MENTAL ILLNESS IS ALIVE AND THRIVING, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

In the late sixties and early seventies, an amazing thing happened. It was like a warm, feel-good tsunami that spread across all 48 contiguous states.

The eerie, ghost-filled state mental hospitals were all being shuttered and the patients were set to return to live in their own communities and treated as outpatients at community mental health centers. They were scheduled to see psychiatrists and therapists to help them adjust to life outside a hospital and to live normal productive lives. Being locked up and treated like a “crazy person” was to be a thing of the past.

Well, it all started out great. The cities and states were given huge amounts of federal funds to rehabilitate facilities, hire doctors and therapists, and close down the state hospitals. Three years later when I finished my psychiatric residency and went into private practice, I got a part-time job at a community mental health center outside of Philadelphia. It was a charming rehabilitated private home with a staff of about a dozen professionals. We treated hundreds of patients, made home visits and helped a lot of mentally ill people.

Fast forward fifty years.

The government decided to save money and reduce mental health funding. Whoops. Someone forgot that we no longer have state hospitals. Whoops again. No one took the time to predict where this would lead.

Well, it led to chaos. There are now over 40,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County alone. At least 15,000 of them are mentally ill.

Once a week, a large hazmat crew dressed in white protective gear, disinfects large areas of the Venice ocean walk and other popular mentally ill habitats in and around LA. The streets smell of waste material and everyone is placed in jeopardy from infections. Think 50 states and think of the thousands of mentally ill who roam in our midst. Many of these people are treatable…

The warm tsunami has turned into a cold, bacterial filled avalanche. Now it will take billions of dollars to house and treat these people, who by no fault of their own are mentally ill.

The good news is that a tax bill just passed designating billions of dollars to solve this problem. The bad news is that communities understandably don’t want the mentally ill housed in THEIR neighborhoods.

The answer… Build new state hospitals on the VA grounds that will combine the old and the new — a safe place to treat the mentally ill using our new medications and newly developed methods to teach social skills. This would be in an environment filled with warmth and loving feelings. Then, when patients are more capable and mentally stable, they can be moved to a more independent facility (Also on the VA grounds). That’s where job training and the possibility of eventual treatment in a community mental health center will become available.

Full circle from the seventies, but this time, each stage of mental illness will be carefully delineated and supported.

I’d donate my time and efforts to a place like this…

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks. Also, please visit Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist — mystery and romance meets psychology.

 

 

 

Posted in Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

BUY ART SMUKLER; YOU’LL LOSE 15 LBS AND FALL IN LOVE, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Since I started my “book store” I thought a reprise was in order…

All through college and part of med-school, I sold battery cables, ignition wire-sets and jumper cables. I loaded up the trunk of my car with hundreds of feet of cables and hawked them to gas stations and small auto accessory stores.

“Buy a dozen battery cables and I’ll throw in two packages of wire-sets. Plus I’ll give you 20% off,” I’d say, standing under a leaking auto chassis with a sweating mechanic.
“Are dees any good?” one brawny station owner asked.
“They’re great,” I answered. My father had a small factory and made them. They were actually quite good.
“Oh yeah?” He took a jumper cable, held one end in his huge fist and the large clip in the other fist. He grunted, and ripped the large clip off the end of the cable wire.
“What?” I yelled.
“I want 25% off and I’ll buy three dozen cables in all sizes.”

I nodded, ran to the trunk, and made my biggest sale of the week.

Somehow, my life as an author/psychiatrist has gone backwards. Now, instead of selling battery cables, I’m selling Art Smukler and his books. It’s a little weird. Maybe if I were Smuckers Jelly it would be less weird. Maybe not.
On the other hand, Art Smukler is a good product. If you pull hard enough the ends might come off, but they can be re-attached.
Will you lose 15 lbs? Maybe, if you deal with your mother and improve your relationship with your kids. Will you fall in love? Absolutely. Just read Chasing Backwards. If you don’t fall in love with Joe Belmont, you’ll fall in love with Karen Levine.
Plus, I’ll throw in 2 dozen blog posts!

Books can be purchased from the trunk of my car, not really…

AMAZON KINDLE, IBooks and https://artsmuklermd.com/

To find my book store, Inside the mind of a Psychiatrist – mystery & romance meet psychology, go to Facebook and enter, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist – mystery & romance meet psychology@artsmukler

Thank You!

Posted in CHASING BACKWARDS, a psychological murder mystery, Psychiatry, Self Examination, Skin Dance, a mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WHY DOES 1/3 OF OUR NATION STILL SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP? Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

In my last post, a number of followers soundly disagreed with my criticism of Donald Trump. Some disagreements came from groups that I belong to, and some from blog followers. Many of the comments focused on how Hillary and Obama are both liars; others focused on how I am out of touch with what is happening out there in the real world and am simply another left-leaning liberal. All the negative comments came from bright, articulate people.

Criticism isn’t fun, but part of my job as a psychiatrist is to really listen and do my best to set my own beliefs and prejudicial thinking aside. It’s also what I try to do when I’m just hanging out and living my life.

So; here’s what I think and why I think it.

Recently, I travelled down south and had the opportunity to visit Memphis, Tennessee and Natchez, Mississippi. Two things struck me. ONE: There are no jobs outside of the tourist industry! People are sick with worry about how to support themselves. TWO: The Bass-pro-sport hotel devoted to hunting and outdoor sports in Memphis is amazing. Shooting ranges, little ponds with boats on them and a whole indoor forest of trees would make most anyone consider learning how to shoot a gun. The NRA is VERY POWERFUL. The lure of the outdoors and our “call-of-the-wild” roots is alive and strong.

Survival and passion are deep-rooted and for most people inviolate. Donald Trump heard these people and his words reverberated. A pro-business and pro-NRA president is what they believe in and are willing to fight for.

Also, there are millions of people who absolutely hate the Clintons and the Obamas. They fear that Hillary’s lies about Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation are examples of who she is as a person, and that Obama’s negative stance on Israel was a horrible mistake and would be repeated by Clinton.

They felt and still feel that Trump will help business and his shaking up of Washington is a good thing.

I agree that we need change.

Please consider that the way Trump is handling security, his impulsive behavior and arrogant, omnipotent views are very dangerous for us as a nation. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with Clinton or Obama. It only means that you observe that the current person, Donald Trump, who was elected to foster change is not going about it in an adult manner. He is endangering our country by his belief that he knows more than our intelligence agencies and military. He said these things — They are not fake news.

Thank you for reading my blog and offering your comments.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Bullying, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

THE PRESIDENT AND HIS PREY: Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Donald Trump’s greatest skill is destroying his enemies and competitors. He has an uncanny ability to intuit a person’s weakness and do whatever is necessary to destroy him (or her).

He brings to mind the sense of smell that dogs and other carnivorous mammals have — 1 million to a thousand million times greater than humans have. Think bomb smelling and drug smelling dogs.

We have a president who has the ability to decipher an opponent’s weakness and then go in for the kill — name calling, devaluing or outright bullying. He’s really a winner at what he does because he lacks what most of us have — a conscience.

His lies and clever smoke screens are better than most of us can muster because he doesn’t feel guilt or the sense of responsibility that honesty demands.

What’s the answer? It’s the same answer that a deceived spouse acts upon quite often — if a spouse constantly lies and is incapable of change, divorce him.

How can the American people divorce a president who has no respect for the truth; who attacks people at a whim, including heads-of-state?

If our elected officials don’t do what they should, we need to speak out until they finally listen. It happened with the Vietnam Nam war and Richard Nixon’s lies and there is no rational reason it can’t happen now.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Bullying, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, Uncategorized, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

LESSONS FROM THE CHAIN GANG, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Recently, I decided to clean up and reorganize our backyard. We have a number of 50-year-old Spanish clay pots that were left by the previous owners and were sitting in the wrong places. Some of the pots easily weighed a few hundred pounds.

I did what any self-respecting psychiatrist-homeowner would do and called a half-dozen nurseries in the area. I explained the problem and most said they just didn’t come out to move pots. The one that said they could do it, wanted to charge enough for a weekend at a fancy hotel. So, the next morning I decided to do it myself.

First, I had to empty out all the pots. We’re talking about pots that stand over 4 feet high and 3 feet wide and filled with soil so old and hard that it felt like cement. Then I had to carefully move the empty pots, that still easily weighed over a hundred pounds, to their new location. It took almost two days of hard physical labor. A lot of shoveling, lifting, sweating and grunting.

Why does any of this matter? Gardeners do it every day.

Well I don’t. I sit in an office exercising my brain. This was the first time in many years, that I did this kind of work.

It brought to mind my teen years and the many hours I spent working for my Uncle Bill in his auto accessory store. I was assigned to the “chain gang” in the dank basement, where I put together heavy links of chain to make snow chains. Hour after hour I’d work alone, measuring, hauling boxes of uncut metal chain, and cutting and crimping them together. Sweating and cursing to myself I’d work hard, knowing I’d be paid at the end of the day and would always have a hot lunch with the other workers, hosted by my uncle at the neighborhood Puerto Rican restaurant.

Then I’d return to the basement and the chains, wondering what my lot in life would be. Would I be doing this forever? What was going to happen to me when I grew up?

Well, sweating outside in my own garden brought back these poignant memories. I miss my Uncle Bill. I appreciate all the opportunities he gave me to learn the value of hard work and how it would help me for the rest of my life. I miss how he would sometimes come down to the basement, look at what I’d accomplished, and smile.

When parents don’t give their children the opportunity to work hard and earn their way, but just give and give without value for value, they aren’t helping. In fact they are creating a person who often turns into an entitled, selfish individual. Hard work for fair pay should be the rule rather than the exception. Lunches should be earned.

I was also very fortunate that my uncle wasn’t simply a nice guy. He was also someone who enjoyed listening and doing his best to be helpful. He rewarded hard work with respect and love. I didn’t have the wisdom back then to appreciate him, but now I do.

It helped me raise my own family and become a good psychiatrist.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Psychiatry, Raising Children, Self Examination, Uncle Bill's Place | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

ASK NICELY AND DON’T INTERRUPT ANYONE, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

This morning I took a bike ride and stopped for coffee at Starbucks. In the spirit of full disclosure I do own stock in Starbucks. Also in the same spirit, not nearly enough. So, I was sitting having coffee and reading the morning news when a 9-year-old (maybe 7 or 8, they grow them big in California), ran over and asked one of the moms something.

Being a psychiatrist I used all my intuitive skills and figured out that the three boys at the next table belonged to the three women sitting next to me.

The mom said, “Ask nicely and don’t interrupt anyone.”
The little boy nodded and ran over to ask the barista for whatever he wanted. My psychiatric skills didn’t include deciphering what the little boy whispered in his mother’s ear.

A while later, as I stood up to leave, I said to the mom who gave her son the kind advice, “Sorry to interrupt, but I couldn’t help but hear you say to your son, ‘Ask nicely, and don’t interrupt anyone’. I wish you were Donald Trump’s mother.”
The three moms laughed. Maybe I should have been a stand-up comedian… The mom I spoke to said, “Me too. Thank you for saying that to me.” I smiled and we all waved goodbye.

I got on my bike and pedaled home.

Some of Trump’s ideas, which I won’t AGAIN belabor, are not all bad. His behavior and the way he talks to people and about people is abominable.

Ten billion dollars can’t buy a person sensitivity to others or the ability to put our nation before his own need to inflate himself. How much hot air does it take before he explodes?

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Bullying, CHASING BACKWARDS, a psychological murder mystery, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, Skin Dance, a mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

DONALD TRUMP IS A LOSER, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

DONALD TRUMP IS A LOSER

Donald Trump is the president of the United States. These are his current accomplishments.

Millions of women from all over the country and world find his attitude and style deplorable. Misogynism, sexism and bigotry are not what they want in a person, much less a president. They marched in every major city in the country to express their powerful feelings that would give them equal rights with men in the market place, pro-choice and the right to not be personally and sexually exploited.

Trump is on the verge of making the US the largest country in the world to sabotage climate control. His rationale is that his way will lower production costs and produce more jobs. Short term gain versus long term planet disaster.

Trump will cost the country billions of dollars to treat and care for millions of unwanted children who will be born, because of his war on Planned Parenthood.

Name calling and branding competitors is Trump’s forte. All ready our children and fellow Americans think it’s fine to disrespect anyone who opposes them. The president does it, why can’t we?

Trump teaches ethics by example. Your investors can lose money, but you always need to make sure to protect yourself. Think Atlantic City.

Trump doesn’t pay income taxes. Why? Because he can.

Trump praises Putin. What better way to identify yourself as a fellow monarch? Democracy is for weaklings.

If Trump doesn’t win his point, he never graciously accepts defeat. He keeps doubling down. If he still doesn’t get what he wants, he has all his stooges lie and change the facts. Welcome to alternate reality.

The president isn’t helping the people of our country come together and fix the many things that need repair. He is really only interested in proving how smart and clever he is.

He has great ideas about repairing taxes, protecting our borders, battling terrorism, improving international trade and maybe even the Middle East. But, he’s too busy trying to get us all to think that he’s a winner instead of trying to really help the people of this country. It is a sad state that as of this moment…

Donald Trump is a LOSER.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in Psychiatry | 7 Comments

IS THE LEADERSHIP OF THE UNITED STATES CRAZY, GREEDY OR JUST INEPT? Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

I love reading and writing mysteries. I also love reading espionage novels. Fellow aficionados can attest to one overriding theme that all espionage writers seem to share. It is a full out war between the acronyms. CIA, FBI, DOD, NSA, Homeland Security, and whatever letters none of us know about.

The storyline in the novel often goes something like this… The hero has been lied to by his own acronym and is out their alone in the cold as the acronym tries to destroy him. Out of necessity and love-of-country, he and his new love-interest try to avoid capture/execution and still save us from the foreign despots who are trying to destroy the United States.

You might understandably say, that’s fiction! Why wouldn’t the acronyms share information and focus on the real villains? A very reasonable assumption, but if you read my last post “Fiction is the Ultimate Truth”, you can see where I’m going with this. The novel is an opportunity for writers with a deep knowledge of a subject to have his/her character tell us what really goes on in the clandestine services. It may even be more accurate than “factual” papers written by people who are afraid to be politically incorrect and fired or reprimanded by the chief of service or even the president (Now that Trump will be in charge).

Okay, be skeptical, but let’s examine the facts.

The CIA got it entirely wrong that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Based on that erroneous information, we invaded Iraq and destabilized the Middle East. HOW? Was there pressure exerted by the White House?

George W. Bush was known to follow the advice of Dick Cheney, who was the chief executive of Halliburton before running for vice president. While Cheney was VP, Halliburton rose to become the seventh-largest military contractor. During the time that Cheney was in office, he actually received 2 million dollars in deferred compensation from Halliburton. Was there even more?

James Comey, formerly a REPUBLICAN, the Director of the FBI, released information about the democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, that probably helped Trump get elected –just weeks before the election!

Donald Trump attacked the entire intelligence community for releasing an unverified report containing salacious allegations about him, that Russia allegedly hacked, to the media.

All the acronyms agree that Russia has been hacking the US data systems, especially the DNC, and that the United States is extremely vulnerable. BUT, Donald Trump has publicly stated that he doesn’t believe it. THE PRESIDENT ELECT DENIES ANY FACTS OFFERED BY ALL OUR INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES.

Donald Trump still won’t release his tax reports, and in essence has not divested himself of his vast holdings. No one in congress is really doing anything about this. How can the leader of the free world not financially benefit from the day-to-day decisions that the chief executive has to make?

Donald Trump has called most of his republican competitors devaluing names, yet they now support him.

Donald Trump attacked John McCain’s years of being a POW. “I like winners, not losers.” Yet dozens of high level military personnel support him.

We call China one country, yet deal with mainland China and Taiwan all the time and pretend that Taiwan is not also China.

When the Iran nuclear deal was consummated, no one made it part of the contract that Iran openly state that our very important ally Israel has the right to exist. We just ignored the fact that Iran continues to support Hezbollah, Lebanon and Syria, all of which are committed to the destruction of Israel.

This is crazy! Right?

But, maybe there are ulterior motives — financial or political.

The motives certainly don’t seem altruistic.

Are they criminal?

We all need to be involved and educated about what’s happening in our country and our world. Ignoring the facts is dangerous. Pretending our leaders are doing a good job is craziness on our part.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in CHASING BACKWARDS, a psychological murder mystery, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, Skin Dance, a mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, World events, a psychological view, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

FICTION IS THE ULTIMATE TRUTH, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Fiction is the ultimate truth.

Characters that can show us who we really are, and help us get through the dark and lonely times, are truly our friends.

A great writer does more than just tell a story. He creates characters that make the reader care. Holden Caulfield, Jack Reacher, Rabbit Angstrom… We stay up late worrying about them, thinking about their dilemmas, comparing what we would do in similar circumstances.

In Chasing Backwards and Skin Dance, you will meet two of my favorite characters in the world, Joe Belmont, a 1st year medical student, and Jake Robb MD, a psychiatrist. Well, I did give birth to both of them. You didn’t know that all writers have a uterus?

Nevertheless, like all of us, both my sons have their flaws. But, they have one common characteristic that I’ve always admired, they never give up. Whatever the odds — killers, psychosis, lost loves — they do what they have to do, to survive, and do the right thing.

In The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, you will meet me, Art Smukler, as a 1st year psychiatric resident, struggling to understand how to treat a dangerous psychotic patient and what it’s really like to become a psychiatrist.

Dr. Smukler has won the prestigious Golden Ear Award for excellence in teaching at Harbor-UCLA Medical center and excellence in writing fiction at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in CHASING BACKWARDS, a psychological murder mystery, Childhood Trauma, Psychiatry, Self Examination, Skin Dance, a mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear | 5 Comments

IF ONLY OUR GOVERNMENT HAD SPOKEN TO 14-year-old ZAC BEFORE THEY INVADED IRAQ, ISIS MIGHT NOT EXIST, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Recently, I had the pleasure of going to a JV soccer game in Connecticut. One of the starters on the JV team was Zac, a ninth grader. Zac was the starting center defenseman.

Not knowing much about soccer, I noticed that the mid-fielders (Bend it like Beckham) and the forwards seemed much more active. Zac, even though he’s a really fast runner and an excellent athlete, was only involved in about a dozen plays.

I asked him if he was interested in changing positions, because it seemed like the other players got more of a chance to be in the thick of the action.

He answered, “I really like my position.”

“How come,” I asked.

“It gives me a chance to see the whole field, how everything is evolving. I like that. Often, I can predict what’s going to happen.”

“You don’t seem to get the ball much,” I said.

“”I’m not supposed to. If everyone does his job, I shouldn’t get it. I’m the last resort.”

“Wow,” I said with a nod. “It seems like chess.”

“It is,” he said, and went back to reading his latest novel.

You might already see where I’m going with this.

Back when George W. Bush authorized the US invasion of Iraq, did anyone bother to get the whole picture or even ask the elder Bush’s opinion? (He knew enough to not invade Baghdad). So, we conquered Iraq, a Sunni controlled nation, and eventually executed Sadaam Hussein. Iran, a Shiite nation, must have been ecstatic. After years of having an Iraq/Iran power balance, we basically handed Iraq over to Iran. Maliki, a Shiite, and the Iraqi prime minister, was really a pawn of Iran. When he took vengeance and started murdering the now out-of-power Sunni population, they became desperate and turned to what is now ISIS. They didn’t want to be slaughtered.

This was all predictable.

Seeing the whole field before making a move is called wisdom.

We needed you Zac.

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

Posted in CHASING BACKWARDS, a psychological murder mystery, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, Skin Dance, a mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments