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Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:10 AM

Dr. Bandy Lee interview #2

This is my second interview with Dr. Bandy Lee, the Yale forensic psychiatrist and author/ editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”



(Q) In our February interview, you noted that you “have always conceived of this presidency as a reflection of the poor state of collective mental health in our society.” A significant number of my friends in the mental health profession found that to be such an important part. I immediately was reminded of Erich Fromm's 1955 “The Sane Society,” in which he said that the same conditions that create dysfunctional family systems will, when wide-spread, result in society becoming dysfunctional. Some of the psychosocial factors Fromm listed include addiction, violent crime, and suicide rates. Can you expand on those factors that result in the poor state of collective mental health in the United States?

(A) Yes, these effects are pervasive. This week, Yale Law School communicated with me through its office of public affairs asking me to misrepresent my teaching activities there so as to minimize them. After devoting 15 years of my teaching career to the School, I was shocked. But I have also witnessed it gradually siding with power interests over public interest, when it had been known for the latter for so long. I am not especially criticizing Yale Law School, but many of the luminaries who made the place so exceptional are gradually being replaced. This is a trend we have seen all over the country: power-hungry personalities, who are in fact wounded and disordered personalities, particularly seek out storied institutions and deplete them from within. Healthy societies keep them out of power positions from the start, but societies of poor health are drawn to them, as pathology attracts pathology. Soon, healthy individuals will fall away or be taken out, as we see with our own federal government. We think of psychological disorders as individual-confined, but they have no bounds; they can afflict a family, a community, an institution, or a nation. The dynamic principles we observe are the same as what we examine in individuals, and addiction, violent crime, and suicide that are probabilities in individuals translate into percentages in a population.

(Q) There was a John Hughes film in 1985, “The Breakfast Club,” that was a “teen flick” on the surface, but that also highlighted the roles children tend to play in dysfunctional families. It was a model that we used in social work, with the family hero, lost child, the scapegoat, and the clown. In the movie, the students learn to start the day at their negative potentials and transition to their positive potentials, despite the interference of the principal/ father figure.

(A) In real life, rather than “reel life,” it takes more than two hours to make those changes. The behaviors that children learn to get their needs met within a dysfunctional family rarely translate smoothly into the larger society. Currently, due to the levels of stress, fear, and anxiety, might some of the unattractive behaviors of Trump supporters be caused by their reverting to old behaviors in order to try to get their needs met?

(A) All individual ailments are ecological, and vice versa. There is certainly an astonishing level of free will within the human mind, even when one is handicapped—which is why I keep emphasizing that a person can be, and overwhelmingly is, still responsible for criminality, even if they are found to be “insane”—but we also cannot discount the profound influence of environment. When you have a population, you can almost quantify cause and effect, which will also follow like clockwork. My specialty has been to study macro-level societal factors that act on the individual psychology to produce violence, which led me to the conclusion that violence is a societal disorder. The inequality, deprivation, and propaganda to perpetuate and exacerbate unjust conditions were bound to produce a portion of the population that would manifest the larger pathology in their person, many who have become Trump supporters. This is how we understand and know the societal effects of Donald Trump, much more precisely than any individual patient, and have been able to predict his behavior as well as society’s response with great precision, almost every step of the way: the disastrous summits with North Korea and Russia, the problems of delaying impeachment, the massacre of our Kurdish allies and the assassination of an important Iranian general, and now the pandemic response…. You will find articles or petitions from us outlining how things would unfold, usually days or weeks before they happen, before any of the details are revealed. A “sick society” has a prognosis, just like sick individuals, and its behavior becomes all the more predictable with sickness.

(Q) Why do people react so differently to a threat that appears immediate, such as the corona virus, than to one that seems more distant, such as climate change? An example that comes to mind is the hostility that many in this part of rural upstate New York expressed when New York City residents ventured up to their second homes here at the beginning of this crisis. They tend to be people who support Trump's hostility towards immigrants from Central America. Large scale immigration in human history is frequently tied to climate change, which increases the risk of a violent competition for resources. Is there a psychological reason that helps explain why society waits for a potential problem to become a crisis before beginning to deal with it?

