the ethics of a licensed practitioner

In case I don’t pretentiously mention it enough, I am currently working towards my Doctor of Psychology degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Over the last academic year, there’s been a strong effort made by multiple professors to instill in us, as future licensed practitioners, the ethical dangers of our profession; namely, the temptation to have sex with patients (which is apparently bad). We discussed it again last week, which reminded me of a story I’d recently heard about a licensed practitioner, named Pete.

Pete had been going through a period of depression, anxiety, and guilt. You see, Pete had sex with five of his patients. His guilt over the unprofessionalism and his fear of being discovered drove him deeper and deeper into a continual pit of depression from which he saw no escape. At his lowest points, though, a voice would come to him and say, “Hey, Pete, buddy, don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re not the first licensed practitioner to have sex with a patient, and you’re damn sure not going to be the last, so just enjoy yourself! You haven’t been caught yet, and trust me, your patients aren’t going to say a word about it.”

It helped, for a while. The encouraging voice would assuage his guilt and anxiety, which would in turn lift his depression.

Just before he could fully recover, though, a second voice would come to him and say, “Oh, but Pete, dude…you’re a veterinarian.”

topic: the corrosion of the human individual by wave after wave of the social

I felt like writing something, but I didn’t really have an idea to springboard off of. I asked Twitter and Facebook for a topic, and here we are. I do not guarantee factual accuracy in these provided topic posts, nor do I guarantee any semblance of reason or sense. Sorry.

From Kyle, I will write something about the corrosion of the human individual by wave after wave of the social.

With this particular topic, I had to go back for a bit of focus/clarification. I saw this topic as having at least three separate and distinct approaches:

1. The loss of real human interaction

2. A loss of individuality as we’re inundated with mass opinion

3. A loss of uniqueness as our new levels of openness show us how none of us is a snowflake

I’ve had a draft on the first approach sitting for a couple of months, which I’ll eventually get around to publishing, but it won’t be today. Today, the corrosion of the human individual by wave after wave of the social refers to a loss of individuality as we’re inundated with mass opinion. I take this to mean that social media’s exponentially expanding reach has made overwhelming cookie-cutter opinions easier for people to thoughtlessly opt into. Opinions on the Internet are boiled down into 140 characters, or a Facebook post, or a tumble thing, and consist of little more than sound bites with no real depth or discussion. It is tantalizingly easy to simply re-tweet, share, tumble thing, etc. a popular opinion; to bandwagon, and avoid critical thinking and true opinion forming.

Though political opinion is perhaps the most harrowing victim, it goes far beyond that, permeating any opinion on the Internet (of which there are more than a few). The popular Internet opinion on a subject gets thrown around often by people who spend absolutely no time independently researching the validity of said opinion’s assertions. These people are allowing our most vital ability, that of critical and rational thought, to slip away without a struggle, because it’s easier to be arrogantly ignorant than confidently educated.

Now for the turn. The Internet, and by extension social media, is not entirely to blame for this loss of individuality. All the Internet has done is facilitate it on a larger scale. Before the Internet, people were still willing to blissfully submit themselves to popular opinion…the methods were simply smaller scale and less technologically advanced: newspapers, radio, television, family, religion, neighborhoods, etc. These people have always existed, and will always exist. We just get to see a wider variety, with a louder voice, because of the Internet.

The irony is that the Internet is also the best, easiest, most readily available tool for facilitating the resurgence of critical thought and individuality, if only the will and desire existed.

topic: eggplant

I felt like writing something, but I didn’t really have an idea to springboard off of. I asked Twitter and Facebook for a topic, and here we are. I do not guarantee factual accuracy in these provided topic posts, nor do I guarantee any semblance of reason or sense. Sorry.

From Austin, I will write something about eggplants.

Few people are aware, but the eggplant (Solanum melongena) is actually a member of the Solanaceae family of flowering plants, also known as nightshades. Don’t let the name alarm you, however; while it may be a part of the nightshade family, it is not closely enough related to Atropa belladonna (commonly known as Deadly Nightshade) to have any harmful effects other than the truly terrible taste and texture of its fruit, also called “eggplant.”

Fewer people are aware that the eggplant is technically classified as a berry, and fewer yet are aware that the bitterness of the eggplant’s seeds are due to its high levels of nicotinoid alkaloids. If that sounds like something you’d find in a cigarette, that’s because the eggplant is a close cousin of Nicotiana tabacum, also known as “tobacco.” So we have eggplant, the flowering plant that produces a berry of the same name, which is related to Deadly Nightshade and tobacco. Ready for some new facts? Eggplant is also related to potatoes, chili peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of different berries.

The most common culinary uses of the eggplant include use in the French ratatouille, the Italian parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan), and the Iranian kashk e-bademjan (loosely translated to eggplant gruel). The eggplant berry, like humans, is made up mostly of water. When preparing it for cooking, some recommended that, also like humans, you slice or cube and salt for a couple of hours before actually cooking, followed by a rinse and pat dry.

Lastly, I hate the smell of cooking eggplants. I loved my grandmother, but she had a habit of cooking eggplant, making the whole house reek of it and giving me a terrible headache.

topic: eating habits of bats

I felt like writing something, but I didn’t really have an idea to springboard off of. I asked Twitter and Facebook for a topic, and here we are. I do not guarantee factual accuracy in these provided topic posts, nor do I guarantee any semblance of reason or sense. Sorry.

From @ritzyfoxx, I will write something about the eating habits of bats.

This is not as easy at it would seem; there are many different types of bats, and they each have their own eating habits. I’ll focus on some of the more well-known varieties: fruit bat, vampire bat, and Batman.

There are actually many different types of fruit bats, but they have generally similar eating habits. Most are either frugivorous (subsist mainly on a diet of fruit juice) or nectarivorous (subsist mainly on a diet of nectar licked from flowers). Much like bees, both frugivorous and nectarivorous bats assist in plant distribution and pollination by carrying seeds or pollen as they travel.

As with the fruit bat, there is not a single species of vampire bat, but three. All three vampire bat species (the common vampire bat [Desmodus rotundus], the hairy-legged vampire bat [Diphylla ecaudata], and the white-winged vampire bat [Diaemus youngi]) subsist entirely on a diet of blood. The common vampire bat contains thermoreceptors on its nose, which allow it to detect areas on its prey where blood flows near the skin. They only emerge to feed when it is full dark; while the hairy-legged and white-winged vampire bats feed primarily on birds, the common vampire bat prefers the blood of mammals (including humans, when it needs to increase the population of vampires).

Batman eats only the finest foods. These spectacular dishes are either prepared and served by his faithful butler, Alfred Pennyworth, or purchased in Gotham City’s finest and most exclusive restaurants.

Here endeth the lesson.

i cannot abide fake people

I cannot abide fake people. Now, when I say “fake people,” I don’t mean fictional characters, figments of my imagination, mannequins, homunculi, shapeshifting aliens, or any other way in which it can be taken as a person who is not really a person. No, when I talk about “fake people” I am referring to a specific type of person that has become increasingly prevalent in our society; the sycophant. I consider sycophants to be as low and worthy of disdain as hypocrites (I wrote a poem about hypocrisy, years ago; if I find it, I’ll post it to make my feelings on the subject clear). There is a plague (metaphorical, not literal, unless you’re using the term “literal” hyperbolically, in which case stop it because you’re killing English) of sycophancy spreading throughout this world, and it is incredibly disappointing.

Let me assure you of one thing: if I’m your friend, it’s because I like you, not because you can do something for me. I’m not your friend because of any social status boost I get by being your friend. I’m not your friend because I know I’ll need something from you now or in the future. I’m not your friend because you’re the person that everyone wants to be friends with. I’m your friend because I think you’re cool, and I want to be friends. I’m not going to reject your friendship simply because you have nothing to offer me beyond your friendship.

Then again, I’m not a self-centered asshole (I don’t think).

[future edit: I was almost certainly being passive-aggressive about someone during a time in my life when I didn’t use a lot of my friendships or support systems effectively.]

the well is dry

If asked to describe myself with a few key words, I feel almost certain that “ambitious” would not be on the list. This is not to say that I don’t have certain aspirations, but I would not go so far as to call them ambitions. Specifically, I want to talk about a certain aspiration of mine that I have trouble with: writing.

The written word can be as much of an art form as music, painting, and performance when used gracefully. As with any art, each artist has his or her own particular style. I consider myself somewhat whimsical, with an inexplicable (and unapologetic, damn you) adoration for alliteration abounding and a passion for a purposeful plethora of parenthetical punctuation (case in point, every single post that I’ve submitted so far on this site has contained at least one parenthetical aside; it’s just how I roll, baby). My grasp and control of the English language is a personal point of pride, and I adore the written word as a true art form, but what is an artist without imagination and inspiration?

Ah, now we come to the crux of my aforementioned trouble. The well is dry; to be perfectly honest, I hold some doubt as to whether the well was ever…well, wet.

Allow me to explain; to elaborate; to explicate; to expound; to, dare I say, elucidate.

Once an idea has taken root (in the well; I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense, just go with it), my mind is capable of creating the entire tree; every branch, leaf, knot, and twig starts growing and taking form beautifully. My problem is in finding a seed (something to write about) and in finding a mental connection that I feel will plant said seed (so that it can, you guessed it, take root). For example, consider the majority of my college papers. I spent more time staring at a blank screen than I spent writing them. Once a single sentence, regardless of its eventual placement in the paper, managed to make its way to the screen, the rest would just flow from my fingertips, but finding that first sentence was a (pardon my English) bitch. The main reason for my previous (and potential future) lack of activity here is this very issue; the initial idea and a connection to that idea.

I found the seed of a novel, half a decade ago. The damn thing just won’t plant.

failing to follow through

For the less perceptive among you, it has been over a year since I last submitted my words for your eyeballs. Fun fact: it took nearly a year for the aforementioned previous submission itself to appear before you. Having said that, take a moment to appreciate the title of this particular submission; go ahead, I’ll wait a tic for the point to sink in.

Though I hardly think it necessary, I do feel that saying it outright is going to be conducive to my thought process as I type: I have always had (and will likely continue to have, to certain degrees) a problem following through with a great deal of things. I have fleeting ideas that I take initial steps to realize, but over time, these ideas (and the efforts I have put into realizing them) fall by the wayside, and slowly fade away. I wouldn’t say that I’m unreliable, I just either fall into this sort of ennui or my aforementioned social anxiety kicks in about most of my goals which result in their inevitable failure. They go out not with a bang, but with a prolonged whimper (sorry for the paraphrasing there, T.S.).

My mind is positively alight with examples, but I think I’ll narrow it down to one of my more recent shortcomings. I made a resolution at the start of this year, you know. I was going to put in a conscious effort to community with my friends and family on a regular basis. I bet you can imagine how that worked out, hm? Think back and count the number of times I’ve chatted with you this year, be it via call, text, IM, Facebook comment, email, smoke signal, Morse code, or any other method of communication you can imagine. Having a hard time coming up with a non-pathetic number, right?


Now, the most important part: why? This is not directed at the specific example of communication, but at the habit itself. Why does this pattern exist? Why, when I am obviously aware of it, do I not change it? If I knew, then perhaps I could. I have a feeling that it may have to do with my self-esteem issues. I don’t think I’ll be ultimately successful in any of my efforts, so the motivation to see them through to the end is non-existent. If that’s the case, all I need to do to ensure that I follow through is…solve my crippling lack of self-esteem (future edit: oh god this old stuff is hard to read sometimes).

Let’s see if I follow through on that.

[edit fRoM tHE fUTuRe!: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha my dissertation.]

recognition of self

There are a lot of self-related issues that I have trouble with. Self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, and anything else you can come up with. To make it as clear as possible, I don’t really think much of myself. I allow every mistake I make and every criticism I receive to compound my problems, while I have difficulty accepting and assimilating any praise that is given me.

I used to joke incessantly about how smart I was, or how good I was at something, but they were just that: jokes. I know that some of you (depending on who is reading this) will know what I’m talking about. For example, I used to claim that the bigger your head was, the bigger your brain was. In reality, I was simply self-conscious about the size of my head.

The kicker is that these self-doubts are so deeply ingrained in me that I have no idea if they’ll ever go away. As much as I wish otherwise, for all I know, no amount of praise or proof will make me believe in my own capabilities. So now you know: I’m not genuinely saying I’m smarter or better, I’m just trying to throw my self-doubt into sharp relief. So, y’know, don’t take it personally or anything. I can’t help being charming, funny, and incredibly brilliant.

[Edit from the future! whoa! time travel! he did the thing!: I mean, yeah, but also this was a pretty low time in my life, so take my livejournaltumblrconfessionals with a grain of salt and a lot less oh look how uniquely tortured I am!]

social skills are for suckers

I don’t really remember a lot about my childhood. I don’t think I was really paying attention, to be honest. I don’t really remember too many life lessons from my parents regarding social skills, but like I said, I don’t remember a lot about my childhood. I’ll be working on the assumption that social skills took a backseat to education and life in general. However, to be fair, I chose to spend most of my childhood with my nose in a book, a controller in my hand, or a keyboard at my fingertips, so it can hardly be a surprise that I have the social acumen of a paperclip (excluding Microsoft’s Clippy, of course).

At the drop of a hat I can stand in front of a room and give a presentation or speech on a topic with which I am only slightly acquainted and exude a nigh unshakable air of confidence, because this is a matter of intelligence and knowledge, and I am confident in my intelligence and knowledge (though we’ll get into that topic more in a later entry). When it comes to talking to people in social settings, however, I fade into the background, hoping I won’t be noticed. This is not because I am uncomfortable with the other person/people, or because I am intimidated or afraid. This is also a matter of intelligence and knowledge. I simply do not know how to start, carry, or end a regular conversation. I don’t recall learning this as a child (an argument can be made that since I don’t remember learning it, I obviously didn’t), so my social development has been slightly hindered, and I am at a point in my personal development that it is difficult to imagine starting to learn now. When faced with this inability to do something so basic and supposedly simple as talking to another human being, I retreat into myself and wait for it to end.

So, if you have ever had the misfortune to find yourself with me in a social setting, I apologize for any misconceptions you may have had. I do not dislike you. I do not think you are boring or mundane. I am not trying to be rude, or insulting. I simply don’t know how to talk to you.