Poverty and Living on the Edge

Perhaps I misunderstand the article “Living on the Edge” in last week’s Rappahannock Record in Kilmarnock, Virginia but the tone suggests that any “gap” in the matrix of services for those deemed “less fortunate” points to a need for some combination of increased philanthropy and/or an expansion in the number and size of programs designed to make them “more fortunate.” In my opinion as a professional helper, it is far from a foregone conclusion that the helping industry is unacceptably small and that things would be better for the less fortunate if only there were more services and generosity.

Economist Walter Williams at George Mason University has suggested that avoiding poverty is relatively easy to accomplish if only people made better decisions, and one’s circumstances can be improved if a better pattern of decisions becomes introduced into one’s way of being in the world. In various essays and syndicated columns, he suggests the following:

  1. Take school seriously and graduate from high school with a good GPA and a good reputation such that obtaining favorable letters of recommendation from former teachers and a good transcript are easy to provide if requested.
  2. Obtain a two-year degree from the local community college with continued good grades and a good reputation. Pursue the degree on a part-time basis, if necessary, and explore opportunities for financial assistance. Express gratitude for the source of the financial assistance.
  3. Work at gainful employment while studying toward the Associate’s Degree, and work hard at your job so that your boss will be pleased at the decision to hire you in the first place and will speak well of you when you are ready for that better job.
  4. Do not start a family until you are married.
  5. Buy an inexpensive home as soon as you can afford to do so.
  6. Take care of your credit score. Borrow money only for something that will increase in value.
  7. Make the first six items on this list a part of your core values, and only date people who share them.
  8. Have a starter home and some money in the bank before you marry and start a family.
  9. Stay focused and recognize that a large cadre of professional helpers requires a large population of “helpees” to stay in business. Avoid a style of help that cultivates dependency.

The importance of these principles seems conspicuously absent in the discussion of how best to address the “gaps in dealing with poverty.” Perhaps future discussions will better address the issue of personal responsibility. Readers may wish to visit walterwilliams.com for an elaboration on his recommendations.

Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

 

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Opiate Dependency and Chronic Pain in the Lower-back

100 million Americans have chronic pain.

Although the U.S. makes up 5% of the world’s population, it uses 80% of the world’s opiates. Lower back pain is the most common type of chronic pain and LBP is the most-common reason for the prescribing of opiate medication. We are slowly coming to recognize that opiates are not a risk-free alternative to other medications as they were once touted to be.

Oyster Point Psychological can help patients safely “dis-attend” to their sensations of pain and achieve an ideal healing state to treat LBP. We can also help you become weaned from opiate medications, and reduce central sensitization while tapering opiate medication. The inclusion of clinical hypnosis, as it is currently practiced, can facilitate healing in a multi-modal paradigm of care for reduction of pain and medication dependency and move selected patients from a treatment paradigm of fixing to a paradigm of healing.

Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

804-435-6777

ajb@oysterpointpsychological

 

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Self-hypnosis Training for Habit Control, Addictions, and Those in Recovery

Habit control is one condition for which hypnosis and self-hypnosis training are often utilized. I refer to those patients who wish to smoke and drink less frequently, address emotional eating, and maintain more poise and calm in situations that have elicited the fight-or-fight response in the past. It can also help resolve trauma – especially the trauma that can set the stage for mood alteration and addictive relationships.

John Bradshaw, author of Healing the Shame that Binds You, defines an addiction as “any pathological relationship with a mood-altering substance or behavior that has life-damaging consequences.” Those in recovery (or those who wish to be) from the grip of alcohol, tobacco, opioids, prescription medications of various types, recreational drugs, pornography, gambling, emotional eating or any other addictive relationship sometime find that instruction in self-hypnosis can be helpful in promoting progress toward therapeutic goals and/or providing a source of help in getting past a situation that has been accompanied by relapse.

To discuss whether hypnosis has something to offer you, patients are invited to call for a free 15-minute telephone consultation during which the patient’s needs, interests, and particular circumstances can be discussed under conditions of confidentiality, trust, and respect.

For information regarding availability, fees, and other arrangements, please call or email, and we usually respond within one business day.

Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

ajb@oysterpointpsychological.com

804-435-6777

 

 

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Are Manners Really Important? by Ginger Philbrick

What about Manners?  Are manners really important? Is being polite necessary, or even important, anymore?

A new book to help us in our efforts to employ good manners is just off the press!  It is larger than any I’ve seen before, and its sales success is assuring me that interest in our behavior has not died. Truthfully, I don’t need those publication facts, though, to tell me manners still matter.  I see evidence of it every day, almost everywhere.

We are human, with feelings, or sensitivities. I step on your toe.  It not only hurts physically, but it will probably arouse either anger or, if you like me, the feeling you have been affronted at least a little bit and that that fact is worthy of some recognition by me.  If I don’t employ good manners by apologizing, the world has just become a little meaner for you.

