July 26, 2017 julep6@aol.com

President Trump made the right decision in banning transsexuals from the military. Transsexuality is a psychiatric disorder characterized by the delusion that one is born with the brain of the opposite sex. Contrary to what is published in the popular media, there is no evidence for a biological basis of transsexuality. Rather, it arises as a confusion during the period of psychological gender identity formation, at about the age of three, and then gradually becomes more intransigent over the next several years. Before the age of five there is a high rate of success in stopping this process; by the time the individual is a teenager, it is much harder.


Growing up with gender confusion is traumatic regardless of how society responds because it is built on a delusion that the person’s rational mind knows to be false. Surgery does not repair this trauma. Good studies are hard to come by for a number of reasons, but there are a few, and they show that even after surgery transsexuals have three to four times the rate of psychiatric problems as a matched portion of the general population, and a 19 times (that is right, 19 times) higher rate of suicide. And this is 10 years after the surgery that the individual thought would fix all their problems.


The military requires psychiatrically healthy individuals. People’s lives depend on that. It is no place for individuals who are fundamentally confused over who and what they are.


If you would like to learn more, please consider buying my booklet: Don’t Castrate Your Kid. Available on Amazon

May 5, 2016 julep6@aol.com

Religious Freedom and Equality Can Coexist
by Jule P. Miller III


Compromise is at the center of any successful relationship, including the relationships that make up the community. Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act has polarized the community. Some see it as an important defense for an increasingly invasive attack by society on Christianity. Others see it as discrimination and a shameful reminder of Mississippi’s history of segregation and Jim Crow laws. Is there a compromise to be found that both honors equality among men and freedom to not serve those you disagree with?
Freedom and equality are two fundamental principles of American life enshrined in our founding documents. They are both mentioned in the same sentence of the Declaration of Independence. Yet at times such as these they appear in conflict. Must we choose one over another?


Let’s make no bones about it. Freedom in this case means freedom to discriminate. Is that always a bad thing? No. We do it all the time as individuals. We decide who we want to be friends with and who not. We decide which businesses to frequent and which not. We choose where to live, who to date, and what political party we belong to. No one tries to force us to root for Ole Miss if we are Mississippi State fans (well, some might). We value our right to make decisions, to choose one person or organization over another in our everyday lives all the time. That is, we value our right to discriminate and choose who we want to associate with.


You may counter this argument by saying that personal relationships are one thing, but running a business is another. One problem during segregation was that the concept of “separate but equal” always translated to separate and unequal in practice. Allowing the freedom to discriminate by business owners meant the destruction of equality. It was a grossly unfair situation. But that was a different time and circumstance. The Jim Crow laws and the behavior of a few aggressive individuals made discrimination mandatory. Even if a white business owner felt the situation was unfair and did not want to discriminate, failure to do so could cost him his business. This is not the case with the religious freedom restoration act. It simply says that a business is allowed to deny service to those whose behaviors conflict with their beliefs.


Most people do not have a problem with serving homosexuals. Because of that, they may have trouble understanding the minority of devout Christians who do. Imagine for a minute that pedophiles gained political power and you were forced by the government to bake a cake for a wedding between a 50 year-old man and a 7 year-old girl. Impossible, you say? Such marriages are practiced in parts of the world. In other places, such as sections of Afghanistan, pedophilia and sexual slavery seem commonplace. If you lived in those area, you might well be compelled to participate in something that every fiber of your being rejected. I wish to add, before I am pilloried, that I am not saying gays are pedophiles. I am simply bringing up to demonstrate that even the most left wing people will feel social discrimination is justified, and the liberty to follow one’s conscience should trump equality, when the circumstances are right. Where to draw the line is the question.


There is a precedent in our history where religious liberty trumped equality in a much more serious way than what we are talking about here. This is the case of the conscientious objector. During the draft we allowed religious beliefs against killing to trump the country’s need for soldiers. It also meant conscientious objectors were safe from death while everyone else who was drafted was not. Surely, the consequences of the religious freedom act are less weighty than life or death.
When the white population of America discriminated against the blacks through segregation, there was no recourse for the blacks. Because of that, freedom to discriminate had to take a back seat to equality. However, gays do not face such a united front today. Most businesses in Mississippi will serve gays because most people care more about earning a living than they do about other people’s lifestyle. But there will be some businesses that will choose to forgo income in order to stick to principles. Is this a problem?


It is only a problem if homosexuals cannot find the services they need. In other words, if there is no one to perform the marriage service, no venue they can use, no one to bake them a cake, then there is a problem. But what if the only bakery available makes bad cakes? This is when we return to the idea of compromise.


By now I hope it is clear that both freedom, including the freedom to discriminate, and equality are important American principles. In order to respect both, it would seem reasonable that as long as at least 50% of a community does business with homosexuals, that the remaining few who prefer not to should be allowed the freedom to choose who they serve based on their beliefs. In this circumstance everyone wins. In the situation where less than 50% of the bakers, for instance, will bake a cake for a gay wedding, then a special arbiter might be appointed to come to some reasonable compromise. For instance, if the only baker is a conscientious objector to participating in a gay wedding, he might be compelled to bake the cake and put the usual decorations on it, leaving it to the wedding party to pick up the cake and adorn it with their own plastic same-sex couple. Not a perfect solution, but no compromise is. Yet it would allow for both freedom and equality to be honored in our society.


In the meantime, I will happily treat homosexuals and conservative Christians in my psychiatric practice. If you happen to meet in my waiting room, have some tolerance for each other’s beliefs and way of life. Nobody should be forced to do work they are morally opposed to (forced labor is not a good thing). And nobody should be made to feel badly because of who they love.

