Friday, December 2, 2011

The Murals of the Mezquitán Cemetery, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.


This is not my usual essay.

I take the liberty to announce the publication of my new book

The Murals of the Mezquitán Cemetery,  Guadalajara, Jalisco,  Mexico. 
Short video of interior of book. 
                                                    ON AMAZON
This is not totally gratuitous and out of place. I offer here the short essay from the book and in I say.


“Large figures anchor each panel and broad undulating strokes, many of them blue, serveto unite. We see that “things of life” are prevalent: flowers, lovers, music, the market andthe playground. Yet a close look at the faces of the participants tells us that we mightbe in a strange place. A place that is reminding us that “we” are only here a short whileto participate in these activities before passing to what is on the other side of the wall.”

That is the faces fairly universally lack affect in a sea of life and color reminding us that just on the other side is a cemetery.



From the book:

It is my pleasure to introduce you to the mural of the Mezquitán Panteón of Guadalajara Mexico. The Cemetery was founded in 1896 after the closure of the Belen cemetery.

The painting is inspired, in part, by a folk tale about a race to the cemetery by two families for the privilege of having a family member buried there and claiming the prize of the first burial plot free of charge. The race was between a rich and a poor family. The poor family having only the sweat of their brow lost as the rich family had access to a carriage. The social commentary cannot be lost on us. But this is only the starting point as the mural was truly a community project involving financial support from the government, numerous student painters and many suggestions from the community concerning thematic input, from furtive loves to a car accident.

Despite these diverse inputs the work holds together in many ways; size , color and themes. Large figures anchor each panel and broad undulating strokes, many of them blue, serve to unite. We see that “things of life” are prevalent: flowers, lovers, music, the market and the playground. Yet a close look at the faces of the participants tells us that we might be in a strange place. A place that is reminding us that “we” are only here a short while. It is my pleasure to introduce you to the mural of the Mezquitán Panteón of Guadalajara Mexico. The Cemetery was founded in 1896 after the closure of the Belen cemetery. The painting is inspired, in part, by a folk tale about a race to the cemetery by two families for the privilege of having a family member buried there and claiming the prize of the first burial plot free of charge. The race was between a rich and a poor family. The poor family having only the sweat of their brow lost as the rich family had access to a carriage. The social commentary cannot be lost on us. But this is only the starting point as the mural was truly a community project involving financial support from the government, numerous student painters and many suggestions from the community concerning thematic input, from furtive loves to a car accident.

Despite these diverse inputs the work holds together in many ways; size , color and themes. Large figures anchor each panel and broad undulating strokes, many of them blue, serve to unite. We see that “things of life” are prevalent: flowers, lovers, music, the market and the playground. Yet a close look at the faces of the participants tells us that we might be in a strange place. A place that is reminding us that “we” are only here a short while to participate in these activities before passing to what is on the other side of the wall.

The project was conceived by four students all inhabitants of the area and from the University Center for Art, Architecture and Design (CUAAD), Marita Terríquez Guadalupe Oliva Martha, Edith Garcia de la Torre, José Ricardo Solis Rosales and Oscar Fabian Zumaya Covarrubias. Zumaya was the overall sketch artist and Sergio Murillo was the supervising coordinator of the project. All manual labor was donated. It was a reaction to the excessive graffi ti in the neighborhood.

Brian Lynch

www.brianlynchmd.com

Saturday, September 17, 2011

You Just Might Get What You Need


"You Just Might Get What You Need"

….“It is interest… which is primary.[Interest] supports both what is necessary for life and what is possible…”


Nothing has become so clear to me recently than that we are so often left alone not because we are not loved or worse yet because we are hated. No it is because so many of those that love us have been so deeply hurt before they even got to us.

It is only with a development of a sense of empathy and the ability to understand that people can leave us for a number of reasons that we can advance to think in terms of other than my own needs and hurt if we are left.

