My boyfriend and I fought last night. I saw some skin tags on his neck. He was actually not aware that he has skin tags. I asked him to immediate take on skin tag removal to make his complexion better. But it seemed like he got offended with what I said. I did not mean to offend him. He sent me a text message where he pointed out that I seemed worried about getting skin tags from him. I told me that skin tags are not contagious and I only want the best for him that’s why I asked him to do something about it. I am well aware that I’m not going to have skin tags just because he has hanging skin tags on his neck and we are always together. My mother used to have skin tags and Dad never had this flaw even if they were always stuck with each other. I think my boyfriend is just being so sensitive. He should not act this way. I am only thinking about his welfare and he should realize that. If he does not want to get rid of these tags, I can’t do anything about it. It’s not harmful, anyway.
CAFFEINE is addictive. This has been known for some time, but more evidence has emerged that it is seriously addictive in that it can produce severe withdrawal symptoms. This is perhaps bad news for coffee drinkers, for tea drinkers (tea contains some caffeine) and for Coca-Cola drinkers. Perhaps. However, the real question is whether addiction does you any harm.
The trouble with talking about addiction is that most people, especially the puritans and the wowsers, automatically treat addiction as bad. Moreover, it tends to be treated as something that is a danger to all or a large proportion of the population. However, it is perfectly possible that there are some addictions which are harmless. More importantly, and very relevant to the still-growing campaign against smoking, the substance of addiction may not necessarily be inextricably wound up in the dangerous aspects of the usual manner of consumption.
There has been a lot of talk about the addictive nature of nicotine in the context of the United States Congress and its current McCarthyite hearings into the tobacco industry. The chief executives of the major tobacco companies were lined up in front of the congressional committee, and asked one by one whether they believed that nicotine was addictive.
They in effect “took the fifth” – as people accused of membership of the Communist Party in the McCarthy days pleaded the right of non-self-incrimination under the fifth amendment to the US constitution – and declared that they did not believe that it was. Of course they had to do this; an admission would have laid them open to devastating litigation.
Nicotine is almost certainly addictive. The real harm done by smoking has little to do with the nicotine itself, but the products associated with it. It would seem sensible for anyone who was addicted to nicotine, and who wanted to give up smoking, to separate the two issues. Nicotine patches are one means to achieve this; so are nicotine chewing gums and other tobacco products like snuff. However, these are all either illegal or tightly controlled.
It would seem sensible from a non-moralistic point of view that if the genuine harm of smoking were what the anti-smoking lobby was really on about they would promote two alternative approaches. One would be to encourage the use of nicotine products which give the benefits of that drug, but did not deliver the harm of smoking. A convenient nicotine pill would be a good idea (apparently the main problem with chewing gum and so on is that they do not deliver an effective and sufficient hit).
Another would be to encourage research into alternative drugs which provided the same satisfactions and benefits as nicotine, without having any harmful side effects. It would not matter then if these alternatives were addictive. The nature of addiction is the essence of the problem. The latest issue of the New Scientist devotes a considerable amount of space to the difficulties of defining addiction, and determining its causes. It seems that addiction is always a minority problem – the greater number of people can genuinely “take it or leave it alone” in the cases of nicotine and alcohol, as well as heroin, cannabis and many other drugs.
There is clearly a strong genetic element in the predisposition to addiction. There is a lot of research still to be done into the mechanisms of addiction, and questions such as the extent to which addiction is “learnt” by the body, and whether once learnt is ever reversible, are still open. Then there is the question of whether substances that mimic addictive drugs, or effectively block the receptors for the stimulus they provide, are of any use. The essential point is that many people need and want drugs of addiction. (There is the famous phrase which I have heard applied to a Nobel prize-winning economist – he “was born two whiskies below par”.) The pleasure of drug use is essential to them, and they will seek it one way or another. Religion is, of course, a drug to many people, and often far more harmful than physiological addiction, and yet is frequently recommended as an alternative. This fits the pattern of disapproval which underlies most approaches to drug addiction or habituation. There are clearly psychological and social aspects to drug use as well as physiological aspects.
