Pause and Reflect…

media, politics, video No Comments »

We began with Shock and Awe. And we all were shocked and awed by its swiftness and its efficiency.

Unfortunately nothing since his been swift or necessarily, efficient. Granted there is progress, as Iraqis vote today on their new constitution. But support for the war has waned, and its impact on how we handle crises at home has become startling clear. Many of those who initially supported the war have lost their appetite as it takes a toll on our nation’s psyche.

So when incidents like this week’s staged interview with the troops occur, it’s a good opportunity to Pause and Reflect. Be sure to watch the video below.

[flvplayer 320 240]

I wished it ran unedited, and without commentary, because as it speaks volumes. But I am sure some of you will be quick to remind me that these events are often staged, a practice — that I find dishonest and repugnant — both parties frequently engage in. But I find the current administration’s repeated and blatant attempts to sway public opinion using troops (including firefighters in the Katrina aftermath) as props… disgusting, This, coupled with a cabinet and congress riddled with scandal, adds to a growing sense of incompetence and malfeasance on behalf of this administration.

But that is simply my view. Watch the video. Take a moment. Pause and Reflect.

Loose Lips…

politics 4 Comments »

bar_bush.jpgWhile I do view my self as a liberal, or as time goes by more accurately, a progressive, I try to understand the points of view of those who call themselves conservatives. In fact I have some very close friends who are conservative whose opinions I deeply respect, and often they serve as compass so I don’t get caught too deep in the left’s own rhetoric. And I hope that sometimes I serve as their compass when the similar is true.

But no matter how sure and steady the compass, nothing could steer us around the comments made today by former first lady Barbara Bush when touring the hurricane relief centers in Houston. And no amount of sugar coating and cries of pulling quotes out of context can diminish their impact.

Barbara Bush said and I quote:

“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckles) — this is working very well for them.”

An MP3 of the quote can be heard here.

Her words speak volumes, matched only by the deafening silence of our elected officials (on both sides of the aisle) where outrage is replaced with self-congratulation and gratuitous backslapping. The under current that runs beneath her words reflects a broader view I am both simultaneously reluctant and angered to acknowledge, and I refuse to allow her words to be easily excused by either age or station.

But this is only the latest in a string of embarrassing comments made by both sides over the last several days. And I am certain it won’t be the last. It is no way to honor those who have died and those who struggle even now. Only the great citizens of our country who are opening, the hearts, homes and pocketbooks honor them, with or without trotting out George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton in the relief effort. Perhaps if our government had been better prepared it wouldn’t have been necessary to bring former presidents out of retirement.

With regards to my previous post….

I admit that my previous comments about the aftermath of Katrina may have been posted too soon, the disaster and the sense of loss more than most could cope with. But I posted it in the idea of those of us who could not directly contribute to the relief effort, could at least begin to analyze and perhaps question how it was handled. We owe nothing less to those who have passed on.

Struggling to Survive…

politics No Comments »

flood.jpgOur prayers go out to those struggling to survive in the wake of Katrina. The video footage is both harrowing and heartbreaking, and I hope the government and those who are willing and able can get down there and help. The situation is dire for many and may turn deadly in a few days.

While I am reluctant to use this catastrophe as an opportunity to pose some questions that may (and may not) reflect my political and personal views, I feel compelled to do so in the hopes of opening doors by engaging in a lively debate.

  • For those who are not convinced that global warming is not actively occurring: Do you really want to take the chance? How could pouring all these non-natural materials into the environment help anything?
  • For those who insist on living in areas frequently threatened by natural disasters or generally deemed unsafe, is it the governments responsibility to bail them out disaster, after disaster, after disaster?
  • Was it right for the Bush administration to cut hurricane funding in New Orleans, a city frequently cited in worst case scenarios for natural disasters?
  • If logistically possible, do you think we should accept Venezuela’s offer to assist with disaster relief? Also, it appears that few if any countries have offered to help with relief… while the U.S. is often the first to offer aid (at least to our Allies). Does the lack of reciprocation alter your view of when and if the U.S. should offer aid?
  • Do you feel President Bush’s lack of immediate response with regards to hurricane Katrina (over 2 days) was appropriate? In addition do you feel the plans put forth in his speech are substantive enough to really have an impact?
  • Do you feel the War in Iraq has impacted out ability to handle disasters here it home because of a lack of resources and a lack of focus?
  • And finally, did God destroy New Orleans because of the “Gays” as indicated by the evangelic Christian group called Repent America? It certainly isn’t the first time we’ve been blamed.

Tom Cruise: Mission Insanity!

entertainment 1 Comment »

In what I hope will be the first of many guest appearances, I am very pleased to feature the following column by my partner Chad Belicena. Relying on almost 13 years of experience in the psychiatric field (most recently as an advanced practice nurse), and an interest in all things entertainment, Chad weighs in on the recent Tom Cruise debacle, his views on postpartum depression and psychiatry in general.

Take it away Chad.

I have been following Mr. Cruise’s crusade lately against the use of psychiatric medications and his plight to convince everyone of the power of Scientology. We all know that Mr. Cruise is a follower of the Church of Scientology and its teachings, and one of its teachings is against Psychiatry. Just recently Mr. Cruise has made several unsupportive comments to another fellow actor, Brooke Shields, when she came out with a book that talks poignantly about her battle with postpartum depression and the use of antidepressant medications and therapy.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out a couple of clinical studies that have been done on postpartum depression. One study on the risk factors associated with the development of postpartum mood disorders shows that there is evidence that hormone-related phenomena are related to the occurrence of the disorder. The results go some way to support the hypothesis that the etiology for postpartum mood disorders may be related to hormonal sensitivity and that such risk factors should be included in any assessment of the risk for these disorders. (Pub-Med, June 2005)

In other related studies where the symptoms were severe, the first-line recommendation was antidepressant medication combined with other treatments (generally psychotherapy). For the treatment of milder symptoms in such situations, the researchers gave equal endorsement to a couple of different treatment methods, such as:

  • psychobehavioral approaches/hormonal replacement and,
  • others preferred psychotherapy to medication (during conception, pregnancy, or when breastfeeding)

In milder cases, however, antidepressants were recommended as at least second-line options and the specific antidepressants preferred depended on the particular clinical situation. The study was conducted so that that future research data will provide some direction for addressing common clinical dilemmas in women. Such results can be used to inform clinicians and educate patients regarding the relative merits of a variety of interventions. (Pub-Med, May 2001)

And in other smaller studies that have been carried out on the treatment of postpartum depression, clinicians must currently rely on general recommendations for the use of antidepressant medications as the main treatment for depression. In general practice, antidepressant medications have been shown to be effective when used as prescribed. However, research has shown that depressed patients consistently receive either no medication or consistently low doses of medication. These studies suggest a need to improve information about medication for postpartum depression. If this information is not provided, women are likely to continue to self-manage medication at a dosage that may be clinically ineffective. (Pub-Med, Sept 2004)

So in citing these documented studies, I question Mr. Cruise’s credibility in his knowledge on postpartum depression and in mental health as a whole. In his interviews, he is as knowledgeable about the science of mental health as I am of acting. To be blunt, Mr. Cruise is obviously not a woman for him to know what a woman undergoes physically and psychologically during pregnancy. As a matter of fact, Mr. Cruise is not an expert on women’s health and does not have the knowledge base behind the changes that a woman experiences through life.

In defense of Ms. Shields, her book details her numerous attempts to get pregnant via IVF (in-vitro fertilization) only to experience a miscarriage in 2003. When she finally gave birth to her daughter, she subsequently suffered a devastating aftermath to that birth. She mentioned being in a bizarre state of mind and experiencing feelings that ranged from embarrassment to stoicism to melancholy to shock, practically all at once. I personally think her work brings the disease in full view and builds public awareness about the disease. Mr. Cruise’s comments about her experiences and challenges with postpartum depression is not only dismissive but is a disservice to women and to a disease that is widely misunderstood. Mr. Cruise mentioned that Ms. Shields should have taken vitamins during her depression. We all know that vitamins may be essential in our daily nutrition but it is not considered a treatment in battling postpartum depression. In retrospect, I wonder if Mr. Cruise and other Hollywood Scientology celebrities would be interested in taking in a homeless, psychotic and non-treatment compliant individual into their church, sit right next to them and offer them vitamins as a means of treating their disease.

Hollywood, as we know is a world filled with gimmicks and sensationalism so that one can further his or her career. We are all aware that in the past 2 to 3 months Mr. Cruise has had a couple of significant changes in his life and one of these changes was that he recently hired a new agent to handle his career (a Scientology follower also) which might explain why we are witnessing this sudden change in Mr. Cruise’s behavior.

As a final note, it was quite interesting to discover that the founder L. Ron Hubbard who happened to be a genius of some sort slipped from relevance and respectability to madness and paranoia. Mr. Hubbard became a recluse and appeared to have been sheltered by his close cohorts from exposure to the outside world. Need I say more?

Chad Belicena RN, MSN
Advanced Practice Nurse
Behavioral Health & Gerontology Nursing