Covid, Racism, and Turmoil

By Michael Patterson, LMSW.

The last few months have tested the patience, stamina and beliefs of this nation. Stress and uncertainty has evolved through the pandemic and the recent, yet repeated systemic racism that was sparked by the death of a black man at the knee of a white police officer, and a bat in Wuhan China. The closest I can relate this too is the Vietnam War and the civil unrest that happened in the sixties and early seventies. An invisible and virtually unknown disease has changed how we interact and run our day to day lives. But I have learned from others.

And the result:

  • We have changed how we look at interacting with others. You can no longer hug a friend of shake their hand. You are encouraged to keep the distance and talk through a mask.
  • Face timing, texting, and other technology has helped, but it does not have the comfort and closeness of touch.
  • Even though many have holed up with family, many feel alone.
  • Parents had to reassess how they parent. New rules and new social challenges.
  • Ideas and preconceived beliefs on what is the way things are, and the reality of the way people are treated have been challenged to a degree that many find uncomfortable.
  • Anxiety over the unknown. Stress over being confined. Sadness over the losses that many have experienced. Division over how to act or follow expectations of society, and family.
  • Feeling guilty or unprepared.
  • Fear of reopening our society is real.

I am considered an essential mental health worker. I don’t feel essential. But this label has allowed me to keep my business going, even though it has been on a virtual platform. I have not had to suffer lost wages. I have not had to worry about paying bills or juggling childcare. However I had to adapt my therapy to help others with the unique circumstances that have come from the lockdown, and the visual of a man dying.


There have been other times in our society where the challenges would overwhelm us. There are and still will be disenfranchised cultures and groups that endure overwhelming fear and anxiety. People will still be affected by this disease for many months to come, especially if there is no vaccine on the horizon. Most will overcome, adapt and survive. But scars on the soul and the psyche do not disappear, only fade.

Why Do Farmers Never Name Their Cows?

I was working with a 6 year old client who was raising a calf for The Chelsea Fair. With the help of his dad, they would feed it and take care of its general needs until fair time. When the fair arrived they would take it there, show it, and hopefully get a blue ribbon. Then, various businesses or individuals would bid on the livestock. The child would get a considerable amount of money that usually is saved towards college or some other future need or want. What I learned from the dad, which probably most farmers know, is that you do not name the livestock. By naming the calf, you set the child up for becoming attached more easily to the animal. This will cause problems later on when it is time to sell their cow. The scientific term is Anthropomorphism, or “ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things.” This is why we name our pets such as dogs or cats. In our household we recently set up a fish tank and my daughter immediately named the koi fish “Carl.”
Humanizing pets or objects is a way to form an attachment to them. In psychological terms an object is something which a person can relate to. There is a whole subset of psycho-dynamic theory aptly named, “Object relations theory.”

Object relations theory differs from Freudian theory in three important ways: (1) it places more emphasis on interpersonal relationships, (2) it stresses the infant’s relationship with the mother rather than the father, and (3) it suggests that people are motivated primarily for human contact rather than for sexual …

-Sonoma State University

In the military, they use the opposite approach. They attach derogatory or dehumanizing names to the enemy in order to help soldiers be able to kill them. Occasionally when I have spoken to police officers they tend to call criminals, “Bad Guys or Knuckleheads.”

So you may be asking, “What does this have to do with my mental and emotional well-being?” When we feel rejected, abandoned, hurt, or abused by an individual who we have an attachment to, or desperately seek their love and/or approval despite rejected or in some way demeaned, it is easier on our psyche to dehumanize them versus feel the rejection from them. The sad part of this defense is we rarely are able to dehumanize someone with whom we have an intimate attachment to. Unable to do this causes us to continue to seek or crave their approval when it may never happen. This leaves us stuck in a chronic state of abandonment. I see this a lot in high conflict divorces. While the couple may state they are detached, actually their attachment turns to anger. In these scenarios, the anger boils over into rage. If children are involved they usually take the brunt of this by being put into the middle or encouraged to alienate from the other parent.
So the question is how do you detach from a relationship without it affecting you in a negative way? There is no specific or easy answer to this question. If it was a deep attachment then the first step is to grieve the loss. This is not showing weakness, but acknowledging that the person had touched your life in some way. Hopefully in a positive way. If it was abusive then you grieve the loss of a dream and move from being a victim to being a survivor.

