The Tyranny of Older White Men

 

The Rule of Men

Throughout history mostly it is older men who have ruled. They sent their people into endless wars, took the riches for themselves and dominated women. Currently in America the domination is clearly in the hands of older white men. While I am an older white man my eyes remain on a time of discovery I had over fifty years ago.

Forced Awareness

Early in life can be a time of discovery but it may also may be a time of innocence from which we have to recover. For me the awakening came in stages. While I am an intuitive personality type and seek what may be, I also begin with an acceptance of how things are until forced to reassess. As I have said, moving to North Carolina in the 1960s was a time of coming to see entrenched racism  But when I took the job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore it became a time of new discovery.

End of Innocence

I had never been close to poverty and what I saw in Baltimore was deeply disturbing. But I thought there was hope. I had taken the job to bring much needed mental health services through the dynamic community mental health movement. How naive we all were!

Our staff was a racially mixed batch of twenty somethings both male and female. We had been given a structure that we had to dispense with immediately. It was a grand idea but we had come not understanding that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. We had to implement a whole new agenda.

The Grand Impediment

We went to work to respond to how things were and what was needed but there were people who did not see it our way. The management of the program was in the hands of men in the university and the state. Those systems were ruled by older white man who cared not at all for our mission. They basked in the glory of having gained the grant from the federal government and wanted to use the funds as they saw fit, not as they were needed. We were young, dedicated and intransigent.

Some Examples

The mental health system generally worked on two levels. There were people who could pay for services or use insurance to get mental health services. Then there were the impoverished people. At the time in Baltimore they were seen by psychiatric residences who generally did not give therapy but medication. And these people were seen as being there for helping to train medical students who passed through on six week rotations. The students knew nothing about the real life of these people and six weeks is much too short to really begin to work with an individual or a family. We found a variety of ways to block the residents and medical students from dominating our program. For that we were not at all popular.

My “Elevation”

We had a resident in our unit who did not particularly like his job and shortly he resigned. By then our intransigence was known but I was elevated to head the unit. I knew it was not an accolade. Psychologists fall just below psychiatric residents in the metal health hierarchy so I was next in line. The new position was fine with me and the staff but was clearly not an affirmation of my abilities. But it put me, along with my staff, in a position to see the operations of senior staff were actually not in the interests of our clientele.

The Bottom Line

I could go into extensive details but the point is already made. My naivete was gone. In my twenties I saw the domination of older white men as they served their own interests and not the interests of the people. This lesson has been carried forward through my life and I consider it entrenched corruption. 

The other major event was the women in the program who began to work for their empowerment. My support of that movement has also been carried forward. I believe their empowerment is going to be important in overcoming the often corrupt rule of older white men.

These life lessons fueled my interest in writing my magical realism series, Gaia’s Majesty. 

The Overlords represent the older white men I had seen and the activist women the dedicated women I had seen and suggested the future I believe we must see.

In time the dedicated and rebellious twenty somethings moved on and were replaced by more compliant staff. The system and the innovation collapsed and it moved back to the origin system. The breadth and revolution had been destroyed. What has not changed is that we are still ruled by the older white men. Need I say I believe its time to have them taken down from power?

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Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

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Guns in America

 

Standing Alone

With the extent of gun violence America stands alone in the world. The time to do something about it is long overdue which should be apparent to everyone. But it is clear that gun manufacturers are in control of Congress and the president.

At Least There Is A Debate

Currently we are debating about options. One of the options relates to mental health. As a psychologist I have an opinion which is relevant.

A First Question

It is relevant to ask if mental health problems are at issue for the perpetrators. It would be absurd to assume it is not, All we need to do is look at their history, their rantings and their claims and it is clear that they are unstable and dysfunctional in a variety of ways. Then comes another question.

Can We Respond With Mental Health Treatment

The simple answer is “NO”. First of all we have no viable way to screen for the issues, the instability and the intent among many other factors. Then, if we could determine that the person is a danger we would have to ask if we can make them get help. The answer is also “NO”. No one can be forced to accept treatment in a meaningful way and even if we could force it they are capable of not responding.

Taking The Option Off The Table

While it would be desirable to get help for these people for many reasons, it is almost impossible to identify them. The answers to the problem of gun violence lies elsewhere.

The First Step

Most of these mass shootings involve assault rifles. Military people are clear with us. Assault rifles are weapons meant for the use of the military to create mass casualties in war time. They do not belong in the hands of ordinary citizens.

The Way Ahead Is Clear

Assault weapons must not be in the hands of ordinary citizens and should not be for sale to the public. The ammunition likewise should not be available for purchase. These are the first clear steps.

