For those that follow my blog and have been wondering why no recent posts , I have been guest writing at Motif  the RI on line journal with The Granny Dr.  on her self help column Advice from the Trenches.

you can continue following my posts there at


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This is our Blog post for the Holidays for Motif, I re-post here as at my work the meaning of the holidays is often an apt discussion.


Dear C and Dr. B;

It’s the holidays and at our house, it’s a bit of a bipolar affair. My dad is Jewish and my mom Catholic, which makes us a Chrismukkah or Festivus kind of family. My dad says both ways are derivative of Winter solstice. But I know that Hanukkah deals with freedom of religion from Greek assimilation and is based on the miracle of one day’s worth of oil lasting for 8 days. I know Christmas is about Jesus’s birthday and it was moved to coincide with the winter solstice. I know both of these holidays have been commercialized into competing with glitter and presents. But none of this really resonates with me. Isn’t there some deeper meaning in both?

Merry Meaning

Dear Merry:

There’s a lot more to it than you’ve mentioned, and each holiday has a very different focus.

Christmas is about the perfect day, like a Hallmark card. It’s a day that represents what all days could aspire to and what all days should be compared too. This is why people feel such pressure at Christmas. The elf on the shelf & Santa’s good list are designed to make sure we stay in line and behave better than ourselves. It’s a day of giving and charity, a day to shine, tolerate, and be kind to our families and all those around us.

Hanukkah, on the other hand, tells a complex story. In commemorating the war between the tiny Maccabees army and the powerful Greeks, a lesson is taught about the power of the small, and about the one igniting and becoming the many. The menorah represents this miracle that One is much more than one, where literally one day of oil lasts for 8 days. This metaphor is also symbolized in the 8 candle menorah where there is another special ninth candle called the ‘shammash’ or servant candle which lights the other candles. This one candle lights another each day until all are burning thus each day, darkness is further defeated, far more than it would be by one candle alone. The menorahs are meant to be shown in the windows of each house in the community to increase solidarity and make the community stronger and brighter than any one individual.

One thing both holidays have in common – the food is great!

Happy Festivus,

Dr. B

C says: If you look into world cultures, there’s a number of religions and countries that have different celebrations around Christmas time – Kwanzaa (Africa) and St. Lucia Day (Sweden) come to mind. They all have one thing in common – they honor tradition carried down through the ages, they place emphasis on family and close connections, and they all call for special foods, decorations, and gifts. We’ve commercialized the living crap out of all of them because this is a capitalistic world, and where there is money to be made, people will lunge after it…but the sentiments are still really in the right place. We all are kinder and more loving in December because of it.

I will never forget one Christmas Eve when I traveled by bus to Logan airport in Boston and waited through 7 hours of delays only to have my flight home to Buffalo cancelled due to snow. By the time I returned to Providence, it was late. I made a run from the Greyhound bus stop with my gift laden suitcase banging my knees all the way, and stumbled into Kennedy Plaza only to see the last bus of the night pulling away. I was so overwhelmed that I sat down on my suitcase and wept. I opened my eyes when bright lights hit them- it was the departing bus, come back for me. Passengers in the back had seen my plight and asked the driver to turn around. The driver gave me a ride to my doorstep and a kind soul even paid my fare. No one knew me from a hole in the ground and they were probably exhausted and wanted to get home, yet they all had the same thought – “someone needs help. Let’s help!” I will never forget it.

So, whatever holiday you celebrate, remember the words of the Dalai Lama and take them forward into the coming years: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

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where I have been of Lately

The last few months I have been guest writing at Motif, Providence’s on line Journal. I joined up with the former Granny Dr. and have been helping on her New blog there. off and on from July 2018 thru current  issues.  Look for Dear C and Dr. B ,  The link to them is :



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Everybody’s doing it!

Human behavior is largely determined by the perceived social norm. If at college one feels everyone drinks and does pot one will most likely drink and do pot. In fact, the highest risk for teenage drug and alcohol abuse right now is college as it is perceived in college that “everyone does it.” College students are 2x as likely to drug and alcohol than the same age non-college peers at this time.

If one feels bigotry is socially acceptable normative behavior one will most likely display bigotry behaviors. This was seen in Nazi Germany when average people became hateful to Jews as it was socially acceptable normative behavior.

This is why it is so important that we choose leaders who take charge in setting healthy normative behaviors.

This is why TV and movies and media act to set what a cultures normative behavior is. What people see on TV, you tube, ect. they are in fact more likely to copy and do. This applies for stupid or horrendous behaviors as well. The more people see ‘it’ the more ‘it’ feels normal and is PRECIEVED as the social norm even if it is not but it over multiple repetitions ‘it’ becomes the ‘new norm.’

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Dr.  Should I smoke pot? All my friends say I should!

A client came in complaining of sever anxiety. All her friends said why don’t you just smoke pot. They all said it helps them. She asked me should I?

