Birth Control and Sandra Fluke – Psychotherapist View

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on March 8, 2012

The controversial topic of birth control and Sandra Fluke is NOT about women’s health, although women’s health has become the focus. This is so obviously political, you don’t have to hold a psychotherapist’s view to analyze this one – it is clear.

As a psychotherapist/mental health expert who specializes in understanding the relationship dynamics of systems (e.g., family system, marital system, parenting dynamic/system . . . ), our government and the people within our America is indeed a system. From an analytical perspective, Fluke’s exposure is a symbol of:

America is at a cross road of determining our countries’ philosophical belief system which is; Do we want a culture filled more of entitlement or more of self reliance?

Nothing Mentally Healthy Comes From Entitlement And Reliance –

When I process this controversial topic, I feel like we are living in a SNL comedy skit, or a Science Fiction movie, about some alternative universe of an entitled culture lacking taking ownership of one’s actions and reliant on some “higher authority” AKA government to provide. Entitlement and reliance – does that sound healthy? It is not.

Self Reliance/Taking Ownership Of One’s Choices –

Self reliance and taking ownership of one’s behavioral choices IS self empowerment which builds strong character and thus imperative for one’s mental wellness.

For an example, if you want to drink alcohol then you need to pay for a taxi cab ride home to keep yourself and others safe. The government should not be involved and in control of deciding who should pay for your taxi cab ride home. Rather you should take ownership of your choices. If you want to have sexual intercourse, the government should not be involved in and in control of deciding who should pay for your birth control choice, if any. This is something you need to take ownership of. The examples are plentiful – feel free to think of some.

Dependency: The President Of The U.S. A. –

Over time, dependency eats away at self confidence, self esteem, and self reliance. Eventually even a person who is strong willed will doubt his abilities, becomes unable to make decisions, and loses the capacity to cope with the normal challenges of every day life. In a dependent life experience; worry, anxiety, and fear becomes paramount. Specifically fear of the terrifying thought that the caregiver who is controlling the situation will leave.

Perhaps this is the fear some may have about the possibility of Obama leaving for a different president to emerge entering a new Government that will support our journey of independence rather than feed our reliance on dependence.

Our Future : Independence VS. Dependence

The philosophical belief system of; “the government must do for us”, we the people then create a society without a voice because we are giving our voice over to the government to control one item at a time. This is my concern from an analytic perspective. As I step outside this controversial debate and recognize its symbolism, as a psychotherapist I see what this experience our culture is having for our future. With more and more government control, this slowly chips at our freedoms and develops reliance. What will be in years from now with this philosophy of more of a nanny state mentality if America takes it and lives it for years to come? If we only had a time machine to check out that future, although I do not think we need a time machine to see how unhealthy that would be for us as a culture, do you? This future has already begun when considering topics such as; this one, government removing overweight children from their home, pushing an agenda on what type of car to buy; by creating a potentially forced financial situation, government-school interpretation/determination of what is acceptable lunches or not . . . How many more examples can you name?

Doesn’t it seem obvious that dependency is unhealthy? Many adults have had experiences as teens experiencing feeling frustrated when our parents determined the rules, and that it felt as though everyone but our self seemed in charge of our future. Therefore, I would think it would be somewhat easy for adults to imagine how awful it would feel to have someone to have that type of control over our lives. Yet it may not be so clear when there is fear, as discussed above.

The developmental stage of dependence and developing independence is the healthy journey during one’s youth towards adulthood. So, I ask the public; is not our goal as parents to help our children to become independent? Why in adulthood then are we requesting/demanding rescuing in situations where we do not need to be rescued. Requesting/demanding government involvement is a form of dependency is it not – when capable human beings demand.

Life is hard and that IS life. Have we forgotten that? Government should not be meant to control and provide when one is capable. Life is supposed to hold challenges. Although, perhaps government can be the cushion mat under our tight wire that we walk on throughout life to soften the blow if we fall, or the safety net for those who are not capable.

The easiest way to think of dependence and independence is as a sliding continuum of different degrees or grades of self reliance. At the end of the scale is complete reliance and the other end is complete independence. We did not come into this world alone and we are not going out alone. Certainly some government involvement is appropriate, absolutely, notice the word “some”, where appropriate! From an analytical point of view where we are heading is concerning – becoming a nanny state is far too reliant for human beings that are far more capable then that. Yes, I believe in human capability.

It is my analysis that as a culture we appear to be struggling with how much we want from a higher authority versus how much we need. As a culture we appear to be struggling with what we can accomplish and want to accomplish independently.

Controversial Debate Tickles Women’s Journey Of  ‘self battle syndrome’

Wednesday evening, March 7th Dennis Miller on The O’Reilly Factor shared on air, when watching Fluke’s statements; it seemed so “helpless” he explained, as he referred to Fluke’s desire for governmental involvement for birth control. Miller used the words; “30 year old career woman” in the same sentence as “helpless”. As I thought about his observation of what many the viewer may also be noticing, let us analyze this. Miller was touching on something profound, I believe.  As a psychotherapist I will explain – this is an interesting combination of dependence (more of a liberal style philosophical belief system), demanding government force coverage to pay for a woman’s birth control method, and independence (more of a conservative style of philosophical belief system) her going to school to become a lawyer.

Many women experience a personal battle, what I refer to as; ‘self battle syndrome’. No, this is not a medical diagnosis of Fluke, nor even a documented medical diagnosis for that matter. Rather it is a term to explain what a person, typically women, struggle with that I see time and time again, and thus I am using a term to clarify the point/label the concept for clarification. This self battle is the longing to be taken care of/dependence; the belief that we should be taken care of, in contrast to independence; the belief that we can be self reliant and the desire and motivation to be self reliant. The self battle between dependence and independence shines through in this example. Sandra Fluke is symbolic of many women’s self battle in her going to law school (symbolic for becoming independent) and stating sexual protection should be paid for not by her (symbolic for an entitlement dependence culture).

Many women struggle with wanting to be taken care of and wanting to be independent. That balance to figure out is not always easy. This generation of women are taught that they do not need men, they can be who they want to be and be independent. Where does that leave women in the skill department of a healthy balance of independence and dependence? What does this concept mean to women? What does this mean to and for men? What does this mean in the relationship we have with one’s spouse? One’s friend? One’s children? One’s parents? One’s god? One’s government?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Virginia March 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I like your observation, but I have come to see it as a type of schizophrenia in our culture which creates a craziness. Fluke is suppose to be one of the bright ones and she can’t figure out how to get birth control for less than $3000 in 3 years, yikes. Why would an institution who’s policy doesn’t cover contraception have to pay for it? Every one is always quoting “seperation of Church and State” not realising that our founders didn’t want a State religion, not that the Church couldn’t influence the state. If Fluke and her friends, fellow students can’t figure a way to get birth control for themselves at a decent price outside the university, why would I ever hire them to be lawyers for me no matter what type of law they practice. Fluke did little to help women be seen as smart and savvy and made herself and her friends look like cry babies who stomp their feet when they are told “no”. I like to think of American women who are resourceful, strong, and can take a few hard knocks that life gives them to build character. Why doesn’t she pool her smarts, oops, forgot she is not too bright, and help pull resources together for women at the university to get birth control pills for a lower price outside the university? When America starts telling people like Fluke, whether male or female to “get a life” we the people will continue to watch these spoiled brats stomp their little feet and cry “more” your owe it to me.

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Dr. Karen Ruskin March 12, 2012 at 8:29 am

Thank you Virginia for taking the time to comment on this story, I am sure there are aspects of what you said there are those who identify with indeed. I would very much like to see women as resourceful.

Although, I did want to take this as an opportunity to share just but a small portion of what Schizophrenia is since you used that term in your commentary. I do realize that many times we as humans use a term that was originally meant to describe a person of mental illness, simply as a term to express what our point is. For example, a person may say; “I am so depressed” and really they are not clinically depressed, rather they are simply feeling sad about something that happened that day. I do understand the context upon which you were using the term “schizophrenia” to describe your point, as I am sure most people reading your commentary will understand it is as well. But, given that I am a mental health professional I feel it would be unjust not to take a moment out to specify with clinical diagnostic accuracy what schizophrenia actually is for those who are unfamiliar with the true understanding of the term.

Schizophrenia is characterized by profound disruption in cognition and emotion, affecting the most fundamental human attributes: language, thought, perception, affect, and sense of self. The array of symptoms, while wide ranging, frequently includes psychotic manifestations, such as hearing internal voices or experiencing other sensations not connected to an obvious source (hallucinations) and assigning unusual significance or meaning to normal events or holding fixed false personal beliefs (delusions). No single symptom is definitive for diagnosis; rather, the diagnosis encompasses a pattern of signs and symptoms, in conjunction with impaired occupational or social functioning (Source: DSM-IV Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR).

Thank you again for your comment, and I hope you do not mind me using your commentary as an opportunity to offer education to the public. After all, that is my passion, offering insight and education to the many.

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