The next step usually take time. Many confuse the opposite of love as hate. In fact, it is indifference. The state of mind and being in which the other person has minimal meaning in your life. Indifference is another way of saying detachment. You can care about the person, but they no longer hold power over your emotional state. Some try to do this the military way by dehumanizing them, but this rarely works.

There are relationships that we do not want to lose the attachment to. The death of a loving parent is a good example. While we have to grieve the loss and not stay stuck in a chronic state of depression (Toxic grief). We can still honor the memory through various ways. This can be comforting and healing. By honoring the memory of a loved one, we allow ourselves to accept the loss even through the pain. Obviously this is a simplistic answer to a complex and prolonged event.
There are many ways to honor the memory of a loved one. Rituals, markers in a graveyard, celebrations of their life. A year after my brother passed, his daughter held a small gathering and then floated paper balloons into the sky. The candles attached to the paper balloon ascended up to the heavens. It was a simple gesture yet very moving.

If you lost a loved one, don’t forget them. If they were abusive, survive and thrive. If the relationship was contentious, let your anger dissolve and if possible forgive them. Not for their sake, but for your well-being. But, if you own a cow and you want to take it to market, don’t name it.

Expressive Writing Is Good for Your Mental Health

We know that writing with a pen and paper is good for your brain. But it’s also good for your heart and soul. Researchers have found that people who practice expressive writing — that is, writing to help make sense of your thoughts and emotions — can experience mental and emotional benefits, including a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression and greater clarity and focus. They may even experience physical benefits. What better reasons to put pen to paper?

If you’ve been paying attention to paper trends, you already know that handwriting and journaling have made a huge comeback in recent years. Daily journaling can be calming and peaceful at the end of a busy day or in the midst of an emotionally difficult time.

“Especially with social media, a lot of people are recognizing that being digitally connected is eating up a lot of time and energy,” says Tammy Tufty, Domtar’s communications manager for paper advocacy. “They’re seeing that maybe we should go back to journaling, reading more books and just being more present.”

Why Is Journaling Good for the Soul?

James W. Pennebaker has a Ph.D. in psychology and is Regents Centennial professor at the University of Texas at Austin. His groundbreaking research on the topic of expressive writing showed that journaling not only improves our sense of mental wellbeing but also triggers actual physical benefits, such as improved immune function and faster healing.

While Pennebaker and his colleagues are focused on the scientific evidence of the benefits of writing, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that the act of journaling helps people better understand their emotions.

“Writing has a healing effect, like a nice massage,” wrote a blogger for ADDitude, a magazine and website that focuses on ADHD. “It is comforting, like a cup of tea or a warm fireplace on a chilly night. … Journaling helps me make sense of happy and sad moments.”

Journaling can also help people with ADHD solve problems more efficiently: “Typically, we problem-solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. Sometimes the better answer is found by engaging the intuition that comes from the right brain. Writing unlocks this side of the brain and brings an opportunity for unexpected solutions.”

The benefits aren’t limited to writing full sentences, either. Doodling on paper can also provide a sense of calm and help improve concentration.

“I’ve seen it with my own kids and with other professionals,” Tufty says. “While they’re doodling or drawing, it seems like they’re not paying attention, but actually they are because that activity is helping them stay focused.”

Begin Your Expressive Writing Journey

Whether you’re actively working through some emotional trauma or you just enjoy the calming effect of expressive writing or doodling, it’s clear that putting pen to paper is a great way to improve your mood.

Start your journaling journey by choosing your pen and paper. You don’t need anything fancy, but you should choose tools that make it easy and enjoyable to sit down to write. Maybe it’s a gel pen that writes smoothly in a color you love, or perhaps it’s a leather-bound journal that makes you smile when you touch the cover.

You might even choose a new journal with a cover design that uses Pantone’s color of the year: Classic Blue. “Blue is a really calm color,” Tufty says. “I find it interesting that Pantone chose it in a year where everything seems so unsettled. But it could be really helpful to choose a journal design with a calming color that inspires creativity and encourages you to connect the pen to paper for journaling.”

Pennebaker, whose work on expressive writing and healing continues to influence psychologists, counselors and other mental health professionals, offers some practical advice for expressive writing.

Find a time and a place where you won’t be disturbed. Pennebaker suggests picking time at the end of your workday or before you go to bed, but really any time of day can work as long as you can write without interruption.

Commit to writing for at least 15 minutes every day.

Once you begin, write without stopping to correct spelling or grammar. If you run out of things to write before your time is up, you can repeat what you’ve already written.

What you write and how you write it is completely up to you. There are no rules.

When you have finished your expressive writing, you can save it, burn it, erase it, tear it up or shred it. Since your writing is for you and you alone, you can decide what to do with it.

SOURCE: CSRWire Submitted by: Domtar

Harmony, Balance and Walking Your Dog

I have a border collie named Lucky. He insists on getting my full attention. He will whine, push his head under my hand as I lay on the couch, smile at me or use is puppy dog eyes to elicit sympathy. Oh, he gets a lot of attention. But I guess if you were to ask him he would surely say “it’s not enough.” To be honest, he really does not ask for much. Good dog food and occasional human food. A soft bed or couch to lay on. Lots of hugs and petting. And he loves to go out on adventures. How does he pay for this? Well, He does let us know when someone is at the front door. He listens. He gives unconditional love. He models how to be calm and be in harmony with his world. It is so easy for him. As long as a family member is with him, he is happy.

A friend of mine had a health scare about a year ago. He has taken up hiking in the woods with an almost obsessive passion. He had to retire from his business due to his health condition. At first, this was very difficult for him as he felt a loss of purpose in life. Hiking the trails around his home has brought back a sense of accomplishment and vitality to his life. Not to mention it helped him to drop 70 plus pounds. About two months ago he was down in South Carolina. He just took off by himself to try a section to the Appalachian Trail. He texted me a picture when he reached the top of a small mountain. I called him when I received the picture. I heard in his voice something that I had lost. Pure joy and reverence for the beauty that surrounds us if we just go looking for it. Later on, he talked me into training to hike a five-day section of the Appalachian Trail in late summer or early fall. So we meet about once per week to hike together (he kicks my butt right now). On other days I go out alone on the trails that surround my home or are close by. I am blessed in living near two state recreation areas that have a good trail system. Some days, when I can have Lucky off his leash, I take him with me. As with any exercise regimen, the first fifteen to twenty minutes are the most difficult. My mind goes through this ritual of identifying every ache and pain, questioning why I am doing this at my age. And how comfortable cozy my couch is. Once I finish this mind ritual I get into the rhythm of the trail and the harmony of the forest. I have noticed that Lucky does not suffer from the agonies of the mind. He goes right into harmony mode. He will smell every smell, see every tree, hear every bird or squirrel, and of course let all the other animals know he has been there by marking his passing. How does one bladder hold so much pee is beyond me?

I am blessed in living near two state recreation areas that have a good trail system.

Many years ago I saw a book titled Chop Wood, Carry Water. I never read the book but I always remember that title. For me, it tells how to find joy in simple activities. I found this to be true when I scrape paint off of wood. Most find this work tedious. I found it calming. I loved to be outside up on a ladder leaning against the side of my century-old house, scraping the multiple layers of paint off of the old wood. With music playing or just the rustle of leaves dancing to the rhythm of the breeze, the sun peeking through the shadows onto the surface of the wood. I found peace. I found simple joy.

Making an effort to do the simple things in life can bring a sense of harmony and peace when you are feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed out. It is easy to make excuses to not go outside, meet up with close friends, scrape and paint wood, or go for a walk with your dog. But then you miss out on simple joy, harmony, and the balance of a life well-lived.

Michael Patterson LMSW

Premarital Counseling

After a couple is engaged and has set the date for the marriage, they may seek premarital counseling with the Minister, Priest or Rabbi who will be presiding the ceremony. This usually involves three meetings or so and can include a personality profile that shows where couples are in agreement, or where they may dif It also includes the religious aspect of marriage.

