David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
Riding the Tiger: Life Lessons From an HIV-Positive Therapist
Flashback: Diana Ross in Central Park
May 17, 2013
She arrived on the stage covered in colorful braids amid stylized African dancers. Drums played exotic rhythms as she unveiled herself before 800,000 people -- the largest in the history of Central Park. Dressed in a glittering orange suit with billowing fabric, Diana Ross welcomed the cheering masses as an ominous summer storm darkened the sky. She created a magic spell with song and, at one point, implored the audience to "make a wish and let it go." As dusk fell the winds picked up and sweeping veils of rain moved in over the park. Television cameras captured her soaked hair and face. Oblivious to the torrential downpour, she became one with the crowd.
The Dark Side of "Poz Envy"
September 13, 2012
It began rather insignificantly but quickly escalated. The group which I had facilitated for several years consisted of ten to twelve gay men of all ages, most of whom were HIV negative. That night I mentioned a new service for people living with HIV and one man asked, "Why do the positive guys get everything? What about us negative guys?" Another group member spoke up about poz friends who were eligible for all kinds of support. He was indignant that he had been laid off, was struggling and, unlike "them," lacked access to community services such as food banks and housing assistance. Someone else expressed annoyance, and a fourth growled his protest. A strong and divisive vein of anger within the gay community had been exposed.
Living With HIV: Are We "Damaged Goods"?
August 15, 2012
Todd sat slumped on the sofa in my office. He avoided eye contact and described a particularly painful experience with stigma. He had recently come around the corner at his part-time job and heard several co-workers speaking about him and his HIV positive status. More specifically, they were discussing how he might have acquired the virus by speculating about the nature and frequency of his sexual activities. It was meant as a cheap laugh among themselves, but for Todd it meant much more. Although he made no effort to hide his HIV status and was "out" at the office about being gay, hearing his co-workers making disparaging remarks about his sex life and his health status in such explicit terms felt like a strong punch in his gut. He had a brief flash of anger, telling them to shut up, and then stormed out, pulling inward and automatically falling into the old habit of numbing himself by detaching from the emotional pain.
Names on a Quilt
August 3, 2012
Oppressive temperatures were hitting the century mark, adding to the surreal scenery surrounding me. The air was thick with dust and it was unnervingly still, portending the violent storm that would sweep through in just hours. Before me, in the bright afternoon sun, was a sea of AIDS Memorial Quilt panels carefully assembled on the mall in Washington. They seemed to stretch forever. In the distance the dome of the Capitol rose above the colorful sea of fabric. Behind me, a volunteer somberly read the unending list of individuals claimed by HIV/AIDS.
Positive Living 15: Connecting Hearts and Minds
March 26, 2012
Several attendees drove fifteen hours from St. Louis. Others came by caravan from Atlanta. In the hotel lobby there were happy reunions of friends who hadn't seen each other since last year. Overall nearly four hundred and fifty people made their way from 22 states to the white sandy beaches of the Florida panhandle in early March. It was spring break, but their purpose was much more a matter of life and death. They were gathering for Positive Living 15, the largest conference in the nation specifically for people living with HIV.
Pain, Drugs and the Risks of Self-Medication
February 14, 2012
Even the bed sheet touching my skin was intolerable. The sharp pain was centered in my toes and had kept me sleepless for three nights in a row. It was the worst neuropathy I had ever experienced and I was near despair. My only relief was to lower my feet and sit up in a chair trying to sleep. That was my situation last year when, for some unknown reason, my neuropathic pain suddenly escalated. Over the years I had been relatively lucky. I had become accustomed to numb and tingly feet but I had rarely experienced such severe discomfort. Only on one other occasion, when I broke a toe, had the nerves in my feet rebelled with excruciating stinging which had lasted for months.
Creating a Vision for 2012
January 12, 2012
As the old year rolls over it's natural to review how well our lives have functioned during the past 12 months. Many of us take the opportunity to make resolutions about changing our behavior. These often concern diet, getting to the gym, or cutting back on other things that might not contribute to our health. This well-intentioned exercise often collapses, falling away within weeks (or even days) as our resolve and the routines of daily living once again intrude into our hope that this year will be different.
Under The Radar: Mental Health and HIV Risk
November 22, 2011
Getting the level of new infections down to zero will require breakthroughs not only in medications and improved interventions, but also a broadening of our understanding about the underlying causes of high-risk behaviors which can increase vulnerability for HIV, specifically, mental health concerns.
"Supersized Alcopops": The Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Consumption for People Living With HIV
October 27, 2011
Public apprehension about recreational drugs, especially those that impact HIV, seems to come in waves that swell with increasing alarm and then peak and fade away, always to be replaced by the next "drug du jour." Heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, each with a well-deserved reputation for putting people at risk for HIV or, if HIV positive, for interfering with their ability to properly manage their health, have all gained notoriety in recent years.
"Let Them Die"? The Dangers of Losing Compassion
September 30, 2011
Several widely-televised incidents recently exemplified the harsh and frightening polarization we are experiencing in our society. The first was at the Republican debate at the Reagan Presidential Library where the audience spontaneously clapped and cheered when Governor Rick Perry's record of 234 executions was discussed. The second was a clear shout from the audience of "let them die" when Representative Ron Paul was asked hypothetically if he would treat an uninsured individual who required medical attention. For me, these were stunning moments of disbelief.
Riding the Tiger: Life Lessons From an HIV-Positive Therapist
David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., is a social worker, certified sex therapist and clinical hypnotherapist. He has worked in the areas of mental health and substance abuse for more than 25 years.
Diagnosed with HIV in 1988, David is dedicated to promoting physical and emotional resilience in his own life and in the lives of his psychotherapy clients. Like the Hindu goddess Durga, he strives to live fearlessly and patiently, never losing his sense of humor even in battles of epic proportions.
David's blog entries have appeared on LifeLube and The Bilerico Project, Florida. He's also a contributor to TheBodyPRO.com's blog for health care providers, HIV Care Today. He answers questions about Mental Health and Substance Use in two separate "Ask the Experts" forums on TheBody.com. David resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., with his partner.
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May 17, 2013 - Flashback: Diana Ross in Central Park -- A Blog Entry by David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
September 13, 2012 - The Dark Side of "Poz Envy": A Blog Entry by David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
August 15, 2012 - Living With HIV: Are We "Damaged Goods"? A Blog Entry by David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
August 3, 2012 - Names on a Quilt: A Blog Entry by David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
March 26, 2012 - Positive Living 15: Connecting Hearts and Minds: A Blog Entry by David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
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