Monday, November 26, 2018

Bad Behavioral Contagion in Michigan: Legalized Recreational Marijuana!

November 24, 2018

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Bad Behavioral Contagion in Michigan: Legalized Recreational Marijuana!

I define Bad Behavioral Contagion as the spread of damaging behavior within a population via scientifically validated biological, social and psychological mechanisms (principles). To learn more about Behavioral Contagion, please use my search box.

 “Pure” Michigan (as the ads proclaim) has Just Legalized Recreational Marijuana.
In one great irrational and self-destructive act, it has lost its credibility as the so-called “pure state”.

The ungoverned chaos, mayhem, human suffering and financial losses that will now unfold in Michigan and surrounding states, in time, will be ruinous. The weight of legalized marijuana related tragedies will far exceed the revenues and pleasures so ignorantly, or selfishly anticipated by citizens, businesses and politicians.

I have written extensively about the many harms to the people in the states that have legalized Marijuana for recreation. I will not personally discuss all of that again in this particular blog.
Instead, now and in the future, I will publish more current reviews of these problems that are now poised to ravage the people of Michigan, my beloved once-home-state. The state in which virtually all of my relatives live and raise their children…the one I visit countless times every year.

I am deeply saddened over what what I know legal marijuana + alcohol + other available still illegal drugs could do to the people I love there; and will certainly do to thousands of other Michiganders who we all should care about.
The loss and pain, now poised to unfold, is a needless result of a short-sighted or deceitful, money motivated, massively self-destructive political act. This is radical liberalism on vivid display.

The following short article authoritatively warns about the very bad things that are happening to the citizens in other states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Although it does not provide citations to supporting research findings, they certainly exist and I have reviewed and referred to many of them in my past postings on this topic. 

From my data-based psychological perspective, legalized recreational marijuana in Michigan represents just one more, of many historically increasing avenues for bad behavioral contagion within America. 

The sum-total these an other accruing radical liberal cultural redesigns, stimulating bad behavioral contagion within our population, forecast very bad problems to come for everyone.
Without radical change, I fear we are witnessing the unfolding elements of America’s decline and failure.

Now please see one of my previous postings on this issue.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.
Health Services Provider in Psychology
Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Psychology with Dr. Tom: Specific Phobias.

Today’s assignment is to learn more about human Specific Phobias.

Specific Phobias can be effectively treated through Cognitive Behavior Therapy. However, successful treatment requires a motivated client who is willing to work hard and do homework assignments.

Please learn the DSM-5 definition of a Specific Phobia and then study more on the web page below. 

Notice that Phobias are irrational fears. From a practical perspective, if the fear does not interfere with living life effectively and gaining its important rewards, individuals are generally not motivated to undergo treatment.

"A specific phobia is an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, situation, or activity, or person. Usually, the fear is proportionally greater than the actual danger or threat. People with specific phobias are highly distressed about having the fear, and often will go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation in question. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the year-long community prevalence estimate for specific phobias is approximately 7%-9%."

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 4/29/18
Practicing Psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend

Monday, April 9, 2018

Men vs Women: No Difference? Ready to Laugh?!

Well, now I’m headed for trouble. Big trouble because this video does not just make fun of women…it nails us men too!

Don’t be silly, there are some great big differences between the sexes. And, I am not just referring to the obvious differences the ones that can get us all titillated!

Dr. Tom, 4/9/18

P.S., Thanks to buddy Vic Palenske for sending this to me. It is just too funny and true (for the most part), to not post.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spiritual Devotions for Peace of Mind

Spiritual Devotions for Peace of Mind

My wife and I have been reading from a daily devotion book and have found it to be very good food for the soul.

I want to recommend it to you because it appears to me to be "cognitive therapy" from God.

There are so many stressors in life that cause any one of us humans to suffer anxiety, anger, fear, and hopelessnes.

There are many ways to combate these bad and damaging feelings. The daily devotion book that I will now recommend to you is just one of the ways. The following is the citation for this wonderful book.

Jesus Calling: Devotions for Every Day of the Year, by Sarah Young
Published by Thomas Neslon, Inc., Nashville Tennessee

Dr. Tom

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Psychology of Separation and Divorce: Know and Limit The Damages!

The Psychology of Separation and Divorce: Know and Limit The Damages!

I have been in practice for 33 years and I have experienced well over 100 separations and divorces. I have worked with both the children and the adults involved. It is very difficult work. I will warn you that it is much more difficult to watch the damage of separation and divorce among the people you love and are emotionally attached to.

I will recommend that you do your best to avoid separation or divorce by entering therapy sessions with a skilled and experienced marriage counselor. I do not advise that you let serious relationship problems continue for long periods without resolution, thinking that they will not affect your children adversely. They most probably will be harmful to your children.

If a divorce or separation is inevitable, a good marriage counselor will be able to help you to minimize the damages to your children.

In all such matters maximizing benefits and minimizing harm to yourselves and to your children should be your main focus: Both in the short and in the long-run.

The following are some of the problems that occur when children are involved in separations or divorces. It is your responsibility to decide if any of these damaging events are happening within your own family and what you will do about them.

The Kids:

1. Kids often act-out to gain the attention they miss because parents are angry, depressed and withdrawn. Their bad behavior not only gets them attention, but it brings mom and dad together to solve the problems. This reinforces the kids’s bad behavior and often adds to the conflict between their parents. Things get worse.

2. They often obsessively immerse themselves in activities that take their minds of the misery that they see and feel in their home. Music, video games, friends, sex, drugs, rock and role, self-abuse, etc. (Much like adults do when they are depressed and anxious).

3. Each kid’s personality is different, so each is likely to develop their own unique problems. One may become hyper-involved in pleasing others, giving love and affection, trying to make others happy, taking responsibility for trying to stabilize things...being inauthentic. Another may just withdraw and become mute and emotionally blunted. Another may become the angry oppositional one. In rare cases, some will consider suicide. Children often suffer depression, school under- achievement, anger problems, concentration and memory problems. If they are being treated for ADHD, it is likely to grow worse and their medications may need to be adjusted. They may need counseling and medication for depression.

4. Many develop some method to escape the bad vibes or feelings in their house. They may stay away with friends, stay out after curfew, and in other ways withdraw and become unavailable.

5. Kids often take sides in parental conflict and this further damages them and the family, even after separation or divorce. They can become alienated from not only one, or both parents, but also from one set, or both sets of the grandparents, and other extended family members involved.

6. Kids sometimes become overly attached to one parent or both parents, at the expense of their own social and emotional development. They become the male or female nurse for a parent and their emotional care-taker.

7. When the father withdraws from the family, both sexes (but more often the boys) attempt to dominate the mother. This causes the father to take the role of the disciplinarian and then the parents frequently fight over the father’s more stronger disciplinary style. This teaches children how to get parents sidetracked into fights and gives greater control to the children. This can increase in severity until the that child or adolescent is thought to need to live with the father, or outside authorities need to become involved.

8. Once the separation or divorce has happened, kids frequently play one parent against the other to get what they want. This probably was already happening, but it can intensify after the split. Kids tend to take advantage of a lack of communication and the conflict problems between parents.

9. Kids often side with the parent who is the most fun, who’s rules are more lax, who have more money and who buys them more things, etc. Sounds bad, I know, but even good kids are naturally self-centered under some conditions.

10. They often request to live at the fun house and avoid the disciplined house. They may try to switch back and forth as the parents get tired of their actions and begin to clamp down on them.

11. Much of the damage done to children will only be seen in the future, when they enter their own relationships. Too often the psychological deficits present in their family of origin play-out like a video tape in their own new family lives. Sometimes the trauma of their parent’s problems cause them to be anxious and reticent about committing to solidify intimate relationships of their own.

All of these things either brings their parents together to cope with the problems (this can reinforce the problems and thereby worsen them) or it causes more conflict between everyone (this worsens the problems).

The parents:

1. Parents dealing with the stresses of a dysfunctional marriage often turn to drugs, sex, alcohol, gambling, or outside relationships, to emotionally cope (blunt, distract, escape or avoid) their distress.

2. Frequently a "third party" enters the equation. It can be an actual sexual affair or only an emotional attachment which involves a fantasy of how "wonderful it could be with someone else". An actual affair, or a fantasy, is devastating for several reasons. Nothing old and troubled can compare with new "love" and it is difficult for a troubled reality to compete with a fantasy. When an affair occurs individuals frequently emotionally invest heavily in it, because if they do not it is easy to feel it was a "cheap and unprincipled"to do. If they see it as "true love", "special", "legitimate", "wonderful" and "meant to be", it eases the conscience for many.

However, the facts are, these relationships, started during a troubled marriage, most often do not work out after the separation or divorce occurs. Approximate divorce rates are 50% for the first marriage, high 60's for the second and 74% for the third marriage.

Subsequent marriages (or cohabitations) are less likely to work than the first one, because adults commonly do not change what it is about themselves that contributed to the ruination of their past relationships. The additional strains of new step children, remaining responsibilities to their biological children, the new mate’s increasingly revealed imperfections, conflict with extended family members and unresolved ex-spouse/partner problems all contribute to these negative outcomes.

3. Separated or Divorced parents frequently bring new (or old) lovers into the lives of their children. Emotional attachments are formed between these individuals and the children and the children are again damaged when that relationship falls apart, which it is most likely to do.

Also, it is critical for parents to know that children are statistically at greater risk for sexual and physical abuse from step parents than from biological parents.

4. Parents often times vilify each other to their children. They can do this in very subtle ways by showing disdain, disgust, and other negative attitudes to their mate, or while making reference to them. Parents often tell their children the about the bad things the other has done. This "splits" the kids and can cause them to not only turn against the other parent, but also each other as they take sides in the conflict. When parent spit their anger and hatred through the children to their mate, it poisons the children. The outcome of all of this is now referred to as Parental Alienation Syndrom.

5. Parents can begin to use the children as their emotional support system, sharing physical and emotional intimacies that they should not. This burdens their children with adult problems and demands that they cannot understand, solve or meet. While many children do the best they can to take care of their parents it eventually takes its toll and can cause them to feel increasing anxiety, fear, worry, and a growing sense of incompetency.

6. When parents don’t communicate, they place their children in the role of the "go-between communicator" and peace-keeper or negotiator. In this role, no matter what the children do, they loose. They are forced to be a mouth-piece to try to keep peace and it never works. They are stressed to the max by being forced into this roll and this eventually shows in their own maladjustment.

7. Children are ego-centric by nature. So it is normal that when things go bad in their family that they will assume too much personal responsibility for the various problems. It may not be something that they readily admit to, but they often have negative judgements and feelings about themselves, as a result. This is another important reason to for the adults and children in troubled, separating, or divorcing families to get professional help.

8. Parents often develop negative attitudes toward the child or children who remind them the most of their mate. They may consciously or unconsciously mistreat that child as a result. They may also develop negative expectations of the child or children which then become reality, as a result.

9. Parents often purposefully mistreat a child because they think the child is an Ally of the other parent. In some cases, this may be true. But problems are compounded when a parent takes retribution on the child.

10. Parents often put their children in "no-win" situations by making them choose between one parent or the other ("Would you rather go with me or him/her"?; "How do you like my new boyfriend/girlfriend"?, etc.). No matter the choice, the child risks disappointing one or the other parent.

11. When separation or divorce happens each parent loses some, much, or nearly all of the practical support of the other ("help me", "do it", "get it", "fix it", "mow it", "shovel it, take it/me/ or them somewhere", etc.). This is a major stressor for both the adults and the children.

12. When separation or divorce happens, generally the female is the custodial parent. The female and the children then commonly experience an economic loss. This loss can "freeze" the children at a lower socioeconomic level, or cause them to drop into near poverty circumstances. All parties are hurt by the economic losses involved. Often, kids attach to new peers with lower expectations and values that do not lead to higher education and greater economic/social opportunities.

13. The recovery of damaged relationships between mates is often compounded by the fact that committing to work hard to improve their situation is inhibited by fear of failure. If a mate makes a commitment to try again to appreciate and give their love to their partner, their heart may again be broken and their hopes and dreams of a happy life together may again be dashed. These are normal fears and insecurities that often defeat individual’s motivation to save troubled marriages and families before serious efforts to do so even begin.

14. Most sadly, sometimes one or both adults are unable to bring themselves to make the difficult decision of ending their relationship, so they consciously or unconsciously increase the conflict in their relationship to greater and greater levels. This way they destroy what is left of their relationship without having ever to take responsibility for making the decision to do so in a rational manner.

Couples who go to an experienced therapist (experienced with both children and adults in marital stress), absolutely can resolve many issues, and live more happily than ever. It takes hard work and dedication, but the rewards are great. About 75 percent who do counseling report improved relationships and about 65 percent report significantly improved relationships.

I have also seen parents who separate, finally reconsider, and return to work-on and to improve their marriage, but it does not happen often.

I have also seen parents divorce, but in doing so, get counseling from a marriage counselor experienced with both adults and children. In doing so, they have minimized to the greatest extent possible, the damaging consequences of that outcome. Children are shaken and confused by the massive changes in their lives. They are afraid of what will come. It is important to sit with a professional and determine when and how you will discuss all that is happening with them. They need to have resolution even more than you do.

Whatever your outcome, I hope that you will seek experienced professional guidance together as you make your very big and difficult decisions and seek the best outcomes available for you and your loved ones.

God Bless,

Dr. Tom, 2/2/12

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Depression: An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

Depression: An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

October 31, 2011 by vtmawhinney
Depression: An Equal Opportunity: How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones From Depression
V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., Indiana University Professor Emeritus of Psychology
Behavioral Psychological Family Services

Why ProfessionalEvaluation and Treatment is Essential
There are many reasons why people suffering from depression need a professional evaluation and treatment. As we will discuss, the depressed person will be incapacitated in ways that impair their ability to maintain social, love, family, and vocational
relationships. It can also destroy their health. What is less obvious, however, is that depression is highly contagious. It negatively affects others who are in contact with the depressed person in many complex ways.

From a Pavlovian perspective, the damaging symptoms of depression are repeatedly associated with the depressed person’s image, voice, mannerisms and other actions. Depression is aversive (unpleasant) to others associated with the depressed person. So, over time, the presence of the depressed person causes negative feelings in those exposed to him or her; toward him or her…even if the depressed person is trying to change their ways. This is a big and dangerous disadvantage to try to overcome without help.

Depression can cause people to be intensely drawn to things that make them feel better. These are often the behaviors that lead to intense feelings (drugs, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, sexual and vicarious activities such as sports and pornography). Depression normally kills sexual desire for one’s partner. With major depression the sex drive is often one of the first things to go and it is one of the last to come back, but with proper treatment it can come back.

Depression affects family members because, while the depressed person is coping with depression and doing things that make them feel better, they often spend less and less time giving loving and caring support and involvement to their families. This not only affects the spouse, but the children feel it too, and they can all reflect this influence in bad ways. Spouses move away emotionally and children begin to do whatever it takes to gain the attention and support that they need from their unavailable and/or depressed parents. Often times children fail to gain attention using positive methods, so they begin to misbehave. Bad behavior in children usually will cause the depressed parent to “come out of their shell” with anger and punishment, often lashing out, out-of-proportion to the problem. Children would rather be abused than ignored, so they behave badly more and the depressed parent abuses more and this becomes a vicious destructive downward cycle (declining grades, dropping-out of school and sports, drugs, delinquent behavior, and alienation from parents). Many of these problems relate to operant conditioning. For example, depressed parents may spend a lot of time criticizing and yelling at their children’s bad behavior. They often think they are “punishing” the behavior when they are actually positively reinforcing it. In this way, parents often teach their children to do the bad behaviors they wish to diminish.

Parents are strong models for children to imitate. All of the depressed symptoms that a parent shows are in great danger of being imitated by them (anger, withdrawal, addictions, excitement craving, etc.)

The problems that are worsened in children as a result of parental depression then increase the level of stress on the marriage in the form of further arguments about child related problems. If the depressed person overreacts in discipline it is common for the other parent to become a protector rather than a partner in sensible discipline strategies. This resultsin more arguing/fighting between the parents. The children often then learn that when there is fighting between theparents, they are in charge and not the parents. It can become an unconscious, or a conscious, strategy that children can over-learn as a way to divide and neutralize parental authority and gain their own forms immature and destructive control in these situations. Kids are not evil. Even normal, formerly well-behaved children, can quickly learn to exploit the weaknesses cause by parental depression. All of this further poisons the marriage.

If untreated, this very complicated depression contagion can destroy relationships. Sadly, and
mistakenly, the people involved simply think they have “fallen out of love” with each other. Most often, they did not fall out of love! Depression destroyed the feelings of love that they once had for each other. It is a tragedy that, for some, this relationship damage can get to the point-of-no-return pretty quickly.

With the rapid detection of depression and effective treatment, the destruction of families can be avoided.
With hard work and dedication, even badly damaged families can recover.

Depression can destroy health

The corticosteroids associated with chronic stress (relationships, work or the lack of work, financial problems and the economy, etc.) eat up norepinephrine and serotonin which, when low, appear to lead to symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, corticosteroids, when present in increased amounts for long periods of time then also weaken the immune system. This lays the depressed individual open to nagging sickness and perhaps even the bigger health problems (heart disease and cancer, etc.). Also, the many bad feelings and bad social and vocational outcomes associated with depression can lead to suicidal thinking and actions. Depression which derives from chronic stress and resulting chemistry changes in one’s body qualifies as a disease. It is a host of fundamental biological changes that destroy the health and/or welfare of the person who has it, and through social interaction, these damaging influences are passed on to those around them. For this reason it is appropriate to call depression contagious, whether it is a learned behavior pattern or a biochemical disease.

Fortunately, Depression is a Very Treatable Disease.
The facts are that there are several things that people can do to help themselves with mild to moderate depression (exercise, eating right, reducing stress, avoiding drugs and alcohol, relaxation/meditation, and thinking positive, etc), but with major depression medication is a very important ingredient to success. Try as they may most people in a deep clinical depression simply cannot pull themselves out of it. They may come-out of it naturally after an extended
time, but by then they often have done great damage to their family, friends, and vocations because of their failure to attack and manage their depression. No matter how strong the depressed person is, their spouse, children and others may not be able to “ride out the storm”.

For those who will make war on their depression and attack it with all of their might, and with medical technology if necessary, there is reason to hope for a good outcome.

There are several kinds of depression but they have many symptoms in common. It is very important that you learn to recognize what depression looks like in yourself and others and to understand how it feels to be depressed. The benefits of this knowledge to you and your loved ones will be many:

You can identify basic early warning signs in yourself and loved ones and catch depression before it damages
precious relationships.

You can be more understanding and supportive of those who suffer from depression.
You will know the reasons why it is important to get professional assistance early when depression

You will know some of the things to say to help people overcome their reluctance to get professional help for
their depression.

You may be able to prevent educational failure, job loss, or the destruction of a marriage or other loving
relationships caused by depression.

You may be able to prevent the problems of drug or alcohol abuse (or other addictions) that are often
associated with depression.

You may be able to prevent the child and adolescent problems associated with parental depression such as
oppositional/ defiant behavior, school under-achievement and discipline problems, dropping out, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual acting out, juvenile delinquency, child/adolescent depression, and suicidal thinking or actions.

You may be able to prevent a suicide and the damage that it can cause within families, through

Depression is highly contagious. You may be able to prevent the spread of the negative effects of
your depression to family members and other loved ones.

Sooner or later, you will need this information for yourself, a loved one or a friend. This knowledge is an essential tool for success in modern life.

It is a fact that around the world, in all developing societies, depression and anxiety disorders are increasing in rate of occurrence. Researchers speculate that causes may be increasing population density, mobility, the complex demands of living with technology, the splitting up of families, and more. Whatever the factors are, increasing rates of depression in our lives is a fact of life and to know its signs and what to do about it is a modern-life survival tool that we all need to have.

The Symptoms of Depression in Adults

There are many symptoms of depression and an individual may not show all of the symptoms at any one time. Furthermore, the symptoms among adults can be different from those of adolescents. To complicate things further, the symptoms of adolescents can differ from those of younger children.
It is important to understand that while the symptoms that follow may indicate depression, other physical and psychological disorders can produce some of these symptoms. Therefore, when any of the following symptoms occur with a significant duration or magnitude to cause problems in coping and living, it is essential to obtain a medical examination. If there are no medical problems, or if medical problems are treated but the symptoms of depression persist, I recommend that a Ph.D. level psychologist skilled in Behavior Therapy be consulted for an assessment and possible treatment.  Significantly diminished energy, low motivation. feeling weak and tired
  • Changed sleep patterns: trouble going to sleep, frequent awakening, waking-up in the early morning hours
  • Poor memory, concentration problems
  • Slow, fuzzy or confused thinking
  • Compulsive over-eating with significant weight gain or loss of appetite and significant weight loss
  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness
  • Loss of ability to feel pleasure
  • Social withdrawal/isolation
  • Defensive, peevish, irritable, argumentative
  • Increased temper displays, emotional blow-ups or outbursts
  • Increased anxiety
  • Excessive worry
  • Feelings of guilt, feelings of worthlessness
  • Blaming othersIncreased physical ills (Ill feelings, head aches, back aches, other pains or physical problems)
  • Loss of patience
  • Hopelessness
  • Tearfulness
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide plans or attempts
  • Marital problems
The bright side!

