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New Existentialists

When Does Life Begin?

05/21/2012
When Does Life Begin?
When does life begin? In the shadow of the President’s announced requirements concerning birth control, and the Republican’s awkward dance of being the most “pro-life” candidate, there is a renewed emphasis on the question, “when does life begin?” Is it at conception? Or, perhaps at a certain stage of development of the fetus? Maybe it is when the sperm are injected into the vaginal canal? On the other hand, does life not begin until the baby is born? Maybe life does not truly begin until an infant can chew food, becomes mobile, or is able to poop in the toilet? When does life begin? Our...

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Rethinking Complexity

Systems Thinking on Meditation

05/21/2012
Systems Thinking on Meditation
When we think of meditation, we conjure thoughts of something good for us, but also something perhaps too "New Age." When I was in the pre-op room at the Cleveland Clinic waiting for my heart surgery, a social worker noticed my high level of anxiety and offered a number of services, which included guided meditation. I was surprised at how alternative practices had made it into mainstream medicine. This was further reinforced when one of the nurses downloaded meditations into my iPod, which I listened to all the way to the operating room. Today, meditation is more mainstream than...

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New Existentialists

Desperate Lives

05/18/2012
Desperate Lives
The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation ~ Thoreau If you have eyes to see, you’ll see it everywhere. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear it. Most times, logging into Facebook provides an overwhelming dose of it. Desperation. It looks a lot like the person who can’t wait for the weekend. It sounds like the person who walks into the office saying “I hate Monday!!” It’s the person who hates their job but needs the money. And it’s that friend who is miserable in their marriage but can’t stand to be single. You know what I’m talking about. You see it, recognize it, and maybe even live it...

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Rethinking Complexity

Facebook on Wall Street

05/18/2012
Facebook on Wall Street
Facebook Inc. goes public this moring with an initial public offering (or IPO) that will potentially raise $18 billion and give the company an estimated value of $100 billion, according to news reports.  Many people throughout the world will scramble to buy shares so they can make money from the social media boom. Others will try to buy a few shares just to be part of this historic event. As I mentioned in a previous post, we are at a turning point in human history. Facebook is a significant actor in that story; not only as an innovative technology business, but as a shaper of the human...

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Rethinking Complexity

The Difference Between Two Cs

05/17/2012
The Difference Between Two Cs
I like to challenge. Not in a competitive sense, but in an inquisitive kind of way. No idea or ideology is safe near me. The status quo should tremble when I walk by. In fact, it would if it could. Naturally, when the subject of competition in an organizational setting arises, I feel moved to ask a few questions, like: What’s the purpose of competition and how does it serve us? Is there another way to reframe the use of competition for production that companies attempt to create amongst its employees? How does competition for the sake of peak individual performance affect gross...

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New Existentialists

Passing for Normal: The Culture of Conformism in Cinical Psychology Training

05/17/2012
Passing for Normal: The Culture of Conformism in Cinical Psychology Training
A recent blog post by Dr. Bruce Levine at madinamerica.com contended that anti-authoritarian individuals are socialized out of the mental health professions, leaving these professions filled with authoritarian personalities. According to Levine, “most psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience.” Levine argues that the prominence of authoritarians in the mental health field contributes to the labeling and oppression of patients who have anti-authoritarian traits...

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Rethinking Complexity

Rethinking Family Relationships Within the Business Context

05/16/2012
Rethinking Family Relationships Within the Business Context
This week, I hosted a conference call with Saybrook professor Dennis Jaffe, which led me to rethink the most muddied and, perhaps, top-of–the-totem-pole thinking: family relationships within the business context. During my conversation with Dennis this week, I had an opportunity to visit his 2009 book on family stewardship, Stewardship in Your Family Enterprise: Developing Responsible Family Leadership Across Generations. In his book, Dennis explained how the role of the wealth advisor is that of a process consultant who guides the family business from an enterprise standpoint and...

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New Existentialists

The Value of Suicide Ideation

05/16/2012
The Value of Suicide Ideation
As a student, the clinics where I earned my hours had particular attitudes towards suicide ideation: it is bad and needs to be treated. Lately, I hear about an even more extreme posture from psychiatric institutions: namely, a person who reports suicide ideation cannot be discharged until they no longer report these thoughts. I have never used a safety contract, because there is no empirical evidence it is helpful for the client (although there is some empirical evidence it is helpful for liability purposes). I try to trust the people who come to me. Of course, I work with their safety...

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Interdisciplinary Inquiry

New Documentary: Rural Zambian women use film to tell their story

05/16/2012

Written by Jordan Roberts (March of the Penguins) and narrated by Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman, “Where the Water Meets the Sky” tells the inspiring story of a group of women in a remote region of Northern Zambia who achieve the unimaginable: they learn how to make a film as a way to speak out about their lives, raising an issue that no one will discuss – the plight of young women orphaned by AIDS.

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New Existentialists

Pain Without Suffering

05/15/2012
Pain Without Suffering
I’d like to share with you one of my finest supervision sessions. The session did not start off very promising for through parallel process, I was confronted with the same sense of helplessness as my student. However, in the midst of despair came inspiration and beauty that I would like to share with you. The student is doing his placement at a hospice and was asked to go see a female patient who was posed quite a challenge to the hospital staff. The patient was a mother who was suffering from bone cancer. She held on until the graduation of her first son from secondary school. She was...

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