December 13, 2010

Old Stone House Workshop: Recycle Odds & Ends Into Ornaments

Ever wonder what to do with that stray earring?  Or the yarn from that knitting project? Or those yogurt containers?

In this workshop at the Old Stone House on Saturday, December 18th from 4-6PM,  sculptor Julie Peppito will show you how to transform yogurt containers, milk jugs and cartons, old jewelry, and scraps of paper, fabric and other trash into ornaments and treasures.

Peppito is a local Brooklyn sculptor, playground designer, jewelry designer and painter. She has a BFA from The Cooper Union in New York City and an MFA from Alfred University in upstate New York. She has received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture and a grant through the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Peppito also designed fountains and sculptures for Underhill Playground in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn and is working on artwork for the JJ Byrne Playgroundthat will be installed in front of The Old Stone House. Ms. Peppito’s work is currently represented by Heskin Contemporary in Manhattan and other independent galleries. In this workshop Julie will show you how to transform yogurt containers, milk jugs and cartons, old jewelry, and scraps of paper, fabric and other trash into ornaments and treasures.

April 12, 2008

Au Contraire: Don’t Bring Babies to a School Talent Show, Please

Our pal Peter Loffredo, of Full Permission Living, went to the talent show at the Brooklyn New School. Unfortunately the elementary-aged performers were drowned out by BABIES. Once again, Brooklyn parents refuse to leave their very young children home:

Well, I have to do it. I have to say something unpopular again about this generation of parents in this part of Brooklyn un-raising their kids to their ultimate future detriment. Last night I went to the Brooklyn New School’s “Extravaganza,” a kind of talent night in which the elementary-age student participants are allowed to showcase their talents for comedy, music, poetry, dance, etc., in original ways, created by the students. Sounds like a pretty enlightened concept, right?

And indeed, as public schools go, BNS is pretty enlightened, certainly when compared to the absurdly – and undeservedly – vaunted PS 321.

Unfortunately, just like last year’s Extravaganza, the show was a debacle… and here’s why: there was no adult presence present. Oh, there were plenty of parents there, plenty of people between the ages of 35 and 55, but there weren’t any grown-ups! A number of the said parents saw fit to bring their screaming infants and bored, talkative toddlers to the event, making it next to impossible to enjoy or focus on the efforts of the older kids on stage trying to express something. (Many other parents there, without babies in tow since their kids were now older, but feeling guilty and identified with the disrupters nonetheless, didn’t say anything to silence the rudeness, even though the director of the Extravaganza, Jose, implored the audience to show some respect for the young performers on stage.)

Why did these people bring their babies to an evening talent show (just as they fought to be able to bring them to local bars)? So the tots could absorb the cultural experience? Have a social night out with other 3-month olds? Hello?!

Does not their wailing and restlessness indicate that they are in an inappropriate environment? And let’s not even mention the blatant rudeness of these hapless parents not caring in the slightest bit whether there might have been some other parents there who actually wanted to hear their 4th grader deliver her version of “Who’s On First?” (One of the few skits I could actually enjoy, only because I once performed it in high school and so had all the lines memorized and didn’t totally need to hear above the din of the miserably uncomfortable little ones.)

Here’s the really saddest thing, though, to me, as a therapist who has done a lot of work with children: these kids are used to not being heard. They are indulged and raised without boundaries and treated like faux princes and princesses, but they are not heard. They are put on stage, literally and figuratively, by their vicariously acting out, emotionally needy, egotistical parents… and then ignored, only to later be cooed over, while watching the video tape.

In one of the most poignant and powerful moments of the evening, two girls performed a beautiful piece combining music and original poetry, in which one of the actors expressed a desperate desire to scream in order to be heard by the adult world.

I wonder how many parents were actually listening

April 3, 2008

The Occasional Note from Peter Loffredo: How Much Sex is Enough?

Here’s our pal Pete’s reaction to a Huff Post piece about how long sex should last.

“A survey of sex therapists concluded the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was 3 to 13 minutes. The findings, to be published in the May issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, strike at the notion that endurance is the key to a great sex life. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/02/survey-endurance-not-the_n_94789.html)

“If that sounds like good news to you,” the article continues, “don’t cheer too loudly. The time does not count foreplay, and the therapists did rate sexual intercourse that lasts from 1 to 2 minutes as ‘too short.”

