Monday, September 15, 2008

Shrink Rap Radio and the Prison Psychologist

The last interview Dr. David van Nuys did on Shrink Rap Radio was with Dr. Dana Houck. (And it needs to be said Dana is a man) Dana Houck has left his work in the Prison System, but he speaks with Dr. Dave about the ten year career he had as a prison therapist.

Houck invested his time in doing dream work with the inmates and he successfully managed to set up groups in which the convicts discussed their dreams. In addition he let them work with myths, legends and fairy tales. Houck could report some beautiful cases of prisoners opening up and gaining insight through his methods. He also did some counting and thinks the men he had in therapy had a strongly reduced chance of recidivism. Yet, he eventually left the system, becasue he was not allowed to continue working with his familiar methods, but rather had to follow the methods prescribed by the management.

The interview gets particularly interesting and surprising when Houck relates his explanation of the tale of the Three Little Pigs. He hastens to say that this is not exactly 'The Disney Version'. Not only are there some apparently unsavory elements cut from the story, but also, the deeper meaning is about integrating the shadow side of man into his whole person. For his detainees, as much as for anybody else, I venture, this is a valuable lesson. It is a typical example of what outstanding quality Dr. Dave can extract from these interviews.

More Shrink Rap Radio:
The humane working place,
Nirvana and the Brain,
Psychoanalysis - Shrink Rap radio review,
Conscious Living,
The Happiness Hypothesis.

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Invisible Hand Economics - podcast review

Professor Deepak Lal's lecture at the RSA (University channel podcast on August 8) bears in the title his defense for an old-fashioned idea of economic policy: the policy of the invisible hand. For some it may be very unexpected to have classical liberalism be defended in this day and age. I was surely eager to find out myself.

In many ways, Lal did not make a real case for liberalism in his lecture. The lecture was very valuable, but rather than making a normative point as expected, it was much more descriptive. The resulting historical analysis of capitalism and global economy was very instructive. The fact that Dr. Lal applauds all these developments, is tangible, but no so explicit.

The best explication he makes, nevertheless, but his case comes up only by the question and answer section in the end. This is not always the best part of UChannel lectures, but this is one to stay around for. Lal tackles the qualms of moderate, modern, non-liberal economy with the example of child labor, which, as you can see in a previous lecture on UChannel, would normally serve as the case against all out capitalism. His example is that of a factory in Bangladesh that extensively employs young girls. When modern requirements in the Supply Chain come into effect, this factory must lay off the girls, lest it loses its 'free of child labor' certificate.

Lal says: 'Child labor is a symptom of poverty. If standards of living sufficiently rise, the families will no longer send their girls out to work.' If you close their way in the official economy, like in the Bengal example, the next day they are on the street and will work in the unofficial economy (read: they will work in prostitution). Thus he shows a point also made by Thomas Barnett (earlier on UChannel) that nothing is achieved by imposing our standards on the developing countries. You cannot solve the problem by suppressing the symptoms. That I can understand, but I'd love to see another lecture from Lal, or anybody else, how the invisible hand can take these girls out of the factory to school.

More UChannel:
The Second World,
Repairing Failed States,
The Collapse (Republicans and America),
New Map for the Pentagon,
Slavery and the Supply Chain.

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