Holiday Mental Health Wisdom & Not

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Holiday Mental Health Wisdom & Not

Some years back, I worked with court adjudicated mental health clients, first with teens and later with adults. To qualify for treatment as opposed to going straight to jail, the offender had to admit his offense and indicate a willingness to receive treatment.

My clients/patients were a widely mixed group, many of them teenaged boys and men of all ages from their early 20’s to their early 70’s. Some were indistinguishable from other men their ages, apparently normal and healthy, employed in a variety of jobs but busted for a variety of offenses. Some clients had been accused of Statutory Rape. Driving those 15- and 16-year-old babysitters’ home after a long boring night at a boring dinner and boring movie with the pudgy boring wife who never took off that baby weight from seven years ago, turned out wasn’t a good idea.

Other clients were flat-out weird from the get-go and clearly more than half a bubble off plumb (not a scientific diagnosis), but you get the idea. I was not a particularly good therapist; it turns out that if you treat your attractive female patients as a dating pool, the results of the treatment are often suboptimal. But indeed, as a shrink once told me. “You fuck your patients, and your patients will FUCK you!” He was right, but that’s a different story.

If you happen to be as big a fan of true crime TV as I am, you’ve seen footage of cops questioning suspects across a wide range of serious crimes; guys who’ve murdered their entire families, raped, and killed children, serial killers, and mass murderers. You’ve watched these captured suspects, individuals being questioned for terrible crimes, deny everything and lawyer-up or quickly admit their guilt or bargain with the police after many hours of interrogation in the most insane ways, “Let me have a cigarette right now and I’ll tell you everything, including the location of the bodies.”

One thing that always strikes me is when the police questioning depends upon the cop communicating and feigning great empathy for the suspect, pretending to sympathize, blaming the victim, reassuring the killer or rapist that he, the cop, understands and even agrees with the perpetrator’s point of view. “Sure, she turned out to be only 11, but you can tell by her picture that she looked much older; so, yeah man she was HOT.” “You’re right, your mom and dad and brother, indeed your entire fuckin’ family, clearly didn’t respect you and all you were looking for was a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but things got carried away. Hell, shit happens bro.”

Family issues were often big deals in mental health problems. And I’m not talking so much about DNA and genetics, as much as the wisdom of simply shared craziness.

There are many things that people believe about their family that are not true, or at least exaggerated. Some of these beliefs are harmless, but others can be harmful or annoying. Here are some examples of the more insane things people believe about their family being special, I’ve heard it all:

Many crazy people enjoy the idea of having a secret royal lineage or hidden treasure in their family history. They may fantasize about being descended from kings, queens, or other nobles, or that their ancestors left behind a fortune that they can claim. However, it's important to be cautious when considering such claims. Most of these stories are based on unreliable sources, such as online genealogy websites, family legends, or forged documents. The chances of discovering that you are related to royalty or have a hidden inheritance are very slim and pursuing them can be a waste of time and money.

Some people believe that their family is immune to certain diseases or has a rare genetic trait. And some believe that they have a special advantage over others because of their family's health history or DNA. They may think that they are protected from getting sick, or that they have a unique ability or feature. However, most of these beliefs are not supported by science, and can be dangerous if they lead to ignoring medical advice or taking unnecessary risks. For example, some people may think that they are immune to cancer because no one in their family has ever had it, but this does not mean that they are not at risk of developing it. But hey, who needs science when you have family legends and superstitions? I'm sure that drinking a special potion made from your great-grandmother's toenails will keep you healthy for life!

Another common craziness is someone who knows that supernatural forces are real and that some families are blessed or cursed by them. It's not like these beliefs are based on superstition, coincidence, or confirmation bias. And it's definitely not harmful to make decisions based on these beliefs. After all, if you think your family is cursed, it's probably because you've experienced a lot of misfortune, and that's definitely not just a coincidence. So go ahead and embrace your family's special connection to the supernatural. Who knows, maybe you'll discover that you have a secret mission or purpose in life!

Related, some folks think that their family is better or worse than other families. These people believe that their family is superior or inferior to other families because of their culture, religion, ethnicity, education, wealth, or other factors. They may think that their family has a special status or privilege, or that they are discriminated against or oppressed. However, most of these beliefs are based on prejudice, stereotypes, or ignorance, and can be harmful if they lead to arrogance or resentment. For example, some people may think that their family is better than other families because they have a certain tradition or belief, but this does not mean that they are more worthy or virtuous.

These are just a few of the insane things people believe about their family being special.

One additional big family mental illness warning sign is the sound of an semi-automatic, pump-shotgun racking in the back room just after somebody at the Thanksgiving table insulted Uncle Joe for his idiocy and manic fatal loony addiction to Fox News (again, not a formal psychiatric diagnosis).  

So, back to the feigned empathy discussed earlier and above, the cops pretending to be sympathetic to mass murderers and to perverts who have sex with dead animals. For some situations this fake sympathy is an excellent trick, but for some,  not so much. As a trained mental health treatment provider my recommendation for handling the Thanksgiving crisis during this the Season of Joy and Light, is, upon hearing Uncle joe’s shotgun go “chuk-chuk” from the back bedroom, that you immediately get the hell out of there!

And, oh yeah, I nearly forgot, Happy fuckin’ Holidays.

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