For example, the heavy use of vodka in Russia is perfectly understandable in terms of the history of that tortured country. Probably alcoholism is a far more rational response to the awfulness of life there than either revealed or political religion. The trouble with most approaches to the health problems associated with smoking, drinking, or other drug use is that the issue is so imbued with moralism. This is worst in doctors since they are so accustomed to seeing the disasters which addiction produces among the minority of the population which is prone to addiction, and few of them are able to understand the difference between moral disapproval of addiction and the harm done by addictive substances.
One view cited in the New Scientist is that of Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland, that “addiction is not a failure of will or morality, but a chronic brain disease that should be ranked alongside schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome”.
If the real harm of smoking were the primary motive of the anti-smoking lobby, one would expect that they would be devoting a large proportion of their funding to research into relatively harmless ways of obtaining and using nicotine. The same applies to alcohol. It is perfectly obvious that a large contributor to the overuse of alcohol is the psychological needs of the drinker. This is true even of those who cannot be said to be physiologically dependent. Why not, then, concentrate on discovering an acceptable and palatable alternative drug for those who need alcohol, as distinct from enjoying it in the form of its delivery (like good wine or cold beer) and the social lubrication that it provides?
This could then be used as a supplement by those who would otherwise be tempted or inclined to overuse alcohol. The general problem of alcohol and powerful and psychotropic drugs is not going to go away. Prohibition may save some people – there is evidence that in the United States prohibition markedly reduced the use of alcohol – but cannot prevent the use of drugs, legal and illegal, of all kinds especially by those prone to addiction. The illegality is the main source of the criminality that which surrounds drug use. And as for the addictive nature of coffee – that is a small problem which will be easily dealt with once it is generally understood – unless the wowsers now decide that they should campaign to make coffee illegal or at least a prescription drug. I have noticed that in countries where good coffee is served at high strength, people tend to use it wisely and in moderation. Much the same applies to alcohol – the problem resides with those people who resort to the crudest varieties in desperation. Addiction is not the real problem.
Monica glanced first toward Francine, her 7-year-old daughter, lying on the family room floor, drawing pictures of dismembered adults. Her eyes then darted to Andre, her new husband of two years, who stood in front of the TV, engrossed in the evening newscast.
Why is this still bothering me? Monica mused to herself I’ve talked with Mom and friends about it, but .. Staring through the sliding-glass doors leading to the patio, Monica mumbled, “I wonder if professional counseling would help?”
Monica’s experience is that of many who face mental or behavioral health dilemmas. They want to know when to seek help, what to expect, and where to get psychological counseling. Here’s some help for those exploring the mental health care scene.
Should I, or shouldn’t I? Many people are hesitant to seek mental health services because they’re not sure when a behavior, feeling, or way of thinking is no longer normal.
“If what you’ve tried isn’t working, or if you’re not certain you are coping adequately with a situation, then you should realize that something isn’t what it should be. Not knowing for sure and being unable to admit that a problem exists often keeps people from getting counseling,” says Juliana M. Harrison, M.S.W., L.I.S.W., child welfare supervisor for Franklin County Children’s Services in Ohio. “Pride can be the big test barrier.”
Having your concerns validated by someone you trust and who is objective can help you make a decision about counseling. For instance, Monica’s concern about her daughter’s peculiar drawings and way of communicating with family members is shared by her teacher. Her teacher notes that her school achievement and behavior are less like a 7-year-old and more like a preschooler. In this case, further exploration with a mental health provider would be warranted, according to Harrison.
Realizing a need for outside help can be a good rationale for adults to seek professional counseling for themselves.
“I went into counseling when I wanted the viewpoint of someone objective, someone not directly involved,” says Cenan, a young adult transitioning from a high school to college. “I wanted to know who I was.”
Troubling thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that in their extreme are considered “mental illness” are not the only conditions that can benefit from psychotherapy. A desire for enhanced understanding of personal and interpersonal issues, as in Cenan’s case, are also appropriate reasons. “Counseling is a great place to find out what you want in life or from a relationship,” comments Cenan.
What to expect. Once you decide to enter counseling, being unfamiliar with what will take place can be the next barrier. Since relatively few of the estimated 34 million people who are in psychotherapy talk openly about their experience, the social stigma persists.
“You should expect to be treated respectfully by a provider who will listen to your story. A lot of questions will be asked of you in order to get a good picture of who you are and your situation. Also, you need not expect that if you go once, it means you have to go 20 times. A competent provider will help you determine realistic expectations,” says psychiatrist Donna Scott, M.D., director of the Southern Crescent Psychiatry and Counseling Center in Newnan, Georgia.
However, don’t expect that complex, distressed situations will be reversed quickly. “Working through problems takes time. They didn’t form overnight,” adds Harrison. Resolution can be anything but instantaneous.
What persons in therapy can expect from themselves can sometimes be quite surprising. “I struggled with not wanting to trust the counselor or the process, and not allowing myself to feel worse on the way to getting better. That was really hard! But once I discovered that I was going to get out of it what I put into it–that the therapist wasn’t going to give me advice–I really started to work,” commented Cenan, as she reflected on her two-year experience in psychotherapy.
Perhaps the most perplexing part of counseling is determining progress. Dr. Scott admits that knowing that the treatment is working can be challenging. “This is where having specific goals at the outset is helpful.” You can know it’s working if “you are working toward getting better; not necessarily that it is all better.”
When you are dealing with deepseated, painful issues, then “working toward” can be a significant improvement. “Looking for baby steps when it seemed like nothing was happening became very important to me,” says Cenan.
For example, Monica’s husband, Andre, is considering stopping his individual therapy, which has included medication as well as counseling. Monica agrees because even though Andre’s anxiety attacks have decreased noticeably, he still does not seem interested in her or Francine. “The drugs make him not care about anything,” Monica complains.
However, the couple may be expecting too much. Addressing one issue, anxiety, will not necessarily solve the other couple- or family-related conflicts. “If they are really seeking help, then the family as a system should be looked at. The treatment may be individual or include some or all of the family,” says Harrison.
Where medication is involved, particular care is needed. “You need to have a clear idea of what the medication is for”–and not for–”and its side effects,” says Scott. “A thorough explanation of the hoped-for outcome and a timeline are a must.” Parents especially should know the danger of taking children off medication just because they “thought he’s doing better,” adds Harrison.
Where to turn. Where to get started is the most perplexing part of the mental health care question for some who have artfully navigated the when” and “what” of psychological counseling. The choice of a clinician is sometimes made based on maintaining privacy. “For some it’s a question of `Where can I go so no one will know?”‘ says Harrison.
While confidentiality is important, Hariison recommends beginning where you are comfortable. “Start with a trusted health-care provider or friend who has had success with the counseling community. And don’t worry so much about the type of provider-psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist, or counselor,” adds Scott.
Also, use the clergy as both a referral and treatment source. “Pastoral counseling is legitimate, as many clerics are getting more training and doing more than just giving Scripture. The wholistic perspective–encompassing the spiritual as well as the physical, social, and psychologicalis gaining in popularity in our society,” cites Harrison.
“People who believe in God have a strength others don’t,” observes Scott. They often want to capitalize on this as they seek wholeness. Persons who are spiritual may want to locate a mental health care provider who is open to the operation of the divine in human affairs. As renown psychiatrist Karl Menninger said, “I treat, but God heals.”
If you had an abusive childhood, get over it. How much simpler than spending months or years exploring and understanding these issues in order to solve them. Laura does it all in few minutes: just long enough to assign blame.
Though the predicaments her listeners bring run the gamut of human problems, Laura’s advice rings but a single note: She offers a simplistic morality, Dr. Laura proclaims that the right ethical choice is easy. Again and again she condemns her listeners for putting their immediate expediency before their values; for blinding themselves to their own weaknesses; for whining about having chosen the wrong partner. She takes a tough stance toward others, but how about towards Doctor Laura herself? By calling herself Doctor Laura, Schlessinger allows her listeners to believe that she speaks with the authority of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Her only doctorate, however, is in physiology. Though this may not constitute a punishable infraction of the profession’s legal code, it is, at the very least, ethically questionable.
If she were just one more neurotic, self-aggrandizing therapist, Laura would merely be a sitcom character. But there is a dangerous price paid for her astounding success. Laura draws her listeners by toying with their hunger to believe that for all their personal pain and confusion and the suffering they see around them, their world is comprehensible, just, and moral. Laura’s self-righteous indignation plays on a universal hope for a moral universe, a hope that becomes more desperate as society turns its back on its own moral obligation to help those in need. The truth is that the less humane our society gets, the more need we feel to justify its authority. Just as children of abusive parents find it less threatening to blame themselves than their parents, people who suffer the most are first to blame themselves for their pain. The victim – and victims almost universally believe they must deserve their suffering – complies with the injustice.
People call Laura because they are in pain and need help, but they also believe that they don’t deserve to be helped. Thus when Laura twists the knife a little deeper into a suffering caller, blaming the victim, she absolves the rest of us for a moment from our own guilt. She also confirms our belief that we don’t really deserve help. She constantly reminds us that “God helps those who help themselves.” But what about the helpless? The price of her absolution is that we too turn our backs on those in need, and, at the same time, deny our own inner cries for help. Every problem is an occasion for swift response – something to be eliminated, not understood. Her anti-psychological rapier slashes through our Gordian tangle of guilt but leaves us scarred in the process.
Laura’s enormous popularity bolsters a widespread and disturbing movement in our country to trivialize psychological problems. Her powerful appeal mirrors two prevailing and dangerous deceptions. First is the mistaken belief that emotional problems are, on the whole, malingering or a result of moral laxity. Many of her callers may share Laura’s scorn for complex psychological explanations, but they still suffer from failed relationships and yearn for love and community. They feel bad and they turn to Laura for help they are not sure they deserve. Laura’s smug piety affirms the possibility of a better life if they’ll only accept full personal blame for their problems. Their guilt over their own suffering leaves them exquisitely susceptible to Laura’s attacks.
The second deception Laura’s success feeds on is that long term psychotherapy is ineffective. It has become an oft-repeated and acceptable deceit that psychotherapy is mere quackery; this position is upheld not only by the uneducated, but is gaining acceptance in cynical academic circles as reflected in the writings of Frederick Crews and Jeffrey Masson. Laura encourages her listeners to believe that her invectives and platitudes are the best help they can hope for, and that the expense of real psychotherapy is a self-indulgence – a waste of time and money.
Now it is true that not all therapists are equally good, but the truth is that there is an enormous body of reputable research that confirms that psychotherapy and psychiatry are remarkably effective treatments for the entire gamut of emotional problems. In an extensive survey organized by Consumer Reports, over 90 percent of those who used the services of a psychotherapist for problems ranging from everyday unhappiness to severe mental illness said that they were helped. Contradicting Laura’s contempt for long-term psychotherapy, the survey confirmed that those who stayed in therapy the longest were helped the most. Further studies show that, on the whole, psychotherapy is often more effective than many other common medical interventions. Even the most serious mental illnesses respond to a combination of therapy and psychopharmacology: for many it may come as a surprise that these treatments are about 80 percent effective in treating manic depression, depressive disorders, and panic attacks; even the success rate for treating schizophrenia is 60 percent. Depressive disorders respond equally well, in the long run, to psychotherapy with or without medication. Compare that to the improvement rates of heart treatments such as angioplasty and atherectomy at 41 and 52 percent respectively. How sad then that many people’s only experience with psychotherapy is the radio ravings of Dr. Laura, and that they have to settle for her platitudes rather than get real assistance.
Not too surprisingly, undermining our faith in psychotherapy is even more popular with the health insurance industry than with disaffected intellectuals. The for-profit managed care business that is currently cannibalizing our communities must be overjoyed by Laura’s popularity. Populist cynicism toward psychotherapy allows health insurance companies to redline psychological problems and provides them with a shortsighted windfall. Health insurance companies are delighted by anyone who can convince us that psychological problems are self-indulgent malingering. After all, psychotherapy can take a long time, and health insurance companies like to treat even major surgery on an outpatient office-visit budget. Laura’s instant “treatment” bolsters their strategy to trivialize mental illness and deny coverage for long-term treatment. Insurance companies thrive on our belief that there is no real help for our pain. But we foot the bill since the quality of life for all of us has been savaged. For most, denial of psychotherapy results merely in unnecessary unhappiness and frustration, but, ultimately, for society as a whole, the costs are far greater: Families are shattered by untreated mental illness. Our schools have become combat zones. Our streets teem with those too disabled even to beg. Our jails and courts are choked.
These are some of the costs of conflating psychology and morality. Once psychological problems are depicted as moral failings, the issue becomes punishment, not treatment. As we close our hearts and minds to the possibilities of rehabilitation and redemption, people with untreated psychological problems fall within the province of the criminal justice system. In fact, mental hospitals have been replaced by prisons; and right now L.A. County Jail is the largest mental health facility in California.