Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Andrea and Bob Rogers

Today Laura and I were honoured to attend the enchanted, artistic and sacred wedding of Bob and Andrea at the Fort Langley Community Hall. We wish our special friends love, joy and happiness in their new life together.   

The Siege of Krishnapur

The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell is a very enjoyable read. I dowloaded it from the kindle books at Amazon. Historical Fiction. The Indian Mutiny started by the belief that the British had put out their new cartridges with pig and cow grease, which the local troops would have to bite off to access the powder, was intentional as part of the plan to Christianize the continent. Farrell took much of his material from diaries and letters of the folk at Krishnapur. It's a most intriguing view of Victorian times. The characterization is so wholly believable and the discussions so dated yet in some way contemporary. I found myself looking forward to picking up my ipad and really looking forward to learning what was happening to the men and women in the story. There's war and calvary charges but mostly it's about the thoughts and stories and behaviour of the women and men of the time during the increasing scarcity and travail of the seige and heat of India at the time. I most enjoyed the debate among the doctors and references to the civilization and idealism of the Gret Exhibition.

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Gilbert ready for business

Gilbert is a 5 month old cockapoo who is always a going concern! His enthusiasm is amazing. And yes he is a bundle of squirming joy.
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Gilbert No!

Gilbert is my puppy dog
And mostly I say Gilbert No!
Gilbert No! Don't eat the shoes
Gilbert No! the cat is not a squeaky toy.

Gilbert No! Don't pee on her.
Gilbert No! Don't poop in there
Gilbert No! Don't dig up flowers
Gilbert No! Don't roll in dead Fish.

I say Gilbert No! so much
That Gilbert now looks up at me
And thinks that Gilbert No! is just his name.

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Blessed is the Way of the Lord

Thank you Lord for this day and this sunshine. Thank you for the rest from work. Thank you for Gilbert and Laura. Thank you for Dad. Thank you for my nephews, brother, sister in law, cousins, aunts and uncles. I like the refrain of First Nations, "All my relations". Thank you for "all my relations". Thank you for the atom and chemistry and physics.

The Way of the Lord is Blessed the psalms say. Just as the laws of gravity became clear in Science so in the way of living there are clear laws that are good for individuals and community. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don't do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.

In psalms the "mockers" are criticized. Mocking is belittling, demeaning, negating and judging poorly. In medicine this is a "nocebo". "You're going to die." "You won't succeed". "People never get better with this condition". Rather than you're having a bad day, you've a personality disorder and are psychotic and will be for life. Erring on the side of the medico legal cover your ass beaurocratically correct safe and most lucrative politically correct.

Walk in the ways of the Lord. The Bible and indeed most of the writing of the religious texts of all nations are a compilational of what works in the human sphere. I know that iodine is good for killing bacteria and fungus and helping wounds to heal but praying and meditating helps my life as iodine helps my limb.

Am I a spiritual person in a material sojourn or a material person in a spiritual sojourn. The world as we know it is in constant motion. My senses are correcting
the picture and giving me approximation feedbacks that fit my own conceptual bias. It's fact that there is immense space between electrons and nucleus and that my body is mostly water. Yet somehow my education has taught me that I'm 'solid' and "material" rather than I'm mostly 'forces' weak and strong and full of space. I have a lightness of being. My cells are in constant motion. I'm self healing. Yet my mind is a tomb of dead ideas and ancient history. Each day I wake to the ignorance I carry along with the fears and resentments and products of old trauma.

The Bible says God is Good. Trust in the Lord. Jesus is my savour. All shall be well in fact. Don't be afraid. Over and over again Jesus said don't be afraid. He walked to his death and faced his judgement. He trusted in his Father, even to crucifixion. Probably because this world and this experience of life is just a chapter in the soul. I liked that Dr. Scot Peck called the earth experience 'kindergarden'. My ego can be so huge as to think this is really the end all and be all.

Yet there are billions of planets and immense spaces and endless ideas. My native friend believes her ancestors are walking around here in Vancouver where her people greeted the first white men to sail in wood ships to these shores. I always liked that Mark's Twain's ships Captain got to heaven and finally got the pig farm he desired. The Tibetan Book of the Dead says that we make up the script for our lives with friends in the bardot and then this is the theatre of our dreams. Early Christians believed in reincarnation. I've experienced people 'leaving their body'. I know that there are those who would say this is psychosis. They're the 'mockers'. They said that men couldn't fly to the moon too and that girls couldn't do calculus. It's so easy to listen to the mockers and believe the limits they place on everyone else because they're so afraid and angry themselves.

This world is sacred. It's God's thought. It's the Idea of God and we're living in the mind and genius of the creator. It's also possible to have a relationship with this all powerful ever present and loving God. Jesus is that message.

But so many people have heard the language of church through the ears of children and angry have left religion as they left the children's jails that some schools were. But Christianity is too important and the church literally has too much power and money to leave to idiots. The same is true of politics. The politicians and many in the church work to keep the 'game' their own and keep everyone out. They say they want others to play but their behaviour tells the truth. People don't even bother to vote half the time because the "parties" are 'exclusive' and only a very few, usually rich powerful money men and lawyers benefit from politics. The grass roots simply need to walk in and take over the powerful rich political apparatus. When people say it 'can't be done' they're usually just 'mockers'.

The same is true for the church. The big churches of yesterday are dying. Catholics, anglicans, lutheran, Baptist congregations are depleting. Yet community churches are springing up all over and the number of people who call themselves "spiritual' is perhaps greater than all other times.

I remember when schools were classrooms and people were leaving them. Now you can do it on line. The West Coast Biker Church met on Wednesday night so we could ride on Sunday. The catholics moved their times to adjust their masses to peoples schedules. The same needs to be true of the political structure and the organization. The school is being done 'on line'. There are night schools. There are classes relevant to the world today. And the same is happening in the community churches and people who are 'spiritual' need to remember that community is where things really happen. "Where two or more are gathered together, there too am I", said Jesus. Not in isolation but in community we know God.

There was this 60's drug notion of the lone 'spiritual person' meditating and getting in touch with him or herself. A lot of this later turned out to be simply 'spiritual masturbation'. The early 'Desert Fathers' were a community of holy men as Thomas Merton showed that the Buddhist monks were a community. Psychosis is distinguished from spiritual experience in that the former isolates and separates a person where as the latter brings people together. With paranoia I'm afraid of all my fellow men and women and with religious enlightenment I know all men and women to be just others of God's kids in the playground.

Even my bones are mostly water. I'm in constant movement. The earth is rotating and moving through the galaxy and I'm such a stick in the mud.

Today I'll try to remember to 'trust in the way of the Lord' and walk in the way of the Lord. 'Blessed is the way of the Lord."

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Master of Divinity

I just received my master of divinity degree with major in ministry from Almeda University. I began studying theology and religious studies 30 years ago with night school courses over many years from many colleges and universities. I've completed university courses on the study of the bible and other formal theological courses. Somewhere I have A's on transcripts but I've auditted as many more. Instead of completing a paper in a course I've published articles on science and religion and spirituality and even religious poems in national and internationally accreditted journals. One of my greatest joys was studying the Spirit with a small group of pentacostal adults sitting around in school desks on a tropical island. I've been equally uplifted by the conferences I've attended with the Christian Medical and Dental Society where some of the finest medical minds and most moral citizens attend. Hope Alive Training with Dr. Phillip Ney was profoundly moving. In addition I attended and studied in Catholic, United Church and Anglican seminaries. Dr. John Christiensen was my catholic psychiatrist colleague who went with me to some of these places where asked what we did we''d say we were psychiatrists only to have one wit say 'isn't Christian Psychiatrist an oxymoron'?
Mostly my interest has been Spirituality. I'm honored to teach a course on spirituality in the psychiatry and addiction settings. Spirituality is a central component of Addiction Psychiatry my subspecialty. I'm really looking forward to attending the International Society of Addiction Medicine this year in Italy where spirituality will be one of the topics of discussion as it relates to the treatment of addiction.
After I will pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican. My pilgrimage to Jerusalem some years back will always been a highlight of my life.
I've been mentored by Rabbis and had the honor of spending considerable time with Moslem Professors who have brought to my attention the finest of the Koran and shown me how human error has corrupted that message as surely as it has corrupted the message of the Torah and Bible at times.
I was formally trained in Yoga and Tai Chi with the associated learning in Hinduism of Swami Yogananda and Taoism. Working with a Buddhist doctor I had the privilege of much mentoring in the teaching of Gautama long after I'd read Herman Hesse's Journey to the East and Siddhartha, long before I became a student of Thomas Merton the catholic priest who bridged the gap between East and West as Allan Watts had done as well. Meeting the Dali Lama was as moving for me as meeting Bishop Tutu.
I am Christianed Baptist and raised Baptist becoming President of the Amalgamated Baptist Youth Groups of Winnipeg, taught Sunday School for the United Church and was a United Church Church representative to the Canadian Youth Parliament. My roommate, Jon Cowtan,was the Vice President of the Unitarian Church of North America and our canoe trips together always involved discussion of theology.
My entering medicine was to me a calling. Dr. Albert Schweitzer was my hero and I was later privileged to hear in the flesh the African missionary tales of Dr. Willie Gutowski and his wife Anita.
Dr. Lam of EMAS tried to get me to accompany him to China to do missionary work but I never felt in the league of men such as he and the Chinese psychiatrists he introduced me to who risked their lives and careers spreading the gospel.
I believe all religions are like all roads leading to Rome. I know that much of religion can be wrong but at the core I believe there is at least historically an encounter with the spirit. My Native Medicine Woman Anglican Minister friend Vivian Seegers will be conducting a wedding ceremony for our philosopher friend, Andrea, this weekend using traditional First Nations rituals.
I am baptized Anglican and call myself Born Again because though I always believed I knew Christ from childhood and even Jesus as friend today I truly personally call him Lord.

