechanisms justifying behavior. However, irrational thinking leads to and influences non-productive behavior. Second, man has a need for abasement and employs self-destructive behaviors, and misfortune. This need can reach pathological dimensions. These two components, if unchecked, along with unconscious elements results in illness, and destroys the possibility for well-being. Reaching or achieving self-actualization, well-being and positive overall health is possible, but not probable for many. If moderation, when it comes to eating behavior is absent, and non- applicable as a physical activity can be troublesome when absent. It’s not surprising, that well-being and positive physical health are difficult to achieve and are simply illusions for many. PS After a long plane ride, my sister just arrived from the East Coast. On the plane, she was seated next to a physician who taught emergency room procedures to other physicians. This Dr. complained that she was tired and this was her first time off in the last four years. She said she loved her position. My sister got up in the aisle to stretch while this Dr. verbalized exercises for her in a standing position. Did this knowledgeable, young, overweight doctor also get in the aisle to perform these exercises? No! Once again, it’s about the decisions we make.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Albert Maslow a humanistic psychologist, postulated 15 characteristics or needs to be satisfied. If these needs are satisfied, the individual was then capable of experiencing moments of happiness and fulfillment. Existentialists, such as Rollo May, believed that it was possible for man to realize his potential. This was accomplished when the individual accepted the facts that death was a constant; and that within his nature, irrational forces exist, and they cannot be realistically solved through illusions of religion, politics, or other mythology. Erich Fromm wrote that being could have a productive orientation. With a productive orientation, man was able to love, care, respect another, and become creative. If this was not achieved, he could become destructive, conforming, and become non-descript within the masses. More recently, Martin Seligman addressed 3 types of happiness. The first being pleasure and gratification; the second having strength and virtue; and the third finding meaning and purpose. Simplifying, each of these theorists, within a motivational construct, believed that man can fulfill his nature, regardless of his environment. Each within their own framework and terminology, have provided insight, and understanding into man’s potential for excellence. These individuals provided hope within the constructs of existentialism, self-actualization, and well-being. However, these theories are lacking in that they do not address the importance of physical health. One simply cannot omit the importance of positive physical health, when addressing man’s human potential. Is it possible for a human being to achieve the various positive constructs of mental health functioning, if one does not possess excellent physical health? We all know that our body begins to significantly change over the passage of time. In fact, aging affects our immune system, memory, cognitive functions, musculature, sexual functioning and aerobic capacity. Certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc. results in doom, gloom and despair. To Be Continued

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Age of Escapism Part 3

If we participate in yoga, we can insulate ourselves from others, and withdraw to lower our breathing rate and blood pressure. Numerous other health benefits such as energy level, mood, executive function, and ability to control thoughts and emotions have correlated with this positive way to withdraw from everyday life. If we attend a sporting event, we yell, scream and experience enjoyment when our team wins or sadness and disgust when we lose. During the game, we can experience many emotions and not think about our personal issues, stresses and demands. We’re given permission to love our team and hate the opponent. We don’t have time to deal with our own issues as we externalize, project and identify with something outside ourselves. Another way to lose oneself is to read a best-selling novel. We can identify with the protagonist and live vicariously within the story. These are just a few escape mechanisms and if employed in moderation, they are benign. Yes, they do work, in that they block out troubling thoughts. On the other hand, we can consume alcohol, especially at a party or social event in order to loosen up and” enjoy” oneself. Once again, alcohol distorts one’s reality. Some people even become friendlier, while others become drowsy. All the commercials show young people drinking alcohol with smiles on their faces. The messages say” simply distort reality so you can have fun.” We can take drugs, since being in an inebriated state must be superior to present reality. Becoming addicted makes it a medical problem, which gives it cover for otherwise poor choices, inadequate heredity, etc. if it’s a medical problem, then insurance can pay for the treatment. We forget to see that consequence in all the fun loving commercials. However, our current favorite escape mechanism is to be found within the electronics explosion. We can carry our cell phone, provided we have a deep enough pocket, and entertain ourselves almost 24-7. We don’t even have to call someone with our phone device. We can text them, we can play games with them, we can listen to music, we can ask our device questions, we can get directions, etc. etc. What happens when we can’t find our cell phone partner? We become anxious like fearful parents that have lost their child. Find the cell phone and the anxiety lessons. We are dependent and addicted to our escape mechanism called cell phones. Man, may seek momentary pleasure by consuming that milkshake but on the other hand it creates long-term negative health consequences for self. Man may opt for surgery to minimize current pain and that then creates negative health consequences, as in knee replacements that only last for a certain period. Man attempts, at times, to minimize pain as the goal and some might call this seeking happiness. Falling in love is another escape mechanism commonly employed. However, the chemicals involved in this process are short-lived and do not last forever. Our statistics on marriage and divorce continue to bear this out. Living and coping with reality has evolved over time. We no longer have just alcohol and drugs to numb our senses. We now have many more opportunities. The early hunters and gatherers had to do just that, while creating lodging and safety. Early on they discovered more “civilized” ways of escape in the process. Since then we have mastered it beautifully. If you’re pursuing happiness, tell me how it turned out.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Age of Escapism Part 2

On the biological level, an aging body can reach havoc proportions and that clearly affects the health, and the health care delivery system in our country. On a personal level, a young mid-60s, athlete friend was diagnosed with ALS, as was Dwight Clark, the former San Francisco 49er hero. We have an obesity problem in our country that just makes things go more badly for the health and welfare of individuals. We also have preponderance of non -curable diseases that limit the health span of many. It seems to me that the pursuit of pleasure, pursuit of happiness and avoidance of pain, tell only part of the human story. It’s apparent that the motivation of individuals also seek escape from the realities of being. Yes, it’s clear that natural disasters and our biology contribute to life’s unpleasantness. Civilization, culture, society add to life’s challenges. A brief list of articles found in the magazine 9/29/17 of The Week included these titles: 1. College: the trouble with Ivy League schools 2. Obama care: why the uninsured are happy. 3. Facebook it secret experiment on users 4. Breast-feeding: the politics of mother’s milk. 5. Regulation: putting a price on life. 6. Russia: no protection for our kids in America. The list goes on with all these articles pertaining to the vast array of negatives currently going on in our society. We turn to radio, TV, movies and social media and pile on more hate, destruction, fear, anger, and disgust. It affects all of us negatively. As humans, we are skilled at the distortion of reality and who can blame us? With the threat of nuclear war, political ineffectiveness, the dying middle class, war on terror or whatever, and interacting with our fellow humans, it’s obvious that we are stressed, anxious, uncomfortable and fearful. Life is not only difficult, but it’s hazardous to our health. We have learned to escape. We are living in the “Age of Escapism.” Escape is the distortion, change or modification of the physiology {neurotransmitters, pleasure-pain centers and executive functions} of the brain and the psychological {thinking, perception, feeling, mood changes, memory and motoric functions} taking place within our state of being. Escape is so widespread that more than likely people who employ and rely on an escape mechanism, then erroneously label themselves happy. Remember, according to Epicurus, it’s only our thinking that puts labels on good and bad. We are experts at deceiving ourselves. To Be Continued

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Age of Escapism

Philosopher [Aristotle], religious icons [St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas], past president of the United States [Thomas Jefferson], economist [Paul Ananad] and psychologist [Albert Maslow]are some that have written about happiness. Happiness has been referred to as a rational activity, employing ethical behavior, being an ultimate goal in life, found in self-actualization, and attainable in the life after. It has been positively correlated with GDP, GNP as useful measures of successful economic policy. Also, there is a positive association between happier nations and richer nations as well. It has been stated that good mental health and good interpersonal relationships contribute more than income to happiness. However, the German philosopher Nietzsche, on the other hand, criticized the notion of happiness as in his words,” it makes one contemptible.” He believed that attaining and achieving difficult goals were a higher ideal as opposed to pursuing mere self-serving happiness. Interestingly, it’s been found that happiness does not correlate highly with physical health. Perhaps one of the difficulties with this concept is the number of its many employable definitions. Some psychologists see happiness as an emotion, while others attempt to incorporate various associations with the happiness notion like Seligman. Seligman found the following factors correlated with happiness or well-being: 1. Pleasure 2. Engagement 3. Relationships 4 Meaning and 5. Accomplishments. I have no argument, if we’re talking about well-being. The above factors, no doubt, contributed to well-being. Psychologist Paul Ekman studied the relationship of facial expressions to emotional states. He identified five major emotions that included: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, and enjoyment. Note that four of his emotional states are negative. Even if we include happiness within Ekman’s classification of enjoyment, the one positive emotion is outweighed by four negative emotional states. The preponderance of negative emotional states for human beings make sense as man is confronted with natural disasters, frailty of the mind and body during the lifelong process along with the development of civilization, society and culture. Within our society we have to deal with interpersonal drama, unions, losses, employment challenges, economic uncertainties, political shenanigans, along with the threat of war etc. Just recently, there was horrendous human suffering as a result of the season of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the deadly fire in Santa Rosa, California devastated that community. These natural disasters caused havoc with individuals who experienced too much anger, fear, sadness and disgust. There was not a whole lot of happiness to be experienced. To Be Continued

Friday, October 20, 2017

Do College Football Rankings Matter?

According to the college football national rankings and the media, Saturday’s game between the Wolverines and the Nittany Lions is a big deal. At the moment, Penn State is ranked number 2 in the polls, while Michigan is ranked either 15 or 19. Many of you know that the 100+ college football teams in Division I are ranked prior to even playing their first season game. Of course, there’s great variability in terms of football history, past season success, previous week’s ranking, level of competition, etc. per school or university .Despite all the many variables, there’s no shortage of the rankings. Accuracy and reliability of the pools are suspect to say the least. Rankings are used as if they are the gospel. If a higher ranked team gets beat, it’s called an upset irrespective of where the game was actually played, weather conditions, number of player injuries or suspensions, or whether or not it’s a rivalry game. Two weeks ago, Harbaugh’s Wolverines lost to unranked Michigan State University. MSU has been a very significant rival. That close scoring game was played in very rainy weather conditions. The Maize and Blue beat themselves by fumbling twice along with throwing three interceptions. After the games that week, Michigan was ranked ahead of now ranked MSU. Per last week’s football games, MSU is now ranked higher than Michigan. At this time, PSU has a 6-0 record. None of their victories have been attained against a top {1 through 25 ranked team}. Buy the same token, at this point. Michigan has a 5-1 record against all unranked {1 through 25} teams. These two Big Ten schools have played one common Big Ten team that being Indiana. Penn State blew them out while Michigan beat them in overtime last week. Penn State is heavily favored to beat the Wolverines on their home field. Using various statistics, currently, they are a 9.5 favorite to beat Harbaugh’s Wolverines. According to statistics, the Wolverines have an outstanding defense, which will be tested Saturday evening. It’s their offense that makes them statistically underdogs. Michigan, earlier in the season, lost its starting quarterback. The current quarterback is John O’ Korn. As a result of John’s three interceptions against MSU, the passing attack was practically nonexistent against Indiana. That nonexistent passing attack was the result of Harbaugh’s decision to limit O’Korn’s decision-making options. If that’s the case Saturday, the Wolverines are in big trouble. According to Thom Darden, U of M, All-American, all Pro, Hall of Fame Cleveland Browns defensive back, Harbaugh has to allow O’ Korn the freedom, instinct’s and flexibility to play quarterback without the play calling restrictions. Only then will the Wolverines have a fighting chance to whip the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania. In sports, as far as competition and playing performance goes, the time, the day, the competition or the event is always unique and different Last year’s whipping of Penn State in Ann Arbor was just history. Every game brings its own sets of variables. There is not one college team, at this point, that looks unbeatable, except maybe Alabama. However, we won’t crown the 2017 college football champion until January of next year. It’s a long football season. Go Blue!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Guns and Tension Systems Part 2

It is been reported that 3% of the gun owners have acquired 50% of the weapons, or have an average of 17 guns per individual. Because of the unconscious, conscious rationalizations, distortions, irrationality and illusions, it makes it difficult to ascertain the magic number of killing weapons required for the meaning of security. Of course, individuals very. However, it’s unlikely, that any amount of weaponry can result in total or prolonged bliss, happiness or sense of safety in our violent culture. One thing that’s constant is change and change is constant. Events continue to happen. Since, gun ownership has an underlying emotional significance, and dealing with the issue can’t be reasoned rationally, it’s relatively simple for politicians, gun manufacturers, advertisers and their spokesman’s to enhance and/or or provoke the underlying fear, insecurity dynamic by saying” the government is going to take your guns; if everybody in that concert had a weapon; more guns are going to make us more safe,” etc. On the other side of the aisle, we hear things like we need gun ownership regulation; background checks; eliminating the bump stock add on; eliminating automatic and semiautomatic weapons; reducing ammunition rounds , etc. .These statements or solutions attempt to reduce the fear and the tension system of the rest of the populace. Unfortunately, the significant issue, or underlying fears are emotional and as a result, are not considered. The same old words are used over and over again despite any significant change or resolution occurring. Why the individual is so threatened is never adequately addressed. In other words, the origin and history of the fear and anxiety are the real causes to be uncovered. Because man has so many fears and insecurities, is aggressive, is irrational, is prejudiced and amoral and resides in a capitalistic culture that has its roots in becoming an independent nation, conquering lands going West, being victorious in the world wars and developing more weapons of mass destruction than any other country, it’s not difficult to understand why there’s so much killing and violence. Remember, guns were developed for killing. At the moment, there’s not enough populace outrage to deal effectively with the killing. In fact, Congress has not established the funding for this problem to be scientifically studied. Who elected those people in Congress anyway?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Guns and Tension Systems

In the past few weeks, gun terror and fires in California have made the headlines. It’s clear that natural disasters and cultural violence are the cause for varying disagrees of disaster or doom and gloom. One aspect of man’s nature rests with his desire to master his life space. He’s motivated to control with efficacy those unpleasant [anxiety-based] barriers, challenges, situations or negative issues which confronts him. There also exists the fear of failure. In essence, we have these two forces working against each other often but not always at the conscious level. Think of a motivational operating tension system. On the one hand we have anxiety and we are motivated to reduce or eliminate that anxiety or tension. Tension is unpleasant and the reduction takes away the unpleasantness. Thus, we are motivated to reduce or attempt to eliminate the unpleasantness in order to achieve some form of mastery, goal attainment, well-being, safety or reward. However, the “why” or the in-depth understanding of the insecurity, fear of failure is generally at the unconscious level. To illustrate, an individual may be motivated to make the team, and fears being cut. His motivation results in developing more strength, speed and endurance. The extreme competitive unconscious dynamic or the why of making the team, is often based on earlier experiences and/ or interpersonal interactions. The fear of being not good enough or not being able to master the situation is generally at the conscious level. Accomplishing the goal or desire of making the team results in pleasure and satisfaction for the moment. It doesn’t take long before another threat, anxiety or fear to occur. It could be “can I make the traveling squad?” or “can I become first string.” In other words, our anxiety-based tension system operates frequently. Man is motivated to pursue pleasure, but frequently has to deal with the danger, fear or anxiety that interferes. Obviously, uncontrolled or potential fire creates tension with the opposing desire and motivation to protect one’s life space, regardless of the many barriers in the way. For example, my residence is adjacent to a vast Bureau of Land Management [BLM] area with its trees, brush or fuel from the forest. My tension system [fear of forest fire] motivates me to continue to clear more and more space by cutting down trees and brush around the perimeter of my home each year. The state recommends at least 100 feet of clearing, but I’ve exceeded that a long time ago. Do I know how much of a firebreak that I need to protect my loved ones and belongings? No, but I continue each year to clear and remove more and more trees and brush. My fear and anxiety is greatest during the summer and fall periods. During these seasons, my vigilance never wavers. Only during the rainy season, am I without an operating anxiety or fear tension system as I don’t think about fire danger terror. Let’s turn to gun violence terror. For many, not having a firearm or a number of firearms with ammunition, creates a tension system. Conscious thought about attaining a weapon centers around the ability to hunt, pursue target practice, for freedom, a Second Amendment right, for protection, etc. At the conscious level, there exists the dynamic or drive to control, master, or to experience security. Any perceived or anticipatory perception or threat of not having a firearm creates tension, and/or anxiety, insecurity and fear. Attempts are then established to reduce the unpleasantness of insecurity and tension by purchasing a firearm, ammunition, etc. Now, how many weapons, and how much stored ammunition can satisfy or resolve the tension system dynamic? Don’t forget there is a “why” or unconscious dynamic underneath the conscious thought of owning a gun. To Be Continued

