Simone Biles, Sexual Abuse, and Mental Health

I’m not into sports, don’t pay any attention to the summer Olympics, but during the past weeks, my curiosity has been roused as I kept hearing some very strong opinions, both pro and con, for a young Olympic gymnast named Simone Biles. I kept meaning to further investigate, but other topics have kept me busy. So, I was pleased to see Brendan’s post today about Ms. Biles, a positive view, thankfully. Thank you, Brendan!

Blind Injustice

Simone Biles. Agência Brasil Fotografias, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Content warnings: Sexual abuse, suicide

One of the major stories of the recently concluded Summer Olympics was how decorated American gymnast Simone Biles was ultimately not involved in several of the events that she qualified for as a result of her struggles with mental health. Reaction to this seemed a bit split: many praised her for prioritizing her mental health, while some critics thought of her as a quitter.

Just to clarify, I fall into the former category, not the latter. I think Simone Biles did the right thing in prioritizing her mental health, even if it meant missing some major events this Olympics. To do otherwise would’ve been a danger to her mental and her physical health, which is more important than any Olympic medal.

Yet, at the same time, it seems like there’s often been…

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Losing The American Mind

When Donald Trump first began actively campaigning in 2015, his slogan was “make America great again”.  Now, after he’s had nearly four years in office, he has done, it would seem, just the opposite.  He has not only devalued our status in the eyes of the rest of the world, but has made our own lives worse in nearly every possible way.  I can attest to that, for I have never been so deep in the rabbit hole in all my nearly 70 years as I am today.  Take a look at Dana Milbank’s column in The Washington Post yesterday …

Trump has made Americans’ lives worse. Here’s the proof.

Opinion by

Dana-MilbankDana Milbank


September 19, 2020 

Donald Trump’s America is one sad place.

We, as a nation, have fallen into a great depression, though not necessarily an economic one. By one highly respected gauge, self-reported levels of happiness are at their lowest since social scientists began asking such questions half a century ago.

Much of this is because of the pandemic, and the economic fallout, but the troubles predate the virus. Overall mental well-being dropped noticeably after President Trump’s election in 2016, in red and blue states alike. Happiness became decoupled from financial security, and evidence points to a “Trump Effect” — an American public depressed because of extraordinary vitriol in politics, chaos in the news and a government out of control — even before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday night, a mere 78 minutes after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death announcement, announced with rank hypocrisy he would hold a quick vote to replace her.

The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which has conducted an annual survey of the national mood since 1972, found this summer that the proportion of people describing themselves as “very happy” had plummeted to 14 percent — compared with the survey’s previous record low of 29 percent, recorded after the 2008 financial crisis. But NORC researchers were startled to find that, despite this year’s economic shutdown, 36 percent declared themselves “satisfied” with their financial situation, the highest in the study’s history, and the fewest ever expressed dissatisfaction. (This was when generous unemployment support was in effect.)

For the first time, “there’s a disconnect between financial satisfaction and overall happiness,” says David Sterrett, senior researcher for the NORC study. “With everything going on socially and politically, those have become more of a driver.”

Other research, by Gallup, gives an idea of the cause. There’s typically a partisan effect after elections. After 2008, for example, Democrats and Democratic constituencies (minorities, women, low-income Americans) felt better about their lives, while Republicans and their constituencies felt worse. But something very different happened after 2016: Well-being measures dropped substantially for Democratic constituencies, as expected, but independents’ happiness also dropped, and there was no corresponding jump in the sense of well-being among Republicans or among Whites. Actually, they declined, though within the margin of error.

In sum, well-being among all American adults declined “substantially” with Trump’s election — even though the economy was expanding. Meanwhile, the population in 21 states (many in Trump country) had a significant decline in well-being in 2017 — a huge shift in one year — and not one state experienced an increase. More Americans complained of worry, lost pleasure in activities and less positive energy from friends, family and leaders. Those had all been stable from 2014 to 2016. After Trump’s election, they all worsened — and stayed worse.

Dan Witters, research director of Gallup’s well-being studies, tells me the nonpartisan polling group concluded it could objectively state that there’s “a rather obvious Trump effect.”

