Thursday, November 11, 2004

Dozens more Kerry supporters flock to Florida therapists

I don't know whether this is insane because it is so pathetic or pathetic because it so insane

American Health Association reacts with free ‘post-election selection trauma’ counseling

by Sean Salai Boca Raton News

More shocked John Kerry supporters on Wednesday sought psychological help with “post-election selection trauma” in South Florida, prompting the American Health Association to officially release symptoms of the disorder and open its doors for free counseling.

“When someone commits suicide in New York and Kerry’s loss is even slightly connected, it’s serious,” Rob Gordon, executive director of the AHA, told the Boca Raton News. “There’s a lot of older Democrats here and they outnumber Republicans and you don’t want an epidemic of suicides with the elderly. So our counseling center is now open free to those with post-election selection depression, PEST, who need to exorcise their demons.”

According to Gordon, the Boca-based AHA has formally defined the symptoms of PEST and will offer the free sessions through the end of the year. He said approximately 30 people had contacted AHA for psychological counseling since Kerry conceded the presidential race to President Bush on Nov. 3.

Gordon said symptoms of the trauma are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and include loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares and pervasive moodiness.

The AHA’s actions come after the Boca Raton News reported Tuesday that Palm Beach County psychotherapist Douglas Schooler has already treated 15 Kerry supporters using intense hypnotherapy. Schooler, contacted Wednesday, said four more people had already set up appointments for the onetime therapy session since the article was picked up internationally and cited on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

“The problem is out there and it’s not going to go away anytime soon,” Schooler said. “Conservatives are calling me to say these people are weak-kneed kooks, but they’re not acknowledging that this is a normal psychological response to a severe and disillusioning situation. Any suggestion that this is not a serious problem arises from a political agenda. The Republicans don’t want this talked about.”

Nancy M. Tabet, a mental health counselor with a small practice in Delray Beach, said she had helped about five clients deal with the post-election trauma in their therapy sessions.

“It’s interesting to me that people in Palm Beach County, because they vote for Kerry and thoroughly expected him to win, are in somewhat of a disbelief stage,” Tabet said. “We talk it out in our sessions and I help them realize there are people who share their viewpoint and who are there for them throughout this ordeal.”

Asked when the Kerry-related trauma would end, Tabet said, “I think the jury’s still out on that one. I think it depends on the swing of the politics.”

Elizabeth Foxman, a cognitive therapist in Delray, took issue with the AHA’s decision to label the Kerry-related stress as a new sort of trauma.

“I don’t disagree with their diagnosis, but I wouldn’t use the word trauma,” Foxman said. “That’s a loaded term. I would say there’s more sadness and anxiety than trauma. My own patients have been stressed, but only one or two have mentioned the election as a topic in therapy.”

Gordon, the AHA psychotherapist, said his agency was referring his 30 callers — most of them men — to other support groups prior to Wednesday. He said the post-election trauma will require three to four support group sessions at his agency’s counseling center, but added that he thinks the problem will fade as the troubled Kerry supporters adjust to reality.

“The support group structure means you have to bring these people together for several sessions,” Gordon said. “But every day is a new day. John Ashcroft’s resignation is going to help because Democrats certainly felt the cause of their stress was bigger than President Bush. If Condoleeza Rice and a few others resign, that will help cure their animosity as well.”

Gordon said he had received a flood of phone calls from Republicans since Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host who lives in South Florida, read his name on the air Tuesday.

“It’s a shame that so many Republicans are calling and saying, ‘Why can’t these people handle reality?’ Some can’t. And what is with these right-wing radio warlords who think they need to bask in the misery of others? Rush Limbaugh, of all people, should be compassionate because he lives right here in Palm Beach County. I’m ashamed that he’s picked up this Boca News story to rub it in Democrats’ faces.”

Gordon added, “Post-election selection trauma affects many people and they have a right to be taken seriously and to seek counseling. This is a real need and we’re a charity. This is not a matter of Republicans and Democrats.”


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