I said let’s look at your anxiety in context to the big picture. Anxiety is a normal physiological response like pain. It is there biologically to increase your chance of survival in an inhospitable world and is supposed to inform your behavior.

Upon exploring her living situation we learned her husband is an alcoholic and can get mean. She is financially dependent on her husband’s income and trapped.  If she were to leave him she would need change out of her kids school as she couldn’t afford to live in the neighborhood they do currently.  “I will bite the bullet” she said for her family. She felt also her kids love their dad and she doesn’t want to be the bad one and separate them from him.

So looking at the context  what she really was asking for was something to allow her to numb and tolerate a shitty situation. Studies show medicating this way in 10 years the client is worse off than before they ever took a medication. IE treating her situation with marijuana would allow her to placate and tolerate a shitty relationship for a longer period of time while conditions in her life continue to deteriorate. The next time her anxiety would return as inevitably it will her mess will be a lot bigger. Her kids via shitty role modeling will have learned to have codependent relationships themselves and to also tolerate shitty situations. Also her kids will have learned to take medications or street drugs to enable tolerating shitty situations. The relationship with no new skills added will be a lot worse. And as no new skills were learned the chance of going into another shitty relationship after this one implodes is extremely likly.

Instead of marijuana or any other medication to tolerate a shitty situation it would be better to ask this series of questions:

  • If you were your daughter and she was in your exact situation what would you tell her to do?  Would you tell her to stay in a crappy relationship to maintain a poor role model for her kids?
  • What would your mother tell you to do?
  • If you were not you but if you were your best friend what would you tell her to do?
  • Look at all the people telling you to smoke pot. How are their relationships? Are they headed for possible future trouble? Are they not dealing with shit?  Are they people you would want your daughter to take advice from?

Add these things together and let that inform your behaviors.

Any medication or substance that discourages rather than encourages the acquisition of new skills is a real bad idea.  Any medication or substance used to bypass the common sense behavior feedback loop with the environment one lives in and or enable a bad situation to continue is a real bad idea. Especially those situations that one feels in their heart compelled to do or continue but in their heads if they were to evaluate it they would say “what was I thinking!”









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Why did the boy torcher a cute AI toy?

On NPR (Radio Lab) last night there was a show on Blog bots (AI – artificial intelligent)  computers that can talk with people and that for the most part you can no longer tell you are talking to a computer. They also had on this show the developer of the ferby doll and a more sophisticated cute AI dinosaur doll for kids.     His intent was to make a toy that encouraged empathy in humans. It showed affection but also if hurt cried, whimpered and limped. Soon after its release a video of it being systematically tortured, abused, and eventual beat to death went viral, 100,000 likes.  While 1000,000 people cheered on it whimpered and cried, louder and louder until it eventually died.  The inventor was dumfounded and appalled that a toy he made to encourage empathy instead brought out antisocial behavior. He was in development of an AI baby doll and now had no idea what to do to prevent people from torturing and abusing it?  The answer he drew was to just have it turn off if it was abused but a better answer would be like in the experiment  MIT developed for hate speech on the internet. They wrote an AI bot that would troll the trolls and when hate speech was identified would say things like that is not appropriate, you hurt his feelings, and such. They found that if the troll didn’t know they were talking to a computer and if the likes the bot has were greater than the likes the troll had they would tone down or off their antisocial negative speech.   The dinosaur doll and new baby doll if abused should do the same. Stop whimpering, turn to an adult voice and point out the inappropriate behavior. Turn to behavioral teaching mode.


Why did the abuse of the dinosaur toy go viral? And how does that relate to the turning down of hate speech when talking to a perceived more popular person?


Humans are territorial animals. We think in terms of us or them. They are in or out of our social group.   Humans are also pecking order animals.  The systematic beating of the toy robot satisfies both criteria. It  says we are above the computer/better and they are out/other.

It shows the same thing studies on natzi soldiers showed. They were normal healthy individuals, no psychopathology for the most part but easily given to other and out thinking and we they and we are better than they.


A friend of mine studies psychopathology and psychopaths. His research is consistent with the natzi research showing that psychopathic behavior isn’t some separate and unique behavior limited to few sick individuals but an exaggeration of normal behavior everyone has. A natzi or an abuser of a robot toy are on the spectrum of normal human behavior.  As a culture we have to be vigilant not to let this become the norm of behavior for easily and quickly it can and will.  A little of other mixed with a tad of better than is all it takes to shed tears and blood.



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marijuana to heroin

The legalization of marijuana is going to increase not decrease heroin use.  The marijuana advocacy groups advertise that legalization and dissemination of marijuana will replace heroin use. They claim studies show this but what they aren’t taking into account is the sales force out there for illegal marijuana. Once marijuana is  legalized they won’t just give up their customer base or their influence.  They just switch everyone to heroin. They start with free samples or mixing into their marijuana. It only takes a few hits and they have secured their customer base.  They don’t care a lick if a percent die as there are always more.   I have already been seeing this starting to happen where I work.

