Global Awareness- A Growing Problem by Scott Hall

In the last few months, our nation and the global citizenry have seen several infractions of human rights, questionable behaviors and serious law and political goof ups; Image Credit: www.classwarfareexists.com

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8.18.2016

Death, Loss and Hope

Dedicated in memorandum of my deceased nephew, Tristan Ray Thompson
            Life is perplexing at times, not just the everyday hustle and bustle of dealing with paying the bills, raising kids, figuring out where our next meal is or who is going to cook it, but, life itself is a mystery. We accept the face we see in our mirrors as our own, but without a mirror, we don’t see anything except what is in front of us and when someone dies, our minds and hearts respond.  Death is the one thing guaranteed to us all, including animals, fish, plants, the list is long and when a business or restaurant dies, the metaphor speaks but the thought doesn’t, when someone we know dies, the thought speaks loudly and sometimes, depending upon our years, could make us reflect on our own mortality. A few days ago, my nephew, Tristan Ray Thompson at a very young age died as a result of life’s hardest lessons, what not to do. A few people will look upon his past and if slated, may say, “Knew it was going to happen” or “Gone too soon” and the well wishes will flow and yes, there is an outpouring of love and compassion upon his mother, who just lost her husband not long ago to one of life’s other hard lessons, Cancer.  In this article, there will be many things that will raise an eyebrow or two, put on your Truth Glasses, this one might take a while, but will teach us all something important about ourselves, just how human we really are.
            The first questions I will address is, is there an afterlife or are we just bones and remnants of a species on a planet.  Don’t worry, this won’t take long.  If your own thoughts of an eternal peace, living in a spirit form and lasting forever where the most heinous are eternally punished and the forgiven are assembled, if your own thoughts include being reincarnated back into another form to roam again and experience life from a different view, if you don’t know but are waiting for some physical proof before your own body gives out, or if you follow the scientific, logical or any other personal belief, then continue to do so.  Do what brings you the most peace, happiness, joy and least amount of troubles and a sense of purpose. In short, be yourself but be open to listen and share rather than defend, debate or crucify someone else because they don’t see what you see, keep in mind, we are a species with all sorts of diversity, thought and individual desires. There, now that is out of the way and we can move on, I will not debate on any level what my own beliefs are, which is Jesus Christ died to provide us a new entry into Heaven and that no one is perfect, but because of an action by a God who loves us, we get that chance.  In our world right now, Ten Commandments leading the way, none of us would make it, period. Now, let’s move on.
            When the physical body dies, several things take place, among the many facets is a cooling that is the direct result of uncirculated blood flow; we cool off at about 1.5 to 2 degrees per hour so if a Coroner examines us upon death, depending on body temperature, they get a decent idea as to how long a person has been dead, whereas if one of us encounters it, we notice a cool and somewhat clam feel.  What they and ourselves don’t know, is, how - unless it is obvious, like a gunshot wound, car accident or God forbid, some other item, but thankfully, there are people in specific fields dedicated to finding out why someone may have passed away.  In this world, just to name a few items, we have our choice of death by way of: Insect, Reptile, Machine, Firearm, Natural Disaster, Drug, Fire, Weather, Water, Food, Illness and a whole lot more.  Most of us, will probably never know most of that list, some of us, will see others die as a result of one or maybe more of the items on that list and when we do, we grieve while we contemplate and seek out “why”.  Regardless of your own personal beliefs, when someone you care about is gone, you grieve, the human inside of you can’t help it and unless you are a cyborg created with no emotions, oh yeah, you will feel it.  For some, it brings tears and loss of words, for others, it brings defiance and a march to rectify a horrible wrong, to all, it brings questions and unfolds ugly hidden truths as well as deceit, though maybe not a deliberate effort, it happens.
            When a person passes on, we may experience one or more of several emotions while we attempt to cope with no longer hearing a voice or seeing a good friend, in this range of things comes a simple word, Denial.  You know it exists, “I was just speaking to them yesterday” or “Oh my God, what happened, they were so young” and includes, “I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew when I saw them”.  In an instant, our minds go into shock, this of course does not include the blood thirsty killer who gets off on the kills, but the families affected; the people they knew; yep, I’m talking to you.  Denial is natural; believe it or not, this is where we muster the interior courage to survive the loss.  Thoughts of “I just can’t go on” and “How am I going to make it through this day” and “I’m so lonely” flood our minds, things become blurry, time is lost and sometimes our work environment is just not where we want to be, but, in this we fight to get through our day, we move one step at a time and for many, years aren’t enough to cope, but they don’t realize years is how far they have gone ahead and pushed forward to live. Which once our minds realize the loss, and try to cope with it, then comes any of several emotions from frustration, stress, worry, violent outbursts of tears, anger and deep depression.
            What we do next is crucial, do we allow ourselves during the loss to live in seclusion, or do we work to get stronger, trying to forget the loss or possibly none of the above we just float along living on without a purpose, without hope.  The time frame for this to happen has its own limits, there is no magical period of normalcy, there is only living on until we can finally move forward without the weight of the deceased on our minds.  I have known persons who have died as a result of natural causes, I have also known persons who have died as a result of alcohol poisoning, cancer, drugs and many other causes and what I saw from all of it, persons trying to understand why or what and many times over, this brings about anger, which we all know in itself is a destructive force, it kills families in times of death and during this time of heavy emotion, it is not the right path to succumb against, it can and will be futile as more hurt will erupt from its grasp once seated.
