Category : Psychology

(IFS) Laurie DeRose–Cohabitation, Churning, and Children’s Diverging Destinies

I’m teaching a course at Georgetown this semester called “Family Diversity in America.” This week, my students are writing a short paper where they have to explain either how low incomes contribute to disadvantageous family situations, or how disadvantageous family situations contribute to low incomes. Heather Rackin and Christina Gibson-Davis would easily have gotten an “A” on my assignment because their recent study in the  Journal of Marriage and Family highlights one of the mechanisms through which today’s family patterns result in greater economic difficulties: cohabitation. Rackin and Gibson-Davis explain how the rise in cohabitation has disadvantaged children of lower and moderately-educated mothers more than children whose mothers have a college degree.

The authors use a term to describe a large volume of relationship turnovers that is fairly common in the academic literature: “churning,” which means lots of entrances and exits. I first learned of the term in the context of investments: an investment advisor who encourages you to change your market positions frequently can be suspected of wanting to benefit from churning, that is, in financial terms, to profit from the transaction fees themselves. While children certainly benefit from relationship transitions that remove them from abuse or lift them out of poverty, the evidence shows that kids who experience relationship churning typically pay a price (e.g., academic, economic, psychological, behavioral). Kids are not a party that pockets transaction fees.

What has happened over time in the U.S. is that disadvantaged kids have come to experience more relationship transitions and their associated costs. This is what we call diverging destinies: when socioeconomically disadvantaged kids are more likely to have experiences that impoverish—they started out behind richer kids, and their destinies diverged further because their family transitions tended to cost them, while richer kids were more likely to benefit from stability. If you were assigned the paper for my class, you would have to decide whether to write about how lower-income families face many barriers to stable marriage or how breaking up and re-forming families has costs of its own (e.g., lost economies of scale from break-ups or gained stress from forming complex families).

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(IV) Bethany Horvath–Living with Depression

I love the movie Silver Linings Playbook. Not because of the love story. Not because of Robert De Niro or Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence. Not because of the awesome dance moves.

I love the movie because of its honest portrayal of mental illness and the message that you can still live life if you have a mental illness. I love how Pat’s parents learn to suffer through it with him, loving him along the way—which isn’t easy.

I know, because I’ve been living with depression for the past 13 years.

Before experiencing depression myself, I never understood how or why someone would want to live life in a constant state of sadness, with thoughts of harming themself and no hope in sight in the world. Then I found out that no one wants to live life that way. It’s something beyond their control. Something that doesn’t make sense to them and that they don’t want to have present in their life.

I was diagnosed with depression as a freshman in college after already experiencing some difficult events in my life. I didn’t understand who I was, why I was thinking the way I was, or why everyone was out to get me.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Guardian) Net worth v self worth: do we all need inequality therapy?

Inequality isn’t just changing the way we deal with economics – it’s perversely altering how we see ourselves and what we value. And Glantz and J Gary Bernhard, authors of the new book Self Evaluation and Psychotherapy in the Market System, want us to understand that.

“What I would do is focus on the reality of the system which puts people in that kind of situation,” Glantz says of his work with Michael. “It has nothing to do with him.”

Welcome to the new world of what might be called inequality therapy.

In a hyper-capitalist world where advertising and financial pressures channel the drive for status into an obsession, no one can really win – even those who appear to have it all. Commerce infiltrates even the language we use to describe our deepest concerns: am I worth it? Am I valued? Do I count?

Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(The Age) Productivity Commission to examine mental health spending in wake of Australian suicide crisis

The Productivity Commission will undertake a major inquiry into the role of mental health in the economy as the Morrison government looks to extract better value from the $9 billion a year spent on mental wellbeing.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt have asked the commission to examine “whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money”, as well as how to improve economic and social participation for people struggling with their mental health.

Four million Australians deal with a chronic or episodic mental health issue each year, and one in five people affected by mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma, Mr Hunt said.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(PRC) A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying


Name-calling and rumor-spreading have long been an unpleasant and challenging aspect of adolescent life. But the proliferation of smartphones and the rise of social media has transformed where, when and how bullying takes place. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 59% of U.S. teens have personally experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behaviors.1

The most common type of harassment youth encounter online is name-calling. Some 42% of teens say they have been called offensive names online or via their cellphone. Additionally, about a third (32%) of teens say someone has spread false rumors about them on the internet, while smaller shares have had someone other than a parent constantly ask where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing (21%) or have been the target of physical threats online (16%).

While texting and digital messaging are a central way teens build and maintain relationships, this level of connectivity may lead to potentially troubling and nonconsensual exchanges. One-quarter of teens say they have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for, while 7% say someone has shared explicit images of them without their consent. These experiences are particularly concerning to parents. Fully 57% of parents of teens say they worry about their teen receiving or sending explicit images, including about one-quarter who say this worries them a lot, according to a separate Center survey of parents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Christian Century) John Wahl from Ohio offers Reflections on Silence and Listening

From there:

My 12-year-old son, like many children with autism, is nonverbal. Through typing, writing, and signing, he is able to communicate many of his needs, though this patchwork of strategies still often leads to misinterpretation.

But one thing he knows how to tell me is when he is ready to walk. Most afternoons after school, or often early on Saturday mornings, we take walks together. Sometimes he listens to music to dull the sensory-interfering noises of the world, sometimes not. When time allows, we walk for miles and miles, often taking familiar routes in and around town, sometimes charting a new course. Side by side, and in silence, we walk. I discern this to be a part of my calling as a father.

The exercise is good for both of us, to be sure, but it also fills my soul. I am privileged to be there sometimes to guide and protect but also just to be alongside. Together, we experience both routine and surprise, stillness and movement, quiet and its varied interruptions. And there is mystery to be found in it all.

In other parts of my life as a pastor, I am not always so comfortable with silence. Sitting down to pray and meditate can be a challenge. I am prone to be thinking of the next meeting to attend, parishioner to visit, or sermon to write. In the quiet I fret about performance, worry about the future, dwell on all those many things that are so tempting to try to control. So often, it is so hard to just listen.

And so I walk. And my son, by walking with me, helps me embrace the quietness that we are allowed to share with one another. And in our shared silence I am reminded of the God who also walks alongside at all times and in all circumstances, the One who will speak if we are willing to listen.

John Wahl
Chagrin Falls, Ohio

quoted by yours truly in the Morning sermon (all of the essays on silence are commended to blog readers)–KSH.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(NPR) Bobi Wine Is Willing ‘To Die Trying’ To Win Freedom For Uganda

“I’m supposed to be a dead man,” says Bobi Wine, a Ugandan musician turned politician.

His driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead on Aug. 13. Wine tweeted a graphic picture he said was of the man’s dead body. Wine says police were the ones who shot Kawuma, but Wine says he was their real target.

Bobi Wine’s real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. He rose to fame as a musician — first with love songs and dance songs, but more recently turned to political themes in his music. His 2017 song “Freedom” has become a rallying cry for the country’s opposition.

In the same year, Wine was elected to the country’s Parliament as an independent.

He’s become a leader in opposing the country’s longtime President Yoweri Museveni — in power since 1986. Museveni is known for violently crushing dissent. Human Rights Watch says the government “continues to violate free association, expression, and assembly rights.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Politics in General, Psychology, Uganda

(NBC) Montana had the highest suicide rate in the country. Then budget cuts hit.

Libby is in Lincoln County, which has a population of nearly 20,000 but just one behavioral health employee, Amy Fantozzi, a graduate student who oversees the county’s contracts with medical providers who do mental health assessments.

The town had a clinic run by the nonprofit Western Montana Mental Health Center, the largest service provider in the region, which had 12 clinics serving 15,000 clients across 15 counties. But after the cuts were announced last year, the center laid off more than 60 case managers and shut down three clinics, including the one in Libby. That left hundreds of patients without access to therapy, medication and a case manager to check on them.

Now, when those patients are in crisis, their only option is the emergency room at Lincoln County’s lone hospital. Once they check in, Fantozzi gets a call, and she must decide whether to spend $100 of her $18,500 annual budget on a mental health assessment. Depending on the results, she could then spend an additional $300 to have the patient evaluated and involuntarily committed at the nearest mental institution 90 miles away.

There have yet to be any publicly reported deaths by suicide as a result of the local clinic’s closure, but county officials fear the current system of mental health triage won’t hold up…

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, State Government, Suicide, Theology

(Guardian) Kwame Anthony Appiah–Can we choose our own identity?

“What I want to do is to widen the bandwidth of gender,” says Alex Drummond, the Cardiff psychologist and author and a trans woman, who decided to keep her beard, while also forgoing surgery or hormones. Drummond, who identifies as lesbian, told BuzzFeed: “If all you ever see is trans women who completely pass and are completely convincing as natal females, then those of us who just don’t have that kind of luck won’t have the confidence to come out.” (Most trans women have not had genital surgery, according to a recent survey by the American National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.) Her project of “gender queering” hasn’t met universal acceptance; one trans woman writer has likened her to “the older, oversized bully” who “throws himself into the toddlers’ sandpit and kicks everyone else out”. Did I mention quakes and tremors?

But a conversation – a negotiation – has begun, gloriously. Every day, men negotiate with one another about what masculinity means. And not just men. “Man” and “woman” are part of a system of interacting identities. Nor, for that matter, can black and white and Asian and brown racial identities be negotiated separately by black and white and Asian and brown people. That’s why we have to resist the liberal fantasy in which identities are merely chosen, so we are all free to be what we choose to be. In truth, identities without demands would be lifeless. Identities work only because, once they get their grip on us, they command us, speaking to us as an inner voice; and because others, seeing who they think we are, call on us, too. If you do not care for the shapes your identities have taken, you have to work with others inside and outside the labelled group in order to reframe them so they fit you better; and you can do that collective work only if you recognise that the results must serve others as well.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sexuality

(NYT Op-ed) Let Kids Play

“We’re in a climate where parents are feeling like they need to schedule every minute of structured time, and 30 percent of kindergartens offer no recess,” said Dr. Michael Yogman, chairman of the A.A.P. committee on psychosocial aspects of child family health and the lead author of the statement. To some, he said, “play is seen as irrelevant and old-fashioned.”

Dr. Benard Dreyer, the director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “The old saying is, play is the work of children. Play is the way they learn and the way they develop. It’s important to understand how all of us, and especially parents, can encourage play.”

“Kids develop 21st-century skills in play,” said Dr. Yogman, who is chief of the division of ambulatory pediatrics at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. These include social and emotional skills and executive function, “skills that are crucial for adults in the new economy, that help them collaborate and innovate.”

A fundamental job in pediatric primary care is to strengthen the parent-child relationship, he said, and play is important in that area as well….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Scott Sauls–When Pastors Crash and Burn

Many of us pastors, including Spurgeon and including me, have fallen into the emotional abyss—not in spite of the fact that we are in ministry, but because we are in ministry.

Studies show that pastors experience anxiety and depression at a rate that is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the population. Due to the unique pressures associated with spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations from congregants and oneself, the freedom many feel to criticize and gossip about pastors with zero accountability (especially in the digital age), failure to take time off for rest and replenishment, marriage and family tensions due to the demands of ministry, financial strains and self-comparison, pastors are prime candidates for relational isolation, emotional turmoil, and moral collapse.

Studies also show that some pastors face unreasonable, even impossible, demands placed on them by their people. I am NOT one of those pastors, thanks to a church that both receives my gifts and embraces my limitations. All in all, the people of Christ Presbyterian Church treat me with extraordinary love and kindness. But, sadly, not all pastors are as lucky as I am.

Dr. Thom Rainer, a leading pastoral ministry guru, once conducted a survey asking church members what they expected from their pastors. Specifically, Dr. Rainer wanted to know the minimum amount of time church members believed their pastors should give each week to various areas of ministry, including prayer, sermon preparation, outreach and evangelism, counseling, administrative tasks, visiting the sick, community involvement, denominational engagement, church meetings, worship services, and so on. On average, the minimum amount of time church members expected their pastors to give to the ministry was 114 hours per week.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Finding It Hard to Focus? Maybe It’s Not Your Fault The rise of the new “attention economy.”

It was the big tech equivalent of “drink responsibly” or the gambling industry’s “safer play”; the latest milestone in Silicon Valley’s year of apology. Earlier this month, Facebook and Instagram announced new tools for users to set time limits on their platforms, and a dashboard to monitor one’s daily use, following Google’s introduction of Digital Well Being features.

In doing so the companies seemed to suggest that spending time on the internet is not a desirable, healthy habit, but a pleasurable vice: one that if left uncontrolled may slip into unappealing addiction.

Having secured our attention more completely than ever dreamed, they now are carefully admitting it’s time to give some of it back, so we can meet our children’s eyes unfiltered by Clarendon or Lark; go see a movie in a theater; or contra Apple’s ad for its watch, even go surfing without — heaven forfend — “checking in.”

