Social Media Attention: Negative Online Reviews and O’Reilly Reaction

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on November 20, 2011

Two days ago, November 18th 2011 was the one month anniversary of this psychotherapist’s appearance on The O’Reilly Factor where I had the wonderful opportunity to share my insights from a mental health perspective on the topic of Occupy Wall Street. Bill and his team of cutting edge professionals provided their viewers with something not many would, the mental health angle! Cutting edge, bold, brave, relevant, and a touchy, touchy subject matter – this interview took place in studio. The social media attention I received after my  O’Reilly appearance was much reaction indeed. Just like anything a person says or does in life there is going to be positive and negative responses. That is a given is it not? It is.

Clinically Disturbing

What is disturbing clinically is not whether there will be those who post negative vs. positive online reviews, whether there are those who agree versus disagree, rather what is disturbing clinically is that there are men and women among us who have; 1) unhealthy boundaries, 2) are hurtful by instinct, and 3) create falsities, and will combine those three character traits which makes for a very ugly reactive response online about another. I did experience those of who have any one of and/or a combination of all three of these character components upon which their words and behaviors were directed at me after my appearance. I also experienced those who were genuinely touched and positively impacted by my words.

Mental Wellness 

Those who have shared with me that my mental health and wellness perspective that I communicated on The O’Reilly Factor pushed them into positive action and they are feeling better emotionally, I was and still am thrilled to hear. I continue to receive this feedback, and I am honored to have touched peoples lives in this positive way!

Overall and a basic component within my mental health and wellness philosophy is:

Take action to help one’s self to help one’s self get to a better place. This is a concrete way to experience feeling self-empowered and feel more in control of one’s life when one feels one’s life is at times so out of control. It is this philosophy of mental health and wellness that makes a significant difference in helping one’s self to experience mental wellness rather than experience a feeling of instability and symptoms of depression.

We All Have Challenges

Not a person among us through any of our life journey gets to remain unscathed by challenges, obstacles, and many of us if not all do indeed experience some type of trauma if not traumas, I too am included in this group. Life is not about whether we will be confronted with extreme challenges, rather expect that you will. What makes the difference between one person’s mental health and wellness and well being is not necessarily about the challenges they endure, rather it is how they view those challenges, cope with them, react, adjust, and what cognitive and behavioral actions they take to move forward. To assume smoothness through life is true gullibility.

Whether a person seeks out counseling services to help them grow personally, professionally, relation-ally, whether a person has been impacted by trauma, has a mental illness, struggling in their marriage, family dynamic issue, external family issues, work relationship dynamics, grief/loss, adjusting to life’s current challenges, addiction, parenting issues, youth issues, the list goes on . . . whatever the therapeutic presenting issue is, typically the goal has something to do with improvement, wanting to feel better emotionally. It is what one’s overall mental health and wellness philosophy is, that significantly impacts how the goal will be achieved. A major point of this blog, that I am sure has become obvious by now is to make the point that the choices one makes, the thoughts one has, and how one feels emotionally is impacted by one’s mental health and wellness philosophy.

Reaction

Most of us learn as a child that not everyone is going to like what we have to say. Well, that should be something that is taught in childhood along with the very important life lesson on how to cope with that fact recognizing that we cannot control what others say, only our own reaction. Holding true to one’s healthy reaction even when another is behaving in an unhealthy way takes true character. Having a mentally healthy, respectful, and appropriate reaction when you disagree with another’s point of view is a sign of good character. Sharing your voice if you believe you have something of value to say in a professional healthy manner is a respectable character trait despite other’s reactions. The concerning experience I had, which I will share further with you in this blog today is symbolic for and a reminder of how hateful, reactive, destructive, and  not mentally healthy/not at internal peace some are and display.

Social Media

Social media and the role it plays in and on our lives is often discussed in all forms of media, be it on television, the radio, or in print. When it comes to social media attention, how a person or many people view the individual presenting their opinion, whatever topic one is discussing utilizing the forum of the media, we cannot control. Nor can we control what a person then says about us as ‘the presenter of information’. In addition, we are living in a culture where bullying is a hot topic we often hear about in the news. The focus presented is typically on bullying of children toward other children.  Where do you think children learn bullying behaviors if not from their observation of and interaction with their parents? If we are to expect children to cope effectively with bullying types of behaviors and if we are to hope that bullying will end between children, we as adults must role model the behaviors we hope to see in our children. Yet it is far too often adults are the very culprits of speaking negatively about others, spreading gossip, using physical violence as a way to try to get what one wants and as a way to force the other person to do whatever it is they want them to do, and additional bullying behaviors that is too often categorized as and viewed as ‘freedom of speech’, rather than as ‘bullying‘. It is these very behaviors that some adults partake in that they may or may not realize consciously is actually bullying behaviors in the flesh and or online including cyber bullying. It is all of these inappropriate and hurtful behaviors we try to educate our children to be mindful of that far too often adults display when they are angry about another’s point of view. What is the line between freedom of speech vs. bullying? Think about that question for a moment.

Sarcasm

Are you ready for sarcasm? Here it comes . . .

  • The nerve of a psychotherapist to share that people should work and work hard to experience mental health and wellness.
  • The nerve of a mental health expert to suggest that very action of working hard in and of itself and that very life philosophy that if I work hard I will experience feelings of  self-empowerment and self-worth – — the nerve for a therapist to offer this wisdom and state it of relevance.
  • The nerve of a mental health practitioner to educate us that often when a person feels out of control in their life that person will experience symptoms of depression.
  • The nerve of a psychotherapist to express genuine clinical concern and share the insights she has from 18 years of working with individuals, couples, families, and groups and share that when a person does not feel self-empowered and feels out of control of one’s own life that often the experience one has is to feel and experience feelings of instability.
  • The nerve of a therapist to suggest that one way to gain control of one’s mental health and wellness is to make choices each day to take steps forward focusing on what “I can do to help myself to help myself get to a better place”, rather than holding the philosophy of what can others do for me. 
  • The nerve that a therapist would explain that holding a philosophy of what others can do for me leads a person to feel further out of control of one’s own life and therefore not self-reliant and then in turn rather feels even further out of control.
  • The nerve that a mental health expert would view a significant event that is happening currently in our world through the lens of mental health and wellness and take it as an opportunity to educate the public on what she has seen as a mental health and wellness philosophy that she believes genuinely helps people. 

Sharing Insight – Understanding Insight

Okay, now that my sarcastic style of bullet pointing what I provided to the public during my O’Reilly interview discussing OWS has been listed, I do want to state in a serious tone that I am not suggesting there is not something wrong with our current system in America. Clearly something is wrong, can we not all agree with that? As far as what is wrong and what needs to be fixed, that is not the focus of this blog nor is that my clinical focus then nor now.

My expertise is the skill of pointing out what is wrong when it comes to people in their mental health and wellness whether it is an individual, a couple, a family, or a presenting group, and how to get one’s mental wellness back on track. This is my focus and what I presented and present. 

Due to the fact that I, yes, this psychotherapist asserted these aforementioned viewpoints in the context of what was and still is happening in our country with specific regards to the behavior of those people participating in the Occupy Movement was too much for some to handle. There are those who may not have analytically understood what my point was nor my intentions. The O’Reilly Factor provided me with the opportunity to share relevant mental health insights. What others received, experienced, understood, and took from my statements is not in my control. Some digested my information and it helped them to help themselves make positive shifts, and for that I am so glad. Others reacted negatively and did not comprehend the higher level of mental health insights I was giving away. Yes, it was free wisdom, free advice, coming from genuine concern. Specifically some people who I do not know took my genuine concern as a mental health expert applying the situation of the OWS into context of a comparison of mental health and wellness, rather to view I was suggesting: “there should be no health care”. I did not say that in any way, how ridiculous. There were statements made to me by those of who I do not know that I am “a puppet for the right wing”, what a silly statement, and oh so many more inaccuracies . . .

Psychotherapists typically shy away from pointing out mental wellness themes having anything to do with entering a topic that is so hot such as politics. One can see why speaking up is so uncomfortable for some as the flood of emails, post my appearance was, well, a flood indeed. Yet, this therapist’s statements were not political, although they were seen as such by some. I pointed out my psychotherapeutic perspective from a mental health angle discussing the topic of Occupy Wall Street – that is what I did and offered to the public. The negative reaction of some was so extreme that one can see why not only are there some therapists afraid to speak their voice when there are many with so much to say, but other people in other contexts too do not share their voice out of concern for the reaction of others.

Sharing Opinions – Others Reactions

Consider any person in any context (not just therapists) where there is the potential for one or more people to react against them with extremism and display inappropriate behaviors and act in ways that are lacking high moral standards, or just simply will react in a negative way. The following are just but a few examples. Picture each of these scenarios where a person may not share their opinion even when they think it is of value:

  • A child at recess believes he has a good idea he wishes to present to his classmates for them to play together, but worries the reaction will be negative. Therefore he will feel embarrassed so he decides not speak his voice. 
  • A husband wants to initiate sexual relations with his wife but out of fear of rejection and verbally mean comments about his sexual needs from his wife towards him, he decides not to initiate. 
  • A woman feeling she is undervalued at work and underpaid wants to ask for a raise. She is afraid she either will be told she is  not worth the raise, or her boss will act annoyed and perhaps find ways to put her down so she feels bad about herself, or she will get fired. Due to her concerns about the potential negative reaction of her boss, she decides not to ask for a raise.
  • A child who is sexually abused by his coach, uncle, priest, and/or step parent, is afraid to tell anyone because of what the reaction may be. So, he does not tell anyone and suffers in silence.
  • A group of men who work in the same department notice something unethical is taking place in their company. They all sit in silence concerned about the reaction and ramifications if they speak up. 
  • A girl who was raped and is concerned if she speaks up what people will say about her at school, concerned they will talk negatively about her, keeps this secret and remains with emotional anguish in silence.
  • A mother whose child tells her she is being bullied at school is concerned about going to the teacher or the administration out of concern for what the other parents may say about their family, what the other children may say or do when they find out the parent got involved, etc. Therefore, the parent says nothing and the child remains being bullied due to concern of how others will react if she speaks up.

The list is endless of those who shy away from sharing their voice even though they know it is of relevancy out of concern or fear of how others will react. The aforementioned list is just but a few. For anything a person says or does there will be those who  react with an interested ear and agree, and those who either do not understand your point, do not want to understand what you have said and/or disagree with your statement. The volatile style of reactive responses that I received from those who were angry that I dared share my point of view and took what I said and twisted it until my message lost its meaning to those who they presented to is shameful. Although this is disappointing of course, it is symbolic for a marked amount of our culture. Symbolic in that there are too many who display reactive responses in a hurtful style. It is a shame that for some people when a therapist such as myself, or anyone else for that matter who shares their opinion, there are those who react in anger, display bullying behaviors, and have an interest in and attempt to destroy the speaker’s name.

The list of names throughout history of people who have spoken up for what they believe in who have been spoken about negatively, written about dishonestly, have experienced character attacks, and/or have been attacked physically, etc., is many indeed. Think about that for a moment, how many people can you name that fall under this category through out history?

The attacks a person who shares their opinion in a public forum experiences varies from personal to professional. This is just but my experience I am presenting in this blog today, yet there are so many who choose to share their voice in a public way and have experienced what I have. I certainly am not the first nor will be the last. There are those who have experienced reaction in a far far worse way then I have. The point of my sharing my experience is just that, a point in symbol of a theme of what is happening in America. For example, in my case some people twisted what I said to infer something I did not mean nor say. Those very twists were then posted on liberal sites for example, it was then their new slant on what I did not say to what they wanted to hear or completely misunderstood my analytic take or rather had fun making a twist to stir the pot . . .  which was then posted on more liberal sites.  Then someone else would jump on that statement, assume I said what that person said I said and then say at times were off the wall things and make inacurate judgments about who I am. Post after post, comment after comment each one stemming from inaccuracy, anger, and a lack of understanding of my analytic points. Then of course there would be someone else who would jump on those statements and so on and so on . . .

In the age of social media people can say anything about you personally and/or professionally that is innaccurate. It is no wonder why there are many who have wise things to say but out of fear of what another will say about them they then keep their mouth shut.

Dr. Karen’s Parenting Book

In 2009 I published my first book. It was a parenting book that offers 9 concrete strategies to help parents to help their children make life choices that are responsible. It is these 9 techniques that offer parents ways upon which to help their family get along better and help their children feel good about who they are and end power struggles. This book provides concrete techniques that when parents implement them, helps children to develop into emotionally healthy individuals who feel good about who they are and treat themselves and others with respect. In this book I provide parents with a parenting philosophy to help them to feel grounded and helps decrease family conflict. This parenting book I wrote offers family harmony and adult and child mental health and wellness. This book had been years in the making based on my experience providing counseling to families along with a parenting education workshop I developed years ago and had presented not only to parents but other mental health professionals to help them with families they were working with. This book was created genuinely to help people, coming from my clinical expertise and from the heart. My goal is to play a part in helping to make a positive difference in the world. Of course there are many parents that would be interested in this information. If you want to learn more about this book or purchase it: The 9 Key Techniques for Raising Respectful Children Who Make Responsible Choices

I mention this scenario above of my first publication of a parenting book to utilize the method of sharing as a way to make the point that even something of beauty there are those who will try to cut it down as there are those whose reactive response is to hurt. Take this example and use it as a moment to self-reflect and self-evaluate. Consider these questions: When I disagree with another’s viewpoint (my spouse, my child, my boss, my doctor, a TV presenter, etc.,) what is my instinctual way of reaction? How do I react? How would I like to react? How can I improve in my reactive response?

In my particular example there existed those who were so angry at my Occupy Wall Street angle that the way they chose to handle their anger was to attack a book I wrote they had never read as a way to try to hurt me and my profession. This is an example of shameful behavior and clinically disappointing as it hurts others. Due to social media, people can find a way to post something negative about you in various ways. What a __________ thing to do. There are many words that can be filled into that blank line. As mentioned a few sentences ago, that type of action, what it really has the potential to do is hurt others. For an example, imagine a parent that is feeling so overwhelmed with parenting, really does not have time to do a lot of research but heard by someone who read a helpful parenting book for them, that there was a book that can help. Then upon finding the site to order the book they see a comment from a person who wrote negative things about the author and the book, even though that person never read the book and is just simply angry about something else. Now this parent is left with no book, no help as she may have been influenced by this comment.  The hope of course is that a person looking for information on parenting (or whatever the topic is) that sees someone making negative statements would realize the way the person attacked this professional was like a child in a playground. I mention this example as it is a concrete example, and it is also symbolic for the other ways in which a person tries to discredit someone they are angry at. Wow, what have we learned as children? Have we not learned that trying to hurt others hurts yourself and is not a sign of good character? Do we as a culture want to have good character or is that interest gone for too many?

Actions Show A Message

There are men and women who go to work each day with the goal to support their family. There are children who go to school to learn and perhaps use that education to feel good about who they are and with the skills they learn, use those very skills to support their family someday. These hard working folk both adults and children  have been on the news this past week expressing their challenge and discomfort that the Occupy Movement has created such havoc that it was preventing them from going to where they need to go. For an example, the streets were blocked by some of the Occupiers and therefore making it problematic for those who are going to work to get to their destination. Occupiers not supportive of those going to work, hmm what does that say? We have all heard on the news of the shop owners who are losing money, even having to close down their shops which affects their ability to support their family because those who are participating in OWS are acting inappropriately in the shops having no regard for being respectful of the business, therefore those who are not participating in OWS do not enter the shop to make purchases. These types of behaviors do not allow for people to hear a message, rather all people hear and see is that the occupiers have no respect for others, are not supportive of others working hard everyday to feel self-empowered, make a difference in the world, and/or support their familes. Rather the message by these actions shows attempted destruction of those of who are trying to work. I am sure there are some people with an important message that is not being heard due to what is being displayed, their voice is certainly lost. Specifically their message  is being lost in the lack of civility of the way in which those participating in the Occupy Movement are presenting.

Due to the fact that I was on a television program reporting my opinion from the mental health angle, expressing my genuine concern about the mental health angle of  Occupy Wall Street, there were some who decided they know me and my politics. Rather than understanding my presentation is from a mental health concern not political, judgement took place. We live in a society when others who misunderstand your point and/or disagree with your perspective, rather than having a discussion there are some who want to be hurtful. Look at marriages today, look at the family relationship dynamic. There are adult siblings who do not talk for years due to feeling angry, misunderstood and are unable to communicate with one another calmly. There is verbal and physical abuse in marriages. There is name calling and/or physical violence in families, children to parents and parents to children. There are those getting divorced and so angry at one another that the children are negatively impacted by the adults lack of civil interactions with one another. Why? Have we not learned the skills and the art of communication? It is a shame that there are some people who try to create negative attention to a person with the mission to hurt them all because they have a difference of opinion.

Children in school experience this when a child talks negatively about them to other children. What do we teach children? The hope is that we teach them that we cannot control what others do only our own reaction. The hope is that we teach them to use their words in a non-threatening way. The hope is that we teach them that they know who they are inside of themselves and it does not matter what others think of them. This is the hope, is it not?

As a therapist in my work with clients, with consistency one of the top unsolicited feedback responses they share with me is that I offer concrete techniques and strategies to help them to help themselves obtain the goals they came in session with. I am direct. This is not how all therapists work. There are varied therapeutic styles. Whether I am in session with a client, providing a workshop/presentation, a guest expert on TV or radio, contributing to a national magazine or newspaper, writing a book, my most recent release is: Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual, or writing a blog . . . I offer my direct insights and strategies.

Mental Health/Main Points

Far too many people are unhappy, feel out of control of their life, feel unstable, are experiencing a lack of mental wellness, disharmony in their family and more . . .  Whatever the topic is, whatever the challenge is, I view the ‘presenting problem’ from a mental health angle, clearly as that is my expertise, and specifically from the lens of a ‘psychotherapeutic solution focused relational self-empowerment’ perspective.

This blog today offers several layers of insight to chew on and process upon reading it. Among several points, three of the main points are as follows:

  • One main point of this blog is to remind you to be mindful of the fact that if someone has ever said or written something about another, do not assume it it true.  Do your own research as everything you hear and read is not always true. You have to take part in your own exploratory process if you are really interested in the truth. This goes for everything in life at any stage of your life ranging from who you choose to be president of the U.S., to what doctor you choose for your health care needs, to which tutor you choose for your child, to which baby sitter you hire for your child,  to . . . Think about in what ways you may have been mislead by another’s statement and you did not do your own investigation of the matter, so to speak.

Consider how you act to others when you disagree with something they have said. Do you attack them personally or professionally to their face, behind their back? What are you teaching your children by your actions that they observe as well as your interactions with them?

  • Another main point of this blog today is to remind those of who have been spoken or written about in a style of which is an inaccurate reflection of who you are and/or what you stand for is  that what another person says or does, says everything about them and says nothing about you. You are who you are regardless of another person’s slander!
  • The third of the main points of this blog is the reminder that you cannot control others, only your reaction to others. Consider your reaction and choose what is consistent with the person you know yourself to be. As I stated in the first paragraph of this blog, and as this blog comes close to its end I will remind you of my previous statement:

Holding true to one’s healthy reaction even when another is behaving in an unhealthy way takes true character.

Note: The one thing that I did not make time to do was to respond to every email of every person who wanted to have a point to point argument with me about their perspective after I appeared on The O’Reilly Factor. I decided I would not do that as it is not realistic to think that is humanly possible to respond to the quantity of people who were not looking for an exploratory dialogue from the mental health stand point rather they viewed it as an arguing opportunity. Perhaps if my day and evening job was different, specifically if rather than seeing clients I had a television program called: ‘Chat With The Many’ and the show focus was that each day I would interview people with varied views on hot topics in the news, then I would of course be happy to explore the hundreds of people each with their points to make. That would make for an interesting program perhaps. Hmm, now that is an idea! But alas, my TV appearances are just that – appearances where I am honored to share my insights of which hopefully creates thought and dialogue for those watching and among those watching. The outcome is not for each day rather than seeing clients I provide a ‘Chat With The Many’ service out of the privacy of my home emailing everyone. To be blunt, I feel it is a gift that the producers and hosts of the different TV and radio shows I have been on are interested in opening their door to me so I may touch the lives of the many. My clients are those of who I dialogue with to help them to help themselves make healthy life shifts.  My media side is about me sharing my wisdom for those who are listening to consider. Not everyone is going to agree, relate to, and at times understand my perspective.

If you missed Bill interviewing me in studio on The O’Reilly Factor discussing the mental health angle of Occupy Wall Street, you may click here for on demand viewing. In addition, two days after my O’Reilly interview I was on Sun News – Prime Time; The Source with Ezra Levant expressing my concern about the Occupy Movement focusing on Occupy Toronto addressing the mental mob from the psychotherapeutic perspective. This appearance also resulted in marked reaction on both sides. Ezra’s program was via satellite as he is based out of Canada. On a different topic, a few weeks later on November 8th 2011 I appeared on FOX 25 News Boston where I  compared the generally accepted political views per party (Democrats vs. Republicans) when viewed through the eyes of one’s mental health and wellness philosophy including; marriage, parenting, and personal physical health entitled: Mental Health And Politics.

My point: political topics can indeed be viewed through the lens of mental health and wellness, if you look close enough.

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