Portrait of a drama queen: Histrionic Personality Disorder

I think we have all encountered people with this disorder at some time in our lives.


Overview of personality disorders

Since medical school, I’ve been fascinated with personality disorders, although generally they are uncommon in routine practice. Each of us has personality traits, and to greater and lesser degrees, our personality traits are adaptive, maladaptive, or neutral.

Those with personality disorders suffer with more or less pervasive symptoms interfering with social and occupational functioning as well as an ineffective and inflexible interpersonal way of relating that cause distress and may lead to depression, anxiety, and may be associated with other personality disorders. There is evidence that for many, although not all, with Personality Disorders that the symptoms improve with age, and they improve with specified treatments.

A personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of maladaptive “behavior, cognition, and inner experience, exhibited across many contexts and deviating markedly from those accepted by the individual’s culture. These patterns develop early, are inflexible, and are associated with significant distress…

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On Heroes

An excellent post regarding how one should avoid hero worship and how analysis of ideas objectivity should be the goal, regardless of feelings about who the source might be. I have fallen into this trap before, as I am sure many of you have!

Yet another atheist late to the party

I have been asked why I have said I do not have heroes. The most  I will admit to is respect for people who have a track record of  rational analysis. I don’t care who you are, what matters to me is what you say– is it logical? is it true? Are you appealing to emotion? — I am not going to be intimidated by a name or title.

I feel skeptics should always examine propositions made no matter the source but, I have been noting a growing number of people in the atheism/skeptical movement who seem to accept as true without question, propositions made by popular figures; or their heroes.

I ran into a case of this at my very first atheist conference (Eschaton 2012). Sitting in the audience before a panel started,  a neighbouring audience member was talking about how their hero had re-tweeted which made a tweet of…

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A Letter to My Older Self

Beautiful and poignant words from a truly great human being.


10 years ago, I sat down and wrote a letter to myself.  I was just really beginning my journey in life and I was confused and wandering aimlessly.  That letter has been sitting in my email inbox, just waiting.  I decided to open it today, and because I needed some of these reminders, I’m going to share it with you.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to write my future self another letter.  🙂

December 1, 2005

Dear Self,

Congratulations.  You’ve made it this far.  I’m writing to remind you that you are a beautiful person with a good heart, strong work ethic and are reasonably intelligent.

I really hope you took the job at MRAS!

I hope the boys have grown into wonderful young men.

I hope we have found our way out of this minefield in our mind.  That deafening sound…

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Being Anti-Religious Gets Us Nowhere

A thought provoking piece on the efficacy of anti-religious thought.

Life Weavings

When faced with the question of “Do you believe in God?” the immediate response should be “Which one?” This query goes to the heart of the inherent ego-centrism of the initial question. Let’s face it, the person uttering it is not at all interested in getting into a long and winding philosophical discussion about metaphysics, the nature of knowledge and the degree to which personal experience is relevant to claims about reality. No, they’re asking whether you belong with them, and by them of course is meant those who believe in their particular deity. The quizzical look that passes at the response is an indication of just how myopic their vision of human experience is, that of course when that funny three-letter word is used, particularly when capitalized, it can only mean the god they believe in. Any others are but pale human-made facsimiles.

The term “god” has no inherent content, it’s like a…

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Planned Parenthood, Josh Feuerstein, and Criminal Culpability

On November 27, 2015, a man entered a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, CO, and opened fire, killing two civilians and a police officer. I am not going to give the name of the gunman because I don’t want to give him any more publicity than he deserves. As the facts started coming out about the gunman, he became apparent that we had another deranged, White male; one who identified with the anti-abortion movement and spoke of ‘baby parts’ after being detained. I am not going to speak to his motivations, because there will be plenty of armchair psychologists to tease that out. Nor will I speak about the media’s seeming reluctance to label the gunman as a terrorist, though he definitely fits that definition in my mind. No, the focus of this piece is going to be Josh Feuerstein.

Josh Feuerstein?

Yes, the very same earnest Christian evangelical YouTube personality who started a tempest in a coffee cup with his lament against Starbucks and the unforgivable sin of issuing a plain red cup for the Holiday season instead of a design festooned with all the symbols of his imagined ‘Christian’ holiday, although most of the symbols he is railing against are of pagan origin. But I digress.

The Paul Blart Mall Cop lookalike made another video not long after the Cecil the Lion imbroglio making the case that people were hypocrites for mourning the loss of a friendly lion, but yet were not mourning the killings of millions of babies by Planned Parenthood.  The full transcript of the video is below, taken from The Friendly Atheist:

So let me get this right. Tonight, America is crying about an old lion named Cecil that was killed by some dipwad who cut his head off and left his body there. But check this out.
Planned Parenthood has hunted down millions and millions of little innocent babies, stuck a knife into the uterus, cut them, pulled them out, crushed their skull with forceps, ripped their body apart, sold their tissue, and threw them bleeding into a trash bin.
You guys are crying about a lion, but what about the babies? You know what I call that? I call that being a hypocrite.
I say, tonight, we punish Planned Parenthood. I think it’s time that abortion doctors should have to run and hide and be afraid for their life.
Instead of some hunter.
Both are wrong. But one is a lion. The other are humans. Stand up for humans.

Of course, these are despicable things to say. He is basically calling for abortion doctors to be hunted and killed like animals. This is a new low even for this ignorant buffoon. But is it criminal?

Certainly, he is at least morally culpable to some degree, or so says a friend who has a degree in Philosophy. I will admit this particular branch of human thought, while crucial to human knowledge and quite fascinating in general, is one that I have difficulty fully comprehending and frankly gives me a headache. So I shall defer to her judgment on this. This is the same level of moral culpability that any of numerous right-wing bloviators might bear. Recall that some years ago Bill O’Reilly inveighed against George Tiller, or ‘Tiller the Baby Killer’ on several occasions on his show. Not long after, George Tiller was killed by a gunman while he was attending services at his Kansas church. There are of course many other examples this sort of irresponsible speech from all corners of the right-wing pundit-sphere.

But what O’Reilly and Feuerstein said, and what many others have said in the same vein, are simply not criminal offenses. Brian Dunigan, an attorney at Ponce Law in Nashville, put it this way:

The First Amendment protects speech even if it advocates violence, unless the speaker encourages “imminent lawless action.” This was decided in a case called Brandenburg v. Ohio. That case refined a concept you may be familiar with, the “clear and present danger” test. In a nutshell, it’s not illegal to call for violence at some indefinite time in the future. You just can’t incite someone to violence at that immediate moment.

Does this mean that people shouldn’t speak out against such speech? Of course not. In the ‘market of ideas’, these sort of disgusting utterances should be thoroughly discredited. Indeed, with the advent of the internet and the explosion of social and ‘new’ media, there are many voices doing exactly that : speaking out against the purveyors of such ideas. However, we must also remember that free speech in the U.S. is almost a religion all in itself, and those who would abridge that speech, regardless of any good intentions they might have, might be wary lest they invoke the law of unintended consequences. For the very sort of fiery rhetoric they despise coming from an opposing view might be the very type of speech they might engage in when a cause that is dear to them arises. And who is to say those very restrictions they enacted might not ultimately become shackles around their own wrists?


Depression and Self-Realization

Another post from my my dear friend Lucy, this time about how her struggle with depression nearly cost her life, and a lesson on how we shouldn’t keep these struggles quiet, for we all need someone sometimes.


After having a very lengthy discussion with my oldest son (23), last night, alongside Ryan, I’ve decided to start being more open about my own personal battles.

Open communication, as Ryan often reminds me, is one of the best self-help tools I have.  And one I rarely use, outside of my close, personal relationships.

I have come to the realization that my own child may be battling the one thing that nearly cost me my own life over the summer.  Undiagnosed Depression.

In the months following my husband’s death, I spent countless hours just going through the motion of life.  Waking up in the morning, getting the kids ready for school, going to work, coming home, cooking dinner, getting the kids ready for bed..  Tossing and turning with the weight of the world on my shoulders and perhaps getting a few hours sleep each night.


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Too busy tripping over myself to lead…

Here’s some much needed positivity from the incomparable Lucy Dee.


My past weeks on FB have been filled with much more positivity than I have managed in my entire lifetime, up to this point.  I’ve had to make a conscious effort to do so, as life is still throwing me a few curveballs(though they are much less curvy than in the past 6 months).

Today, my brother tells me, “I’m following in your footsteps.  I haven’t posted anything negative on Facebook.”

I nearly panicked.

For the love of everything unholy, don’t follow in my footsteps.  I’m seriously the most likely to step on a well-marked landmine.

I’m just winging the positive preface to life.  No one ever told me how, or why, to present myself with a positive outlook.  I just know that I’ve been drenched in negative, hateful thinking, for the better part of my life; namely at the hands of religion.

I have…

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Of Refugees and Reactions

Initially, I was going to write about the Paris bombings and how they shook me to the core. Of course, then I heard about the bombings in Beirut and Baghdad, and I became even more despairing. These are horrible tragedies committed by a group driven by an extremist religious ideology that states that anyone who doesn’t bend to their rule will be destroyed. This should frighten anyone who values open and free societies.

But then I heard of the effort of some governors to refuse to accept Syrian refugees, and my fear turned to anger. I could spout statistics and facts about the strenuous vetting process any one seeking asylum to this county undergo. I could tell you that there have been no documented cases of those coming to our country in this manner committing terrorist acts. I could tell you that you have more chance being shot by some White terrorist than any Syrian refugees. And I could tell you that the majority of those refugees are women and children.

But the thing that really angers and disgusts me is the lack of basic human empathy. The fear mongering and xenophobic rantings that have been spewed by mostly right-wing reactionaries are examples of humanity at its absolute worst. Too many people have let these Nationalist demagogues convince them that these refugees are a Trojan Horse for letting terrorists sneak in to our country. What’s even more stomach-churningly despicable is that many of them are doing it for ratings or votes. They are using these fleeing innocents as pawns in their never-ending quest to make the masses paranoid as possible, so they can satiate their appetite for war.

ISIS wants this to happen. They want us to close our doors. They purposely left a fake Syrian passport at the site of one of the Paris attacks to provoke just such a reaction. Apparently, it’s working to some extent, because it’s brought out the worst in many of our fellow citizens. I am no Obama booster; I have vehemently disagreed on many of his policies. But I think the stand he took and the words he spoke, which basically shamed those who would use fear and hatred to stoke the fires of ‘otherism’.

It may be a cliché, but we can’t let these attacks turn us into a people full of fear and hatred. We must open our hearts and doors to those who are suffering, no matter where they come from. Otherwise, we become the thing they want us to be : A propaganda victory.