“The liberation of human attention may be the defining moral and political struggle of our time,” writes James Williams, a technologist turned philosopher and the author of a new book, “Stand Out of Our Light.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Media, Psychology, Science & Technology

(1st Things) John Waters–Choosing to refuse

Sometimes, digesting the latest news of the unhinging of the world, one is tempted to fall into despair. I experienced this feeling acutely recently, reading a report of a conservative commentator who had been questioned by the FBI because he posted a one-liner on Twitter mocking the Human Rights Campaign for seeking to persuade businesses to put rainbows in some visible place about their premises, presumably as an indicator of acquiescence in the LGBT agenda.

“That’s a nice business. Too bad if something happened to it,” tweeted Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights. It was an obvious riff on Mafia-style protection methodologies, but you can count on social-justice-warrior types not to get jokes. Ruse was reported by the Human Rights Campaign and as a consequence received a visit and later a phone call from an FBI officer. Luckily, the officer knew a joke from a shakedown and that was the end of it.

Ruse subsequently observed that the HRC has made a habit of attacking Christians who defend traditional sexual morality. He elaborated:

It works like this: A local restaurant is owned by a faithful Catholic who objects to the gay agenda. … Gays notice he doesn’t have the gay rainbow affixed to his window. “Why don’t you have the rainbow on your window?,” they ask. “Are you homophobic? Do you really want the local community to know about you?” You can see it spooling out from there. He is targeted by the local bully boys who proceed to make his life miserable, perhaps harming and even shuttering his business.

This kind of thing is escalating at a rate that begins to be very ominous indeed. Not only do these people brook no dissent from their agendas, but they do not rest until anyone who questions them is badly burnt toast. And officialdom everywhere plays along and treats them like jolly pranksters….

Ruse’s experience brought to mind Vaclav Havel’s story, in his essay “The Power of the Powerless,” about the greengrocer who put the sign in the window with the slogan, “Workers of the World Unite.” Havel draws us into the mindset of the greengrocer, who places the sign essentially as a gesture of obedience. The sign might as easily read, “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient”—but this would cause the greengrocer to lose face. The “Workers of the World” sign serves both the needs of the greengrocer and the needs of the regime. So it is with rainbow stickers. The sign or sticker thus becomes another kind of sign: of the operation within a culture of an ideology. This is its true function.

Read it all and make sure to read the full article in Stream from which he is quoting.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, The U.S. Government

(Commentary) Christine Rosen–The Suicide Epidemic

The recent suicides of fashion entrepreneur Kate Spade and chef-turned-TV-star Anthony Bourdain have sparked a culture-wide discussion, as often happens when a celebrity dies in a horrible fashion. But unlike previous celebrity suicides, the anxieties prompted by these deaths took on a different coloration when it became clear in their wake that their deaths are part of a larger and disturbing public-health crisis we’ve failed to acknowledge. 

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., killing twice as many people (45,000) as homicide does each year. In more than 25 states across the country, the suicide rate has increased by more than 30 percent since 1999.  

Most of the deaths are people (like Spade and Bourdain) at an age once considered the prime of  life, which suggests a kind of epic, deadly new form of the midlife crisis: The largest number of suicides are happening among white men and white women between the ages of 45 and 65 (although rates are rising steadily for nearly all racial and ethnic groups). The news is grimmest for men, who account for three-quarters of all suicides. The CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, told Business Insider that the new data are “disturbing.”

Disturbing and confusing. Suicide has often increased during times of economic hardship; in 1932, during the height of the Great Depression, for example, the rate was 22 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the New York Times. But in the U.S. today, during an economic recovery under way for nearly a decade, the rate is 15.4 per 100,000. And the number of deaths has stubbornly increased despite much better screening and mental-health diagnosis. As the CDC researchers who worked on the recent report noted, “More than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death.” Rather, the researchers listed substance abuse, job loss, relationship problems, and financial woes as some of the many factors potentially implicated in rising suicide rates.

How did suicide, a disease of despair, a last resort, become a solution to the challenges of everyday life for so many people?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(NPR) More Screen Time For Teens Linked To ADHD Symptoms

Most teens today own a smartphone and go online every day, and about a quarter of them use the internet “almost constantly,” according to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center.

Now a study published Tuesday in JAMA suggests that such frequent use of digital media by adolescents might increase their odds of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“It’s one of the first studies to look at modern digital media and ADHD risk,” says psychologist Adam Leventhal, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California and an author of the study.

When considered with previous research showing that greater social media use is associated with depression in teens, the new study suggests that “excessive digital media use doesn’t seem to be great for [their] mental health,” he adds.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth