Ruminating On Whatever Happened to POLL?

It’s Friday so how about chewing on a news item which will satisfy anyone’s limited appetite for pseudoscience? The premise is that the more times you chew, the more likely you’re to eat less and therefore more likely to lose weight. Get your Bite Monitor soon, while they’re hot.

OK, so I’ve been called the slowest eater in the world and it’s probably because I chew so much. This happens especially every time I try to eat shredded coconut, because the texture is so much like shredded newspaper. I just can’t bring myself to swallow the stuff.

This might be an opportunity to coin a name for a new phobia–ruminatococophagophobia.

POLL ButterflySo this is as good an excuse as any to finally broach the subject of our now defunct Psychiatry Online Journal Club (POLL), which hit the dirt back in June after we got close to zero participation for about 6 months on the LinkedIn site. I’ve been ruminating about it ever since and I guess the reason it’s still up there (caught in LinkedIn’s throat) is because of a reluctance to swallow the failure of this attempt to demonstrate that clinicians can find a free, practical, and effective way to conduct lifelong learning without choking on the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process. Psych Practice blogger tried to collect some feedback from readers, but the fish just weren’t biting.

I’ve been trying to be as mindful about this issue as I tried to be with the mindfulness class raisin-eating exercise. Maybe what members were trying to tell us was that POLL participation was about as stimulating as chewing a raisin very slowly. But then, even large and notably successful projects occasionally fail, including the collaborative care enterprise:

I still believe that individual clinicians can make a difference in the practical application of the principle of lifelong learning. I think first of my personal favorite, the Clinical Problems in Consultation Psychiatry (CPCP) case conferences.

I also like the small bites of my skinny talks. One of those could be just like a pinch between your cheek and gum. And then there’s the dirty dozens that any geezer or non-geezer could gum his way through.

Apparently some people have not gotten the message that POLL was more or less spat out. Amazingly, new members are waiting to be approved to join. I’m not the owner of the site and neither do I consider myself a manager anymore, so I’m afraid they’ll sit.

In Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book about mindfulness meditation, “Full Catastrophe Living,” he tells the story about holding on and letting go which involves catching monkeys by baiting a coconut (which I can chew but not swallow, remember?) with a banana. You cut a hole in the coconut big enough to for the monkey to put its hand through to grab the banana, but too small for it to pull it’s fist back out with the banana. The coconut is tied to a tree and the hunters hide. Some monkeys get caught even though all they’d have to do to avoid capture is to let go of the banana.

I guess you can catch a few monkeys this way. Moral of the story? You can’t chew a banana with your fist.

Seriously, the trick for me has been to become aware that I’m holding on in the first place.



  1. Thanks for writing about it. I haven’t been able to bring myself to shut down the group, or to attempt a post.


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