Monday 23 April 2018

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

Longer observation (13): Imagining Ourselves Dying (1): There are different ways to try to imagine we are dying. One way is to picture ourselves in the middle of our daily activities, and then to picture the same scene without us in it. And we think, "That's what it would be like if I were dead!"

A second way to imagine we are dying is more dramatic and more radical. It is to picture ourselves in the middle of our daily activities, and we imagine the scene without us, but then we go on to imagine that the whole scene dissolves into oblivion and that even our thinking about the scene dissolves and all our thoughts and feelings and everything. What is left is an empty void, but even this void has to disappear. Truly, everything is gone — at least our experience of everything, just as it is when we are under an anesthetic.

There are other ways to imagine dying. For example, it's possible to picture a giant asteroid smashing into the earth and destroying it and everything on it, including ourselves. Or we might imagine the whole solar system exploding with us in it. Perhaps it is even possible to imagine the whole universe disappearing, which is similar to the second method mentioned above.

Different situations and different lines of thought lead to a person fantasizing about his or her own death. Seeing a science fiction movie might frighten a person into dreaming of the destruction of the world. A social slight might lead a man to imagine how much his social group would miss him if he were gone. And a terrible fear over ones health can lead a person's whole world to dissolve, psychologically speaking.

It is this last more radical psychological state, a state in which everything dissolves except terror that, I think, can lead to fantasies (possibly in the form of dreams) of Creation from a Void. Perhaps as a counterbalance to the awful Void, the world in its original state reappears. And this can be experienced as calming and therefore healing to the person undergoing these experiences.

The more extreme and dramatic forms of death fantasies are fertile grounds. They breed fantasies of personal rebirth (and actual rebirth experiences), and they also can produce fantasy experience of the birth or rebirth or creation or recreation of the whole world or universe.

There is some evidence that pieces of creation myths were told by native peoples in their healing ceremonies. I imagine how this might have developed: First, some particular individual who had a vivid imagination had a radical death fantasy followed by a personal rebirth experience as well as a fantasy experience of the rebirth of the whole world (or universe). The rebirth experiences helped the person get through whatever was ailing him (or her). Second, when this "healer" saw someone else suffering as he was suffering, he took them back to the beginning of time, to the beginning of everything — all within the imagination — and helped the person to experience, in fantasy, the rebirth of the world around him or her, and to be reborn, in fantasy, into it.

Two Approaches to Understanding Psychology

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

   the One   the Whole
the Sacred
the Ordinary
feeling stuck
feelings of failing,        of dying
 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