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Are Money Problems Behind the Psychology Board’s Latest Legislation?

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by Julie Nelson

In the last week of February, the state psychology board surprised the community when they circulated a memo that the board would be putting forth legislation in the 2020 session. The memo cast the legislation as “housekeeping,” but the sweeping changes they wanted were anything but.

By March, Senate Bill 458 had been filed, 23-pages that detailed an ambitious set of changes to the Psychology Practice Act. The changes included expanding the board’s
own charter, creating new qualifications for serving, authorizing the board to conduct continuing education, exempting the board from Open Meetings Law in certain
situations, and redesigning the position of the Executive Director.

But the most financially significant change was the board’s goal to register psychological assistants, creating new regulations and fees that could double or even triple costs for some psychologists, especially those in small businesses.

Similar to other past legislative goals by the board, the plan was essentially kept from the public. Why the secrecy? Why bypass rulemaking? Why more legislation?

In this article, we examine the possible issues behind the odd behaviors of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP).

LSBEP’s Ongoing Financial Problems

Posted under “Performance” for 2019, LSBEP data from the Boards and Commissions website gives strong hints to the underlying reason that the board might be looking for more money from the registration of psychologists’ assistants. They noted:

“The Board is planning to engage in rule-making this FY that will impact revenue in FY2020-21 and include requiring the registration of assistants to psychologists providing
psychological services to clients under the supervision of a licensed psychologist and begin pre-approval of continuing professional development activities. A financial analysis for
the impact of these initiatives is being conducted and an amendment to the projected 2020-21 Budget is anticipated.”

The board’s financial problems are long standing, they have been running deficits since 2014.

Based on the financial tracking data, the LSBEP stayed within budget for most years and carried a “fund balance” of around $100,000. A source at the Legislative Auditor’s office said the fund was a surplus or reserve.

For 2014, the board took in $262,582 and spent $249,517. Legal services were $37,882. The fund balance had a surplus of $144,709.

In 2015, the board received $263,691 in fees and spent $275,147. Legal services increased to $56,002. The fund balance was listed at $120,188.

However, in 2016 budget tracking indicates a fund deficit of $214,818.

In a June 2016 Report, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor found the LSBEP to have inadequate controls over financial matters during the 2014–2015 period. The Auditor found a lack of business and accounting functions, and reported there were inadequate segregation of duties and lack of supporting documentation, inadequate controls over employee payroll and leave, inadequate controls over debit and credit cards, and inadequate controls over travel and meals expenses.

It is not clear from the Auditors report how the board went from a surplus to a deficit between 2015 in 2016. However, also in 2016, the board spent $336,677, while proceeds remained steady at $265,945. Legal services rose to $104,894.

In 2017, legal services shot to $149,774, and the fund balance became a deficit of $352,395. In total, the board took in $272,833 and spent $408,388.

For 2018, the board collected $299,599 and spent $307,003. Legal services dropped to $40,826. The fund balance was a deficit of $359,799.

Last year, in 2019, the board took in $310,023 and spent $212,640, with legal services at $61,182. The fund balance dropped to a deficit of $262,415.

But projections for 2020 point to new problems. Salaries are projected to go from $85,727 in 2019 to $168,787 in 2020. The board is estimated to take in $329,831 and spend $366,236. Legal services are estimated at only $57,509, but the fund balance is still a deficit at $298,820.

And, for professional services there is a category for “Others” that increases from $8,620 in 2019 to $43,499 in 2020. Salaried employees in 2019 is listed at $61,569, but increased to $93,200 for 2020.

In summary, between 2019 and 2020, expenditures are set to increase by 72%. (See figure.)

The Expensive “Complaints Committee”

The LSBEP conducts two main duties as a board––approving new licensees and administering discipline. New licenses are handled by the volunteer board members and the salaried Executive Director.

However, the complaints subcommittee is designed to conduct its affairs without board members’ oversight. This arrangement leaves volunteer board members free of any bias if they are then required to participate in a disciplinary hearing.

The Rules and the internal Policies and Procedures confirm this: “The LSBEP in accordance with the La. Admin. Code, 46:LXIII.1501.C. hereby delegates authority to a Complaints Committee which may consist of the Compliance Officer, a complaints coordinator, an investigator, legal counsel, and one or more Board members […]”.

The LSBEP has both employees and contractors. For 2020, two employees are listed: The Executive Director at $62,400.00, and the Compliance Investigator at $46,200.00. With related benefits for 2020 coming to $62,537, this brings the salaried employees to
a total $168,787 for 2020. Aside from student workers there are no clerical employees or others listed.

Contract employees include contracts for a Complaints Coordinator (approved for up to $36,000); Prosecuting Attorney ($50,056); Investigator ($12,000); and General Counsel
($45,000).

According to the Policies for the complaints subcommittee, “The Executive Director oversees the functioning of this committee and may serve on the Complaints Committee if necessary.” And, “The Executive Director or Compliance Officer is authorized and empowered to assign per case, individuals who are contracted, employed or appointed by the Governor to the LSBEP, …”

A new position, a “Compliance Officer (Investigating Officer)” appears to have been added sometime in the last two years. According to the policy manual, this person may be a full-time or part-time, may conduct investigations and/or inspections outside of the main office, conduct investigations into alleged or suspected misconduct by licensed members, applicants for licensure and/or others who may be suspected of violating state and federal ethical and agency laws, rules, and policies, may conduct surveillance and unannounced on-site monitoring/compliance visits, among other duties.

The complaints subcommittee operates without the direct supervision of any board members and is the most expensive and least transparent element of the LSBEP. But what exactly is the extent of the problem that this expensive subcommittee is solving?

Is the Extra Expense Really Necessary for Public Safety?

Considering the depth and breadth of law enforcement personnel assigned to the complaints subcommittee, an observer might think that there is a serious problem with psychologists’ products/services.

However, based on LSBEP’s statistics the number of annual disciplinary actions averages between two and three per 1000 psychologists. Since a psychologist serves an average of 30 individuals per year, this translates to around 2.5 problems in
30,000 customer experiences.

This rate is consistent across states and consistent with the national averages. Statistics published by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards calculates the national number of disciplinary actions for the last five years to range from 181 to 229, an average of 189.4. (See figure.) For 106,000 psychologists across the nation, this is 1.8 mistakes per 1,000.

These rates are also consistent with the other psychotherapy and counseling professions. The Times compared a random sample of disciplinary outcomes for the psychology, counseling, and social work boards. We found that all of three boards have
similarly low rates of disciplinary actions, between one and three discipline events per 1,000 licensees.

In research over a sample of a five-years, we found that 75 percent of discipline actions were related in some way to forensic child custody evaluations. The remainder was split
between sexual/dual relationships and impaired psychologist issues.

Using data of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which estimates the product-related injuries for various industries, psychologists compare very favorably regarding public safety. Furthermore, to compare to hospital care, where 98,000 patients die annually due to medical errors, psychologist services presents a very safe alternative to inpatient care.

Waste and Ineffectiveness in the Complaints Committee?

Do the lack of checks and balances in the complaints committee, and the heavily staffed law enforcement approach, create more problems than it solves? Have licensees, the taxpayers, been saddled with paying for unnecessary attorneys, including their mistakes?

In an interview with an MBA, he said, “Alignments and incentives are all wrong in the subcommittee. High costs and inefficiencies would be expected,” he explained.

According to several sources, beginning around 2012, the LSBEP embraced an aggressive, adversarial style for dealing with complaints. For the first time, a Prosecuting Attorney was hired in 2014. Also, a private investigator was hired. Sources
have wondered if this may have been related to the then new executive director’s background as a Fraud Analyst/Investigator in the Criminal Division of the Maryland Attorney General.

Finances and other problems began to mount. Hired in 2014 at a $15,000 contract, the first Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Jim Raines, submitted invoices for $52,000, according to discussion between officials in December 2016. The board was still digging out of money troubles in part because Mr. Raines submitted invoices totaling $66,597 earlier that year, according to the minutes for the LSBEP.

At the same time, Mr. Raines may have contributed to an expensive escalation of legal matters when he failed to recuse himself from a complaints case against Dr. Eric Cerwonka. Mr. Raines had been previously retained by Cerwonka in Cerwonka’s own child custody dispute. Additionally, the two engaged in a fee dispute following the close of the case. Cerwonka filed a constitutional violations lawsuit alleging that the Raines had privileged information about Cerwonka that he used in the investigation.

In another example, the LSBEP contract attorneys appeared to have been confused
about time limits for investigating complaints, ignoring language in the Psychology Practice Act that limited investigations to one year.

At a 2015 hearing, demanded by the defendant psychologist to be open to the public in order to have the press attend, the time limit was to be addressed. However, General Counsel, Mr. Lloyd Lunceford, prompted the chair to have a private discussion in and executive session. When the board members emerged from the executive session, they dismissed the case. This made any discussion on time limits irrelevant. The then Complaints Coordinator, Dr. Gary Pettigrew, appeared frustrated having to dismiss the case stating that he did so, “…purely on the advice of the prosecuting attorney.”

In a side comment to the chair, overheard by the Times reporter, Mr. Lunceford appeared to confirm that the attorneys in the committee had misinterpreted the law and made an error. Two years later the board put forth legislation to change the time limit in law.

Another time limits case is still on a judge’s desk in District Court. If reversed the board
could be required to reimburse the legal fees to the defendant.

New Statutory Laws: Circumventing the Public and Solving the Wrong Problems?

Is the LSBEP solving the wrong problem when it sets out to create new law, instead of
redesigning its complaint committee? Do their legislative solutions just cost more in attorney fees? Do they circumvent the public’s involvement when they go straight to the legislature?

It appears that the board’s first foray into creating news statutes was in 2012 when they decided to craft legislation to bring behavior analysts under it’s jurisdiction. A backlash occurred, with strong animosity directed at psychology from other groups in the mental health community.

Their legislation in 2014 was less controversial, but in 2015 the LSBEP sprung Senate Bill 113 on an unsuspecting community. The bill fueled a tug-of-war between state associations over language in the Practice Act.

In both 2017 and 2020, the board first indicated they would proceed with rulemaking, which is the process for creating administrative law. However, both times they surprised the community and chose to contact a legislator.

The Times spoke to an administrative law expert who preferred to remain anonymous. The expert explained that the board is circumventing the public by putting their goals into statutes instead of using administrative law and rulemaking, which includes a process for public involvement.

“They are circumventing the public,” when they go straight to the law and ignore rulemaking, said the expert. “They are eliminating the input from the public. Administrative law is separate from the statutes, and that area of law is to be
separate. They want to put their administrative law into statutes, and that is a serious concern.”

State agencies are prohibited from taking a position or lobbying on any legislation. Emails show that the executive director took an active role in SB 113. And, the LSBEP had hired its own lobbyist, Deborah Harkins. This later prompted Sen. Fred Mills to put forth legislation to prohibit agencies from paying lobbyists.

The Times asked Senator Mills about the origins of his Act 480. “It became readily apparent to me that some of the health professional licensing boards were intentionally trying to circumvent this law by hiring a lobbyist to lobby on their behalf, either for or against legislation that the board did or did not like,” he said. “It was indisputable evidence of, for instance the board of psychology, hiring a lobbyist when the board is listed on the website as one of her clients. This was really my motivation in filing Act 480,” said the Senator.

Conclusion

Years ago the policy at the LSBEP was, “Complaints received shall be rotated between former LSBEP members appointed as investigators.” The subcommittee then appeared to have had one psychologist, Dr. Gary Pettigrew, as the Coordinator, whose contract was for 40 hours per year. Legal consultation came from the General Counsel, only as needed.

Between then and today, major changes occurred, some very expensive. The expense impacts both the licensee, who funds the board, and psychologists who have to defend themselves against a fully staffed, motivated law-enforcement unit. At the same time, the measures of public safety have remained consistently good.

One attorney said that the Baton Rouge area has become a “cottage industry” for
the legal profession due to the boards. It seems unlikely that the LSBEP can legislate it’s way out of its managerial and financial problems. Unfortunately, in trying to do so they are removing the public from it’s legitimate role––being a correcting, and perhaps helpful, influence.

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NPR: Studies Showing Drop in Death Rate for Covid-19

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In an October 20 report, NPR’s All Things Considered said that two peer-reviewed studies showed a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients, said NPR.

The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions. One conclusion is that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness.

“We find that the death rate has gone down substantially,” says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and an author on one of the studies, which looked at thousands of patients from March to August.

In one study, which was of a single health system, mortality dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic. Now they have a 7.6% chance.

But 7.6% is still a high risk compared with other diseases, and Horwitz and other researchers caution that COVID-19 remains dangerous.

The death rate “is still higher than many infectious diseases, including the flu,” Horwitz says. And he warned that it is a harmful disease.

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Stonehearst Asylum

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Stonehearst Asylum

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

This reworking of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe was filmed in Bulgaria in 2013 and is now available on Amazon. Its opening scene is a clear echo of a lithograph that hung in Freud’s study, a reproduction of a famous painting by André Brouillet, A Clinical Lesson at the Salpêtrière now hanging in the University of Paris Medical History Museum. In the painting Professor Charcot displays a woman patient in a hysterical seizure before an
audience of medical notables.

In the movie, the audience is a group of medical students, and the professor unnamed. His patient, Eliza, begins to struggle to escape the professor, protesting that she is sane. The professor warns his students that all mental patients make that claim and urges them not to believe anything they hear and only half of what they see.

The film segues to a young man arriving at Stonehearst Asylum to take up a position as a resident physician. He introduces himself as Dr. Newgate to the medical director, Dr. Lamb, who explains that the asylum has an innovative approach—its patients are not drugged or incarcerated and their delusions are accepted as sources of comfort to
them.

Newgate is surprised but intrigued by the notion. He attends a dinner at which patients and staff mingle. One of the patients, Eliza, is the attractive young woman whom we had met in the opening scene. As the plot unfolds, Newgate discovers the asylum’s original staff has been imprisoned in the asylum’s basement. He learns that Dr. Lamb is a dangerous imposter and that patients, rebelling against harsh treatments—amply
illustrated in the film—have taken over the hospital. Newgate becomes determined to free the prisoners, revealing to the young woman that he had seen her during the demonstration and that he loves her.

Suspenseful plot twists and turns follow. Lamb forces Newgate to collaborate in the electro-convulsive shocking of the original director, erasing his memory. Then Lamb and his assistant attempt to force Newgate to undergo the same fate. Recounting how that is avoided would be a spoiler, but the movie closes with the physician from the opening scene, accompanied by Eliza’s husband, arriving at the asylum asking for her.
They are told that she has been discharged as cured by Dr. Newgate. The visitor insists that is impossible. Asked why, his response is that he is Dr. Newgate. The final scene shows Newgate’s impersonator and Eliza at an elegant asylum in Italy, dancing together.

The Poe short story, The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, from which the movie was adapted, was published in Graham’s Magazine in 1845. It is much more sparse than the movie, lacking the love interest. It describes a tourist visiting an asylum because of his interest in an innovative treatment method, “soothing” centered on accepting patients’ delusions as sources of comfort. A festive dinner at the institution is interrupted when the staff of the asylum, who had been imprisoned by their patients—and tarred and feathered by them—burst into the room and recover control of the institution.

Given its title and content, the tale is obviously farcical. One can only speculate on Poe’s reason for writing it. I was struck by its relevance to our contemporary political scene. It warns of the dangers of eschewing rationality and reality testing, what psychoanalysis calls secondary process, the hazards of accepting the notion of “alternative facts” and theories without an empirical basis, and the failure to search for objective truth.

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Interstate Compact Passed for Medicine: “Interstate Medical Licensure Compact”

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Several bills passed the recent legislative session supporting interstate compacts, agreements for her regulating between states. Two such bills were put forth by
Senator Peacock.

SB 27 builds on present law which states that a person who wishes to practice medicine in Louisiana must meet certain minimum qualifications, including being a citizen of the United States. The law retains present law and increases the eligibility to also include any person who possesses valid and current legal authority to reside and work in the United States.

SB 27 enacts the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. The law and allows Louisiana to join a multi-state compact for physicians to obtain multi-state license privileges to practice in participating compact states to enhance the portability of a medical license and ensure the safety of patients.

The new law provides that each participating state in the compact adopt similar requirements for expedited licensure including satisfaction of criminal background checks, licensure, and education. It requires verification of licensure information through the coordinated information system and exchange of information regarding
discipline and adverse actions by all participating states. The new law provides that the medical board in the state where the patient is located shall regulate the physician in that state.

The new law requires a physician to select a State of Principal License (SPL) within the compact where the physician already has a license. It provides that the SPL is responsible for conducting the primary source verification of the applying physician’s qualifications to participate in the compact.

The new law establishes the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission (commission) and grants each participating state two voting representatives on the commission. It law provides for the powers, duties, financial authority, organization, and rulemaking functions of the commission. The new law law authorizes the commission to levy and collect an annual assessment from each member state, and authorizes the commission to initiate legal action in federal court in the District of Columbia or where the commission has its principal offices to enforce the compact’s
provisions. The new law provides for oversight, enforcement, dispute resolution, withdrawal, and dissolution of the compact. The law provides for severability.

SB 34, also by Sen. Peacock, enacts the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact, to take effect once adopted in 10 member states. The new law allows Louisiana to join a multistate compact which allows audiologists and speech-language pathologists to obtain multistate license privileges to practice in participating compact states, to decrease redundancies in the consideration and issuance of
audiologist and speech-language pathologist licensure, and to provide opportunity for interstate practice by audiologists and speech-language pathologists who meet the uniform licensure requirements.

The new law provides that the compact facilitates the interstate practice of audiology and speech-language pathology to assist in improving public access to audiology and speech-language pathology services.

SB 13 enacts the Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact (REPLICA). The new law allows Louisiana to join a multistate
compact for EMS personnel to obtain multistate license privileges to practice in participating compact states, to decrease redundancies in the consideration and issuance of EMS licenses, and provide opportunity for interstate practice by EMS personnel who meet the uniform licensure requirements.

The law provides that each participating state in the compact adopt similar requirements for criminal background checks, licensure, and education. The law requires exchange of information regarding discipline and adverse actions by all participating states.

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And Zeta Makes Five Relief for Laura Victims

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On October 30, Gov. Edwards received confirmation that President Trump authorized a 100 percent Federal cost share for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, related to Hurricane Laura. Laura is one of five named storms that have hit Louisiana in 2020, the last one Zeta, a record for the state.

Under the President’s major disaster declaration issued for Louisiana on August 28, 2020, Federal funding was made available for Public Assistance at 75 percent Federal funding of total eligible costs. It will cover a continuous period of 30 days established by the state,” said the announcement.

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Scott Lilienfeld, Advocate for Excellence in Psychological Science and Practice, Succumbs to Pancreatic Cancer

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Nationally recognized psychologist and Emory Professor, Scott Lilienfeld, died on Sept. 30 at his home in Atlanta. The cause was pancreatic cancer. He was 59.

Dr. Lilienfeld was considered by many across the nation to be a firm, resilient, and insightful voice for scientific, professional psychology. He dedicated much time and work to helping maintain awareness in the field for standards of excellence for professional psychologists.

Dr. Lilienfeld was the 2018 keynote speaker for the Louisiana Psychological Association,. He delivered the address, “Being the Essential Partner: Understanding and Overcoming
Skepticism about Scientific Psychology.”

He received the James McKeen Cattell Award for Lifetime Contributions to Applied Psychological Science, Association for Psychological Science (APS).

His work has been cited over 21,295 times. He delivered the Award Address, “Psychology’s Public Image Problem: Why Many Laypersons and Politicians Don’t
View Our Field as Scientific,” at APS.

Dr. Lilienfeld served as the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor at Emory University, and authored numerous works, including Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology, and Psychological Science Under Scrutiny: Recent Challenges and Proposed Solutions, was Editor of Clinical Psychological Science, and a regular keynote speaker, including for APA, APS, SEPA and SWPA.

In his 2012 American Psychologist article, he wrote, “…professional organizations must continually underscore the point that trained psychologists are virtually unparalleled
among rival professions in one crucial respect: our ability to apply scientific reasoning and rigorous methodology to assessing, evaluating, and alleviating human problems, whether they be mental health difficulties, such as depression or anxiety disorders, or
broader societal difficulties, such as prejudice or blind obedience.”

Among his findings he cited that only 30% agree that “psychology attempts to understand the way people behave through scientific research” and 41% see psychological research as less rigorous than medical research.

Along with many findings he noted that an APA Presidential Task Force found that, “Despite psychology’s foundation in science and its standing as the science of human behavior, it is not fully accepted as a science by the general public.”

In 2018, Dr. Lilienfeld reviewed the common criticisms of psychology’s scientific status he discussed rebuttals of the criticisms, and gave main reasons for negative public views of psychology.

He noted that the public face of psychology is not represented by psychological scientists. “Psychologists are rarely called on by the media to comment on psychological findings; when they are, they are rarely scientific psychologists,” he said.

He pointed to “The Illusion of Understanding––We’re all ‘psychologists’ in everyday life, so psychology seems easy.” Among the problems he included the “Confusion Between Psychologists and Psychotherapists,” as an important factor.

He also said that that scientific psychology is challenged by the “scientific impotence excuse,” and that “When psychological findings conflict with our deeply held intuitions, we may resolve that cognitive dissonance by dismissing a scientific approach to the
questions at hand…”

Among the remedies, Dr. Lilienfeld said that, “Academic and practicing psychologists have not spent enough of their time disseminating science to the public, combating bad science, and correcting misconceptions of the field.”

“We must play a more active role in educating laypersons about psychology’s scientific side and confronting its nonscientific side,” he said.

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Amends Phase 3 Order Governor Files Lawsuit to Defend His Covid Measures

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On October 26, Gov. John Bel Edwards filed a lawsuit in state court defending his COVID-19 public health emergency proclamation, which has been challenged by a group of members of the House of Representatives.

The Governor’s lawsuit asks the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge to declare a section of the law used by some members of the Louisiana House of Representatives to attempt to overrule his public health emergency order by petition unconstitutional. The
Gov. also says the petition was improperly filed because the Legislature did not consult the public health authority, the Louisiana Department of Health.

“In addition to the fact that getting rid of the mitigation measures that have proven to slow the spread of COVID and save lives is reckless and dangerous, the law being used
blatantly unconstitutional. Louisiana’s Constitution doesn’t allow only one chamber of the Legislature to overturn a public health emergency, and, even if it did, the petitioners did not properly consult the public health experts from the Louisiana Department of Health,” Gov. Edwards said.

On October 22, Gov. Edwards amended his Phase 3 order for outdoor high school sports by allowing outdoor stadiums in parishes with lower rates of positive COVID tests to move to 50 percent capacity, up from 25 percent.

To be eligible, parishes must have percent positivity of less than five percent for two consecutive weeks based on the most recent report from the Louisiana Dept. of Health, which is updated weekly on Wednesdays.

According to the press release, this is very similar to the approach Gov. Edwards has taken with reopening bars, however schools, districts or local governments will not have to opt-in. As with bars, if a parish’s percent positivity reaches more than 10 percent for two weeks, the parish must return to the 25 percent capacity limit. The new order became effective Friday, October 23, 2020.

“After meeting with the leaders of both the House and Senate and considering their requests, I have agreed to make this change in a way that is safe, reasonable and will help more fans enjoy seeing their favorite teams play,” said Gov. Edwards.

“Using the percent positivity as the guide is important because it helps to determine the rate of community spread, which is the safest, most responsible and consistent way to
move forward.”

“Fortunately, Louisiana is not seeing the spike in cases like other parts of the country, a clear sign that our mitigation measures, which align with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, are working. In order for that to continue, we must continue doing those things that are having a positive impact and that we know work even as we expand our activities.”

There are currently 26 parishes that are eligible to participate: Assumption, Avoyelles, Catahoula, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Grant, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison, Orleans, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St.
John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Vermilion, West Feliciana and Winn.

Prior to this change, the capacity for sports stadiums, arenas and athletic events was limited to 25 percent. This change does not apply to any college, professional or indoor sports.

The current Phase 3 order expires on November 6.

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Dr. Dean Radin to Speak on Extrasensory Research and Overlap with Quantum Theory

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The Louisiana Psychological Association will host Dr. Dean Radin, noted psychological scientist who explores extrasensory phenomena. Dr. Radin will speak virtually on
November 7, about “Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality.” He will review the current state of research findings regarding extrasensory phenomena, called psi research, as well as relevant controversies and new areas of investigation related to quantum theory.

Dr. Radin is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Distinguished Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He earned a BS in electrical engineering (magna cum laude, with honors in physics), and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the IONS research staff in 2001, Radin worked at AT&T Bell Labs, Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, and SRI International, where he worked on a classified program of psychic espionage, now commonly known as StarGate.

Dr. Radin is author or coauthor of over 300 scientific, technical, and popular articles,
four dozen book chapters, two technical books, and four popular books including the Scientific and Medical Network’s 1997 book award, The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997), Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006), the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award, Supernormal (Random House, 2013), and Real Magic (Penguin Random House, 2018).

His 100+ academic articles appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals ranging from
Foundations of Physics and Physics Essays to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychology of Consciousness. He was featured in New York Times Magazine. His 500+ interviews and talks have included presentations at Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Cambridge (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), The
Sorbonne (Paris), University of Padova (Italy), and University of Allahabad (India).

“While at Bell Labs,” he said, “I began to publish some of my psi experiments. Then
I discovered the Parapsychological Association and later the Society for Scientific Exploration, and I presented my work at their annual meetings. I was delighted to find groups of scientists who were as interested in these phenomena as I was, and the contacts I made eventually led to appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International. At the latter facility, I was a scientist on a top secret US government project conducting
research on psychic phenomena.”

“I am now Chief Scientist at IONS, and I’ve spent the majority of my professional career doing what the 4-year-old Dean described as being jet propelled — probing the far reaches of human consciousness using the tools and techniques of science. Very few scientists are publicly engaged in research on this perennially interesting topic. This is not because of a lack of interest, as skeptics sometimes suggest,” he explains. “The vast majority of scientists I’ve spoken to are fascinated with psi, and national surveys we’ve
conducted show that over 90% of scientists and engineers have personally experienced one or more psi phenomena.

But science, like any social enterprise, has strictly enforced rules of what is and is not
acceptable to talk about. Despite the aspirations of academic freedom, the reality is that it’s not safe for one’s scientific career to publicly pursue controversial topics (in any domain, not just psi).”

In his book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, Dr. Radin summarizes the evidence for different categories of ESP.

“…after a century of increasingly sophisticated investigations and more than 1000 controlled studies with the combined odds against chance of 10104 to 1, there is now strong evidence that some psi phenomena exist.”

He reviews the research on dream psi, Ganzfeld psi, conscious detection of being stared at, unconscious detection of distant intention, unconscious detection of being stared at, dice psychokinesis, and random number generation (RNG) psychokinesis.

Psi research attracts an unusually passionate group of skeptics and Radin deals with this in his writings by careful scientific designs and corrections for various biases.

The challenge includes the fact that overall the effect sizes for psi phenomena are often
very small, even though consistent. An example is the random number generation research, or RNG. The effect is often so small that it takes modern technology to capture it.

RNG studies rely on the baseline generation of pure randomness. Engineer Robert Jahn at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory published 12 years of
experiments on his team’s investigation of this type of mind matter interaction. The
experiments involved 100 volunteers who attempted to mentally influence the output of RNGs.

The RNG is an electronic device that generates thousands of completely random bits of information, like flipping a coin with heads or tails. In the Princeton Laboratory, participants attempted to influence the generator to shift the average to higher or lower than chance.

“They estimated that the magnitude of the psychokinetic affect was approximately equal to one bit out of 10,000 being shifted away from chance expectation” he notes. “While this may seem like a tiny effect, over the entire database this resulted in odds against chance of 35 trillion to 1.”

Radin reports that an attempt to replicate the work did not reach significance, but then he and another psychologist conducted a meta-analysis of all known RNG studies. After correcting for missing data he found the overall effect was small in magnitude but
associated with an odds against chance of 50,000 to 1.

He describes another type of RNG experiment where the generator is placed near a group of people who are asked to participate in a task for highly focused attention, such as a group of people meditating or an intense ritual. Throughout the early 2000s, studies strongly suggested that focused group mental activity was associated with unusual recordings in RNG data.

Engineer William Rowe, Radin explains, conducted formal tests investigating the subjective and objective results of these types of group efforts. The tests matched
correctly the observers’ impressions in the RNG outputs. When the group could impact the RNG data, these results were associated with warm or close feelings of togetherness, with emotional content that tended to draw people together, and when
personal involvement was more focused toward the group goal which was deeply engrossing, reported Radin. In contrast, negative results were associated with people working alone, involved in objective or analytical task, where there was low personal involvement, or with a boring task.

Another area that Radin reports on is the pre-sentient dream experience. Research on dream psi is conducted with a pair of individuals. One volunteer is the receiver and spends the night in the dream lab. The other volunteer agrees to act as a sender. The receiver goes to sleep in a soundproof, electromagnetically shielded, and otherwise safeguarded room to ensure that the participants aren’t responding to any ordinary
communications or signals.

The receiver’s brain waves and eye movements are monitored throughout the night. When the technician sees that the receiver enters REM sleep, the sender is notified. The sender, who has been assigned a random picture, attempts to transmit the image to
the receiver. The technician wakes the receiver and asks him or her to describe their dream.

In 2003, a team of British psychologists reviewed all the dream psi studies that were
conducted under controlled conditions, a total of 47 experiments. They concluded that the overall hit rate was 59.1% rather than the expected 50% by chance. While the 9.1%
may seem small on practical levels, explains Radin, it is associated with an odds against
chance of 22 billion to 1.

“While the overall effect was small in terms of absolute magnitude,” Radin writes, “it
wasn’t due to dumb luck. The odds that the dice studies were due to chance alone were 1096 to one. By contrast, the results of control experiments were well within chance expectation.”

“After examining these phenomena through the lens of science for over 40 years, I’ve concluded that some psychic abilities are genuine. This means there are important
assumptions within the prevailing scientific worldview that are seriously incomplete.
I’ve also learned that most people who confidently claim to have 100% reliable psychic
abilities are mistaken, sometimes innocently and sometimes fraudulently. Spontaneous psi effects can be startling and in some cases transformative, but hardly any form of human conscious behavior is 100% reliable, especially subtle consciousness-related effects like psi.”

Dr. Radin has even taken on what is considered the central mystery of quantum mechanics.

This mystery begins with the classical experiment called the two slit experiment. If
researchers shine a monochromatic light on a barrier with one slit, they see a simple stripe on the background.

But if researchers use a barrier that includes two slits, so that the light can pass through the two openings, it registers on a background in an “interference pattern,” with many stripes. It is thought that the light passes through both slits, creating two waves whose ripples then interfere with one another.

But if researchers “spy” on the light, this profoundly changes what happens in the experiment. When the researchers place a detection device in the apparatus to see which slit the light has traveled through, the interference pattern vanishes, and two separate stripes emerge. The wave pattern it Is said to collapse. Leave the detector device in the apparatus, but unplug it, and the interference, wavelike pattern returns.

Into this conundrum Dr. Radin jumped, substituting conscious meditators for the detection devices.

He and his team conducted six experiments “using a single-photon double-slit apparatus to test von Neumann’s notion that the quantum wavefunction or interference pattern is ‘collapsed’ by what he called a psychophysical interaction.” His team asked individuals to direct their attention toward or away from the optical system and they found evidence supportive of an interaction that “appears to ‘steer’ the wavefunction to either reduce or to sharpen interference fringes.”

Published in Quantum Biosystems in 2015, “Psychophysical interactions with a single-photon double-slit optical system,” seems to be causing discussion in the scientific community.

One of the downsides for Dr. Radin’s choice of research is he often called to defend the scientific experiments against skeptics who are passionate about the nonexistence of psi phenomena. This criticism includes objections about the often small effects size.

The charge on the electron is also very small,“ Radin points out. “But so what? This confuses the magnitude of an effect with its existence. In any case, many modern psi experiments test randomly selected college sophomores and other unselected
participants. As a result, the weak effects often observed in the laboratory are probably due to the fact that the people being tested aren’t talented in the skills of interest.”

One example of a very talented psi individual, described in Entangled Minds, is Joseph McMoneagle, a remote viewer in the US Army’s formally top-secret project, StarGate.

McMoneagle had been repeatedly tested numerous times in double blind laboratory experiments and had been known to have the ability to describe objects at a distance sometimes in spectacular detail, explains Dr. Radin.

In one experiment, all that McMoneagle knew was that a person he had met would be visiting a technological site., It was somewhere that could be reached within an hours drive around Silicon Valley in Northern California, but the range of possibilities of this type of facility in Silicon Valley is the enormous, explained Radin. As it turned out, the target that the person arrived at was a particle beam excelerator, and that’s exactly what McMoneagle drew.

“Where are also, of course, reprehensible con artists masquerading as psychics and charging huge sums for their services,” Dr. Radin said. “These classes of so-called psychics are easy targets for skeptics, who wrongly assume they are representative of everyone who claims psychic abilities. There is a huge anecdotal literature about psychic phenomena, but the evidence that convinced me was not only the results of my own experimental studies, but analyses of the cumulative empirical evidence collected by qualified scientists under well-controlled conditions, and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals,” he said.

“There is always room for scholarly debate about these topics, and I know a number of informed scientists whom I respect who hold different opinions and interpretations. But I’ve also learned that those who loudly assert that there isn’t any scientifically valid evidence for psychic abilities, or worse, that these phenomena are impossible, don’t know what they’re talking about.

“For example, my bio page on Wikipedia fails to mention any of the scientists who have endorsed my work, including two Nobel Laureates. Nor does it mention that in 2018 I was one of 35 invited speakers at a major international science conference sponsored by Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, which included 5 Nobel Laureates and other prominent mainstream scientists. I am also a jury member of two European-based prizes for advancements in biomedicine; in one case the prize is 1 million Euros, and in the second case it is 300,000 Euros.

“My interest in psi phenomena was not motivated by having psi experiences,” Dr. Radin said. “It was instead sparked out of an intuitive sense that the mind is far more mysterious and powerful than we know. Through education and experience I’ve also come to appreciate that these experiences are not just curiosities. They’re also responsible for most of the greatest inventions, artistic and scientific achievements, creative insights, and religious epiphanies throughout history. Understanding this realm of human experience thus offers more than academic interest — it touches upon the very best that the human intellect and spirit have had to offer.”

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KFF Finds 53% of US Adults Stressed by Coronavirus & Economic ConcernsUntitled

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders,” report authors at the Kaiser family foundation (KFF).

The research team was led by Nirmita Panchal, collected data in July. They found that 53% of US adults said that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. Researchers noted that this was significantly higher than the 32% they found in March 2020.”

Many adults are also reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and wellbeing, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.”

Authors concluded that, “As the pandemic wears on, ongoing and necessary public health measures expose many people to experiencing situations linked to poor mental health outcomes, such as isolation and job loss.”

The researcher cited other conclusions noting that research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health. The data from late March shows that “significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering-in-place (37%).”

“In particular, isolation and loneliness during the pandemic may present specific mental health risks for households with adolescents and for older adults. The share of older adults (ages 65 and up) reporting negative mental health impacts has increased since March. Polling data shows that women with children under the age of 18 are more likely to report major negative mental health impacts than their male counterparts.”

Authors also point out that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. These problems may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. “… data shows that more than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus; and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people,” noted the KFF researchers.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one in five of U.S. adults (47 million) reported having a mental illness in the past year, and over 11 million had a serious mental illness, which frequently results in functional impairment and limits life activities. In 2017-2018, more than 17 million adults and an additional three million adolescents had a major depressive episode in the past year.

“Deaths due to drug overdose have increased more than threefold over the past 19 years (from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 20.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018).

In 2018, over 48,000 Americans died by suicide, and in 2017-2018, nearly eleven million adults (4.3%) reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.

The authors state that during this unprecedented pandemic, it is reasonable to predict that mental health issues and substance abuse are exacerbated.

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CMS Seeks Cuts to Fees of Psychologists; Supervision In place until October 9, the newest of Testing by Nurses, PAs

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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are proposing hey new rule impacting the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule, which will likely result in a 10.6% reduction in payments to psychologists providing services to Medicare beneficiaries, according to the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Health Care Financing.

APA said that the reductions are proposed in order to offset higher values for next year’s outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services. E/M services, which are typically a 15 minute, face-to-face with the patient, and decision-making of low complexity.

APA reported that CMS is also proposing to increase the values for some psychotherapy
codes (90791, 90832, 90834, and 90837) but this will not be enough to offset the losses for psychologists.

These payment cuts stem from the agency’s legal requirement to maintain a neutral budget from one year to the next, said APA.

APA is also partnering with a coalition of healthcare providers asking Congress to work
with CMS on a solution that will allow the increases for E/M without cutting payments to
other providers, said officials.

CMS is also proposing that non-physician practitioners (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) be allowed to supervise diagnostic testing including psychological and neuropsychological testing, if the state law and their scope of practice allows.

“APA is adamantly opposed to this proposal and is reaching out to CMS for more information— e.g. circumstances under which such supervision could occur and what types of tests would be involved,” said APA officials.

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Legislature Calls Itself into Session

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The Louisiana legislature called themselves into a special session that began on September 28 and which will end by October 27. The September 21 Proclamation lists 70 topics to be addressed, including items for replenishing Louisiana’s Unemployment Trust Fund, addressing COVID-19 recovery efforts, supporting communities impacted by Hurricane Laura, and possible funding of certain devastated school systems.