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Bully to Friend in the End

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I have known my mechanic for many years now and we’ve had some good talks. He’s always reminded me of someone from my past and it was quite a surprise when I realized recently who it was- the school bully who used to torture me on the playground.

It’s funny, because my mechanic is a really nice guy now, a good dad, a hard worker. We each have a very different way of looking at the world, but he respects me and finds my opinions interesting. I suspect that 35 years ago he would have probably been making fun of my clothes and giving me a bloody nose. But now, we find that the differences between us make for good conversation.

I got to wondering what would happen if bullies and their “victims” were brought together after a lifetime of experience. If they didn’t recognize each other, do you think that they could become friends? I think it would make for a better reality show that most of the crap out there.

Billy not Bully

Dear Billy,

I’ll bet. Life can be ironic that way.  It’s heartening to know people can change and grow. This would be a much better and healthier message than the superficial NON REALITY junk shown on TV. Reality TV reminds me of the orangutans at the zoo.  They are only fun to watch until they fling their crap at you for watching.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: I’d like to think that on your Bully/Victim reality show all of the adults would get along but considering the large number of adult children out there, I suspect that many of the bullies have remained as unenlightened as ever and the victims still carry the scars.

Your mechanic friend may remind you of your childhood bully, but he is not your childhood bully. That makes a huge difference. Just as ex-spouses can never really be as impartial towards each other, I think that a bully and his/her victim will never be impartial towards each other. They might work at being friends for the sake of the camera, but sooner or later, the buried feelings would surface.

Would you be chummy with your mechanic if he’d been the actual guy who tortured you back in school? I don’t know. Are you a masochist?

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He wears his heart and mind on Face book:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché, 

I have a busy life and am a busy person but I love to write thus keep a blog and also post often on Face Book both about my life and inner thoughts. What erks me to no end is my wife refuses to read any of my posts. She says not to take it personally as she is also a busy person and she doesn’t go on line to read anyone’s private posts as most of her work is done on line and on social media.   She says if I want to tell her something important just tell her in person as we do live in the same house.  Only this isn’t often possible as even though she works from home she doesn’t like to be interrupted when she is working and I don’t often remember for later what was so inspiring, that’s why I wrote it down at the time in the first place. The irony of this out of sync on line phenomena is that we actually met on line via an on line dating service and at one time we conversed often on line about just these kind of random spontaneous thoughts that we wished to share with each other.  Shouldn’t she should be flattered that 16 years later I still wish to share these things with her? 

-FB Husband  


Dear Husband, 

Many years ago in therapy with clients we often discussed differing partners sexual needs and that they needed to have a conversation open and honest with each other, learning to listen to each other and sharing their needs.   Today we often have to have the same conversation regarding differing partners on line needs.  

From on line porn use to how much either partner shares on social media about their personal life to what “friends” means to each partner regarding their on line friends list, i.e. ex girl or boyfriends.  These are all areas of potential contention that need to be discussed and defined.  You have to have a conversation with your wife about when and where is best for you two to reserve time for each other as to maintain the relationship.   Whenever and wherever isn’t really a reasonable thing to ask as is often done in dating before “real  life” intervenes.  

In the old days we used to have couples write letters to each other to convene feeling and needs that might have been to difficult to express verbally. These days’ people wear their heart on Face Book. Maybe you can just Print Screen and save it for her for when she has time to read them later?  

Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: here’s something you need to consider – if you are posting your thoughts for all to see, they aren’t really personal anymore, are they? I know that things have changed a lot since I was married or dating, but I feel there’s something vaguely insulting about telling the social media world your “important” thoughts, and then expecting your significant other to be part of the general fan club. What makes your primary relationship different from your friendships is that there are some things you share only with your partner. If your life and inner thoughts are scrolling out there like the news feed in Times Square, there isn’t anything very special about it, is there?

I sometimes read back in some of the journals I wrote before social media came in vogue. The most important and significant things I felt and wrote were things I’d only want to share with someone who was important and significant to me. When you are a media slut (let’s call it like it is) your wife isn’t getting anything but sloppy seconds. Think about it.

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Mirror Mirror in my head:

A string of 40 to 55 year old women all complained of the same issue. They were upset over their bodies and what the felt they looked like. Their in their head comparison ideal were women of media,  magazines, and movies.  Not one of these women had a realistic image based on the human body and normal aging.  What they could do was think what did my mom look like at my age? For most people that is what 40 and up women who have had kids look like in reality. What these women disliked about themselves was essentially just normal aging without the makeup and surgeries.


“Mirror Mirror in my head who I am supposed to look like by what I have been led.”

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