Archive for June 2022


Recently I posted this review on amazon and Goodreads. (Maybe as you read it, you’ll think of My Father’s House.

“The core idea is that authentic love and friendship are possible only between individuals who are independent and equal.” (p.50)

Maybe It’s personal. After all, my parents were immigrants from Sweden, immersed in a Swedish-American culture that constituted the theme of my own growth experience in the twentieth century. Or maybe it’s just that it’s so sensible. Maybe it was my parent’s encouragement of positive goals in life and utter discouragement of humiliating child training techniques. Maybe it was the belief my neighborhood encouraged in taking responsibility for one’s own life even while granting the same right to others. Maybe it was believing in a United States where that was possible for everyone. Maybe it’s what I know as a psychologist that the core idea of authentic love as described in the author’s opening is indeed the way of personal and cultural growth. And maybe it’s what I learned in my mature years that the freedoms I accepted were not so equally available to everyone. Maybe it’s the dream I still hold for a United States where one day the ideal will be reality. Whatever the reason, that opening theme clutched my heart with longing and joyful sadness.

Maybe it’s that I believe loving someone or something is open to accepting their imperfections and believing the good can be strengthened even as the bad is corrected. Maybe it’s that genuine love of my country includes the belief that, like an effective parent, I can help correct it for the good.

O r maybe it’s just that I have often thought how freeing it would be not to worry about being available to love and care for one’s child while at the same time being able to pay for sufficient food and housing, or the best possible education for encouraging individual growth and responsibility from toddlerhood through adulthood, or paying for the maintenance of good health, or not losing one’s home because of a catastrophic accident or illness, or being sure of a good healthy life in old age. How it would make sense to me to pay sixty percent of my income in tax if all needs were covered so forty percent would be available to me to develop my own creative – or just plain comfort – goals. How very practical. How free of unnecessary stress. How very much what the Nordic way has to offer, based on the idea that “authentic love and friendship are possible only between individuals who are independent and equal.” (p.50)

As for the author’s personal message and style, it is so clear that she has a fondness both for her native Finland and her adopted United States. And I love the way chapter by chapter she takes down the objections to the Nordic way.

I like the final conclusion:  “Individualism is one of the great foundations of Western culture. But unless society secures personal independence and basic security for the individual, it can lead to disaffection, anxiety, and chaos … While some of the praise heaped on the Nordic nations in the international media and various studies has surely been exaggerated and overpositive—no place is flawless, as Nordic people themselves will be the first to point out—the Nordic countries have undeniably created a model for what a high quality of life and a healthy society can look like in the twenty-first century.” (pp.328-329)

p.s. I’d be happy if you’d check out



My son and I spent a wonderful week recently on the shores of Lake Superior. Relaxing, doing some exploring, reading, removing some computer glitches (mostly me), doing jigsaw puzzles (only Doug) occasionally watching a movie, and playing games. I even beat him a couple of times at Chinese Checkers and Scrabble. But I want to talk about Monopoly.

On each of the first two times around, the roll of the dice landed Doug on two valuable properties. Of course he paid for the deeds and even mortgaged one to pay for another on his third time around. In the meantime, I consistently landed on “Chance” or “Community Chest.” No option to buy anything, except I did pick up two of the railroads. “You’ve won the game,” I said as I sipped my hot tea and traveled around “Go” again to collect my additional $200.00. Doug even landed in jail at one point, but chose to take his chances on a potential double roll of the dice to get out without paying. Why get out? All he had to do was watch me go around and, at least occasionally, land on one of his properties. It wasn’t long before his own trips around “Go” made it possible to free the mortgaged deed. And it wasn’t long before my hopes, along with my enthusiasm, were pretty much shattered. What was there to strive for, really? All the complete blocks were taken. He even owned the other two railroads, so my two weren’t worth much.

In the meantime, I saved a lot of money and collected more each time I passed “Go,” accumulating a goodly stash of $100 bills, so much so that the bank had to ask me to turn some of it into $500.00 bills.  OK, you see where this is going, I’m sure. I mean, I had lots of cash, but basically no property. I was rich. Until Doug built houses and then a hotel on one of his blocks. All I had to do was land on a hotel once and my cash was gone. I had no property to mortgage with hopes of staying in the game. Maybe it looked like I was rich, but I wasn’t. Game over. Doug was loaded with wealth – i.e. property. I couldn’t survive just one big hit. (Maybe it wasn’t a hotel. Maybe it was a hospital I had landed on)

So, what’s that got to do with red-lining? Simple. Imagine that, as the game got under way, you learned that, no matter where you landed, the only properties you were allowed to buy were Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues. That’s red linng. ‘Nuff said?


The latest thing in “explaining” mass shootings is to focus on the shooter’s mental health. All good and well. Why wouldn’t this Psychologist be happy to know people’s mental health is gaining in focus and purpose?

But this Social Psychologist doesn’t like the way it’s being used to avoid the more basic horror – the cultural grounding in which poor mental health is being fostered. What sensible, alive, and aware person doesn’t carry a substratum ache of empathy, concern, and fear in this world of cruelty, killing, and destruction. It almost seems like a mark of emotional health to be disturbed. No, I don’t like the implication that the cause lies in an individual’s deviation from the norm. On the contrary, the cause lies in the culture that fosters the human potential for evil.

Will we ever get around to looking at the painful, destructive inequities in childcare, education, financial status, health care, gender acceptance, respect, and expectations for individual accomplishment (not necessarily measured by financial wealth)? What did I leave out?

It could be done. We could create a culture based on encouraging personal growth, self-confidence, gratitude, appreciation, cognitive competence, kindness, personal value – dare I say love?  But that would require reducing the “blame the other” emphasis implied in the focus on individual mental health and looking instead at our own responsibility as part of a culture. As it is, I’m afraid we have adopted “mental health” as a way to avoid looking at our own selves.

Please notice, I haven’t used the words “mental illness.” That’s a related but different story.


All is going well. The surgery was done on Friday, May 27 with a gas bubble holding my newly acquired cornea in place. For three days (almost) I followed instructions to lie on my back 45 minutes out of every hour to allow gravity to do its job. I’ve already had four post-op exams and it looks like healing is progressing nicely. I think it’s amazing, but the medical folk take it all in stride like there’s nothing noteworthy about receiving a piece of cornea born and used by someone else.

Anyway, I give thanks to the donor’s family, and yes, I’m doing the three drops every four hours. I’m pretty sure I get them in the eye as hoped; I did practice for several weeks with over-the-counter tears. Things are still blurry., though. It’s not like the instant “Aha, there’s a world out there” of Cataract surgery, and they did warn me it would take time. But now that I’m off my back I can catch up on the things I didn’t do in the interim.

By the way, I listened to two audiobooks and slept a lot, so it felt almost like a vacation. (And no, there was no pain worth mentioning.) But now I have to catch up on plans, including two blog articles I have in mind:

  1. “Why I’m not so sure I like the emphasis on mental health,”
  2. “Want to know what red-lining feels like? Monopoly on the shores of Lake Superior.”
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