What a time to be Canadian!
On July 1st, 2017, Canadians around the world will celebrate the anniversary of the creation of the Confederation of Canada - the day in 1867 when Canada took its first step toward independence from the United Kingdom. This all followed the signing of the Confederation Act, the official document through which the Union of Canada (made up of parts of present-day Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia united and transformed the future of the colony.
The Confederation Act was the backbone of the way in which authority would be transferred to the Parliament and Senate of Canada - a version of the political system elsewhere in the UK - as part of the building of the Canadian political and judicial systems. Although this was cause for celebration, the early union of Canada was not prepared for problems that would come with attempting to bring together such a diverse and uncoordinated regional population and it didn't take long for the problems to start on a governmental level.
By this time, colonists from Europe were already at war with themselves, indigenous populations, and the environment. To make matters more complicated, as many people reading this blog will already know, no two cultural groups are alike - sometimes even to extremes. In order to establish some kind of uniformity and order across the colony with particular pressure on the indigenous population the Indian Act was established - in 1876. Short of a handful of amendments, the spirit of the Indian Act remains the same - suppress the abilities of the indigenous (aka Aboriginal) population. Residential schools were established in order to educate and assimilate indigenous youth and young adults. As the program grew, the early Canadian government provided incentive programs for churches to do the work - partly for their benefit but more to reduce the cost to the government - and the religious communities were more than happy to help - partly for the benefit of the youth but mostly (and by a wide margin) for their own benefit. Abuses began almost immediately in an attempt to "civilize the heathens" (religious schools) and to "educate the uncivilized" (secular schools) by those who, by today's standards, would be in no position to lead or teach.
The early court system was no better. There was no representation, no spirit of compassion, and no second chances for any aboriginal person. Somehow, in ways I cannot bring myself to understand outside of greed and pride, the people who helped the colonists survive suddenly became public enemy Number 1 plunging early Canada into a state of desperation, misunderstanding, and malice.
Times have really changed, haven't they.
I am a proud Canadian anchored by Algonquin and European roots but that doesn't come without a little bit of an identity crisis. Like many groups in Canada - including LGBT, religious, refugee, and uniformed men and women - the First Nations, Non-Status, Metis, and Inuit peoples of Canada remain sub-cultural until election time only to then be ignored almost immediately thereafter. Many politicians cannot pass up the opportunity for a photo op in a blind attempt to appear helpful if for no other reason than to make the sleight of hand appear gracious. Just this week the Supreme Court denied appeals by First Nations seeking to admonish or otherwise end various construction projects on unceded territories - those regions where the land still 'belongs', legally, to the First Nation, as well as ceded territories - where a treaty was signed but permission is still required for civil, private, or other projects by non-FN parties. Constitutionally speaking, the SCoC must hear the appeal but they will not.
And this isn't just a pipeline issue. The Canadian government is essentially ransoming billions of dollars owed to the First Nations according to treaties and other legal proceedings and will not provide any show of good faith with the slight exception of cool sounding campaign promises.
Going deeper still, in April 2016 the Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian government is responsible for all indigenous peoples - not just the "Status" First Nations and yet nothing has come of that ruling. Again, not unlike what happened with rulings that should have enforced government responsibility for veterans and other vulnerable groups.
Now, given, my definition of the term "Vulnerable Group" is pretty wide but at least I have it defined. In being part of the Moving on Mental Health initiative I have learned that there are not a whole lot of definitions for many buzzwords. Good example: "Health Care". Whether you are talking about women's health or LGBT or aboriginal or military - and the list goes on - the term "Health Care" is used almost stylistically but there is no solid definition. Under the "women's health" category, abortion was legalized on the understanding that it was part of women's health care and was left undefined. More recently, euthanasia came floating into the fray also as a part of standard "health care". If health care means what I assume it to mean then neither of these medical procedures would count. Moreover, I would assume it to be easier to access what I would call health care - primary medical or mental health, support and respite - than the aforementioned; however, I am grossly incorrect in that assumption. With the legalization of euthanasia we have turned the issue of endemic suicides into "death with dignity".
But I digress.
