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

CAN WRITERS EVER BE FAILURES? by Art Smukler, author and psychiatrist

I just finished one more re-write of my fourth novel, The Search for Macaulay Harris. It’s a great book and it’s now ready to send out to a literary agent. Maybe…

One agent, Kristin Nelson, had some very supportive and somewhat comforting information on her site. She said that getting a first novel published and having it be a blockbuster is 99% fantasy. She implied that maybe the fourth novel might just hit the sweet spot. Four! I like that number.

As all writers know, writing a novel can be grueling. Years of spending a lot of time with our own thoughts can drive even the strongest among us to feelings of despair. And, what if the thoughts are only wonderful in our own minds?

A year or so ago I attended a lecture by Fareed Zakaria, the well-known educator and commentator. He shared some details of an interview he did with Sara Blakely, the self-made billionaire developer of Spanx, the must-have underwear for women.

Ms. Blakely attributed her success to her father. Once a week he would ask Sara, “What did you fail at this week?”

“Daddy, why do you keep asking that? I didn’t fail at anything!” Sara said, a puzzled expression on her face.

“I want you to live up to your full potential. If you only try safe things and are afraid to fail, how can you grow and improve?”

So one day, Sara told her father about something that she tried and how miserably she failed. Her father beamed with pleasure, raised his hand and hi-fived his lovely daughter. “I’m so proud of you!” he said. “So very, very proud.”

Writers are especially vulnerable to failure. Sitting alone staring at a computer screen, as wisps of ideas make their way from the darkened recesses of our pre-conscious mind, is a lonely task. There are no cheerleaders or decibel-shattering student sections to scream when we find the right word or idea. Score a touchdown and the room echoes with silence. Plus, after you re-read that wonderful idea, often it’s not so wonderful.

Since writers’ have plenty of opportunities to fail, Sara Blakely’s lesson is very applicable. The question, “What have I failed at this week?” always has a number of good answers. It’s also true that anytime we sit down to write, something new comes out of our minds.

Even though others may not find value in our work, we are winning. The process of writing is exciting, interesting and challenging. Even if we fail to sell our books, we are winning, because we have the opportunity to do something that is truly creative. What other experience taps into our unconscious minds and produces a unique verbal picture? In the end, it is the process of creating that is so valuable. If we do it long enough, someone, somewhere, may agree that what we write is worth reading and sharing. If they don’t, we still live our lives and create something new every day.

What have I failed at this week?

I wrote four terrible pages, got one rejection, and came up with a new terrible idea. “Great,” Sara’s father would say. “I am very proud of you.”
“Thank you, Mr. Blakely,” I would say. “Thank you for your support and giving us writers another reason to never give up.”

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 | 5 Comments

IF I WERE JEB BUSH, WHAT WOULD I DO? By Art Smukler MD, author and psychiatrist

A few years ago, Jeb Bush spoke at a lecture series I attended in Manhattan Beach, California. He was articulate, energetic, and had a wealth of ideas that really impressed me. He earned my respect and even my prospective vote if he decided to run for president. FYI… I’m not a democrat or a republican. I vote for who I think is the best person for the job.

A year later, Jeb decided to run. We all know what happened. Donald Trump publicly humiliated him. Why? How?

First, let me give you a little of my back-story. I am somewhat obsessed with the idea of one man battling against great odds to survive and be successful. The caveat is always to do it with ethics and honor — fight hard and never give up! Winning is not winning if you’re a dirty fighter.

Donald Trump sucker-punched Jeb Bush and Jeb never recovered. Trump called him names and publicly mocked his gentle and studious style. True, Trump has an innate ability to find someone’s weakness and exploit that weakness. But, it’s a twisted gift that many bullies exploit, mainly in grade school.

Bush and his fellow republicans didn’t know how to deal with all Trump’s low blows. Politics, as they knew it, was not practiced that way.

Okay, so Trump won that round. Now what?

If I were Jeb Bush, I’d pull in every chit that anyone in power owed me and speak at the Republican National Convention or in a parallel venue. I would openly admit that I was sucker-punched and behaved poorly. I didn’t fight back in a way that made me proud. I would throw politics down the crapper and point out my true opinion of Donald Trump. His insensitive, juvenile mocking style and his aggressive, narcissistic personality make him a dangerous choice for President of the United States. I would advise ALL delegates to vote with their heart and mind and to realize that by supporting someone who behaves the way their chosen delegate behaves is IN THE LONG RUN a big mistake.

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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 , , | 6 Comments

IS DONALD TRUMP IMPAIRED? Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Hello. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an author and a psychiatrist. Today though, I’d like to put the psychiatrist first. I’ve been in private practice for over forty years (gulp, that’s a long time) and on the teaching faculty at UCLA until five years ago.

I started my blog, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, to encourage readers to read and buy my books — mystery, adventure, and every one a fictional story based on the facts of my personal and professional experience. I also love to share my professional and personal experiences to help people…

Today, I woke up and realized that maybe I can make a difference. Forget my books! If I can influence anybody who is a Trump supporter to rethink his or her position, it will make me very happy and rewarded. The fact that millions of people support this man was at first amusing. It also was understandable. Congress has been inept and the men and woman WE elected were totally self and super-pac supporting. They let us down and Trump supporters are angry and want change. So do I! So does every reasonable American.

BUT… This is a big BUT. The man you all love and respect has only shown love for people who can further his own goals. I am not including any of his family or personal friends, because I have no clue how he feels or treats them, but I have personally listened to and read his numerous rants devaluing Indians (especially when they threatened his casino empire), POW’s, women, fellow Republicans, Hispanics, ALL Losers, and most ANYONE WHO CRITICIZES HIM.

He is a narcissist, a person who cares about only himself and will verbally attack and emotionally batter anyone who doesn’t agree that he is wonderful. I have never heard or read that he has apologized. Why should he? He’s always right. Narcissists are people with personality disorders. To protect an underlying vulnerable (and almost always unconscious) sense of low self-esteem, they see themselves as wonderful beyond wonderful.

Some Republicans are looking for reasons not to support this dangerous man at the RNC. They’ve come up with a “vote your conscience” possibility.

I suggest that these people, and anyone who even remotely agrees with me to consider that voting for a narcissist is voting for an impaired person. Narcissists won’t put our country first. The only person who is always first is Donald Trump. If he gets angry at Putin, what will he do to prove that he, the president, the great Mr. Trump, is right? Do we need a nuclear holocaust to prove that no one should disrespect Donald Trump? He has denied access to reporters and newspapers who have criticized him. Rather than make a clear intellectually valid case why they are wrong, he eliminates them.

Please, make America great by not electing someone who only thinks that HE HIMSELF is great.

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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 , , , , | 16 Comments

WHY IS THE MIND A MYSTERY? by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

We’ve gone to the moon and back in a spaceship, invented the Internet, computers, airplanes, internal combustion and electric automobile engines, electricity, television and radio, atomic bombs, antibiotics, antidepressants and antipsychotics, open heart surgery, the wheel, the outside jump shot, a great cup of coffee, the Cuban cigar and Sambuca, and of course the teeny weeny polka dot bikini.

So what’s with the fact that most of us keep doing downright stupid things and make recurrently bad decisions that lead to ongoing misery? If brilliant people can invent all that stuff, why can’t they give us the tools to stop making bad decisions?

When a patient describes an awful decision that he is on the verge of carrying out, I try to help. I say, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Or; you’re doing the wrong thing! Or; don’t do that! It’s a terrible mistake. Or you’re reliving what happened when you were a boy.” You guessed it. Most of the time, they do it anyway. They are driven beyond reason to do what they have already decided. Rational discussion doesn’t work. It’s like they are psychotic, even though by any reasonable standards, they are perfectly normal.

Here’s one example. Ted, an attractive thirty-year-old attorney, had asked Sally, an attractive accountant, to marry him. In spite of their constant bickering, unsatisfying sexual relations, and a lack of emotional connection after three years of dating, she agreed.

So when I confronted him with these obvious red flags, he ignored my comments, and went ahead with his decision. Twenty years later, I ran into Ted at a party and learned that he was unhappily married and having an affair.

So what’s Ted’s back-story? He had a cold, verbally abusive father and a mother who never protected him from this man. Ted had spent his whole life trying to get his father to love him — he even chose a wife that was the emotional duplicate of him. And Sally, the perfect psychological choice, never disappointed. She spent twenty years verbally abusing him and he kept hoping that she would change and love him.

The underlying psychological dynamic is called a Repetition Compulsion. It is the need to undue early trauma and make it better. It is a very common occurence. Consciously a person chooses a spouse because of beauty, intelligence, money… Unconsciously, he or she chooses a spouse to fix whatever hurt was endured during childhood.

Repetition Compulsion is unconscious. A person doesn’t know he or she is doing this. It is the part of the iceberg that is far below the surface and invisible, yet it holds up the ice that is seen. It is only later, if one has the capacity to examine his or her life and the decisions that were made, that the destructive pattern emerges. Once one sees the pattern, it’s still not so easy to change. But, it can be done. That’s what psychotherapy is all about –- observing the unconscious and getting the courage to change. By examining patterns, dreams, behavior, and the transference relationship between the patient and the therapist, the hidden code of unconscious behavior can be broken.

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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 Childhood Trauma, Psychiatry, Self Examination | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

GREAT FICTIONAL CHARACTERS THAT MAKE ME SMILE, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

This morning I was reading the packaging on a new toothbrush. No, Mr. Happy Tooth is not a character that makes me smile. The package said to replace the toothbrush when half the blue indicator bristles lose their color.

That got me thinking. Does Jack Reacher, Lee Child’s tough guy character, check the bristles on his toothbrush? Jack Reacher’s ONLY possession is his toothbrush. “Stuff” doesn’t matter to Reacher, only being free and fighting injustice. What a kick. No mortgage. No bills. No cleaners (he buys new clothes when the old ones get dirty). No fear. Dozens of bad guys on the verge of an attack never interfere with his morning cup of coffee.

Then there’s Lucas Davenport, John Sanford’s, rich, fearless and irreverent detective. The bad guys never stand a chance because rules are flexible when it comes to keeping the streets of the Twin Cities safe. I love it when he ignores his politically correct, incompetent boss, and destroys the assholes of the world.

Let’s not forget John Corey, Nelson DeMille’s wise ass, courageous NYPD detective. When we’re not turning the pages as fast as we can read, we’re laughing out loud. Oh yeah. The bad guys never make it.

How about Holden Caulfield, J. D. Salinger’s irreverent teenager who set off 65 years ago, in 1951, to rid the world of phonies. I just re-read Catcher in the Rye and still loved it!

Jason Bourne, Robert Ludlum’s amazing CIA operative is a joy. No matter what the obstacle, even brain washing, the guy always survives.

And my favorite, because he is one of my children, is Joe Belmont, a naive medical student who battles hardened criminals to survive. His task is to wend his way back through the maze of his own mind, in Chasing Backwards.

Everyday life can be tough. Often it is unfair and hurtful. We all live with pain and suffering. What a joy and relief when the characters who populate our fictional world can make us smile and feel safe, if for only a short time.

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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.

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DONALD TRUMP, I ADMIT I AM OBSESSED, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

The truth is that for many of us, it doesn’t matter what Donald Trump’s stance on the political issues might be. What matters is that Donald Trump shows no respect or sensitivity towards others. He is a “shock-jock” who takes pleasure in humiliating and devaluing anyone who doesn’t kiss his ring. Even more shocking is the fact that millions of Americans have voted for him.

They voted for a name-calling, misogynistic, bully and they are proud of it. He mocked the men who served our country and said he doesn’t respect men who were captured. I just wonder how this bully would have behaved if he were imprisoned by the Viet Cong. Bullies often turn into sniveling babies. That would be my guess.

Can you imagine how this will affect how children behave with other children? Children never learn by being told what to do, they learn by example — the example their parents, peers and elders show. Then they will grow up to continue to emulate what they have learned.

So often, it isn’t what a person says, it is how he says it.

Yes, Trump is entertaining, but so is professional wrestling and visiting the zoo.

Donald Trump has said on dozens of occasions how smart he is. Is a smart man a person who is never wrong, who never apologizes, who publically devalues women and then in the next breath says how much he loves women? He is incapable of seeing the contradictions he presents on a daily basis.

The fact that the Republican Party let this man represent them is a disgrace to the party and our country. At least Jeb Bush came out and said he wouldn’t support him. Too little and too late? It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Why is a psychiatrist writing all this about Donald Trump?

No one lives and works in a vacuum. I don’t want this man representing our country, my patients or me. He is hurting all of us.