That said, I applied for a degree putting forward all my academic and research and study and educational achievements in this one area of my life where so much of my life exists. I don't know if St. Mark's Catholic Theology School recognizes Regent College or even Vancouver School of Theology. I knew they wouldn't acknowledge my study in India or my friend Kirk Laidlaw and I discussing God together since we became friends at the age of 5. My meditating on my boat alone thousands of miles at sea would surely count as homework. Sobriety for 13 years in AA is another work project associated with the dark night of the soul and via negativa. My teacher Dr. Carl Ridd would approve of both. My teacher Dr. James Houston, the roommate of my favourite C.S.Lewis, would approve of all my meditation on Psalms. I do love the Third Day Christian rock band.
But my time with the Theosophical Society in London and so much of my ragged journey would be frowned on by many in ecclesiastical circles. Last year I attended the Rainbow Church and the West Coast Bikers Church. Yet my ragged journey is to me like relatives in my family tree. One of my cousins was in jail but to know him most would be to love him except for his stupidity getting caught doing what the clever Wall Street boys do without getting caught. I'd not disown him any more than I would the wisdom of my Pagan friend, Ted MacGillivrary, who celebrates the trees of Scotland. In my Celtic Christianity there as ample room for Science, the Bible, and Theology.
Apparently I have enough 'credentials' and 'experience' for a Doctor of Divinity from this lesser more humble university. I have a pretigious Doctor degree from a greater university I'm already so very grateful for. I'm a master of my ship too with all my navigation and sailing papers but I like now that I'm a Master of Divinity as well. God is my lodestar. My psychiatrist mentor Dr. John White would have little difficulty with me having a major in ministry. There's so much overlap in psychotherapy and pastoral counseling especially when we work in the field of addictions. Some say addiction is idolatry and those that fair best in recovery appear to embrace most spirituality. For now I'll continue to be a student.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spirituality and Psychiatry

Spirituality and Psychiatry, edited by Chris Cook, Andrew Powell and Andrew Sims, RCPsych Publications, Royal College of Psychiatrists, London 2009 is a truly fascinating compilation of articles encompassing all aspects of the subject.
Spirituality in psychiatry, Assessing spiritual needs, Psychosis, Suicide, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Intellectual disability, Substance misuse, Neuroscience of the Spirit, Spiritual Care in the NHS, The Transpersonal Perspective, Religion and Religious Experience, Pathological Spirituality, and Ageing are a list of the chapter headings. 299 pages of science and wonder.
I've so far only read a couple of these in my own area of special interest and frankly am most impressed by the high level of consideration, erudition and the kind of scientific validation that one expects more from Nature or New England Journal of Medicine magazines than anything as 'flakey' as spirituality.

In a subsection of The Transpersonal Perspective under the heading Philosophy, Physics and Parapsychology there is a delightful quote from Sir James Jeans in 1931, "The universe is more like a great thought than a great machine."

Cook's chapter on 'Substance Misuse' is a truly a gem with a compilation and review of all the major studies of substance abuse and spirituality. Studies of adolescents church attendance versus Bible study, followup studies of treatment results in spirituality based treatment versus not, and all manner of arcane but highly relevant research are explored and discussed. His conclusions are "Spirituality and substance misuse are intimately related...These relationships are borne out by qualitative and quantitative research, which shows that there is an evidence base both for a protective effect of spirituality against the development of substance misuse and also for spirituality as an important variable for study in substance misuse treatment research."

That said I'm looking forward to reading the chapter on "pathological spirituality". The authors throughout the book separate 'spirituality' from religious doctrinal assertions and are very clear about teasing out what can be supported by 'science' from what religious groups from Buddhist to Christian would hold true. The focus principally in the research is on 'behaviour' but there are chapters which indeed wax poetic in discussing the various theories surrounding why spirituality has such profound impact on mental health.

I can't say I've been as excited by a textbook in a long time and actually am taking it on vacation with me so that I can make more progress. The authors are to be highly commended and I look forward in future to the Canadian psychiatrists following suit. I think we'd still have much more to say about the spirituality of wilderness for one.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ginger Ale

My mother gave us ginger ale when we were children with upset stomachs. A famous Jewish internist wrote a New England Journal of Medicine paper on the benefits of chicken soup for colds. He proved by studying the motion of throat celia that his Jewish mother was right. Such a good boy.

My mother in heaven bless her, turned me on to Ginger Ale. Canada Dry Ginger Ale to be specific. I don't drink Canada Dry anymore because I think it's not what my mother served. She served something soothing, wholesome and natural. Reed's Extra Ginger Brew is my favorite today. Santa Cruz Organic Ginger Ale is a close second.

As an offshore sailor my 'tummy" can get a 'tad' upset especially having to fix something down below in a confined space over the bilge in 40 foot seas and 50 knot winds. Nothing like Ginger Ale to relieve the subsequent gastrointestinal distress.

I don't have any scientific laboratory studies of how Ginger Ale works. I'm sure they're out there if only because I know my mother was right. So today I'm enjoying a Reed's Ginger Ale after too much coffee and too much stress. It's so soothing.

Now I remember another famous internist wrote a paper on flatulence for the New England Journal of Medicine. Personally I think his father probably inspired his work.

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Marriage Therapy

In addition to training as an individual psychotherapist I was formally trained as a marriage therapist. The leading schools of marriage therapy in that day were Communications, Structural and Strategic Therapy. What was most significant though was that the training and approach to couples was wholly different from the approach to individuals.

Indeed it was recognized early that psychotherapists who were trained in individual therapy and tried to use this approach in marriage therapy were more likely to break up a marriage rather than restore it to functioning capacity.

As a simple example marriage therapists learned not to dwell on the past but focus specifically on the present. In individual therapy a lot of focus and emphasis is on the past, reviewing it and learning from it. In marriage therapy this can be devastating in the way that such review of the past served to 're traumatize' people suffering from PTSD. In the treatment of PTSD specific approaches had to be developed to address this potential. Marriages were routinely traumatized by untrained and inexperienced therapists who themselves might well not even have addressed the very specific 'countertransference' issues which further contribute to marriage break down in therapy.

Once a therapist enters the 'family system' the experience in terms of transference and counter transference (how therapist and patients experience this relative to their own past experience of family) changes the whole 'caboodle'. A couple may be behaving in a dominant submissive manner but the therapist may become either the 'co parent' to one of the patients or be perceived by the patients together as the 'child' or become the 'stupid wife' or any number of archetypal subconscious presentations. Therapists coming from dysfunctional families and marriages themselves can 'act out' their own dysfunction (and commonly do) in the marriage they're supposed to be 'helping'.

Because of just these facts finding a good marriage therapist is often next to impossible in what has colloquially called our 'divorce culture'.

First, make sure the marriage therapist has been formally trained in 'marriage therapy'. Check their credentials. Marriage therapy is more like surgery than massage. A lot of counseling is 'safe' because its educational and ego massaging. Marriages are volatile and suffer greatest from therapists who 'take sides'.

When I trained as a marriage therapist and family therapist I was literally grilled on the need to be 'impartial'. This 'impartiality' had to be able to withstand being in the presence of a sadist and a masochist. The tendency of social workers who I trained with is to 'rescue' mother and children from 'abusive' father. This is accepted when the social worker is essentially playing 'mommy' to 'big daddy' government and assisting the 'big daddy' law and order system. Those same social workers who trained beside me knew months later that 'adults are volunteers' and only 'children are victims' . It was counter transference and "identification' that was at work when a person 'allied' with one or the other 'adult' in the system. Indeed the minute a therapist 'allies' with one or other of the couple they are covertly destroying the marriage.

Training in marriage therapy is all about recognising 'covert' and 'overt' aggression and seeing how the individuals are playing 'roles' they've learned and that as commonly the masochist has sought out the sadist as vice versa.

The role of the therapist is to help the couple progress to a higher, less unhealthy, less destructive form of functioning. Much of the training of formal marriage therapy is the same as ambassadors use in diplomacy. And commonly the therapist is like an ambassador between two 'clans' or two 'family of origins' with whatever way each individual wants to solve disagreements having worked just fine for their extended blood line in the past. In fact anthropologists like sociologists are more likely to make better marriage therapists than traditional psychologists trained so dominantly as they are in individual psychology versus social psychology.

