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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gun Violence, NRA and Freud

In The National Psychologist, September/October 2014, there was an article titled “American Culture Steeped in Guns.” There were a couple of points pointed out by the writer that included: 1. Middle-aged white men are buying more and more guns 2. The likelihood of white men purchasing firearms increases the farther they live from the city 3. Ads among gun manufacturers involve a warrior in camouflage gear 4. At one time more white men dominated our culture than today 5. This population of white men believe that the gains by minorities in America were not earned through hard work, but instead through special privileges 6. Further, that the educated elite are the ones that are more powerful and have more status.

It should also be pointed out that the human species are the only living organisms that prey on its own kind for reasons other than survival. In the animal kingdom, killing is related to survival, food, territory and procreation.

According to Freud, Fromm and others, humans have the potential for violence, but not all express this aggression. Freud would talk about the unconscious as well as the irrational id (aggressive impulses) being held in check by the superego (conscience). So according to his theory, (and not related to survival, food, territory, or procreation) man’s sexual and aggressive impulses are not successfully being held in check by man’s conscience or superego.

Fromm would add that these gun tooting warriors are purchasing the gun as a symbol (i.e. power protection status), but based on feelings of a disturbed self, inadequacy, insignificance, weakness and vulnerability. It’s safe to say that not dealing with what goes on in one’s inner world can’t be fixed by a gun, guns, or automatic weapons.

The gun manufacturers are smart as they are preying on the vulnerability of this subculture. The put out misinformation such as about restrictive gun laws, threats to the Second Amendment, the shortage of bullets, etc.

So, the likelihood of easily available weapons will remain in our culture; as well as the likelihood for more mass shooters prying on those that are vulnerable.

The moral of the story is to know thyself, keep moving, smiling, laughing, loving, bonding and appreciating. And if you do so, there’s a greater likelihood that you have a well-functioning superego or conscience. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Magical Thinking, Placebos,-We Need Them?

Just last week, while running on the trail with Tony, we talked about motivational strategies that were meant to improve running ability. The following are ideas that I’ve used over the years, my friends have used or I have observed. Some might call it magical thinking.

We can call the strategies an affirmation. For example, when I ran the Western States 100 and I was simply tired and exhausted, at times I said to myself  “I can.” That expression was positive self-talk and used to facilitate and help me to keep going and continue running. Well, I did complete the run, but I don’t know for sure whether or not that affirmation was the sole reason for my success. The dictionary defines affirmation, as the assertion that something is true. I wouldn’t hesitate to give that advice to anyone. However, it’s an interesting research question.

In medicine, placebos are used and the dictionary defines placebo as a medicine given merely to please the patient. I can think of a few research examples by Helen Langer. In her research, Dr. Langer told hotel workers that cleaning rooms was exercise. The women in the study, lost weight, as well as having better BMI scores. In another study, she had eight men in their 70s stay in a decorated 1959 style facility with black-and-white televisions, Perry Como, and Frank Sinatra records, etc. for five days. At the end of five days, these men had lower blood pressure scores and walked more effortlessly likely the way they did in 1959.

I bought a pair of compression socks that are supposedly beneficial and therapeutic to assist in my running. The first time that I wore the socks, I thought they helped. I see many people wearing them during running events, but I can’t say whether or not they work. I also make a morning smoothie after first being introduced to it by my ride and tie and running partner friend Jonathan Jordan. I have a professional blender and put in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. I even add Green Vibrance for additional nutritional benefits. Just think of all the nutritional bars, gels available on the market designed to give you that extra. Heck, you can get a five hour energy drink. That might be great for a trail ultramarathon.

The running shoe manufacturers have developed all types of running shoes designed to give you that edge. Currently I use Brooks as the shoe of my choice. Tony has gone to a shoe that he claims reduces his painful feet after a run. He also has special socks that he uses for races. I prefer tights and Tony wears shorts.

Watching baseball, Johnny Gomes comes to mind. He steps in the batter’s box. Gomes adjusts his gloves as well as his batting helmet(2-3 times) prior to every pitch. Sometimes it looks as if the batting helmet adjustment covers his eyes even though I know it doesn’t. He’s not the only one who has a pattern of behaviors before every pitch. They all seem to have their style.
A number of years ago, I got it in my head that I had to total about 50 miles or more of running a week. That number could be accomplished over seven days, six days, five days or whatever. I was not stuck on the number of running days per week, but only stuck on the number of total miles. Well I’m still continuing that behavior. Some might say that I’m nuts, superstitious, or I even use those numbers as placebos.

Affirmations (the assertion that something is true), placebos, superstitious behavior (a belief entertained, regardless of reason or knowledge), self-deception (deceiving oneself), or even rationalization (justifying the behavior after it happens),all have one thing in common, in that they’re not based on scientific proof, reason or knowledge. So we can all fool ourselves in regards to our behavior or the behavior of others. However, individuals that use the strategies have faith in them. And more than likely no rational argument can convince them otherwise. It’s amazing what goes on between our ears, and hopefully what you believe is beneficial for you.

I must admit that I’m still looking for that edge. On the other hand, I can assert, but I can’t prove that at age 75, I can continue to run ultra-marathons because of my superstitious behaviors. I must admit that writing this piece brings a smile to my face. What brings a smile to your face?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Geriatric , ADA,and The New York Times

 ADA ,Knee Replacement and The New York Times
I just came across an article in the November 2, 2014 of The New York Times that talked about the new buildings and its effects on older people. This geriatric professor pointed out that the new buildings were gorgeous. However, he claimed that some of these buildings had side entrances for the older adult programs because they didn’t want to scare off younger people. He went on to say that the hallway were too long; chairs without armrests; poor lighting; narrow heavy doors; and lack of regularly spaced chairs. He thought that even though these buildings are ADA compliant, they still don’t meet the standards for adults who are older that have physical, sensory or cognitive challenges and might be frail as well.

Statistically over 40 million Americans are 65 or older and 11 million-the fastest-growing segment of the older population are over age 80. The Professor believes that new buildings should be designed to accommodate this population.

My thinking is that I want to be as healthy as I can and not worry about heavy doors, seating without armrests, etc. My wife Linda had knee surgery replacement on October 13, 2014. Her second knee replacement surgery is scheduled for December 12, 2014.

Linda, on her own, called a number of facilities to check out their swimming pool criteria so that she can rehab herself and be ready and strong for that second surgery. No one had to tell her this. Nor did anyone have to write a prescription. Because she is self-motivated, she is taking control over her physical health. Did this trait just start? No, of course not. She has been a self-motivator and physically active individual her entire life. So she takes responsibility for her health like water rolling off a duck’s back. In fact, at this moment in time, she is at the pool. Good for her.

I believe we have to start young and change the thinking and behavior of many, so that when they reach maturity they are physically and cognitively strong to meet the challenges of their individual evolution. So if you want my advice, sir, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding and appreciating.

Oh by the way, today, Tony and I plan to run about 22 ± miles the trail. “If you don’t know the trail, you don’t know where you’re going.”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Valor,Band of Brothers and Peyton Manning

 Valor, Band of Brothers, Bo Schembechler and Peyton Manning

While I was on my elliptical this morning, I was watching a taped program from a Veterans Day program “Concert of Valor.” While watching this concert, I was moved by the Spirit of the entertainers as well as the audience. It was very patriotic to say the least and that was neat. Early on in the program, an orthopedic surgeon from Truckee, California story was told. After losing one of his two military sons, this surgeon at age 60, wanted to enlist. Initially, he was turned down because of his age, but an intervention by President Bush facilitated his serving. The word valor fits for him and all his fellow comrade veterans.

Valor is defined as exhibiting bravery, especially in battle. The word also suggest heroic courage, being strong and boldness in braving danger. While I was interviewing Mike Keller for my book “Bo’s Warriors” he commented on how he felt connected to his Wolverine teammates and referred to them as “Band of Brothers” Keller made it clear that while playing for Michigan, it felt like being in the military as far as the bonding and love for his teammates was concerned. He was not associating practices and games with actual battle conditions like in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler had no difficulty in providing examples of military generals and historic battles in motivating their players. A key component in forming a band of brothers is the cohesiveness of the group and working for a common goal. Their love, they’re not wanting to let their comrades or teammates down, and submerging their individual egos for the will of the group is unprecedented. Coach Bo Schembechler was a genius at bringing the group and narrowing its focus on the team. For him it was the team, team, and team.

Related to being part of the group is the following: “When you find your trail, keep on it because that will allow you to know your destination.” This simply means that it may take a while to find your path. Commercials like Joe Montana for the correct shoe; Brett Favre for the correct sock; Peyton Manning for the correct pizza; or some correct drink; or some correct compression device; or some correct exercise equipment may work as a placebo to assist while on your journey. Placebos are fine and good motivators. However, remember that motivation, drive, goal, or valor is found from within. When you have found “your trail,” it’ll be perfectly clear, and I mean perfectly clear. Although the journey may have bumps and turns, the path will become clearer and clearer. You’ll know that you found your own pathway.

 For me, some of those early side trails, intersections, etc. included being part of the football team, becoming a PhD psychologist, finding Ride and Tie, ultra running and connecting. It took a while for me to find my way and I’m sure you will too. Remember the trail is not always clear because our goals change. And it may take a while to know or realize that you’re on the right path. In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding and appreciating.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Valor,Band of Brothers, Bo, and Peyton Manning

 Valor, Band of Brothers, Bo Schembechler and Peyton Manning

While I was on my elliptical this morning, I was watching a taped program from a Veterans Day program “Concert of Valor.” While watching this concert, I was moved by the Spirit of the entertainers as well as the audience. It was very patriotic to say the least and that was neat. Early on in the program, an orthopedic surgeon from Truckee, California story was told. After losing one of his two military sons, this surgeon at age 60, wanted to enlist. Initially, he was turned down because of his age, but an intervention by President Bush facilitated his serving. The word valor fits for him and all his fellow comrade veterans.

Valor is defined as exhibiting bravery, especially in battle. The word also suggest heroic courage, being strong and boldness in braving danger. While I was interviewing Mike Keller for my book “Bo’s Warriors” he commented on how he felt connected to his Wolverine teammates and referred to them as “Band of Brothers” Keller made it clear that while playing for Michigan, it felt like being in the military as far as the bonding and love for his teammates was concerned. He was not associating practices and games with actual battle conditions like in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler had no difficulty in providing examples of military generals and historic battles in motivating their players. A key component in forming a band of brothers is the cohesiveness of the group and working for a common goal. Their love, they’re not wanting to let their comrades or teammates down, and submerging their individual egos for the will of the group is unprecedented. Coach Bo Schembechler was a genius at bringing the group and narrowing its focus on the team. For him it was the team, team, and team.

Related to being part of the group is the following: “when you find your trail, keep on it, because that will allow you to know your destination.” This simply means that it may take a while to find your path, your trail or your way before you know where you’re going. Commercials like Joe Montana for the correct shoe; Brett Favre for the correct sock; Peyton Manning for the correct pizza; or some correct drink; or some correct compression device; or some correct exercise equipment may work as a placebo to assist while on your journey. Placebos are fine and good motivators. However, remember that motivation, drive, goal, or valor is found from within. When you have found “your trail,” it’ll be perfectly clear, and I mean perfectly clear. Although the journey may have bumps and turns, the path will become clearer and clearer. You’ll know that you found your own pathway.

 For me, some of those early side trails, intersections, etc. included being part of the football team, becoming a PhD psychologist, finding Ride and Tie, ultra running and connecting. It took a while for me to find my way and I’m sure you will too. Remember the trail is not always clear because our goals change. And it may take a while to know or realize that you’re on the right path. In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding and appreciating.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Finding Bill Gates

Finding Bill Gates

Just recently I read an article in the October 26, 2014 edition of The New York Times. The statistics quoted in the article was alarming and brought reality home. It seemed to me that the “American Public” was not getting any smarter and that people just seem more opinionated. In the article, the writer talked about his father, a World War II refugee who did not speak English when he arrived in the United States In 1951. His father, purchased a copy of the New York Times and began to teach himself to read and speak English. Not only that, he graduated from college and eventually earned a PhD and became a university professor. This man bought into the American dream that was possible back then. However, today’s statistics suggest that economic and educational mobility are now greater in Europe than in America. Well, that’s sobering and here are some statistics cited as to why America has fallen behind.

America, at one time, led the world in mass education. By the mid-1800s most American states provided a free elementary education to the great majority of white children. While in Great Britain, in 1870, only 2% of British 14-year-olds were in school. And by the 1930’s, the US was the first major country in which the majority of children attended a high school. And in 1957, only 9% of 17-year-olds in Great Britain were in school. Until the 1970s, we were preeminent in mass education and some believe that was the secret to America’s economic rise. Since 1970s, things have changed dramatically.

For example: 1. currently, more young men in America have less education than their parents (20 versus 29% 2. If your parents didn’t graduate from high school, only 5% of you made it through college. While if you lived in another industrialized country, about 23% of you made it through college. 3. Russia, leads the way and has the largest percentage of adults with a University education. At one time we were first. 4. In 2000, the US ranked a respectable second to the share of the population with a college degree. Currently, we have dropped to fifth place. And, among 25 to 34-year-olds, we are in 12th place behind South Korea in first place. 5. Among industrialized countries, 70% of their three-year-olds are enrolled in educational programs. However, in the United States, the figure is 38%. 6. Although American teachers work longer hours, they earned 68% as much is the average American college educated worker. In industrialized countries, their teachers average, a respectable 88% .7. Our educational system is dependent on local property taxes. That’s great for rich kids in the suburbs and disastrous for inner-city kids who need more assistance.
We have heard for years about economic inequality and maybe something to do with that is related to this negative educational trend. While we have a number of private colleges, we know they are creative in attempting to entice students to enroll. However, that doesn’t seem to solve the diminishing educational enrollment problem in our country.

The priorities in our culture seem to center around the military, homeland security, or in economic terms-guns versus butter as was pointed out by Pres. Eisenhower when he talked about the great military-industrial complex. The government and especially social media, radio and TV have done a great job in promoting fear. Too bad other than Bill Gates were not putting more effort into fixing educational inequality in our country.

Have we lost our way?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What Is Your Mindset ?

Part Two    Our Mindset
Previous research has shown the power of placebos and the measurable physiological changes that take place. There’s one study that followed 4000 subjects over two decades and found that men who were bald in the study were more likely to develop prostate cancer than men who had their own hair. Langer believes that baldness is a cue for old age, and that these men may actually have been led by their thinking to waist ratio compared to the control group.

 Another study evaluated, the length of sleeping time of subjects... Langer wondered whether the biochemistry of type II diabetics could be manipulated by having the diabetics believe that their blood glucose levels would follow perceived time rather than actual time. In other words, would those levels spike and dip when the subject expected them too simply by telling them they slept either more or less than they actually did. And the findings suggested that’s exactly what happened to these diabetics.

 My wife Linda had a knee replacement about three weeks ago. She was still experiencing discomfort in one area of her knee and was discouraged by thinking something was wrong. She had a post-surgery appointment with her physician. She walked in with crutches. The surgeon told her that she was experiencing discomfort in that area of the knee because that’s where the location of the surgery was and that she should expect discomfort in an area. It was normal and it would eventually be pain-free. He also told her that she could go swimming, go in a hot tub and that her wounds had healed. Linda felt better and walked out of the consultation without her crutches. She is no longer the patient. Her mindset changed, as well as her behavior.

To sum up, how and what we think, determine who we and what we become on a physical and psychological level. This means you might have to change your expectations. If you can’t do it on your own, find someone to assist you.

In the meantime, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, touching, loving and appreciating as it will make all the difference.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

How to Think

 The Power of Positive and Negative Thinking
Unfortunately, my father had type II diabetes. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I believe that his thinking about his disease further contributed to his unhappy emotional state. I remember him talking about his disease and what the future had in store for him. He knew that his eyesight would deteriorate and that he would likely lose his limbs as a result of poor circulation. The point is that he didn’t view himself-his expectations as having a good future regarding his health. In other words, negative expectations played and contributed to his mental state.

On the other hand, my mother was a master psychologist. As she was growing older, I talked to her about moving to an “old folks” facility. I should’ve known better, but I didn’t at that time. My father died and my mother lived alone in an apartment. When I made my inappropriate suggestion, she replied, “I don’t want to live among old people.” She was sharp as a tack and I wouldn’t dare play her in the game of Scrabble since I knew that I didn’t have a chance of winning. She loved being around younger people and especially being a mentor or a psychologist to her young friend Charlotte. Charlotte had relationship difficulties especially getting along with her mother. My mother was there to counsel her and she did.

Mother also sang and played the piano. She loved music and talked about Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. She also loved hearing the records of Mario Lonza, Tom Jones and other heartthrobs. She sang and she played. She also loved the movies-Doctor Zviago and the music from the movie- Laura’s Theme. Going back to an earlier time was very therapeutic for her.

And in the 1970s, when I did research for my dissertation one of the variables that I studied was expectancy. As it turned out, that was the most statistically significant independent variable of my research. Just today, I read an article in the October 26, 2014 edition of The New York Times Magazine about some of Ellen Langer’s experiments.

Dr. Langer believes in the unity of the mind and body. One set of experiments centered on taking older folks, and placing them in a living facility-a time warp, so to speak, to when they were significantly younger. This home was set up to include Perry Como, Ed Sullivan, black and white TV, books and magazines of the 50s, no mirrors or anything to remind them of the present. These eight men lived in this environment for only five days. After the five days in this environment these men began to feel as if they were 22 years younger. In fact, these men were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller than individuals in the control group. Dr. Langer believed that these men put their mind in an earlier time and their bodies went along for the ride
 Her current research is looking at stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is evaluating whether or not the power of the mind can affect the ugly “C”. She believes that our culture teaches us that we have no control over certain things and she is out to test that notion.

To Be Continued

Monday, November 3, 2014

Team Sports in Decline

Are you surprised that participation among boys and girls aged 6 through 17, declined by approximately 4% in US team sports, such as basketball, soccer, baseball and football from 2008 to 2012? It is also true that the population of these kids in the US declined 0.6%. For more statistics: baseball bat sales fell 18%; football sales dropped 5%; and team uniform sales from basketball and soccer did not increase. However, total sporting-goods dollar sales rose by 2.1%.

Additional statistics: participation in high school football dropped 2.3%(comparing 2008-2009 to 2012-2013 seasons); high school baseball participation rose by 0.3% -but percentage participation in baseball and softball-little league fell by 6.8%; basketball participation fell 6.3% in the 6 to 14 age group;  and youth soccer participation was flat between the years 2008 2012.

A number of reasons given for the fall in physical activity (anywhere from 2 to 4%) for children are as follows: 1. Increasing costs 2. Excessive pressure on kids 3. Decline in school physical education programs 4. Other options, i.e. volunteering in the community, social networking, video games, etc. 5. Sport is not fun for children 6. Overworking kids and searching for the elite athlete 7. Physical injury.

On the positive side, increase participation in lacrosse, and in ice hockey have grown, but these two sports have limited numbers of participants.

I have two issues (if this is a trend) regarding the above. Team sports can provide for team bonding or cohesiveness-a sense of belonging, functioning as a unit, etc. what this means is that it’s a good model for learning about interpersonal relationships along with taking direction from others. One has to put one’s ego in their pocket so to speak and become part of the group. Often less of “me” and more of “we” has major benefits for our society like providing for emotional stability and working together for that common goal.

Also, I am concerned about inactivity. As our nation deals with all kinds of health issues and there is so much controversy regarding health care, the important picture is missed. The concern, interest and noise generated would be more beneficial if the focus was on getting individuals to become more physical and taking responsibility for their well being. We all know that physical activity can replace medication and should be the treatment or prescription of choice.

My prescription for better living includes: moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating. What is your prescription?

Today’s source is the Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2014.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Managing Anxiety

 Using  Anxiety to  Bring out Your Best
 We all know, anxiety is present in dealing with today’s world. Sometimes, individuals experience so much anxiety that it affects their behavior very negatively. Take for example the word “choke.” When an athlete chokes, in competition, that actually means that the person performed badly. Chances are that the individual experienced too much anxiety. On the other hand, it’s commonly observed that low anxiety is often associated with being lazy or nonproductive. In fact, the individual may procrastinate without the right level or amount of anxiety.

