Good stuff online

August 14, 2011

In my ongoing effort to catch up with back issues of The Sun, I’ve gotten to last month’s, July 2011, which has two extraordinary pieces to recommend.

One is a long interview by Tracy Frisch with psychologist Gail Hornstein, who challenges many accepted assumptions about psychiatric patients and encourages a more open-minded inquiry into what causes mental illness and how people get better. Hornstein wrote a beautiful biography of maverick psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann called To Redeem One Person Is To Redeem the World, which had a big impact on me. She created the Hearing Voices Network, an international organization for people with various psychiatric diagnoses (mainly schizophrenia) in which empathy and nonhierarchical interactions supplant diagnostic labels and the traditional doctor-patient relationship. It’s a philosophy of treating that calls for tremendous patience, listening skills, and a level of mutual respect not often found in the medical profession, sad to say. You can read some of the interview online here.

Poe Ballantine, one of my favorite frequent contributors to The Sun,  contributes an autobiographical essay called “Guidelines for Mountain-Lion Safety,” in which the instructions that generate the essay’s title double as life-learning for his son (and any picked-on kid) for dealing with bullies:

If you encounter a mountain lion:
• Don’t approach it.
• Never turn and run.
• Face the lion and stand upright.
• Try to make yourself look as big as possible.
• Some ways of looking bigger is [sic] to open your jacket, hold up your pack or bicycle.
• Throw rocks or sticks at the lion. Yell and make lots of noise.
• But if you are ever attacked, your best chance is to stay on your feet and fight back. These tactics will usually convince the lion that you are not prey and make it run away.
• Leave the animal an avenue of escape.
• Report any mountain lion observations.

You can read a long excerpt from the story online here.

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