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Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

Do You Feel Dizzy?

I have suffered from dizziness for most of my life and it seems to get worse when I get a cold or virus. This WP article describes some of the symptoms and causes of vertigo:

Indeed, researchers described a new disorder of the vestibular system as recently as 1998. In that condition, called superior semicircular canal dehiscence, an opening in one of the canals of the inner ear causes vertigo and/or auditory disturbances.

To the afflicted, vertigo — along with related symptoms such as ringing in the ears or hearing one’s own eyes blinking — is vexing, and the sensations are difficult to describe. “Patients can feel isolated and alone,” says Cynthia Ryan, the executive director of the Vestibular Disorders Association, based in Portland.

Vertigo and dizziness are hard to get diagnosed and hard to treat. It is frustrating and there seems to be no clear cut treatments that work for everyone. The man in the WP article who suffers from vertigo can hardly even pursue his hobbies such as duck hunting:

Meanwhile, it’s duck hunting season in Wisconsin. My brother-in-law will go, as he has done most years of his life, but he doesn’t expect to bring home a bird. The three-dimensional coordination needed to swing a gun and shoot at a moving object exposes his balance deficit to the max.

Doctors never seem to take quality of life issues very seriously. I wish researchers would.

Posted at 5:23 am on October 6th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Do Civilians with Guns Ever Stop Mass Shootings?

Eugene Volokh asks this question in an article at the Washington Post and gives some examples of civilians that have stopped a mass shooter or shortened the time a mass shooter has to kill:

Backers of laws that let pretty much all law-abiding people carry concealed guns in public places often argue that these laws will sometimes enable people to stop mass shootings. Opponents occasionally ask: If that’s so, what examples can one give of civilians armed with guns stopping such shootings? Sometimes, I hear people asking if even one such example can be found, or saying that they haven’t heard of even one such example….

6. In Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2007, Matthew Murray killed four people at a church. He was then shot several times by Jeanne Assam, a church member, volunteer security guard and former police officer (she had been dismissed by a police department 10 years before, and to my knowledge hadn’t worked as a police officer since). Murray, knocked down and badly wounded, killed himself; it is again not clear whether he would have killed more people had he not been wounded, but my guess is that he would have.

7. In Edinboro, Pa., in 1998, 14-year-old Andrew Wurst shot and killed a teacher at a school dance, and shot and injured several other students. He had just left the dance hall, carrying his gun — possibly to attack more people, though the stories that I’ve seen are unclear — when he was confronted by the dance hall owner James Strand, who lived next door and kept a shotgun at home. It’s not clear whether Wurst was planning to kill others, would have gotten into a gun battle with the police, or would have otherwise killed more people had Strand not stopped him.

8. In Pearl, Miss., in 1997, 16-year-old Luke Woodham stabbed and bludgeoned to death his mother at home, then killed two students and injured seven at his high school. As he was leaving the school, he was stopped by Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, who had gone out to get a handgun from his car. I have seen sources that state that Woodham was on the way to Pearl Junior High School to continue shooting, though I couldn’t find any contemporaneous news articles that so state.

Eugene notes that many people have never heard of examples of civilians stopping mass shootings. I think some people are just playing dumb because they don’t like the idea of people fighting back and it fits their narrative to think nothing can be done in these cases.

However, there is also the fact that the media rarely reports on people fighting back or using a weapon to stop any crime, much less a mass shooting which is rare. I have often noticed that if someone stops a crime with a weapon, it is mentioned briefly in the back of the paper or article or not mentioned at all.

It is no wonder people think it rarely happens. Maybe if people read the Armed Citizen in the NRA magazine, they would have a different idea about one’s ability to stop crime with a gun. Of course, nothing is perfect and weapons are only a tool, but they are often the only means of defending the defenseless.

More from Dr. Helen:

Is Austin Really the “Sugar Daddy Capital” of North America?

Posted at 5:17 am on October 4th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Is Texting Important to a Relationship?

A reader asks Amy Alkon if she should break up with her boyfriend since he doesn’t think texting is a form of communication:

My boyfriend will text if he’s running late but says texting “isn’t real communication.” He says that if I need to talk, I should call him. I get that anything serious should be discussed via phone. However, we live separately, and sometimes I just want to reach out in a small way with a funny photo or a word or two and get a word or two back. When he doesn’t respond or grudgingly responds a day later, I get more and more hurt and angry and want to break up with him. I know he cares about me. Am I being unreasonable?

Amy has a good response, indicating that the woman is asking for a bit of communication that the boyfriend is not providing and that the reader should let him know that she needs a bit more interaction. Fair enough. However, in the past, we weren’t able to communicate so quickly and people had to be more patient in their love lives. Now, not so much. However, not texting back at all might be an indication of the boyfriend’s lack of interest. Technology lets us know people’s feelings in a whole new way.

Is that good or bad? Both, probably but it seems like technology can ruin relationships or make them more difficult to maneuver with all the unwritten rules that come with it. At the same time, women expect men to text and act in ways that are congruent with how they view communication and that is expecting a lot.

What do you think? Is texting a turn-off? Is it hurtful or helpful to relationships?

Posted at 5:33 am on October 1st, 2015 by Helen Smith

Is Austin Really the “Sugar Daddy Capital” of North America?

Are there really that many Sugar Daddies in Austin? “Probably not”, says the data in an article at CNBC:

SeekingArrangement, a site that facilitates the matching of attractive young “sugar babies” with richer “sugar daddies,” recently released a study claiming that Austin, Texas, is the “sugar daddy capital” of North America.

“All of our women are absolutely gorgeous and looking for a special sugar daddy just like you,” according to the company’s Austin site. “The average sugar baby is a beautiful, ambitious college student, aspiring actress or model, or single mom.”

Supposedly, there are 23 sugar daddies actively seeking sugar babies for every 1,000 adult males in Austin. The Big Crunch finds this figure suspiciously high—and frankly, we would be very surprised if it was accurate given the city’s demographic realities.

There are about 400,000 adult males in the city, according to the latest Census data, so if SeekingArrangement’s numbers are right, there are more than 9,000 sugar daddies living in Austin (a calculation the company confirmed).

Already, that number means that one in every 50 men you see is a sugar daddy, but it becomes even more outlandish if you consider the income necessary to maintain a sugar baby.

Posted at 9:19 am on September 28th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Why ‘The View’ Is Bombing

Michelle Malkin has an interesting post at Right Wing News on why “The View” is not as popular these days:

You would think that a groundbreaking TV show for women hosted by women would do its best every day to respect and uplift women.

Instead, ABC’s “The View” — originally created by veteran journalist Barbara Walters to represent women “of different backgrounds, different generations and different opinions” — has devolved into an ear-splitting bickerfest of elite divas who scoff and sneer at those who do not enjoy their celebrity privilege or share their left-wing ideological values.

This week, the bratty, catty co-hosts’ targets included the young women who competed for the Miss America title. Michelle Collins, a “comedian” who recently joined the show after establishing herself as a Tinseltown “gossip queen,” savaged Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson. As the other anchors giggled out loud at Johnson’s video clip, Collins mocked the Rocky Mountain beauty not for her looks or her politics, but for a lovely, earnest monologue she performed during the pageant’s talent competition.

Wearing her hospital scrubs, sneakers and a stethoscope, the registered nurse recounted her conversations with a patient named Joe in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. When he requested changes in medications and treatments, Johnson explained to him that she couldn’t because she was “just a nurse.”

Michelle makes an important point: “Question: Would these sniveling snobs have attacked Johnson with such callous glee if she had been wearing a Planned Parenthood uniform and holding a manual vacuum aspirator?”

Of course not. Women in the liberal media don’t stand for women, they stand first as leftists and the worst part is, they don’t even realize what a pack of political pawns they are. Or maybe they do and they don’t mind being government hacks. Either way, they are a sad commentary on liberal women today.

Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell Brawl Backstage

Who Is More Annoying? Rosie O’Donnell Vs Whoopi Goldberg

Posted at 7:40 am on September 25th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Would Soldiers be Instructed to Turn a Blind Eye to the Rape of Girls?

I was watching Fox News at the gym and saw this horrific story about boys being raped in Afghanistan and soldiers being told told to look the other way:

Showcasing the honor of American soldiers in what is otherwise a harrowing report issued by The New York Times, U.S. military members are facing discipline for refusing to obey orders of turning a blind eye to Afghan “allies” who are keeping young boys as sex slaves.

Bacha bazi, translated literally as “boy play,” is considered the norm among Afghan police officers in the region. The practice has even been brazenly carried out on military bases. These “allies,” Afghani militia men organized to fight the Taliban, are armed and set in charge as commanders in villages and remain unfettered in their pursuits. But because bacha bazi is a cultural staple, Marines and other American soldiers “have been instructed not to intervene,” according to the NYT…

Other soldiers have faced similar outcomes. In fact, assisting Quinn in the physical altercation meant to protect the young boy was Sgt. First Class Charles Martland. Because he also ignored orders to look the other way, the Army opened a court case to force his retirement.

