Friday 28 July 2017

Short Observations

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JMH International Essays — Announcement

Original Essays on the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence 

We thank all those who have submitted an essay to the JMH International Prize Essay Contest. As of now, February 1, 2017, we have decided not to continue with the contest.

For those who feel they have an important contribution to the subject of the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence, please feel free to submit your essay with the form provided here. If the judges agree that the essay is a significant contribution, we will publish it here (subject to agreement with the author).

We include here links related to past essays — For the 2014 contest, click here for the summary article and here for the list of winners; for the 2015 contest, click here for the summary article and the list of winners; and for the 2016 contest, click here.

Longer Observations

Self-Knowledge

  • a pact with the Devil

  • arousing? calming?

  • confronting the unconscious

  • Dear Reader: Can Psychotherapy Help?

    Dear Reader: Can Psychotherapy Help?

    We all have problems. Psychology has become very popular. Sometimes it is easy to slip into the idea that psychology can solve all our problems, but it obviously can't. On the other hand, I think there is no problem that can't be looked at from a psychological angle, and often this angle can open new doors and avenues.

  • defense mechanisms

  • falling in love

  • Film & Stage: Silence of the Lambs

    The Silence of the Lambs: A Psychological Review

    Psychologists are not trained to evaluate the artistic merits of a film, but we may try to analyze a film very much as we analyze other products of the human psyche such as dreams or myths. In fact, a film, in so far as it "grips" people, is a myth in action, and to comment on a film that fascinates its audience is to comment on a living myth, a snap-shot of the American psyche.

  • guess I'm on a dangerous path

  • healed, filled with life

  • how others see me

  • I'm misunderstood

  • individuation

  • inner & outer

  • innocent & pure

  • introspecting

  • Key Concept: Introspection

    Introspection

    If you shut your eyes and notice things going on in your head, chest, and other parts of your body, you are introspecting. Some people are very good at this and will immediately understand exactly what I mean by it. Others won't understand, either because they don't like to introspect for one reason or another or because they don't understand the idea. Perhaps it isn't their nature to turn inward. For some, Introspection is natural, and, for others, it feels difficult or even unnatural.

  • Key Concept: Self-Knowledge

    Self-Knowledge:

    People become interested in learning about psychology for different reasons. One reason is to understand someone who has caused problems for the person. One man might want to understand why his father abandoned him. Another is trying to understand why his father used to drink and beat him. And so on. Sometimes the person has a secret fear that he or she will turn out like the problem person and is trying to figure out how to prevent this.

  • learning about the self

  • Longer Observation 007: Science & Self-knowledge

    Longer observation (7): Science and Self-Knowledge: It is easy to have views about things, even strong views, even certainties, and to be wrong. Science does not guarantee truth, but the scientific method is an attempt to subject our views, even our certain views, to a slow and methodic and public scrutiny, filled with checks and safe-guards to try to filter out as many false views as possible.

  • mind? body? psyche?

  • mine, yours, ours, theirs, everyone's, no one's

  • my breath

  • my decisions

  • my function

  • my goals

  • my heartbeat

  • my responsibilities, obligations

  • my skills

  • my story, my myth

  • my value

  • my values

  • Psychological Exercise 05: Ways of looking at eyes, ears, and skin

    Psychological Exercise 5: Ways of looking at eyes, ears, and skin

    Picture the eyes and ears as extra-sensitive parts of the skin and sights and sounds as feelings received through touch. At the same time, picture the less specialized areas of the skin as relatively insensitive eyes and ears that receive sights and sounds through touch.

  • Psychological Exercise 06: Light and Dark

     

    Psychological Exercise 6: The Whole Picture

    This is an exercise to demonstrate "the Whole Picture" with respect to perception of colors and to feelings and moods.

    The last few pages contain the "punch line" or the "moral" of the exercise.

    Each of the next 25 pages will contain an image of a color such as this

     

    and also a multiple choice question.

    You may choose more than one answer for each.

    In some cases, no answer may fit perfectly.

    Please feel free to come up with your own answers. That is, please don't feel limited by the choices.

    There are 29 pages (including this one), and, for the full effect of the exercise, it is necessary to go in order and not skip ahead, especially not to the end.

    These questions are not meant as a quiz or test, so there are no ratings as to right or wrong, correct or incorrect or even a place to record your answers.

    The questions are meant only to stimulate self-exploration and thought about the meaning and place of good and bad feelings. 

  • searching for—finding the self

  • self-evaluation

  • self-examination

  • Self-Image

  • Sense of Meaning, Purpose

  • Sense of Self

  • Sense of Self-Worth

  • Short idea 002

    Short idea (2): Take anything on the earth or in the heavens or in the seas: There is someone who could become interested in learning about it. Whether it is a rainbow or the rhyming system of certain poems or ancient Sumerian palaces or how to fix a toilet or the mating habits of Sumatran elephants or the cost of pine nuts from China or the composition of dust or how children learn to spell. So it is no wonder that there are some people who are interested in learning about themselves.

  • Short idea 003

    Short idea (3): "Everybody is a moon, with a dark side never to be seen by others." — Mark Twain. This was true when Mark Twain was alive, but now psychology gives us ways of seeing the dark sides of ourselves and others — if and when we want to.

  • Short idea 006

    Short idea (6): The way humans are built we can not see the back of our heads directly, no matter what we do.  We can get around this, if we want, by setting up a few mirrors or by asking others to look and tell us what they see. We also can't see the "back sides" of our own personalities. If we want to get around this we can look at our dreams (which reflect the sides of ourselves we can't see) or ask people how we look to them.

  • Short idea 007

    Short idea (7): Feelings do not come labeled. Often we don't know what we are feeling and have to wait to find out. Other people may see and tell us. Or we may notice the effect of what we just said on someone and realize we must have been angry. Or we may get a call from a doctor we saw last week and realize all the feelings we have had in our body was nervousness. Or we may never find out. We may feel the feeling but not know what it is. And soon we may forget we are feeling anything. People can go their whole lives feeling tense, never relaxing, and never knowing it.

  • Short idea 037

    Short idea (37): The trouble in describing the deeper levels of the psyche objectively is that there is a tendency either 1) to water them down (because the experiences are so dramatic you don't want to sound crazy) or 2) to over-dramatize them (in a desperate attempt to express how surprising and remarkable they feel) or 3) to fall under their spell and become subject to their ways of viewing things and of speaking (which is to give up all attempts at objectivity).

  • Short idea 040

    Short idea (40): If you want to examine worms or Sumerian clay tablets or other galaxies or the species of human beings in any one of its many aspects, there is a department in some college where you can go. But if you want to examine your own mind and study it, where is the college that has such a department?

  • Short idea 042

    Short idea (42): "He knows his own mind!" — This can mean, "He knows his own tastes" (he differentiates his tastes from the group's taste); "He knows his own thoughts"; "He knows his own beliefs"; "He knows his own values"; "He knows his own view of further out things;" and so on.

  • Short idea 043

    Short idea (43): A good side of difficult experiences is how they peel off the surfaces of yourself. If you're a fan of self-knowledge, this is a plus. It creates a chance to catch a glimpse of things you don't and can't usually see. If the painful experiences are rooted deeply enough, they cast a new light on ordinary experience and behavior. This, in turn, can lead to the development of new adaptations.

  • Short idea 048

    Short idea (48): Psychological pain is always an opportunity to learn about our illusions; about where our feelings are registered in our bodies; about our bloated or otherwise incorrect self-images; about our unreasonable and immature expectations; about our obsolete, un-honed, imprecise, conflicting, or superficial values.

  • Short idea 050

    Short idea (50): If you think nobody in the world cares about you, you have to be willing to look closely at the possibility that you don't care about anybody in the world. There is also the possibility that you are absorbed in a waking nightmare (in which nobody cares about you) and that you're not aware it's just a nightmare.

  • Short idea 051

    Short idea (51): There may be a difference between what you think you value, what you want to value, what you tell others you value, what values you act in accordance with even though they are not your own, and what you value. It may not be until you are an old man or woman and have seen yourself react in many different situations that you become conscious whether you value this more than that or that more than this, when it comes right down to it. Sometimes it is only in extreme and unusual situations that we see what is really and truly important to us. What you value is connected with how you choose to behave, not just with how you picture yourself.

  • Short idea 056

    Short idea (56): Knowing thyself is a means, not an end. Unexamined lives may not be worth living, but it doesn't mean examined lives are. Knowing you're a jerk isn't enough; you have to do something about it. But what and how?

  • Short idea 057

    Short idea (57): "Seek the truth," they say, but is that enough? Mustn't we then catch a glimpse of it, and then aim towards it and try to grasp it, and then learn to hold on to it and then to handle it and to clarify it and refine it and absorb it and digest it, and also to carve it into something beautiful and useful to ourselves and others?

  • Short idea 058

    Short idea (58): The call to psychology (to know yourself) is: "Stop!... Stop more!... Stop everything!... Stop completely!... Stop now!" — When everything stops, one's self comes into view (like it or not).

  • Short idea 063

    Short idea (63): We make decisions all day long, but only a few are made consciously. Decisions pile up. Over the years we have piles and piles of them lying around. One day we turn around and look at them. It can be a shock, like looking in the mirror and seeing that your hair has turned white. You've looked in the mirror every day but never quite saw yourself this way. However, in peering at the sum of what you've chosen, you aren't seeing how you now appear, but who you now are.

  • Short idea 071

    Short idea (71): First come the explorers, then the map makers. Each child is an unexplored continent (or world or universe). A person who becomes interested in self-discovery and wants it to be useful has to become both explorer and map-maker.

  • Short idea 075

    Short idea (75): In the following I use a flute as an example, but I could have used any thing: It is difficult to stay clear about the difference between the sound of a flute (gotten from hearing), the sight of a flute (gotten from vision), the feel of a flute (gotten from touch), the memory of the sound or sight of a flute, the image or sound of a flute in ones imagination, the idea or concept of a flute (from thinking), the desire to own a flute or see a flute or hear a flute, and a flute.

  • Short idea 078

    Short idea (78): There are two psychological states, A (withdrawn) and B (involved). One's self = A + B. It is only while in A that a person can learn about A, about B, and, therefore, about A + B. While in B there is too much activity, and so no time to look at B. Yet to know about oneself it is not enough to know only A. A has to look out at B and examine it as well. — Further, no one can be in A and B at the same time. It is probably impossible to be good without knowing oneself, which requires A. It is impossible to be good while in A. A good person must act in B based on what is learned in A.

  • Short idea 079

    Short idea (79): Of all the reasons a man climbs mountains, two stand out. The first is to test his endurance, skill, and tenacity and to compare his achievements with those of others. The second is to gain new vistas, to leave the ordinary and enter a new and higher realm, and to achieve a lofty spiritual experience. It is possible to climb for both reasons, and even at the same time.

  • Short idea 119

    Short idea (119): We all feel filled with Energy sometimes, bursting with Energy; at other times listless and sluggish and filled with inertia. This feeling of Energy has a psychological label: Libido (sometimes "Libido" is used to refer to all psychological energy, sometimes only to sexual energy). If we look at objects in the physical world we can often see what fills them with energy. For example, a moving object hits one that is still, and the second objects moves, filled with the energy transferred from the first object. It is not so easy to see what fills us with the feeling of Energy or takes away the feeling. If we do see what does, it is difficult to understand how this can happen. For example, how can bad news make us feel all the Energy draining from us? We may be able to picture how a virus could take the wind out of our sails, but how can hearing bad news do it?

  • Short idea 136

    Short idea (136): The eyes and ears are extra-sensitive parts of the skin and sights and sounds can be thought of as feelings received through touch. At the same time, the less specialized areas of the skin can be thought of as relatively insensitive eyes and ears that receive sights and sounds through touch. — If this isn't true, it is a useful mental exercise in introspection.

  • Short idea 148

    Short idea (148): We all have good tendencies, and we all have bad tendencies. We all have saintly tendencies, and we all have evil tendencies. We all even have godly tendencies, and we all even have demonic tendencies. A tendency we have that isn't always good and can be evil or even demonic is to think we are being good or saintly or even godly when we are being bad or evil or even demonic.

  • Short idea 151

    Short idea (151): Last week there was a video on the Internet from Australia that was receiving a lot of hits. It was of a life and death struggle between a pond python and a crocodile. The fight lasted over four hours. The python won and wound up eating the crocodile. I think that unless a person knows what it must have felt to have been the croc and what it must have felt like to be the python, he or she is lacking a significant chunk of self-knowledge.

  • Short idea 165

    Short idea (165): Two Provisional (and condensed) Definitions: 1) Humility = Self-Knowledge + Knowledge of the Future. 2) Arrogance = Ignorance. Axiom: The more self-knowledge you have and the more knowledge of the future you have, the greater humility you have.

  • Short idea 174

    Short idea (174): A psychological metaphor: The Ego crystallizes from its substrate, the Self, and then dissolves back into it. It crystallizes again and then dissolves. It crystallizes again, and then dissolves.... But in one of these crystallizations it can solidify and harden. If this happens, it has to crack apart or be cracked apart to return to the Self until it crystallizes again. "Dissolving" is another word for "Relaxing," and "Solidifying" is another word for "Working."

  • Short idea 177

    Short idea (177): It is continuously amazing to me how people can feel they are the greatest, when everyone else can see they are jackasses or fools. To be fair we have to include ourselves in this evaluation and be aware that we also, at the exact moment we feel we are at our best. are often being selfish and stupid and blind and weak. Just because a person feels good and thinks they are good doesn't mean they are. It is sobering to see what we are really.

  • Short idea 179

    Short idea (179): It is only when it feels that all is lost that the self can emerge.

  • Short idea 190

    Short idea (190): Knowledge and Power: 
    The Intellect thinks: "Knowledge is power."
    The Imagination, when it experiences Self-Knowledge in itself or in others, thinks: "Super-Power!"
    When the Imagination experiences Consciousness, it thinks: "Magic" or "God-like" or even "All-Powerful" ("Omnipotent") and "All-Knowing" ("Omniscient").
    [This observations grew out my wife, Adelle Hersh's, thought that it is both a blessing and responsibility to have self-knowledge.]

  • Short idea 202

    Short idea (202): It is not necessary to have a philosophy of fear, anxiety, depression, and terror, but it is necessary to have a philosophy of the place of fear, anxiety, depression, and terror.

  • similarities & uniqueness

  • surrendering to the unconscious

  • the inner drama

  • the soul

  • to change for the better

  • to my original nature

  • to try/not try to fit in

  • transformation

  • trivial? important?

  • waking up—feeling reborn

  • what is the unconscious?

  • what's innermost

  • working on the self

Two Approaches to Understanding Psychology

via reflection on the world
via reflection on one's immediate experience
Close




   the One   the Whole
the Sacred
the Ordinary
People
Action
Experience
Consciousness
Universals
feeling stuck
feelings of failing,        of dying
waiting
 waking up — feeling reborn
   focusing   on the self
confronting the   unconscious
the whole person
living in multiple       worlds
learning about     the world
feelings of success,     of the good life