            Right now, even today, as the body of my nephew lay in wait for burial, there are many things circulating in speculation about the life he lead, the mistakes he made, the things that happened and in truth, none of it necessary because the deceased cannot defend themselves and none of it matters, let the finality of his death be the closing of all items as it should be when anyone dies, in short, let them rest in peace.  In our list from above, in one of the many ways we can die, this young man passed away as a result of a long term drug and alcohol abuse and in trying to seek out help in resolving this issue, ended up dying as a result of a drug that can kill a person, but more importantly, because of his own hand and actions.  While medical science has come a long way, they cannot prevent our own actions, they can give us all the advice, treatment or meds we want, but maintenance has to come from the patient, we don’t get better if we don’t put in the work and that includes the addict who is serious about their recovery, I’m not suggesting there won’t be moments of weakness or that the path will be hard enough to make them do a double take, but speaking for myself, a 25 year sober alcoholic, it can be accomplished if the addict truly desires change AND if they have the correct help available to them to recover. If in doubt, read my article entitled Heroin or Hell, you will gain some serious insight into addictions and the psychological impacts upon the addict, that struggle is very real (Thanks Bayer Company for the ‘wonder’ drug known as Heroin).
            Now here are some harder truths to swallow, from the time this young man was born, he experienced behavioral issues, along with Tourette syndrome, which made his mind misfire and become exceptionally impressionable while seeking out his own understanding in life’s game and relief from being told and reminded he had this handicap, he was exposed to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and LSD, while only having a small amount of focus on his own setbacks and medicine in those days that wasn’t correctly applied, a failure early on.  Being exposed to illicit drugs and alcohol, violence, irrational thoughts, emotional, physical abuse, being locked up for more than half of his life, exposed to all manner of prison, including Federal - over a 25 or so year span, costing this person his life in the end at an age of less than 40 years old.  Sounds horrible already doesn’t it, probably causing you to ask, why didn’t anyone help him, here is why and you may want to shield young eyes from this unless you are teaching them direct about life and death and the consequences of it.
            From an early age, this young man saw terrible arguments, drug use, alcohol use and a host of other items and never paid attention to the consequences of them, because in his eyes this was a normal thing and no one around him seemed to be suffering much from what they were doing, other than the compassion he may have felt for his own mother and her for him, the support structure that should have been built was breaking apart at every turn until he was left with one final piece, his mom. He experienced life’s setbacks and victories with friends, family, the prisoners he had to share borders with and became entranced in the mystery and allure of it all, seeking spirituality but not able to break the hold that all of the items he had ingested over all those years - in search of and for the relief his mind needed. He had an extensive criminal record; including drug, alcohol, violence, theft and others offenses that spanned over half his life, starting even before his adult record, his juvenile record reflected on the lifelong reckless path he would fall into. Among his earliest legal woes - discharging a firearm in a rural area, his final one, a Federal offense; about now, that horrible thought you had earlier seems as though it was inevitable for this to happen, indeed, it was at the rate his own body and mind needed to release the “happy” endorphins so life would be good, reaching out to the world’s plague: Drug abuse.
            Through those years, his mother tried her best to understand what was happening to her son, why was this grip so strong, why wouldn’t he just stop abusing things, get help, stay out of prison, live and be a man who comes by and says, “Hey mom, let’s go to lunch”, instead, she cried, spent tons of money, allowed self medication, became an enabler without knowledge of what the future would hold and in the hopes of just trying to give her son’s mind a much needed rest and defending his right to it and him all the way into his death.  While a few of you would applaud this, many of you now are saying, that itself isn’t right, an addict with an open pharmacy is never a good idea, you are correct – all of you.  There are circumstances that exceed logical thought in our world, circumstances where you do your best to prevent by controlling an outcome using what you hope are known parameters, sadly, this is rarely successful, and to an addict, could be read as something acceptable and even lead to requiring it or becoming angry, sad, depressed when not provided.  Trust this, if an addict wants their fix bad enough, they will find a way to get it, regardless of how or who they hurt and affect.
            Now, over the years of his life, his criminal actions, mis-wired brain and impulsive actions caused quite the split in opinion about Tristan, the person. In his family resume, that is, in actions, he has robbed from family, threatened family, partied with family, laughed with family, became a fear with family (as to his whereabouts), was knocked unconscious by his father, kicked out more than once, has helped move family members and worked with family and does have a child from a relationship at the time, like many of his others, volatile.  Is this starting to paint a picture of someone who fits a typical addict’s profile? Let’s throw you a curve ball, how about, through all of it, in and out of the jail system, asking for medical help, for all sorts of reasons, including his own recognition of his addiction levels (by the way, a couple of years ago, he almost overdosed on street drugs).
            In those days, he, his mother and occasionally his father would reach out to family and ask for help in coping with this unfolding disaster and with the best of intentions, none of it helped, though he did have his favorite people who he drew inspiration from and loved very much, he even told his dad he understood why the knock out happened, admitting fault and recognizing that too much of anything does destroy things, alcohol and drugs are no exception.  At the end days of his life, he learned that he had contracted Hepatitis C and tried to seek out medical help for that, thanks Obama, your structured program told him he would have to be near death in order for them to help him and get the coverage for the treatment.  Let’s stop a moment to reflect: Addict of Alcohol and Drugs. Extended Prison life, family turmoil, rejection from family, society, even a few police departments who asked for help, more than a dozen times, refused treatment for a life threatening disease, now deceased as a result of a Methadone Clinic treatment.
