My Barbaric Yawlp

The Regimens of Regimes

I’ve noticed lately that, even on NPR, people often use the word regime when they mean regimen. They refer to “vitamin regimes” or “exercise regimes” or “treatment regimes.” This sounds odd to my ear and vaguely disturbing, so I turn to our trusty Concise Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for clarification. It says “The World’s Most Trusted Dictionaries” right there on the front cover.

Flying Back Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I first saw "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in 1975 while I was in college and readily identified with the hell-raising, force-of-nature R. P. McMurphy portrayed by Jack Nicholson. McMurphy represented rebellious individuality and freedom in opposition to the establishment's spirit-crushing conformity machine.

You Say Potato, I say Solanum Tuberosum (Let's Call the Whole Thing Something Else)

In my junior year at the University of South Florida, after taking all the prerequisite psychology courses, including statistics and research methods, I signed up for psychopathology. Finally, I would learn the mysteries of neuroses and psychoses and all the other arcane elements of my major subject. In opening the first class, my professor (Jack Sandler, who would become a huge influence in my life) said, "We won't be talking about neurosis or psychosis in this course. We'll be talking about operant learning and human behavior." What? But I took stats and methods!

When the Pupil is Ready

Over the years I’ve been blessed with great teachers. Paul Fleming, my 12th grade English teacher, taught me the language of classical rhetoric. We would write arguments based on an assigned piece of British literature (“Resolved: Hamlet Was Mad”) and then read the paper in front of our classmates who would then challenge each premise, clause, qualifier, and conclusion. When the class finished with us, Mr. Fleming would begin. In all honesty, I don’t remember particularly liking Mr. Fleming, but I was aware, even then, that he was providing a remarkable educational experience. Mr.

A Star of Superior Influence

August 1968. My friend Robert Armstrong and I picked our way to through unfamiliar campsites under the Pacific sun. Scout troops from all over Guam and from Japan had gathered for the first Camporee ever held on the island. Both eleven years old, Robert was African American; I was white, much as I am today. I don’t remember why we were on our way to the assembly area or what we were talking about. I don’t remember whether this was the day the monitor lizard invaded our tent or the weekend we got sliced up by sword grass looking for WWII artifacts.

Getting There from Here

All these years later, I can’t quite track the progression from hypothetical musing to holy-crap actual behavior, but however it happened, one bright summer morning in 1993 the majority of our mental health Continuous Treatment Team piled into a borrowed van and headed south to Laurel, Delaware to jump out of an airplane.

The Last Resort

I did some disturbing math recently, not as disturbing as the Math Trailblazers curriculum my daughter's school uses, but it was pretty darn close. The problem went something like this: Michael has worked 60% of his life in human services. If it is now 2007 and he was born in 1956, when did Michael enter the field? Answer: A long, long time ago. One thing I've learned over the years is that if you do this work long enough—more than a few hours—you'll make mistakes. If you do it for many years you will make lots of mistakes, and you'll make them for someone else's own good.

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