New thoughts? Hardly. Hamlet certainly doubted and contemplated and got in peoples heads. Much of the modern novel, if it is about anything, is  about such angst as what motivated this or that person to do this or that. And so it is ever the more mysterious to me that we still play out our dramas with such flare as if we have learned barely anything about the human psyche.  And so it is with each of us; we haven’t until we have. Each generation learns at its parent’s knees and that is where all the drama starts.

What general progress there is saved up in tiny bits of cultural memory that are passed on like diamonds from generation to generation that  sometimes seemingly skip a few generations. Thus we progress so slowly in our quest for self knowledge and quest for interpersonal connection. And yes in general the ability to empathize and talk of empathy is rather new on the world stage.

So yes for some time now many of us might understand that the beloved might withdraw from the beloved while still in a state of loving the very person they are withdrawing from but how best to understand this? How best to understand that idea of hurting the one you love?

It seems the best most clarifying concept to come along is to express it in terms of interest. Interest was never been appreciated as a fully appreciated emotion until Silvan Tomkins indentified it as such and still has not been accepted as such. 

Tomkins says interest makes things possible….“It is interest… which is primary.[Interest] supports both what is necessary for life and what is possible…”  

Interest makes attachments possible.  Once you come to appreciate the whole emotional system that Tomkins discovered you come to see that interest is its crowing jewel. Without interest we are a world wind of punishing feeling without a control module or a lever with which to rise ourselves to joy once in a while. It is the emotional governor of the system.

Interest is that which is necessary for bonding with our primary caregivers. “Affection”: affective resonance, interest-interest leads to joy-joy. Some folk call it attunement.  The breakage of this bond causes a shame response. This is inevitable and it takes skill to repair; the cycle of interest-interest- interest- joy and shame or interest –shame –interest or any combination thereof. If done appropriately we teach the child that it is possible to be in a good time and anticipate that a bad time will happen indeed a bad time is inevitable but that the good time will return.

The problem is, and this is all too common, all too common is when children are abandoned and have no idea when the good scene will return. I am four years old and have a grand old time with daddy and then am then left in the car for hours on end. This happens over and over. Cycles of emotions take over. Briefly shame, then fear, terror, distress, all are felt together and I cry and I cry myself to sleep not knowing when he will return. My older sister “babysits” me while mom is at work by locking me in a room all day. I cry and scratch at the door all day. My mother never knows what goes on.

My parents get picked up on drug charges and social services don’t find me in the apartment for a month.

The emotional abandonment of constant doses of prescription drugs and alcohol that blunt any meaningful interaction.

Of course the phenomena of abandonment are not new to psychology either. Its ravages are well known and have permeated well into the popular media. It is, again, its relation to interest that we are after.

What interest gives us is something we never had before and that is a quasi physical way to connect people. What is that? Yes.  The genius of Tomkins is that he fully seated emotion in the physical body by tying emotion to facial expression and that was only the beginning. He said the each innate facial expression really was only an expression of a “feeling” that was taking place all over the body. That is there is a separate emotional nervous system.

Follow me. Interest simply gives a name to what we already know. And we don’t really have to have to say “quasi” physical phenomena as it has direct physical effects. We do have touch and that is a physical connection. To touch someone lovingly is to touch them in an interested way. Now we also know that talk therapy changes the anatomy of the brain in similar ways as medication. This is not magic. The therapist did not touch the patient or was not suppose to yet the patient changes physically. Interest?  Interest gives a name to this force does it not? Of course verbal torture too changes the brain. Physical?

Yet, again when such a strong force (interest) has been establish and I say it does not take much to establish it because as infants that is what we need. Not what we want that is a cognitive statement which we will not be able to make for a very long time. What we need is interest retuned for the natural interest that we will continually pour out.

If interest is broken the consequence will be shame and confusion but we will not know what to make of it on a cognitive or “thinking” level for a very long time. We will however start to “do our own thing” about it the best we can. We will begin to figure out how to oddly soothe or compensate for the lack of reciprocated interest we are emanating out and not getting and it will be compensated for to the electron volt.



