Monthly Archives: February 2012

Quote of the Week

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
               – Abraham Lincoln
                 16th President of the United States
                 1809 – 1865

Abraham Lincoln

Finding Your Motivation

I’m going to tell you a story about motivating employees and what’s inside the mind of an employee who is motivated, regardless of the job. 

I was in college and had always worked so hard I think I just sort of emotionally burned myself out. I’d study, study, study – exam… study, study, study – exam… study, study… you get the idea.  I was at the State University of New York at Stonybrook where most of the people didn’t do study, study, study – exams.  They did smoke pot, smoke pot, smoke pot – protest… stuff like that.  Maybe that broke up the monotony for them; and maybe I should’ve participated, but I did not. 

So I was kind of burned out and looking for something to do for the summer and I applied for a job to teach at a school for handicapped kids, but it was also a place where they rehabbed adults.  Part of my training was to work alongside the people who were in there.  I was placed with a guy in his early 40s who had been an athlete, but was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident and he was in a wheelchair. 

My assignment for the whole week was to sit with him, work with him and do what he had to do.  And you know what he had to do?  Little transistor thingies had to be bent on each end so they could be soldered on to something.  So, we bent wires.  There I was, capable, energetic, educated, sitting there bending little wires on to resistors with this very nice guy bored out of my gourd, annoyed, and feeling like I was wasting my time. 

I’m a type-A personality – I’m a racehorse; I’m not a plow horse, so this was just awful.  Of course, by now you’ve realized I was totally thinking about myself only. Totally.  At one point, in my stupidity, I said out loud, “This is so boring!” And then the second it came out of my mouth, I realized this is what this guy had to do and I had just dissed the hell out of it.  What was wrong with me?  I was so embarrassed.  And I immediately said, “I’m so sorry.” 

He was so nice about it and so patient.  He taught me a huge lesson I’ve used my whole life.  He said, “That’s one way of looking at it.”   And then he started to talk about all the things that he had done in his life, like being a type-A personality athlete, a racehorse  (not a plow horse), and then he got zapped and had to find some kind of labor he could do.  And I felt sick… absolutely sick to my gut.  You know how immediately you feel nauseated?  That’s where I was. 

And he said, “Let me explain something to you.  This is, on its own, a very boring task. However, the ‘suits’ in the front office project how many of these can be prepared, how many different sizes, in what amount of time per day.”  He went on, “I found out their projections, and then I figured a way to surpass them.”  I looked at him in amazement.  What a brilliant guy.  Because there are two ways to look at it:

1. This is an incredibly boring thing for a human being to do; a machine ought to be doing this. 

2.  A machine can’t get motivated.  A machine can’t motivate itself; it’s limited by physics and human beings aren’t. 

So I looked at him and I went, “Really?  Okay.  So, how many of these, those and the other things do they think we can do today?”  He got out a piece of paper, “This is the quota.”  I said, “All right.  If we’re working together, how can we make this go faster?”  And the two of us sat there and figured out how to almost double the productivity.  And we were laughing and having a grand ol’ time and I was never bored again.  At the end of the week, when I had to leave him, we gave each other big hugs.

Motivation comes from within.  That doesn’t mean the environment you’re in doesn’t matter.  It does. There’s some research in Science magazine where they found that during the day there are sort of bio-rhythms at work –   for example, between 6 and 9 in the morning we are very happy, but this happiness drops throughout the day until mid-afternoon (siesta time – part of the world is very smart), and then it picks up in late afternoon and peaks again in the evening.   

The truth is, if you work in an environment which consists of poor pay, lousy benefits, lousy work conditions, demeaning policies and rules, and bad relationships with coworkers, you’re probably not going to operate at peak performance, yet some people do anyway because they don’t allow the environment to dictate their motivation. 

Think about that guy in the wheelchair, an athlete who will never be an athlete again – the environment was okay, nothing much to speak of, but his motivation, commitment and engagement came from within. He felt like he was part of something important and he challenged himself with plans and goals.  Challenges increase motivation. 

