Monthly Archives: March 2010

Pets Aren’t Human Substitutes

More than 80 million Americans are pet owners, and spend nearly 25 billion dollars on veterinary care.  Why do we do that?
 
Originally, animals served a largely utilitarian purpose:  horses pulled carts, dogs protected the farms, and cats ate rodents.  This dependency on animals to help us in our daily lives evolved into warm, close bonded relationships with them – and that’s a good thing, but only up to a point.
 
Taking on the responsibility of caring for an animal is a sacrifice, and requires an unselfish commitment that elevates human character.  Making sure that your pets have food before you do, and providing a safe haven for them is an expression of compassion.  Enjoying the enthusiasm of your dog or cat when you appear on the scene, having your blood pressure drop when you pet them – those are the perks of having a pet around.
 
However, if you are infinitely more comfortable with animals than humans, the scales have tipped way too far in the wrong direction.  Human communication is largely verbal, and give-and-take is an essential part of human bonding (along with trust).  When an individual is fearful or hostile about human connection, it’s nice if they have a pet (a warm mammal) to hold close, but it’s not a substitute for a human relationship. 
 
I get way too many calls from, for example, people like the woman who keeps a dangerous dog in the home (with little kids), because her husband chooses to keep the dog in spite of the threat to his own children; or the man who calls and complains that he has a ferocious allergy to cats, but his fiancée will not adopt her cat out to let him move in after the wedding!  If this sounds like you or someone you know, it’s time to revisit the situations, because choices like these are, obviously, the wrong choices.

Model Naomi Campbell in Trouble Again

Naomi Campbell is at it again.  She allegedly (that’s for legal purposes) bopped her driver hard on the back of his head, which thrust his face into the steering wheel.  He called the police; she ran away.  No charges were filed…again!

She’s been accused of violent outbursts since the Nineties – money is paid/so-called anger management is had/community service is requested – but because she’s a “supermodel,” the money/hype/power behind that has kept her from the appearance she should be making:  in JAIL, JAIL, JAIL.  Ultimately, there have been no consequences that make a difference to her, and her sense of entitlement has grown to huge proportions.

Some background on her I found on the Internet:  her father abandoned her and her mother at birth; her mother abandoned Naomi for a show biz career – Naomi was even involved in show business herself at a very tender age.  I can’t be sure without knowing her up close and personal, or from psychiatric work-ups in the anger management sessions she supposedly had, but she sounds very much like she has borderline personality disorder.  That does not mean she is insane.  She’s perfectly competent and aware of her actions and knows right from wrong.

Personality disorders are consistent patterns of behavior that negatively impact relationships and work.  People with borderline personality disorder are impulsive, unstable in their moods, and have chaotic relationships (where they go back and forth from “love” to “hate,” depending upon whether or not they are getting their way).  They tend to see things in extremes:  all good or all bad.  They also typically view themselves as victims of circumstance, and take little responsibility for themselves or their problems (which is why they generally don’t improve).

Their histories show abandonment in childhood, a disruptive family life, poor communication in the family, and sexual abuse.  Consequently, they experience feelings of emptiness and boredom, and displays of inappropriate anger, impulsiveness with money, substance abuse, sexual relationships, binge eating, shoplifting, and more.

They don’t tolerate being alone, which brings me back to a reported quote by Ms. Campbell published in 2006 in the UK’s The Independent: “Anger is a manifestation of a deeper issue, and that, for me, is based on insecurity, self-esteem and loneliness.”

It’s sad, but the reality is that if there had been serious consequences for her behavior (rather than her being allowed to dodge prison time), then she might be more careful with the well-being of others.

A Poem for Claire

This is from Barry:

Dear Dr. Laura:

I was a participant in an unwanted, unnecessary divorce…because my wife wasn’t ‘happy.’  I have 3 minor children who, despite my tremendous efforts to the contrary…only get to see me 7-10 days a month.  I do everything I can to remain in their lives so I might display to them the importance and value of good character, good values/morals, and integrity….

For Valentine’s Day, I wrote my 5 year old daughter a poem.  I’m not a poet by any means.  I’m your basic manly man.  These words simply came to me in the half-hour it took to write them down.  In it are references to many things we do as a family….I thought you might like to read it:

 A Poem for Claire

 A poem for Claire is what I will try.
 I hope it turns out – ya see, I’m only a guy.
 There are jobs that I have-
 One is being your Dad.
 Out of all of the jobs
 That one makes me most glad.

 We do things we like
 And some we don’t mind.
 I’m pleased that you’re nice
 And so warm and so kind.

 I tell you I’m serious
 But you know that I’m not
 We’re both very silly
 And we smile a LOT!

 We sit out in back
 And look at the clouds
 You see shapes I don’t see
 You make me so proud.

 Walking to school
 Is always so fun.
 It’s been so cold lately
 We can’t wait for the sun!

 You fiddle with your homework.
 Maybe a snack instead?
 But each night we read
 Just before time for bed.

 I love when we play
 You’re so very special
 We dance and we laugh
 Now it’s time to WRESTLE!

 We cuddle on the sofa
 Watch TV at night.
 But we don’t watch a show
 That might give you a fright.

 We make up games to play
 Sometimes go for a hike.
 But what you like most
 Is riding your bike!

 You play Dan-Ball and Rock Band
 And sometimes the Wii.
 ”Daddy, come look!
 Come here! Come see!”

 I’m busy in the kitchen
 Moving fast there to here.
 You’re the first and the loudest
 During our dinnertime cheer.

 I miss you dearly
 When we’re far apart,
 But I’ll always remind you
 I’m in your head and your heart.

 The message is clear
 In this poem you hear.
 Your Dad loves you greatly
 And I will always be near.

 I want you to know
 You’re my best Valentine.
 I will ALWAYS be yours
 If you will be mine.

 I love you.
 Dad

 You’ve made me a better man, Dr. Laura.  I thank you.

A Sad Slide to Suicide

Former “Growing Pains” star Andrew Koenig killed himself, presumably with some chemical, and he did this in a park where he used to go to “chill” or “meditate.” Apparently, he stopped taking his anti-depression medications, which then allowed him to sink into a very dark place. That means his decision to commit suicide was a considered one.

He disappeared on February 14, Valentine’s Day. I wondered about that when I heard that. Here he was, with no wife and family on Valentine’s Day: alone, with a minor career (and he was also the son of a famous actor who was on the original “Star Trek” TV series). It seems he had also turned down a job offered by a friend, and when that friend was away, Andrew collected all the gifts his friend had given him over the years, and then made that last trip to the park.

Of course, his parents are suffering deeply, but whatever emotions they’re experiencing, guilt should not be one of them. The truth is that if a person is hell-bent on killing themselves, they will find a way.

The most common cause of suicide is an underlying mental disorder, followed by alcoholism as the second cause, and drug abuse as the third most common cause. Financial difficulties or other undesirable situations can add stress too. Over 1 million people commit suicide every year, and it’s the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35.

I’ve listed below all the warning signs, but people who don’t clearly show these signs can kill themselves as well, and people who show most of these signs may not. There is no “cut and dry” signal, but there are indications which serve as a warning. When you’re aware that someone is LIKELY to kill themselves, please call 911 and have that person taken to a psychiatric ward at your local hospital. Physicians have the legal option of a 3 day “hold” to discern whether or not that person is a threat to themselves or others. When that determination is made, the potentially suicidal individual may very likely be put in a “forced commitment” status for treatment. Even that doesn’t insure that they will never commit suicide, so it is good to be alert and know how to respond.

Here’s an easy way to remember the warning signs of suicide (this is from the American Association of Suicidology):
IS PATH WARM?
I   Ideation
S  Substance abuse

P  Purposelessness
A  Anxiety
T  Trapped
H  Hopelessness

W  Withdrawal
A  Anger
R  Recklessness
M  Mood changes

If you observe these, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-8255 for a referral. You can find out more information at http://www.suicidology.org

Columbine Almost Revisited

Remember Columbine?  Two Nazi-loving narcissistic sociopaths murdered teachers and students in their school because it would put them in the spotlight of history…..forever.

No one stepped forward to stop them.

The police stayed outside the building.

Horrendous mishandling caused many innocent lives to be lost.

Fast forward 11 years.
Another wacked-out gunman with a bolt-action hunting rifle came onto a Colorado middle school parking lot and starting shooting at students.  He had just wounded two students and seemed ready to massacre more when a tall, skinny teacher (6’5″ former college basketball player who oversees the school’s track team) decided that this massacre just wasn’t going to happen.  He saw the bad guy who was about to reload the chamber and decided that was THE moment.  He ran and tackled the shooter, wrapped his arms and legs around him like a strait jacket from head to toe, and held him for police.  Another teacher came to help keep the creep on the ground. 

The two wounded students were hospitalized; one was released and the other was listed in critical condition.

The teacher’s name?  DAVID BENKE.

By the way, the system allowed the gunman to be walking among us.  The bad guy, Bruco Eastwood, has an arrest record in Colorado dating back to 1996 for menacing, assault, domestic violence and driving under the influence.  That’s some arrest record – the newspaper account I read did not mention prison time where children would be safe from him.

When interviewed, the father of the creep said: “There’s nothing you can say about it.  What can you say?  Pretty dumb thing to do.  I feel bad for the people involved.”

Dumb??  When you’re talking about attempting to murder children?

As for Benke, he still wishes he could have done more:  “It bugs me that he got another round off” before being taken down.

I am all for a trained and armed faculty member or security person on the grounds of every school in America.  Self-defense is a primary right of every living creature.

My respect goes to Mr. Benke.  I admire guts, grit, and the compassion to risk to protect the lives of others, especially children.

The community should set up a trust account for him so that when he retires, he will be taken care of for the rest of his life.  That’s a small thing for saving the lives of so many children, don’t you think?