March 31, 2016 julep6@aol.com

Curing Terrorism

by Jule P. Miller III MD

Everyday it seems there is a terrorist attack somewhere in the world. More innocent people are killed. More blood spilled. Why? Now that Daesh is being driven from Palmyra we will see how completely they have destroyed the world’s cultural heritage there. Why did they do that?


Some believe people who are part of an organization that beheads and crucifies its captives, enslaves women, and practices genocide are essentially evil people, different in some fundamental way than the average person anywhere. But the evidence does not support that. By any measure we have been able to come up with, the majority of terrorists are indistinguishable from the rest of the population before they became radicalized. That is both frightening and reassuring. It is reassuring because if they began as ordinary people and are not evil zombies, then there is hope future radicalization might be stopped and present radicals might be changed. It is frightening because we don’t have the faintest idea how to do that.


What we need is a revolution. Not in computers or molecular biology or esoteric brain science, all places touted by the popular press as saviors of our future. No, we need a revolution in understanding and dealing with our emotions, our memories, and especially our fantasies. Because what drives the terrorists, and what allows them to turn their empathy off, are pathological fantasies.


Self-structure, the backbone of our personalities and what makes us who we are, is composed of two basic components: memories of relational experience, and the fantasies that give those memories meaning. Understand, when I talk of fantasies, I am not talking just of conscious daydreams. I am talking about an elaborate set of largely unconscious fantasies that serve the purpose of organizing all our past experience into a meaningful whole and set the direction for our life in every area, including vocations, avocations, gender identity, sexual attraction, self-worth, etc. Wherever there is a sense of meaning, purpose, or desire, there is an underlying set of fantasies.


We each have our individual fantasies, and society through its culture and values has its guiding fantasies. The fantasies of the individual and the fantasies of society interact in ways that can reinforce or interfere with each other. Religion is perhaps the most codified set of cultural fantasies that exists. It evolved to support the inner fantasies of its adherents, helping them keep it together emotionally during times of stress such as birth, death, illness, and natural disaster. Religion helps supply some of the fantasies individuals can use to give meaning and purpose to life. But fantasy, and religion as a particular example of a fantasy system, is not inherently good or bad. It serves a purpose of organizing the fragments of the self into a whole and of giving meaning. That is all.


The single field that has the greatest to offer in understanding why ordinary people become terrorists is psychoanalysis. Yes, contrary to the popular press, psychoanalysis did not die. In fact, there are more psychoanalysts practicing today than ever in history. And unnoticed by the news, psychoanalytic theory has continued to grow and develop since Freud’s time to include variants such as psychoanalytic self psychology and relational analysis, where new understandings and techniques are much more applicable to the problems I am describing than some of the older branches of analysis. In fact, my talk of fantasy is taken from my own contribution to the field in my book, Using Self Psychology in Child Psychotherapy.


But psychoanalytic theory, which sheds light on some of the inner stresses of man, is only part of the solution. To effectively help ameliorate terrorism we must also address the external stresses the future terrorist faces. Particularly important is the lack of jobs. Working validates some of the most important fantasies I am talking about. It helps clarify one’s place in society. It also gives purpose and meaning. Without it, young men are adrift, open and hungry for anyone to give them a purpose, particularly if it meshes with other fantasies they have. Fantasies such being true to your faith, avenging wrongs, camaraderie with your fellow terrorists, and holy war.


When we evolved from lower apes or left Eden, take your pick, everyone in the village had a place. From early childhood everyone knew how their lives would go, what roles they would play. Boys started joining the hunting parties as soon as they could keep up. They learned early on how to make a hut, how to catch fish, how to set traps. Girls helped their mothers and aunts gather food, mend clothes, take care of babies, and make homes. There was no confusion and not a lot of idle time.


Now teenagers face an overwhelming world where nothing is certain. So many possibilities and so little guidance of how to navigate them. In addition, most of the jobs that are most coveted and noticed on media, such as rap artist and professional athlete, represent unrealistic enticements, fantasies that only serve as sources of frustration. Finally, most of the real jobs in society are becoming too complex for a person with an average IQ to master. It takes a significantly above average IQ to become a doctor, lawyer, nurse, engineer, computer programmer, accountant, or scientist of any persuasion. And being successful in an artistic field requires special talent; again, not something the majority of people possess. There is no hunting party or gathering group for the average person to join anymore. Without a job, today’s young adult has no part to play. When people feel squeezed out by the system they tend to do one of two things: leave or tear it down. We are seeing the results.


In Obedience to Authority (1974) Stanley Milgram showed that in the right circumstances, most people will turn off their empathy and act like demons. It is up to us to undemonize the terrorists, first in our minds, and then through our actions. Then we can develop effective means of preventing radicalization and deprogramming those who have become radicalized. This will involve a combination of debunking the pathological fantasies while supplying new, more adaptive replacements, all in the context of a supportive environment that entices young adults to participate. As part of that supportive environment, we need to create meaningful job opportunities. Companies should be offered significant tax breaks if they help create those jobs. Our future depends on it.


copyright 2016 by Jule P. Miller III. All rights reserved.

March 2, 2016 julep6@aol.com

I am currently writing a series of booklets on Love, Sex, and Romance. They will be available through the Amazon Kindle. The accompanying page on this website can be found by clicking on “Love” above. If you sign up for the Love email list, you will be able to download a free booklet describing a dozen essential ingredients to love. I am also working on a book called, The Empathy Switch and another on circuits in the brain. ¬†Keep tuned for more. ¬†Jule P. Miller III, MD