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Gordon Livingston, M.D.
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Entries by Gordon Livingston, M.D.

What Do the Old Have to Say to the Young?

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2013 | 10:57 AM

We have endured another graduation season full of the usual forgettable commencement speeches. It amazes me, as it does each year, how powerful is the impulse for the old to give advice to the young. This tendency, of course, is also evident in the typical exchanges that pass for conversation...

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The Conservative Mind

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2013 | 3:16 PM

Psychotherapy teaches us that identifying patterns of behavior and beliefs is the key to understanding what people really value. These themes often exist at an unconscious level and may be different from the rationalizations used to disguise, even from themselves, people's true motivations.

The same can be said of beliefs...

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Guns and Mental Health

(18) Comments | Posted February 11, 2013 | 3:34 PM

As we debate the steps to reducing gun violence in the society a couple points need to be understood: 1. The link between violent crime and mental illness is weak, and 2. Mental health professionals are poor at predicting anyone's propensity for any specific behavior, including homicide.


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God and Grief

(5) Comments | Posted December 27, 2012 | 3:14 PM

In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre people continue to ask the useless question, "Why?" We search for the shooter's "motive," as if we could discover a satisfactory explanation for why a depressed young man would decide to execute 20 first-graders and six of their teachers.


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Beware of Things on Which We All Agree

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2012 | 11:01 PM

One way of looking at life is that sustained effort over a long period of time is necessary to construct a map in our heads that conforms to the world in which we are attempting to navigate. To make our maps accurate, we need to discover as much as possible...

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Courage Is Like Love: It Must Have Hope to Nourish It

(0) Comments | Posted September 7, 2012 | 7:00 AM

"People react to fear, not love -- they don't teach that in Sunday school, but it's true." -- Richard Nixon

Hopelessness is the ultimate failure of imagination. The most prosaic form of courage is a willingness to get out of bed each morning and continue our lives. In...

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A Murderous Society's Latest Outrage

(4) Comments | Posted July 26, 2012 | 4:45 PM

We are uncomfortable in confronting randomness in our lives. Worse, we deceive ourselves about who we are as a people. When something terrible happens we search for "explanations" in the same way that primitive people did when puzzled by the complexity of the universe. Why does one person kill another,...

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'No One Is Brave In All Circumstances'

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2012 | 8:19 AM

There are many ways to be brave. The easiest to recognize is a willingness to take physical risks that most people would not consider. One of the salient characteristics of all creatures is behavior that conforms to a desire for self-preservation. This tendency is virtually an evolutionary imperative, to survive...

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