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Las Vegas Shooting Part 2

In attempting to understand this cowardly act of violence and death, the pathological key resides and can be found within this white man’s character composition. If an in-depth psychosocial [exploring unconscious motives, symbolic meaning, inadequacies, compensations, etc.] and neurological history were performed, his character structure would emerge as long-standing and solidified as he aged. His motives would then become apparent. The shooter exhibited various behaviors such as lying ; secretiveness, emotionally cold and distant, except when engaged gambling; a non-display of sentimental feelings; had limited social contacts, craved excitement; had irrational and angry verbal outbursts; was narcissistic with self-serving behaviors; exploiting others; disregarding the integrity of others; lacking empathy; showing unpredictability; experiencing feelings of emptiness and boredom; with impaired interpersonal relationships. The shooter demonstrated sadomasochism with necrophilia character. In other words, death was valued both inward and outward. There was neither an orientation nor drive towards humanism or for life fulfillment, growth or actualization. No positive religious values were demonstrated, instead an amoral nature surfaced. The shooter exhibited a hatred of life, a hatred of humanity, a hatred of law and order and an absence of the expression of love. There was simply a lack of conscience and an ignoring about the welfare of others. There was also no concern about the consequences of this horrendous act and its effect on society. It’s also clear that this depressed shooter could neither think about nor have a plan for a future. There was an absence of planning for accomplishing personal goals, planning for charitable acts of kindness that demonstrate an integrity of character. Instead, this man was in despair as far as hope, security, happiness, and well-being were concerned. Is there a fix or solution to these too frequent acts of death and violence? Based on human nature within the current structure of our society and culture, I think not. These horrendous acts will continue despite homeland security, police, war on drugs, governmental laws and the many other programs within our free society.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Las Vegas Shooting

Unfortunately, one major “news” event focused on the recent rampage in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada is that “wonderful” desert location made infamous by the mob and the celebrities. This time it was a 64-year-old male Caucasian that made the spotlight with his horrific act of violence. Notice the scene of the crime was Las Vegas. Apparently there was no superficial political motive; or no irrational religious cause. Forget, the search or explanation for the one true. Instead, It was one man showering death and terror to fun-loving concert going humans enjoying life with their significant others. A few facts reported are as follows: 1.This shooter purchased 47 firearms with the majority this past year in multiple states claiming it was for target practice. Yes, he was lying by not telling the entire truth as well as not raising apparent suspicion. This behavior suggests planning. 2. The shooters semi-automatic weapons, were bumped stock modified. He wasn’t arthritic and this allowed more rapid shooting, than by finger only. This fire power, suggests planning. 3. Tripods were employed in the hotel room to make rapid firing more efficient. 4. The room on the 32nd floor, was like a barricade and provided protection and anonymity from return gun fire from the ground. This behavior suggests planning. 5. From that height and distance of the hotel room above, the shooter shot randomly and not at a known target or targets. This behavior suggests planning 6. Cameras were installed so that the shooter could see combatants coming to his door. This behavior suggests planning 7. The Las Vegas location was not randomly selected and instead was will well-known to the shooter. This behavior suggests planning and has likely symbolic with significant meaning. 8. The terror occurred on the last day of the concert. This behavior suggests planning. 9. This homicidal act and suicide suggests planning with symbolic meaning. He was not going to be taken alive.10. It was reported that the shooter was a high risk compulsive gambler. 11. It was reported that the shooter had substantial economic means. 12. It was reported that the shooter was verbally aggressive with his “significant” other 13.It was reported that the shooter had no history of arrests, mental, or significant physical treatment. To Be Continued

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Just Ask Hippocrates

Earlier this month, I attended a continuing education class sponsored by the Institute for Brain Potential. This quote by Hippocrates sets the stage for today’s post “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The class material centered on medicinal foods. Did you know there is an FDA definition of medical foods? Further, medical foods are not regular foods; they aren’t drugs nor dietary supplements; efficacy claims must be based on recognized scientific principles and clinical data; and medical foods may only be used under medical supervision. For those interested in obtaining more information, consider consulting a functional medical doctor. A few gems from the class. Per the instructor, the following are conditions for which medical foods are used as treatments: 1. PKU 2. Metabolic syndromes, 3. Osteoporosis 4. Chronic pain 5. Gastrointestinal and 6. Neuropsych. Some benefits of combining medical foods with prescription drugs include: 1 Reduction in medication side effects. 2 Lower overall medical costs 3. Enhances patient adherence. 4. Empowers patients to take an active role with meal planning and overall nutrition and 5. Combination therapy perceived as natural treatment regimen. We also know that stress is deadly and can lead to chronic inflammation such as: 1. Cancer. 2. Cardiovascular 3. Alzheimer’s 4. Pulmonary 5. Arthritis, 6. Autoimmune 7. Neurologic and 8. Diabetes. Unfortunately, there are numerous lifestyle factors that contribute to chronic inflammation. For example: 1.Too much or too little exercise 2. Nutrition-high in Tran’s fatty acids, high in omega 6’s, high in G.I. foods, low in fiber 3. Obesity 4. Sleep deprivation, 5. Smoking and 6. Stress. Now a word about probiotics and the human gut. The human gut contains more than 10 trillion microorganisms. A few facts. 1. The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body. 2. The composition of gut flora [community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts] differs from people who are obese and diabetic compared to people of normal weight. 3. Changes in the gut flora can increase the rate of which we observe fatty acids. Carbohydrates increase the storage of calories as fat and 4. Disturbances of gut flora may lead to symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Some sources of probiotics may help and they include fermented foods such as Kiefer, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. Another health tip is that caloric restriction increases lifespan across a range of animal species. It also improves memory, cognitive function and overall health in humans. Further, intermittent fasting improves blood glucose levels, lipid profiles and cognitive function. One example of intermittent fasting is eating an early dinner around 4 PM and then breaking that fast at about 7:30 AM the next morning. Once again, we are what we eat. Most of us agree that proper food is good for its medicinal and health purposes. As a result of the information obtained in this class, I have added Branch Chain Amino Acids [BCAA] cocoa, Medium Chain Triglycerides [MCT] organic salted butter, heavy whipping cream, Stevia, and psyllium husk in varying amounts for my nutritional drinks. The primary purpose of these additions is to improve my endurance, burn fat, and reduce lactic buildup during my running workouts and competitions. I also have made an appointment for a physical with a functional physician for a second point of view. I’ll keep you posted. PS That Greek Hippocrates, maybe on to something.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Schembechler and, Harbaugh Part 2