As it turns out, people are not motivated by money as much as everybody thinks.  I mean, money is good but it doesn’t motivate people to do better.  Sometimes people can get bonuses and raises, but then sit on their haunches, not feeling obligated to put out.  So there isn’t necessarily an association.  People making modest salaries can be extremely highly motivated because they have pride. 

Motivation cannot be imposed.  When people call my show and say, “I’m fat, I want to get thin. I want to get fit.  Where do I get my motivation?” I tell them it comes from inside.  It’s not a mysterious force that comes from somewhere else; it’s a direct result of how you manage yourself.  Unfortunately in a lot of families, kids get to go to Disneyland if they finish a project or are paid money for every ‘A’ they get on their report card.  This trains kids to not look inside and feel pride in their accomplishments and obligations. Instead of teaching kids to dig down deep for that motivation, they are being taught it should come from the outside, so people procrastinate.  They don’t feel like they have to.  They have an attitude of, “What’s in it for me?” 

To motivate yourself, you have to look for new opportunities, look for new responsibilities, look for new challenges and read about people you admire.  When I was a kid growing up, we read books about people who excelled at something and what followed their journey to excellence.  Learn from achievers in sports, in arts, business, or the workplace.  Learn from their bad qualities too.

Basically it’s a matter of what’s inside you.  If you think or say: “I don’t know how to find motivation,”   just look in the mirror.  It’s there…somewhere.

Bipolar Disorder Is Overdiagnosed

In the over 30 years that I have been around in this profession, I’ve seen fads come and go.  I’ve seen agoraphobia skyrocket in numbers with counseling centers set up to deal with it, and then fade out.  And then every woman who was depressed or anxious had to have been sexually molested as a child and couldn’t remember it.  That came and went, as enough evidence indicated this retrieval of memories can’t be remembered was bogus and mostly produced by the feminist nutcases who had licenses and just told people that was it. 

Now we’re in a different kind of fad…and there are reasons for these fads.  It’s not that people don’t have disorders, but these huge increases are a bit suspect.  Now, today, everybody is bipolar.  Generally speaking, you’ll hear “this person’s bipolar, that person’s bipolar” and these diagnoses are made by somebody in 15 minutes and it’s just a mind-bender. 

To make more money for the drug companies, it seemed every kid was ADD and then ADHD.   According to research in the Archives of General Psychiatry: between 1994 and 2003, there was a 40-fold increase in the diagnoses of bipolar disorder in kidlets.  .  Some people  are saying, “Well, we just have an improved awareness of the diagnosis.” 


Others feel the diagnosis has been over-sold and is used to describe a lot of angry, explosive kids. 

In Minnesota, spending on powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat bipolar and other disorders in children has risen 17-fold since 2000 and exceeds $6 million annually…that’s just in one state.  The medical community seems to be having a reversal that has few parallels in history.  Psychiatrists are now backing away from this diagnosis.  Thousands of kids have received the diagnosis in error and there are lots of reasons: over-zealous doctors, desperate parents wanting an answer, quirks in the health insurance system and aggressive marketing by drug companies.  Dr. Stephen Setterberg, a child psychiatrist said, “Some of the doctors that got going with that early on, they sort of drank their own Kool-Aid.  They talked themselves into believing that many kids were bipolar. It essentially was a diagnostic fad.” 

The drugs they’re given are serious drugs.  They come with increased risks of obesity, diabetes, muscle spasms and more.  A child psychiatrist with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota said, “A substantial number of those kids, if you take them off the problem medication, those symptoms go away, and then they don’t have bipolar; they just had a medication-induced problem.”  And of course, if you give a kid the wrong diagnosis, you’re not going to get the right treatment.

