Author Archives: Susan

Citizen Kane

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

A lifelong addict to Conan Doyle’s fictional accounts of Sherlock Holmes, I am generally intolerant of those adaptations that clash with my images of the sleuth and his trusted Dr. Watson. The bakers dozen or so of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce were marginally acceptable to me. Their adaptations of the Doyle accounts involved irksome deviations from the canon, but Rathbone’s acerbic coolness and Bruce’s winning bumbles charmed. Other contemporary efforts have been off-turning to me. So I approached the Netflix adaptation of Nancy Springer’s account of Sherlock’s younger sibling, Enola, with considerable reservations. But I will confess being won over—for the most part.

 The movie artfully invokes almost every device to enhance its appeal. It is a coming-of-age story in which a young woman discovers her independence. It invokes the classic appeal of a child searching for her parents. It is packed with teenage romcom appeal. It makes a centerpiece of John Stuart Mill’s 1869 prescient classic On the Subjection of Women in which he argues that women should have full social equality, predicting that they will be the last class of humans to achieve it. Parallel to the Holmes in The Adventure of the Dancing Men, it involves decrypting secret messages. And, uniquely, it makes heavy use of asides to the audience, temporarily dissolving the narrative wall between the protagonist and the observer, establishing a supplemental emotional bond between them.

The movie takes place in 1884 when the British House of Lords was considering The Representation of the People Act, the adoption of which would nearly triple the number of Britons eligible to vote—all men, of course. The movie manufactures a circumstance of the outcome depending on a single vote, that of young Lord Tewkesbury, whose accession to his father’s title is occasioning efforts to kill him. Enola, whose name is an anagram for “Alone,” has run away from home to search for the mother who has disappeared, abandoning her. When she discovers the plot against Tewkesbury, she is diverted from her original quest, seeking to discover the identity and motives of those pursuing him.

Her efforts are complicated by the circumstance that she must also frustrate the efforts of her brother, Sherlock, and their older sibling, Mycroft, to find her. Mycroft, who has
become designated her guardian, wants her placed in a finishing school where she will learn how to become a proper and marriageable Victorian lady. Enola, who had been home schooled by her mother, an assertive feminist reader of Mill’s tract, not to sew, embroider and the like, but a variety of martial arts.

Avoiding her brothers, seeking to protect Tewkesbury and finding her mother constitute a suspenseful scaffolding of events for the film. Describing the details would be a spoiler, so I will close with a few additional carping comments. The historical context is weak in that the tension over passage of the Restoration Act did not hang on a single vote, but on prime minister Gladstone’s political maneuvering. In addition, despite the film’s feminist tilt, the 1884 Act did nothing for women. It was not until 1918 that British women won the right to vote—when they got to be thirty.

LSBEP Determined to Push Their New Laws

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) appears determined to go forward with it’s ambitious and comprehensive legislation, voting unanimously on Thursday, January 28, to begin the search for a legislator to sponsor their changes to the psychology practice law for the 2021 legislative session.

If passed, the LSBEP’S legislation will make sweeping changes, including registering
assistants, expanding the board’s charter, expanding legal authority of employees, adding more fees, changing the scope of practice, modifying board composition, and exempting investigations from Open Meetings Laws. The new law also gives the board the authority to conduct and sell continuing education.

In the new law, psychologists would be required to seek the board’s approval for any assistant who is helping the psychologist provide services to patients or clients. This
would include any clinical, family, or organizational setting, including government. The yearly fee is up to $75 per assistant.

Included is the requirement that the assistant initiate a criminal background report from the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information

The board would approve the assistant’s training, qualifications, and services to be provided. The board can deny or revoke the registration of the assistant at any time that it receives reliable information that the assistant is causing harm to clients or patients, or likely to, or is unethical or unprofessional.

The new law also gives the board authority to collect an array of new fees. These
include up to $250 for preapproval of continuing education courses. Also they can charge up to $200 for authorization to conduct tele-supervision, to authorize an inactive status or renewal, or to authorize emeritus status and renewal. The board appears
to be intending to provide continuing professional development with a charge of up to $200 per continuing unit.

According to the draft of proposed legislation, the board will be creating new committees that may operate with full authority of the board for complaints
procedures and disciplinary actions, to perform tasks such as creating subpoenas
and summary suspension authority.

The board will add the ability to restrict a license along with the current law for suspension are revoking. Also added in new language, the board is to communicate violations to the District Attorney.

Under scope of practice the board is adding language for: • psychological test development; • provision of direct services to individuals or groups for the purpose of
enhancing individual and organizational effectiveness; • using psychological principles,
methods and procedures to assess and evaluate individuals for the purpose of rendering an expert opinion or diagnosis in a legal setting; and • supervision and consultation related to any of the services described in the current law. How much authority they have over individuals doing psychological research appears to be in question at this point based on discussions on Thursday.

The new language affirms that psychological services may be rendered to persons
throughout their life time including families, groups, institutions, organizations, and the public.

The board creates language that removes transparency having to do with
investigations. “All proceedings in connection with any investigation by the
board shall be conducted in closed session, and are exempt from the provisions
of the Public Meetings Law [….] All records in connection with any investigation by the board are confidential.”

The Times asked Dr. Kim VanGeffen, chair of Professional Affairs for the Louisiana Psychological Association, if the legislation put forth by the psychology board, and explained as “housekeeping” legislation, was actually housekeeping?

“This legislation opens up the Psychology Practice Act in order to make changes.
The proposed changes include some items which could be considered ‘housekeeping,” Dr. VanGeffen said. Housekeeping items consist of changes in language to fit with current practices or statutes. Correcting errors, clarifying or updating information, changing numbers or letters of items in the Act would also be considered housekeeping
items.”