So, a key to productive behavior is being able to control or manage the proper amount of anxiety (the anterior cingulate cortex is believed to be the center of anxiety) at any given time. Unfortunately, a diagnosis called anxiety disorder affects about 40 million American adults or 18% of the population in a given year. And perhaps, about a third of these individuals seek treatment. This means that anxiety (too much) gets the best of a great number of individuals. For some, anxiety can generate a stream of self-criticism, as well as being unable to sleep, or relax without alcohol or medication. Drinking glass a wine is not the key to relax.

Finding the right amount of anxiety for peak performance is a major challenge. For example too much anxiety can be equated with test anxiety, and can result in poor exam test results. There are some that use stimulants like caffeine and cigarettes to increase performance as the stimulants constrict blood vessels and raise heartbeat.

One proven way to deal with anxiety is to turn it into action, like the Nike slogan-“Just Do It.” So anxiety can be channeled into productive anxiety behaviorally. Another key is to incorporate relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing to reduce the anxiety prior to performance. Just watch Madison Bumgardner as he goes into the stretch (exhales) and then throw one of his infamous pitches. So you see that superstar deal with his anxiety by relaxing just before he throws a 93 mile per hour fastball. Prior to pitching, while he’s in the dugout, he may be visualizing or rehearsing how he’s going to pitch to the next three batters that he will face. In other words, he’s managing his anxiety through the use of relaxation techniques.

So if you’re having trouble starting to exercise, you might think of all the negative consequences (to your body) and hopefully that will raise your level of anxiety and then you will  go out and do what you’re avoiding. If worse comes to worse, you could always drink a cup of coffee and see if that works for you.

Since, I run because that’s who I am, it’s easy for me. I am one when I am running on the trail.

Remember that by keeping moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating you are warding off potential misery.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Do Good/Bad Things Happen?

Do Things Happen for a Reason?
In 2009, while riding on the trail I suffered a broken neck when I was thrown from my horse Gypsy. Some people would look for some reason to explain that incident. Perhaps, some people thought there was some explanation that could explain that terrible accident. Did it happen because it was God’s plan for me? Did it happen because I was bad and was being punished by God? Was it based on chaos theory? Was Richard Dawkins( October 19,The New York Times) correct when he stated, “precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. “ What about Sigmund Freud who believed there were no accidents and that an accident could be explained psychologically.

Instead of explaining that particular accident, I’m going to tell a story. Prior, to that accident in 2009, I was spending my time and finding meaning in competing in ride and tie, endurance riding and in running events. I was focused in part on personal health and keeping my horses in great condition.
When the accident occurred, I found myself in a neck brace 24/7, and confined to my house. I wasn’t running or keeping my horses conditioned. So I asked myself, how do I   want to spend the next month or two? In a short amount of time I decided to write a book. I thought about writing about people who compete in ultra-extraneous sports. I knew many people that I could interview from ride and tie, endurance and running who fit the profile. So arbitrarily, I decided to focus on individuals that were 65 years of age and older who were still competing.

When I healed, I decided to give up competing with my equines and instead focused on running, being healthy, and writing about health and motivation. After, It Has Nothing to Do with Age was published, another idea emerged- mental toughness.

The idea of mental toughness and football was another good fit for me because of my experience and interest in that particular sport. And when I met Mike Keller, the idea was further refined when I wrote about the 1969 transformation of Michigan football in a book titled, Bo’s Warriors- Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football.

If I had not had that serious neck injury, in 2009, I likely would not have had two books published by 2014. I cannot say that I was happy to experience that particular injury nor was it some sort of divine intervention. But what I can say, is that my life changed. I now focus on physical health, running, writing and a number of other book related activities. Is the quality of my life better now than it was before? I would not say that its better, but what I would say is that it’s challenging, gratifying and different. In order to make things happen, I have to put in the effort.

Oh by the way, yesterday’s half marathon went well and Tony won his age division. In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Running a Half Marathon

Running a Half Marathon
Today, I plan to run a half marathon event In Cool. I simply want to start increasing my running mileage in order to get ready for my 50 K upcoming season. I have been running but not long distances since August.
During August, I chose to run shorter distances in part because of the weather, and in part because Tony was taken care of Debbie. Then, in September I was focusing on my book launch “Bo’s Warriors” and once again didn’t put in long distance runs. While we were in Michigan I simply ran to keep in condition which I did.
Shortly after getting back from Michigan, Linda had a knee replacement and I continued with my brief running distance and time away from Linda. This past week she suggested that I run the half marathon. With her “Okay,” I plan to increase my running mileage.
So today will be my first competitive run since July, when I did the” Eppies Great Race.” I will let you know how it went. Tony, Randall and Madhu will be there today.

Note, the keys from my prescription in “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” include numbers: 1, 2, 3 and 5. These prescriptions for a healthier lifestyle are related to-keep moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating. And don’t forget it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How Depression Affects Accelerated Aging

How Depression Affects Accelerated Aging
For those of you that believe that depression affects only your mind, you are thoroughly mistaken. There are researchers that study this mental disorder and relate it to what is now classified as “accelerated aging.” Accelerated aging means developing or being at risk at a young age of conditions normally associated with older people like heart disease, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, dementia, osteoporosis, and type II diabetes. And depression is a major culprit.
For example, early research on the brain scans of older people with depression showed faster age-related loss of volume in the brain, compared with people without depression. Factors contributed to depression and accelerated aging appears include behaviors like smoking, diet, and lack of exercise.
Current research on telomere length (the protective coverings at the end of chromosomes-and related to aging) find that the shortened length of telomeres is related to an increased risk of disease and mortality. Further, research has also shown that telomeres length is associated with depression, childhood trauma and other conditions. Not only that, individuals that have more bouts with depression have shorter telomeres, which leads to the eventual stopping of cell division. When that happens, it’s all over.
Simply put, depression makes you sicker because it makes your cells age prematurely. So, I believe that lifestyle can help ward off depression. And if you ward off depression, you will likely not only live longer but better. For me, some of the key variables for better health include exercise. I run even though running is difficult. I must admit I like this form of aerobic exercise. I also incorporate goals. This means I’m looking forward to the future-it could be running with Tony, competing in a running event or even thinking about what trail to run. Exercise also provides meaning for me. It’s not the only thing that provides meaning, but it’s important.
I must admit that running, being healthy, being in good condition contributes to well-being and how I think about myself. So thinking, positive about self is a good mental exercise. All these factors (aerobic exercise, goals, looking to the future, having meaning in my life, eliminating irrational thoughts positive self-esteem) push away depression.
So when I say, keep moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating, I walk the walk; if you know what I mean.

Article found in the Wall Street Journal April 10, 2012.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fun With the Reunion and Book Launch

Last month in September, Linda accompanied me on my Bo’s Warriors book tour. On 18th of September, we were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where we met none other than, Thom Darden. Thom was an All-American and an all Pro with the Cleveland Browns. He is both their single season and career interception leader. In the Michigan, Ohio State game of 1971, Thom made an interception that ESPN called “one of the plays that signifies college football. Ohio State’s, Woody Hayes went nuts and received not one but two 15 yard penalties. He wanted to pass interference call and attempted to get referee Bill Quimby fired. Referee Quimby later officiated in the NFL as well. Thank goodness, Linda took a picture of Bill Quimby at that Barnes & Noble book signing. You can find a picture of Darden, making that interception in my book.

On September 22, Linda and I were in Ann Arbor. We met the Michigan alumni at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor. Coach Brady Hoke (in the white shirt) was the main speaker. Mike Keller (gray suit), Jim Betts (dark shirt) and I followed Brady Hoke at the podium. There are also pictures of Jim Brandstatter (voice of the Lions and the Wolverines in dark suit), me, Keller (64th draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl champions), and Jim Betts (drafted by the New York Jets), eating and signing books. Linda took six pictures at that event.

Frank,Mike Keller, Coach Brady Hoke & Jim Betts
Mike Keller,Jim Betts, Frank and Jim Brandstatter-M Club
On September 24, Linda and I attended the Jim Brandstatter (M shirt)-Brady Hoke radio show. After Brady Hoke spoke, Mike Keller (dark jacket) and I spoke. Jim Betts (white-striped shirt) accompanied us. There’s also a picture of Kathleen (radio producer), and the Little Brown Jug. All in all, there are five pictures.  
The M Den was the venue for 25th of September. Mike Keller (gray suit), Jim Brandstatter (white shirt), Thom Darden (white shirt), Jim Betts (light blue shirt) accompanied Linda and I for that book signing. Darden, Keller and Brandstatter were in the same sophomore class and were part of that 1969, upset against Ohio State. Jim Betts, was a junior that season. These players have so much fun together and for me it was one of the highlights. They laughed, joked, put each other down and told stories. The Duke (Brandstatter) did his impersonations and started off with a number of Motown hits from the 60s and 70s. That event was so much fun for me. There are five pictures.
Mike Keller,Frank& Jim talking to M Club
Thom Darden,Linda and Jim Betts at M Den in Ann arbor
There is one picture that was taken, in Charlevoix, Michigan, on September 20. I am talking to an employee in the bookstore with my sister Bev listening to our conversation. My sister lives in Connecticut and came in for one of our family, reunions. We have a number of cousins from the Detroit area. That weekend was a blast as well.

We are signing rapidly while Coach Hoke has the floor

Kathleen producer of Brandstatter-Hoke radio show-Little Brown jug
Jim Betts drafted by NY Jets
Betts,Brandstatter & Frank
Keller,64th pick by Dallas Cowboys,Thom Darden All Pro with Cleveland Browns,Brandstatter radio voice of Detroit Lions and the Wolverines
Betts,Keller, Darden ,Brandstatter & Frank at M Den
Brandstatter (Duke) and me
At Brandstatters radio show in Ann Arbor
Frank,Bev and sales person in Charlevoix book store

Jim Brandstatter,Frank, Mike Keller & Jim Betts at U of M Alumni function in Ann Arbor
Bill Quimby in Cedar rapids ,Iowa at B&N signing

Coach Brady Hoke U of M Club
Jim Betts,Mike Keller,Frank & Jim Brandstatter at U of M club luncheon
Mike Keller ,Jim Betts & Frank at Brandstatter-Hoke radio show
Remember to keep laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating because it’s good for you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bo's Warriors

To receive an autographed Bo’s Warriors (Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football) , please email me for Pay Pal information.

Medication Side Effects

Feeling Better
Once Linda stopped taking pain the medication for knee replacement, she began to feel better within the next 24 hours. Her nausea subsided, her hallucinations stopped and are thinking became more rational and coherent. That next day she was feeling more like herself. With the nausea being gone, she was able to do her exercises for her knee. Not only that, she walked more as she was less dizzy as well.;
The following day was even better as she was more like herself. She spent more time and at the bedroom, walked and exercise more often. With nausea gone, she was able to eat , and as a result, felt stronger with more energy. In other words, she could do more.

Linda was also fine with me leaving her to go running on the trail. I was also able to do the grocery shopping. It’s good to see her stronger and more like herself. In fact, she encouraged me to enter a half marathon next Saturday with my buddies.

Some of the keys for a better recovery include the following: icing, elevating her knee above her heart, walking, doing her  exercises and importantly, and being on the right medication. So far so good.

Like I’ve said all along, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating. That makes it all  good.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Being Your Own Advocate

Being Your Own Advocate
 My wife Linda had a knee replacement surgery on the 13th. Apparently the surgery went well. However, she had a problem with the pain medication prescribed. Some of the side effects that she experienced from the meds included: hallucinations, agitation, nausea, and at times, incoherence. There obviously was a mix-up as far as the medication and in the relationship with one of the doctors who assisted the main surgeon.
To say the least, Linda was happy with her main doctor and the hospital staff. She was not at all happy with the assisting doctor. Linda thought he was rude, narcissistic, talked too fast, and did not listen to her.
I’m sure you’ve heard the story, “the operation was successful, but the patient died.” Although Linda didn’t die, that hospital experience leaves a sour taste.
I will keep you posted on her progress. In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating. Further, keep out of the hospital.

For those of you interested in purchasing a signed copy of my recent book Bo’s Warriors, please email me for details regarding PayPal.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Can We Reduce Disability?

 "All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail."
– Dorothea Brande
Recently, I read that one researcher believed “as people live longer, we need to understand how to reduce disability, maximize functioning and enhance quality of life. “Another researcher stated “many people know what they need to do and want to do it, but are unable able to make the changes, if they start it can be very difficult to maintain.” These statements are related to the fact that there are rising levels of disability in those aged 55 to 65, and probably in part related to an increase in obesity.

First, let’s be honest, for some getting on disability is really about taking advantage of the system. I’m sure all of us know someone who fits that category-taking undeserved money. We all know that pain is in the eye of the beholder and that many people fake it. We also know that once somebody gets on disability, they can be on it for life. There is currently not a process that views or monitors the physical activity of those on disability, while they go on with their daily lives.

Second, I think we do know how to maximize functioning and enhance quality of life. I don’t think it’s a matter of how, I think it’s a matter of will. In other words, it’s about the personality and how to deal with and change the thinking of these individuals. In the 60s, there was a space race with the federal government leading the charge. It seems to me we require a “health race” that likely requires the federal government to lead the way to teach and assist people, in becoming more healthy and more happy.

Third, it is difficult for people to continue and maintain the necessary changes needed to make their lives better. Once again, it’s about the psychology, personality, and thinking that needs to be addressed. Again, this is part of and could be dealt with in a “health race” led by Uncle Sam. I’m proposing a massive program based on the psychological knowledge that we have today.

So, I think we have the tools to make these changes. However, we have to start with teaching and modeling with the young folks in preschool and those of elementary school age. It’s obvious to me that our priorities (federal government-legislators) with defense, military and homeland security get in the way of change that I’m thinking about.

More to be said later on. In the meantime, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating. Everyone knows how to move; everyone knows how to smile; everyone knows how to laugh-maybe, bonding, loving and appreciating are more difficult.

Source: Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2012.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Movement While Aging

 "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."
– Lao Tzu

It is been said that staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight is important for successful aging. It has also been said that there’s a lot of functional limitations associated with aging, especially with people in their 50s and 60s. One such study found that individuals 50-59, who suffer from conditions like arthritis, had difficulty climbing stairs and walking several blocks. This would suggest that if you’re in this age group and are experiencing pain and having difficulty with physical, functional limitations that there are still options. Perhaps, if you still have an exercise routine you might have to modify or adjust that instead of stopping altogether.

We know that sitting is detrimental to your health regardless of age. For instance, your body becomes stiff and uncomfortable with too much non-movement. Being sedentary also results in muscle fiber connected tissues contracting as the fibers become stiffer and less flexible. When this happens, the body produces less and less of its natural lubricating substances. When tissues ,muscles become dry ,short and flexible they are more likely to tear since the inactivity  lowers the blood supply to the bones and with lower blood supply the bone become brittle more fragile.

Perhaps, more walking and or being in a pool might be a better alternative. A few years ago I was in Kansas City performing a book signing for “It Has Nothing to Do with Age”. Ed Budde, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs for 14 years joined me in the signings. Ed   suffered numerous injuries associated with playing in the NFL. He was, for example, having difficulty with locomotion and I suggested that he find a pool in which to do aerobic exercise.

Just recently I was at Michigan, doing book signings for Bo’s Warriors with the men that I profiled. I must say, that I don’t have any difficulty, suggesting various forms of exercise for these former players either. I hope that I am a good model, and they know that I walk the walk.

I know it’s easy to give advice to others. And, I hate to use scare tactics of what happens to our body without exercise. However, the alternative is scary, dreadful and it also lowers life expectancy from chronic disease, etc. For me, I pride myself in being physically fit as that is my goal. Yesterday, Tony joined me as we hit the trail and it was good.

In ending, keep moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating. Sources include: the Wall Street Journal April 9, 2012 and the British Medical Journal.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Is a Retirement Home the Best Option?

Last Sunday, Linda and I were in Northville, Michigan, where I was accompanied by Fritz Seyferth. Fritz and I were signing books “Bo’s Warriors” Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football at the local Barnes & Noble. We were joined by our friends Dave and Joyce who live near us in California. Dave’s mother, age 91 lives in Michigan.

Dave was talking to us about his mother who still is sharp as a tack. In the last year or so, she moved from her home to a retirement-care facility in order to prepare for her future. She was anticipating that she would require assistance down that road. However, after a year she realizes that she made a mistake. The idea of anticipating future assistance makes sense on one level. Dave’s mother did not anticipate that by moving into a new environment she lost the familiarity and the autonomy of living in her home. Not only that, she lost valuable human connections.

As you know, I propose, exercise, along with proper eating for good health. Not to be overlooked in any way are our relationships. Dave’s mother at age 91 would agree.

My mother lived by herself and was a couple of months short of age 93 when she passed. I remember talking to her about moving to a “facility” and she refused. I must admit that she was right and I was wrong. When you are cognitively sharp and mobile there is no reason to move into institutionalized living. We see a rise in home health care that can provide semi-nursing assistance. That seems to be a better model for many.

Do not forget to check out your options. In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ray Rice Hysteria

Wow! What a week for Ray Rice and the NFL. Even though the” incident” occurred months ago. It wasn’t until the video was released (a video is worth 1000 words) that the eruption began. Many are outraged and couldn’t care less about Ray Rice, the person. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want his blood. I’m not condoning domestic violence. However, does it take a video to facilitate a reaction? Where have all these concerned humans been when they first learned about the incident? It seems to me that because Ray Rice is a celebrity, who earns millions of dollars, playing an aggressive sport that perhaps many get on this social media bandwagon of phony outrage. Of course, national media delights in having this type of so called news. They can get anyone to give one opinion and then find another person with an opposing opinion. More entertainment, not serious news reporting.
One university professor Mark Edmundson believes that he has a solution regarding the personality orientation of athletes with their aggression and destructiveness tendencies. The professor believes that the great classics (Greek) should be taught, especially to athletes. The thesis is that the body and mind are related. The professor goes on to talk about Homer and the Greek word Thumos. According to Homer and the professor, Homer has glorified Achilles. Homer talks about Achilles’ thumos the word that’s associated with his bravery, courage and the urge for glory. In fact, Achilles was brutal and has a necrophilia personality orientation that was illustrated when he killed Hector in the battle regarding Helen of Troy. Hector told Achilles that the victor should honor the dead, with a proper burial. Essentially, Achilles disregarded that idea as his values were very different. In essence, Homer glorified Achilles (disgraced the dead Hector) behavior.
On the other hand, Plato in the Republic counters, Homer and suggests that we should not be afraid of fear. Also, knowledge and reason should rule the drive for glory or destructive necrophilia behavior. And the professor believes that Homer and Plato should be taught to today’s athletes. In doing so, the individuals learn to control their impulses and domination to rule both on and off the field. Apparently, Aristotle thought that sports is an opportunity to rid the self of our dangerous emotions by venting them in a game such as sports. Could that be a solution for combating Isis?
I don’t think it would hurt to teach our athletes about Plato and Homer. However, I don’t think the public or the NFL, for that matter would punish Ray Rice by having him read the Greek classics.

Edmundson’s article was found in the New York Times, August 17, 2014.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Yoenis Cespedes

Are the Oakland Athletics dead? Leading up to the All-Star game played in Minnesota, they were leading their division and had the best record in all of baseball. Shortly after that game, and at the start of the second half of the season, they made this blockbuster of a trade. They traded Yoenis Cespedes and a minor league player to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jon Lester, an outfielder Johnny Gomes. The hype at the time suggested that that blockbuster trade would just about guarantee the A’s winning the World Series.
Jon Lester was an outstanding pitcher for the Red Sox and won numerous times in post division as well as in the World Series. He was their ace and would be the Oakland A’s ace as well. Unfortunately, Lester was to become a free agent at the end of the year and intended to re-sign with the Red Sox. This meant that the A’s would have him for the remaining 2014 season, which would be approximately 2 months.
Supposedly, Cespedas would become a free agent at the end of the 2015 season at which time the A’s likely would not have signed him as a story goes. However, Cespedes was a home run champ at the All-Star game for two consecutive seasons. Not only that, he provided many big-time game-winning hits and made the spectacular throws from the outfield, which eliminated runners attempting to achieve an additional base. The fans loved him. When asked the question about his ability to hit, he said “I see the ball, I hit the ball.”
More importantly, Cespedes was the glue that provided team cohesiveness for the A’s. They loved him and he loved them as well. The team was unified and he made players better around him. While with the team, the A’s were fun-loving, relaxed and enjoyed playing. And a number of other players like Norris, Doolittle, Moss and Donaldson made their very first All-Star game. And then there was the trade.
Since the blockbuster trade, the Oakland A’s have been a very different team. The A’s have lost their cohesiveness (their tough glue that held them together). The players are discouraged, have become less confident, and are more anxious (pressing), which has affected their play. Their ability to hit and drive in runs have been pathetic (One can argue that with Cespedes missing, the players got worse). Their pitching is still good, but now the starting pitcher can’t afford to make any errors (like giving up too many runs) since they are not likely to win the game at the end. This means that their won and loss record is nowhere near what it was before the trade. They no longer have the best record in baseball; are no longer on top in their division; and they look like they are not even going to make the playoffs. Further, Cespedes has a batting average (.297), since the trade, which is now higher than any of his former A’s teammates.

