Saturday 21 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


1. This site is not meant as online psycho therapy or as a substitute for psychotherapy. Even articles like the one on Migraines are not meant as answers for everyone, for some, or even for anyone. They aren't even meant as suggestions. They are meant as ideas for possible experimentation in a therapeutic or medical environment, supervised.

2. Here is another way of saying the exact same thing: You may not respect psychology or psychologists and think its all bunk or stupid or hogwash, but even the tiniest, most insignificant gnat may bite you, and a fleck of rust on a piece of iron can eventually spread. So there is danger in psychology. The ideas are more powerful than many think. Because of this it is important, if you are a person who is interested in learning, not just the most basic ideas or the basic ideas understood in an intellectual or watered down way, it can be a disorienting at times. If you are driving and thinking about the stuff, for example, and you forget you are driving, this is obviously not a good thing. So it is good to be careful as with all "heady" material, and it is important to have a good friend or friends to talk things over with, and it is, I think, important to have a professional psychologist and maybe a psychiatrist if you are more that type of person you can talk to if you have any questions about the process. It is also, very very comforting to have a really good medical doctor — and many of them now have at least some psychological understanding. What if, for example, you become very anxious or sad or if you start to feel shaky. In these cases, if this site doesn't help settle things down, you may, possibly, if you can't do it yourself, or if others you love and who love you feel it might help you to talk to a person wiser in some one area or other than you (and this doesn't by any means mean, and this is one of the main points of this whole site, that any other person on who you might "lean" for a bit, isn't needing someone or something to lean on who is nice and loving. Everyone has problems! Everyone! No one has it all together! But we can each help the other, if we are nice and fair and treat each others as equals, and have the time to. It may seem very idealistic to you, and it is, and my friends see me as maybe too much of an idealist, it is possible for many of us, hopefully all of us, to get along and make things better instead of worse.

3. Even with that said, and even if the reader is using this site as a diversion or as "an interesting read" or to gain knowledge in an unfamiliar field, or whatever, there is still the danger that the ideas will "awaken the sleeping giant within," as it were. Concepts that are new to the reader might arise, and, if there are realities behind them, they might be unfamiliar territory and lead to a disorientation. The odds of this leading to any serious problems are not great (my guess would be about 1-2%), but it can happen. If peculiar and frightening thoughts and feelings begin to arise, the reader, I hope, will consider consulting a psychologist or psychiatrist.

4. The papers here are based on my own experience as a human and as a therapist, but they are not based on scientific studies. I have not myself done scientific studies though I have made different attempts to do so. I am not on the faculty of a university or the staff of a research hospital and have had no access to these facilities or funding for any research. This is a luxury for me in that I do not have to focus on a small area and spend all my energy researching it. On the other hand, for the reader, it creates a problem: There will be work to discriminate sense from non-sense and his (or her) own views from mine, and so on.

5. Studying a map, no matter how accurate the map is, is not the same as setting out on the path plotted on the map. This web site can be compared to a map, a map of the psyche. At best, it is a decent map, with not too many important discrepancies. However, even it is a perfect mirror image of reality, it is not reality itself, and so the use to the reader, who has to lead his or her own life, is questionable. What’s more, psychological ideas and theories can never be more than general and abstract, whereas every life is individual and concrete. Not only that but life situations often come up against a person quickly and unexpected, and action is required immediately; there is no time to stop and study a map. And if one does stop to study the map, it can make one fail. Of course, there is a place for maps, and they can be helpful if used properly and if there are no unrealistic expectations for them. In short, this site can not lead life for anybody and should not be taken as a guide book for real people in real situations.

6. In Psychology, as in war and as in life itself, there are no experts. There are some in Psychology with more experience, who are wily veterans more familiar with the up's and down's of the battlefield, who have "been around the block" more than the next guy, who are wise old-timers, but they are not experts in the way others are experts in Microsoft Word or in tying a bow tie or at dicing vegetables or at solving problems in calculus. A psychologist is more like a guide on a deep sea diving expedition or a captain on a space ship, at best a few steps ahead of the passengers. Even more, psychology is very broad and touches on all aspects of life, so a psychologist will be familiar and oriented, at best, in a few areas, and not in others. I make it a practice of doubting anything said by a psychologist who presents him or her self as an expert. This does not mean I can't learn from these same people.

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