I came to this blog today to talk about how I will be both celebrating and mourning on the 150th anniversary of the formation of Canada and so far I have only mourned. Maybe it's the fact that it is a rainy day outside and the fireworks are rescheduled for tomorrow in my hometown. I believe the deeper meaning is that in order for someone as connected to the various groups in Canada as I am there is a need for recognition that in order to move forward and become stronger as a nation we must first set aside our assumptions, educate ourselves, and become a truly national community.
In the meantime, I should probably help my wife and newborn son. Fireworks are cancelled but I have a busy day and weekend ahead!
One of the things that really bothers me about the decision to legalize marijuana is the sheer ignorance of what it does to the body.
Let's rewind back to about 1920. Alcohol has been prohibited in all forms - including medicinally when the law originally came down (that was overturned in many jurisdictions in 1921). The reason was fairly simple: When intoxicated both men & women were dis-inhibited leading to domestic violence and saloons were grounds for sexual depravity & political corruption. After prohibition was discontinued in 1933 the amount of alcohol being consumed appeared to have dropped for a short time but, according to legal, medical, and social studies, that period ended several decades ago and the use of alcohol - and subsequent behaviours - have become similar to pre-prohibition levels.
So why did prohibition end? Violent crimes had increased, sure, but the majority of those imprisoned were for simple possession. Many of the most violent criminals were killed in shootouts or put to death where capital punishment was legal so there was no longer-term cost (compared to cost of imprisonment). Weak and inconsistent enforcement caused many - including supporters - to question the validity and reliability of the law. Levels of domestic violence did not appear to change during the prohibition period. The clincher was the concept of millions being lost because you cannot tax products that have no legal value. And so, shortly after his election in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt followed up on his campaign promise to repeal the 18th Amendment - which assisted in his defeat of Herbert Hoover - and alcohol production, distribution, and possession were made legal again.
All of that, and what remained out of the repeal decision was the actual effect of alcohol on the body. The use of alcohol - especially whiskey - in the medical field brought many to believe that alcohol was quite useful and healthy in the body while ignoring the prospect of sclerosis, addiction/dependence, impulsivity, dehydration, and - in extreme cases - death from alcohol poisoning.
We really don't learn anything from history. At this point marijuana - and its associated products/substances - are illegal with the exception of medicinal use. There is inconsistent upkeep of the law and disproportionate consequences for the use or possession of the substance. And, similar to FDR, Justin Trudeau plans on making good on his campaign promise right on time to begin campaigning for the 2019 General Election.
The thing that really gets to me about the concept of legalization is that the people who "need" it - chronic physical pain sufferers - already have access to it. The active chemical in marijuana is THC - tetrahydrocannabinol - a chemical naturally produced by the cannabis plant as a form of 'self-defense' against herbivores creating effects ranging from an uncomfortable high to toxic shock when consumed by animals, insects, and birds. In humans and in the right concentrations cannabinoids can be used to treat chronic pain, as a catalyst in some cancer treatments, and its anti-inflammatory effects - the same effect that also makes it an effective pain killer - seem to mitigate the spastic (movement disorder) effects of Multiple Sclerosis (1) without risk of dependency or addiction.
Even those who would not receive an improvement in their day-to-day life have access to it now that marijuana has been sourced as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (2, 3, 4) and other mental illnesses (3, 4).
The following is from the Liberal Party of Canada website:
Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.
Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.
To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.
We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.
We will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied.
I agree completely that the current legal process surrounding the prohibition of marijuana is not working. Those who cannot afford legal council end up in jail while those higher up the chain can afford council and get community service hours, at worst. It is also completely clear that the proceeds from the illegal trading of marijuana are supporting organized crime. Those ultimately responsible for the production and distribution do not get caught because of anything from low-end distributors not talking to issues of jurisdiction.
Big glaring problem right there: Distribution networks will remain uncontrollable. One things we have learned from the legalization in the USA is that legal dispensaries are grounds for former dealers to serve both their distribution network and the government that licensed them after some dozens of dispensaries were shut down. Even with legalization of alcohol, the World Health Organization estimates that around 30% of all alcohol consumed globally is illegally produced and unregulated. The same could easily go for legally dispensed marijuana.
The next few lines in the platform somehow manage to be more ridiculous. Somehow, by legalizing, regulating, and restricting access to marijuana and creating stronger punishments for those who provide it to minors the drug will stay away from children. Until I saw that line on the platform I didn't believe people actually believed that to be the case. I went to three high schools in two cities and one thing I learned is that just because it is legal, regulated, and restricted does not mean that kids will not acquire it. Drive passed Fellowes High School at lunch hour and see the smoking bench where kids (from 14 up) are smoking cigarettes & joints and drinking various alcohols. Daily. You can find similar behaviours throughout our fine county and across Canada.
