Stanley Museum of Art in Iowa City

We visited the Stanley Museum of Art, which opened in August. One piece impressed us even before we entered the museum. One of our favorites is “Two Lines Oblique” by George Rickey. It’s a huge mobile outside the entrance.

The mural “Surroundings” by Odila Donald Odita is striking. Odita says it’s his answer to “Mural” by Jackson Pollock. I don’t even know the question posed by Pollock’s huge work. I guess some see a dancer in motion.

Sena’s favorites were the mobile and the painting “Spring Embraces Yellow” by Alma Thomas. I initially missed the point of “Heeler III” which Sena got immediately. It’s one of those platform high heel shoes, dang! I guess the platform is back in style, according to a few recent fashion web articles. I guess I’ll wait on putting in my order.

Some pieces of art might be a little hard to say we “like” per se, because they convey a sense of violence or tragedy. I think “Red April” by Sam Gilliam is one of those, because it originated from the grief and horror after Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April of 1963.

The photos of downtown Iowa City are a kind of walk down memory lane for us. It’s been years since we’ve visited the place. In some ways, it hasn’t changed much. On the other hand, the “Writers in a Café” monument with the quote by Marvin Bell in the ped mall was new to us.

The Iowa Avenue Literary Walk has been around for ages, but Kurt Vonnegut’s quote about “What we pretend to be” was unfamiliar. It seemed like a fresh insight into human nature, but one which we probably already knew.

We don’t pretend to be art critics, but I think we can say we’re art enthusiasts. We’re not pretending that.

What About Social Media?

I read this article about social media last night, written by Rachel Young, PhD, Associate Professor, Undergraduate Studies.

It made me think about my WordPress blog and my YouTube accounts. I ask myself what I’m doing with them.

I like to think I’m doing the right things with them. I use a sense of humor and try to use common sense. I never drone on about politics because I feel bad about what’s happening with it most of the time. I don’t want to spread that around.

I stopped accepting comments on YouTube years ago because all I seemed to get were spammers. Frankly, I get a lot of that on my blog as well. But I also have commenters whose opinions I respect.

I used to have accounts with Twitter, Facebook (I guess that’s called something else now?), and LinkedIn. I dropped all of them a few years ago, mainly because all I did mostly was copy my blog posts to them. I found a web article, the title of which indicated there are more than 133 social media platforms.

Why?

Blogging is a part of social media. I don’t get much traffic. I don’t mind that so much when I realize how much of the traffic is negative and empty.

I blog because I really like to write; I always have. I kept one blog going for about 7 years and dropped it because I was unhappy with how personal information was being collected and what it might be used for.

I also didn’t think the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) didn’t treat hobby bloggers (like me) fairly. That was the main reason I dropped my first blog. I don’t collect anyone’s personal data. Hey, let’s be clear. Social media does that. I’m not trying to sell anything here. I’m just trying to have fun and share that with anyone who’s interested.

I wasn’t going to write this much about social media. I guess that means I’m ambivalent about it. I think that’s normal.

What do you think?

University of Iowa Psychiatry Residents Get Shout Outs

Recently, University of Iowa psychiatry residents worked hard enough to get shout outs. One of them was exemplary performance on the consultation and emergency room service. The service was following over two dozen inpatients and received 15 consultation requests in a day. This is a staggering number and the resident on the service did the job without complaints. In addition, the resident was the only trainee on the service at the time. Other residents were working very hard as well.

This high level of performance is outstanding and raises questions about health care system level approaches to supporting it.

I read the abstract of a recently published study about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) compared to medication in treating anxiety in adults (Hoge EA, Bui E, Mete M, Dutton MA, Baker AW, Simon NM. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Escitalopram for the Treatment of Adults With Anxiety Disorders: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online November 09, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3679).

On the day I read the abstract, I saw comments which were cringeworthy. The commenter is an outpatient psychiatrist in private practice who had some criticisms of the study. He thought the report of results at 8 weeks was inadequate because symptoms can recur soon after resolution.

Another problem he mentioned is worth quoting, “A course of treatment that requires as much time as the MBSR course described in the study would be out of the question for most of my patients, most of whom are overworked health care professionals who don’t have enough time to eat or sleep. Telling people who are that overworked they should spend 45 minutes a day meditating is the “Let them eat cake” of psychotherapy.”

That reminded me of a quote:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day—unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

Zen Proverb

I know, I know; I should talk—I’m retired. Actually, I took part in an MBSR course about 8 years ago when I noticed that burnout was probably influencing my job performance on the psychiatry consultation service. I thought it was helpful and I still practice it. I was lucky enough to participate in the course after work hours. The hospital supported the course.

The residents who are being recognized for their hard work on extremely busy clinical services may or may not be at high risk for burnout. They are no doubt extra resilient and dedicated.

And the University of Iowa health care system may also be offering a high level of system support for them. I don’t see that University of Iowa Health Care is on the list of the American Medical Association (AMA) Joy in MedicineTM Health System Recognition System, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing the kinds of things which would merit formal recognition.

