Archive for January, 2011

Jan 20 2011

Scope of the Child Abuse Problem in America

The numbers of children abused in America each year are staggering.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates 879,000 children were victims of child maltreatment in 2000. Of this total, 63% of the children were neglected, 19% were physically abused, 10% were sexually abused and 8% were psychologically abused.

I think we all have to agree it’s easier to ignore or deny the estimate that 87,900 children may be sexually abused in our country each year.

How do we wrap our minds around these very high numbers of children abused and neglected?

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Jan 20 2011

Psychologists and Lawyers Facing Professional and International Legal Action for Their Participation in the United States Torture Program

The United Nations Convention Against Torture  define torture as:“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

Mental health professionals, especially psychologists, have been grappling with the realization that licensed psychologists were involved in the design and implementation of the US torture program.
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Jan 20 2011

Freud’s Certainty, then Doubt in Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse: Recovered Memory Series

One only needs to examine the work of Freud to see the origins of the recovered memory debate.In 1896, Freud wrote of a pattern of sexual abuse of women in eighteen consecutive cases.

Robert Dewey quotes Freud in his “Introduction to Psychology”:

“The event of which the subject has retained an unconscious memory is a precocious [unusually early] experience of sexual relations with actual excitement of the genitals,

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Jan 20 2011

Memory Wars: Exploring the Science in the Recovered Memory Debate

Recovered memories refers to the phenomenon of human beings forgetting aspects of their personal history, then remembering it later, often decades later.

Although therapists have witnessed recovered memories of their clients in the sanctity of the therapist room, mistakes made by overzealous therapists, law enforcement officers and others evaluating possible abuse gave rise to research and legal advocacy efforts to cast doubt on the reliability of recovered memories.

The debate about the reliability of recovered memories became known as “the memory wars.”

I am dedicating the next series of posts to an exploration of this debate. There are many prominent researchers who you will hear about, especially Elizabeth Loftus, Bessel Van der Kolk, Jim Hopper, Ken Pope, Richard McNally, Ross Chiet among others, along with the “talking points” of the skeptics and deniers of recovered memory.
To start off, we need to understand the culture giving rise to this debate.

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Jan 20 2011

Joe Laur Turned 60: Words of Wisdom for Men to Live By

This morning I turned 60.

I am a son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband, father, grandfather, friend and colleague. 3 of my grandparents lived into their 90’s, the youngster passing at 85. My father died at 83 but I plan to live to 110. I think I’ll make it given the way I feel today.

I started working at something from age 11. I have been a newspaper recycler(back then it was called scrapping), muskrat trapper, paperboy, stock boy and grocery bagger, construction worker(for my dad), dietary aide, artist’s model, broiler man and dishwasher, truck driver, longshoreman, telephone solicitor (not my finest moment), costumer, chemical worker, actor, massage therapist, health club director, Rolfer, EMT, firefighter,  men’s training leader, executive director of New Warriors, sustainability consultant, corporate executive, and currently executive director  for ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal and solar farm developer.

I sing, make maple syrup, used to play drums, now play guitar, write songs, essays, blogs, poems and the occasional prayer. I build saunas, sheds and cabins. I have a barn in the works if I can afford it. I love to study biology and physics, metaphysics, Hebrew and any spiritual or religious text. I am in rabbinic school but taking my time on the path. I lead prayer services now and again, and chant Torah. I’ve presided at one wedding and have just been asked to preside at another. I’ve coauthored two books and gave away the idea for a third, writing the forward for it. I have one CD out and songs for two more.

My wife is a goddess and inspires me every day to new heights. My children are the kind of people I want to be when I grow up. And my friends and colleagues are loyal, loving, and brilliant. Oh and my dog is too!  My web of relationships is a gift from the One. And everything is good on that front as well.

Today I’m going to celebrate my birthday by taking a very hot sauna and jumping into the very cold trout stream on our 10 acre homestead where I do all the other things.

Rumor has it that 5 or 6 people are coming Saturday night to celebrate.

I would not trade for all my youth the fire that is in me now.

This morning I turned 60.

Joe Laur

We spend our time worrying about our physical well being and the state of our neighbor’s soul. Better we should spend our time worrying about our neighbor’s physical well being and the state of our own soul. “

-Rabbi Israel Salantar

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Jan 14 2011

Facebook Revolution: Truth to Power

We are truly living in a remarkable era.

Truth telling via internet media like Facebook, blogging, and  other ways to transmit words and images has brought revolutionary change to places like Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya, one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.

Truth to power. May it bring us more peace, justice and democracy all over the world.

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Jan 05 2011

Use of Cognitive Restructuring for Evaluating Alcohol Use

If you are reading my blog or know me, you realize I like to use the cognitive restructuring exercise a lot. It is a great tool to help clients evaluate their own thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behavior.

It works great in evaluating alcohol problems. Here is how it works…

A- Activating Event: you or someone you know worries about your drinking…this may cause an internal or inter-personal conflict.
B-Automatic Beliefs: so, when you or someone worries about your drinking, you have automatic beliefs that may or may not be rational.

If they are irrational,then they will cause you to continue to behave in the same way over and over.

Your wife may complain about your drinking, especially when you drink and pass out on the couch. When she complains, you may have the following automatic thoughts:

  • I do not have a drinking problem
  • I do not drink any more than any of my friends
  • I don’t drink and drive
  • You (the wife) are hypersensitive about my drinking
  • I am really sick of hearing you (the wife) complaining

As you can see, these automatic thoughts are quite negative and usually lead to one of two options:

  • flight (avoidance, disconnection, running away, discounting, running away from the problem)
  • or fight (yelling back, blaming the (wife) for false judgments, arguing, denial, tons and tons of unresolved fights)

C-Consequence: The consequence is the flight or fight described above…all in all, not a good outcome.
Many people who are confronted about their drinking feel defensive and angry. This often leads to fighting or running away from confronting whether or not there is a problem with their drinking.
D-Debate (with yourself): this is the best strategy. Challenge your automatic beliefs and any defensiveness, anger or other strong feelings you experience.

To make any progress here, you MUST start to be realistic and rationale about the role of drinking in your life.

Go back and do the 3 Step evaluation process…be scientific about this…

Maybe your (wife) is right about this…there are many ways to look at the use of alcohol that may be a source of good information about yourself.

Just because all of your friends will drink 5-8 drinks when out may mean your friends drink too much, not that you are all normal drinkers.
When embrace someone’s concerns for you and really look at the way you drink more objectively, you and your partner are entering into an intimate and helpful problem-solving process.

So,here are some of the key questions you can use to debate and challenge yourself:

  • What is the role alcohol plays in your life?
  • Why do you drink?
  • Are you able to stop drinking easily or does one lead to more?
  • What would you miss if you stopped drinking?
  • How would your life change if you stopped drinking?

E-Effective Plan: Answer these questions as best you can, and then develop an action plan with more effective coping behaviors to address this issue.
For example, if your drinking is not a problem, you will have plenty of evidence to argue your case.
If you need to reduce or cut back, you can work on a strategy to do this.
Maybe you need to stop completely…again, you can develop a plan that fits you.

Approach this scientifically, using research based methods. It will help.

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