Frank Weber is speaking at MACCAC (Minnesota Association of Community Corrections Act Counties) conference, at the St. Cloud Convention Center, this Thursday, February 22, 2018, from 8:00 to 10:00 am.
After the Broward County school shooting President Trump was quick to point out it is a mental health issue, rather than a gun issue. Last year I presented on MACCAC on the crisis mental illness is presenting to corrections. (Maybe I was a year early.) I had just reached a point where I wanted to say to lawmakers, “Wake up and open your eyes.”
Did you know that the most common way people are accessing mental health services today is by being arrested? As a society we lack crisis mental health services and we need to consider solutions as it costs us lives and more money in the long run. Ask anyone who works in corrections. They deal with it every day.
This year, instead of giving an overview of a problem, I decided to offer some practical advice on addressing impulsive decision making. But I still have to add, every time an issue comes up, we hear, “This is not the government’s job.” So before I get started, let me offer this: If it’s not the government's job to regulate industry, provide education and healthcare, or to protect its citizens from threats, just what is the government's job?
Addressing Impulsive Decision Making with Mentally Ill/Antisocial Offenders at the MACCAC (Minnesota Association of Community Corrections Act Counties) conference. St. Cloud Convention Center, February 22, 2018. 8:00 to 10:00 am
Frank Weber, M.S./L.P., Clinical Director of CORE Professional Services, PA
CORE (320) 202-1400 email@example.com
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl
“Every characteristic absence of spirituality, every piece of common vulgarity, is due to an inability to resist a stimulus - you have to react, you follow every impulse.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ/Ecce Homo/Twilight of the Idols/Other Writings
It’s essential to remain calm in emotional times.
Impulsive decision making can lead to:
Story: Assessment question: What year did you graduate from high school? Answer: “The 12th year.”
Critical thinking levels: (Taken from Allison King’s Designing Critical Thinking)
People operate at 3 different levels of reasoning:
Story: I loved looking at the way my children, and now grandchild, problem solve, although my 4 year old granddaughter warned me, “No more tricky questions, and I’m done talking about love.” Favorite story is when she asked a couple in their 80’s “Are you two doing okay?”
1. Pre-reflective = “If it feels good, do it.”
2. Quasi-reflective = You only pay attention to evidence that supports what you believe (confirmation bias). Unfortunately, many people don’t get beyond this.
3. Reflective thinking = You consider what you desire, but also weigh the consequences of that choice and reason through it. You take into account “Is this a step toward becoming the person I want to be?”
Dialectical reasoning involves considering a contradictory option to what’s desired. Most people aren’t able to use reflective thinking until they are adults. Here’s an example:
Belief: I desire to be at this party-- even though there are underage people drinking alcohol and illegal drugs. I will have fun. I can control my substance use.
Contradictory Belief: My life and my values go beyond what I want. I don’t need to immediately have what I want. (I have matured beyond the age of 2.) Everybody has restrictions and I’d be a fool not respect mine. (As a therapist I have a window in my office for protection from an allegation.) If I had a criminal charge, I’d want to respect my restrictions because I’d want to stay out of jail. I’d want to keep my promises to people who stood by me. (Reframing involves thinking about the situation differently. This isn’t going to be a blast. Instead, it’s a criminal charge waiting to happen.) The intelligent choice is to leave. I will have fun other ways.
Impulse control is the process of learning to stop and consider the consequences of your actions, before acting. You can avoid making an impulsive decision by immediately telling yourself:
Developmental psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, believes we learn best through guided participation, or in other words, having someone walk through the problem with us. In Japan, if a student is struggling with a math problem, the instructor states, “This is really hard for us,” implying it’s both a problem for the learner and the teacher. + It emphasized the importance of helping people work through failure. As a teacher, try to find the goodness in them. People who feel appreciated, are more motivated.
Consider: I could have made it harder to make an impulsive decision by:
Story: The new DeBeers diamond ad suggests you buy a ring with 2 diamonds on it—1 for your lover, 1 for your best friend. A late night comedian commented,”I had to call my best friend and get that diamond back. I guess they were both supposed to be for my wife.
Quieting or Controlling your mind
Discharge the extra energy & wear yourself out.
Accept your thoughts as guidance toward resolution (even if they’re troubling).
Use your mind to pose the right questions.
