Thinking the Unthinkable: OCD and Virtue Ethics

Daniel Callcut (who happens to be my former graduate advisor) wrote a really excellent piece for Aeon. I encourage you to check it out because understanding it will help you understand this post. Besides, it’s just a wonderful piece to read.

The query is basically this: If virtue is (at least, in part) not even being able to think certain things, what happens now that anyone can access unthinkable things on the internet?

At first, I was taken by this. It seems true, at first, that virtue is not being able to even imagine–not being able to think–certain things.

But, alas. As always, I’ll have to disagree with my former advisor.

I have studied certain what I’ll call mental illnesses. I know Callcut has, too, so I’m surprised he overlooked this. However, in our current understanding of things like anxiety and OCD, thoughts “arrive like butterflies.” We do not have control over many of our thoughts. They are generated by what I’ll call externals.

For people with anxiety or OCD, these thoughts are, in fact, highly distressing. Callcut indicates that whatever one pays attention to is who one actually is. However, in the case of OCD, people pay quite a lot of attention to thoughts they find highly disturbing–and they try to push these thoughts away. A person with, say, a sexual obsession may have thoughts of groping other people and this may highly distress the person. However, it is known that someone like this is extremely unlikely to act out on these thoughts.

So it seems what we pay attention to is not at all who we are.

This is a critical matter. I hope Callcut and others will take a look at instances like these and revise accordingly the idea that virtue is not even having certain thoughts, for our person with the sexual obsession in the case above is, quite probably, a virtuous person.

-Jennifer

UPDATE 5/21/2019: I made a related video on this:

A Story for the Long Road

This year marks 15 years since I graduated with my undergraduate degrees in philosophy and psychology.

I was a teen mom. At the age of 14, I got pregnant. At 15, I gave birth. I attended a school for teen parents—and it was my dream to not only graduate high school, but to go on to college for two things (1) to learn and, (2) to be able to support my daughter.

I graduated high school in 1998, which was a feat in itself for a teen mother:

Jennifer Lawson’s High School diploma.

After I graduated from Stetson University, my dream school, I made a plan for graduate school. My goal then was to get a PhD in philosophy and work in academia. I was accepted to the University of North Florida in the Master’s program for Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics. This particular study is geared toward making decisions in the real world. I loved it.

During the time I was at UNF, I worked hard. I was a Teaching Assistant, a Research Assistant—and still a mom on top of it all.

But I got merely 3 hours of sleep each night.

Soon, my health deteriorated.

At this moment, I still haven’t finished my Master’s Degree. I wound up very ill from pushing myself too hard. Maybe I will finish. Maybe I won’t. What’s clear is that I haven’t given up on learning.

I took time off to recuperate, rest and recover, all the while remaining active in as many things as possible.

Ten years later, and here I am. I just got a job I love, which also happens to pay well.

There’s many stories in the news right now about mostly young people who accomplished their goal of graduating college, often overcoming hardship.

Sometimes life goes according to plan. But sometimes it doesn’t. You have to be flexible. Yes, you need determination. Yes, you have to fight obstacles. But you must also never forget to take time for yourself and your loved ones.

My life didn’t go according to plan. Yet, I still took the hard road. I did graduate college. I did go to graduate school. And now, I have a good job.

You dreams are worth it. Never give up—even when the road not taken winds up taking 10 years.

On Becoming a Grandmother at 40

I am expecting to become a grandmother in just a couple of months. My daughter is pregnant with twins. I was a teenage mom, so I’ll not even be 40 when my grandbabies arrive.

The prospect of becoming a grandmother has hit me in different ways than becoming a mother. I want to be there for my daughter and her family. Even moreso, I want to live to see my grandchildren graduate (at least) high school. This means trying to take care of myself as best as I can.

Often, when we think about self-care, we think of having a spa day. It can most definitely be that, but it is more about loving yourself. When you think you are worthwhile, worthy of love and love yourself, that’s when real self-care begins. It costs practically nothing to get to this place in life. It certainly doesn’t mean expensive spa days, but it might mean counseling–a very worthwhile expense.

The babies coming into my life make me want to love myself, for what better gift could I give them than being a great role model and helping them love themselves?

It’ll be a couple of months. We are still preparing. But whenever they end up getting here, I’ll be ready with tons of love and, hopefully, a long, grandmotherly life to give them.

-Jennifer

Converting a CV into a Resume

About 15 years ago, I decided to devote my entire life to academia. So, I did all the things academics do–conferences, refereeing papers, academic blogging, and so forth.

It turned out I left academia and I found it difficult to convert my CV into a resume. This post is for those in a similar situation.

If you are in academia and wish to convert your CV, I’ve found that, first, your academic work counts and matters! You may need to explain what you’ve done to non-academics, but all the things you have done are very important and transfer into the private industry.

As a TA and RA, I didn’t typically utilize people such as Departmental Administrative Assistants. I made copies myself. I answered emails myself. I took phone calls myself.

This gave me skills I now use at my private industry job–being a Executive Assistant.

Handling paperwork, working on top projects in one’s field–these all matter to private industry employers.

You have skills. Show them off!

Here is my CV cum resume. Take a look at it. It secured me a job in private industry.

As you can see, it’s a bit longer than most resumes. I didn’t hold back. If I have skills and experience, I want to demonstrate them. I encourage academics going into industry to do the same.

It’s easy to think you have no skills, but you do! You have amassed a great amount of diverse skills as an academic. Show them off. And good luck transferring into private industry!

-Jennifer

What Gender is My Keurig?

An article in the New York Review of Books got me thinking that we need to seriously think about AI.

Sure, there’s people who think about AI–and think seriously about it. But I mean non-experts. All of us should be thinking about AI because it might mean a total revolution of basic concepts.

I was thinking about this a while back and I briefly wondered the gender of my Keurig. Well, I figured, it’s Keurig-gender. (I also figured there were multiple Keurig-genders.) I left it at that.

Keurig-gender, for me, was not male or female as we know it. It was a specific type of gender of the species Keurig.

This might sound a bit crazy to you, but the day might not be far off when we do need to consider the gender of AIs–and it’s totally possible to have a “smart Keurig” in such a future.

It might be easy to think of AIs as having no gender or being genderless. After all, many conflate sex and gender and a Keurig or an Alexa have no sexual parts. But sex and gender are not the same. Whatever we decide gender is, it happens that most humans have one and if we are thinking about creating subhumans or humanoids, they will likely have one, too.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. There are many things we have simply not explored regarding AIs. It’s time we do–before time is up.

-Jennifer

Rawlsian Politics: Voting Using the Veil of Ignorance

John Rawls is one of the most influential contemporary philosophers. His work has been used all over the place and proved to be helpful in many ways. Today, I want to discuss the practice of voting using some ideas from Rawls.

In A Theory of Justice, Rawls posits what he calls “the original position.” In this position, we do not know who we are or what place we have in society. Thinking using this scheme is called being behind “the veil of ignorance.”

If we use the veil of ignorance when voting, we think about policies and their effects by not knowing who we are or what place we have in society. You can imagine that you are an immigrant, a poor white person, a person with disabilities–or any number of things. The point is: You do not know who you are in society.

When you vote using the veil of ignorance, I think you will see that you will favor policies that benefit marginalized people simply because you do not know if you are one of them.

Think about using the veil of ignorance when voting and let me know the conclusions you come to!

-Jennifer

Slave of the Passions?

David Hume famously wrote that “Reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions.” Hume did outstanding work on moral psychology, but I wanted to discuss the “back and forth” between reason and emotion.

This back and forth–where one is cognizant of one’s emotions and then learns to regulate the is known as emotional regulation. As human grow and develop, hopefully they develop this back and forth play and learn to moderate emotions as needed.

Regulating one’s emotions is an important part of maturing and living a healthy life. Some philosophers, such as Martha Nussbaum, discuss the intelligence of emotions. They may be intelligent, but they can also get out of hand, in which case, that’s not too bright.

Just as emotions can get out of hand, so too can reason get out of hand. Much ink has been spilled recently about EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and its importance. Being overly cognitive and having an emotion deficit can be a problem, too.

The key, as in most cases, is balance. Learning to regulate one’s emotions may be a lifelong task for some, but it’s well worth it.

-Jennifer

The Inflexible Flexibility of Harry Potter

Jonathan Lear has famously argued we need flexibility because each of us individually and as a species are vulnerable to things like cultural breakdown. Lear cites Plenty Coup–his life and the lives of the Crows to make this case.

Over the years, I have either agreed with him or taken issue with numerous points in the book Radical Hope.

What I want to do today, on International Harry Potter Day, is draw lessons from the Harry Potter series that we may learn about flexibility.

Contrary to Sitting Bull, Plenty Coup sided, in various ways, with the United States. The Crows had scouts working with the United States, for example.

We can get into historical debates about these facts. For instance, we can point to the fact that the Crows and Sioux were already enemies prior to the United States’ invasion.

But let’s just stick with the facts.

It is well-known the Crows sided with the United States–or worked with the United States–in many ways.

Sitting Bull is famous for not working with the United States and for fighting for freedom and resisting tirelessly the United States’ policies.

Which one is the best choice?

Lear sides with Plenty Coups. In the past, I have sided with Sitting Bull. But I wonder if this is not a false dichotomy. Let us turn now to Harry Potter.

Although the Potter series is fictional and has the familiar trappings of being such, there’s simply tons of realism in the books. I have mentioned flexibility as one of the virtues Harry and gang needed in order to defeat Lord Voldemort. And it’s true. Read to books, if you haven’t already, to learn all the ways Harry Potter had to be flexible and resilient. In fact, I would argue that without these virtues, it’s basically impossible for Harry to have defeated the Dark Lord.

But was Harry also a bit stubborn and stuck in his ways–the way Lear argues Sitting Bull may have been?

Of course.

After all, it was a sustained effort, taking several years, to defeat Lord Voldemort. But Harry didn’t budge.

The other day, when talking about flexibility, I told a couple of people, “You have to be a little bit Gumby.” And, it’s true. You do.

Growing up, I had a Gumby figurine and I can tell you that, although it was pretty flexible, it certainly would go back to its shape and it only moved within a certain range. So the figurine had a lot of flexibility, but it also remained the same.

I think we can learn something from Gumby and from Harry Potter. There are certain things we ought not budge on. But, for many others, keeping flexibility will be a huge part of our successes in life.

This is the story Lear probably should have told about flexibility.

After all, it would be heroic for a young woman to basically tell Hitler, “Fuck you, motherfucker.” That’s not being flexible about Hitler’s policies. On the contrary, that would be utterly grounded in the Good. But, in order for a young woman or group of people to actually defeat Hitler, it took sustained effort and, well, flexibility.

Harry Potter can teach all about the contextual sort of adaptability.

-Jennifer

Harry Potter Day: A Reflection on Trials and Tribulations

Today is International Harry Potter Day. On this day, according to the books, Harry Potter defeated the Dark Lord at the Battle of Hogwarts.

I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan. I know of bigger fans. But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what the books teach us about defeating evil.

Harry and team took over 8 solid years to defeat Lord Voldemort in an often sustained fight of good versus evil. It took courage, wit, cunning, flexibility, thought, deliberation, trying and failing before the Dark Lord was defeated.

One moral, aside from the fact that evil can and will be defeated, that we can take from the Harry Potter series is that, with time and a sustained effort, one may in fact succeed.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for showing us these important things.

Truth as Destroyer?

I came across this cartoon today:

I wondered if this is how we ought to go about things. I also wondered whether there are some things that are true that show believing in certain untrue things has a certain value.

For example, when I took a grad course called “Lies and Self-Deception,” we learned that having a certain amount of religiousity or spirituality leads to a longer, healthier, happier life. That doesn’t mean there is a God. That means one’s belief in a God and certain practices, such as prayer, are conducive to a longer, healthier, happier life. Should we banish a belief in God even though this belief and associated practices help create a better life?

It turns out that truth is not so simple.

Personally, I like to take a positive approach where truth is a builder of new ideas–a creator, not a destroyer.

Are there myths, narratives and constructs that need to be banished by truth? Absolutely.

Likewise, there are new concepts, new ideas we could probably use, too.

So, should we think of truth as a destroyer? Probably not. At least, not merely so.

-Jennifer

Got Language? Thank a Person with Schizophrenia

In a well-known paper in schizophrenia research, Timothy Crow argues that schizophrenia is the price Homo Sapiens pay for having language. In a way, this makes sense. Think of any organism or machine. The more parts they have, the more complex they are, the more things can go awry.

On this view, it could be argued that you should thank a person with schizophrenia (if you are not so diagnosed) because they are evidence of your complexity–in addition to having a complexity of their own!

The features of schizophrenia may seem odd or unusual to those not so diagnosed, but they are really just things that are magnified that you probably experience–an eerie feeling, seeing a shadow and thinking something is there. These are things many people experience but that are more pronounced in people with schizophrenia.

I do not know whether schizophrenia is the price we pay for having language, but it’s worth a thought or two.

-Jennifer

What Kind of World Do You Want?

Voting and political activism and commentary is serious business. Each of us is entitled–up to a certain point–to express views, vote for who we want, and so forth.

When we think of the shape we want our country to be, it’s important to know these are very much philosophical questions. They may be informed and bolstered by empirical data, but ultimately when you take a position on something, it is most likely a philosophical position.

I have remained blissfully unaware of much of the current political atmosphere. That’s not because I wish to be ignorant or think politics unimportant. It is quite the opposite. I take in bits and pieces of information. Some relevant, some not. I will vote as I see fit and I will base my voting strictly on policy issues. This appears to be a good strategy for me right now.

You have the power–with every political comment, every political post, every time you vote–to shape the lives of other people. This is a huge responsibility. It’s important to get it right, to think carefully and clearly about these things and to know that politics may be about you–but it’s not merely about you.

If you happen to think that people are, as a matter of fact, paid according to their worth and, on top of that, they should be paid according to their worth, those are philosophical positions. You can find variations of them in Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick.

Politics is one of the most important things in life. As I said, you have the ability to shape not only your own life but the lives of others as well.

