Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Dose Makes the Poison

 “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.”


― Paracelsus


pills.jpg

I love a good quote. 


This is evident from the fact that I always start my articles with a quote.


But why do I love quotes so much?


One of the reasons is because a good quote is able to take a detailed principle and encapsulate it into a few select words. 


For example, I could write about the Dunning-Kruger Effect and how people with minimal skills think that their skills can solve all, whilst those with more skills can more easily recognize when they lack the ability to solve the issue. Or I can make that all very succinct by quoting “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.


I recently heard a quote for the very first time, and this quote made my jaw drop.


“The dose makes the poison”.


This quote is golden. If people could only properly incorporate it into their mindset, things would be much better. 


Very few things are “bad”, the issue is when they are used too much. 


There is no problem taking time for yourself, the problem lies in the dosage.


Should you be trusting or skeptical? The dose will make the poison.


Life is about finding a balance. 


The work/family balance.


The juggling between when to take risks and when to be cautious.


When I heard this quote from a doctor, he was using it in the context of food. That even excess of a single “healthy” food can be poisonous if consumed in extreme excess. 


So too with our behaviors.


So too with our choices.


So too with our thought processes. 


We too often focus on “right vs. wrong”. 


Things aren’t so black and white. 


It isn’t wrong to think about oneself, to do something for oneself.


Like with everything else, it is all in the dosage.



Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com


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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Fear Factor

 “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”

— Aristotle


This is an article that I am writing to an audience of one.

 

I am my own audience.

 

I’m saying this because I need to hear it.

 

The Gemara in Gittin says that a person shouldn’t impose אימה יתירה (added fear) in their home.

 

Note, the issue is not fear, it is “added fear” (fear in this context meaning consequences).

 

While the Gemara is speaking about situations between husband and wife, it also applies to the parent/child relationship.

 

Each parent has their own set of rules that their child needs to follow. There should be consequences for broken rules (this is the fear that is considered acceptable). However, a child should never be in a situation where they fear the consequences so much that they will do something illegal and/or dangerous in an attempt to avoid breaking the rule (or to cover up the fact that they broke the rule).

 

Here is an example:

George is 17 and asks to borrow mom’s car. Mom tells him he can, but he must return the car by 9pm because she absolutely needs it by then. George goes out and gets drunk enough that he is legally impaired from driving. George sees that it is getting close to 9pm, he has two choices, he can either drive drunk and over the speed limit to get home on time, or he can call mom and figure out an alternative arrangement.

 

If there is added fear of the punishment that mom will give, George might decide to risk the speeding and driving while intoxicated in an effort to avoid mom’s wrath at his being home late.

 

This is the type of added fear that the Gemara is talking about.

 

This also applies to cases of child sexual abuse as well.

 

Often the child will decide not to disclose the abuse to the parent out of concern that they will be punished for it.

 

Proactivity is key.

 

Once your child starts driving, tell them that if alcohol is consumed that they cannot drive, PERIOD.

Explain to them that if they admit it prior, they won’t lose any driving privileges for saying the truth.

That their lives and the lives of others are more important.

 

Ditto for abuse.

 

When you speak with your child about child safety, tell them that they can always come and tell you.

Tell them that the safety rules are there to protect them, but if they get harmed, they will not get punished, even if the abuse was because they ignored a safety rule.

 

We often try to see things as black and white. But this is a shade of gray.

 

Raising a child without consequences for wrongdoings is incorrect.

Raising a child with too many (or too strict) consequences is also wrong.

 

It is a balance that will need to be judged differently for each case.

 

But the important point is that the child should know that they WILL be judged and they will be judged favorably when they ultimately make the right choice, even when it comes due to because they previously make a singular (or series of) wrong choices.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com


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Monday, February 15, 2021

Practice Won't Prevent Mistakes

 “In theory, there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice, there is.”

- Jan van de Snepscheut

 



 There is theory and there are real life situations.

 

We can learn what to do in a specific event.

 

We can be told how to handle a specific case.

