Allan Josephson: Integrating Faith & Psychiatry, Part 5: Narcissism & Relationships @TheHighCalling

On the Way to Gettysburg 2

Dealing with the narcissists in our lives is never easy, but there is hope for improving these difficult relationships, says Laity Leadership Institute Senior Fellow AllanJosephson, M.D.

Narcissism develops out of early relationships and is sustained by subsequent ones, so it’s important to nip the problem in the bud. How one does that depends on the nature of the relationship. In this article, we’ll deal with three kinds of relationships: parent/child, husband/wife, and employer/employee. …

You can read more about  narcissism and relationships at The High Calling.

Photojournalism by Explorations Media, L.L.C.

I’ve recently created what I think are some compelling photo sets on Flickr. As a journalist, I prefer realism to photo-shopped images, though artistic renderings can sometimes reveal truth better than fact. I recommend viewing these sets as slideshows, as I’ve arranged each one to tell a story.

Seaside Heights Italian Festival & Columbus Day Parade

Laity Lodge 2011 Writers Retreat

Blue Hole Laity Lodge

Movement Day

Movement Day at Fifth Ave. Presbyterian Church, NYC

New York City Premiere of Machine Gun Preacher

Michelle Monaghan-and-Gerard-Butler

9/11 Tenth Anniversary Memorials

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Jesus, Bombs, & Ice Cream by M.W. Scheller

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Hurricane Irene

Telumundo reporter and others at Pt.-Pleasant-Bch-Boardwalk, 8/27/11

Allan Josephson: Integrating Faith & Psychiatry, Part 4: Work & the Self @TheHighCalling

On the Way to Gettysburg 2

Eric had leadership written all over him. Intelligence, good looks, and interpersonal drive had led to an MBA at a major university. When his first business venture failed, he was on to another that succeeded. Several other business successes followed, as did personal leadership projects undertaken at church and in his community.

He was politically active both locally and nationally. His wife and children were also achievers,  but a sense of balance was missing from his life.. He suffered two major depressions in his adult life and another as retirement age approached and he was confronted with financial difficulties and the interpersonal consequences of chronic over-extension. His retirement was forced and he was emotionally adrift.

Disordered Thinking 
“The driver for many who lack balance in their lives is disordered thinking about the relationship of work to self and God,” Laity Leadership Institute Senior Fellow Allan Josephson, M.D. says.

Although he recognizes that striving for a balance between personal and professional domains facilitates development in both, Josephson has something else in mind when he considers this kind of disordered thinking. …

Read the whole article at The High Calling.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: September 19-23

Hitchhiker, NYC

Integrating Faith & Psychiatry, Part 3: Narcissism @TheHighCalling

On the Way to Gettysburg 2

It goes without saying that narcissists have an inflated view of themselves, one that frequently masks a hidden sense of emptiness and inferiority. What’s not so obvious, according to Laity Leadership Senior Fellow Allan Josephson, M.D., is that those who are in relationship with a narcissist “by definition become depleted or depressed, because life always has to reflect the grandeur, the beauty, the intelligence of the narcissist.”

The key hallmark of narcissism is a lack of empathy, Josephson said. Empathy is when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes as much as is humanly possible and try to understand what their world is like. Good parents empathize with their children, and spouses in healthy marriages empathize with each other.

“Narcissists can’t do it. It’s like they have a mirror in front of their face.  At this extreme, the narcissist’s view is all that matters. ‘It’s all about them,’” he said.

Predictably, relationships for narcissists, both personal and professional, tend to be short lived. …

Read the whole article at The High Calling.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: September 12-16

Hitchhiker, NYC

  • Truth at a Beauty Pageant: Miss Universe winner Leila Lopes of Angola highlights her nation’s troubles, says she’s happy with the way God made her, and declares racism so last century. Is her win redemptive?
  • Psalms for Poverty Statistics: The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report today and the news isn’t good, but the Psalms offer hope to the people of God.

Integrating Faith & Psychiatry, Part 2: Scriptural Principles for Growing Healthy Children @TheHighCalling

On the Way to Gettysburg 2

Parenting is hard, and not just because we struggle to balance work and family. The stakes are high. We parents all raise our children, hoping they will become spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and physically healthy adults. We look for answers from pastors, pediatricians, and parenting “experts,” but we should not neglect the wisdom of mental health professionals.

Healthy child development reflects God’s character and purposes, says Laity Leadership Senior Fellow Allan Josephson, M.D., and Scripture provides guidelines that children desperately need.

In his 1994 paper, “A Clinical Theology of the Developmental Process: A Child Psychologist’s Perspective,” Josephson outlines eight areas of child development that not only illustrate his theology, but also offer sound parenting principles.

To learn more about these principles, go to The High Calling.

Jesus, Bombs, & Ice Cream

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Explorations Media sent photographer M.W. Scheller to cover this variety show that was co-hosted by activist/author Shane Claiborne and Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen. See the whole photo set here. Christine A. Scheller talked to Claiborne earlier in the week for Urban Faith. This is a bit of what he said about the event:

We planned Jesus, Bombs, and Ice Cream before we realized it was the tenth anniversary of 9/11, but then when we realized it was, we decided that there’s no better way to honor those who died on September 11 and those who are continuing to die now than to try to celebrate the possibilities of another, better world.

Here’s what Claiborne had to say about the event at The Huffington Post.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: September 5-9

Hitchhiker, NYC

  • How Did 9/11 Change Urban Ministry? With the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in mind, Christian leaders Jeremy Del Rio, DeForest Soaries, and Shane Claiborne reflect on how 9/11 changed urban ministry in America.
  • Clergy Excluded from 9/11 Ceremonies: Clergy are being excluded from government sponsored 9/11 memorial events at Ground Zero and the National Cathedral and believers are protesting. Should they?
  • Shacking Up or Sacrament? More couples are living together without a marriage license. Is it time for churches to adjust or do cohabiting couples need to make their “marriages” legal?

Listening to 9/11 Stories at @NJShorePatch

Two women recall their close encounters with those devastated by the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks.

Mary Mick Davis

The first time I saw Mary Davis in the spring of 2002, she was wearing a hard hat and overseeing a group of volunteers at a respite center at St. Peter’s Church near Ground Zero. She clearly had a lot on her mind and she was clearly in charge of the smoothly running operation that provided a place of rest and sustenance for those who were working at the site.

When I saw Davis again, it was at the mega-church in Southern California where we had both taken jobs. It was early 2003 and she had just been diagnosed with Shingles, which can be induced by stress. She was exhausted, burnt out, and in need of respite herself.

Davis lives in Kentucky now, with the husband she met and married in California and their young son Mickey. I talked to her last week by phone about her memories of working at Ground Zero. Some of the details have grown fuzzy, but the people she served are etched into her heart and mind. …

Paula Griffin

Paula Griffin, Pt. Pleasant, worked for Don and Jean Peterson when the Spring Lake couple was killed on Flight 93, but she also considered Jean a friend.

“That was a true relationship, because she gave so much of herself to everybody,” Griffin explained.

The Petersons were on their way to California to visit Jean’s mother, Griffin said, and called her before they left to tell her to take a paid day off. Griffin was at home that morning when her husband came in from 7-11 and told her to turn on the TV. She watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center.

“I knew right away something was wrong and then it clicked. Immediately it set in: ‘Oh, my gosh, what flight were they on?’” said Griffin.

The Petersons had arrived at the airport early and had taken Flight 93 instead of the later one that they had booked.

“I just didn’t know what to do at that point. I just knew that I needed to go over there,” said Griffin. …

Read the rest of their hopeful stories at Manasquan Patch.

Allan Josephson: Integrating Faith & Psychiatry, Part 1 @TheHighCalling

On the Way to Gettysburg 2

When Laity Leadership Institute Senior Fellow Allan Josephson, M.D. decided to study psychiatry 30 years ago, persons of faith often wondered how he would fare as a Christian in the field. The influence of Sigmund Freud’s atheism has waned, Josephson said, but it was pervasive then.

Josephson not only survived, but flourished and became an agent of change. Today, he is Vice Chairman for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Services at the University of Louiseville School of Medicine in Louiseville, Kentucky, and author of three books. One of them is the Handbook of Spirituality and Worldview in Clinical Practice, a text he edited and contributed to that is used in psychiatric residency programs to help psychiatrists understand the diagnostic and therapeutic implications of their own and their patients’ worldviews. …

In this series we’re going to tap into Josephson’s wisdom to explore this theme as it relates to:

  • How healthy child development mirrors Scriptural principles.
  • What children need in the contemporary family for healthy development.
  • Why there is an increase in people, particularly children and adolescents, who exhibit narcissistic behavior, and what can be done about it.
  • The psychological effects of technology.
  • How work defines the self.

Both psychology and theology have much to say about these topics. We hope you’ll join us for the discussion.

You can read more about Dr. Josephson’s journey at The High Calling.

Rationing and the NICU: An Interview with Catholic Ethicist Charles C. Camosy @TheHuffingtonPost

We’re already rationing health care, Fordham University ethicist Charles C. Camosy argues in his book Too Expensive to Treat? Finitude, Tragedy, and the Neonatal ICU, so why not reconsider the resources expended on premature babies?

Camosy was a principal organizer of Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Fair Minded Words: A Conference on Life and Choice in the Abortion Debate at Princeton University last year and is working on a book about correlations between Christian Ethics and the controversial bioethics of philospher Peter Singer. I interviewed Camosy via email about his current book and its foundation in Catholic Moral Theology and the Social Quality of Life model of bioethics.

Christine A. Scheller: You say in the introduction that “Too Expensive to Treat?” is about “moral tragedy” that results from “two universal aspects of the human condition”: 1. We have virtually unlimited health care needs 2. We have limited health care resources. You suggest that while we must live with this tragedy, “we need not live in an unjust situation.” Why did you choose to focus on Neonatal Intensive Care as an example of this injustice?

Charles C. Camosy: My general argument could really apply to any kind of medicine. Many other bioethicists have explored rationing health care at the end of life, but I wanted to apply this argument in a new way. I also picked this topic because the very few who have looked at rationing care for newborns, like the philosopher Peter Singer, have challenged the moral worth of such babies. I insist on the full worth and personhood of even the most vulnerable newborn baby. No one should aim at the death of a patient in order to save money.

You argue that the most important issues of neonatal bioethics are primarily social, so the “social quality of life model” is the most helpful for decision making in the NICU context. What is the social quality of life model and why is it the most helpful?

Despite the secular culture’s continued attempts to get us to worship the individual and “individual rights,” Christian ethics affirms that no human choice exists in pure isolation. It is impossible to understand one person’s claims except in a context of relationships with other persons. If we are going to ask whether and how to treat an individual patient, then we cannot pretend to do so in an isolated manner — as if choices made about one patient do not affect other patients and our broader society.

You say “honest acknowledgement of the inescapable need to ration resources” and “rationing that has justice and the common good — rather than politics and the ability to pay — as its guiding principles” are two steps that should be taken in health care reform. How do you propose accomplishing these goals?

It is easy to point out that we are rationing resources already within Medicaid, Medicare, and even private insurance: certain necessary procedures and drugs are not covered, and almost nothing is paid in full. It is easy to point out that the way we currently ration care is unjust: politics and profitability drive most of it. But it is far more difficult to determine what to do instead. One thing we could do is give far more critical and public attention to the entities that are currently rationing care. What sort of people are making these decisions and how are they chosen? What is their training? Are they protecting vulnerable minorities over and against patients that might be big money-makers? How influenced are they by special interests and politics? I find it stunning that these practices still get very little attention even in our era of health care reform.

You say a broadly Roman Catholic understanding for reform according to the National Conference of U.S. Catholic Bishops would require: universal access to health care, priority concern for the poor, comprehensive benefits, pluralism, quality, cost containment and controls, and equitable financing. How does Catholic moral theology inform this list?

All people must have access to resources for meeting their basic needs, and the community is unjust when they are not made available. Indeed, the Church fathers and other great theologians like Thomas Aquinas teach that the poor and vulnerable may actually take what they need from others without it being “theft” because what they are owed to is being unjustly withheld. The bishops, therefore, start with the premise that all human beings are owed health care as necessary for their basic needs. Following in the example of Jesus, we must then have a special concern for the poor and given priority to their health care needs over those who are better off. The other aspects listed are a bit more complex and may even be in tension with each other. Yes, we should aim for comprehensive benefits, but that might be balanced by needs for quality and cost containment. The Catholic tradition takes a both/and approach to these and many other questions — believing that we must live with the tension rather than abandoning important values.

You write in the conclusion: “Perhaps forgoing lifesaving treatment for babies in the NICU will be enough to give our culture the shock it needs to clear the conceptual space needed for this kind of systematic shift in thinking about health care?” Do you think any parent would be willing to make this tradeoff?

I would be shocked. It would take a selflessness and mental strength that is close to superhuman. However, many parents are already familiar with Medicaid and private insurance denying claims for health care for their children. Again, we are already rationing health care for our children (and other patients), and I’m simply arguing that we should be honest about this and that we should try to do it justly.

In a post about the debt ceiling debate at Catholic Moral Theology, you wrote: “Christians in particular should understand that the finitude of our natures and of our resources means that rationing health care is an inescapable feature of human existence,” but research has shown that Christians often cling to artificial life extension as tenaciously, if not more tenaciously than others. What can be done about this disconnect between what Christians should understand and what they do?

Anyone gazing at a crucifix can see that preserving biological life at all costs is a failure not only to follow the example of Jesus, but of the early Christian martyrs as well. Following the commands of God to do justice to the most vulnerable, especially when it means meeting their basic health care needs, trumps whatever good can come from pumping huge amounts of money into an attempt to prolong the fate that awaits us all. Unfortunately, many self-described Christians have traded our tradition of justice for the most vulnerable and a belief in the kingdom of God for an understanding of secular individual rights which can envision no life but this one. But no one can serve two masters, and modern-day Christians should think hard about to what or whom they own their ultimate allegiance.

Here’s the article at  HuffPost.