MY FANTASY IS ALL ABOUT HARLEY DAVIDSON, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

I have a lot of fantasies. How is it possible to be a psychiatrist and not live with millions of them circulating amongst the billions of neurons that run my brain? It’s not possible. So, here’s my latest.

The president of the United States is threatening Harley with major taxes and sanctions because they won’t do what he says. I mean Geez, why wouldn’t everyone do whatever one of the greatest narcissists of all time says? A real stumper. But, being the brilliant psychiatrist and author that I am, I have the answer. My wife of many decades disagrees with the brilliant adjective, but she’s only one in a billion. So to prove her wrong, I need a billion readers to agree with me. Well, maybe just a million.

Back to business!

Imagine this. Instead of going to Sturgis, South Dakota, thousands of Harley guys and gals on big Hogs, Sportsters and Softails ride to DC and show Mr. Narcissist what they really think of him. I can hear the roar and picture all the fabulous tattoos and girls wearing helmets and bikinis. In the background, Bob Dylan is bellowing out a new folk tune screaming all about freedom and decency.

I’m there too, smoking a pipe and getting another wear out of my black cardigan sweater. Not really. My daughter convinced me to stop smoking over thirty years ago and I don’t own a black cardigan. But, I’ll be right there with the Harley leaders on my silver Softail and revving my engine. Not really… I will be watching it on TV and wishing. I’m actually afraid of being fatally maimed on the streets of LA.

Wait. To prove everything is not a total fantasy, I did have a cycle many years ago — a Honda 350. See, I am somewhat cool.

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.

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STICKS & STONES CAN BREAK MY BONES BUT NAMES CAN NEVER HURT ME…NOT! by Art Smukler

Remember the old cliche’ used by parents and teachers to “train” a child to control his anger? “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.”

Well, the theory goes that name calling can’t physically hurt you. But is that really true? Ask Jeb Bush if being called “low energy” by Trump doesn’t make him feel physically ill. I heard Jeb speak a year before the Republican primary, and thought he’d make a great president. I wish he’d appropriately retaliated to Trump’s obnoxious words and didn’t let him get away with it. I assume that the entire Bush family will never forgive Trump. I wouldn’t.

How about John McCain? Trump, who never served in the military, likes people who weren’t captured, negating all that McCain suffered and gave to our country. Do you think that the anger inside McCain doesn’t still hurt? Here’s another family who will probably never forgive Trump.

Name calling and devaluing trigger our autonomic nervous system, the place in the brain where Fight or Flight is regulated. Think of the times you were enraged — the burning in your stomach, jaw clenching, sweating, trouble catching your breath… All physical symptoms.

I could go on and on, but let’s consider what this man is now doing to ALL OF US! He names the Russia investigation, Spygate and a Witch Hunt. He’s a genius at name-calling.

What he is not a genius at is being a good human being. If someone disagrees with him, he attacks. He calls himself a counter puncher. I call him a brilliant name caller who hurts a lot of people and is hurting our country.

What is also OBNOXIOUS is that Republicans are afraid. Some heroes scale walls, like in France, to save a child, others can stand up and call Trump out. That hero can save our country.

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.

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ARE THERE ANY ETHICAL LAWYERS OUT THERE? by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Harvard Law professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, just stated on Meet the Press that the Trump team is playing into the hands of Mueller’s team. By not speaking in a single narrative they are hurting themselves and Trump’s defense.

That’s all probably true. After all, who would challenge a man of Dershowitz’s stature?

What I’m challenging is how Dershowitz and so many of the erudite legal minds are so readily agreeing with this approach. I know that everyone is entitled to the best defense they can get, with or without money, but does anyone care about the truth?

Trump overtly lies and the great legal minds figure out more ways for him to get away with it!

Something is terribly wrong with our system! Something is terribly wrong with how our law schools are turning out thousands of new lawyers every year who support this twisted and damaged approach to justice. Lying and manipulation are everyday occurrences especially from places as erudite as Harvard. If you are the smartest and the best trained, you can learn even better ways to dupe others.

Trump lied and manipulated for years, in many aspects of his business. His mantra, while he was running for president, was that he didn’t settle cases. Sue me! Then he would turn his legal minions into torturing people who honestly and honorably wanted to get paid or be treated justly.

If Trump is being supported by great legal minds and great institutions, what hope does a normal, average person have to be treated with justice? What hope do we have unless men and women of Dershowitz’s stature come forward and change the culture by which lawyers and educators are taught?

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.

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POTUS AND PROPECIA, WHY IT’S IMPORTANT, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Dr. Harold Bornstein MD is now Trump’s enemy. He admitted that his 35-year-long patient, Donald Trump, used Propecia to keep his orange locks robust and healthy. Given the situation, most of us would shrug, take out our Fonzi combs, and slick back our manes (Or what was left of them). Well, the president’s reaction was a little different. He nixed Bornstein’s White House appointment and recently had his henchmen break into the hirsute doctor’s office to remove all his (Trump’s) personal records, when really, all he needed to do was ask for them.

It is wrong of Bornstein to say anything about any patient’s private info. Period! But setting that aside, let’s theorize why all this National Enquirer stuff matters? Why does this guy who sits either in the oval office or in a golf cart or on top of his 10 billion dollars, need to always be right — all the time?

Examples:
There were more people at my inauguration than Obama’s.
I’m smarter than any other president.
I was cheated out of winning the popular vote.
My hair is real! Here, feel it!
I know more than the generals.
I know more than my chief of staff.
I am so healthy I’ll live 200 years.
Everyone’s lying. Russia is a witch hunt! There is no collusion or obstruction or whatever you call it. None! A witch hunt.
I want to talk to Mueller, but I may have to fire him.
I AM THE PRESIDENT! Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya
Blah, Blah, Blah

I remember an incident when I was 16 years old and a new driver. I was driving my date across town using a “back way” that made me feel really smart and really cool. Well, after we got where we were going, my date casually mentioned that it might have been faster to just take the main road instead of taking all the turns down small darkened streets. I remember nodding, but thinking I WILL NEVER EVER TAKE HER OUT AGAIN! HOW DARE SHE POINT OUT THAT SHE’S SMARTER THAN ME! WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? I AM RIGHT AND SHE IS WRONG!

Well, I did take her out again and I really liked her. I can’t remember her name or exactly how long we dated, but I do remember and continue to remember how being wrong is no big deal. What’s more important is getting good and correct information, whoever’s right. It’s a relief being surrounded by smart people. It helps us make good and well thought out decisions.

Back to Trump. The fragility of his self-worth must be off the self-worth charts. He has to be right, because if he isn’t right he falls apart inside. Just read his immature, silly tweets.

For a 70 plus year-old man to be so insecure is sad. For him to be the leader of the free world is absolutely terrifying. What is so terrifying is that Trump cares more for his hair and himself than he cares for the country that he swore to defend and protect. He overtly lies whenever he feels threatened even if it could endanger our very existence.

Trump vowed to “Drain the Swamp” and has instead created a swamp filled with a man so insecure that he’d rather swim in Propecia than treat a long-term friend and physician with any modicum of respect. No surprise, he calls everyone a name who disagrees or challenges him.

That’s why Propecia is important. It’s a clear symbol of how scary it is to have a man who “must be right” in charge of our country, and how all the cowards in congress are determined to keep bowing to this narcissist.

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 , , , , | 6 Comments

THROUGH THE WORMHOLE TO 1972 – THE STATE HOSPITAL IS BACK! by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

My morning bike ride, on the bike path between Santa Monica and Venice, CA, was especially poignant, but not for the obvious reasons.

Interspersed among fellow bike riders, hardy girls in bikinis (It was a nippy 62), hardcore volleyballers, walkers and joggers, surfers, riders of the Bird (the new rage electric scooter) and philosophers — strolling with their cups of coffee and addressing the human condition, were hundreds (YES HUNDREDS) of Street People — arranging their numerous bags filled with gathered treasures, curled up on the sand under dirty blankets, screaming obscenities easily heard from blocks away, taking care of swollen bladders against the walls of buildings, wild-eyed and staring into oblivion, making comments (Thinks he’s so hot! Asshole! You won’t put poison in my body! Come near me and the devil will finish you off!), wrapped in sheets and blankets.

The Street People, of which at least 1/3 are psychotic, were my constant companions as a young psychiatric resident in Philadelphia. The training ground was PGH (Philadelphia General Hospital), founded in 1729 and closed in 1977. Now these unfortunates, who used to fill the beds of hundreds of state hospitals, roam the streets all over the United States. Back in the seventies Community Mental Health was the new rage. It would solve the problem of housing thousands of psychiatrically ill people and save us billions of dollars.

Initially it all worked quite well. There were numerous mental health facilities, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and mental health workers. Then the federal and state money dissolved into other programs and the mentally ill followed their illnesses into the streets.

Do-gooders support the rights of the homeless, but they ignore the fact that these people need food and a safe place to deposit their bodily waste. Fouling the streets is more of a problem than just aesthetics. There is truly the potential to infect many people with bacteria that can easily be picked up by rodents and other disease-carrying-animals and birds. Also, a paranoid person really believes he is being attacked. The streets can be dangerous!

So here I am, remembering “The good old days” when I was a young psychiatrist. In just a few minutes I’ll be having my morning cup of coffee at one of my favorite cafes and reading all about the economy, Trump’s latest brag, a new movie or TV series to see, a great book to read, and how we need to do something about the problem of the homeless. Well, it’s not just a problem; it’s an epidemic!

Luckily a lot has been accomplished since the seventies — new meds, new approaches to mental illness, and a significant reduction in the stigma of mental illness. Taking care of the mentally ill on our streets is also taking care of ourselves. Even selfish people can get behind making changes and investing in the mentally ill and ourselves. Housing, hospitals, medication and mental health workers are expensive. Who better to spend it on than ourselves. Improving the condition of millions of street people will “Make America Great”. Even narcissists sometimes come up with a good tagline.

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.

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IDOLATRY IS STILL PART OF OUR EVERYDAY LIVES, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Ancient civilizations used inanimate objects, animals, and multiple gods to pledge their allegiance and find solace in life’s travails. Obviously there were many! No microwaves. No Netflix. No Facebook. No coronary stents. No Middle East crisis. No Trump lookalikes. Well, for 2/3 of the ancients that was probably seen as a blessing.

Then a miracle happened. Over 5000 years ago there was a “scientific” breakthrough and Judaism “discovered” that there was only one true god. Hallelujah! Plus,they really lucked out. They were the chosen people and got all the rights and options to worship this one true god. Hosanna on the highest!

Well, mankind has had over 5000 years to find proof of god’s existence, but what they came up with is the discovery of a lot of other “gods “or deities to worship – Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha etc. Obviously, discovering the microwave and mounds of data on the Big Bang theory did nothing to detract from mankind’s need for a God.

I’m sure you see where this is going.

When Trump really got on a roll and started pushing his snake oil, millions of people decided that there was a chance he really could cure the world. The US needed jobs and protection from the thousands of Mexicans who mow our grass and he promised CHANGE. He called everyone and anyone names, flaunted his sexual exploits, and guaranteed the world that his orange hair was real.

He was elected president of the USA! Since he was now god, we’d all be saved. He had the answers to everything. He proclaimed that no matter what he did, even stab someone in broad daylight, that his base would still love him. “I’m the greatest. I won the popular vote. Anything I don’t like is fake news. I didn’t have sex with Stormy and didn’t tell my lawyer to pay her $130000. Why he did it I have no idea. I’m inviting Putin to meet me here. We have a wonderful relationship. He is almost as wonderful as I am.”

So why do so many people LOVE him? Even with Facebook and microwaves in every home, life is still scary. Maybe Trump really does care about us? Right? He loves us! We’re the chosen people. He came down from the mountain (Trump Tower) with the Trump Commandments, I AM THE BEST, I LOVE ME, KISS MY RING AND I’LL BLESS YOU WITH RICHES, ME ME ME, THE POPE IS NOT AS SMART AS ME, I CAN GROPE ANYONE I WANT, I CAN LIE AND IT’S THE TRUTH, I DON’T NEED ADVISORS, IF YOU DON’T PRAISE ME I WILL DESTROY YOU, I KNOW EVERYTHING!

So here we are. Anyone who wants to worship The Trump Idol is in luck. He wants and needs to be worshipped and the dangerous world around us produces the insecurity that leads millions to want and need to worship this orange-haired Wizard of Oz. Please keep in mind that as you’re enjoying your day in the church of Trump, our environment, ethics, children attacked by assault rifles, and the world stage are on the verge of possible catastrophe. Plus, and this is a big one, would you want your child to behave like The Trump idol? If I were one of his professors at the Univ. of Penna I’d be horrified. He brags about his wonderful education! Oy Vey, as they said in ancient times.

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 , , , | 5 Comments

666, THE DEVIL, THE DONALD & POOR, POOR JARED, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Do you believe in symbols? The devil? 666 as the devil’s number?

Even atheists have to admit that there is evil in the world. Men and women who lie, manipulate, and cheat without any sense of conscience. Guilt for them doesn’t exist, only anger and frustration when their ploy fails.

How ironic that Jared Kushner bought the 666 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan NY, skyscraper. He paid twice what anyone else ever paid for Manhattan real estate (1.8 billion dollars) and has a 1.4 billion dollar loan. Then the real estate market crashed and he was left with a big problem. To solve the problem he needed to use the airspace above and add 40 stories. What’s another 6 billion give or take a few bucks? So he followed the money to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and who knows where else. Oh no, poor Jared. They weren’t and aren’t interested.

But wait, someone is very interested, Robert Mueller. He also wants to follow the money. Your money! And, he wants to know what you also promised them? The Brooklyn Bridge? The new LA subway? A part-share in Air Force 1?

So religious or not, 666 may not be the devil’s number, but the beginning of the fall of the apocalypse that is the Trump presidency.

I couldn’t picture “The Donald” taking the oath of office, but maybe now my imagination can watch him take the perp-walk — dressed in orange to match his hair.

Psychiatrists use fantasies all the time to help patients. They also use them to help themselves…

Thanks to Clive Irving for his informative article in The Daily Beast, THE CURSE OF 666 FIFTH AVENUE, THE SKYSCRAPER THAT COULD SINK THE KUSHNERS.

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.

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A PSYCHIATRIST THINKS ABOUT PORN STAR STORMY DANIELS AND DONALD TRUMP, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

The mind of this psychiatrist is very focused on the porn star Stormy Daniels (real name is Stephanie Clifford), and her alleged affair with Donald Trump. What? Another sicko shrink obsessed and focused on sex? Untrue! Not sicko! But yes, definitely a shrink and yes on sex and obsessed.

There was a recent study in the Journal of Sex Research showing that men think about sex 19 times a day and women 10 times a day. Another obscure tally shows that men think about sex 7 times a minute! Wow. Not much time to become a gold-plated billionaire…

On 1/26/18 Stormy visited a Vegas strip club and allowed some “lucky” men to take pictures with her and fondle her breasts. Hmm. I wasn’t there and didn’t do any fondling, but I read about it in the LA Times. My wife was sitting right beside me at the breakfast table. Honest!

So why should a shrink be obsessed and interested in strippers, sex and very attractive Stormy Daniels? Well, since you didn’t ask, I’ll tell you anyway. I wrote SKIN DANCE, a mystery, about a psychiatrist, Jake Robb, who goes to a strip bar and what follows is an exercise in psychological prowess and courage (I actually took a course in how to start and run a strip bar — background research!).

But, why do so many men avail themselves the services of prostitutes and strippers when they are married and supposedly happy? Molly Bloom, in the recent movie MOLLY’S GAME said it well. She was running a high-stakes poker game in Los Angeles and one of the players told her how much he loved her. She responded (I’m paraphrasing), “You all love me. I surround you with all the forbidden things — sexy women, alcohol, gambling, and someone showing you a lot of attention without the expectation that you have to give it back. All the things you don’t get at home.” Men may make a lot of money and score touchdowns, but deep inside are needy and long for love (often in the form of sex).

So Donald Trump had a pregnant wife, wasn’t getting his share of validation and “intimacy with release” and sought it elsewhere. Somewhat understandable — especially if one is a full-out narcissist. So he chose a consenting porn star (Not from Russia), paid her a lot of money, and then more money to keep it hush-hush. No law against any of it. Stormy wasn’t coerced or threatened; she sold sex for profit to a lonely, needy man.

This is the most understandable of Trump’s many HUGE transgressions. Wouldn’t it be interesting if this was the one that finally brought him down?

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, Skin Dance, a mystery, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

CHOOSING A SPOUSE; LOGIC OR SOMETHING ELSE? by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

I’m taking a break from writing about all the illogical people in Washington; since compromise is way too logical for them… So instead I’ve picked a really logical subject to understand — marriage and how we pick our spouses.

Wait! Did I say logical? Hah. Not exactly. Now we have to deal with the logic of the unconscious.
You doubt me. You think that you chose your spouse logically, by your own free will?

“She was a knockout. It was love at first sight.”
“We sat next to each other in class and one thing led to another.”
“He was the only one who wasn’t obsessed with sports. We had so much in common.”

Is it that simple? Lust? Common experience? Meshing personalities?

I don’t think so. Year after year, for 500 years, I’ve listened to the underlying reasons. Most of the time, what is apparent is that ancient parental conflicts do the “picking” for us. The cold and abusive father, the distant and unavailable mother, the father who abandoned the family, the good-time, flirty mother — All are recycled in our choice of a spouse.

Why? Why are spouses picked by the conflicts that tortured us? For sure it’s not a conscious decision. Who in their right mind would marry someone who perpetuates the pain of our childhood?

Once again, it’s the unconscious at work. Freud ‘s concept of Repetition Compulsion is still alive and valid. We keep trying to prove, over and over, that mommy and daddy really did love us. Getting a spouse to do what a parent never did is the object. We’ve replaced our parent with our spouse and can now spend the rest of our lives trying to get him or her to do what daddy and mommy never could. Good luck. There’s a reason 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Does this happen all the time? Of course not. There are many good marriages. But it happens enough to give us all something to ponder. Anytime we substitute an object(person) from our past with an object(person) from the present, there can be major problems. We expect too much or too little from our spouse and get furious when our needs aren’t met. How can our expectations be realistic when they’re driven by old unconscious wounds?

What’s there to do about it?

Sometimes nothing. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Sometimes it is wise to examine our own needs, the past, and whether our expectations are reasonable.

Would you expect anyone else to behave the way you’re expecting your spouse to behave when you use that obnoxious demanding tone? If you did, would they still be your friend?
Is there anyone else that you would dare to demand absolute, utter respect? Aren’t most friendships built on differing opinions? Are you capable of allowing your spouse a totally different perspective from yours? Some people from UCLA still have happy marriages when their spouse is from USC. Who would have thought?

Your ideas and thoughts are always welcome.

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. Continue reading

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A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO SUCCESS, By Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

Everyone has a theory on how to be successful — work hard, save money, make careful decisions, listen to your parents, don’t listen to your parents, be true to yourself, get a college degree, follow your heart, don’t be risk adverse and on and on. A good argument can be made for every single idea.

BUT… after reading about Penn State’s president, Eric Barron Ph.D., with credentials in geology, oceanography and supercomputing, I was moved and enthused by his approach to life.

First, it might be helpful to know that before taking the job at State College, Dr. Barron spent two years at the University of Texas building the Jackson School of Geosciences, another two years as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and four years as the president of Florida State University.

Everywhere he worked, he approached the task like the scientist he is, with countless hours individually interviewing key people and then facilitating these people to get together to continue the discussion. Only after all the data was in did Dr. Barron make his OWN decision.

On first thought, this doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but just another logical approach.

On second thought, it really is a big deal. It’s what good leaders and parents and psychiatrists do. Listen. Understand the issues. Validate other points of view. Work together to find a solution. It’s all about evaluating data, both conscious data and unconscious data.

Whatever the goal, if you evaluate what is needed, what a company wants and needs, what your spouse wants and needs, what your child is struggling to say, you will surely be more successful than doing everything in your power to prove how smart YOU are and how much YOU know. MOST people don’t like know-it-alls. Most people love it when they are heard and respected, even if they are proven wrong.

Dr. Barron is a gem and Penn State is fortunate to have such a man leading the university. Also, and the main point of this post, is that we have the opportunity to learn from Dr. Barron and from people like him who are willing to learn from others and use what science and practical experience have to offer. Not knowing something can always be corrected. In fact, knowing you are weak in a particular area is a good thing! Now you know what to focus on…

Art Smukler is the award-winning writer 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, Raising Children, Self Examination, World events, a psychological view | Tagged , , | Leave a comment