 

We can roleplay what to do when certain things occur.

 

These lessons, while important, don't always translate into real-world situations.

 

Meaning that people won’t always apply these learned skills to their appropriate situations.

 

The examples of this are plentiful.

 

The singer who forgets the words to her song.

 

The actor who forgets his lines.

 

They knew what they were supposed to do “in theory” but when it came to “practice” they couldn’t do it.

 

They know what they should do, they just couldn’t do it at that moment.

 

There is also the story of Brandon Bostick. Brandon was a player on the Green Bay Packers.

His job was to block the opponents, and allow the man behind him to get the ball during an onside kick.

 

He was taught this during the many team meetings that they had.

 

He practiced this during the team kickoff drills.

 

He was coached constantly on this point.

 

Yet when it came time to put his lessons into practice (with 2 minutes left in the conference championship game), he wasn’t able to successfully transfer his learning into practice. Instead, he saw the ball and he tried to catch the ball rather than block his opponent. He missed the ball, allowing the other team to gain possession. Brandon’s team lost the lead, and eventually the game.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6aIKpam2xI

 

Why am I mentioning this?

 

To illustrate an inherent flaw as to how we are protecting our children.

 

Singers practice their songs dozens, if not hundreds of times.

 

Actors rehearse for hours.

 

Football players practice over the course of many weeks and months.

 

Nevertheless, they still will make fundamental mistakes.

 

(And if you ask them about it, their reply would be “I know”. Unfortunately, “I know” doesn”t always translate into “I did what I was supposed to do”)

 

They would make many more mistakes without the practice, yet their lessons and practices don't prevent them from making mistakes.

 

When it comes to child safety, parents believe that speaking to their child once or twice in TOTAL will enable their child to recognize dangerous people and give them the tools to say “no” at the appropriate time.

 

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

 

Child sexual abusers are skilled manipulators. They are very good at their craft.

 

It is wishful thinking to think that your child will remember the conversation from years ago and apply it when being groomed.

 

So what should parents do?

 

Two things

 

1. Parents should have sexual abuse prevention discussions at least once every two months with their child. Parents should make sure that there are open lines of communication and that the child feels comfortable sharing difficult and painful topics with the parent.

2. Using the football play as the example, it is easy to say that Brandon Bostick lost the game. But the reality is that the team should not have been in that situation in the first place. Likewise, as a community, we need to make sure (as best we can) that pedophiles and child abusers stay as far away from children as possible. We need to make sure we know who are the registered sex offenders in our area, and we need to make sure that they don’t have access to our children. Anyone who says that such offenders pose no risk because the children know how to handle the situation is either naive, misguided or just plain stupid.

 

Education is one aspect of child sex abuse prevention. It is an important and essential aspect, but it is by no means exclusive. Believing that education is sufficient is what caused the Green Bay Packers to miss a trip to the Super Bowl.

 

While it cost the Packers a trip to the big game, it is also costing millions of children a fate much worse than that.

 

Anyone who is putting the onus of protecting a child upon that child’s shoulders is causing them to carry a burden that most children cannot bear.

 

 

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

 

To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

 

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Better to be Quiet: The Streisand Effect

“Don’t waste words on people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.”

-Unknown

 

 

“If you see something, say something.”

“Stand up for yourself.” 

“Use your voice, don’t be quiet.”

These slogans, and many similar messages, are being spread like wildfire.

Cancel culture has made it that one should bring attention to improper words and actions, and demand accountability for them.

On the surface this seems like a very good thing (when being applied at the correct time for egregious behaviors) but should one apply these principles automatically?

Despite the external pressure to use one’s voice, there are times when silence is actually the more preferable option.

This brings me to something called The Streisand Effect, named after Barbra Streisand and a decision that she probably wished she could revisit.

Barbra Streisand valued her privacy. She was appalled when pictures of her private mansion were posted online without her permission. (Note, these pictures were being shared to highlight erosion of the California coastline, they were not being shared with intent to violate the privacy of Barbra Streisand.)

Prior to her complaining about the picture, it was viewed six times, two of those views came from Streisand’s attorneys. After her complaining about the pictures violating her privacy, views of the pictures soared to over 400,000 views.

In other words, the mere attempt to hide information ended up spreading that information much further and quicker than had Ms. Streisand opted to remain quiet.

What does this mean for us?

When we see something outrageous, something that demands that we take action, we need to take a deep breath and to see whether our action will be beneficial or detrimental. When someone with 45 followers on twitter posts something harmful/racist, do we really want to give this person the attention that they don’t yet have by registering a complaint 

Using our voice can be extremely helpful, given the correct situation. Yet there will be situations when using our voice will be counter-productive. Additionally there are times when silence will be constituted as an agreement and there will be times when it won’t.

As much as our emotion is telling us to take action, emotional decisions usually aren’t the best decisions in the long run. Take a moment, try to view the situation rationally and with a long term outlook.

Sometimes the best action is by taking no action at all. 

 

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

 

 

To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

 

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here

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Monday, July 20, 2020

Deceptive Truths

“Just because something isn't a lie does not mean that it isn't deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”

― Criss Jami

 

I remember it vividly. I’m inside the synagogue near the fire exit which only opens from the inside. On the other side of this fire exit exists a metal ramp that makes a huge amount of noise when being run on. Young children are running up and down this ramp making a huge amount of noise. Eventually one of them starts knocking on the door.

“Let me in” says one of the children

“The door is locked” responds the congregant inside closest to the door.

“Can you please unlock it for me?” replies the child

“I don’t have a key” the congregant responds.

The child walks away.

We all start laughing. The door did not need a key to be opened.

The congregant gave truthful statements. Purposely misleading statements, but truthful nonetheless.

The child took the bait. He believed that a key was needed and that the person didn’t have the key.

I am bringing this story to illustrate an important point.

There are many toxic people out there who resort to different forms of manipulation. Many resort to outright lies, but a few extremely precise individuals use their words as skillfully as a surgeon uses his or her knife.

They purposely keep to the truth, adding zero falsehoods into their words, yet they purposely omit key facts. They do this in an attempt to get you to believe what they want you to believe whilst making sure they cannot be accused of lying.

This congregant said the truth. He didn’t have a key. It was Shabbos and we lived in an area where we weren’t able to carry anything, let alone keys. But his response of “ I don’t have a key” was done purposely to imply that he needed a key to open the door, and he didn’t have the key that he needed. This was a false implication.

As I started to draft this article about how toxic people use this manipulation technique it became clear to me that the top violator of this type of manipulation is the news media. (To be clear, both the left wing and right wing media are extremely guilty of this). Libel laws require that they report the truth. But that doesn’t mean they need to include all the facts.

Let’s use the following case as an example: Kayla Rolland was a Caucasian 6 year old girl who was shot to death in school by a 6 year old African-American classmate. The police and courts ruled that the shooter was too young to fully understand his actions and therefore, could not charge him with any crime.

Now imagine if the news wrote the following headline or tweet: Black male fatally shoots 6 year old white girl inside a school. Police decline to arrest the suspect despite clear evidence that he committed the shooting.

That would be a truthful statement, but it would also be extremely deceiving.

Whilst we can’t stop others from being intentionally deceiving, we can work on our antennas to pick up on misleading information. First, we need to always realize that headlines and tweets are small versions of larger stories. There is always more underneath the surface.

We also need to ask ourselves if the answer actually answers our question. Does “I don’t have a key” really answer the question of “can you please open the door?” or can it be a random statement that has no correlation?”

Also, always be wary of negative statements. Phrases such as “The Mayor doesn’t rule out the possibility…” or “My wife has never denied ....” is a great way of warping what was actually said.

It could be reported that I’ve never denied being an accomplice to a bank robbery, but then again, I’ve never been asked if I’ve ever been an accomplice to a bank robbery.

 

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

 

 

To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

 

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