Saturday, April 3, 2010

“Is It Worth It”


“Is It Worth It”


In almost any relationship there is some imbalance. This is unfortunate. Someone is a bit more dependant on the other.  Of course each is dependant on the other in some respect. The leader is dependent on his or her subjects for support.  But in a one on one relationship it can be very uneven and open to abuse; a parent-child relationship, a marriage, a mentor-mentee relationship, or a work relationship.

In these one on one relationships we often have to make a judgment call when we are in the dependant position. We often, that is, do not do not like how we are being treated. Now it may not always be so clear who has the power, as in a marriage. We may simply have a hard time deciding what we can and cannot accept.

My major point is that we need to make the decision on our own terms and not make a deal with the devil in terms of the other person changing.  Yes people can change but the odds are they will not. They may in the long run but if they do we may be a catalyst for that only by leaving not by staying in especially an overtly abusive relationship.

The question is “Where are you going?” and “How are you going to get there?”  There are many twists and turns to this. I am not saying “be selfish.” I am not saying we do not need others or that we or others do not need help. I am saying we can be as much of the problem as the abuser unless we know what we want. No, I did not let them, the abusers, off the hook I put us on the hook.  We will stay in bad situations for many reasons, many bad reasons. One great reason we stay in relationships is, of course, our own fear based on not knowing what else to do and we end up trying to force a relationship or change the other person.

Often, the problem is seen with people and relationships involving people with great abilities; bosses, teachers, leaders. You have the opportunity to meet them and work with them. But for the most part it is a fact of life that in order to get where they are many if not most of them have had to make some great compromises with life that involve treating people in not so nice ways. Watch any twenty video biographies of famous people and maybe one comes out as a “normal” person who treated most people well.

So, if you associate with someone like this or with a relative or boss it is the same “pact” with the devil. “Is the abuse worth it?” They are going where they are going and they are not going to change for me or for you. I am not going to be the “exception” or the “special” friend.  That is most important thing to understand is that people will very often make you feel “special”, that you are different. “I will not treat you like I treat others.” But the truth is if you see them treat others as you would not like to be treated I pretty much guarantee you, you will be treated the same.


http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
www.brianlynchmd.com
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

"Interest"

Interest

You have your interest and I have mine. Have you ever considered that “interest” is an emotional force?  Why do you like your favorite color?  Did you choose it?  Of course you didn’t. You just like it. You have “interest” in it. Why do you like vanilla over chocolate? Did you choose that?  So we can go down a very long list. We can talk about your job. I hope you “like” and “enjoy” it. Well, did you really choose to do what you are doing?

It appears that our likes and dislikes, and what we are not interested in start very early on in our life and we have accumulated experiences that then guide us into new experience and new interests. Of course as we get older that part that “reason” plays is much stronger.

But having said this I am now very interested in what happens when you have your interest and I have mine and they are different. What can happen? Well, there can be problems. The problems are made much worse because we have an unconscious belief that everything starts with “reason” and that reason is “logical” and therefore we are “right.” If I am right you must be “wrong.”

Understanding that every desire , thought , plan , project and moral dictum that has ever been devised by man has been based, in the end in someone’s or some groups emotional “interest” first, and remember this includes our own, just might  help us.

We might start to realize that our desires, thoughts, yes, beliefs are based on “logic” that is only constructed and applied to our interests after we have the interests. And again interests are emotional formulations to our experiences not logical formulations.

So is everything just “my opinion?” How can we solve disagreements if my “interest” is just as good as your “interest?”

In day to day life this can be difficult as we all know.  Slowly we are starting to understand our emotions and to understand the power of teaching our children from an early age, for example, to be empathetic to other’s feeling, i.e interests. This is a basis to form not so much skills for argumentation and “winning” a point but skills for discourse and conversation that lead to resolutions, contracts and synthesis.

