27 May 2011

Alcoholics Recalibration Continues

It's been a while. Sorry. And I know I'm jumping all over the place. That's not so bad though because it can take you back to my shared idea that there is a lot more to recovery than the wheelchair option of AA. That's right, a flashback to my New Pregnancy Vision regarding sobriety.

Here, an interestingly, capturing article turns one bad notion upside-down. This interesting read shows that self-esteem is more dangerous than most people realize and who better to explain that but:

Scott Sinclair, Ph.D.
Scottsdale, Arizona

Warning: Self Esteem May Subvert Your Sobriety
The Journal of Rational Recovery

Having worked in the field of addictions for over 18 years, I am regularly faced by patients, colleagues and treatment programs that spend much time, money and emotional energy on the issue of self-esteem. The most common statements by patients are, “I have low self-esteem,” “I am working on self-esteem issues,” “Maybe I drink because of my low self-esteem.” Therapists, lecturers and workshop leaders promote self-esteem workshops (and themselves in the process).
The unfortunate problem is that the mental health profession, and lay councillors, and some self-help groups perpetuate a myth. The myth is the very concept of self-esteem. People blame their bad feelings on self-esteem. People blame their lack of assertiveness on self-esteem. They often blame their performances and poor choices on self-esteem. Low self-esteem has been blamed for causing procrastination, for antisocial behaviours such as shoplifting and violence, for drinking and drugging abusively, for staying in abusive relationships, or even for choosing abusive partners in the first place.
It has been my experience that the real culprit is the irrational idea or belief in the very concept of self-esteem. The concept of self-esteem betrays an assumption that self-esteem is something that you can have (should have?). It is perceived to be something that others, those whom we may admire, seem to have. It is something that may seem out of reach because underneath, “I am really a bad person.” Yet, as I will attempt to demonstrate, it is a dangerous concept – dangerous to sobriety and dangerous to rational living. It may prevent us from attaining and maintaining a happy, or at least a relatively undisturbed attitude.
Self-esteem refers to liking or respecting one’s “self.” On the surface, this sounds healthy. Underlying the concept of self-esteem, however, are several Irrational ideas:
1)     Self-esteem is often associated with self-worth. We tend to base our self-worth on our achievements or attributes. When we do this, we crawl far out on the proverbial limb. We can get easily knocked down by losing our attributes (looks, money, power, position, etc.), or by achieving less than we expected. A simple mistake can turn our self-worth into worthlessness, and our The Journal of Rational Recovery plummets. Criticism by another, if we value their opinion, may also threaten our self-esteem.
2)     Self-esteem is based on a thinking distortion called over-generalization. We cannot possibly evaluate, judge or rate all of our behaviours each and every day. So, somehow we pick and choose which behaviours to focus on. The unfortunate human tendency is to focus on our negative emotions, failures and mistakes. We usually ignore the many hundreds of things we do well each day. When we focus on our mistakes or bad actions, we then over-generalize and think that most of what we do is bad. Or, we give the mistakes so much weight that they cancel out any of the successful, good or neutral actions we performed. Therefore, we end up with low self-esteem because we choose to focus on the negative, and over-generalize the worthlessness of the action to the worthlessness of the personal self.
3)     Self-esteem is also based on the irrational idea or thinking distortion called labelling. This is often a subset of overgeneralization. Having self-esteem usually comes from labelling our “self” as good. We may be generally successful, or achieve our goals, or do other good things. We then erroneously (albeit not unhealthfully) label our “self” as good. “I do good things, therefore, I am a good person.” Yet, do we not know “good” people who also do bad things? Are there not “bad” people who also do good things? How many good things does it take to earn the “good seal of approval”? How many bad things does it take to lose it?
4)     Once we have what we think as low self-esteem, we tend to look for examples of it. We seem to try to verify our vileness. We ignore or discount any evidence of good actions. We develop a self-image of being a bad or defective human. So self-esteem is really a mislabel. When we think we have low self-esteem we are really only feeling bad, miserable, or rotten because we have labelled our self as bad, and then call it low self-esteem.

          I believe it would be better to not think in terms of good or bad people. It would be better not to label myself as good or bad based on a few arbitrarily selected behaviours, attributes or actions. A better, healthier, and rationally sound approach is to eliminate the concepts of self-esteem and self-worth altogether. That doesn’t mean I can act badly without suffering the consequences (natural and self-imposed). Instead I can label and judge my actions as bad without labelling and judging my “self” as bad. I can remain solution oriented. I can try to repair the damage of my mistakes, work toward eliminating the causes, if at all possible, and try to do better, rather than be better. I can stop calling myself names.
          Do I replace the concept of self-esteem with anything? No not exactly. Instead of self-esteem or self-worth, I try to think in terms of my being a human being who does good and bad things. I accept my humanness and fallibility, even though I do not approve of nor like my mistakes. I can reject my mistakes without rejecting me. (We often think and act this way when others make mistakes, why not treat ourselves this well?) I can adapt to and accept responsibility for my error much more easily. I can get to the heart of making changes without the accompanying of self-blame, guilt or shame. I can take healthy risks without the fear of failing and losing self-esteem.
          Some of actions are worthwhile. Some of my behaviours have worth. As such, I had better try to continue doing such worthwhile activities and work at reducing or eliminating as many bad or ineffective or worthless activities as possible. Rather than being or becoming “good,” we can merely feel good more of the time; and we can do it without drugs.

Let the fetus do its job of becoming your baby.

No Booze. No Drugs. Being Real.

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4 May 2011

A Little Fun with "Little Baby"

Yes it is possible to add some humor to a serious blog. After all, having fun with your newborn is something you'll have to get used to. Hope it doesn't end up like this poor family.

I have a poem I wrote 18 years ago in my poem book and I thought I'd throw it on this blog with some pics for fun. So here is my baby "Picture Poem."


Once upon a time, the baby tipped the cradle,
and fell upon the cold, hard floor.

The baby didn't mind but the mommy fussed and cried
and rushed the baby right outside the door.

Silly clumsy mommy, had to slip and fall.
Sent the baby just-a-flyin' down the stairs.

Daddy who was down there went a-leapin' from his chair.
So fast he'd left behind his wig of hair.

But baby landed soft, not like dopey daddy.
He just had to stub his toe against the wall.

Now the mommy and the daddy who could neither stand nor walk,
said to baby, "Get the doctor! Make the call!"

The family was saved by an ambulance real soon.
To the hospital they raced against the clock.

Rolling on a stretcher towards a big white room
to a man that they would soon be calling, Doc."

Said the doctor to the daddy, "Now where do you feel pain?"
as he grabbed his toe and sent him through the ceiling!

When mommy saw this happen she said, "Stay away Doc!"
I'm better off at home to do my healing.

Now the mommy and the daddy real fast made up their mind,
to be homeward bound and not enouph too soon.

They went to grab the baby and were shocked when they had seen,
little baby by the window hanging moons.

A "copper" who had seen this had met them by the exit.
Said, "Come with me, we're on our way downtown."

The mommy's face turned red and the baby sat and giggled,
As daddy's dizzy head felt turned around.

"Why me?" she said to daddy as the baby crawled away,
towards the open streetside gutter.

"Oh NO!" said the copper as he rushed to save the baby,
but like mommy, fell as if he'd slipped on butter.

Well needless to be said, the family split real fast.
They made it home in record time I'll say.

Now the mommy's making soup and the baby's in in the cradle.
Said the daddy, "From now on it's here we'll stay."


Let the fetus do its job of becoming your baby.

No interuptions. No booze. No drugs.

Fetuses Against FASD Twitter: @fetuswinning

(www.fetuswinning.blogspot.com) The Safe Pregnancy Vision

2 May 2011

Who Knew? – 2 Cards: FASD 8.5% and MADD 94.5%

In my life I have to write everything down because my memory is terrible. It’s a part of my syndrome, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, and I want to make a difference because I’m not getting any younger. On May 8th, I’m 50.

It’s an FASD disorder. One I can’t fix. But I am intending to fix it for all future pregnant moms-to-be because I am the one who voted myself in to give informed consent about the consequences of abstinence vs FASD in my forum. Not in the aftercare industry forums. See “The Very Beginning of FASD & The Suicide of Michael Dorris,” (blog 6, April 2011).

Absent, a ton of commercials or sources of information out there that are thrust in front of public eyes on this criminal issue. I say criminal because knowingly drinking while pregnant these days is child abuse at its worst. Something is wrong with the FASD information engine. I’ll tell you why.

For example, I hear and see a lot about Down Syndrome. I think that’s great but where do we see the stimulus for stopping FASD? We don’t, not really. They are both very important, yet the 100% preventable one, FASD, has about as much prevention zeal as a seal. Sure, classrooms are being hit pretty hard with FASD news but are two 15 year-old lovers going to think about FASD when they are all horned up and alone in the park at night with weed and a can of beer? We can’t be sure. My guess is, “Not that likely.” I could go on.

So one day 2 years ago, I went out onto the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia and stopped people with two cards in my hand. Each card had an acronym on it. One had the acronym for Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, or, “MADD”, and the other, the other acronym for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, “FASD.”

After only 120 responses I stopped. My answer was very quickly becoming evident. Out of the 120 responses to the MADD acronym that I displayed first, everyone knew the acronym immediately except 3 foreigners a drunken man and a 14 year-old girl. When I initially approached people I wasn’t sure if they lived in BC or not since we are the most multicultural city in the world and found for what turned out to be a couple of foreign visitors, I could not count them as valid responses. In their language the acronym letters would be different. So now we are automatically down to 117 valid responses.

Yes, the drunken man did count.

Then I showed the very same people the acronym, “FASD.” Very briefly, an even 10 people knew what the FASD acronym meant, although a few had to really think about and ended up guessing with my help (assisted response), but they basically got it. Of these 10, including another 14 year-old girl who had a friend with FASD, 5 of them were professional people working in somewhat related fields. They still count.

So of 117 respondents 10 people knew the FASD acronym and that puts the percentage of that population at 8.5 %. Now that to me was very interesting. Why?

FASD was first discovered and coined in 1973. Actually it was just FAS at that time. One less letter to remember but the incident rate was unknown at the time. Today, the incident rate is somewhat known – or clearly guessable. However, MADD was founded in 1980, 7 years later. In the survey, 94.5% of the respondents knew the MADD acronym.

I had to think why these numbers came up the way they did. I did not consider that one or the other was more important since death and injury from drunk drivers is equally as careless as pregnant mothers who refuse to put the bottle or glass down that would guarantee lifelong brain damage for the newborn. There had to be a difference somewhere.

So after my experience with FASD that I began investigating since 2006, I surmised the one big important difference between the two after I saw the survey results:

Advertising was key. Very simply, MADD makes commercials that people remember, like “MADD Glasses” and “MADD Toe Tags.” On the other hand FASD puts out ads that people forget, like, “I’m Pregnant,” or “Alcohol Myths.” Do you remember the FASD commercials? Do you remember ever seeing one? Do you remember MADD commercials? See? (See next blog for more on this.)

MADD has also accomplished something that I intend to accomplish. That is, getting the lawmakers on my side. As you know, the legal alcohol limit for drinking and driving in British Columbia and other Canadian provinces has gone from .08 to .05. That is not a coincidence. I actually credit MADD because of their beaurocratic pushes on lawmakers.

I am currently working with Doctor Hedy Fry, MLA, and intend on working with her more closely as time goes on. Also, I relate ideas, thoughts and information about my organization’s intentions with Paul Szabo, MLA and also a well-known single father of an FASD child (now grown), and the moderator of FASlink, Mr. Bruce Ritchie, pioneer. We all want laws passed too. The official word from the two MLA’s is that FASD just doesn’t make it to the house of commons. We must remind ourselves at this time, again, that FASD is Canada’s #1 birth defect and that it is 100% preventable.

A unique mention at this point: Drunk drivers and Down Syndrome victims are things people see or hear with their senses and victimology says, “Look, there I see it – case closed.” That of course being tragic accidents or Down Syndrome victim’s basic and visually obvious cues. But FASD is seen in the abstract over a long period of behavior analysis with the only exception being in the full syndrome where facial features clearly point to FASD. Peculiarly, in the latter cases, people still don’t know what syndrome they are seeing.

So in my, in our, organization, my people and myself are going to rewrite FASD prevention retention. We still have more to investigate, more to confirm, and when we get real scientific, you’ll get the visuals and cues right and newborns will experience the successes of the education and stimuli we intend to put out for pregnancy protection. We will not let anyone forget what alcohol does to developing cells inside the fetus. That’s our promise. When the fetus says, “Speak for me,” we intend to do just that.

Let the fetus do its job of becoming your baby.
No Booze. No Drugs. Being Real.
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