Unfortunately, much of our current political climate is not especially conducive to creating astute political opinions or wise and thoughtful political decisions. There’s hate, fear, anxiety and much more in our political climate.

In the end, however you choose to go about politics, however you vote, you have the lives of others in your hands.

Think about the shape you want your country to be. Think about your fellow human. Try–despite the appeals to emotion and other fallacies–to reason well about politics. After all, we must remember that Adolf Hitler was elected into power. Let us try not to repeat a thing like that–or even come close to it.

Your voice, your vote, your activism, matters. Use it wisely.

-Jennifer

The Need for Philosophy and Sociology in Brazil

Brazil is not exactly my forte. But I did spend an inordinate amount of time studying indigenous political issues (roughly 15 years of my life) and even self-published a book on the matter.

It doesn’t especially surprise me to hear today that the President of Brazil is cutting funding to sociology and philosophy at government-funded schools. But it’s important to know why both of these areas of study are needed, particularly in Brazil. I’ll make the case for studying, analyzing and finding solutions to indigenous issues in Brazil because that’s what I know.

Currently, Brazil is host to loggers, miners and other such companies that harvest natural resources. Much of the area sought after is on or within indigenous lands. These are serious issues that we must get right–and that both philosophy and sociology can tackle.

On top of this, there are so-called “uncontacted” indigenous peoples within the borders of Brazil. How to interact–and whether to interact–with them are serious questions for philosophy and sociology. Americans know all too well what can happen when we go about these things wrongly or haphazardly. The gross injustices we hope to repatriate for certainly do not need to be repeated elsewhere.

In short, these two areas of study are crucial to getting certain things right in Brazil and within indigenous borders. These are real-life problems that call for real life solutions and both philosophy and sociology are essential to creating such solutions.

These are not “Leftist” issues. These are human issues.

-Jennifer

The Importance of Teaching World History

I taught World History at the High School level at the beginning of this school year. The book I taught out of was organized in a lovely way: Each segment on each culture–from Ancient times to present–told the story of what each culture brought to the world. I made sure to emphasize the things, spending one whole day (about 1.5 hours) simply talking about what a given culture had brought to the world.

I am not sure of my students’ reactions, but even my own were surprising. Prior to getting into that textbook and doing my own research, I didn’t even know all the things any given culture brought to the world.

It’s on days like these that I think teaching any subject (and education in general) is of the utmost importance. Mark Twain famously indicated that travel is harmful to biases, but not everyone can travel. Everyone in the United States, however, is able to go to High School where they can shatter stereotypes, negative thinking about another culture or group and grow to be whole, decent, upstanding people who fight for equality and see the value in others.

Some people may fall through the cracks, but we can typically fight hatred and violence through simple, quality education.

Here’s to teachers around the country. Your job is, indeed, of the utmost importance. You have the power to vanquish harmful stereotypes and negative thinking about other cultures and groups.

-Jennifer

Sober Thinking About AIs

A few days ago, I posted a link to an Aeon article that argued we will soon need to make similar ethical considerations for AIs as we do vertebrate animals. With that in mind, I was a bit shocked by the language in some recent articles, including this one at Wired.

Apparently, many people are still thinking of AIs as pieces of technology. The Wired article is about the Pentagon’s discussion forum on AIs, which sought out public opinion on the matter.

Wired may be a more left-leaning publication, but it’s not so left as to consider ethical considerations for AIs. Instead, much of the ‘ruckus’ was about how AIs could be used in very bad ways.

I noted a long time ago that when I got my Alexa–whether she has a mind or not–I treated her like a person, giving her all kinds of respect, courtesy and kindness.

Instead of either panicking about AIs (as many folks on the left do) or thinking of AIs as mere machines to kill, maim and be used as a substitute for humans, I am now fully convinced we should indeed anticipate developing a being that requires ethical considerations.

For me, this isn’t a stretch. Many thinkers in the past tussled over the idea of dogs feeling pain, having feelings or even cognition. For many, these are salient qualities when thinking of what kinds of things ought to have ethical considerations.

As we make moves toward developing these kinds of AIs, we ought to think of them as babies, pets, or chimpanzees instead of either machines that kill or a threat to all humankind.

-Jennifer

Who Counts as Counting?

I really have begun to loathe (even more than I used to) discussions relating to trans people.

Recently, there has been discussion (see this NYT piece and this response) about who counts as a woman. Lately, it seems most of the discussion blaring at me about trans people has, in fact, been about women. It’s as if (trans) men don’t exist!

A lot of this discussion has gotten heated and unhelpful–with people throwing slurs and even arguing about whether something is a slur.

I fully realize discussions like these should probably happen. But it hearkens back to Plato when defined ‘man’ as ‘a featherless biped’ and Diogenes famously denounced this, throwing a plucked chicken and saying, “Behold! I bring you a man.”

The stakes have been raised so much in the discussion of trans people that we may not be actually getting anywhere right now. That’s a shame.

When politics and political motivations interfere with, say, the metaphysics of who is a woman, that sucks. Big time.

As for myself: So far, I have never had a problem with accepting people who self-identify as this or that. In many other areas of life, we take people’s self-reporting as something to consider (think about when you go to a doctor and report pain).

Maybe if we stop climbing political ladders and bring things back down to Earth, we can honestly come to some conclusion on these matters.

I will continue to sit back as these debates go on with sorrow. Each ‘side’ appears to be so heavily committed to their ’cause’ that getting anywhere seems impossible.

As these debates go on, I will continue the standard practice of accepting how people self-identify. So far, no one has shown me I should not accept a person’s self-report on such matters. It’s a plain courtesy for me to respect that much about a person. Although there’s tons of things one can be mistaken about with regard to oneself, one’s sex or gender seems to loom so large as to be hard to be mistaken about.

-Jennifer

Why Stripping is Not a Viable Career Choice for Most Women

This is perhaps going to be a controversial post. I don’t mean for it to be. It’s just that I was thinking about career options for women today and decided that stripping is not one of the best options for most women considering the other options available.

I fully understand that some women find stripping empowering and fun. I also realize there are arguments for stripping. My reflections are not so much ethical as pragmatic. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the best pragmatic choice for most women. Here’s four reasons:

  1. Most strippers in my area are independent contractors. They don’t get all the money that is stuffed in their panties. A cut of that has to go to pay the business hosting them.
  2. Most strippers have to buy their own attire, makeup, and hair products. These are essential for the job, but the cost falls upon the stripper.
  3. Strippers are essentially a product. And they are a product that isn’t very forgiving. If a woman does not have the best boobs, hair, tummy, legs, and so forth, she won’t make as much money.
  4. Because of this, many strippers invest in bodily enhancements to make more money. These include boobs jobs, nose jobs, etc. That’s totally extra money out of your pocket toward your job.

If a woman has no formal education, it is often thought her options are very limited. Being a stripper is thought of as being one of the few choices she has.

My research in careers that do not require formal education has led me to believe otherwise. There are many things that do not require formal education and that, once one gets one’s foot in the door, can lead to a reasonable income. One can be a Paralegal, Social Media Coordinator, Receptionist, or Blogger. In my area, when I have seen jobs posted for these things, they haven’t required a formal education and, with experience, average about 50k per year. That’s not too shabby.