The miserable failure of so many psychologists and counsellors in the area of marriage therapy actually opened the field to lawyers who are often doing less damage by using 'mediation therapy' techniques to resolve couples differences. Mediation as such focuses on the present and starts from a position of equality like any 'business negotiation'. Mediators are less at risk of 'choosing sides' and doing the damage this causes however mediators like judges and lawyers lack the training in their own family dynamics so commonly bring their own dysfunctional family issues to the 'mediation'.

Over the years I've reflected a lot on this principally because I was divorced and had marriage and individual therapy in the process and left doing marriage therapy for a number of years after I was divorced because I was aware of the 'covert aggression' that I naturally carried and how I could 'act out' this potentially till my own 'grief' was resolved a year or two later.

With that I would say that the second most important thing to look for in a marriage therapist is that they are married ideally. The best marriage therapists I have known and the best marriage therapy I've seen has been done by couples. These couples have either been married themselves or separately married. The key feature is that they believe in marriage. Over and over again in my individual therapy practice I encountered individuals who described being in marriage therapy and I would ask and they routinely did not know anything about their therapists 'marriage'.

Marriage therapy is unlike individual therapy in this regard. It's very like Addiction Counselling in that in Addiction counseling it is normal and appropriate to ask the counsellor if they are sober and if so how long. This doesn't mean that only 'sober' therapists make good addiction counsellors but rather that the question is appropriate. In individual therapy following on the psychoanalytic tradition there was tremendous 'secrecy' about the therapist and this indeed served the 'therapist'. It was entrenched at times with 'boundaries' and so called 'professionalism' but the fact remained that in every small town everyone knew if not everything a whole lot more than the dictates of 'urban boundaries' and 'urban professionalism' talks suggested were necessary for good results. Therapeutically small town and country results were commonly equal and at times superior to the results seen in large urban centers suggesting that much of cloaking served other agencies than specifically the process of therapy. Where it was once 'wrong' to ask a surgeon if he had done a procedure before the good surgeon today will openly tell how many such procedures they'd done and what the success rate was.

So ask your therapist if they're married and probably best to find another one if they hedge and haw. Further specifically ask if they are divorced how long their marriage was.

Another principal way for therapists to break up marriage is to apply the thinking of a first year marriage to a 10 year marriage problem. It's well recognized today that marriages grow as individuals so that the 30 year marriage may have an argument about a 7 year itch problem but the solution is wholly different than what might be appropriate for a 7 year marriage. I've been married roughly 10 years twice. There are 'developmental' challenges that occur in marriage like the developmental stages in childhood development. I have no idea how a couple of 20 years marriage would best resolve a problem. Marriage is like education. My 10 year marriage is like one phd. The person with 50 years marriage is like a person with 5 phd in marriage. I feel comfortable with helping people with 5 years or less marriage because they really are like undergraduates in this sense. But I've learned that problems I encountered in first year medical school may look the same today but are wholly different for me to address in some ways as a specialist with many years education and experience than I would as a first year student. That's the same with long term marriage. They have short cuts and codes and all manner of complexity that I'm humble enough to recognize is beyond my capability as a divorced therapist. I might take it on if I was marrried and had a partner therapist and an elderly married mentor but otherwise I 'd think wisely it was too advanced and complex for me and I would have a greater likelihood of doing damage.

The thinking that evolved in modern marriage therapy was the first baby of a marriage was the marriage itself. I raised a 10 year old. In the process I learned what 1 year olds need etc. Postmodern marriage therapy says simply too that a marriage was working and would probably have worked until some event overwhelmed its capacity to cope. There's no room for 'retrospective falsification' in evidence based marriage therapy. If a marriage gets five years of travel distance it's a robust marriage but it may not be able to 'cope' with the mountain ahead. This followed the recognition that even the best marriages rarely survived the death of a child well. The sense of a marriage's 'coping skills' working for a particular stage of development is the same here as in individual development. If we looked at teen agers the way untrained therapists looked at adolescent marriages we'd tell them all "they should never have married'. Just like we might tell a mother 'you'd better take that bad acting teen ager and stuff it back where it came from because that sure looks like a mistake to me."

Finally delivering babies I was trained that the only real success was when mother and child survived. In marriage therapy I was trained that the only real success was for the marriage and individuals to survive. If the marriage died I didn't consider it a success.

One of the principal threats to marriage were the individual therapists who broke up the marriage and then spent 2 years doing individual therapy with one of the 'wounded'. The conflict of interest here is profound.

Counsellors and lawyers have together contributed a great deal to this 'culture of divorce' and couples with marriage problems would be wise to shop carefully. Marriage therapy does work. It's amazing how much it can help. Over the years I saw some 80% of marriages come to me and colleagues who untreated would likely have ended in divorce but with therapy continued on.

Marriage is a 'vehicle' of relationship. It's always being 'repaired' like our own bodies are self healing and often need pit stops. In the past, before the nuclear families, parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles helped marriages. All that was when the culture was a 'culture of marriage'. Today we are living in a culture of 'individualism' and there is real benefit for couples to get help in therapy.,

The research of GOTTMAN and his LOVE LAB is a good place to start. It's not the end all and be all but today it really does provide hard data that supports the benefits from therapy with trained marriage therapists. Other important names to know are Virginia Satir, Minuchin, Erickson. As well there is a marvelous series called 'marriage enhancement' put on commonly by religious organisation.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gilbert Kills Duck Squeaky Toy

Harley Davidson Electra Glide, IPad and Blogger Photo Posting

I changed to the Ipad and have been having difficulties uploading pictures to my blog. Now I'm using Picasa and this picture suddenly wanted to be blogged. It's the new bike in Fort Langley. The Ipad blog apps all worked well for text but none has been satisfactory yet for uploading movies or pictures. Blogpress is great for typing into the blog and Bloggium is good for editting. I paid only $1.99 for that ap and it's better than the $9.99 Iblog for blogger app which claimed to do everything. So far my Electraglide does everything I could hope for. Some day soon I'll get the picture function coupled to the Ipad. For now I'm uploading pictures with my trusty Toshiba PC
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Biker Image and Gilbert

I've been really working on my tough guy biker image. I had the black leathers, gnarly gloves, dark glasses and black helmut. The helmut was DOT approved so not so wily however I do work with brain damaged motorcyclists and belong to AIM the Association of Injured Motorcyclists. The rest of my wardrobe is really mean and mangy. My vest has a whole lot of badges and Harley Owner's Group pins with rides I've been on. It makes me look a bit like an RV owner or one of those guys who sell pins at baseball events. I only wear it when I'm only going to be with other bikers. The biker vest is the equivalent of golf clothing in biker world.

At least I have a Celtic tattoo and it's not one of those wash off kinds some of the weekend riders are wearing. I've been under the wand and survived the ink. It shows I can take pain and am man enough to look like Cher.

Mostly I have a Harley Davidson. I rode my 1200 cc Roadster and just upgraded to the Harley Electra glide with it's skookum 96 cubic inch engine. Just gives me a rush to think of it. The touring luggage boxes take away from the overall lean and mean look but I think the average person wouldn't know if I was carrying ammunition clips or explosives or the girlfriends handbag. I have the look.

When I drive by the police watch me and people on the street shake with fear. A lot of noise and person has come to town is what the look says. Dark rider. I feel like Clint Eastwood in a spagetti western or Mel Gibson in a futurist western. I'm all urban cowboy and outlaw rolled in one. I don't let on my favorite biker friend is a petite married RCMP with kids and an RCMP biker husband. They both rode bikes in the force when they weren't making babies. I ride at times with some guys from the Vancouver Police Department too. They're all gangs. Given the mechanics they employ and the cool electronic gear they have and the 9mms I'd actually like to be in their gangs. They're the biggest and best but I don't let on when I roar up on my bike and swagger into a Starbucks for a Latte. It's better if people just see the mystery and experience the awe. I'm dangerous in my mind. And I have the outlaw look.

At least I did. Until Gilbert. He's my 5 month old black and white smiling cockatoo. He sits up on the back of the bike in the his doggie tbag strapped on the rack. He's got an eagle eye 360 degree view and swivels in his bag with his head and two paws out of the hole in the top. When we're in motion he's got his head out to the side watching where we're going, tongue lolling and mop hair blown back so you can actually see his eyes.

When we pull up to a stop anywhere, everyone is pointing at Gilbert who carries on like a celebrity pooch. They're smiling and laughing and carrying on and I look back and Gilbert is smiling and twisting and giving everyone his cutest smile tilting his head to the side, posing and styling. It was only the other day that I realized that people no longer thought of me as the tough guy biker. Now they think of me as Gilbert's personal chauffeur. All I need to do is change my helmut to one of those limo livery hats to complete the transformation. It's downright humiliating.

I thought of mounting a mini beretta machine gun at the back for him and duct taping his paw to the trigger to at least get some respect from guys who tail gate bikes. I could dress him up like Snoopy in the Red Barron. The trouble is even his Canucks hockey team sweater only makes him look cuter.