Really, if these were girls, would the US government have soldiers turn the other way? And where is Michelle Obama to “bring back our boys?” Or some form of compassion from the White House for these boys being used as sex slaves right before their very noses? It’s disgusting and horrific.

Posted at 5:47 am on September 22nd, 2015 by Helen Smith

The Big Bloody Book of Violence

Martial artists Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder have a new book out called The Big Bloody Book of Violence: The Smart Person’s Guide for Surviving Dangerous Times: What Everyone Must Know About Self-Defense and I just received my copy. Given the title, how could anyone resist picking it up and flipping through the chapters to glean some helpful hints? At least those of us interested in the topic of violence. From the description:

We could whine about how we live in dangerous times nowadays, but let’s face it, all throughout history ordinary people have been at risk of violence in one way or another. Abdicating personal responsibility by outsourcing your safety to others might be the easy way out, but it does little to safeguard your welfare. In this book you’ll discover what dangers you face and learn proven strategies to thwart them.
Self-defense is far more than fighting skills; it’s a lifestyle choice, a more enlightened way of looking at and moving through the world. Topics include:

* Making sense of senseless violence
* Riots and crowd safety
* Terrorism
* Domestic violence
* Gangs
* Home invasions
* Conquering impossible odds
* Creating witnesses
* Guns

One of my favorite chapters in the book is titled “Zero Tolerance Pussification.” There are a number of good points made about Zero Tolerance, such as how ridiculous it is to suspend kids for defending themselves: “What message does that send and at what cost?” The authors also point out that Zero Tolerance makes predators more effective: “When safety and security are not seen as our personal responsibility we lose the will to defend ourselves.”

Our whole culture is now one of Zero Tolerance Pussification. Our culture often teaches people that there is no reason to defend themselves and that they should just wait for the police or authorities rather than learning to fight back. It’s a good thing that these guys didn’t listen.

Posted at 12:48 pm on September 19th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Kris Jenner’s Dilemma

i am cait

So I watched the “I Am Cait” season finale the other night as I wanted to see what Kris Jenner had to say to Cait (Bruce) during their first talk in the six months since Bruce Jenner announced he was becoming a woman. Here is what took place (if you care):

Kris and Caitlyn Jenner finally came face to face on Sunday’s I Am Cait, the first time the exes had spoken in “at least six months,” according to the reality star.

“I just felt thrown under the bridge,” Kris said of her ex’s transition. “You were so excited to be going through this exciting time in your life, but I feel like I really was blindsided in a lot of ways. And that really got to me so bad that I couldn’t…I didn’t want to communicate with you and be angry.”

“What would you be angry for?” Caitlyn asked. When Kris was reluctant to explain, Caitlyn pushed her, “because it affects the kids.”

“You’re sensitive and amazing to all these new people in your life,” Kris admitted. “You’re just not so sensitive and amazing to this side of the family that you left behind.”

“I know you said you haven’t gone anywhere and you’re still the same person,” Kris admitted tearfully. “But sometimes they just miss having Bruce around. We all do.”

Both women clearly still have some resentment issues to work out — Caitlyn over Kris’ radio silence in the month following her announcement, and Kris for comments that Caitlyn made in her Vanity Fair expose. However, by the end of their conversation, things were looking up.

“I’m really happy for you, I really am,” Kris told Caitlyn. “Because I want you to be happy.”

Really, Kris is now happy for Caitlyn and didn’t want to talk to her when she was angry? Why wasn’t she that considerate when Caitlyn was Bruce? Even Caitlyn mentions what crap she was treated like in their marriage when he (she) was just Bruce for years. If you doubt me, take a look at the past episodes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” where Bruce’s opinions were ignored; he pretty much lived in the garage and anger was thrown his way with abandon by the family and Kris in particular. Sound familiar? This is the way many men are treated by families every day, and no one gives a crap. After all, they’re just men and probably have no feelings.

