Author Archives: Susan

Murder on the Orient Express: Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express: Movie Review
by Alvin G. Burstein

The birth of a literary genre cannot always be dated without dispute, but there is a strong consensus that the first detective story was The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published by Edgar Allen Poe in 1841. The detective, C. Auguste Dupin, called his method “ratiocination,” disciplined thinking. The story begins with Dupin’s appearing to read the mind of his companion, detecting his thoughts by closely observing his behavior. There is an intuitive opposition between thinking and feeling, and Dupin’s method seems to decisively favor rational thought over emotion.

In 1886 Arthur Conan Doyle published the first of a long string of Sherlock Holmes adventures, A Study in Scarlet. Holmes, repeating Dupin’s mind-reading trick in several of his cases, styles himself the first consulting detective. He energetically searches for information about the details of the crime and mulls over them extensively. In several of his cases, he refers to the time needed to think about the situation, clocking the number of pipefuls to be gone throughin the process. Holmes’ companion, Dr. Watson, describes Holmes as “a calculating machine” and cites the detective’s view that emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. Holmes, even more clearly than Dupin, privileges rationality over feeling.

Of the many detectives that have emerged on the literary stage following Dupin and Holmes, the two that have most strongly emphasized intellectual process, as distinguished from emotion, are Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Both, after talking to those who report the details of the crime to them, engage in extended reflection. Wolf sits, eyes closed, pursing his lips, until he has found a solution. Poirot relies on what he calls his “little grey cells,” cogitating until, his green eyes glowing with satisfaction, he settles on the solution.

Although Wolf does not inveigh against the dangers of emotion, unmarried, he rarely leaves his home, has a rigid daily routine, and is uneasy about relating to women. Poirot, too, is unmarried. Though he is gallant in relating to women, he twits Captain Hastings about his companion’s interest in young ladies.

A focus on intellectual activity and avoidance of emotional involvement raises a question about the psychological defense mechanism called isolation of affect. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, as portrayed in the 2017 film, Murder on the Orient Express offers an opportunity to explore that question.

In the film, as in Christie’s many Poirot writings, the detective appears as a compulsive person, scrupulously neat, intolerant of any form of messiness. In short, what some psychoanalysts would call an anal character. In an opening scene, this epitome of tidiness, walking in a bustling middleeastern market steps into a pile of camel dung. Intentional or unintentional psychoanalytic gesture, the mishap foretells a challenge to any neat logic based separation of right from wrong in dealing with this murder.

Although the story and its outcome are well known, to avoid a possible spoiler I will not recount the details. The point is that Poirot is confronted with a messy situation. One in which neatness is not an option, and in which he cannot be an external, after-the-fact observer. One in which he must become emotionally involved, an uncomfortably direct participant.

In a biography, as opposed to a fiction, this might have been a life-changing experience. But Murder on the Orient Express is fiction, and the fictional Poirot went on for decades of later
adventures without giving evidence of change in his character. Perhaps that is why, trapped by financial considerations, Christie is said to have tired of writing of him, and why—though I have not been able to document the source—she once described him as “a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep.”

 

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Americans Are Officially Freaking Out

by Susan Andrews, PhD

The above headline is the conclusion of the 2017 Stress in America survey
conduced by the Harris poll for the American Psychological Association. Nearly
two-thirds (63 percent) of the people who responded say that this is the lowest
point in US history – and it is keeping a lot of them up at night. The poll, which is
the 11th annual Stress in America survey done by the APA, was conducted
online between August 2 and August 31. Only Americans who are 18 and over
and living in the United States responded. Interviews were conducted in English
and in Spanish.

The group of 3,440 respondents was proportioned in the following manner:
1,376 men; 2,047 women; 1,088 whites; 810 Hispanics; 808 blacks; 506 Asians;
and 206 native Americans

The data was weighted by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education and
household income to reflect America’s demographics accurately.
Those who are being kept up at night reported that they are worried about
health care, the economy and an overall feeling of divide between them and
their neighbors. One comforting thought is that their neighbors very well may be
lying awake and worrying too. Many people reported being stressed about the
future of the nation. Past surveys have reported that the top stressors were
money (62 percent) and work (61 percent). This year 63 percent report that their
top concern is the fate of the nation. Of interest, more Democrats (73 percent)
agreed that this was their top concern than Republicans (56 percent).
Nonetheless, the sentiment that this is the lowest point in our nation’s history
spanned generations, which includes World War II, Vietnam, and 9/11. Only 30
percent said that terrorist attacks are a source of concern.

Even though politics and specific names were not directly questioned, many of
the issues identified as significant sources of stress, are policy issues.
Bloomberg generated a chart that is reproduced below.

Health Care ___________________________________________ 43%
Economy ___________________________________ 35%
Trust Gov? _________________________________ 32%
Hate Crimes ________________________________ 31%
Crime ________________________________ 31%
Wars _______________________________ 30%
Terrorist Att _______________________________ 30%
High Taxes _____________________________ 28%
No Job/LoWage_________________________ 22%
Climate Change________________________ 21%

However, keeping up with the latest developments is an even larger source of
stress for 56 percent. Further, sources of news which include social media, cell
phone news apps, and network news media blowing things out of proportion
causes them even more distress, a whopping 72 percent.

Dr. Anthony Rustain, a professor of psychiatry at U. of Penn. suggests the
following ways to cut down on stress. 1.) Set guidelines for Social Media time
and time spent watching/reading about the news. 2.) Complete all other
important tasks before checking with social media or with other new sources.
3.) Don’t lie in bed with your cell phone in your face, scrolling through the social
media and news sources. 4.) Don’t check your messages, social media, or
news frequently during the day. 5.) Balance your day with relaxation methods,
such as meditation, music, entertainment, and physical exercise.

And, above all, remember to breathe.

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Dr. Gormanous Sole Candidate for LSBEP

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) opened self-nominations at their Long Range Planning Meeting held in Baton Rouge on November 17 and found that
Dr. Greg Gormanous was the only qualified candidate for the upcoming election.

Dr. Gormanous is the retired Chair of the Psychology Department at Louisiana State University at Alexandria, and served briefly in June to September 2015 as the LSBEP’s Executive Director.

Gormanous has also previously served on the board twice, the first time in 1981 to 1984 and then from 1986 to 1989

In a message to licensed psychologists the board’s Executive Director Jaime Monic wrote, “ LSBEP’s policy on elections states that the Board will proceed with the election process if at
least one (1) nomination has been submitted. One nomination was received, therefore the Board is proceeding with the election accordingly.”

Licensed psychologists may vote until the election closes on December 22.

Following that the results will be transmitted to the Louisiana Psychological Association who will submit a list to the Governor.

Dr. Gormanous noted several goals of his service on his self-nomination form. “My view for regulating psychology in LA is helping the board become more effective and efficient in protecting consumers of psychological services,” he wrote, “while simultaneously ensuring due process, irrespective of particular staff, board members, issues and personalities.

He noted that his purpose and goals are: “To proactively enhance effectiveness, collegiality
and transparency with administrative, legislative, media, professional, psychological & public stakeholders in order for the LSBEP to ensure statutorily that consumers have access to qualified providers of psychological services and to ensure enforcement of ethical standards of practice to which providers are required to adhere, with appropriate over sight of the Board’s function by the state of Louisiana.

“In both Louisiana and North America, there have been cataclysmic shifts in regulatory  psychology in the last three years. And rapid transformational regulatory changes are on the immediate horizon. Thus, LSBEP is facing & will face additional significant challenges in the next five years.

“1. Revising the “complaint” rules, procedures and practices by focusing on two equally  important objectives: protecting consumers of psychological services AND ensuring due process for all.

“2. Achieving more effective outcomes for the expenditure of legal fees – presumably underway now.

“3. Staying a pace with changes in education and training. For example, other jurisdictions will be moving toward eligibility for candidates to sit for the EPPP 1 after doctoral course work is
completed.

“4. Adjusting to implementation of the competency model (EPPP 1 Knowledge and EPPP 2 Skills) by other jurisdictions and considering what is best for consumers in LA.

“5. Revisiting Generic versus Specialty Credentialing. Does the board stay with its “opportunity for registering…within a limited list of recognized specialties…” or does it implement the health service psychologist (HSP) & general applied psychologist (GAP) categories recognized by APA and ASPPB?

“6. Exploring any ramifications of implementation of the ASPPB’s PEP for LA.”

He also wrote: “A common view in the regulatory community – be it pharmacy, psychology, social work, veterinary medicine, or whatever-is that it takes a year or two for a new board member to figure out her/his role. Past & current experiences as an active member of ASPPB
and FARB & short term services as ED of LSBEP have prepared me to serve.”

Dr. Gormanous is Professor Emeritus of Psychology, LSU Alexandria, and earned his PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi in General Psychology in 1976. He member of
Association of State & Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the Federation of Associations
of Regulatory Boards, the American Psychological Association, the Society for
Industrial & Organizational Psychology (APA Div. 14), the Society of Consulting Psychology
(APA Div. 13), and the Association for Psychological Science.

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ASPPB Limits Choice, Doubles Price of Psych Licensing Exam

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) has announced that its previous plan for a voluntary, “Step 2” section to the national exam for psychologists is no longer going to be optional. The new test will be combined with the existing test, which means that additions will be mandatory. The price will increase to $1200, up from the current $600.

The national exam is called the EPPP, or Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, and is required by most regulatory boards as a hurdle for licensure in psychology. ASPPB, who owns the rights to the test, said the updated exam is planned for sale in January 2020.

The new strategy was first announced at the ASPPB Annual Meeting held October 18 in Hawaii, and communicated to regulatory boards in a letter from ASPPB CEO, Dr. Stephen DeMers.

“The ASPPB Board of Directors, based on a number of factors, including feedback from our member jurisdictions and input from our legal counsel, has determined that the EPPP Part 2 is a necessary enhancement, and therefore an essential component of the EPPP,” wrote DeMers.

He explained that the original plan was for “encouraging, but not requiring” the use of the additional exam, called EPPP Step 2.

“However, as the Board considered the unintended implications of allowing jurisdictions to choose a time frame and mechanism to adopt the EPPP Part 2,” he wrote, “the Board determined that the integrity and legal defensibility of the EPPP depended on treating
Part 2 as an essential and integral part of the assessment of competence to practice for all those using the EPPP as a requirement for licensure.”

In 2016 ASPPB had announced the Step 2 exam and objections mounted, mostly from student and early career psychologist organizations.

Last year in Louisiana, Dr. Amy Henke, then a Director on the Executive Council of the Louisiana
Psychological Association (LPA) and Co-Chair of the LPA Early Career Psychologists Committee in LPA, put forth a Resolution to oppose the Step 2 for Louisiana, which passed unanimously. Dr. Henke is now serving on the state psychology board.

Objections, from Henke and others, involve technical and scientific issues, but also the criticism that there is no problem that the new test needs to solve. “There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” said Dr. Henke in 2016.

Who is ASPPB and How Did We
Get Here?

The ASPPB is listed as a private, non-profit, 501(c) tax-exempt corporation located in Tyrone,
Georgia. The company states its mission is to “Facilitate communication among member
jurisdictions about licensure, certification, and mobility of professional psychologists.”

ASPPB grossed $5,933,473 in 2016 and listed assets of $8,954,240.

The “members” appear to be 64 representatives from regulatory boards from across the United
States and Canada. The boards pay dues to be a member of ASPPB.

While many members are government officials, ASPPB does not follow open meetings laws.
Deliberations and decisions are private. “If you are not a member or staff of an ASPPB
Member Psychology Regulatory Board or an individual member, you are not eligible to access
this section of our website,” they write. Their conferences are also members only.

ASPPB’s mission is to facilitate communication, but it also owns the intellectual property rights to the EPPP and the data generated by the testing program, which they seem to have acquired in or around 2013.

In a Letter of Agreement from ASPPB to the boards in late 2012, ASPPB wrote that the EPPP is “made available as a service to psychology licensure boards that are ASPPB members in good standing as signified by payment of membership dues.”

ASPPB’s main income producing product is the national exam for psychologists, which brings in about $5,000,000 in gross sales each year. They have a few other products, such as the
Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), a service to coordinate psychologists working across state lines.

While state boards are not required by law to use the EPPP, they uniformly do, since most  licensing laws require a national exam.

Around 2012 ASPPB appears to have embraced a more aggressive corporate strategy. An insider told the Times, “In 2010 or somewhere around that time they were in New Orleans
and they implied that they would be making a lot of money on the new test.”

In 2012, ASPPB acquired the rights for the national exam, taking over from Professional
Examination Service (PES). In 2013 ASPPB wrote the boards that their contracts with PES
were being “replaced with a contract between your jurisdiction and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.”

In that letter, ASPPB officials said, “ASPPB and PES have agreed that it would be simpler and more appropriate for ASPPB to contract directly with the 64 psychology regulatory agencies that are members of ASPPB.”

ASPPB said that the change would be “mutually beneficial because ASPPB can now provide a  simplified agreement that is more specific to the needs of psychology licensure boards. In addition, the renewal of contracts is expected to be more efficient…” And, “Finally, as voting members of ASPPB, each jurisdiction exercises more oversight of this important examination service by contracting directly with ASPPB for examination services.”

At the same time, ASPPB increased candidates’ exam fees from $450 to $600.

ASPPB’s plan to create additional testing products may have been in place as early as 2010. One
undisclosed insider thinks the corporate objective for ASPPB is to be a central source for
regulation of psychologists. “They want to ultimately do all the licensing and regulating for
psychology,” said the insider. “They want to regulate all the telepsychology.” And, “They want
to be the Walmart.”

In 2013 ASPPB officials were instrumental in conducting and designing the 5th International
Congress on Licensure, Certification, and Credentialing of Psychologists, held in Stockhom,
which focused on “… defining professional competence rather than specifying curricula or
training requirements,” reported the Norwegian Co-chair. The invitation-only conference was
primarily funded by ASPPB.

Dr. Emil Rodolfa, Chair of the Implementation Task Force for the EPPP Step 2, and past president of ASPPB, facilitated at the Congress. His goal, according to reports published by the Cochair, was to address assessment and credentialing issues for competence for psychologists.

APPB’s Profitability

ASPPB brings in $5 plus million yearly for its testing products, the main profit source being the
EPPP.

Exams and related fees grossed $5,296,421 for 2016, or 89% of all ASPPB venues. In 2015 this
amount was $4,775,213 and in 2014 it was $4,826, 421.

For 2016 they list 12 employees, the most highly compensated is Dr. DeMers, at $243,842. Another four fall between $131,949 and $125,860. Others are modest.

For exams in 2016, they claim expenses of $1,859, 374 against revenues of $4,916,406 for exams, a profit margin of 38 percent. One of the two major expenses is to Pearson Vue,
Minneappolis for $956,598. The second major expense appears to fall under “Other salaries and
wages,” and comes to $906,995. No employee names are given and it is not clear who receives
this money.

ASPPB claims a large expense for travel. In 2016 the corporation reported $867,217 spent for
travel and also another $200,583 for conferences.

Travel expense is consistently high. For example, in 2014 they reported $863,340 for travel and
$222,083 for conferences. According to various other records Dr. DeMers traveled to Paris, Oslo, New Zealand, Milan, and to Beijing, to meet with international colleagues.

Of note is that ASPPB does not report payments of travel or entertainment for federal, state or
local public officials on the tax returns. However, it appears to be a regular occurrence and
openly discussed. In a June 2016 review of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of
Psychologists (LSBEP), the Legislative Auditor wrote:

“Based on information provided by the Board, the former executive director may have improperly charged $2,343 to the Board for airfare, hotel, baggage, and parking fees related to participation in Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) committee meetings during October and November 2014. ASPPB stated it pays for flights, hotel rooms, and associated travel expenses for committee meeting participants, either directly or through reimbursement.”

Charging to Fix What Isn’t
Broken

Dr. Henke and the 2016 LPA Resolution to oppose the new test point out that multiple checks
on competency already exist for psychologists and appear to be working to protect the public.

“Trainees are already held to high standards through a variety of benchmarks,” Dr. Henke wrote in the Resolution, “including but not limited to: APA approval of doctoral programs, multiple
practicums where competency is repeatedly assessed, completion of formal internship training (also approved and regulated by APA and APPIC), and supervised post-doctoral hours obtained prior to licensure. There is no evidence to suggest this is not sufficient for appropriate training.”

Henke and others have also pointed to multiple hurdles that candidates already must clear,
including two years supervision, a written exam, oral exam, background check, and
jurisprudence exam. Additionally, the law allows the board to require additional physical and
psychological assessments whenever needed.

However, Dr. Rodolfa questions if these standards are enough, saying that supervisors have “…
difficulty providing accurate evaluations of their supervisees to others who may have to
evaluate the supervisee’s competency.”

Dr. Henke has also said, “I am particularly concerned about regulatory boards encroaching
ownership of training standards. The goal of a regulatory board, in my personal opinion, is to provide the least restrictive amount of guidelines possible in order to protect the safety of the public.”

Dr. Rodolfa disagrees and said, “Licensing boards have a mandate to ensure that the professionals they license are competent. Competence is comprised of the integrated use
of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.”

In the LPA Resolution, Dr. Henke said about the new test, “There is no scientific data that support better outcomes regarding patient safety or quality of care. Given that psychologists are uniquely trained to design and create tests, it is concerning that this test is being
proposed without any indication of its necessity for either the field or for the safety of the public.”

Henke and others point out that the evidence from disciplinary statistics suggests that problems are very low.

For the most recent year with records, 2016, total reported disciplinary actions across the
U.S. and Canada dropped 32 percent from 2015. There were 130 disciplinary actions
nationwide in 2016, the lowest number in the last five years. This from the ASPPB
Disciplinary Data System: Historical Discipline Report. This number gives a rate of .001 based on 106,000 psychologists nationwide.

Rates of disciplinary actions for psychologists are consistency low. In 2015 there were 191  actions, in 2014 there were 170, and in 2013 there were 238. Rates remain around 1 or 2 in 1,000.

Louisiana’s rate is similar to the national average. Based on reported disciplinary actions for a five-year period, there were eight separate disciplinary actions by the Louisiana State Board of
Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) from 2010 to 2014. (Six of the eight involved child custody.) The rate of 1.6 disciplinary actions for approximately 700 psychologists, is consistent with the national rate 1 or 2 per thousand.

Adverse actions and malpractice payments for psychologists and/or medical psychologists in Louisiana over the period of 2004 to 2016, based on National Practitioner Data Bank. Five
medical malpractice payments were reported. The lowest settlement was $10,000 and the highest was $170,000.

For the same 11-year time period, 21 “Adverse Actions” which include board actions, occurred. This is about 1 in 400 for psychologists and medical psychologists, and an estimated 1 in 8,000 if using patients/clients.

“There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” Dr. Henke has said, and she bases this on facts that even ASPPB helps to gather in their report, ASPPB Disciplinary Data System: Historical Discipline Report.

In her LPA Resolution, Dr. Henke wrote about the EPPP2: “There is no scientific data that support better outcomes regarding patient safety or quality of care. Given that psychologists are uniquely trained to design and create tests, it is concerning that this
test is being proposed without any indication of its necessity for either the field or for the
safety of the public.”

Some say that the technical standards used by ASPPB are insufficient. In 2009, Brian Sharpless and Jacques Barber authored “The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in the era of evidence-based practice,” for Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

“Professional psychology has increasingly moved toward evidence-based practice,” said
the two authors. “However, instruments used to assess psychologists seeking licensure, such as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), have received relatively little
empirical scrutiny.” They write, “… there is a paucity of criterion, predictive, and incremental validity evidence available.”

Dr. DeMers responded in the same journal attempting to clarify issues and giving some information not published. He agreed with some of the recommendations, according to
the summary of his article.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Dr. William Costelloe, Chair of the I-O and Consulting Psychology Committee of LPA, told the Times, “… predictive validation studies must be conducted.” This type of research proof is not optional, he said. “Well conducted, scientifically based predictive validation studies must be conducted if the EPPP2 is intended to be used
as a selection tool,” Costelloe said.

Henke and LPA also point to the issue that the test costs fall on the backs of those least able
to shoulder them, new psychologists. According to the American Psychological Association these psychologists carry on average between $77,000 and $200,000 in student debt.

The current EPPP contains 225 items and costs $600 for 225 items, with a four-hour time
limit. Physicians pay $605 for an eight-hour exam, and Social Worker candidates pay about
$250 for a 170-item exam.

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APA Finds Political Stress Significant

The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted its annual “Stress in America” survey to examine how Americans feel and how much stress they are experiencing and why.

Of those surveyed, 63% said that the future of the nation is a significant source of stress, 62% indicated that money stresses are significant, and 61% said that work was a significant source of stress, according to the news release.

APA has conducted the annual survey for more than a decade, and money and work
have consistently topped the list of stressors. In 2017, however, after adding a question with a list of additional stressors, the survey revealed a common new source of significant stress: the future of our nation. While the public’s overall stress level remains the same, on average,
compared to last year, Americans are more likely to report symptoms of stress, which include anxiety, anger and fatigue, said the announcement.

The survey was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of APA.

The full report is available at http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/index.aspx

The APA Help Center also includes: 10 tips for dealing with the stress of uncertainty and Managing conversations when you disagree politically.

Data was weighted to reflect proportions in the population. The online survey included 2,047 women, 1,376 men with political affiliations of 1,454 Democrats, 698 Republicans, and 672
Independents.

Race of the respondents was 1,088 White, 810 Hispanic, 808 Black, 506 Asian and 206 Native American adults.

About a third (1,122) fell at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and 2,087 were above.

Parents made up 1,182 and those without children were 2,258.

Data was collected online. Because the sample is based on those who were invited and agreed to participate in the Harris Poll online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be determined.

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Gov Edwards Meets with President Trump to Address Opioid Crisis

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of LDH, attended a listening session at
the White House with President Trump on October 26 to discuss the growing opioid crisis. Also participating were Governors Bill Walker from Alaska, Chris Christie from New Jersey, Matt Bevin from Kentucky and others.

According to the press release, Gov. Edwards also met privately with Acting Drug Czar Richard
Baum to discuss drug and addiction trends in Louisiana, Gov. Edwards’ priorities related to
drug use, and opportunities to collaborate with the White House in the future.

Edwards praised a decision by Trump to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. President Trump indicated that he intended to file a lawsuit against opioid
manufacturers for their role in escalating the national crisis. In September, Gov. Edwards and
the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) filed a similar lawsuit.

“I appreciate President Trump’s commitment to this issue,” said Gov. Edwards. “This problem has escalated in Louisiana at a rapid pace, and we are taking action to combat the opioid crisis. The president’s declaration will put more tools at our disposal, and will allow us to help more Louisianans who’ve fallen victim to opioid abuse. This is going to take time, and my  administration and I are committed to working with the Trump Administration to provide assistance to as many people as we can.”

According to the White House, declaring a public health emergency will mobilize additional federal resources, including:

• Allowing for expanded access to telemedicine services, including services involving remote
prescribing of medicine commonly used for substance abuse or mental health treatment,

• Helping overcome bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the hiring process, by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation’s ongoing public health emergency,

• Allowing the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants to help workers who have been displaced from the workforce because of the opioid crisis, subject to available funding, and

• Allowing for shifting of resources within HIV/AIDS programs to help people eligible for those
programs receive substance abuse treatment, which is important given the connection
between HIV transmission and substance abuse.

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Gov. Edwards Makes Several Board Appointments in Oct

Gov. Edwards announced in October that he reappointed Kathryn A. Steele, Ph.D., of
Metairie, to the Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners. Steele is a
licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, and professor of counseling at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Steele was nominated by the
Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and will serve as a licensed
marriage and family therapist on the board.

The Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners is responsible for the regulation of Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors or PLPCs (formerly Counselor
Interns), Provisional Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists or PLMFTs (formerly MFT Interns), Licensed Professional Counselors or LPCs, and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists or LMFTs.

The Governor also reappointed Paul M. Schoen, of Covington, to the Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority. Schoen is a licensed addiction counselor and certified compulsive gambling counselor in private practice. Additionally, he is a veteran of the United States Navy
Reserve. He was nominated by the Louisiana Association of Substance Abuse Counselors and Trainers, Inc., and will serve as a member with significant experience and knowledge in the area of compulsive gambling.

Gov. Edwards also appointed Kerri L. Cunningham, of Lafayette, to the Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority. Cunningham is a licensed clinical social worker, licensed addiction counselor, and the Clinical Director of Victory Addiction Recovery Center.

As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Association of Substance Abuse Counselors and Trainers, Inc.

The Addictive Disorders Regulatory Authority licenses and regulates addictive disorder counselors and prevention professionals in the State of Louisiana.

Also in October Gov. Edwards appointed Antoinette Q. Bankston, of Baton Rouge, to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board. Bankston is a licensed clinical social worker and the Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

The Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board provides information and
recommendations from the perspective of advocacy groups, service providers, and trafficking victims to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission.

Bambi D. Polotzola, of Opelousas, was reappointed to the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council. Polotzola is the Director of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs and will serve as its representative on the council.

The Louisiana Developmental Disability Council’s mission is to lead and promote advocacy, capacity building, and systemic change to improve the quality of life for individuals with
developmental disabilities and their families.

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Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049
by Alvin G. Burstein

Unusual for a sequel, newly released Blade Runner 2049 is a darker and more complex film  than its predecessor, set thirty years earlier. Both used a dystopian setting to explore issues of exploitation and empathy as elements of the human condition. The first film was a striking description of the contrast between a degenerate capitalistic system and the human capacity for love and of love as an anodyne for the bitterness of mortality. The new film, set thirty years later, extends that exploration in a profound way.

In the first film, we learn about bioengineered replicants manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation to support the human elite. Replicants look human, but have a limited life span and are identifiable by their lack of emotional responses. Blade Runners, cops in a post-modern, degenerate Los Angeles, are charged with “retiring” those replicants who resent their limited lifespan and resist their exploitation. Deckard, a human Blade Runner is charged with retiring Rachael, an experimental replicant who has had artificial memories implanted to “provide an emotional cushion.” She believes she is human and weeps when she finds that her human memories were artificially implanted. Despite her limited life expectancy, she and Deckard fall in love and, after harrowing adventures, flee into hiding.

In the sequel, a young Blade Runner, KD6-37, himself a replicant, broods over whether his childhood memories are implanted or genuine. In the course of a “retirement” mission,
he stumbles on evidence that Rachael had died, but not before giving birth, with a possible implication that he might be her and Deckard’s child. Without revealing that last implication, he reports the discovery to his chief.

He is ordered to destroy any evidence of his discovery because of the potential for precipitating racial war inherent in replicants being able to reproduce themselves rather than being manufactured. The Blade Runner embarks on a personal mission to find Deckard and resolve the uncertainty of whether his memories are genuine or not.

The search and its complications are dramatic and suspenseful. In the course of the search he finds Deckard living hidden in a virtual museum of nostalgic memorabilia in the ruins of old LA where—meaningfully— we hear records of Sinatra and Presley singing songs about love.

With Deckard, he joins a revolt against the corporate interests producing replicants. He saves Deckard’s life and reunites Deckard with his child, a daughter. In the course of his efforts
the young Blade Runner is mortally wounded. And suffers another, more tragic wound. He learns that his childhood memories had been implanted.

Reuniting Deckard and Rachael’s daughter is not motivated by family ties. It is not grounded in familial love, with its sexual implications and complications. It is altruistic, an unrequited
caring for the other. This Blade Runner dies alone, abandoned, shorn of his memories, of a family tie to Deckard, to Rachael, to anyone.

Altruism, selfless behavior, perplexed and fascinated Anna Freud. Her favorite play was said to be Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, which she saw as epitomizing altruistic love. Cyrano conceals his love for Roxanne to shield her from being disillusioned about her husband. Cyrano dies taking pride in having made that choice.

Classic Greek tragedies depicted admirable individuals suffering as a result of a fateful error. Blade Runner 2049 suffers in a profoundly different way. His tragic loss, his sacrifice, is not the result of an error, but comes from giving up an illusion. It is, like Cyrano’s sacrifice, a form of self-assertion. But with a deeply painful cost.

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Psychology Laboratory Directors Discuss Research at “Science Café”

Psychological scientists from laboratories around the state shared their work at the first “Science Café,” hosted by the Louisiana Psychological Association this week in New
Orleans. Researchers from the University of New Orleans, Pennington Biomedical and the
University of Louisiana Lafayette discussed current advancements with psychologists
attending the association’s Fall Workshop.

Dr. Elliot Beaton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University
of New Orleans and the director of the Stress, Cognition, and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, discussed how stress affects brain development and function in children and adolescents at ultra-high risk for later development of serious mental illness.

The goal of Dr. Beaton’s work is to help explain diagnosis, prevention, and mitigation by
understanding early prodromal indicators. He uses functional and structural magnetic
resonance imaging with network connectivity analyses. Dr. Beaton combines this with
behavioral, psychophysiological, hormonal, and immunological stress measures. He was joined by researchers Ashley Sanders, MS, and David Stephenson, MS.

Dr. Christopher Harshaw, Assistant Professor, directs the Mechanisms Underlying Sociality Laboratory at U. of New Orleans. His focus is on understanding the role played by somatic factors in cognition and behavior. Autism Spectrum Disorders frequently exist with a
variety of somatic complaints and issues, including gastrointestinal problems, allergic and immune disorders, as well as thermoregulatory and/or metabolic dysfunction. Dr. Harshaw discussed whether and to what extent such somatic correlates are simply “noise” versus causally related to clinically important facets of dysfunction.

Dr. Robert Newton, Jr., is Associate Professor and director of the Physical Activity & Ethnic Minority Health Lab at Pennington Biomedical. Dr. Newton discussed the effect of
physical activity on African American’s health through the Aerobic Plus Resistance
Training to Increase Insulin Sensitivity in African American Men study. One major goal of
the study is to determine the physiological effects of exercise training in this hard-to-reach
population. African-Americans suffer disproportionately from various health conditions, and
decreased physical activity and increased inactivity levels have been shown to be independent
risk factors for the development of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease,
diabetes, and obesity. AfricanAmericans spend less time in activity and more time in inactivity than is recommended.

Dr. Valanne MacGyvers is Assistant Professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she has taught for 23 years. In her lab Dr. MacGyvers focuses on issues of mindset in achieving excellence, examining the role of mindset in the prediction of academic excellence and in the understanding of psychological problems in adolescents, including depression, anxiety and eating disorders. She discussed current research which examines academic achievement in college and graduate school, measurement development, the role of music in preparing impoverished preschoolers for Kindergarten, understanding the development of empathy, and people’s attitudes about breast feeding in public.

Dr. T. Scott Smith is Assistant  Professor and director of the Louisiana Applied and Developmental Psychological Sciences Laboratory, a laboratory primarily focused on applied
research, or how information may be used to understand the world better or even make adjustments towards our overall  understanding of cognition. One major area of focus is cell phone distraction and how cell phone distraction affects the learning process, not only in the
classroom, but also how applicable distractions may affect driving behaviors and eyewitness
memory.

Dr. Smith also discussed his work on the effects of video game play on aggressive behaviors for children, adolescents, and adults, and how young children process information, specifically reconstruction memory, and how these processes affect their ability to be (in)effective witnesses.

Dr. Charles Taylor, Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering, is founder of the Cajun Artificial Heart Laboratory, a biomedical research lab with high-end computing and
visualization systems as well as a mock circulatory loop for the purpose of testing artificial heart valves. Dr. Taylor is a bioengineering professor and his lab delivers research capabilities
to the artificial internal organ community in the form of robust in vitro systems, with accompanying computational tools, to accelerate medical device development. Dr. Taylor
discussed the theories and principles of artificial organ creation and his on-going projects.

Dr. Taylor and Dr. Scott Smith, from the U. of Louisiana Lafayette Psychology Department, are
collaborating to develop the SMART test or Sensory Motor and Reaction Time Test for persons with blindness and visual impairment.

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More Mental Health, Less Incarceration – Prison Reforms Launched

In an announcement this week, Gov. Edwards said that key parts of the “Justice Reinvestment Initiative,” a package of reform measures passed by the 2017 Legislature, will begin to be implemented. Certain inmates in Louisiana who are currently serving a sentence for non-violent, non-sex offenses, as defined by Louisiana law, will be released an average 60-90 days early. This is an effort to reduce the state’s incarceration rate, the highest in the nation, a pledge the Governor made in taking office.

“Louisiana’s label as having the highest incarceration rate in the nation may be part of our past, but it will not be a part of our future,” said Gov. Edwards.

The package of 10 pieces of legislation is designed to steer less serious offenders away from prison, strengthen alternatives to imprisonment, reduce prison terms for those who can be safely supervised in the community, and remove barriers to successful reentry.

“For more than a year, stakeholders from every walk of life in Louisiana publicly met to
thoroughly review our criminal justice system. Following a model set forth by other Southern,
conservative states, their goal was to make Louisiana a safer place for our children while
being smarter on crime than we have been in the past…” he said.

“Along the way, we will, undoubtedly, find areas where we can improve these changes,” the
Governor said, including “alternatives to incarceration.”

The effort is estimated to save approximately $262 million, with more than $180 million of
those savings being reinvested in programs that reduce the recidivism rate and empower offenders to leave a life of crime.

Louisiana is the latest state to enact such reforms; many others have experienced simultaneous drops in their crime and imprisonment rates. For example, the Texas incarceration rate is down 16% and crime down 30%. In North Caroline incarceration is down 16% and crime down 16%.

The House and Senate votes for S.B. 139 (the bill that includes changes to parole and good time) passed by 26- 11 in the Senate, 75-30 in the House, and then 20-13 in the Senate
concurrence.

This past June, Dr. Raman Singh, Director, Medical and Behavioral Health, Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, told psychologists at the Louisiana Psychological Association, that the leverage for dramatic changes in the state’s incarceration rate was to institute behavioral health reforms in the Louisiana criminal justice system.

Singh, a medical doctor and cardiologist by training, said, “Louisiana’s incarceration rate
contributes to over-representation of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system.”

Dr. Susan Tucker, clinical psychologist and the Assistant Warden at the Bossier Parish
Medium Security Facility, and President-Elect of LPA, introduced Dr. Singh and explained the
significance of comprehensive psychological programs in the corrections and justice system.
Tucker developed the Steve Hoyle Intensive Substance Abuse Program nationally recognized for excellence.

In 2016 the Louisiana Legislature commended Tucker and her team in a House Concurrent Resolution pointing to multi-million dollar cost savings to the state because of shorter incarceration times of those offenders who participated in the psychological programs designed by Tucker.

Singh explained to the audience of psychologists and professors that the reasons for over-incarceration in Louisiana are well-established. Based on a 2016 Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s review Singh said the top reasons were mandatory sentences and habitual offender laws, high rates of local incarceration without treatment programs, and “not addressing issues driving criminal behavior such as substance and mental illness.”

“Incarceration of mentally ill exacerbates symptoms of mental illness. Rarely does incarceration of the mentally ill lead to an improvement in their mental status,” said Singh.

In a related story, in October Attorney General Jeff Landry wrote that taxpayers should be concerned about this “dangerous legislation.” He said that some of those released will
qualify for welfare and that the savings, targeted toward programs to help prisoners with addiction, mental health, and job skills, “…has apparently now morphed…” into more grants rather than taxpayer savings.

Governor Edwards replied that Landry should “Learn the Facts, Stop the Fear Mongering,” in a press release this week.

 

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Louisiana Department of Health Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

On September, the Louisiana Department of Health announced a law suit filed against several leading opioid manufacturers for their role in escalating the opioid crisis in Louisiana. The lawsuit, filed in the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge Parish, alleges that the drug
companies engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids, which helped fuel Louisiana’s opioid epidemic.

“These drug companies led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive and even suggested that treating physicians prescribe greater dosage units to those who had already
become addicted to opioids,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “As evident by the hundreds of Louisiana families that have lost loved ones due to this crisis, nothing could be further from the truth. We intend to hold these  pharmaceutical companies responsible for the lasting damage they have caused upon our people and the millions of dollars their wrongful claims have cost our state.”

The Louisiana Department of Health is seeking damages for the amounts it has already paid for excessive opioid prescriptions and treatment costs as a result of those prescriptions.
Louisiana joins dozens of other cities, counties and states that have filed similar lawsuits in response to the alarming number of cases of opioid addition and opioid-related deaths
throughout the country. Lawsuits were also filed last week by local sheriff’s offices in Avoyelles, Lafayette, Jefferson Davis and Rapides Parishes.

“By all means necessary, we are fighting the opioid epidemic in Louisiana. All indicators of this problem – opioid prescriptions, overdoses and deaths – are up. Recognizing that a key
contributor to opioid addiction is prescription medications, where 110 prescriptions for opioids are written for every 100 Louisiana residents, we are addressing a fundamental cause of this
problem,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health.

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Dr. Rizutto Leads Rebuilding Project

Dr. Tracey Rizzuto and colleagues are helping those in the hardest hit storm affected areas to rebuild the local business communities, through a group composed of leadership and members of the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology and the Society of Consulting
Psychology, two Divisions of the American Psychological Association.

The effort began recently as the Harvey Organizational Psychology Effort or HOPE, Dr. Rizzuto told the Times. However, the project quickly evolved into an effort between the two Divisions of APA, to be called the Catastrophe Aid and Rebuilding Effort, or CARE.

The group “… is now positioned to respond to a broader range of disaster events,” said Rizzuto, Associate Director, School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, at the LSU College of Human Science & Education.

The interdivisional APA taskforce is working to provide pro bono business recovery services to those in the stormaffected areas, explained Rizzuto. The growing taskforce has over 30
volunteers at present and is working to link with regional leaders in the hardest-hit areas, she said.

The original group, HOPE, started working to connect to local Industrial-Organizational psychologists in the Texas and Louisiana area, to local government administrations, and to
identify businesses in need of services, she explained.

“We’re reaching out to our professional base to inquire about needs for assistance,” such as  housing/food donations, replacing books, assist with academic lectures if possible,” said
Rizzuto.

The current project is modeled after Rizzuto’s work on the Katrina Aid and Relief Effort,” called KARE, Rizzuto said. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the leadership of the Society of
Industrial-Organization (SIOP) called on its membership to deliver needed resources to people and businesses affected by the storm. “The Katrina Aid and Relief Effort (KARE) became SIOP’s
first outreach taskforce designed to deliver pro bono business consulting services with the goal of aiding disaster recovery,” explained Rizzuto.

Along those same lines, the current effort will likely help with a host of services including emotional management, hiring/selection tools, training programs, recruitment, etc.

According to a report in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, KARE provided assistance in managing stress and adversity, change, motivation, and healing from the disaster. Also some of
those served voiced interest in hiring, leadership, training, team management and general business issues.

KARE received commendations from the Louisiana State Senate, the American Society of Association Executives, and the Center for Association Leadership for the work.

Dr. Rizzuto and her team are welcoming voluteers. CARE group volunteers will be placed in complementary teams composed of individuals with a wide range of experience and expertise. Dr. Rizzuto explained that volunteers will work alongside colleagues. “You will not be alone,” she said. The group meets every Wednesday on Zoom.

For those interested in volunteering, the site for the Castastrophe Aid and Rebuilding Effort (CARE) site is: https://www.facebook.com/CARECatastropheAidandRebuildingEffort

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