Columnists, Articles

January 1st, 2018

Paying attention to the music

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Music is all around us but it took a holiday meal at a memory care center to remind me of its power to restore us to ourselves even if only for as long as we pay attention. My wife and I were there for a special dinner served to the strains of familiar tunes like “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Accustomed as I had become, even at the center, to crooners singing American standards from the big band era and younger vocalists doing easy listening favorites, I made a face somewhere in the middle of [More]

December 1st, 2017

Letting go of the dark

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Somewhere in the middle of the holiday season, we find ourselves looking for light. It is dark by 4:15 p.m. on December 21, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The earth, tilted 23 degrees on its axis, is tilting away from the sun even though we are as close as we will ever get to the source of the light we crave. Outdoors, the evening commute is a string of lights, oncoming white and receding red, while indoors, lamps are lit, fireplaces blaze and we add even more lights to celebrate the winter holidays. Our past experience [More]

November 1st, 2017

When prayers are not enough

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

There is nothing worse than a mass shooting like the one in Las Vegas last month, except perhaps how easy it is to forget and to go about our lives as if nothing had ever happened. The killing of 59 (including gunman) and wounding of more than 500 of our neighbors gathered to hear a country music concert is one of those events that should burn itself into our memory and wake us up to the need for change. Since the news broke on night of Oct. 1, the details of the story have been accumulating quickly – 22,000 people [More]

October 1st, 2017

My view of our eclipse summer

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It was the summer of the great solar eclipse, the first total eclipse of the sun visible in the United States since 1979 and the first to traverse the entire country in more than a century. Here in New England, only about 60 percent of the sun was blocked out by the moon’s shadow. While we didn’t have what observers described as the other-worldly experience of totality, we were treated to enough of a show to justify the hype that the event generated. When I look back on this summer of the great solar eclipse, I will remember the view [More]

August 18th, 2017

Dual citizen

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

I have always wanted to be a dual citizen. Don’t get me wrong, the United States is a great place to live and my grandparents went through a lot of trouble so that my parents and I could be born here. Even so, a second passport wouldn’t hurt. The UK or Ireland would be nice, carrying overtones of James Bond or James Joyce. Not that anyone would ever mistake me for either of them, but still two of my heroes all the same. Just when I thought my dream of dual citizenship was beyond reach, the passport came earlier this [More]

July 1st, 2017

Not only a game

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Of all the things I thought I would be doing after I retired, I never expected that playing an internet game would be one of them. We all know these things can be addictive but I jumped at the chance to play a word game with my son when he introduced me to Words with Friends, an app based version of Scrabble with some important differences. Exactly what these differences are I would learn as I played, first with my son and daughter, and later with a friend who knew a lot more about the game than I did. In [More]

June 1st, 2017

Welcoming the stranger

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

In recent weeks, small signs have been springing up on the lawns of our little town, refreshingly different from the usual appeals to vote for political candidates or issues facing the community. The message in Spanish, English, and Arabic says simply, “No matter where you are from, you’re welcome in our neighborhood.” Anyone can say you are welcome, but making you actually feel welcome is something else again. Yet it’s heartening to see that the effort is underway even as decisions made at higher levels of government are restricting access to our country to millions of refugees and others who [More]

May 1st, 2017

Working from home

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Since I retired nearly two years ago, I have been finding more opportunities to work from home and not just in the way the term is usually meant. Unless you see patients in your home office, working from home is not the way clinical psychologists typically do business. Professionals in other fields can always work from home during snowstorms, transit strikes or even during the odd hours left over after a long business trip. For me, this was never an option, at least not until I retired. So now here I am at my desk, reflecting on what has been [More]

April 1st, 2017

Health care economic changes on the horizon

By Edward Stern J.D.

An interesting circumstance is happening in health care. The government, including state and federal entities and private enterprises are both funding health care and providing health care. The funding and provision of health care are two entirely separate issues and, although inter-related, should not be confused with each other. As the federal government appears to be planning to reduce its economic footprint in health care, the states may need to make economic choices regarding who will provide particular services in their states. Mental health crisis teams in Massachusetts are now fully served by private vendors. In a process that began [More]

April 1st, 2017

Back to square one

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

In a recent Thursday night, my wife and I drove into Harvard Square to hear a talk by Damion Searls, the author of “The Inkblots,” a new book about Hermann Rorschach and the test that Searls described as once having been as emblematic of the psychologist as the stethoscope is of the physician. The square is a short drive from our home over a long road rich in memories and connections to the beginnings of my career as a psychologist. I have not traveled this road alone and have always been grateful for my companions on the way – my [More]