Dr. Helen

Dr. Helen

Are Women without Kids Failures?

May 28th, 2015 - 6:34 am

Vox Day at Alpha Game Blog had this to say:

Most of the mothers I know used to proudly declare they never wanted to have children. Not some of them, not many of them, MOST of them. That is why the correct response to a young woman declaring that she doesn’t want to have children is to laugh at her, because bearing children is the prime raison d’etre for every woman. The woman who fails to do so is, quite literally, a failure as a human being.

I don’t think men who have no children are “failures” and nor do I think women who have no children are “failures.” I think that people make choices in life that are right or seem right for them at the time. People are autonomous beings who may or may not want children. While I agree that our culture is a negative one that often mistakenly tells women to go only for careers and other pursuits rather than have children, I do think there are some women who do not want them. This choice may be wrong for some but not for all.

I had a friend in college who didn’t want kids. She is happy today many years later without them. That is her choice. It should be everyone’s to decide what is right for their own life. To call that a failure for that decision seems extreme. What are your thoughts? Should men or women without kids be said to be “failures?”

Apparently they are, according to this latest article in my professional magazine on the lack of recruitment of black males in PhD psychology programs:

The lack of African-American males graduating with doctorates from psychology programs continues to be both alarming and disappointing. The most recent data as reported in Doctorate Recipients from U.S. universities indicated that while European-Americans (whites) earned 76% of psychology PhDs, only 5.8% of psychology PhDs were awarded to black students, and of that 5.8%, 68% percent were awarded to black females, demonstrating that black males are woefully under-represented as students in psychology graduate schools (APA Center for Workforce Studies, 2010).

Unfortunately, one poor guy slipped through the cracks and added his story about his route to being a psychologist and why it is so hard for others to follow in his footsteps:

Graduate School Barriers

Financial Strain

While many of my early barriers have since been overcome, financial strain continues to be my primary obstacle. Completing four years of undergraduate education, two years of a master’s program, and five years for a PhD will equal 11 years of very tight fiscal management and the accumulation of significant student loan debt. I believe it takes a strong value for higher education to give up 11 years of full-time salary while simultaneously accruing many thousands of dollars in student-loan debt. Any casual observer would probably view this as a risky gamble. I too must confess to frequent doubts about whether becoming a psychologist will be worth the many years it will take to pay off my debt. According to APA’s 2009 Doctorate Employment Survey, graduates with a PsyD in Clinical Psychology reported a median debt level of $120,000, up from $70,000 in 1999 (Michalski, Wicherski, Kohout, & Hart, 2011). The median income reported by graduates with a doctorate in psychology, however, was $50,000 to $70,000, actually down from the median income range ($52,000 to $72,000) reported in 2007. Between 1999 and 2009 there was a 42% increase in median student-loan debt for PsyD clinical psychology graduates, yet only a 21% increase in salary for clinical psychologists during the same time period (Michalski et al., 2011; Kohout & Wicherski, 2003). In contrast, graduates from research-orientated PhD programs only reported a median debt level of $38,500, with 38% reporting no debt at all (Michalski et al., 2011; Kohout & Wicherski, 2003). The level of student-loan debt for early-career psychologists is troubling to say the least, but my desire to become a clinical psychologist goes beyond salary.

So the salary of psychologists is sinking, it takes 11 years of training to get the job, and students are saddled with up to $120,000 worth of debt — and now they want more black males to take on this risk? The article calls this alarmist and disappointing. I call it a smart move. There are other professions that are less risky, more lucrative and just as rewarding without 11 years of one’s life gone and possibly one’s health after dealing with the field for decades.

May 24th, 2015 - 12:31 pm

Cosmopolitan: 15 Things You Should Never Say to an Introvert.

I recently did a panel with PJTV on the negative portrayal of American Dads in the media:

Over the past few decades on television, the American dad has been portrayed as dumb and lazy. Commercials and movies now mock the role of the father figure. It’s a far cry from the days of when he was a revered part of the family. TV shows like “The Simpsons” and “Married With Children” took aim at the beloved father, turning him into someone who wasn’t respected by his own family. Stay-at-home dad’s also feel the scrutiny as they are depicted as deficient and indifferent caretakers. In part five of this special series, PJ Media’s Dr. Helen Smith joins the panel to discuss the dumbing down of the American dad and how to stop it.

Unfortunately, the video is for PJTV members only but if you have a membership, go take a look at the video. Or if you have thoughts on men’s treatment on TV on shows like “The Simpsons” or “Married With Children”, comment below.

First, a disclaimer. As a libertarian, I don’t believe in Affirmative Action. However, since the government uses it to help certain groups get ahead, why not join in? This was my thought after re-reading Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence.

Psychologist David Keirsey’s popular book deals with the sixteen personality factors from the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) and describes the personality styles in depth. Many of you are familiar with the MB and have read up on your type but if you want to take an internet version of the test, you can do so here. It boils down to a set of four letters that tell you what type of personality you have. Is it accurate? Probably for the most part for some people but let’s say it is totally accurate. I, for example, am an INTP and sometimes an INTJ. Here is the reality of that latter:

It’s lonely at the top, and being one of the rarest and most strategically capable personality types, INTJs know this all too well. INTJs form just two percent of the population, and women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population – it is often a challenge for them to find like-minded individuals who are able to keep up with their relentless intellectualism and chess-like maneuvering. People with the INTJ personality type are imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but they do not squander their energy.

And according to another site on the romance of INTP’s, the reason this type may be single is:

You’re single because: You haven’t left your apartment in three months.

You’ll get into a relationship when: You meet someone just like yourself on World of Warcraft.

One thing I have found is that if you have a weird personality type is that other people often do not get where one is coming from; certain personalities are foreign to them or a dark sense of humor sets some people off. Some people have a pleasing personality and get ahead in life because others like them. Is this fair? Not really. If you have a personality that is rare and not easily understood, this can be as challenging as being the wrong sex, race or sexual orientation. Why should those people get all the goodies?

I think all of us who are rare types like INTPs or INTJs should get Affirmative Action. If women only form 0.8% of the population of INTJs and men a measly 1.2%, it is unlikely that we will encounter too many others who share our views, making connections and hence, opportunities harder for us in many ways. Affirmative Action would make our lives more fair. Afterall, it’s not our fault we were born with a weird personality.

Are You a Shadow Worker?

May 17th, 2015 - 6:53 am

I am convinced I am after reading Craig Lambert’s new book Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day. The book makes the compelling argument that we are all doing unpaid work for businesses and organizations. I will add in that we also do a lot of work for the government (didn’t many of us just fill out our own tax returns and hire accountants?) but that is another long blog post for another day. Anyway, here is the the gist of the book:

With the exception of sleep, humans spend more of their lifetimes on work than any other activity. It is central to our economy, society, and the family. It underpins our finances and our sense of meaning in life. Given the overriding importance of work, we need to recognize a profound transformation in the nature of work that is significantly altering lives: the incoming tidal wave of shadow work.

Shadow work includes all the unpaid tasks we do on behalf of businesses and organizations. It has slipped into our routines stealthily; most of us do not realize how much of it we are already doing, even as we pump our own gas, scan and bag our own groceries, execute our own stock trades, and build our own unassembled furniture. But its presence is unmistakable, and its effects far-reaching.

Fueled by the twin forces of technology and skyrocketing personnel costs, shadow work has taken a foothold in our society. Lambert terms its prevalence as “middle-class serfdom,” and examines its sources in the invasion of robotics, the democratization of expertise, and new demands on individuals at all levels of society. The end result? A more personalized form of consumption, a great social leveling (pedigrees don’t help with shadow work!), and the weakening of communities as robotics reduce daily human interaction.

I often think of all the activities I do that consume so much of my time in “shadow work.” I needed to contact my bank but no one answered the customer service line so I got online and waited three days until someone replied. I recently went to Whole Foods where I picked up my own lunch off a salad bar, and went to the gas station to pump my own gas. We have no gas station attendants anywhere in our town. I spend part of my days deleting spam emails from companies wanting sales and then the other part deleting voice mails from telemarketers. It is eating up a good part of my day.

As the author points out: “In the 1950s, tasks like pumping gas, typing letters, researching products, checking out groceries, composing salads, disposing of cans and bottles, handling bank deposits, and driving the kids to school were handled by pump jockeys, secretaries, salespeople, cashiers, waitresses, garbage men, tellers, and bus drivers. Today, you have inherited these jobs. They have become shadow work.”

Are you a shadow worker? What tasks do you do daily that eat up your time and are annoying? Which are beneficial?

I sure hope so because I sit much of the day writing and answering email, etc. There is an article in the New York Times this week that says a short walk can help:

With evidence mounting that sitting for long stretches of time is unhealthy, many of us naturally wonder how best to respond. Should we stand up, or is merely standing insufficient? Must we also stroll or jog or do jumping jacks?

A new study offers some helpful perspective, suggesting that even a few minutes per hour of moving instead of remaining in a chair might substantially reduce the harms of oversitting.

As most of us have heard by now, long bouts of sitting can increase someone’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, kidney problems and premature death. These risks remain elevated even if someone exercises but then spends most of the rest of his or her waking hours in a chair….

What they found was unexpected. A low-intensity activity like standing, by itself, had little effect on mortality risk. Those people in the study who spent a few minutes each hour engaged in such low-intensity activities did not show much if any decline in death risk, compared with those who sat the most.

But those who walked around after standing, replacing some of their sitting time with a light-intensity activity like strolling, gained a substantial benefit in terms of mortality risk.

In fact, if they replaced as little as two minutes of sitting each hour with gentle walking, they lowered their risk of premature death by about 33 percent, compared with people who sat almost nonstop.

Now, excuse me while I go for a short stroll after typing this.

Why “Lean In” is Wrong

May 15th, 2015 - 9:38 am

Amy Alkon, author of Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck has a good article at the New York Observer on why Sandberg’s “lean in” advice to women is wrong:

Remember junior high? Well, the reality is, if you’re a woman, you never really get to leave.

This rather depressing truth about adult mean girls isn’t one you’ll read in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book, Lean In.

Unfortunately, according to a near mountain of research on sex differences, the “You go, career girl!” advice Ms. Sandberg does give is unrealistic and may even backfire on women who take it.

The problem starts with her book’s title, unreservedly advising women to “lean in”—to boldly assert themselves at the office—without detailing the science that lays out the problems inherent in that.

Ms. Sandberg goes clueless on science throughout her book; for example, never delving into what anthropological research suggests about why women are not more supportive of one another and why it may not be reasonable for a woman to expect other women in her workplace to be supportive of her in the way men are of other men and even women.

Is Boyhood Under Attack?

May 11th, 2015 - 5:55 am

PJTV: Boys can no longer act like boys. The days of them exploring, experimenting and acting like young adventurers have been repleaced by more feminine activities. Young boys are also being medicated more when they don’t actually need it. In fact, the majority of children being treated for ADHD are predominantly boys. So why is boyhood being drugged? Why are there so many gender disparities in education? What needs to be done to restore masculinity in boyhood? PJ Media’s Dr. Helen Smith joins PJ Media contributors Stephen Green, Scott Ott and Stephen Kruiser in this part one of this six part series hosted by Bill Whittle.

You can view the discussion here or watch below:

There is an interesting article on men vs. women killers over at the Washington Post:

Even with that tiny share, poison was still used in 901 murder cases listed in the data. The vast majority of cases involve one killer and one victim, and they knew each other well. Since a few cases involve multiple killers or victims, there are a total of 936 deceased and 1,108 offenders. That’s a big enough group to draw some fair conclusions about who uses it and who is killed.

Women are seven times as likely as men to choose poison as their murder weapon. As I said before, there are nine male killers for every one woman killer. So, in raw numbers, more men kill with poison than women do. But among men murderers, poison is used in just over one-third of one percent of killings. But for women, it is used in more than 2.5 percent of killings.

I always wonder about these low number of women killers. When women kill, they often do so with another person (boyfriend, Hitman etc.) who is blamed. They usually kill in a less direct way so that it is hard to figure out if they were the perpetrator. For example, a woman here in Tennessee had two different husbands die, one was stomped by cattle as he “sat” in his wheelchair and later was found to have been killed from a lethal dose of morphine and another husband was shot. However, it took years for the authorities to look into the first husband’s death. I wonder how many more people have been killed by women who have just never been caught?