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Showing posts with the label mental health

Mass Murder & Mental Illness

As the roar of reaction begins to quiet following the horror in Newtown, many media comments I have read express a demand for better "access to mental health services."

I'm not sure what that means in this case.

The biggest gap in mental health care in our country, as I have come to know it, is in in-patient hospital care. After Congress passed laws in the 1980's that down-sized state hospitals, hundreds of people were released from care. States and communities were expected to provide needed services, but in many places, such care never materialized. The numbers of homeless, mentally ill and/or addicted persons swelled, and state and federal dollars for the seriously and/or persistently mentally ill dwindled and has stayed low.

We have now have a chronic shortage of psychiatric hospital beds, and an even more critical shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists. The cost of in-patient care is close to $1000 a day in some cities like Minneapolis. We have a shorta…

We Can't Choose our Parents

It's true; we can't choose our parents.

Whatever skills or deficits they possess as people: their readiness or disinterest at caring for us, their physical and mental health, and their ability to meet basic needs for food, shelter and safety have an immediate and lasting effect on our own development. The human brain is shaped every day by the way we are cared for by those closest to us, and grows fastest during the first two years of life.

If a child is born to a parent who neglects their needs, is addicted, or who is violent, abusive or mentally ill, the effects are devastating. A human mind can be ruined if not helped and supported to develop in a healthier, more stable and flexible way.

It's also true that in America the first time a failing family may come into contact with an institution that could help it recover is with the justice system or the public schools.

In this wonderful episode of This American Life radio show, stories are told of educational and therapeu…

Tiger Woods : How Far the Great Have Fallen

With news this morning that Tiger missed the cut in the latest PGA tournament, sports journalists are beginning to comment on his astonishing fall from golf and sports greatness. It does seem as if his personal and professional troubles have created a failure that reminds us of an airplane in free fall. How could someone with such unusual talent lose it so disastrously?

There is something of gloating in all this talk, too. After all, who among us doesn't feel just a bit of pleasure in seeing the untouchable hero now seem so human?

While the sports writers opine over this and that detail, it seems sadly simple to me. He is suffering, and his life is demonstrating the difficulty he is having holding all the pieces of his super-star world together. What propelled him to greatness - his focus, consistency, precision, unflappability - are all possible because he once managed an internal calm. Even if that calm was managed, or maybe controlled, even masked, by dozens of handlers, unlim…