Anyway, they all get my shout out.

Rounding@Iowa Presentation on Covid-19 Bivalent Vaccine Boosters

Give a listen to the Rounding@Iowa presentation “Update on Covid-19 Bivalent Vaccine Boosters. While these presentations are mainly directed to health care providers, they are very helpful for members of the community at large.

Intranasal Esketamine for Major Depression Available at University of Hospitals & Clinics Department of Psychiatry

Learn about the use of intranasal Esketamine for Major Depressive Disorder at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics here.

Maybe We Need a Dose of Humor

Sena and I were listening to the Mike Waters morning radio show (KOKZ 105.7) this morning and his invitation to listeners was to call in and quote their favorite dumb question. One of the callers recited something which was actually a George Carlin joke. Neither one of us thought we heard it right, but it’s the same framework as the joke I found on the web (only the numbers were changed):

“If you’ve got 24 odds and ends on the table and 23 of them fall off, what’ve you got? An odd or an end?”

This is an example of his wordplay humor.

Carlin’s humor was also marked by satire on American culture and politics, the latter of which has gotten pretty rough. You’ll also find references on the web to Carlin’s past history of substance use, which reportedly included psychedelics.

That reminds me of an opinion piece published in the September issue of Current Psychiatry, by the journal’s editor, Henry A. Nasrallah, MD (From neuroplasticity to psychoplasticity: Psilocybin may reverse personality disorders and political fanaticism. Current Psychiatry. 2022 September, 21(9): 4-6 | doi: 10.12788/cp.0283).

I was a little surprised at Dr. Nasrallah’s enthusiastic endorsement of psilocybin for treatment of personality disorders and political extremism. He acknowledges the lack of any studies on the issue. In the last paragraph of his essay is a sweeping endorsement:

In the current political zeitgeist, could psychedelics such as psilocybin reduce or even eliminate political extremism and visceral hatred on all sides? It would be remarkable research to carry out to heal a politically divided populace. The dogma of untreatable personality disorders or hopelessly entrenched political extremism is on the chopping block, and psychedelics offer hope to splinter those beliefs by concurrently remodeling brain tissue (neuroplasticity) and rectifying the mindset (psychoplasticity).

While I’m not so sure about how effective psilocybin would be for this, I’m all for trying something to reduce the “visceral hatred on all sides.”

Maybe humor could be part of the solution. It doesn’t have to be exactly like that of George Carlin. Both parody and satire have been used by many writers for this.

I like the distinction between parody and satire in one article I found on the web. One recent example of satire (or parody; the distinction is sometimes hard to make since the story was listed as “Iowa Parodies”) was in the news and it apparently fooled at least a few people. It was about the Iowa football coaching staff. The title was “Brian Ferentz Promoted to University President To Avoid Having to Fire Him (Satire): The move was deemed ‘a way easier conversation than having him fired’ by the athletic director. It was written by Creighton M, posted September 5, 2022.

I think the story was originally printed without the word “Satire” in the title. I can’t recall seeing the heading “Iowa Parodies” either. A later version of the story added the word “Satire.”

The story might have been about nepotism in the hiring of Brian Ferentz (he’s the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz) as offensive coach. On the other hand, under Iowa law, it was not illegal to hire Brian Ferentz, who in any case reports to athletic director Gary Barta, not Kirk Ferentz.

I suspect the joke had more to do with negative public attitudes about the performance of the Iowa football offense early in the season.

Is it funny? I guess it depends on your perspective. The Iowa football coaching staff probably didn’t chuckle over it. But it more or less fits the definition of satire. It uses humor to expose flaws in the way we behave. And it avoids direct and nasty confrontation, which usually triggers antagonism rather than collaboration. Will it change the Iowa football program? I doubt it. They’re actually doing pretty good so far.

But satire as a strategy to inform and maybe change the public opinion will endure. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is one of my favorite books and it satirizes governments and the foolishness of people. I first learned about The Onion newspaper while we were in the process of relocating to Wisconsin (a short adventure). It satirizes the Associated Press news style.

One of the most uproarious examples of parody is a TV show which is no longer available on cable television but still offered on a streaming service (I think), Mountain Monsters. It’s a hilarious sendup of all the Bigfoot hunter shows.

The added benefit of parody and satire and other such forms of humor is that they are safer than psychedelics—unless your target was born without a funny bone.

University of Iowa Surpasses Harvard, Princeton as No. 2 for Writing

The University of Iowa, according to U.S. News & World Report is No. 2 for writing in the latest rankings. It’s the only public university in the top 10, behind No. 1 Brown University. It’s out in front of Harvard, Cornell, Duke, and Princeton.

How to Get the Updated Covid-19 Vaccine Booster at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Here’s an updated link to how to get the updated Covid-19 vaccine booster (often called the Omicron bivalent booster). It’s sometimes faster to get this booster at local pharmacies, although there’s less urgency now.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (SPAM). This spam is good. Here’s a link to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website on SPAM. And see the message below from University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson. We can all use this well-being toolkit as well.

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