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Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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Does Living Together Before Marriage Really Cause Divorce?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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An article from the Christian Science Monitor discusses how social scientists have been studying the wrong variable when it comes to cohabitation and divorce:

For years, social scientists have tried to explain why living together before marriage seemed to increase the likelihood of a couple divorcing. Now, new research released by the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families gives an answer:

It doesn’t. And it probably never has. …

As it turns out, those studies that linked premarital cohabitation and divorce were measuring the wrong variable, says Arielle Kuperburg, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who produced much of the research released Monday. The biggest predictor of divorce, she says, is actually the age at which a couple begins living together, whether before the wedding vows or after.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / Solomonkein

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Boys Can Be Anything They Want, As Long As They Want to Be Girls….

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Kyle Smith at the NY Post has an interesting article on the emasculation of men in our society:

“Free to Be . . . You and Me” was a piece of Ms. Foundation-produced feminist propaganda disguised as entertainment for children that first appeared on ABC 40 years ago this week, on March 11, 1974. It drew big ratings, leading to platinum status for an associated album, a best-selling book, and many repeat airings of the show…..

The show, which is of course unwatchable today except perhaps in states with generous attitudes toward self-medication such as Colorado and Washington, was an hour-long special that meant to tell little girls they could be anything they wanted, and little boys they could be anything they wanted too, provided that what they wanted was to be girls.

The program’s most searing and indelible moment was the horrifying sight of Rosey Grier, a huge man once known as one of the most ferocious players in the NFL, strumming a guitar, smiling like a brain donor and singing “It’s All Right to Cry.”…

The climactic close to “It’s All Right to Cry” is a montage of real people (the vast majority male) shedding tears. Lads, open the waterworks! To women of today who are wondering why men must act like little boys, this is as good a moment as any to pinpoint as the start of the epidemic.

This continues today with the PC trend of sports, particularly football, and men being told that only the emotions of girls are acceptable unless they themselves actually act like one and then they are mocked by other men and women for their weakness. It’s confusing and disturbing that men are so emasculated on one hand and on the other, are supposed to “act like men” when convenient for women and society.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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No, I Still Don’t Buy into the Smith and Wesson Retirement Plan

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Aaron Clarey, author of Bachelor Pad Economics: The Financial Advice Bible for Men discusses the Smith and Wesson plan with Ed Driscoll. Here is what Aaron had to say:

MR. DRISCOLL: Aaron, I believe that both of your recent books rather infamously reference “the Smith and Wesson Retirement Plan.” Most of us would rather not, to quote Pete Townshend, “fire the pistol at the wrong end of the race.” While recommending much about Bachelor Pad Economics, in a post at PJ Media earlier this month, Dr. Helen Smith, who helped champion your books, took strong offense at your suggestion. Could you elaborate on your reasoning?

MR. CLAREY: Well, the reasoning is economic. And it is secular. I won’t deny that. So people who are religious or even traditional, they obviously would be against that. And I take no umbrage and no offense to it.

But from a purely economic point of view, and even a humanitarian point of view, there are some times where you’re terminally ill — pick your poison: cancer, a brain tumor, whatever. And you’re not coming back, you are going to die, and the remaining two weeks, three months, whatever your life, are going to be absolutely in pain and misery.

I think it’s wise or humane or ‑‑ what’s the word I’m looking for ‑‑ compassionate to, you know, somehow kill yourself, not necessarily with a Smith & Wesson, but some kind of euthanasia. And it not only puts you out of your misery, but it also saves a ton of money. I mean, I forget what the statistics are, but a plurality of your health expenses are incurred in the last six months of life.

So you want to talk about, you know, saving your family the grief of watching you just decay and, whatever, mentally, physically, what have you, or be in pain; not to mention save the finances for a future generation. It’s not for everybody. I’m not saying you have to do it, I’m just saying it is an option.

So it seems that Aaron is just advocating along with Obama that healthcare is expensive and it’s best to just die once you reach a certain age especially. Aaron advocates a gun or other means and Obama advocates a pill or pain killer, rather than investing in life saving treatments. I get that people suffer when they are older (and sometimes younger) but killing yourself for economic reasons is not a good solution in my book. My great aunt was 90 when she asked doctors to do bypass surgery. None would until she found a younger doctor who gave her the gift of four more years of a very good life. Her story is an inspiration to me.

And what about enjoying the decline? By using up government-run healthcare as we age, wouldn’t we be doing our part?

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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The Power of Choice

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

I am reading Brian Portnoy’s new book The Investor’s Paradox: The Power of Simplicity in a World of Overwhelming Choice which focuses on how to help investors choose good money managers and decent stocks.

However, what caught my eye was an experiment done in nursing homes that the author outlines to show evidence of the power of choice:

Researchers set up an experiment with two groups of elderly residents. One group was encouraged to exercise their liberty. Among other empowering directives, an attendant told them “If you are unsatisfied with anything here, you have the influence to change it.” …

Aging individuals who were given enhanced personal responsibility demonstrated much better outcomes in the following months.Those with more control registered a higher degree of mental alertness….Finally– strikingly—they were more likely to live longer. The mortality rate in the eighteen months following the original study was double for the group with less control (30 percent versus 15 percent). Choice and control matter.

The book looks at how to choose investments wisely from so many options but what about politically? I have to wonder what happens to us psychologically as our government and the culture take away more and more personal responsibility from us. Do we look at the options the government or the culture gives us and turn those into more choices to feel better? For example, Facebook now allows one to choose from over 50 gender options. Will these faux “choices” be enough? They will for some.

Sure, you can click on an “option” to show that you are Cis Female but what if you can’t drink a large soda in a New York cafe or choose your own doctor? To those of us who believe in the liberty to choose and in personal responsibility, how will we feel and cope? Do we end up like the nursing home residents who had less autonomy and died earlier? Do we wait while around just hoping that the government will throw us a few crumbs of freedom or do we fight back in every way that we know how to make sure that the power of choice, freedom and liberty continue to be the American way? I hope the latter.

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cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Can Loneliness Kill?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Independent.co.uk: “Extreme loneliness worse for health than obesity and can lead to an early grave, scientists say”:

Feeling extreme loneliness on a long-term basis can be worse than obesity in terms of increasing the potentially lethal health risks that lead to premature death, scientists said.

Chronic loneliness has been shown to increase the chances of an early grave by 14 per cent, which is as bad as being overweight and almost as bad as poverty in undermining a person’s long-term wellbeing, a study has found.

As more people live longer, they are spending a bigger part of their lives feeling lonely. This is having a significant impact on their physical as well as mental health, the researchers found.

Loneliness is also becoming more common as people live alone or become isolated from relatives and friends, especially in retirement.

Research has shown that at any given time between 20 and 40 per cent of older adults feel lonely….

Maybe if our culture didn’t treat older people like pariahs and worship youth, older adults might feel less lonely. Worshiping youth makes young people feel like they should be having a good time and if they are not, their feelings of loneliness and isolation increase. Treating people with humanity regardless of age would be a good start.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s Blog

image courtesy shutterstock / qingqing

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To Be a Winner In Life You Must Take Risks

Saturday, February 1st, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I am reading a new book by Tom Panaggio entitled The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge. Panaggio is and entrepreneur and was a race car driver who:

… has learned that you cannot avoid risk if you want to be a winner. In The Risk Advantage, Panaggio tells the story of how he and his business partners built two thriving companies: Direct Mail Express (which now employs more than 400 people and is a leading direct marketing company) and Response Mail Express (which was eventually sold to equity fund Huron Capital Partners). The book is designed as a guide for those who are contemplating an entrepreneurial pursuit, are already engaged in building a business, or are currently working for someone else and want to inject their entrepreneurial ideas and attitude.

As I read through the book about the rewards of taking risks in building a business, one point jumped out at me. The author says that risk must be embraced in order to be successful; yet people are afraid of risk. “Risk means having to face an uncertain outcome.”

In terms of the differences between men and women, what does this mean? If women are more risk averse in business, they will be less successful. In our risk averse society, where everyone must be covered from cradle to grave and have the hand of a “benevolent” government guiding them, what does this mean for the entrepreneurial spirit? Add to this the punishing taxes and regulations on small business and it is a recipe for less economic growth.

Will men become more risk averse as time goes on due to the social conditioning that risk is bad? Or, even if willing to take business risks, will men decide it is not worth the trouble due to the restraints of the government? Or will they become more risk-takers by going to the underground economy and staying below the radar? I suspect that the latter option will become more popular for men while women will flock to safer jobs and opportunities funded by the government.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Why Marry if You Are a Call Girl?

