Richard G. Epstein






Ask Dr. Ann Flanders

Dr. Ann Flanders has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Columbia University. Dr. Flanders is qualified to give advice on just about any kind of personal problem, including those that involve intimate relationships, parenting, dating, and dealing with difficult people. This syndicated advice column appears in the Sentinel-Observer each Sunday. If you have a question for Dr. Flanders, please submit it to:

Dr. Ann Flanders

Global Landscape Box DAF-9874

Virtual California 12-45698

Dear Ann Flanders:

A few nights ago, when my husband got into an amorous mood, just on a whim, I pointed my VibeMeter at him, and he set it off. Should I be concerned?

- Worried


Dear Worried:

According to researchers, about 5% of men can set off a VibeMeter when they want to initiate sex. This research shows that these men are not only more aggressive, but more imaginative, in the bedroom. Of course, if you do not want to have sex, you are going to have to be more forceful in communicating that reality to your partner. Unless this becomes a problem, I think that you should count your blessings.

- Ann


Dear Ann Flanders:

For several months I have been developing a cyberself that is certainly not something that I would like my family, friends and colleagues at work to know about. This cyberself is into cultic rituals and virtual violence. Of course, it all started as a harmless outlet for my frustrations and anger. However, in recent days, this cyberself, that I call Max, has done everything in his power to emerge into my everyday life. It is difficult to describe how terrifying this is, but sometimes I think that Max is not completely under control. What do you recommend?

- Am I my cyberself's keeper?


Dear Keeper:

You are describing the early symptoms of a new and serious psychological disorder called "transitioning". Unless you can gain the upper hand against Max, the nice, comfortable life that you have built for your real self might be in serious jeopardy. I suggest that you seek professional counseling with a qualified cyberself therapist immediately. I also suggest that you stay away from cyberspace for a while.

- Ann


Dear Ann Flanders:

There is this knock-out girl in my class that I would like to go out with. However, I am afraid that if I make just one mistake on our first date, she will never go out with me again. A friend suggested that I try virtual dating to practice, until I get up my self confidence. Do you think virtual dating is a good idea?

- Flustered


Dear Flustered:

I suggest you pick up a book about virtual dating, such as Ray Crumbwell's A Guide to Virtual Dating, Self Help Books, San Francisco, before you consider that option. According to Crumbwell, some young people do benefit from virtual dating, but there are definite dangers. Research that was just recently posted on the Global Landscape shows that some men and women get stuck on virtual dating and never graduate to the real thing. You have to think about why virtual dating appeals to you. Are you avoiding hurt and rejection? Sometimes, the best option is to risk rejection and to plunge into a relationship with an actual person.

- Ann


Dear Ann Flanders:

My husband and I both use the Panorama vision system, which enables us to see behind our heads. In recent months we have been having some disagreements and a friend suggested that we use the Helmet prosthesis. Unfortunately, we are both addicted to having a 360o field of vision and the Helmet cannot accommodate that. Do you have any advice?

- All Eyes


Dear All Eyes:

New research is showing that many people who use the Panorama prosthesis do become addicted to it. Unfortunately, there are no plans at present to integrate the Helmet and the Panorama technologies. I think you are going to have to decide which is more important for you and your husband- a 360o field of vision or domestic peace. If I were you, I would choose domestic peace. I know the Helmet has done wonders for my marriage.

- Ann


Dear Ann Flanders:

I am married and the father of three children. I consider myself vehemently heterosexual, but when I project into cyberspace, I like to dress as a woman. I would never dream of doing such a thing in ordinary reality. Am I normal?

- Confused


Dear Confused:

According to the American Psychological Association, one tenth of one percent of men who project into cyberspace like to do so as women. So, don't worry. Your behavior is completely normal.

- Ann


Dear Ann Flanders:

My husband is driving me crazy with this new ethical advisor software that he purchased last Christmas. Ever since he bought that new software, whenever we find ourselves in a situation that has the slightest hint of an ethical dilemma, he goes over to his computer and spends hours consulting with this system. This is starting to affect almost every aspect of our lives, down to the most minute details, like the food we eat and the television programs we watch. Things became unbearable during this past tax season, during which my husband ran each and every one of our claimed business deductions through the ethics advising program, with the result that we paid $500.00 more in taxes than I think we should have. Help!

- Ready to Scream


Dear Ready:

Short of buying a Helmet, I don't know what to tell you. Perhaps you should look on the bright side. Your husband and his ethics advisor may be protecting you both from an IRS audit or worse.

- Ann


Dear Ann Flanders:

I am organizing a special Mother's Day dinner at my church. This event has been a tradition at our church as long as I can remember. Children treat their mothers to dinner and then read poems and brief essays explaining why their mothers are so special in their lives. One woman, single and childless, insisted that she be allowed to attend and that she be allowed to read a poem that was written by her virtual child. I try to be open-minded and tolerant, but I thought that this request was too much, and I told her so. The result has been a big furor that has created a bitter schism in our church and there are a lot of people who are no longer speaking to me. What do you think I should do?

- Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Dear Between:

Since this column is going to be printed on Mother's Day, it is probably too late for me to help you with your dilemma this year. For future reference, however, I think you need to consider several factors in making a decision in cases like this. First, what is the cultural climate in your church, and what kind of innovation will be tolerated? Second, I would apply the golden rule, and I would ask myself what I would want if I were in that childless woman's shoes. My own inclination, not knowing the culture at your church, would have been to allow that woman to participate in your Mother's Day program. Don't you think her virtual child probably had something interesting to say that could have enriched your Mother's Day observance?

- Ann


Dear Ann Flanders:

My husband and I were married in a Methodist church and we seemed to be fairly compatible in terms of our religious beliefs when we tired the knot. However, last year, we rented a personalized Bible translation program and we each generated a Bible based upon our personal beliefs. The two Bibles could hardly be more different. His is all masculine bravado, war, and vengeance; mine is maternal love, embracing and forgiving. Next fall we are expecting our first child and my husband and I are starting to fight over which Bible to raise our new child by.

- Torn


Dear Torn:

This is a common problem. Most experts recommend that you give your child a taste of both Bibles. Teach your child about your husband's Bible and your own, treating both with respect. In this way, the child can learn to pick the best aspects of both Bibles. When your son or daughter grows up, he or she will be able to generate his or her own Bible.

- Ann



1997, 1999 Richard Gary Epstein

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