            If in fact, he was administered the drug Methadone or any “treatment” drug used to help addicts, then that staff had to have informed him of the risks associated with the treatment, or at least, that is what we would expect especially if given a drug that has, shallow breathing and slowed heart rate as one of the side effects, take too much = death.  According to what is known, Methadone Toxicity is the presumed cause of death and as one could expect, this caused a bit of an outcry over the amount of deaths that happen as a result of this and other treatment drugs, this stage, is known as anger.  We get angry that the death is just wrong, too soon, could have been prevented a host of stuff.  This is also normal and sometimes justified, wrongful death lawsuits all over the country, including O.J. Simpson speak for themselves and we all remember the anger then.  Suppressing this anger is harmful, just as harmful as misdirecting it or using it to falsely accuse the very persons who over the years actually tried to help, again a destructive force, but entirely necessary.  The more you release that anger, the more it dissipates and allows you to heal from the hurt and pain of the loss.  In my time as an author for this outlet, I have created a couple of video’s about anger and the issues around it and as with all the other times I have witnessed the end result of death, anger is common.  Words are misspoken, we start looking for someone or something to blame to assert some sort of dominance over the situation, in reality, we drive wedges between people and say things that promote hurt rather than heal, death causes this and more, not just the loss of the person.
            Remember the mention of how his mother defied most everything and defended him all the way to the end, in a small way, this is a bit like trying to bargain with life, even more so if we are relatively certain about what the end path will be, as much as we wish, we plead, we beg, they don’t respond and the people who surround that person, they themselves begin to close up, especially if it’s a parent trying to stop a path of destruction in their kids.  Thoughts of “What if” or perhaps, “If only I “start to flow through our minds, seeking reasoning; In a drug addicts world, there is no reasoning, there is only, get the fix, even if it means guilt tripping the ones we love, forcing them to enable the addict to get what they need. A scenario: Wake up, get high, eat breakfast, get high, get high, eat lunch, get high, get high, eat dinner, get high, get high go to bed, asking God to let you live another day and you won’t do it again, next morning, repeat cycle and do this endlessly - it will catch up to you. We beg for not letting someone die horribly or in pain, we beg keep them alive longer than me, we ask for time to extend longer, in many cases, time comes to a screeching halt and then we bargain with ourselves, “why did I let it happen”, “If only I had done something”, do not let this emotion overwhelm your sense of self, though the losses are tough, time doesn’t heal the wounds, it does afford us new days to move forward and cope.
            Earlier in our range of emotions, Depression was mentioned and the blues over a death sometimes feel so heavy, we ourselves wish it happened to us, rather than to those we love, this is the time we draw from the energy of our supporters, I said this in a post on Facebook not long ago, “even the most evil or heinous of persons who have died, have had persons to mourn them” and yes, that even includes Hitler, Richard Ramirez, and will include Charles Manson when his time comes.  While chronic depression is a mental illness, the depression we feel during a loss isn’t as much.  We feel empty, alone, at a loss; we wonder about how to fill that part of our lives or who will we call for a laugh or two.  Make no mistake, if allowed to last over months, weeks or years, the depression is harmful to us, it restricts who we are and those around us trying to help that person snap out of it, need to keep in mind, tough love and loving through tough times go hand in hand, same as the person suffering, I and others know you are hurting, confused and grieving but that also means you must not lash out at them for reaching out to you, even if what you think is something insulting, know that all of it are people looking for answers about that same loss and how to help you, if your depression is out of control, seek help and know that you have to put in the work with it and not just succumb to the medicines, try and when you fail, try again.
            Remember my nephew, Tristan from above, his mind may not have been working at one hundred percent, his body’s cravings may have had a hold on him to the point of the – can’t help it and long criminal records – but the cause of his death was his own hands, he had many things he wrestled with, many torturous thoughts, but he also had access to the treatment and knew the risks.  He faced the same questions anyone fighting to live would ask, is it worth it, how long do I suffer, when do I throw in the towel and how do I say no to what is so easy to get vs. what isn’t so easy to be prescribed.  Make no error, he had those choices many years ago and when the addiction wasn’t as dominant, still took the street vendor’s word for it.  How many who read this and knew him, partied with him, bought him or gave him anything feel like that right now, you in his short life, did in fact contribute to this long journey?  How many of us can throw stones in his glass house and hope not to break a window or two giving in to desires, physical, mental, emotional that at one time made us grab a beer, take a shot, smoke a joint or something else? Those who he made his criminal victim, they won’t forget it, a few will never forgive it.  Those he made his friend, will never forget him and forgive him.  Do you see this struggle every day? Do you have someone like his own mother trying her best to cope and calm and fight over 39 years of he own life, how many parents out there would do that now? Do you have family who hates each other who won’t speak to one another due to an addict in their family and the actions from it?  Death, Loss and Hope are all players in this game of life.  We hope we don’t lose someone, we hope they will get better, we hope to each live a decently long life and when we drop our guards, Death becomes the final answer. 
In this life, we can help one another by learning to be more human and less hateful. By recognizing that a human is in every one of us and that Death will separate us in the end. ~Scott Hall
Rest In Peace my nephew, the torture, the addictions, the woes and inner hurt cannot touch you  but memory is something not even death can destroy.

            The only reference you will find in this article, is the reference to real life events.

6.15.2016

Personality Development: Influences of Personality Traits

English: Similarities between lower-order fact...
English: Similarities between lower-order factors for ‘psychoticism’ and the low-order factors ‘openness’, ‘agreeableness’ and ‘conscientiousness’ (Data from Matthews, Deary & Whiteman, 2003) Category:Personality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Elizabeth Hall
Introduction
Personality theorists who believe in trait theory believe that there are genetic ties to personality development as noted by Cervone and Pervin (2010).  According to their broad school of thought people are born with traits that are inherently genetic that begin the basis of personality development. All trait theorists believed in the genetic aspect, the disagreement was in what traits seem important from the genetic standpoint and model utilized to treat and diagnose.  Benet-Martinez and Oishi (2006) maintain that personality expression and culture are closely intertwined because culture is defined as the societal rules that govern what behavior is acceptable for large groups of people, Americans for example.
Bouchard (1994) reports that findings indicate that roughly 40% of personality traits come from genetic ties with his work in twin studies.  Derryberry, Hershey, and Rothbart (2000) discuss the lifetime influence of stable temperament characteristics and what characteristics remain continual across time and situational experiences.  The most recognized of these diagnostic tools or scales in this field of psychology aimed at assessing personality traits is the five-factor model, openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (Srivastava, 2013).  In exploring the influence of personality traits we will discuss genes, the environment, culture, and the models of assessment including the five factor trait theory model, the biological model, and the temperament model and how inherited traits interact to form the individuality that makes us human. 
English: Leader Traits within Trait Category
English: Leader Traits within Trait Category (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bouchard (1994) conducts a study on twins which allows him to confirm among other things that the influence on personality happens roughly 40% at the genetic level, while also maintaining that environmental influence also affects people’s personality but just at a mere 7%.   The basic belief of theorists concerning the environment and personality influence remains that we are born with specific traits that may be affected as early as the womb by environmental factors such as stress on the mother during pregnancy. The influence of environmental factors continue as we grow to adulthood and shape the personality through negative or positive environmental influences.     
Personality Expression and Culture
Culture remains another factor that greatly influences behavior and personality expression (Benet-Martinez & Oishi, 2006).  Cultural influence comes from environmental influence, and refers to what large groups of people deem acceptable behavior by societal norms of the particular group considered, such as American culture.  Culture is what sets the framework for behavior as it guides our shared value system, setting the importance of how people of the groups act, think, and feel and what they believe.   An important aspect of culture stands that it is responsible for the perspective people take when experiencing environmental events (Benet-Martinez & Oishi, 2006). 
Twin Studies and Inheritability of Personality Traits
One of the ways that theorists can prove biological, causes and genetic traits comes through the study of both fraternal and identical twins says Bouchard (1994).  He goes on to report differences between earlier studies and more contemporary studies by roughly 10% due to the changes in study model due to the lack of measurability in earlier models of study. The effect of the environment on our personalities comes in at around 7%.  At the time of Bouchard’s (1994) study theorists concluded that genetics affect the personalities of people by 40%. 
Stable Temperament Characteristics- Lifetime Influence
Derryberry, Hershey, and Rothbart (2000) maintain that certain inherited traits remain persistent over the lifetime of a person.  These traits begin with the womb, changing over the course of a lifespan as humans react with physiological systems such as aging, and maturity, and at the same time react to environmental influences occurring in everyday life.  Carl Jung first envisioned this connection and theorized that humans have basic lifelong traits such as extroversion and introversion, and that they either fit into one or the other (Boeree, 2003).  Other sets of traits included sensitive or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.  Jung also saw these were traits consistent over time and situational contexts and judged temperament based on his research and where the subjects fell on the scale of traits.  Taking Jung’s theory a little further Myers and Briggs developed a test for personality that became the best known test for traits in the field (Boeree, 2003). 

Temperament, Biological Model, and Five Factor Trait Theory Adaptation
The temperament model of adaptation best exemplifies the work of Carl Jung and his first use of the temperament or trait set theory (Boeree, 2003).  It was his foresight that brought trait theory to the forefront of behavioral theory.  Another trait theorist using the biological model adaptation, Hans Eysenck expanded on theory by bringing science and math back to the problem (Boeree, 2003).  He used a statistical measure called factor analysis to determine what factors or sets of traits were the most influential to personality development.  He had introvert and extrovert, but also includes neuroticism, and psychoticism but unlike Jung, theorized that traits were dimensional and therefore people could fall into three categories, high, middle, and low.  These were the characteristics that Eysenck felt were consistent over time and situational events (Boeree, 2003).  The most current set of traits utilized, and considered stable in the field today are the five traits included in the five factor model consisting of extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientious, and neuroticism (Srivastava, 2013).
Srivastava (2013) ascertains that there are many tests using the five factor trait theory adaptation including the big five inventory, the international personality item pool, big five aspect scales, and the big five mini markers.  The big five inventory measures the five traits by using a self-report test in which the patient answers questions about their tendencies in relation to others including social, emotional, value based factors and how they generally react. In application this allows the researcher or clinician to decide the best course of treatment. The results according to Srivastava (2013) provide a map to syntax and where the personality falls within the five traits highest and lowest. 
Conclusion
Behavioral theorists after Freudian theory began to notice that humans have certain traits that represent their personalities over the course of a lifetime and persist through situational and time contexts.  Pioneers in the field such as Carl Jung, and Hans Eysenck proved scientifically that personality development begins in the womb with genetic traits and sets of traits that begin the basis of human personality. Contemporary behavioral theorists have come up with five sets of traits that are measurable and proven to last throughout the lifespan of a person. These include openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion and neuroticism and how a person typically reacts emotionally, mentally, and physically determine the basis of their personality type. 
Behavioral theorists recognize that genetic factors make up around 40% of traits that make us individuals and that environmental reaction plays into the equation around 7%.  The environmental factors build on the blocks the genetic traits start.  Cultural influences according to research does play a larger part than environmental influence, as these influences denote what behavior is acceptable by the groups we find ourselves associated in.  Further research into twin studies shows that previous attempts to define which traits genetically and environmentally influence personality were slightly inflated.  When mathematics became part of the process the research thanks to Eysenck, theorists were given statistical tools to measure trait frequency and tendencies more reliably.  Further research interests could hypothesize that the globalization of society and technology has changed the cultural influences to some extent.