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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, Childhood Trauma, Politics, Psychiatry, Raising Children, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

LISTEN IN ON A PSYCHIATRIC SESSION WITH DOCTOR THE DONALD TREATING A DEPRESSED MAN, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

“Hello Doctor. I hope you can help me. I’ve been terribly depressed.”

“Of course I can help you. I’m Doctor The Donald, the world’s greatest psychiatrist.”

“Greater than Sigmund Freud?”

“Isn’t he dead?”

“Of course.”

“I don’t respect dead people. I only respect live ones…and ones who weren’t captured. Also, wasn’t he a little man with a little goatee?”

“Huh?”

“And I know he had nowhere near 8 billion dollars. Maybe he had a few hundred-thousand.”

“But he helped people who couldn’t sleep, who were depressed and anxious, who felt miserable all the time.”

“I’m here to make you great again.”

“I was never great. From the time I was little I felt sad and lonely.”

“Did you have a wall separating your house from your neighbor’s?”

“No. We lived in a small house in Brooklyn, a row house. My father sold the house years ago, and now it’s worth over a million. He always made the wrong decision. Like me.”

“You needed to build a wall to protect yourself from the riffraff that lived next door. Without a wall, anyone can come into your place and bother you or rape your children.”

“I don’t have children. I’m only eighteen.”

“That’s lucky. You can still build the wall.”

“I live in an apartment.”

“At Trump Towers every floor has its own key. I have three floors. Only my key works to open the elevator to my place.”

“I don’t understand.”

“We have rules about having long beards. It’s too Muslim.”

“My beard is short.”

“It can grow. They’ll think you’re an Islamic Mexican. Then you’ll be deported and trapped behind the new wall.”

“What wall?”

“The one the Mexican government will build.”

“I’m not Mexican.”

“You look Mexican.”

“I’m Jewish.”

“So is my daughter.”

“Oh.”

“Well, I have to finish up now. Lyin’ Ted is saying mean things about me and I have to defend my greatness.”

“But I’m still depressed.”

“Shave and build a wall. It’ll make you great.”

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

THE ONLY SURE WAY TO STOP DONALD TRUMP OR ANY NARCISSIST, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

WHAT IS A NARCISSIST?

A narcissist is someone who is absolutely in love with himself. As the Greek myth describes, Narcissus was so mesmerized by his own reflection, he died staring at himself in a pool of water.

So too will our modern version of Narcissus, but he’ll need a little help.

We have to muddy the pool, so his reflection begins to reflect the truth. It must show that his arrogance and silly, bully-style has lost all its beauty and power.

How?

Stop supporting the Trump brand!

If all individuals and businesses refuse to frequent, rent, buy, watch or stay in anything that has the Trump name, it’ll finally get through. This particular narcissist will certainly be affected by the drain on his bank account.

When the Trump name withers, so will his inflated ego.

Our country needs leaders we can respect. The status quo has to go and so does this narcissistic leader-wannabe.

Let’s help the process.

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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, Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

OUR GOVERNMENT IN ACTION. GIVE ME A BREAK! by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

I heard the great news that the US government was able to hack the Apple phone that the San Bernadino terrorists used.

Even as I felt a momentary sense of relief, another vague feeling began its slow ascent from my gut into my head. There was something wrong. Very wrong.

Why would anyone ever divulge this important fact? Now not only is Apple going to make it more difficult to get information from its devices, but every twisted, sadistic terrorist will look for a new way to communicate with his satanic, perverted, religious handler.

Granted, I spend a lot of time reading and writing all types of mystery/spy/intrigue/etc. novels and posts, I can’t be the only one who once again thinks our government needs a course in how-to-run-a-government.

Why else would a man like Donald Trump have made such a powerful connection with millions of Americans? Under normal circumstances there is no way to like this person except to plead for a comped hotel room. Why? He is joyfully challenging almost every “politically correct” concept that so many of us have for years knew were flawed.

His immature, impulsive, narcissistic style is beyond acceptable. The problem is that some of his concepts are very logical.

Secure our borders, CAREFULLY vet all Muslims with even a hint of too much zealous religiosity, make “allies” like Saudi Arabia pay their fair share, fix our trade deficit etc.

Truth be told, I could never vote for such a man.

I’m feeling the Bern.

But, I very much want our government to change!

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of 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, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments