50 shades of the beast

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

Every time I turn on the TV, I am seeing scenes from Fifty Shades of Gray.

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Hollywood was, essentially, promoting S&M. One thing I do find interesting is that the woman who is the “love object” here is not some beauty queen out of Glamour. She looks like she could be the girl next door. Since when is the girl next door into this stuff?

Curious Clara


Dear Clara,

The target audience for this movie is women, so I would assume it is good marking to use Plain Jane rather than Barbie. Fifty Shades of Gray is a poorly written Beauty and the Beast story. It’s one of the myths our culture is founded on: love will redeem the beast. In reality this type of female sacrifice just leads to dysfunctional codependent relationships. Unfortunately, that is the nation’s romantic norm- sacrifice for love and all will be OK. A man will be redeemed because a woman nurtures him back to grace. Fifty Shades dresses the Beast in leather and gives him a private jet but it is the same old story so I am not surprised to see it on the silver screen again.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: perhaps it is because he is not a woman, but I think Dr. B is missing the boat when it comes to why women are so intrigued by this book. They are not lured by the idea of taming the Beast. They are lured by the idea of being taken by the Beast. They don’t want to sacrifice themselves so they can redeem the Beast. They want to be in the hands of a strong man who is expert and aloof and fabulously rich, yet somehow so drawn to Plain Jane that she is whisked into his fairy tale existence.

Screw the cultural dysfunctional codependence. This is about sex, about being with someone who is masterful and whom you wouldn’t dream of saying no to. S&M has always been in the top 10 of sexual fantasies. Sex sells and this was a very attractive package, so of course it’s a hit. It will be replaced by another hit in a few years and as long as the public wants it and will pay for it, this stuff will keep coming out.

Granny has a word of warning though- Women! Do not be fooled by this movie. If there is ever a fabulously rich, masterful man who lures you into such a relationship, it will not be for long. Anyone this young, and this good at the Game, is going to want to keep playing. Beasts cannot be tamed. And they will never willingly walk into a cage.

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Dear Abby what were you thinking?

Yesterday, Dear Abby gave the worst advice I’ve ever heard and I only hope this gets to the poor woman who wrote in before she follows it.

A wife and nurse presented the following scenario- her husband was a patient at the hospital she worked at and she pulled up his records just out of curiosity. She saw that his doctor had noted, “HIGH RISK FOR SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES.”  He’d had multiple tests, treatments, and work ups for these throughout their marriage while their own sex life was minimal. She asked Abby what she should do and if she should bring up what she discovered with her husband. Abby replied that what she had done was illegal but she should defiantly talk to him about it and rethink the status of the marriage.


Here’s the problem with the advice- what this nurse did is not only illegal, it is a federal crime. The least that will happen is that her husband will make a windfall in suing the hospital for the violation and damages, probably for a divorce directly related to the lack of protection of his health care information. This poor woman will also lose her license to practice medicine and incur fines and possibly jail time. She will at least be brought up by the medical board.

What she should do is say nothing about what she found but immediately discontinue having sex with him. She should get herself a good physical and catch him in another way, through phone records or a private detective. As he wasn’t too careful in the first place it probably won’t be hard to prove his infidelity another way.

If this husband is not rich losing her job and livelihood won’t be worth not waiting just a bit to get divorced.


Dr. Brilliant Cliché

CC: Dear ABBY and the sunchronicle.com

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Oxytocin and Love

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

Here’s something I don’t understand and I’m hoping you can help- why do women seem to become emotionally attached more easily than men? It seems that as soon as I become intimate with a guy, something happens to me- I begin thinking ahead to a deeper involvement, planning our possible wedding and future children…and the guy just wants to get out of bed and run the moment it’s over!

This is so common with the women I know that I have to wonder if it’s not just an emotional thing. Love makes us feel so wonderful, then the next minute, we are crashing into disappointment because the guy has left the page. Can you give me a clue?

Abban Donment


Dear Abby;

Chemicals influence the feeling of love and attraction in both women and men. When a woman is fertile she has a stronger sex drive and is more susceptible to falling in love. Men are drawn to fertile women because of pheromones but once fertility passes that chemical no longer holds a man’s interest in the same way.

Something as simple as catching and holding eye contact can set in motion a series of events that leads to baby making. Soulful staring, hugs, and orgasm release, to varying degrees, an attachment inducing hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin helps your brain imprint someone as friend or foe.

Herbal companies have already marketed oxytocin type sprays, but before you get any ideas- oxytocin can’t be used as a date enhancing drug. Sometimes oxytocin locks people into your social circle and you feel warm and fuzzy around them, but other times it locks people out and you feel aggressive toward them. Another hormone, serotonin, can make people love everyone indiscriminately. So an effective formula might come from adding serotonin to oxytocin then spraying it in your arm pits. You would then need your date to lick your armpit to get the full effect.


Woman may be more susceptible than men to the effects of oxytocin because of estrogen, a hormone made in the ovaries and fat tissue which moderates all the other hormones. If you lose too much fat you can become infertile. Estrogen might be a factor in why women gravitate to love rather than lust.

Oxytocin also moderates a hormone in the brain called dopamine, which regulates our sense of well being, our memory, learning ability and creativity. All street drugs target dopamine either directly or indirectly. So, when you gaze into a man’s eyes, especially while having an orgasm, the idea of detached friends with benefits is out the window. He is now imprinted into your brain as a love object. Whether you like it or not there will be all sorts of emotions invested in him now and you will suffer a withdrawal similar to that of heroin if he doesn’t call you or if he breaks up with you.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: you may be interested to know that not all women are created equal when it comes to that “instant bonding” effect; and the reason might surprise you.

A recent study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm showed that brain development tends to differ according to sexual preference: gay men develop brains that resembled those of straight women- the right and left sides are about the same size. Gay women’s brains are more apt to belike those of straight men- the right side tends to be slightly larger than the left. In the matter of emotions, gay men and heterosexual women are more alike…and gay women and heterosexual men are similar. Because of this, gays and heterosexuals also react differently to pheromones.

But let’s be real- there are far more factors that figure into human attraction and emotional focus than the size ratio of our brain hemispheres and our sexual preferences. Personal history, family role models, and basic self esteem are going to play into the equation as well.

There is another far more basic and primitive factor which seems to over ride much of the rest of this research data- women give birth to children, not men, and women have a realistic need for protection and commitment in raising those kids. Hence, their primary concern is in finding a permanent mate. Lust, and one-night stands, don’t count for much when ya gotta pay bills and take the kids to their soccer matches.

Unfortunately, as far as I can see, men still have a peculiar need to at least imagine they could impregnate multiple women and thus increase the likelihood that their genetic material is carried on. It’s a fact- unless they were artificially inseminated while under the influence of roofies, women always know, without a doubt, that the child coming out of their vagina is their own. For men, it is never a certainty. This might explain a lot.

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Don’t tell mom

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I was just diagnosed with stage two melanoma. I think I’m going to be OK, and I’m fully insured, so as far as my personal trauma from this, I am managing. The question I am torn over is whether or not I should tell my mother.

Mom lives alone and takes medication for an anxiety disorder. Her heart isn’t good. When my brother was diagnosed with a less dangerous type of skin cancer last year, he told her about it and she worried and fretted so much she made herself ill and had to be hospitalized. It turns out she needn’t have worried at all because his problem was been treated successfully and shows no signs of coming back. Melanoma is a little more serious and there’s a chance things could go wrong at this stage. However, there’s also a good chance I’ll respond well to the treatment and I’ll go on to live to a ripe old age.

I’m sure my mother would be hurt to the max if this was serious and I didn’t let her know. But it seems that until I have a better idea where this is going, I should keep her in the dark for her own well being. They say honesty is the best policy, but in this case, I’m really not sure. What do you think?


Dear Tanya,

There are no clear textbook answers here- you have to balance the potential damage of secrets against your mom’s tendency to overreact in a damaging way. What I will say is that past behavior predicts future behavior. If your mom went ballistic with worry in the past, she will do it again in this current situation and probably in any future events as well.