References:
Benet-Martinez, V., & Oishi, S., (2006).  Culture and Personality.  Retrieved From: http://biculturalism.ucr.edu/pdfs/BM%26Oishi%20Culture%26Personality%2012-10-06.pdf
Boeree, C.G., Dr., (2003).  General Psychology: Trait Theories of Personality.  Retrieved From: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/genpsytraits.html
Bouchard, T.J., Jr., (1994).  Genes, Environment, and Personality.  Science, New Series, Vol. 264, Issue 5166, pp 1700-1701.
Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2010). Personality Theory and Research (11th Ed.).  Hoboken, xcNJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Derryberry, D., Hershey, K., & Rothbart, M.K., (2000).  Temperament and Personality across the Lifespan.  Retrieved From: http://www.bowdoin.edu/~sputnam/rothbart-temperament-questionnaires/pdf/stability-of-temp-in-chldhd.pdf

Srivastava, S., (2013).  Measuring the Big Five Personality Factors.  Retrieved From: http://pages.uoregon.edu/sanjay/bigfive.html

Classification of Mental Disorders: Assessing Jim

My wife reading in bed. And it wasn't because ...
My wife reading in bed. And it wasn't because she was trying to get to sleep. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Elizabeth Hall
Introduction
In the field of psychopathology, clinicians and researchers have specific criteria utilized to determine if a person actually has a mental disorder as held by Butcher, Hooley & Mineka (2010).  Generally psychologists refer to six primary elements of behavioral standards to determine the nature and extent of the behavior.  The American Psychological Association publishes a manual for clinicians and researchers that relate to the six elements of behavior and to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) for qualifications of a diagnosis of specific disorders.  In this article we will discuss the case of Jim to determine if his behavior warrants a diagnosis, or if he might just be a little bit odd, along with the pros and cons of having classification systems to diagnose and assess mental illness.    
Six Elements of Abnormal Behavior
According to Butcher, Hooley, and Mineka (2010) the six primary elements of behavior used to establish abnormal behavior and mental illness consist of, suffering, maladaptiveness, deviancy, violating what people think of as standard behaviors, irrationality along with unpredictable behavior, and social discomfort.  Having one of these elements present does not in itself constitute a disorder but having several of them does indicate that there presents the likeliness of mental illness.  These standards come from social judgments and what society deems acceptable, so the qualifications change with changing societal values. The DSM-IV outlines specific criteria for diagnosis of psychological illness in their definition of mental disorders that must be met to establish a diagnosis (Butcher, Hooley, and Mineka, 2010). 
These include four factors for consideration, including substantial behavioral patterns considered psychologically abnormal, definite deficiencies causing duress to the client, ensuring that the reaction does not surface due to normal reactions to particular stressors such as loss due to a death, and must show clear dysfunctional behaviors, thought processes and actions.  All of these factors must be present for qualification of mental disorders (Butcher, Hooley, & Mineka, 2010).
Assessment of Jim
Jim, often described as a loner is a 48 year old male who does not have any interest in any kind of relationships with either family members or people he knows.  He spends his free time reading, and on the computer, and really does not care what anyone else thinks of him, although he realizes that he is different from them.  Others notice regularly that Jim often misses social indications and cues, and tends to give his opinion with extremely heartless honesty.  He prefers to live “under the radar” and with the exception of working does not have any interest in social interaction whatsoever. He has managed to keep the same job for fifteen years, always pays his bills on time, and would be considered reliable. 
In relation to the six factors that clinicians consider when assessing abnormal behavior, Jim only really falls into one of these factors, social discomfort as he does make others uncomfortable with his reactions and lack of social behavior skills.  Jim does not feel bothered by his lack of social interaction so he is not suffering, and maladaptive behavior does not apply because these issues do not appear to affect his sense of well-being.  Deviancy does not apply here because being a loner seems to be a personal choice for Jim and neither does violating societal rules because being a loner is neither a crime nor would it fall into societal rules people deem necessary.  If Jim was irrational and unpredictable he would not kept the same job for fifteen years because these behaviors would have had consequences. 
The DSM-IV criteria would also suggest that Jim is just different, as he is not under duress by these issues, he does not have significant dysfunctional behaviors because with the exception of social interaction and missing some social cues, his behavior could register as normal.  There is no indication of abnormal thought, and idea patterns, and does not seem irrational or unpredictable.  It would appear that Jim just does not like or find any satisfaction from other people.  By these standards Jim does not qualify for a diagnosis of a mental disorder. 
Pros and Cons of Classification Systems
The classification system used to classify mental diseases has proven itself a useful tool for those in the field, as we attempt to understand the complex world of mental illness.  The system provides standards of normal and deviant behavior for comparison, allowing for standardized testing, diagnostics, and treatments of specific disorders.  This allows the psychologist to identify the problem areas that people with the disorder display routinely.  It is not without pitfalls, however because there are limitations due to the individualization of the human being.  Not all symptoms, reactions, and treatments, manifest for everyone, and comorbidity can complicate this issue even further (Butcher, Hooley, & Mineka, 2010).
Conclusion
By assessing Jim’s behaviors with the six elements of abnormal behaviors, and the DSM-IV criterion for mental illness we determined that he does not have a mental disorder.  He does not have enough factors in his history or present to indicate that there is any significant hindrance of daily activities.  The classification system utilized by the American Psychological Association does provide important tools for diagnosis, and research applications, however limitations of design leaves room for error based on the judgment of the assessing clinician.  Another thing to consider is that because these standards rely on societal norms, the classification system requires frequent updates, as society becomes more tolerant of people and their differences. 

  




References:
Butcher, J.N., Hooley, J. M., & Mineka, S., (2010).  Abnormal Psychology. 14th Ed, Ch. 1-4, pp. 2-138.  Allyn & Bacon.  Pearson Education Inc.


