The Spotify/Joe Rogan/Robert Malone/COVID Controversy & Young Adults Struggle with Mental Health

Sunday, February 6th, 2022

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What Happens Next is a podcast where an expert is given just SIX minutes to present his argument. This is followed by a Q&A period for deeper engagement.

Today’s topics are Anti-Virals for Omicron and Writing a Blockbuster First Novel.

Our speakers are Dr. Ari Ciment and Jeremy Clorfene PhD.


Larry Bernstein:
Welcome to What Happens Next. My name is Larry Bernstein.

What Happens Next is a podcast where the speaker gets to present his argument in just Six Minutes and that is followed by a question-and-answer session for deeper engagement. Today’s discussion is on the Joe Rogan Spotify Controversy as well as young adults’ mental health struggles during COVID.

Our first speaker today is Dr. Ari Ciment who is a pulmonologist and works in the COVID ward at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. Ari has been my guest on the last seven shows and is back because of popular demand. Here are my topics for Ari this week:

Do you think that Joe Rogan and his scientific experts should be censored for anti-vax comments?
What can doctors and scientists say to the public about COVID?
Should there be censorship if individuals do not promote the medical orthodoxy, and if so who should decide what gets said? Should it be rockers like Neil Young or the CDC?
What are the latest innovations in Covid?
What can we learn about COVID from the sewers?
Will breath analyzers take over from vaccine cards as the next step of identifying the infectious in public places?

Our second speaker is my friend Jeremy Clorfene PhD who is a clinical psychologist in the Chicago Suburbs. Jeremy interacts with young adults’ struggle with depression and anxiety and I want to learn from Jeremy about how COVID has made matters worse for these kids.

Every month since the beginning of COVID, I have spoken about the monthly employment statistics that were released this past Friday. I do so because it is the best indicator for the health of the global economy. This month’s data announcement was another shocker. Let’s break it down. The Wall Street economists were expecting weak employment data because of the surge in Omicron cases. That didn’t happen. Hiring surged. The employment survey showed an increase in employment of 467,000 jobs in January. The more volatile Household survey showed an increase of 1.2 million jobs which is incredible. There were upward revisions to the November and December Establishment survey employment estimates of 700k additional jobs. These are very large increases.

When you get into the details of the report, there are still more indications of labor market strength. 1.3 million more Americans were added to the labor force as workers who were not participating have decided to reengage with the world of work. Labor force participation is at a post Covid high of 62.2%.

Let’s look at a break down of the duration of unemployment. A year ago January, there were 4mm workers who had been unemployed for six months or longer. As of December, the number had fallen in half to 2mm, and this month it dropped by 300k to 1.7mm. This is very encouraging to see that the long-term unemployed are finding work. It isn’t surprising though given that there are we are hiring signs in every store shop window.

Wages are surging. Year over Year wages are up 5.7%. Wage increases and input prices are rising like $90 oil, means that inflation may not be transitory. This economy is firing on all cylinders, so we should expect Fed rate hikes and rising long-term interest rates.

Alright, let’s get started with our first speaker Dr. Ari Ciment.


Dr. Ari Ciment

Topic: Covid Meets Cancel Culture and COVID Innovations
Bio: Pulmonologist and Critical Care at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach.
Dr. Ari Ciment Q&A:

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Jeremy Clorfene PhD

Topic: Young Adults Mental Health During Covid
Bio: Clinical Psychologist specializing in Depression and Anxiety

Your show helped me keep it together during COVID. It has been anchoring and reduced my anxiety, so thank you.

My topic today is about mental health. I am a clinical psychologist and I witness the mental health crisis in my practice every day. There are three factors currently driving mental health. One is technology. Second is comfort is the new happy. And then third is blowing up the Overton window. I mean by that we are losing the range of acceptable topics to talk about and that is followed by a breakdown in social norms and social order.