Depression is one of the most common and easily treated problems. It normally takes several weeks to feel the good effects. Sometimes people begin to feel better right away. This can occur when the depressed person defines their problem clearly, develops a plan to attack it, and then enacts the plan. When the good effects come they normally are:
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Better memory and concentration
  • Clearer thinking
  • Reduction in over-eating (if that is the problem) or an increase in appetite if that is the problem.
  • More smiles and laughter
  • Less temper displays- fewer blow-ups or outbursts
  • Less anxiety
  • More confidence, relief from feelings of worthlessness
  • Fewer feelings of guilt
  • Less blaming others
  • Fewer bodily ills (head
    aches, other pains)
  • Greater patience
  • Less petty bickering, less blaming others
  • Thoughts of suicide diminish, or disappear (if they were there)
  • More comfortable with self-inspection and self-correction
  • If marriage counseling is needed to recover from the effects of one or two parents in a family becoming depressed, medication normally significantly increases the probability of success.
  • More feelings of affection and understanding towards others
Close to 70% of those who take medication report significant improvement in their symptoms. For those that do not, a different medication (there are many) will normally be helpful.
Individuals usually benefit from 6 mo. to one-year of medication assistance, after which (if they are fortunate) they may never need the medication again. A small percent of depressed individuals may need to be on medication for the rest of
their lives.

When Medication Is Needed, It Should Be Combined With Therapy
Medication alone can be helpful. But, medication plus counseling by a good therapist
increases the odds of a good outcome even more substantially
Counseling in the form of Cognitive Therapy is very effective. It is focused upon how to behave and think in ways that diminish depression, how to repair damages cause by depression, how to avoid future depressions, how to see them coming, and how to respond correctly if and
when depression ever threatens again.

Get help with your depression or that of your loved ones.

For Those With Depression, There Are Good Reasons To Hope That The Best Is Yet To Come!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Narcissism Epidemic in America?

A Narcissism Epidemic in America?

A friend recently loaned me the book “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement”, By Jean M Twenge, Ph.D. and W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D. This 2009 book was published by the Free Press, New York, NY.

As a practicing psychologist, I was interested in this book, the title of which fits with my experience as an observer of American Culture and as a behavior therapist. I know, all too intimately, the havoc wreaked in society and its families by the human behavior patterns called Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I also recall my last fifteen years as a professor dealing with the deteriorating quality of student academic performance and behavior. Increasingly, I felt like I was teaching high school classes. Discipline problems in the form of students flirting and talking with each other; disruptive late arrivals and early departures; cell phone shenanigans; students not studying and then being sullen or angry about poor grades. It became necessary to develop a course point bonus and loss system in order to manage my larger classes. With rare exception, smaller and more advanced classes remained a joy to teach. I truly miss the challenge and excitement of these advanced classes. I am delighted to no longer have to deal with the increasing proportions of the disrespectful, self-centered, irresponsible narcissistic-like ”riff-raff” in my larger service classes.

It is critical to understand the definition Narcissism. If you think that what follows is an “academic” exercise, you are wrong. You really need to be able to identify these behaviors patterns. If you are unlucky enough to get involved with a narcissistic personality disordered individual in business or your personal life, you will suffer in ways that most non-professionals are unable to imagine. When it comes to human relationships: Caveat Emptor (Let the buyer beware).

There is no better source for the definition than the following:

Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need
for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in
a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g.,
exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior
without commensurate achievements)

(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be
understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable
expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his
or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage
of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify
with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are
envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or

From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth Edition. Copyright 1994, American Psychiatric Association.

The book, Narcissism Epidemic, provides credible research evidence that narcissistic personality patterns have increased within America’s population at an accelerating rate.

From my own perspective, this book provides a ton of anecdotal evidence in its attempt to illustrate the rise of narcissism in America. If this was the only support for their argument, its believability would suffer. However, the authors also provide a sufficient amount of research evidence to make their case and the abundance of anecdotes simply underscore the validity of their own and other’s research findings.

However, I have one area of respectful disagreement with authors Twenge and Campbell. They explain that insecurity, low-self-esteem, or a “deep-seated sense of shame”, as a cause for what has traditionally been called narcissistic Personality Disorder is wrong. Instead, they argue that such behavior patterns are taught through over-indulgent, worshipful, and effusively non-contingently praising parenting styles. In my professional experience, both of these general avenues can lead to the formation of narcissistic behavior patterns. I have seen strong narcissism in too many neglected, abandoned and abused individuals to reject these experiences as contributing causes.

The following is a very good summary of the main points of the book, “The Narcissism Epidemic”.

Please take the time to learn about this reflection of, and contribution to, America’s decline. Learn what the contributing factors appear to be and then, behave accordingly!

Dr. Tom