How do we do that? Sucking our thumb more?  Eating more? Throwing tantrums? Beating on baby brother? It does not get better as we grow up unless it gets better with all involved. (Please go to or better come back to  “Still face experiment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apzXGEbZht0 )

We are indeed “hard wired” with that need for interest. And although never having experienced a “drug high” and thus never having “chased” one I believe we   all are chasing the high of a primal “interest” rush when we “attached” to our primary care giver (s) if we where  so lucky to have been given interest and gotten it back for some sustained time and almost everyone was given it at least enough to get that high but unfortunately for a huge percentage of people it indeed was not sustained.

And this brings us back to our theme of being in the present or I guess the point is being in the present but not being in the presence of the beloved because they have withdrawn and maybe nowhere to be found but indications are that they are “faithful.” What sense is to be made of this? 

The variations are endless and of course they can be under your own roof married to you for years and still not be “there-for-you.”

So it is that it seems that while we can indeed have many interests we really cannot focus very well but on one at a time very clearly.

It seems somewhat a perversity of nature to do this and anti survivalist but there you go not all is aimed nicely at preserving the species.

That is we are saying that when this interest- interest joy- joy bond is broken and shame ensues and trauma is created.  And then traumatic memories are stored we are in real trouble.

We might think evolution might in general provide for us to push on and say “bullocks” and “to hell with them,” “good reddens” to those that once loved me but abandoned me. This does not seem to be the case what we do is then is have a need to maintain INTEREST in the trauma as if to go back and replay it and an repair it which of course is  impossible. 


And it does seem that nothing will dissuade us from this jihad and I use this word in an appropriate analogous way because it has a very much a "holy" flavor to it and a war like flavor to it. Nothing is important except the achieving of the goal of recapturing that "high" we once had no matter the accumulated contravening evidence to the contrary that it will never happen. "We" see it as an internal, individual, spiritual struggle toward self-improvement, moral cleansing and even an intellectual effort..
This interest in fixing the past, of course causes, a great deal o problems as time passes on and we live in the present. We grow up, we supposedly leave the nuclear family, Of course many times we don't . We live in the same town we live next door, we stop by every day. We use our parents for child care, we borrow money form them. Some of this is necessary some of it, on inspection, is very questionable
For sure what happens is that the problem is never solved or almost never solved and what does this cause? It causes more pain and confusion.

This “beating of one’s head against proverbial walls” has traditionally lead to much confusion for everyone. That is how to codify and classify people’s behavior; often much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of many people, professionals included. Much behavior not rising to the level of “official diagnoses” simply bad behavior ,  the old term “neurosis” , “personality problems” and worse and “odd behavior.”  Or millions of people that float through life being tolerated as that is “just the way they are.”   A woman that has a loving husband but for years you have known her to have spent less than half her time with him always running off to one of three or four cities to vacation or spend time with relatives. Speaking with her you find as a child she feels a deep sense of “nothingness.” Others drink, dedicate themselves to relatives but complain, start and stop school. Mary but there is always tension about the “the relatives.”



  
Now comes a rather simple way to see all this behavior form a “bird’s eye view” and that is to codify it  first in terms of “interest” and conflict of interests and then in terms of what happens as a consequence of various conflicts of interest. It turns out that it seems that unless we are focused and consciously working on a problem the world will throw us down one of four paths based on, in part going back to those very early cues we picked up on when we first started not getting feedback from our significant caregiver in those interest- interest exchanges (still face experiment). We will start to withdraw: remember at first we cannot think and remember things so our first responses are not cognitive. So as older beings we now have other options and we not only can withdraw we now can start to do things such as blame ourselves   for what is going on. Such as saying it is “my fault.” “I am bad”, “I am being punished.” Or I can “decide”’ to do something to ameliorate the pain with stimuli, entertainment, music and or drugs, or sex. I can that is “avoid” the problem. And finally I can distract myself and others by accusing someone else or attack others. Of course before we could think we could also show our displeasure by hitting back.
We can codify all this with the “Compass of Shame.” 


