IN-DEPTH PSYCOTHERAPY

We live in a stressful and an increasingly automated society which makes countless people strangers to themselves and to their deep human needs. Insecurity and distrust are widespread. Little wonder that psychological difficulties take their toll. Many people are turning to the helping professions for psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a very broad label covering various kinds of guidance and counseling – individual, group, child and family therapy, psychoanalysis, body-oriented therapy, hypnotherapy, etc.

Thought of by many as a remedy applied to a passive patient as in medicine, it is more accurately described as a process. In a series of regularly scheduled meetings, a trained professional works with a person’s attitude, behavior and feelings so as to relieve tensions and problems in living and enable the person to live more effectively.
The therapist is responsible for maintaining a collaborative, empathetic and sensitive tie with the client-patient. This involves a sharing of attention and emotions and creating and maintaining an alliance which is the bedrock of the therapeutic process. The therapeutic relationship is characterized by warmth, understanding, acceptance and wisdom, a panorama of factors in association with client-patient improvement.
There is a significant positive affiliation between outcome and the therapeutic bond. As part of the relationship building it is important for the therapist to be on time for sessions. Likewise, if the client-patient messages the therapist, a response should be made as soon as possible.
Without an alliance there can be no exploration, integration and healing. Those with deep traumas and hurts will have a more difficult time forming a bond with the therapist. In these cased the therapist has to pay special attention developing an alliance.
The caregiver is also responsible for creating a healing pace by being accepting, curious, playful and empathetic. It allows the therapist to generate and regulate the emerging emotional experiences that are explored in therapy.
The therapist offers insights to the client-patient within their ability to feel, grasp and understand, at a level or depth not beyond their emotional and intellectual mastery. Insights should not be purely intellectual but should be felt by the recipient. Thus, conflicts, feeling states, misunderstandings and mistakes that occur in many relationships are addressed and hopefully repaired.
The past often has a profound affect on the present. Exploring it requires safety and security in the therapeutic endeavor.
Resistance in therapy is a common occurance reflecting fear, shame or past negative experiences. Resistance, also referred to as armoring, should not be viewed as negative but as an adaptation for managing upsetting and disturbing emotions.
People who seek out psychotherapy do so for a wide variety of reasons. In the course of therapy, agendas, goals and expectations are apt to change. Even early memories of mother and father may change as treatment takes on new meaning.
Many people who seek out psychotherapy have difficulties of integration. Flashback in post traumatic stress is an example where episodes  and explicit memories lack integration. The hallmark of integration is seeing shades of gray instead of absolutes. Integration occurs over time as a developmental process in which experiences, memories. events, relationships, emotions, one’s autobio-grahical narrative are reworked in a flexable way.
As therapy is in its final stages there is an increase in reflecting on the therapeutic experience and a celebration of how life is different.
Intensive therapy when successful reaches a state of emotional health that may be comparable or surpass that of the therapist’s well-being. The therapist needs to be secure enough in themselves, or mindful of their own flaws, to allow, even relish, the client-patient progress, otherwise the therapist will inhibit it  in subtle ways.
I believe that if one practices in this field that they have the obligation to have had or be in successful psychotherapy themselves, thus being more reflective and insightful in their work. Furthermore, they are better able to identify with client-patients, having assumed that role.
Although I have barely scratched the surface of psychotherapy, I believe I have addressed a few of the crucial issues surrounding it.
Michael Kulla, Ph.D.
N.Y. State Licensed Psychologist

We live in a stressful and an increasingly automated society which makes countless people strangers to themselves and to their deep human needs. Insecurity and distrust are widespread. Little wonder that psychological difficulties take their toll. Many people are turning to the helping professions for psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a very broad label covering various kinds of guidance and counseling – individual, group, child and family therapy, psychoanalysis, body-oriented therapy, hypnotherapy, etc.

Thought of by many as a remedy applied to a passive patient as in medicine, it is more accurately described as a process. In a series of regularly scheduled meetings, a trained professional works with a person’s attitude, behavior and feelings so as to relieve tensions and problems in living and enable the person to live more effectively.
The therapist is responsible for maintaining a collaborative, empathetic and sensitive tie with the client-patient. This involves a sharing of attention and emotions and creating and maintaining an alliance which is the bedrock of the therapeutic process. The therapeutic relationship is characterized by warmth, understanding, acceptance and wisdom, a panorama of factors in association with client-patient improvement.
There is a significant positive affiliation between outcome and the therapeutic bond. As part of the relationship building it is important for the therapist to be on time for sessions. Likewise, if the client-patient messages the therapist, a response should be made as soon as possible.
Without an alliance there can be no exploration, integration and healing. Those with deep traumas and hurts will have a more difficult time forming a bond with the therapist. In these cased the therapist has to pay special attention developing an alliance.
The caregiver is also responsible for creating a healing pace by being accepting, curious, playful and empathetic. It allows the therapist to generate and regulate the emerging emotional experiences that are explored in therapy.
The therapist offers insights to the client-patient within their ability to feel, grasp and understand, at a level or depth not beyond their emotional and intellectual mastery. Insights should not be purely intellectual but should be felt by the recipient. Thus, conflicts, feeling states, misunderstandings and mistakes that occur in many relationships are addressed and hopefully repaired.
The past often has a profound affect on the present. Exploring it requires safety and security in the therapeutic endeavor.
Resistance in therapy is a common occurance reflecting fear, shame or past negative experiences. Resistance, also referred to as armoring, should not be viewed as negative but as an adaptation for managing upsetting and disturbing emotions.
People who seek out psychotherapy do so for a wide variety of reasons. In the course of therapy, agendas, goals and expectations are apt to change. Even early memories of mother and father may change as treatment takes on new meaning.
Many people who seek out psychotherapy have difficulties of integration. Flashback in post traumatic stress is an example where episodes  and explicit memories lack integration. The hallmark of integration is seeing shades of gray instead of absolutes. Integration occurs over time as a developmental process in which experiences, memories. events, relationships, emotions, one’s autobio-grahical narrative are reworked in a flexable way.
As therapy is in its final stages there is an increase in reflecting on the therapeutic experience and a celebration of how life is different.
Intensive therapy when successful reaches a state of emotional health that may be comparable or surpass that of the therapist’s well-being. The therapist needs to be secure enough in themselves, or mindful of their own flaws, to allow, even relish, the client-patient progress, otherwise the therapist will inhibit it  in subtle ways.
I believe that if one practices in this field that they have the obligation to have had or be in successful psychotherapy themselves, thus being more reflective and insightful in their work. Furthermore, they are better able to identify with client-patients, having assumed that role.
Although I have barely scratched the surface of psychotherapy, I believe I have addressed a few of the crucial issues surrounding it.

SCHOOL REFUSAL. JUST PLAYING SICK?

MICHAEL KULLA, Ph.D., PLEASANT VALLEY, NEW YORK

School’s started. Up to 5% of kids will refuse to attend. School refusal can occur anytime between the ages of 5 and 17, but its most commonly seen around 10 to 13 years of age and equally across genders.

    While such kids tend to have average to above average intelligence, their academic performance can obviously be negatively impacted if they miss too much school due to their fears.
    Unwillingness to go to school exists on a continuum that includes those students who always miss school along with those who rarely miss but attend under incredible duress, such as “stomach aches”, crying, clinging, tantrums or other intense behavioral reactions. Based on these criteria, it is evident that there are varying degrees of school refusal behaviors.
    Although there are many things that influence a child’s school rejection, there are often specific criteria to consider. One common reason is performance anxiety. These are kids who are perfectionistic and//or who are overly concerned their schoolwork will suffer.
    Children feel pressure just as greatly as adults do, if not more so. Perhaps they have been absent due to a substantial illness and are concerned that they wont catch up. Maybe they are very intense about success, causing real concern about failing. Thumbs down on school attendance allows them to avoid/escape uncomfortable academic situations.
    Another fear, especially for younger children, may be the concern that something will happen at home outside of school, to their parents or family. There could be a recent family trauma, such as a divorce or a move. Often the root cause is associated with separation anxiety.
    A third cause of school refusal may be to escape from uncomfortable peer interactions and humiliation. It can be difficult for a child to find perspective when their friends turn on them or bullies are tormenting them.
    A fiinal potential cause of school rejection is the youngster’s parents.Children absorb parents’ emotions, especially anxiety and fear. When adults panic ,kids panic. Children are very good at absorbing their parents’ emotions. Parents should try to provide reassuramce to their kids if things are stressed. Easier said than done, but youger kids especially may avoid school to stay home and “take care” of mom or/and dad.
    Parents should work with school personnel – guidance counselor, teacher, psychologist, nurse – to increase their awareness of the child’s school rejection so support can be implemented.
    It is also important for parents to know appropriate professionals to seek out for help. In general, the therapeutic work uncovers and challenges thoughts and feelings that interfere with attending, giving credence to shifting thoughts from the negative and catastrophic to the positive, to achieve greater success and a healthier outcome.
    School refusal is an anxiety disorder that in the great majority of cases can be treated. The key is not to ignore the symptoms as they arise and to get help early to avoid the problem from becoming ingrained and more resistant to change.
Michael Kulla, Ph.D.  Pleasant Valley . I am a licensed psychologist who practices in Dutchess County. My photo can be gotten from 9/6 article on opinion page

SCHOOL REFUSAL. JUST PLAYING SICK?

School’s started. Up to 5% of kids will refuse to attend. School refusal can occur anytime between the ages of 5 and 17, but its most commonly seen around 10 to 13 years of age and equally across genders.

    While such kids tend to have average to above average intelligence, their academic performance can obviously be negatively impacted if they miss too much school due to their fears.
    Unwillingness to go to school exists on a continuum that includes those students who always miss school along with those who rarely miss but attend under incredible duress, such as “stomach aches”, crying, clinging, tantrums or other intense behavioral reactions. Based on these criteria, it is evident that there are varying degrees of school refusal behaviors.
    Although there are many things that influence a child’s school rejection, there are often specific criteria to consider. One common reason is performance anxiety. These are kids who are perfectionistic and//or who are overly concerned their schoolwork will suffer.
    Children feel pressure just as greatly as adults do, if not more so. Perhaps they have been absent due to a substantial illness and are concerned that they wont catch up. Maybe they are very intense about success, causing real concern about failing. Thumbs down on school attendance allows them to avoid/escape uncomfortable academic situations.
    Another fear, especially for younger children, may be the concern that something will happen at home outside of school, to their parents or family. There could be a recent family trauma, such as a divorce or a move. Often the root cause is associated with separation anxiety.
    A third cause of school refusal may be to escape from uncomfortable peer interactions and humiliation. It can be difficult for a child to find perspective when their friends turn on them or bullies are tormenting them.
    A fiinal potential cause of school rejection is the youngster’s parents.Children absorb parents’ emotions, especially anxiety and fear. When adults panic ,kids panic. Children are very good at absorbing their parents’ emotions. Parents should try to provide reassuramce to their kids if things are stressed. Easier said than done, but youger kids especially may avoid school to stay home and “take care” of mom or/and dad.
    Parents should work with school personnel – guidance counselor, teacher, psychologist, nurse – to increase their awareness of the child’s school rejection so support can be implemented.
    It is also important for parents to know appropriate professionals to seek out for help. In general, the therapeutic work uncovers and challenges thoughts and feelings that interfere with attending, giving credence to shifting thoughts from the negative and catastrophic to the positive, to achieve greater success and a healthier outcome.
    School refusal is an anxiety disorder that in the great majority of cases can be treated. The key is not to ignore the symptoms as they arise and to get help early to avoid the problem from becoming ingrained and more resistant to change.
Michael Kulla, Ph.D.  Pleasant Valley  .  I am a licensed psychologist who practices in Dutchess County. My photo can be gotten from 9/6 article on opinion page

COVERAGE DENIAL FOR INPATIENT PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT

I watched the striking 60 Minutes August 2, 2015 show of patients prematurely denied coverage for inpatient psychiatric treatment by insurance doctors who never ever saw the patients, sometimes with disastrous outcomes including suicide and homicide.

Reporter Scott Pelley cited several vivid examples of patients with acute and/or chronic emotional problems whose overhasty coverage denials reached between 90 and 100%. In one case, a health insurance psychiatrist who reviewed 550 cases a month promptly rejected coverage when the patient’s treating doctor failed to call him back within 54 minutes.

The case of a 14 year old bulimic girl who was purging and was wasting away was one of those featured. From age 12 on she was cutting herself and she required around the clock watching so as not to purge. She was prescribed several weeks of treatment at a psychiatric hospital but insurance coverage was terminated part way through treatment. The hapless parents couldn’t afford the out of pocket fee. Their daughter came home and soon after died.

This is how it typically works. The insurance rep poses the question, “Is the patient acutely homicidal or suicidal?” The answer is usually no, because guns, knives, poisons, etc. have been confiscated. What follows is insurance’s retort: “Then why does he/she need to be in the hospital?” The patient is summarily referred to a lower level of care, meaning hospital coverage is henceforth denied. 60 Minutes found that with the chronic, expensive cases most were prematurely denied.

Losing health coverage in the midst of outpatient psychiatric treatment is appalling. Most developed countries of the world treat health care as a necessity, not a privilege, countries like

Canada, The United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, etc. Like fire or police protection, it is considered a right. The World Health Organization ranked U.S. 37th out of 191 countries in 2013, just above Slovenia and Cuba, and the American health care system is expensive.

Other wealthy democracies could show us how to build a health system that meets our particular needs. A potpourri of options are available. However, vested interest (insurance, pharmaceutical, hospital chains) have fended off attempts to restructure it for the benefit of care holders.

The mental health care system in America is a multi-dollar industry that is still not big enough to serve all those that need to use it. Cost is one barrier. Since the 1960s there has been a big shift away from inpatient treatment and toward outpatient treatment and prescription drugs. The push was for more treatment in community settings rather than in state run mega institutions. But in the process of “reform,” the most disturbed patients have turned up in jails. homeless shelters and flop houses. Deinstitutionalization has been problematic in its own right and has contributed to more pricey private psychiatric hospitals and insurance bottom lines

There has been an alarming incidence of mental illness the world over. Countries are struggling to address the issue in terms of professional resources, available facilities and the economic burden.

Apart from established biological and genetic reasons, the current disruption of the social fabric due to changing political scenerios, poverty, violence and terrorism has negatively effected millions of people’s psychies.

There are some good tidings for psychiatric patients, such as the celebrated law requiring insurers to treat all patients equally with either a physical or mental affliction. While this is on paper, in practice many insurance companies routinely deny requests for inpatient treatment for psychological problems.

The advantage of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obama

Care, patients are no longer denied coverage for pre-existing conditions like Schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or drug and alcohol dependence. Also, young adults up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ health plan. This is a boon because half of all mental health and substance abuse conditions begin by age 14 and three quarters begin by age 24.

We all, and especially the long-term psychiatric patient, deserve fair treatment. Successful outcomes require a partnership between patients, families, mental health professionals and health plans. Some other industrialized nations with vested interests have overcome political hurdles and reformed their health care systems. What about us?

Michael Kulla Pleasant Valley 635-1948. Dr. Kulla is a psychologist who practices in Dutchess County

MICHAEL KULLA, Ph.D., PLEASANT VALLEY, NEW YORK

cyber bullying

 Bullying has been part of the human experience since the inception of civilization. Cyber bullying has introduced a form of bullying never seen before. Bullying used to be confined to schools, neighborhoods or some small geographic locations where the targeted child could seek respite. With cyber bullying the victim has no escape from the taunting and harassment.
    Cyber bullying has reached epidemic proportions with no known end in sight. Children are easily targeted when they are vulnerable, unaware, unsuspecting or different from the majority of their peers.
    Children view the real world and the online or virtual world as part of a seamless continuum. Conversations with friends may begin at school and pick up again on a child’s computer or mobil device with virtually 24 hour contact. Because of a greater opportunity to distort information with cyber bullying tactics, children are far more negatively impacted  by disparaging, abusive and false information posted about them online than face-to-face bullying.
    Anonymity is a key component of cyber bullying with followers, copycats and sympathizers readily jumping on the band wagon. Thus, perpetrators are more prone to brazen attacks without fear of retribution.
  Targets of cyber bullying are thus more apt to personalize their victimization  which can lead to a multitude of self-destructive and destructive behaviors including depression, alcohol/substance abuse, high risk taking, aggression and lowered self-esteem. Cyber bullying is driving a growing number of children to attempt and succeed at a new form of self-extinction called cyber bullicide when a child successfully commits suicide.
    Keep in perspective that as of March 2011, 2,095,006,005 estimated people globally are Internet users, having grown by 480% from 2000-2011. By 2015 network-connected devices should be twice the world’s population (over 15 billion), spelling out the enormous potential for cyber predator exploitation and victimization.
    Educators, parents and the community at large need to treat cyber bullying as a societal toxin. Thus, it’s paramount for adults to become educated on the tactics cyber bullies use to taunt and victimize vulnerable children, which continues to expand. Below are some of the most commonly used tactics in 2012.
    Exclusion: Sends a message that the target child is not included in a social activity.
    Flaming: Passionate argument frequently including profanity to assert power and dominance.
    E-mail Threats & Dissemination: Sending threatening e-mails, then forward or copy and paste the threat to others of the implied threat.
    Harassment: Sending hurtful messages worded in a severe, persistent or perverse way causing the respondent undue concern.
    Phishing: Tricking, persuading or manipulating the target child into revealing personal and/or financial information, then accessing their profiles using their password to purchase unauthorized items.
    Impersonation: Or “imping.” Impersonating the target child and making unpopular online comments on social netwoking  cites.                                                                                                                  Denigration: Sending e-mail rumors, gossip and untrue statements about the respondent to damage their reputation or friendships.
    Images & Videos: Of the target child are e-mailed to peers or published on video sites. This can be extremely dangerous and criminal when the respondent is a minor.
    Pornography & Marketing List Inclusion: Signing up the target child to pornography and /or junk marketing e-mailing and instant messaging lists.
    Voting/Poling Booths: Allows others to vote online for categories that are highly embarassing, including the ugliest, dumbest, most sexually promiscuous and other disparaging attributes.
    These are but a few of the techniques used.
Dr. Kulla is a licensed psychologist with a practice in the Hudson Valley. Dr. Nuccitelli is a licensed psychologist  with several specialties including Criminal and Digital/Computer Forensic Psychology.
References: 2012 Cyber Bullying Tactics  by Dr. Nucitelli  www.darkpsychology.co
                    1PREDATOR  by Dr. Nuccitelli  The Forensic Examiner   Winter 2011
                    Dark Psychology  by Dr. Nuccitelli  www.dark psychology.co
                    Case experiences by authors
Michael Kulla, Ph. D.  635-1144 &  Michael Nuccitelli, Psy. D. 592-0722 (private)

   FEAR, DYING & UNLIMITED HEALTH CARE

  Patient to doctor: do everything to prolong my life! Therein lies a problem…because a quarter of Medicare’s budget is disproportionately spent on the final year of life, and ten percent on the last thirty days! End-of-life health is one of the few items that genuinely threatens Uncle Sam’s solvency, according to David Walker, former U. S, controller general. But we can’t have an honest conversation about it, he says.
    All that spending is a result of a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to forestall death. And it remains the standard, according to a new study from Stanford, which finds that medical science has its default set to maximal interventions for all patients regardless of the effectiveness of doing so.
    The Stanford study finds, however, many doctors questioning ‘whatever it takes’, because they recurrently witness the tremendous suffering their terminally ill patients endure as they undergo frequently ineffective high-intensity treatments at the end of life. Many factors contribute to this full-speed-ahead mentality, such as our litigious environment, paying off expensive medical equipment, life-preserving medical training and of course, patient and family pressure to forestall death.
    Psychologists and psychiatrists have identified man’s underlying fear of death which also determines much of the way he lives. The grim reaper’s jarring reality makes us want to “live on” whether through our children or by attaching ourselves to causes that would not be buried along with us.
    The prospect of imminent death may generate conscious or unconscious feelings of the bleak realization that everything is meaningless, that life has the same value as a toad. There seems like no salvation, no solutions, no hope of transformation, no “feel good” answers, only the confirmation of our deepest fears.
    Contrarily, there is an important book: The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. Becker puts more value on truth than on happiness. He would not be happy if ignorance was the price. Our world view, our character, our devotions, our attachments, our delusions …they’re all defenses against the overpowering feeling of both life and death, he says.
    This is not a book to live by; it’s a book to understand. If you (like me) value self-knowledge above all else, this is for you.
    What of America’s health? Men and women can expect to blow out the candle at 75 and 80 respectfully. That sounds estimable. But women’s life expectancy is shockingly next to last and men dead last among 17 peer countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan and most of Europe. Americans not only die sooner, but they suffer higher rates of diseases and injuries than other high-income countries.
    Five years ago the Affordable Care Act dropped plans to pay for health providers  who talk to patients about terminal care.(the “death panel flack). It was a fair objection but it skirted an open dialogue on unlimited medicine in a financially strapped environment. Now, thankfully, some private insurers are covering costs for such doctor-patient talks.
    Indeed, the number of medical patients who saw ten or more doctors in the final six months of life is growing as is the number of days those patients spent in intensive care.
    We don’t know when the cost curve will reach the breaking point. But we know it will. When the flow of “free” money is shut off maybe we’ll start having “honest conversations” about treatments that will reach a tipping point where the treatment becomes more burdensome than the illness itself.
    It’s uncomfortable to think about but it’s better to hear about it now than from a doctor a few years down the road, when you or someone you love is approaching his or her final days.
Dr. Michael Kulla  Pleasant Valley,  NY   845-635-1144       
    
                              

ON CONVERTING GAY TO STRAIGHT

dark-psychology-ipredator-michael-kulla-distortions-misperceptions-beneath-consciousness

 

Based on reviews of eleven recent studies on lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT). 3.8% identify themselves as such. This implies 9 million LGBT Americans, a figure roughly equivalent to the population of New Jersey, are those who support any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher – 19 million (8.2%) and 25.6 million (11%) respectfully.

While these are significant numbers, they are still an under representation. The more the survey-taker feels that his or her confidentiality is protected the more honest will be the response, and visa versa. Conversion therapy, sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy, is based on the premise that people can change orientation literally converting from gay to straight, Around 70 therapists currently advertise conversion therapy in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

Some of the techniques used to sexually reorient are aversive treatments such as the application of electric shock to the hands and /or genitals, and nausea-inducing drugs administered simultaneously with the presentation of homoerotic stimuli, masturbatory reconditioning, visualization, social skill training and spiritual interventions such as prayer, group support and pressure, i.e. “Pray away the gay.” Once upon a time, The American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder Forty-one years ago the APA reversed its stance, and since then the organization has worked hard to live down this ignominious embarrassment.

Pretty much every major professional mental health association views homosexuality as a non-issue. The American Psychological Association has perhaps put it best in a policy statement that “sexual orientation is an enduring, emotional, romantic, sexual or affectionate attraction toward others. It lies along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Does conversion/reparative therapy work? A task force of the American Psychological Association undertook a thorough review of the research on its efficacy. In short, they found clear evidence that it does not work. Some significant evidence has suggested that it is also harmful to LGBT people – keeping in mind the medical dictum to first do no harm.

It’s potential risks include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, due to the fact that these therapists align with societal prejudices against homosexuality. As such, self-hatred already experienced by the patient may be reinforced. Many patients who have undergone this process relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction, the possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying ties as a gay or lesbian is not presented, nor are approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.

During adolescence, confusion about sexual orientation is not unusual. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or for those who are uncertain about how to express their sexuality. To be clear, you can’t change a person’s sexual proclivity even if a person wants to change it. No amount or type of therapy is going to change this. This brings to mind the biblical parable about trying to thread the eye of a needle with an elephant.

We don’t do therapy to help people become what they or others wish they were. We do therapy to help them achieve peace, fulfillment, satisfaction and personal growth, starting with who they are. He/ she needs to understand and accept that in our culture, at this time, we consider same-sex feelings to be healthy, normal and something to incorporate, not something to pathologize or avoid, regardless of any pressure – internal or external – from religion, culture, family, etc, to do so. Some readers may be thinking, “If a person doesn’t want to be gay, why won’t they at least try to change?

But the harm shows up when people who are already feeling shame and self-hatred are encouraged and mislead to enter a form of doomed-to-fail therapy, which will reinforce, not reduce, their feelings of isolation and low self-worth. The fact that major medical and psychotherapeutic organizations have unanimously condemned this practice, and now informed State legislators are stepping up to protect minors from these often harmful “treatments” speaks volumes.

 

KULLA PHD LOGO

Michael Kulla, Ph.D.

Pleasant Valley, NY

(845) 635-1144

 

 

 

Psychology and Guns-Michael Kulla Ph.D.-Blog Post Image-June 30, 2014

PSYCHOLOGY & GUNS

PSYCHOLOGY & GUNS

by Michael Kulla, Ph.D. 

June 30, 2014

Perhaps we’re asking the wrong question in our national gun debate. The issue is not whether we should have gun control laws in America or what they should be. The issue is why so many white middle-aged American men view any effort to regulate guns as an assault on their identity, and thus, fight sane laws as if their lives and liberties were at stake. Our nation remains awash in firearms. The reason is that middle-aged white men are buying more and more guns with ownership increasingly concentrated among them.

The likelihood that these men will own firearms increases the further they live from a city, yet it’s not because they’re hunting more. Guns have become something else. They’ve manifested into symbols of identity, totems of virility for a cohort of these rural and ex-urban men.

You only need to look at the ads the gun manufacturers use to lure in their buyers. They typically invite men to imagine themselves as warriors in camouflage taking on a hostile world. Buying a Bushmaster Semi-Automaticconfirms you’re a Man’s Man, the last of a dying breed, with all the rights and privileges duly afforded.” In other word, from a psychological perspective, guns give these men strength, status and respect, which many of them feel has eroded since the 1960’s.

It wasn’t long ago when broad-shouldered white men dominated our culture, and in their role as breadwinners gave them status and pride. We appreciated their physical prowess and hard work, which made our factories run and the economy hum. They were the pillars of our community, unrivaled as heads of families and icons of the “Real America.” But decades since, the American dream hasn’t been so kind to them.

Also, these white middle-American men often believe that minority gains in America are not earned through hard work but are ill-begotten through special privileges among the urban and educated elite who hold the levers of power and status in society today. Just as the educated suburbanite drives a Prius as a badge of virtue, the emblem of the NRA affixed to his pick-up or car, shows his power to all that can see.

Bushmaster Semi-Automatic-Always Available for Purchase in America-Psychology and Guns-Michael Kulla Ph.D.-June 30 2014 Blog Post Image

The important role of firearms in our history’s founding and mythology, is well accepted. Later, guns were crucial for the “successful” expansion of the Western Frontier. America went on to be the strongest military power in the world. However, that power has been challenged (a draw in the Korean War, withdrawal from Vietnam, 9/11 and the merry-go-round in Iraq) leaving firearms the perfect handmaiden for America’s demise.

While all people have a potential for violence, they do not usually act on it. Sigmund Freud emphasized our unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses, which seem readily applicable to guns. In his theory of the mind, the conscience, or superego, puts the breaks on id impulses for the sake of civilization.

Yet, counter-actively, human beings are the only living organism that will prey on its own kind for reasons other than survival. Only humans murder each other for power, obsessive gratification and other psychological deviancies, which are all antithetical to preserving the species. In contrast, the animal kingdom is habituated to survival, food, territory and procreation.