Billy Beane you blew it. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Depression and your Brain

You are only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
– Robin Williams

A research study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, the National Institutes of Health, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation in Northern California took a look at depression and the aging brain. This article was found in the May 8, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal. This study was attempting to take a look at depression and determine whether it might cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease or was it simply an early sign of memory loss and other problems associated with dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia; the second leading cause is impaired blood supply to the brain, resulting in what is known as vascular dementia. According to the investigators, depression, late in life can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. The researcher added that there is a lot of debate as to whether depression is really a risk factor for dementia or if it just shows up. In this particular study, 13,535, 40 to 55-year-olds long-term Kaiser Permanente members were followed from 1964 to 1973. Their findings in this study suggested that there is evidence that late life depression is likely an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease and further chronic depression appears to raise or increase the risk of developing vascular dementia. They believe that an adequate treatment for depression in middle life could cut the risk of developing dementia.
Of course there are other factors that elevate the dementia risk and they include: 1. People with more belly fat in middle-age had higher rates of dementia when they reached old age 2. People who smoked in middle-age had an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later on, 3. People with high cholesterol in middle-age had an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in old age.
First, from my experience, depression can be treated effectively with or without psychotropic medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one such method that helps an individual examine how one’s thinking might contribute significantly to a depressive mood. It is clear that many individuals get into trouble by some of the irrational notions they hold, as well as a defense mechanisms that they employ. Therapy can counter irrational notions as well as defense mechanisms. A few of the symptoms of depression include: 1. Poor appetite, or significant weight loss or increased appetite or significant weight gain. 2. Insomnia or hypersomnia. 3. Loss of interest in usual activities or decrease in sexual drive. 4. Loss of energy and fatigue. 5. Diminished ability to think or concentrate as well as indecisiveness.
Second, aside from psychotherapy, exercise as well as eating properly, can contribute to combating a depressed mood. For me, I waited or got serious with exercise at age 57. Almost 20 years later, I am pleased with my life. I cannot give all the credit to exercise. However, there are many advantages for exercise. Currently, I continue to run and work out daily (range from 1 ½ to 3 ½ hours). So I practice what I preach, and I walk the walk.

 And, I recommend to keep moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating for a more fulfilling life. By the way, my new book, “Bo’s Warriors” published by Triumph Books can be pre-ordered at Barnes & Noble. This book profiles Michigan football, with Bo Schembechler as the Wolverines head coach. Check out my other blog “ Bo’s Warriors” regarding Michigan football.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Obesity and Autism

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
– George Orwell

I recently read an article that linked autism to obesity in mothers in the Wall Street Journal, dated April 9, 2012. Researchers in this one particular study concluded that mothers that were obese are significantly more likely to have a child, either with autism or another developmental abnormality. They also  pointed out that  half the risk of autism, which is a condition characterized by poor social skills and repetitive behaviors, is genetic; while the rest stems from factors that include: older parental age, premature birth-birth complications, fewer than 12 months between children or failure to take prenatal vitamins. Obviously, the link between obesity and development disorders is worrisome because obesity has become so prevalent in the United States. Statistically, about a third of United States women, of reproductive age are considered obese.
Another researcher pointed out that the brain is quintessentially susceptible to everything that happens inside the mother’s body and that no one factor is going to be responsible for one particular case. In other words, there are a number of contributing factors. And of course doctors, right away think of meds like insulin for help or as a solution in potentially combating this disease.
Let’s step back for a moment and think about this information. Do you think that simply communicating this finding to an obese female is going to cause her think about getting pregnant or not getting pregnant, dietary? I don’t believe that information alone is the answer. I believe there a number of other considerations.
For one, obesity is often related to making poor nutritional and eating choices. And these decisions around eating began years ago. We know that every choice or every decision has consequences to some degree. It is very likely that poor choices were made without thinking realistically about all the potential or negative consequences. So, perhaps we have a history of making poor choices and not considering the consequences as one particularly important component. And likely, when an obese female of child bearing years receives this information she will likely have passed the point of no return regarding dietary choices.
This means that we also have to take into account the mothers own parenting history and her psychological development during her important growth years. Simply put, her personality and/or character develops as a result of the mothering that she received. And, during her early years, likely developed a character structure that can be considered an orally receptive personality type. With an orally receptive personality type, it’s going to be very difficult to confront and change her behavior and attitude regarding eating.
In essence, I’m saying that character development, rational decision-making with its consequences has already taken place by the time that some receive this negative (autism-obesity relationship) information. And if that’s the case, we can’t expect much change to take place during a child rearing years for obese females. Psychologically, any such program to confront this obesity problem must begin  very early in the developmental cycle. Without an early-successful intervention, I doubt that meds are going to solve this medical-psychological  by itself.

Because of the unity of the mind and body, I suggest moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating as good starters.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Narcissism and the Middle East

Last week I posted comments regarding the Middle East. For this post, I am going to discuss narcissism and its implication for peace or lack of peace between men. Hopefully this additional information will provide more insight and help to more fully explain the psychological-social issues that exist today. In doing so, I refer and rely on Sigmund Freud’s concept of narcissism. First, the term relates to the famous Greek legend in which the beautiful lad Narcissus rejected the love of the nymph Echo. In doing so, Nemesis (goddess of revenge) was angered because Echo died of a broken heart. So Nemesis’s punishment was to have Narcissus fall in love with his own image, by looking into the water of this lake. Because of Narcissus self-admiration, he stared, at his reflection, for a while into the lake, and as a result fell into the lake and thus died.

Freud believed that the development of narcissism begins in early infancy (being unable to differentiate self from others) and continues its development throughout one’s life. And under optimal conditions, the individual is able to have productive relationships and love with others. This can be referred to as benign narcissism. Or, under extreme conditions a malignant orientation is developed and the person develops too much “I” and not enough “we” or “us” and has impaired interpersonal relationships. Freud postulated that we all retain our narcissism throughout life and it’s also important and necessary for our survival. With a positive development of narcissism, we are able to love others, work and live productively to further mankind. In other words, if we are too preoccupied with self (degree of narcissism too strong) this can limit and affect our interest, involvement and behavior in the outside world- other people. Scarcities or impaired relationships, disrespecting other cultures or others different from ourselves, economic discrepancies or injustices (lack of opportunity) having feelings of inadequacy and unreality are part of the profile of a narcissistic orientation. With unhealthy narcissism, the narcissist can be sensitive to criticism and his self-image can be attached and related to things, people, or ideas that society has determined as deviant.

The development of unhealthy narcissism can affect capacity for objective thought, prudent reasoning, ability to love, as well as engaging in socially acceptable behaviors. However, with insecurities, feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, and powerlessness along with other a distorted narcissistic view of self, a narcissist seeks unconsciously external mechanisms for strategies to become more secure in a frightful and dangerous world.

Many unhealthy narcissist’s unconsciously look for a powerful leader, cause or group in order to fuse, identify, or become part of in order to acquire the strength and safety that one is lacking. So with insecurities and low self-esteem there is an unconscious attempt to be compensated by something or someone outside of oneself. When a striving for submission or submissiveness occurs, this often results in the development of the individual entering into and either being a masochistic (victim) or exhibiting sadistic (persecutor) behavior patterns. And of course, a masochistic dependency can be rationalized, as looking for love and or being loyal. Or, the rationalization of being a sadist, is based on the belief that” I know what’s best for you.”

So in the Middle East, for example, a terrorist group becomes a focus for participation in order to protect oneself from being alone in the frightful world. And, individual narcissism becomes or is transformed into group narcissism. Participation in group narcissism can result in becoming part of a clan, nation, race, or religion. So membership in the group can be rationalized as being better, more just, more pious, more religious, and more pure, etc. than the other group. The other group could be (Christians, Jews, infidels or any others) and are perceived as being inferior, dangerous, dishonest, irresponsible, immoral, etc. and thus hate, killing and destruction is therefore justified. In other words, the fanatical religious group can speak or justify its behavior in the name of God, but unfortunately it sounds like that God is the God of evil or hate
In becoming part of the group, the member believes in their righteousness, their superiority of religion and their outlandish tactics. It’s necessary for them to have some form of achievement, such as sending rockets toward civilians, beheading, or even capturing an Israeli soldier. In other words, the survival of their group depends on some achievement along with their belief that the groups mandate is of greater importance than their even their own lives. So it’s not surprising that we see and read about suicide bombings.

It’s not unusual for the fanatical to have a distorted sense of reality along with a narcissistic impaired self-inflation coupled with the lack of objectivity and rational judgment. We could say there is a thinking disorder, employing defenses of denial, rationalization interjection, etc. With a narcissistic injury (like a defeat), it’s not uncommon to see this group disrespect a flag, place of worship or religious documents of the other.

Clearly, “love thy neighbor as thyself;” “or love of thine enemy” is missing, and not part of the psychology or moral teaching equation at present. With the rise of individual and group narcissism, social media, radio and TV biases, economic inequalities, moral deficiencies, values and attitudes, these components interfere with the development of man becoming a more complete “human” being. Remember we all inhabit one planet.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tevis Cup 2014

Yesterday, Linda and I drove up to Robinson Flat to greet the 2014 Tevis Cup riders. Robinson Flat is roughly the first 36 miles of this one-day hundred mile equestrian event. There, we were happy to see my former mare Gypsy, whose mount was Jim Mather. For more on Jim, I refer you to our TV interview with him:  . All in all were also happy to see Yam and Ilan Dvir ranchers from Israel. They were riding mounts provided by Michel Bloch. For more about Mr. Bloch, I refer you to his TV interview:
 Among the front runners were Tom Johnson (see his TV interview ).
 A little further back were Robert and Melissa Ribley and Kathie Perry.   There TV interviews are as follows: Kathie Perry  ;  Dr. Melissa Ribley,
When it was all said and done, competitive, Tom Johnson came in third place minutes behind the winner Heather Bergantz Reynolds. And for the first time in the illustrious history of the Tevis, two buckles were awarded to the two Israelis.
Congratulations go to all 107 finishers of the 186 starters. This is an historic event and more information is provided in my book “It Has Nothing To Do With Age.”

All in all, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, appreciating and loving as it’s all good for you.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Middle East Tragedy -Part2

Part two
 It is not surprising that there are many Palestinians who are victims. Also, it’s no surprise that Hamas has many willing supporters and doesn’t need to advertise for recruitment. Scarcity, economic and educational limitations, poverty and negative self-feelings provides a fertile breeding ground for developing a sense of hopelessness, hate, envy, aggression, death and destruction. Providing weapons and rockets with the illusion of open borders or killing infidels will not solve the problem psychologically. It will take more than a democracy or a free state to free the Palestinians from their emotional shackles.
Taking a look at the sadistic orientation of these individuals, we find at one extreme of the continuum members who join and become part of a terrorist group. These terrorists are also individuals that have what appears to have a want or a love of death and destruction. They seem to worship force and express a drive or wish to kill. We can call them necrophilia’s. We might even say their motto is something like “long-live death.” They are very different from the majority-those individuals who want to preserve life; who have a drive to survive, grow and become creative and productive. In other words, the majority want to build not to destroy or demolish.
Remember Freud talked about two instinctual drives in man-Eros (life living instinct) and Thanatos (death instinct). However, it’s safe to say that growing up with  scarcities in a social-economic environment along with interpreting religious teachings in a sadistic way, being around much death, illness and injury, with fright, and anxiety as usual occurrences also plays a significant part in the development of the personality and character types that thrive on death.
It seems that these terrorists have a drive or orientation towards necrophilia, which seems to dominate their personality and seems to be stronger than loving and embracing life. It seems that these individuals appear to be attracted and fascinated by all that is dead like corpses and decay. Not only that their thinking and talk centers on destruction, killing, building bombs, obsessively plotting and planning. For these, they seem to love force and power and have a great capacity to kill-it seems to be their way of life. They clearly despise those that lack power and pray on innocents, unsuspecting children, women and older adults. They shamefully cover their faces, they hide among others, they live underground, and they even shoot their weapons in the air as some symbolic demonstration at funerals as to say “look at me, aren’t I strong and powerful, look what I can do.”
These necrophilia’s would rather lose their life like in a suicide bombing and are willing to kill or die for what they rationalize as injustice, revenge, religious meaning and economic gain. In fact, killing others is made easier because they don’t actually perceive and kill people as people. Instead, they think of their victims as actually innate objects or things. There also without conscience, and unable to concern themselves about others.

Thank goodness necrophilia orientation doesn’t dominate mankind. That does not mean you ignore this kind. As we know, there is much misery in the world and with misery, we tend to find these dynamics. No one ever said it’s easy, since we have a lot of work to do to make things better for all.