(A) Since all these issues have to do with prevention, it is a matter of education. What distinguishes our time from an early medieval era of calamities is the science and knowledge that we have accumulated and put to use, not the microbes or natural law. We have seen how, through willful ignorance and superstitious thinking, the president singlehandedly led us into a plague in this country like few other nations in modern times, and is still trying to undermine medical experts’ and others’ efforts to pull us further down. This should be a cautionary tale for climate change, as well as for mental health. Mental health is taken as a subjective non-science in this country, just because it cannot be seen, when all research evidence and clinical practice reveal it as no different from any other area of medicine. This is how we pretend it does not exist, that our president is normal, and that we do not need mental health expertise to understand what is happening—and live out all preventable consequences as if they were inevitable. This is how we have defeated ourselves in many areas, in everything from politics to civic life to yielding to a devastating pandemic. Hostility against immigrants and refugees is another psychological matter that has much to do with deflection of guilt through the blaming of victims, since most of the things they are fleeing—wars, oppressive regimes, economic exploitation, and climate change—we have caused.

(Q) Earlier this month, Donald Trump tweeted: “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It's under siege!” Can this be interpreted as anything other than a call to arms, increasing the potential for violence in a tense time?

(A) It is exactly a call to arms. It is a way of diverting the frustration and anger from extreme lockdown measures and the loss of 27 million jobs, which the president knows his own negligence has caused, and redirecting them to his own ends. He is building an army for himself and testing it.

(Q) In 1952, Erich Fromm published his book, “Escape from Freedom.” He examined the differences between “freedom from” and “freedom to.” He noted that “freedom from” social conventions without “freedom to” could be abused by a “leader” intent upon destroying the stabilizing institutions of a nation. In the 1970s, while discussing this, my late friend Rubin Carter said that throughout history, tyrants have known that if they could promote hatred for a minority population, they could get the masses to forget their own low level of being, thus allowing for the destruction of those stabilizing institutions. Does this explain Trump's on-going attacks on immigrants, the FBI, the intelligence community, and the federal courts?

(A) Exactly—this is a known tactic, made more efficient when you have the emotional drive of symptoms behind it. You might notice that societies under disordered leadership always exploit problems but fail to provide improved goods, since they are incapable of it. And so the solution for the leader becomes to redirect that suffering and anger against scapegoats, usually vulnerable groups in the population that cannot fight back (“strongmen” are actually cowards). “Losers”, meanwhile, are prone to feeling contempt for lesser “losers”, as they cannot stand the reflection of themselves, and become willing persecutors. Their tendency to identify with the oppressor, or the desire to see the success of their exploiter as their own success, altogether collude to make this method of madness work.

(Q) One of the dynamics of the corona virus crisis that is curious is the toilet paper hoarding. Is this a behavior in which an individual seeks to exert some degree of control in the face of an unknown situation that is marked by anxiety about the future and a general feeling of helplessness?

(A) I think you put it very well. Obsessional behavior is usually a sign of anxiety.

(Q) As the year 2000 approached towards the end of 1999, there was also hoarding. This went beyond the right-wing, para-military survivalists, and the mega-churches seeking to hoard contributions for “the end of times.” In one of my interviews with Chief Paul Waterman of the Onondaga Nation, he taught that his people, in times of crisis, knew that “divine intervention” is found in people's sharing, especially with those who are poor and in need. My generation remembers President Johnson's “War on Poverty,” and investments in efforts for prison reform. Yet, even within the 2020 Democratic Party's primaries, only one candidate included dealing with poverty as a serious campaign issue. Why has caring about the poor gone out of style? What is the impact, for example, of self-identified Christians ignoring Jesus's teaching about the Good Samaritan upon a nation?

(A) This is a theme for a whole book, but the broad trend is for individuals or societies, when pressured or with low emotional resources, to turn inward. Our state of collective mental health certainly has all the signs of decline since the days when our aim was to lift everyone up; now, we disdain and persecute the poor. Having also done divinity studies, at the same time as medical studies, I have viewed a spiritual state—where you feel unity with the universe and charity for all—as an advanced psychological state. But religion can be used as a defense or a way of hiding opposite motives. Humans were able to perpetrate the greatest atrocities of history in the name of Christianity because it provides a good cover and assuages guilt when one can define oneself as “good” based on Christian identity alone.

(Q) Recently, a number of friends have described growing difficulties in talking with people in their lives that blindly support Trump. I try to keep in mind Malcolm X's teaching that if you want people to act differently, you must first encourage them to think differently. For example, during the House's impeachment hearings, I attempted to start by finding common ground – in that instance, respect for the Constitution. Then I would recommend they read the letters from various Founding Fathers that shed light on what they intended. The Federalist Paper #65 describes the necessity of removing someone like Trump from office. I am concerned about the growing divides in our society. What are the stumbling blocks that prevent Trump supporters from recognizing the obvious? How can rational people maintain relationships with family and friends who have “drank Trump's Kool-Aid?”

(A) I would take Malcolm X’s maxim further and say, if you want people to think differently, you must first help them to feel differently. Ideology is not what most Trump supporters are after; they are clinging to a sense of identity, belonging, and having a place in the world. As a predatory personality, Donald Trump fully exploits this need. If you can provide your loved ones with acceptance as human beings, with a place to return to if they ever abandoned their cultic programming, you would lessen his pull.

(Q) Another divide that concerns me is that between those who support Joe Biden and those who had supported Bernie Sanders. A similar divide in 2016, along with other factors, allowed Trump to claim victory in the presidential election. This November, we will need unity to defeat Trump, and possibly shift the balance of power in the Senate. What are your thoughts on this?

(A) The larger divide is fueling the smaller one. The larger divide is between pathology and health, which is why no debate or negotiation is possible, since the goal of pathology is to destroy. The relatively healthy factions are not fully healthy, either, since fragmentation alone is a sign of poor health. I see the disagreement as being between those who believe only incremental change is possible (limiting expectations) and those who believe only profound change can alter the status quo (taking risks); these are not irreconcilable differences. If we were healthier, I would recommend sweeping changes that would correct the sources of our current problems—what I learned from violence prevention programming is that changes come sooner than we think—but there is also a limitation in what people can take emotionally, after the chaos and destructive changes of the last three years, and the gravitation toward the familiar is understandable.

(Q) In April of 2001, Rubin Carter spoke at Binghamton University. A professor who was writing a book on forgiveness – in her case, attempting to forgive abusive parents – asked me if I could talk to Rubin about possibly writing a chapter for her book. In his chapter, Rubin wrote about the power of forgiveness, and how while it does not include a willingness to be victimized, it was required for the evolution of human consciousness. Do you think that is an important teaching for people to apply in this strange time?

(A) Recognition of our shared human frailty will help us to forgive one another and to achieve healing. As a health professional, my enemy is clear: pathology, not the person. Offering the president the right treatment is the best thing to do for him, no matter how he objects. Intervening so that people’s minds are no longer hijacked to serve a deficient leader is humane, too. Enabling pathology while intending to respect “both sides” causes needless suffering for all, including those who are supposedly getting their way. I have experienced too many people returning to thank me, once they were given treatment and freed their minds, as if it were the most liberating experience imaginable. So, to me, the solution is clear, and it comes out of compassion and love for our common humanity. Refusing to respond with complacency, complicity, or even active collusion with pathology helps us to forgive ourselves, not to mention pathology’s victims.

34 replies, 1733 views

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply Dr. Bandy Lee interview #2 (Original post)
H2O Man Apr 2020 OP
dalton99a Apr 2020 #1
H2O Man Apr 2020 #3
oasis Apr 2020 #2
H2O Man Apr 2020 #4
H2O Man Apr 2020 #5
Mike 03 Apr 2020 #6
H2O Man Apr 2020 #8
FM123 Apr 2020 #7
H2O Man Apr 2020 #9
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2020 #10
H2O Man Apr 2020 #11
Hekate Apr 2020 #12
H2O Man Apr 2020 #13
mopinko Apr 2020 #14
H2O Man Apr 2020 #16
malaise Apr 2020 #15
H2O Man Apr 2020 #17
malaise Apr 2020 #19
underpants Apr 2020 #18
H2O Man Apr 2020 #20
dlk Apr 2020 #21
H2O Man Apr 2020 #22
dlk Apr 2020 #23
H2O Man Apr 2020 #24
dlk Apr 2020 #25
malaise Apr 2020 #26
H2O Man Apr 2020 #27
kentuck Apr 2020 #28
H2O Man Apr 2020 #29
kentuck Apr 2020 #32
OneGrassRoot Apr 2020 #30
H2O Man Apr 2020 #31
icymist Apr 2020 #33
H2O Man Apr 2020 #34

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:15 AM

1. Thank you for posting this.

The Trump virus is everywhere

This week, Yale Law School communicated with me through its office of public affairs asking me to misrepresent my teaching activities there so as to minimize them. After devoting 15 years of my teaching career to the School, I was shocked. But I have also witnessed it gradually siding with power interests over public interest, when it had been known for the latter for so long. I am not especially criticizing Yale Law School, but many of the luminaries who made the place so exceptional are gradually being replaced. This is a trend we have seen all over the country: power-hungry personalities, who are in fact wounded and disordered personalities, particularly seek out storied institutions and deplete them from within. Healthy societies keep them out of power positions from the start, but societies of poor health are drawn to them, as pathology attracts pathology. Soon, healthy individuals will fall away or be taken out, as we see with our own federal government. We think of psychological disorders as individual-confined, but they have no bounds; they can afflict a family, a community, an institution, or a nation. The dynamic principles we observe are the same as what we examine in individuals, and addiction, violent crime, and suicide that are probabilities in individuals translate into percentages in a population.

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:20 AM

3. Seriously.

Malcolm X used to say he could measure how effective his message was by the negative responses of his opposition. I think Dr. Lee's voice is at the highest level of significance in our nation today. I am hoping that there is a good response from the DU community, as I send her the links to the interviews & responses.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:20 AM

2. Good read. K and R

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Response to oasis (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:22 AM

4. Thank you!

Dr. Lee is amazing, and she is an inspiration to old folks like me.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:24 AM

5. Important Note!

After the first interview I posted here, some people asked if it was okay to put it on their blogs or facebook. Please feel free to do so.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:31 AM

6. Stupendous, H20 Man.

Wow. There's an enormous amount of substance here. I'll be spending some time going through this line by line. You really are able to surpass the superficial with her and get to the important depths.

This observation is sincerely appreciated:

Mental health is taken as a subjective non-science in this country, just because it cannot be seen, when all research evidence and clinical practice reveal it as no different from any other area of medicine. This is how we pretend it does not exist, that our president is normal, and that we do not need mental health expertise to understand what is happening—and live out all preventable consequences as if they were inevitable.


This view seems to be somewhat pervasive, and it has cost our society much.

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Response to Mike 03 (Reply #6)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:36 AM

8. Thanks!

I love that quote. I've been re-reading Dr. Lee's responses all morning. I am honored to be able to provide this community with access to her amazing insights. And I am especially pleased that you saw this, since you motivated me to do the first interview.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:33 AM

7. Very interesting.

This one part really stood out to me in a very worrisome way:

(Q) Earlier this month, Donald Trump tweeted: “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It's under siege!” Can this be interpreted as anything other than a call to arms, increasing the potential for violence in a tense time?

(A) It is exactly a call to arms. It is a way of diverting the frustration and anger from extreme lockdown measures and the loss of 27 million jobs, which the president knows his own negligence has caused, and redirecting them to his own ends. He is building an army for himself and testing it.

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Response to FM123 (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:38 AM

9. Thank you!

That stark message should be a cause of serious concern for all of us. Dr. Lee is 100% accurate on this. It is actually far worse, and far more dangerous, than most people recognize or understand.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:39 AM

10. Diversion



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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #10)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:42 AM

11. Exactly!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:44 AM

12. KnRnBookmark to read in full later. Thanks.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #12)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 10:56 AM

13. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 11:24 AM

14. most excellent work my friend.

 

this whole thing has been much on my mind lately as well.
in particular i have been ruminating on recent advances is evolutionary psychology.
our dear judilynn posted a link to an article about- the survival of the friendliest. a new theory. it compared facial/structural changes in early humans and in dogs.
they found a very high correlation in the features, and also in the advance of human tribes that was happening concurrently.
iow, we survived and excelled because we became domesticated.

but a deeper discussion was in what it means to be domesticated. basically, it means that the potential for violence is maintained, but also controlled.
if your dog bites you, it flunks the first round of selection.
but if it fails to bite an intruder, it equally fails.

then i look around, and see that violence is rampant. we are not really domesticated any more.
i know that the road back from that is to take the violent out of the gene pool, out of control of others, but also to flood the zone w love and acceptance.
i feel i have made some leaps in that dept myself of late.

i have a trumpkin in my life, so these ruminations are not academic to me.
tbh, it has been an amazing ride. she is right. acceptance is key. as is trust.
the reward so far have been many.
i hope many can find this place.

so good of you to have helped dr brandi put out all this great info/advice.
i need to go back and read the first. i saw it, but declined to read it because it would have made steam come out of my ears not to be able to reply at the time.

take care friend.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #14)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 11:44 AM

16. Thank you!

Way, way back in time, when I was filing out a paper for use by those producing my high school yearbook, there was a question about what I wanted to do after graduation? I said my dream and goal was to become an asterick in a history book. All these decades later, I'm thinking I'm getting close.

My great X7 grandfather was a hedge school teacher in Ireland in the late 1700s. It was illegal to provide education to Catholics in that time, so he held classes at the side of a rural road. I told Dr. Lee this morning that I try to do the same along the information highway.

This is, as you know, a strange and dangerous time. Take care of yourself, my Good Friend.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 11:24 AM

15. Fabulous!

Reel life v real life - profound for more reasons than the example stated -everything is reel life for Don the criminally negligent Con!