Thursday, January 16th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I just finished reading Tracy Quan’s book Diary of a Married Call Girl: A Nancy Chan Novel. The description is as follows:

In this irreverent take on infidelity and modern marriage, newlywed topflight prostitute Nancy Chan finds herself struggling to adjust to the realities of domestic bliss. She’s honing her respectable image as the wife of investment banker Matt, cooking fashionable meals and taking his shirts to the cleaners. But now that she and Matt share a home, it’s getting harder to keep her career as an exclusive call girl a secret. Nancy fears what might happen if Matt finds out, but she can’t quite bring herself to give up her financial independence. And now Matt wants to start a family. Motherhood could jeopardize her business—and what will it do to her body?

Okay, I know this is just fiction, but as I read the book, I couldn’t help but wonder why this woman was married if she was pursuing life as a call girl. Obviously, from her point of view, it is nice to have someone to care for you and at the same time continue with your current job. The risk factor is also probably a turn-on. However, you have to wonder what kind of cruel joke she is playing on her banker husband, who is pretty naive and seems to think she is studying French all day while she is turning tricks instead. It would be one thing if she was upfront about her work and told her husband what she did before they married to give him a choice about what to do, but to trick him to me seemed sickening, making the storyline difficult for me to deal with.

If this were a man doing the same sleazy thing, no one would be that intrigued by it; in fact, many readers would probably think that “going Betty Broderick” on him would be okay. But when a woman deceives a man, somehow it makes for a mysterious story showing the complexity of women’s sexuality.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen – visit her site for more comments and discussion

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Please Take Me Off Your List of Hate

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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So I received this press release about a recently released book by psychologist Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS CONTACT

Lorna Garano

510-280-5397

lornagarano@gmail.com

A Psychologist Diagnoses the Tea Party-and other extremists threatening our world. In “The Polarized Mind: Why It’s Killing Us and What We Can Do about It,” Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D., calls for a new and deeper psychological understanding of our greatest political and social conflicts and those who drive them.

It’s easy for liberals to snicker at the misspelled signs and misplaced anger of the Tea Party, but psychologist Kirk J. Schneider says that we dismiss or diminish groups like this at our own peril. Schneider, the author of THE POLARIZED MIND: WHY IT’S KILLING US AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT (University Professor Press, 2013, paperback), has done an exhaustive study of extremist movements throughout history and he says it’s time for us to look more seriously at what he calls “the polarized mind.” In “The Polarized Mind: Why It’s Killing Us and What We Can Do about It,” Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D., calls for a new and deeper psychological understanding of our greatest political and social conflicts and those who drive them.

“You can see gradations of the ‘polarized mind’ at work in virtually all destructive political movements from Nazi Germany to Maoist China to our very own Tea Party. In fact, it is the pervasive malady of the 20 and 21st Centuries,” says Schneider.

How does the Tea Party fit in? Many among its ranks have seen their lives profoundly upended by economic, social, and political trends beyond their control. They tend to be middle class people who are mired in debt and have seen a sharp decline in their living standard due to the shift to a service-industry economy. They often face stiff competition for low-wage jobs and when they land them they may be confined to dull, meaningless work day after day. They resent any government help for people who are even less fortunate and train their anger on those who are the least responsible for their plight. And it’s not just an empty wallet that drives them. It’s also a sense of social dislocation. “I think many in this movement are embittered over the increasing complexity of contemporary life. They look at the 9/11 attack-which once would have seemed unthinkable-the decrease in church attendance in many places, the loss of two-parent households, gender equality, the lack of simple ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ presentations of the U.S. vs. the rest of the world, and they feel profound existential anxiety-as if the ground beneath them is giving way,” says Schneider.

Although you won’t find “polarized mind” in any official diagnostic manual, for Schneider it’s crucial that the psychological community and the world at large rethink our ideas about mental illness if we are to understand the forces at play in the world. “When we think of mental illness, we think of a discrete and politically powerless group of people who have received a diagnosis, but if you look at the key criteria for diagnoses it’s abundantly clear that they describe vast swaths of the population, not a marginalized group,” says Schneider. Look, for example, at some of the traits of narcissistic personality disorder or psychopathy: A callous disregard for the feelings of others, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, a sense of entitlement, arrogance, a grandiose sense of self-importance. These traits are readily seen in the Tea Party and other extremist groups.

“No one can or should deny the historical forces that have shaped movements like the Tea Party, but to overlook or dismiss the psychological factors that are linked to them is to have less than a full understanding of what makes extremism tick-and how we can defuse it,” says Schneider. Recognizing the polarized mind when we see it is the first step.

Here is the reply I sent back to Lorna Garano:

How DARE YOU send me this trash associating law abiding American citizens with Nazi Germany and Maoist China. I am a psychologist who has sympathy for my fellow Americans who are so “extremist” that they believe in lower taxes and the Second Amendment. Horrors!

What is “killing us” are polarized minds like Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D who is so narrow-minded that he thinks those who have different political beliefs than himself are the enemy and seeks to assign them with a “diagnosis.” What is truly extremist and scary to those of a more conservative or libertarian persuasion is that so many psychologists such as the one below are such political hacks for the Democratic Party. Please take me off your list of hate.

Helen Smith, PhD

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog – visit for additional comments and discussion

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What is the Difference Between Sociopathy and Psychopathy?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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In the previous post on the possible rise of male sociopathy here, reader Gawains Ghost says he is not sure he knows exactly what sociopathy is. He is in good company. People seem to use a number of psychological terms interchangeably and it often gets a bit confusing.

According to this article, Robert Hare, author of Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us:

“suggests that the difference between sociopathy and psychopathy may primarily reflect how the person using these terms views the factors contributing to the antisocial disorder.” More apt to view antisocial behavior as arising from social conflicts, sociologists typically prefer the term sociopath. Whereas, psychologists use the term psychopathy to describe a psychological disorder that is the product of a combination of psychological, biological, genetic and environmental factors (Hare 1999).

To make it a bit more confusing, psychologists use the term Antisocial Personality Disorder from the DSM-5 to describe some of the traits of the psychopath though it is important to remember that one can have APD without being a sociopath or psychopath.

This article looks decent and might help you understand more about these terms if you wish to confuse yourself even further.

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cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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‘No Nation of Sociopaths Ever Put a Man on the Moon’

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Chateau Heartiste has an interesting post on sociopathy rising in America:

Is sociopathy prevalence on the rise in America? According to the author of the book The Sociopath Next Door, it is. American culture has become a breeding ground for sociopaths.

I have written about this increase before as I kind of wonder if we are renaming people as socipaths who really aren’t. That said, I thought Chateau Heartiste made some interesting points about male sociopaths:

Male sociopaths do better with women. This is indisputable. If sociopathy is increasing in America, then we must look to the foundational market of human interpersonal relations — the sexual market — to discover the source of this increasing sociopathy. Quite simply, if more women are more often rewarding sociopaths with their sex, then the supply of sociopathy will increase….

To be a high level player, you have to be blessed with a touch of sociopathy. Without that trait for timely detachment, you will empathize too much with the particular needs and reproductive goals of women. That distracting emotional resonance will hinder your ability to hurt a woman’s feelings and, sadly you’ll discover, rare is the woman who joyfully surrenders her body to a man who is careful to spare her feelings.

So sociopathy has its privileges. But no nation of sociopaths ever put a man on the moon.

We as a society do not want to encourage sociopathy, but that is what we are doing and as Chateau Heartiste points out, it is beneficial to the individual in sexual terms but our society will be made worse for it by being less innovative. But you get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish. Hence, we should expect to see more sociopathy in the future. All the while, women and their sychophants will be muttering “where have all the good men gone” while simultaneously breeding the seeds of sociopathy in some men by their actions and behaviors.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Camille Paglia: ‘What You’re Seeing is How a Civilization Commits Suicide…’

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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Camille Paglia in the WSJ:

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of “Sexual Personae,” she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled “Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, ” and it’s easy to see why. “If civilization had been left in female hands,” she wrote, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Why Some Men Embrace Their Short Leash

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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I saw that at Psychology TodayDr. J.R. Bruns takes a stab at answering the question I asked in a prior post about why some men put up with being on a short leash in their relationship. Here is what he had to say:

Many American men have ceded control of the relationship to their wives and their girlfriends. This acquiescence of responsibility in the union occurs early in the initial courtship of the couple. Quite frankly, many American men don’t mind being controlled by their lover in return for acceptance and romance. They bury their needs, feelings and goals to accommodate their mate’s. They surrender unconditionally due to their natural desire for sex and their fear of being alone. They would rather be in a poor relationship than NO relationship. But there is a terrible cost to their short-term pathway to romantic bliss. This century-long trend of submersion of the male in love and marriage is a major cause of the unprecedented failure of heterosexual relations in 2013 America.

Dr. Bruns goes on to make some good points but he does seem to put much of the fault with this behavior on men. While they are certainly responsible for their own noose at times, I think the omission here is the societal and legal realities that put women at an advantage in marital and even non-marital relationships. Husbands often put up with negative behavior because they know that they could lose their home, the kids and a portion of their income. Women, for the most part, have no such worries. Yes, there are exceptions of women losing these things, but it is mainly men who do so. This knowledge must play some part in the willingness to let women call the shots.

Combine this with a society that gives men no other guidance than “go along with the woman” and it’s no wonder men go along to get along. Of course, it doesn’t work and breeds resentment as the good Dr. Bruns points out, but it is easier for some guys to play along than risk losing in court and “love.”

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / auremar

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Six: A Free Feature Length Documentary on Teen Murderers

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

I often get requests to see my video Six about a group of teenagers who killed a family in East Tennessee. I am no longer selling the documentary, but PJM has been kind enough to upload it to YouTube so that PJM readers can watch it if they wish. It is now almost a decade old but much of the complexity of mass murder still holds true today. I hope my readers find it of interest.

http://www.sixthemovie.com/index.shtml

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Why Don’t Americans Trust Each Other?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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I just read this AP article about the lack of trust we feel for each other in our society:

WASHINGTON (AP) — You can take our word for it. Americans don’t trust each other anymore.

We’re not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy — trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away.

These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.

Why the lack of trust? According to the article:

There’s no single explanation for Americans’ loss of trust.

The best-known analysis comes from “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam’s nearly two decades of studying the United States’ declining “social capital,” including trust.

Putnam says Americans have abandoned their bowling leagues and Elks lodges to stay home and watch TV. Less socializing and fewer community meetings make people less trustful than the “long civic generation” that came of age during the Depression and World War II.

University of Maryland Professor Eric Uslaner, who studies politics and trust, puts the blame elsewhere: economic inequality.

Trust has declined as the gap between the nation’s rich and poor gapes ever wider, Uslaner says, and more and more Americans feel shut out. They’ve lost their sense of a shared fate. Tellingly, trust rises with wealth.

The article goes on to give some more explanations about why we don’t trust each other–racism, poverty etc. My guess however, is that it is the emphasis on race and poverty that is often the problem. People grow up on a steady diet of victimhood and are told daily that if they are not Bill Gates, rich, successful and white, they should feel resentful and mistrustful. Added to this, the government and school systems fuel the flames of resentment and make people feel that others are taking a piece of the pie that should belong to them. Hard work and financial success is no longer valued and being honest, decent and hard working is seen as a “sucker’s game” with the only “reward” being paying higher taxes, being called a capitalist pig, and people resenting you. In addition, the erosion and downright mockery of morality, a fear and disdain for men who are Shriners or in an Elk’s lodge or even an all-male bowling team and you have a recipe for people bailing out of these clubs to sit alone watching TV and feeling mistrustful of the world. The final straw is cable TV and 24 hour news coverage to add fuel to the fire and it is a wonder we trust each other at all.

That’s a bit of my analysis–though it is just the tip of the iceberg on why we have lost trust. Most people can no longer even show up on time to meet someone, attend a class or a meeting which worsens the trust issue.

If you have some more ideas about why we have lost trust in other Americans, please add a comment.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / auremar

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Can Sexting Keep a Man OUT of Jail?

Friday, November 29th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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This is a comment over at CNN in response to an article by Roxanne Jones entitled, “Young men, get a ‘yes’ text before sex”:

It seems nearly every week, we hear news stories about sexual encounters at parties where everyone is drinking — and a young woman says she was raped, and a young man insists the encounter was consensual.

Make no mistake, no woman — no matter how much she parties — is asking to be raped. But too often when heavy drinking is involved, the meaning of consent can be misconstrued on both sides. But I know from my own fun-filled years at Penn State that campus life can be confusing even for the best of kids. So I taught him how to do his own laundry, grocery shop and cook — just so he wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else to do those things. But lately, I’ve been worried that I left out one important piece of advice that is a must-do today:

Never have sex with a girl unless she’s sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it’s a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another — even if you never plan on hooking up again.

Crazy, I know, but I’ve actually been encouraging my son and his friends to use sexting — minus the lewd photos – to protect themselves from being wrongly accused of rape.

I think the commenter hit the nail on the head. Why is it that women can’t think if drunk but men can? Why is it always about men controlling themselves and being responsible for any sex act while women are treated as children?

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / MJTH

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Yoga for Men?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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I go to a yoga class every week and each time, there are a few more men. Not a lot, maybe five out of twenty but not bad. I ran across this article today called “Men strike a pose in yoga classes just for them” and thought it was kind of interesting:

On a perfect November Saturday afternoon when they could have been pumping iron at the gym or hanging out with friends over a couple of pale ales, half a dozen men slipped through the back entrance to a spartan yoga studio on the main drag of Westmont in Camden County.

They were there, bravely and voluntarily, to spend two hours doing yoga.

Never mind that the ancient Indian practice linking breath, body, and spirit was developed and taught by men. In America, yoga is a woman’s domain.

A 2012 study by the Yoga Journal found that 82 percent of yoga practitioners were women.

Walk into most classes and if any men can be found, they are in the back corners, where they can fumble through poses without attracting much notice.

Anatomically, women are no better equipped than men to do yoga, said Larry H. Chou, a physiatrist at Premier Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine in Havertown.

“The resistance has been psychosocial. There was this perception that yoga was less manly,” said Chou, who has consulted with professional sports teams and was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Sports Medicine Center.

This reluctance to do yoga reminded me of a book I am currently reading (that is very good!) by a retired Navy Seal called The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed. The author has a section on “mental traps” and one of his points is that we have a tendency to avoid things we doubt, rather than investigate them:

A good example is yoga. For years, most American men thought yoga was only for women, wimps or odd people who wore towels on their heads. In reality it is an incredibly advanced personal-development program that will kick your ass and change your life. I have helped break this myth by teaching SEALFIT yoga to thousands, including many Navy Seals.

I must admit, though a woman, I felt the same way–that yoga was too slow and not “hardcore” enough–until recently. I started doing yoga consistently and my balance and flexibility have improved greatly and it is hard. I don’t know how some of the women (or men) in the class do some of the poses. I even invested in a Manduka Yoga Mat suggested by several yoga practitioners and it is terrific at keeping my knees and wrists comfortable.

Do you practice yoga if male? Do you find it intimidating or bothersome being one of the few men or maybe just the opposite?

*****

cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock /  StockLite

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Building the Ultimate Male Body

Monday, November 18th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

leanerI am reading a book by Michael Matthews called Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body (The Build Healthy Muscle Series) and have been finding it quite helpful. Okay, I don’t have a male body to build but I do find these types of books helpful for me and I like to keep up with the interests of men since I blog about and work with those of the male persuasion.

If you are new to fitness, the book is simple and informative though it does seem to promise a lot! Here are a few highlights from the Amazon page:

Getting into awesome shape isn’t nearly as complicated as the fitness industry wants you to believe.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars per month on the worthless supplements that steroid freaks shill in advertisements.

You don’t need to constantly change up your exercise routines to “confuse” your muscles. I’m pretty sure muscles lack cognitive abilities, but this approach is a good way to just confuse you instead.

You don’t need to burn through buckets of protein powder every month, stuffing down enough protein each day to feed a third world village.

You don’t need to toil away in the gym for a couple of hours per day, doing tons of sets, supersets, drop sets, giant sets, etc. (As a matter of fact, this is a great way to stunt gains and get nowhere.)

You don’t need to grind out hours and hours of boring cardio to shed ugly belly fat and love handles and get a shredded six-pack. (How many flabby treadmillers have you come across over the years?)

Hey, I’m one of those flabby treadmillers, it’s hard to realize that this may be a waste of time but it probably is. Though my weight is fine, my overall bodyfat is ridiculously high and always has been except for one brief period of time when it went down to 17%. I am an outlier, I guess.

Anyway, the book gives good points about shortening your workouts using just the basics, mainly squats, deadlifts, and benchpresses. There are some good chapters on diet with tips such as “have a cheat meal.” This meal is just some additional carbs, not an all-out gorge or anything. The other tip I got from the book was to eat a slow-digesting protein before going to sleep to help repair muscle. The author gives examples such as egg protein, 0% Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese. I eat a lot of protein during the day but at night, I tend to eat carbs so maybe switching it out for protein might help, although eating nothing at night would probably be better.

After reading the book, I feel very motivated about going to the gym and trying out a few things and trying to tweak my diet a little more. I definitely think if you are a guy wanting to get the body-building basics, this book is a good one and gives you a free bonus report in the back of the book where apparently, one can download more workouts and some of the recipes from his cookbook. It would also make a nice stocking stuffer for any guys on your list interested in fitness.

*****

Cross-posted at Dr Helen.

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Is a Stolen Pet Equivalent to a Kidnapped Child in Today’s America?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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I was recently looking at the news site of our local station and saw a story on how pets are being stolen and “flipped” for cash:

(KSDK) Criminals are finding a new way to make money on other people’s pets. They’re flipping pets, and it’s happening across the country.

Flipping is stealing a pet and reselling it on places like Craigslist, Facebook, Ebay and other websites. Victims across the country said they tried to file police reports to report their pets stolen but many couldn’t. Law enforcement agencies wouldn’t take the report.

In Indianapolis, a full-time officer is hunting down the flippers and charging them.

Officer Theresa Redmon was able to get an older dog named Stewart back to his owners. He disappeared on his mother’s wedding night from his home.

“I hit the street, I was out looking for him,” said Jenelle Carr. She and her 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son and husband spent nine heartbreaking days looking for him. “I couldn’t sleep. He’s a Chihuahua. He’s deformed, he has no nails, no teeth.”

Carr knew somebody snatched Stewart. She switched from searching the streets to surfing the web. She landed on a website called Indy Lost Pet Alert.

My question is “how do you make money off a deformed Chihuahua with no nails or teeth? Are they that much in demand?

An officer in the article says the following:

“If you found my kid, my child, my daughter, would you put her on Craigslist tomorrow? It’s the same thing” she said. “Pets are a part of their owner’s family.”

Really? Yes, pets are important but are they as important as a person? So many people are substituting “fur children” for kids that maybe it really is getting to be the same thing. Don’t get me wrong. It’s terrible that anyone should be stealing pets and the police should take a report and find them, but to equate a dog with one’s child seems a bit overboard to me. But maybe I’m wrong on this one, given all the books and TV shows on pets. America is obviously obsessed with them.

What do you think?

******
Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Can Yoga Cure Anxiety?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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There is an interesting article at Psychology Today on yoga stating :”Evidence that yoga can enhance anxiety-killing neurotransmitters in the brain” (via Amy Alkon):

Why does yoga help and a flood of alcohol hurt? Well, the money is on GABA. Gamma-aminobutryic acid is a neurotransmitter I’ve made brief mention of before. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian nervous system. It cools things off and chills things out. People with depression and anxiety have been shown to have low amounts of GABA in their cerebrospinal fluid. MRI spectroscopy has been used to estimate the amount of GABA in people who are depressed, and the levels are low compared to controls (4). …

In 2010 the same group at BU did a second, somewhat larger study (5) comparing walkers and yoga practitioners. Again, healthy people were studied, not anyone with psychiatric illness. This time, 19 yoga practitioners and 15 walkers did yoga or walked for an hour three times a week for twelve weeks. The yoga practitioners reported improved mood and anxiety compared to the walking controls, and MRIs showed increased GABA in the thalamus (a part of the brain) of the yoga practitioners compared to the walkers. The increase in GABA correlated with the decrease in anxiety scores, which makes sense. Since there is a body of evidence that exercise is helpful in depression and anxiety (6), it is interesting to see that yoga could be even more helpful than regular exercise.

I have started doing yoga and Pilates recently on a regular basis and I have to say that the yoga is much more calming and feels less stressful than either Pilates or weight training. When I was younger, I hated yoga, as it seemed too calm and almost inactive and, frankly, frustrating to me. Recently, however, I have been getting more out of yoga. I don’t know if my mind has calmed down as I have gotten older or if I don’t have the stamina I once did, but yoga is definitely relaxing and seems to be great for those of us who spend the day on the computer.

****
Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / Pikoso.kz

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Dick Cheney’s Health Miracle

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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I saw that Dick Cheney has a new book coming out tomorrow with his cardiologist called Heart: An American Medical Odyssey. In an article about Mr. Cheney, his calls his health a miracle:

Cheney had his first heart attack over 35 years ago and has been the recipient of many modern heart treatments that seemed to come along at just the right time. He even had a pump attached directly to his heart while awaiting a transplant. He knows luck played a big role in his life. He says Dr. Reiner once made an analogy between the course of Cheney’s health and treatment and a person who gets up late and drives to work, but he sees all the traffic lights ahead are red. “‘Cheney,’” he says the doctor told him, “‘when you get to them, they all turn green.’ And that’s… a pretty good description,” says Cheney.

I also had a heart attack at 37 and am the recipient of modern technology. It truly is a miracle and we are lucky to be alive at a time when some medical problems can be corrected, at least for heart patients. I hope that other medical advances proceed at such a level.

****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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The Soul Mate Myth: There is No One

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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Rollo Tomassi’s new book The Rational Male is very detailed with tiny print making it hard to read more than a chapter at a time. He really needs an index but that said, the information he lays out is informative and necessary for men to know as they enter the dating world or even if they have been in it for years. I was reading over Chapter I on “The Soul Mate Myth” and his thoughts on society’s obsession with it make sense. He defines ONEitis as:

“An unhealthy romantic obsession with a single person. Usually accompanied by unreciprocated affection and completely unrealistic idealization of the said person.”

Tomassi writes about how ONEitis can paralyze you and even lead to depression or suicide (thanks to commenter rayc2 for pointing out this link). If we believe that there is only one person out there for us, then it makes sense that to lose that person is upsetting to some and can be devastating to others, especially to a someone with emotional problems such as depression or a personality disorder. It is important to have some perspective. As Tomassi states:

“The definition of Power is not financial success, status or influence over others, but the degree to which we have control over our own lives. Subscribing to the soul-mate mythology necessitates that we recognize powerlessness in this arena of our lives.”

Not bad advice.

******

Shutterstock / Bruce Rolff

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What Books Does Dr. Helen Smith Recommend for 2013?">What Books Does Dr. Helen Smith Recommend for 2013?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

What books does Dr. Helen Smith recommend for 2013? Click here to see her picks at the Freedom Academy Book Club.

 

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An 8-Year-Old Fights the Patriarchy at Half Price Books in Berkeley

Monday, October 7th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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I was kind of shocked (okay,it’s Berkeley, nothing should shock me) when I read that a store had pulled books from a book store at Half Price Books, in Berkeley, Calif. because an 8 year old girl called them sexist:

Constance Cooper’s daughter, KC, is no shrinking violet. In fact, Cooper describes her 8-year-old as articulate, passionate and a great reader, qualities parents hope their children exhibit as they grow.

So it was not a huge surprise to Cooper when, this past summer, KC became upset after an ordinary trip to their local bookstore, Half Price Books, in Berkeley, Calif.

“We were browsing around in the bookstore, and suddenly I heard my daughter calling out, ‘Mama! You have to look at this!’” recalls Cooper. “So, of course, I thought she’d found something she wanted to buy, but it was completely the opposite. She was looking at two books that had made her so enraged she was actually in tears.”

The books, titled “How To Survive (Almost) Anything,” included a boy version and a girl version. In the boy version, the chapters covered topics such as “How to Survive a Shark Attack,” “How to Survive in a Desert,” and “How to Survive Whitewater Rapids.”….

KC was so upset at the sexist nature of the books that a bookstore employee took notice and asked her what was wrong.

“After looking through the books, the employee agreed they were offensive and pulled them from the shelves! She said if she had seen them first they wouldn’t have been there to begin with. She was great because she took action and validated my daughter’s feelings.”

Cooper, a science fiction writer, is proud of her daughter for drawing attention to the books and having them removed from the store, and took this experience as a lesson learned for both KC and herself.

So at my local Barnes and Noble, there are many books I find offensive and sexist. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg is one and Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel is another. I was once in that bookstore reading Lean In (I don’t want to pay for it) and feeling upset by the sexism and flippant attitude towards men. Any chance they will ban those books? Hah!

And why should they? Is it fair to ban books because we don’t like what they say? The mom in this story is proud of her daughter–it’s fine if the daughter wants to speak up but she shouldn’t be proud that they removed the books from the store, she should be horrified that she and the store clerk are teaching an 8 year old that it is okay to be a PC fascist who gets her jollies from restricting free speech. How would mom feel as a SF writer if they banned her books from stores?

****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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A Dwarf Kept Me Up Last Night

Sunday, October 6th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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No, it’s not as exciting–or face it, just plain weird–as the headline makes it sound. I was up reading Harry Stein’s new book, Will Tripp: Pissed Off Attorney at Lawabout a dwarf who takes on his PC opponents and actually wins. I have to admit, I typically don’t like fiction but the theme of this book was right up my alley and I could not put it down:

Will Tripp is a dwarf lawyer who despises all things p.c. and takes on only clients at war with the totalitarian left. In this first book in the series, Will and his idiosyncratic ‘dream team’ go after a ruthless campus feminist adored by a fawning media.

The lawyer’s older brother is a professor at an Ivy League college where he is accused of “verbal rape” when he speaks angrily about his ex-wife who ran off with another woman. A marine who has a Ph.D and teaches at the college is railroaded by militant feminists and their male sycophants. The lawyer seeks to help both men, often using his adversaries’ own political correctness against them which is all the more satisfying. This book is a real gem and fun for those of us who seek justice for everyone, not just those who follow the herd.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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