Eldercare, a Universe of Euphemisms

At nursing homes, there’s silence about death. It’s the overlooked, uninvited 13th fairy who condemns you to eternity. But this is no fairy tale; there’s no good fairy to induce a coma instead of death, and no Prince Charming to revive you with a kiss.

Not Anonymous: Proof that Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare

Shakespeare denial is a harmless diversion. No polar bears will die if we don’t take measures to correct it. It has the added benefit of being an economic stimulus. When you enter “Shakespeare authorship” into the Amazon search box, you get 728 books both for and against. (Okay, some trees die.)

Dementia: Can Pat Summit Score Against Alzheimer's?

Basketball coaching requires a high level of cognitive organization. Pat Summit, age 59, just revealed she has early onset Alzheimer's. She plans to continue coaching, and says she will increasingly rely on her staff to help her. But will she be anything more than a figurehead? Will she reign in the fashion of the Queen of England, but not rule as a prime minister?

Autism: Is It Caused By A Toxic Womb?

In graduate school, I had the interesting experience of working with Bruno Bettelheim at his then world-famous Orthogenic School. Bettelheim has received much posthumous bad press, some of it personal--allegations of physical abuse--and much of it professional--his idea that autism was caused by what he called an emotionally cold “refrigerator mother.”
Our Debt Ceiling Crisis and the Onset of WWI–Is There a Difference?

Our Debt Ceiling Crisis and the Onset of WWI–Is There a Difference?

Keeping a promise is normally good for your emotional health. Plus, this wisdom is moral wisdom of the ages. Oath keeping is a pillar of all civilizations. But both our current debt ceiling crisis and the onset of World War I indicate that a moral virtue—loyalty—can be a tragic flaw.
Strauss-Kahn: Is It OK Because It's Only Adultery?

Strauss-Kahn: Is It OK Because It's Only Adultery?

There seems to be some kind of attitude formation rule here: If an alleged criminal act is shown to be untrue, then we find relief when we are left with only a moral failing.

Would A Weiner By Any Other Name Smell More Sweet?

Now that our long national nightmare of Weinerhood is over, I have to say when you have the name Weiner, it doesn't help that your scandal was about your wiener. If your name were, say, Jones, strike that, Smith, you might not have been in the same amount of trouble.
Confessions Of A Stay-At-Home Dad

Confessions Of A Stay-At-Home Dad

I know what it’s like to be the only Y chromosome in the room, swimming in a sea of estrogen. I didn’t start out in life to be a stay-at-home dad. I didn’t fantasize that I’d spend years laboring over my PhD, and get licensed as a psychologist to stay home kissing my wife at the door on her way to the car, saying, “Have a nice day dear.” It just kind of happened.

Books: Women, Their Names, and the Stories They Tell

In writing about their names, women reveal what is most important about their sense of identity. They offer us new ways of thinking about the self--new psychological and spiritual insights drawn from ancient traditions, different religions, cultures, races, and age groups.
Even With Social Networking, Do Our Brains Limit Our Number Of Friends?

Even With Social Networking, Do Our Brains Limit Our Number Of Friends?

You may have thousands of Twitter followers, but how many of them could you call a friend, or even an acquaintance?

How The Republicans Plan To Destroy Eldercare

Led by Paul Ryan, the Republicans' plans for the the poor and vulnerable elderly would be devastating, But who cares? Poor people don't vote.

Would You Take The Test That Tells You How Long You Have To Live?

If you knew you were going to die, would you work on your bucket list or just go to work?

Assisted Suicide In the United States? Go West Old Man

George Costanza said: “I love a good nap, sometimes it’s the only thing getting me out of bed in the mornings.” Some people feel that way about life and the dirt nap.

Assisted Suicide? How About A Dutch Treat?

Is the sin of omission, allowing someone to die, less egregious than the sin of commission, killing them?
Are Stay-At-Home Moms Happier?

Are Stay-At-Home Moms Happier?

Feminists assert that being home alone with the kids leads to social isolation. Neo-traditionalists counter employment is stressful, particularly when you're isolated from your kids. Who’s right? As in all things psychological, it depends.

Is Suicide A Treatable Condition?

When it comes to suicide, I go with the Animals: “It’s my life, and I’ll do what I want.” But, in the moment, I might find it hard to resist the urge to stop you from jumping.

