On The Eve of the 2016 Presidential Election

Meeting wonderful Philadelphians as we canvas in several areas. So very uplifting.  Here's to sanity and hope tomorrow and safety and hope on Wednesday and following. 

The Artificial Pancreas

Dear family, friends, colleagues, and those important in my life and work,

I would like to share news that makes my family very grateful.  The news is a gift and blessing for so many, many people throughout this country and beyond…….

"I want to share this moving post, written by my daughter. Charlotte Rose was diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was 6 and a half years old and testified when she was 9.  Note the man directly behind her. He begins weeping as she describes what it is like to live with type one diabetes. " -Elisabeth LaMotte

Today the FDA finally approved the artificial pancreas! This will change and save many lives. After years of advocacy, fundraising and waiting, it is hard to believe this exciting news. Charlotte Rose LaMotte you worked so hard to help make this happen. We are so proud of you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn842O8-2dc

 #T1D #ArtificialPancreas #JDRF

The Defeat of Joe Sestak: A Matter of Hubris

Supporters of Joe Sestak blame President Obama and progressive John Fetterman for his defeat.  Sestak’s defeat was of his own making.  Fetterman showed himself to be a progressive, and a person of character.  Sestak did not.  It took years for Vice President Biden, with the support of President Obama, to convince Arlen Specter, surely one of our state’s most successful and devoted senators, to return to his Democratic roots.  Sestak, a former Navy admiral and congressman, disregarded President Obama’s urgent 2010 request to wait his turn and not oppose Specter, whose cancer was in remission.  Sestak defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in a primary, but lost the general election to Republican Pat Toomey.  (Smart money said Specter would once again defeat Toomey.)  During this ordeal, Specter’s cancer returned; and after another valiant struggle, he died on October 14, 2012.  Through Sestak’s decision, two seats were lost.  Why should the President and his Party have rewarded this display of hubris?  



You may have read that the NBC/Wall Street Journal pollster, Peter Hart, has written that Hillary’s challenge is “a glass curtain” — explaining that women do not identify with her.

With this in mind, on December 18th, 2015, I sent friends the following  “poetry.”  The three vacancies on our highest court that our next President will fill are crucial for a stable future! 


Overcome polls that women can’t identify
With Hillary Rodham Clinton: We’ll tell you why!

The reported “glass curtain” has no voting basis
In selecting HRC there are only pure aces

You don’t have to like this thoroughbred winner
Or invite her to breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner

What’s important are talent and skill — part of her magic
To overlook this would be simply tragic

With experience, genius, and savvy profound
There’s no wiser choice to hit campaign ground

Plus Up there in urgency in this complex drama
Of her three Supreme Court choices

I can hear the glass shattering!

Perhaps you read my recent Huffington Post piece re Hillary’s “glass wall.” According to recent polls taken by NBC/Wall Street Journal pollster, Peter Hart, what stands in Hillary’s way to becoming our next President is not the “glass ceiling” she has spoken of.  Instead, it is what Hart describes as a “glass curtain” surrounding her. To put it plainly, according to this poll, women do not identify with her.

Well, Hillary’s few moments delay returning to the podium after a break at the Democratic debates this evening will surely help crash this curtain. Every woman alive can identify getting someplace a few minutes late because she waited her turn for a bathroom (yes, surely Hillary had her own, but still) —- or taking a bit longer than anticipated once getting there.  And then there was her just right, no big deal, courteous apology, “Sorry.”

Re her closure: what woman does not hope for support from 'the force' for all she loves, and what woman does not understand the importance of a sense of humor in family life.

I can hear the glass shattering!


Those who have attacked innocents in Paris are beyond flawed. It is inconceivable that there are human beings without one shred of mercy or compassion for the innocent. These actions are beyond an act of war. The people attacked were not the military. Theirs was a massacre of innocents.


I just learned that this sentence from my paper, “What I Wish I Had Known” is on the New Social Worker Facebook page: “My life and work have taught me that the strongest lesson in avoiding burnout through self-care is to accept that we are human, and in that we are each limited and—yes—flawed." 

Out of touch

As we were driving on a highway surrounded by woods and trees, we saw someone in the car ahead of us throw a lit cigarette into the woods…..A metaphor of how out of touch we are with the safety of others, and the protection of beauty.

John Boehner and John Dickerson

I gained enormous respect for Speaker John Boehner in these last days. During Boehner’s recent interview with John Dickerson, who has replaced Bob Schieffer as the new host of Face the Nation, he told the truth about the rabid right wing who is harming his Party and our country through lies and distortion. Boehner became a profile of courage in my eyes.  John Dickerson’s mother, Nancy Dickerson, was the first woman correspondent for CBS News. She was also an associate producer of Face the Nation, including the very first broadcast of the show in 1954. I knew her when I worked for the Washington Bureau of CBS News. She was a true pioneer, and no one worked harder.  Nancy would be so proud of her son!  Her book. Among Those Present, published in 1976, is a fascinating read.  John Dickerson’s book about her, On Her Trail, published in 2006, is also a truthful and marvelous read. In a 2006 interview with TIME, Dickerson said about his mother, “I owe her more gratitude than I every expressed and more sympathy than I ever demonstrated.” John Dickerson, who grew up in DC at Merrywood, the former home of Jackie and Lee Bouvier, is the political director for CBS News and chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. He is a grad of DC’s Sidwell Friends.  


America on Cultural Steroids: When Societal Burnout Overwhelms

Even before my training as a therapist, I was intrigued by what makes people do and say what we do and say, and why others react as they do to what is done and said. The entrance and appeal of Donald Trump as a seriously considered candidate for the highest office of our land has added grist to this thought mill.   How has a grandiose entertainer with the strongest possible killer instinct evolved into a candidate many voters and members of the media are taking seriously? 

Yes, of course, we are well acquainted with ugliness in our elections, but the past weeks have brought a new brand of low, one many relish.  How and why have cruelty, name-calling, clownish antics, and vicious attacks become acceptable?

Several years ago, concerned about the high percentage of mental health professionals who leave our field after arduous study and preparation, I began to do research and publish on the specifics of burnout and why one becomes vulnerable to its impact. Burnout is a condition brought on by emotional and physical overload due to events outside of our control.  It develops through the impact of other lives and circumstances that overwhelm us, depriving us of rational direction, empathy toward others, and submerging us in negativity and feelings of hopelessness.  Anyone can be vulnerable.

I see this as the state of being Pope Francis referred to on his first papal visit outside of Rome in 2013.  The Pope rode a small boat in the Mediterranean in order to lay a wreath where many migrants drowned on route to seeking refuse in Europe.  In the Pontiff’s words:  “We have fallen into globalized indifference.  We have become used to the suffering of others.”

The German-born American psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger, first identified the state of burnout in 1974.  Fruedenberger chose the word burnout through its definition in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:  “To fail, to wear out, or become exhausted by making excessive demands on energy, strength, or resources.”  According to Freudenberger when we are burned out, we become increasingly “inoperative.”  In 1993 Christina Maslach, an American social psychologist, further defined burnout as having three chief components:  1) emotional exhaustion leading to an inability to feel compassion for others, 2) depersonalization leading to detachment from the emotional needs of others, 3) lack of feeling of personal accomplishments leading to a critical evaluation of oneself.

The appeal of the Trump candidacy has shown me that burnout has reached a societal level. Our ethnic, racial, cultural and social transformations, ones unimaginable just a decade ago, have led to complex divisions and uncertainty among us.  These differences have overwhelmed and enraged us, leaving us worn out and detached from the emotional needs of our fellow human beings.

To mention just a few examples of dramatic societal changes:  We now have acceptance of not only same sex unions, but same sex marriage.  There is acceptance of birthing and adopting children in myriad family settings.   Our population is older.  There are more Asian and Hispanic families. Multiracial identities have grown in importance.  Futures for our young and their parents are less insured.  More families, by choice or necessity, live under one roof.  There are sexual choice options, and there is sexual identity confusion. Add to this our fear of another attack akin to 9/11 and strong differences about “political correctness,” which has both brought relief and caused resentment. 

Those vulnerable to burnout or already in its clutches long to escape their feelings of trapped helplessness resulting in simmering rage through any means that offer relief.  This, of course, includes entertainment and diversion, especially if these options provide an outlet for anger and opportunity to avoid confronting problems head on by attacking, demeaning, ridiculing, and scape-goating others.  Yes, you know my next sentence:  Enter a skilled manipulator, who well understands how to keep people pitted against each other in order to consolidate his own power. The timing is impeccable.

Surely Donald Trump is the opposite of the quality of leadership American is crying for – a candidate who can unite us and help us view differences as an opportunity for growth and union. The diet of mean spirited divide, conquer, attack antics Donald Trump has offered does offer diversion, but it is sick diversion, not even up to standards of a Big Top performer, much less a White House contender.