If coach Harbaugh’s Wolverines can go undefeated in the 2017 regular-season that would be a true test, and remarkable achievement by his coaching staff in today’s era of college football. Yes, football is still a game of running, tackling throwing, catching, kicking and blocking. However, today’s players are larger, more physically fit, and faster. On the other hand, the game of football remains and has a psychological component with needs, drives and emotions. On a psychological level, Coach Schembechler inherited players who had a high need for achievement [they could and did overcome the many physical and emotional obstacles put before them in attaining a remarkably high standard. They excelled and mastered the game of football.] These tremendous athletes’ also had a high drive for aggression [they were willing to fight, to attack, and to punish another, especially the opponent, but also even if it was one of their own- a teammate.] These warriors also had a need for affiliation [they remained loyal to their teammates and became blood brothers.} Even to this day, regardless of color, they remained as one. Unprecedented participation in team reunions are a good example.] The affiliation need translated into one for all and all for one. This was Bo’s preaching the team, the team, the team. Also important were having these young studs having an exceptionally high need for abasement [they had to accept injury with their difficult practices; tolerating blame and criticism in the process. They ran the same plays over and over again until they got it perfect. They knew they were going to punish their bodies.] Today, this need is referred to as Mental Toughness. Further, the drive to avoid failure heightened their competitive spirit. This insecurity drove them even harder. Bo took advantage of his player’s needs, drives and emotions to create unparalleled success. Reggie McKenzie said it best “the 1969 team will go down as one of the greatest in Michigan football history.” If Coach Jim Harbaugh can mold and utilize his player’s drives, needs, emotions and create “the team, the team, the team,” he has a chance to match the coaching legend, his former coach Bo Schembechler. PS Coach Harbaugh, good luck against the Boilermakers tomorrow. Keep your winning streak going? Go Blue!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Schembechler and Harbaugh

Among much excitement with the faithful alumni and fans of the Maize and Blue, Jim Harbaugh, in December 2014, became U of M’s head football coach. He was expected to deliver the Wolverines back to dominance. This was made possible when acting athletic director Jimmy Hackett fired head coach Brady Hoke. A dissimilar circumstance occurred 46 years prior in December, 1968 when Bo Schembechler replaced, by then athletic director Don Canham. Canham let go of the beloved coach Bump Elliott. Bump, a former, Michigan All-American, and hero of the Rose Bowl as a player also led the Wolverines as its head coach to a smashing Rose Bowl victory. Can Michigan All-American Jim Harbaugh reach the attained legendary status as his former coach Bo Schembechler? Bo coached for 20 years and was the winningest head coach in college football during his tenure. Harbaugh added to his tenure beginning his third season earlier this month. Bo’s regular season record in 1969 and 1970 was 17 and 3. One loss was to nationally ranked Missouri, a second loss was to Michigan State and the third loss was to Ohio State during the 10 game regular-season schedule. Currently, the football season has been lengthened to 12 games. Harbaugh’s first two regular season totals were 19 and 5. His team’s losses were to nationally ranked Utah, Iowa, Michigan State and twice to Ohio State. That first loss, I witnessed, to the Buckeyes was brutal. Under Harbaugh, the Maize and Blue beat Florida, and lost to Florida State in bowl games. Bo’s team lost to USC in the Rose Bowl. Back then, only the Big Ten champion was bowl eligible. In Bo’s third season, his team attained a regular season 10 and 0 record. So far, Harbaugh’s Wolverines have a 3 and 0 record. Differences so far between the two head coaches have been the battle with Ohio State. Harbaugh’s team got blown out in 2015, and lost in overtime 20 16. Bo’s team upset the mighty Buckeyes in 1969, and were upset by them in 1970. Second difference was that Bo’s 1969 team lost to USC in the Rose Bowl while Jim’s team has a split between the two Florida college football powerhouses in postseason play. Jim Harbaugh’s 2017 team are significantly young in the sense that his 2016 team lost a number of his starters to the NFL. Jim’s current squad has youth and some significant experience. However, in Bo’s third year as head coach, his Wolverines were stacked with outstanding seniors recruited by Bump Elliott. Some of these outstanding seniors included Frank Gusich, Billy and Mike Taylor, Thom Darden, Jim Brandstatter, Fritz Seyferth, Mike Keller and Reggie McKenzie. Most of these individuals were drafted by the NFL and CFL. In fact, Thom Darden was inducted into the Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame, and Reggie McKenzie was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame. To be continued

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Good And the Ugly Part 3

According to the study, being overweight can be rationalized as being healthy, only if you ignore increasing the probability of developing heart disease. These two articles were not at all “cognitive dissonance” for me. I talk the talk and walk the walk as far as health. My BMI index is normal; I trail run; play pickle ball; very my physical workouts by performing chin-ups, push-ups; employ heavy bands for various pulls and crunches; along with eating my favorite food- ice cream. For more detailed information regarding health and passion strategies, I refer you to my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age.” I wanted to convey, by the title, that age and aging has to do with perception and not some arbitrary number defined by someone else. By now, all of us should know that people “age” differently. Some people, walk hunched over with a cane and talk incessantly about their ills, aches, pains and medical condition. Others, like Daniela, Donald, Russ Kiernan, Jim Steere, Lew Hollander, Jack Sholl, Doc Shay, Beverlee Bentley, and Sammie Stanbro did not let “age” define them. They in fact continue to live their lives with passion. I am currently not competing in one day 100 mile events. Instead, I run trail events from 10 miles to 50 k’s. Moreover, I no longer have “a bucket list” as in that movie with Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman and others. However, my character has deepened; I have acquired more wisdom; not afraid to say “I don’t know” and I have a grin on my face after completing my trail running events. I know I’m soon going to have ice cream with friends. I have provided prescriptions for the lengthening of lifespan in my book that have worked for me. They might even work for you. PS Keep Moving

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Good and the Ugly Part 2

Turning to the ugly, the September 1, 2017 edition of The Week reported that, according to a study, about 30 million people in our country are binge drinking at least once a week. Binge drinking was defined as drinking four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men. As you might know, alcohol is associated with dangerous driving behaviors, violence, and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and other, neurological problems. In fact, more recently, heavy drinking rose more sharply among women, blacks and seniors. This epidemiologist, author believed that increased drinking was likely the result of people feeling pessimistic about their economic chances. Another hypothesis was that the marketing of alcohol products has become more effective, especially to women and young people. It was stated that alcohol abuse was more widespread than that of opiate addiction. Another article highlighted “the fat, but fit” rationalization. This study, had more than one half million people from 10 European countries as subjects. They were placed into various groups. The first, were divided into the metabolically healthy and unhealthy based on markers such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Then these two groups were divided according to body mass index [BMI] classifying them as normal, overweight or obese. The findings, metabolically unhealthy subjects had the highest risk for heart disease. Second, the overweight or obese people, who were metabolically healthy, still had about a 28% more likelihood of developing heart disease than those with a healthy body weight. To be continued

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Good And the Ugly

This post was divided into two main categories or sections. The first section was devoted to achieving, motivated seniors while the second section addressed health issues of the unfortunates. An August 13, 2017 section of the New York Times introduced a new documentary titled “Impossible Dreamers.” Daniela Barnea at 73 years young, won, three gold medals at the 2017, United States Masters Swimming Spring Nationals in Riverside, California. She was victorious in the 100 yard and 200 yard breaststroke and in the 200 yard individual medley. This young lady trained by swimming double workouts along with going to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. She swims for maybe an hour and a half, and cleverly reframed her swimming routine as meditation. She claimed that water is her friend and is very peaceful place for her. Plus, no one bothers her while she’s swimming. Dr. Donald Cheek at 87, was another featured in the documentary. Dr. Cheek, a social psychologist, has been a sprinter since his high school days in the Bronx. He competed in the 50, 100, 200 and 400 m events. In fact, last year, he ran 100 m in 17.38 seconds and set the record at the Huntsman World Senior Games. According to this young man, he trained by beginning his day with relaxed stretches. He also practices skipping, and recommended standing in place while moving your feet as fast as you can. He stated “move rhythmically and move your arms as fast as you can.” He added that for him running track is freedom, demonstrating guts, character and having what it takes. Dr. Ursula M. Staudinger, a lifespan psychologists and researcher at Columbia University, added that our bodies are made for being used. According to her, physical fitness and activity improves brain function. She added, that movement is really important for strength, balance and flexibility. Moreover, movement also reduces the risk or buffering that occurs during the decline, while aging. To be continued

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Angst and Fear Part 2

When stressed, our hypothalamus [H] signals the pituitary [P] gland to release hormones that in turn instructs our adrenal [A] gland to pump out 30 other hormones. This process facilitates our body’s respiratory, cardiac, and other systems. This is called the HPA axis. Related, the cortisol hormone is then found in high concentration and causes most of the cellular damage. Cortisol is also involved in the fear reaction taking place in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, which regulates fear, but also regulates anger, pleasure, and desire. In essence, anxiety alerts us to imminent danger, but also the fear of other dangers. Too much or chronic stress with the accompanying cortisol hormone is our enemy. It simply shortens lifespan. Some external stresses in our environment include the following: death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, jail, death of a close family member, serious personal injury, marriage, fired at work, marital reconciliation, retirement, and change in health of a family member. The list goes on and on and on. Internal stresses represent more of our thoughts and emotions. For example, unhappiness and depression, losing weight, having difficulty with common everyday things, decreases in energy or libido , constipation, hyperactivity, hopeless of future, difficulty sleeping, being more irritable, excessive use of alcohol, drugs, food, and/or tobacco to help feel better with life, and thoughts of suicide. I’m sure that everyone can name more external and internal stresses in their life space. How much unpredictability, uncertainty, and uncontrollability are present in day-to-day living? We haven’t talked about the hurricanes, fires nor North Korea with its pursuit of nuclear weapons. How can living in this period of time, be considered “The Age of Happiness?” As result of the circuitry makeup of our brain, our genetic component and our experiences of living, it seems to me that we be should be pursuing how to deal best and cope with what affects all of us-anxiety. Source: Time, December 5, 2011. PS Traveling by a church, the sign read “Worry less Pray more.”

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Angst and Fear

W. H. Auden, the poet, insightfully labeled “The Age of Anxiety” in 1947, detailing the angst and frustration of people. Subsequently, 33 years later in 1980, the classifications of Social Phobia and Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnoses were added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM] in the United States. The DSM is a major Bible that’s used to classify mental illness in our country. How can we be pursuing happiness if we are living in the age of anxiety? Happiness is short-lived and related to pleasure, gratification of needs and well-being while anxiety can be chronic and associated with actual, perceived and imagined dangers. As far back as the fifth century BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates outlined the belief that health was the result of the balance among the four humors. That meant that anxiety was believed to be an imbalance in one of the humors, black bile. As a result, black bile was identified as a disorder of melancholy. In 1895, Sigmund Freud distinguished between “real” anxiety based on external threat with neurotic and moral anxiety. Neurotic anxiety was related to excessive fears of punishment or with a withdrawal of love; while moral anxiety was related to feelings of guilt. In the DSM, a few symptoms of anxiety include but not limited to: irrational fears; avoiding situations; distress, motor tension such as shakiness; autonomic hyperactivity such as heart pounding; apprehensive expectations such as worry, fear, and vigilance and scanning such as distractibility and difficulty with concentration. Currently, generalized anxiety; obsessive-compulsive disorders; phobias; panic disorders; social anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorders are the most common affective disorder diagnosis affecting about 40 million adults. Anxiety and fear are normal adaptive responses to anything that’s perceived as threatening. However, too much anxiety arousal can become a persistent or chronic alarm in the brain and as a result, provide life-threatening damage to the body. The following demonstrates the mind-body connection of anxiety. Cognitively, we anticipate bad outcomes and develop plans or strategies in how to avoid or protect ourselves. One upon a time, I was trail running, and encountered a lioness and her 2 cubs. The strategy was simple. I immediately stopped and proceeded, once I realized that she owned the trail, to slowly walk backwards looking over my shoulder while grabbing a staff. When she was out of sight, I began to run while continuing looking over my shoulder. My heart was beating faster along with increased blood pressure and pulse. My breathing changed as I was quickly out of breath. I was aware of the danger, and did not suppress any emotional response. However, I was unaware that there were changes in metabolism and not aware of my appetite. I was also not aware that my sweat glands were working hard to cool me down. I did not experience any heartburn, bloating, or diarrhea. Neither was I aware of my immune system and its decreased ability to fight germs. Nor was I aware of any hypersensitivity or increased perception of physical pain. I was extremely fearful, experienced much anxiety until I reached safe ground near my home. To Be Continued

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Illusion's Part 2

The average cost to families with children ages 8 to 18 that play organized sports are as follows: 1 $1, 143 for basketball; $ 2, 739 for football; $4, 044 for baseball/softball. Included in the these costs are round-trip airfare; training; lodging; coaching; metal bats; spikes; tournaments, championships etc. it adds up. Playing in a championship game as a 10-year-old must be earth changing and a highlight in one’s life! You might think that I’m just expressing sour grapes. My parents didn’t spend much money regarding my sport activities. And, I would not have asked them, even if available. I am not expressing sour grapes, but rather commenting on today’s parents that are overprotective and who overindulge their kids. These parents are distorting the reality of their lives, and likely living through their kid’s sports. It certainly gives that parent a distraction, and something to think about other than the more important life issues. Without my parent’s indulgence and overprotectiveness, I earned a football scholarship. Playing college football, at the top division level, I reached my competence. Further, my book “Bo’s Warriors Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football” depicts real football players- athletes playing at the highest level, i.e., the NFL. I’m still passionate about football and currently am pursuing film/documentary based on my book. Current statistics indicate that over half of the working force in the country are making a little over $15 an hour. Further, the debt to savings ratio is another economic fact, suggesting much stress, worry and lack of well-being. To spend, that amount of money on extra curriculum sports; not passing school bond issues; eliminating classes like PE from the public schools is a symptom of narcissism, selfishness and shortsightedness. Sports are better when everyone, not just the privileged, participate. The priorities of many in our country do not make any sense at all. Thus, illusion a diversion from reality; questionable economic expenditures; overly permissive parents; and entitled kids are correlated with some of the mental health ills present in our society. On a positive note, Go Blue!

Monday, September 4, 2017


The article in the September 4, 2017 edition of Time “Kids Sports Inc.” was a modern day recipe for adults wishing to escape from reality by illusion. According to the article, the child’s recreation league is now a $15 billion industry. Yes, I’m old-school. When I was a kid, playing sports was essentially for kids. For instance, if I wanted to play baseball, football, or hockey, I either went over to my neighbor’s homes looking for my friends to play or I went to the elementary school playground to find a pickup game. When I got a little older, I put together a team; visited businesses to donate money so I could buy team jerseys; and entered the recreation league. It seemed so simple in those days. All one needed back then was a few friends, mitt, ball, bat and a field to play either softball or hardball. The Time magazine article focused on one 10-year-old boy playing baseball. The boy stated he was working hard. He has a $15,000 batting cage in his backyard; his father paid $100 per hour for pitching lessons, $100 per hour for hitting and $100 per hour for fielding instruction. His father had already spent over $30,000 on his son’s baseball sport. His father rationalized and said baseball was his son’s passion. Sure! I will bet that that his son, at his age, doesn’t know anything about passion. Other troubling statistics in the magazine article were as follows: 1. the odds of playing the MLB after high school are 1 in 764. These odds are much better than playing basketball. 2. The odds of playing in the NBA are 1 in 1860? 3. By the way, the odds of playing in the NFL are 1 in 603. To Be Continued

Monday, August 21, 2017

Life Can Be a....? Part 4

Today, we’re living in a cybernetic revolution, and have computers that calculate and compute faster than we do. We’re being replaced by machines and don’t forget to mention cheap labor. College is unaffordable; having a high school degree is a death sentence; the small businessman is closing shop; and work opportunities are available for those with specialized high tech skills. The middle class has collapsed along with the American idea of purchasing one’s dream home. Further, we have record household debt. The economic gap between the haves and have-nots has exploded. Moreover, the opportunity or opportunities for the gigantic windfall is about as probable as winning the lottery. Our divorce rate, opioid epidemic, suicide rate, anger, and prejudice towards others, such as immigrants, especially Muslims is being acted out regularly. Just visit social media with its plethora of disgusting rhetoric is in abundance. No, don’t visit social media because it’s bad for your health. The idea of religion was founded on the principle that life was difficult in the here and now, but would somehow be better in the afterlife. We have tremendous religious moral ideals such as “thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” Yet, we obviously pay lip service to religion. Instead, “we love thy neighbor as he loves thee.” The so-called righteous religious pick and choose, within their emotional makeup, what moral behaviors are followed. Often these leaders are exposed by their illicit sexual behavior. How comforting can religion be today? I guess it depends on which religion is good and what religion is bad. I have not exhausted all the elements making life, for humans, just too damn hard. It’s no wonder based on the biological [sexual and aggressive drives, fragileness of the body] and psychological [abasement needs, gigantic intellectual potential and the crippled anxiety emotional level] makeup of man. Perhaps, living in a primitive society, residing on a commune or becoming a hermit with a mermaid on a solitary island might allow living to be more pleasant than living in an urban or rural area with all its man-made rules, regulations, controls, fear messages and contradictions. On the other hand, why not reduce stress, get involved in a positive union, challenge beliefs with rational thought, evaluate other opinions, exercise mind and body, deal with reality productively and pursue passionate, healthy and productive goals. PS Freud was right on. Living in society leads to frustration, anger and potential neurosis. We know where that road leads.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Life Can Be a.....? Part 3

The third major barrier that has negative effects on our happiness is our culture, society, or civilization. Depending upon one’s skin color, there are favorable or unfavorable statistics for early death, incarceration, educational level, poverty status, and other socioeconomic variables. Is the “law” color blind? Is their justice for all? Next, let’s begin with the current news on all the major and cable TV stations. First, we heard of the impending danger, and possible nuclear conflict with North Korea. Bill Maher joked, on air, at the Korean dictator telling him that his only friend Dennis Rodman lives in LA so not to bomb us. Essentially, he said don’t bomb us because you would be bombing, your only friend. Are we headed for total annihilation? The potential destruction to mankind is mind boggling. The rhetoric is simply crazy, nuts and scary to say the least. Then we had the Charlottesville, Virginia, racial, hateful, violent, scapegoating,-white inferiority rally. One 32-year-old woman was run down by car by a 20-year-old. Two State Troopers also died. There were TV segments of Americans physically fighting Americans. Aside from the physical violence, there is also verbal violence. An article in the July 16, 2017 New York Times dealt with the findings of brain science that distinguished verbal abusiveness from offensiveness. The writer reported that certain types of words are not only powerful but they can make you sick, alter your brain, kill your neurons and shorten your life. Research suggests that the body’s immune system is vulnerable to inflammation and inflammatory words cause stress. Stress causes physical harm by affecting one’s telomeres. In normal aging your telomeres become shorter but with stress they shrink even more. When telomeres become too short, life is over and one has death. The old statement. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. Who wants to read, see or be around so much hate and violence? Economics or our capitalistic supply and demand model is another societal man-made creation that impinges on happiness. For example, I graduated high school in the 50s with its many opportunities. College was affordable; individuals with a high school degree had numerous employment opportunities; and the small businessman made a profitable living. Being in the socioeconomic middle class was a positive outcome as children could easily out earn their parents. That was then. To Be Continued

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Life Can Be a .....? Part 2

Let’s jump to 5 years of age in our example. More than likely, rages of nature {anxiety producing} have already surfaced for this youngster. If residing in California, the family might have had to contend with an earthquake. For those of you that do not know the horrors of an earthquake, there are numerous Hollywood movies to watch. There might had been an out-of-control fire; freezing temperatures; being caught in a snowstorm; being in a mudslide, heatwave etc. Living in another part of the country, the power of the tornado, a windstorm, a flood are other natural disasters or as the insurance refers to them,” Acts of God. “If one is residing on the East Coast or in Florida, one has had to deal with hurricanes, or even four legged crawling big snout monsters. Thus, the tremendous hazards or disasters of nature are forces that we can’t control. These natural forces are scary and fear producing. We are limited to being protected by our parents who may have had difficulty themselves protecting us because of their overriding fear or fears. Being an adolescent, we distort reality, are impulsive and behave as we are indestructible. We drink, smoke, take drugs, drive too fast, and engage in other senseless risky behaviors that negatively affect us and place us in danger. As my grandson would say “it’s because of age,” in justifying his thinking and behavior. At some point, and it varies per individual, we look in the mirror, compare our athletic process with someone younger, contract an illness , break some body part, and recognize we have this frail, decomposing and dying body. During the life process, we take elaborate measures and make an unconscious or conscious attempt to distort the genetic reality that is taking place. We make hair and hair style changes ; purchase eyeglasses; detox with food; join exercise facilities; purchase all kinds of apps that measure heart rate, number of steps, etc.; undergo cosmetic, bariatric, dental and other surgeries. We may even acquire health insurance; purchase long-term care; consider cryogenics or engage in some creative socialistic program to assist with the coming of feebleness. Yes, we are all faced with the fear of death, which is the general principle fundamental to all living beings. Increasing your telomeres, placing the body in a freezing compartment does not deny the inevitability of the physical and psychological mortality of death. To Be Continued

Friday, August 18, 2017

Life Can Be a......?

Two significant facts come to mind. The first being that life expectancy rates in the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” are declining. I’ll bet they’re not declining in the Netherlands {Amsterdam} and Denmark {Copenhagen}. The second is that suicide is the 5th leading cause of death in our country. Homicide follows at number 16. Freud was right when he enumerated about life being difficult, even though he was not residing in our country. He obviously was talking about mankind. We know man acts out his quest for pleasure {sex and aggression} and sometimes avoids pain in attempting to meet his drives and/or needs. The preceding statistics suggest something is ajar and not working right for man. If man is pursuing happiness, perhaps he has lost his way, and traveling down the wrong road. Let’s look at some possible explanations and barriers making things difficult for man to achieve happiness and wellbeing. Freud described the birth as being the prototype for the experience of future anxiety. The birth was the reality of the situation in which later signals of danger are built. Otto Rank, within Freudian ideology, reinterpreted this Freudian concept and in 1924, published “The Trauma of Birth.” Essentially, Rank was saying that the fear of life begins with the dynamics of the birth. Prior, according to Rank, the embryo functioned as a symbiotic unit within its blissful surroundings. With birth, the infant separates and attempts to reinstate a unity between himself and the mother. In doing so, the infant experiences advances toward independence or separation as being a potential threat. Thus, according to Rank, as a result of birth beginnings, our life long task is dealing with a union and the terror or fear of separation from that relationship. I suggest that our issues might be worse prior to the birth. The risk or danger begins at conception depending upon the behavior of the mother. We know that a mother drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs like opioids affects the embryonic or executive functions in the fragile developing brain within the womb. The birth mother might be economically poor and exhibit inadequate nutrient consumption .Her diet affects the embryo as well. The woman might have been raped and had engaged in potential abortion deliberations. She might have suffered a significant fall or crash while carrying the embryo. She might’ve been in a physically and/ or mentally abusive interpersonal relationship. Seems to me there are a host of numerous situations that the embryo’s delicate health could be affected prior to the birth. If this is the case, the embryo is not in a state of bliss during pregnancy. To Be Continued