If your brother is strong enough to be your support within the family I would lean on him instead. Of course he would have to keep the secret too. If your mom finds out some day and is pissed off and says, “what, you think I couldn’t handle it?” you can look her in the eye, and respond with, “yes, that’s exactly what I think.”

If your heath does take a turn for the worse I don’t recommend keeping it from her, regardless of how crazy she might get. Her craziness, although a bit self-centered, is still her way of caring.  And caring is all that will matter at that point.


Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I seldom agree entirely with Dr. B, but in this case, there is nothing good that can come from telling the truth to your mom in these initial stages. It would be like yelling, “Fire! Run for your life!” in a crowded movie theater when, in fact, you’d just discovered that some idiot threw a cigarette butt in a garbage can and you can probably put it out with a glass of water.

However- if the smoldering begins to grow, starts inching towards the velvet curtains and there’s no water in sight…you might want to reconsider. Everyone has the right to know when their life, or the life of someone they love, is truly in danger.

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My perfect friend killed herself:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I’m graduating from high school next week and have a spot reserved at a good university in the fall. I should be feeling good, but I feel as if someone pulled the rug out from under me. I am hoping you can help.

My best friend killed herself the day before yesterday. Our school has brought in a grief counselor and is doing everything they can to help the students adjust,  but I don’t see how anything can help. The problem is, no one in a million years would have imagined that Lisa would commit suicide. She was smart, and she was so pretty it made me jealous. She always got a good part in drama club plays and everyone thought she would go on to really do something. She got accepted at Yale, for god’s sake. And right before graduation, she kills herself?

It makes me doubt everything around me. I feel lost, like there’s nothing to hold onto. If she had EVER given even a hint if this, it wouldn’t be so hard to take, but if Lisa was carrying around so much pain inside and nobody, I mean NOBODY, had a clue…how can I ever trust anything again? Everything seems like a shame, a card trick.  I just can’t process this.

Lorna Done


Dear Lorna,

Grief is unsettling and only time will help it to pass. That being said, I have some words to consider after the initial shock fades a bit.

Our culture is confusing. On the one hand, it tells us that our appearance and our actions define who we are. On the other hand, it tells us that it’s what’s inside that counts. I don’t think that either view is entirely true.

It doesn’t work to ground yourself in the external world because it’s something you have no control over. You shouldn’t ground yourself 100% in your internal world either because this can be a trap; emotions and thoughts are not always based in reality. The only effective way to ground yourself is with a feedback loop between your internal world and the external world. Who are you, relative to whom you wish to become? What course of action are you choosing? Are you surrounding yourself with people who compliment and support your goals? When you ground yourself this way, the questions become more important than the answers. It helps you to observe and pay attention.

You are not defined by what people think about you, or what college you are going to, or what scholarship you have. These are your tools, they are not you. The mistake your friend probably made was in not having a balance between her inner world and her outer world. A tool is not an endpoint, and seeing it as such turns life into a win or lose competition.

You cannot know what was in your friend’s mind. Her appearance may have been as good as it was because it was all that she had- there was no internal sense of self. She may have lived to please others. She might have been in pain or she may have suffered from guilt, emptiness, or confusion. Sometimes people kill themselves in a misguided belief that it is making the world a better place. There is no way of knowing for sure, and it is not a good idea for you to ground your own mind in a guess about someone else.

People commit suicide most often at transitions, either when things become really good or when they become really bad. These are the times when we can actually see our lives- when the auto pilot which runs us most of the time turns off.

I am sorry for your loss, but you are not she,

Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: the older I get, the more I realize that very few people will allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to reveal suffering or doubt to the outside eye…and with good reason- we live in a world where people who have the appearance of success or beauty are revered. If those same people are caught in a moment of weakness, or in a bathing suit that reveals their one square inch of cellulite, the media goes for their throats.

Those of us who look up from the ground at the idols on their pedestals don’t realize what a pressure it puts on them- they can only stay there as long as they are perfect. One wrong move, and they fall. It’s easy to become frozen in fear- a beautiful piece of preserved ice that will shatter at first touch.