“[the legislation] includes other changes which go beyond housekeeping changes and are more fundamental modifications to the practice of psychology in Louisiana,” she said.

“Drs. Matthew Holcomb and Erin Reuther and I represented LPA on this Committee. During these meetings, LPA’s representatives have been encouraged to and have
offered a great deal of input about the legislation. Some of the concerns raised by the
LPA members resulted in changes to the legislation. There are some areas in which the LPA representatives continue to have concerns or disagreements with what is in the legislation.”

“LSBEP put for this legislation last year. LPA was not involved in the development of that bill. Because of the corona virus, the Louisiana legislature only addressed a very limited number of bills during last year’s legislative session. LSBEP’s bill was not addressed last year.

Members of the psychological community may have had access to that bill although I
would doubt that most psychologists were aware of this legislation,” Dr. VanGeffen said. “When the Ad Hoc Collaborative Committee was formed, it was agreed that the Committee members would not distribute the bill we were discussing until it was in its
final form.”

Dr. Greg Gormanous, Chair of Legislative Affairs for LSBEP, said to attendees at the Thursday online meeting, that he was comfortable that “…we have honored the agreement,” to reach consensus with representatives of the community.

New Trend of Remote Work Relies on Psychological Science

One of the most frequently noted 2021 trends is the move to at-home work, already common among digital workers but catapulted forward for many others by the pandemic.

Completely in psychology’s wheelhouse, successful home and remote work calls for a complex blending of employee self-direction, methods for coordinating with colleagues, and integration with family and family life.

Employers know that remote work can mean challenges for productivity. The adjustment requires a keen understanding of the complexity of workers’ traits,
knowledge of work environments, and types of supervisory skills.

Two psychological scientists are focusing their expertise to help employers and their employees to bridge the gap between the old and new work situations. Bill Costelloe
and Jim Stodd have founded a new consultancy, called ThriveRemote, LLC. Their new firm is dedicated to applying and sharing expertise about the psychology of remote work scenarios. Costelloe’s and Stodd’s goal is to facilitate remote work solutions for the benefit of client organizations and their employees, as well as mitigate some of the predictable difficulties often associated with the transition to remote work.

The two consultants and their team members at ThriveRemote bring a range range of services to help solve a variety of problems encountered by both employers and employees. These include employee selection, development, engagement, leadership training, retention strategies, performance management, compensation programs, and in particular reward methods for remote workers.

Both Costelloe and Stodd, with advanced degrees in industrial-organizational psychology, bring a rich background of seasoned experience in organizational
leadership and human resource management to the task.

As well as his association with ThriveRemote, Dr. Costelloe serves as President of Costelloe and Associates, Inc., located in Metairie, Louisiana, a firm he has maintained for over 30 years specializing in the industrial application of psychological assessments,
candidate selection, career planning & development, and employee morale surveys.

During the 2020 shutdowns, employers scrambled to find ways to cope and maintain some level of productivity. “As we all know,” said Stodd, “the pandemic has forced us to accept new circumstances, terms, conditions, and situations that most of us would not have wished for.

Included in that has been the necessity for millions of people to work from home,” he said.

“While most business leaders and their employees were extremely reluctant to embrace remote work as a norm, the pandemic just has not given us much of a choice. Yet, as more data comes in regarding this once unwelcome circumstance, it’s not looking all that bad, at least for most,” Stodd said. “In fact, this forced change may end up being one of the few silver linings to come out of all this disruption, tribulation, and
suffering with many believing that remote work is here to stay.

Jim Stodd is the Principal of JT Stodd & Associates, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and specializes in compensation and rewards, organization planning, change
management, and general human resource management.

Costelloe and Stodd note that others are debating the relative merits of remote work. However, they choose to simply acknowledge that remote work is likely here to stay.

“It is a new norm for much of our industrial society, at least in ways and numbers that were just not foreseeable prior to the pandemic,” Costelloe said.

“We believe that remote work should become a greater focus for applied behavioral scientists––such as ourselves––and that we can continue to better understand, shape, and influence the factors and circumstances that contribute to individuals thriving in remote work situations versus languishing, coping or just getting by,” said Costelloe.

Psychological scientists are trying to keep pace with the urgent needs to understand and help people adjust to the pandemic environment.

“While a lot has yet to be learned regarding these factors and circumstances, amazingly a lot has been learned in a fairly short period of time,” said Stodd.

“Much has been written on this topic over the last several years, but science-based evidence regarding what makes remote work productive and sustainable has been limited. We want to share what is already known about the predictors of remote worker
success,” said Stodd, “so that business leaders can use that knowledge to better predict who is most likely to thrive within a remote work circumstance, understand why they thrive, and use that knowledge to better design, situate, and manage their remote work programs for the mutual benefit of both the worker and the organization.”

Costelloe and Stodd describe findings from one science-based study, a recent investigation undertaken by psychologists associated with the Universities of Georgia and South Florida.

The researchers described “remote work effectiveness” in terms of three areas:
Overall Adjustment (to the remote work situation); Stress Level (during performance of remote work); and Job Performance (relative to pre-pandemic/normal-office performance levels).

The researchers looked at 62 possible predictors of remote work effectiveness and found eight strong predictors.

The first three of these eight predictors had an inverse or negative relationship to
one’s ability to thrive in a remote work situation. And, these three all pertain to
the internal characteristics––for example, personality traits, competency or skills, or
habits of the worker, Stodd notes.

These factors were: 1) Feelings of Social Isolation; 2) Stress Levels Before Engaging in Remote Work; and 3) General Proneness to Anxiety.

Stodd explained one example, saying, “Feelings of social isolation were found to
hurt a person’s overall ability to thrive in a remote situation, including their overall
adjustment to remote work, stress levels during remote work, and job performance,”

Stodd said. “The negative impact of social isolation may even be greater based upon one’s personality. For instance, folks that are extremely extraverted, and normally energized by frequent social contact, or those with strong affiliation needs, may be even
more negatively impacted by the social isolation that frequently comes with remote work.”

The next five factors were found to be positively associated to remote work effectiveness. These five pertain to situational factors exterior to the person
that an employer can influence directly and rather significantly.

These were: 4) Sleep Quality During Periods of Remote Work; 5) Organization’s Support During and After the Transition to Remote Work; 6) Workspace that is Comfortable, Well-Equipped & Conducive to Productivity; 7) Technology that Facilitates Productivity, Communication and Social Interaction; and 8) Job Design and the Variety of Tasks Involved in the Job.

“It was found that characteristics of the work itself mattered, including how demanding the job is, having increased task variety, and job-related information exchange,” Costelloe explained. “Also found to be important are situational factors including, family interruptions of work, spousal/family respect of boundaries, and the proportion of
childcare the worker is doing during remote work relative to a partner.”

Costelloe and Stodd are in agreement about the importance of individual differences, which has lead them to closely examine other characteristics that may influence an
employee’s productivity or success at remote work.

They point out another example, a study related to important characteristics for success in remote work, where researchers measured characteristics with the 16PF, a well-established personality assessment tool supported by decades of academic and applied scientific support.

In this study, researchers concluded that “employers need to consider the individual differences in remote workers’ personalities and identify how to best support and
development them to realize their potential as remote workers.”

The researchers identified three core competency areas which are important for individuals to “thrive” as remote workers.

The three are: Agility – How people respond to change and handle challenges independently; Achievement – How people adapt their work practices to drive action and ensure accountability; and Affiliation – How people deal with the absence of having other people in the same physical space to support them.

“The researchers found that remote workers need to possess a mix of Agility, Achievement and Affiliation to be highly effective in a remote work environment,” said Stodd.

“That is, while these characteristics may be important for many if not most jobs, they become even more important for thriving in remote work scenarios given remote work
frequently presents specific challenges around social interaction, communication, and work style.”

Another element of how successful employers and employees will be in adapting to remote work is the relationship to supervision and management.

“Research and professional practice draw attention to the importance of effective supervision and management in the support of remote worker success,” said Costelloe.

“Studies confirm the criticality of effective leadership and supervision in creating reasonable expectations and goal clarity, providing organizational support, ensuring
resource availability, maintaining work-life balance and the effective management of stress levels, nurturing employee growth & development, facilitating necessary
social interaction and support, and conveying the trust necessary to create a true sense of belonging,” he said.

“Of course that’s a lot of stuff,” Stodd said, “which has led researchers to conclude that remote managers also need to possess special competencies in the areas of Agility,
Achievement, and Affiliation, including the ability to coach and develop others, extend individual concern and compassion, and build & maintain effective teams.”

Overall, helping companies and employees adjust to the new normal is exciting for the two consultants, an area that combines their talents and psychological science to
help others deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

“The ability to thrive in remote work involves a complex set of factors, some of which are innate to the individual, some of which are situational, combined with the need for
leadership that is well-honed to the remote work circumstance,” said Stodd.

“While complex, employers who want to do well need to develop an appreciable understanding of all these factors as well as establish programs, processes and procedures that will maximize the benefits of remote work – of which there are many –for both the organization and its remote workforce,” said Costelloe.

The two intend to continue educating their clients and the public about the possibilities for adjusting to changes and challenges in the new work environment. More information can be found at their website.

2021 Trends for Psychologists

Experts agree that the social, economic, and psychological impact of the pandemic will be with us for years to come, and this seems especially true in the area of health and behavior. Psychology and psychologists are in the middle of cultural and individual changes that could last for decades. For this feature we reviewed the most talked about trends that are at the heart of our science and practice, and report in detail on one of the top trends, remote work.

#1 A focus on behavioral prevention and natural immunity

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a dramatic shift from the medical model to prevention and natural immunity, both strongly related to behavior. Sunlight, vitamin D, sleep, stress, zinc, are just some of the lifestyle variables related to immunity. Experts say that 88% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy, directly related to Covid survival. Being a healthier country and having individuals take responsibility for their health behaviors has become one of the top trends and priorities.

#2 Telehealth and remote work

Telehealth has become a booming business with virtual health care visits estimated to have reached one billion by the end of 2020. Individuals will continue to restrict their activities to avoid unnecessary exposures and remote health opportunities are
predicted to continue to grow exponentially. The emergence of additional strands of the virus is a sign that some form of social distancing is going to be with us for a long time.

#3 Mental health needs

Experts predict a tsunami of problems hitting the population due to the stress and changes that are here now and that will continue regarding individuals’ work, relationships, childcare, education, and health. Prioritizing emotional well-being is critical for all citizens and this includes embedding mental health practices into their regular life and routines. Psychologists are essential in helping develop these new and innovative ways of delivering mental health services.

#4 Blending work and family life

Integrating work life and family life has been forced into the forefront of our priorities with the lockdowns. As workers went home, new ways of adapting were required for handling interactions with spouse, children, and managing the complexity of work-home life. Psychologists have a key role in helping individuals balance the complex variety of demands upon them––helping with behavioral change, stress management, time management, mental health techniques and other elements for coping with change.

#5 Virtual learning

Covid has impacted educational services for those psychologists who teach, those who learn, and those who deal with students of any sort. Experts say that most institutions will pursue at least a portion of their curriculum online even after the pandemic passes.
Understanding and optimizing this new style of learning falls in the wheelhouse for psychologists, as both teachers and researchers.

#6 Focus on child development

For 2021 and beyond, understanding what is happening to young children will be critical. For the very young, the changes have impacted one third or one half of their life span. What will be the consequences and remedies for these youngsters to develop and
flourish? That will be a central question for psychologists to address and to establish clinical and behavioral interventions to ameliorate any consequences to the young.

#7 Looking for new meaning in the quiet zone

Life has slowed and quieted down for many, and there is evidence that as the busyness and noise of the fast-paced world subsided, the inner, psychological life is where many are focusing. In one study, by the creative software company Canva, researchers found that 64% of those responding say that Covid has positively changed their perception of what is most important in their lives. Half, 51%, have engaged in a creative past-time, so there’s a place for psychologists to help facilitate the inner, psychological journey and the shift in values that it often reflects

UV-LED May Destroy Virus in Less Than One Minute by Samantha Dooley

Researchers in The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology suggest they may have found a way to quickly disinfect surfaces contaminated with Covid-19, using UV-LED lights. The researchers said that the UV-LED lights required less than half a minute to destroy more than 99.9% of the coronaviruses.

The study looked at the disinfection efficiency of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes
irradiation at different wavelengths on coronavirus. It is said to be the first of its kind in the world, according to the Jerusalem Post.

According to Yoram Gerchman,and colleagues, SARS-Cov-2, the virus most known as Conavirus, can spread through respiratory droplets, as well as nasal, oral, and eye mucus. Some research is also showing that SARS-Cov-2 is potentially an airborne virus.

These factors bring the need for a cheap, quick ay to sterilize surfaces, without damaging the material. It is already common to use UV lights to irradiate some pathogenic microorganisms, including some viruses. As the authors in The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology article write, “Coronaviruses are 120-160 nm diameter, enveloped viruses with a single-strand, non-segmented RNA genome coated by a protein capsid, and a lipid envelope.” Damaging or destroying any one of the components could inactivate the virus, they explain.

UV lights do just that to the Coronavirus. UV lights can inactivate a virus many different
ways, including, but not restricted to, “…damage to the nucleic acids, proteins, or internal production of oxygen radicals.”

The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology authors also reported that some wavelengths of UV light are possibly more effective at irritating SARS-Cov-2 than
others. “The mechanism of UV inactivation depends on the UV wavelength(s) used and,
at least for some pathogens, UV sources with multiple emission peaks are (e.g. medium pressure lamps) were found to result in more accurate inactivation, by activating multiple damage mechanisms.”

For more information, go to: “UV-LED Disinfection of Coronavirus, Wavelength effect,” The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology, www.elsevier.com/locate/jphotobiol.

Louisiana Pharmacies Begin Receiving COVID Vaccine for Elderly, Additional Health Care Workers on January 4

On December 31, Gov. Edwards announced that doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to pharmacies statewide in limited supply beginning January 4 to be administered to people 70 and older and additional health care workers.

The initial supply of vaccine will be extremely limited and people must contact a designated pharmacy to make appointments before going in to be vaccinated. At this time, only people in Priority Group 1-B, Tier One, which is people 70 years and older and ambulatory and outpatient health care personnel, will be able to get the COVID vaccine at a designated pharmacy. Appointments are required.

Beginning on the 4th, the Louisiana Department of Health will list pharmacies where the COVID vaccine is available on its website, covidvaccine.la.gov.

“I am relieved to end this year by expanding access to the COVID vaccine to more Louisianans, though I know we have a long road ahead of us before we put this pandemic in our rear view mirrors,” Gov. Edwards said.

In the first two weeks of vaccination, 45,289 Louisianans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is safe and effective against the virus. A second dose must be administered for people to gain fuller protection from COVID.

So far, 210,350 doses have been allocated for Louisiana, of which 56,200 have been designated for the federal Long Term Care Facilities partnership and reside with Walgreens and CVS.

The priority groups for Louisiana are as follows: Priority Group 1-A: Ongoing (around 249,000 eligible people)

  • Health care workers at Tier 1 and Tier 2 hospitals
  • Staff and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Emergency Medical Services employees and firefighters

Priority Group 1-B, Tier One: Starts Monday, January 4, 2021 (around 640,000 eligible people)

  • Schools of allied health students, residents and staff
  • End stage renal disease facility personnel and patients
  • Home agency patients and personnel
  • Ambulatory and outpatient health care personnel
  • Persons 70 years old and older

Priority Group 1-B, Tier Two: Starts at a later date (around 318,750 eligible people)

  • Health-related support personnel (labs, mortuary, pharmacy)
  • Essential governmental response personnel
  • Judiciary personnel
  • Department of Homeland Security personnel, National Guard (non-COVID deployed), federal intelligence and security personnel, military personnel
  • First responders not covered in Phase 1A
  • Corrections officers and jailers Medical transportation services
  • Homeless shelter and other congregate group home/center staff
  • K-12 school and daycare personnel
  • Food processing and agricultural workers
  • Postal personnel
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers and other deemed frontline essential workers

Citizen Kane

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

In a search for an end of the year movie to review, the spate of Christmas releases didn’t appeal to me. Citizen Kane popped into my mind because of its frequent citation as the all-time greatest movie by both the American Film Institute and its British counterpart. It was seen as a virtuoso effort by the twenty-five year-old boy wonder, Orson Welles. He not only coauthored the screen play with Herman Mankiewicz but also produced, directed and starred in the movie. A virtuoso effort indeed.

A 1941 RKO release, it had impressed me when I’d seen it as a youngster. I was curious about how it would strike me eighty years later. It would be an understatement to say it wore well.

More, it turned out to be almost eerily a propos of current events. The emotional charge of the final reveal retains its intensity, the content of which, despite the film’s age and its having been remembered by me, would be a spoiler to describe.

The film recounts the life of Charles Foster Kane. It opens by closing in on the elaborately baroque grounds of the Kane estate. The protagonist is on his death bed. As he draws his last breath, he utters a name, “Rose Bud”, and a snow globe drops out of his hand to roll across the floor. So the story begins with its ending and continues with a series of flash backs.

The device is a search for Rose Bud, embodied in an investigative reporter’s search for Rose Bud’s identity. The grounds for the search is Kane’s celebrity as a wealthy newspaper mogul and politician. As the reporter interviews figures from Kane’s past and reads their diaries, those varied memories are dramatized, and Kane is explored
from multiple points of view: those of his parents, his guardians, his mistress and wives, his servants, his longtime associates and his rivals. These multiple points of view provide a textured account, enriched by its contradictory elements, but with a central element: Kane’s insatiable thirst for affirmation.

Kane’s thirst cannot be slaked and blinds him to the needs of others. He is the apotheosis of a narcissist for whom others are valued only for their adulation. From the point of view of self psychology Kane’s crippling is rooted in very early experiences of parental deprivation, failures to provide the child with adequate gratification of the need to be deeply valued. We watch Kane as a child being sent away by his rustic parents to “enjoy” the benefits of accidental wealth—a benefit that, deep within his defective self, is experienced as an unconscious but overwhelming rejection.

Unable genuinely to care about anyone else, Kane ends his life again abandoned, in a castle surrounded by the accouterments of wealth—a deeply tragic figure.

Kane’s narcissism provides an obvious parallel to that of our country’s current President. Whether Trump’s end will resemble Kane’s remains to be seen.

Stress Solutions

2020: A Year of Stress (Solutions) in Review

And, what a year it has been. I will not bore you with a listing of all the
“stressful” things that have happened this year. Instead, let’s review the
solutions proposed.

In January 2020 the topic was: Train Students in Mindfulness to Reduce
Stress and Improve Grades. Training students, even kindergarten age
students, in Mindfulness is something that holds great promise of making
a difference in our future. Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re
directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your
thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing
research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re
actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain. As little as 5 or 10
minutes daily attention to breathing and becoming mindful of your
surroundings will reduce student’s stress levels, improve their grades and
result in fewer absences.

February introduced the concept of Living Long and Stress Free. In an
article by healthline on Habits to a long life, stress reduction was only
mentioned after much talk about foods you eat and exercise. However,
recent research publications speak volumes about the links between
stress and dementia and stress and longevity.

March’s topic was The Zen of Balance. It is important to balance your Do
List and your Be Time. Do’s always increase Cortisol. Being reduces it.
Enough said.

April found us in the throes of the virus and having to shut our office doors
and stay at home. I must admit that I found that a wonderful respite but I
know many found it stressful. It was the Uncertainty of what was going to
happen that builds the fear. A friend sent a copy of a letter from Dr. Jean
Houston to me. Her letter beautifully describes one future that possibly is
growing out from the Covid-19 chaos. That change could be increased
compassion among the peoples in the world. Dr. Houston wrote: “All of my
life I have been dedicated to encouraging the potential that every person
carries within them. I’ve taught about our innate depths, our possibilities,
and our purpose. Now, however, it’s time to live out the promise that we all
carry, to become noble, kind and compassionate people. This week on
television, I witnessed the best and most fearful sides of our natures. On
the one hand, I saw violent videos of shoppers fighting over toilet paper,
and also experienced indiscriminate generosity while shopping at my local
Costco.”

Several months were then spent on the Tapping Solution. Tapping has
research showing it can reduce cortisol by 43%. Tapping was followed by
a focus on Exercise as a good solution for some for reducing the day’s
excess buildup of cortisol. Finally, breathing – either on your own – or by
using a simple machine and program to help you gradually move your
breathing into a therapeutic range. The machine is called Resperate and it
only takes 20 minutes a day.

Wishing everyone a Happy and less Stressful 2021.

Drs. Thomandra Sam, Lauren Rasmussen, and Leslie O’Malley Running in LSBEP Election this Month

An election is currently underway to fill the July 2021 vacancy on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Offering to serve on the board are Thomandra Shavaun Sam, PhD, Lauren Woodruff Rasmussen, PsyD, and Leslie A. O’Malley, PsyD.

The vacancy will occur in June 2021 when Dr. Amy Henke completes her service. Voting
opened in and ends January 15.

Dr. Sam is from Baton Rouge and was licensed in 2015 in the specialty area of counseling according to her candidate statement. She is a Psychologist V/Office of Behavioral Health/Eastern LA Mental Health System and earned her degree from Auburn University.

In her statement, Dr. Sam wrote, “I am psychologist with a background working with diverse clinical presentations, demographics and within various settings from college counseling, community mental health, a pastoral center, domestic violence and homeless shelter, a marriage and family clinic and hospital settings. I am and have
been licensed In various states and so I am keenly aware of how a variety of psychologists exist in different spaces both here in Louisiana as well as across our
nation. I hope my unique experience adds an additional layer to an already highly qualified Board and staff.”

In her statement, Dr. Sam wrote, “I am psychologist with a background working with diverse clinical presentations, demographics and within various settings from college counseling, community mental health, a pastoral center, domestic violence and homeless shelter, a marriage and family clinic and hospital settings. I am and have been licensed In various states and so I am keenly aware of how a variety of psychologists exist in different spaces both here in Louisiana as well as across our nation. I hope my unique experience adds an additional layer to an already highly qualified Board and staff.”

“Additionally, I am Interested in ensuring that Louisiana is ahead of the curve with offering diverse platforms to diverse consumers from diverse Psychologists; yes, that is a lot of one word in a sentence but its message is necessary. As our society Is changing, it is important Louisiana is able to compete with the rest of the nation and attract bright minds to work and advance our state and practice; in doing so, we ensure we are at the cutting edge of service by creating a healthy Louisiana that recognizes the need for mental healthcare, has access to the care needed and is ultimately positively impacted by our profession toward higher levels of wellness and increased quality of life. Regarded as the father of individual psychology in some circles, Alfred Adler encouraged us to, ‘Follow your heart but take your brain with you.’ I think being an effective Board member requires a constant balance of both.”

Dr. Rasmussen is also from Baton Rouge. She was licensed in 2013 and it is a Partner at Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group, and also a Consulting Neuropsychologist at Sage Rehabilitation and Neuro RehabCare.

She earned her degree from Georgia School of Professional Psychology in Clinical Psychology/Neuropsychology.

Dr. Rasmussen writes, “It is always a daunting task to replace an outgoing board member, who I am sure is leaving with a breadth of knowledge and experience. What
I believe LSBEP is looking for in a candidate for this position is someone who is socially
responsible, dedicated, honest, ethical, and hardworking. I promise to bring those qualities to the board.

“As a recent Pro Tem board member, I had a glimpse into the responsibilities of the board members. I understand and appreciate that this position requires upholding ethical and legal standards of psychologists. It is of utmost importance that a board member serve to protect the sanctity of the field of psychology and those who utilize
our services from harm. As a board member, I think it is also important to be the voice of your profession, which means integrating feedback and viewpoints from members of the psychological community and working with your professional organizations.

“Over the course of my tenure with the board, I would like to continue modifying our rules and standards to ensure that they are commensurate with national standards. I would also like to help resolve complaints of paraprofessionals working outside of their areas of competence by coordinating with other organizations and oversight committees to establish reasonable boundaries.”

Dr. O’Malley is from Lake Charles and was licensed in 2009 with a specialty in Clinical. She is Staff Psychologist at Southeast Louisiana Veterans HealthCare System (SLVHCS). She earned her degree from Nova Southeastern University in Clinical Psychology.

Dr. O’Malley notes that, “In the current political and pandemic-related climate, I believe an evenhanded reliance and appreciation for our ethical and legal standards must be upheld. As someone who has extensive clinical experience with TeleHealth I feel I would add to the board’s expertise during this phase of reliance on more virtual therapy and supervision that the pandemic has prompted.

“I personally get great satisfaction in working with early career Psychologists in training. As a preceptor or supervisor, I have spent countless hours preparing trainees for the EPPP and oral portion of the exam for licensure in Louisiana. It would give me great pleasure to be on the other side of the table during this process.

“I believe you will find I have excellent judgment and am adept at not only enforcing the laws and standards of practice in Psychology but also in providing a sensible approach to all situations. My communication and organizational skills will allow a seamless transition in appointment to ensure that board work remains on schedule. I get along well with others and am comfortable leading and being led. I remain keen on continuing my development into a senior Psychologist. I believe this tenure would allow for the personal and professional career growth I seek.”

Gov. Extends Modified Phase Two Order during Louisiana’s Third Surge of Covid-19

On December 22, the Gov. extended his modified Phase Two order, including Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, to January 13, 2021, as hospitalizations have exceeded the level reached during the second surge in July. The Governor also declared an emergency for the elections in February, March and April of next year, per a request from the Secretary of State.

“While we have seen minor improvements, no one should feel good about our current COVID situation in Louisiana. We have too many new cases, too many people in the hospital and, sadly, too many Louisianans continue to die of this illness. Just this week, we reported the highest number of deaths since July,” said the Gov.

For complete guidance on the new Phase 2, visit the Open Safely portal at opensafely.la.gov.

J. R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius

J. R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

This film will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is not a drama or biopic. It is part documentary and part essay, posing a problem and raising troubling questions. It is an indie film funded by a Kickstarter campaign, rough around the edges, available on
Amazon. It describes an elaborate spoof, the founding of a hoax church inveighing at the bonds our mercantile society imposes on us. It begins with the acerbic advice from L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics and Scientology, “You don’t get rich writing
science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” It closes with scenes of Trump rallies and antifa/neo-fascist riots.

The film documents the activities of two Texas youngsters, self-described nerdy outsiders, Douglas Smith and Steve Wilcox, who began to amuse themselves by circulating bogus rumors on CB radio. Adopting the pseudonyms Ivan Stang and Philo
Drummond, they moved on to distribute their church’s founding document, SubGenius Pamphlet #1, composed of clip art and text taken from promotional self-help literature the two had been collecting. Sent to a horde of publishers, it was picked up by
Simon and Schuster—arguably a bona fide miracle—generating income and new followers, who themselves adopted noms de guerre.

In choppy episodes we meet and hear from core members of their pseudo cult and learn of the impact and discomforts of increasing notoriety. We hear, too, about the church’s slow decline and eventual migration into the internet. The movie ends with a kind of coda, the founders’ reflections on the question of whether there are limits to what can be joked about. Can one poke fun at the Holocaust, at Columbine? They leave
unaddressed the issue of whether there is an edge of anger or intolerance in the Subgenius mantra “F—k ‘em if they can’t take a joke”?

In a Texas Monthly interview with Smith and his wife, Sandy Boone, who directed the film, the couple acknowledge that their resolve to make the film was sparked by Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, and their wish to harpoon the candidate’s style of replacing truth with hyperbole, misrepresentation and denial. Thus they anticipated a critique by President Obama in a recent BBC interview positing that Trumpism’s most serious threat to our society was its encouragement of “truth decay,” a phenomenon described by Kavanaugh and Rich in their 2018 book by that title, in which the difference between truth and falsehood disappears.

However, the problem goes beyond truth decay and is one that did not originate with Trump. What is involved is a mushrooming of distrust of authority and the proliferation of conspiracy theories about perceived grievances. This dyad is rooted in the accelerating collapse of a euro-centric male caste system. The collapse is experienced, not as a sharing of privilege, but as a painful loss, a deprivation of worth generated by looking down on others. In self psychology terms, the loss can be assuaged by deeming it illegitimate, the result of a scheme or a plot, and by identifying with an all-powerful charismatic leader, who promises to make the imagined malefactors pay.

A central concept in SubGenius church is “slack.” Slack is not explicitly defined, but it is highly valued. It seems to mean something like doing your own thing, something like freedom from convention and conformity—a kind of personal liberty. SubGenius is at its heart, then, anti-authoritarian on two levels based on authority’s dual meaning. One meaning has to do with credibility, a basis for belief or trust, the second has to do with the ability to compel compliance. Like any hoax this pseudo-church is contra-factual, a pretense that privileges fakery. And its pursuit of slack argues against compulsion.

This movie is intended to invoke humor as a weapon against Trumpism’s substitution of charisma and pretense for credibility based on reality testing and science—what Freud would call secondary process. Hoaxy humor may not be the most effective weapon in that contest.

Stress Solutions

How to Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Dementia

Stress and anxiety have been linked to possible risk of dementia for a number of
years now. Animal and some human studies have examined brain areas affected
by chronic anxiety, fear and stress, using neuroimaging and stress and fear
conditioning with animals. We now know that there is a “see-saw” relationship
between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in which an overactive
amygdala (due to fear, anxiety and chronic stress), is associated with an
underactive PFC (thinking areas of the brain that regulate emotional responses).
Further, chronic stress can cause the hippocampus to atrophy. Since that brain
area is important to long-term memory there is an obvious relationship with
dementia and chronic stress.

While this relationship has been known, clinical practice has not placed much
focus on preventing chronic stress in order to reduce the risk of dementia. An
October 2020 presentation by Dr. David Bennett at the National Academy of
Neuropsychology (NAN) may change that. Dr. Bennett is the Director of Rush
Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rusk University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr.
Bennett spoke about early results of 2 very important longitudinal studies
involving participants of religious orders, called the Religious Orders Study and
the Rush Memory and Aging Project. The Religious Orders Study participants are
1500 older nuns, priests, and brothers without known dementia from across the
US who have agreed to annual clinical evaluation and to brain donation. The
project began in 1993; approximately 375 have developed dementia. Over 600
have developed MCI and over 825 brain autopsies have been performed to date.
The Rush Memory and Aging Project began in 1997 and include 2,200 residents
from the Chicago area who agreed to annual clinical evaluation and to donate
their bodies on death. Of that group to date, 375 developed dementia, 625 have
MCI and 925 autopsies have been performed.

Findings from 2 such large studies are immense and will be coming forward for
many years; however, Dr. Bennett’s talk provided a glimpse into prevention that
neatly fits the subject matter of this column. There is a continuum of cognitive
aging from cognitive decline to MCI to dementia. The brain pathology that relates
to changes in cognition are increasingly clear as the research continues around
the world. However, the Rush studies have made a discovery that will allow
people to better maintain cognitive health in old age.

Much of late life cognitive decline is not due to common neurodegenerative
pathologies (brain atrophy, infarctions, NP, NFT, NIA-Reagan, PHFtau temp, and
amyloid, etc.); only 41 % of the variance is explained. In other words, most brains
of elderly people show common neurodegenerative pathologies even though they
do not always have the same degree of cognitive decline (MCI to dementia). The
question became what else contributes to cognitive decline? All participants
were adjusted for age at baseline and for sex. The following variables were
studied: education, early life instruction in foreign language and music, emotional
neglect in childhood, depression, purpose in life, social isolation, social activity,
social networks (number of children, relatives, friends they saw each month and
felt close enough to talk about private matters or call upon for help), tendency to
avoid harm, avoid new situations, chronic distress, anxiety, size of one’s life
space (from 1 bedroom to travel outside of town), and diet. Those that stood out
as lowering the risk of dementia are well summed up in Dr. Bennett’s final
recommendations on how to build a better brain as we age. (Bennett DA.
Scientific American. Special Collector’s Edition. 2017; Summer: 85-91.)

  1. Pick your parents well! Make sure you get good genes, a good education, a
    second language and music lessons. Avoid emotional neglect.
  2. Engage in regular cognitive and physical activity.
  3. Strengthen and maintain social ties.
  4. Get out and explore new things.
  5. Chillax and be happy.
  6. Avoid people who are downers, especially close family members!
  7. Be conscientious and diligent.
  8. Spend time engaged in activities that are meaningful and goal-directed.
  9. Be heart-healthy: what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.
  10. Eat a MIND diet, (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative
    Delay diet) with fresh fruit and vegetables and fish.
  11. Be lucky!

Primary Care Assn Objects to Ochsner Expansion Plans

In a November 24 press release, officials at the Louisiana Primary Care Association asked that citizens take a stand and decline to “reinvent the wheel” and to support Louisiana’s federally qualified health centers.

“Earlier this month, we learned that Ochsner Health intends to re-invent the wheel and spearhead a new $100 million initiative to build 15 ‘health centers’ in underserved communities over the next five years,” said the officials.

“While Ochsner Health and other corporate, profitdriven entities describe themselves as pioneers in this space, the reality is that Community Health Centers have been on the ground serving the people of Louisiana for decades. While we are heartened to see their new commitment to primary and preventive care for these populations, we wish
Ochsner Health would have focused more on partnership, engaging in collaboration, and strengthening the ongoing work of our members.

“Ochsner Health plans to construct ‘health centers’ in areas in which there are a large number of Community Health Centers already operating and serving patients. In the Greater New Orleans region alone, there are 72 Community Health Centers operated by 15 different organizations.

“If you want to address health inequities and improve the health of our citizens all while providing affordable and accessible care, look no further than our Community Health Center network. Our health center members are battle-tested and proven leaders in meeting the needs of these communities. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (and over the past few years with the advent of Medicaid expansion), Louisiana’s Community Health Center network has grown exponentially. Health centers are now located in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.

“These facilities save taxpayer money by keeping patients out of the emergency room and focusing on the need for primary and preventive care. In fact, in 2019 Louisiana’s Community Health Centers saved our healthcare system nearly $900 million,” authors
wrote.

“Health Centers are also woven deeply into the communities they serve,” and “are held to the most rigorous standards of care, patient safety, transparency, and financial
responsibility,” the Association officials said.

Resilient Louisiana Commission Makes Recommendations

In a November 20 press announcement, Co-Chairs Don Pierson and Terrie Sterling and
other Resilient Louisiana commissioners released their report of long-term recommendations for creating a more resilient Louisiana. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Edwards created the Resilient Louisiana Commission to determine ways the state can better protect itself against disruptions, such as public health emergencies and natural disasters.

The report, Comprehensive Game Plan for a More Resilient Louisiana , highlights those
recommendations based on input from over 300 citizens serving on the Resilient Louisiana Commission and its 15 task forces. Public input guided the months-long process.

“We are pleased to receive this comprehensive guide for making Louisiana a more resilient, successful state in the face of challenges that come our way,” Gov. John Bel
Edwards said. “As leaders, we need to embrace the spirit and intelligence of this document and take action to make Louisiana stronger. Public health, safety, education,
infrastructure, workforce, the economy and the future of our children are all at stake. I
encourage elected officials, the general public and our private sector to join me in acting upon the important recommendations of the commission.”

Pierson, who serves as Louisiana Economic Development’s cabinet secretary, and Sterling, a healthcare management consultant and CEO, lead the 18-member Resilient Louisiana Commission that provided near-term recommendations in May for safely reopening the economy during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The new report reflects the commission’s second major duty: recommending long-term steps to resiliency, according to the announcement.

“Access to healthcare is broader than bricks and mortar,” Co-Chair Sterling said. “It is
important to create systems and structures to support the health of our citizens, as we
certainly may face pandemics and public health challenges in the future.”

The commission’s long-term recommendations include making strategic investments in public health infrastructure and programs to enhance the well-being of Louisiana residents, with a focus on healthy food programs, rural hospital stabilization and access to broadband internet statewide that can improve education and telemedicine services.

Other recommendations include creating an Office of Social Equity to address gender equity, housing, homelessness, and community vulnerabilities; expanding economic inclusion through the creation of an Office of Rural Development, through a living wage initiative, through incentives that promote equitable economic opportunity, and through increased business opportunity for women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs.

In addition to prioritized investment in early childhood education, transportation infrastructure, more resilient utilities, and better training pathways to jobs, the
commission recommends tools to produce better outcomes in higher education, along
with fiscal reforms to simplify and broaden the state’s tax structure.

Return to Phase 2 for December Says Governor After Cases Rise

Last week Gov. Edwards announced that the aggressive third surge of COVID-19 across
all regions of Louisiana has made it necessary to impose tighter mitigation measures and step back to Phase 2 in order to protect public health. The Governor intends to keep these restrictions in place at least through the end of the year.

A November 12 ruling by Judge William Morvant in the 19th Judicial District Court, found that a petition filed by some Republican members of the Louisiana House of Representatives to overturn the Governor’s COVID mitigation strategies, was moot and that the law used to submit it was unconstitutional.

The Governor’s updated Phase 2 proclamation calls for reducing occupancy at some businesses, decreasing gathering sizes, limiting indoor consumption at many bars and urges everyone in Louisiana to avoid gatherings with people outside of their everyday
households.

Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since mid-July, will continue. In addition, Gov. Edwards encourages any business that can allow its employees to work remotely to do so. He has directed all state agencies to do the same.

“There is not a single region of our state that is not seeing increases in new cases, hospitalizations and growing positivity of COVID tests, and I am incredibly concerned by
Louisiana’s trajectory and our ability to continue to deliver health care to our people if our hospitals are overrun with sick patients,” Gov. Edwards said.

“The data clearly tells us that we have lost all of the gains we had made and that our current mitigation efforts must be increased in order to adequately slow the spread.

On November 20, the Gov. sent a letter to newspapers statewide and released a video
urging all Louisianans to take COVID-19 seriously this holiday season as Louisiana
enters its third surge with increasing cases of coronavirus and hospitalizations.

“Healthcare workers in hospitals across Louisiana are extremely worried about their
staffing and capacity levels not being able to keep up with the growing number of citizens being diagnosed with COVID-19 and being hospitalized. They need us all to do our part to slow the spread,” said Gov. Edwards. “This third surge we are experiencing is worse than the others, and it is so concerning that the Centers for Disease Control has asked that all holiday travel plans be canceled. This year’s holiday celebrations should not look like those from last year. The risk is too great. I know that we want to be together for the holidays, but we need to protect each other and make the sacrifices now so that we can come together when it is much safer.”

Major changes to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions include:

All Louisianans are encouraged to avoid gatherings of individuals not part of their households.
All businesses, private and public sectors, are encouraged to use remote work where
they can.
All restaurants are limited to 50% of their indoor capacity. Restaurants should move as
much dining outdoors as they can. Social distancing is required.
Places of worship will remain at a maximum of 75% of their capacity or the number of
people who can physically distance with at least six feet between each immediate
household.
Barber and beauty shops, and nail salons may open at 50% of their capacity.
Movie theaters may open at 50% of their capacity.
Indoor gatherings at event/receptions centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 75
individuals.
Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150
individuals when strict physical distancing is not possible.
All sporting events will be capped at 25% capacity.

For complete guidance on the new Phase 2, visit the Open Safely portal
at opensafely.la.gov.