Or, some couples seek a secular marriage with no religious overtones. Many couples will seek premarital counseling to address specific aspects of the relationship from an emotional and mental health perspective.

Namaste Family Services offers 6-8 sessions specifically designed to address common difficulties that can occur within marriage after the honeymoon phase has worn off. The most common areas that couples seek help with are:

1. Communication
2. Finances
3. Defining the shared responsibilities of running a household
4. Parenting
5. Controlling behavior

In these sessions, every couple will learn skills to communicate that are compassionate and resolve conflict in a peaceful manner. In addition to compassionate communication, other issues that are of concern will be addressed according to their unique needs.

Almost all couples enter the sanctity of marriage with the goal of growing old together and sharing life together. Premarital counseling helps to build a solid foundation in which to launch a loving and fruitful partnership.

Spanking Does More Harm Than Good

ANN ARBOR — An analysis of 50 years of research showed no evidence that spanking does any good for children; instead, it increases their risk of detrimental outcomes.

Experts at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas looked at decades of research from 75 studies involving more than 160,000 children, who showed increased signs of aggression, mental health problems, and cognitive difficulties.

Spanking children to correct misbehavior is a widespread practice by many parents, yet one shrouded in a debate about its effectiveness and appropriateness.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” said Elizabeth Gershoff, associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas.

“We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which is parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

Gershoff and co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, found that spanking (defined as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities) was significantly linked to detrimental outcomes.

“The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children,” Grogan-Kaylor said. “Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do.”

The researchers also tested for long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. They found that the more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit antisocial behavior and to experience mental health problems.

They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation, the researchers said.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” said Gershoff, who previously taught at U-M. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

In the U.S., there has been a slight decline over the years in the degree to which parents approve of spanking, Grogan-Kaylor said. Meanwhile, there is a far greater movement globally to ban corporal punishment, he said.

The study appears in the Journal of Family Psychology.

What is Reality Therapy?

When I did my graduate work to become a psychotherapist I was introduced and trained in three theories of treatment.

1. Psychodynamic.
2. Family systems.
3. Cognitive Behavioral.

However, my undergrad major was social work. The basic tenets of social work do not rely on the above psychological beliefs. The beginnings of social work can be traced back to Jane Adams (September 6, 1860 – May 28, 1935) and her work in Chicago with immigrants and families who were impoverished. The basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene were paramount to survival. In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote the paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation.” In this paper, he proposed that humans have a “Hierarchy of Needs” starting with the basic needs mentioned above. This was further defined in his book, “Motivation and Personality.” Once these needs are met, individuals can go to the next level, which according to Maslow is Safety, then Social, Self Esteem, and Self Actualization. At any point in a person’s life, they may have to descend the hierarchy to reclaim the original needs. For example, the loss of a job puts in jeopardy the ability to obtain basic necessities. This doesn’t mean that an individual regresses in their personal growth, but their priorities change. Another example is when

you lose a close friendship or have to move and lose the community you had developed for your social needs.
William Glasser, MD defines Reality Therapy as, “…A therapeutic approach that focuses on problem-solving and making better choices in order to achieve specific goals. …Reality therapy is focused on the here and now rather than the past.” ( Reality Therapy-borrowing from Maslow’s hierarchy-uses problem solving to help the client address the specific blocks that are hindering their ability to resolve the current dilemma they are facing.
In my practice, I blend the different psychological approaches to address the difficulties my clients are facing. Reality therapy techniques are used when an obvious solution is visible or a client is stuck in faulty or fantasy beliefs. An example of the use of reality therapy is in the couple’s work I do. On rare occasions, I will have a partner who is emotionally abusive or controlling their partner. Many times, the may not recognize how they are abusive. Directly addressing the abusive behavior is essential in these cases in order to save the relationship.

