Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, and the Summertime Blues

I’d love to be able to take a swim at the beach, sit under a tree reading a novel, or chill out with some cold chocolate ice cream, but I’ve been pulled back into the reality of the world by Michael Jackson’s father, Joe, appearing on Larry King Live to deny he ever beat his son. That, on top of watching Chris Brown’s 2-minute video apology for beating Rihanna, have given me a worse headache than biting into an ice cream cone. You can read about the abuse issues that have clouded the clear skies of my summer enjoyment in Psychology Today.


Michael Jackson and Mother’s Little Helpers

Can’t sleep? How about knocking yourself out with the “milk of amnesia” used for surgery? Anxious about performing 50 intense shows at the age of 50? Try 40 tabs of Xanax and add in some antidepressants. Michael Jackson certainly was a believer in better living through chemistry.

So many people these days are reaching for the prescription drug bottle to smooth out the wrinkles in our lives that use of these meds, especially pain relievers, has surpassed usage of illegal drugs as the pathway to oblivion . . . and, in Michael Jackson’s case, to death.

Read my blog on this topic from the Huffington Post.


Nail Biting … Self Mutilation or Stress-Relieving Habit?

I bet you’ve never heard of chronic onychophagia, even though you may have indulged in it yourself. The name you do know for this common stress-relieving habit is nail biting. More than half of all toddlers, a third of young children, over 40% of adolescents, and 19-29% of young adults do it. By the time you’re an older adult, that number has gone down to 5%. It’s also more common, for some reason, in intellectuals.

Why are so many kids and teens busily chomping away at their fingernails when they are nervous, stressed, or bored? Well, they’re always at hand, so to speak. From the moment of our birth, we’re geared to put things in our mouth; it gives us a feeling of satisfaction, of being nurtured. If food isn’t available, then our own hands and nails become a substitute. Boys are more likely than girls to continue nail biting into their teens and beyond, especially since they are less likely to be concerned about manicures and nail polish.
Nail biting, if it’s severe enough to cause bleeding or painful finger traumas, can be described as an act of self-mutilation and may require outside help. But most of the time, it’s a basically harmless habit, although it can transfer germs buried under the surface of the nail into the mouth. Many nail biters get frustrated by the habit or ashamed of themselves for not stopping. If you want to stop, first try these two simple remedies:

  1. Buy a lot of cheap nail files and put them around wherever you work or play. Since people rarely bite or pick at nails that have smooth edges, grab a handy file and sand down any rough spots right away.
  2. Get the awful tasting nail polish available at most drugstores. The stuff leaves a horrible taste in your mouth whenever you bite a nail.

If your nail biting is related to anxiety, the best way to stop the habit is by learning some stress relief or relaxation techniques. For example, instead of chomping on a nail, occupy your hands in another way: do some yoga poses, play a musical instrument, take up knitting. You can also learn to release anxiety through meditation, visualization, or breathing techniques. There are some very good relaxation tapes available as well.


Michael Jackson: Sexual Predator?

Michael Jackson brings up conflicting feelings in me: sympathy for him as an abused child and admiration for his talent as a performer, while not condoning in any way his probable behavior as a child molester. I watched his trial on charges of sexual abuse and thought there was evidence of guilt, although I was glad to see the charges dropped because of the way in which the trial had been conducted.


Joking on the Job – Not Something To Laugh About!

I was recently interviewed for the Star-Ledger to discuss appropriate & inappropriate comments in the workplace.  During our discussion we examined the recent flap over David Letterman’s one-liners about Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter.  I think this  has served as a reminder that people often cross the line of appropriateness even when they think they’re being funny.

Anything that involves the big five — gender, religion, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity — are off limits.  They’re completely inappropriate for the workplace. Please take a minute to read the original post as I provided some cues for workers to follow if they think a joke-telling colleague is crossing the line.  You can read the entire post here.