Been a While

Since I posted here so I thought I would ay least throw out a few random thoughts so this site does not develop rigor mortis.

As for politics, America has only one party, the establishment, with left and right wings loosely called democrats and republicans (no capitalization is intended, not worthy of it). Tea Party activists do the bidding of the republican establishment, and progressives carry water for the democratic establishment.

Sheldon Adelson, who supplied Newt Gingrich’s entire bankroll, now is putting all his money and power behind getting government on our backs, controlling the internet by banning things like online poker. Next will be angry birds?

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Aspergers Syndrome, Can we Save it?

Persons diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome learned recently that the psychiatric community in the USA has determined that this disorder is so much like Autism that it should be diagnosed instead as a mild form of Autism. While there has been some overlap and similarities in Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, I am one psychologist who would have prefered that the two be more clearly separated, an outcome almost diametrically opposite from the one chosen by American psychiatry in its DSM-5 version (due out later this year).

While there are some advantages for these children to be seen as Autistic (access to research funds, better access to society’s supportive programs), these are outweighed by the negatives. It is less likely that adult and adolescent children with Aspergers will want to be identified as autistic. More important than the greater likelihood of stigmatization, is the prospect that the etiology and treatment of Aspergers will become hopelessly muddled and confused. Understanding of the disorder will be set back decades as will treatment and diagnostic issues. So what can be done?

There is a realistic prospect that US Psychiatry will change this decision the next time around, if advocacy groups apply pressure, however that prospect would require a wait of several years. A better approach is for the various advocacy groups tied to the disorder to develop a new institutional groundwork- one in which the funding for research, education and all things nonmedical are addressed outside the purview of mental health, and away from the insurance industry. While therapy may still need to rely on the medical establishment, the ICD-10 still can be used, at least for the near future, to capture the correct diagnosis (F-84.5).

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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Whistleblowers Can Be An Antidote to Fascism

More than a decade after the twin towers were attacked by foreign forces, the USA becomes more and more willing to curtail our bill of rights. While the initial reaction by the Bush regime was obviously excessive: waterboarding, warrantless wiretaps and other surveillance, the end of habeas corpus, and general forfeiture of our privacy rights, we all hoped that sanity would eventually, if gradually, return.

The election of a Democrat as president did little to change this picture. We may have stopped waterboarding, but there would be no way of being sure, given the lack of transparency. Otherwise the tendency to fascistic methods of top down control by the elite has remained – and in many cases it has grown; this was even more troubling to those few of us who still care about the principles that made the USA a beacon for freedom and human rights.

If you doubt this trend, just look at the 112th congress. Infamous for having a “do nothing” approach in which far less was accomplished and fewer bills passed than any other congress, this congress was nevertheless very productive in curtailing the rights of Americans. Bill after bill passed to end these rights, with large bipartisan support, and many of these bills would not have been thinkable, even under Chaney and the specter of the 911 attack.

Is there any way out of this gradual slide to a state in which individual rights are rare? We, of course, would need a more thoughtful media. This is unlikely to happen with the mainstream media who long ago lost its soul, its curiosity, and its forebrain. The best we can hope for there is a vibrant web and blog universe, although I think it is still an imperative to crack open the cable providers, forcing them to provide dozens of smaller less commercial cable channels with divergent voices.

For me, however, the most pressing need is to make it not only possible for whistleblowers to reveal the excesses, but to insure that they are protected afterwards. There has been a little progress with this project in some spheres, but there is no protection whatsoever for whistleblowers who work for the parts of out government most likely to be abused. Nada. No whistleblowers there. We need to put pressure on our legislators to balance the erosion of our rights by encouraging a voice for those working in the muck who discover the dirty laundry, and would like to air it. Sunshine is still a good antisceptic.

Teachers for Safe Schools

If teacher’s unions would go on strike until the gun control laws have actually passed, we could get some movement towards school safety. Starting, say Feb 1 (getting legislation before that would be impossible) they could go out and not return until schools all have resource officers and assault weapons are banned. We also need to limit ammunition clips and unlimit how we treat and deal with mental illness.

I suspect most other public unions would not cross the picket line, and might even join in. We could call it responsible and responsive government.

Published in: on December 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Mental Health Procedure Codes- Reimbursement Cuts

The mental health procedure codes used by insurance companies are being revised, and will be reimbursed at a different rate. While some codes stay the same, one of the changes that will lead to a cut in pay for most therapists, and a cut in service for most mental health patients, is the code for outpatient psychotherapy.

The old code of 90806 was used by most therapists and was reimbursed for the typical 50 or 55 minute therapy session. However the way the new codes are set up, if a 50 minute session is preauthorized (and that is the way blue cross and many other insurers do it), then you are expected to round down to 45 minutes, and that session is equivalent to the old 90804, paid at a much lower rate of reimbursement.

This is a hidden pay cut and service cut, for therapists and clients respectively. If therapist usually takes the whole hour (adding time at the end for record keeping), then the new rules will try to force them to do 45 minute session, (or donate the time) seeing three patients over a little over two hours, if they plan to make as much or more money as in the previous system, when they saw two patients in that time.

So far the actual reimbursement rates have yet to be published although they were due in November. Hopefully that will include an increase, but the projection is for a cut in reimbursement, when both are taken into account. I still make less from an insurance company now than I did in the 1980′s, and that is one reason many of my colleagues do not fool with insurance.

 

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm  Comments (1)  
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General Hospitable- Soap Opera Surges

I am rather amused that everyone seems so obsessed about who General Petraeus is sleeping with or sharing his smiley faces by email.  This whole affair is more like a soap opera than a real issue, worthy of public debate. It is a reality show run amuck. I think they could have a Bachelor Pad type set up on a middle east base, with the top brass and their wives/girlfriends, complete with candid footage shot by drone.  American viewers could vote them off one at a time, until the last general and his partner get to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

I for one am pleased that the real surge included women in a support role, but I think we would be better off if we put the women in charge of the military ansd politcal choices, especially when it comes to conflict. Men can be so alpha, and the last thing the military needs is a few alpha men trying to “one up” each other. This is, I think, the best argument I have heard in a long time, for cutting military spending.

I really thought the days of J. Edgar Hoover were over, when  the FBI had dossiers on all the politicians and could use them as they please, to end or build someone’s careers. This was the slippery slope we started back down when we made getting a warrant unncessary during the Bush and Cheney era. Everybody said, “hey, don’t worry, it will only be used against terrorists.” 

I did not  really expect to see Petraeus and Ossama Bin Laden given the same protections (none) and now we know that the agencies with access to emails and other personal communications will use them to curry favor, and to tarnish rivals.

If they can snoop and blackmail when it comes to flirtations, custody battles, and affairs, who really believes that it won’t also be done for financial and/or political gain? I want my constitution back, especially my rights to privacy.

Mitt as Bishop Counsults LDS Living Prophet About his Run

The Mormon church believes that they have, at the head of their church, a living prophet at all times, and the current one is Gordon B. Hinckley. Romney not only knows Mr. Hinckley, but met with him prior to his run for President, to get his guidance.

A candidate’s religion should not be an issue if he runs for office, unless he get’s guidance from a living prophet, or is a leader in the church hierarchy. Mitt Romney’s family have always been prominent in the Mormon church hierarchy, and Mitt Romney was for several years first the equivalent of a Bishop and later, from 1986 to 1994, an Arch-Bishop “Stake President” in the mormon church. In the latter position he oversaw several congregations in the Boston area.

In his “duties” in the church he would do things like personally invite Lani Gerson to her excommunication trial from the church. Women claim that he was insensitive in his counsel. But this is the same Mormon church that spent a huge amount of money and prestige opposing equal rights for women, not in the 1800′s but in the 1970′s and early 80′s. Latter Day Church member Evelyn Harville told the Phoenix that he declined to speak up against domestic abuse, and Romney counseled her to not abort a foetus when her health was at stake.

Romney also did “missionary” work in France attempting to convert the wine-drinking French to his alcohol unfriendly religion. While many Mormons do this missionary work in third world countries, this privileged member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Romney, like most missionaries in the Mormon church, spent 30 months avoiding the draft in the late 60′s at the height of the Vietnam War.

If a Bishop in any other church ran for President, we would be asking how his beliefs will impact his decisions, and more importantly what conflicts of interest there will be, should he become president. Hey I don’t even know whether they will be able to serve wine at state dinners, when the French President visits to talk about the economy. Why won’t he answer questions at a town hall about his mormonism?

Published in: on September 2, 2012 at 9:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rekindling the Art of Reading

I was probably the last person on earth to get an eReader, but the other day I finally broke down and bought one, and have already begun working my way through the classics with Jack London (White Fang) and James Joyce (Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man).

These were two books I read in high school, and because they were free (yes I am a cheap skate) I have now once again taken a fresh look at them. It strikes me that Kindle is likely to not only largely replace the Public Library (in Republican South Carolina tax cuts have devastated the Public Library System) but for all looks and purposes, Kindles seem to be opening reading as a hobby to a whole new group of readers.

Everywhere I look there seems to be a mother with babies in tow, reading a Kindle. When I talk with many of these readers, they are often the same people who formerly bought Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts or Harlequin Romances often at the grocery store. They are still buying these books (but now often through a Kindle Store), yet because they love their eReader, they also are downloading free and low cost books in other genres ranging from Self Help to those free classics.

Kindle has made reading an easy lifestyle choice, no longer associated with language arts. The number of readers who use Kindles or other eReaders has increased dramatically every year, and within the near future more than half of the books sold each year will be e-Books.

Another interesting benefit of the electronic book trend is that books are now perpetually available to the reader. The traditional shelf-life on a newly published books at a Brick and Mortar store was 3 months, and if the author did not sell through some 60%+ of their books in the first year, it would usually die with a whimper.

With eBooks there is no magic number of sales needed to keep a book “in print” and so an author can grow their sales and reputation over time, without needing the right combination of luck and money to succeed.

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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Emily Dickenson

I think this quote can be helpful. It’s kind of the opposite of anxiety, don’t you think? Psychologists have long understood that we typically find what we look for.

Published in: on June 17, 2012 at 8:53 am  Comments (1)  
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