And then there's the perception that marijuana is 'just a plant' and that it is 'not addictive'. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is clear that regular use can lead to addiction symptoms such as cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It is more rare for addiction to occur compared to users of other drugs - approximately 1 in 11 for the general population of users - but is does happen. Additionally, the chance of an addiction or substance dependence occurring increases based on two major conditions: (A) Age: The chance of becoming addicted moves from 1 in 11 to 1 in 5 if marijuana use starts before the age of 20 (4). (B) Strength of strain: Not all weed is created equally, even from the same plant!
It is also important to note that the effect of marijuana varies greatly among users and there is no concrete method of distinguishing which effect you will get. Some will become quiet or withdrawn while others are easily excited. Hallucinations, changes in heart rate, distortions in perception of time, paranoia, changes in immune response, and issues with memory are all regularly reported even with low use(5, 6, 7). This is not entirely surprising considering the vast effect THC has on the release and uptake of dopamine, especially in the ventral striatum (reward region of the brain) (7). These effects do not even begin to include how THC is stored in fat cells and released randomly back into the bloodstream weeks after use and can effect anything from driving to studies (CAMH, 2012).
The conclusion is as simple as this: The practical applications of marijuana and THC products have been explored and are legal in most cases. Hemp products are easily found, medicinal marijuana is legal and being used both in treatment and pseudo-treatment capacities, and the risk of legalizing is greater than we give credit for. Instead of skipping straight to legalization - considering the major argument for legalization is the excessive criminal consequence of possession - we should be taking measures to change the consequence.
At this time, the first-time conviction for possessing 30 grams or less can result in a six-month prison sentence, a $1,000 fine, or both. The maximum penalty for a second offense is a $2,000 fine and one year in prison. If we were truly desiring the good for those implicated we would offer decriminalization for minor offenses and real rehabilitation which is over and above what the current justice system provides.
This is not the start of a move toward good, lasting change. Stop playing it up as such.
1) Koppel, B.S. et al. (2014). Systematic review: Efficacy and safety of medical marijuana in selected neurologic disorders: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology, 82(17). Link.
2) Yarnell, S. (2015). The use of medicinal marijuana for posttraumatic stress disorder: A review of the current literature. Primary Care Companion for CNS disorders, 17(3). doi: 10.4088/PCC.15r01786
3) Wilkinson, S.T., Radhakrishnan, R., & D'Souza, D.C. (2016). A systematic review of the evidence for medical marijuana in psychiatric indications. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 77(8). doi: 10.4088/JCP.15r10036
4) Steenkamp, M.M., Blessing, E.M., Galatzer, I.R., Hollahan, L.C., & Anderson, W.T. (2017). Marijuana and other cannabinoids as treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: A literature review. Depression and Anxiety, 34(3). doi: 10.1002/da.22596
5) Volkow, N.D., et al. (2014). Adverse health effects of marijuana use. New England Journal of Medicine, 370. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1402309
6) Thomas, G., Kloner, R.A., & Rezkella, S. (2014). Adverse cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular effects of marijuana: What cardiologists need to know. The American Journal of Cardiology, 113(1). Link.
7) Volkow, N.D., et al. (2014). Decreased dopamine brain reactivity in marijuana abusers is associated with negative emotionality and addiction severity. Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(30). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1411228111
The simple fact that some debates are still happening is out of sheer ignorance.
I recently got into a tiff with a friend/colleague over the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. I come from the point of view that the only safe amount of alcohol while pregnant (and while nursing) is no alcohol while this particular individual holds the belief that having sporadic drinks throughout the pregnancy is completely safe.
This all started up over yet another warning from the medical community stating my point of view: Zero is the only safe number and I think the debate could have been settled if there was a better understanding on both mine and my colleague's parts as to what FASD is and how it develops. Keep in mind that 20-30% of women have reported consuming alcohol at some point during their pregnancy.
To start, I want to get a few definitions straight:
With the medical definitions out of the way it becomes quite clear that any amount of alcohol is considered to be some risk. Step 2 is understanding how FASD symptoms occur. The short explanation is that alcohol is a chemical that is not efficiently broken down by the body and ends up floating into various areas of our bodies (ie. blood, urine, breast milk). As soon as the blastocyst (early stage of pregnancy, around Week 3-4) attaches to the uterine wall it begins to receive nourishment from the mother. Chemical intrusion at this stage can already start to affect development. By Week 5 we are looking at the embryo developing its brain, spinal column, nerves, GI tract, and heart which puts the embryo at even higher risk from intrusions like some medications, drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and infections.
One of the areas prone to chemical intrusion is the blood-brain barrier. A lot of people have this image of the BBB being some kind of wall but the reality is much more complicated. It is a chemical membrane through which various chemicals within and outside the brain tissue can pass. One of those chemicals, to a degree, is alcohol when in adults and even more so during fetal development. Alcohol will also effect the development of other tissue groups (ie. skin, muscles, blood vessels, nerves) throughout pregnancy.
I have researched this issue quite heavily over the last few years and have found some folks promoting alcohol use during pregnancy (ie. Cosmo Magazine and author Emily Oster). Leaving aside the ones that have no citations (in particular, peer-reviewed citations) I found several who say that it is okay to have no more than one or two drinks periodically throughout the pregnancy as long as you are not going over the 100 mg/dL mark and not more than once over a 7-day period. Each seemed to cite the same notion that drinking a class of wine can help with stress reduction and blood flow which helps both mom and baby but as I followed the trail of links they provided as evidence they stopped at dead ends. Those 6 websites are so brutally outnumbered by everything else that even my colleague has since changed his tune.
The simple fact is that either way we are talking about generalizations based on large- and small-scale studies. Is it entirely possible that your minimal consumption throughout pregnancy will do no harm? Absolutely. We base our warning on the simple fact that FASD will be part of the lives of between 1 and 9 in 1000 births throughout Canada, even higher in rural and remote regions. Bearing in mind that blood alcohol levels (the 100 mg/dL I mentioned before) is dependent on many factors (strength of beverage, size of person, interval between drinks) I would rather be safe and recommend abstaining from alcohol.
The slightly more important part of this whole post idea is to help direct people you know and love to the supports they may need:
If your friend is thinking about becoming pregnant and is struggling with alcohol dependence please be gentle in how you approach! Be the change. If you are regularly drinking then anything you say to the contrary will likely be ignored regardless of the stage within the cycle of addiction that she is going through. Let them know that you are concerned about their behaviour could effect their pregnancy and their future children. I would go so far as to send this link or have the brochure available.
If your friend is currently pregnant and struggling with alcohol consumption at any degree please take care and help direct them toward their family doctor (if available) or a counsellor for a non-judgmental conversation on the issue. I know that I have my bias on the subject but when women who are pregnant come into my office who are struggling with alcohol use the conversation changes because they have already heard the warning. It's not my duty to put them under more stress. This is an opportunity to engage in the conversation around why alcohol is a part of that individual's life. Many larger communities have prenatal assistance directed at this exact issue.
Treatment options are available! Besides the dependence/addiction counselling that is readily available in many regions there are treatment options for families affected by FASD. In Renfrew County and the surrounding regions please check out this link, your local hospital, Community Care Access Centre (or similar organization), or private practitioners.
Keep in mind that this posting is subject to regular updates.
Did you like the pun?
When I work with couples at any stage in their relationship the biggest issue tends to be a lack of engagement during the marriage. It's almost as though we put so much effort into dating and the wedding that we just float into marriage thinking that everything is where it needs to be.
Although I love to work with couples this is a major point of ignorance for most couples, including my wife and I when we first got married. Our dating life was awesome and we didn't run into any issues throughout our engagement and in the first couple of years of marriage but then we hit a snag that sounded a little like, "What now?"
Couples hit a wall for all sorts of reasons but what I am finding as I work with couples is that they each get into the relationship for one reason or another [not always for the best intentions] but while they were so caught up working on this thing they forgot to grow and develop as a couple; and, further, they forgot that they were not really two people anymore.
I am not going so far as to say that the couple must learn to "become one flesh" as we see in various forms of religious writing but this couple essentially becomes two persons in one entity. Insurance companies are making a single file for both people. Parenting decisions must be consistent. Finances become jointed. Other than these sometimes scary but otherwise normal events that periodically occur throughout a marriage there are times when you feel like roommates and ask, "What now?" Equally as often, physical and mental illness creep in or there is a job loss and you are forced to ask, "What now?"
To have a handle on some of these issues I would like to offer a marriage preparation and enrichment program right here in Pembroke open to all couples who are engaged to be married and to newlyweds as well. These 3 sessions will cover topics that I have seen appear in my office and other issues brought up by colleagues that will help keep you on track and hopefully enrich what is already there. The key points covered will be:
Location and dates to be determined.
Generally speaking I love technology. I play video games - on consoles, PC, and phone, I completed my Masters in Counselling Psychology online, and my practice is open to using Skype and other web-telecommunications for reaching clients at a distance. There is a line, though, that people need to identify for themselves in how technology is going to be used especially in the forum of the relationship.
Psychology Today published an awesome article back in July 2016 called "The New Menage a Trois" talking about how various forms of technology have infiltrated the human relationship. There are some couples who thrive using technology - it enhances their relationship, it gives them something to do together. I can think of a couple of couples in particular who really dive into this deeply and thoroughly enjoy it. Equally, I know of many couples who met online and use the web to stay connected at a distance, meeting periodically for dates in each other's home towns for the face-to-face interaction.
When a relationship is getting rocky, though, technology can destroy what little is left.
There are a handful of major dangers that come with technology that I want to explore here (for some additional insights check out this Psychology Today article from 2010):
If you were looking for a 5-step fix for this, well too bad. It's not that easy. In order to fix some of these issues you will need to discuss them, face-to-face, and set rules for meaningful interaction. If you want help doing that I would be more than happy to set up an appointment. Possibly even online.
In case you were curious, these last few lines were meant to be humorous (and true).
For much of my life I have thoroughly enjoyed the work of David Suzuki which included learning from his shows and simply listening to him explain stuff. The guy is a Canadian icon and is certainly knowledgeable about the stuff that he talks about.
Which makes him the perfect patsy for the Ontario Liberals and their commercialization of world ending by climate change.
I am not sure if you have seen the commercial yet but he basically is at a podium in front of some dozens of youth telling them at the world is coming to an end, that it is their parents' fault, and that if things don't change we are screwed followed by saying that it will be up to them to solve the problem. Follow-up to this commercial has kids doodling things that, in their minds, will solve the problem.
Since the commercial has aired I have had a sudden influx in the number of kids coming to my office with their parents with anxiety about the climate which is not an easy conversation.
My problem is not with the climate change theory and the associated factoids. I am perfectly aware that there are shifts happening worldwide that do not fit with climate models that have been developed over the better part of the last century. Statistically there are anomalies popping up everywhere. The blame is being put on human behaviour which I imagine is an unreasonably large portion of the issue but there is nothing that is specifically determined to be causal except the atmospheric retention of heat via greenhouse gas emissions and even that is heavily debated.
My problem is both political and psychological. Suzuki is making these commercials in support of the Ontario Liberal government's environmental programs which have, in the last 10+ years, have successfully managed to keep away any kind of new technology from being marketable to the common consumer while at the same time making it even harder for the common consumer to so much as live in their own home by continuing to allow current power companies to hike prices without notice or justification. Leaving aside the run-on sentence, Suzuki is implicitly supporting a government which will not provide research grants or subsidies for the things that will help us reduce our damage to the planet.
On the psychological side of things these kids in the audience and watching the show are at an age where everything is internalized with little ability to filter by self-discretion. Essentially these youth are going to end up requiring additional assessment and psychological services because they internalized shame - the feeling of guilt for something they didn't do wrong and have no personal control over. It is certainly plausible that some kids will actually take quite well to the challenge and, along with their parents and caregivers, will be able to bypass the doom and gloom and keep their creative minds at work however what I am already starting to see in my office and through other practitioners are children coming into the office more afraid of storms than ever.
I would chock it up to stormy weather in the area but we have had the weakest storm season in 8 years.
For parents: If your child wants to take up Suzuki's challenge and be the difference then by all means let them but do not focus on climate change. Instead teach them about weather, climate, and technology... let them geek out... and see what they come up with. The freer they are to explore the more likely they are to withstand the anxiety and shame that comes with doomsday environmentalism.
There are no words in any language that I even have a remote concept of that describe my feelings toward what happened in the United States yesterday.
I have no doubts that any onlookers would view the nation as violent. They fought and killed each other in civil conflicts, gained their independence through war, and have no issue with absolutely obliterating civilian targets when they see fit [referencing Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and multiple locations in the Middle East]. Fearing such a violent cycle will end, there are some millions who would keep guns, hate, and anger being traded among the population like some bizarre commodity until the nation finally implodes.
Yesterday two young African American men were killed by police officers. Philando Castile was killed during a routine traffic stop, shot when he was reaching for his wallet to provide the agitated officer with proof of ownership, insurance, and his concealed-carry gun licence. Alton Sterling - who was armed at the time - was tackled to the ground by one officer and, while attempting to restrain and I assume handcuff him, the officer's partner pulled out his firearm and threatened to fire eventually pulling the trigger. There is video online about both incidents but I will not post the links. Generally speaking I would let the law decide for itself but there was clear malicious intent in both cases by the officers involved so anything less than a manslaughter charge and immediate dismissal would be absolutely shocking.
Of course, protests followed... and people were ready. Standing on rooftops and on the ground were multiple shooters - between 3 and 5 depending on reports - who opened fire on officers who were containing the peaceful protest. Five officers are confirmed dead including recently married Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson (43) and another half-dozen are injured and/or in surgery.
In all the insanity I can only wonder what kind of stupidity led to all this but then it hit me... Violence only begets violence. War doesn't end by the signing of a document. War ends when the people have all but wiped themselves out OR have taken it upon themselves to end the conflict.
This hasn't happened in the USA and will continue not to happen out of 3 key psychological disturbances: Trepidation, Pride, and Hate. I did not put Anger because anger is a legitimate response to a wrongdoing that can be controlled while the other three have a nasty habit of becoming malignant.
Trepidation is defined as "a fear or agitation that something may happen" and is exactly what I see in the context of both the shootings as officers were prepared to engage long before the young men gave them reason to. Trepidation is a function of anxiety often fueled by a previous trauma, either directly or vicariously (such as hearing about it on the news), and in situations that are similar in structure to the one playing out in the individual's mind they will prepare.
Pride is defined as "the sense of satisfaction that one feels from one's own achievements" and is a good sense to have at some times. What the dictionary fails to add is that pride can also be taken to the level of self-indulgence and self-exaggeration. This happens to people who have made something of themselves and expect others to fall in line and wind up playing the victim. Pride makes us put others down for our own satisfaction - something both officers and civilians are more than guilty of. Don Lemon, CNN Tonight host, has been using his status since the Treyvon Martin shooting (2012) to antagonize police and assist in the oppression of American minorities by victimizing and defaming whomever he can when a story comes up. Apparently there are many in the African American community calling for CNN to fire him especially after yesterday's Twitter and televised remarks about complying with police.
Hate is a "feeling of intense disgust and dislike for" another person/community/race/religion/etc. but is the least dangerous of the three. Hate is something we control and feed ourselves by simply allowing it to exist. It is a conscious effort compared to the other two. Those who have a history of criminal activity hate the legal system and consciously plot ways to see it brought down a notch. It allows us to promote an ideology that suppresses and undermines the legitimacy of the other and is stronger than racism, sexism, or homophobia because of its self-promotion. Hate is what coordinated the attacks against these innocent officers. I read comments on Facebook where people of all ethnicities are saying that all of the officers in Dallas should be killed and, from the other side, how the protesters should be killed. NO ONE DESERVES DEATH. Probably letting my anti-capital punishment flag fly a bit but no human being is in a position to take the life of another unless under specific circumstances and none of those circumstances appeared in the deaths of the officers, Mr. Castile, or Mr. Sterling.
Kinda reminds me of Yoda in Star Wars saying, "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering," and the Star Wars geek in me cannot help but agree that once on the path of the Dark Side, forever will it rule your destiny.
We see these kind of violent paths taken in the home, as well. One person feels as though they deserve more of something than they are receiving, possibly envious of the things of others, and attempt to get more. Could be husbands wanting more control in the home, could be children wanting better toys... under the euthanasia legislation and lack of protections within it could be a son or daughter wanting their inheritance. When we start to put ourselves above others we step up to the slippery slope.
Edit of a shorter update. Clarity was required.
As is made quite clear by my other posts I do care about the words used by people to express their feelings, ideals, and opinions. I know I don't use words perfectly myself but in my experience there is an innate understanding that the words we use often are not the expressions we are seeking.
Love and Judgement are two such examples. I have already done some work in explaining Love and the weakness we Anglophones place on such a powerful word by using one word to describe our feelings toward everything from spouses to pizza. The Greeks had the true capability to describe their love to friends, family, spouses, and those around them - philia, storge, eros, and agape, respectively, the latter of which we also completely misuse. Love is a service and to love someone is to be in that person's service, and they to your service, as love is reciprocal and productive.
None of the 4 loves that the Greeks understood and nothing that Aristotle and Greco-Roman philosophers would ever say is that loving a person means letting them do as that person pleases - with the very slight exception of the hedonists who believed that all should seek what pleasures them even to the expense and harm of others. Love builds up the person toward transcendence, nirvana, heaven, and whatnot - the highest ideals of the human being. Because of the sense of guidance that comes from love, it is expected that those from whom love comes will also point out where someone has erred.
There is, however, a thin line between love and judgement. To judge a person is to assume a higher status than the person being judged. It is possible to both love and show judgment but that is rarely what happens. We judge out of vengeance, fear, anger, and other self-interests which is contradictory to love. Judgment without justice - restoration or reconciliation - fails all parties involved.
I do a lot of work with youth and young adults who are meandering their way through the Ontario education system and periodically, through my e-counselling network, catch a young person in another province and the consistent issue that I ultimately end up working through with these kids is a sense of meaning in education.
Back when I was in high school (Fellowes High School, Class of 2007; Rideau High School/Bishop Smith Catholic High School, Victory Lap 2008) my teachers from Grade 9 to Grade 12 instilled in me and my fellow students a sense that as boring as their lives in the school may feel that it was going to lead to what we want to do for the rest of our lives. It didn't matter if you were in the Academic/University, Applied/College, Open, Mixed, or Workplace/Apprenticeship stream courses; in each course there was at least a shallow sense that being in that class had a time-bending connection to your future.
My sister, who graduated this past week, didn't feel that sense of meaning from her teachers except for her tutor who took additional time to help the coursework mean something for what my sister felt called to do in her adult life. To my understanding from working with youth today this is a very common feeling. There is no sense of urgency. Little sense of guidance.
It could be said that my teachers went above and beyond but my teachers are teaching my young clients.
Instead what I see the issue as is more to do with what teachers are able to do. Updates (downgrades) to the curricula are making it so that teachers have less time and less ability to connect with students. Relationships that couldn't be built in the classroom were often developed in extra-curricular activities but teachers are being forced to back out of those activities because of the amount of class-work that needs to be done in unreasonable time-frames. School counselling staff are also significantly under-trained to handle personal issues that are getting in the way of their pupils' studies, much less help prepare students for their careers with small schools amalgamating into one great blob.
Yes, I have no problem saying that small schools being closed is part of the issue. I trace it back to Emile Durkheim and the theory of anomie. Although typically a sociological theory it has powerful psychological ramifications. Durkheim wrote about anomie in his work "Suicide" (1897) but back in 1893 he was referencing the lawlessness (hence anomie: a- prefix for without and -nomos suffix and standalone word for law); transliterated for French) that was appearing as people left the rural regions in favour of growing towns and cities. Often combined with the word anonymous, anomie helped explain how the loss of shared ideals while the society became heterogeneous - as different people and their norms join a society there is a time of connection and assimilation and during this time there is deviance as the society adjusts to share ideals - in combination with Merton's Strain Theory.
I scale down anomie to attach it to the schools that are amalgamated as the local populations surrounding those schools decline and those students are transferred as a money-saving method. Changes in curricula, behavioural norms, and other basic social controls make it easy for youth to fall through the cracks and perceive meaninglessness. As his book's title suggests, Durkheim believed that the pinnacle of this social disorder was the perception that there is nothing to live for and with no sense of meaning there is little left to do but kill oneself or their future.
Join me in calling for the ministries to put more funding forward for trained educational/career counsellors into the schools because this cannot continue. I am sick from what I am seeing.
Music and art are amazing things.
Music has a habit of getting us pumped up, chilled out, maybe even a little frisky, but what does music have to do with the brain and, in particular, our mental well-being?
I remember in high school there were all kinds of jokes going around about how some genres are correlated with suicidality and violence and there is some merit to that, at least according to studies released in the early 2000s. Pop and rap lyrics over the last 20 years have also gotten sexually violent in promoting aggression, not to mention music videos becoming more and more suggestive and/or explicit (Rich, M. et al. 1998; Cruz, C., & Bushman, B.J., 2014). Further, music videos and lyrics may also be affecting self-image in both boys and girls (Mulgrew, K.E., Volcevski-Kostas, D., & Rendell, P.G., 2014; Flynn, M.A., Park, S-Y., Morin, D.T., & Stana, A., 2015; Flynn, M.A., Craig, C.M., Anderson, C.N., & Holody, K.J., 2016). This is all before getting into music media and addictive behaviour (Collinson, L., Jodge, L., Stanley, J, & Wilson, N, 2015).
All citations will follow this posting along with hyperlinks to articles and/or abstracts. What I really want to focus on is how we can bend music and lyrics to fit our own needs outside of what the media has either presented explicitly or what is perceived implicitly.
For example, nude art. The most basic expression in hand-made art is the naked human form. In fact, many art programs will first instruct on how to depict basic human forms - hands, face, genitals - before moving on to adding clothing, movement, and alike. Nude art, however, is very rarely pornographic. Matt Fradd, a Catholic Apologist and Public Speaker, addressed this issue very well in two parts, both having to do with intention. First is the intention of the artist. Is the artist attempting to pay homage to the naked human form in all its beauty or are they trying to abuse the body? Are they attempting to arouse the audience sexually or intellectually? Second is the intention of the viewer. Does the viewer get their rocks off by looking at nude portraits? Is the viewer seeking to improve their artistic capabilities in viewing this image? If either of the intentions are for sexual gratification then the image becomes pornographic.
Equally with music. Regardless of what the artists and/or lyricists say there is explicitly sexual, violent, and subversive content available and it was made for the purpose of gratification, release, or subversion. A great example of this is 50 Cent (aka Curtis J. Jackson III) Candy Shop which is very explicitly about sex, violence, and drug use - even in the clean version. I heard a girl singing this to herself the other day who was at max 12 years old which is only slightly impressive because the song came out in 2005. Sexualization and violence in pop music is nothing new, either, simply looking at by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Nine Inch Nails, Tove Lo, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Jay-Z, Madonna, Motley Crue, REM, Jane's Addiction, Saving Abel, Katy Perry, Kesha, Taio Cruz, Nicki Minaj, and alike... and those are just artists I am thinking of off the top of my head!
But what of the good of music? As mentioned at the top music can be very motivational. Athletes have favourites they listen to before hitting their respective fields and courts which sometimes include violent and subversive tunes but they are able to bypass that factor (although there are psychologists who would argue that some sports, such as boxing and hockey, are sublimations or ways for people to release their violent tendencies in a socially acceptable way). Good music, which I would describe as being upbeat in tone and non-violent/sexual in lyrics isn't as few and far between as people may think.
Find what you like and let me know your thoughts on music that makes you happy either by replying below or emailing me. I will update the post later with my picks.
Collinson, L., Judge, L., Stanley, J., & Wilson, N. (2015). Portrayal of violence, weapons, antisocial behaviour, and alcohol: Study of televised music videos in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 128.
Flynn, M.A., Craig, C.M., Anderson, C.N., & Holody, K.J. (2016). Objectification in popular music lyrics: An examination of gender and genre differences. Sex Roles.
Flynn, M.A., Park, S-Y, Morin, D.T., & Stana, A. (2015). Anything but real: Body idealization and objectification of MTV docusoap characters. Sex Roles, 72(5-6).
Mulgrew, K.E., Volcevski-Kostas, D., & Rendell, P.G. (2013). The effect of music video clips on adolescent boys' body image, mood, and schema activation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
Rich, M., Woods, E.R., Goodman, E., Emans, S.J., & DuRant, R.H. (1998). Aggressors or victims: Gender and race in music video violence. Pediatrics, 101(4).
Just a way to get a few thoughts across outside of the office. In this blog you may even find entries that assist in your healing without needing a session