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Dr. Helen

Interesting Data on Male Suicide

February 12th, 2015 - 10:51 am

I am on an email list and received a link to an article in Newsweek called “The Trouble with Men: Why Men Kill Themselves.” Naturally the title has to have a troubling or negative title, it’s about men. The article is about the high suicide rate in the UK and states: “Suicides of men aged 45-59 have risen by 40% in a decade, and account for a quarter of all suicides in the UK.” There is a graph pointing out that a majority of men (and a number of women) in the UK die by suffocation or hanging: 58% of male suicides and 36% of female suicides use this method. We always hear that it is the proliferation of guns that causes much of the male suicide in the US but if the guns are the problem, why is there also a high incidence of male suicide in the UK but the method is just different?

Is Dating a ‘Pain in the Ass’?

February 10th, 2015 - 4:37 am

I was in L.A. last month and stopped by the PJTV studios to do a roundtable discussion on millennial men and marriage:

Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike discusses the state of the young American male with PJTV’s Andrew Klavan, Bill Whittle and Matt Orr. Are men shunning marriage because of the economy, or do they have alternatives to marriage, like porn and easy sex? Could it be that women simply giving-up on the hopes of having a relationship with the current pool of men in America? Hear the answers.

Or maybe American men have given up hope on the current pool of women in America: as one of the panelists notes, “Dating is a pain in the ass.” Here is our discussion:

Apparently, many Americans would trust strangers more to make a medical diagnosis than a doctor according to the email I was sent today by a site called CrowdMed:

According to a recent study by CrowdMed [www.crowdmed.com (http://www.crowdmed.com/)] — a groundbreaking medical website that helps “crowdsource” solutions to the country’s most difficult medical mysteries — nearly one in five Americans (19%) has had to wait at least six months for a doctor to accurately diagnose a family member’s mysterious medical condition.

But what if you can’t wait that long? If you had a medical condition that baffled your doctor, would you be willing to get suggestions from perfect strangers?

According to the CrowdMed Medical Trust Census — a survey of 1,500 Americans on their attitudes toward traditional and nontraditional medical diagnosis — the vast majority of U.S. patients are interested in consulting others who are not necessarily practicing doctors. Noteworthy findings include:

>> 73% of Americans would trust a NURSE to suggest a diagnosis
>> 74% would trust an ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE PRACTITIONER
>> 84% would trust a RETIRED DOCTOR
>> 87% would trust a FORMER PATIENT WITH RELATED SYMPTOMS
>> 62% would trust a MEDICAL STUDENT

According to the site, you fill out a questionnaire and “collaborate With Medical Detectives” and then receive a report which includes the top diagnostic suggestions and solutions from the community. Given the problems with our healthcare system these days, it might be quicker to make a stop at this site than wait for ObamaCare to come through….

The Student Resistance Handbook

February 6th, 2015 - 10:09 am

I was happy and pleased to see at NetGalley that a new book focusing on how to fight back at school had been released called The Student Resistance Handbook. I was intrigued and ordered it after taking a look at the Amazon description:

The Student Resistance Handbook provides children with information on how they can effectively fight back against their school and work towards abolishing this abusive and oppressive institution. Legal non-violent tactics are presented that are designed to: disrupt the operation of school, substantially increase the costs involved in its operation, and make those who work for and support schools as miserable as they make the students who are forced to attend. The text was conceived to empower youth to struggle against the helplessness, passivity, and despair that schools were designed to instill. John F. Kennedy accurately claimed that “learning without liberty is always in vain.” This Handbook provides students with tools to fight for their liberty in order to attain a real education.

There was also an excerpt that looked good:

If you are looking to be warehoused in a more comfortable prison, this book is not for you. If you think getting a longer break for lunch or recess is a meaningful concession, this book is not for you. If you think better food in the lunchroom, more respectful teachers, and the end of standardized testing is what victory looks like, this book is not for you. There are no demands that can be issued or met short of ending the tyranny of compulsory schooling. If teachers or administrators want to reach out and negotiate with you, it will be based on a lie.They will only want to negotiate the terms of your surrender. Victory is when no one has to go to school and there are no consequences to not going. Given the rise of viable alternatives to school, this endgame is not completely far-fetched.

