We all are heartsick over the terrible news about the death of beloved actor/comedian, Robin Williams. A popular icon in America, Williams was loved by so many fans and his death by suicide is simply devastating.
I remember when I was very young and an actor that I liked committed suicide. At the top of his popularity on the hit show “Alias Smith and Jones”, Pete Duel took his life on the morning of New Year’s Eve, 1971. It was my first experience of “knowing” someone who took his own life and it deeply affected me.
As we head toward the end of July, the month in which we celebrate our independence as a nation, I keep reflecting on the idea of freedom…and how messed up our concept of it has become. Most of us would probably agree that if our founding fathers were to return to America today, they would be rather shocked and disgusted. Is this what they shed their blood for?!
Freedom has become gravely misunderstood these days as license- the right to do whatever the heck we feel like doing.
It’s summer, and the big questions I hear from patients are: What sunscreen do I use? Should I wear a hat or should I stay out of the sun completely?
My answer: “ It depends”
On what?, they ask. Lots of things: Genetics, history of skin cancer, diet, time of day etc...
Here is my professional opinion on sun exposure. YOU NEED IT! Everybody needs it.
I had to chuckle during a session recently. My poor client recounted a horrifying “vacation” with family. An over-controlling mother, tension with the step father and a fussy baby transformed a one week vacation into 3 weeks off purgatory. Ok, I didn’t really chuckle out loud, but inwardly I could really relate. Been there. Done that. Not fun.
When summer vacation or holidays come around, and especially for those who have families in other states, it’s often expected to spend your vacation time visiting them…or having them visit you. Seems logical.
Most Christians believe that God can heal those who are suffering physical or emotional illness or spiritual pain. Many of us have seen miracles happen. We have seen people recover from end stage cancer, overcome drug and alcohol addictions, survive shark attacks or weeks stranded in the wilderness. Miracles happen every single day.
But we also recognize that not everyone heals in the way they may be praying for. Yes, God does hear and answer our prayers but in His time and according to His will. Scripture tells us that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord. My step dad died slowly of a painful cancer. His faith was stronger than any one else I know and yet God didn’t “cure” him.
Let’s face it, not all parents are perfect and some fall very short of that mark. In our dysfunctional world, many people today have come from homes of abuse and extreme neglect. In striving to be good Christians, many struggle with this commandment.
So, let’s take a closer look. Can we honor parents who constantly hurt or abuse us? The answer is yes- but with qualifications.
In Luke’s Gospel we hear of the “good” Samaritan, the kind soul who helps the man beaten by robbers and left for dead at the side of the road. In stark contrast, the priest and Levite walkaway,even crossing to the other side of the street to avoid confronting this reality.
We’re told this “good” Samaritan was “moved with compassion” upon seeing this man. In turn this led to him taking the action that Jesus praised. I think there is an insight often overlooked in this story. The teaching of two eminent Catholic psychiatrists, Dr. Anna Terruwe and Dr. Conrad Baars help us to appreciate this parable in another light.
“The whole genome SNP analysis detected an interstitial duplication of the chromosomal segment listed above.”
This was the first line of a very complicated report on genetic testing for my daughter, Johanna. This was not an email I wanted to read before Iʼve had my cup of coffee. Recently, I was in a discussion with the geneticist who ordered these tests. As he rattled off terms like those in the sentence above, I bit my tongue not to say; “Itʼs all Greek to me.” This renowned doctor is Greek, so I didnʼt think the expression would impress him.
The American Medical Association recently declared obesity to be a disease. I'm sure this will spark a firestorm of debate pro and con. But it occurs to me that if we're to consider the disease aspect of obesity we should probably seek to understand it as an injury as well. Think of it...with nefarious food additives, hidden transfats and fake diet foods touting low fat but substituting sugar...or worse yet, high fructose corn syrup, one could make the case that obesity is a deliberately inflicted injury on a gullible and unsuspecting public.
When we get hit with big life changes or heavy emotional challenges, the tendency to get caught up in them is very natural. We have a need to talk about things…to vent and to make sense of the situation. Sometimes we’re looking for a glimmer of hope, other times we want validation for the strong emotions we’re feeling. Venting and talking things through can be essential for us to cope and find eventual closure. But let me give you a few ground rules that can help keep the process healthy.