Your friend was about to be moved from the pedestal she occupied in her own school, into a vast ocean where she was one small fish, battered by rivals who might be far better prepared for the fight. If she had no center and no soul to take with her, she must have been terrified at the prospect.

But let’s get back to you. Here’s the big question- how do you learn to trust again? That’s tough, because in a way, this was a betrayal- it’s as if Lisa lied to you with her beauty and her smiles. But think about it- her beauty was not a lie. She was beautiful. And her smile made other people smile. When she was in that moment, it was the most real she ever was. The lie was within herself.

If you ground yourself, and build yourself, you can trust that. Please, don’t worry. Go to school in the fall and fill your own life with purpose. In time, you will be fine.

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No I Don’t want to visit my Dad!

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

My daughter is 14 and she had been complaining that she doesn’t want to go on visitations with her dad anymore. I don’t believe there is any abuse going on, or danger- just that her dad has always been quiet and introverted and just a overall bummer to be around. I’ve had it with him, that’s why we are divorced, and I feel bad forcing her to be subjected to the same thing I had to put up with for years. Should I go back to court? Can I? Again, he is not abusing her.


Dear Mom,

Unfortunately life is what it is. We don’t get to choose our parents. Although you were able to back out of your marriage, you can’t back away from the consequences of that relationship.

Your daughter’s dad will always be her dad. Since there are no safety or abuse issues involved you can’t stop visitations. If he wants them, it is his legal right. If he doesn’t show up for visitations take it as a gift and don’t micro manage him. Either way, your daughter will need to learn how to deal with her dad. She needn’t go out of her way to try to make him happy but at the same time she must respect his way of being for what it is.

It’s a good life lesson to learn you- can’t change people, but you can learn who they are and decide whether you want to add them to your life. If you’d known this you probably wouldn’t have chosen your husband in the first place. The best thing you can do for your daughter is to make sure you are a good role model. Choose carefully now who you add to your life and develop a healthy reciprocal relationship. If you henceforth make good choices it will go a long way to help your daughter’s future.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: this rarely happens, but I agree with Dr. Brilliant. You can’t let your daughter avoid her father because she finds him hard to be around. It’s a terrible lesson to teach her: “just avoid anything that you don’t want to deal with.”

Another aspect of this is that your daughter and your husband share genetic material. This means that they are similar in certain ways whether they like it or not. Accepting and trying to understand her father could help her understand herself.

And this brings me to a point- Mom, you talk about your ex as if he were a chronic cold you finally got rid of. If I pick up on your attitude from one question, your daughter picks up on it too. Stop regarding your ex as nothing but a mistake! It’s a very destructive way to present him to your daughter because if he was a screw-up, and she’s half him, then what does this say about her own potentials? Could she have inherited the dud qualities too?

Here’s a better way to look at it: you were two young people who had things in common, but grew apart. There were valid reasons you had for choosing your husband, along with the ones that really were mistakes. Talk to your daughter about the qualities you were drawn to in her dad. Show appreciation for him as a human being. What does it say about you if you just picked some total loser who is nothing but “an overall bummer”? Hey, you must be a loser too, Mom, to think this guy was the best you could do. What is your daughter supposed to think about her own potentials now?

I think there are some lessons for both you and your daughter to learn here. By all means, role model what a responsible, caring adult should be. But unless you get rid of the dad-bashing attitude, you are not role modeling any adult behavior to be proud of yet.


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Want Not Pot Not:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I’ve been following your ongoing dialog about marijuana, and I have to say that when you look at kids who smoke it for non-medicinal reasons and just goof around, and you see pot as The New Big Problem to attack, you are missing an important point:
if the kids weren’t smoking pot, they would be doing something else. It is the nature of young, angst-ridden teens to try things, to explore, alter their chemistry and fling themselves into experiences without looking. This is just what they do.
If they didn’t smoke pot, they would not turn into clear-headed, upright citizens with productive lives. They are teens, for god’s sake.
They would simply start drinking instead. Or drag racing. Or Trying hard drugs, or hopping trains.
Do you actually see all that as a better alternative somehow?
I have to ask this question: considering that pot is the ONE drug that has never killed anyone with an overdose, and that although it has side effects like anything else, including sugar, it is far less corrosive to the human body than any other substance kids might turn to…
why are you so obsessed with trying to remove it from circulation and just make kids quit?
Wanda Ing


Dear Wanda,

I agree that teenagers experiment; they are supposed to. But in their experimentation they should be learning about themselves through disappointments and failures as well as through successes and achievements. Teen years are for developing and practicing skills that will more or less determine the quality of the life they will achieve. I see many teens who can’t be challenged. They have no inner sense of themselves to be able to overcome adversity if exposed to it. They avoid difficulties, throw tantrums, and argue, but cannot solve problems.

Studies don’t show that if teens don’t use marijuana they will try hard drugs instead, in fact studies show just the opposite. There is enough of a taboo against hard drugs and media news of people dying that most teens are put off by the notion. This has little to do with marijuana, which is marketed very differently from heroin.  

What I find particularly dangerous and off putting about marijuana is in how it works. It raises a chemical in the brain “dopamine.” Dopamine is the chemical behind pleasure, learning, and creativity. It is part of a feedback loop- when you actively do something or create something, dopamine rises to make you feel pleasure in your act and then reinforces you to do again. Raising this chemical through an external, unearned means like smoking pot makes you feel you accomplished something but you didn’t. There is no need too. This is what causes the unmotivated stoner archetype- you feel like you’re doing something but you really aren’t. It makes you think you’re more creative than you really are and believe you are being social when in reality you aren’t leaning those abilities. Social skills have to do with conflict resolution and communication- not just feeling socially connected by sitting on the couch next to someone.

Feeling good without earning it also encourages avoidant behavior. I see too many people avoid life and conflict rather than negotiating or dealing with it. Life isn’t perfect; there is and always will be suffering. Success requires real creativity, real flexibility and the ability to deal with failure and conflict.

If you don’t develop skills to deal with stress in your teen years, you often never will. I believe avoiding conflict and suffering in the short term causes suffering in the long term.

I believe the most valuable thing humans have is our free will. In fact I believe it is what makes us human. When we bypass the normal learning feedback circuit in the brain and feel good without doing anything to deserving it, we don’t develop the skills to make choices. I believe this subjugates our free will.

Just because marijuana won’t kill you like heroin will doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous to the overall well-being of our teens.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I understand that Dr. Brilliant is alarmed by the manner in which the dysfunctional teens who come through his office use marijuana. However, using dysfunctional teens as the standard by which to gauge the overall effect of pot is like judging the health benefits of red wine by how it affects dysfunctional alcoholics. It is a fact that many of the people who are high achievers in our society are known to smoke pot. The difference is that for high achievers, pot is just something they use…and for abusers, marijuana is something that uses them.

In light of that, here’s the facts- tobacco and alcohol are the top abused substances in this country today. They are both legal and socially acceptable…and responsible for ruining millions of lives and causing illness and premature death. In addition, alcohol causes avoidant behavior and arrested social skills and inflates people’s perception to make them feel they are more gregarious, creative and happy than they really are. If we are making a comparison, apples to apples, in my opinion alcohol and tobacco are both far more dangerous to human health than pot. As to the psychological dangers of pot? Of course, there are dangers. It’s a powerful substance and in the wrong hands, it can be damaging. But I do not think that the best way to get the facts across is by trying to shove them down people’s throats.

I take a different attitude towards teens and drugs than Dr. Brilliant. Rather than lecturing about all the dangers, I think it best to educate about drug realities in a different way.

Teens have finely honed bullshit detectors. If you rant statistics and studies at them, they know you are talking to them from behind a desk. You haven’t been there. You haven’t experienced it first hand. This is why teens resist counseling. A therapist might listen to the dysfunctional people who come into their office, and take notes and read studies and preach…but to teens it’s all just bullshit. It doesn’t interest them or register with them. It’s just another earnest, dull adult trying to tell them what to do. Blah, blah, blah.

In order to understand the realities of drugs, teens need to listen to real people, from their own socioeconomic level, who have lost their lives to drugs. Ex-addicts have zero bullshit left anywhere in them. They aren’t blowing hot air and theories. They know. Teens understand this right away and listen to them in a way that they would never listen to a therapist; I think that a visit to a Narcotics Anonymous or AA meeting would be a real eye opener.

It’s one thing to “know” the truth. But it’s quite another thing to communicate the truth so that people can hear it and be helped by it. Lecturing does not make teens receptive. It makes them turn off and decide to lie to you about everything they do.

More people kill themselves with sugar (think diabetes, cancer and heart disease) in this country every day than with marijuana. Should we start a campaign against sugar? Should we scream at parents who give their kids candy and tell them it’s setting them up for a lifetime of problems? Yeah, that’d go over big.

You can’t force people to do the right thing by ranting at them. However, if you offer them a realistic perspective, sometimes they actually figure it out themselves. In truth, that is the ONLY way for real change to happen.

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Marijuana is not bubble gum:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I’m all for medical marijuana and the regulation rather than criminal suppression of pot.

I think that I would probably rather see kids smoke pot occasionally than see them get involved with the other recreational substance available both legally and on the black market…but there is an aspect of legalization that bothers me: people are going to be idiots and misuse marijuana like they misuse everything else. And it pisses me off. 

Marijuana has the potential to be a substance that can help us manage chronic health problems without the sometimes fatal side effects of pharmaceuticals.

It can be a relaxing, yet mind opening form of attitude adjustment that won’t kill you in the process. But people aren’t going to use it like that.

With the more is better attitude Americans take with everything,people are just going to be stupidly stoned and teens are going to waste their best years of opportunity, in a jaw gaping haze, watching the fish in their aquarium.

 Any thoughts on this? 

Abigail Adams


Dear Abigail,

Yes, Unfortunately, we need laws to make things clear to the stupidest people- like those tags on lemon scented detergent that say “not for human consumption,” or those labels on coffee that say, “warning: HOT!”

In our system, regulations are shaped from lawsuits. In the case of marijuana there’s no one to sue thus no accountability. Regulations are also why there really is no such thing as “medical marijuana.” It is not a medication; at least not yet. It is not regulated by the FDA. It is an herb that has achieved its own special category. This does not mean it doesn’t have its uses, but there is so much misinformation, politics, culture and desire that no one really knows what it does or does not do. Most importantly, there is no real accountability.

Marijuana is not bubble gum. It is mind altering. It can have dopamine side effects: de-realization, the wiggles, restless legs, paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble focusing and concentrating. Although rare, these can become permanent, especially if there is a family history of mental vulnerability. Marijuana can also substitute for otherwise healthy adaptive behaviors. And no form of burnt carbon is good for anyone’s lungs.

Yes, a lot of psychiatric medications may be more dangerous and many are even more abused but at least there is supposed to be some measure of review and regulation. Marijuana is not treated like any other medication. It is not subject to the same standards of review as any other medication and that is worrisome.

Until we can sue someone for what ills marijuana causes us it should not be on the open market as there will be no way to shape stupid people’s behavior around it.

Look at tobacco. The law suits around that product have really made a difference in what we know about it and how it is used in this country.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: Dr. Brilliant has unwittingly backed up every argument I have for the legal regulation of marijuana in his efforts to argue against it.

I understand the danger in the irresponsible use of marijuana and I wholeheartedly agree that there is no way that anyone can abuse pot without losing valuable time and brain cells. I also think that teens should stay the hell away from it while they are in their formative years. But what I think doesn’t really mean crap. I’m not the one who is making every individual’s choice for them.

First, we need to address this question: is it possible to stop people from using pot by continuing to make it illegal? The answer is no. In fact, in Amsterdam where pot is legal, teens have a harder time obtaining it that they do here; the government is pretty strict about prohibiting sales to minors. But here in American anyone, at any time, can get pot from someone on the street, at work, in school or at home. We are not going to stop kids from smoking pot by keeping it illegal.

Next, we have to ask this question: does education have any effect on teens and substance abuse? Thankfully, the answer to this is a resounding YES. It is not the threat of legal action that has caused the teen smoking rate drop drastically since the 1980’s. That decrease is due to monumental efforts to warn the public about the dangers of tobacco. Everyone has to make their own decision to control their addictions; and that is the ONLY reason anyone is ever successful.

Oh, and about this matter of FDA approval- the FDA has been approving medications for years that never should have left the factory. The biggest requirement for getting the FDA to approve something is to be a huge pharmaceutical company with lobbyists, a padded bank account, and dreams of profits. Substances can cause addiction and have life threatening side effects and limited effectiveness yet still be approved if someone stands to make money off of them. A recent update on a study by the NY Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 210,000 deaths per year in this country are associated with pharmaceuticals and preventable harm in hospitals; the true number may be more than 400,000. What science left out of their approval procedure is this: people use these drugs and apply these procedures, and people are idiots. The FDA can’t do a damned thing about that.

If people don’t make their own choices there is no real change, there is only suppression, which as the Victorians can tell you, generally produces more perversion and damage than whatever is being suppressed. Education is the only answer.

Accountability is something that comes from legalization. You cannot account for any substance which is unregulated, moves through the black markets and is sold by criminals. We are not going to make any headway in getting teens to understand the real consequences of marijuana until we take it out of the back alleys and regulate it in a responsible manner.

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We have the privilege now of being included in a few online magazines, Motif and Wicked Local. Here is a post on modesty and the inability to pee in public that was not posted on wordpress previously.


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It just takes practice:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I am so sick of the hypocrisy! Every New Year’s Eve, I listen to people babble incoherently about all the great resolutions they are starting “tomorrow.”
Tomorrow comes and some of them manage to actually make it one day. I’ve seen them go as long as a month. Then- boom!
That’s it. I start hearing excuses and elaborate explanations as to why the “one slip” meant nothing.

Before you know it, they get to the point where they don’t even bother with the excuses anymore. If I ask what happened to the resolution,
they just say , “oh, shut up.”

Why do people even bother with this BS? It’s obvious that nobody can “just do it.”

Betty Brown

Dear Betty,

Recent evidence has shown that for the most part humans don’t pay attention to much of their lives. They operate largely on auto pilot. Habits and ritual are what define who we are. Occasionally, we may stop and take a look at ourselves. New Year’s Eve is one of these times. We access what we would like to change, we make resolutions…we pay attention for a while. Then we revert back to auto pilot and do what we were doing before.

Permanent change is possible, but studies show it requires conscious attention for 2 to 7 years to install a new behavior into our automatic processes. Most people give it a month- if they don’t see results by then, they say they have given it their all and quit.

Advertising is brilliant because it can capture our attention with a true issue but at the same time manipulate us with false expectation of quick results.

So, yes- you can “just do it;” but you have do it every moment of every day for the next 7 years. I have noticed it gets easier after about 5 months but it’s by no means automatic at that point. Any stress can cause a person to revert to old behaviors before that waiting period is up. It takes about 10,000 hours of practice before a new behavior truly becomes part of us.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: New Year’s Eve is when everyone makes resolutions because that’s when EVERYONE is making resolutions. The communal support is there. Advertisers even change the concentration of commercials on TV. During the holidays, you get continuous messages to indulge and splurge, along with voluminous recommendations for antidepressants…but after the holidays the fitness clubs, nicotine gum and Slim Fast sales pitches skyrocket. There’s nothing wrong with that wistful yearning for change. The problem is that when people anticipate change, as with New Year’s, they usually allow themselves to be extra indulgent before they quit. This is why the whole idea of resolutions, in the hands of idiots, can actually be dangerous. Real change takes time. If you are going to try to alter a habit of a lifetime, I do not suggest that you ever “just quit.” A much better idea is to replace the old habit with a new habit. Practicing the new habit gives you something to do while you are going nuts over withdrawal from the old one.

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