These activities are what we all get involved in. They are what those that love us but are not there for us indeed lead us to start participating in and start questioning at times, our own sanity.  To “withdraw” form the world, to have a tendency to “blame oneself” or to “blame others” or to seek solace in some excess one does not necessarily have to have been through major trauma. The present will do just fine.  The human organism can get overwhelmed and it is not as if we can find that perfect community despite what we may think. Someone, bless them, recently on a “social media” site claimed that we should renew our efforts to just sever all our unhealthy relationships and turn only to those healthy ones in our lives. I simply said and where would they be? And he said all around you? Hmm.

It is like my view of the mantra in the drug movement “avoid person’s places and things;” meaning, of course, those triggers that would “trigger” you to use your drug of choice. The trouble is, it seems to me, there are “people, places and things” wherever you go. In the end it is an internal peace one has to achieve.

But this has all really taken us very far afield from our opening: “Nothing has become so clear to me recently than that we are so often left alone not because we are not loved or worse yet because we are hated. No it is because so many of those that love us have been so deeply hurt before they even got to us.”

I am really after what is in-between those two sentences: The shame- the distance- the longing.

But as I say the “Compass of Shame” takes us far afield we need to go back to competing interest. That is what it is all about. People are simply not there for us not because they are not interested in us but because they are more interested in something else.

And that is that. And that my friend is often very likely not going to change. We often have to make peace with that. They often have to make peace with that. The point of this piece is that that there  is that intense primary interest in repairing ruptured primary relationships and until that happens there is no room for anyone else as a primary interest.

Quickly it needs to be said that things are not hopeless, if they where the art and practice of therapy would long have been out of business. That said it is no secret that the process has never been short nor easy despite attempts at making it “brief.”

People do make progress, however, time and time again we see examples where this idea of “interest” illuminates.

Then time and time again  very intelligent people will understand clearly and profoundly these very mechanisms, the role of shame in their life as well as interest and have many other insights and yet make what seems to be no progress.

Tomkins realized this and even said in his rather drawl prose that often “insight” therapy was doomed to failure or might make little difference. He was talking about a bit of a different mechanism but not so much. We are both talking about how affective – feeling - mechanisms precede consciousness. Our affects, feelings, are trigger long before we are aware of them and in that I am talking about exactly what he was talking about.

My interest is triggered long before I am aware of it.

I know of some neuro imaging support for this.  A study was done on people who seemed to be grieving over lost relatives an excessive amount of time.

The images indicated the brain registers as if the person was still alive.

 Results from the study:

The authors looked for activity in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain most commonly associated with reward and one that has also been shown to play a role in social attachment, such as sibling and maternal affiliation. They also examined activity in the pain network of the brain, including the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, which has been implicated in both physical and social pain. They found that while both groups had activation in the pain network of the brain after viewing a picture of their loved one, only individuals with complicated grief showed significant nucleus accumbens activations.

I think this is very apt for our purpose; these early intense experiences turn on the brain at a very import time. It is not a simple thing to just turn it off. In fact why would it ever be turned off? In fact the problem is the brain in fact is still turned on although the relation is no longer there. And so the person is thrown into a constant state of shame (what the first diagram is to suggest.)

Life does go on and people grow up and develop “interests” but as long as that beacon is glowing it actually shines brighter, brighter than anything else. It trumps or can trump all other interest. It in fact becomes what many have called not a beacon but a black hole as now shame obscures the light. It is the shame dynamic   that now prevails (again the first diagram).

As we said therapy can work as reason plus affect(feeling)  together come to permit interest to form a new attachment. It is not a new thought that therapy is, after all, a form of model parenting.


 Another way healing can take place, and does, is in raising the next generation. Interest is transferred to a new generation. It will all depend on many factors. In toto we are nowhere near knowing the factors but internally it is a weighted average of punishing to positive affect over time. Will the child, now parent, with their partner or without respond to the outpouring of interest of their offspring with their response of, on average, healthy interest? Unlike what they received?

One tragic variation on this is women who dramatically stabilize their emotional lives once they give birth and everyone thinks that they are now set for life only to find that when the child begins to separate from them at two to three years of age that the mother “relapses” into previous behaviors. She may repeat this cycle various times through several pregnancies.

Of several messages one is that such a suggestion of a deep neurological  explanation of our foibles must give us pause and above all maybe free us all from pointing the finger at each other and blaming and shaming each other  for our acts. It becomes clear that we are driven crazy and into irrational, sometime lifelong activities, due to the brain simply wanting what it is meant to want: connection. It is feeling -doing – thinking,  in that order. We are driving to reconnect to our primary interest and we do that through behaviors that we and others do not and have not understand. Maybe we are beginning to.


Brian Lynch, M.D.


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

On  Amazon by Brian Lynch Paper Back and Kindle:
"Knowing Your Emotions"
"Doing- Thinking- Feeling - In The World"
"HACER-PENSAR-SIENTIR - EN EL MUNDO."

Facebook | Affect Psychology
POSTED BY DR. LYNCH AT 1:17 PM 4 COMMENTS LINKS TO THIS POST


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Something I have been wanting to say.


“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”
Death of a Hired Man, Robert Frost


[This piece will be confusing to some. I hope only at first. It refers most to the AA movement. I often find it surprising how many people still are not familiar with the movement and have not even heard of the “12steps.”  I had not reread the original version of the “Steps” for some time. I had occasion to do so. I was surprised at how much I did not like them. I originally rewrote them some 13 years ago and they became the basis for my book “Knowing Your Emotions.” 

Of course the format has been used for many purposes from fixing your computer to losing weight. Here I address what I see as deeply flawed presumptions concerning the needs of not only drinker’s but addicts.

Many might be puzzled about this attack if they think the “movement” has great success. The fact is this is in great question. There is a lot of evidence that it is not a success overall and I would argue that the success it has is certainly not because of humiliating members in the  way mentioned here but by the interest shown in the fellowship.

Finally as will be seen this is not an attack on “God” or religion. As the movement itself acknowledges it has opened the concept up, long ago, of “higher power” to personal interpretation but here I greatly challenge that. So I am really leaving religion aside. ]

It is suggested that we “Accept the things we cannot change, change the things we can and find, somewhere the wisdom to know the difference.” That is a paraphrase.

It orients only as life and death do hang in the details, in millimeters and answers are often in short supply.  We have general outlines but are often short on specifics.

At least we are in a conversation and we can always say we are trying and doing better than we were no matter how miserable that is.

I claim it is certainly not all that good as we are no where near having the knowledge of these matters in hand as we think we might-  that is where these lines fall.

What I call for here is a call for a radical involvement of community if real change is going to take place in individuals.

It is more than obvious that when people have had their troubles that it has been taken for granted that it is their doing. In fact they have, throughout history been marked as “bad” and “evil.” The family is cursed with its “bad seed” and, of course, we are all “sinners.” It is up to each of us as individuals to atone for our deeds through prayer, penance and other forms of sacrifice. The idea that we might not be “responsible” for our actions is quite new and the fact that we might be able to be helped to change the way we act and do things is very, very new.

So for example the “12 Step” movement of Alcoholic Anonymous asks us to admit we are powerless over alcohol and that we are “defective.” And it asks us to go into the community and “make amends” to those we have harmed.

To be sure most of what “The Steps” and their sprit is about was wonderful and needed at the time. It got people thinking and looking in the direction of community and connection. But the more and more I think about them the more and more I see them as the merest of beginnings as they :

-         put the entire burden on the individual
-         they recognize nothing of the community of which the person is a part  and that communities role in the persons dilemma

These two statements will upset many people. They will roll their eyes and simply insist that everyone is “responsible” for their own drug use. Yet this simply is not true. Humans are social and political animals. We are not made to live alone.

A favorite reference of mine  is Micheal Gladwells “Outliers” his best seller that starts with the chapter “Rosetto” about a town in Pennsylvania where people  are very healthy despite very poor health habits. They had low CVD, Cancer and no alcoholism. The only thing you could point to is a tremendously strong community life; for example 20 social services organizations for a town of 2,500.

Drug takers and drinkers do not pop up ready made they are traumatized one way or another and this trauma is repeated over and over again AND the means to medicate it is in a milieu that allows for self-medication is extant.

Most plainly speaking people are hurt by other people. No matter who you are you take care of that hurt in some way. If you have been very well cared for  most of your life, valued and have learned a sense of self then through most hard times you will probably do well with no more than maybe a temper now and then. But I would say even few of us are that lucky.

What has been fascinating to me, over the last few years, is how clearly it seems to be to me how we all have our “poison” when it comes to self medicating. We are as a society becoming more open, honest and accepting of the fact that one poison is equal to another but are not there yet. What am I saying? I am saying that food can easily be as bad as heroin depending on how much you eat. In fact it can be worse. Gambling is bad but do we recognize how many ways we gamble? Do we really recognize that the stock market in a major way is nothing more than gambling? Why is it and why is it not? I would say it is not because there is a long term track record of the Dow  Jones average. It is not a flip of the coin over years; however, it is very near a flip of a coin on any given day. This is the problem, what day are you going to need your money? If you  want to cash out in 18 months to retire and in 16 months there is a “Black Friday” your out of luck. But still, of course there are hundreds of ways to become “addicted” on a daily basis to trading.

In short people do all kinds of things to medicate themselves. Now where is, again, this pain coming form? Again from others and this is the problem with part of treatment or at least “the movement” and that is it does not recognize or give voice to the harm done to the individuals. Here there is no denying that there may have been done and maybe the majority of the time there is harm done by the user but the problem is where it all begins and where does it all end?

I deal a great deal with the concepts of shame and humiliation. What starts the whole process in the first place is shame and humiliation.

By shame here I “only” mean a feeling of unattained desire. This can be a wished for returned greeting form a friend or a profound sense of humiliation from a dressing down at work (the desire in retrospect of wanting to be appreciated). Again I “want” something and do not get it. Or I have lost a previous state of joy.

What we feel about these ideas is that these ideas about shame and humiliation are so underappreciated that they almost go universally unnoticed/missed in our assessments.  To be sure they, if considered, challenge everyone.

They ask us to consider the world from the drug user’s point of view.

From that point of view it can be said that many might claim feelings of massive shame and humiliation throughout their lives.











And so pausing a beat I ask us to consider that   we are profoundly emotional beings and that unless we understand our emotions we are very often powerless over our own actions and are powerless over the world.

Yes, that is the extent of our “higher power.”  We have the traditional formulations embodied in the “12steps” but I do say that given their succinctness and emphasis on the individual it may be time to move on.  I believe we end up “over explaining” them.  I say the “higher power” can be and often is a tautology. What I call the “hot potato” answer. What is that? The analogy is to anger management. We tell people that have problems with their anger that they need to go to anger management class and manage their anger. Well this is like having someone already holding a hot potato and telling them to ok continue to hold the hot potato. Ok buddy your doing pretty good let’s see what else you can do with the sucker! Wherever you turn you end up looking at yourself.

What has become clear to many is that anger is really not the issue at all. Anger is, that is a consequence of a deeper hurt and confusion, if you will, shame, what has happened is that the person has “wanted” something for probably a long time and has not gotten it. Often the “want” or desire has been quite reasonable. You may doubt this. First think about yourself. But I will give you an example. I use to work in nursing homes a lot. Well, residents would want passes to go outside. So they would want and want, right? And often would not get the pass. I believe often unjustly, but justly or not, they would build up enormous hurt confusions/ shame and finally they would get angry. They would be blamed for their anger. Something they would get violent. At the time I was doing group therapy. I suppose I was expected to scold them. Of course I didn’t. Many times what I saw was that their dose of Depakote would go up; a potent sedative.

