Monthly Archives: September 2011

When Bad Things Happen to Children

On my SiriusXM show recently, I spoke about the meaning of life, and then I got this email from Lisa:

I heard part of your program today and you read about the different thoughts about the meaning of life… I’ve been thinking about that, too.

As the mother of a child who is dying of cancer, like many of us, we are losing our faith in a big powerful “daddy in the sky” that hears our prayers. I’ve heard from Christians that “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle” but I can’t handle this. “God gives you strength to get through it” – no, He doesn’t. I’m about to lose my mind… the pain is much too great to bear. I hear that this is God’s plan, or that God needs another angel. If he needed another angel, he would just take one, HE WOULDN’T TORTURE THEM FIRST! How could he PLAN to put a child through this kind of HELL? What good could ever come out of this?

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. We wear gold ribbons, but only 3% of cancer research goes to childhood cancers. Does anybody care? Is the meaning of life only to do research on the “popular” cancers because they are the ones that will make money for the one who finds the cure? My son’s cancer is so rare that he gets the same chemotherapy he would have had in the 1980s… it doesn’t get researched.

Please tell me what the meaning of life is!

If you look at God as a “big powerful daddy in the sky that hears [your] prayers” and will give you what you want, and if you are a good person, you can’t help but be disappointed on a daily basis. That doesn’t seem to be the way it works. 

I know no other pain on the face of the earth that is greater than a parent having to see their child suffer and die.   I think parents would rather they suffer and die and trade themselves in for their kids.  So, this is the worst torture, but this is not a test of God.  That someone’s child or husband or wife or parent or friend gets ill and dies is not a test of whether or not there is a God.  There isn’t a test of whether or not there is a God — that’s why it’s called “faith.” To say that “I’m dubious about God” because my prayers aren’t being answered in the way that I want, is, in my opinion, never to have understood faith in the first place, but just to have played a social role in which you call yourself “religious.” 

There is no explanation for these things.  And, I agree with Lisa when she writes:  “If he needed another angel, he would just take one, HE WOULDN’T TORTURE THEM FIRST!….What good could ever come out of this?”  I like that answer of hers.  I think telling somebody this is God’s plan is a little obnoxious and I always thought it was.  It’s your assumption God is planning this.  You have no proof of that.  People go back to the story of Job and what he had to suffer and Abraham who almost wiped out his own kid until God said, “I see you really love me.  You don’t have to do this.” 

There are some important concepts and issues here.  When any of us says “I can’t handle this,” yet we make it through every day, we are handling it.  “Handling it” doesn’t mean it feels good or it’s easy; “handling it” usually means we are surviving it and doing the best we can.

I don’t understand all of the mass murders of the world — Stalin, Pol Pot, Germany, Japan. I don’t understand how that’s God’s will or God’s plan. It doesn’t make any sense to me, either.  And I don’t know how to put it together.  I don’t know how it’s God’s plan to have little children put in ovens and killed.  Or mommies and their children shot to death and put into a hole in the ground, naked.  I don’t understand how any of that is God’s plan.  So, I have no answer to that. 

This was not a theological thing where I was going to explain what life really means, other than there’s always been horror.  It’s like the horror films you see in the movies where there’s evil and someone in the church or somebody else finally squelches the evil and at the end you see the evil creeping up through the ground again. 

There is evil, there is disappointment, there is pain, there is everything.  So, ultimately, whether you really believe in God or not, we really need to hold on to each other.  There is something about touching the hand of another who corroborates your pain.  That’s why with parents in this situation, I always tell them to find other parents in this situation.  They will be the first ones to hug you and they won’t get tired of hearing from you like other relatives will.  It’s not they get tired, per se, it’s just they can’t do anything to help and it’s upsetting, so they don’t want to hear it anymore.  They are not being bad, they just don’t know how to fix it. They feel guilt and they feel uncomfortable and then they start feeling anger.  So, to go to people who have been there and done that is the way we hold on to each other.  Some people call that behavior the way God helps you go through things which are inexplicable. 

So, let’s not call bad things that happen “God’s plan,” because that hurts people.  God planned to hurt my kid?  You’re gonna tell me, there’s some higher power and I’m supposed to rise above that pain and say absolutely “I adore you?”  I think it’s a horrible thing to tell people.  I don’t think it’s good to tell kids God’s an all-powerful “daddy in the sky” who can do anything.  Well, then why isn’t he doing it for me?  I don’t like when people walk out of a bus that just been in a crash and they are alive and everyone else is dead and they say, “but for the grace of God.”  What the heck does that mean?  God intentionally wiped them out and kept you?

I think we want to feel special like we feel to a parent.  God is some kind of extension of parenthood.  We sometimes don’t realize how cruel we sound.  So, here’s my frame of reference for all of this.  There are evil things people do because they are evil.  There are horrible things that happen just because there are horrible things that happen.  The human body has weaknesses and that’s just the way it is.  There aren’t cures for everything because we are not good enough yet to produce them.  It’s hard to get money for things only a few people suffer from – Lisa is right about that.

The bottom line is we’ve got to hold on to each other.  That’s the immediate salvation: to hold on to each other’s love, support, and kind feeling.  It’s irrelevant if bad things are happening or not.  The way to make it through life, I believe, is to really be compassionate and to be open to compassion.  That’s what helps you get through the things that are inexplicable and horrible.

Sleep Deprivation Can Even Make You Unethical

An article in the New York Times about sleep said it’s a necessity, not a luxury. For a lot of people, it’s a luxury, but it turns out that it’s an absolute necessity on many levels.  And most of you are living in a state of chronic sleep deprivation, which is a really bad thing.

“Studies have shown that people function best after seven to eight hours of sleep.”  So it’s best at least to aim for seven.  Get this: In the last 50 years, “the average night’s sleep for adults in the United States dropped to six and a half hours from more than eight.”  Some experts predict that this is going to get worse, mainly because you folks permit yourselves to be distracted by emails, instant text messaging, online shopping, online porn…online anything.  That flat, little screen in front of you is robbing you of sleep.

Now, what does that mean?  Well I can’t blame it all on the fact that you’re doing the wrong things…you know, with advancing age (something I know nothing about yet), natural changes in sleep quality occur.  It’s not unusual for people, as they get older, to take longer to fall asleep….they tend to get sleepier early in the evening, and they tend to awaken earlier in the morning.  Much of the time  “is spent in the lighter stages of sleep,  less in the restorative deep sleep.  R.E.M. sleep, during which the mind processes emotions and memories and relieves stress, declines with age.”

There are some bad habits you have that can ruin your sleep also: 

  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Not spending enough time outdoors (turns out “sunlight is the body’s main regulator of sleepiness and wakefulness”.  That’s hormonal.) 
  • Crappy diet
  • Sometimes “medications can disrupt sleep.”
  • “Having a partner who snores.”
  • Too much alcohol (it’s a nervous system depressant but, in fact, it disrupts sleep.)

And there are sleep-robbing health issues like arthritis that is painful, diabetes, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, hot flashes…there are all kinds of things that happen that can disrupt our sleep.  But there are a number of reasons we need our sleep.  Restorative is at the top of the list.  Also, you look a lot more attractive when you’re rested.  Somebody actually paid to do a research project which in which photographs of people were taken when they had good sleep and when they hadn’t…and the research showed (I don’t know, did this research cost a million dollars?)  that when you sleep, you look better!  Really?  I love this kind of research – it’s a true waste of money.
 
Losing sleep also makes you fatter or at least fatter than you’d otherwise be.  Harvard looked at 68,000 middle-aged women, and followed them for 16 years, and “those who slept five hours or less each night were found to weigh 5.4 pounds more.”  This is a 16 year research project to get that answer?  Five pounds?  Two weeks of potato chips; we can do that.
 
Basically this is the case, because when you’re up later, you tend to nosh…munch, munch, munch.  You  could add a pound in two weeks.  So you need to get your sleep.  If you can take naps, they also help your brain function, and improve your energy, your mood, and your productivity. 

But I loved this tidbit from the Washington Post: “Sleep deprivation can make you unethical.”  Two business school professors did some research in sleep labs.  “They found that a lack of sleep led not just to poor performance on tasks that require ‘innovative thinking, risk analysis, strategic planning’- but also to increased deviant and unethical behavior.”  These people are ruder, have more inappropriate responses, and attempt to make money they haven’t earned.  They tend to cheat.  And the irony in this is that, in business, everybody gets so impressed if you’ve been up all night working on projects, papers, analysis, taking red-eye flights to meet clients…everybody considers you a hero.  Instead, companies should really be giving you sleep awareness training (If there is such a thing), because these workaholic cultures, without the restorative opportunities, actually “cost the U.S. economy some $150 billion annually in accidents and productivity losses.”  The percentage of folks “who sleep less than six hours a night has jumped from 13 to 20 percent” in the last 10 years.

So we become less ethical people and we don’t do what we have to do as well.  Other than that, if you don’t want to sleep, I suppose it’s just fine.
 
References:
 NY Times article 
Washington Post (5/13/11) article  

Quote of the Week

The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit.  Instead, we have emerged stronger and more unified….We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.
               – Rudolph W. Giuliani
                  Former Mayor of New York City

This Sunday, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the fourth attack thwarted by the brave passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, remember those who were lost and the families they left behind.

I Stuck My Nose In and Got Backlash

The urge can be irresistible: the husband of a relative finally has the guts to leave what you think is a bad marriage, and you think she’s to blame for it. Instead of keeping that thought to yourself, you pull some drama straight out of reality TV and tell her exactly what you think to her face. Your family has now turned you into an outcast… and you’re surprised?!

I Stuck My Nose In and Got Backlash

Watch other videos at YouTube.com/DrLaura

It’s Dangerous To Be A Guy on Campus

I received a letter from the folks at SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments).  They’re a group of people dedicated to improving the effectiveness of America’s approach to solving the problem of domestic violence through education, training, and awareness programs.  Well, they’ve expanded a little and are actively protesting against a new set of rules issued by the Department of Education regarding sexual assault on campus.  I’ve decided to reprint the letter here:

When sexual morality breaks down, lives get chaotic. When lives get chaotic, the government steps in to deal with the mess – and that rarely ends well.

Two recent stories vividly illustrate this principle:

Story 1: Newsweek just released an unusual and provocative set of college rankings. One of the lists – we kid you not – is the 25 “horniest” campuses. These are the colleges “where students have the best odds of hooking up.” This is presented as an appealing feature of these campuses.

Story 2: The Department of Education recently issued new rules telling colleges, in great detail, how they must handle accusations of sexual assault or harassment. The rules in effect strip accused men (students or faculty) of the presumption of innocence and the right to confront their accuser, even when they’re facing expulsion.

So on the one hand, liberals celebrate the “hook up” culture, the ultimate expression of their precious sexual revolution. And the place where liberalism reigns supreme – the American university – is now the scene of sexual anarchy. On the other hand, college boys who have obediently “explored their sexuality” face career-ending prosecution by an academic inquisition that will probe every salacious detail of their intimate encounters. The irony couldn’t be richer.

The results are seen in an illuminating article in Philadelphia magazine: “The New Rules of College Sex.” And we now have the inevitable lawsuit, brought by a young man who was expelled from Sewanee after an obviously fraudulent accusation of rape: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/24/sewanee-lawsuit-trial-begins/

The federal rules about sexual assault on campus are such an egregious assault on basic civil rights that a backlash is brewing. (Even the American Association of University Professors has protested.) SAVE is leading the charge against these rules. We advocate for men falsely accused on domestic violence. Your listeners can find our more at our website saveservices.org.

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE)

Pedophilia is Normal Say Some Mental Health Pros

About 10 years ago, there was a major point I could not get people to see or believe. I said the sole end game of the liberalization of sexuality in our culture was to have sex with children. 

You look at societies throughout history and there are many societies in which having sex with children was okay.  You look at a place like Afghanistan and unless the men want to have babies, they do boys and animals.  This is nothing new on the face of the earth.  But, in western civilization, this is an issue and I said back then the end game was to have sex with kids. 

So, I found an article on Fox News titled “Mental Health Group Looks to Remove Stigma From Pedophilia,” which says:

“A group of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals say it’s time to change the way society views individuals who have physical attractions to children.

The organization, which calls itself B4U-Act, is lobbying for changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the guideline of standards on mental health that’s put together by the American Psychiatric Association.”

The DSM is the one where you look up a number for the disorder so the insurance companies will pay.  And, let me remind you for the umpteenth time:  there is nothing in psychology that makes it a science.  What goes in and out of the DSM as a disorder is based on social pressures and voting.  It has nothing to do with science.  I want you all clear…psychology is NOT a science.

“The group says its mission is to help pedophiles before they create a crisis, and to do so by offering a less critical view of the disorder.”

That’s just a bunch of bull and it’s words.  Words sell things, and even “nice” words can be co-opted to do some awful things.

“B4U-Act said that 38 individuals attended a symposium in Baltimore …[and] the speakers in attendance concluded that “minor-attracted” individuals are largely misunderstood and should not be criminalized even as their actions should be discouraged.”

I said a long time ago the end game of all this social liberalization (unknown to people even amidst the social liberalization) was to do your kids and not be criminalized for it, and this is what this article refers to.

Many of you may not know or may not remember the American Psychological Association published the infamous “Rind article” in its 1998 Psychological Bulletin.  This was a study which downplayed the impact of men having sex with boys, finding quite a few of the boys remembered their molestations positively, and not every child who has been molested has problems.
 
That’s like saying “I shot you in the head and you survived; therefore getting shot in the head is not a bad thing.”  This article was published by the American Psychological Association, and it said essentially man/boy sex was okay as long as the boys consented, because it was “love.”

I went on the air after the Rind article was published and I was very clear about this article wanting to decriminalize screwing your kids.  Grown men screwing your boys:  “it wasn’t a bad thing, it was a ‘love’ thing.  It’s a cultural problem;  people are just misunderstanding it.”

Well, I went ballistic and I got everyone in my office on the phone to Congress, and I asked the audience to do the same. I want to tell you the upshot, and I’m going to take all the credit for it.  It was my pressure which made Congress condemn the study and the American Psychological Association for the first time in its entire history backed down and apologized and the president of the American Psychological Association found another job.  I am proud to say I had enough power to mobilize enough people.  And Rind and his buddies were still invited to talk everywhere and were still published in other places.
 
Well, that may have happened, but we still have mental health professionals going to a symposium from a group which looks to remove the stigma from pedophilia.  “It’s a cultural thing.”  If the culture allows it, it’s not a bad thing, they say.  It’s not a bad thing for example in Afghanistan.  So, if it’s the norm (like Rome before it fell), what’s the big deal?  This is savage and all I can say is, I warned you.
 
I want you to understand the attempt to normalize screwing your children is still on in full gear.
 
They refer to pedophiles as “minor-attracted individuals.” How benign can you make it?  That’s why I call things as they are.  There needs to be clarity.  When you say “minor-attracted individuals,” you can follow it up with “are largely misunderstood and should not be criminalized.”  So, don’t be impressed just because someone is a psychologist or a psychiatrist.  You have to be very afraid because people get into positions of power to change things.  If I were a pedophile and I wanted to get it normalized and not criminalized, I would secretly and quietly get a bunch of my buddies and we’d join the psychological associations and teacher associations –  everywhere there are kids — and get in positions of power.  And then we’d gently start using different words (i.e., words that don’t shock, words that don’t alarm, words that don’t send up red flags) and slowly make it happen.  Remember the Rind study said it was not a problem; kids were not hurt by this.  And the American Psychological Association actually published that.