However, at the top of the list are items about the expanded powers of government under emergency conditions.

The first topic relates to “…legislative procedures, powers, duties, and authority pursuant to the Louisiana Health Emergency Powers Act…” The second item refers to ” … the power and authority of executive branch officers and agencies.”

Gov. Edwards immediately voiced his concerns in a September 21 statement.

“At a time when our state is dealing with the COVID-19 health emergency, hurricanes,
and one severe weather event after another, I am concerned that the Legislature has
again called themselves into a month-long session with an agenda of 70 items. This
session will occur at a time when the public will again be restricted in their access to the
State Capitol and their ability to give needed public input.

“From the beginning of this emergency, I have relied on public health experts and the
White House Coronavirus Task Force to guide Louisiana’s response to this historic
emergency. Further, this response has been in line with the measures taken by our
neighboring states that have unfortunately also been enormously impacted by COVID19.

“Put simply, the measures we have taken in Louisiana are working and we are making
significant progress. However, to abandon these efforts in defiance of the unanimous
advice of the public health experts and the Trump administration would seriously
jeopardize the lives of our people and the gains we have made. Further, it is important
to remember our work in containing COVID19 is far from done, as Louisiana still has the
highest number of per capita infections in the country.

“I am hopeful that the Legislative leadership will significantly narrow the scope and the
duration of this session so that they can do the work they deem necessary, while at the
same time working in a bipartisan and cooperative manner to address our
significant challenges in an honest and transparent manner. Louisianans have come
too far to have all of our effective and lifesaving work upended.”

In a September 28 editorial, The Advocate warned, “As with some of the other
budgetary items on the expansive menu, it’s too soon to say if the body can make
intelligent decisions when so many things, really almost everything, is in flux.

“Further, legislators should remind themselves that interfering with the complex
machinery of emergency declarations means that lawmakers will be taking responsibility upon themselves, individually and as a body, in a situation where there is no pleasant alternative, only a choice among bad options.”

Regarding the special session, proposed measures have been submitted and are being reviewed this month. The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists did not submit a new copy of their legislation, which they proposed earlier this year in the
regular session. Sources indicate that the board is working on that legislation for 2021.

Very few bills have to do with psychology since the topics for the session are narrowed
to emergency events. However, House Bill 33 and Senate Bill 12, which are duplicates,
relate to emergency counseling in healthcare facilities.

Present law defines “mental health support personnel” to include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and volunteer crisis counseling groups.

The proposed law provides that the Louisiana Department of Health may include the availability of no-cost or reduced-cost counseling or mental health support services offered by members of the clergy, religious organizations, or other nonprofit organizations when providing information about and referrals to mental health support personnel to address the psychological responses to the public health emergency.

The proposed law requires that, during the COVID-19 public health emergency or any
other contagious or infectious disease for which a state of public health emergency
has been declared, an inpatient healthcare facility provide patient or resident access
to members of the clergy for prayer, mental health support or religious counseling, the sacraments of Holy Communion, Anointing of the Sick, and Last Rites, and other such customary religious services that would normally be offered to patients or residents if the healthcare facility was not subject to a declaration of a state of public health
emergency.

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U21 Parishes in FEMA Disaster Area Governor Renews Emergency Status from Hurricane Laura

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Gov. Edwards renewed his State-of-Emergency proclamation on
September 18, authorizing the Governor’s office of Homeland
Security and Emergency Preparedness to continue to undertake all
activities authorized to assist in recovery from Hurricane Laura.

The proclamation prohibits price gouging and allows the Secretary
of the Department of Health to establish protocols and policies for
certain facilities to receive evacuated residents at nursing facilities.
Certain regulations are suspended and schools are allowed to
substitute online instruction.

The proclamation also provides for unemployment compensation
for some of those directly affected by flooding or due to the inability
to get to their worksite in a disaster parish.

The proclamation also authorizes all departments and agencies as
officers of the state to cooperate in actions that may be helpful in
dealing with the effects of this weather event.

On September 13, FEMA approved three additional Louisiana parishes for Individual
Assistance due to Hurricane Laura, bringing the total number of parishes where residents are eligible for aid to 21.

Federal FEMA assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property loss and other programs to help people and businesses recover from Hurricane Laura.

People who sustained losses in the designated parishes of Acadia, Allen, Beauregard,
Caddo, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Lincoln, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, St. Landry Vermilion, Vernon, Winn and Union.

Some additional parishes are still under review.

Individuals can apply for assistance. Register online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

“People all across Louisiana were impacted when Hurricane Laura brought its strong winds ashore, knocking out power and causing massive destruction,” said the Governor.

Hurricane Laura made landfall in Cameron Parish on Thursday, August 27, with 150 mph sustained winds.

Laura was one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States and the worse storm for Louisiana since the 1856 “Last Island Hurricane.”

Twenty-six deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Laura. Property damages have been estimated at approximately $9 billion.

If some you know needs shelter, text LASHELTER to 898-211 for information about where to go or call 211.

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Stress Solutions

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Exercise Reduces Stress and
Lengthens Your Life

The first thing that drops out of your schedule when work bears down is exercise.
And, once it is out of your daily routine, it may be days or weeks before you notice
it is missing. I don’t know about you but during this 6-month period of isolation or
quarantine, I have completely loss my exercise routine. It started with our health
clubs closing. Yet, this has been a very stressful period. We need to redouble our
efforts to put exercise back into our schedules.

The importance of aerobic exercise was brought back to mind when I saw this
article in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2018). Dr. Eli Puterman is a professor in the
University of British Columbia’s school of kinesiology and lead author of the
article. The study was focused on showing how aerobic exercise can reduce
stress in family caregivers; however, the results generalize to all of us. In fact, a
much earlier paper on exercise and the length of “telomeres” was done at U. of
California. The bottom line is that Puterman’s study proved that exercising at least
3 times a week for about ½ hour over a 6-month period can slow down cellular
aging, which was measured by telomere length.

Telomeres are regions at the end of chromosomes that are active during cell
division. Simply put, telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes. Telomere
length is one of the most commonly used markers of aging. Telomerase is the
enzyme that adds DNA to the ends of the chromosome. Exercise can induce
apparent telomere growth or lengthening. That translates into longer life and/or a
more healthy and active life.

Dr. Puterman’s study design took a group of 68 men and women who were
inactive and stressed caretakers of a family member with dementia. They
randomly assigned the subjects to a supervised aerobic exercise intervention
group vs a waitlist control group for 24 weeks. The exercise routine was 40
minutes of exercise 3 – 5 times per week or 120 minutes/week of aerobic
exercise. The waitlist control group did not change anything in their usual activity
schedule.

The two groups did not significantly differ in telomerase activity across time, but
they had significantly different telomere length changes across time. Of course,
the exercise group also charted significant body mass index reduction and
increased cardiovascular fitness. Oh, and they reported a significant decrease in
perceived stress levels.

Aerobic exercise is also known as cardio. It includes brisk walking, running,
cycling, hiking, dancing, swimming, and kick boxing. (I added that last to make
sure you were awake.) If your choice of aerobic exercise is walking, you need to
step up the pace and also the length of time you walk. The key is to get your heart
rate up. You should notice your breathing, but you should still be able to carry on
a conversation. An Australian study indicated that walking briskly for 30 minutes
five days a week can improve aerobic fitness. But even walking for 10 minutes
three times a day is as beneficial as walking for 30 minutes one time a day.

Happy Trails to each of you during this Pandemic. Stay healthy.

––––––––––
Puterman, Eli, Weiss, Jordan, Lin, Jue, et al. Aerobic exercise lengthens telomeres and reduces stress in family caregivers: A randomized controlled trial – Curt Richter Award Paper 2018. (2018). Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, p.245-252

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Stress Solutions

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One Simple FDA Approved,
Non-Drug Therapy
That Reduces Stress AND
Blood Pressure

RESPeRATE is actually the first medical device that has been
clinically proven to lower blood pressure AND stress. And, if
you don’t have high blood pressure, it is still a very effective
and easy to use method to reduce your cortisol levels and
relieve tension due to stress.

What is RESPeRATE? It is a small device that was originally
designed for pilots and other people that needed to reduce their
blood pressure but could not afford to take medication because
of their job or other health issues. This gadget is like a
“breathing coach” because all the work of reducing stress and
blood pressure is done by helping you reduce and calm your
breathing such that you spend 5 to 10 minutes a day (or more)
in slow gentle breathing.

RESPeRATE does the work of matching your breathing and
then gradually slowing it down and lengthening your
respirations until you get into a “therapeutic range.” Once you
reach that range, it keeps you there with a soft chiming to
signal intake of air and exhalation

The kit contains the RESPeRATE device, an elastic belt that
goes around your diaphragm and plugs into the device, and
earphones to allow you to hear the gentle tones that signal the
timing of your breathing. The cost is minimal, and the company
allows for it to be purchased in 3 easy installments.

Many of our patients promise that they will practice breathing
techniques for relaxation, but we all know how easy it is for
such promises to be put off until tomorrow. RESPeRATE helps
with the routine of doing the breathing exercise and it is a
pleasant 10 minutes that can easily become a habit. The same
benefit can be gained by the “doctor” who prescribes the
method.

It is fair to say that breathing is one of the most important
exercises one can do for your health – physical and mental.
The research indicates that daily use for 3 to 4 weeks is all it
takes to significantly reduce blood pressure. The stress
reduction and improved sleep are “side-effects.” Check out the
website for more information on how to order and for
information on the “Clinical Proof.” www.resperate.com

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The Black Panther A Review

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby Alvin G. Burstein

Once upon a time, centuries ago, in sub-Saharan central Africa, a group of tribes discovered a miraculous source of radioactivity, Vibranium. The competition for control of the lode was resolved when the leader of one of the tribes imbibed a tea concocted from an herb that the mineral had affected, acquiring superpowers. He used those powers to unite the tribes into a kingdom, Wakanda, and to initiate high-tech capabilities, all carefully concealed from the world at large. He called himself The Black Panther.

The Black Panther superhero made his first literary super hero appearance in a Marvel comic book, The Fantastic Four, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1964. There is a remarkable synchronicity in his sobriquet. A black panther—and the motto, “Come Out Fighting”—was the icon of the all Black World War I 761st Tank Battalion.

Although Lee has said that there was no intention of referencing any political group in using the sobriquet, The Black Panther Party, founded in the mid 1960’s by Stokely Carmichael and Huey Newton had chosen the same icon. That revolutionary protest party was described by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”

The current film spin-off is set in contemporary times. Complex tensions beset Wakanda. One of the five tribes, the Jabari, has Luddite objections to technology, seeing it as reflecting weakness. The current king’s brother argues for eschewing concealment and emerging from hiding to support oppressed Blacks world-wide. The Great Powers, Russia and the United States, have gotten scent of a possible African source of atomic power and are competing for access to it.

As the film opens, the Black Panther arrives in the United States to confront his brother about the latter’s scheme to make Vibranium available outside Wakanda. In the confrontation, the brother is killed, and the king returns home. Hoping to avoid stoking the policy disagreements by revealing what has happened, he leaves his brother’s son behind. The nephew ultimately becomes a lethal mercenary, adopting the name Killmonger. He is a brooding presence whose insatiable demand for vengeance makes him like Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab. Like Ahab, his purpose is “an iron rail on which my soul is grooved to run.”

After the King’s death, his son comes home to assume the throne and its super hero mantle. The succession requires him to meet any challenger from the other tribes in combat. Unexpectedly, he is challenged by the chief of the Luddite Jabari tribe. He defeats the challenger but spares his life.

The new Black Panther interacts with a cast of characters that includes a CIA agent, one of the few non-Blacks in this tale; a Dutch mercenary, also White, seeking to steal Vibranium to sell to the highest bidder; and Killmonger, who burns to return to Wakanda and overthrow the new king.

The movie’s initial popularity is deserved. Its plot is vivid and compelling. The action is suspenseful. The characters are fascinating. The cinematography is beautiful and the special effects impressive.

The film is remarkable, too, in cultural terms. The perhaps unintentional echo with the violent anger of the 1960’s Blank Panther protest stirs up uneasiness that could be usefully explored. At the very least, the presentation of a film with predominantly Black actors in complex and varied roles is an unsubtle critique of Hollywood’s failure adequately to reflect cultural diversity. Wakanda’s epitomizing sci-fi high technology calls into question a stereotype of Africans as primitive. That country also has a highly disciplined military elite of women, the Dora Milaje, central to the story. These strong, powerful female figures endorse current cultural shifts toward women as subjects who act rather than as objects to be used. In the film the magnitude of that shift is unfortunately diluted by the fictional country’s strongly patriarchal tradition of authority, especially one validated by mortal combat.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail