RETIRED? TAKE THE MOST UNIQUE, ONE-OF-A-KIND JOURNEY OF YOUR LIFE, by Art Smukler MD, author and psychiatrist

WHERE? A place no one but you will ever visit.

WHEN? Now… Tomorrow… Whenever you choose.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? No money. Only time and courage.

Yep, you probably are on the verge of guessing it — a trip back to your past.

What does this have to do with retirement?

Time. Freedom. Enough money to get by on. All the tools that most of us never had before.

Like Janis Joplin and Kris Kristofferson sang in BOBBY MCGEE, Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing ain’t worth nothing but it’s free. Feeling good was easy lord when Bobby sang the blues. Feeling good was good enough for me, good enough for me and Bobby McGee.

I’m serious. When else in your life have you had the time to just hang out with yourself? No worries about getting good grades. No worries about making the football or dance team, no issues with your parents, getting a date Saturday night isn’t a big deal — every night is like a Saturday night and on and on.

Time’s running out. Often this is the endgame. How long will it last? Who knows? Ten years? Twenty years? Thirty? Who cares? It’s out of our hands. No power to predict.

But the power we have is significant. FREEDOM!

Remember your first date? What did she look like? What did she say? What did he say? What did you say? First kiss? First love? First fight? First job? First time you ate pizza. You get the idea.

Settle down in your favorite chair, in bed, on a bike, Starbucks, on a long car trip…anywhere, anytime. Let your thoughts wander. Have the courage to remember…the good, the bad, the ugly… Hey, what a great title. You think anyone has ever used that before? Ha Ha

It won’t be easy. Sometimes the pain might well up, just as powerfully as it did so long ago. But, so will the love, and excitement, and sense that life is a continuum, and we can retrace our steps.

Why?

It’s a chance to reconnect with our past, with friends and experiences we haven’t thought about in years. A chance to relearn what was important and what might still be important. Maybe even a chance to do what you never did, to feel again what you thought was gone forever.

It’s not too late to take the trip of a lifetime.

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, Self Examination | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

LESSONS FROM THE CHAIN GANG, REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST, by Art Smukler

I belong to Plato, a group in Los Angeles devoted to learning. As the editor of the monthly newsletter, I was called upon to write my bi-monthly editor’s note. Given that today is Yom Kippur, a day of reflection, I thought it was a good time to share this story again on my blog.

Not too long ago, 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 and most of you don’t. 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. It helped me raise my own family and become a good psychiatrist. It helped me become a person who starts a job and finishes it. It helped me become a member of Plato who enjoys the challenge of hard work and enjoys the profits that hard work produces.

Most members of Plato are retired or thinking about it.
One major advantage of retirement is the chance to remember the past. To reevaluate and do some of the things that time and the need to support yourself and your family didn’t allow. Enjoy and savor your memories. The past made us who we are.

Another recent experience that brought all these memories back was getting together , for the first time in many years, with my first cousin Larry, Uncle Bill’s son. He is a caring, thoughtful, retired judge. Who better to judge others than a man raised by a man who could always put himself in another man’s shoes?

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, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

POTUS IS NAKED or THE ADVANTAGES OF A MIND EXPOSED by Art Smukler MD, author and psychiatrist

We’re all sick and tired of hearing the story of THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES. Well, please, be a good sport for just one more time. It has a new satisfying twist. Ha. If you can’t have a good time writing for no money, there’s no reason to do it. So back to the story…

All the people in Washington, DC, I mean Republicans, are too afraid to tell emperor POTUS that he’s running around stark naked. Why? The emperor, a self declared stable genius, is an insecure, vindictive, little man who will retaliate if anyone confronts him or disagrees with him. A cold day means that there is no climate change. If you won’t sell Greenland to the USA you are a disrespectful enemy. Putin is a good man. More people came to Trump’s inauguration than Obama’s. Yadayadayada…

It’s a fact, not fake news, that the man is a pathological liar. So why, you ask yourself, is Art Smukler MD, a psychiatrist, boring me with a reiteration of everything we already know and hear about on CNN and MSNBC every day, all day?

To answer that very valid question, I’ll take a short segway back to my past. One of the most interesting and exciting things about psychiatry is the opportunity to learn about human nature and aspects of the mind. Learning about schizophrenia and bipolar disorders and their associated delusions, hallucinations, and manic episodes is like having an x-ray machine to examine the mind. In the psychotic state, all the defensive trappings are exposed. Politically correct words and behavior don’t exist. Add a bit of psychotropic medication and a supportive atmosphere and most of it goes back to normal.

So how does this relate to emperor Trump?

Seeing and hearing him is like having that same x-ray machine showing you all the aspects of sociopathy and a narcissistic personality disorder. You don’t have to go to medical school or take a psychiatric residency or pass your boards. Just listen to POTUS and you’ll learn everything you need to know about people you should ALWAYS stay away from. They will hurt you. They may be charming, rich, good-looking and hard to resist, but if you get involved, YOU WILL BE HURT!

POTUS is giving us a life lesson on who to avoid. All free without having to read and study and pass tests.

See, having a naked emperor running around the White House has its advantages.

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 Childhood Trauma, Politics, Psychiatry, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A PEP TALK FOR WRITERS, by Art Smukler, author and psychiatrist

Last night, Hillary Clinton said something on the Rachel Maddow Show that really struck a bell, more like a gong. She said, “I’m living rent free inside of Donald Trump’s brain, and it’s not a very nice place to be.”

Wow. For many of us, it’s just the opposite. The Liar In Chief, like an obsessive-compulsive-disorder, is living rent free in OUR brains.

So what does this have to do with writers?

Obsessions take up too much space. They stifle the creative process, and don’t allow for the tiny sprouts of new ideas to battle their way up from the darkness of our unconscious to the light of our computers. When the trillions of synapses in our brains are occupied 24/7 by injustice and greed, they short-out. Our ability to take the “road less traveled”, to ideas that we’ve never had, is severely limited.

Writing is our food and oxygen. Without it, we wither and gasp.

Take a Trump break.

Flush him.

If you can’t nourish yourself, you won’t have the strength to nourish others.

Write. Rewrite. Write!

A fully satiated writer has a better chance of going viral and winning back our democracy…

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

WHEN TRUMP DIES, WHERE WILL HIS SOUL GO? by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

I don’t believe in god or a higher power or that one religion is superior to another religion; so for me, the term soul is used in a philosophical manner.

What does the afterlife hold in store for a man who lies, cheats, boasts, enjoys prostitutes and says it’s not true, uses the US presidency to enhance his wealth, never served in his country’s military for a “trumped-up” reason, bullies and has a wife who runs an anti-bullying bullying campaign, pretends to win golf championships, name calls, colludes with autocrats from Russia and Saudi Arabia, is a bigot, a racist and the most narcissistic man to ever hold the office of POTUS.

Where does his soul go?

It goes to the gilded, empty, cold, Trump Tower, where everything a man touches turns to gold. No warmth, no love, no cookies and milk, no little puppies to lick your face, no fond memories of people you’ve loved and sacrificed for, no warm summer days where the balmy breeze tickles your face and blows your hair, no Snickers bars, no gentle caresses, no warm baths, no loving gazes, no sense that your life helped the needy and under-privileged… only ice-cold-gold.

Welcome to your future Mr. Trump.

Oh, and one more thing. There’s a thousand-foot-high-wall that surrounds your final condo resting place. It was built by all the money you stole from people who believed you were an honest man.

Posted in Bullying, Childhood Trauma, Politics, Raising Children, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

WHAT’S THE SECRET REASON PEOPLE EITHER HATE OR LOVE TRUMP? Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Like the main part of an iceberg, hidden from view under the dark icy water, our unconscious mind, hidden from consciousness by defenses like denial and repression, is the real bulwark behind our feelings and actions. Freud theorized that access to this powerful, yet unconscious force, can be reached through our dreams, slips of the tongue, symptoms like depression and anxiety, and subtle feelings and actions, that can give clues as to what’s really going on in our minds.

When Freud used psychoanalysis, a patient could let his mind wander and say whatever thoughts popped up in his head. One thing might lead to another and a patient would finally understand that his depression was triggered by an underlying anger toward a parent or a sibling that he was too ashamed or guilt-ridden to admit.

Trump’s lack of an editor, saying whatever he wants whenever he wants, is like watching someone on the psychoanalytic couch. We all watch him on national television lie, name-call, manipulate, bully, bribe, all with the purpose to gain enormous riches and more power.

Wouldn’t most of us want all that power?

Wouldn’t it be really cool to have a few billion dollars sitting in a hidden bank account and never having to disclose where the money came from? Maybe even Russia…

How about owning a bunch of hotels and mansions instead of always trying to negotiate a good rate at a hotel?

How about denying the truth and almost always getting away with it? I didn’t take the cookie! I paid all my taxes! Honest!

How about hiring someone to fix your house? If they don’t like not getting paid, too bad. They can sue!

And on and on…

The truth is that most of us still have feelings and desires that go all the way back to our childhood. BUT, as adults, these desires are tempered with a desire and a need to help others and be good people.

So what am I saying?

I’m saying that Trump’s impulsive, out-of-control behavior, and outlandish statements tap into our unconscious selfish feelings. By definition, unconscious means we don’t know what we’re feeling, so we react to Trump’s behavior with a bigger than life reaction.

Sadly, Trump is constrained by nothing!

He poops where he wants and listens to no one. A wild two-year-old is the leader of the free world. “I want what I want when I want it!”

Fourteen years ago, my grandson, then a two-year-old, was playing in the park with a bucketful of sand toys. Another little boy wanted to play with the toys, but my grandson made it clear that they were his toys and he didn’t want to share. I walked over to him and said, “How about sharing with this nice little boy?” My grandson, with a somewhat guilty expression, said, “Poppy. I’m sorry, but I’m not a good sharer.”

So, even a two-year-old can have feelings of guilt about not considering others. By the way, my grandson is now sixteen, and is one of the nicest most caring people you’d ever want to meet.

Maybe our president is emotionally just one-and-a-half years old…

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, Raising Children, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

THE BRILLIANT LESSON DONALD TRUMP TAUGHT US, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Who wouldn’t want 10 billion dollars?

I would. Then when the market tanked I’d still have a few billion left for coffee at Starbucks and gasoline, even if we dumped the immoral Saudis.

So what did the great man teach us? It is the same lesson that we were all taught as kids… Money can’t buy happiness or class.

To be frank, there were times I didn’t believe it, but I forgot two important facts. I’ve always had friends, and I never enjoyed hurting others. In fact, the value of helping others is often immeasurable.

Just look at the way other world leaders, including fellow United States Presidents, act around this man. They can barely hide their contempt. Let’s think about it. Contempt is a good word for someone who thinks he can bully and buy his way to respect and dignity. IT DOESN’T WORK.

I get it that in 2016 a third of our country was desperate for a change that would get them a decent wage and a means to support their families.

Well, what they got was a guy who only pretends to care about those who voted for him. Ask the working guy if the tax break helped. Ask GM workers if the job promise worked… Ask Dreamers if he helped them? Ask his good friends Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen how they feel about being threatened for telling the truth. And on and on…

But hopefully most of us still have what Donald Trump is incapable of having – good friends, dignity, and an approach to life that includes respect for others and the ability to share love.

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, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

REPUBLICAN SENATORS BELONG IN KENYA AND TANZANIA, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Every year 2 million wildebeests and 800,000 zebra and gazelles form a super herd and race 0ver 500 miles through Kenya — Masa Mara, and Tanzania, –Serengeti, in search of lush grass. They follow the rains. Each year 250,000 Wildebeests die from exhaustion, malnutrition or dehydration.

Soon over 50 Republican Senators can join the pilgrimage and follow their selfish, arrogant leader into oblivion. The more he panders himself to foreign despots who have given him billions of dollars, the more passive and stupid they have become.

Think about it. At least the almost 3 million African animals are in search of food and survival, a sort-of noble cause. The 50 Republican senators are in search of a smile from their lying, uneducated leader whose only object is to feed himself and his family more money at the expense of decency and logic.

The House of representatives have replaced 40 mindless Republicans. Soon many mindless Republican senators will be gone.

There is hope. It only takes a handful of men and women in the senate to change this craziness. We were born with brains. USE YOURS! DON’T BE A WILDEBEEST!

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 | Leave a comment

AN ORANGE JUMPSUIT WILL MATCH PERFECTLY WITH YOUR HAIR, by Art Smukler MD, author& psychiatrist

Rather than wait until your lies and manipulations are exposed, why not confess?
You’ll feel a lot better.

Get all that bilious hate out of your system.

Clean it out!

You’ll feel like a new man.

You won’t attack minorities.

You won’t attack women.

You won’t illegally try and influence the election.

You won’t use your office to take money illegally.

You won’t be reviled by poor people looking for a better life.

You’ll be at peace, in a cell, next to Bill Cosby. He’ll tell jokes and stories and you’ll laugh. Then you’ll have a nice meal, watch Fox news, and have a peaceful, honest-night’s sleep…

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, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

THE BLUE WAVE IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS. IT’S ABOUT GETTING RID OF A DISRESPECTFUL, SELF-CENTERED BULLY IN THE WHITE HOUSE, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Please forget politics.

Both red and blue parties have good points and bad points. The two-party system has been a mainstay of our country for over 200 years, but never have we endured the type of immaturity and lack of historical perspective that Trump eschews. He is a man who denies scientific fact and is a BLATANT LIAR. The fact that good, caring republicans support him is enabling this behavior. The Republican congress still can stand up and do something before citizens take to the streets, like back in the sixties during the Viet Nam war. We all knew that Nixon was a liar and WE DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Getting rid of Trump doesn’t mean that we get rid of conservative ideas. It means we don’t accept a liar who refuses to learn from history and only thinks of himself. President Obama made many mistakes during his two terms in the White House. But, no one ever accused him of not putting the country first. That’s what a president does.

Have you ever heard anyone say to their children, Trump is our president. Mommy and daddy want you start acting like a president — lie, cheat, call your friends names, have sex with other women when your wife is pregnant, don’t serve in the military, and don’t honor the dead if it’s raining outside…

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, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment