Advice from the Trenches: Poison Control

Dear C and Dr. B,

My wife had reserved some books at our local library for a workshop she was teaching at an after school program. She ran out of time doing prep for the workshop and asked me to pick up the books for her while she continued packing up materials. I drove to the library and found the books waiting on the reserve shelf. 

I picked up the pile without looking at them, and if I hadn’t had to hit the brakes suddenly for a guy who ran a stop sign, I might never have noticed any of the titles. But as fate would have it, they slid all over the front seat and floor of the car and I had to gather them up. They were mostly craft books, but two of the titles were a bit of a shock. One was “The Empowered Woman’s Guide To Divorce” and the other one was “The Poisoner’s Handbook.”

We’ve always had the occasional quarrel, but nothing serious – this seems out of left field. Should I be worried?      

– Pete in Peril?

 Dr. B says: I would  hope you are not in the position of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and delivering your own message of execution! But I think you may need to have a conversation with your wife. I’d start out with “Dear, is something bothering you?” and I would offer to go to counseling with her if there is. It not only adds in a third party, whom she would then need to kill as well, but it also might diffuse whatever pressure or resentment has built up. Of course, as yet you don’t know if there was any to begin with. For all you know, she might be researching for a new play or book or screen play that she is writing.

Good luck.

C says: What exactly does your wife do? If she is in fact a writer, then an explanation for the books seems plausible. But if she is a visual or teaching artist for children, I have to wonder what the divorce and murder is all about. She may have a friend who is getting divorced and needs answers. She may have seen a movie or TV program on crime and gotten curious about an unsolved murder. Or – she may be getting ready to hire her own lawyer…after she poisons you.

If you want to test the waters without seeming obvious, there’s a few things you may want to check for. Does your wife grow lilies of the valley? Walter White used an extract from this plant to poison a few people on Breaking Bad, but even the water in a vase containing these flowers can contain a lethal dose of poison, so if you see new flower arrangements suddenly appearing around the house, watch out! Another decorative flower you should beware is Oleander. This one is so toxic that a single leaf can kill an adult if ingested. Peace Lilies are lethal as well. Do you have a pet your wife has a problem with? Philodendron is especially toxic to cats, as are many plants in the lily family.

Honestly, I think you are probably safe. She did ask you to pick up the books, and murderers rarely ask their victims to fetch the means of their own destruction or give them an opportunity to figure it out. But every marriage could benefit from periodic efforts to touch base and find out if you are meeting each other’s needs. Let’s put it this way – if your wife really does want to get rid of you, some kindness and concern could change her mind. It certainly never hurts.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Slow Your Roll: One reader wants to know if marijuana is a help or hindrance

Dear C and Dr. B;

I see people all around me who have various habits, all of which could be considered problem vices in a certain light. For instance, marijuana. But some people seem to be able to use it responsibly. I’ve known many adults who manage to hold jobs, raise kids, and drive their cars without ending up in jail or rehab. And I know people who use it medically who never increase their dosage or need to try stronger highs.

So here is my situation – I turn to marijuana to help cope with depression and a chronic autoimmune disorder. I never increase the amount I use or let it interfere with my work. In the past, doctors tried EVERY antidepressant in the book on me, but they left me unmotivated to the point where I didn’t want to do ANYTHING. My boyfriends would break up with me because I lost interest in sex. The trade-off wasn’t worth it.

However, according to my sister’s shrink, who thinks marijuana is nothing but a gateway street drug, my marijuana use IS a problem. He says that the FDA hasn’t approved it and he’s seen it mess people up far more than it has helped them. I think his opinion is skewed because he has nothing but dysfunctional patients who would likely abuse any substance they used, including food. What do you think?         – Potunia

Dr. B says: The jury is out still on marijuana. There is no standardization and research has only recently started because before this, it was illegal. I have heard lots of anecdotal reports from people like you saying it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I have read a lot of preliminary medical reports showing it has no greater long-term positive use than placebo or it has a lot of potential negative long-term consequences. It also seems to affect everyone differently. Although I am not convinced it has any long-term medical use I can’t give you an official opinion. 

C says: At this point, I want to slap every doctor in the face who uses that “there is no scientific research” excuse to deny the possible validity of medical marijuana. The fact is, until May 2021 the federal government banned medical research on the grounds that marijuana was a Schedule One street drug that had no medical value.

Let us not forget that the standardized and FDA sanctioned drug industry is the same group that pushed Fentanyl and oxycodone on us, fueling the opioid crisis and killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. Their lack of approval for medical marijuana does not disturb me nearly as much as it does the AMA, which hasn’t yet figured out how to make money off of medical marijuana.

Dr. B is right: He can’t give you an official opinion – and most of his experience is with dysfunctional patients who are more likely to abuse substances. But I seriously doubt that ANY doctor who downplays the potential medical value of marijuana has had any experience with responsible use. There are many MM remedies that cause absolutely no high at all. But every doctor against medical marijuana speaks as if MM use is all about the high.

I have interviewed Compassion Center patients who have had first-hand experience with medical marijuana over the course of decades. They all turned to it because the FDA-approved drugs for their conditions left them with no energy or quality of life and myriad side effects. Pharmaceuticals have a fairly dismal record of success with many chronic illnesses, especially autoimmune disorders; yet every doctor against MM is willing to dismiss the success stories from thousands of responsible adults as purely anecdotal.

In all fairness, I realize that board certified doctors live in fear of lawsuits, fines and repercussions, so it is logical for them to deny any view for which the board would reprimand or sue them. But they are holding back a much more viable and sustainable treatment than what the pharmaceutical companies have to offer. In 2018, a Johns Hopkins study found that more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors; other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000. Since the opioid crisis, the figures have grown exponentially. NO ONE has died yet from medical marijuana. You may draw your own conclusions.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Is it Depression or Is Life Hard?: One reader wonders if her antidepressants are necessary anymore

Dear C and Dr. B;

I am 61 and have been on antidepressants over 20 years. I am doing well and feel fine these days, but does depression ever really go away? I mean on its own? I ask because my mother was depressed when I was a kid and there were no antidepressants back then. Her doctor told her to get out more and be more active. As she got older she did get better and by the time she had died, she was not depressed.  

My doctor recommended I stay on the medications – I was pretty bad off when they were started. I had also gone through two abusive marriages. I married men very similar to my dad. My current husband is a very respectful and nice man. They say three times a charm. Do I still need to be on antidepressants?       

– Debbie Downer

Dr. B says: Depression has a million possible causes, so this is not an easy question to answer. Your mom may have been more oppressed than depressed; this was most women’s plight back in her day. In this time period in our culture, woman’s lives pretty much sucked, as did the lives of most non-white minorities. Was it nature or nurture that caused those suburban housewives to be on valium? Later on, Xanax and Dexedrine dominated their medicine cabinets, followed by Doxepin, then Prozac. These drugs were the family doctor’s answer to everything. Now it’s Adderall, Phentermine, and Xanax, with Celexa close behind. 

Our society is sleep deprived, over worked, and economically unstable & unequal in so many ways. Our climate is unstable, racial injustice persists, and people are entitled, rude, and downright mean to each other. The pandemic is the icing on the cake. But what we need to remember is that feeling better and actually being better are not the same thing. Medications can make you feel better, because you just don’t care so much. But medications can’t bring meaning to your life. The suffering that we are trying to avoid is intimately tied to finding meaning. It requires intent and effort, not avoidance and numbness. 

So – whether or not you stay on meds is a conversation you need to have with your doctor. But if you are asking if your life is meaningful you need to examine your social ties and commitments. Do you have enough of them to provide meaningful suffering?

C says: Debbie, what I hear you asking is whether your circumstances have changed enough that you don’t need antidepressants anymore. If you have been on antidepressants for over 20 years, I’d say that the real question is: Why in hell hasn’t your doctor asked that question yet?

According to recent studies, long term efficacy of antidepressants is questionable. For one thing, patients generally develop tolerance over time. For another, the long-term effects are still largely unknown. The current thinking on medication is that after the first episode of depression, antidepressants should be taken for 9 months, then re-assessed. Although this will vary depending on the individual case, a maximum of 2 years is recommended for patients who have further episodes of depression. You have been on them for far too long.

Your problem now is finding a responsible, up-to-date doctor who can assess you. If he decides it’s a good idea to get off the medication, he can help you taper off. Depending on what you’ve been taking, some drugs are addictive long term. Suddenly removing them is not a good idea. That can trigger a relapse or other harmful symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts.

Regular follow up and close monitoring is essential for anyone who is taking antidepressants of any type. If your doctor is not doing this, you need a new doctor. 

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Quarter Life Crisis: The rug was pulled from beneath this recent grad. Now what?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I am in my last year of college and will soon have to figure out a career. I know that I have some big decisions to make. I am trying to be optimistic, but everything in my life sucks! My mother just died and this means I am losing my home. I can’t support myself yet, so I have to go live with my dad in the meantime. My mother left him because he was totally unsupportive and she found out he was seeing someone else at work! Now he has a new wife, who is less than happy to have me there.

It seems like everything I depended on has been pulled out from underneath me like the proverbial rug. My parents’ marriage was a failure, now all that’s left is Dad and a bimbo. I cannot get motivated to get out there and forge a life and career for myself. Everything fails in the end anyway. What’s the point?

Blue Bonnie 

Dr. B says: Sorry for your losses. Life can be awful – but it is also filled with opportunity and potential. Humans are creatures made up of stories and now is the time to write your own. Your mom wouldn’t want you to crawl under a rock and hide for the rest of your life. She would want you to take a risk and maybe learn to fly.   

Other people are not responsible for your happiness, and you are not responsible for theirs. In fact, the more you try to make someone else happy the angrier they often get at you for doing so. 

Your happiness is your responsibility – don’t go looking for someone else to depend on for that. You need to depend on your own merits.  Life on this planet is never going to be easy, and the forces of nature are trying to eradicate us at every moment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what you do have, enjoy excellent distractions, and find meaning in your life. But all of that is up to you, and no one else.  As Tom Hopkins said: “Being miserable is a habit. Being happy is a habit. The choice is yours.”

C says: I’m trying to be sympathetic, Bonnie, but you are bitching about free accommodations. Your dad and stepmother weren’t expecting this either; they were trying to start a new life. And however justified you think you are, resenting them is not going to make you feel any better about yourself.

I do understand that it is painful for you to lose your mom – and maybe your parent’s marriage failed, but don’t mix that up with your own life and career choices. One really has nothing to do with the other. Right now you are mixing it all up in your head and you’re not going to be able to launch yourself onto a successful career path if you can’t focus and take aim.

Do you have a friend you can visit, a zoo you can volunteer at, or a job out among people who are enjoying the open summer air? Do you have someone you trust and talk to? Now is the time to enlist some outside help for perspective.

I say this in all kindness, Bonnie: Stop feeling sorry for yourself. This is no more than the trial that every child faces when first walking into adulthood. This is your Rite of Passage. Try not to screw it up.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Texting Treachery: Should this reader confront her husband?

Dear C and Dr. B;

My cell phone died and I had to text my daughter, so I borrowed my husband Paul’s phone – he’d left it in the car. I got the shock of my life when I saw my husband’s last message to a co-worker. The subject was “the smokin’ hot” new receptionist at their office, who apparently has “an ass that won’t quit.” The conversation goes on to describe what he’d like to do to her. His co-worker makes several suggestions that were downright obscene, and my husband responds with “if only!” and a drooling emoji. 

Now I don’t know what to do. It seemed more like locker room talk than an affair going on, but I have NEVER seen that side of Paul and it was seriously disturbing. Paul has been nothing but polite and friendly toward women in my presence. Now it looks like he turns into a sex crazed adolescent behind my back. What the hell? I’m torn between walking out – or flushing his head down the toilet. 

In Shock 

Dr. B says: Men and woman act differently when among groups of same-sex friends. Not all man talk follows Trump’s “Grabbing Pussies,”  but much does, just as many women, when among their peers, will compare “pull toys.” There is a difference between saying these things in the locker room and saying the same things publicly or on Facebook. The locker room involves gender-specific bonding. You describe your husband as fully appropriate socially, respectful to you and other women when he is with you or in public. If it is consistent, then it is true. It is also true that he is a male and of the human animal. What he does on his own time in privacy with his friends is really his business. I agree the culture will never be woke so long as these types of activities continue, but I am pretty sure the culture isn’t going to be fully woke in mine, yours or our grandkids lifetimes. Besides – reading his messages is a boundary violation and it is he who should be pissed at you.

C says: I see this in a very different light. Consistent social behavior isn’t necessarily “true.” It can also be nothing but a consistant act covering up a very different truth.

Back in the day, I played bass in a punk band, and I was skinny with muscular arms and a crew cut. I was often mistaken for a boy if I sat in the back of the dressing room and kept my mouth shut, so I would hear lots of guys act sweet as pie in front of their girlfriends, then talk crude trash about them behind their backs. True, a lot of it was just showing off, but I noticed something else – the men who were lewd and disrespectful behind closed doors also went through a lot of girlfriends – and the women they left behind had been hurt in the process because the guys didn’t really have any respect for them. The men who did NOT degrade women in private had better relationship outcomes, and although they didn’t criticize the men who bragged, neither did they join in.

People can’t express thoughts that they do not have. Sometimes talking trash is just a game people fall into under the influence of others, but if someone I knew was consistently respectful to Black people in social situations, but I overheard him using the n-word with his buddies, I wouldn’t write it off as “just being one of the guys.” I’d write it off as being a racist hypocrite. We all have different personalities we pull out depending on the company we are in. For instance, I would never express my true thoughts about Trump at a Proud Boys rally – I don’t have a death wish. But I would most certainly NOT chime in and mimic their opinions just to fit in. 

I’d sit down and have a good long talk with your husband and I wouldn’t worry that you accidentally “invaded his privacy.” You weren’t snooping through his pockets – in these days of social media, what we all say in private can easily become public domain. If Paul’s pissed that his privacy was invaded, I’d ask him this: “What if your daughter had found the texts?” Ya gotta wonder how he’d explain it to her.

Paul isn’t a swinging bachelor, he’s part of a family. Hold him accountable.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Changing Stations: One reader shares workspace with a bigot. What should he do?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I work on an assembly line. It’s a hard, brainless job but I believe in the “whistle while you work philosophy.” Why be miserable, right? But not everyone there shares my thinking. George, the guy next to me, is miserable. And he seems to want to spread his misery to everyone around him. He is downright hateful, constantly saying awful demeaning things. The crap that comes out of his mouth is racist and bigoted, with no respect for anyone. He complains all night long. I try to ignore him, but it is really wearing, day after day. It’s hard to whistle when the guy next you seethes and fumes and whines and grumbles. What can I say to this guy to get him to ease off?              

Eric Burdened   

Dr. B says: People are artists and words are the paint they use. Unfortunately, you have to live in the world you paint. This guy is basically just thinking out loud, but the picture he paints is bleak and desolate. There is probably not much you can say to him without making things worse. Possibly subtle manipulation could have an effect – like wearing a T shirt that says: “Words are the paint and you have to live in the world you create with them,“ or “Negativity is like a black hole sucking out all the light around you.“ Or perhaps, “You might not be able to control your world but you can control your reaction to it”

You can also ask the manager to change your station. You can wear ear plugs or get a note from your doctor saying you need to wear earbuds to help your focus, if it wouldn’t endanger you to have music on. 

C says: Are you trying to get poor Eric killed, Dr. B? Nothing enrages an already angry guy like smug, passive digs from someone cheerful. Honestly, even I would want to smack someone who did that. It implies that you know better, and the other person is an ignorant asshole who needs to learn from someone more enlightened.

My recommendation to Eric? Just get the hell out of Dodge. There are plenty of hard brainless jobs out there, especially now, and if you happen to be planted next to some guy who is poisoning the very air you breathe with negativity, it is up to you to get to a better place. You are NOT going to change him. 

If your boss is a sympathetic type, you can bring up this problem to him, but I’ve seen this backfire. I once complained about a fellow worker who chain smoked right next to me – this was before they passed laws against it. The person found out and actually slashed one of my tires. If this dude discovers you ratted him out, you will become a target for the seething anger he is yearning to spew.

In his book The Fourth Way, P.D. Ouspensky had the right idea. He believed that we were all human machines of a certain type, and it is wise to figure out who is what. He said, “If you know someone is a Hitting Machine, and you go near him and get hit … well, what did you expect? He’s a Hitting Machine!”

So – the guy next to you is a Racist Bigoted Spewing Machine. If he keeps spewing all over you … well, what did you expect? Use your brain, dude! 

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Is My Teen Suicidal?: One writer wonders if something deeper is going on with her daughter

Dear C and Dr. B;

My husband thinks I am making too much out of this, but I am worried. My daughter Sophie has been affected by the pandemic like all of us. But now, I am sensing something deeper is going on with her. 

I used to have to tell Sophie to stop talking on Zoom or texting her friends. Now, I have to rouse her from another nap, or tear her away from staring at one of her devices like a zombie. I haven’t heard her talking to her friends in a while, I’m not sure when that stopped.

Initially during the lock down, she was openly upset, which I could deal with. But now she seems to be holding it all in. She’s irritable whenever I ask her a question or try to make pleasant conversation. I haven’t seen her smile in weeks. Now that school is out, and things are opening up more, instead of making plans to go out, she just stays in her room. 

My husband says, “She’s a teenager, Mary, they’re all like that. Leave her alone, she’s fine.” But I’ve read that teen suicides have risen a lot in the last year. When is it time to “interfere?” 

Mary Contrary

Dr. B says: Take this seriously! One of the things that can help prevent suicide is feeling that you are not alone, and the pandemic, for many, has greatly increased our sense of isolation. Another help in suicide prevention is a sense of connection with the future – and current events in our culture have taken that tie to the future away from all of us. In the news, we are barraged with global warming, COVID variants and constant police and/or terrorist killings. There can be a feeling that there is no future. Social media seems to normalize and even encourage suicide. A CDC survey in June 2020 found that one in four teenagers has had suicidal thoughts.

I would look into a day program for Sophie and initiate a counselor as soon as possible. Trust your instincts. As a parent, you know your teen better than anybody else! If it seems that the situation may be serious, seek help. Break a confidence if necessary, in order to save a life.

If you think your child may be suicidal, use the resources below to get free help, 24/7:

https://www.crisistextline.org/ National Crisis Text Line: Text “ALOHA” to 741741

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-SUICIDE

https://www.facebook.com/800273talk/ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For more info: https://www.ksbe.edu/article/pandemic-causes-uptick-in-suicide-rate-among-teens/ 

In case of an emergency, call 911.

C says: Please consider this – getting early help is CRUCIAL. I’ve seen what can happen if a teen is taken to a hospital as an ER entry. Hospitals are so overcrowded that a patient can literally spend days in a makeshift “ward” in a hallway, waiting for a bed. And psych wards aren’t a place of constant therapy and meaningful talk. There is always medication, and there are always long hours of staring into space. It is not a good place to try to recover the will to live. So do whatever you can to keep Sophie from reaching a point where hospitalization is necessary in order to prevent her from harming herself.

And remember: No one who is on the verge of suicide is going to be chatty. Teens especially are not easy to help – they will have already expended that option in their own minds. So it is up to you to gently persist in being there for your daughter. If she has closed her door, open it. Do not take any of this personally or get hysterical at her reactions. This isn’t about you.

If you are mistaken, and she is not suicidal, you have still done something important. You have shown her that she can trust you with her life, even when she pushes you away. That in itself can give her second thoughts if ever she is thinking.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Serving Up Some Truth: Can this waitress’ anti-masker boss force her to go bare-faced?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I am a waitress in a very busy high-end restaurant. The government seems to be saying the pandemic is over and a lot of people are tossing their masks – but I read the news, and I know that with the new highly contagious variants, the danger is far from over.  

I hear a lot of my customers talking to each other about how they are not vaccinating.  They have all kinds of reasons from Bill Gates microchips to “It is my right!” OK, fine. I guess they have the right to get sick because of their denial and misinformation, but MY issue lies with my boss. He wants all of the wait staff to ditch our masks. Why? He feels it’s off-putting to his clients for me to be wearing one.  He says customers have even complained, because it interferes with their hearing me. Maybe that is true ­– but so what? 

These people, through their craziness, expose me and subsequently my whole family. Yes I have been vaccinated but a vaccination just means I won’t end up in the ICU or hospitalized. It does not mean I can’t get COVID. I feel it is my right to continue to wear a mask forever if I want to, but my boss threatened to fire me. I need the money to pay mounting bills and the tips are good here, except for a few vindictive anti-maskers, but that is not the majority. I face daily anxiety having to come into this situation, and my boss is completely against me. I don’t know what to do!  –Woeful Wendy

C says: I researched this online, and discovered that it is OSHA, and not your boss, who has the final say on workplace safety. OSHA standards cover pandemic-related safety risks, and under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause, “All employers must provide a­­ work environment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” There are COVID-19-specific guidelines still in place for limiting workers’ exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA still recommends that employees wear masks and makes it clear that social distancing is not a substitute for mask wearing.

You might tell your bonehead boss that if any COVID cases develop at his place of business, the first questions asked will be about safety measures in place to protect both patrons and employees. If OSHA is told that you were not allowed to wear a mask because your employee decided that sucking up to a few customers was more important than public health, they’ll shut him down. Period.

In the meantime, Rhode Island is still providing pandemic unemployment benefits and if you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, this in itself qualifies you to collect in full. If I were you, I’d tell all of this to your boss. If he still insists on risking your health, I’d tell him to go to hell. The judges at unemployment court have no patience for employers like yours.

Dr. B says:  Working at a business where the bosses don’t back up their workers can be like having to go to Hell every day. I feel  for you. You are 100% in the right. Americans are  crazy. Mask wearing and vaccinating are about being aware of other people not just yourself. We have rules for driving so as to limit your chance of killing anyone else on the road. COVID safety measures are there for the same reason – to limit your chances of killing someone else. Unfortunately, in this day and age in the USA, there is little recognition of, or respect for, anyone besides oneself. That is why it is so dangerous to drive now – no one is paying attention to anyone else.   

It is ironic that although Americans are very big on “I know my rights,” a crucial issue such as your right to protect yourself and others is one that may be much more difficult to enforce.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Not Firing on All Cylinders: Why is her gun-hating friend heading to the shooting range?

 Dear C and Dr. B;

My friend Cynthia just shocked the hell out of me by announcing that she was going to a shooting range to learn how to fire both a pistol and a rifle. She has always told me that she totally against guns and she has also posted many remarks on her blog about how women end up committing suicide with the guns they bought to protect themselves, and how domestic violence becomes fatal whenever there’s a gun involved. She has shared my horror over the number of mass shootings there have been in the US this year.

I can’t believe she is going to go to a shooting range and I’m so upset I can’t even talk to her about it. Why would she do that?

Annie Oakley

Dr. B says: Have you shot a gun? It’s a rush, it is fun – like driving a go cart fast instead of being on the highway. It’s a safe controlled environment to do something that could otherwise be dangerous.

Nothing wrong with a range – NO animals hurt at a range. I say, good for her. It feels empowering too. There is a huge difference between taking a gun class at a range, and standing with a semi-automatic at a QAnon rally.   

Lighten up and take the class with her! I’ll bet you would enjoy it. Just remember to have good ear protection. 

C says: Lighten up? No questions asked? I’m not so sure that’s a good idea, Annie. Yes, shooting is a rush, and ever so much fun, but that is scarcely the only reason that an anti-guns advocate would suddenly want to take up arms. Sure, your friend could just be looking for a new thrill; or something else entirely could have happened to prompt her sudden turn-about. Here’s some other possibilities to consider:

• Your friend may have recently experienced something that made her feel unsafe. I used to teach self defense to women and before I took anyone into the classes, I asked them the reason for their interest. Their motives ranged from self-empowerment to a healthy awareness of the very real dangers any of us could face. The women that raised a red flag were those told me: “this f__ker broke into my house/ attacked me/ hurt me really bad, and I want to be ready next time.” The motive here is a pent-up, waiting rage that could explode in any direction if triggered by the wrong move. When I came across women like this, I told them they needed not just self-defense techniques, but also therapy to process the trauma in a healthy way. I wouldn’t sell such a woman a gun either.

• Your friend may be infiltrating the ranks of gun advocates in order to learn everything she can about the people who thrive on them, and about the mechanisms of the guns themselves. Quite honestly, I think that anyone who rallies against a cause without knowing anything about it is standing on very shaky ground. She could actually still be pursuing her anti-gun mission and gathering information in order to further arm herself in a debate.

• Have you noticed the sheer number of public mass shootings there have been in this country in recent months? People are unexpectedly going nuts out of nowhere and shooting each other. It’s unprecedented, which means unpredictable. You said that you never would have anticipated your friend would get into guns, so…just sayin’. 

Of course, there’s also the possibility that your friend has a crush on a guy who goes to a shooting range, and is simply looking for any opportunity she can get to hang out with him. The route to a gun enthusiast’s heart is through his rifle – nothing more ego boosting than teaching the little lady how to shoot.

These are just a few of the other reasons I can think of other than fun, fun, fun, that a woman would suddenly buy a gun. My point is, any sudden change in behavior is something that warrants a conversation as to why. You haven’t asked, Annie, so you don’t know. I suggest you ask. 

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

Stuck with You: Was Granny ultra modern or out of line?

Dear C and Dr. B;

My grandmother is 76 now, which means she grew up back in the days when men were the masters of the house and a woman’s main job in life was to please them. But listen to this story about her wedding night! I really want to know what you think!

After a big church wedding and all the customary traditions, Granny put her own twist on the marital bedroom. She brought a bottle of Crazy Glue with her and told her newly wed husband: 

If you are ever tempted to disrespect me or violate our vows, I just want you to know that I have this bottle of Crazy Glue and it is ALWAYS going to be in this drawer.” It was a somewhat vague warning, but I think Grandpa got the message because they were married for 65 years and there was never a hint of trouble between them.

It seems a little hostile to me – does this really seem like a good way to start a marriage? I’m looking at Granny in a whole new light.

Dr. B says: I have a poster in my office that says “Be Nice but Take No Shit.” Your grandma optimized this philosophy, which I find really commendable as it was not the norm 65 years ago. My ex said something similar to me. She showed me a pair of scissors and said she would cut off my balls in my sleep if I ever deserved it. That is not why she is my ex. In fact I support the idea that in a patriarchal society all women should do something like your granny did. 

In the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, there is a Ketubah, which is essentially a marriage contract. It lists the consequences should the marriage not work out, including large monetary fines for the man. Studies show that not only are marital outcomes better if there is a stake in the game, but additionally, people behave better if they feel they are being watched. 

Too often, men in our culture are not held accountable for their actions. Your Grandma is a good role model. Be like her instead of the chopped down sacrificial giving tree that is our cultural model. 

C says: While I can commend Dr. B for his support of female empowerment, and I fully support the idea of a pre-nup, I have to point out that there are a HUGE number of ways in which Granny’s strategy of establishing a standing threat could backfire. I’ll give you a few:

1. We are assuming that the bride is in full control of her faculties and does not have a history of PTSD from male abuse. If she does, we could find ourselves in a position where the police are called and a body bag is brought in. Why? Because people who have been abused do not always interpret circumstances accurately – they can imagine a threat or an insult where none is present. Let’s say that a woman, we’ll call her Diana, was betrayed and then seriously abused in the past. Let’s add suppressed rage and a desire for vengeance to the mix. Now, let’s give Diana too much to drink at a party. She looks across the room and catches another inebriated woman draping herself all over her husband. Diana misses the part where he disgustedly pushes her off, because she has already stormed out. When the guy gets home there’s a good chance Diana will exact a punishment that he does not deserve. What if she pulls out the scissors first and asks questions later? Sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to cut it off. Can we sew it back on? 

2. Granny’s tactic assumes a posture of distrust from the get-go. If a basic trust hasn’t been established between two people, and they feel that dire punishment must be suspended over their partner’s head in order to ensure fidelity, then THAT is a problem right there. Either you trust someone or you don’t. If you don’t, then for god’s sake, don’t commit to spend the rest of your life with them!

3. We are also assuming that the bride herself is worthy of trust. What if she is the one who ends up cheating? Does this mean that the husband just deserved what he got? Sorry, not fair. That’s what pre-nups, and the Ketubah, are for – everyone gets what they agreed to deserve.

I hope that Granny was otherwise an honorable woman who  treated others as she hopes they would treat her. If she wasn’t, then let’s just say that she was one conniving bitch who was years ahead of her time.   

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com