Jan 24

World Happy Day Is Coming: Watch Roko Belic’s Documentary

Roko Belic, the creator of the documentary Happy, wrote on The Huffington Post last week about an event to occur on February 11th that he’s calling World Happy Day. (More info is available at the film’s website just mentioned above.) On that date, people around the world will be able to attend planned screenings in various locations. You can even apply to host a screening of your own–in your very own living room if you so choose.

In Belic’s recent post, he elaborates on what he learned from Ed Diener, of the University of Illinois, a happiness researcher:

He told me that a person’s values are among the best predictors of their happiness. People who value money, power, fame and good looks are less likely to be happy than people who value compassion, cooperation and a willingness to make the world a better place. That astounded me — but it somehow made sense. People who express their love — who rejoice in the health and happiness of others — are more likely to feel loved and happy themselves…

I asked Ed Diener if there is a single key to happiness, a secret happy ingredient that every happy person in the world possesses. He said that the formula is different for everyone, but the one constant is good relationships. He said every happy person he’s studied in over three decades of research had someone to love and someone to be loved by.

How about you? Does this ring true? And, speaking of happy, how happy are you about the possibility of being able to see this documentary someday soon?

Jan 23

Storm Large: Whether to Become “Crazy Enough”

First, a musical based on her life—and a CD to include its songs—and now, her written memoir. The title of all three? Crazy Enough. The performer/singer/author? Storm Large.

I saw Storm Large front the fantastic musical group Pink Martini last summer when their regular lead singer, China Forbes, was sidelined for a spell. One reviewer who’d seen a similar show on their tour aptly stated that Large exhibits an “over-the-top-yet-remarkably-on-point style.”

The book, which was released on January 10th, is described on her website:

Storm spent most of her childhood visiting her mother in mental institutions and psych wards. Suzi’s diagnosis changed with almost every doctor visit, ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder to multiple personality disorder to depression. As hard as it was not having her at home, Storm and her brothers knew that it was a lot safer to have their beautiful but unreliable mom in a facility somewhere. Then one day, nine-year-old Storm jokingly asked one of her mother’s doctors, ‘I’m not going to be crazy like that, right?’ To which he replied, ‘Well, yes. It’s hereditary. You absolutely will end up like your mother. But not until your twenties.’

OOMPH.

Maybe you can already imagine what happened next. Besides not actually becoming her mother, that is…

“Knowing” that she would be “crazy” herself someday, she lived on the edge from an early age, growing right into her real birth name of “Storm.” (She also grew into her given surname of “Large,” developing to six feet tall in her early teens.) She did in fact develop a heroin addiction and an eating disorder; she did in fact develop other kinds of “craziness” and issues.

What eventually saved her in her 20’s? Music.

As told by her book publisher, Simon and Schuster:

…with nothing to live for and a growing heroin addiction, Storm accepted a chance invitation to sing with a friend’s band. That night she reconnected with her long-term love of music, and it dragged her back from the edge. She has been singing and slinging inappropriate banter at audiences worldwide ever since…With tremendous honesty and tremendous dirty language, Crazy Enough is about an artist’s journey of realizing that the mistakes that make, break, and remake us are worth far more than our flailing attempts to live a life we think is ‘normal.’ It is a love song to the twisted, flawed parts in all of us and a nod to the grace we find when things fall apart.

Publisher’s Weekly: “…her memoir boils down to the tension inherent in her relationship with her mother, who used her sickness as emotional manipulation. In her gutsy, shrill way, Large exhibits an engaging insouciance in delving into very real, scary, emotionally weighty issues.”

Kirkus Reviews: “The author’s prose is casual and vernacular, rife with descriptions that are not for the faint of heart. Though not necessarily likable, she comes across as authentic and unapologetic.”

It looks like the most popular YouTube video of Storm Large, by far, involves the song “8 Miles Wide,” which was part of her one-woman show. It’s basically a tribute to her vagina, which her lyrics indicate is only “…a metaphor for [my] super vigantastically mystical feminine goddess core.”

My selection below, on the other hand, has her performing with Pink Martini, in what is possibly the best example of her least out-there-ness:

Jan 20

Smoking Not Allowed in Group Therapy: “ER” Episode

You know what they say: Where there’s baptism by fire, there’s smoke. Or smoking.

Or something like that.

In the tenth season of the long-running TV series ER (1994-2009), Nurse Manager Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney), now in her fourth year of medical school, is doing her psychiatry rotation. Unexpectedly, her supervisor tells her she can run the group therapy session all by herself.

Abby, who’s an on-again, off-again smoker, later tells another character, “I started smoking in the middle of the session today to get their attention. Pity I couldn’t finish that cigarette.”

Jan 19

Stop Smoking: “SNL” Spoofs the Prescription of Chantix

Stop smoking with nicotine replacement strategies such as the “patch”—or not. Recent research into the attempts of real smokers to quit seems to show that these may not be very effective in the long-term.

This is just one of the latest reports, so common in health-related news, that could leave consumers bewildered. After all, there are many who prefer this method. But let’s face it: smoking, just like any other type of addiction, doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all remedy. Each individual must look at the various options and then decide what might work best for him or her.

Besides nicotine replacement, the options include acupuncture, hypnosis, aversion therapy, and cold turkey, to name just a few.

Stop smoking with the prescription of medications—or not. Below is a recent Saturday Night Live parody (with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader) of an ad for Chantix, a real drug. Note: I present this as a general spoof of drug companies’ warnings about side effects and not as a potential disincentive to stop smoking using whatever methods feel appropriate for you.

Jan 18

“A Dangerous Method”: Three Psychoanalysts Depicted

In a previous post about scary boundary-breaking by therapists, I described the based-on-a-true-story film A Dangerous Method (2011), which wasn’t yet in theaters. Now it is, and in a couple months or so it will be released on DVD.

Today’s post will use excerpts from film reviews/articles to focus on the characterizations in the movie of the three depicted analysts: Freud, Jung, and Spielrein.

Rex ReedNew York Observer

…a psychological tug of war between the father of modern psychiatry, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortenson), and his disciple Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) over the mind and sex of an overwrought mental patient named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a mad Russian with a craving for spanking. Whacking her on her naked bottom must have worked. She ended up, years later, analyzing patients of her own. Too bad she didn’t also analyze this movie. It would have saved so much wasted time.

(Ouch, Spielrein herself might have said.)

Lisa Kennedy, The Denver Post:

David Cronenberg’s elegant historical drama ‘A Dangerous Method’ begins and ends in a way that recalls one of Sigmund Freud’s better-known quotes.

‘Much has been gained,’ he told a patient, ‘if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness.’

(In modern psychiatry there is no longer a diagnosis of “hysterical neurosis.” The current DSM uses “conversion disorder,” basically defined as the conversion of emotional issues into physical symptoms. For the upcoming revised edition of the DSM, “functional neurological disorder” is being considered as the next replacement term.)

J. Hoberman, Village Voice:

…The protean Fassbender plays a proper Jung, steely yet agonized; Mortensen’s self-amused, paranoid Freud is a more unusual piece of work. Mind ablaze, he sees repression everywhere. The mystical Jung believes that nothing happens by accident; for Freud, all accidents have meaning.

(And for Spielrein, her therapy is an accident waiting to happen.)

Dr. Sandra Fenster, Ph.D., psychoanalyst (from a post on Psychology Today):

…Jung lost his objectivity–something an analyst cannot afford to do. With his patient, Sabina Spielrein, Jung’s own insatiable needs got the best of him; he confused them for hers. That is what analysis is not. And, that is the danger in the method.

(And this is the voice of reason.)