I plan on winning the lottery


Just you wait and see. It's only a question of time!

I plan on winning the lottery (Published today in Journal Métro. Je prévois gagner à la lotterie. April 22, 2014.)  Voir plus bas pour la version Française.

How’s this for a retirement plan? Spend all your money on whatever you want, but take about ten dollars every week to buy lottery tickets. As soon as you win, you can take your retirement.

Would you plan your future around the possibility of winning a lottery? Not many of us would. We can’t live our lives as if we will win, even if it is theoretically possible. Why then do some...

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Do-overs and Mulligans

Erase! Erase! Oh, if only…

Do-overs

(French version published today in Métro: Recommencer, April 8, 2014)
Voir plus bas pour la version Française.

What if you had the power of a do-over? Or something equivalent like erasing a day from your life? When would you use it?

There is no shortage of bonehead things we all do – buying up Nortel stock when it was in its heyday, proposing to a future ex-spouse…and courtroom adversary, getting a Pokémon tattoo – everyone has a list.

I don’t think it would be so hard to look back on our lives and see where and when we would use our do-overs, but...

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8

Free and informed consent

Making decisions is not as straightforward as we assume, especially when emotions are clouding our state of mind.

When I chaired the Douglas Institute’s clinical ethics committee the issue of consent came up many times. It is an important issue in psychiatry because the illnesses sometimes force us to make decisions against the will of patients. The issue of autonomy is a sacred cow in medicine. No one wants others to impose their will on us. But many paranoid patients believe medicine is poisonous or intended to harm them. This implies the illness might be affecting their ability to...

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12

Complaining, venting and whining

Despite my annual objective of writing one post per week, I have failed miserably. I still hope to do so but who am I kidding at this point? The plan was to post my column every two weeks and use the in-between weeks to make general comments about life that don’t fit into the newspaper format. Alas, that ain’t happening!

Instead, I thought I’d cheat and dig out stuff I wrote from 2005 to 2007. I started the Metro column in ’05 but my blog only started two years later. That gives me almost two years of content that few of you have read so I will try to publish some of my favourite ones in...

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11

Clicker wars

The battle lines are drawn. And by that I am not referring to the newly launched provincial election campaign nor to events in Crimea. I refer instead to a battle that is waged on a daily basis in living rooms across the world.

Clicker wars
(Source: La guerre des télécommandes. Journal Métro, March 11, 2014) SVP, voir plus bas pour la version Française.

OK, so there are a few physical differences between men and women – reproductive organs, facial hair and such – but these aren’t always obvious. I think a more reliable way to separate the sexes is to observe how they handle a remote...

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13

Job satisfaction

I’ve done many things over the years. Being a psychologist – or anything for that matter – is rarely unidimensional. Beyond what people assume (i.e., directly treating individuals) are activities like teaching and supervision, liaising with universities, evaluating clinical programs, interviewing potential candidates, contributing to policy development, etc. I must admit I’d rather put a needle in my eyes than do some of these tasks but there are many others that can be a lot of fun and I would hate to give those up.

I was chief of psychology at the Douglas for many years. As you can...

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16

Who the hell did I fall in love with?

It doesn’t seem to take too long before relationships become intense. The sexual power can be blinding and everything the person says or does is of interest to us. This usually means that people find themselves in a relationship before they know much about the person they are “in love” with.

Personality is complex and highly dependent on situations that draw out traits: A generous loving person can become a petty condescending ass during divorce mediation, a highly functional person can fall apart when facing a health crisis, a relatively isolated person can come to your aid when in...

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14

Calling all hypochondriacs: Check your pulse

Health. It’s one of those things we all need to worry about. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t do things like exercise, watch our weight, or eat foods like broccoli and alfalfa sprouts. By worrying just enough about health, or anything for that matter, we are generally safer.

Like many things in life, anxiety is neither good nor bad. It depends on the amount of it. Too little health worry and we don’t do things like eat well, exercise, and avoid cigarettes. Too much of it though and we can ruin the lives we are trying to protect.

Anxiety is unpleasant for a reason. It is like the mechanism of...

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14

The gay son

(SVP, voir plus bas pour la version Française)
An abridged version of the following appears in this morning’s Journal Métro

I recently met with a woman seeking advice on something very upsetting to her. She started by proudly telling me about her three children. She raised them as a single mother with no financial or physical assistance from their father. As an immigrant, her opportunities were limited. She actually held two full-time jobs, coming home for a quick supper after a full day’s work before going off to a full evening shift in another company. This insane schedule was her...

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18

The glorification of thieves

I don’t know about you but I can’t get my head around the fact that people like Vito Rizutto have so many mourners at their funerals and keep getting treated like celebrities.

If someone were to come up to me and make the following offer – pay me and I’ll protect you from harm, or don’t pay me and I’ll harm you - how am I supposed to react? Mafiosi and other organized criminals are all made of the same stuff. The stuff that makes someone reach into your wallet and take your money while you aren’t looking. Or how about what happened to my cousin in Italy? She had her car stolen and then had...

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