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August 2009

Leon Hoffman: Freud’s Adirondack Vacation - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Contributor - Freud’s Adirondack Vacation - NYTimes.com.

One hundred years ago today, Sigmund Freud arrived in the United States to give the first of five lectures on psychoanalysis to an audience of American professionals and academics at Clark University in Massachusetts.

It was an interesting time in the history of psychoanalysis. As Leon Hoffman writes:

"At the time, most doctors here and in Europe still considered mental illness to be caused by “degeneration” of the brain. They assumed that there was little to be done for it beyond physical treatments like diet, exercise, drugs, rest and massage. But a growing awareness that the mind could influence bodily functions was giving rise to debates about the nature of the unconscious mind."

Being psychoanalytically oriented, I made note of my reactions as I read. I had my first chuckle when Hoffman quotes one of the attendees:

"Emma Goldman, the noted radical, who was also there, remarked, 'Among the array of professors, looking stiff and important in their caps and gowns, Sigmund Freud, in ordinary attire, unassuming, almost shrinking, stood out like a giant among Pygmies.'"

By the end of the article, I had some new pieces of historical information to add to the hopper as I rethink and reconfigure my professional life. I'm definitely at a new place with things, and have wanted to blog a bit on it. In some ways, the events that Hoffman chose to address in his article have brought some of the process through which I'm swirling professionally at the moment more into thoughts and words.

I'm going to think on this for awhile, then come back and blog some more.


Are we really so miserable? | Salon Life

Aug. 26, 2009 | Earlier this month the Archives of General Psychiatry released a much publicized study that one in 10 Americans is now taking antidepressants within the course of a year, making antidepressants the most prescribed kind of medication in the country. The number of Americans on antidepressants doubled between 1996 and 2005, and the number of prescriptions written for these drugs has increased each year between 2005 and 2008. One has to wonder: Are we really that miserable?

via www.salon.com

Check out related studies and articles at the Alliance for Human Research Protection: http://www.ahrp.org

At some point, I hope to blog more on this subject of Big Pharma and psychiatric medications.


Cogito ergo sum, baby | Salon

Alison Gopnik's new book, The Philosophical Baby, looks like a "must read" to me:

Why do you think so little has been written about the philosophy of children -- that philosophy, for 2,500 years, has essentially excluded thinking about kids?

There are two reasons. Philosophers used to rely on their armchair intuitions about how minds work. If you look at babies casually, your intuition is likely to be that not much is going on. In the '70s, new video technologies allowed us to develop experimental techniques for investigating babies' minds. Since then, philosophers are increasingly paying attention to these scientific results, rather than simply relying upon untested intuitions.

The other reason was that for those 2,500 years, there were people who had a great deal of deep experience of babies and who knew all along how important and interesting babies were. But those people were women and the philosophers were men. An Oxford philosopher once told me, "Well, one has seen children about, of course, but one would never actually talk to them." Now, partly because women like me have become scientists and philosophers, those two areas of human experience don't seem so separate.

Read Robert Burton's great interview with Gopnik at:

Cogito ergo sum, baby | Salon.

t r u t h o u t | American Psychology Declares Homosexuality Can't Be "Cured"

From the article:

Last week, the American Psychological Association (APA) invited its 150,000 members to no longer tell clients who would like to change their sexual orientation that treatment might achieve that. This new scientific - and ethical - position results from an intensive and extensive examination of the studies conducted on this question over the last 40 years.

    An APA research committee concluded, in fact, that no evidence demonstrates that "corrective (reparative) therapy" or any other attempt to change sexual orientation is effective. Professionals close to conservative religious sects maintained that such therapy exists and produces results. These counselors were reproached with playing into the hands of a reactionary morality. They will now have to question themselves about the value of that practice.

Read the whole article at:

t r u t h o u t | American Psychology Declares Homosexuality Can't Be "Cured".

The Tragedy of Our 'Disappeared' Veterans | World | AlterNet

I have been a fan of Peggy Coleman for a couple of years now. She writes on the very tragic insults of war on the human psyche as manifested in PTSD and high suicide rates among military veterans. Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam veteran who took his own life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on Memorial Day, 2006. Her Web site is Flashback.

In this article she takes up the issue of veterans who end up in jail:

"Wayne McMahon was busted on gun charges six months after he got out of the Marines.

He was jumped by a gang of kids in his hometown of Albany, N.Y. , and he went for the assault rifle he kept in the back of his SUV.

He's serving "three flat, with two years of post-release" at Groveland Prison in upstate New York.

Maybe it's tempting to write McMahon off as just a screwed-up person who made the kinds of mistakes that should have landed him in jail, but maybe that's because his injuries don't show on the outside.

Unlike physical injuries, psychiatric injuries are invisible; the burden of proof lands on the soldier (or sailor or Marine), and such injuries are easy for the public to deny."

Read the whole article at:

The Tragedy of Our 'Disappeared' Veterans | World | AlterNet.

Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years | World | AlterNet

If you feel something dark and heavy inside every August 6th when you remember (or are reminded of) the fact that your country unleashed an atom bomb on Hiroshima, you need to read this article by Daniel Ellsberg.

Ellsberg reflects on his own memories of that day and the evolution of thought and feeling about this event as the rest of his life unfolded:

Most Americans ever since have seen the destruction of the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as necessary and effective -- as constituting just means, in effect just terrorism, under the supposed circumstances -- thus legitimating, in their eyes, the second and third largest single-day massacres in history. (The largest, also by the U.S. Army Air Corps, was the firebombing of Tokyo five months before on the night of March 9, which burned alive or suffocated 80,000 to 120,000 civilians. Most of the very few Americans who are aware of this event at all accept it, too, as appropriate in wartime.)

To regard those acts as definitely other than criminal and immoral -- as most Americans do -- is to believe that anything -- anything -- can be legitimate means: at worst, a necessary, lesser, evil. At least, if done by Americans, on the order of a president, during wartime. Indeed, we are the only country in the world that believes it won a war by bombing -- specifically by bombing cities with weapons of mass destruction -- and believes that it was fully rightful in doing so. It is a dangerous state of mind.


Ellsberg concludes the article with this promise: Using the new opportunities offered by the Internet -- drawing attention to newly declassified documents and to some realities still concealed -- I plan over the next year, before the 65th anniversary of Hiroshima, to do my part in unveiling this hidden history.

I look forward to reading it. Read Ellsberg's whole article at:

Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years | World | AlterNet.

t r u t h o u t | Militarizing the Homeland

Dahr Jamail (one my favorite young journalists) and Jason Coppola take a look at how our kids are recruited for war.

From the article: Award-winning journalist and Associate Editor of the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com Nick Turse writes in his book "The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives": "As a product of the 1980s G.I. Joe generation, I can attest to the seductive power of those three inch action figures in selling the military to young boys."

    In an interview with Truthout, Turse observed, "Only later would I learn just how enmeshed G.I. Joe's manufacturer, Hasbro, was with the military. One instance of this close association came to me in 2003 when the Department of Defense shared the specifications for their Future Force Warrior concept with the toy company, even before awarding the contract to General Dynamics. More important to the military these days are its ties to video game manufacturers. The latter turn tax-payer-funded combat simulators into first-person shooters that, in effect, pre-train youngsters in small-unit military tactics and irregular warfare."

Read the whole analysis at t r u t h o u t | Militarizing the Homeland.

Love and Revolution -- In These Times

"When I became a radical nearly seventy years ago, you ran the risk of seeming ridiculous, as Che Guevara put it, if you thought Love had anything to do with Revolution.

Being revolutionary meant being tough as nails, committed to agitating and mobilizing angry and oppressed masses to overthrow the government and seize state power by any means necessary in order to reconstruct society from the top down.

In the last 50 years, this topdown view of revolution has been discredited by the demise of the Soviet Union. At the same time, our approach to revolution has been humanized..."

Read the whole Grace Lee Boggs article at Love and Revolution -- In These Times.

Making War to Bring ‘Peace’ -- In These Times

"A debate is under way at the United Nations over a policy that may seem uncontroversial: an international framework to prevent severe crimes against humanity.

The framework is called “responsibility to protect,” or R2P, in U.N. parlance. A restricted version of R2P, adopted at the U.N. World Summit in 2005, reaffirmed rights and responsibilities that were accepted by member states in the past and sometimes implemented by them."

Read the full article by Noam Chomsky at Making War to Bring ‘Peace’ -- In These Times.


MIDEAST: Traumatised Children Struggle to Rise Again - IPS ipsnews.net

"Several crisis counselling teams run by international organisations and NGOs have been carrying out intervention programmes aimed at helping Gaza's most vulnerable put the pieces of their lives back together.

But these groups warn that while there has been some improvement in the collective psyche of Gaza's children, the long-term effects of war are now beginning to show, and unless the rights of Gazans are respected, the next generation's future will be hard to predict." Follow the link below to read all of this article from IPS:


MIDEAST: Traumatised Children Struggle to Rise Again - IPS ipsnews.net.