If it’s bipolar disorder, it’s incurable and you’ve got to drug it so that means alternative therapies like cognitive behavioral therapies and others which have been developed for these angry, impulsive kids aren’t happening. 

Bipolar disorder has a genetic component, and it runs in families, but there’s no brain test or scan to confirm it.  I have always said the first line of defense is to look at the family.  Look at the parents: are they divorcing?  Are they drunk?  Are they violent?  Are they abusive to the kids?  Are they sexually exploitive of the kids?  Do they not pay any attention to the kids and don’t feed them and let them run around?  Kids get angry, impulsive and out of control for all sorts of reasons.  Just drugging them probably misses some of the things that could be dealt with more healthily. 

In 2001 a New York psychiatric hospital examined 120 kids who were sent there because of bipolar disorder.  To the best of their analysis in 2001, barely half might really be bipolar; the rest not. 

Now I always think “follow the money”.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a “black box” warning in 2004 on antidepressants, noting they carried a heightened risk of child suicide.  Well, that had a chilling effect on antidepressant drug use and pushed doctors toward other treatments — especially the “big gun” antipsychotics.  And so it’s driven by drugs.  The research shows a rise in bipolar diagnoses for kids matches the drug trends.  Follow the money…follow the money. 

No one believes the children mislabeled with bipolar disorder are okay.  They’re not okay.  There’s something wrong.  They have extreme tantrums, and sometimes get violent or harm themselves.  There’s definitely something going on there above and beyond a “phase”.  It, indeed, might be biological, but I don’t think that (and I never thought that) drugs should be the first line of defense.  Dr. Stuart Kaplan, who wrote a book called “Your Child Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder,” believes kids with bipolar diagnoses generally have behavior problems that require therapy, not just drugs. I think it is more benevolent to be patient and see what’s going on in that kid’s life before jumping  to very expensive antipsychotic medication, which precludes any other kind of cognitive therapy.  That’s the story.  These kids have some kind of problem, but just knee-jerk bipolar “give them antipsychotics” is not necessarily the solution at all.

Susan G. Komen Foundation Buckles

Yesterday, the Susan G. Komen Foundation cut off funding to Planned Parenthood ostensibly because it is in their set of standards not to give funding to organizations under federal judicial investigation.  Planned Parenthood is under such an investigation.

Just about every liberal group and organization came down hard on the Komen Foundation and they have now reversed their decision and will continue to give money to Planned Parenthood. 

I didn’t know money donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research was funneled anywhere else.  When I found this out, I immediately stopped being a donor or participator in any size, shape, or form.

There’s an interesting article by John McCormack in The Weekly Standard on Feb. 2, 2012: “After Lying About Providing Mammograms, Planned Parenthood Outraged That Breast Cancer Charity Cuts Off Grants“  

Here are some excerpts because I really want you to have clarity:

Last spring, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards went on CNN and claimed that if Congress cut off funding to Planned Parenthood “millions of women are going to lose access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning, you know, mammograms.” But as pro-life activist Lila Rose documented in a video, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms. [It gives referrals.]

Remember this article was written before the Komen Foundation reversed its decision today…

This story is worth recalling in light of the news this week that the Susan G. Komen Foundation, one of the nation’s largest breast cancer charities, has cut off funding (more than $600,000) to Planned Parenthood. Cecile Richards wrote that the Foundation’s decision to “end its support of lifesaving breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood health centers comes as a blow to women across America.”

But they don’t provide mammograms.  Everybody is lying.  And whether the Komen Foundation gives its money to Planned Parenthood or not, this amount is not going to hurt Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.  This so-called “non-profit” is worth around $1billion.  They claim only 3% of their services are abortions, but that is very misleading.

There’s another cover article in The Weekly Standard from 2007 titled: “Planned Parenthood’s Unseemly Empire“  by Charlotte Allen which is also worth reading.

One way Planned Parenthood massages the numbers to make its abortion business look trivial is to unbundle its services for purposes of counting. Those 10.1 million different medical procedures in the last fiscal year, for instance, were administered to only 3 million clients. An abortion is invariably preceded by a pregnancy test–a separate service in Planned Parenthood’s reckoning–and is almost always followed at the organization’s clinics by a “going home” packet of contraceptives, which counts as another separate service. Throw in a pelvic exam and a lab test for STDs–you get the picture.

They “bundle it.”  So a person going in for abortion gets all these other things as part of the abortion package and then Planned Parenthood claims abortion is only 3% of their services.  ‘We have all these other things that are happening.’  No, they’re all happening because of the abortion.

Probably the most egregious thing is Planned Parenthood’s looking the other way to statutory rape:

A large number, perhaps a majority, of underage teen pregnancies are not puppy love gone awry, but involve adult men who are significantly older than the pregnant girl. A study published in the journal Family Planning Perspectives in 1992 found that 62 percent of first-time births to teen mothers had been preceded by experiences of molestation, rape, or attempted rape, with the mean male-offender age 27.4 years. The Guttmacher Institute reported in 1995 that more than 40 percent of mothers age 15-17 had sexual partners three to five years older; nearly 20 percent had partners six or more years older.

So in 60% of these pregnancies, the partner was an adult! By the way, the Guttmacher Institute started out as an arm of Planned Parenthood. 

Planned Parenthood’s confidentiality principles can thus run squarely up against laws in every state, typically bearing criminal penalties that require health care workers to report suspected incidents of sexual abuse or statutory rape to law enforcement. In 2002, a Texas-based pro-life group called Life Dynamics launched a sting operation, hiring an actress to call more than 800 abortion clinics nationwide, including many Planned Parenthood clinics. She told the receptionists that she was a 13-year-old girl who needed an abortion, except that her boyfriend was 22 and she didn’t want him to get into trouble. The reported response at 91 percent of the clinics (including Planned Parenthood’s) was: Don’t mention your boyfriend’s age when you come in, and all will be well.

So the Susan G. Komen Foundation obviously siphons off money for all kinds of things like supporting Planned Parenthood, an organization that seems to be okay with statutory rape under the aegis of “protecting children.”  Protecting them from what?  Certainly not adult sexual predators!  It’s despicable how much of your taxpayer money the government uses to subsidize Planned Parenthood which supports this kind of behavior.  And every time they’re caught, they go, “Oh, gee. We didn’t know this was going on.  This is terrible.  We’ll stop it.”

I think it is abysmal the Susan G. Komen Foundation collapsed when types supporting it like Hollywood moguls, Democratic candidates, and liberals with money, all came down hard on them.  Why did they buckle?  Follow the money.  It’s all about the money.  It’s not about principles.  It’s all about the money. 

So a pox on the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  And a continuing pox on Planned Parenthood.

I’m sure all you parents really want your 14 year old daughters to have sex with adult men and get abortions at Planned Parenthood without you knowing.  I’m sure you’re all very excited about that.  I’m sure you’d all go, “I’m for it!”  Well, that’s what you’re subsidizing if you’re giving money to either of those organizations now.  If that’s okay with you, then send your money.

Quote of the Week

Football is like life.  It requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.
               – Vince Lombardi
                 American football coach
                 Head Coach, Green Bay Packers

The New York Giants face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI this Sunday

Football on Field

Preventing Suicide

Suicide is one of the most horrible events that can happen.  It’s devastating to the people left behind and very sad that an irrevocable step was taken by a human being.  And you never know when it could happen.

From the National Institute of Mental Health

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths. The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.

Risk factors include:

  • Depression, other mental disorders or a substance-abuse disorder.  Often the substance-abuse disorder goes hand in hand with a mental disorder.  90 percent of the people who die by suicide have these two risk factors.
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of mental disorders or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Firearms in the home (the method used in more than half of suicides).
  • Incarceration
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as family members, peers, or media figures.

Suicide or suicidal behaviors, however, are not normal responses to stress; just because someone may have one or two of these risk factors doesn’t mean they are going to kill themselves.

Almost four times as many men as women commit suicide, with males using firearms 56% of the time while women use poisoning 40% of the time.

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.  Most likely, suicide is due to existential issues: young people going from being a kid to an adult, or not having the maturity to deal with romantic, work, and transitional situations.  Some illnesses like schizophrenia tend to show up in the early 20s. And as with the general population, young people are more likely to use firearms, suffocation and poisoning over other suicide methods.

Older Americans are disproportionally likely to commit suicide.  The national average in the general population is 11.3 per 100,000 people.  Those who are 65 or older average 14.3 per 100,000 people.

When people call me who believe someone is just crying for attention, I tell them not to think that way. Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention.  If a person who appears in any way suicidal, and you’re going to make an error, err in the direction of getting that person hospitalized immediately.

A type of psychotherapy I’ve talked about numerous times and is a major contributor to my perspective on helping people is cognitive therapy.  All kinds of studies have shown cognitive therapy has reduced the rate of repeated suicide attempts by 50 percent during a follow-up year.  Cognitive therapy helps suicide attempters consider alternative actions than self-harm.

If you think someone is suicidal – do not leave them alone.  Get them help immediately.  Call 911 or put them in the car and take them off to the psychiatric ward at a hospital. Eliminate any access to any tool than may be used in a suicide, like drugs, knives, guns, or rope…

One of the most horrifying things that happened to me as a psychotherapist was helping a particular married couple.  A colleague of mine was counselling the wife, and I was counselling the husband.  He was distressed for many reasons.  I learned he had a gun and I made a deal with him to get rid of it.  His wife confirmed he had done so.  He began to feel better and terminated our therapy sessions.  Sometimes when people start to feel better, it means they have put a suicide plan into place, and about three months later in front of his wife, he pulled out a new small caliber pistol and shot himself.  Ultimately, these things are uncontrollable unless you’re physically there and can call for help.

So while we can know the signs of what risk factors to look for, knowing what’s going on in the recesses of someone’s mind is tough.  But if suicidal behaviors are being demonstrated, get nervous and do something about it.  Don’t stand by thinking, “I don’t want anybody to be mad at me.”

Standing Up and Speaking Out

This is about standing up and speaking out.  Not enough of you do it, and you don’t do it often enough.  There’s a good reason you don’t – because you get crap for it and most people want to avoid getting crap in their lives.  When you tickle something somebody is sensitive about (and they feel guilt about), they’ll attack to protect their ego.  So, standing up takes guts and a commitment to your beliefs.  But without being willing to do such, how can you possibly EVER have any pride in yourself? 

What sparked these thoughts is Catherine’s email:

Dr. Laura,

A few days ago, my car decided not to start. Luckily, my husband hadn’t left yet, so he drove me to work before going to his job. Then, since he had an appointment after work, he picked me up from my office and took me with him. I didn’t mind going, considering he did me a great favor of driving me to and from my job.

While sitting in the waiting room at his appointment, another couple came in. The secretary and the woman started to talk very flippantly about divorce. They commented on how they had already discussed with their husbands – before getting married – what they would receive, (as they would say), in their “inevitable divorce”. I was shocked and horrified they would say such things betweent themselves let alone in front of their husbands. I spoke up by saying “It is very sad you feel that way toward the person you promised to love, honor and cherish. Your husbands obviously chose very poorly in a wife and I hope your children have better examples of what love should be other than yourselves.”

I got up and walked away from astonished faces. And when my husband met me outside, all I could do was hug him and let him know that thank goodness we were nothing like the people in that office.

Wow!  Let that be an inspiration.  Don’t be wussy – it doesn’t make you have pride in yourself.  And I certainly never want you to call me and say, “This is what I heard… and what I wanted to say was….” It won’t be a pretty moment.