Causes, Solutions, and Signs.

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

With the news putting such an emphasis on autism and autism spectrum disorder, it is perhaps appropriate to discuss another disorder permeating our families and workplaces- Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).NPD is described as:

“A personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.” (1)

Symptoms of NPD include:

  1. “exaggerated feelings of self-importance,”
  2. “excessive need for admiration,”
  3. “lack of empathy” (1)

Much like autism, the origins of NPD are currently unknown. However, unlike autism, there is also no known treatment. It is often said that, in families with individuals suffering from NPD, it is the only disorder where everyone is in therapy except the person actually suffering from the disorder.NPD causes marriages to fall apart, siblings to become estranged, and younger children to be left behind, without adequate levels of attention or care. In workplaces, it can lead to horrible bosses, toxic workplaces, and mutinies by the staff. But, this then begs the question of, why does this disorder exist and what, if anything, can be done about it?

Interviews with parents of children with NPD provide some insight into the disorder and its origins. The parent of one child with NPD stated, “****** was born wild. From the day I brought her home from the hospital, she was always getting into trouble, and it was never her fault. For years, all I wanted was a baby, and then I got ******. Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” (2) Further discussions with this subject point to the disorder only worsening with the passage of time, leading to the mother’s estrangement from other mothers in the neighborhood, and subsequent problems in her marriage. Interviews such as this point to biological causes of the disorder, completely non-dependant from the environment, diet, or other factors. (2)

If one rules out environment and diet as causes of NPD, then only biological factors remain. Recent studies have identified “a structural abnormality in the brains of those with a narcissistic personality disorder, specifically noting less volume of gray matter in the left anterior insula” and as well as “reduced gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. The brain regions identified in the above studies are associated with empathy, compassion, emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning.”Subsequently, individuals born with less grey matter have “a compromised capacity for emotional empathy and emotional regulation.” (1) In short, children with NPD are born with this disorder, and literally, nothing can be done to correct the issue within them.

If NPD has biological causes, and there is no cure, where then does that leave the families of individuals with NPD?Or workplaces with an individual who has NPD? Families with children suffering from autism often go to therapy together and learn how to function as a cohesive family unit that takes into consideration the special needs of its members. Workplaces encompassing autistic employees often make special considerations for them, such as quiet offices or individualized tasks. Can similar steps be taken for individuals with NPD? Unfortunately, the answer is currently no. While psychological treatment has been attempted via psychotherapy and group treatment strategies, no long-term treatments have been subsequently identified. Unlike autism, where special considerations can be taken that lead to positive benefits, NPD has no such solutions. Unfortunately, families with children suffering from this disorder really have no other effective option other than to separate the child from the rest of the family, via placing the child in a special needs group home or giving up custody of the child to the state. Workplaces with individuals suffering from NPD are sick, and the only cure is to remove the person with the actual disorder. This solution may seem impossible to implement, but in the end, it is truly the only effective option. In cases such as this, where the welfare of others must truly become paramount, the health of the family or business must be saved, even to the detriment of the person with NPD.

Removing the person with NPD from families and workplaces is often not only for the well-being of others but also for their own well-being also. While studies show that individuals with NPD are arguably more likely to commit crimes, one can argue that they are more likely to become the target of them. In the absence of a cure or real solution, frustrated victims may lash out by harming their perpetrator. The best thing one can do, if faced with a person suffering from NPD, removes them from the family or work unit, or leave themselves.

Following are warning signs that a person in your family or workplace may suffer from NPD:

  1. Success At Any Cost. A close inspection of past relationships may show a failure to treat people kindly for the promise of a grandiose, yet superficial success. Beware of flaunted expenses, especially if there is a lack of people to share in the enjoyment.”
  2. Narcissists may be hypersexual, often in relation to power and control. Incest is frequently reported as well as a lack of regard for partner and boundaries.”
  3. Incessant Blaming. A lack of personal responsibility is a key sign. Often a narcissist will play ‘the victim’ even when he/she has hurt someone else.”
  4. Violence. Since their ego is so fragile, to begin with, any criticism received feels like an attack. They fight back much harder than what is doled out. Someone who uses violence frequently demonstrates a lack of impulse control and may also have multiple addictions.”
  5. Manipulation. Pitting people against one another for the ultimate goal of loyalty is often used by narcissists. In this case, loyalty often means isolation.” (3)

Individuals with NPD have been found to have less grey matter in the parts of the brain that are associated with empathy, compassion, emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning. (1) Unfortunately, at this time, there are no known effective treatments for this problem. As a result, it is important to learn the signs of NPD and to disassociate oneself from those with it. Failing to do so can lead to grave consequences in oneself place of work, family, and overall life. Perhaps in the future, other solution will avail themselves, but in the meantime, there truly are no other known options.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder
  2. Interview by Katherine Fry of an anonymous subject, Dec 26, 2018
  3. https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-ties-between-crime-and-malignant-narcissism/

Apothecaries, the AMA, and Female Reproductive Empowerment

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

The history of reproductive freedom in the United States is a long and complicated one. Most people would say that the United States illegalized abortions until the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade. However, in reality, this is far from the case. Women would seek out female apothecaries to aid with their reproductive systems’ needs, especially in times of unwanted pregnancies. This tradition only changed when the male-ruled American Medical Association stepped in and decided women needed “proper” supervision. While women today once again get to control their reproductive systems, it is still under the watchful eyes of the AMA and threatened by the United States government.

Contrary to popular belief, colonial governing structures and their laws did not prohibit abortion. In fact, colonists divided pregnancy into two distinct stages, much like we do today,-“unquickened”, or non-moving, and “quickened,” or noticeably moving. Women in this time period often ingested potions or pills before the point of “quickening” to end early term unwanted pregnancies. The word “abortion” only referred to the termination of a pregnancy after “quickening.” Terminating a pregnancy after quickening proved much more difficult, and as a result, occurred only very rarely-much like today’s late-term abortions. (1)

None of the U.S states recognized abortion as a major criminal offense until 1860. During this time, the newly created and male-only American Medical Association (AMA) decided to monopolize the medical field by eliminating apothecaries as competition. As a result, most states made apothecaries illegal and, subsequently, the use of pregnancy-ending potions and pills. The criminalization of all forms of birth control soon followed, with most states prohibiting them under federal obscenity laws.

In 1938, following a great deal of activism on the part of birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, a federal judge lifted the US ban on birth control. As a result, diaphragms emerged as a popular method of avoiding pregnancy. In 1960, for the very first time, the US Food and Drug Administration approved an oral contraceptive. In 1965, the Supreme Court gave married couples the right to use birth control, ruling that the Constitution protected its use under the right to privacy. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that all unmarried women also had the right to oral contraceptives. In 1973, the Supreme Court established a woman’s right to an abortion, as long as a physician belonging to the AMA performed it. (2)

Today, although abortion and birth control are legal, they are still only allowed under the watchful eyes of the AMA. Apothecaries are still illegal in most states, and this ban prohibits the majority of nurses and physicians assistants from providing any sort of meaningful healthcare. Some areas of the country, however, have taken steps in allowing midwives to assist women before, during, and after birth, in place of a physician. However, the monopolizing reign of the AMA still endures. Furthermore, some of the states have once again reared their heads, attempting to strictly regulate female reproduction. So far, on a federal level, their attempts have been unsuccessful.

Controversial aspects of female reproductive health have not always been so controversial. Women apothecaries, who understood the female body, would assist other women with their reproductive needs. Only after the dictation of the male-run AMA did abortions and forms of birth control even became illegal. Today, because of the advocacy of individuals such as Margaret Sanger, women once again have control of their reproductive systems, but only under the supervision of the AMA. Furthermore, female reproductive freedom still currently faces threats from various states, who are attempting, once again, to prohibit and/or strictly regulate certain aspects of female reproductive health. Only time will tell how far their efforts will restrict the access of women to the tools necessary for their reproductive empowerment.

  1. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/roe-v-wade
  2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_control_in_the_United_States

Bernie Miller, Ethnicity, Commonality and Peacemaking

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

In “Uneasy Lies the Head,” King Hussein of Jordan discusses straddling the divide between Jordanians and Palestinians, as well as Muslims and Jews. In doing so, he discusses life on the edge, straddling conflict, and ultimately discovering a role of biblical proportions-that of a peacemaker in a region torn apart by religion and ethnic conflict.

Like King Hussein of Jordan, Pastor Bernie Miller of New Covenant Fellowship Church in Chattanooga, TN., has taken on a similar role, in the ethnically and religiously conflicted area of Chattanooga, TN. Spurned on by census data indicating the multiple ethnicities living in the area, Pastor Miller left a successful career in the music industry to follow his calling of creating a multi-ethnic congregation in an area often torn apart by hate.

Pre-civil rights movement Chattanooga encompassed ethnic as well as economic inequality. As stated by former Congressman Moses Freeman, “Survival was really important back then. Black families made less than half of the income that white families that did the same job. My mother made $3.00 a day plus car fare for a bus ride to go to and from work. She couldn’t get a job that paid decent wages working as a secretary or a clerk. Whites who had the same level of education as my mother could go and get those jobs.” (1) He goes on to state, “You were always aware that you could be stopped at any time by the police; which happened very often. We were subject to what they called fee grabbing where African Americans would be required to pay the person who stopped us. That person was sometimes not a police officer or county official.” (1)

The Chattanooga of today is one of great ethnic diversity, but with a news cycle overwhelmed by black on black crime. While segregation is over, many young black Chattanoogan’s still experience inequalities arguably attributable to their ethnicity. Drugs have contributed to the break-up of black families, and, as a result, “many young African Americans are dropping out of school to join gangs. Many blacks can’t get good jobs because they either have felony convictions on their record or they don’t have the foundation of pride that was once the staple for African Americans who lived through segregation.” (1)

According to Miller, the Chattanooga of today is plagued with a lack of trust, often divided along the lines of one’s political persuasion. He goes on to state that these political lines often, unfortunately, find their way inside church walls. Some pastors have resorted to preaching their politics and making the grave error of thinking that everyone sitting in their congregation, black or white, agrees with their point of view, when this is often not the case. This dangerous assumption has contributed to congregations becoming conflicted and sharply divided, often cutting across lines of race, gender and class. (2)

As a harbinger of peace, Bernie Miller unites his congregation by simply preaching the word of God, as it is expressed in the Christian Holy Bible. “It is quick, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” By preaching the word, it is easy to discover “the motives of man’s heart.” (2) Miller reflects on two years ago, when the presidential election encompassed Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. Amongst his own congregation, Miller personally witnessed nasty posts making their way onto Facebook and other forms of social media. Despite the rhetoric, Miller refused to be drawn into the conflict. However, he did warn his church members that once an opinion is expressed on social media, it is essentially in the public domain forever. (2)

Miller witnessed a huge divide in his church, as well as Chattanooga as a whole, during Barack Obama’s tenure. He goes on to state that Obama’s policies did not hit the Bible Belt well, creating a very real conflict, again surpassing race, gender and class. Division within his congregation manifested itself along political lines, and members felt they had to take a side regarding the conflict. In regard to this issue, Miller states that while Obama showed great compassion for the LGBT community, he failed to show that same compassion toward the Christian community. Miller points out that while Obama shined the rainbow colors on the Whitehouse following the legalization of gay marriage, he did not lower the American flag when Muslim terrorists killed Christian martyrs around the world. This lack of compassion toward Christians led many African Americans to abandon the Democratic party-the only party with which many of them had ever felt any sort of affinity. (2)

Miller argues that Hillary Clinton is initially to blame for fueling the African-American hatred toward Trump. He points out that, following her defeat in the 2016 election, Hillary sent her campaign manager down to meet her throng of supporters, rather than coming down to speak with them herself. The night of the election, Hillary’s supporters waited for a concession speech, which they never did receive. This lack of closure, Miller argues, led to her supporters funneling their hatred toward Trump. As Miller states, “They needed Hillary, their champion, to come and speak to them-not her lackey.” To this very day, Hillary’s failure to personally concede to her people has led to a lack of trust and hatred amongst Americans. Charges of racism against Trump have proven to be untrue, asserts Miller, and are merely fueled by the vacuum created by Hillary failing to face her supporters following the defeat. (2)

The political minefield of American politics has brought many controversial issues to Miller’s doorstep. As a peacemaker, however, he feels his job is to find common ground amongst his congregation members. (1) In regard to the death penalty, Miller turns to scripture where it states, “‘Take a life, and life shall be taken.’ Once a court has sentenced someone to death, it is no longer important what I want.” (2) In regard to abortion, Miller states, “I am pro-life and pro-choice. However, I wish more people would choose life.” (2)

During his tenure as a pastor, Miller has personally witnessed how race affects one’s class. He states that the average black person needs to have double the education of his or her white counterparts, in order to compete for the same type of job. He also asserts, however, that this is not something about which people are necessarily intentional, or of which they are even aware. The divide begins, Miller argues, in the university setting, and is fueled by the fact that blacks and whites often share increasingly diverse backgrounds. In many ways, Miller asserts, this defeats the purpose of such individuals even being at a university since these universities so often lack an exchange of diversity. (2)

The diversity in Miller’s congregation is intentional and purposeful. Miller is very intentional about being diverse, and helping members of his congregation find common ground through their faith and in their lives. Diversity is a broad theme, and he aims to find commonality between genders, races, movements, and political beliefs. Feminists have a place in his church, as do more conservative individuals. As a peacemaker, Miller feels his job is to unite all of these different groups together through the word of Jesus Christ. (2)

Our world has, throughout time, witnessed peacemakers who enter a society, uniting individuals through a common theme. In Jordan, King Hussein united warring individuals through his simple humanity. In Chattanooga, Bernie Miller has united warring factions by finding common ground in teaching the word of God, as it is expressed in the Christian Bible. Racism, sexism, and politics fail to hold a candle to the loving inspiration provided by a peacemaker in modern times. As Chattanooga grows and changes, the intentional congregation created and fostered by Bernie Miller will continue to assist the people of this area in finding their way to a more meaningful, united future. (2)

 

 

  1. https://wdef.com/2015/02/24/black-in-the-day-a-close-look-at-black-history-in-chattanooga/
  2. Interview, Bernie Miller by Katherine Fry, 4/30/2019

Republics, Democracy, Our Founding Fathers and ”Mob Rule”

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

The United States of American is a republic. A republic is a country governed by the rule of law and not of men. The rule of law “means that people are subject to a known set of written laws. This is distinguished from the rule of man, (which is) most notably exemplified by an absolute monarchy.” (1) In such a case, a person governing a nation “could issue any decrees he like, (and) repeal or amend such decrees at any time.” (1)

The United States is also a democracy, but it is not a pure democracy. A pure democracy is defined as a country “in which the power is exercised directly by the people rather than through representatives.” (2) Athens represents an ancient example of a pure democracy because its citizens acted as the lawmakers, without elected representatives. (2)

Our founding fathers never intended for the United States to be a pure democracy. While treasuring the ideals of pure democracy, they nevertheless, felt the need to protect the country against what is called “mob rule,” or the power of factions. James Madison, in the Federalist Papers, defined a faction as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” (3) In essence, he felt it a requirement to protect the rights of the minority from a hostile majority. In order to do so, our founding fathers put into place a system of checks and balances between the state and federal levels.

In order to balance their desire for a republic, combined with the ideals of a pure democracy, our founding fathers created a form of government called “representative democracy.” Representative democracy is defined as “a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people…” (4) It is meant to allow the populous to vote, while disallowing passions to come into the play of lawmaking. The founding fathers felt that the presence of representatives would allow cooler heads to prevail, during the legislative process. As a result, we have elections, where we vote for representatives, who subsequently vote on our behalf. Many feel that this is unfair, but it nevertheless encompasses the intent of our founding fathers.

The Electoral College is an example of representative democracy at the highest levels of government. Essentially, each state, individually, votes for president. The number of representatives applied to that state, based on population, then take their results to the Electoral College. The presidential candidate who receives 270 electoral votes subsequently wins. (5)

The utilization of the Electoral College during our presidential elections combines the tenants of pure democracy on the state level, with the desire for a republic on the national level, through the safeguards of representative democracy. For example, a state may vote individually for one presidential candidate, based on the popular vote, and therefore have its collective representatives cast its electoral vote for that candidate on the national level. However, this does not necessarily mean that said candidate will take all of the states and subsequently win. In this case, the desire for a republic is balanced with the ideals of a pure democracy, through the exercise of democratic representation.

The United States is both a republic and a democracy, which is what our founding fathers intended. Essentially, in order to balance the rights of the states with the powers of the federal government, our founding fathers created what is now known as a “representative democracy.” During our presidential election, the Electoral College executes the desire for a republic on the national level, with the ideals of a pure democracy on the local level. In doing so, our founding fathers respected the will of the states, while putting into place safeguards against “mob rule.” In short, the Electoral College works, just as our founding fathers intended.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy
  3. https://www.bartleby.com/essay/The-Dangers-of-Factions-Explained-in-James-FKUJGGATC
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy
  5. https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html

How Growing Food Hydroponically Can Contribute to a More Self-Reliant Urban Lifestyle

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

Grow Green Garden Center burst onto the Knoxville scene in 2012, as the only hydroponics shop in the entire city. With the home-grown knowledge of growing up in a Knoxville farming family, owners Charlotte and Ty Nance embarked on the lofty ambition of bringing the benefits of rural farming into the city. This goal, in order to be successful, would also need to include teaching residents how to create and cultivate their own urban gardens.

Creating a self-sustaining lifestyle has become very popular in certain parts of the country. While some people have moved completely out of the cities and turned toward living off the grid, this is not an option for everyone. Grow Green Garden Center is providing the opportunity to create a “self-reliant” lifestyle while living in the city. Why would city slickers want to create a self-reliant lifestyle?

  • It is more affordable in the long-term long term and can result in “a large stockpile of emergency cash or long-term savings.” (1)
  • Many people report feelings of long-term satisfaction from being able to do things themselves, and children emerging from such households tend to have happier, more successful lives. (1)
  • A self-reliant household is less dependant on the government during times of crisis, essentially creating a safe-haven for family members during times of war, famine, or natural disaster. (1)
  • The type of food consumed in a self-reliant lifestyle is typically less toxic and much more nutritious than that of the typical urban lifestyle. Members of self-reliant households are much less dependent on the processed food of grocery stores.

The lack of access to soil has created a major stumbling block for many people wanting to create a more self-reliant urban home. For example, many people living in condominiums, apartments, or homes with little to no yard, may feel they have no other option but to eat at a restaurant or buy their food in a grocery store. However, growing food hydroponically provides an excellent solution to the urban gardening quandary. Benefits from growing your own food, in addition to increased self-reliance, also include little to no physical exposure to harmful pesticides. (2) It is a fact that adverse health effects from pesticides include cancer, effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems.” (3) An urban self-reliant lifestyle provides city slickers with the opportunity to eliminate or at least alleviate this harmful exposure to deadly toxins.

Growing food hydroponically means growing fruits, vegetables, or plants without soil. In opening their store, Ty and Charlotte Nance have successfully created a community of self-reliant individuals running successful urban gardens within their homes. Their mission has grown to include “help(ing) others reach their goals and provide the highest quality supplies and information with regards to urban gardening, hydroponics, horticultural and sustainable living.” (4)

Their newest location, at 4644 NE Walker Blvd, Knoxville, TN 37918., has emerged as a community center “where people go to get information as well as supplies. The urban gardening community trusts that we are providing the best information possible and that level of trust has grown over the years.” (4) In addition to the health benefits of growing food hydroponically, “hydroponics allows for much more rapid growth rate than that of soil, increasing yield and production,” further reducing the dependence of urban gardeners on the grocery store. (4)

For further information about the benefits of urban gardening and creating a more self-reliant urban home, please reach out to Ty or Charlotte Nance at 865-249-8259, or go to their website at www.growgreengardencenter.com

  1. https://offgridsurvival.com/selfsufficient-urbanliving/
  2. https://growgreengardenshop.com/about-us/
  3. https://www.who.int/features/qa/87/en/
  4. Interview. April 11th, 2019

Do the Benefits of Capitalism Transcend Traditional Religion?

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity currently constitute the three major religions of the world. They are distinguishable from one another through some major theological differences. However, one concept they all have in common is that they make certain things or people the object of ritualistic avoidances.

Objects of ritualistic avoidance can more succinctly be described as people, things, or ideas that do not fit into an expected or “proper” category. For example, when an animal bleeds without stopping for several days, it is expected to die. However, women bleed every month, for several days, and nevertheless live. Because of this fact, women, in many religions and cultures, have become the object of a ritualistic avoidance. According to ancient texts of all three major religions, women are supposed to cover their heads and men are supposed to avoid them, except in marriage. Women are prohibited from co-mingling with men in mosques and orthodox synagogues. In the past, men and women were separated into churches. Furthermore, many women, even today, are kept primarily in the home, away from people they do not know.

Homosexuals are often another object of ritualistic avoidance because they do not fit the expected category of a male husband and a female wife. Furthermore, they have sexual relations but do not have children. As a result, they too, like women, are often made the object of a ritualistic avoidance. For example, homosexuals are prohibited entry into many places of worship, and most religions will not provide a ritualistic coming together for them, such as a marriage ceremony. Like women, in many societies, homosexuals are often avoided.

Transgendered individuals provide a classic case of individuals who do not fit into a category. Neither exclusively male or female, they defy convention. Many religions or denominations have condemned them to hell, denied them entry into places of worship, and prohibited them from even being around church members. They are fired from jobs, kicked out of families, and often left on the streets. Arguably, it is difficult to contemplate a more uncertain social position, where the traditional categories simply do not apply.

African-Americans occupy a precarious position within the history of America. Their peculiar beginning in this country has resulted in them becoming the object of ritualistic avoidances, throughout time. The hardships they suffered provided historical examples of how capitalism can transcend systemic racism. For example, the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 resulted in an extraordinary loss of revenue to the company. As a result, Woolworths changed its discriminatory policy of not serving African-Americans. Additionally, the Birmingham bus boycott of 1956/57, triggered by the Rosa Parks incident, ended because of the economic loss to the bus lines. The tremendous loss of revenue resulted in the discriminatory law being swiftly changed. These examples of capitalism transcending ritualistic avoidance arguably resulted in a better world for us all.

In the business world, business owners and employees alike, encounter various types of individuals. Quite simply, if a person has the need for a product or service, it is highly unlikely they will be ritualistically avoided. This is because of the economic benefit reaped by the company or individual providing the product or service. In this sense, as displayed in the historical examples previously cited, it can be asserted that capitalism has the potential to be the great equalizer. For example, if a woman, homosexual, transgendered individual, or African-American, expressed an interest in purchasing a digital marketing program, a plethora of individuals within this given field would immediately run to their aid. Denying service to them would result in a negative societal benefit or loss of revenue. Those refusing to provide service would be doing so at their own peril. As a result, capitalism makes approaching, co-mingling, and serving them preferable.

The three major religions of the world encourage the ritualistic avoidance of individuals who do not fit into “proper” societal categories. However, capitalism has quite the opposite effect, providing an economic benefit for supplying products or services for individuals, whether they fit into a category or not. As a result, one can surmise that capitalism has the potential to be the great equalizer, transcending some of the negative aspects of religion as well as their resulting cultural rituals. As capitalism spreads around the world, its equalizing qualities and positive social benefits will avail themselves to further analysis and study.