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pleasure and Reality Part 3

If work is not a necessity, it’s no wonder that these young choose not to work. Avoiding, and gaming provides a much more positive alternative for these people. Playing with a handheld device in hand, removes a person from human interaction and places the recipient alone in a state of fun, distraction/ diversion. Furthermore, gaming is drive inducing. The more one plays, the more excitement experienced, and the more the enjoyment increases. Fighting a foe, wiping out the aliens or dealing with a shortage of resources are much more fun and pleasurable than being in a boring, stressful position outside the home and having to interact with the realities in the real world. To illustrate, one research study at Stanford University, looked at 11 male and 11 female students playing a videogame while employing brain scans. The brain scans revealed an activation of visual processing, visuospatial attention, motor function and sensorimotor integration in various parts of the brain. In another study, using positron emission tomography, or PET, it revealed increased dopamine release while playing a videogame. Yes, one of the benefits of playing a videogame, is that it releases dopamine or pleasure. It’s not a mystery, why they’re more women attending college; are positive role models in the work force; and exemplary figures in politics. Many of our young boys/men are lazy, feel a sense of entitlement, are infantilized and exhibit irresponsible behavioral choices. With the electronic revolution, it’s not hard to figure out why many males prefer not to study, complete their homework or regularly attend class. How does a person get a rush while attending class in elementary, secondary, or college? Escaping the reality of the moment, overrides short and long-term planning, studying, pursuing knowledge, and taking responsibility for one’s future. Unfortunately, the consequence of being young and not having employment skills is a curse in our capitalistic economic system. Also, it’s a prediction for future suffering and misery. Socrates and Aristippus are likely rolling over in their graves when thinking about America’s young males. Yes, the future is sad for many.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pleasure and Reality Part 2

Another way to distort pain, boredom, apathy, low-energy, depression, etc., of current reality, is to find a substitute satisfaction or satisfactions. This satisfaction could be going out for a trail run. For me, more often than not, I feel much better and have more energy during and after my run than before. I am always pleased that I push myself to do the run. Or, I can turn on the TV, go to the movies or even read a book to change my present reality state. Yoga, is another mechanism that transforms. In Yoga, [happiness of quietness] one withdraws from others, and proceeds into the present or here and now. In Yoga, the process diminishes or eliminates noxious or bothersome thoughts. In this state, yoga also eliminates various external temptations that are present in the environment. This change method is relaxing, blissful, but only temporary. One of my favorite current diversions is going to Baskin-Robbins and getting a variety of chocolate ice cream. After running the Jed Smith 50 K. I’m simply tired and hurting. That is one way I change my reality. Many years ago, I was in an unsatisfactory union, and my favorite diversion was purchasing new Harley’s. Since, I’ve terminated that union, I am now in a better union and no longer have my Harley Davidson motorcycles. Looking at the out of sight statistics for drug and alcohol consumption, it’s obvious that intoxication is another mechanism to distort the reality of living. While intoxicated [pleasurable sensations], one generally is not able to experience contrary or painful experiences. On the other hand, one can generally delude oneself into thinking that they are happy. However, in essence, people instead are simply avoiding or deflecting their actual pain and suffering. It remains difficult to find happiness [reality] in our society with all its pressing restrictions, contradictions and Catch-22 situations. Remember, of the 7 major feelings [happiness, surprise, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, contempt], five are negative or painful. With this brief background, the stage is set for the article titled “Young men: Video games instead of jobs?” The source is the July 28, 2017 edition of The Week. It was reported that the hours worked by men ages 21 to 30 declined by 12% between 2000 and 2015. Perhaps, a third of that work decline might be attributed to gaming activity. The researcher stated that many young men would rather game than take a minimum wage job. He also predicted that joblessness is associated with misery. Further, 70% of the young work force dropouts live with their relatives. These individuals reported that they are very happy or pretty happy. They likely are avoiding, and distorting the reality of being in a position where they have a deficient skill level, and making minimum wage. By gaming, they’re out of touch with the reality of their laziness of having to work in a stressful and/or monotonous environment. To Be Continued

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pleasure and Reality

Early Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle emphasized searching for the truth. This meant that acquiring knowledge was noble and as a result, this would lead to righteous behavior. Further, they believed in the ability to control passions. Moreover, Aristotle believed that the highest goal of human life was achieving happiness. Another Greek, Arristippus of Cyrene believed that pleasure was good, worthy and would lead to happiness. It was paramount to pursue pleasure in moderation. If that could be achieved, then the ability to enjoy within the limits of self-control was considered a virtue. Centuries later, Sigmund Freud, in his psychoanalytic study of man, developed the following ideas. Freud, hypothesized that man’s early drives were pleasure driven. Within the unconscious, he called this the Pleasure Principle. He also saw man’s need to avoid pain and unhappiness while still striving for happiness. Unfortunately, he realized that many societal barriers interfered with the gratification of man’s pursuit for happiness. Further, he knew that life was very difficult and man had many impossible tasks in front of him. To cope with life’s difficulty, Freud identified three of man’s psychical escape mechanisms. One way man could psychically deal with his issues from being in the here and now was by creating deflections, diversions, phantasy, images or wishful fulfillments. For example, one of my friends has followed Christie Brinkley for years. Seeing a current picture of her brings a smile to his face. Another friend of mine used to run like Mercury. Currently, while in bed, he imagined himself running fast and easily beating his competition. Then we meet up, talk about his phantasy, and run on the trail. Reality sets in and we laugh. This has happened more than once. As a youngster, I read books about sports heroes and imagined being a hero in my daydreams. The ability to create phantasy does not end in childhood. TO Be Continued

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dopamine, Food and Drugs Part 3

In an animal study with monkeys and cocaine, it was reported that monkeys placed in a group setting [received more attention, more grooming and more access to food and treats] had more D2 dopamine receptors and were less interested in self-administering cocaine. The monkeys housed in individual cages, had a reduction of D 2 dopamine receptors and they increased their cocaine use. This study suggested many things. Perhaps, one’s environment is an important variable for increasing or decreasing D 2 dopamine receptors. Increasing stress in humans results in more humans with addictive behaviors. Not surprisingly, our food industry produces high-fat sugary foods. Further, these cheap calorie dense foods are highly rewarding. In essence, our caloric modern foods and easily available potent recreational drugs, activate our reward circuits. These quick fixes modify the neurotransmitter in the brain and enhance motivation in the directions of addictive, compulsive and consumption behavior. It’s no wonder that advertising and its subliminal messages targets our drug addicted and obese individuals. These folks are clearly susceptible to such messages with their impaired deficits in critical thinking and lack of impulse control. Perhaps one reason we have evolved employing 2 feet is for locomotion. Prehistoric man was able to run down his four-legged dinner. The biological dynamics, and mechanisms of 2 feet are vastly superior to 4 feet. This coupled with our prefrontal cortex of the human brain gives us the edge over our animal nature. Unfortunately, the impulsivity, irrationality, and amoral behavior in man, interferes with maximizing potential for self-good. If you doubt or object to what I’m saying, step on a scale, look in the mirror and peek into your medicine cabinet. Don’t use your brain to falsify the reality. Those quick looks will provide insight about your D 2 dopamine ratio. Do we blame our brain, our economic, political, and religious institutions for the lack of satisfaction and destructiveness? Are our institutions failing mankind? Is the nature of man, the real problem? Or, is it the interaction of man and his institutions? In the meantime, one of my NFL friends said, “Keep moving.” Of course, movement is only part of the story. Do not forget, you are what you eat and you eat what you are. Sad, but true. Pursuing happiness?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dopamine, Food and Drugs Part 2

To make a long story short, an individual low in dopamine has little joy for life and little energy. These individuals then pursue such activities and abuse caffeine, alcohol, sugar, drugs, shopping, sex, video games, online porn, power, and gambling for additional dopamine release. More specifically, nicotine boosts dopamine by 200%, cocaine 400% and amphetamines, 1000%. These behavioral choices assist us in getting through the day, but they are not permanent solutions. It is believed, that the dopamine neurotransmitter acts like a reward system or stimulus that induces appetitive or approach behavior. It also induces consummatory behavior as well. To simplify, wanting, desire, or seeking is associated with approach behavior while liking or pleasure is associated with consummatory behavior. 59,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016. In a 2015 article, it was reported that middle-class whites have experienced alarming increases in mortality since 1990s. This group was largely driven by despair, suicide, alcohol ,and drugs abuse. Another study found that a lower social status, coupled with less perceived social support [stress] was correlated with fewer dopamine [D 2’s] in the brain’s reward circuit. Another study found that D 2 was linked with lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, which impairs one’s ability to think critically and exercise restraint. Chronic exposure to high-fat sugary foods was also linked with lower D2 levels in people. Individuals with lower D2 levels are more likely to crave such comfort foods. More exposure to such foods results in more craving. Morbidly obese individuals also had reductions in their D2 receptors and that reduction was proportional to their body mass index. Perhaps “the wanting” of reward is that these individuals find normal food consumption insufficiently rewarding. It seems, the more D2 receptors being created; the more dopamine being recirculated; and with the more existing dopamine receptors working better, the higher the natural level of stimulation/ pleasure. Having a positive D2 ratio suggests that one is less likely to go out and compulsively seek recreational drugs, comfort food or engage in other self-destructive behavioral choices. To Be Continued

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dopamine, Foods and Drugs

Thomas Jefferson wrote that “The Pursuit of Happiness” was significant. Unfortunately, in today’s world, that idea is being misinterpreted. Instead, people are pursuing destructiveness, self-hate, sickness and premature death behaviors. For example, we give Congress very low approval ratings; we listen to hate radio; we participate in sadistic antisocial media and we view negative hurtful TV news. We have an opioid epidemic; we have 40% of the population obese; we have 70% of the population overweight; we have drug and alcohol addictions; we have a suicide epidemic and we have out of sight statistics on homicide. In the 1990s, there was no state that had an adult obesity rate over 15%. In 2015, there were 44 states that had obesity rates of 20% or higher. It is clear that a great number of participants in our culture, society and institutions are expressing hostility directed toward self and toward others in unhealthy amounts. On a moral level, there appears to be an absence of alarm, which is very troubling. A July 2, 2017 article in the New York Times had the following: “We created the perfect environment for drug and food addiction.” In that article, the writer wrote about the influence of dopamine, one of the chemical neurotransmitters, found in the brain. This neurotransmitter is associated with concentration, socializing, food seeking, sexual desire, pleasure, reward, motivation, reality testing and attention. Incidentally, motor neuron control, another important element of dopamine, declines in the aging brain. Remember, an aging brain doesn’t make one smarter, or learning any faster. By now, we all know that stress [economic, political, interpersonal, irrational thinking] is not good for anyone. Hans Selye, defined distress “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand placed upon it.” For a quick glance into stress level, consult the External and Internal Stress Index Scale. In fact, stress makes people more likely to exhibit behavior directed toward the search for comfort food, drugs and other poor behavior choices. Further, addiction is neither a moral failure nor related to hardwiring of the brain. In fact, stress and addiction go hand-in-hand like chocolate pudding and pie. This neurotransmitter chemical called dopamine is produced in the midbrain and in the hypothalamus within our 3 pound structure. Moreover, dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. In that, it is released during pleasurable situations and motivates an individual to seek out ecstasy in an activity like food, sex, and a few drugs of abuse. Food, sex, and opiates stimulate dopamine release in the brain. Specifically, it affects the pre-frontal cortex. Once again, the cortex is where cognitive or executive functions like perception, thinking, judgment and decision-making take place. To Be Continued

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Effects of TBI and CTE Part 2

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy [CTE] is a progressive neurodegenerative dementia due to the cumulative effects of repeated TBI’s. A professional football player could have over 22 years of playing time, beginning with Pee Wee or Pop Warner, while ending in the NFL. It’s not clear why some players developed CTE and others did not. Unfortunately, there’s no treatment that stops or cures CTE. CTE progresses in 3 stages and becomes more severe with increasing age. CTE Individuals can develop ALS, dementia, Alzheimer’s and premature death. It was estimated that NFL players can receive 90 to 1500 blows to the head during a single season. Recently, Junior Seau of the San Diego Chargers made the news with his suicide. Former broadcaster Frank Gifford had a CTE pathology at autopsy. Currently, Tony Dorsett, Football Hall of Fame, suffers memory loss and other TBI symptoms. Moreover, the symptoms of PTSD and CTE overlap. As reported, some of the combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD may actually have CTE as well. Although our brain weighs about 3 pounds, this powerful computer mechanism interacts with perception, thinking, attention, emotions, and memory while influencing and directing behavior .This process becomes known as personality. A person with a brain injury, has severely impaired habits. What happens between the person and the environment after the injury is classified as a biopsychosocial model. The entire patient history should be considered when determining the overall impact/ recovery from TBI. By definition, a TBI is related to behavior. We may be walking under a tree when a pinecone drops and hits us in the head. We may be driving our car and have it collide with a deer or another vehicle. We may have been shook and hit by a parent or caretaker at a young age. Child abuse with children under four years of age are at the highest levels of TBI for that classification. We may enter and take a high risk physical job, choose not to wear a car seatbelt or protective helmet. At a young age, we may choose to play a high risk contact sport like football. As a high school graduate, we may even decide to enter the service to protect our country or give some other rationalization. Yes, experiencing a TBI is much too common. In conclusion, man is a dangerous {homicidal, sadistic, abasement, and suicidal driven} animal and has difficulty protecting himself from harm or injury. My friend, an All-American, all NFL Pro, with the Cleveland Browns and is a member of their Hall of Fame, played football for 22 years. Among many other things, he said “My memory is not as good as it used to be;” and “I would do it all over again.”

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Effects of TBI and CTE

Last week I attended a continuing education class titled “Brain Trauma, Concussion and Dementia.” This class was timely, interesting, challenging, scary, and detailed. Briefly, the following consists of information that I found relevant. 1. Traumatic brain injury [TB I] was defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by external force. 2. TBI is a major cause of death and disability in persons between ages 1 to 44. 3. Adults over 65 are in the highest risk category for TBI, but the age groups 5 to 9 and 15 to 24 are also high 4. Yearly economic cost of TBI has been estimated at $40-$60 billion a year. 5. Most common causes of civilian hospitalization for TBI’s, in the US, are falls; followed by motor vehicle accidents; followed by being struck by/against and then assaults. TBI results in a wide array of mental, emotional and physical deficits .It is not limited to the effects from injury to the frontal lobes .The frontal lobe area of the brain may present the greatest psychosocial impairments and most significant barriers to recovery .Injury to the frontal lobe results in a cluster of deficits in three major areas of functioning :Cognitive [short attention span, poor short term working memory, difficulty in planning and organization, problems in reasoning, abstract thinking, poor impulse control and social judgment, lack of empathy and impairment in understanding how other people think]. Emotional [angry outbursts, overly excitement, prolonged sadness, clinical depression, lack of fear in threatening situations and exaggerated fear in other situations]. Behavioral [compulsive behavior and lack of recognition of consequences, inability to respond to social cues with inappropriate social behavior, inappropriate aggression, out of context sense of humor, exaggerated laughing, exaggerated inappropriate sexual behavior, and the telling of pointless and boring stories]. These three areas are called the Frontal Lobe Syndrome. Two populations of TBI diagnosis come to mind- military service and sports. For the military service, blast {bomb} related TBI’s are a major concern. There were close to 28,000 medically diagnosed TBI’s battle related and non-battle related incidents in 2009 alone. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported that over 7% of veterans presenting for care had TBI with persisting symptoms. Can you imagine a Navy Seal, on a special assignment, with a TBI diagnosis? With a Frontal Lobe Syndrome, you are a danger to yourself, as well as a danger to your buddies. How many military suicides had an underlying TBI diagnosis? Being exposed to an explosion, now days, is much more dangerous and frequent than being shot. In one Marines study, in 2008, the ratio was 97, compared to 3%. Athletes in contact sports like football, rugby, ice hockey, baseball and softball are also have an increased risk of TBI. It has been estimated that 1.6 to 3.8 million individuals have sports related mild and moderate TBI’s, in the US, every year. Children under age 15 have twice as many TBI’s from sports as from auto accidents. Boxers and riders in equestrian events also have an especially high TBI risk. In sports, the greatest TBI risk, however, is for football players. The statistics suggest that 20% of high school football players and 40% of college football players have sustained TBI injuries. Unfortunately, a football helmet does not prevent a concussion To Be Continued