I engage in a cell phone conversation about week-end plans while eating lunch with you. You will most likely feel that you don’t matter to me as much as the person on the phone does.  When I end the conversation, if I can’t kindly explain why that isn’t so, you go away feeling lessened by my rudeness.

You send me an invitation to a dinner party, with a request to RSVP. I figure you don’t actually expect ME to respond because you know I always come to your parties and will probably be there. You feel a rising resentment when I show up without any idea of apologizing for my thoughtlessness.

Those are just 3 of innumerable situations where my, and your, attention to manners can make a world of difference in another’s life.  Respect is at the heart of it all; caring as much about another’s feelings as we do our own.  Likening the importance of manners to a competition between civility and incivility, whenever 2 or more beings interact, the playing field is in use. Unless the powerful force of respect is brought into the game by civility, the game is forfeited to incivility and, in truth, no one wins.

We aren’t living 2 centuries ago when a gentleman or lady could not speak to another gentleman or lady unless introduced by a mutual acquaintance. However, we still hold that introductions are important to good manners because they show respect for all involved.

We no longer believe that children should be seen and not heard when with their elders. However, we do encourage our young ones to speak quietly and kindly when in a social setting.

Our spoken and written words are not as embellished with deferential expressions as those of our 20th century forebears, but it is still important to us to teach our children the good manners of saying the “magic” words such as please, thank you and I’m sorry.

Are good manners dying?  I think they are only changing.  I will admit they often appear to lose to coarser, ruder behavior, but in the end, civility is such a powerful challenger and, besides love, it is the only one that brings true peace.

Ginger Philbrick is an author, teacher and columnist who owns “Because You Are Polite…LLC, a source for suggestions on how to employ good manners in our lives. Her works are available on her website, becauseyouarepolite.com, or you may contact her directly at youarepolite1@gmail.com.

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Opioid Dependency, Habit Disorders and Self-hypnosis for Those in Recovery

Hypnosis is sometimes called “an empty syringe,” and a properly-trained therapist can sometimes potentiate psychotherapy for opioid dependency and habit disorders via the supplemental use of self-hypnosis training. In other words, the contents of the syringe are given enhanced potency.

Oyster Point Psychological now offers self-hypnosis training for patients who are working on reducing troublesome habits and dependencies such as opioid dependency, emotional eating and smoking, and those who are in recovery from addiction to para-prescriptive drugs. Oftentimes, these are the patients who deem their recovery to be fragile with high possibility for relapse.

Prospective patients for hypnosis services are encouraged to discuss their interest with a therapist of their choosing. Licensure to practice clinical hypnosis and/or membership in a professional society offering graduate-level training in clinical hypnosis is often a good place to start. The American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis maintain directories of membership – via geographical location and specialization. A patient’s family physician can also be a good source of information on this topic.

We offer an eight-week class in self-hypnosis, and prospective clients who are interested in discussing whether this approach may be helpful are invited to call for a complimentary consultation. We can be reached at 804-435-6777 and by e-mailing ajb@oysterpointpsychological.com.

“Sometimes it’s more important to know what kind of person has the disease than what kind of disease the person has.” – Hippocrates

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Replacing Obamacare: Personal responsibility and common sense

When conservatives talk about replacing Obamacare with something that will “maintain coverage,” we should notice that they are talking about more big, paternalistic government that enables those among us who abdicate responsibility for our own circumstances. We need more personal responsibility and common sense.

How should Obamacare be repealed and replaced? Here goes:

  1. Repeal that portion of the tax code that makes the cost of healthcare premiums deductible for employers.
  2. Change the tax code so that the cost of healthcare premiums is deductible for individuals. In this way, health insurance becomes portable, and individuals can claim a deduction for the cost.
  3. Repeal all laws that prohibit health insurance companies from selling their products across state lines. This would increase competition and lower prices – much like homeowners’ insurance and auto insurance.
  4. Eliminate all mandates. If you are post-menopausal, you should not be required to buy maternity benefits. If you don’t want drug treatment coverage, you should not be required to buy it.
  5. If you want coverage for pre-existing conditions (e.g., you have already broken your leg, gotten cancer, or had that heart attack), you can talk about the possibility of buying post-facto coverage with the insurance representatives you consult from your hospital bed. Coverage for a pre-existing condition is a matter that customers, prospective customers, and insurance carriers can discuss among themselves, and neither the government, nor the taxpayers, have any business in it.
  6. If you lack the good judgment to buy health insurance when you are healthy and costs are low, and you experience a loss, costs associated with this loss are yours and yours alone, and you cannot discharge these obligations via bankruptcy. This debt follows you whenever you try to buy a car, purchase cable TV services, or borrow money for a home. It is a blight on your credit until you pay it off, and you cannot stick it to the taxpayers.

— Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

 

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National Child Abuse Month: Inter-generational Plunder?

April is National Child Abuse Month, and I am asking my friends to do three things: (1) think of deficit spending as fiscal child abuse, (2) get the term “inter-generational equity” into the conversation and (3) hold elected representatives to a pay-down-the-debt position with no new borrowing. My congressman gives this issue minimal attention, and he can do far better.

Call your congressman today and insist that borrowing our children head-over-heels into debt is indefensible, and say that you will not stand for it.

Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

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Addictive relationships: Are therapists enablers?

Author, trainer, and therapist, John Bradshaw, speaks of addictive relationships during his presentation on the topic: Healing The Shame that Binds You. This presentation was made during his promotion of his book by the same title and was recorded by KUHT-TV in Houston.

During his talk, John Bradshaw defines an addictive relationships as: “any pathological relationship with a mood-altering substance or activity that has life-damaging consequences.” I have come to conclude that therapists see some mood-altering relationships and activities more clearly than others, and this selective focus does a disservice to therapy clients and to those who pay for their care.

In my experience, therapists tend to see substance-dependency clearly. Examples of dependency-prone substances are cocaine, alcohol, heroin, tobacco, methamphetamine, and para-prescriptive drugs. They also tend to see dependency-prone behavior clearly when the activities involve gambling, pornography, rageaholism, workaholism, and codependency. In my personal experience, many therapists seem to encourage dependency on various welfare programs and support political figures who view the welfare-dependent and members of the helping industry as special interest groups, whose votes can swing an election.

These therapists seem to think kindly of themselves with respect to their own enabling tendencies when it comes to clients, who are, arguably, in developmental arrest with respect to their own dependency upon food stamps, Section 8 Housing, Medicaid healthcare, Medicaid transportation, free and reduced-price school lunch, free health clinics, disability benefits for the non-disabled, and other charitable ventures that may be well-intentioned but misguided. Perhaps dependency upon therapists belongs in the mix.

In the world of physical medicine, we use the word iatrogenics in talking about the illness caused by the physician – such as the sponge or clamp left in the patient’s abdomen during surgery. Perhaps therapists are vulnerable to charges of iatrogenic behavior, when we see one type of dependency so clearly and another type of dependency poorly if at all.

If we, as therapists, are committed to helping our patients overcome dependency, whatever form it takes, a discussion involving welfare-dependency belongs in the mix. In my opinion, such a discussion is long overdue.

Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

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Muslims hate the United States?: Morning Joe thinks not!

On March 9th, Republican front-runner Donald Trump said that Muslims hate the United States, and former congressman and journalist, Joe Scarborough, devoted no small amount of time on his television program, Morning Joe, castigating Mr. Trump for putting forward such an abhorrent idea. The next day, Mr. Scarborough and his sidekick, Mika Brzezinski, seem unaware of how the Islamic hatred of Christianity, Judaism, the LGBT community, and non-Muslim citizens of the United States is incompatible with good mental health and freedoms we take for granted in the United States.

As a mental health professional, I believe that there are political paradigms that promote mental health, and those that do not. Islam and sharia fall into the second of these two categories. The beheadings, stonings, and amputations that take place in Islamic countries are undeniable, as are the “weddings” that take place between men in their sixties and “brides” who are nine, ten, and eleven years of age. Those of us who are not Muslim are, by definition, “infidels,” and the holy writings of Islam instruct Muslims to do one of three things when they encounter infidels: (1) convert them to Islam, (2) enslave them, or (3) kill them.

The holy texts of Islam also permit Muslims to engage in strategic misrepresentation of their true intentions, if such misrepresentations facilitate infiltration into the homes, organizations, neighborhoods, and governmental agencies of the United States. Interested readers are referred to taqiyya and kitman.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski may be well-intentioned, but their misguided certitude on this matter does not serve well their viewing public. The viewers of Morning Joe would be better informed if Joe and Mika did their homework before fatuous chest-thumping on national television.

Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

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Clinical Hypnosis as an Empty Syringe

Knowing of my interest and training in clinical hypnosis, a friend recently asked, “Can you hypnotize and make me stop eating?” My (mildly obese) friend posed the question in a somewhat mocking and derisive manner. I smiled, and we soon found ourselves talking about something else.

My major professor during my internship at a regional medical school liked to say, “Hypnosis is an empty syringe. I do not teach anyone hypnosis unless I know what they are going to put in the syringe.” His emphasis, of course, was to teach the trance induction skills only to trained mental health professionals, who knew what to do with the trance experience once it had been achieved and were also prepared to deal with the lifting and re-living of repressed memories (i.e., abreactions), should this take place.

Clinical hypnosis can be an effective approach to habit control (e.g., smoking), weight control, and pain management. It can also facilitate progress in conventional psychotherapy but is not, in itself, psychotherapy.

Individuals who believe that clinical hypnosis may have something to offer them are encouraged to ask a potential therapist if their license reflects an endorsement in clinical hypnosis and/or if they are certified by either of the two professional organizations: the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis or the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

— Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

 

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