5.21.2016

Let's Talk, America

Article by: Scott Hall scotthall.cnj@gmail.com        
            I suppose that the first order of business would be to congratulate Mr. Trump on his successful campaign to become the front runner of the Republican Party for the office of the President of the United States.  The Democratic Rivals, both Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sander’s continue to campaign on for their chance to oppose the GOP’s choice and the whole Presidential Election is shaping up to be what is being considered “The most important election in history”.  I must concur, it is indeed an historic election and is ALWAYS important, the people of the USA deserve a leader, who has the people’s interests at heart, such as: keeping our citizens safe from the predators of the globe who seek to kill us, an economy that produces and keeps its citizens employed, making sure that the sick or less fortunate have affordable options that promote productivity and not dependence, a lasting and more economical energy source that will keep our planet here for decades to come or at least insure what we use now will not fade away and cost thousands of jobs and families opportunities, social security guarantees for our aging leaders and senior citizens everywhere and in general the items that help to shape Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness and all of this, takes citizens casting votes based on what they know or more perfectly, perceive and think based on perception.
***This article contains information from each of the candidate’s web sites or other known resources that are accepted by each candidate to be somewhat accurate.  Links to the researched information will be provided at the end of this article, for all readers to have available so they can draw their own conclusions for themselves. ***
            With all of this in mind, one person is touting they will make America great again, the other two, clearly acknowledge this, by pointing out what they will work to correct or improve about the USA in its current status, a status that includes police violence, racial divides, women rights in the work force, jobs, healthcare - the list is quite large.  This implies a lot of the stuff we have now isn’t so great and that the potential POTUS must rectify the errors that are perceived as bringing us down, keep in mind the office to potentially hold, represents the nation as a whole in their views, wants and goals for a global environment as well as domestic one, here at C&J, we owe it to our audience to make sure there is some clarity among the muddy waters surrounding the potential candidates that want to make it better.  To help narrow down some of this, in this article we will focus our eyes on History, Education, Healthcare and Jobs and try our best to apply each to each potential representative for POTUS, with, of course some very important notable items.
A BIT OF HISTORY
            It happens every 4 years guaranteed and sometimes becomes like one long campaign ad that when it’s over, we exhale and either gripe and moan or celebrate the victor - this is known as an election cycle.  How it came to be this way goes back a bit in history, in fact all the way back to our founding fathers.  George Washington stunned the nation when he said he would not seek a third term in office.  Right now, I bet you are saying “BS, a president can only run twice”, you are correct, however, aside from a president having the ability to carry over to a third term in times of war or national security crisis’, in those times, the presidential candidates were directly chosen by the congress from their own parties, right out of the very chairs they held in representation of the people, thus, this lead to persons being selected to be viable candidates; NOTE: when George Washington first held office, the people placed him in his first term without opposition or majority vote due to his leadership and role in the revolutionary war, in some history books it was the newly formed continental congress that begged him to take the new office,  the “first” election wasn’t held until the next election cycle came around, after Washington’s 2nd term; you know the candidates by these names: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two candidates, two different parties with their running mates being chosen for them as well, nothing like what we see today in the primary nomination and election process.
            Fast forward to 1832 and this is when the first national convention was used to nominate party candidates because social pressures were rising on changing from traditional caucus selections - the thoughts of party caucus’s were dying out - along with the chance for improvement on actual multiple candidates being allowed to campaign for the office, that is, qualified persons not necessarily from Congress. Interestingly enough, in 1840 the thinking when the conventions took foothold was that this new platform, would allow party unification to stand behind their chosen single candidate for office, an office elected by the people - by popular vote.
            The selection process has indeed evolved over a long period of time, including several “commission” studies and reforms that have shaped us, into the primary election cycle we have now.  The commissions were started around 1900 and continued on with different titles all the way past the 1970’s, that is how important this process is, and those reforms included things like preventing states powers from selecting their own through power, corruption and other issues that were the forefront of concern for both parties, helping to get people registered to vote and overseeing a fair voting system, indeed, history has taught us much in the way we should properly and fairly conduct our selection process for candidates who wish to hold, POTUS; but that was then, this is now and with now, comes some definitive examples of what those who oversee elections are faced with, in choosing the best qualified person to run a great country - one that is a shining example to the free world and its shared values of peace and productivity. 
CANDIDATES - TRUTH AND PERCEPTION
            Our first look is at Senator Bernie Sanders, one of two choices for the Democratic nomination for POTUS in this upcoming election cycle.  A self proclaimed Democratic Socialist but is listed as an Independent Senator, Senator Sanders continues to campaign on, against seemingly insurmountable odds, in the hopes of swaying the DNC to look his way as a viable choice.  In 1981, the Senator was elected to the first of 4 terms as mayor of the city of Burlington. Then later on in his career to the Senator seat he holds now, in fact The Almanac of American politics states that Senator Sanders is a “practical and successful legislator”; Senator Sanders is well known for his work in reducing income gaps between wealth classes with hard work and fairness, he has worked directly with Veterans groups and even helped to write and oversee the ACA currently in effect.  Within his campaign, he has touted education, healthcare and economy reform, which, to many seems like his stance is to give away as much stuff for free as possible while the hard working class get little, the MEME’s on social media platforms such as Twitter and Face Book reflect that this is indeed the heart of the issue and many take offense to this charitable perception, no one wants this country to be the land of the handouts, we all know the American dream, right?  What makes a practical and successful legislator, so unpopular with so many yet others adhere to so well?
            According to his own campaign website (berniesanders.com), his free education stance comes from following the models of other countries such as Germany, Chile, Finland and Norway and according to Senator Sanders, this proposed lowered or free tuition isn’t a new idea, in fact up until the 1980’s, states like California offered free or lowered cost tuition to its citizens, during the previous era, the average cost of college per semester tuition was just 250 bucks in 1965.  Senator Sanders says that by imposing a small tax on the wealthiest of persons of Wall Street (as well as all citizens) and making overseas companies pay their share, this income will allow for lowered tuition while at the same time repealing the current interest rate from 4.5 percent down to 2.7 percent, thus saving college students thousands of dollars in education costs, in essence, the Government will take over controlling the rates and loan standards, a move that Lending Institutions and Corporate America detest at its core.  What about Healthcare, many Americans see this as another “free” opportunity to make others pay for those who cannot or are not willing to go out and earn it themselves, most of the focus being illegal or undocumented immigrants getting access to “free” money for just entering into our country. 
            According to the Senator, since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt (focusing on Democratic Presidents), America has longed for a one for all healthcare system, where health care is a right not a privilege and America should include themselves in the list of countries with similar coverage’s such as: the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Rwanda, Thailand, South Korea, Moldova, Kuwait and China.  According to the Senator, the USA spends more on healthcare than any other nation, these expenditures come from co pays, rates, deductibles and medication costs and still don’t include the nearly 30 million people who don’t go get regular checkups or believe it or not, still do not have any insurance at all, by personal choice.  Senator Sanders proposes a single payer system and to eliminate employers having to provide a plan for their employees, thus, freeing up important business money that could be used for re-investment rather than paying premiums that are co-paid by the employees, costing hundreds of hours in labor, just on that math alone.  Paying for this initiative will come from several sources, including a progressive income based tax that at most will cost someone with 50,000 a year income only 466 dollars in healthcare premiums and costs, this along with other sources (listed on the web site) will offset these costs and because of improved health overall, will reduce any and all Government spending and private sector citizen spending.   According to the website and proposed platforms, the Senator is touting that those who can pay should pay their fair share and those who cannot, can be empowered to do so by improving their overall conditions, which sounds nothing like what the main stream media and their mass followers are pointing out, those persons make it sound like arm chair politics, much like an arm chair quarter back, sounds good but until you get out of your chair you won’t know just how much it takes to get it done.
            Our next focus is Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, Secretary of State (under the Obama administration), Lawyer, and elected to the Senate in 2001, becoming the first lady to win such a seat.  Her background from Yale University along with her political experience, poised her to run for President in 2012, to which at that time, she conceded to President, Barak Obama and now, hoping to defeat Senator Sanders for the DNC nomination to run against Donald Trump, her campaign has been a grueling one and for both the DNC nominees.  In Hillary’s case, there is much controversy surrounding her, including an email scandal and an attack that resulted in the death of an ambassador as well as the investigation that followed it, an event that Mrs. Clinton took full responsibility for and testified, vowing to “make it right” before leaving office.  A champion for Women’s rights, Mrs. Clinton tossed her hat into the ring for the 2016 election and one must ask with all this negativity surrounding her campaign, what does she really stand for, whose side is she on?
            When it comes to healthcare, according to the campaign website (hillaryclinton.com), Mrs. Clinton will improve on the already in place health care law, by insuring that all families purchasing insurance on the exchanges will not spend more than 8.5 percent of their incomes on premiums, expand access to healthcare to immigrants (Medicaid) and set up a rewards style program for those who live and actively pursue a healthier lifestyle as well as defend and uphold the current ACA status, including a move to get more people signed up than are now, and vows to fight to lower prescription costs, while focusing on improving healthcare for women. Some math, if your medication costs 100 bucks a pill, your cost is 8.50 a pill, times 30 days, 255 for a prescription that isn’t “generic”, food for thought. What our truth glasses found interesting in this scenario, nothing in Hillary’s approach to fixing the current status of Healthcare, includes Government spending, instead it vaguely avoids it or doesn’t state directly how much the feds will pick up in Medicaid costs; it places the cost directly on the backs of Americans, makes no provisions for low income families and includes tax adjustments for everyone including immigrants.  She touts improved items for Women’s healthcare issues, including pregnancy and contraceptive practices as well as preventative issues facing women everywhere, her website is actually vague on these issues on how she will get it done, where the money will come from and how much will the Federal Government contribute (she does mention giving the power to the Governors as it is now to come up with a public option, but doesn’t explain how other than saying it is already in their hands now).  What about education, in order for persons to receive the quality care she wants, that will take some skilled workers, skills that come from higher education and saturate our airwaves with how many jobs will require a college degree in the coming years.
            According to her platform, students won’t have to pay for books, fees or tuition to attend a four year college, she intends to help offset these costs by having each student work 10 hours a week and contributing their part (so…the ‘free’ stuff actually comes from making students get a job and giving her administration their income to pay for college that will be free). Note: ask any student how high some of the books are for their courses, you won’t find any 20 dollar books that are for PSY 101, guaranteed; Families will also do their part by contributing to their kids’ educational needs in this system known as the College Compact.  It will use the Pell Grants to pay for living expenses as well as educational ones and that colleges will be responsible for controlling costs of attaining the higher education, at current, credit hours can cost as much as 450 dollars per credit hour (keep in mind most university systems receive state funding, not necessarily just federal funding).  Everyone will be able to refinance their existing loans to gain lower payments and borrowers will never pay more than 10 percent of what they make.  Let’s do a quick math gambit, yes?  A doctor’s average salary is 185,000 a year, so 18,500 dollars of this income will be dedicated to repaying debt, broken down and divided by 12 month calendar year, you are paying over 1000 a month maximum, granted not everyone is a doctor, but you get the idea, a literal house payment in loan repayments, isn’t this what we are griping about now?  Note:  None of her Education and Healthcare reform plans are a focus on social media, instead, it’s imprison Hillary for her crimes in the email scandal and the tragic event in Libya, nice distraction indeed.
