Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Inga Roizman
The manual in which to diagnose mental illness is the DSM. If you don’t know, DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. New “illnesses” are added every 10ish years as the culture’s atmosphere fluctuates. While many of the diagnoses found in the text can be valid, the new DSM V is doing more harm than good. This book does it’s best to dissect the human condition and reduce personality traits and moods to numerical codes which are used to bill insurance.
One of the newest “illnesses” that doctors can now prescribe treatment for is grieving. That’s right grieving is now considered a clinical disorder. What? Are they really trying to diagnose the human condition?
Now, I realize I sound a little chippy. And I am. And I just made up the word chippy, but it seems to describe how I’m feeling about the new DSM V.
Yes, grieving is painful, isn’t that what makes us human? Imagine you lost someone you love. Maybe your child suffered from an incurable disease. Grieving over that loved one is part of the process that the living must go through. Will medicating your feelings away bring back that person from death? No, yet here we are.
Recently, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health published a blog outlining what research the U.S. government would fund. The NIMH has decided to no longer rely on the DSM, a text that has long been seen as a holy document in the realm of psychology…this is a huge deal.
Now let me introduce the RDoC, NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria. It’s another book. It’s the one the drug companies will have to use to get funding for research in bipolar, schizophrenia, autism. These guys want to look for biological causes. I’m not against that.
I am against attaching a label, a code number that insurance companies can know them by when the human condition is ever changing, full of movement and growth and comes with many parts.
G-d knows I’m not against drugs, but the soul of the human being is so often forgotten.
This hoopla is what has drawn me into the Positive Psychology movement, a model in which depression is treated with happiness. Where optimism is cultivated and hope is instilled through gratitude.
The soul must find nourishment or it turns on itself. I believe it’s the job of anyone in the psychology field to help people find purpose and connection. That’s the ideal we should all strive toward.
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May 6, 2013 | 3:05 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Matt Shapiro
Despite living in Southern California for the better part of a decade, I still consider myself to be a Chicagoan. This is most clearly reflected in the sports teams I root for: Bears, White Sox and Bulls. I was thrilled that over the weekend, the Bulls defeated the Brooklyn Nets in the deciding game of their first-round playoff series to move on to face the defending champion Miami Heat, both because of my own personal rooting interests and, if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, deeper spiritual reasons as well. In this game, the Bulls were missing two different players who were in the starting lineup at the beginning of the series. On top of these key absences, all season long the Bulls have been without Derrick Rose, one of the best players in the league, who has been out since the playoffs last spring after tearing his ACL. So what?, you ask. Any team can win short-handed once in a while. What makes this situation notable in my eyes is the underlying philosophy of the Bulls’ coach, Tom Thibodeau.
Coach Thibs, as he’s known (saving me from having to type that more than once), espouses a coaching philosophy of hard work and hustle, always pushing his players to the limit of their talent and energy. Over the past two weeks, each time he was asked about the key players the Bulls were missing, Thibs has said simply, “We have more than enough to win.” Instead of coming up with excuses in advance or finding half-hearted ways of explaining how his team might still have a chance, he answered confidently and without hesitation in support of his team. The effort of his players reflected the faith of their coach, keeping their season alive.
To be sure, there are people in our world who are needy, missing things they sorely need, in which lack of success is not merely a case of lack of effort. At the same time, there are also many of us who have everything we need, and either cannot see it (because of our own blindness) or choose not to see it (so that we can always have either 1. an excuse, for when things don’t go our way, or 2. something superficial to be striving for). I’m blessed each day to have more than enough, and when I remember that, not only am I in a place where I’m more able to see accurately what’s right in front of me, but I’m happier too.
It calls to mind the well-known song many of us sang a few weeks ago at our Seders, Dayenu, in which we recount all of the different things God has provided for us, listing them all and reciting after each, “dayenu,” it would have been enough to just have this. Having it, whatever it is, isn’t a guarantee of success, but noticing that it’s present deepens what’s possible. It’s easy for me to lose sight of how much I have, and I’m humbled when I remember to notice those gifts. I’m so used to the presence of my wife and child that I have to make a point to remember how lucky I am to have them and how grateful I am; without them, I wouldn’t have nearly enough to contend, let alone win, but because they’re fixtures in my life, I can lose sight of that. Another example: it would have been enough for the Bulls to just make it past the first round of the playoffs after everything that happened…dayenu! But, man, it will really be great if we could take down the Heat…
May 3, 2013 | 1:55 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
I just read an article in New York Magazine and I am terribly distressed. This article goes against everything that I believe Judaism stands for and is, a Hillul HaShem! The article talks about the Hassidic Communities of Western Rockland County, New York and the way that the Hassidic Communities have created/recreated the Shtetl experience of Eastern Europe. I am in awe of the communal aspect that has happened and the care/tzedakah that is lived by the Hassidim!
Yet, the way they treat the other people, also poor, in their midst is a Shanda! He Hassidim voted in a majority on the School Board. They have since gutted the school system, they have taken advantage of Special Education, using it only for them, and they have fired educators and made it impossible for students to get a high school education in 4 years. What is going on???
Who is being hurt the most? Other immigrants. Other poor people, what are we doing? Judaism teaches us to care for the widow, stranger, poor and orphan because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. Yet, we are not doing this.
Is there anti-Semitism? Of course! So, does this give us the right to do the same treatment to others? Should we use the tactics of haters and despots to ruin the lives of others? What is going on ??
This is not a diatribe against the Hassidim because they don’t recognize my Smicha. Many of my own colleagues in all denominations don’t recognize my Smicha. In fact, I have heard people comment that I could only be a Rabbi for Recovering Addicts because no self-respecting Shul would give “him”(me) a job. This is not a diatribe against Hassidim because they practice Judaism different than me. No, this is a diatribe against using other’s vulnerabilities against them. This is a diatribe against using power to harm others as one has felt harm from others in power. This is a diatribe against using Religious Practice as an excuse to harm others well-being and rights to an education and basic human services/needs.
We have to give voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. This is our heritage, this is our history, this is our Command from God! Be a light unto the nations the Prophets tell us. What would Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, Nathan, etc. say to the Hassidim in power? What would they say to us in the way we treat the poor, widow, orphan and stranger? Can you face God and/or the Prophets with the way you give power to the powerless and voice to the voiceless? Have you hugged an addict today? Have you helped a stranger today? Have you noticed the world around you and made it better today? Have you used the “law of the land” to care for yourself and yours to the detriment of others?
Jews care for all, even our enemies. We have to act as God’s representatives and not from self-interest alone. Rabbi Heschel, a descendant of the Apter Rav, says the interests of others have to be our concerns. Are they?
May 1, 2013 | 8:58 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Inga Roizman
I suppose I should introduce myself as this is my inaugural ‘Addicted to Redemption’ submission. My name is Inga Roizman; I’ve been a counselor at Beit T’Shuvah for a little more than a year and a former resident upon two separate occasions.
On my first occasion I arrived spiritually bankrupt and medicating a broken heart and a void I’d had for a lifetime. I promptly met someone here… This temporarily filled the void, distracted me and it served as a very precarious idol of sorts.
On my second occasion, I had bottomed out on the idea that anyone had any power to fill this void—a wakeup call in the biggest way. I knew for certain I was addicted to all the insane symbols of love (lowercase).
I had put all my faith into men, money, drugs, alcohol, and external validation…anything that would scream praise to my ego. Who doesn’t like these things? It feels good but it was never enough, it just doesn’t last long enough.
I had believed I was sustained by everything but G-d.
Addiction, amongst other things, is a substitute or a coping mechanism to deal with the anxiety or the fear of lack of love. Some people call this FEAR.
As a resident, I worked on my core issues of abandonment, validation an attention seeking, scarcity and separation. My perception was skewed but not too skewed to know that this perception wasn’t serving my life anymore.
For me the answer was simple. I had to do something radical. I had to LOVE myself and extend the LOVE I want in the world.
Now, writing that makes me cringe a little because it sounds trite like those Facebook feel good, inspirational quote thingies but, it’s what I did. I really had to make a choice.
As a counselor at Beit T’Shuvah, I can see negative behavior in others as a “cry for love” and rather than perpetuate another’s chronic faulty belief about themselves, I can help them see they are worthy. This is what it’s all about. This is what was done for me.
For me the shift had something to do with the choice to trust that I am a Holy Soul. Being and extending the love I want seems to be the only cure for the existential anxiety and uncertainty in this world. This is the love I’ve been looking for all of my life. We are one.