There are two basic tenets of Psychotherapy. The first one is the Hippocratic Oath which is summed up in the phrase, “Do no harm.” The second tent is, “Meet the client where they are at.” When a client seeks counseling they are at various stages in their life. From developmental to psychological, to specific circumstances. Understanding and having empathy for a client is paramount to developing a therapeutic “healing” relationship. In the initial stages of therapy, it is usually not effective to be using reality therapy until trust has formed. For some, their ego or sense of self is not stable sufficiently to use problem-solving skills as it may overwhelm them. An example is when someone has recently lost a loved one. Problem-solving is not effective during the initial stages of grief. Developing a safe, nurturing environment during the sessions allows a client to gradually address concreate problems. However, in an urgent or crisis period, the client must change, avoid, or remedy specific dilemmas or their emotional or physical health may be threatened if not injured.

Reality therapy can be as simple as gently pointing out how a person communicates to others may be considered inappropriate. Or, it may be as complex that it needs to be addressed in specific concrete steps laid out in a logical order to achieve the desired outcome.
The most effective way to use the techniques of reality therapy is with compassion, empathy, and timing so that it can be heard and utilized by the client. Unfortunately, there are times when I have had to be blunt with a client because their actions are hurting the physical or emotional wellbeing of others around them. Or their actions are seriously hurting themselves. This is the most difficult time for a client. And once the intervention is completed, a return to empathy and compassion can negate the sharp edge of reality.

Throughout my training, I was told that I must not induce my opinions or emotions into the session. This is sound advice for 95% of all therapeutic issues. However, when I see a client drinking themselves to death, or their hostile actions are hurting those around them, it is my belief that it would be unethical to not confront it with the force directly needed to alter the actions of the client. This is the hardest part of the job. I have seen many a therapist avoid and thus collude with the negative behaviors. An example of this is when a husband berates or belittles their spouse in the session and the therapist sits back without intervening.
In short, reality therapy is a technique that is used when appropriate for the clinical situation. It needs to be delivered if at all possible with caring compassion. Timing is critical. It does not replace the use of other therapeutic modalities but rather blends in with them to enhance the effectiveness of the client’s work.

Can A Marriage Heal When A Partner Strays?

When two people take the vows of marriage, it is an implied commitment that it will last as “long as both shall live.” The sacred trust of fidelity will not be broken. However, for many reasons, some will seek intimacy elsewhere. In most cases, the infidelity is discovered. The effects of this can be devastating. Betrayal, anger, abandonment, revenge, are all normal reactions when the affair is discovered. It may be as simple as excessive flirting, emotional attachment and finally sexual relations. In my practice, I have been witness to many levels of adultery. I have seen the pain it can cause, not only to the spouse but also to the children.

Can A Marriage Heal When A Partner Strays imageCan the marriage be saved, or will it break apart? Maybe, it depends on many factors. What triggered one spouse to seek another? Is there a lack of intimacy in the marriage? Abuse? Alcohol or drug abuse? One partner who believes that there are better mates out there. Whatever the reason, two critical things are needed to at least start the process of healing. The willingness to forgive and the willingness to accept accountability.

For many, when their trust is broken, they cannot trust the person again. For some, betrayal starts early in childhood, usually by a parent. If this is the case, the trust may have never been given, or cannot be regained. I have heard the saying that I will forgive but never forget. But is that true forgiveness?

On the other side of this equation is how does a spouse prove they are trustworthy? The simple answer is you can’t. Only faith and true forgiveness can restore a marriage to what it had once been.

How does a couple overcome this? When I work with a couple I will always ask each of them why you married your spouse. Did the love you had just disappear? Or did it eroded over time? Eros is the love of sexual attraction, and connection. It is basic to our instincts but usually fades and if possible it turns into Philia love. The love that holds a family together. Commitment, sacrifice, appreciation, and loyalty. This is the love that can stand up to life’s challenges. In its purest form, it is unconditional. When a spouse is unfaithful, either Philia’s love was never achieved, or it was ground down over the years.

While one spouse may break the vow of fidelity, both spouses usually have a responsibility to the breakdown of the marriage. The one who was betrayed may feel they hold the higher ground. This can turn into a power play that never helps the couple to regain balance in the marriage. Righteous anger is toxic. In addition, anger is usually used to cover more feelings of vulnerability. Acknowledging these emotions takes courage.