“There are so many myths in our culture of what other people are doing sexually,” Marianne Brandon, a clinical psychologist and director of Wellminds Wellbodies in Annapolis, Md. said. “Most people’s sex lives are not as exciting as other people think they are.”

Okay, taking that last statement first – “Most people’s sex lives are not as exciting as other people think they are.” – I would have to add that most people’s sex lives are also not as good as THEY think they are.

Really. I’ve had many people tell me that they have very good sex lives. No kidding, many people have told me that. But then, when I ask for details, I hear that their so-called good sex life includes having sex maybe, ohhh, about once a month! Better yet, I’ve been told by women who say they enjoy sex that they have never – as in NEVER! – had an orgasm! Likewise, more men than I can count have told me that they masturbate EVERYDAY, whether they’ve had sex that day or not.

So, what’s going on?

Well, for one thing, as the article above hints at, most people have no idea conceptually what constitutes great, or even fair-to-good sex, because in our culture, we don’t talk about it in any regular way day-to-day, or in settings like families, schools, churches (Ha! Just kidding!), etc. Seriously, I even know therapists who never bring up the subject of sex with their patients! Whew!

You know, I write about this subject a lot. From my experience working with people, raising children and being a live human being, I can never write about it enough. Sexual respression and supression, as I have said many times, is the true root of all evil. What so many religious “scholars” don’t get about the Adam and Eve story is that the “apple” represented self-consciousness, and it was that self-consciousness that caused the previously blissful couple to realize that they were naked and feel ashamed. This was not a good thing! The nakedness was a good thing. The shame was not! How did we end up getting it so backwards?! (Well, that’s a different discussion.)

The point is, folks, studies like the one mentioned above are kind of useless. Three minutes, seven minutes… what’s that got to do with anything?

I’ve been told, sadly, by some men using Viagra, that they can stay hard all night, regardless of how they feel about the woman they’re with. What the fuck good is that?! Making love is supposed to be a sensuous feast, a swim in a warm, tropical ocean, a rollercoaster ride, a trip that takes you higher than any hallucinogenic drug could ever take you.

It can last for hours, or be a hot “quickie.” It’s not a time thing. Sex, as greatest “regression in service of the ego,” is supposed to be a timeless experience. And all of that while intertwined with the body and soul of someone you’re in love with, with someone who you willingly strip yourself naked in front of like Adam and Eve… before the apple.

Come on, people, let’s get ourselves back to the garden!

February 16, 2008

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s  a thought provoking post from our pal Pete of Full Permission Living on the recent murders on the campus of Illinois State University.

Here we go again! Ugh!

A few years ago, I was invited to be a guest on a national radio program because I had written about the school shootings in Jonesboro and Columbine in 1998 and 1999. I was thought to have an "unusual" perception of these tragic events because I stated that the murderous perpetrators were not normal kids suddenly gone bad, as the media was portraing them, but rather, I said, these were very disturbed individuals that could have been identifed easily by a trained mental health professional who was really looking. (You can find a letter I wrote to the NY Times at the  time at: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9803EED8173BF934A15750C0A96E958260)

Here – Look at some of the ridiculous being things written about the current related tragedy, the killings and suicide at Northern Illinois University this past week:
"Steve Kazmierczak, the man who walked silently into a classroom here on Thursday and opened fire, was not seen as struggling in college. He was not an outcast. And until recently, at least, he was not brooding."
"Mr. Kazmierczak, 27, was described Friday as a successful student — ‘revered,’ the authorities said, by his professors — who had served as a teaching assistant and received a dean’s award as an undergraduate here at Northern Illinois University, where he returned Thursday, killing himself and five students and wounding 16 others."

"He was personable, easy to talk to, an excellent student, said his professors."
(See the article today in the NY Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/16/us/16gunman.html?hp)

WHAT?!

