Ethics & Morality Articles

The Power of Kindness

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The FuneralThe last few months have been hard for me. I’ve had some issues with depression and paranoia. Living with schizophrenia is a rollercoaster and even little blips can turn into crises.

This depression, though, has had me feeling a deep sense of loneliness. The paranoia makes me feel ostracized from the world, and it’s really hard to feel like no matter where you go, you’ll never fit in.

This was weighing on me the other day until something happened that struck me. It put a long-overdue, sorely-needed smile on my face.

Facebook Mocks its Users with New Research Policy

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Facebook Mocks its Users with New Research PolicyIn any modern, first-world country, the government requires legitimate university researchers to go through an independent review board (IRB) when conducting research on human beings. This is due to past abuses by both governments and organizations who have used the guise of “seeking knowledge” to cover up their efforts to manipulate people for their own means and ends.

But you know what? Facebook isn’t a first-world country. So in an effort to better understand how to best monetize your use of their service, they don’t need an IRB’s approval to conduct research on you.

And now, in my opinion, they are outright mocking their users with their latest update to their research practices.

How to Be Real Without Being Mean

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

What is Anger?The mantra to “get real” has become popular nowadays — and for good reason. We live in a society where images rule and authenticity is reserved for blue jeans and ethnic recipes. We’re trained to polish and parade a false self that we think will garner acceptance and accolades.

The isolation and disconnection that’s rampant in our society is based on a disconnection from our own genuine feelings and longings. We’re afraid to show what’s real, including our fears, insecurities, and yearning for love and intimacy. Instead, we may try to project a confident, self-assured, unruffled self that we think will win us friends and gain success. For example, we might conceal our hurt or sadness when our partner is late. Our built-up disappointment or resentment might leak out later over something trivial, which leaves our partner confused.

Is Suicide a Free Choice or a False Choice?

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Is Suicide a Free Choice or a False Choice?

Is suicide a free choice, like choosing to do the laundry today, or to watch TV?

Or is the act of suicide more of a false choice — the illusion of choice, with none of the freedom we typically associate with the word?

Some people may feel this is semantics — not worth the time to discuss. But given some of the ridiculous things that have been written about suicide in the past week, I feel like it’s an important point to examine and understand.

Suicide is not a choice in any meaningful sense of the word. Here’s why.

Why Do We Find the Words ‘I’m Sorry’ So Rewarding?

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

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Have you ever been hurt by an unapologetic person? Most of us have. When this happens, it hurts, but we intuitively know the importance of forgiving the person anyway — for our own sake — simply to free ourselves from the heavy burden of resentment.

But still, we deeply crave the words “I’m sorry.” These simple words have the power to deliver nearly instant relief and help us drop our guard. Why is this? What exactly goes on in the heads (and hearts) of people who are at the receiving end of “I’m sorry?”

How Warren Buffett Found the Key to Happiness

Friday, August 8th, 2014

How Warren Buffett Found the Key to HappinessMoney will not change how healthy you are or how many people love you. — Warren Buffett

So let’s start off with a tough reality: it’s unlikely that any of us will be as rich as Warren Buffett. In fact, he’s so rich that one-thousandth of a percent of his wealth is still about $6.5 million.

Before I get into why Buffett is winning at life, let me answer the question that’s probably roaming in the back of your mind: How could I possibly relate to someone so wealthy?

Strategies for Self-Compassion

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Strategies for Self-CompassionRalph Waldo Emerson, one of the New England Transcendentalists, was very influential for me as a teenager. I have found many of his essays and aphorisms to be very useful, both personally and professionally. The one pearl I have gotten the most mileage out of is from his essay Love, written in 1841: “Each man sees over his own experience a stain of error, whilst that of other men looks fair and ideal.”

When we compare ourselves to others, we may feel better or worse. It may be more useful to minimize comparison and instead consider our connections to one another and all life forms on the planet if we are working toward building a healthier relationship to the self.

Recovering from Codependency

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Recovering from CodependencyTonight in my CoDA meeting we read from Step Ten of Melody Beattie’s book Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps. I highly recommend this book if you are serious about getting your head in the right place. It’s a great place to start.

What struck me this evening was this paragraph:

I kept trying to forgive [addicts] for [their addictions] when I was still allowing myself to be victimized by their [behavior]. I kept substituting forgiveness and denial for acceptance of reality. I had concepts confused.

How Facebook’s Squishy Ethics Got Them Into Trouble

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

How Facebook's Squishy Ethics Got Them Into TroubleAh, how quickly folks backpedal when they’re caught doing something a little less than transparent. And perhaps something a little bit… squishy, ethics-wise.

That’s what Facebook “data scientist” Adam D.I. Kramer was doing on Sunday, when he posted a status update to his own Facebook page trying to explain why Facebook ran a bad experiment and manipulated — more than usual — what people saw in their news feed.

For some Tuesday-morning humor, let’s take a look at what Kramer said on Sunday, versus what he wrote in the study.

The Funeral

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The FuneralMy aunt — my mother´s youngest sister — left a chilling message on my cousin´s voicemail.

“Suzanne has to be institutionalized,” she pronounced without conscience or hesitation. “Don’t enable her delusions.”

Just like that. Suzanne was bipolar so she should be committed; lose her freedom, her rights. My aunt, whose exact qualifications elude me, was now a self-anointed/appointed psychiatrist.

The Psychology of Elliot Rodger

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

The Psychology of Elliot RodgerI’m a bit scared to admit that I actually wasn’t shocked when I watched Elliot Rodger’s now-infamous YouTube video. I was horrified, to be sure, but not surprised.

You would think that it’s unnatural not to feel shock when watching a video of an intelligent, articulate young man relish describing his plan to “slaughter” all of the “girls” in the “hottest sorority.”

But these types of desperate, vengeful fantasies have become familiar to me in my line of work. I have, with some frequency, sat in my therapy office and listened to similar sentiments expressed by more than a few patients over the past several years. There are many more Elliot Rodgers in our country than we’d like to believe.

The Ritual Sacrifice of Amanda Knox

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

The Ritual Sacrifice of Amanda KnoxWhat do domestic violence, terrorism, the apparently renewable cold war and the repeat trials of Amanda Knox have in common? In a word, the devolution of humanity.

Knox, if you managed to miss the media storm about her, is the young American exchange student convicted, acquitted, then convicted again of the 2007 brutal murder of her roommate in Italy. She is currently living in her hometown of Seattle while awaiting yet another trial, an appeal to the Italian Supreme Court later this year.

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