I've been checking out the Harley Davidson leather jackets and dog helmets hoping that when he bulks up a little more, he's 22 lbs and should gain another 5 we're lucky and he trains more on squeaky toy killing, maybe the faux leather will do the trick. What I think he needs is a real colours. Laura and I belonged to the West Coast Biker Church but their colours might get him a little awe but they're not going to even strike terror in chihuahuas. I want him to wear something that would even get him respect from Gage his great dane cousin who terrorizes his neighborhood bringing home the whole garbage can from the neighbour. Gage has the kind of outlaw personna that dogs admire even if humans don't. Gilbert looks up to Gage. When Gilbert was even more a puppy and met his first great Dane he almost drowned in his torrential drool.

So I've been giving the matter thought and figured that the Outlaw Biker Gangs always looking for ways to go legit could get into selling dogie clothes. If they made leathers for biker dogs that came with their colours, Gilbert could toughen up his look with some Satan's Dog's wardrobe. Otherwise I'll just have to dress him up in red serge and put a boy scout hat on him so that passerby know we mean business.

It's all about image. I want him to feel that biker pride when I let him out of his tbag box and he gets to swagger into a doggie boutique to sniff some cute french poodle butt.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Transactional Analysis

Eric Berne, MD is probably most famous for his group therapy. One of his lasting contributions was to take Freud's 'unconcious' formulation of the mind as having 'superego', 'ego' and 'id' to simplifying this into 'parent', 'adult' 'child'.
He then went on to show that each individual's 'parent', 'adult', and 'child' functions might be underdeveloped. In today's jargon, a person with an over developped parental function would be uptight, overly anxious, judgmental and defensive whereas a person with an over developed child function would be immature, self centered, disruptive. The adult function could only attain full expression if both parent and child developments were balanced.

Berne saw the 'context' in which a person was as defining the appropriate mode a person would mostly show. Hence, in the operating room, the surgeon's "parental" and "adult" functions would be uppermost whereas at the dance the 'child' and 'adult' function would be most 'appropriate'. Berne would see a surgeon juggling instruments over an open abdomen as clearly inappropriate but would also see another surgeon discussing shop and not joining joining in the dance at a party as clearly inappropriate. Indeed it's hard to think of the word 'appropriate' in human interaction without considering Berne's work in this regard.

Berne's group therapy addressed the 'games' people played. He saw much of human miscommunication as failure of individuals to respond on the same 'wavelength'. Hence I might speak to you in a 'parental' tone and naturally if the 'context' didn't clearly designate me as having a 'parental' role you might rather naturally respond from a 'bad child' position, simply not accepting my 'authority' in that context.

Sexual miscommunication is easily understood by studying Berne. For instance I say, "pass the sugar" in a simple 'adult' manner and you respond 'you don't need any more, sweetie' as one 'child' to another rather than staying in the 'adult' wavelength. This is a 'new' game and could be played out to the bedroom or be a 'bait and switch' maneuver whereby when I respond "would you like some too" you act with shock and horror.

Berne's 'Transactional Analysis' model has retained it's robustness as a means to understanding human interactions. Evidence based studies of it's usefulness in addressing a variety of psychiatric illness have been done. Berne early ran groups for the treatment of alcoholism and showed that alcoholics tended to have overdeveloped 'child' aspects and literally attracted partners (male or female) with overdeveloped 'parental' qualities. An inherent resistance to the treatment of alcoholism in the individual was the components in the system that for their own sake 'required' the alcoholism to persist.

Berne described people obtaining 'rewards' in these games. The overdeveloped parent, underdeveloped child would get 'strokes' for condemning the alcoholics 'overdeveloped child, underdeveloped parent' and indeed would be very threatened if the alcoholic were to actually 'quit' since this meant their role as parent would be severely threatened.

Alcoholics Anonymous recognized the systemic nature of Alcoholism and Al Anon groups for families of alcoholics developed with the realization in time that 'untreated al anon's"were as sick if not more sick than the alcoholic. As one Al Anon said, "he was drunk when he picked me, whereas I had no such excuse for picking and staying with him." Today it's been shown repeatedly that membership of a spouse or family member in Al Anon can be the most important step for an alcoholics recovery.

In Transactional Analysis group therapy people became aware of the 'repetition compulsion' in their interactions, often playing out unresolved family 'games' from each individuals 'childhood'. Eric Berne described the 'roles' that people took such as 'scapegoat' and 'black sheep' and 'good girl' and how they'd only play the games in reality if they could play their 'favourite role'. Hence 'victims' became very angry if they didn't get to be 'victims' and 'victimizers' wouldn't remain in relationships in which their 'bad child' behaviour wasn't rewarded.

The success of this model was proven over and over again in therapy but it tended to upset the authorities as it 'pricked' alot of hot air balloons. Just suggesting that a doctor and patient were playing 'doctor' roles from childhood or 'judge and criminal' were carry overs from childhood games could easily get one put in an asylum or locked up for challenging the 'parentalism' of society with it's heavy punishment reward for any questioning of authority especially 'authority' that is way out of context.

Transactional Analysis' success could be summed up today in the expression "this isn't a game, it's real". Game theory is real and it's continued efficacy as a model for understanding all manner of interaction has spread far beyond the realms of therapy. Economics, politics, business management all have been studied in the light of models similiar to Berne's therapeutic groups.

There's a decidedly 'whimsical' quality that comes with seeing adult behaviour as an extension of the 'play' of children. Further, seen in this light, explored in this light, many new options for therapy can be derived.

Modern marriage therapy benefited immensely from the 'hide and seek' 'he loves me, he doesn't' game explanations for what at first appeared simply 'insane' interactions between adults supposedly in love yet really 'misbehaving'. Berne was the true 'scientist' in his work, seeking understanding and helping people learn more games and have alternative ways to 'play'. He wasn't judgemental and didn't bring his own 'game' to the table and insist everyone 'play' by his 'rules'. In the classic analytic tradition he first helped people see what they were doing in the light of this model and quite frankly asked if they really wanted to continue.

Transactional Analysis groups were one of the first groups to show solid evidence based results for 'behaviour change' in the area of alcoholism when people generally thought alcoholism was simply untreatable. Yet what better game than 'bad child' and 'good parent' for a whole group of people to play in relationships. Al Anon certainly understands this game well and when Al Anon's get together they talk about themselves and what they need to change. It's all different from the societal norms of 'blame and shame'. It's highly therapeutic and society at large is only therapeutic in the sense of 'toughlove' and 'hard knocks'. Transactional analysis in contrast offered a safer and wiser way of addressing 'behaviour change'.

Looking back today it's amazing to consider how far ahead of his times Eric Berne and the Transactional Analysis groups were.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Laura and Bill at Harrisons

Harley Electraglyde ride with Gilbert to Harrison's. Laura and I on the beach watching Gilbert playing with other dogs.
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Andrea Scotland and Bob Rogers Wedding

I just met Bob this spring. Handsome, smart guy with a record of cultural refinement. Bob has the art gallery in Fort Langley. Andrea has been my friend for more than a decade. The friendship began discussing philosophy at a Vancouver coffeeshop. We're still discussing philosophy and God. Laura likes them both. They're getting married next week. We stopped in Fort Langley like we often do, returning from one of our motorcycle jaunts to Harrison's.

"They're getting married at the Fort Langley Community Hall", Laura said, "Andrea is going to look so beautiful." The Community Hall is a historic site more reminiscent of Boston environs than west coast. Andrea is beautiful. She's one of those blond angels whose good looks conceals her big brain. She's got heart and soul too.

I hate weddings. I'd rather be motorcycling or camping. Bob and Andrea are special though. Vivian Seegers, our First Nations Anglican minister friend is taking part in the ceremony with sweetgrass and smudge. Laura is getting a new dress. I'll have to find the navy blue Tilley Sports Jacket I've rolled up and stuffed somewhere. It's going to be too hot for my black leather sports jacket. Laura hinted she'd rather I took the truck since she's going to be wearing a new dress and high heels.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Motorcycle Ride with Gilbert -Vancouver to Harrison's

I love this ride. Vancouver to Harrison's. It's right up there with Duffy Lake Road and the Canyon Ride. Those others have more curves and scenery but this one has more nostalgia. I've done this ride so many times, alone, with biker friends, on three different motorcycles and mostly with Laura. Yesterday was the first time I'd do the ride with Gilbert , my 5 month old cockapoo./>
Gilbert, Laura and I mounted the Harley Electraglyde in Kitsilano. Gilbert didn't so much as mount as get his head ducked down like a policeman might do for a handcuffed criminal to get him going straight into the TBag box. Once in side his head comes up the middle and he's fine. He has two harness straps that attach inside the box keeping him from jumping out. Nonetheless he gets his paws out and sort of sits and hangs over the side. When we get going he likes to get as much wind as possible and looks around from the rear to see where we're going, hair blowing back from his face. The box itself is strapped to the rack on the back luggage pannier.

Traffic was light Saturday morning. Our first stop was Trev Deely. I had to ask Darren a question about my Electraglyde. I'm still figuring out how to work the stereo. Nifty little handlebar channel changers and such save you from crashing trying to work the dials. Laura needed new gloves and found a pair she loved. Gilbert needed a pee.

On the road again heading out Hastings Gilbert was fussy. The passing Firetruck got him howling in that puppy howl voice of his that had Laura and me laughing. It's kind of like Tiny Tim imitating Johnny Cash yodeling. Until Gilbert I didn't know dogs voices 'changed'. Underneath his fur he probably has boyish pimples too. Maybe our laughter offended him but after that he was so fussy barking and moving about that I pulled over to make sure he wasn't caught up in his harness. He wasn't. He was just hot and bothered. He's a real biker dog and can't stand the slow stop and start pace of city traffick.
The Barnett Highway quieted him down with it's 60 to 80 k winding sections and the wind off the Burrard Inlet./>
It was almost noon with the temperature soaring. I just thought it was a good time for MacDonald's. The Poco Golden Arches cynched the deal. I love a quarter pounder with cheese. Laura had a cheeseburger. And Gilbert loves MacDonald's. They have the best 'big paddy' a little dog could ever want. That an a glass of ice water had Gilbert ready to move in. When it was time to go he was all for staying and ordering another paddy.

Normally we'd be in Harrison's by this time. It's only a 100 k. It's the stops along the way that make it so much fun. Back on the bike we next pulled over for a fill up. The bigger 6 gallon tank cost me $20. My Roadster tank was about 2 1/2 gallons and always cost under $10. I'd have to fill up every 120 k or so. We got Gilbert a bottled water at the gas station. I forgot his folding canvas water dish but he was satisfied to take it from my hand drinking his fill. I can't get over smiling at Laura lying back in the roomy Electraglyde back seat like it was a throne chair with Gilbert's paw on her shoulder.

The traffic always thins by Mission and then it's open highway. A lot of other bikes on the road too. We were simply flying. The Electraglyde with it's greater weight is so much more steady and stable. It's a bit like driving a car really though I feel some strain in my forearms controlling the bike. I expect I'm going to bulk up some in the upper body. It's an incredibly comfortable seat something I remember from renting. The only reason for pulling over is the need to fill up on gas. Whenever I glance in the side mirrors I catch a glimpse of Gilbert having a ball of a time.

The green farmer's fields flew by then the lakes with the bullfights and ducks. We were up to the Nicomen Slough in no time, a couple of blue heron flying by. Then it was the cool of the pine forest beginning of the hills. We pulled over at the the Sasquatch Inn atHemlock Valley turn off. Gilbert was happy to have a pee. Someone had spilt ice cubes on the grass and he just lay down and played in them. Once we stopped moving we felt the heat. A couple of canned soft drinks from the liquor store quenched the thirst as other bikers mulled about and talked about bikes, the dog, the road. A nice couple on a Dyna had a real down home way about them.

"I saw your dog and just had to see how you carried him on the back. Another good reason to get a decker." he said.

"He really wants a dog," she said.

Laura and the girl talked about dogs and kids for a while.

Then a few more bikes pulled up and joined in the standing around easy going every biker welcome crowd.

"I had an Electraglyde but I traded it in on the Ultra. It's a lot heavier. The electraglyde was more maneuverable but the Ultra rides smoother on the highway," he was telling me as his girlfriend stood beside her own Sporty.

We headed up for the winding road through the hills stretch before the road opened up in the flats of farmland around Aggassi.
Coming into Harrison's and pulling up to the Executive was a rush. At $15 extra for Gilbert they're pet friendly. Our favorite the Bungalo Cabins was booked all summer. The Hotel and Spa claims it's pet friendly but charges an extra $100 for a pet. "That's why I've never seen dogs there." said Laura.

I remembered having my old dog with me when I rented a cabin there for my mom and dad's visit a decade or so back and they certainly were more 'pet friendly' then.

We like the Executive. We found it on another overnight motorcycle ride out here. It's right across from the public hot springs pool and just a few more steps to the malacon. The restaurant and room service are great. They have safe underground parking for the bike too.

Checked in with our stuff in the room and Laura and I changed to bathing suits we headed for the beach. Laura showed Gilbert she'd brought along his new rooster sqeaky toy so he was happy.
The dragon boat race competition was on with all the gaudy dressed participants walking about with life jackets and paddles. The town was packed like Mardi Gras. Gilbert was in heaven with the increased number of dog butts to sniff. Dogs aren't allowed on the beach where the majority of toddlers and families hang out but down at the far end where the boat launch is there's a section of sandy beach that's very dog friendly.

Laura settled in with a book while I took Gilbert down for his first swimming lessons. I walked out in the freezing water and stood while he barked at me for a bit but certainly showed no sign of joining me. I personally wasn't keen on swimming in the cold water either. So I walked back, picked up Gilbert and brought him in with me, held him by the harness and let him get paddling propulsion and watch him shoot back to the beach. He'd fallen in the water before and escaped to shore. Now he was adept at dog paddling to shore. I was pleased and didn't push it. For now Gilbert can swim in one direction.

A half dozen other dogs joined him and he was a running fool trying to hang out with everyone from the St. Bernards to the Labs. He ran into the water with them but didn't continue on when they started swimming. He was happy as a lark with the companionship though. Even got to playing ball with one Sherpherd Chow that dropped his ball just so Gilbert would pick it up. Gilbert would bring the ball to me and I'd throw it for Shepherd chow to swim out and fetch. There's no end to the way ball dogs will go to enlist ball throwers. Their ingenuity is only surpassed by frizbee dogs.
When I finally went swimming myself and felt how cold it was I figured maybe Gilbert just needs warmer water. I dove in and swam in one direction myself.

Soaking wet Gilbert rolled in all the dirt he could find so I had to take him back to the water, wash him off then carry him up the to grass for us to go.
In the hot sun it was no time before he was fluffy again. We walked along the malacon and met with all the other dogs bored with their owners and glad to hear from Gilbert all about the goings on of all the dogs down at the other end of the beach.

Back in the room I continued reading Off Track by Alice Griffiths. It's a delightful fantasy romp with great characters and classic adventure. It's on my iPhone. Laura has a paperback. Gilbert was settled into his squeaky toy. It wasn't long before I napped.

Room service steak and prawns and a tv detective series was all I could handle after that. Laura took Gilbert for his evening constitutional and I slept like a dog till 6:00 am. I used to have a different meaning for 'slept like a dog', now I think it means slept soundly with very early morning wakening.

This morning we jogged around the lagoon. This was mercifully interrupted by other dog 'walkers' when Gilbert had to circle and wrestle and behave innappropriately canine while I had those pleasant morning chats with other dog walkers. Without the dogs you could tell us by the frumpled thrown on clothing and that 'couldn't sleep in' and 'haven't had coffee,yet' look.

Now while Laura and Gilbert nap I'm going over to the pool to 'take the baths'. When I get back Laura will be ready for breakfast. I just fed Gilbert a little Cesar wet dog food package but Gilbert will be ready for breakfast nonetheless. He's not one to miss any meal.

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Mobile Blogging from here.

Trev Deely Electraglide

I bought my first Buell at Trev and it was just the right bike for me at the right time. I loved my Buell. What a burst of joy that sweet machine was. Took me into the high country and ferried me round the city like a dream.

But I wanted to take Laura camping one day and there was no room for her and the camping gear I'd been using on my upcountry trips. I was getting a new tire at Barnes when they showed me a Roadster that had just been traded it. I took it for a drive and fell in love with a 'bigger bike'. 1200 cc and lots of room. Now I had Laura on the back and camping gear to boot. That HOG's been my good friend for 3 years now.

The trouble was that the first ride I took up to William's Lake the clutch went. I was originally told by the Barnes salesman it was 2005 and it turned out in the sale it was 2004. I took the bike into Trev Deely and had to spend a couple of thousand dollars more than what I paid just to get it to the safe secure machine that gave me and Laura the next few years of joy. It's made me trust sales and service at Trev.
We rode in the Rides for Dad, the Santa Claus Toy Runs, the Oyster runs and I kept skipping down to Seatle and Portland just to enjoy the American side of things. What a glorious bike the Roadster was.

But along came Gilbert. He's more than a Harley Hound. He's back of me on the bike howling his puppy heart out when fire trucks go past but most trying to get his head around the back of me to see where we're going grinning with his hair blown back. It was a crowded ride when Laura got on the bike and there was now no room for even overnight gear. The saddlebags I had weren't of the large variety and probably wouldn't even hold Laura's bathroom kit. Meanwhile Gilbert wanted to take along his toys.

I was feeling kind of pressured like Zorba the Greek with the 'whole catastrophe' until I talked to Stuart at Trev. He'd been keeping me away from the touring bikes with a stick for a couple of years. Something to do with the extra detailing they had to do after I'd drooled on the new electroglydes. I even rented them in Boston and San Antonnio only to come back feeling like characters of Pilgrim's Progress who climbed over the back walls of heaven to walk on the golden streets only to be found out and booted back over the walls. I wanted to be an owner not just a renter.

"I'd stay with the 2009 or 2010 because Harley did a total make over on the electraglydes upgrading the body for a whole lot better ride. Talk to Darren, " Stuart said, "We've got a 2009 in with only 22,000 km on it I think you'd like. "

Darren naturally gave me the deal of a lifetime with Trev Deely giving me a really decent trade in on my Roadster. Considering I'd been having Trev doing the inspections and me getting whatever they figured best done when I did I wasn't surprised. However, Darren did say, "We couldn't give you a better price because there was a lot of cosmetic damage." I didn't think that was the time to wax poetic about how my Roadster beat the BMW on the 100 km logging road there and back to St. Agnes Hot Springs. Then there was the trip up through the northern Indian Reserves to attend the sweat lodge ceremonies. The roadster did amazingly well on cow paddy trails that time. A horse would have had more trouble with the ground hog holes.

"You should have had a Buell Achilles, they're made for that off road on road stuff." a friend said after seeing my bike when I came in from camping off a logging road that joined the Duffy Lake Road. "I know, but I like the Roadster look. This is the bike they used in WWII and those Harley drivers weren't riding on paved roads. Harley's a tough bike."

Pressure washed it cleaned up fine but the gravel kicked up and nicked the paint job on the tank. "We're going to have do some re painting and heavy buffing." Darren said.

What could I say? I didn't feel sorry for all the great rides and camping trips. But it was time for Laura and Gilbert and me to stay on the road and do some long distance cruising and staying in cabins and motels. There are just so many "pet friendly' places now and if I'm going camping I like to take the truck and canoe. This last year we actually packed the tent but stayed in places with showers and beds instead. We've actually been thinking of getting a travel trailer to pull behind the truck. Next year's plan. I remember when Dad and Mom stopped packing poles and pegs and instead brought the whole motor home.

So I got the bigger bike. In the end it was a whole lot less than I ever could have hoped for. Best deal ever. And I still had warranty though I extended that at the deal. It was a whole other thing driving it off the lot. I was so excited I kept hearing John Mayer in my head singing "I want to run through the halls of my high school." Driving it off the lot I didn't grind gears, crash or fall over and was really happy when I survived the traffic. It's a big machine, twice the weight of my Roadster.

And yes everyone oohed and awed. When I picked up Gilbert back at the office where Joanne was walking him with Chris and her dog he just seemed to assume the bike was all about him because placed up on the back rack he had a truly commanding view. I got back to the apartment and Laura had just got in from her dance lesson with Carlos. "He's teaching the girl I did belly dancing with too" she told me.

So there was Laura in her little black dress number and high heeled dance shoes draped in the big back seat of the Harley Electraglyde like it was a throne while I was playing rocking music stations on the honking Harley stereo. The two of us just sat out there on the bike beside the curb not going anywhere but bothering the neighbours like a couple of teen agers.

I had to get out to a meeting. Brock had bought a new Mercedes and Malcolm had his new Jaguar and Ray wanted to see my new bike. So there we all were standing around ogling each other wheels in the parking lot of the Vancouver detox. Brock summed it up. "I like having things I can appreciate and care for in recovery. I used to just smash up vehicles when I was drinking."

I remembered the dead Norton by the side of the road and me all broken up beside it a couple of decades back. Riding motorcycles isn't something to mix with drinking unless you really want a crash chaser.

I love riding motorcycles today and can't wait to head out to Harrison's with Laura and Gilbert. It will be Gilbert's first ride at speed. He's only done spurts at 80 k and no long rides so we're breaking him into the road trip and the new bike. Riding around the city sitting high on the back harnessed into his Tbag I knew he approved of this move. Now it's just a matter of taking the bike out where it can breathe. It's made for the open road. We're going to get geared up now and head out on Harley Highway.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Morning Workday

TGIF - Thank God It's Friday. I love Friday. I look forward to the day of work knowing the week of work is behind me. I've that sense of accomplishment that comes from just showing up and doing one's part. Friday has a limit too. It's over early. Friday night is a time of rest. I'm usually saturated by then. The whole week of stresses have accumulated so that Friday night I can usually look forward to kicking back. Ordering in Pizza. Watching a movie. A lot of times I head out to the country. Sometimes I volunteer for service but a lot of the time Friday night is just a time of rest. I don't usually book new people either. If something strange or crisis driven comes in the door there's often no one around in other places to get information from. Lots of people in institutions either are gone on Friday or just not there Friday afternoon. So Friday doesn't have the same potential for surprises. I'm winding down. The good and hard work that got set in place on Monday or Tuesday often pays off on Friday. I have reports coming in or going out on Friday. It's all about completion.

Of course there's the weekend. I'm looking forward to the weekend. I love to get away to the country or get out on the ocean. I started hiking boating and camping as a boy with my family. So despite the years of tuxedos, chandeliers and gallas I still prefer being out in the Canadian wilderness. I love the pine and spruce. My friend on a tropical island feels the same about the beach beneath the palms But that's the weekend. I wish it was always for that but more often than not it's the time to get supplies, shopping, getting repairs done, doing laundry, fixing things. That's not as enjoyable but it's nonetheless fulfilling. Usually Saturday night has something different even if we're in town. We get out to dinner, sometimes take in a movie. The dog has made us choose outdoor cafes and restaurants where he can lie down curbside. In the winter I've got season tickets to the ballet or theatre and that comes up on Friday or Saturday night. A Canucks game is a big thing too. But that's winter. Summer time is Stanley Park and Spanish Banks Beach. Right now they've started the fireworks events in English Bay. It's kind of a tradition. So many times I've been out on my boats. More often now we're just sitting along the shore with the thousands of others who've thronged down to the West End to listen to the music and watch the skies light up with wonder. No doubt about it Vancouver is a beautiful city.

Friday I remember to be thankful. I'm thankful I've worked all week. I'm thankful for the help I've received. I'm thankful for my friends and family. I'm looking forward to seeing my Dad in a couple of weeks. Hopefully my brother, sister in law and nephews will be in town too. Can't wait to visit with Art, Carole, Bobbie, Cheryl and here I go forgetting everyone's names again. I have dozens of friends I get together at a recurring medical conference with and the biggest difficulty is remembering the guys names. Hugh will be there. I hope the American General is still alive. He was great guy to hang out with last year with. Easy to take direction from. Maybe all his years of leadership made it easier for me to follow his advice. I'll probably have a discussion with Art about that. The Brits and Aussies will be there too. Buffalo is where the meeting is. Wish my Aunt was alive so I could visit her in nearby Toronto. Toronto came alive when she was there and just hasn't been the same city since she's died. Don't know Buffalo. Niagara Falls is nearby and probably as romantic as ever. Certainly was when I was young but most spectacular when my parents took me there and I was fascinated by the men who'd gone over in wooden barrels.

Friday I can look forward to church on Sunday if I'm going to be in town on the weekend. Don't know about this weekend. That was the plan. I was actually going to work on the boat, do some cleaning and minor repairs. The weather report says it's going to be hot and sunny all day. A motorcycle ride up the valley to Harrison's sure seems like a better way to spend the time. Love feeling that wind and the freedom of the open road. If I get enough contrast happening work on Monday is more appealing. A lot of the time I look forward to work on Monday if only for the physical rest. I blame the desk job for my belly preferring that explanation to the frequent fridge attack from Hagen Daz Ice Cream. So on weekends I do my best to get as much exercise in and usually succeed in feeling physically whipped on Monday recuperating from the hiking, motorcycling or yachting. Last week it was reeling away on the fishing rod, hauling in fish and next day hardly able to lift my arm about the shoulder height. Physical activity balances all the mental exercise and together make for a really positive sense of participation.

Friday everyone else is pretty happy. In the building where I work there's a lot of joie d'vive on Friday. Monday's are glum but Fridays are happy times. People are smiling a whole lot more and sharing their plans for the weekend. It's fun to go to work and be a part of the hustle and bustle. I love the buzz in the city on the way to work. All that combined purpose and energy is almost palpable. I could do without the road rage at the end of the day but people are just exhausted like I usually am. My motorcycle wakes me up and forces me to pay attention. I like the ride into and home from work. My favorite way of traveling to and from work was on the train in London. Friends tell me that they get that feeling on the new Canada Line. Part of it is the comfort of sitting back and letting some one else get you there but a lot of it is the beautiful views out the window. I loved watching the countryside and skyline go by when I lived in London. Returning on the Canada line from the airport I loved the vistas of Vancouver and the mountain. It's so refreshing to get out and participate.

Friday is a good day. I'm thankful it's Friday. Another work day. The work week drawing to a close. The weekend is the icing on the cake. Or since I've eaten the main course I can look forward to enjoying the weekend dessert. There's always that pleasure with accomplishment. Work is hard. Discipline is tough. Routine is often ruthless. But Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, as Einstein said. There's so much celebration in working and being a part of the industry of city and community. I'm so thankful for this. Friday is a blessing. Some weeks it seems like it will never come. When it does it's always a friend. The weekend is heralded. I'm soon to be released from the burdens and cares of responsibility. The freedom and wilderness and leisure activities are just hours away.

Thank God It's Friday!

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Cadillac Problems

When he first told me, "If it's a problem that money can solve, it's not really that big a problem at all", I didn't really hear him. That's the way it is with money problems. They confuse your thinking. I learned later that he was saying that money couldn't get a eye back or replace a lost leg or return a child or parent killed too soon.

It was early recovery and I was thinking mostly about my smile. I'd lost a tooth. It just came out at the most god awful time. I had no money. I was in the middle of divorce with a fellow addict who was using all her money and power to ensure that I had none. Welfare refused me help and I was down to living off the charity of a friend in church. Naturally I didn't think things were fair. I'd walked away from work because it was the only way I knew of ensuring that people wouldn't be hurt. My colleague was stoned, dangerous and dishonest. I'd lost track of the idealism that had caused me to give up my life for the work. My friend I'd trusted with my vehicle had got into coke and stolen my wheels.

They say that addiction is a country and western song. First you lose the girl, then you lose the job, after that the truck goes. In my case I kept the dog. I'm thankful for that because he gave me a reason for living when I thought I had none.

I'd lost my tooth though. That made my winning smile look crooked.

I was pretty miserable, too. I only felt safe in church because that's where I'd gone as a boy with my mother and father. I knew no one would hurt me there. I didn't know if they could help me, but I knew they wouldn't hurt me. Mostly I cried. Later I'd go to my first 12 step meeting. Eventually a whole lot of people from the church, the community, the 12 step meetings, family and colleagues helped me find my way back to where I'd gone off track. I felt I was given a new lease on life.

I even got a new tooth. When Doug Lovely, the dentist, restored the tooth I really did have something to smile about. I'd worn such a frown for so long that it was like the tooth came along when I had need for a smile again.

Recovery is said to be like a country song played backwards.

I got a new truck, a sober girlfriend. I'd have a dog and despite all efforts to the contrary I returned to working again. It was the same but a whole lot different.. I was helping others with addiction I felt good about what I was doing. I had a whole lot of sober and spiritual friends. There wasn't the same kind of dishonesty anymore. Nobody needed a drink or a drug to be with another. No one needed to be hammered to have a good time. There was a whole new level of peace. The good times really were good times.

I still had problems though. These weren't like how to pay the rent or back taxes anymore. Now I had to worry about how much money to put aside to pay the taxes and how much money to save in the bank. I found myself worrying about which vehicle to buy and where to go on vacation. I told my friend about my concerns.

He just shook his head and said, "Everyone should have your kind of cadillac problems!" That's when I learned about cadillac problems. They're the kind of things normal people and people in recovery worry about long after they've cleaned up the 'wreckage of the past.'

Amazing what comes with sobriety and the 12 steps, God, church, family, friends and Cadillac problems. Everyone should be so lucky!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

My assistant Aim completed the new website at the office. It makes me feel old looking over the curriculum vitae and seeing how much time I've spent studying and working. On the other hand it looks impressive so I feel I've earned the grey hairs. Then there's the next thought of how much time I wasted and how much more I could have done were it not for all the obstacles, personal and political. At times though looking back sometimes give me a fine feeling of accomplishment while others seem more like "bell bottom' trousers" and "brylcream hair." I wonder what it will look like 10 or 20 years from now. Mostly I like remembering the people. The relationships grow more important with time even as so much else is forgotten.

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Thursday Morning Workday

I like Thursdays. I'm over the hump of Wednesday and on the downhill of the work week. Thursday night I have a men's meeting that's always a source of humor and inspiration. I look forward to seeing the guys and hearing how they've fared in the week. I like the camaraderie. We've gone through recovery together. It's a kind of flip side of the bond that military guys talk about. Some of the guys are military and describe the similarities. Here the war was with ourselves or the negative aspects of ourselves. Together we changed ourselves and our lives from the unhealthy to the healthy. We embraced the spiritual and found community. Each Thursday night we check in with each other and see how it's going. We're survivors who frankly are thriving in the new roles but still remember. Seeing the faces of friends keeps the faith alive.

I'm older too. And talking on Facebook with friends I like keeping in touch and hearing how they're managing. When I was a teen ager I wanted to know what choices my friends were making. Who was going to university. What job were they getting. It's that way again. It's always been like that in some ways but now the information seems so much more important.

Talking with a Transylvanian friend about motorcycles and her saying she sometimes feels possessed by her things. She's bought a new house and I'm thinking of an upgrade in vehicles. Perhaps she needs another hidey hole while I need another escape vehicle. But I know what she means. Things take care. Walden Pond by Thoreau always comes to mind. The simplicity. Maybe if I didn't have 'stuff' I could just travel some more. Become the wanderer again.

Bicycling across Europe began to be it's own 'work' after 3 months. I'm liking where I am now. Part of me wants to set out sailing again but I'm just as happy to putter at bringing the boat back to expedition standards. Pirates scare me. I don't want to kill someone. I suppose I don't want to get killed either but I seem more concerned about having to kill someone dropping from the skies to board my boat or coming up behind me in a fast tobacco boat. I read of these things now in Blue Water Cruising Association's Currents and Seven Seas magazines. Confrontations off Yemen. There was a kidnapping and killing off Nicaragua when I was cruising down that way still in Mexican waters. It bothered me then but now I think life is even more precious. Perhaps because there's less.

Then too Canadians are hated as readily as Americans. I didn't like being seen as 'easy money'. I didn't like the sullen anger I encountered in the poor any more than the drunken party stupidity I saw in the partying NorthAmerican and European set. There's something so sad about seeing a rich jet setter young American surfer kid drunk and stoned throwing around money in Cabot San Lucas while a Mexican family living in poverty works all day to meet subsistence needs. I see the same rich and poor in Vancouver but its not quite so in one's face. I was afraid in Morocco. I liked Hong Kong and Japan for the feeling of safety as a tourist. But overall I'm not as enamored by 'passing through' experience or 'fellow travelers' as I once was. It will come again. It's always just a matter of time. I'll take a vacation and be satisfied for a time with just that. Travels with Charley, may well wait till i'm retired. My friends are fishing and shrimping and I most envy them their time on the water, not having schedules. There are so many books I want to read and courses I want to take. Adventures internal call as much as adventures external.

Right now Gilbert is a going concern. He's so busy mouthing everything, chewing everything. It's 5 months and it's let up a whole lot but I'm told it's likely to go on till the end of this year at least. I like the way he wakes me up now. Jumps on the bed and comes over and licks my ear. He's telling me he wants to be let out to pee and it's a leisurely show. We can cuddle. He can wait for me to chuck him under the chin and scratch his back. And eventually I can let him out. There's no fear of him letting go on the bed. That's no way to wake up yet twice these last months that was the start of the day. Before that he'd scratch at the door and I'd rocket to let him out hoping I was in time. And before that he'd just happing piss and poop any old place so my bare feet could find it. I loved the puppy napkins that served as the earliest container and re director.

Thursday work day. It's always full. Lunches are forever lost to emergencies. An American College of Specialists did a study that showed that we were required to do 90 minutes of activities for every 15 minutes of an office visit even before the patient's complaint was clear. Further the Canadian Medical Protective Association has recommended because of the increasing limitations of judges and the changing laws of litigation that doctors record equal time for the time they're seeing patients. 5 minutes for the patient and 5 minutes for the potential judge. Administrative bodies have their own demands which are sometimes right out of left field or some bizarro comic strip that make sense in some board room but have absolutely no consideration of what goes on in the real world. Add to that the ever present ivory tower. The result is that I and every doctor I know, the finest and brightest, are complete and utter failures before they start their day. The patients aren't pleased because the politicians have taken all their money in taxes and promised them universal health care only to tell them that they'll have to pay for everything they want.

Daily now the patient is coming having read the internet story on their illness and expecting to get what the academic or vested interest says their condition deserves only to encounter a doctor who has been told by their College or by the Ministry that they have to 'ration' health care. "I know it says in that New England Journal of Medicine article that you should have an MRI and we should rule out lime disease and that it's possible that that the mosquito bite was the vector for your feeling tired today, however I don't think the "odds" justify a million dollar workup. Your blood test shows you're 'anemic' because you've not been careful with your vegetarian diet and that's sufficient reason for your being tired."