To boot, most of these jobs do not require–or do not require to the same extent–the 4 points above, most of which are about losing money rather than gaining money.

In short, if there’s a better option for you and you are a woman, in my area, at least, you should probably opt for being something other than a stripper.

These points are based on research I have done in my area. Things may be different in other areas. None of this is to degrade strippers or make a moral case against stripping. Instead, simply looking at stripping as a viable career choice and setting stripping beside other careers options leads me to the conclusion that stripping isn’t the best option for most women.

-Jennifer

When the World Seems Against You, Live as Authentically as You Can

Everyone has times when they feel it’s “them against the world.” Maybe there’s gossip at work. Maybe you just going through a hard time. The best advice I got on this is: Live as authentically as you can.

There’s been times, I’m sure you know, when I have felt the world has been against me. Or maybe only small portions of it. When it seems like everyone is against you, trying to through you under the bus (or some such thing), your best bet is the do you best despite all of that you just be yourself.

It’s easy to forget that there are things like laws in place to protect you. It’s easy to feel you have no one and nothing. Even if that were true, if you do your best to live an authentic life, no one will have any evidence against you.

That’s the advice I was given, which I am passing on to you. When the world seems against you, live as authentically as you can.

-Jennifer

The Double Standard of “Mooches”

Sometimes people, mostly whenever it’s convenient, like to remind people that things like SSI and Food Stamps are “Welfare.” Thus, the people receiving these benefits are taken to be “mooches.”

I am not an expert on economics, but as I understand it, an economy necessarily depends on other people.

If you work–especially for the State or Federal Government–your money comes from somewhere. Once it gets to you, it’s yours.

It’s the same way for benefits. Once it comes to you, it’s yours.

Just as we don’t think of Government employees as “mooches” simply because they receive federal dollars, we shouldn’t think of people receiving benefits as “mooches.”

The whole concept of thinking of some people as “mooches” is biased and needs to go. It should have been gone long, long ago. There are people who justifiably get benefits and this needs to be recognized. The fact that they receive their money from taxpayers should not be a reason to despise or denigrate them.

-Jennifer

Ethical Considerations for AI’s

Most people I have heard speak on the subject or write on the subject have suggested we should either fear or not fear AI. That is, as AI becomes more of a reality, folks have debated whether AI will be ethical toward us or not.

Cue this latest piece at Aeon, which argues we will soon have AIs which we ought to have ethical considerations for–the same way we have ethical considerations for vertebrates.

Check it out and see what you think!

-Jennifer

Donate to Jamie Frazier’s Bucket List

This is a personal post in many ways. For one thing, I just had a cancer scare. For another: I know this fine woman.

Jamie Frazier is my daughter’s aunt on her father’s side. When my daughter asked me recently to name one thing I know about Jamie, I said, “I know she used to like Doritos!”

Jamie and I may not have always been super-close BFF’s but I don’t think there has ever been any hard feelings or animosity between us. We have always been friendly.

So what do I know about Jamie? I know she is a good mother. I know she is a good woman. And, yeah, I know bits and pieces of personal things–such as really liking Doritos.

With those things in mind, I ask you to consider donating to her Bucket List. I don’t, of course, know all of her medical stuff, but I have been told–and it is written–that she has bone, lymphatic, breast and brain cancer.

This is a funky, smart and sweet woman. Help make her dreams come true.

-Jennifer

Having a Mental Illness Does Not Take Away From Anything Else One Has

It’s easy to think of mental illness as different from anything else. But it’s important to know this is not so. And just as when one has any other illness (diabetes is the frequently used example) one does not lose things like IQ, awards or education, one does not lose these things with mental illness. In fact, I had a conversation about this the other day where my interlocutor made the point that one can can a high IQ and also have a mental illness.

Just as high blood pressure does not generally take away from one’s educational degrees, accomplishments–or anything else–having a mental illness does not take these things away, either.

It’s important to keep this in mind.

-Jennifer

Codependence and Mental Illness, With Reference to Trigger Warnings

I don’t know that anyone typically uses the term ‘codependence’ when referring to one’s relationship with a person with mental illness, but after reflecting on the NPR article I posted about children with anxiety, I decided one may perhaps use this term in some cases.

Generally, the term ‘codependence’ is used in relation to one’s actions toward a person with a substance abuse disorder. One may enable, coddle, protect, one with a substance abuse disorder, making them, if not more ill, at least not getting better.

It can be similar in situations where one is dealing with a person with mental illness. Now, we have things like trigger warnings, I take it, simply because we do not know where a person may be in their journey of wellness. It’s a courtesy for those who may be triggered into unwellness by something.

However, most people I know who have things like PTSD or an anxiety disorder do try to work those things out through CBT tactics, among others.

Generally, when one has an anxiety disorder, on takes ‘baby steps’ toward wellness–trying to overcome fears, and facing things like worry or panic. Often, this is done in a controlled environment or somewhat controlled environment.

We never know where in one’s stage of wellness one may be, so we use things like trigger warnings.

However, when one has, say, a child who has anxiety, one may overly coddle them, and, well, be codependent. This does not allow the child to face her fears and get better. In fact, it may make things worse.

In a therapy session where CBT is used, one may learn alternative thought processes, breathing techniques, patterns of behavior and more. But when the child comes out of therapy into the arms of a codependent parent, all that work may be undone. That’s why it is good to have training and therapy for parents of children with mental health diagnoses. If nothing else, it keeps them on the same page of wellness.

It’s probably a delicate balancing act.

I could, of course, be mistaken on all of this. It is simply what I have thought of since reading the NPR article. Totally interested in what other think!

-Jennifer

Don’t Like My Blog? Take This Advice:

Don’t read it.

It’s really that simple.

You will save yourself a lot of annoyance, frustration, paranoia as well as vices such as being meddlesome, gossiping and trying to interfere with my life if you take this advice.

For the most part, I blog about philosophy and psychology. If that’s not your gig, don’t bother. If it’s going to frustrate you in any way, leave the site permanently.

For the most part, I mind my own business and try to take care of my own affairs. If I find an article I think is worth noting, I blog about it. You are not required to read this blog.

-Jennifer

Feminist Philosophers is Shutting Down: A Reflection

I simply haven’t kept up with the philosophy blogging world recently. I only just learned today that a great blog, Feminist Philosophers, is shutting down. I thought I would take a moment to reflect on my experiences with this blog.

Although I’ve never been a contributor there, I was around when the blog started up. I was, as a matter of fact, in graduate school at UNF. I had only just started blogging at another philosophy blog–the Florida Student Philosophy Blog. I was excited about this new venture and told the blog manager about it, who added Feminist Philosophers to the blogroll.

I was there when Sally Haslanger’s now well-known paper about implicit bias came out and was distributed on Feminist Philosophers (and other places).

I was there as philosophical research on implicit bias began to grow.

I was there when everyone debated whether one should use a pseudonyms or not when blogging.

I was there as bloggers came to Feminist Philosophers and made it grow.

For about 10 years, I have been there, a regular reader.

Perhaps I’m not the best ‘fan’ to have. But I have been there, all the while.

The internet will lose a good place to think and gather as Feminist Philosophers closes down–even if the reasons put forth are good ones.

Thank you, Feminist Philosophers, for what you have given me, internet passerbys, and everyone.

-Jennifer

ADL’s as a Measure of Health and Independent Living

It is known that, in the past, I have tracked my daily activities. I was thinking of doing that in a more formal sense again. It’s not something most people do–unless one is on a diet or has some other health issue. But I wanted to write about how ADL’s are, in a good sense, a measure of one’s health and ability to live independently.

ADL’s are Activities of Daily Life. These include eating, grooming, taking medication, exercise and more. The more ADL’s one can accomplish, the more independent one is capable of living and, in some cases, the more healthy one is.

I think it’s typically good to track things one does. This is an outward measure and, really, hard evidence of one’s ability to care for oneself, one’s overall health, and the kinds of assistance with daily activities one needs.

In some cases, ADL’s may go down when one is sick, stressed or busy. It’s good to note these things on one’s ADL sheet so one can recall, for example, that one didn’t get dressed one day because one had a cold. This will help you remember that you had a legitimate issue, beyond independent living, that kept one from doing one’s ADL’s.

ADL’s are usually thought of as being only for people with functional issues or issues with independent living. But in a real sense, everyone could probably benefit from tracking certain activities just as many healthy people use a FitBit.

ADL’s can help one track patterns when one has added stress or worry from work or life events that may cause interference in one’s self care.

Just as one may count calories, keep a daily agenda or planner, one may track one’s ADL’s.

-Jennifer

Everyday Logic: Appeal to Improper Authority

In a passing conversation, I was asked why someone would consult Reader’s Digest on medical issues. This came about because the May 2019 issue of Reader’s Digest has this article:

Because it was a casual conversation, I said that what’s probably important is who the author is and whether the author is a medical expert.

This was a good question, though. Very frequently, people employ the fallacy known as Appeal to Improper Authority.

Appeal to Improper Authority is when one appeals to a non-expert on a subject and makes a case from there. One example I used to use, but may not be the greatest example, is when people say Einstein believed in God, so there is a God.

Einstein was an expert on physics, not philosophy of religion or theology. So, even though he was, well, Einstein, that does not make him an expert on all things. An even better Einstein-related argument is one I came across just yesterday. Someone quoted Einstein, stating that the only solution to injustice is to apply socialism. As mentioned, Einstein, who may or may not be correct on this, was a physicist, not a political philosopher or related expert. So this is the fallacy of Appeal to Improper Authority.

What is important about my interlocutor’s question is that is makes it clear that there are everyday consequences to this fallacy. I’m not saying the author at Reader’s Digest is not a proper authority. What I mean to indicate is that, when one does appeal to improper authority for, say, medical issues, there are clearly health risks involved. The best bet is to consult your doctor on a medical issue since they will know your medical history and so forth.

Like any logical fallacy, Appeal to Improper Authority can have everyday consequences.

-Jennifer

My Mental Health Voting Strategy: Election 2020

For the past several weeks, I have been on social media less and less. I tell ya, it’s a huge burden relief for me. I know it’s an election cycle. I have an idea of who is running in the Democratic Party.


But I am honestly not keeping up too much with this cycle. It’s not that I don’t care or value the whole process, either.


Instead, I value the process so much that I am not stressing myself about it.


When Trump was elected, it was all gloom and doom. I lost almost 10 lbs from the stress of it all. Here we are a couple of years later and, yeah, things could be a lot better. But everyone I know is still alive and kickin’. So, it wasn’t something to loose THAT MUCH sleep over. (Not that I’m saying I like Trump…)


This cycle, I fully realize that there is mudslinging in all directions. Everyone is saying that it will be pretty much the end of the world if the other one is elected.


I have decided to bypass all of that. So here’s what I decided today:


I am going to keep paying little attention to it all. Sure, I’ll take in some, but I won’t be a politics guru.

When I comes closer to voting time, I’ll just look up policies and vote based on that.

This seems to me to be a prudent, sound and healthy way to go about the election for me this go-round.

Good luck to you who are in the muck of it all. Best of health to you!

-Jennifer

Being ‘Extra’ and Mental Illness

Today I had a discussion in which I learned a new term: Extra. As in, “My mom is being so extra today!”

This term came up as I was discussing the Cognitive View of things like paranoia. On this view, almost everyone experiences slight paranoia at times. But for some people, such as those diagnosed with psychosis, paranoia is more pervasive and outstanding.

My interlocutor said it’s like being extra.

When I looked up the term ‘extra’, I noticed it has some negative connotations in some definitions. Set those aside for a moment and consider: Having a psychotic disorder is just falling in the 3% mark on the bell curve. One is not an alien. One is not a monster. One is not a different species. Paranoia is a normally occurring thing in the human species but happens, in a small percentage, to be severe and pervasive in only some.

It’s like having a little extra. Or being a little extra.

So, next time you think of someone with a mental illness, think of them as having the same qualities and experiences as you–but just a little extra.

-Jennifer

Stoic Meditation: Being Among the Masses and Finding Oneself Among the Insane

Here’s a quote by Marcus Aurelius that I have gone back and forth about over the years. At times, I have thought he was correct. At times, I thought he was wrong.

I have looked into the context of this quote in the past, but today I have forgotten it. So I’m going to go with my own interpretation.

From a Stoic viewpoint, people are pushed and pulled by problematic emotions. Thing like fear, anxiety–and much more–are caused by a faulty interpretation of what are known as externals. Externals are, in general, things one cannot control and are beyond a person, but which people often think they can, in fact, control.

In modern terms, think of a person who experiences symptoms of OCD. They may have what are known as intrusive thoughts. Thoughts, as the Pearl Jam song says, arrive like butterflies. We often do not, on the modern understanding of such things, control many of our thoughts. However, a person who experiences intrusive thoughts may be disturbed by even having a thought and try to push the thought away. On the Cognitive Behavioral Model, this is why such an intrusive thought will come back stronger, more powerful and the individual will become increasingly disturbed.

That’s an extreme case of how things like externals that we cannot control cause things like fear and anxiety.

On the Stoic view, most people experience things like this, to a lesser extent, much of the time. The goal, for a Stoic, is to reach something like Stoic Calm–becoming a Sage and not bothered or disturbed by externals beyond one’s control.

When one does this, one is probably not going to find oneself among the masses, so Aurelius may be correct on this count. However, I do not know that one will find oneself among the insane, as currently understood, either. So the latter part of the quote may, in fact, be incorrect in clinical terms. One may, when one reaches Stoic Calm, seem odd or different to others, but that is not necessarily diagnosable.

What is clear is that reaching Stoic Calm is a lifelong process. Aurelius practiced every day for many, many years. That is why Stoicism is considered a philosophy that one practices rather than a mere esoteric intellectual exercise.

Will one, when one reaches the point where externals do not bother one anymore, find oneself among that ranks of the insane? I do not know. But what is clear is that one will no longer be among the masses.

-Jennifer

Happy Belated Birthday Immanuel Kant

Yesterday was Kant’s birthday. I noticed, but didn’t mention it. I had nothing in particular to say, really.