I spoke on What Happens Next 18 months ago, I used a swimming analogy: there are swimmers with different levels of competency. And if you add two 20-pound ankle weights, good swimmers survive. But poor swimmers who normally struggle in ordinary conditions will drown. And the pandemic added heavy ankle weights for everyone, and it took down those individuals with poor mental health.
I want to define depression and anxiety. Depression is defined as feelings of despair, loneliness, helpless, hopeless that can result in sleep issues, physical pain, concentration issues, loss in pleasurable activities.

Anxiety is defined to be chronic worry, it’s that feeling when you get sick to your stomach that can cause negative thinking, loss of control, and chronic worry. Anxiety causes sleep problems, overeating, etc. Both depression and anxiety decrease our physical activity and socialization. It encourages substance abuse and addiction problems. The comorbidity of addiction and depression and anxiety is very high.
Here is the good news. Anxiety and depression are down substantially from a year ago as the world has opened up, but still worse than pre-COVID. For kids, going back to school and spending time with friends has been a game changer.

Young adults aged from 18 to 29 are the worst off with depression and anxiety. Individuals over 65 and 70 who ironically were at highest risk of dying from COVID did the best psychologically. The elderly were the most stable and best prepared mentally for the challenge. They were our best swimmers.

In my therapy practice substance abuse and addiction soared to unprecedented levels. Smoking weed, and other drugs and even overdoses went up. You need to understand, that fentanyl is easily available and it’s out of control. During COVID getting access to inpatient drug treatment wasn’t available and alcohol and weed consumption went up.

Why were the 18 to 29-year-olds hit the hardest from a mental health perspective? This group has the fewest boundaries, the most opportunities, way more stimuli, and endless convenience and comforts. This age group lacks a long-term partner, a history of working, and they have financial concerns.

Young people have way more pressure to succeed than our generation because of social media because they get to see what their most successful friends are doing right now in the best possible light. They are in constant state of comparison, and they fare poorly. And that sucks.

More young adults are living at home than since The Great Depression, upwards of 50%. Getting your own place is expensive and living at home makes sense, especially because with COVID living by yourself is lonely. Better to be home with mom and the dog, playing video games in the basement and getting fed.

Technology has no boundaries: social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, video gaming, and endless porn. These tools are soul sucking.

Technology is addictive. It’s sinister in terms of how it works. These apps are designed to distract us and keep us hooked. We are all toast. It negatively affects our physical, psychological and emotional health. We exercise and sleep less and eat more. These apps activate dopamine, cannabinoid, endorphin, serotonergic systems that are all geared towards addiction.

The digital experience is no different than weed or alcohol addiction and, and gambling. Some people can work it out, most cannot. So, technology sucks.

Second big point, is we have a comfort crisis. Our whole society is geared towards more comfort and convenience.

It is bizarre, we spend more time with our kids, more activities, more sports. These kids are getting specialized skills and diverse experiences, but they’re losing independence, they’re not able to do things on their own and we are extending adolescence.

Kids have not learned how to deal with discomfort or normal anxiety. Like the basics: taking a test, give a class presentation, forget about breaking up with a boyfriend. There is this comfort creep, we keep adding pillows, less tolerance for any discomfort.

We want to remove sadness, anxiety, or stress. Even what is considered normal, everyday, reasonable failure, anxiousness or stress is rejected. The problem is pervasive. Kids go to college with higher levels of anxiety and depression. It’s up 80%. My practice is filled with these kids because they lack the self-soothing skills to deal with any discomfort or stress.

Third and final big point is the Overton window. The term originated to be what we can talk safely about in normal society but I am going to expand it to include basic social mores and how we treat each other.
Those goal posts have moved and the Overton window has shifted. Trump gave us shithole nation and the progressives gave us political correctness. Nobody knows what you can say or do.

Every slight or comment becomes extremely unsettling, and that’s what my patients want to talk about. We don’t even know what basic decency even means any more.

Jeremy Clorfene PhD Q&A:

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