Dieting: Put Lipstick On A Pig And It's Not A Pig

Dieters avoid foods they recognize as forbidden based on product name. When a dish is assigned an unhealthy name (pasta) it is seen as less healthy than when it's called by a healthy name (salad). Non-dieters do not avoid foods based on names and eat anything.

Modern Aging Marvel: Amazing Suit Instantly Adds 30 Years!

When researchers wear these encumbering suits, simple tasks become daunting. You may start asking yourself why the denture cleaner is on the lowest shelf at the drug store, or why can’t I open this pill bottle, am I as feeble as a child? But, never mind, who can read the nose-bleed print anyway?

How to Pick Out a Nursing Home for Mom--Or Maybe Not

The bottom line is how long it takes to clean Mom’s bottom. But a nursing home has only to adhere to a minimum standard for bottom cleaners—like the astronaut asked if he gets scared: “No more scared than anyone sitting on a billion parts all built by the lowest bidder.”

Psychiatry Is A Dinosaur--Why Isn't It Extinct?

We don't need expensive psychiatrists to do most of what it is that expensive psychiatrists do.Those looking to wring savings out of our health care system could do worse than to eliminate them. 

Elderly Driving? You Can Have My Car When You Rip It From My Cold Dead Hands!

My aunt had Alzheimer's but was physically fit. My uncle was physically unable to drive but sound of mind. They'd go out driving--Aunt Molly at the wheel. Uncle Sam telling her where to go. So be careful when you're walking or driving in West Palm Beach.

Don't Jump The Gun On Diagnosing The Arizona Shooter

Even before I looked at the alleged shooter's You Tube postings, I predicted to myself that some psychologist is going to publicly diagnoses Jared Loughner as a paranoid schizophrenic, and, sure enough, only hours after the shooting, Andrew Sullivan's blog "The Daily Dish," did not disappoint. It was one among many.

Ninety Is Not The New Sixty

When we put cut flowers in water, or old people in nursing homes, are we only prolonging the agony?

The Paranoid Style In Today's Politics

Paranoia in politics would be of no consequence if confined to disturbed minds. "It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant."

Obama Derangement Syndrome: Yes It's Racist

Pollster Stanley Greenberg and political operative James Carville, last year, reported on a series of focus groups with older, white Republicans in Georgia. They were on a quest to understand the hardcore opposition to Obama. Is it racist? They concluded no. They admonished us to "Get over it." The animus to Obama, they claimed, is "based in the same unwavering, bedrock conservative principles that have always led them to oppose liberal policies. Some of their subjects even claim to be post racial-"proud" there is an African-American president. I have my own informal focus group, and I'm not buying it.

Elderspeak: How Names Can Harm You

As a graduate student, I was with a group interviewing elder psychiatric patients at a state hospital when our advisor admonished us not to address any of them familiarly by their first names. "These people are old enough to be your grandparents or even your great-grandparents. So it's Mrs. Smith. Never Sally."

What Bruno Bettelheim Taught Me About Nursing Homes

The average resident of a nursing home takes about 9 different medications each day. Handholding is at a premium in institutions that have only enough staff to spend, on average, a total of two-hours, twenty-minutes of face time per resident per day.But based on my personal experience with the somewhat discredited Dr. Bettelheim, I know he would say we need less drugging, more handholding.

The New Reality Of Reality TV

“Oh my god!” is the response you usually hear on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow when the newly orphaned woman or man of a certain age is told that that jug in which they keep the umbrellas is a Ming vase.But times change, and reality TV is reflecting reality.On Pawn Stars, hugely popular on History, they're open for business and ready to talk turkey. The prevailing ethos in the pawnshop is not "OMG!" but "How much can I get for this?"This is the down-market side of the Antiques Roadshow's American dream.   

The Cop Beats The Professor--(When It Comes To A Career)

My son, who is entering college this fall--as I'm preparing to sign big checks--told me that a classmate of his is opting to become a police officer rather than going the four-year college route. This reminded me of an exercise I conducted while in the lower depths of graduate school that compared the lifetime earnings of a college professor and a police officer--the police officer won.

Health Care: "The Time Is Now"

All day long, I've been watching the sausage making, i.e., the house vote on health care, and as I write this, it's about to pass. I'll admit I've wonkily studied it all. I've read large chunks of the multi-thousand page bill, although not all. I've watched hours of CSPAN until even my nerdy eyes glaze over. I know what Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann will say, well before they say it.