Republicans’ sense of well-being didn’t improve, Witters says, “because of the way the social fabric has been strained in the Trump era.” Elevated anxiety “disproportionately affected Democrats, but it threw enough sand in the gears of Republicans and supporters of Trump that it prevented their well-being from getting much of a lift.”

There’s abundant support for this. In 2019, pre-pandemic, University of Nebraska researchers found that 4 in 10 said politics had made them stressed, 3 in 10 said it caused them to lose their temper and 2 in 10 said it caused problems sleeping and damaged friendships.

The American Psychological Association in 2017 found two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, were stressed about the future of the nation. That jumped to 83 percent this year, with 66 percent saying government’s handling of the pandemic causes significant stress.

“Things weren’t great before the pandemic,” says Rachel Garfield, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. And now the national mood has fallen off a cliff. An August Kaiser poll found that 53 percent of adults say the pandemic has hurt their mental health. Many cite problems with sleeping, eating, alcohol and drugs. Those reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders nearly quadrupled during the pandemic, to 40 percent.

All this means, sadly, that the American psyche won’t bounce back fully when the economy recovers, nor when the virus is beaten. The depression wouldn’t necessarily lift if Trump were defeated, particularly if he continued to stoke rage among supporters.

But if Trump returns to office, I fear, the national despair will deepen as we resume lurching from crisis to crisis with the same destabilizing chaos. This week alone we’ve seen Trump attacking his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Attorney General Bill Barr attacking his own Justice Department, and the administration hurling charges of “sedition” at government scientists and demonstrators, and a wildly hypocritical McConnell, after blocking Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because it was eight months before an election, announcing plans just six weeks before an election to rush through a Ginsburg replacement.

After delivering a paranoid rant about armed insurrection, senior Trump administration official Michael Caputo this week blamed his high “stress level” and took a leave of absence. He said “every American” fighting the pandemic “has been under enormous pressure. I am just one of them.”

He’s right about that. After four years, we are barely holding it together. Surely four more years would cause the losing of the American mind.


Psychiatrists Warning About President’s Mental Health

A new book was released last Tuesday, 03 October, that should be required reading for every U.S. citizen/voter. The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump was written by 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals and is a study of Trump’s behaviour and words, and they make the case that “he presents a clear and present danger to the nation and our own mental health”. Friend Gronda has written a post covering an interview with one of the book’s authors and renowned journalist Bill Moyer’s. Please take a few minutes to read this interview, for it provides much food for thought. Thank you, Gronda, for this post and your always generous permission to re-blog.

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of bill moyers

Twenty-seven psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts have written a book regarding the mental health of the republican President Donald Trump. Their argument for acting counter to the rule of not publicly providing a mental health diagnosis for anyone without having first met with that individual, is that they have a duty to warn the public if a person presents a clear and present danger to others. They indicate that the president fits this category.

Here’s the rest of the story….

On September 24, 2017, Bill Moyers approved the publication of the following report by Mother Jones penned the following report, “A Group of Experts Wrote a Book About Donald Trump’s Mental Health—and the Controversy Has Just Begun.” (Bill Moyers talks to co-author Robert Jay Lifton about the complications of diagnosing the president.)

“There will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than 

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Is It Really Worth All This????

I and others have written at length about the political, economic and international results of a Trump in the Oval Office, but there is another aspect, another manner in which he has had a negative effect on the nation.  There is a social & cultural upheaval the can mostly be traced to Trump & Co. A while back, July 4th, to be exact, I wrote a post about some of the purchasing trends that could be attributed to Trump, such as the sale of alcohol and bomb shelters, dystopian books and Swiss watches having significantly increased.  This post looks more at the social, cultural trends that have shifted or been affected by Trump.

First, there is the effect on marriages, especially those in which one is pro-Trump and the other is not.  Marriage counselors recounted watching this dynamic play out in their offices. While some couples try to work through their differences, others — both young and old — find their differences too huge to overcome.  New York divorce lawyer Lois Brenner has counseled about a dozen couples over the last few months who cite political differences for their marital woes. “I’ve been doing this for about 35 years, and I have never seen anything like it, It’s kind of amazing. It’s really surprising and astounding … This is kind of unprecedented.” Interracial couples are having their share of problems also, when one supports Trump and thus his policies, certain of which are detrimental to non-whites.

On the flip side … there has also been an unprecedented surge in marriages immediately following Trump’s election.  In November, the New York City clerk’s office issued 6,929 marriage licenses, a 23 percent increase from November 2015, and performed 4,590 ceremonies, an increase of almost 19 percent. Then through Dec. 23, the office issued 5,682 licenses, up almost 16 percent from about the same time period last year. Many of these are couples where one partner is in the U.S. on a visa and their fear was that Donald Trump would make good on his ‘promises’ of mass deportation.

In addition to immigrants feeling stress from Trump’s threats, the LGBT community is also feeling it.  A recent article in Rolling Stone begins …

“The number of calls, texts and online chats made by transgender youth has more than doubled in the wake of President Trump’s tweet about banning transgender service members and the announcement of the Texas “bathroom bill,” according to a report recently released by The Trevor Project, a national organization that offers crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth.”

According to Amit Paley, the CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project, “Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation directly leads to crisis among our community’s young people. While the Trevor Project will continue to be there for them around the clock, our elected officials must stop throwing young people into crisis for political gain. Discrimination is un-American, and we will hold to account those legislators who attack the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community.”

And then there is the effect on our health.  In June, several media outlets, including U.S. News and NBC News reported on an article in The New England Journal of Medicine:

Health Effects of Dramatic Societal Events — Ramifications of the Recent Presidential Election 

“Events linked to the recent presidential campaign and election have given rise to fear and anxiety in many Americans. Research suggests that these events can have negative health effects on people who have been direct targets of what they perceive as hostility or discrimination and on individuals and communities who feel vulnerable because they belong to a stigmatized, marginalized, or targeted group. It is worth exploring the scientific research in this area and considering its implications for health care providers.”

The article goes on to identify a number of areas in which Trump-related stress is occurring, such as:

  • Increased racial hostility
  • Community-level prejudice
  • Hostility in the larger environment
  • Hostility toward immigrants
  • Worries about reductions in health and social services

And the American College of Physicians says that Trump’s policies on environmental issues, especially climate change, will affect the health of many.

“The elderly, the sick, and the poor are especially vulnerable. Climate change needs to be aggressively addressed on a global level, and the Paris accord is central to this effort. Without U.S. leadership, achieving the voluntary targets agreed to by the 195 countries that signed the accord will be far more difficult. Today’s decision therefore greatly increases the chances that the global effort to reduce carbon emissions will be insufficient to avert catastrophic consequences for human health.”

Norman Lear, creator of All in the Family, recently compared the Trump administration to Archie Bunker … watch this 42 second clip and see if you agree!

Lear actually tweeted that clip on Friday evening after Trump advisor Stephen Miller created a spectacle when he went off on reporter Jim Acosta over the words on the Statue of Liberty.

From a personal perspective, I can say that I have lost a number of friends due to the polarization of Trump’s candidacy and now presidency, and I know of many others who say the same.  I used to “do lunch” with a group of friends at least once a month, but we no longer do those … or perhaps they do and I am no longer invited … I don’t know.  I am more stressed, my temper has a shorter fuse, and I cry more easily.

So, just to name a few, Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office is causing an increase in some marriages, an increase in the divorce rate, a decline in friendships, increased health problems, and an increase in suicidal tendencies among some groups. WOW!  Is it really worth all this?

Enough Debates Already!!!

More than a few times lately, I have been asked why I write about the republican “debates” but not the democratic ones.  My reply is always essentially the same: “The democrats actually discuss policy, ideology and they are civilized and sane, whereas the republicans are a circus, a train wreck.  The GOP debates are much less interesting, less informative and less educational, but more fun to write about.”  Or they were for a while, though I stopped writing about, or even paying much attention to, the republican debates a few weeks ago.  They are not funny anymore and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  They make me feel ill. Frankly, I think there have already been too many pointless debates on both sides this season. I may forgo the rest until after both primaries, when debates are between two candidates representing opposing parties.  Not that I think there will be any substance even then, especially if Trump is the representative of one of those parties.

Normally, I might save my best line for last, especially given that it came near the end of the debate, but since I suspect some of you will nod off and others will quit reading when I get to the actual issues, I am going to give you the best line here at the beginning of the post.  This was arguably the best line of all the debates thus far. Bernie Sanders made this comment:

“You know, we have our differences. And we get into vigorous debate about issues, but compare the substance of this debate with what you saw on the Republican stage last week.  You know, we are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to invest in that.”   I LOVE IT!!!!

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both been, especially as compared to the other side of the aisle, respectful toward one another.  Tonight’s got a little heated, however, when Mr. Sanders said, “Excuse me, I’m talking.”  Gosh, almost as bad as Trump and Rubio comparing … well, you know.  Let me just start out by saying that no matter which side you support, you have to admit the democratic candidates are behaving in a much more civilized and adult manner.

Quite honestly, though I have four pages of notes, there was not a lot of disagreement between the two candidates, so I will enumerate the issues that were discussed and make note of any substantive disagreements for the sake of brevity.  You’re welcome.  The debate was held in Flint, Michigan, where obviously the thing that was uppermost in the minds of the crowd was the Flint water crisis.


  • Gun Regulation ( result of Uber driver who went on shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan)
    • The only real point of contention between the two is whether gun manufacturers should be held liable when a mass shooting occurs with one of their guns.
      • Sanders says gun manufacturers should not be held accountable, that it would shut down the manufacture of guns in this country, thus costing jobs. Hillary says they should be accountable. My take?  Even though I wish I could agree with Clinton on this one, as I am a supporter of the most rigid gun regulations we can enforce, I have to side with Sanders, but not for the same reasons.  I don’t care if they all go out of business, but unless it is an equipment malfunction, we do not hold auto makers responsible when somebody uses an automobile to kill, and we do not hold knife manufacturers liable when somebody stabs another person to death, so I do not see how we can hold gun manufacturers liable for shootings.  However, if a gun seller sells a gun without doing the proper background check, I say shut him down immediately and forever.
  • 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Control Law (has led to disproportionate number of blacks being in prison)
    • Both candidates supported the bill in 1994; both agree that there were some good points in it (ban on assault weapons, violence against women act), and some bad points that have led to a disproportionate number of blacks in prison, and more people in prison or jail than any other country on earth (I did verify this statement with the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, by the way).
  • Cultural Diversity – no disagreements
  • Welfare Reform Bill of 1986
    • Sanders says it “scapegoated” the poorest people and led to an increase in poverty
    • Clinton says there were good provisions in the original bill, but they were “stripped away by the Bush administration (GWB)
      • I suspect they are both right. It wasn’t really a disagreement, merely a different perspective.
  • Education
    • Again, no real disagreement, just different perspectives. A couple of interesting things to note, however
      • Clinton is endorsed by the teacher’s union, NEA. The question was asked whether they protect “bad teachers”.  Clinton says she will “look into it”.  This is a can of worms and a topic best left for another discussion, but I thought it raised a valid point.
      • Sanders: “I believe that every public college and university in this country should be tuition free.” Again, while I love the thought of this, it simply isn’t practical as a blanket statement.  I support some form of legislation to ensure that every young person has the opportunity for a college education, but those who can should pay for it themselves.
  • Infrastructure – no real argument
  • Climate Change
    • Clinton says she is against “fracking” in most all cases
    • Sanders says Clinton is taking PAC money from the fossil fuel industry (probably true)
  • Citizens United Foundation – both want to abolish (as do I, but that is a topic for a future post)

And that, folks, was just about as exciting as it got.  It was a good discussion, gave both candidates an opportunity to share their views, but their views are so closely aligned, once you cut through the self-promotion, that it probably did very little to help those voters who cannot decide between the two come any closer to reaching a decision.  I know I still like them both.  I commend both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for being respectful, sticking to the issues, and holding themselves far and above the playground mentality of the other side.  I am sure many will disagree with me, but that is what makes politics fun (sometimes).  Just be sure to disagree respectfully, okay?