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Helen Smith

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

Should There Be Affirmative Action for A Weird Personality?

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.

Posted at 2:17 pm on May 19th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Are You a Shadow Worker?

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?

Posted at 6:53 am on May 17th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Can A 2- Minute Walk Counter the Harm of Sitting?

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.

Posted at 7:00 am on May 16th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Why “Lean In” is Wrong

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.

Posted at 9:38 am on May 15th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Is Boyhood Under Attack?

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:

Posted at 5:55 am on May 11th, 2015 by Helen Smith

“..poison is more popular among women killers than it is among men.”

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?

Posted at 10:26 am on May 8th, 2015 by Helen Smith

The College Admissions Mania

I was at Barnes & Noble today and read the new book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times. It is a good read for those who wonder if they, or their kids will make it in life without an Ivy League education. The answer is yes, and you may be better off. The gist of the book is summarized at Amazon:

Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.

That belief is wrong. It’s cruel. And in WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE, Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes.

Bruni, a bestselling author and a columnist for the New York Times, shows that the Ivy League has no monopoly on corner offices, governors’ mansions, or the most prestigious academic and scientific grants. Through statistics, surveys, and the stories of hugely successful people who didn’t attend the most exclusive schools, he demonstrates that many kinds of colleges-large public universities, tiny hideaways in the hinterlands-serve as ideal springboards. And he illuminates how to make the most of them. What matters in the end are a student’s efforts in and out of the classroom, not the gleam of his or her diploma.

From a NYT’s review on the book:

Getting into a top college, even for the most accomplished high school students, has become a mad scramble. But in his sensible and sensitive book, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be,” Frank Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times, wants to help young people understand the urgent truth of his title. “Where we go to college will have infinitely less bearing on our fulfillment in life than so much else: the wisdom with which we choose our romantic partners; our interactions with the communities that we inhabit; our generosity toward the families we inherit and the families that we make.” That’s something we all know in retrospect but that’s hard to know in prospect for anyone caught in what Mr. Bruni calls the “college admissions mania.”

It does seem so difficult these days to get into an ivy league. The book points out that by the time these schools take legacies, those who give money, minorities, and athletes, most students have very little in the way of real chances to get into these schools and yet, their lives may turn out fine anyway!

Posted at 12:25 pm on May 5th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Is Pam Geller the Bravest Woman in the U.S.?

Most readers have probably read the headlines today about Pam Geller and the Texas shootings. Some distorted media outlets think the attacks were justified (round-up here) and others think Geller is a hero. I am in the latter camp.

Love her or hate her, you have to admit that what she is doing is brave. How many women in this country (or men for that matter) would fight the good fight for free speech and do it at the risk of his or her life? How many Americans anymore really believe Patrick Henry’s famous words: “Give me liberty or give me death”?

Ms. Geller has shown by her words and actions that she believes these words and believes in her freedom and that of her fellow Americans to address what they see as the concerns of the day. In these cowardly times, her actions put her head and shoulders above the mainstream press and others who believe that there is only one politically correct way to address those who wish to harm Jews and others.

What might have happened in the 1930s if other Jews had spoken up like Geller? It might have changed history. Thank you, Pam, for your bravery and your love of liberty.

Posted at 10:12 am on May 4th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Where Have All the Husbands Gone?

Suzanne Vennker: Why Men Won’t Marry You:

What gives? Why are men here and abroad avoiding the altar in spades?

1. Because they can: Men used to marry to have sex and a family. They married for love, too, but they had to marry the girl before taking her to bed, or at least work really, really hard to wear her down. Those days are gone.

When more women make themselves sexually available, the pool of marriageable men diminishes. “In a world where women do not say no, the man is never forced to settle down and make serious choices,” writes George Gilder, author of “Men and Marriage.”

Scoff if you wish. Call me a fuddy-duddy. But how’s that new plan working out?

2. Because there’s nothing in it for them: What exactly does marriage offer men today? “Men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family,” says Helen Smith, Ph.D., author of “Men on Strike.” “They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.”

Posted at 5:34 am on May 2nd, 2015 by Helen Smith

Really? I Would Call This Mom the Mother of the Year

Paula Bolyard, a writer here at PJM, has a post on the Baltimore mom who smacked her kid for joining the rioters. Bolyard states, “Am I the Only One Who Thinks Smacking Your Kid Upside the Head Is Bad Parenting? I’m all for discipline, but that mom in Baltimore isn’t exactly #MomOfTheYear material.” Her reasoning?

In the video we see the single mother of six grabbing her teenage son by the neck and smacking him several times in the head. He escapes her grasp momentarily, but she comes right back at him, collars him again and hits him. He shakes her loose and tries to walk away, but Toya follows him, screaming, “Get the f*** over here! Did you hear what I said?” I’m just saying we shouldn’t be celebrating a parent losing her cool with her kid and the incident most certainly shouldn’t be propped up as the model of great parenting.

Folks, this is not #MomOfTheYear material.

You know, I think this is mom-of-the-year material. This is a woman who has had enough of her kid acting like an idiot and putting himself in a very bad and possibly dangerous situation. This mother let her son know that she did not approve of what he was doing and when he tried to walk away, she let him know that he had better listen to her. She used strong words to do so. Mrs. Bolyard compares this act to her own lack of ability to control herself with her kids:

I’m ashamed to say that there were times I totally lost it and looked way too much like Baltimore Mom. Good gravy, I’m thankful there were no cameras on me at the time! I’m ashamed of those moments and I’d be horrified if someone called me “Mom of the Year” for the times I lost my cool. Those were my worst parenting moments, the times I failed my kids and had to apologize to them and ask their forgiveness — certainly not anything I’m proud of.

Maybe Mrs. Bolyard lost her cool in her own circumstances for reasons that were uncalled for; this happens to parents and is not a good thing. But to compare an uncontrolled act of parenting to the justified anger that this Baltimore mom had in this dangerous and outrageous situation is wrong. To call it poor parenting is to misunderstand the difference between good parenting and feelings of guilt for lacking control. This mother was in control and she was teaching her son that his behavior warranted a strong response. I say a smack on the head here was the least of this teen’s problems. If in the end he resents his mother for it, so what? Better that than end up in jail or dead because his mother was too concerned about appearing controlled. This situation called for a strong reaction and this mother was brave enough to rise to the occasion. It was an act of good parenting.

Posted at 7:24 am on April 30th, 2015 by Helen Smith