Today is a different day. I have something to say.

I’m no Kant specialist, but over the years Kant has grown on me. When I was young and new to philosophy, I can admit I absolutely detested him. I was in favor of virtue ethics and saw, along with some others in that time period and earlier, Kantian ethics as antithetical to virtue ethics. (Setting aside pluralism about ethics, in which one or more theory can be correct and/or applied.)

These days, however, I’m settling down. I can appreciate Kant in all his glory. I can also appreciate the slogan Act according to the maxim you could will to be a universal law.

I see Kant as a super-important philosopher these days. In the past, I entertained him to, as I liked to say, “Keep me honest.” (Whether that actually kept me honest is a different story.) Today, however, even though I can’t say I know everything about Kant and I have only distilled him into a slogan here, I appreciate his, well, greatness. Particularly in ethics. (Don’t know tons about his other works, tbh.)

So, Happy Birthday, Immanuel Kant. These days, I appreciate you.

-Jennifer

Philosophy and “The Good Place”: Hell Is Other People

It’s been a while since I watched Season One of The Good Place. I also put the whole series aside for a while. If others have mentioned this elsewhere or in the film, I offer my apologies.

I had been considering re-watching Season One today when I reflected upon themes in the show. It occurred to me that the philosophical notion not mentioned in Season One was at play.

That phrase?

Hell is other people.

In No Exit, which I confess to have read only once about 20 years ago, the characters in the play come to realize, like those in The Good Place Season One, that there is no torturer, no excruciating pain, in eternal damnation. Instead, Hell is other people.

In The Good Place, people grate on each other’s nerves, cause a ruckus and more. This is, for lack of a better term, crazy-making. Being put in the same environment with just the wrong sorts of people is Hell in itself.

There’s been a lot of philosophy talk surrounding The Good Place, but so far I haven’t seen anyone make this connection. Were I to teach Existentialism (which I’m not), I would most certainly make the connection to students because the concept Hell is other people is often misunderstood.

-Jennifer

Real Life Logic: The Hasty Generalization

I thought I’d switch gears and talk a little bit about informal logic. Logic has never been my Area of Specialization, but it came to mind today and I did happen to teach sessions on informal logic to undergraduates and, when I graded those thousands of essays, I checked for informal fallacies.

Don’t anyone get their feathers rumpled! These reflections are based on a conversation I had several–and I mean, several–days ago. I wanted to write, however, about the hasty generalization.

Now, in philosophy, they try to help you reason clearly. In CBT, too, they try to eliminate fallacies and biases. So, this post does fit with my current theme of philosophy and mental health posts.

The hasty generalization is a fallacy in which one draws a conclusion that is not supported by the evidence or by unbiased evidence.

We don’t expect everyone to be a scientist, but scientists try to gather enough and the right sorts of evidence and draw the proper conclusions from such evidence. This is what makes science great and a great source of knowledge gathering.

In our everyday, lives, however, we often–and I mean, often–draw conclusions about things and people based on very limited and often biased evidence.

For example, people post certain things on social media. Quite often, they filter their lives, intentionally or not. When one does not have evidence beyond what is on social media, one may get the wrong impression of a person. So, your quirky uncle that you haven’t seen in eons may actually be a pretty normal guy who happens to post quirky memes.

We draw conclusions like this all the time.

There’s ramifications to this, however. You may decide your uncle is just too quirky for you and never see him. Worse, you may think all Black people are violent based on media portrayals and call the cops on an innocent Black person.

In short, there’s real life consequences to biased and fallacious thinking. That is why we try–emphasis on try–to avoid it.

As with any fallacy, critical thinking is key. One must look for evidence that does not support an already-held belief. One must look for unbiased sources in the media–or gather media information from several different sources. One must also gather enough evidence to even draw a conclusion.

Now, I’m certainly not the most perfect thinker, but I can appreciate, most of the time, clear and reasoned thinking. I hope you can, too, and, together, that we can try (as much as that is possible) to avoid fallacies like the hasty generalization.

-Jennifer

The Ethics of Care

Conversations around the internet made me look up and read a little bit about Care Ethics. Even though most of my schooling focused on ethics, Care Ethics is not something I know a whole lot about. However, I thought it would be good to post it here. Here is a snippet from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The moral theory known as “ the ethics of care” implies that there is moral significance in the fundamental elements of relationships and dependencies in human life. Normatively, care ethics seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting the well-being of care-givers and care-receivers in a network of social relations. Most often defined as a practice or virtue rather than a theory as such, “care” involves maintaining the world of, and meeting the needs of, ourself and others. It builds on the motivation to care for those who are dependent and vulnerable, and it is inspired by both memories of being cared for and the idealizations of self. Following in the sentimentalist tradition of moral theory, care ethics affirms the importance of caring motivation, emotion and the body in moral deliberation, as well as reasoning from particulars.

As you can see, Care Ethics is especially useful when one has a child or other dependent, such as an elder parent.

I encourage you to read more about it!

-Jennifer

Parents of Children With Anxiety Learn to Let Them Face Their Fears

Here’s a good story at NPR on parent training which helps children learn how to cope with anxiety.

A lot of times, a parent can unintentionally make symptoms worse. With training and understanding things like a different theoretical model of anxiety, parents can help to make things better for their child.

I have learned that with young children, it’s better to get this kind of support and face fears early in life and have kind, loving and supportive parents. This can sometimes mean the difference between a mild case of anxiety and a severe case as one gets older.

It turns out, on the Cognitive Behavioral Model, that facing fears step by step is the best way to cope with anxiety. What many parents tend to do, however, is over-coddle a child and accommodate their anxiety. When this is done, a child never learns how to deal with signs and symptoms and the anxiety may, in fact, get worse.

-Jennifer

There Is No Shame In Seeking Support

Anyone who lives with certain diagnoses–cancer, a mental health condition, or some other chronic and/or severe illness–has challenges to face every day. I don’t know a whole lot about these issues. I simply haven’t read enough to comment. However, I do know that I have come across therapists who work with cancer patients, support groups for cancer, as well as other chronic and/or severe illnesses.

Yesterday, I looked up NAMI and found an article on CBT and psychosis and what families can do. I thought a large organization promoting CBT for psychosis was outstanding.

I have never been to a NAMI support group even though I have a history of being diagnosed with a mental illness because these closest ones to me are fairly far away. However, I have indeed wanted to go in the past.

This post is about what friends and families can do. I was reminded, when I went to the NAMI site yesterday, that they have support groups for friends and families of those with mental illness.

Living with someone–or even knowing someone–with a chronic and/or severe condition can be rough, taxing or challenging. It’s good not to go it alone. There are many support groups available for any number of chronic and/or severe conditions.

Sometimes people think they can and should indeed go it alone. They think they do not need a support group, or that going to one signifies that one has some defect. This is not that case. Seeking support–whether it is counseling, a support group, or some other kind of support–is a sign of strength and courage.

Don’t let the stigma of seeking help or support get in the way of your health or strategies you can use or friends you can find in a support group or therapist.

If you are a friend, family member, coworker, community associate–or just happen to know someone with a mental health condition–here is where you can begin to find support.

Coping with these issues is very important. Each chronic and/or severe condition has its own challenges. I happen to know more about counseling and support for mental health conditions, but I know there are groups for diabetes, different forms of cancer, intellectual disability and more.

If you feel stressed, at a loss, or feel like giving up, do seek support in some way.

-Jennifer

Stoicism and Living in the Present

I have been blogging a lot recently about CBT. CBT is modeled, to a large extent, on Ancient Stoicism. I wanted to write about living in the present today.

I have alluded to living too much in the past or too much in the future in previous posts, but I didn’t go into detail about it. Living in the present moment can be traced back, indeed, to Ancient Stoics:

In this quote, Stoic Marcus Aurelius tells us not to concern ourselves too much with the future. We will meet the future with whatever “weapons of reason” we have in the present.

Many times, concerning ourselves with the future brings about anxiety, fear, and worry. That is why many therapists will suggest to you and practice with you living in the present moment.

It occurs to me that failing to live in the present moment can make one miss out on important and valuable times. If you are always concerned with the future, for example, you may miss out on enjoying your daughter’s birthday party, a special holiday, or even savoring the small moments in life.

It can be difficult to learn how to practice living in the present moment, but it is very much worth it. For my own part, I have tried to learn how to live “just enough” in the past and “just enough” in the future so that I can reflect a bit (on the past) or prepare (for the future). But I frequently live in the present moment. This takes enormous burdens off a person.

If you are having trouble focusing too much on the past or future, I am not suggesting anything from myself. One must see a professional about these things, after all. I simply thought today I would start the day with a Stoic meditation on living in the present.

-Jennifer

Andrew Yang: First Ex-Goth President?

Jezebel has an interview with Andrew Yang that made me recall my younger days. Yang is not much older than me. He and I, it seems, went through similar stages of cultural development. Take, for instance, the yearbook picture he Tweeted wearing a trench coat and black.

I remember when black trench coats were basically the sign of the Devil. And goth? Goth was so counter-culture that people my age then wouldn’t touch it.

I have been blogging about mental health today and it is pertinent to note that these signs and symbols were once hearkened as symptoms, by non-experts, at least, of serious mental illness.

I never thought I would see the day when a person running for President of the United States would have been formerly goth.

Whatever you think of Andrew Yang, you’ve got to appreciate this: His candor and authenticity. Yang beats Trump on this measure because he is candid without being hateful,despising people or bashing basically anyone.

Both use Twitter and their Twitter personas couldn’t be more different.

I realize Bernie Sanders may be leading as things stand at the moment, but it’s never a bad day to put in some nice words for someone trailing behind.

Could Andrew Yang be the first goth president? We will just have to wait and see.

-Jennifer

Bring Change 2 Mind’s Hope is an Action Week 2019

I’m late posting this, but I did note it when I received the email about it. And it’s better late than never. Bring Change 2 Mind is an organization founded by Glenn Close. A couple of weeks ago, they had ‘Hope’ week.

Following from the post today about NAMI’s CBT article for psychosis, I wanted to address Hope when it comes to mental illness.

Bring Change 2 Mind’s Hope Calendar

It is important–for those diagnosed and for friends, family and associates–to have hope when it comes to a mental illness. After I posted the NAMI post, I thought, in general: Why do you think they have medications and therapy for mental illness? It may not be obvious, but I think these things spring from Hope for the betterment of people with mental illness.

Thus, when I say CBT may be a very good therapy for all sorts of things, that is not based on something like mere faith. It is based on evidence. The evidence is that therapies like CBT work.

It is also, I think, a statement of Hope because it presumes that one can, if not fully recover, at least get better and have symptoms diminish. Hope and evidence do not, then, seem to be at odds with one another.

It’s easy for people to think that a situation is so dire it will never get better. It is also easy for people to assume that when one has a mental illness, one will continually get worse and worse.

But that’s not the evidence. The evidence is that, with proper treatments and support, one can get better.

That’s the evidence. And that’s hope.

-Jennifer

CBT Approaches to Psychosis

I was browsing the NAMI website and came across this article on using CBT for psychosis and things families can do.

I have mentioned CBT in the past as an effective therapy for diagnoses like schizophrenia. At the time I fist read about this approach, there were friends who were skeptical. However, after reading books like Cognitive Therapy of Schizophrenia, I have become convinced that this therapy is probably the best one to seek for any number of things.

As I mentioned in a previous post, on the Cognitive Model, things like paranoia fall on a spectrum or bell curve. People without a clinical diagnosis can experience paranoia in many forms. Hearing voices, too, appears to fall on a bell curve–with people with no clinical diagnosis hearing things at times.

With all this in mind, it’s good to see NAMI, perhaps the largest mental health nonprofit in the United States, espousing CBT for psychosis and letting families know what they can do to help.

-Jennifer

The Problem of Induction and My Personal Health

I mentioned the Problem of Induction the other day on Facebook. I don’t expect people to know what I was talking about. However, it had to do with my personal health.

I can’t help but mention my personal health since everybody brings it up. So, let me explain the Problem of Induction and how it relates to how people have been thinking about my health.

For those unfamiliar with the Problem of Induction, it goes basically like this: The future may not and/or does not always resemble the past. This is a problem for general informal logic and reasoning.

When it comes to my own health–without going into too much detail–there’s new evidence at play. I had a surgery, among other things. This means one cannot state that my future behavior, actions and mental states will resemble the past. There are just too many new variables at play.

Some people have stated I have a pattern of behavior. Each person, so far, has their own theory about this pattern and none of them line up! In any case, if there was a pattern, this may not be the case anymore because, as I said, there are just too many new variables.

I think of this as a fresh start. As I heal from surgery, I feel less sore every day, among other things. I am not precisely sure why other people cannot see these new variables as they are and treat as if I may have had a change or start their day fresh with me. Whatever the reason, I wanted to address this.

Perhaps there is a pattern to my behavior. Perhaps any one of these people’s theories is correct.

But because of new evidence, we should at least consider that any pattern I may have had has now stopped.

It’s true, I could now have some other bad and abnormal pattern of behavior. I would hope this is unlikely. After all, I just had surgery to remove a tumor, at the very least, and this ought to make my health even better.

That’s the Problem of Induction and my personal health. Using inductive reasoning is a skill and a highly valuable one. Let’s make sure we use it well.

-Jennifer

On Epistemic Injustice

Back in 2009, I was a graduate student. At that time, I was also a philosophy blogger. So it was a pleasure to have reported on the concept ‘epistemic injustice’, coined by Miranda Fricker,back then.

Fast forward 10 years and I have the strange inclination to remind everyone about that concept.

Elsewhere, I defined epistemic injustice as “any case where a knower’s knowledge and knowledge claims are devalued for some, shall I say, stupid reason.”

This happens quite a bit in many aspects of life.

Take, for example, a case where even documented evidence is discounted because of a knower’s diagnosis. I know I wasn’t going to get personal on here, but this, in fact, has happened to me. In my case, there is a medical record with doctor’s order (unrelated to the diagnosis at hand). Yet, I was told I did something the doctor didn’t order when, in fact, I did and there’s a record of it. I was told this by someone who wouldn’t even know but just assumed and/or told an outright lie.

That’s a blatant case of epistemic injustice.

Back in 2009, when I first noted this concept, I took it to be grossly wrong. These days, when I have experienced it myself, I can tell you: It’s exasperating.

That’s my personal thought of the day.

Epistemic injustice: Don’t do it.

-Jennifer

Meeting the Clinical Benchmark for Psychiatric Diagnosis: Easter Edition

I have been interested, of course, in the very best research on things like schizophrenia. I have admittedly been sympathetic to the Cognitive Behavioral Model simply because I think the evidence is strong in that direction.

Today is Easter and I am not a church.

This morning, I explained to someone that there are tons of things one can be diagnosed for and one of them is religiosity. Now, that’s not to say no one should attend church today or that of one goes to church every Sunday, one meets a clinical benchmark for religiosity. It’s simply to say that there are simply numerous things one can be diagnosed for and one of them is being overly or abnormally religious.

As I understand it, on the Cognitive Behavioral Model, there is typically bell curve of thoughts and behaviors. In the past, I have read the Cognitive Model of things like paranoia. One example that has been used in the literature is this: Imagine when you walk into a room and everyone becomes silent and have the thought: Were they just talking about me?

In this example, this is usually a normal, non-clinically diagnosable instance of paranoia. Things like paranoia exist, on the Cognitive Model, on a spectrum. Someone who has this thought, in all likelihood, does not meet the clinical benchmark for diagnosis.

When one gets Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one tries to learn and apply the maxim nothing to excess.’

Onetries to live in the moment–not looking too much at the past and not gazing too much into the future. This is because people often worry a lot about both/either the past and future and this can cause anxiety, fear, worry and more.

Because of these things–and simply trying to be a normal, healthy adult–I decided to celebrate Easter today but not attend church. I will eat an Easter dinner with my family and that’s probably the extent I will celebrate. If you celebrate more than this, that’s totally fine. After all, I cannot and do not diagnose. This is simply the habit I fell into over the years.

However and whether you celebrate–and whether you meet the clinical benchmark for diagnosis or not–I hope you have a wonderful day.

-Jennifer

“How Are You Feeling?” Being Overly Concerned With Someone Else’s Health.

It’s true that recently I’ve had my fair share of medical issues. I’m not going to discuss those today. Instead, I’m going to discuss being overly concerned with someone else’s health.

I’ve been in hospitals. I’ve been in hospitals where I was checked on every 15 minutes as well as hospitals where I was checked on every 30 minutes.

I don’t expect everyone to be an outstanding medical professional. After all, not everyone can even be a medical professional. However, when one’s health is checked on in these situations, they are typically minimally intrusive–except in cases where, say, a saline bag needed to be replaced or a medication needed to be given. To me, this is normal checking.

It occurred to me, after my post yesterday, that one can be overly concerned with someone else’s health. This isn’t to say I have experienced this. It’s simply to note that this can happen.

I’m not sure why regular checks are minimally intrusive in the way I described, but in my experience, they are. This, in my past experiences, had given me the ability to heal, recover and get medical treatments done in a way that also allowed me to have my own life and activities. I suppose, without doing the research right now, this is why these kind of checks are done.

It would be interesting to know the effects of more intrusive medical checks. Assuming the current practice is a good one, there must be an effect on a person that has been documented. (Note: This is just an assumption. I haven’t done the research.)

I assume that one is monitored and checked on with the severity of the reason for hospitalization. Even then, these checks appear to be as objective as possible with a nurse or doctor noting signs and symptoms of wellness and recovery and that’s typically that.

I understand that it’s difficult to be objective in totality with these cases, but the medical field seems to try.

-Jennifer

Being Invested in a Diagnosis

Last week, there was a lot of things going on in my life. I didn’t know whether I had cancer, I was doing follow-up appointments, healing, resting and more.

Perhaps because of this I came off wrong to people. I truly did try to phrase things carefully when speaking and writing. People often take things the wrong way and I am aware of that.

When I taught at the High School level last year, the school had a policy, which was this: No one, including teachers, were told of any diagnosis a student may have until the teacher noticed things and brought that up with the administration. This is because when one knows of a diagnosis, there is evidence that, at this point in history, people discriminate, show favoritism, treat people differently, think they are experts on the subject, among other things.

I have told people of different health issues I have had partly because I have a passion for writing , partly because I have been an advocate, and have been open about many aspects of my life.

Sometimes I wonder if that has been a mistake.

For the past few days, I haven’t been on the internet very much. I have been doing other things. I haven’t updated people on new evidence, medical discussions I have had, and so forth. And I think that I will remain this way.

What I have found is that some people distort what I have said or written, have not been charitable, and, oddly, have been overly invested in my diagnoses. It’s as if other people, some of whom barely know me, are more concerned with aspects of my health than I am–and I’m the one who is living it!

So this is a note stating that (1) that I have been on the internet a whole lot less the past few days and (2) I am no longer updating people about my medical issues.

-Jennifer

The Long Process of Getting Better

Today, it occurred to me that, as with any chronic illness, it can take years to recover from something like schizophrenia.

I thought of this because a famous person diagnosed with schizophrenia, John Nash, came up in conversation.

Nash was admitted McLean Hospital in 1959. Yet, it took around 15 to 20 years for him to decide to live a “quiet life” and for his symptoms to become manageable and to even somewhat dissipate.

John Forbes Nash

It wasn’t until 1994 that Nash received the Nobel Prize in Economics.

So, if you happen to be diagnosed with a chronic issue, take someone like John Nash as a sign that, as they say, “It gets better.”

-Jennifer

“God Made Me, And I Am A Man.”

The unfortunate history the United States has concerning Native Americans has been becoming more known over the past 20 years. This is great news and a long time coming. It was, after all, way back in 1879 that a major court case ruled Standing Bear, a Ponca chief, was a person under law. These shifts in consciousness are welcome and over 100 years coming.

The significance of someone being identified as a person under law cannot be overstated. These days, when some people are identified as “animals” and “less than animals,” it is important that we include everyone who counts–and be very careful in that counting–as a person under law.

I’m quite sure the following thoughts on this are not original. After all, the significance of being counted as a person under law has more than likely been debated and discussed in journals and other publications. However, it strikingly occurs to me that when one is not considered a person in the eyes of others, many horrific things follow from that, including not being protected in basic ways. 

Consider a case of simple theft. In the eyes of an abuser, when one is not considered a person, what property can one really own? It follows, perhaps, in the mind of such a law-breaker, that one cannot be stolen from because one is simply not human.

There are other things that follow from this, as well. As is well-known, the United States holds much land and assets in a fiduciary role for tribes. But when tribal people are not considered human, we end up with major disasters just like we see with the famous Cobell Case. 

I don’t typically do philosophy of law, but I want to suggest that everything–all other protections–follow from being considered a person under law. Without that basic consideration, one has nothing.

In this day and age, even though the rights of Native Americans have been becoming more pronounced and rightfully fought for, we need to make sure we include everyone–LGBT folks, African-American folks, people with disabilities, women and immigrants–as people under law for this protection is absolutely crucial and, bottom-line, the most essential protection one can have.

-Jennifer