Break the stigma by making them not to be afraid to ask to be touched. Break the stigma by not being afraid to touch them.

Last night I attended a meeting dealing with mental health stigma. Lots of young adults, teachers, young filmmakers, clergy, a few of we professionals, but also families of the afflicted.  They all worked to extricate ourselves and our communities from the all too common fear or embarrassment of mental illness. Their messages rang out with pain and hope!  Good for them –  brave folks speaking about what can no longer be hidden. The take home missives were to feel safe in being honest and learning how to ask for help.

I left re-connected to an ever so palpable sensitivity. It is for the suffering of the family of the affected. This expands it so a family is defined more than by blood. It is our collective spirit. What we saw and felt that night made us cry within ourselves, to be sure, but also to cry as a community. What we saw is not of a them or me; it is of us.

The event’s primary sponsor’s ended with a preview, a stirring documentary, about their son who, burdened with a history of horrid schizophrenia, three years ago to the day took his own life.  Many of us felt compelled to hug the young man’s mother from our own struggles to soothe her.

Many of those who went to her had also lost family by suicide. Many, like me, who had not so suffered, just needed to outwardly touch her and try, oh so much to try, to give her a fix of peace. Inwardly we feared life because what happened to her could happen to us. It is tendering of love to her, a reality to us, and anger at what we as a community and profession missed that might have saved those people. In all our touching was born again the certainty that in the human reality comes pain to us, but our touching can unfathomably cultivate new strength from those memories.

I went back stage to find the young man’s father. He stood in the wings, looking at a bright but vacant stage. “Thank you, “I said, touching his shoulders from behind, “thank you…”  I needed to honor his bravery, to allow him time alone, and somehow shape in him that from his pain another life may be saved.

All that is well and good, but it left me pondering how inside this good man, how hard it must be, how solitary, with feelings so contemplative and poignant, to make sense out of his life.

I wanted to say the same to all who lost lives for all the wrong reasons.

What energy and purification that night brought to we who did not have mental illness but nonetheless suffered its upshots.  Imagine the power given to a suffering person who is asked to join us. A first-step ticket from fear and isolation to membership and love!

Break the stigma by making them not afraid to ask to be touched.

Break the stigma by not being afraid to touch them.

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The Grope

There are two rudimentary notions of a grope: (1) to feel about with the hands, or (2) to search blindly or uncertainly. Both want to seize an object or answer.

Slang, however, has it as touching for one’s personal pleasure in a purely oppressive manner.

One can grope for votes or money. One can grope to solve a challenging question. Or one can grope for sexual pleasure.

But what lies within the sexual grope?

Groping is a common an occurrence in life, as many know. Sometimes it is part of a developing relationship, but the behavior must immediately stop if requested. The souring issue is that sexual groping is tremendously unaccepted in ways different than groping for votes because the respect for another person’s sexual personal space is an underpinning of our society.  Sexual groping violates that keystone. 

Why not just ask someone to be a sexual partner? Some might fear the wanted partner would say no. Perhaps the requester lacks the social skills to appropriately elevate a relationship into what is sexually comfortable for both people.  Groping assumes the ‘receiving’ partner prefers not to be groped. The wanted cohort may say “stop that, don’t do that not now or ever!” When the groper won’t stop groping, the ‘grope’ goes into disrespect. Which leaves scars. Ask most women how they respond to groping – a very, very large number have experienced it – and many try to dismiss it as a wretched fact of life. But sometimes it is hidden more than dismissed.

The ‘grope’ skips the mutual relationship part. One subset of gropers feel an uncomfortably strong sexual drive, and these folks’ psychosocial skills are so impaired that touching is needed for some ego gratification regardless of ramifications. But there is another subset of gropers who do not have these psychological impairments. They grope from egotism; they choose not to use the usual ladder of building a relationship. It is as if the relationship building process is not required of them in the process of achieving sexual satisfaction.  A quality often inhabits this second subset that the groped should be honored that they were chosen to be groped. This later groping is entirely selfish, which could, as details appear, eventually reflect an equally finicky psychopathology in someone who just happens to have assemblies of money, dominance, or other social positions.

Woefully, and which adds much confusion to the strength of a simple narrative, is that some folks don’t mind being groped if it means they can experience a special contact with an icon. Such is the footing of the groupie.  This possibility then makes a final determination of the real history of the groping event so problematic until there is detailed understanding of everyone’s motivations,  for only then can we finalize an accurate report of who did what to whom and with which inducements or permissions.

The variety and levels of motivations to grope or not are similar to the separation between those who truly cannot make a healthy relationship to those who have the psychosocial skills to create the healthy and mutual relationship but choose not to. 

Yes, yes, it is burdened with layers and complications.  But equally yes is that the vast majority of groped women are true victims. The sad fact is that so many of them strip it of reactive emotions and re-mold it as another cost of womanhood.






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Bees, Kol Nidre, and Saving The Gift of Food

Bees are on the endangered list.  And that means so too are we.

We chatter of immigrants, substance abuse, sexual callousness, medical costs, nuclear weapons, trade agreements, and climate change, but too few speak of bees on the endangered list. 

The outcome is uncomplicated.  Fewer bees mean much less food.  It’s a straightforward bond.

The country with most water and bees will dominate us all.  Much trade could be in exchange for food and water. Nature may find a mean to re-balance itself, but nature’s evolution is slow and hunger is not so unflustered.

Too few people give this much reflection. Do we not believe it?  Few doubt that nuclear waste and weapons can produce a nuclear winter, leaving sick or sterilized DNA unable to maintain life. We may likewise sterilize the process which makes so much of our food.

Floridians learned that the sprays to kill the zika carrying mosquitoes were killing millions of local bees.

Then consider, from the below link, that “a U.N.-sponsored report released in February found that “about 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (such as bees and butterflies) are facing extinction.” This could have major implications for world food supply, because “about 75 percent of the world’s food crops … depend at least partly on pollination.”

Here is the October 2016 NPR story on bees.

Many politicians differently view whether environmental regulation helps or hurts the economy. From Georgetown University law professor Lisa Heinzerling:  “On the right, particularly since the Great Recession of 2007-2009, politicians have associated environmental regulation with job losses and economic decline. These claims have increased, not decreased even as the economy has improved. … In contrast, the Democratic [presidential] candidates embrace EPA’s regulatory power.”  We must scientifically combine the economy and world from which our economy lives.

Tonight is Kol Nidre, the doorway to a day of self-examination of our sins, to ask for forgiveness from those against we have sinned, and to resonate with forgiveness for those who sinned against us, and do to so  with a day of fasting.

The earth speaks to us with all that is needed to sustain life. At least we can thank earth for that cookery. We need to ask earth’s forgiveness for how selfish we are with earth’s generosity, and that we cannot expect our endless wantings to be indifferent to the inventive yet easily hurt balance that earth has fashioned in favor of life.

We need to believe this, to responsibly act on it, and to widely teach it. We don’t fancy seeing ourselves on the dying out list. It’s an exceedingly selfish theme for the earth and us both. But what a fantastic goal it will be! What a Kol Nidre! 

Encapsulate it on a t-shirt — I Understand why we must be the bees’ best friend. If not we all suffer.



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The Trump Tape – Old & Larger Common Social Secrets Now On The Table

Civilized behavior is a piano opus. Sounds respect each other. Thoughtful messages then evolve from our innate and instinctive reactions to the themes and its harmonics. That is why music is universal.

Sex is also universal and mandated, for like food, clean air, and echelons of law, without it the species will vanish.

But out of place sexual activity, stemming from insistence and expectations, has no pleasant harmonics.  The pure animal belief that another person should feel an honor in sexual activities with a “me” eliminates, if not offends, scars and dirties, the core of our existence. It mocks our community foundation.

That core is the distinction and beauty of mutually rewarding relationships.

The intent of sexual insistence and expectations is not giving to each other; rather it is taking from each other. It is the “what can I get that is good for me, or prevent what is bad for me, as a consequence of this sexual doing?”  Where, and if, dwells the guilt?

Guilt is a funny term, for there is no guilt if a sexual concession is done to optimistically gain profit or status; in such situations agreeing to a partner’s motive may be the same, and essentially as a collaborator, to the aggressor’s insistence – it’s a mutual business cohort and not intimacy. Merely consenting to sex is not the same as painful, boundary violating and obligatory or capitulated sex. We all know that.

Friends with benefits, one would hope, rests more on mutual esteem and supplying good emotional provisions.

The price of a relationship or the ticket to a goal should never be paid for with sexual currency.

Timely and respectful sexual intimacy is a life gift, endowing us with memories and expectations of warmth.  It is one of the true adult harmonics.

Our soon-to-be-electing society now speaks of sexual ethics as much as it speaks of taxes, wars, walls, and education. This is beneficial, because our society is first and foremost fertilized by how we treat each other and not how much we pay in taxes. We cannot ignore the great danger to our society that exists by mistreating our own.

Many women learn to ‘expect and dismiss’ much of how the Trump tape reflects events in their own lives.  Still some carry untold scars and pollutions from sexual impropriety. This campaign leaned in this exploitative, almost to an entertainment, direction. Now it exploded and it tipped over into a discussion of an equally critical social problem. Thanks — some good occurred.