The other area where humans have made progress over the last several hundred years is that area called “science.” Here scientists start with an “interest.” For example I am interested in finding a cure for cancer. Then they try to make rules to limit “emotional” input as much as possible once that first step is made.  They do this mainly by having many people look at the procedures and agreeing on them and then having many people analyze the results so no one persons or group”s “interests” dominates.


http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
www.brianlynchmd.com
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

Friday, April 2, 2010

"When you want something you want it."


  When you want something you want it.

Come on admit it.  When you want something you want it. We tend to want what we want when we want it and that is pretty much it and we want it now. We will pretty much lie, cheat and steal to get it.  Are you ofended?

What is my point? Well, just what I have said. I have become, of late, more and more impressed at how we avoid the truth of how we really are. In my private and professional life it continually amazes me how we avoid each other so much of the time. No matter how high we rise and often the higher we rise the more problems we have in “being straight” with each other.

I have the habit of, I guess, continually being “shocked” by people’s behavior in this regard and retell my experiences with others about my “shocking” experiences as how people have simply avoided the obvious problem or truth of a situation and much of the time people seem not surprised at all and are more surprised that I am “shocked.” That is they think I am naive. Thinking “Dr. Lynch, what do you expect of people, to be honest and forthright?” “Do you expect people to be anything other than backstabbers and competitive?”

The truth is I do. I do because it is possible. It is possible because such people exist. Part of “this” project, the sum total of what I write and other than share this information, is the idea that “human nature” is not fixed. Human nature is constantly changing and that all the “negative” that we attribute to human action is counterbalanced by positive attributes that can be taught and augmented and have been throughout history.

But to be concrete and helpful I want to point out that we all make fools of ourselves in the heat of battle if we engage mouth before thinking. Much harm is done and often irreparable harm is done simply because we want what we want and we want it now and then we justify what we just did or said on the basis of what we just wanted. The logic rarely works because we started at the wrong place, We started with an isolated desire.

None of us has been schooled in the complexity of competing interests.  If you want to go to your mothers for Christmas and I want to go to mine, it does not mean at all that I do not like your mother. It means I want to go to see my mother more. That is all it means. But that more makes all the difference in the world does it not! It also does not mean that I love you less. It also means that there is nothing I can do about this. What I want is not a reasoned decision! It means I want to see my mother.  I believe almost no one understands conflict of interests and that when someone wants something they want it and there is not much one can do about it. There is a lot we can start to do about this if we start from an early age to understand the dynamic of this conflict and how inevitable it is; how to compromise with others and ourselves. We are still going to want what we want!

We come to realize these are primarily emotional issues. Interest is emotional and so we will then not make logical fools of ourselves when we try to reason our way out of the massive confusion, our own multiple desires have created in our own head because when we do someone ends up getting hurt because there is no way to make sense of them. We often end in “attacking” and “humiliating” others. This leads to guilt and shame and more attacking. Hey a mess! It rarely gets us where we want to go. What we wanted! That is we can’t make it all come out right. All our interests can’t come true. Knowing this from the beginning is the key. But I think we think because they are our interests they are therefore “reasonable” and therefore logical and therefore everything should work. Wrong.

In an earlier post I quoted the director of the movie “The House of Fog and Sand” as saying, I”The film exposes the unsettling truth that sometimes it is our hopes[read “interests”], rather than our hatreds, that divide us.”

http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
www.brianlynchmd.com
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090

Door # 1, Door # 2 or Door #3


 Door # 1, Door # 2 or Door #3

Much of what is said here is “preaching to the choir.” That is you will already agree with what I am saying.  These writings are about psychology and much of what psychology has taught us is that it is very hard to change people’s minds about anything. So why write this column? Good question. One, is those in the choir can always learn to sing better. And the choirmaster can always improve and I certainly think I learn from doing this.

But with that introduction I want to focus on this somewhat negative aspect o our being “set in our ways.”  One ready example is our political persuasions. In the United States you are pretty much a Democratic or a Republican in view point for your entire life. Now obviously there is a lot of cross over otherwise there would not be so many times that that we have one party in the Presidency and another in the Congress. But a good chunk of the county is solid one way or the other.

This is true on many issues such as abortion, free markets and unions. You name it everyone has an opinion.  The point here is that they are opinions, what is called “common sense” and conventional wisdom is opinion. We grow up, most of us, thinking that grandmother’s common sense is the best. Well it turns out it is not.

A famous way to throw a monkey wrench into “common sense”: is the tree door problem. There was a famous game show and that had a game on it in which one would chose a  Door #1 or a  Door # 2 or a Door #3  now behind one of the door there would be say a brand new Cadillac and behind the other two booby prizes like a goat. Now once you choose they would open one of the two remaining doors and if it was the goat they would ask you if you wanted to change your choice. My question to you is does it now make a difference in your chances if you change your choice?

I think almost every reader will say that “common sense” tells us that there is no way that it can make a difference. But it does. It makes a very big difference in your favor to change your choices (see explanation [web address])

So I say that when you have time, excuse me, when any of us have time, when we read something, are challenged by something we hear, read or see we should take that minute to challenge our thought and beliefs and ask ourselves how did I come to that believe or conclusion? Did I just accept it? Is it based on fact, scientific study or because my grandmother said it or became I saw it on the first Web page I found. Take the time to read two other web pages or my goodness go to another source.  Or is it the case that I just want to confirm what I already want to believe. There is much new research to say that this is exactly what we are doing with our reason. We are confirming what we already believe.

In medicine and psychology we need to look for two or three opinions. Common sense is common: The truth is not always so easy to come by.

Brian Lynch, M.D.

References:
http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
www.brianlynchmd.com


Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.





Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)




W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090




Thursday, April 1, 2010

Education




Education

It has taken us a very long time to understand that to teach someone something, anything, is a very difficult task.  It is now known through great work by the best of the best in learning theory and education that, well, most of education does not do what it sets out to do and that is transfer knowledge. A great majority of what we think is going on is fantasy. A lot of this can be seen on the Annenberg web site if you are interested. There you can find a somewhat now famous video of  interviews with some Harvard students and professors on graduation day. They are being asked some “simple” astronomy questions of a grade school level. Almost no one, if I remember, gets any of them right including an astrophysics student.

There is another video that seems to show, at least to my satisfaction, that even the “best” high school students where learning by “rote” for the most part. They where learning for the test or for the teacher. When pressed no one had an in-depth understanding of the material. No one could sustain his or her own thinking on a given subject, and when pressed on real core understanding they reverted to very primitive private understanding. In fact the title of the video is, beautifully, “Our Own Private Universe.”

Why is this?  It is because of our old friend “interest.” It has taken all this time for even the best educators to understand that from the earliest times children are figuring out the world on their own. Cognition, learning and thinking do not start just when we adults decide to “pour” knowledge into a child’s head. We are beginning to fully realize that children, infants and even fetuses learn and feel. How could it be otherwise? All of this learning starts with feeling. Thinking comes much later but all kinds of people real and imagined are explaining the world to the child and the child to his or herself.  At some level we should be careful telling children that the moon is made of blue cheese and what does the child think of seeing figures falling from ten stories and getting up and walking away? They believe and think sometime long before they are “taught” anything. These “images” and “scripted” thoughts are primary and because they are primary they will become very solidified and thus very, very difficult to change.

I am fond of pointing out that we, in no way, chose our favorite color. Our favorite color “happened” to us. So too many, many things “happened” to us including many of the ways we conceptualize the world and thus the basis for the way we are able to learn. That is the way our “interest” will be directed from here on out without some radical change.

The educational system has never appreciated this and what has evolved is a ne'er-do-well system that has developed a system of reading writing and testing to just get-us-through-the-day. Those that succeed may or may not be the brightest or the best but they are the ones that just happen to be able  to manipulate the system.

With any thought and examination we know the “the system” is geared to “practical results” jobs, income and the like. This is despite the fact that we pay lip service to “real” education and “higher education.”
References:
http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
www.brianlynchmd.com
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)

W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090