In a gun-besotted nation where the right of each citizen to possess many weapons of potential mass destruction as he or she wants, and is considered sacred and inviolable, surrenders to a deep-seated vulnerability and opens the gates to steroidal chaos.

Psychology and Guns-Michael Kulla Ph.D.-Blog Post Image-June 30, 2014

Michael Kulla, Ph.D.
NYS Licensed Psychologist
Pleasant  Valley, New York
845-635-1144

Looking Down the Barrel of Gun Issues

looking-down-the-barrel-of-guns-michael-kulla-blog

Looking Down the Barrel of Gun Issues

Authored by Michael Kulla, Ph.D.

Guns are literally stitched into the American fabric. The U.S. possesses more guns per capita than any other country in the world. Yemen is a distant second. Frequently in strife, Yemen has an active branch of Al-Qaeda.

Not only are we number one in possessing guns, we’re at the top of the list for using them lethally. Countries with the lowest gun homicides, almost zero per 100,000, are Japan, South Korea and Iceland, all of which have strong gun laws.  Homicides from firearms are over thirty two times greater in America than in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The cost, mostly to taxpayers for medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, security precautions and reduction in quality of life due to sky-high American gun violence, has been estimated at $100 billion annually. The extent of this unhealthy situation should be self-evident.

With 300,000,000 guns in America, and sales surging, it’s unrealistic to expect America to make meaningful inroads into this problem given the failure to have done so in the face of perpetual gun crimes.

boy-with-toy-gun-and-growth-of-gun-violence-in-america-michael-kulla-phd-blog

The Second Amendment right to bear arms, a favorite argument on the part of the gun proponents, is a ruse. The landmark 2008 Supreme Court case did uphold the Second Amendment, but they also took pains to carve out many exceptions, calling for reasonable restrictions on that right. This is true of our constitutional rights generally — they’re not absolute. We must be reasonable. Just as we have the First Amendment right of free speech, one can’t yell fire in a crowded theater nor disturb the peace, etc.

A generation ago, Conservative Supreme Court  Chief Justice, Warren Burger, put it strongly. “The Second Amendment has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

The “good guy” against the “bad guys” is another rallying cry by gun devotees. But just who are the good and bad guys? Recently two cops were fatally ambushed by a couple who viewed the law as the enemy. Good guys, bad guys and in between (Note the Trayvon Martin case) is in the eyes of the beholder.

The gun lobby would have you believe that the real aim is to confiscate all their guns. This is hype to rally the base because guns are as American as apple pie. We have a long history of hunting and gun ownership.

Today in America, more than 18,000 children are shot by guns each year in assaults, suicides and accidents! Guns used in these tragedies are often from their own home, or that of a friend  or family member with unsafe access. 1.7 million kids live with unlocked and loaded firearms. Hiding guns is not enough and just talking to children is not enough. They are curious, and if they find guns, they’re likely to play with them.

Since the Newtown, Connecticut School Massacre, there have been 74 school shootings! The life of each of our children, every single one, matters and is worthy of our passionate protection. Rights demand responsibility. This right does not extend to terrorists, it does not extend to criminals and it does not extend to the mentally disturbed.

Just before submitting this article, on June 12 an article appeared in this writer’s local newspaper entitled “Gals & Guns”,  adorned with colored art work covering a full page and some. Unobjective, it read like a propaganda piece for the NRA. Twelve to 17 year old girls with chaperone were invited to attend a Woman and Girls Only Rifle Instructional Clinic, indeed part of an NRA program.

Teaching young teens this highly dangerous “sport” would be deemed by many to be inappropriate, an abomination and downright scary.

In a gun-besotted nation where the right of each citizen to possess as many weapons of potential mass destruction as he or she wants, and is considered sacred and inviolable, surrenders to a deep-seated vulnerability and opens the gates to steroidal chaos.

welcome to america-support national gun control-dr michael kulla blog

 

Michael Kulla, Ph.D.

NYS Licensed Psychologist

Pleasant Valley, N.Y.

845-635-1144