Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Comment on Current Race Relations

August 27, 2020
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I’m not getting into any specific arguments about who thought or did what regarding Jordan Blake, George Floyd, or any of the other black and brown people we’ve seen mercilessly killed. I’m not going to explain away, justify or even say the name(s) of those who have enacted white supremacy by taking the law into their own hands outfitted with a lethal weapon.

We have a problem in this country with race, guns, and violence. Simple.

We have reached a tipping point regarding race and everyone needs to take action to fix this problem. As I have said elsewhere on CNN, we have a history of projecting all of humanity’s complexity into the identities of people with darker skin. Simple. This needs to change.

As a female who would be identified as a white psychologist, mother, daughter, sister, wife, and friend I stand with my black and brown friends, colleagues and strangers because we are all humans – parents, children, siblings, spouses and friends.

Simple. We are one family of people.

We must always stand for one another; if one of us hurts we all hurt. I can’t experience the exact same pain of many black and brown people. It doesn’t matter. Members of my human community are hurting. Simple.

And yes many white working class people have also been hurt by the greed and injustice of economic inequality. I’ll stand with them as well. It is, however, its own and different form of oppression. If we had run half as many news stories about black men in bars as white rural men in bars we might understand this better.

Let’s keep perspective. One story doesn’t cancel out the other. And they don’t require the same psychological challenge to overcome. Oppressed workers shouldn’t out voice the tragedy of racism.

Who are we that this even needs to be said?

In this fight we need everyone – the entire human community has to come together to fight the practice of putting the bad in someone else rather than ourselves.

As a psychologist my job is to help. This is what I can and will do.

1) Validate that racism exists.

2) Focus on the real impact of racial violence on our black and brown citizens. Listen.

3) Think twice before making attributions about people.

4) Scour my inner self for any vestiges of unconscious racism and root it out.

5) Ensure that psychological work is available to all who need it regardless of their income level.

6) Promise that all the people with whom I work receive the dignity of my interest in their story and not only the imposition of psychological ideas onto their narrative.

7) Challenge the ideas inherent in psychological theory and history that creates hierarchy, pathology and discrimination out of difference.

8) Make equal and economic justice for all people something I work on everyday; embed these principles in my every action.

9) Stand up and fight for my fellow black and brown citizens when they ask and don’t dismiss or disparage their pain.

10) Be a good person, a civically minded person, toward everyone.

Simple. What’s your plan? What else can I do? Let me know. I’m here, open and ready to change.

Thinking Through Diversity

May 28, 2014


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 trying to pull together a way of conceptualizing how in our diversity we are together.

We Have To Talk About Violence

April 23, 2013


I asked the graduate students in my child psychopathology class about their reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings. Their surprise that I would ask confused me.  Was I really the first to ask?

It seems as though we haven’t found a way to have the tough, complicated discussions that might be the only thing we can do about violence and terrorism.  It may be important to move on and get back to normal.  But what if what has been going on isn’t normal? See below for an overview of my students’ and clients’ comments (printed anonymously to perserve confidentiality).


Mental Health as a Management Strategy

January 27, 2013


I was pleased to see Elyn R. Sak’s article in the New York Times today.  Her story opens a new dialogue about mental illness.  Instead of cultivating “patient” status and transforming people into fractions of who they could otherwise be, treatment for serious mental illness should focus on the management of symptoms.  In this way the exact symptoms of mental illness can become sources of strength if not talent.


Lets Honor the Angels We Lost by Coming Together

December 18, 2012


Everyone is trying to do all they can to respond to the Newtown tragedy. Far away in a busy city, this piece at is what I could do. May this time of year bring warmth, love and comfort to all. And change.

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

Identity and Environments

February 5, 2012


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…)

Limits Sustain People and the Environment

July 15, 2011

Part Five of the series on convergence of environmental and mental health (see part 1 here,  part 2 here, part 3 here and part 4 here ).

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President Obama is correctly observing that budgetary health depends on incisive and strategic limit setting.The same is true for ecological and psychological health. Most people tend to over correct for problems assuming that only massive overhaul constitutes change. Yet we have evidence to the contrary. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg has created a sustainable urban ecology and economy by taking small yet systemically coherent steps, see here. Likewise, we can produce psychological and environmental balance by exercising limits without cutting off what is best about the expansive possibilities of our minds and our resources.

Is the United States a culture of excess? Some think so, including Jay Slosar.  My take? People have lost the practice of personal and environmental frugality because technological innovation has been exciting and stimulating, and mostly for the good. How amazing to be able to save lives, prevent disease, feed the hungary! How great to be able to enjoy fresh food in the winter, travel to see loved ones, and to know the world! In pursuit of the possibilities of our modern conveniences, we have all lost track of personal and environmental boundaries.  In the end, our landscapes and our minds do have end points. It may be important to tether the open horizon of expansionism and possibility to inherent psychological and environmental, not to mention budgetary, boundaries.  Working within sustainable boundaries doesn’t mean returning to the caves or preparing for life on another plant.  It means integrating a few old-fashioned rules back into the American lifestyle.


The Arts, Sustainability and Mental Health

July 8, 2011

Part four of the series on convergence of environmental and mental health (see part 1 here,  part 2 here and part 3 here ).

When a person is troubled by symptoms and problems that cause pain to self and others psychotherapy is an invaluable curative process.  Yet, the process of exploration should not be confined only to the therapist’s office. Exposure to and involvement with the arts is also an important strategy for alleviating psychological symptoms.  Further, artistic expression is for the most part a green activity, see here, here, here. The practice of engaging with the creative arts supports psychological well-being as well as sustainability  See more after the jump. (more…)

Thoughts about Japan by Adrian Tait

March 14, 2011


I haven’t been able to organize my thinking around what is taking place in Japan.  I received, however, a thoughtful post from  a colleague, Adrian Tait (UKCP Registered Psychotherapist, Member: The Guild of Psychotherapists, Visiting Fellow: Centre for Psycho-Social Studies, University of the West of England) written to a newly forming alliance of clinicians looking at the relationship between climate change and human behavior.  He raises evocative questions and thoughts. See it here: (more…)

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