Thursday, December 24, 2015

Empathy Run Amok?

So I have some Twitter friends who I have followed since the beginning--although I did take a couple years off Twitter as well as blogging. Most of my timeline includes people interested in politics and social issues. Over time, we let some of our real self creep through and begin to see each other as real people. One friend who has battled some serious depression linked to an article on empathy.

When I was learning to be a counselor we were told over and over again that the single most important factor in a successful therapeutic relationship is empathy.

The article, by a clinical psychologist, suggested that we can have too much empathy and cited examples in which people actually did themself harm by relating too much. 

Um. No.

Empathy is simply the ability to understand where someone is coming from; that you walk a mile in their shoes to use an old expression. Pity, sympathy and the like are harmful because it is more of a one up one down relationship. I can empathize with someone, understand their point of view and still see distortions of thought and disagree with actions taken. The point is understanding where that person is right now and nonjudgmentally understand their point of view.

I have seen harm done by therapists feeling sympathy for their patients, which then leads to the therapist trying to "fix" them. Counselors don't fix people. We help people work through whatever is keeping them stuck and help them decide for themself how to move forward. 

In discussing with others, it was suggested that someone might feel so worthless that they put themselves in situations that are harmful because their empathy leads them to believe others are more worthwhile. That is not empathy. Someone deeply depressed, experiencing poor self esteem, or feeling worthless is not likely to be capable of much empathy at the time. That level of pain becomes so all-encompassing that the gaze is usually directed inward. The notion then that someone else is more worthwhile does not come from empathy, but rather from a belief that the self is worthless. This is not empathy run amok. It is clinical depression, derealization, depersonalization, loss of self.

Just some thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I haven't included sourcing in my latest because there are just too many. Turn on your nightly news of choice to get an example of Trump at his most outrageous. If you still insist on links, let me know.

Disgusting. Terrible. Trump.

Anyone paying attention to the debates? Even if you are not particularly political, it's hard to avoid politics when Trump dominates the news. A 24/7 news cycle has created an industry of competition for viewers and clicks, often with little substance.

Trump is an interesting man. Just when we think he cannot be more outrageous, that he has sunk as low as is possible, he comes up with more. I avoid him if I can, but every event generates a cutaway from whatever news show is broadcasting. It is clear to everyone that he sees women as objects. Asked at a campaign event about childcare, he called the questioner darling and said that children are important. He then said that his companies offered childcare; just get one or two people and some blocks... Easy. He is quick to call women disgusting, fat, ugly, or whatever thoughts cross his mind. During a deposition a few years ago, an attorney asked for her scheduled break and when he refused, she took out her breast pump to explain why she needed the break. He left the room, and the deposition and was horrified that anyone would actually do that and that she is a horrible disgusting woman.

Do you sense a theme here?

Fact checkers have given up, stating that he has not said one true thing during his campaign. When pinned down, he says that "it makes sense" or that it could be true, therefore it is true. He cites sources that include his twitter fans or his excellent memory and has to inject profit into every discussion. When Steve Harvey named the wrong winner at the Miss Universe pagent, Trump had to offer that he sold the pagent "for a very good price" saying that what happened was horrible, implying that if he still owned it, the mistake would never have happened.

During the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was late returning after a break and to hear Trump tell it, it was absolutely disgusting to think of why she was late. People are often disgusting to Trump. If they question him, they are disgusting. Protestors are disgusting and deserve to be beaten up. Journalists are disgusting and he hates them--this while keeping them in a penned area at events. I remember growing up and their were two things we could say guaranteed to set my mother off. One was that someone was an idiot, the other that we hated someone. She would tell us that hating someone meant we wished they were dead. Period. Now, when I hear Trump so easily hate, it makes me wonder. 

Another comment made by Trump regarding Clinton is that she got schlonged. The one or two people unfamiliar with the term were quickly educated via Facebook, Twitter, and news shows. Now Trump has decided that everyone has changed the definition and that we are disgusting for suggesting anything improper by his use of it. One of the fastest trending hashtags on Twitter is #ReplaceAwordwithschlong. A lot of really funny and creative people in my timeline. 

Somewhere along the way, Trump learned that women are not really people, but rather, disgusting objects of derision. Anyone who says he "cherishes" women and then is so quick to opine on their appearance, weight, ect., only cherishes what women can do for him. He sees nothing wrong with seeing his daughter as "dateable" and rather than attack Clinton's policy positions, calls her a terrible, disgusting woman because she has the temerity to question him and call him out for his lies.

Fun times ahead.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon,

Monday, November 16, 2015

To Engage or not to engage

In the past few months, I've become more active on Facebook and Twitter. I have unfollowed some people and written some pretty strong posts.
In the past few weeks as the presidential campaign heats up, I have received 3 kinds of responses.
The first, that they like and/or agree. I can usually tell ahead of time who those people will be.
The second, from friends posting memes about shutting out negativity, meditating, or otherwise ensuring that we allow in only those things that are positive and healing.
The third, and a category in which too many people are falling, that they have decided either to back off Facebook for awhile, or will disengage from any political issues because they are a) too depressing, b) too divisive, or c) creating tension between family and friends.
I tried to keep Facebook as a place to stay connected with family, old friends and classmates, but over time, people would invariably post something that I either found offensive, lacking facts, or something to which I agreed so strongly that I had to repost and/or comment.
When people would suggest I tone it down, I replied that I received a number of positive responses requesting that I continue. I even had people of quite different perspectives tell me that because they knew me, they tried to keep an open mind and actually thought about what I said.
So we come to today and the horrors of last Friday the 13th. I watched as so-called neutral reporters such as Jake Tapper essentially blamed President Obama for ISIL and others at a news conference who were so busy planning their own question they failed to listen to the President's previous answers (which actually demonstrated the bias of the questioner).
Remarkable to me, were those who repeated accusations made by Trump or Carson. Remember, Trump's answer to everything is that he'll negotiate a better deal. Really? He obviously doesn't understand the role of President. And Carson has not said a true thing yet (according to all the fact checkers). This is the man who discounts historical records and claims that the pyramids were obviously to store grain. Anyone old enough to remember the traveling King Tut exhibit?
So, who is right? Do we engage and experience all the frustration that entails, or do we back off because after all, what can I do?
I know where I stand and why, do you?
Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Friday, October 23, 2015

and then there was Hillary

Hillary,Clinton,Congress,Republican,Campaign 2016, Benghazi

I remember the whole Clinton Lewinski scandal. I was going to school after a many year hiatus and had gotten to know many other "non-traditional" women. We often met in the cafeteria to drink coffee and work on homework, gripe, and basically support each other as we each, in different ways, struggled with being students while holding down jobs, raising families, and coping.

The internet was still fairly new and I got involved in a web forum at the NPR website. Threads were organized by show: someone inevitably started a thread after each guest or issue heard on NPR.

Not sure who started it, but a new thread formed titled Move On. We ultimately were considered the longest running single issue thread and in fact, a few of the early members left the forum to start moveon dot org.

All that to say that I was actively involved in everything Clinton. My belief, still held, was that the most investigated couple had been proven to done one thing. Bill lied under oath in answer to a question I don't think we had the right to ask.

A somewhat circuitous route to my story. 

My women friends and I rarely discussed politics. Partly lack of interest or time to really absorb the details. I was fortunate in that I had plenty of free time to engage in my addiction to politics. I was blogging and on the forums daily. 

One day, the conversation turned to Hillary. I think she had just done her "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview. One of my friends said "I hate her." Startled, I asked why. Her response shouldn't have surprised me, but I was when she said that Hillary lied, had a fake marriage, and essentially was there  to provide cover for Bill. 

We remained friends, even after I expressed my two main beliefs regarding the Clintons. First, no one knows what goes on inside a marriage except the two people involved, and two, whatever arrangements they might or might not have, were none of our business. I went on to add that unless he was actually sexually harassing or assaulting women (which we eventually knew he did not), any questions about Bill or Hillary's sex life were inappropriate.

The inevitable questions about character came up. I am still puzzled that my belief that morality is about how you treat others and not what your sexual habits are or how often you go to church is considered to be a fringe attitude but there it is.

And so now we have Hillary, a competent attorney who became First Lady, first of a state, then the nation. With more experience than many who seek or hold those offices, she ran for and won a senate seat. Had she remained in the Senate, she would likely have been re-elected. When she ran for president, many complained--in fact John McCain touted her lack of experience as a reason not to vote for her--that she wasn't qualified.

Although not a huge Hillary fan, Obama's decision to nominate her to be his Secretary of State was inspired. By so doing, he ensured that he would not have to face her again in his re-election campaign. That she turned out to be a really good SOS was a bonus. Sure she was political and sure she likely made decisions that were politically advantageous to her. But seriously. Why are people so surprised when politicians make political decisions?

Whatever the worth of the Libya policy, or who was its chief architect, the fact remains that we had a Libyan policy, obviously supported by the President, That led to the conditions which placed four men ar risk. 

What the 7.5 investigations into what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2011 have found, is that the security was inadequate to protect them and that in the first hours and days following the attacks, information was slow to arrive, confusing, and chaotic. Or as Hillary said, the fog of war.

Yesterday, after 11 hours of attempts by a Republican congress to blame, Hillary ultimately showed that there really is nothing new under the sun, and that the American people were able to see very clearly a strong, capable woman who holds up phenominally well under pressure. What we saw was a group of white men badgering a woman, two women who tried to prove her callous and unfeeling because she didn't demonstrate sufficient concern--by their definition--and through it all, someone who showed with her poise, words, and emotion that she cared very much, but did not let that command her duties to the country. Had she become emotional over the threats to her friends, set aside all other concerns of state to mourn them, she would have shown us that she is not capable of leadership. 

Believe it or not, I have not yet decided who I support for president--except to say it will be whoever is the Democratic nominee--but yesterday, the GOP gave a tremendous gift to the country as they showed us how qualified and capable Hillary is to be president.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

GOP Debates

Well. Anyone else paying attention to the GOP debates? We're at least 6 months out from the first primaries and I think only the most dedicated are paying attention. Seeing some of the polling suggests that people respond to what is most familiar, who has made the most noise or headlined the news. Unfortunately, even when we get closer, many people (most?) will vote based on party affiliation, who they react to emotionally, or some vague, non-specific reason. So far, I'm not seeing much difference between any of the GOP pool, even Trump is toeing the party line even if somewhat crudely. It will be interesting. Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon. k

Friday, June 5, 2015


Having been away from this blog for quite awhile I've been going back through some of my old posts and re-reading comments made. I was surprised at the reactions to my avatar of all things. Silly on a "serious" blog. Pretending to be young and thin. Obviously young so obviously don't know what I'm talking about. Readers trying to figure out my message in why I chose it. One of my favorite bloggers used for years, a pair of yellow rubber boots as her avatar and many, use none. Trying to remember my thinking when I chose that image, I think I was just trying to use it as a caricature. I do have long brown hair that usually looks like that and I frequently wear suits. I even wear glasses and I have to say, when Sarah Palin came on the scene, I seriously considered cutting my hair - but I'm lazy when it comes to hair and this is the easiest style there is. All of this is a roundabout way of saying, seriously? This blog isn't about me except in the sense that I am offering my educated opinions. What I look like shouldn't be a factor and my avatar is just a touch of whimsy. If I remember, the program I used came with a male or female form, I just added features, colors, etc. So, a response to the various questions about my avatar. What I'd really like though, is for commente about my content. Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Checking In

Lately, I seem to be responding to things in the news -- or should I say media -- in a way I haven't in awhile. I've been focused on writing other than blogging, but there is just so much going on. The presidential campaigns are getting off the ground, McCain et al is trying to sell off an Apache holy site, the divide between fundamentalist Christians and everyone else becomes ever wider, and climate change is above the fold once again. this is just a belated check in but will begin actual posts tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.