I will definitely need to read Barbara Ehrenreich’s newest book. Not only is she one of my favorite political writers, but now she is delving into cultural criticism related to the mental health field’s relentless pursuit of “positive thinking.”
[...] In her new book, Bright-Sided: How Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, Barbara Ehrenreich calls positive thinking a “mass delusion.” She argues that an unrelenting drive to train our brains to overlook problems and blame ourselves for failures has blinded us to inequality, incompetence, and stupidity.
The philosophy of positive thinking, she argues, developed both as a reaction to the negativity of Calvinism and a salve for the sick and anxious, but has, over time, been turned into a kind of blind optimism. At the heart of positive thinking is a belief that you can will anything you like into happening: recovering from cancer, getting a promotion, becoming a millionaire. Often, the worse things are, the more vehemently people are encouraged to be sunny. The more companies downsized and restructured in the ’80s and ’90s, the more popular affirmation-chanting, team-building consultants became. And all the while, as the country’s wealth shot up, the gap between rich and poor ballooned.
(This is cross-posted from the blog on my private practice site.)
In 2004, Lawrence Kutner, PhD, and Cheryl K. Olson, ScD, cofounders and directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, started doing research on the effects of video games. With $1.5 million in federal funding from The US Department of Justice, Kutner and Olson set off on an mission to review all of the literature on the subject and then to conduct independent research in order to discover whether there is any real scientific evidence to back up the claim that violence in video games causes real life violence. Their book, Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do was just released on April 15th. An excerpt of the book is available here from Simon and Schuster.
I have not read this book, but it looks like a good one for parents, educators, and helping professionals concerned about violence in video games and violence in society. Olson and Kutner also share about their personal experiences with video games in the first chapter of the book:
Our Journey as Parents
The prolific scientist and author Isaac Asimov famously stated, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’, but ‘That’s funny…’ ” So it shouldn’t be surprising that our first step into what would become several years of full-time research was our casual observations of our son, who liked to play video games.
One of us (Cheryl) is a public health researcher specializing in media influences on health-related behaviors. The other (Larry) is a clinical psychologist and journalist specializing in child development and parent-child communication. We’re old enough to have been teenagers at a time when the few video games available had titles like Pong and Space Invaders. But we’re young enough to feel very comfortable working and playing with computers and other technology.
Neither of us were “gamers” a few years ago; one of us is today. (The other can take it or leave it — a sure sign of a generation gap.) Our teenage son, Michael, had first played simple computer games in childcare when he was about three years old. Those games had crude graphics and agonizingly repetitive (to an adult) music. They involved completing simple tasks, such as lining up an animated fire truck with a mark on the screen so that the cartoon firefighters could rescue a cat in distress. [full text]
After 12 years of practicing as a licensed clinical social worker in a variety of settings including hospitals, social service agencies, schools, and homes, I am very excited to announce that I have gone into private practice. Currently I am a provider for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, and I hope to be a provider for United Health and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island in the near future. My office is out of South County Child and Family Consultants, which is a group of practitioners headed by Ira Randy Kulman, PhD. Dr. Kulman has been practicing and leading a group of clinicians in South County for over 20 years and has extensive experience with providing psychological services for children and families.
Dr. Kulman has spent the last several years researching and developing clinical applications for technology in psychotherapy with children, under a new organization he has founded called Learningworksforkids.com. The development of the Learningworksforkids site is still in Beta, which means some parts of it are not yet complete. But as you look around the site, I think you will find there is a great deal of compelling information, and the promise of much more to come. Plus it’s partially about video games (the good ones, not the violent or inappropriate ones) so remember to have fun when you’re there.
I will be working with Dr. Kulman to develop clinical strategies for using digital technologies in psychotherapy. As our knowledge base on using digital technology in therapy grows, we will be providing education through the website, consulting, and public presentations. Our goal is to help both professionals and parents learn how to use digital technology to help children behaviorally and emotionally.
Here is a brief description of the therapy services I am offering for adults and children over age 3:
Cognitive and Psychodynamic Approaches I am well-versed in cognitive-behavioral techniques for improving mood and behavior, but I also like to help clients look a little deeper into themselves, to explore motivation and meaning. I have studied Carol S. Pearson’s work and have employed Pearson’s ideas and language to guide clients toward balance and empowerment in their lives.
Grief, Loss and Trauma Therapy for Children and Adults My work in trauma response for Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital means I have seen the full range of grief reactions to severe and sudden losses. I have also done psychotherapy with people struggling to recover from more subtle forms of grief, such as recurrent sadness over a failed marriage or emotional distress in dealing with illness or disability. In addition, I have a background in working with foster and adoptive children who have suffered severe neglect and trauma.
Digital Play Therapy and Executive Function Training There is a growing body of literature that suggests that some video games may be able to help children emotionally and behaviorally. In consultation with Dr. Kulman, I will be offering families therapeutic interventions which involve the use of digital technology when appropriate. For more on this, visit the Learningworksforkids.com website, particularly the section on executive functions.
Sexual Abuse Evaluation/Treatment Working as a Diagnostic Assessment Clinician for the Rhode Island courts gave me a basic background in sexual abuse evaluation. As a clinician for Bradley Hospital and Day One (formerly the Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center), I gained further experience in sexual abuse evaluation and treatment.
Referrals can be made by calling (401) 789-1553 during regular business hours. Currently, I have available appointment times on Wednesdays from 9 to 5 and and Thursdays from 3 to 9.