We need to understand that is that it is a system that involves a community or at least a dyad more than one person. We need to interact. We need to complete the “I want.”

So I believe the “higher power” business, for the most part, is a neat sleight of hand for all of us to avoid this thought, the need to engage one another again throwing it back in face of individual. What I hear sub-rosa is that “you are weak”, “it certainly is your fault”, “you are to blame” and above all it sends a message loud and clear of abandonment. “Be very clear about this buddy you are very alone at least around here.” You need to stand on your own two feet and take responsibility.

So we tell people that need connection to look to a “higher power.” Don’t ask me for help!

All this said I am not going to throw the baby out with the bath water. The movement has come to accept a broad interpretation for the “higher power” and so I am saying nothing new and would of course be wrong to speak for anyone who says they benefit from using the concept. The hope is that we transition from being victim to a more self conscious healing adult.

I must too not act blind and dumb in terms of the aspects of the movement that entail the meetings, sometimes daily meetings if a person so  chooses and  the fellowship that entails   the tradition of a sponsor that is available 24/7. If that is not a “dyad?” What is? But there is structure and there is philosophy. So often the philosophy dominates

Note I did not say fully healthy and fully conscious adult as this is not possible.  Psychology at least is telling us that we are at the mercy of our affective or emotional system and always will be. Our emotions guide us. They tell us what is important. So our early experiences so inform us and they inform subconsciously and automatically for well or ill and if for ill it will take a lot of work to correct those “habits.”  And we will never completely get ahead of the task, sorry to say. Right there is enough of a “higher power” for me. What is that? The cold hard fact that I just gave the realization and acceptance that I am as-we-all-are works-in-progress and it takes our full attention to stay as much on course as possible and it takes at least a community of two. That never am I saying is cannot be or could not be a “sponsor.”

Above all we are not, again, “defective” or morally bad. No more than anyone else.

To be sure on this strange road, once on it I may have done many unsavory things. No question about it. The radical science or rather the true science is about not having much or any free will form where we started as children wanting to be loved. Yes people not wanting to grow up  to be drunks or addicts to people being damaged and then in disassociated states that then do unsavory things.

How am I not to feel, deep inside, but more shame and humiliation if it is suggested that I am to look to myself, only to myself, for the answer? That it is essentially my job and my job alone? That I am defective?  That is what the words say, “My defects.”

I turn inward then to understand the “higher power” and by that “all” I mean- and that is a lot- it is I mean that I am not in control simply through my “ego” or my reason. If I am going to have any hope of getting through life with any modicum of joy I better learn something about synchronizing reason and emotion. This will only come through some study and self exploration but also through some community.

2009-2011
Brian Lynch


Shame and Humiliation

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

http://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. Nat

On  Amazon by Brian Lynch Paper Back and Kindle:
"Knowing Your Emotions"
"Doing- Thinking- Feeling - In The World"
"HACER-PENSAR-SIENTIR - EN EL MUNDO."

Facebook | Affect Psychology


Saturday, April 2, 2011

"The Good"



“The Good”

Deacon Taylor

I belonged to the church,
And to the party of prohibition;
And the villagers thought I died of eating watermelon.
In truth I had cirrhosis of the liver,
For every noon for thirty years,
I slipped behind the prescription partition
In Trainor’s drug store
And poured a generous drink
From the bottle marked
“Spiritus frumeniti.”

Why can we know the good, “see” the good yet not grasp it? Not “do” it? This is not the Socratic and Platonic “To know the good is to do it?”

It has fascinated me for a very long time. That is I think that the Socratic statement is not the case at all.

Our history and drama are full of tragic figures who strive for “the good” only to fail.

But I turn not to great literature but to a situation comedy of recent years that always comes to mind when I think of this situation entitled “Arrested Development.” 

Briefly this is a wealthy “dysfunctional family” with one “functional” member.

Long and short of it, while the CEO father sits in prison for misdeeds and the mother continues to spend corporate money via embezzlement and siblings and extended family simply cannot “function” the son “keeps” getting “pulled back in” because he  is the only one that is stable enough to fix things. Of course all the while everyone takes pot shots at him.

Or one of my favorite ones is when a patient actually says “but you’re a doctor you’re suppose to do it.” That is do some virtuous thing and of course they are not up to being that virtuous.

In my mind the “problem” is how is it in this rather brilliant show or in any situation, real or imagined, can it be that a person can “know the good but not do it?”  

“To Know the good is to do the good” and “shame is the impediment to ongoing interest,” according to “Affect Psychology” between the two is the entire history of Western thought and in there lies the entire history of Christianity and it’s struggle to deal with sin, blame, guilt and damnation because if you know the good you must be able to effect it but we now know that we simply can't. We can’t until we can. And so if there is a gospel it is The Gospel of community love and support. Interest is the impediment to ongoing shame. 1

This type of question weds reason and emotion. There they are sided by side. We came up with the term “cognitive dissonance” because of these situations.

It seems there is a quite simple but maybe not obvious answer: it is because we do not feel worthy.


It is a frightening thought. “I am not worthy.” And it can be dangerous because this can be a shame sink hole as there is nothing anyone can do to convince me otherwise and I can drag the whole world with me. A phrase others and I have used is a “black hole of shame.”   Just as a “black hole in space” is so powerful it sucks in everything  around it so does the personality of a person with such shame. It tries to destroy you and make you as miserable as they are. We have all kinds of terrible names for them and if we live with them or love them we “pity them” and see their agony and if we do not have the benefit of understating their shame then are left to our own devices.

Of course not all are so off the bean but still so many suffer a whole continuum of this shame dynamic that keeps them and all of us from time to time  in the shadows and form participating in “The Good.” The most common mode is the “simple” and hurtful “withdrawal.” The “impolite” unanswered phone call or email after the heartfelt request.

One thing being “on this side of understanding” is I cannot imagine life without this understanding. I cannot imagine being as civil as I am. And yes, so, by implication I do think I have come to be able to, without, embarrassment say that I have participated in “The Good” to some extent. My understanding of shame in others is the only thing that really keeps me sane. So I wonder how we have survived and tolerated others so much in the troughs of shame and what we have understandably until now called their “evil ways.” Well, we know what we have done and said; literature and drama well document this, to say nothing of the real historical record. But it also shows that we have often been surprisingly tolerant of ourselves and others. We have been strikingly good despite the existence of so much toxic shame in our lives. At least history shows we have improved despite our ignorance. It is so because all we have done here is discovered shame. Shame has always been with us and so everyone of us has had to live it and live the consequence of  the options that pain gives us whether it had been articulated or not. Point? Well, albeit we are still not all that empathetic it seems we have been empathetic enough to give, on average, each other many breaks along the road as we recognized from early on   that we are “all fellow travels to the grave.” (Dickens)

But why am I not worthy? It is mainly because I have been told so or because I have been made to feel I am nothing by some kind of abandonment. The shame and humiliation, i.e. the enormous pain and void that leaves consumes my life. Life is for others form then on. I have but one job and that is: Well, what is it? Hard to define isn’t it since I am nothing?

As the king said, though in another context, “Nothing will come of nothing?”  

But interest is the impediment to nothing.


1Of course early Christianity adopted this dictum and much of Platonism as being consistent with the Christian ideal of participation in the good or Holy.



 Shame and Humiliation

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

http://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. Nat

On  Amazon by Brian Lynch Paper Back and Kindle:
"Knowing Your Emotions"
"Doing- Thinking- Feeling - In The World"
"HACER-PENSAR-SIENTIR - EN EL MUNDO."

Facebook | Affect Psychology