Tag Archives: Mental Health

The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control Book Review

Mind control is like any element found within nature. It is neither good or bad. It is merely a tool to be used as one sees fit.

Back in the 1970’s, Steven Hassan was a college student dealing with a broken heart. Approached by other “students”, he eventually joined the Unification Movement, lead by cult leader Sun Myung Moon. Decades later, he became an expert on cults and mental health.

His latest book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, was published last September. His theory is that you know who’s appeal went beyond that of a political leader. His supporters acted as if they were under mind control, blindly believing what they were told instead of thinking for themselves. Backing up his ideas with research and the experiences of other cults, Hassan makes his case for how truly dangerous this man is.

Among the books that have been written about you know who over the past few years, this is one of the more unique ones. Hassan’s angle is an interesting one, answering the question of how so many can turn a blind eye to the truth that is right in front of them.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath Book Review

The plot line of a biography is as follows: the person was born on x date, accomplished a, b, and c, and died on y date. From there, it is up to the writer(s) to add the details and color to the story they are telling.

Heather Clark’s biography of Sylvia Plath, entitled Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, was published last October. Delving into Plath’s life and work (including The Bell Jar, one of my personal favorites), Clark takes the reader on a journey from Plath’s early years in New England in the 1930’s to her death in 1962 from lingering mental health issues. Using information that was previously unknown, Clark pulls information from interviews, unpublished works, and other documents to create a complete image of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

If there was ever a blue print on how to write a compelling biography, this is it. When I finished reading this book, I felt like I knew her. Not just as a poet and a writer, but as a human being. As a reader, it is one thing to connect to your favorite writer based on their work. But when you get to know them as an ordinary person, that is where magic happens.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts On the Parkland Shooting, Three Years Later

Our high school years are supposed to be our formative years, both inside and outside of the classroom. These are the years we experience many firsts that will impact the rest of our lives.

Three years ago, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were robbed of those experiences.

Though we cannot go back, we can move forward. We can and should enact national gun laws to keep firearms out of the hands of potential criminals. Those with mental health issues should be treated as those with physical health issues.

May the memories of those killed that day forever be a blessing. Z”l.

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Framing Britney Spears Review

Twenty years ago, Britney Spears was one of the biggest acts not just in music, but in the entertainment industry as a whole. She was everywhere. These days, its a different story.

The new Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, premiered on Friday. The movie follows her life, career, and the #FreeBritney movement. Their claim is that that Spears no longer needs to be under the control of the conservatorship, currently held by her father. After her mental health issues became public in 2008, it was enacted for her safety. The claim of those interviewed is that Spears is perfectly capable of making her own decisions, and that the conservatorship is no longer needed.

I loved this movie. It shines a new light on how disgustingly she was treated both by the press and those who benefited from her time at the top of the pop culture food chain. The issue at the heart of this film is mental health, and how those who suffer (women especially) usually get the short end of the stick. If there was one sticking point, it was that if Spears was male, none of this would have ever been considered. But because she is a woman, she must be taken care of because it would be impossible that she is capable of making her own decisions.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Feminism, Hulu, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Music

New Podcast Reviews: The Experiment and Anxiously

Discovering a favorite podcast is akin to discovering a new television show.

When the United States was founded more than two centuries ago, real democracy was a pipe dream. Most of what was considered to be the known world (aka Europe) was ruled by Kings and Queens. The Founding Fathers were akin to political scientists, trying different experiments until one worked. The latest podcast from WNYC is called The Experiment. The premise is to explore what has worked within our country and what needs to be improved upon.

Jane Austen once wrote the following about friendship:

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”- Northanger Abbey

Friendship is so important. When it comes to mental health issues, it can be the one thing that keeps the emotional wolves at bay. Especially when we are locked in our homes due to the pandemic. Anxiously is the latest podcast from Tablet Magazine. Hosted by two friends, Aimee and Lisa, their conversations revolve around what makes them well, anxious.

So far, I have enjoyed both The Experiment and Anxiously. I like the way both explore their respective subjects in a way that the audience can connect to without being talked down to or over.

Do I recommend both? Absolutely.

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Filed under Books, History, Jane Austen, Mental Health, Northanger Abbey, Podcast, Podcast Review

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation Book Review

Every generation has it’s myths. The myth of the millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996) is one or more of the following: we are lazy, we are too into technology, we are stuck in perpetual adolescence, etc.

The truth is as far from the stories as one can get.

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, by Buzzfeed writer Anne Helen Petersen, was published last fall.

According to the author, the millennial generation (of which I am a part of) is defined by one word: burn out. Between the pressures to succeed in the workplace, create a perfect image online, and keep busy, it is no wonder we are exhausted. Her thesis is that this generation was trained early on by parents and teachers that we are judged solely by our achievements. That pressure was compounded by the Great Recession of 2008. Through no fault of our own, the opportunities for professional and income growth will forever be limited. The job security that previous generations were used to no longer exists.

She further explores the growing mental health crisis, the expectations from social media, and that in spite of how far we have come, women are still doing much of the housework and childcare.

I loved this book. It once and for all puts to bed the ideas of this generation and reveals the facts. We don’t want a handout, we are not glued to our phones, and we are far from lazy. We just want the same chances as our parents and grandparents. The problem is that those chances do not exist in the same way as they did in the past.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Best Books of 2020

  1. Hearts, Strings, and other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins: This modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park is one of the best professionally published fanfictions I’ve read in a long time.
  2. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump: You Know Who’s only niece, Mary Trump tells her uncle’s story as only a close family member can.
  3. Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos: This biography tells the President-elect’s story from a human perspective, giving the reader an insight that the news headlines cannot.
  4. Bronte’s Mistress, by Finola Austin: Austin delves into the myth of the affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his older and married employer. Giving voice to Branwell, his youngest sister Anne and Mrs. Robinson specifically, she introduces the reader to the woman behind the rumor.
  5. Rage, by Bob Woodward: Legendary journalist Bob Woodward takes the reader into the current Presidential administration and the chaos created by you know who.
  6. The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron: Cameron’s book follows the story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish-Catholic teenage girl who saved thirteen Jews during World War II.
  7. Jagged Little Pill: The reader is taken into the world of the hit musical, Jagged Little Pill: The Musical.
  8. Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne: April believes that she is damaged goods, romantically speaking. When she creates an alter ego named Gretel, the results are surprising.
  9. A Star is Bored: A Novel, by Byron Lane: Lane, a former assistant to the late actress and writer Carrie Fisher, spins his time working for her into a hilarious and entertaining novel.
  10. Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, by Jean Guerrero: This insightful and frankly scary book tells the story of Presidential aide Stephen Miller.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Broadway Musical Review, Fanfiction, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Mental Health, Movies, Music, National News, Politics, Star Wars, Writing

The Social Dilemma Review

When social media was created, the purpose of the new medium was innocent enough. It was to serve as a tool to bring people and ideas together in an open forum. But something changed along the way, and not for the better.

The docu-drama, The Social Dilemma premiered earlier this year on Netflix. The movie explores how social media, in spite of its innocuous surface presentation, has a dark underbelly. Combining interviews with experts, former tech employees, and a fictional story about one family, the film explores how social media has had an impact on our mental health, politics, and other aspects of our collective world.

Watching this film was a wakeup call. Social media is such a part of our everyday life that we don’t think twice about the side effects. What impressed me was the choice to interview people who had been at the forefront of the companies who created and own the social media platforms. Having an insiders perspective created a gut punch that would not have otherwise existed.

If there was one thing I enjoyed about this film was the solution to all of these problems. It would have been easy for the filmmakers to act as a nagging parent or teacher, telling us to get immediately close our social media accounts. Instead, they present a plan that allows for these companies to stay open while preventing future damage to our culture and our world.

I can’t say that this movie has convinced me to stop using social media. But it made me think twice about how I use my accounts.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Social Dilemma is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Pretending: A Novel Book Review

The romance genre has been part of our literary world since the creation of stories. It is therefore, up to every writer to do what they can to make their particular narrative stand out.

Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne was released in November. In her early 30’s, April is living a relatively normal life. But there is one thing she longs for: a boyfriend. Every relationship April has had up this point has ended in heartbreak.

Her way of dealing with this is to create an alter ego: Gretel. Gretel is everything that April wishes she was. Via a dating app, April/Gretel starts chatting with Joshua. After one dating dumpster fire after another, it finally looks like April has the romantic life she has longed for. But, she also knows that she will have to tell Joshua the truth eventually.

Some books hook you right away. Others take a little time to pull the reader in. Pretending: A Novel falls into the second category. I liked this book and I liked the main character. April is not your average “someday my prince will come” romance novel heroine. She is real, complicated, and has a past that is not completely dealt with. Adding elements of the #Metoo movement and mental health issues beefs up the narrative, elevating the overall novel from your typical modern romance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Running on Empty Book Review

At a certain point in our lives, we come to the realization that our parents are not perfect. If we are lucky, they are loving, supportive, and provide the foundation that allows us to become happy, healthy, and productive adults. But that does not mean that our emotional needs as children were met.

Running on Empty, written by Drs. Jonice Webb and Christine Musello was published back in 2012. This self book explores how the specter of childhood emotions that have not been dealt with can grow into a shadow that can hold us back as adults. Using a number of examples, worksheets and practical advice, the authors are guiding readers to move beyond the unseen scars of their past.

I really loved this book. The authors are able to explain how CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) does not end when we are no longer children. They also empower their readers to examine and understand their childhood emotions and ultimately, overcome what is holding them back.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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