Repentance is a human growth prerequisite. But time-tested behaviors need to confirm the atonement; we need proof that repentance is not a matter of marketing convenience.

Human sexuality is amazingly multifaceted, with good, bad, indifferent, loving, healthy, not healthy, and marketable, elements. Look honestly at ourselves to believe this.

We learn a lot about ourselves from bad behavior. But do we have the desire to change? Most people, I do believe, want the change. But what about those folks who accept it as commonplace, if not predictable? Might they not protest because they agree with that philosophy? Or they are afraid to speak out?

The rest of us – please stand up.



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Poverty, Growth, and Mental Health

Amanda Terrell, Ph.D., reflects on her work and how poverty impacts mental, social, and psychological healthy growth. She comments, for example,  on such topics as the positive effects of the number of words a young child hears,  the ever so  important benefit of role models, of nutritional status, and good structuring social skills in additional to any stigma the child encounters.  A podcast from the Florida Psychiatric Society at

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Citizens killing drug dealers – a reaction to the Philippine model

Sometimes I am stunned.

We now read of citizen assassins who apparently can find comfort in their sleep knowing that they killed for profit.  Do they feel pleased and more secure at home in that they are being paid to remove,  via murder,  a scourge in their community?

The Philippines’ now pay citizens to murder drug dealers and addicts because they are not good for the community.   The BBC offered this piece about a lady hired to kill drug dealers  and addicts. The Washington Post published a similar piece. The Philippine government clearly is not choosing a less violent method to control their  drug abuse problem.

So here we sit, once again, with this Philippine treatment model in play, as the basic old question stares straight at us:  what in a person’s pre-addict life is lacking such that drug use/addiction develops?  What draws a person into  the dysfunctional drug use world?  Certainly the pushers and manufacturers of drugs are also driven by pathological needs seen in their indifference to how they earn their livings. Medical evidence knows addiction is a medical and psychological disease. So too is being a dealer or manufacturer of such drugs.

Preventing, prosecuting, jailing and treating drug behaviors is very expensive. The $430 paid for each hit is certainly  less costly than these other traditional costs.  Will killing dealers and addicts reduce the  frequency of drug abuse?  Perhaps for a little and temporary bit of time,  but consider that opioid problems tend to shift from one narcotic to another. Trite as it sounds, it is true — fix the core problem, not the symptoms.

One of the core problems is the dealers/producers’ greed. This is a bigger community scourge than drug addiction. It’s more difficult. Greed is enmeshed in in the pores of our entirely society. Non-drug use related greed can also be harmful. Part of the drug problem resides in all of us insofar as what we value in our society.

Scary aspects of the Philippine model exist. Where does most of the driving pathology reside?  Is it in those none-users and none-dealers/producers who simply  want the least expensive way to rationalize, and unemotionally rid, perhaps to cleanse, their communities of those who are sick  (ethically or other wise),  or  who are otherwise unwanted?  Hiring citizen assassins breaks the civilized barrier that countless millions bled to build.  It is just  too easy to expand the citizen assassin concept to remove other social problems once holes in the barrier are opened.

Having everyday citizens authorized to kill other citizens has no place in my personal world. But our history reeks of chapters that are outside my world. My world repeatedly wins, but repeatedly aspects of those victories slip away. The barriers have to be rebuilt.

The human experience again and again is the battle  between those who see humans as people, with a soul, who love, who learn from pain, and  who are one of us. The battle is against those who use and see humans as objects  to serve their own selfish and empathy-less  egos.

The Beatles wrote “my guitar gently weeps.”






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Upsides, Downsides – Genetic Engineering

The below is from an invitation to an October 2016 conference from the Royal Institution of Great Britian. It features Siddhartha Mukherjee and Daniel Glaser. It needs to be shared.

The wording captures so much.

It mandates a serious discussion.

Genetics has revolutionised not just how we think of biology but how we think of ourselves. We are, in the words of one geneticist, the first organism that has ‘learned to read its own instructions’. Now, with the breakthrough of gene-editing technology – whose precision allows us to alter a single letter of DNA – we cannot only decipher but rewrite our genetic code. We may soon be able to treat diseases such as cancer not simply with drugs, but with genetic manipulation. Yet behind this medical revolution lies the prospect of something more worrying. Already, we possess the technology to add to our genetic code at will, and thus create the world’s first generation of ‘transgenic’ humans. As we intervene genetically on ourselves with ever more accuracy, do we risk changing what it means to be human? In our quest for the genetically ‘normal’, do we risk annihilating the very diversity and mutations on which evolution depends?

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