By the way this is a global phenomenon

This week, Yale Law School communicated with me through its office of public affairs asking me to misrepresent my teaching activities there so as to minimize them. After devoting 15 years of my teaching career to the School, I was shocked. But I have also witnessed it gradually siding with power interests over public interest, when it had been known for the latter for so long. I am not especially criticizing Yale Law School, but many of the luminaries who made the place so exceptional are gradually being replaced. This is a trend we have seen all over the country: power-hungry personalities, who are in fact wounded and disordered personalities, particularly seek out storied institutions and deplete them from within. Healthy societies keep them out of power positions from the start, but societies of poor health are drawn to them, as pathology attracts pathology. Soon, healthy individuals will fall away or be taken out, as we see with our own federal government. We think of psychological disorders as individual-confined, but they have no bounds; they can afflict a family, a community, an institution, or a nation. The dynamic principles we observe are the same as what we examine in individuals, and addiction, violent crime, and suicide that are probabilities in individuals translate into percentages in a population.

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Response to malaise (Reply #15)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 11:50 AM

17. Thank you!

I found myself reading and re-reading that response several times this morning. In my opinion, that makes it even more important that those of us at the grass roots' level continue to spread Dr. Lee's message, far and wide. I am convinced that Dr. Lee's voice is the most important one in the United States today. Her responses on this interview support my belief. I am honored to have the opportunity to spread the Truth here on DU.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #17)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 11:58 AM

19. I will be rereading the entire interview this evening

Great questions and insightful responses.
Something went wrong in all of our universities when the billionaire donations led to the shut down of one powerful sociology, economics and pol sc. departments which were replaced by business schools.
These days we have departments full of ex-politicians and other scumbags who will sell their own mothers for an inside track to power.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 11:56 AM

18. 👀

Kick

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Response to underpants (Reply #18)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 12:03 PM

20. Thank you!

I think it is an eye-opening interview!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 12:11 PM

21. Thank you for posting Dr. Lee's interview

So many people I know are puzzled and confused about Trump’s diehard supporters continued ignoring of facts and reality, even to the point of risking their health and safety. Dr. Lee explains it beautifully in the context of mental health and need for belonging. She is the voice of knowledge, compassion and reason we need at this very critical juncture.

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Response to dlk (Reply #21)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 12:48 PM

22. Thank you!

I'm finding that my interviews with Dr. Lee are getting more of a response on a few other internet sites, but I still think it's good for me to post them here on DU. And I appreciate people here reading and responding to them!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #22)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 01:35 PM

23. I've also read some of her recent interviews, elsewhere

They are astounding in terms of explaining what we’re dealing with. It as though there’s a collective effort to downplay the very real threat Trump poses to all of us, exacerbated by the “it couldn’t possibly happen here” fantasy.

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Response to dlk (Reply #23)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 01:49 PM

24. Exactly.

Dr. Lee has an amazing ability to communicate in a manner that is easily understood by the general public. I think the more exposure that she gets, the better. I am thinking it would be beneficial for the grass roots to lobby some of those on MSNBC to encourage further interviews with her at this time.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #24)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 01:53 PM

25. Agreed

Factual information is critical to counter the endless spin and propaganda. For many reasons, Dr. Lee is an excellent messenger.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 09:12 PM

26. Kick - must read

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Response to malaise (Reply #26)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 09:50 AM

27. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 10:01 AM

28. Excellent!

"The larger divide is between pathology and health..."

Pathology seeks to destroy.

And self-identified Chrisitans ignoring Jesus's teaching...

It is not a healthy society.

Thought-provoking.

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Response to kentuck (Reply #28)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 10:24 AM

29. Thanks, kentuck!

I think it is an amazing interview -- not because I asked the questions, as they are simply the basic questions that I think are on many people's minds -- but because Dr. Lee has such an intense grasp of the social pathology that is threatening this country, and is able to discuss this topic in a manner that everyone can easily understand.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #29)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 05:54 PM

32. It is true.

A pathology is threatening this country.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 04:25 PM

30. Oh my goodness...

I can't tell you how timely and profound reading this was for me. So very many quotable nuggets of wisdom and guidance in this interview. I'm working on something about the pathology of disconnection and our yearning for belonging, and may reach out to you to find out if I may quote Dr. Lee.

VERY powerful, Dear Sir. Thank you, thank you, thank you.



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Response to OneGrassRoot (Reply #30)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 05:34 PM

31. Thank you!

And of course you are most welcome to use any of what I have posted. The two interviews have been getting greater attention elsewhere, especially facebook. Thus, I've been posting more frequently in some of the "closed" FB groups that have invited me to participate. If you are interested, I could also get you access there. I think you would enjoy those groups.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 10:30 PM

33. K & R

Excellent interview.

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Response to icymist (Reply #33)

Thu Apr 30, 2020, 10:33 PM

34. Thank you!

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