It's always a war. Those that are a million miles from the trenches write how they think saying no to somebody should go. Reading their papers and brochures and protocols you know only too well that you were where they were a decade or two ago some thousand patients before you really learned 'desperate' patients don't take kindly to 'no' and there's no guaranteed way to safely say 'no'. And the fact is that most people 'avoid' that equation. Passive aggressiveness is the cornerstone of these 'professionals'. Words like 'addiction', "suicidal", "borderline", "litigionous", "entitled", "angry", "demanding" get their files put at the bottom of any pile of politically correct doctors concerned most with themselves and not "universal" health care. Since you get paid as much to see a clean and rich one, in fact you get paid a whole lot more, there is no incentive to see the dirty and ugly ones. It's like dating and the cherry picking is ubiquitous now with no one wanting to take the risks that go with seeing the sickest people. Really sick people aren't at their best when they see the doctor and tend to be paranoid, touching, demanding and sometimes quite frankly dangerous. If you have to say 'no' be prepared to duck. So mostly these patient's are 'lied' to. It's a 'white lie' in that the doctor is afraid of their reaction so does anything but say 'no'. I say "no". It's my job. The buck stops at my door. It used to be I got a lot of support but these days there is none. One of my friends in the police told me he felt the same way. A judge in Canada said the same. The "cancer of nice" and the 'sugar coated" "maybe no", or 'a little no'.

The fact remains "no" offends people. Ironically people want all of me and threaten me with death or whatever to get all of me. The various agencies, not to mention the tax man have gnawed me to the bone even before I get out of bed. Apparently the HST task is sucking the blood out of everyone working now too. Soon there will be no incentive to go to work. "Beatniks are out to make it rich, must be the season of the rich." Mostly I hear of the underground economy. It's well over 50% in BC. Even 'awards' are made out in 'tax free' dollars. The dollar is nothing if it's not 'tax free'.

Easy to think like this. Some days I'd succomb. It's what I hear day in and day out in the office. All the dross of civilisation. All the negativity. Every day another wounded walking comes in the door and tells a tale of how the system or some supervisor or superior or spouse betrayed them and ruined them. It's usually the case that the person is telling the truth too. Broken promises galore. I listen and eventually I create a tiny 'resistance' of my own, suggest a different viewpoint, put forward that the police, or the boss, or the spouse, or the government or the aliens, or the Ku Klux Klan or the Black Panthers, Jews or Nazis, Moslems or Buddhist might have a different point of view. It's then that the mild manner woman or man who has been solely your friend and really understanding and frankly 'nice' turns on you and the dogs of hell are unleashed, they're screaming that you don't understand, you're just like them, you're a male chauvinistic pig, police love, establishment, priviledged, antisemetic, Indian lover, moslem hater, whitey......I can't remember the list of a hundred or more labels I've been called when I asked "Is it possible and suggested that the person might look at the 'event' only 1 or 2 degrees off from their own perspective'. This is a classic test of a patients capacity for "psychotherapy'. If the patient fails it they simply 'lack' the capacity of 'psychological mindedness' so therefore are not candidates for depth psychotherapy , the kind that psychiatrists are trained to do. If the person 'considers' that their may be an alternative viewpoint to theres they are sufficiently 'open minded' to engage into an investigation into how they might change to maximize their interpersonal experiences. Most people are 'paranoid' or 'arrogant' and simply are not amenable to true psychotherapy. They merely want 'allies' and 'advocates'. They really need a lawyer but mostly just want money and power and possibly a gun. They wear suits and because of the rapid changes in society can frequently get to high positions even in government bodies. They seek control because sadly they're not terribly in controll themselves. They are often "parental' in their interactions yet think they're being adult but lack that fine balance of creative child that comes with the expansion of personality and character.

I do a lot of consults. In the days of long term psychotherapy the analyst , getting paid $100 an hour for 5 days a week and expecting to see the patient for 3 years said "no' at about one year. That's when the analyst made an 'interpretation' that suggested that the patient needed to change. The Therapeutic alliance was established over that first year and supposedly would protect pateint and analyst from the frustration of the having to change. Frequently the patient said 'screw you' and the analyst had a year of income but failed the case. So Brief and Focal Psychoanalytic studies were done and found that therapy of a sort could be done in 10 to 20 sessions and this 'confrontation' should occur in the first 1 to 3 sessions with a view to identifying who would warrant this kind of 'depth' therapy. Depth psychotherapy is 'anxiety' provoking and most people want 'counselling' which is by nature non conforntational and 'agreeable' and 'educational' and doesn't change 'core belief's' and works best if 'advocacy' is warranted. It's also been likened to psychic massage. My patient wants to kill someone and this is not uncommon in my practice, they want to kill themselves or someone else and all that 'nice' therapy hasn't worked.

Now the patient doesn't want to take medications because they don't want to weaken their paranoid resolve to kill someone. So they want 'psychotherapy' but really they want advocacy.

I've noticed that colleagues rarely do this anymore. It's easier to prescribe an antipsychotic to everyone and assume they're paranoid. It works. It's safer. Mostly my patients have seen so many counsellors and psychologists and psychiatrists and we try to do what hasn't been tried. So I frequently suggest the 'cops" or "judge' or 'wife' or 'ex husband' might have been right. That's what makes my practice so dangerous. Ironically it's also what gets me the great successes. Whether they're 'burnt out' with all the 'love' and 'niceness' or they're just tired of hating, more often than not a person at that moment show a 'crack' in the character armour and we can beginn really life changing therapy. I'm still exhilerated to hear of the patients getting back to work, getting married, having kids, writing poetry, taking a trip home or whatever it is that was utterly impossible before.

Their eyes clear. The light that had gone out comes back on. They've done the work of psychotherapy and made real progress. They've given up addiction and let go of the thanatos. They've moved out of the dark side to the light. They're building again and no longer tearing down.

Thursdays I can see the light of the weekend where rest is waiting and the work of psychiatry seems worth it. I'm glad to see the patients and look forward myself to getting together with the guys. Often I get through to my dad and talking to him in his 90's makes going on seem even more worth it. I like those who've gone before me. I've got a few older psychiatrist colleagues, really giants of the mind and soul. Often I call them on Thursdays or email them and it's possible to get through the week. There's hope on Thursday.

Time to get Gilbert ready to ride on the back of the motorcycle.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Early Church

My earliest memory of church is being dressed up. I'm under 5 for sure and wearing a bow tie, probably red and a blue blazer. I remember the adults above bustling about in that getting ready for church way. That bustling cheerfulness was something I'd encounter over and over again on Sunday mornings. People washing. Women putting on best clothes and hats. The hats came out on Sunday. My father and us boys would be kind of dragged along. Mom would be the driving force. When my aunt and their mother were around it was truly a force to contend with. Dad would be in charge of getting everyone in the car. He had on a suit and tie and polished shoes. Mom would mess with his hair like she messed with ours. My brother and I were wishing we were elsewhere.
The car was pulled round the front and we all went out the front together. It wasn't something to hide from the neighbors. Some of the neighbors didn't go to church. I wouldn't put it past my Mom, her mother and sister for wanting to show them what they were 'supposed' to be doing on Sunday morning. Any other occasion we'd have all gone out the back but not for church. It was a front street affair.
Dad would go around the car and make sure the "ladies" were attended to. He didn't do that on shopping trips. My brother, mostly sullen, and myself would 'pile' in the back.

The front of the church was what it was all about. Parking was Dad's job. Letting us off in front of the church occurred if parking was further away. Sometimes we all walked from the car.
The ride wasn't too exciting. Kids and parents in a car with parents talking and asking questions. My brother and I might poke each other and get in trouble on the way. I was usually catching heck as the youngest.

A lot of smiling going around the church. Lots of hugs and kisses on the cheek and sweet waves. I remember adults mussing my hair alot. The Ladies sure liked church especially when they got to wear their hats. Easter hats. Odd because Jesus was dying on the cross and here the whole congregation was all for his being risen. I didn't know any theology back then.

Kids went downstairs and were thankful for it. Ministers were likely to drone on and never had anything relevant to say. Not to a kid's mind. My parents liked listening.
As an adult I've enjoyed the sermons like discussions and lectures so appreciate now that ministers to my parents were like a local professor. There was lots of singing too. The choir had burgundy gowns and black trim. They sat together and the congregation joined in the singing.
I loved best "Onward Christian Soldiers". As a kid I was all for martial activities. Dad had been in the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII. The television had replays of all the famous war movies. The Cold War was on and any day the dirty commies could be coming over the North Pole just begging to be whipped by us kids and our families. So "Onward Christian Soldiers" was my favorite hymn. I didn't really listen to the words of songs back then either.

Sunday school was where we played games and were told stories in the basement. We even had Sunday School comic books. That how I learned about the Apostles, St. Paul, Peter and Mary and such.

Later we'd all traipse back up stairs and join our parents for the end of the service. They actually all looked happy to see us and we felt all that warm all over reunited experience there in the church.
If someone was going to be dunked and drowned in what they called a baptism we got to stay. It was pretty gruesome and frightening but pretty exciting too.

I remember the parents waists were above my head when I first went to church. It was like trying to move through a bunch of close together trees when they began to file out of the church and we tried to catch up with either Dad or Mom. They'd start talking to someone and get separated.

After church if we didn't go home for sandwiches and tea we'd go out to a restaurant or for a drive around the park. My grandmother was pretty old then and she liked the drive around the park.

There were a whole lot of Sunday morning church services when I was growing up. There must have been some bad times. I can't remember them now. When I got to adolescence things looked awry in a lot of directions. Pretty much the whole adult world looked askance to me. I didn't want to do anything adults did. Before that though church was okay.

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