Archive for the ‘identity’ Category

An Open Letter to Young Adults about Sex, Drugs and Alcohol

February 27, 2015

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Dear Young Person: Alcohol, drugs and sexuality can enhance and create life. They work. They can alter your moods, change your perceptions and disinhibit you. It’s fun to be able to behave differently. Blotting out discomfort relieves anxiety. Going wild can release tension. Alcohol, drugs and sexuality have always been part of the human experience. Think of them as elegant enhancements to already very wondrous life experiences. The young adults I know move me with their energy, brilliance and dedication to causes and creativity. Even those making traditional choices bring unique voices to their work and professions. When I think that you are the future, I want nothing more than to nurture and support you, paving the way for your dreams. Yet, some of you have taken a dangerous detour. The current style of drug, alcohol and sexuality misuse both deprives and potentially harms you.

Our society, and that includes the people who raised you, haven’t figured out how to talk about limits without going back to a more repressive past. Rock and rap stars make tons of money pushing an image of sexy macho hooking-up druggy behavior but it isn’t real. When real people try and live that way, it usually feels really, really bad. People get hurt and violated. Further, attending high school, college or graduate school for the purposes of wild partying disrespects yourself, the concept of education, and all those people in the world who would give anything to have the privilege of education.

I know you have been given mixed messages about all of this stuff and it isn’t your fault if you think the only way to have a good time is to obliterate your mind. So, if you will allow me, I have put together a few modern guidelines for how to navigate the difficult terrain of drugs, alcohol and sexuality. Here goes: (more…)

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Thinking Through Diversity

May 28, 2014



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I have been very involved in thinking about how the ideas of diversity help us build our shared society.  I recently published this piece on CNN.com trying to pull together a way of conceptualizing how in our diversity we are together.

Affluenza doesn’t excuse wrongdoing

December 13, 2013

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from “The Guardian”

Ethan Couch’s lawyer defended him by stating that he was not responsible for driving drunk and killing four people because he had “affluenza”.The legal argument dazzles.  Psychological research doesn’t support it.

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Numbers Don’t Tell The Whole Story

September 13, 2012

Does being self-reliant mean a person can’t also have needs? Is the success of the wealthy also built upon the working and middle classes? Are those stricken by poverty affected by the more resourced classes? Some thoughts about this at the InAmerica blog at CNN.com.

Why Therapy?

September 9, 2012

People who consult with me rarely ask this question directly, but it often lingers in the background.  The assumed but often unstated answer emphasizes how talking to a trained clinician will help diminish problems like depression/anxiety/obsessions.

That answer, however,  rarely satisfies.  What people really want to know is “Why do I NEED therapy? The best response examines and challenges some complicated assumptions about dependence and self reliance.

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Identity and Environments

February 5, 2012

from geograph.org.uk

When I spent time with my grandmother in McAdoo, PA, I found myself speaking with that inflected “yous” that meant “you.” As a student at Wesleyan University I was very open and even funny.  I spent some time in the Philippines as a child, and still retain some native culture style naturalness. At home, I yearn to bake and knit. Each of these places and the people who inhabit them constitute a solid core of my personality.

People I work with describe being multi-cultural, or of being mixed races; or of having a variety of racial and class affiliations.  In addition, some people very strongly believe themselves to be a part of their landscapes, like farmers or rangers. Others claim that they belong to the sea, while some insist that they are only mountain or city people.  Still people point to relationships, historical events, and memorable moments in their childhoods that mark their sense of self. (more…)

Social class in white America

February 5, 2012

from blackliberal.wordpress.com

A post on class in white America from InAmerica/CNN.com and a creative response to Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State Of White America 1960-2010

New Post on CNN about Identity

November 25, 2011

I’ve been doing some thinking about identity.  Please see this post, “Don’t forget where you came from”  and Learning from baba’s list featured on CNN’s great new In America blog: “You define America. What defines you?”


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