Posted by: thealienist | September 8, 2014

Rollercoasters Don’t Have Steering Wheels

Many of us struggle with the desire to control our lives. For some of us, the desire to control our lives gets a little out of hand. For those of us who need to control too much of our lives, who set standards too high, and who don’t allow ourselves flexibility to deal with different tasks differently, we may have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. We also probably don’t like roller coasters because they don’t have steering wheels.

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Posted by: thealienist | September 1, 2014

Freud’s Last Session

Abilene Christian University recently had several performances of Freud’s Last Session, a one-act play depicting what might have happened if Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis had a meeting shortly before Freud’s death at the outset of World War II.  The play is based, at least in part, on the book The Question of God by Armand Nicholi.  It is well-written and (at the performance I attended) well-acted.  The play, however, did bring certain thoughts to mind that I thought I might share here.

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Posted by: thealienist | August 28, 2014

Heroes, Supermen, and Religion: Watchmen

I read Watchmen after a student in one of my classes wrote a paper diagnosing one of the characters in this graphic novel with antisocial personality disorder.  To be honest, it wasn’t the most convincing argument, but the student was an undergraduate and did an admirable job on the paper.  It piqued my interest and motivated me to read more.  I have since enjoyed the back-stories of some of the major characters in Before Watchmen.  The stories are satisfying and well-written.  The characters are very interesting and provoke challenging thoughts on law, ethics, vulnerability, and character.  As my favorite drive-in movie critic (Joe Bob Briggs) would say, “Check it out.”

As I was reading, a thought occurred to me.  Whether intended by the author or not, it seemed to me that many of the Watchmen were caricatures of people’s different views of God.  I won’t pretend that this is the only (or even the best) way to consider the novel, but it seems an interesting way to look at the various views of our world and our place in the world.

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Posted by: thealienist | August 25, 2014

Frozen: The Cold, Hard Truth

I recently watched Frozen with my daughter and my wife.  It was a delightful movie, and Olaf was not nearly as creepy as I had feared from the trailers.  As I thought about the movie, I wondered what the psychological themes were behind the movie.  At first glance, I think that I see two major themes.

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Posted by: thealienist | August 25, 2014

Foundations of Mental Health: You are Someone’s Stimulus

It seems that recently people have spent a lot of time trying to prove that they are not stimuli for others to react to.  On one news site, I saw a picture of a nude woman on a public street who had pained her body with the words, “Still not asking for it.”  I have seen pictures and videos of citizens protesting government violence by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police.  I have seen police officers calling for peace while brandishing clubs and guns.  I have had patients dressed in motorcycle club jackets and bandanas and wearing long hair and beards wondering why people would be anxious around them.  The examples could go on and on.  Sometimes we forget that what we look like and how we behave affect those around us.  Other times, we just enjoy sending out mixed messages.

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Posted by: thealienist | August 20, 2014

What’s Happening in Ferguson?

Some situations just seem to scream for a psychological analysis.  In Ferguson, MO, a young black man was shot under suspicious circumstances.  The effects have spread from a grieving family and involved police officer to the community of Ferguson, then national media, then our entire nation and international media.  Is this because this incident was so unique?  Was the young man so famous or the Ferguson police department so infamous that fame was assured?  No.  There are other things at work here. Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | May 9, 2013

Foundations of Mental Health: Dependency

In my previous post, I talked a bit about responsibility.  Unfortunately, many (in the pursuit of excessive responsibility and imagined independence) overlook the health promoting effects of appropriate dependence.  In this post, I would like to discuss how dependence can be effective for one’s mental health and for the mental health of those around them. Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | May 1, 2013

Foundations of Mental Health: Responsibility

One of the fascinating things about mental health issues is the realization that careful balance that needs to be observed in order to live life well.  One of the issues I frequently encounter in my life, in my patients’ lives, and in public discussion is the balance between responsibility and dependence.  Today, I would like to start a discussion on the side of responsibility. Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | April 23, 2013

I’m Back – and Wondering About the Past Year

I’m sorry for the prolonged absence, but I have been busy at school, in practice, and with my family.  For those who occasionally stop by, thanks.  I hope to post more regularly from now on.

It seems to me that more issues of mental illness have been coming up in the news lately.  We had the Aurora cinema shooting, the Sandy Hook school shooting, and the Boston bombing.  We have the gun control debates.  In each of these, and in numerous other reports, conversation has turned to the issue of mental illness and public safety.  The argument seems to be that “if only we (society) had known that these people were mentally ill, we could have prevented this.”  Does anyone else see a problem with this?

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Posted by: thealienist | August 5, 2011

An Analysis of “Anatomy of An Epidemic”: Part III

Chapter 3 of Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, is fairly short and begins his discussion of the history of psychopharmacology and the changes it brought to the practice of psychiatry.  Much of this section seems to revolve around the concept of the “magic bullet.”

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