Now that Bruce has come out as a woman, his feelings are treated with care, and everyone, including Kris, is walking on eggshells. Why? It is socially unacceptable to trash talk women, particularly transgender women. Kris must feel angry inside, but can’t really express it. She has to pretend to be happy for Cait. To profess otherwise makes her into the bad guy. Now, if Cait were a man, she could talk with abandon and her anger would be justified. But she has been one-upped by Caitlyn. Maybe more men should transition to women as an act of self-defense as misandry spreads. Bruce joined the winning team and really, who can blame him?


image via eonline.com

Posted at 11:42 am on September 16th, 2015 by Helen Smith

A Brilliant Plan or a Piece of Crap: You Decide

Iron Shrink (Shawn Smith) emailed me this story from Elle that has been circulating. Titled “Saving for a Daughter but Not a Son: This Father Is Starting a Fund to Combat the Wage Gap,” it tells of a “father” (I use that term loosely here) who has a “brilliant” plan:

As Paul Ford’s twins grew, he couldn’t stand the fact that his daughter would always lag behind his son financially. Then he hatched a brilliant plan….

Women are caregivers across the globe. Caring for children, or for sick parents, keeps them from paid employment. Around a quarter of American women quit jobs for family reasons; 10 percent of men do. It adds up: A woman on average will make $434,000 less than a man over her career, according to a Center for American Progress study. The gap is much greater if you compare men and women who went to college—$713,000.

Meaning if we raise our daughter as the “equal” of our son, we’ll still have come up 21.7 percent short. How do we give Ivy the same opportunities as Abe? Do we praise her 21.7 percent more? Hug her 21.7 percent harder?

I know that prognostication is dicey, and that my children’s world will be very different from our own. Robots will build more screens; computers will be less devices and more ambient omnipresences. The people who succeed will be those who can work with huge volumes of symbolic information, who can move data around in meaningful ways. The problem is, the things that we’re told will be most valuable in the future are, today, controlled by men. …

And then I realized, Maybe I can buy my way out of this one…

I’m thinking I’ll call it the JTG fund, for Jump the Gap. I’m working with a lawyer to organize it. Right now I’m not sure how often I can afford to do this, but at least I’ll take my fee for this article—several thousand dollars—and put it in a separate account. I have no idea how to turn that into a few million dollars, but I do know that putting money in the bank is better than not doing it. So once I’m paid, this thing becomes real.

Okay, jackass, I can tell you what will become real if you hatch such a sexist distorted plan that favors your daughter over your son: your daughter will probably suffer for it and so will society. Your son, with good reason, may come to resent you and your little brilliant plan. But hey, you are brilliant so who cares, right?

This Uncle Tim has decided that his son will have an advantage in life and seeks to knock the success out of him early. Our society wonders why boys are unmotivated, can’t learn and sit around smoking dope. Guys like Paul Ford are helping push them into these roles and then wondering why guys have gone on strike and  won’t date their daughter or treat them like crap.

Naturally, this idiot writer will never understand his own part in this downhill process. He will be too busy congratulating himself on his “brilliance.” Meanwhile, women like his daughter will have fewer men to choose from, many men (maybe even his own son) will not go to college, and he may end up with either one or both kids in the basement til 30 while he continues to support them. But hey, he had a good plan, right? Wrong.

Posted at 12:00 pm on September 13th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Are You a Compulsive Declutterer?

I sometimes think I am as I tend to throw things away pretty quickly though not to the extent of the people discussed in this Atlantic article:

Diller’s compulsive-decluttering patients, she says, sometimes describe “this tightness in their chest if they see things that should be thrown out,” one that can be eased only by getting rid of the offending objects.

“Any behavior can technically become a problem when it starts having an obsessive and compulsive nature. Even [otherwise] healthy behavior,” says Jennifer Baumgartner, a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area who has worked with patients who suffer from obsessive-compulsive cleaning. Both cleaning and decluttering can be positive behaviors, she says, but become a problem when they’re driven by obsessive thoughts….

For Charbit, the thoughts began within seconds of waking up each day. “You have a few seconds of peace,” she says. “Then it all comes flooding: The anxiety, the dread … It’s that constant nagging. You never reach a point where you’re satisfied.” Even now, after years of treatment, “I would rather throw something out and buy it again than keep it.” The medication helps, she says, but it hasn’t stopped her from discarding and re-buying a food processor three times. “And don’t even tell me to recount how many books I tossed, only to go to Amazon and repurchase them.”

I was just feeling great about myself after decluttering the house this week, but now I am not so sure… Or maybe every behavior is now being targeted as weird or abnormal for a good story or as a DSM-5 diagnosis.

Posted at 9:51 am on September 9th, 2015 by Helen Smith