            Finally, we turn our attention to the GOP front runner, Mr. Donald Trump; hands down the GOP choice across the board, Mr. Trump defeated a long list of other bidders, including Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and others while seemingly speaking his mind and blasting the establishment on everything from immigration to healthcare, sans jobs or income inequality but focusing as well on any potential opponents motives to stop him from becoming POTUS.  Described as enthusiastic and energetic, Mr. Trump attended a military school where his parents were hoping to help him focus his talents, eventually Mr. Trump a scholar athlete, would attend both Fordham and the University of Pennsylvania accomplishing a degree in economics and business.  In 1971, Mr. Trump was given control over his parent’s companies (middle income apartments in New York) and real estate investments and eventually go on to own parts of Atlantic City, Florida, New York and several other spots in the nation’s property gambits.  Trump, like many other business moguls, felt the sting of the real estate decline, reportedly going as high as 900 million in debt, the financial and real estate mogul would have to work hard over a decade to recover these losses and before announcing his presidential bid, would tout being worth over a billion dollars (in reality, according to Forbes, that number is actually under 500 million dollars). In 2000, Mr. Trump first toyed with the idea of making a run for office, low voter turnout in California stagnated that dream and he subsequently withdrew his bid, reserving it for his now very active run. Mr. Trump in his life has been registered in nearly every political party, most recently, Republican. It is no secret that Mr. Trump is a highly controversial candidate, including scathing remarks toward immigrants, women, building a wall, discrimination, trade and even his opponents, these controversies caused many companies that had joint ventures with Mr. Trump to withdraw their relationships. Mr. Trump responded with law suits (many say this is his staple, suing others into his way of thinking), but still has the influence to sway millions of voters to consider him a viable candidate, so on the two subjects of education and healthcare reforms, where does he stand and just how do we make America great again?
            According to Mr. Trump’s website, when it comes to Healthcare, we have been under a decade long disaster that needs a full repeal and on day one as POTUS, Mr. Trump will call for a full repeal of the ACA and start to implement a free market stance on health care choices in insurance; rates will become more competitive by breaking down the cross state barriers on costs, someone in California sees their same insurance a few hundred less in Maine, they should be able to buy it at Maine’s prices, provided they reflect the free market values.  Note: The problem with Free Market thinking, what the free market deems as fair to all, determines the price for all, so if the FM’s want an increase, everyone pays for it, regardless of income levels, this is true on all things in the Free Market.  Then, Mr. Trump looks at allowing all persons to deduct health care costs from their taxes and work with states who have persons on Medicaid and expand it to all persons at an “affordable” rate (Note: the 1040 Long form already includes this as an option); my question, what is affordable to a family of four making less than 25,000 a year in total income, sadly, the website nor Mr. Trump’s campaign could answer this other than listing that the best way to reduce Medicaid costs is to get people to work, it only gets a mention with no viable jobs plan to back it up, according to Mr. Trump’s campaign, “this will take some time”. 
            An interesting stance that current and future persons interested in office all say, “these things take time”, American’s have a sense of urgency thanks in part to Mr. Trump, will this sense of urgency be met with disappointment if Mr. Trump fails to accomplish this task, yes - as has been the case with every president before our next one and will be even after.  Our truth glasses searched over and over again for some comprehensive overview or insight as to how this candidate will help those who are paying high tuition and loan rates now, sorry to report, there isn’t one, only Mr. Trump saying, “Free College is a disastrous idea”.  The issues listed on Mr. Trump’s campaign website include: Immigration Reform, Tax Reform, Healthcare repeal and reform, US-China Trade reforms (what about the other 186 countries?), Veteran’s Administration Reform and that is it.  No talk of helping out Seniors who deal with Social Security issues, no mention of those fighting a 2 year or longer battle for disability benefits, no speaking about JOBS and how to stimulate an economy that must not be so great if we are to make it great again here in the US, no mention of how to improve our foreign relations or prepare our citizens against attacks from terror cells.  Mr. Trump said, “We are too soft on terrorists, we must go after their families as well”, Note: This kind of stance is a war crime if carried out, see Geneva Convention and History for details as to why.
            In this article, we have covered platforms, stances, touched a bit on some of the controversy surrounding the candidates and included a taste of how the selection process started over 200 years ago.  With each candidate, we have the ability to see the differences in what they want, what they see as America in the coming years, each with their own thoughts as to what it will take to get there or what is needed to obtain that status quo.  What we don’t see is Vice Presidential persons with them, nor do we see any unity behind each candidate as of yet from either party, including the GOP who seemingly has a clear choice of candidate.  There once was a time when the candidates were selected on their reputations, their experiences, their nobility, humanity and there was a time when too much power in those systems allowed for the worst of the worst to be in offices or run for them.  Investigation and thought lead to finance reforms, selection reforms and now apparently include, mudslinging, name calling, inciting violence during speechless with “go ahead beat the crap out of them” and more. 
            To allow the “fairness” of news to be heard, here are some examples of the controversy surrounding each presidential candidate, search terms used were (Candidate’s name) and Controversy in quotation marks to help refine searches:
“Sanders dismisses controversy over rapper’s comments”
“Bernie Sanders suspends Jewish outreach coordinator over Israel Criticism”
“Bernie Sanders 1972 ‘Rape’ Essay”
“Fact checking the Hillary Clinton email controversy”
“The Benghazi Controversy, explained by 7 numbers”
“5 Hillary scandals the media is missing”
“Donald Trump’s history of controversy with Women”
“How Trump turned controversy into a winning strategy”
“Here’s roughly every controversial thing Donald Trump has ever said” (it goes back 3 decades)
            While this article comes to a close, with lots of information to play with, I ask this of the candidates themselves, to be answered in ANY platform they see fit: 1) When will the US Government pay back the money it has borrowed from Social Security? 2) What is your biggest concern facing America right now and how will you influence Congress and the people to fix it? 3) Will you ask for and pursue term limits on everyone in office, no more than 2 terms for anyone to serve in a public office? 4) Looking back at history and how the selection process started, if it were up to the Congress to select your Vice President, who do you think they would place next to you? 5) Would you change the initial selection process to have a nationwide vote all at once, instead of trying to win state by state? (In other words, Primaries get ONE Election Day for the whole country same as the general election) seems millions of dollars in campaigning and travel costs could be eliminated if it were a one day process, but I digress. I invite each of you to sit down, write a response in consideration to each question poised.  I am sure the people of this great nation want to know these questions and more (by the way readers, feel free to use the comments section to add your own questions about what you want from the Candidates, since they all are “for the people” let’s find out just how much.
** Author’s Note**:  I truly hope in your overviews of this article and the links contained within, that each potential, current and future POTUS candidate, as well as the many readers of this article and followers of this platform, will gain the answers they seek and who knows, maybe change the election process one more time for the betterment of all.
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