To help with impulsive anger:
Story: I helped a man of Mexican ancestry today who is a great worker, but he struggles a little with English. He works at a factory and applied for a promotion working on a new machine. He's the guy people go to fix the machines and he cleans anytime he isn't busy, thinking "anything to help the company." His coworkers thought he was a shoe-in for the job, but instead it went to another guy who has been fired 3 times for being incompetent. I've talked to him about how frustrating situations are opportunities to show we don't respond like everyone else. He was proud of how he handled it.
He went to his boss and asked why he didn't receive the promotion.
His boss responded by teasing, "Your English isn't too good."
He asked his boss to follow him to the machine. He then stood there silent next to it. When his boss started talking he said, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..."
After a bit his boss said, "You realize this machine doesn't talk?"
He told his boss, "Yeah, I just wanted to make sure you realized this."
Obstacles are an opportunity to distinguish ourselves. We don’t have to react like everyone else.
I had a client do this who found, most of the things he gets angry about were the result of comments he misunderstood, and there really was nothing to do about them. This process enabled him to both keep his job, and take things less personally.
Would you still make the comment if you just gave yourself an hour to think about it?
Values are standards people live their life by.
Beliefs can become Values when commitment to it grows. So people start with beliefs but can later convert them to values.
We have values as an individual. Values as a couple. Values as a family.
Our values can come in conflict and at that point we need to decide which values are most important to us. Is it more important to be a decent person or to be loyal? There are people like Socrates, Jesus, Ghandi, Muhammed, Confucious and Guatama Buddha who believe that some values are universal. An example of values:
Reliability = Are you going to be there for your partner or your children?
Commitment = to relationship or family
Honesty = Are you a person of your word?
Kindness = kindness is something you do for others
Loyalty = may be something you do for you. I appreciate loyalty, but I don’t value loyalty over kindness. Is it false pride? (Something you claim to have pride about, but you really shouldn’t be proud of.) For example: Gangs and dysfunctional families engage in a lot of hurtful behavior in the name of loyalty.
Compassion = understanding the suffering of others
Fairness and Equality = everyone deserves to be treated with respect
Respect = sharing consideration for the worth of someone
It’s not diamonds that are your best friend, but best friends who are your diamonds.
Be a friend to someone you work with.
Know the value of time. (This means both use time wisely, and take time to listen.) At this moment, you could be kind to someone.
My wife’s grandmother, Mae Gross, was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. She was a farmer’s wife--not particularly well-educated. But whenever you had a conversation with her, you felt important. I should be that gifted.
Recognize when people are doing things right—at home, at work, people you help, etc. This reinforcement is your most powerful tool. (It works on us.)
Basic Values Questions:
In what situation would you have sex with another person? Love. Affection. Attention. Any moving object. Your answer to this question is descriptive of the person you are.
Is it okay to degrade others? We all need to laugh, but be weary of jokes that target groups. Is pornography okay? Would it be okay if it was a family member? Don’t we have a responsibility to care for everybody, even people who don’t take care of themselves?
What are your values regarding alcohol use, marijuana and other illegal drugs? When would you know you were using too much? Where do you draw the line?
In what situation would you hit another person? Anger. Insult. Self-Defense.
How important is family to you? How often do you talk to them? When’s the last time you’ve helped a family member?
How do you leave an environment? Better. As you entered it. Trashed out.
When do you offer to listen to others? Too busy. Convenient. Set times. Too often.
How is your spirituality evident to others? Many of us believe there is something larger that connects all of us. Attend church. At work. At home. In your relationship. The manner in which you treat others.
Don’t let anyone tell you they’re not responsible for their behavior. It’s an insult to their intelligence and integrity.
I can safety plan for situations that create poor impulsive decisions (consider how I’m going to respond to the risks before I go into the situation):
Develop healthy habits (reducing stress reduces impulsivity):
Here are my last suggestions for people who struggle with impulsive decision making.
If con is the opposite of pro, then isn’t Congress the opposite of progress?
The star of Cake Boss was arrested for DWI. Police interrogated him for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
The Onion Headline:
Parents are choosing not to learn the gender of their obstetrician until after the child is born.
This is a conversation that occurred in my brother’s home.
Wife: “What are you watching?”
Husband: “I’m watching an ID show where the wife kills her husband. Do you want me to record it?”
Wife: “Does she get away with it?”
Wife: “Then don’t bother.”
Thanks for listening,
Pictures of our family back in 1989.
Frank Weber is a forensic psychologist whose award winning forensic and clinical work includes assessment and expert witness testimony for homicide, sexual assault, and physical assault cases. From this real life world comes his first work of fiction Murder Book from North Star Press. “A convincing piece of fiction that pulls you into a heart-breaking human experience with unpredictable and jolting twists.”