Saturday, November 12, 2005

What Gave You the Idea We Were Politically Correct?

So I am not the only one who finds the mental health profession entrenched in political correctness. The American Psychological Association just had its 113th annual convention in Washinton D.C. APA conventioneers aired their thoughts on where they thought the field of psychology should go. Shockingly, some participants expressed their views that the association's encouragement of diversity errs on the side of being too "politically correct."

An Industrial psychologist discussed what he thought was "blue state" bias during the convention--and mentioned that speakers there made disparaging references to "red state" officials and showed a viewing of Outfoxed, a film that criticizes alleged right-wing bias in Fox News. One of the leaders of the conference stated that the APA "respects" (note he does not say believes in) free speech and wants to make sure that all perspectives are respected and not silenced. (So I guess next they'll be showing Michael Moore Hates America, right? Right.) APA President Ronald Levant stated that these concerns are being addressed by a Task Force on Diversity and the chair of the Policy & Planning board stated that APA has trained its leaders to have "difficult dialogues" with people of divergent views.

Wow guys, for an organization who states its purpose is to promote a welcoming climate for all psychologists, a lot of us are not feeling it. One APA member recently wrote a letter to the editor stating that "traditionalist views on gender, homosexuality, family and a host of other issues are currently not welcome at APA." "Diversity," the writer states, "has been redefined into a kind of narrow politicism, where differing world views are not only summarily dismissed, but the holders of such views are actually punished."

The APA overall is a well-intentioned organization but they live in a bubble like so many other professional organizations. Maybe they should open up the top and let a little fresh air in--it would be good for all of us.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Veterans Day

Verteran's day is a wonderful way to celebrate all of the brave men and women in our country who have served to keep us free. Why is it that my bank realizes this and closes in recognition but our school system does not? I admire those who have the discipline, courage and self sacrifice necessary to hold this important job like American Soldier, a brave blogger who writes on war and family issues. He has some nice pictures from home on his site for Veteran's Day.

Years ago at fourteen I used to take flying lessons; I dreamed of becoming a pilot in the Air Force and serving my country but that dream got derailed. I received an Air Force scholarship at eighteen for college but found out that I would have to train to be a navigator instead of a pilot due to my eyesight. I had to laugh at that thought, given that I never could read a map--when I took the FAA flight test as a teen, I barely squeaked by as I couldn't find my way out of a paper bag. After trying to find a local rural jail recently (a two hour ordeal), I realized the luck of the American government that I never took the scholarship. I could see myself given orders to bomb Irag and instead dropping a bomb on the Chinese Embassy. Yes, it is better that I decided to pay my own way through college and stay in the civilian world where I only frustrate myself by driving to the wrong county every once in a while.

City Confidential Show

After this recent school shooting, we have all probably seen enough of kids who turn violent (please remember, this is a fairly rare occurrence). However, if you would like to see more about kids who comitt mass murder, you can tune in on Saturday night (November 12th) and watch me on City Confidential on A&E at 7 PM Eastern time. The show is entitled "Kentucky Gothic" and is about the Lillelid case in Knoxville that I did a documentary about two years ago. If you are interested in the psychological underpinnings of this mass murder case--you can read more about it at my website

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More Information on School Shooting in Campbell County

Thanks to all the commenters on this blog for their insightful comments on the Campbell County School Shooting. One commenter indicated that he attended Campbell County High School where the shooting took place and offers the following description of the school. This is an interesting report although I do not personally know the commenter:

I was a student at Campbell County Comprehensive High School. The school was a de facto prison. In fact, if you were to make the journey to LaFollette, Tennessee and drive past the school, you would be hard pressed to determine, without reading the sign, whether the campus was that of a prison or that of a school. It is complete with barbed wire fence, guard shack and police officer.
Based on my experiences, I would suggest that the administration focus more on engaging the children in their task, learning and preparing for the future, and less on dominating their charges.

I find this quote from a former student very interesting as it is consistent with my research on kids who are violent at school. In my research, I found that of the kids who said they had engaged in violence, 23% of them said that school "felt like jail to them." What do prisoners in jail do when they feel treated unfairly? They tend to riot.

Thanks to another commenter for pointing out a story in the Knoxville News-Sentinel with more information on the suspect, Kenneth Bartley.

Update: It's interesting that China is having problems with school violence also--via Peenie Wallace.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

School Shooting

There was a school shooting in Campbell County, Tennessee near my home town of Knoville this afternoon. The principal, and two associate principals have been shot by a teenage boy--See more here.

Update: The suspect in this shooting is a fifteen year old boy who students say "liked attention." I believe a major contributing factor in these school shootings is a desire to be noticed and a sense of entitlement to notoriety and in general (thanks to our baby boomer parents who think their kids can do no wrong). These kids usually have what psychologists refer to as "Atypical Depression" which is an active depression that manifests itself in irritability, anger and blaming others for their problems. The teen generally is average to high average in intelligence, has a first degree relative with mental illness and has a desire for vengence against a particular target--the school, students, or in this case, the administration. If you would like to learn more about school shooters, you can read my book, The Scarred Heart: Undertanding and Identifying Kids Who Kill for free at or go to to view it. The Knoxville News-Sentinel's blogger, Michael Silence, has more on the shooting, and has rounded up lots of posts by bloggers from the area.

For those of you interested in the gun debate on this issue--it has been found that boys who own legal firearms show less delinquency even then those boys who do not own guns at all. It is the boys that own illegal guns who comitt more crimes--not surprising as they have shown themselves willing to break the law already. See more on this issue here.

Monday, November 07, 2005

For Men, it's 1962

Men seem to be in the shape that women were--in 1962, and what is painfully clear is that most don't even know it or care. Every time I read about women's plight in the sixties and seventies, I realize that men are now being treated in much the same way. Yet, just like so many women then, they rarely acknowledge the extent of the discrimination that is taking place. One of the reasons is that society tells men, particularly white ones, that they hold special privilege in the United States. But as Scott Adams (from the hilarious Dilbert cartoons) says, "those are other men." The truth is, many average guys lead a life of quiet desperation or worse. At the extreme end of discrimination are men who cannot get help if they are battered. Here are quotes from men who have been verbally or emotionally abused--by women:

"Funny, at the time I told myself I deserved it."

"Here's the kicker. I am a mental health professional, social worker and marriage and family therapist. I had blinders on like most guys. I interpreted her behavior as emotional disturbance, and would often sit up all night trying to comfort her after one of these episodes."

"We've tried to find help for him but all of the shelters just answer in silence. It's a shame how he was treated by the police and that there are no shelters or groups to help men, they need it every bit as much as women."

These are the same lines that women had before they became aware that domestic violence was a crime. Yet, they are from men who have been battered and abused--by women. In an excerpt from a new book by prosecutor Jeanine Pirro, she describes domestic violence against women in New York in the 1970's. "..too many people, including those in law enforcement, didn't believe it was a serious matter. Worse still, they treated it like a joke. There was a saying at the time, `Every woman should be taken with a grain of assault.' How could such a sentiment produce laughs?" Well, apparently, those laughs are now reserved for battered men.

Just ask Jan Dimmitt, who is the Executive Director of an emergency support shelter in current times, who states, "Whenever I speak of male abuse, I am met by disbelief and, even worse, laughter. ... I notice in talking with other shelter staff throughout the state that this attitude prevails in the other shelters, too -- men are the perpetrators, women are the victims."

Well, obviously, the judicial system thinks women are victims and men are expendable, otherwise why would women spend so little time in prison for killing their husbands? The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that on average, convicted wives received prison sentences that were about 10 years shorter than what husbands received. Excluding life or death sentences, the average prison sentence for killing a spouse was 6 years for wives but 16.5 years for husbands.

I thought we were supposed to be beyond gender stereotypes, but I guess I was wrong. We've just traded in the old ones for new ones.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More Than You Wanted to Know

Lots of people have asked for the story of my heart attack. It's here.