The book definitely looks worth a read, I look forward to getting my copy!

Superbowl Dads

February 5th, 2015 - 4:34 am

National Parents Organization: SuperBowl to Dads: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby:

No matter who you were rooting for in the SuperBowl, there was something to cheer for last Sunday. At least three advertisers ran ads that were “father-positive.” In fact, they were so tender towards fathers that I couldn’t blame mothers who might feel, “Don’t we deserve some accolades too?”

This is a welcome change from the past. Glenn Sacks’s 2008 article, “Advertisers: Men are No Idiots,” provides several examples of dad-bashing by advertisers. One egregious example is “The Elliots,” in which Verizon seemed to think it would sell its DSL service by portraying a father who is so clueless mom has to rescue their small daughter from his hapless attempts to help her with her homework.

We’re all familiar with the tired old stereotype of the completely incompetent dad. He has terrible judgment and bumbles at even the most routine of tasks. Often, he’s portrayed as yet another child – impatient, selfish, irresponsible. Usually we see a mature and supremely competent mom who keeps the family running despite dad’s utter cluelessness.

It’s a big change, then, to see three different companies use their extremely costly Super Bowl ads in ways that generally cast fathers in a heartwarming light. Toyota ran “My Bold Dad,” which showed dads in a patient, protective, loving light. (Toyota also ran a pre-Super Bowl commercial “To Be a Dad” in which men, some former pro football players, talk about the influence of their fathers.) Dove ran a tearjerker ad for Dove Men+Care called “Real Strength.” And Nissan produced an ad about a courageous but child-focused race car driver called “With Dad.”

But we still have a ways to go. “My Bold Dad” has an air of preaching to men about how to be a good father. There is a hint of the portrayal of fathers as dangerous, but redeemable, especially when it says that “being a dad is a choice to get hurt, rather than to hurt.” It is a good sermon; but is it necessary to sermonize? And would you ever see such a sermon directed at mothers, who commit more physical child abuse than dads?….

These things matter. The way fathers are portrayed in popular media affects how they are treated by courts.

Good last point: a change in culture can mean a change in the law.

I received an email from an academic who was dismayed to learn that a female friend who is a professor believes that all men are rapists. He wrote to ask for my help in how to cope (I have abbreviated and changed some of the wording for privacy) :

Dr. Helen,

I am in an online group of professors and academics and a female professor who I am friends with posted on an internet meme about “Teaching Men Not to Rape.” The gist of this document was something along the lines of :

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

I linked to articles to try and give her information on the rape statistics and how most men are decent guys but her response was that she gets near men in public and feels that they could overcome her physically.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with this kind of stuff for fathers, fathers who are professors, and folks who would like to be able to take this stuff on at work without risking losing their job? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

My response to this reader was:

You are too kind. You are trying to engage in an intellectual discussion where there is none. These ideas are based on what makes women feel good and gives the Uncle Tims of the world a chance to strut their stuff by playing along with the game in the hopes of accolades. I think the disconnect here for you is “how can you engage with such a person?” How do you deal with someone who thinks you and your son are rapists while being a “friend” to you. Whether she is a parent or not matters none. Many nasty people who hate men have sons. The goal here is to let “friends” or colleagues know that their prejudices may have consequences. How do you do that?

It sounds like you tried to use logic but you were not satisfied with the results of her response. One way to fight back is by using their own words against them. How about this:

“I can’t believe someone with your open-mindedness would buy into this propaganda. Your open expression of such views as a professor may make male students feel uncomfortable producing a hostile learning environment for male students. I am sure that 50 years ago there were women who were afraid to be in a crowd of African Americans but we didn’t design our society to accommodate their prejudices. You need to think about whether it is fair or legal to stereotype a whole group of people based on gender.”

She will go onto deny profusely that this is not the case and maybe call you a “rape apologist.” Response? Was Atticus Finch a rape apologist?

Anyway, you get the idea. Use their own progressive ideas against them and often that will shut them down by using a bunch of Title IX rhetoric.

Helen Smith

Dear readers, do you have some more tips for our distressed dad on how to deal with a “friend” or colleague who thinks all men are rapists?

Women Who Stalk: A Form of Personal Growth?

February 2nd, 2015 - 5:52 am

I read a story at the checkout counter at Earthfare from Psychology Today on women who stalk and thought it might interest readers. Unfortunately, there is only a portion of the story available online:

The lovesick who cannot eat or sleep are legion. Many go so far as to harass and stalk the lover who spurned them. And more often than one might realize, the stalkers are women.

Patricia*, a graphic designer and visual artist, was married and had a 9-year-old son when she began an affair with a man whom she refers to as Wolf. Lone-spirited and rugged, Wolf lived in a converted tack house on a ranch outside of San Francisco and seemed to be everything her corporate husband was not.

The affair lasted over a year. Wolf pressured her to leave her husband, but she refused. Yet when Wolf told Patricia he didn’t want to see her anymore, she wouldn’t accept it. She would go to the marina where his sailboat was docked and wait for him. She wrote fragments of Edna St. Vincent Millay poems in nail polish on the boat’s beautiful wood: I know what my heart is like / Since your love died. She also stole things from the boat, including a sail. “I became a predator,” she says. “I wanted to catch his scent so I could feel near him.”…

Pursuers may tell themselves that their stalking is a form of love or courtship, Sinclair allows, but that’s “just like how we once talked about a rapist as the guy who is overwhelmed with passion.” Today we have a similar myth about stalking. “People think it’s about being so in love, you’re not able to control yourself,” she explains. “But you’re driven by retaliation and obsession rather than love and idealization. Once you’re aggressive, you’re not idealizing, you’re not in love. All that’s left is the obsession.”

Stalking is mostly seen as a crime against women, and for good reason. According to a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey, three times more women than men have been stalked. That still means there are plenty of male stalking victims. In fact, one in 19 men have been stalked, and about half reported that their stalkers were female. The definition of criminal stalking varies from state to state, but the three main criteria for the crime are repeated, unwanted, and intrusive behaviors; implicit or explicit threats; and causing fear. The study surveyed self-identified victims and was based on a definition of stalking as behavior that led them to feel very fearful.

The author of this piece, Lisa Phillips, has a book out called Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession in which she describes her own experience as a stalker:

The summer Lisa A. Phillips turned thirty, she fell in love with someone who didn’t return her feelings. She soon became obsessed. She followed him around, called him compulsively, and talked about him endlessly. One desperate morning, after she snuck into his apartment building, he picked up a baseball bat to protect himself and began to dial 911. Her unrequited love had changed her from a sane, conscientious college teacher and radio reporter into someone she barely recognized—someone who was taking her yearning much too far.

In Unrequited, Phillips explores the tremendous force of obsessive love in women’s lives. She argues that it needs to be understood, respected, and channeled for personal growth—….

Really? So when a woman is a predator, her behavior is to be understood, and channeled for personal growth. When a man is a predator, he goes to jail and even if he is innocent but suspected, there are often consequences as the campus rape panic shows all too well. Phillips points out that this stalking behavior in women is quite common. Why is it so acceptable in our society? Why do we allow men to be followed and abused?

Women tend to destroy property when they stalk, what makes this okay? Women destroying men’s property is so popular, there is even a Hardee’s commercial about it. A guy has three girlfriends so they destroy his car, writing “Cheater” on it. Imagine a woman dating three guys who vandalize her car and write “Whore” across it? Watch the video and imagine the genders reversed:

I thought about this question as I read an advance copy of Law Professor Ben Barton’s new book Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession. The book describes how technology can help make law more accessible to middle class consumers:

Modern technology can now handle routine legal tasks like drafting incorporation papers and wills, reducing the need to hire lawyers; tort reform and other regulations on litigation have had the same effect. As in all areas of today’s economy, there are some big winners; the rest struggle to find work, or decide to leave the field altogether, which leaves fewer options for consumers who cannot afford to pay for Big Law.

It would be easy to look at these enormous challenges and see only a bleak future, but Ben Barton instead sees cause for optimism. Taking the long view, from the legal Wild West of the mid-nineteenth century to the post-lawyer bubble society of the future, he offers a close analysis of the legal market to predict how lawyerly creativity and entrepreneurialism can save the profession. In every seemingly negative development, there is an upside. The trend towards depressed wages and computerized legal work is good for middle class consumers who have not been able to afford a lawyer for years.

The book discusses how sites like Legal Zoom make law more accessible to people. At Legal Zoom, they even handle divorce, though the site mainly seems to handle those divorces that are uncontested for the low fee of $299.00 but if you have more complex questions and needs, you can get help from a lawyer for “an affordable price.” Barton noted in the book that it is not that easy for low income people to get help from Legal Aid in a divorce unless there are domestic violence issues. But face it, how many men are going to be referred to legal aid for a pro bono lawyer due to domestic violence? Very few, is the way to bet.

I wonder if technology and entrepreneurialism will help men to gain equal footing in divorce and custody proceedings as law becomes more accessible through these legal sites? Right now, men with little income have no where to turn whereas the VAWA, and legal aid through the government are more likely to help women with free legal help. Technology and some creativity may just level the playing field for men who need legal help and don’t have the means to pay a lot for it. I hope these sites continue to grow and hire the excess of lawyers who may do well serving the under-served population of men who do not have equal access under the law.

Interesting article in The Economist (thanks Terry) on suicide:

BEING depressed is like having a terrible headache, says one Atlanta businessman. Except that a few days of rest do not stop the pain: “You’re just expected to keep going.” Trying to “man up”, he sought little help for his condition, choosing to hide it instead. “It all gets so debilitating that you don’t want to go on,” he explains.

He tried to kill himself more than once; fortunately, his attempts came to nothing. But the same cannot be said for a growing share of Americans. The suicide rate has risen from 11 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 13 seven years later. In the time it takes you to read this article, six Americans will try to kill themselves; in another ten minutes one will succeed.

Over 40,000 Americans took their own lives in 2012—more than died in car crashes—says the American Association of Suicidology. Mondays in May see the most incidents. The rates are highest in Wyoming and Montana, perhaps because guns—which are more effective than pills—are so common there (see chart). Nationally, guns are used in half of all successful suicides….

Activists say the government does too little to prevent suicide. Christine Moutier of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention complains that only $40m of federal funding will go to anti-suicide programmes this year. This does not include the billions the government spends on mental-health problems more broadly.

I think the following comment to the article is probably on target for the lack of focus on suicide:

“If suicide doesn’t get enough attention, it’s because it’s mostly men committing it.”

The article points out that women are more willing to ask for help. Could it be that the help available for men is not exactly the most welcoming kind? When the counseling programs focus their courses on “diversity” in grad schools, men’s issues should be a top priority. Not the kind of PC crap that these programs often focus on in men’s studies such as how to relieve men of their masculinity and make them more like defective girls, but rather, training real professionals to deal with, and address the true discrimination and problems that men face today with regards to work (or lack thereof), marriage, relationships and other male topics. Maybe that would be a start.

Funny Headline of the Day

January 28th, 2015 - 5:21 am

This headline at CNS news about the increasing disability rolls is kind of fitting:

1 in 3 on Disability Have Mental Disorder; 42.9% in D.C. From the article:

CNSNews.com) – One in three, or 35.2 percent, of people getting federal disability insurance benefits have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the latest data from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Washington, D.C., the seat of the federal government, ranked in the top-ten list of states where disabled beneficiaries were diagnosed with mental problems.

In 2013, the latest data from SSA show there were 10,228,364 disabled beneficiaries, up 139,625 from 2012 when there were 10,088,739 disabled beneficiaries.

Disabled beneficiaries have increased 49.7 percent from a decade ago in 2003 when there were 6,830,714 beneficiaries; and the number is up 14.3 percent from the 8,945,376 beneficiaries in 2009, the year President Obama took office.