Our Focus

The National Rifle Association is clearly in the hands of gun manufacturers. Likewise there are many people in our government who are doing their work for them. They must be voted out of office.

The Way Ahead

Our direction is clear. Mental health is an issue but one which we cannot use for greater impact. The weapons of war must not  be sold. We need to clear our political house and remove politicians who do not serve the public interest.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

A New Movement

 

A New System

There is a new movement concerning how we handle problem issues in our personal lives. That may mean the things we have called mental illness. It’s about time.

As a psychologist I’ve had to wrestle with my profession and the allied profession of psychiatry. Fundamentally I’m not a huge fan of the term mental illness. Obviously no one would be enthusiastic about mental illness. But I’m talking about my reservations about the whole concept and how we respond to problems and crises in our lives.

Long ago we dragged problems assumed to be associated with demonic possession and related issues away from the church and gave it to the medical professions. Not a bad idea but it is long overdue to reformulate our concepts. Time for a redefinition.

Down With Mental Illness!

Certainly there are biochemical issues which can be devastating. I’m thinking of such things as schizophrenia. But there are also a class of problems with varying severity we all have to contend with. Then recently I heard a discussion about new approaches.

The people presenting were fundamentally talking about management. They pointed out, for example, that anxiety is a significant problem for many people and probably all of us from time to time. There are a number of diagnoses associated with anxiety. But there is the suggestion that we need to approach it differently. Certainly it can be a major problem but it is also useful in that it alerts us to danger and problems and pushes us to seek cause and management. Now that is a conceptualization I like.

Life Management

We may have a life coach but we actually need to conceive of ourselves as in the business of life management for ourselves. We tend to do it in our day to day lives when we take time off, go to the gym or give ourselves a treat. But management goes well beyond that.

We have to understand how we are. Introverts manage their tendency to withdraw. They come to understand that they are much more comfortable when they are clear how they should react and manage a situation. I remember Johnny Carson talking about how introverted he was. But night after night he went before an audience as a comedian. He spoke at one point about how well it worked when he was well prepared and knew what he was doing exactly. He knew how to manage it and he looked like an extravert.

Specific Issues

Extraverts have to learn to back off with some people and be engaging but not too engaging. For more serious issues we have PTSD and Autism for example. The new movement is taking a different approach. 

PTSD is, in many ways, completely understandable. If you live day to day being forced to kill people or trying not to be killed, it is going to take a toll. A change of perspective rather than seeing oneself as a failure for reacting is helpful. Also there are ways to help a person decondition with exposure to specific stimuli. These examples merely hint at productive approaches.

Then there is autism. When we listen to the issues autistic people deal with, each of us will identify specifics which are at issue for us as well. The difference may be of degree and the number of different issues present. Managing in discrete areas  will help.

Stepfamilies pose another set of issues. Often everyone in the family is making a life change adjustment at the same time. It’s very stressful and requires attention to management for adults and children. Is it pathological or a mental illness? Of course not. It requires understanding and management.

The Bottom Line

New thinking is leading us away from the concept of mental illness. Now it seems we are turning to management when we use such things as exposure to stimuli, cognitive behavior management. We can now stop threatening people with stigma and help them manage their lives in new ways. At last!

What are your primary life management issues?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Building a Future in the Postcapitalism Era

What do you think will characterize our future?

It Didn’t Work Out As Hoped

Not long ago we had the Arab Spring and the hope that there would be a graceful resolution for a troubled Middle East. There were other hopes and the world and America seemed to have drawn back from an abyss following the Great Recession.

Yes, the United States has made a good recovery but we seem to have unsettled footing which very much includes a rather surprising and frightening race for the presidency. There are multiple signs suggesting our country and the world is entering a very unstable period.

Present Reality Addressing the Future

And then I picked up a book called Postcapitalism – A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason. It is dense and fraught with discussions of failed economic theories and conflicts. It was so difficult I had to read it twice but I couldn’t put it away. He suggests that we are at the end of a long economic wave and that capitalism is collapsing. The book can be dismissed as both overly pessimistic and utopian all at the same time. I found it to be neither because in so many instances I could see what he was warning about was already occurring whether it is what happened to Greece, Brexit, a failing Italian banking system, American college debt, a stagnant American Middle Class etc.

Data at our Fingertips

He points out a series of endeavors and policies which could help us head off catastrophe in climate change, demographic devastation in elderly populations and the need for extensive financial system reforms. One thing he points out that is markedly different in this environment is the information revolution. Among other things there is an extraordinary pool of data out there. It could be employed to shape our future and to create new systems both economic and social. Part of the process is no cost systems such as Wikipedia. He points to such endeavors where costs are going to zero.

Fifty Years Too Soon

And then I was struck by something. I wrote a book entitled Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.  In the 1960s a public health model was applied to mental health services. It was supposed to bring affordable and effective services to all the people of our country. It failed. I wrote the book about my experiences in the movement because I thought our experiences were worth being in the record.

It occurred to me that in some ways the movement had been created fifty years too soon. At the time it failed because of lack of vision on the part of senior mental health professionals, a focus on status, interest only in grant money, failure to look beyond existing systems. In fact, if the young professionals had been in an era of information technology we could have documented the essence of an impoverished community, the flaws which caused such pain and suffering, the essential points of intervention and the planning needed to build ameliorative services. In fact, the nature of the communities was the major problem and we worked on economic and social issues rather than mental pathology. It all could have been documented, organized and systems designed. But narrow and selfish perceptions caused it to fail.

Breathtaking Potential

Mason’s Postcapitalism points the way to a promising kind of process and I could feel how what our young staff did in the 1960s could be used in the here and now in cost effective and productive ways to build diverse and social movements within such a community, through peer systems and economic system focus. Of course it would involve designing markedly more efficient physical health care systems as well. It was all there in the minds of young professionals but the time was wrong. This revelation alone told me that we have a huge opportunity as capitalism reaches its final wave. Will we have the wisdom or will we be inundated by climate failure, demographic chaos, economic mismanagement, Political naivete,   and social failure? We will see.

What systems for the future would you design?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Our New Age Blossoming – 2

 

 

Looking Back

It is now over 50 years later than when I went to work in Baltimore. For me time offers not perspective as much as confirmation. The only perspective I find is that I can now clearly see the roots of my deep mistrust of the truth and wisdom of older white men. In fairness there is diversity among them but in our present age the fact of their rule is distressing in so many regards.

Designing a Delivery System

The community mental health movement came with a multi-part design. I was stationed in an outpatient facility which meant I was to consult with the community and deliver services. That seems simple enough. Go out and get acquainted so you get referrals and then give therapy with the psychiatrists giving medication as necessary. What fools we mortals be!

What we found immediately was that we had a lot of learning to do. The community was challenging to put it mildly. They were in serious need and mental health services were not at the top of their list.

The Existing System

There already was a mental health system in place. At the hospital nearby people could come for service. Since it was a medical school there were medical students who often were giving service in six week rotations—with little prior experience. Then there were residents. I’ll save you the agony of all the details but they were not acquainted with the needs of the community either and so could not respond effectively.

At the time psychiatric residents were committed to giving intensive psychotherapy. The local residents were not exactly candidates so they often simply got medication. We immediately found a fundamental truth. The biggest enemy of mental health in the area was the stress of poverty. So they suffered from depression and anxiety. Duh!!!

The System We Designed

Each of us took a morning walk-in clinic. We assessed the person’s problems and then spent the afternoon on the phone arranging appropriate services and getting information about availability among a lot of other things. For example, if they had a physically ill child who was not getting service or inappropriate service we sought appropriate help. Every center had a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who got a lot of referrals. Very many of these people needed training and/or education. A job or a better job had a very beneficial effect on their mental health along with the experience of hope.

Not So Simple

Did we have the support of higher ups? Sometimes, but often not. The older white men generally wanted to preserve the existing system and were primarily interested in the aura of getting the money for a grant to a new glamorous type of program. They loved the aura and wanted to look good to each other. Daily we were in the position of fending off orientations and demands which did not serve our community well. One of my common responses was “We’ll get back to you” or ”Let me look at alternatives.”

Allies With the Community

We  had to develop relationships with the community so we could respond to their real needs. In that era of the beginning of the civil right movement the community became contentious and interesting. Assertions of community needs and objections to the mistreatment of black men began at that time. There were issues about health services. At one point growing activism led to a difficult public hearing and I found myself sitting next to the state head of the mental health system who was clueless. Other times we were visited by arrogant “consultants” from Washington who we had to endure. 

I’ll leave it there for now. It was rough and tumble and never-ending as we fought for the people of the community. You might think we would have had allies from the professions but they were too often few and far between.

Another Major Wave of Change

In some ways we didn’t understand what we were seeing either. In the end the establishment brought down the community mental health movement. As the young rebels left, the clinics in the community were closed and the old ways resumed. I tell the full story in my book Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health.

But two things came out of the era that proved to have a long wave and import for our future. One was the civil rights movement and in the next post I’ll go into the other one. 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt