“Brain Training” – by Gary Smolker

“We don’t see things as they are,

we see things as we are.”  – Anais Nin, essayist


I spent six hours on Friday, November 4, 2016, taking courses California lawyers are required to take, including 4 hours of legal ethics, 1 hour of competence issues (formerly known as Prevention, Detection, and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness) and 1 hour of elimination of bias in the legal profession – training my brain.

The legal education program I attended was presented by the Beverly Hills Bar Association in their offices at 9420 Wilshire Blvd, 2nd floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

My Reaction

The program was very disturbing.

The presenter of the elimination of bias lecture and the four presenters of legal ethics lecture painted a picture of legally mandated conduct, which in my opinion, which will lead to substance abuse.

That is assuming what the presenter of “substance abuse lecture” said about environmental factors which cause substance abuse is correct and that is assuming that people do not understand the underlying cosmic bigger picture message [which had nothing to do with “elimination of bias”] presented by the lecturer on the “elimination of bias in the legal profession” in the lecture on “elimination of bias”.

A Large Number of Attorneys Are Substance Abusers!

We were told/taught that large numbers of attorneys are substance abusers but we were not told why they became substance abusers or how they became substance abusers and/or to what extent literally following conduct mandated by Rules of Professional Conduct results in attorneys becoming substance abusers.

Which Comes First: (a) Drinking, or (b) Unethical Conduct?

After listening all day to the presentations, I wondered: Which comes first, [1] drinking or [2] prohibited non-professional conduct?

I also wondered how many of the listeners to the “elimination of bias” speaker’s lecture had any idea of the what she was really talking about.

“The fool wonders, the wise man asks.” – Benjamin Disraeli, statesman

Pain Is 60% Emotional.

The “Substance Abuse” presenter emphasized that to escape pain people drink and people take drugs.  They are doing so to escape from pain.

The person who presented the “substance abuse lecture” told us that alcoholism is a disease;  that the likelihood of becoming an alcoholic is 60% genetically determined and is brought about 40% of the time by environmental factors.

After the program, a hypnotherapist friend of mine with whom I discussed the program told me:

Pain is 60 percent emotional.

Hypnotherapy is used to reduce pain.

The success in reducing pain is in the belief and motivation of people to re-frame their perception of their pain.

Under hypnosis, you train your brain to not feel so much pain.

Two of the major scripts used in hypnosis for reducing pain are:

  • The Control Room, where you actually visualize turning down your own scale of the volume of your pain on a machine.  Number Zero being not feeling any pain.
  • The Glove Anesthesia, which is a freezing numbing visualization of the pain once you have visualized moving that pain from wherever it is in your body into your hand and fingers, and then submerge your hand in deep snow or ice.  Cold is numbing.

Alcohol and drugs are numbing too.   But, just for a few minutes.  Taking drugs and/or drinking alcohol leads to being in a vicious circle you cannot come out of.

You forget the pain in your mind for a few moments but it is not really gone so it resurfaces stronger.

Once you take on the habit of “alcohol or substance abuse”, it becomes an addiction.

Being an addict means that nothing can stop you from harming your health.

Unhealthy habits deliver different types of rewards into your neurological system.

Mainly, serotonin and dopamine are biochemical active emotional control responses brought into your neurological system to make you temporarily happy and comforted.

In her presentation, the substance abuse presenter told us: over time, it takes more and more alcohol and more and more doses of drug to get the same response.

My Takeaway

A Full Life Doesn’t Live Itself

Text on billboards lining our highways and byways sponsored by bourbon manufacturers state, “A FULL LIFE DOESN’T LIVE ITSELF.”

I agree with that statement.

“Education is civil defense against media [and advertising] fallout.”  – Marshall McLuhan, philosopher

The six hours of legal education lectures I attended on on Friday (November 4, 2016) focused on how to interpret that message.

Competence Issues – formerly known as Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness

Presented by Joelie Jacobson, M.A., L.M.F.T.,P.P.S., Hazelden Betty Ford

I am unmarried man who has three adult daughters; two of my daughters are single.

I found Joelie’s lecture very practical and relevant to me.

My takeaway from Joelie’s lecture is

  • Out of self-defense, I shouldn’t date or marry a woman who is an alcoholic,
  • Chances are if one of a women’s parents or siblings is an alcoholic she will be or is prone to become an alcoholic too.
  • Generally speaking, with carefully considered exceptions, I should not date or marry any woman who drinks more than one glass of wine at a meal or constantly drinks as part of  an active social life.
  • In general it is highly likely such a woman is or will become an alcoholic.
  • If a woman or a man has a high stress job and/or if a man or woman is an empathetic person and is constantly, day in and day out, exposed to people in emotional trauma and/or high stress or pain it is almost guaranteed as a result of the type of person he or she is and the environment he or she works in that he or she will turn to alcohol or take drugs to escape the pain he or she feels in his or her clients or patients and will turn into an alcoholic.
  • I should warn my single daughters of the dangers of getting involved with a man who is an alcoholic or drug user.
  • I should warn my single daughters of the danger of getting involved with a recovering alcoholic or drug user.
  • I should warn my single daughters of the potential dangers of getting involved with a man who has a sibling or has a parent who is an alcoholic.

Joelie’s presentation of how terrible and how dangerous it is to be associated with an alcoholic, of how horrible and dangerous it is to become an alcoholic was very disturbing and alarming.

The take away message forcibly and persuasively taken away by me after listening to  Joelie’s lecture and to the lecture on elimination of bias in the legal professional and to the lectures on legal ethics was, to me, as a lawyer licensed to practice law in California: To comply with Rules of Professional Conduct, I must eliminate any bias I may have [for reasons of self-defense] against associating with alcoholics and substance abusers [people who need to have a drink or take a controlled substance] in my own life even though associating with such a person potentially will put me at a substantial risk of suffering great physical harm and emotional trauma!

High Levels of Stress and Trauma

Jolie explained that “chronic pain”, “high levels of stress”, and “trauma caused by adverse events” are environmental factors that drive people to have a drink and/or to take drugs which eventually results in them becoming alcoholics and drug addicts.

Jolie emphasized that escaping pain by abusing drugs or drinking alcohol in the long run does not work and is instead self-destructive.

A handout from the Betty Ford Center given to everyone at the program by Jolie states, “There is a growing body of evidence that, as a whole, drug therapies for pain management are largely ineffective.”

Secondary Stress and Trauma

Jolie explained that those attorneys and health care professionals who are highly empathetic who come in daily contact with people who are suffering high levels of pain are often driven to drink or drugs to escape the pain they suffer as a result of feeling the pain their clients/patients are suffering.  Side comment:  It is highly dangerous to be empathetic in such situations.

Neurocognitive Enhancement

According to the Betty Ford Center handout Jolie gave us:

Essentially we [Betty Ford Centers] help patients reshape and retrain the pain center of their brain.

We help them relearn how to focus their attention …

So, rather than focusing on the physical cause of the pain, our pain management program is based on neurocognitive enhancement – reshaping how the brain reacts to pain.

You do not need drugs to manage your pain. 

Our integrated treatment approach is safe and effective. 

Patients who complete our program tell us they literally feel reborn.  They find a freedom they never thought possible.


According to Jolie, alcoholism is a disease.  It is not curable.  It is only treatable.

Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession

Presented by Pamela Tedeschi, Esq.

According to Pamela, “We don’t marginalize people like us.”

Women, Not Men, Have Vaginas

Side comment: Perhaps women having vaginas and men not having vaginas is one of the reasons women who marginalize men marginalize men and vice-versa.

Pamela told us:

  • We carry on our historical ancestry.
  • Cultural training and societal imperatives are positive and/or negative reinforcement.
  • We don’t feel safe with things we are not familiar with.

Pamela urged us to challenge traditional biases

  • Religious and cultural elitism
  • Class system disenfranchisement
  • Sexism – misogyny
  • White privilege

Side comment:  Aren’t those biases the major factors that are driving the drama and suspense connected with the November 8, 2016 election of the next President of the United States, and what will determine the final outcome of that election?


“Those who rule the symbols rule us.” – Alfred Korzybski, linguist

Lawyers Are Standard Bearers

Pamela said:

  • We lawyers are standard bearers.
  • What really makes a difference is being an excellent lawyer… seeking justice, fairness and equal protection.

Pamela didn’t say, but I think Pamela would agree:

If a lawyer does his or her work only to make money (bill clients) or only to win (whatever win means) that lawyer will not be happy.

The only way for a lawyer to be happy with “legal work” is to work on something the lawyer believes in, to do what you do as part of living a purposeful life.

I know a lawyer who defends unlawful detainer cases.

When he represents a “poor” tenant who is being bullied and can’t paid this lawyer’s legal fee, this lawyer tells the landlord’s lawyer:

“I am working for free because I don’t like bullying.  I am committed to handle this case from womb til death do we part, I will not rest until my client wins this case.”

And he means it.  He doesn’t quit giving the case his all until the case is over.

Susan Sarandon

In a recent interview Susan Sarandon said she wasn’t going to vote for Hillary Clinton for President.

Ms. Sarandon explained, “I don’t vote with my vagina.”

In addition to saying she “doesn’t vote with her vagina”, Ms. Sarandon  also said:

“I am worried about the wars, I am worried about Syria.  I am worried about all of these things that actually exist.  I am worried about fracking.  I’m worried about the environment.  No matter who gets in they don’t address these things because money has taken over the system.”

There are many big money making people who are doing what they are doing solely for the sake of making money, they are doing the things the way they do them – without heart – solely to earn “more” money.

They feel they are entitled to make lots of money.

They are never happy.

They can never get or make enough money.

A friend of mine responded to Susan Sarandon’s comments as follows:

“I think Sarandon makes comments that show her to be in a bubble of unreality.  Money, among other things, has always been one of the drivers of the car of capitalism and democracy.  It obviously has its frailties as well as its benefits for our system and many other’s.  But her statements reflect her reasons for being a Bernie supporter – and a judgmental one at that.”

Safety and Security

Pamela urged the attorneys attending her lecture (a) to seek common values, and (b) to seek safety and security for themselves and others.

Easier Said than Done

Human nature:

  • People are tribal.
  • People are tribal for self-protection safety reasons.
  • However, very few people are willing to commit to one another.
  • Very few people are willing to be part of a team that compromises for the greater efforts of the whole, other than to participate in common core action to provide safety from attack from other people.

Knowledge Is Dangerous

People who want to treat pain by changing the focus of someone’s mind need to be strong and mature:

“What we learn at my school about human behavior is extremely disturbing and confusing.  If you are not strong enough or too young and too vulnerable it can be lethal.  One girl in my class hanged herself last week at 24 years old.  She was depressed.  Never talked to any one about it.

“Knowledge is a double edged sword.”

Human Warmth

“Sharing human warmth on all levels – as humans, we turn to others for validation, approval, cushions, and love as well as advice, thoughts and opinions.

“Business runs best when people commit to one another, the core values of whatever they are doing, and the willingness to be part of a team that compromises for the greater efforts of the whole.”

Legal Ethics

Presented by Edward O. Lear, Esq., Hon. Donald Miles, Dianne L. Karpman, Esq., Dominique Snyder, Esq.

Four hours of lectures were presented by a team composed of three lawyers who defend attorneys accused of violating Rules of Professional Conduct and one of the Five Judges in the State Bar Court of the State of California whose job is to decide whether an attorney accused of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct is guilty and punishment.


  • The number one type of complainer bringing a complaint to the State Bar against an attorney is a client who just doesn’t want to pay attorney fees.
  • Every attorney should read the Rules of Professional Conduct at least once a year.
  • The job of the State Bar is to protect the public, not to punish attorneys.
  • Lawyers are prosecuted for Rules of Professional Conduct violations to protect the public.
  • The cover-up is always worse than the act.
  • The explanation for conduct is sometimes more damning than the conduct.
  • When defending an attorney accused of violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, “Ignorance is a lawyer’s worse offense.”
  • “Saying I didn’t know is not a defense or mitigating.  It is aggravating.”
  • How you think is everything.
  • Goals are nothing without action.
  • Justice ought to be in the heart of the lawyer and in the heart of the law firm.

OPTIMISM is the belief there is a next time.

I am an optimist.

I look forward to listening to those presenters give another lecture in the future.


All the presentations were full of practical valuable relevant information.

All the presenters did an excellent job.

Each one of them exuded a friendly attitude.

Each of their presentations exhibited their insight and intelligence.

Each of their presentations was a call to action.

There are a few inspirational words of encouragement I would have said if I was one of them.

Inspirational and Aspirational Things I Would Have Said If I Was One of the Presenters

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi, statesman

“Our goals can only be achieved through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act.  There is no other route to success.”  – Pablo Picasso, artist

Most men succeed because they are determined to.

Gary S. Smolker, publisher, movie reviewer, social commentator
The Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange

Gary Smolker, fashion blogger
Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes

Copyright © 2016 Gary Smolker, All Rights Reserved

About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at www.dudesguidetowomensshoes.com. I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail GSmolker@aol.com.

Posted on November 6, 2016, in Brain Training, how the brain controls behavior, how the brain thinks, How To Think, interactions among social groups, know how to enjoy life, lifestyle choices, living life fully, Medicine Is A Way of Life, Pain Management, pleasure, self-awareness, soul, Soul Painter, Superb Mental Abilities, taking care of yourself, The Biochemical Basis of Human Happiness, The Importance of Embracing Your Strengths, The Right Way to Do Things, the secret sauce of success and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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