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Barry Lessin's Comments

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Television Rehab: Treatment or Trauma?

Television Rehab: Treatment or Trauma?

Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 00:33:19 in Healthy Living

“@helzapoppin: Pinsky perpetuates stigma by presenting an inaccurate portrayal of addiction and effective treatment. Stigma is caused by the public’s ignorance about drug use and a person’s shame. By the time drug users get to treatment they're already buried in shame. Exposing this vulnerability in a sensationalized way and portraying addiction treatment in unrealistic terms is a perfect storm for stigma. His treatment approaches have been exposed as not being based on current science/ evidence-based methods; instead reflecting my-way-or-the-highway, one-size fits-all approaches that have been used for 50 yrs without significant proven benefit. As an addiction psychologist practicing this ‘old school’ way for decades, being frustrated by chronically low success rates, I realized that blaming treatment failures on my clients’ “not being ready’’ for sobriety was unrealistic. (Blaming the client is a sure-fire way to increase shame and stigma also)

After reviewing the current science of addiction and recovery, I made a shift to individualized, flexible treatment plans and recognizing addiction as the mental illness it is. His treatment approach doesn’t reflect this, so it’s not that surprising that people are dying: the mental health problems associated with his patients’ addictions are not focused on very much.

Pinsky admitted irresponsibility after Mindy McCready’s death. Commenting to the media, he acknowledged he’s pressured to balance ethical treatment w/the demands of TV producers for drama. Would you want to be treated by someone admitting to stretching ethical treatment because of outside demands?”
A Decade of 9/11: Past, Present and Future

A Decade of 9/11: Past, Present and Future

Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 10:41:54 in World

“The opportunity to harness the astounding productive, compassionate energy of our fellow citizens that we saw immediately after 9/11 was ignored by the government's saber-rattling and fear-mongering in order to carry out its own "patriotic" agenda.

Grief is a like a wound that needs to heal in stages, a process that unfolds over a lifetime. We know that grief heals by us doing things, channeling our pain into activities that have meaning to us with respect to our loss. To me, it’s a perfect opportunity for our country’s leaders to use this window of opportunity in American history to take a page from President Kennedy’s form of patriotism (“ask not what your country can do for you…”)”
Overcrowded California Prisons and Mental Health

Overcrowded California Prisons and Mental Health

Commented Aug 20, 2011 at 14:02:36 in Healthy Living

“Maureen, so sorry about your son. As an addictions specialist working with co-occurring disorders and with a family member with bipolar disorder, it's heartbreaking to see how the criminal justice system mirrors the ignorance of the general public about mental illness and addiction. Your speaking out and the hard work of NAMI helps to chip away at the wall of stigma that makes it so hard for Americans to access effective treatment.
huffingtonpost entry

Memo to the Media: Enough Already on Charlie Sheen

Commented Mar 1, 2011 at 22:55:09 in Media

“The media exploitation of Charlie Sheen contributes to the culture of stigmatizing mental illness in America that makes it very difficult for people needing help for their emotional problems to reach out
for it.

Stigma is fueled by fear and ignorance and adds to the existing shame and pain of suffering with emotional problems. The antidote is learning the facts about mental illness. is a great place to start

We can't stop media exploitation, but when we tire of viewing the Sheen train wreck, if we take some time to educate ourselves about the pain and shame associated with mental illness, stigma can be chipped away and perhaps make it a little easier for people to get the help they need.
Why Are People So Divided When It Comes To Children's Mental Health?

Why Are People So Divided When It Comes To Children's Mental Health?

Commented Dec 9, 2010 at 10:38:36 in Home

“Dr. K, you're a welcome voice of reason and information in the struggle to lower the stigma associated with mental illness and addiction in our culture.
Some of the same extreme reactions to mental health treatment are seen in other areas such as racial/religious/political differences. Differences between "us" and "other" trigger fear in us as human beings. This fear is a natural physiological survival response otherwise known as the "flight/fight" response that we humans share with other mammals.
Accurate information usually reduces fear: when we turn a light on in a dark room after hearing a noise and see that there's nothing in the room to hurt us, we quickly calm down.
We've made some progress in the addiction field in lowering the stigma barriers to make addiction treatment more accessible to those who need it. We have a long way to go with mental illness, and this dialogue can only help.
What Your Child's Facebook Addiction Says About Your Parenting Style

What Your Child's Facebook Addiction Says About Your Parenting Style

Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 07:53:09 in Healthy Living

“Excellent review of basic, effective parenting principles.

As parents get better at connecting with their children by learning to maintain more open communication, they can better take their “emotional temperature” and tune in to any potential conflicts they are struggling with.

Research suggests that when we talk openly with our kids about problem behaviors, they are more likely to have better self-control and develop more negative perceptions about these risky behaviors.

Much of my work with parents of teens involves educating parents around what approaches work vs. don’t work with their kids. Providing consistent, clear limits, and educating them about balancing online with offline activities can be challenging at times. But the payoff is reducing the likelihood of your child developing self-destructive behaviors.