How can anybody say those things with a straight face? When’s the last time anyone of you reading this blog was in a really bad mood and randomly went out and killed a bunch of people? And more importantly, why are we so invested in the idea that an otherwise healthy, successful, friendly young person can suddenly go off and decide to mow down a couple of dozen human beings? Here’s why: we don’t want to take responsibility for our society’s mental health, especially our children’s, and ultimately for our own. We would rather believe that mental illness is genetic, hormonal, chemical, a product of aging or otherwise mysteriously caused. Anything other than the result of our own neglect and abuse of ourselves, our kids and each other. All we really want to hear in these situations was that we had nothing to do with it. "It’s life." "It’s nature gone bad." "It’s God’s will." "It’s Murphy’s Law." "Something." "Anything." "Please, don’t make me look at myself. Just give me a drug. There’s got to be a drug for this!" Oh, yeah, this is from the same Times article today: "Family members told the authorities that Mr. Kazmierczak had stopped taking his medication. Law enforcement authorities would not say what the medication was for, but said Mr. Kazmierczak had grown erratic, according to his family, in the days after he quit taking the drugs."

Oops! Now why would a "personable, easy to talk to, revered" young person be on prescription drugs for a mental probem, first of all? And why would stopping those drugs make him SHOOT TWENTY-ONE PEOPLE?!!?

Anyway, on a related subject, and as a follow-up to my comments yesterday about the drugging of our kids, I’d like to relate two stories. One took place at a GAP store, where I got to talking to a young man working there. When he found out that I was a psychotherapist, he told me that he’d seen shrinks as a kid and that he took ritalin while in elementary school. He wanted to know what I thought about that. When I told him that I was very outspoken back in my social worker days against ritalin for kids, he started to cry. He told me that he felt like he didn’t have a childhood, that he "felt like a zombie" all throughout the years of taking the drug. He thanked me for being against the heinous, irresponsible and greedy acting out of our doctors and Big Pharma.

The second story involves my own step-son, who saw a "learning specialist" when he was 8 years old. At some point, when said specialist gave us his evaluation of our boy, he brought up medication as a possible aid to help the child focus better. When we indicated that we didn’t approve of medicating children, he told us an anecdote – that was supposed to encourage us – about another 8 year old he knew , a girl. He said that the girl, similar to our boy, had a tendency to daydream and drift off, etc., when in school or when approaching homework. But she began taking a drug for her attention problem, and voila! You ready? These are the learning specialist’s exact words, and he delivered them proudly: "She lost a little of her spark, but she got a lot done!"
We fired him.
PL

February 3, 2008

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s the word from our pal Pete about a article in NY Times today about the notion of perfection entitled: “Perfection Is Afterthought, Perfect Examples Say.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/sports/football/03perfect.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1)

The New England Patriots have won all 18 games they’ve played this year as they enter today’s Superbowl, a “perfect” season thus far. But is it?

“There is no perfect season,” said John Wooden, who coached the U.C.L.A. basketball teams that once won 88 consecutive games. “You can have a season where you win all your games. But that is far from perfect. The other teams you played scored points and your team made mistakes. Maybe a lucky bounce actually won you a game or two. No, winning does’t make you perfect.”

Other famous athletes who have attained perfect scores and achieved record-breaking feats of greatness in their sport are also quoted in the article. Most agree that thinking about perfection or breaking records actually interferes with performance.

Winning doesn’t make you perfect? I love that! Why? Because perfection, in the way most people think about it, is an illusion, and perfectionism is a crippling defense mechanism that actually prevents someone from achieving even reasonable goals or experiencing even minimal levels of fulfillment.

In reality, perfection is a place we’re always heading towards, but never attaining, or conversely, it is the ongoing state of things already, depending on the way you want to frame it. In other words, because we’re always evolving, because we’re living beings, and therefore never static, anything that we accomplish today in the course of our evolution only sets the bar higher for another achievement tomorrow. Yet, also by virtue of the fact that we are alive, and as such are exact representations in physical form of our soul’s intentions, we are already perfect in that we are exactly what we are designing to be in each moment. (Or as John Lennon put it: “Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”)

Perfectionism, then, is a covert way of resisting the very thing one is trying to accomplish, and/or it is an expression of the resistance to feeling gratified by what one actualy does accomplish. (Does anyone know a happy perfectionist?) Put another way, an obsessive insistance on perfection is a way of not giving, a withholding of one’s gifts. It is a passive-aggressive act. The perfectionist will say things like: I can’t serve our friends this meal, or present this work of art to the world, because my creation isn’t good enough yet. Or I can’t go to your party because I don’t have a suitable outfit to wear, or I can’t take my clothes off in front of you and make love with you because I’m out of shape physically. In other words, perfectionism is a disguised way of saying: “No!” No, I’m not going to give of myself to you. No, I’m not going to share my gifts with you. Etc. And that “no” is all too often disguised under the very annoying and false self-effacement of: I’m not good enough, or what I have to offer isn’t good enough. Ugh! Get over it. Good enough is good enough! Give something to someone already. If it’s from your heart, if it’s a genuine expression of your desire to give, it will be of value to the recipient. Can you improve the recipe for that dish? Rewrite that screenplay one more time? Lose a little weight? Sure. And you will. And those changes will always occur over time according to yoru intentions in the moment.

You’re a living, vibrant, fluid, always in flux human being. Don’t let that stop you from offering yourself to others. There is no one else like you. No one else has your perspective on life, your confluence of experiences and ideas and imagination. No one else has your body, and I can tell you, your body is already beautiful and perfect the way it is… if you say it is.

And remember, whether it’s the Giants or the Patriots today… it’s just a game!
PL (http://fullpermissionliving.blogspot.com/)

January 28, 2008

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s an excerpt from our Pete weighing in on the issue of tots at the bar. The rest is at his blog Full Permission Living.

I frequently rail on about the epidemic of parental over-involvement that runs rampant among so many enclaves of educated Baby Boomers these days. My over-involvement in this issue stems from my awareness as a therapist of the damage being done to so many children by these otherwise well-intentioned parents. I have said more than once to said parents that they are creating a generation of “cranky narcissists,” and I have, of course, gotten a lot of angry responses back. (I have also dared to suggest that parents should focus a little more on their sex-romance lives, and boy did that really go down like a lead balloon!)
Yet, this is no small matter from which I intend to back away, and here’s why: narcissism, which can be initiated in almost any stage of early childhood, and can be part of any character structure, is an insidious, crippling disorder.

Read the rest at Peter Loffredo’s blog, Full Permission Living

December 30, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Is having an affair good or bad for a marriage? Our pal Pete shares his thoughts on his blog,  Full Permission Living. The piece by Jenny Block is also quite interesting.

A few weeks ago, I offered my comments (read them at: http://fullpermissionliving.blogspot.com/) on whether or not having an affair was potentially "good" for a marriage.

I was responding to an article that was in the NY Times on the subject called, "An Odd Turn of Affairs." (http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/body_and_soul/article2882883.ece)

On the Huffington Post blog this week there was another article on the same subject, taken from Tango Magazine, entitled: "Portrait of an Open Marriage," by Jenny Block. (http://www.tangomag.com/2006130/portrait-of-an-open-marriage-2.html/1).

The piece has this caption under the title: "Jenny Block reveals an unconventional marriage arrangement that worked."

So, I took a look, because I believe that openness is the key to a good marriage, along with the two partners being fully in love with each other, of course.

On my blog (http://fullpermissionliving.blogspot.com) are some samples of what I found in Jenny’s piece, interspersed with my interjections and conclusions. Check it out and offer your own comments.

December 4, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s something from our pal Pete of Full Permission Living.

Good news for the anti-therapy crowd from Gallup.com: "Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their own mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education."

Wow! What does this mean?

Libby Spencer at the Newshoggers takes umbrage:

"I’m betting the numbers reflect mostly the 30-percenters who still think Bush is a great president. Of course those Republicans think their mental health is fine. They’ve somehow managed to learn to live with a level of cognitive dissonance that would make most people’s head explode. The rest of us aren’t feeling so good ourselves because we see what the Bush administration is doing and don’t find it acceptable on any level. That’s the trouble with living in reality. It tends to dampen the old peace of mind when you see everything that was once great about this country being incrementally destroyed."

Well, I agree somewhat with Libby that living in denial can give one a temporary feeling of sanity, and that facing the realities of how those whom we trust to run our government, corporations, schools and health care industry are actually incompetent or corrupt or both is very depressing. Where I disagree with Libby is around the notion that our not feeling all right is about "everything that was once great about this country being incrementally destroyed."

Everything that is insane about America today has always been there. A country initially founded on the genocide of its native people by religious zealots who thought it was acceptable to burn women they declared witches, while developing our new economy on the backs of slaves was never sane. Liberals and "Movement Democrats" take a bit too much satisfaction in past accomplishments.

The bottom line is that the end of slavery only accelerated other forms of insidious racism, while the "successful" sufferage and feminist movements have still not produced a woman president. Why not? Because real change cannot be effected by politics, not even "good" politics.

The most idealized movements of the past that were supposed to change things in fact gave us the likes of Richard Nixon (twice!), right in the heart of the Sixties. His Watergate led to only one brief term for the likes of Jimmy Carter, but was followed by 20 out of 28 years of nutty Republicans in the White House, including 2 terms for Ronald Reagan, the king of "I’m Okay; You’re Okay" conservativism, and 2 terms of the indefinably infantile George W. Bush.

Real change only comes from one person at a time evolving their consciousness – by peeling back the layers of denial, challenging their own ego-driven selfishness and narcissism, and developing the genuine empathy that comes from fully feeling all of one’s emotions. Easy? No. Does it require a lot of self-work that most people would rather not do? Yes. But doing whatever it takes to become sane in an insane world is still better than the alternative – being a Republican who feels good about himself!

[For further information, see my 3-part series: "FALSE CLARITY TO GENUINE CONFUSION TO GENUINE CLARITY" on my blog: http://fullpermissionliving.blogspot.com/

Peter Loffredo

November 22, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s a T-giving post from our pal, Pete of Full Permission Living

Well, you know I couldn’t resist this one, being the curmudgeon that I am about kids ruling the roost in our overindulgent times. This did my heart good – from the Wall Street Journal Op-ed page yesterday:

Thanksgiving: Great American Holiday, or The Greatest American Holiday?" by Joseph Epstein

…Thanksgiving does have the absence of the heavy hand of dreary gift giving that has put the groans in Christmas, the moans in Hanukkah.

And no one has written treacly Thanksgiving songs, comparable to White Christmas and Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, which, I suspect, have helped make Christmas one of the prime seasons for suicide. Let us not speak Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, of whose travail we shall all have heard more than our fill as we ride up elevators and pass along the aisles of department stores.

For some time in America we have, of course, been living under Kindergarchy, or rule by children. If children do not precisely rule us, then certainly all efforts, in families where the smallish creatures still roam, are directed to relieving their boredom if not (hope against hope) actually pleasing them.

Let us be thankful that Thanksgiving has not yet fallen to the Kindergarchy, as has just about every other holiday on the calendar, with the possible exceptions of Yom Kippur and Ramadan. Thanksgiving is not about children. It remains resolutely an adult holiday about grown-up food and drink and football.

October 31, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s a little something from our pal Pete, local holistic psychotherapist and blogger.

This is a great little comedic video making fun of an actual Public Service Announcement from the insane Abstinence Only crowd:

[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessie-gaskell/talk-to-your-kids-about-s_b_70328.html]

Why is “abstinence only” insane as public policy? Well, hopefully, you don’t really have to ask that, but in case you do, here’s why:

Nature never fucks up (only people do, because of ego and hubris). Nature causes kids to have powerful sexual feelings after puberty, which means DURING THEIR TEEN YEARS. To tell kids in the throws of those surging urges to just ignore those feelings and (OH GOSH!) never, ever act on them is about as realistic as the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy and her gang to “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Not to mention the conflict your engendering by telling your child that something inside of them that calls them so joyfully and urgently is bad for them to enjoy. Ugh!

Furthermore, is there still anyone out there who actually believes that the foundation for a good marriage is pre-marital virginity? As a therapist who has worked with many, many married couples over many years, I can tell you that one of the main reasons for divorce is sexual incompatibility among people who got married too soon – so they could have sex! Maybe, in its infinite wisdom, nature provides us with a window of opportunity to explore ourselves sexually during our teen years and early twenties, so if and when we do decide to get married and have children, we’ll actually choose somebody we will be compatibile with in a major area of relationship.

Parents, please have the wisdom to either talk to your children about sex openly, and in a positive way, or at the very least, let somebody else with wisdom talk to them. Or talk to me at:
http://fullpermissionliving.blogspot.com/

October 25, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s something from out pal, Pete, who now has a blog of his own called Full Permission Living. There’s even a picture of him there. Nice to put a face to all the words and ideas.

This week in the New York Times there was a piece on parents who have their children (not infants) sleep in their bed, and how many of said parents keep it a secret for fear of being criticized.

I can tell you of countless situations where a child was suffering from developmental problems and delayed maturity, even up to as old as seven-to-ten years of age, because parents were allowing the child into their adult bed. In these situations, when the parents followed my recommendation to get the child out of the parental bed, the child experienced a maturational growth spurt almost immediately. Why? Because what children want and what children need are not always the same thing. In early childhood, the pull to regress back to an earlier stage of development is strong.

Growing up is hard. But in every species of higher mammal, the mother knows that her offsrping have to be pushed out of the nest and off of the maternal teat, so the young being can attain healthy, life-sustaining independence. Fortunately, for those animals such good parenting is instinctual. Unfortunately, for human children, parents can overrule their instincts. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – parents who let their children into their bed past infancy are emotionally lazy, and are not operating from a place of mature parental love, but rather are being driven by their own unworked on fears of deprivation. Get those kids out of your bed. Please!

Peter Loffredo, LCSW

October 16, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s something new from our pal Pete. His new blog, Full Permission Living, is up and running.

Bill Cosby
and Alvin Poussaint have a new book out called: "Come On People: On the
Path from Victims to Victors." They’re on the talk show circuit, and
Bob Herbert wrote a column in today’s Times on the book. Here’s the
link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/opinion/16herbert.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin


Here’s my comment in a letter to the Times and Mr. Herbert:

 
 To the Editor:

     I, too, watched Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint on "Meet The Press," on Sunday,
and although I admire what they are trying to say in their book, "Come
On People…", as a clinical social worker who was worked in New York City
for thirty years, I must disagree with Mr. Cosby’s statement: "A word
to the wise ain’t necessary. It’s the stupid ones who need the advice."

I have found that "preaching to the choir" is actually a key way to
effect change. For example, during the Meet the Press
interview, the subject of parents being physically violent with
children came up. The two authors addressed this as if what the parents
in question needed was training or information, presuming that the
knowledge that beating your kids isn’t a good child-rearing technique
would change the parents’ behavior.

In fact, adults who beat children
do so because of their own internalized stockpile of unworked-on rage,
not for lack of knowing a better approach. Likewise, the notion that
informing absentee fathers that their children need them, or pointing
out to adolescents who emulate the language of rappers that they might
not get a job as a pilot or doctor, is not going to effect any change
either.

Adults who already desire to be loving, present parents are the
ones who seek out and require information on ways to better themselves,
and young people who already desire a life of dignity and financial
comfort are the ones who need guidance and access on how to attain such
goals. The people who Mr. Herbert  states "are still trapped in prisons
of extreme violence, poverty, degradation and depression" need the kind
of help that could only be provided by a society that can go beyond
punishment and provide useful limits and boundaries on violent,
anti-social behavior in combination with intense emotional guidance.

Sincerely,


Peter Loffredo, LCSW

October 12, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Our pal Pete, an OTBKB reader and psychotherapist, sent word of this article in New York Magazine.

This is major – in this week’s New York Magazine on the effects on kids of not getting enough sleep. Once again – given the choice between that extra hour of homework or an extra hour of sleep, it’s a literal no brainer for the health of a kid’s brain. Put those kids to bed!
Here’s an excerpt:

"It has been documented in a handful of major studies that children, from elementary school through high school, get about an hour less sleep each night than they did 30 years ago. While parents obsess over babies’ sleep, this concern falls off the priority list after preschool. Even kindergartners get 30 minutes less a night than they used to.
"There are many causes for this lost hour of sleep. Overscheduling of activities, burdensomehomework, lax bedtimes, televisions and cell phones in the bedroom all contribute. So does guilt; home from work after dark, parents want time with their children and are reluctant to play the hard-ass who orders them to bed. All these reasons converge on one simple twist of convenient ignorance: Until now, we could overlook the lost hour because we never really knew its true cost to children.

"Using newly developed technological and statistical tools, sleep scientists have recently been able to isolate and measure the impact of this single lost hour. Because children’s brains are a work-in-progress until the age of 21, and because much of that work is done while a child is asleep, this lost hour appears to have an exponential impact on children that it simply doesn’t have on adults.

"The surprise is how much sleep affects academic performance and emotional stability, as well as phenomena that we assumed to be entirely unrelated, such as the international obesity epidemic and the rise of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A few scientists theorize that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure: damage that one can’t sleep off like a hangover. It’s even possible that many of the hallmark characteristics of being a tweener and teen—moodiness, depression, and even binge eating—are actually symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation."

September 22, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s the latest from our pal Pete:

ATTENTION ALL PARENTS! This is a disaster that is already in the making for your kids! Beware of teachers and medical professionals who want to diagnose your child as having a “social anxiety disorder” — a so-called affliction of children and adolescents that, such dubious clinicians argue, is spreading.

Right. Read this piece in today’s NY Times on the subject and BE SCARED! As I’ve said before, psychiatric medications for children are first and foremost about money, and secondly about convenience. I have worked with school-aged children for years and seen far too many young people’s emotional lives nullified for the sake of conformity and arbitrary measures of performance. PLEASE read on.

Here’s some shocking truths from the Times piece by Lane: "Levels of the stress hormone cortisol are consistently LOWER in shy children than in their more extroverted peers. This discovery upends the common wisdom among psychiatrists that shyness causes youngsters extreme stress."

Woah! What does this mean? It means that children who aren’t overtly aggressive, who observe first rather than act, and who have active INNER lives are actually kids with LOWER amounts of stress. Yet, this is unacceptable to those who believe that children should be pushed to outperform their peers, gratify the ego needs of their competitive parents and prepare to meet the economic needs of the corporate world.

Okay, check out how the medical profession, the pharmaceutical companies and the educational professionals have colluded to create a new epidemic: "In 1987, the revised third edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (the Bible of psychiatric diagnoses) expanded the list of symptoms for social anxiety disorder by adding anticipated concern about saying the wrong thing (a trait known to just about everyone on the planet.). The diagnostic bar was set so low that even a preschooler could trip over it. Self-help books and magazine articles further widened the definition of social anxiety disorder to include symptoms like test anxiety, aversion to writing on the blackboard and shunning of team sports. These ridiculously loose criteria led to more diagnoses, until social anxiety disorder in children began to look as if it were spreading like the common cold among second graders."

Now, here it comes, parents, and if this doesn’t alarm you, you should really reconsider your worthiness to be a parent: "Then, having alerted the masses to their worrisome avoidance of public restrooms, the psychiatrists needed a remedy. Right on cue, GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil, declared in the late 1990s that its antidepressant could also treat social anxiety and, presumably, self-consciousness in restaurants. Nudged along by a public-awareness campaign (“Imagine Being Allergic to People”) that cost the drug maker more than $92 million in advertising in one year alone ($3 million more than Pfizer spent that year promoting Viagra), social anxiety quickly became the THIRD MOST DIAGNOSED MENTAL ILLNESS in the nation, behind only depression and alcoholism. This diagnosis was frequently made irresponsibly, and it also had human costs. After being prescribed Paxil or Zoloft for their shyness and public-speaking anxiety, a disturbingly large number of children, studies found, began to contemplate suicide and to suffer a host of other chronic side effects. This class of antidepressants, known as S.S.R.I.’s, had never been tested on children. Belatedly, the Food and Drug Administration agreed to require a “black box” warning on the drug label, cautioning doctors and parents that the drugs may be linked to suicide risk in young people. You might think the specter of children on suicide watch from taking remedies for shyness would end any impulse to overprescribe them. Yet the tendency to use potent drugs to treat run-of-the-mill behaviors persists, and several psychiatrists have already started to challenge the F.D.A. warning."

The real epidemic here, and the unconscionably tragic effects of it, is greed. Pure, unadulterated, psychopathic greed. It’s time for today’s parents to give up on their childhood fantasies about kind-hearted doctors like Marcus Welby, M.D., who only want to make children well and feel better, or super-dedicated teachers like Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier’s character in "To Sir With Love") whose lives revolve around guiding their charges to higher wisdom, no matter how difficult the student’s behavior may be. No, folks. Wake up! Today’s doctor’s specialize less and less in family practices, where person to person contact and genuine human concern might be expected of them, and instead specialize more and more in cosmetic surgery because that’s where the big money is. And teachers? It’s become all about control and about meeting the criteria of standardized testing, not about finding and bringing out the hidden jewels in an otherwise "shy" student. "Who has time for that?" I have heard teachers say. "How sad is that?" I say. How very sad is that

September 17, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Here’s something new from our pal Pete who had this to say about Sally Fields acceptance speech  on the Emmy’s last night.

Did anybody hear Sally Field’s acceptance speech at the Emmy’s last night? (She won for her role as the matriarch on "Brother and Sisters.") It was bleeped by the FOX TV censors. Isn’t that amazing and appalling in and of itself? She was saying this when they cut off her sound: "If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn’t be any god-damned wars in the first place… we wouldn’t be sending our children off to be slaughtered."

I love Sally Field’s work, and I think FOX has become a pathetic cog in the neo-con machine, BUT… I have to say this to Ms. Field – George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby, David Petreus, Paul Wolfowitz and all the rest of the maniacal men in this administration who’ve debased themselves and our country over these last six years all had mothers!

It’s a nice fantasy to imagine a world in which loving, benign mothers forever protected their children from harm, but as long as said mothers (in collusion with fathers) continue to create self-centered pathological narcissists in the many ways that I’ve outlined here before, then their sons will continue to do much harm in the world. Sorry, moms, but we’re all in this together.

August 25, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: PETER LOFFREDO ON HOMEWORK

Our pal Peter is quoted in an article by Maura Kelly about excessive amounts of homework in a  recent issue of  Time out Kids.

Kids have always complained (and complained) about homework overload.
But these days, parents are joining the fray. Take Peter Loffredo, a
52-year-old psychotherapist from Park Slope, whose nine-year-old son,
Bennett, often ends up in tears as he struggles to finish his spelling,
math or reading assignments—all of which take him an hour, on average,
to complete. “Imagine if you had to spend 60 minutes on taxes every
night,” says Loffredo. “Bennett rides the bus for an hour and then has
to find time for dinner and a bath before going to bed—there’s no time
for him to do much else besides hit the books. A playdate shoots the
whole schedule.” Loffredo fears that Bennett’s missing out not only on
social time but also on creative pursuits, like playing guitar. “The
imaginative side of the learning process is being stinted,” he says.

Fed up, he recently put Bennett on the waiting list for the Brooklyn
Free School—a Park Slope institution that doesn’t give its students
compulsory homework assignments. Founded in 2004 by Alan Berger, a
certified New York high school teacher and former assistant principal
who became disenchanted with the way curricula were being designed, the
school allows children to seek out knowledge on topics they’re curious
about; each student has a personalized, self-directed learning
experience…

July 19, 2007

AU CONTRAIRE: THE OCCASIONAL NOTE FROM PETER LOFFREDO

Once again, our pal Peter has advice for the mother’s of Park Slope:

This
is a MUST READ on my most persistently held position about parenting
and relationships. Please go to today’s Huffington Post and read: My Kid Went to Sleepaway Camp and My Husband Started Seeing a New Woman: Me" by Jill Broke.

 
Here’s an excerpt:

Sending my 9-year-old son off to sleepaway camp involved ardent
discussions between my husband — who wanted him to learn independence
– and moi — who worried I would miss him too much.

    After realizing that sleepaway camp offered a roller coaster ride of non-stop fun with all his favorite sports, I relented.

    In jest, I turned to my husband and said, "Well, you’ll finally get your girlfriend back."

    Now four weeks later, I can say that not only is camp the best thing
    for my son, it has turned out to be the best thing for our marriage.

    Here’s the link.