So how does one start to heal the relationship? Resolution is the key. This is where a marital therapist may play a role. An impartial, trained professional who seeks to put the relationship first. The couple must have a sincere desire to commit to the process and be open-minded. All connections to the one in which the spouse was cheating must end. There cannot be a third person in the counseling sessions lurking in the background.

The counseling process begins by gathering information on the marriage and on the background of each partner. Strategies to reconnect are suggested. Compassionate communication techniques are introduced along with the concept of “fair fighting”. Jumping starting or reinforcing basic intimacy is attended to with the specific needs of each couple considered. Other factors that are stressors or create distance are also addressed.

The process of reconciliation and recommitment to the marriage is arduous. A journey that takes love, courage, and commitment. There is no one set path to follow. But it is not an impossible journey if both truly want to stay married.

Dangerous “Dabbing”, Vaping Marijuana is Latest Trend

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana in some form. And the trend continues unabated: this year could see marijuana being legalized for recreational use in an additional 10 states and for medical use in an additional six states.

The march toward legalization has brought a dramatic change in attitude. Once perceived as a serious threat to public health and safety – if not a downright evil – marijuana is now considered by most to be safe – on the order of drinking alcohol, but safer. Many even consider it to be good for them. Fifty-four percent of American registered voters support full legalization, and 12.5 percent of American adults use marijuana, including a third of high school seniors.

In some ways, this swing in attitude is understandable given that since 1970 marijuana has been lumped in the same category as heroin and cocaine as a schedule I drug. The drugs placed in this category were defined as drugs that had a high potential for abuse, no accredited medical use, and a lack of accepted safety. This designation was supposed to be based on scientific evidence but in the case of marijuana little research existed. As a Schedule I drug, it then became much more difficult for researchers to get funding to research marijuana’s potential benefits and dangers. This lack of science left a vacuum between the official government position on marijuana and the common sense of the general public that could see that marijuana did not have the same addictive liability as cocaine or heroin. Not surprisingly, some began to question the strict prohibition of marijuana because of the perceived health benefits of marijuana and harsh sentencing laws that were enacted in the 1980s. This disconnect between policy and conventional wisdom has left many people dubious of claims by government leaders and health professionals that marijuana does pose some health risks. These risks are especially pronounced for young people under the age of 25 whose brains are still maturing and therefore are at an increased risk of the neurologic consequences of marijuana.

These young marijuana users are also more likely to be exposed to newer, more potent forms of marijuana including a dangerous marijuana extract called “dabs” that is rapidly gaining popularity. The vulnerability to the dangers of dabs is enhanced by the fact that this highly potent, distilled version of marijuana is barely a blip on the radar screens of the health, education and law enforcement authorities who are often the first bulwark of defense against harmful drug trends. This is important because when a young person admits to using marijuana, it is crucial that parents and educators learn more about the type and potency of the marijuana that is being used. In our times, not all marijuana is created equal.

Also known as butane hash oil (BHO), honey oil, budder (or butter), crumble, shatter and wax, dabs are a highly concentrated extract of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. While the typical joint is 11 to 21 percent THC, a dab can be 80 percent or more. The result is a high that has been described as “ferocious.” And therein lies the danger – or part of it. In fact, dabbing can be dangerous in a number of ways:

Adverse health effects – Dabbing can lead to rapid heartbeat, blackouts, psychosis, paranoia, and hallucinations, as well as to accidents and falls. Some are also concerned about the potential for abuse posed by a drug that delivers such a rapid, potent high. In one study, researchers found that users viewed dabbing as a more dangerous form of cannabis consumption because of the tolerance that is developed – ever-larger doses are required to produce the same effect. Also, although many proponents would repudiate the idea of marijuana as a gateway drug, the immersion in a dabs drug culture holds the potential to lead to the abuse of other substances, especially among the emotionally or genetically vulnerable. Indeed, while dabs are similar to marijuana flowers because they contain the same psychoactive ingredient (THC), they are about as similar in potency as regular beer (~5% alcohol by volume) is to Everclear vodka (95% alcohol by volume).

• Consumption – Dabs are typically consumed in an “oil rig” consisting of a glass water pipe and a hollow metal rod called a “nail.” The nail is heated with a blowtorch, then the dab is placed on the hot surface and the vapors are inhaled through the water pipe. In addition to the risks associated with inhaling off-gasses from the oil rig and contaminants in the dab, there are risks associated with heating the nail to hundreds of degrees. One study inexperienced users found no increased risk of accident or injury, but John M. Stogner, the co-author of an article on dabbing in “Pediatrics,” noted that the situation may be different for novice users who are more likely to be cognitively impaired while using the dangerous equipment.

Dabs can also be consumed in an e-cigarette-like “vape pen.” While the use of a vape pen eliminates the dangers associated with an open flame, it increases the appeal because of the getting-away-with-it factor. Users are brazenly dabbing on the street, at sporting events and even in school, within full view of clueless authority figures.

• Manufacture – The production of dabs is a dangerous process in which butane gas is used to extract the THC. The butane is then burned off, leaving only the thick concentrate. Amateurs can accidentally ignite the volatile butane vapors, leading to fires, burns, and explosions so severe that they have destroyed homes. Law enforcement authorities are concerned that dabs’ increasing popularity will prompt more people to try making their own, especially given the ease with which it is made and the ready availability of instructional videos on the Internet.

While more research is needed on the risks of dabbing, it is likely that the accepting attitudes fostered by the legalization trend are increasing the rate of experimentation with this new form of marijuana. Health, education and law enforcement authorities need to educate themselves about the dangers and get the word out that dabs are not “just pot.” Indeed, the increased popularity of dabbing is worrying even the most hardcore of marijuana proponents. In the words of a writer for “High Times,” which describes itself as the “definitive source for all things marijuana,” “… the fashionability of a form of cannabis consumption that does lead to people passing out and getting wheeled away on stretchers should give us pause.”

Dr. Jonathan Horey is a chief medical officer at Sunspire Health, a national leader in the treatment of addiction.

Huffington Post; 08/12/2016 05:35 pm ET Updated Aug 13, 2017

Violent Video Games Are Bad For Kids?

Violent video games are bad for kids. This isn’t new information, but we think it’s worth repeating.

Are there more young people who lack a true understanding of how final and profound death really is?

Are there many who lack concern for the value of human life? Are you noticing more who seem de-sensitized to violence? Do many lack empathy? Are many amused when someone is hurt, more concerned with recording video than helping the person in need?

Of course, we can’t lay the blame for societal violence solely at the feet of violent video games. But they do play a role.

“Not so!” many cry. “Most people who play video games don’t turn into killers.”

True. But… are these games really necessary? What benefit is there in making a game out of shedding blood? Do we really want such “games” going on in our homes?

The video game industry has found a way around this… at least in their own minds. “The objects being destroyed are not people,” they argue. “They are aliens, zombies, droids, and other non-human things.”

Most have eyes, ears, legs, arms, hands, heads, and other human attributes. Could it be that this killing of human-like, non-human things contributes to the mindset that nothing is truly human? This could be a stretch, or maybe not. For a game… a simple plaything… is it really worth taking the risk with our children’s impressionable minds?

Do you know any kids who argue when it’s time to get off the game? Any kids who insist they are completely unaffected (as their pulses race and their blood pressure rises)?

When young brains repeatedly practice and celebrate the violent destruction of life there are consequences. Those brains are affected in real and negative ways.

You may want to read a research paper for yourself:

Anderson CA, Shibuya A, Ihori N, Swing EL, Bushman BJ, Sakamoto A, Rothstein HR, Muniba. (2010) Violent Video Game Effects on Aggression, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior in Eastern and Western Countries: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin.

Do we want our children’s brains rewarded for violence and destruction? Do we want them rewarded for this with points, scores, progress along levels, and accolades from others? Might it be better if our kids experienced the good feelings associated with generosity and kindness?

“How naïve!” some will argue. “What’s wrong with having a little fun?”

We’d rather see our kids having fun engaged in healthier activities.

– Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.

Charles Fay, Ph.D.
Dr. Charles Fay & Jedd Hafer