PSYCHOLOGY

Psychology Theories


MY PSYCHOLOGY NOTES

The psychology notes which I keep in my study here in northern Tasmania are found in 4 arch-lever files and 2 two-ring binders.  These volumes, begun in 1990 when I was teaching psychology at Polytechnic-West in Western Australia, were developed more fully after I retired from full-time work in 1999 and from PT and casual-volunteer work in the years 2001 to 2005.  Now, after 25 years, 1990 to 2015, there exists in my files a wide range of notes on theories in psychology, as well as theories of learning and development among others. I am able to draw on them for various purposes in my private study and public writing and publishing.

My notes on 'theories of psychology' are found in volume 3 and volume 3.1 of these notes; the sub-sections of those volumes are outlined in the Table of Contents below. During the last 20 years, 1995 to 2015, the internet has been an invaluable tool in keeping this part of my study of psychology up-to-date.  More accurately, though, it must be said that the field of psychology as a whole, and psychology theories in particular, has become too extensive to have more than a bird's-eye view of the subject and its vast landscape of content.

The list below of more than 50 psychology theories has been altered many times in the last 25 years.  In 2015 the VOLUME 3 and VOLUME 3.1 TABLE OF CONTENTS were as follows:

VOLUME 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS    

11.0 General and Types of Theories
11.1 Psychoanalytic theory
11.1.1 Freud
11.1.2 Jung
11.1.3 Adler
11.1.4 Horney
11.1.5 Erikson
11.1.6 Anna Freud
11.1.7 Lacan
11.1.8 Object Relations
11.1.8.1 Donald Woods Winnicott

11.1.9 Ego Psychology
11.1.10 R.D. Laing
11.1.11 Rank
11.1.12 Heinz Kohut: Self-Psychology
11.1.13 Interpersonal psychoanalysis: H.S. Sullivan
11.1.14 Cognitive therapy
11.1.15 Positive Psychotherapy
11.1.16 List of psychotherapies

11.2 Humanistic Psychology
11.2.1 Carl Rogers
11.2.2 Abraham Maslow
11.2.3 Eric Fromm
11.2.4 Rollo May
11.2.5 Lewis Mumford

11.11 Existential Psychology
11.11.1 Rollo May
11.11.2 Martin Heidegger
11.11.3 Victor Frankl
11.11.4 R.D. Laing and David Cooper

11.12 Developmental Psychology
11.12.1 Constructivism
11.12.2 Attachment Theory
11.12.3 Ecological Systems Theory
11.12.4 Psycho-Sexual Development
11.12.5 Kohlberg: Moral Development
11.12.6 Erikson
11.12.7 Piaget
11.12.8 Cognitive Development
11.12.9 Nature vs Nurture
11.12.10 Social, Physical, Emotional
11.12.11 Memory, Language, inter alia

11.13 Traits Theory
11.13.1 Gordon Allport
11.13.2 Eysenck

11.14 Personality Theories
11.14.1 Trait Theories
11.14.2 Gordon Allport
11.14.3 Raymond Cattell
11.14.4 John Gittinger
11.14.5 Hans Eysenck
11.14.6 Lewis Goldberg

11.15 Behaviourism 
11.15.1 B.F. Skinner
11.15.2 Other Behaviourists

11.16 Phenomenal Field Theory
11.16.1 Snygg and Combs
11.17 Cultural Psychology
11.18 Personal Construct Therapy
11.19 Socio-Historical Psychology
           or Cultural-Historical Psychology
11.19.1 Vygotsky
11.19.2 Other
11.20 Psycho-Biography

VOLUME 3.1 TABLE OF CONTENTS

11.21 Theories of Love
11.22 Psychological Type Theory
11.22.1Theories of Spiritual Experiences
11.22.2 Transpersonal Psychology
11.23 Theories of Leadership
11.24 William James
11.25 Pragmatism
11.25.1 John Dewey and Others
11.26 Gestalt Theory
11.28 Human Relations Theory
11.28.1 Organizational Theory
11.28.2 Theories of Maturity
11.29 Counselling Theories
11.29.1 Transcultural Counselling and Psychotherapy
11.31 Clinical/Occupational Therapy
11.32 Relational Theory
11.32.1 Women's Psychological Dev't
11.33 Cognitive Dissonance
11.34 Psychodynamic Therapy and Depth Psychology
11.35 Evolutionary Psychology
11.36 Behavioural Genetics
11.37 Learning Theory
11.38 Motivation Theories
11.39 Stage Theories

11.40 Creativity and mental illness‎
11.41 Process philosophy‎
11.42  Hereditarianism‎
11.43 Social learning theory
11.44 Community Psychology
11.45 Radical Psychology
11.46 Critical Psychology
11.47 Functional Psychology
11.48 Discursive Psychology
11.49 Moral Psychology

The above list is far from comprehensive and readers, with the interest, are invited to go to the following link: (a) for more details on many of the above theories, and (b) for many more theories: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Psychological_theories

FACULTY PSYCHOLOGY

There are many theories of psychology that are not listed above, one of which is Faculty Psychology(FP).  FP views the mind as a collection of separate modules or faculties assigned to various mental tasks. The view is explicit in the psychological writings of the medieval scholastic theologians such as Thomas Aquinas.  It is also present, though more implicitly, in Franz Joseph Gall's formulation of phrenology, the now-disreputable practice of measuring personality and sensory traits by estimating brain mass of organs on one's head to determine ways to improve faults. FP has been revived in recent decades, especially in Jerry Fodor's concept of modularity of mind. This concept is based on the supposition that different modules autonomously manage sensory input and other mental functions. For more on FP go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faculty_psychology

More than 30 years ago Jerry Fodor published his The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology(150 pages, 1984).  In this work Fodor revived the idea of the modularity of mind, although without the notion of precise physical localizability. Drawing on Noam Chomsky's idea of the language acquisition device, and other work in linguistics, as well as from the philosophy of mind & the implications of optical illusions, he became one of its most articulate proponents. For more on Fodor and the concept of the modularity of mind go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modularity_of_mind 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MIND CONTROL

Mind control, also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, thought control, or thought reform, is a theoretical indoctrination process which results in "an impairment of autonomy, an inability to think independently, and a disruption of beliefs & affiliations. In this context, brainwashing refers to the involuntary reeducation of basic beliefs and values" The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual's sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making. For more on mind control go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_control

Theories of brainwashing and of mind control were originally developed to explain how totalitarian regimes appeared to succeed systematically in indoctrinating prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques. These theories were later expanded and modified by psychologists including Jean-Marie Abgrall and Margaret Singer to explain a wider range of phenomena, especially conversions to new religious movements (NRMs). A 3rd-generation theory proposed by Ben Zablocki focused on the use of mind control to retain members of NRMs & cults. The suggestion that NRMs use mind control techniques has resulted in scientific & legal controversy. For a video in relation to Hegel, various political philosophies and the psychology of mind control go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXi4fU8KJGM&app=desktop

MORAL PSYCHOLOGY

"The Psychologists Take Power" Tamsin Shaw in NYRB( FEBRUARY 25, 2016 ISSUE)

SOURCES DRAWN ON FOR THIS ARTICLE

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Vintage, 500 pp.,  (paper)The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declinedby Steven Pinker
Penguin, 802 pp., (paper)Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evilby Paul Bloom
Broadway, 273 pp., (paper)The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choiceby William Damon and Anne Colby
Oxford University Press, 217 pp., Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene
Penguin, 422 pp., (paper)Report to the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association: Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Tortureby David H. Hoffman and others
542 pp., July 2015The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Melville House, 549 pp., (paper)Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science by Brian Nosek and others
Science, 2015 Head Strong: How Psychology Is Revolutionizing Warby Michael D. Matthews, Oxford University Press

A. In 1971, the psychologist B.F. Skinner expressed the hope that the vast, humanly created problems defacing our beautiful planet (famines, wars, the threat of a nuclear holocaust) could all be solved by new “technologies of behavior.” The psychological school of behaviorism sought to replace the idea of human beings as autonomous agents with the “scientific” view of them as biological organisms, responding to external stimuli, whose behavior could be modified by altering their environment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in 1964 Skinner’s claims about potential behavior modification had attracted funding from the CIA via a grant-making body called the Human Ecology Society.

Skinner was extremely dismayed that his promise of using his science to “maximize the achievements of which the human organism is capable” was derided by defenders of the entirely unscientific ideal of freedom. When Peter Gay, for instance, spoke of the “innate naïveté, intellectual bankruptcy, and half-deliberate cruelty of behaviorism,” Skinner, clearly wounded, protested that the “literature of freedom” had provoked in Gay “a sufficiently fanatical opposition to controlling practices to generate a neurotic if not psychotic response.” Skinner was unable to present any more robust moral defense of his project of social engineering.

B. In spite of the grandiosity of Skinner’s vision for humanity, he could not plausibly claim to be a moral expert. It is only more recently that the claims of psychologists to moral expertise have come to be taken seriously. Contributing to their new aura of authority has been their association with neuroscience, with its claims to illuminate the distinct neural pathways taken by our thoughts and judgments.

Neuroscience, it is claimed, has revealed that our brains operate with a dual system for moral decision-making. In 2001, Joshua Greene, a philosophy graduate student, teamed up with the neuroscientist Jonathan Cohen to analyze fMRIs of people’s brains as they responded to hypothetical moral dilemmas. They inferred from looking at neural activity in different regions that moral judgment involved two distinct psychological processes. One of the processes, a fast and intuitive one, took place by and large in areas of the brain associated with emotional processing, such as the medial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The other process, which was slow and rational, took place by and large in regions associated with cognitive processing, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the parietal lobe.

Greene interpreted these results in the light of an unverifiable and unfalsifiable story about evolutionary psychology. Since primitive human beings encountered up-close dangers or threats of personal violence, their brains, he speculated, evolved fast & focused responses for dealing with such perils. The impersonal violence that threatens humans in more sophisticated societies does not trigger the same kind of affective response, so it allows for slower, more cognitive processes of moral deliberation that weigh the relevant consequences of actions. Greene inferred from this that the slower mechanisms we see in the brain are a later development and are superior because morality is properly concerned with impersonal values—for example, justice—to which personal harms and goals such as family loyalty should be irrelevant. He has taken this to be a vindication of a specific, consequentialist philosophical theory of morality: utilitarianism. For more go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/02/25/the-psychologists-take-power/



C. Moral psychology is a field of study in both philosophy and psychology. Some use the term "moral psychology" relatively narrowly to refer to the study of moral development. However, others tend to use the term more broadly to include any topics at the intersection of ethics, psychology, and philosophy of mind. Some of the main topics of the field are moral judgment, moral reasoning, moral sensitivity, moral responsibility, moral motivation, moral identity, moral action, moral development, moral diversity, moral character (especially as related to virtue ethics), altruism, psychological egoism, moral luck, moral forecasting, moral emotion, affective forecasting, and moral disagreement. For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_psychology

CREATIVITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS

Anthony Storr was a prominent psychiatrist whose personal analysis was Jungian; he remained loyal to Jung, although moved away from the fractious politics of London Jungians.  A remark of Storr's on Jung applies equally to himself: “Jung ... discovered, in childhood, that he could no longer subscribe to the orthodox Protestant faith in which he had been reared by his father, who was a pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church.  It might be alleged that the whole of Jung’s later work represents his attempt to find a substitute for the faith which he had lost.” Storr wrote this in his The School of Genius, 1988, p. 192, published as Solitude: Return to the Self in the U.S. For someone schooled in Latin and Greek, and whose English heritage was ancient Norse (Storr means “big”), the tug of Jungian mythology must have been great.  Jung’s ideas of the psyche as self-regulating, of “individuation” as the self’s life task, and especially of the possibility of creative “active imagination” as a way of preventing mental illness, are found throughout Storr’s own writings.

Storr’s contribution to the psychobiography of creative persons is substantial, yet he never wrote a full-scale biography of any creative person.  Unlike Erik Erikson on Luther and Gandhi, or John Bowlby on Darwin, Storr shied away from full-scale biographical inquiry into any of the figures who fascinated him. One would have expected a biography of, say, the composer Robert Schumann, whose bipolar affective disorder had been misunderstood. Instead, Storr offered psychobiographical vignettes to support his argument about creativity as an attempt at psychological integration. Many capsule biographies are stunningly insightful and stay in the reader’s mind better than the general discussions. Memorable, for example, is Storr’s estimate inThe Dynamics of Creation of the novelist Balzac’s bipolar disorder driving his work, or the strange saga of Ian Fleming, who grew up without a father to become the creator of the hyper-masculine James Bond character. For more go to: http://www.cliospsyche.org/obituaries_as.html

TOILET TRAINING

Toilet training, or potty training, is the process of training a young child to use the toilet for urination & defecation, though training may start with a smaller toilet bowl-shaped device often known as a potty.  I don't want to go into detail on this subject; reader who do can go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_training The toilet training of young children is what shapes those who become powerful politicians, and the political behavior of adults, so writes Arthur Asa Berger with his tongue-in-cheek. The child is not only father to the psychological man, but also, and Aristotle would be pleased to hear this, to the political man.  Arthur Asa Berger has written about this subject in his "Writing Myself Into Existence: A Writer's Odyssey in the Form of an Abecedarian of Sorts." The article is found in the online journal Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. Go to this link for the January 2012 article: http://www.enculturation.net/writing-myself-into-existence  Readers will also find at this link Berger's short parody of a famous A.E. Houseman poem, to add to the argument:

The potty does more
Than Milton (Friedman) can
To justify the ways of the NAM
To man.

POSITIVITY: A COMMENT

The bestselling book Positivity tells us that there’s a precise tipping point at which being chipper delivers health and success, a conclusion trashed by a new study. Will Wilkinson sorts out the controversy. Wilkinson writes: "If you take the "positivity self-test" on the website for Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3-to-1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life, a book by psychologist Barbara L. Fredrickson, the results page will tell you that "Dr. Fredrickson’s research indicates that a positivity ratio of 3 to 1 is a tipping point. This ratio divides those who merely get by in life from those who truly flourish." My "positivity ratio" wasn’t even close to 3 to 1. It wasn’t even 1 to 1. I’m a bit negative. I’m merely getting by." He continues: "I take comfort in the fact that the main bit of "top-notch research" behind Fredrickson’s theory of the 3–1 positivity "tipping point" has just been resoundingly trashed in a new paper published in American Psychologist by Nicholas Brown, a psychology grad student; Harris Friedman, a psychology professor at the University of Florida; and Alan Sokal, the New York University physicist famous for pranking an academic-literature journal with an elaborately nonsensical paper on "postmodern" physics.

In a 2005 paper published in American Psychologist, Fredrickson, now a professor of social psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her co-author, Marcial Losada, a Chilean psychologist and business consultant, used a mathematical technique drawn from a branch of physics called fluid dynamics to establish that positivity obeys the "tipping point" logic of a "nonlinear dynamic system." For more go to: http://file:///C:/Users/Ron/Downloads/%E2%80%98Positivity%E2%80%99%20Is%20Trashed%20by%20a%20New%20Study%20-Barbara%20Fredrickson%E2%80%99s%20Bestselling%20The%20Daily%20Beast.html

UNSELFISH BEHAVIOUR

Just before I retired in mid-1999 after a 50 year student-and-employment life, Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson published their Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behaviour.  The book was reviewed in the London Review of Books in October 1998. "Organisms that contribute to the reproductive success of their species," so began the review, "by doing things that decrease the size of their own brood appear to be inevitable losers in the Darwinian struggle. Since the 19th century, biologists have regarded the evolutionary possibility of altruism as an important theoretical puzzle, and in past decades, it has become clear that it can’t be solved by vague appeals to the idea that co-operative behaviour is good for the flock, the herd or the species. There are alternatives, however. If altruists direct their helpful behaviour towards relatives, then the genes associated with altruism may spread, because they are present in the beneficiaries and transmitted to their offspring; or if today’s altruist is tomorrow’s recipient, the present loss may be made up with interest. Models of kin selection and reciprocal altruism are widely regarded as solving the puzzle. For more of this review go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v20/n20/philip-kitcher/you-win-i-win

THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING: A ZIG-ZIGLAR OVERVIEW


Section 1:

The American motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar died aged 86 in November 2012.  He was a legend in many parts of the US, yet practically unheard of in Britain. There's a smugly self-flattering way Brits might explain that: we're too hard-headed and unsentimental, this argument goes, to fritter millions on corny books with titles like See You at the Top, or Staying Up, Up, Up in a Down, Down World, to mention just a couple of Ziglar's more than 30 works.  But that's surely only half-true. The bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic reflect, roughly equally, a longing for the perfectly happy life. Some seek it, or at least aspects of it, from gurus with names like Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson. Some seek it in the various scriptures of the world.

I was raised on a diet of positive thinking.  Ziglar had a brand of inspiration which to many had long since begun to seem like museum pieces. This self-styled "Master of Motivation" was a direct link to the world of Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale, authors who rose to prominence in the aftermath of the Great Depression with the hopeful thought that, given the right mindset, a happy and meaningful life might be possible despite the odds. It was an individualist message that my mother found helpful among the varieties of philosophy and religion she tried on for size to help her get through life's slings and arrows. 

In contrast to far too many of his successors Ziglar's message was delivered with humour. "People often say motivation doesn't last," Ziglar often said, in response to his critics, "but neither does bathing; that's why we recommend it daily." Ziglar's message was one that always remained anchored in reality. The point of positive thinking, Ziglar insisted, was to provide motivation for doing hard work; nothing was possible without labour. The notion that merely having the right thoughts might be sufficient by itself would have struck him as absurd----yet these days that's exactly what many of the most popular self-help and popular business writers claim.

Section 2:

I utilized Ziglar's ideas when I was a teacher of interpersonal skills and human relations from the 70s through the 90s.  I've had 100s of discussions of his ideas with students across a wide spectrum of ages and dispositions. He's not the last word, but he has some good words. There were always three groups of students, three reactions to Ziglar's ideas. Group 1 agreed with him and argued that a person could change anything if they tried hard enough; group 2 argued that some things could not be changed and sited the AA philosophy in support of their view: oh Lord, give me the grace, to accept the things I can not change, etc..... Group 3 was not interested in the issue and just wanted to have lunch, go to sleep or get on with the note-taking on the curriculum. For more on Zig Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar(1926-2012), the American author, salesman, and motivational speaker go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zig_Ziglar


GROUP THINK

Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter 
by Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie(Harvard Business Review Press, 250 pages, 2014) is reviewed at: http://bookreviews.infoversant.com/wiser-getting-beyond-groupthink-make-groups-smarter/  Why are group decisions so hard? Since the beginning of human history, people have made decisions in groups--first in families & villages, & now as part of companies, governments, school boards, religious organizations, or any one of countless other groups. And having more than one person to help decide is good because the group benefits from the collective knowledge of all of its members, & this results in better decisions. Right? Back to reality. We've all been involved in group decisions--and they're hard. And they often turn out badly. Why? Many blame bad decisions on "groupthink" without a clear idea of what that term really means. Now, "Nudge" coauthor Cass Sunstein and leading decision-making scholar Reid Hastie shed light on the specifics of why and how group decisions go wrong--and offer tactics and lessons to help leaders avoid the pitfalls and reach better outcomes. In the first part of the book, they explain in clear and fascinating detail the distinct problems groups run into: They often amplify, rather than correct, individual errors in judgment. 

Groups fall victim to cascade effects, as members follow what others say or do. They become polarized, adopting more extreme positions than the ones they began with; they emphasize what everybody knows instead of focusing on critical information that only a few people know. In the second part of the book, the authors turn to straightforward methods and advice for making groups smarter. These approaches include silencing the leader so that the views of other group members can surface, rethinking rewards and incentives to encourage people to reveal their own knowledge, thoughtfully assigning roles that are aligned with people's unique strengths, and more. With examples from a range of organizations--from Google to the CIA--and written in an engaging and witty style, "Wiser" will not only enlighten you; it will help your team and your organization make better decisions--decisions that lead to greater success.

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences. For more on Group Think go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

OTHER PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES:  PETER PAN

There is also a plethora of quasi-psychology theories which I won't go into detail here. But I will mention one of the many. It is based on a psychological disorder and is known as the Peter Pan Syndrome. It was named after James Barrie’s hero: Peter Pan.  This theory could be included within one or more of the theories in the list above. This unfortunate condition, according to the formerly best-selling book of the same name by Dr. Dan Kiley, published in 1983, afflicts a great many American men.  Unlike the original Peter Pan, the victims of Peter Pan Syndrome don’t want to remain children; instead they are stuck in adolescence.

These men, having passed puberty, are interested in sex, but they have difficulty with love. In addition to irresponsibility, narcissism, and poor memory, common among very young children, they also suffer from anxiety, loneliness, and sex-role conflict, which leads inevitably to social impotence and despondency. Underneath a surface self-assurance these men usually have very low self-esteem and lots of guilt. According to Dr. Kiley, this is all the fault of their parents: fathers who are cold and distant and mean; amd mothers who are weak and needy and neurotically emotional. For more on this subject go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/apr/05/who-is-peter-pan/


DREAMS

Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, as well as a subject of philosophical and religious interest, throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology. Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable. The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds, or approximately 20–30 minutes. People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, but some may have up to seven dreams in one night. The dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM. For more on dreams go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream

DREAM THEORY: A VIDEO

Readers might like this video on Freud and his theories, among which was his interpretation of dreams:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWMEnkyL_qA

ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY

Abnormality, or dysfunctional behavior, in the vivid sense of something deviating from the normal or differing from the typical (such as an aberration), is a subjectively defined behavioral characteristic, assigned to those with rare or dysfunctional conditions. Behavior is considered abnormal when it is atypical, out of the ordinary, causes some kind of impairment, or consists of undesirable behavior.  Who is normal or abnormal is a contentious issue in abnormal psychology. For more on this subject go to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abnormality_%28behavior%29

INTERNET SITES ON PSYCHOLOGY

There are several internet sites with some useful material on various aspects of psychology. Here is: (A) a series of talks, u-tubes, on suffering and (B) an essay on happiness. (A) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go87azXN5Ms&feature=em-subs_digest , and (B) http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/apr/03/are-you-happy/?page=1

WILLIAM JAMES

Part 1:

In “The Varieties of Religious Experience” (1902), a masterpiece in the psychology of religion, James distinguishes two religious mentalities. There is the “religion of healthy-mindedness,” emanating from those whose “soul is of this sky-blue tint,” whose celebratory attitude toward existence comes naturally. And then there is “the sick soul,” always attentive to the tragic possibilities of life, whose religion provides a fragile solace wrested from the maws of despair. James betrays the tint of his own soul with stunning indirection: “Let sanguine healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting, still the evil background is really there to be thought of, and the skull will grin in at the banquet.” For an excellent discussion of James's views go to this link:http://www.bytrent.demon.co.uk/james/james05.html


Part 2:

William James was
a person who was deeply concerned that without religious belief and philosophical truth, individual freedom would be in grave danger, and human action would be misguided. James sought in the religious experience the resources to ward off civilizational ennui. Kant sought to protect the most cherished experiences of life from the claims of science.  Kant’s famous division between the phenomenal and the noumenal was designed to protect these experiences from the claims of science by engaging in a critique of scientific knowing which would subject it to strict limits. The Kantian attempt to protect metaphysics from science failed; by the end of the century the subordination of science had been reversed to the point of disaster, leaving religious ideas and experiences in a most precarious position. James sought to right this balance again.

For James, as for Plato, the great philosophical problem was that of the One and the Many. He saw in positivist science, philosophical idealism, and orthodox religion the predilection for resolving the tension in favor of oneness. James’s own tendency was always to stress plurality and individuality. His motivations here were complex, but at bottom his interest was religious.  Any science, James argued, cannot handle the extreme diversity of reality. It can’t be the final adjudicator of knowledge claims because too much of importance falls outside the realm of its competency.  Any analysis of James must include reference to Ralph Barton Perry’s The Thought and Character of William James, 2 vols. (Boston: Little Brown, 1935). At over 1600 pages, Perry’s work is a testament to careful scholarship, filled with references to James’s published writings and many of his letters. I leave these issues, complex and still with us, with readers who want to pursue them at the online journal Humanitas 2001 at this link: http://www.nhinet.org/14-2.htm

A CAREER

Michael Jackson's memorial service was broadcast live on every major American network television station yesterday on 7 July 2009. It was the largest gathering for a deceased person in world history. In Australia there had been a TV special: “Michael Jackson--The King of Pop” which premiered on June 27 at 7.30pm. It was replayed at 1:30 in the morning on 8 July 2009. I watched about ten minutes of this program before going to bed last night. After midnight I usually watch a little TV as a sort of sedative to help me sleep. Given the immense publicity surrounding Jackson since his death on 25 June two weeks ago, I felt the need, the desire, to write this prose-poem.

Several critics have observed that Jackson’s songs were crafted from combinations of: funk, disco-pop, soul, soft rock, jazz and pop ballads. Jackson was born when I was 14, the year before I joined the Bahá'í Faith. He sang from middle childhood, from the 1960s when I was in my teens in Canada. One writer summed up Jackson’s vocalist style as one which possessed: the grace, the aggression, the growling, the natural boyishness, the falsetto, the smoothness—a style which possessed a combination of elements to mark him as one of our era’s major vocalists. The sale of over 750 million records worldwide made him the world's best selling male solo pop artist.-Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia, 8 July 2009.

An unstoppable juggernaut,
instantly identifiable voice,
eye-popping dance moves,
stunning musical versatility
and loads of sheer star power.

The hottest single phenomenon
since Elvis Presley......the most
popular artist in show business
history, a part of popular culture
since my pioneering life began...
on Canada’s homefront &, yes...
in Australia...some call him: a....
genius and others a man with a...
Peter Pan syndrome---a term in...
pop-psychology used to describe
an adult who is socially immature
who never grew up...

......one of many ways to describe
Jackson, one of many descriptions
I have heard in the last 14 days.....I
hardly knew Jackson at all before
all this recent publicity, sadly, or not
so sadly for the world is so very full
of celebrities that come and go on the
stage of history and then are heard of
no more.....&*!+\?><

Ron Price
8 July 2009 to 26 December 2011


SOME THEORIES AND THOUGHTS ON MOTHERING

There is a burgeoning set of sites and books, articles and information on mothering. Here is an interesting article in The New York Review of Books:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/21/mothers-beware/

FREUD: A BIOGRAPHY


Part 1:

It has been more than 75 years since Sigmund Freud(1856-1939) died, and more than a century since he began to formulate the underpinnings of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a set of psychological and psychotherapeutic theories & associated techniques. They were created by Austrian physician Sigmund Freud, but they stemmed partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Since then, psychoanalysis has expanded and been revised and developed in different directions. Some of Freud's colleagues and students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, went on to develop their own ideas independently. Freud insisted on retaining the term psychoanalysis for his school of thought. Adler and Jung accepted this. The Neo-Freudians included Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan. For more go to:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoanalysis

It is clear, in retrospect, just how accurately he predicted his fate, as he once put it, to ''agitate the sleep of mankind.'' The picture of man that Freud bequeathed to the 20th century, after all, was a peculiarly modern and disturbing one, a picture of man as a conflicted creature, torn by his dual yearnings for love and, paradoxically, for death & besieged by unconscious impulses only barely held in check by the blandishments of civilization.

In recent years, it’s often been said that psychoanalysis is dead. New advances in the brain sciences have finally put it where it belongs, alongside religious confessors and dream-readers in the lumber-room of pre-scientific obscurantist searches for hidden meaning. As Todd Dufresne put it, no figure in the history of human thought was more wrong about all the fundamentals, with the exception of Marx, some would add. The Black Book of Communism The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression(1997) was a book written by several European academics. It documented a history of repressions, both political and civilian, by Communist states, including genocides, extrajudicial executions, deportations, and artificial famines, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism It was followed 6 years later by the Black Book of Psychoanalysis, which listed all the theoretical mistakes and instances of clinical fraud perpetrated by Freud and his followers. Go to this link for more on this book: http://www.psychiatrie-und-ethik.de/infc/en/Wilcocks-black-grey-book.html In this way, at least, the profound solidarity of Marxism and psychoanalysis is now there for all to see.

Part 1.1:

A century ago, Freud included psychoanalysis as one of what he described as the three ‘narcissistic illnesses’. First, Copernicus demonstrated that the Earth moves around the Sun, thereby depriving humans of their central place in the universe. Then Darwin showed that we are the product of evolution, thereby depriving us of our privileged place among living beings. Finally, by making clear the predominant role of the unconscious in psychic processes, Freud showed that the ego is not master even in its own house. Scientific breakthroughs now seem to bring further humiliation: the mind is merely a machine for data-processing, our sense of freedom and autonomy merely a ‘user’s illusion’. In comparison, the conclusions of psychoanalysis seem rather conservative.

Is psychoanalysis outdated? It certainly appears to be. It is outdated scientifically, in that the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of the human mind has superseded the Freudian model; it is outdated in the psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is losing ground to drug treatment and behavioural therapy; and it is outdated in society more broadly, where the notion of social norms which repress the individual’s sexual drives doesn’t hold up in the face of today’s hedonism. But we should not be too hasty. Perhaps we should instead insist that the time of psychoanalysis has only just arrived. For more on this theme go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n10/slavoj-zizek/freud-lives

Part 2:

Professor Peter Gay is an eminent American cultural historian of German origin, an enthusiastic convert to Freudian doctrine, and an honorary member of the American Psychoanalytical Association – you can’t, as a warmly sympathetic biographer of Freud, do-better than that. The sheer amount of biographical, historical and psychoanalytical detail that has gone into the making of this Life is, as far as I can see, unparalleled in the literature of its subject; and so are the care and informed intelligence with which this stupendous mass of facts, conjectures and speculations has been sifted, as well as the attractive, good-humoured and unstrenuous way most of it has been presented. The book could have been shorter, but Peter Gay is one of the more prolific historians who deal in psychology.

Some of the bitter quarrels fought out in Freud’s circle of disciples, some of the tales of defection and betrayal, and some of the inconclusive arguments relating both to the most controversial of Freud’s publications and to his personal attitudes, are written out at greater length than seems necessary, and some quotations don’t improve by being repeated. For more of this review of Peter Gay's Freud: A Life for Our Time: A Life in Our Time by J. P. Stern in the London Review of Books, Vol. 10 No. 14, 4 /8/'88 entitled "All about Freud" , and for another review of an 810 page biography of Freud by Peter Gay: Freud A Life for Our Time(W. W. Norton & Company, 1988) go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/20/books/books-of-the-times-biography-relates-freud-s-theories-to-his-life.html?src=pm

FREUD: THE COMPLETE WORKS

James Beaumont Strachey(1887-1967) was a British psychoanalyst, &, with his wife Alix, a translator of Sigmund Freud into English. He is perhaps best known as the general editor of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud ... the international authority. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud is a complete edition of the works of Sigmund Freud. It was translated from the German under the general editorship of James Strachey, in collaboration with Anna Freud, assisted by Alix Strachey and Alan Tyson. The Standard Edition, usually abbreviated as SE, consists of 24 volumes, and it was originally published by the Hogarth Press in London in 1956–1974.  Two links, FYI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQaqXK7z9LM&feature=em-subs_digest  and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud

FREUD: NEW TRANSLATIONS


The following appeared in The New York Times on 10 June 2000. "Sigmund Freud's theory of psychoanalysis has been challenged and revised from the moment it was conceived. Now Freud's very words, at least as they have been rendered in English, are being revised in several new translations that will appear in the next few years. Like all things psychoanalytic, the Freud dispute: over copyright law, the fine points of translation and the meaning of Freud's work itself---admits of several conflicting interpretations. What is not in dispute, however, is that at the end of 2001 Penguin Books began releasing the first parts of a newly translated 16-volume edition of Freud's works. And in 2002, the Hogarth Press published a revised version of the 24-volume Standard Edition of Freud, translated by James Strachey and published between 1955 and 1967."  Penguin Classics has treated Freud like the other great imaginative writers—Flaubert, Tolstoy, and Melville—in its series.

But what does it mean to read Freud as literature rather than as theory? The first books in the New Penguin Freud offered some answers. Significantly, the series has started not with major theoretical works like The Interpretation of Dreams or anthropological ones like Totem and Taboo. Instead, the first four books are concrete, practical, and anecdotal: The Schreber Case, The "Wolfman" and Other Cases, The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious,and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. Together, they suggest four ways of approaching Freud as literature. For an enjoyable article on Freud the novelist go to: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2003/07/the_unreliable_superego.html For more on the new translations go to:http://www.robertboynton.com/articleDisplay.php?article_id=64

ALFED KINSEY

The history of publishing records no unlikelier-looking candidate for bestsellerdom. Written by a professor of zoology at the University of Indiana, it appeared in 1948 under the imprint of a medical textbook house, the W.B. Saunders Company of Philadelphia. Weighing three pounds, its 804 pages confronted readers with 162 tables and 173 graphs. Yet it flooded out in a first printing of 100,000 copies, excited more than five hundred articles & reviews, and was declared by Time magazine to be the greatest bookselling event since Gone With the Wind. The killer title was Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, better known as the ‘Kinsey Report’.  Its author, as portrayed in James Jones’s exasperating biography, was no less of a paradox than his book. On this side, the public figure, a sober scientist with an original, careful methodology; and on the other side, over there, the man: a switch-hitting exhibitionist, voyeur and sadomasochist. For a review in the London Review of Books(Vol. 20 No. 9, 7 May 1998) of James Jones's
Alfred Kinsey: A Public/Private Life(Norton, 950 pages, October 1997) go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v20/n09/kenneth-silverman/the-balboan-view

Alfred Charles Kinsey(1894-1956) was an American biologist, professor of entomology and zoology, and sexologist who in 1947 founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, now known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. He is best known for writing Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), also known as The Kinsey Reports, as well as the Kinsey scale. Kinsey's research on human sexuality, foundational to the field of sexology, provoked controversy in the 1940s and 1950s. His work has influenced social and cultural values in the United States, as well as internationally. For more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Kinsey

CHILDHOOD

Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence. According to Piaget's theory of cognitive development, childhood consists of two stages: preoperational stage and concrete operational stage. In developmental psychology, childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of toddlerhood (learning to walk), early childhood (play age), middle childhood (school age), and adolescence (puberty through post-puberty). Various childhood factors could affect a person's attitude formation. For more of this overview of childhood go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childhood For more on Piaget go to: http://www.piaget.org/GE/GE-ToC.html , & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget
For more on cognitive development go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_development

Philippe Ariès(1914 to 1984) was a French medievalist and historian of the family and childhood. Ariès has written many books on the common daily life. His most prominent works regarded the change in the western attitudes towards death. He is known above all for his book L’Enfant et la Vie Familiale sous l’Ancien Régime(1960). The book was translated into English as Centuries of Childhood (1962). Pre-eminent in the history of childhood, this book was essentially the first book on the subject, although some antiquarian texts were in existence prior to this.  Even today, Ariès remains the standard reference to the topic. Ariès is most famous for his statement that "in medieval society, the idea of childhood did not exist". The central thesis of Centuries of Childhood is that attitudes towards children were progressive, & evolved over time with economic change and social advancement, until childhood, as a concept and an accepted part of family life, came into being in the seventeenth century. It was thought that children were too weak to be counted and that they could disappear at any time. But these children were considered as an adult as soon as they could live without the help of their mothers, nanny, or someone else. Centuries of Childhoodhas had mixed fortunes. Ariès’ contribution was profoundly significant both in that it recognised childhood as a social construction rather than as a biological given, and in that it founded the history of childhood as a serious field of study. At the same time, his account of childhood has by now been widely criticised. For more on Aries go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_Ari%C3%A8s

WINNICOTT AND CHILDREN

Donald Woods Winnicott(1896-1971) was an English paediatrician & psychoanalyst who was especially influential in the field of object relations theory. He was a leading member of the British Independent Group of the British Psychoanalytical Society, President of the British Psychoanalytical Society twice, from 1956–1959 and 1965–1968, and a close associate of Marion Milner. He is best known for his ideas on the true self and false self, and the transitional object. He wrote several books, including Playing and Reality, and over 200 papers. For more on Winnicott and a short video go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Winnicott and: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaZkvvB367I&feature=em-subs_digest

LLOYD DEMAUSE AND CHILDREN

Lloyd deMause(1931- ) is an American social thinker known for his work in the field of psychohistory. He did graduate work in political science at Columbia University and later trained as a lay psychoanalyst, which is defined as a psychoanalyst who does not have a medical degree. He is the founder of The Journal of Psychohistory. DeMause has made major contributions to the study of Psychohistory which is the study of the psychological motivations behind historical events. It seeks to understand the emotional origin of the social and political behavior of groups and nations, past and present. Its subject matter is childhood and the family. Its special focus is on child abuse & psychological studies of anthropology and ethnology.

In a 1994 interview with deMause in The New Yorker, interviewer Stephen Schiff wrote: "To buy into psychohistory, you have to subscribe to some fairly woolly assumptions, for instance, that a nations's child-rearing techniques affect its foreign policy, yet deMause's analyses have often been weirdly prescient." For more on deMause go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_deMause

VOLUBILITY AMIDST SCRAPS OF PAPER

Part 1:

The artist Paul Klee tried to fuse the other worldly with the this worldly in his life and art. The more I have read about Klee(1879-1940), the more I find strong currents of comparison between themes in his life and a certain inner psychology in his approach to existence and in my own. Klee wrote in his diaries that: “colour possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always; I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: colour and I are one. I am a painter.”1 I could write the same thing, express the same sentiments about poetry and the Baha’i Faith, especially now in the evening of my life when I can devote myself to writing and not to earning a living, raising a family and engaging in a multitude of community activities.

My prose and journal, my diaries and poetry, like Klee’s diaries, show a persistent self-analysis. In my case I would add to this self-analysis a social analysis and an analysis of my religion. At the start of the Baha’i Seven Year Plan in 1937, Klee found “a new bout of vitality, a new burst of activity, which resulted in a stupendous creative period”2 until his death in 1940. —Ron Price with thanks to (1) Paul Klee in Hajo Duchting, Paul Klee: Painting Music, Prestel Verlag, Munich, 2002, p. 26; and 2 “Paul Klee: The Observer, 25 May 2005, Swiss News, Swissinfo.ch Internet Site.

Part 2:

Volubility worried you and me,
Paul. This is no cranking out of
work, no thoughtless sideline--
but central to life with teaching
always an opportunity to try yet
again, to systematize thinking
about poetry and life and make
the world visible--reproduce the
world in words—yes, Paul, yes.

The fruit of all this thinking
were hundreds of Notebooks
in my case and, for you, the
Pedagogical Sketchbook, the
foundation of your teaching
practice. Your natural space
were paper scraps 10 inches
wide---mine were 8”x 12”.....

What was your definitive oeuvre?
What is mine? What is the shape
of a swarm of bees? The partisan
in politics did not interest you, nor
does it me. Like you, my life is quiet
now after all those years of teaching
and I take little part in action’s world.
But, unlike you, I had many emotional
crises. As you sought to transcend that
passionless, innate tepidity, I sought to
transcend a passionate, it seems to me,
innate sensuality—as we directed whatever
genesis there was in our works, defined more
precisely our philosophy of life & with thought
and emotion formed a whole out of which has
grown something deep down to secret keys
and the universal, global, planetary, civilized.

5/11/’08


CONSTRUCTION

Part 1:

This prose-poem was inspired by reading a review of the eminent sociologist Gary Fine’s book Difficult Reputations: Collective Memories of the Evil, Inept, and Controversial.(1) The review appeared in the Journal of Cultural Analysis, Vol.2, 2001. The question this prolific sociologist asks in much of his writing is: how is expressive culture shaped by the social system in which we all live and how does this social system affect the culture that we create and that we participate in? He examines the way in which small groups affect and give meaning to people’s shared experiences. In this book he is concerned with the origins, construction and nature of reputation. -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Gary Fine, the current editor of Social Psychology Quarterly, an official journal of the American Sociological Association, Wikipedia, 9 August 2010.

Yes, Gary, a reputation is constructed,
in some ways like the construction of
a work of fiction since reality is, as you
say, socially and symbolically, indeed,
highly imaginatively and evocatively
shaped. That reputational analysis of
yours, Gary, with its epistemological
question: in what sense do we “know”
anyone? raises excellent questions. As
you say, there is often a thinness of
knowledge of whoever the celebrity or
historical figure is even as the fact of
their celebrity connects us affording us
opportunities to converse about vital
social matters that their lives illustrate.
Celebrity gives a familiarity so that we
respond as if we knew the motivations,
values, the reality, eh, Gary, eh??

How equivocal the term “knowledge” is
as applied to the subject of reputation,
whether thick or thin knowing that we
construct as we engage in the fiction
making that surrounds celebrities. Yes,
Gary, its social constructionism modified
by what you call a cautious naturalism and
that’s all we have. Difficult reputations to
which you refer are reputations that are not
positive and stable: negative because the
individual has violated some of society’s
canonical values; contested reputations are
often in the process of being formed or re-
formed; and reputations that are divided
along the lines of differing subcultural
viewpoints and values. You give us three
categories overlap and are contested in their
conceptual awkwardness: excellent, Gary.

Part 2:

Reputation formation and revision exhibit
certain common characteristics regardless of
historical period, multiple reputations increase
reputational “difficulty.” Shameless invasions
and inventions of private lives, so that would-be
heroes are reduced to buffoons by being caught,
literally or figuratively, with their pants down?
At the same time, public relations has fostered
the reverse phenomenon, a sort of preemptive
strike whereby the managers of a public figure
glorify that individual, for instance as a
“compassionate conservative,” which invites
contestation but also shapes the terms that the
contestation will take.

Biography provides us with a form of history,
the individual standing in synecdochally
for the period or sequence of events with
which he or she is associated. Reputation,
difficult or otherwise, gives us a shorthand
way of conceptualizing a person,
and it is a powerful metaphor for
thinking about a period or set of events”

Since indeed it is precisely the individual
as characterized by reputation—
not the irretrievable, unmediated individual—
that is exhibited in our historical
narratives, the first point is perhaps
tautological, but the second is a useful
reminder about the operation of historical
tropes. In these pages we glimpse the
power of visual images, anecdotes, poetry.

This book examines not a number of individuals
who are hidden behind or beneath
a layer of texts, but rather a number
of very visible reputations that are
constructed by and recorded in texts
which cumulatively had wide enough
circulation to shape public opinion. Thus
the research logically would be directed
toward those texts. If some of them are
now housed in “dusty archives,” then
they must be sought there; otherwise not.
slippage. His close readings of
reputation entertainingly support his
concluding observation: “History is filled
with stories and with storytellers”
and with a rich cast of characters—heroic,
villainous, and ambiguously “difficult.”


SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

In my 'Introduction to Psychology' webpage at: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/PSYCHOLOGY.html I dealt with this field of social psychology. I will describe briefly below one of the 1000s of experiments in this field that I found interesting and useful: 

In 1959, when I was 15 and in grade 10 in southern Ontario, Dr Milton Rokeach, a social psychologist, received a research grant to bring together three psychotic, institutionalised patients at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan. He wanted to use these men in a two and a half year study of belief systems. Rokeach specialised in belief systems: how it was that people develop, keep, or change their beliefs according to their needs and the requirements of the social world they inhabit.  As a rule people look for positive authorities and references to back up their essential beliefs about themselves in relation to the world. They utilize all sorts of people and things as psychological supports: the priest, the imam, Delia Smith, the politburo, a gang leader, Milton Friedman, their mother, their favourite novelist: the list of such supports is endless.  It works well enough and, when it does, we call ourselves and others like us sane. When it goes awry, when people lose and/or reject all positive referents in the real world for the self that they see themselves as, we call them delusional, psychotic, mad.

In order to count as sane, you don’t necessarily have to conform to the norms of the world, but you do have to be nonconformist in a generally acceptable way. One of the basic beliefs we all have, according to Rokeach, is that we are who we think we are because we know that, by definition, there can be only one of us. We are each the sole example of whoever we say we are. Therefore I can’t be you. It keeps things simple and sane for both you and me, and it’s easy to check the basic facts with each other, as well as with such socially sanctioned authorities as the passport office or the registrar of births and deaths.  According to Rokeach that is a fundamental requirement of living coherently in the world of other people, the only world he believed we can effectively live in. Readers who would like to check-out this interesting experiment, go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n18/jenny-diski/diary

FURTHER THOUGHTS ON THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY


There was a libratory appeal to social constructionist arguments—such as those inspired by Peter L. Berger & Thomas Luckmann; Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault back in the 1960s and 1970s. The specifically gendered social constructionist arguments of Simone de Beauvoir were also significant, especially her asseveration that women were made not born. If things were socially constructed, they could be re-constructed: social change was possible. By changing people, we could change society; conversely, by changing society, which was understood as equivalent to language, or discourse, we could change the kind of people society constructs. For example, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis—that the worlds we perceived were bound by the limits of our language—was an inspiration for a feminist social experiment to construct a different social reality by resisting sexist language and inventing alternative forms.

However, that a certain standpoint like social constructionism, is or once was politically useful, necessary, or expedient does not guarantee its continued relevance. Realities change, complexities emerge, and new concerns arise. Some limits to social construction theory became apparent in the early stages of the 1980s when the emphasis was on how the body was represented, and/or inscribed by society.   Phenomena of embodiment or experiences of what was called the lived body were overshadowed by theories of the body as a social construction. These tensions were played out within and around the work of Judith Butler. Judith Butler(1956- ) is an American post-structuralist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy, and ethics. She is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley. For a summary of just what structuralism and post-structuralism are go to this link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-structuralism

Her book Gender Trouble mobilised Foucaultian discourse analysis to unravel the sex/gender distinction into mutually defining co-constructions, whilst also re-animating the liberationist spirit of social construction through a performative theory of gender. Although Butler's Bodies that Matter responded to critiques of the earlier book's lack of attention to materiality and embodiment, many felt it was still too dependent on discourse and representation and did not sufficiently grapple with ‘the in-itself of matter.'  More thoroughly physicalist accounts of bodies and their interactive performances were needed. This complex subject, too complex for me if not for you, can be read if readers are interested at: http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-May-2009/sofoulis.htm

FAITH AND DOUBT


Humans live along a continuum from doubt to faith. In some ways the one is defined by the other. Wander far enough in the direction of faith and you reach the land of Nostradamus and of the Rapture (recently postponed). Wander too far in the other direction, past cynicism, through misanthropy, and you get to more or less the same zone of credulity: Osama bin Laden isn’t dead, President Obama isn’t American, global warming is a hoax. Richard Hofstadter(1916-1970), an American historian and public intellectual of the mid-20th century, the DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University, became the "iconic historian of postwar liberal consensus", largely due to his emphasis on ideas and political culture rather than the day-to-day doings of politicians. His influence is ongoing, as modern critics profess admiration for the grace of his writing, and the depth of his insight. His writings long dominated the field of conspiracy studies, hypothesized that conspiratorial thinking — what he called “the paranoid style” — festered on the political margins and often contained an anti-intellectual streak. More recent scholarship by academics like Mark Fenster, Peter Knight and Robert Goldberg suggests that conspiracy theories do not come from a particular personality type, I.Q. stratum or dispossessed fringe; they erupt wherever unfathomable news collides with unshakable beliefs.

Mark Fenster, a law professor and author of Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture, says a sense of conspiracy is “almost an instinctive response to strange events.” Suspicion hardens into full-blown conviction when people lose faith in authorities, says Peter Knight, who edited Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia in Postwar America.  The present day, he told me, when Internet access has sparked a proliferation of competing, self-appointed authorities, is a particularly fertile time for conspiracy theorists. ‘Why would you believe The New York Times? I hear people ask.  They don't have a monopoly on truth? And they spin the truth like eveyrone else. Surely Twitter and WikiLeaks are just as trustworthy! Knight added, “As soon as you lose faith that the mainstream media are telling the truth, anything is believable." For more on this subject go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/magazine/a-theory-of-conspiracy-theories.html?pagewanted=all

FUNNIES UPLIFTINGS AND WEE-WISDOMS

Preamble:

I wrote the following little bit of prose on Wee-Wisdoms Upliftings and Funnies: A Sub-Genre of the Email Industry due to the many humorous and not-so-humorous, wise and not-so-wise, uplifting and not-so-uplifting emails I've received in the last 20 years. My guess is that about 5% of all the emails I’ve received from 1992, when emails first began to enter my life, are of these types. I hope you enjoy the read. This little bit of prose which follows is a 5000 word updated digest of the twenty-one page, 10,000+ word, essay that did NOT make it into Dr. Funwisdum's new book Human Communication in the Twenty-First Century, editor, Harry Funwisdum, Oxford University Press, 2002.

Dr. Funwisdum rejected my contribution to his book, but encouraged me to try for his next collection so impressed was he with the quality of the short essay which follows. I trust you enjoy it, too, even if it is a little longer than my normal emails to you and even if it is a little too critical of the sub-genre with which it is concerned. If you don't enjoy what you read here, I'm sure you will at least tolerate its presence. We must all, in and out of the world of emails, increasingly learn to tolerate each other's eccentricities, thus making the world an easier place to live in.

Recently, since my retirement from full-time, part-time and casual work in the years 1999 to 2005, I have been writing prolifically and, although I am neither famous nor rich, I like to think I am churning out some provocative, entertaining and intellectually stimulating stuff from my word-factory near the mouth of the Tamar River, at Port Dalrymple, here in northern Tasmania at the last stop on the way to Antarctica if you take the western Pacific rim route. Of course, what one likes to think and what the reality is about one’s writing or, like anything else, is often at significant variance.-Ron Price, George Town, Tasmania, Updated on 15 August 2012.

To : All Senders of 'Wee-Wisdoms and Funnies'
From : Ron Price
Date : 1 July 2011
Subject : Funnies Upliftings and Wee-Wisdoms

FUNNIES--Part 1:

I hope you enjoy this little piece of gentle satire, perhaps sarcasm is a more accurate word, analysis and comment. It will serve as a more detailed response to the many emails I have received over the last 20 years, 1992 to 2012, emails which were intended to be either funny, uplifting or wise or, occasionally, all three. In my first years in Perth Western Australia, while working at the Thornlie Campus, now part of the Swan Tafe system, my first contact with email systems began. There is virtually no one I am writing to now and from whom I received emails then(at least none I can accurately recall) in the years, say, 1992 to 1993, who is on my current email list, although I now have many email correspondents who have lasted nearly 20 years: 1993 to 2012.

When one is not teaching sociology and the several social sciences and humanities, as I had been doing for so many years; when one is not having one’s mind kept busy by a hundred students a week and trying, at the same time, to be a father, husband, friend, neighbour and citizen; when one retires from the employment, the job-world which is at the centre of one’s life, other things come of necessity(if one is to be happily engaged with one’s existence) into the gap. For me, one of these things is writing and posting on the internet and responding to the inevitable emails that result from all this writing.

Part 2:

Emails need to be given some sort of analysis, at least the sub-genre I am concerned with here, due to their frequency as a form of communication during these 20 years. This piece, this email, this essay/article is probably a little too long given the general orthodoxy of most personal email communication which tends to be shorter and shortest—before the intended readers/writers give up entirely and simply go off the email radar screen and are heard from no more.

This tendency to brevity is not true of all my correspondents, though, some of whom send me many a long piece of print usually written by someone else and sent as an attachment or a cut-and-paste exercise. Not everyone is into writing any more than everyone is into gardening or cooking, washing the car or shopping, or dusting and vacuuming on a regular basis.

Perhaps you could see this missive from yours-truly as one of the long articles on the internet that you need to copy for future reading rather than seeing it as one of those quick-hit-emails you receive as part of your daily or weekly quota. Then, with this alternative framework in mind, perhaps, your emotional equipment will be able to make a positive adjustment to this lengthy, some might say verbose, piece of communication which I send for your pleasure.

12 PAGE SUMMARY of FUNNIES ARTICLE:

Receiving so many funnies, upliftings and words-of-wisdom as I have month-after-month, week-after-week, for over some 20 years now, from a small coterie of people, a coterie which changes with the months and years, I thought I would try to respond more befittingly than I normally do with my perfunctory and usually brief set of phrases and sentences, if indeed I respond at all, to these sometimes delightful, sometimes funny, sometimes wise and wonderful pieces---and sometimes tiresome in their frequency---that are sent to me with regularity.  It is a regularity that reminds me of my many days and years, especially the ones in Australia, as a teacher when I was the recipient of similar pieces of humour and wisdom on A-4 paper and not in cyberspace.

Australia is a country where humour is just about compulsory and as much a part of the daily diet as the air—if one is to survive happily—that is! What you find below is intended as a reflective piece that sets all these wisdoms, upliftings and funnies I receive from you--and others--in some perspective, a perspective that derives in large measure from my years, as I say, as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, and many other roles going as far back as the 1950s.  I am now a poet and publisher, writer and editor, journalist and researcher, as well as, I like to think--an independent scholar, at least not dependent on the 'pubish or perish' principle or the 'publisher's deadline' complex. For well-nigh seven decades now, 1943 to 2012, I have been imbibing funnies, upliftings and wisdoms from a multitude of sources. It is probably these years as a teacher, though,(1967-2005) that have resulted in my habit, engrained after all these years, of responding if I can to any and all incoming mail/email.

I enjoyed teaching but, as the years approached the 3rd millennium and thirty-in-the-game, I got tired of much of what was involved in the process. At the same time, as this fatigue was developing, I experienced a simultaneous life-enrichment from writing prose and poetry and a certain increase in sensory sensitivity and awareness. I’m not sure why this was but it was the case---and I just had to get out of the teaching game, a game I had been in, as I say, since 1967. As the 1990s advanced and the new millennium opened I retired from teaching and went on a new medication cocktail for my bipolar disorder(BPD). The positive processes of writing and sensory awareness that had begun in the 1990s increased many fold. Fatigue only now returns from time to time during the day and again at the end of eight to twelve hours of reading and writing. This fatigue is also a natural bi-product of the medication cocktail, my mood stabilizer and anti-depressant meds, for my BPD.

The emails and the occasional letter as well as the assortment of incoming items I have summarized above---and which I receive now are somewhat like pieces of work I used to have to mark. It’s part of my life-work, my responsibility, my role and my task in life to respond to all this incoming material.  It is only courtesy; at least that is how I see it! It is my burden of duty. Like making comments on the work of students, I now respond to emails and letters with courtesy and with honesty. This is not always easy to make what is for me an appropriate response for courtesy and honesty do not sit easily together, especially if the content of the received stuff is, for me, neither funny nor edifying, as is the case with so much that I receive and have received over the years—again like much of what I had to mark as a teacher and lecturer, a tutor and editor. It has been 20 years(1992-2012) since the email began to be part of my daily life, after several years of warm-up from, say, 1988 to 1992 while I was a Tafe teacher and the email system was making its entry into post-secondary educational systems if I recall correctly. Those earliest years of emailing, though, are somewhat vague now after the passing of the two decades to which I refer.

This short think-piece in which I am attempting to summarize the 20 years of experience with this sub-genre of the email industry is but a series of reflections. It is also a form of tribute, of celebration, of the many advantages of reading the products of this wonderful mechanism of technology—the world-wide-web--and its products which are, sadly, not always rewarding or intellectually engaging.  I think I write this personal relection for me more than I do for you since the thrust of so much of this sub-genre of email communication does not, for the most part, require any reflection, or at least a minimum of reflection on the part of the sender of the material, although I’m sure some who send me material spend hours hunting stuff down.

I get an average of two pieces a day and have now for about ten years from an octogenarian in Texas who suffers from many maladies. I get an average of at least one other from any one of about two dozen others.  This makes 3 every day.  Sending this sort of material is a central part of the life-work of many in cyberspace. The lady in Texas is unable to walk and nearly unable to breath but her persistence with this sub-genre of the email industry is staggering. She primarily means to entertain and, like so much of TV and the print and electronic media for millions, she/it generally accomplishes this task. Hence its popularity.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against entertainment, especially when it is combined with information. The term has now been coined for this type of resource: infotainment. I'm sure that the entertainment function is the primary reason for the success of this sub-genre of communication. Quick hits as so many emails are, like jokes themselves-"affections arising from the sudden transformation of a strained expectation into nothing," as the philosopher Emmanuel Kant once defined laughter, on occasion stir the mind or the heart, or both, or the eye which is often quicker than the mind.

Perhaps these emails they are a sign of "a mind lively and at ease,” as Emma once said in Jane Austin's book by the same name. These quick hits require quick responses, if any at all. Many of the emails, as I say above, the funnies, the upliftings and the wee-wisdoms--are uplifting, funny or wise and sometimes, as I say, all three. But given their frequency over the last two decades, I felt like making some statement about them. Perhaps it is the slight itch they have created in my sensory emporium, somewhat like sex, that causes me to write this piece of expository reflection.

I remember listening to the famous Australian author Tim Winton express his concern for what, from his point of view, was a wasted use of a wonderful technology, the technology in cyberspace. My feelings do not run as deep as Winton’s; I have little to no angst over this internet form, this “I want to tickle your fancy” or "I want to tell it as it is" type of communication.  In Australia it’s part of a modus vivendi, part of a leg-pulling, pleasure-loving ethos with its cynical beneath surface mentality, downunder. It is a mode, a manner, that I have come to enjoy for it has helped to give me a balance, a balance to the quite serious side of my life which I brought with me in 1971 when I moved to Australia from Canada after having been raised by serious and quite religious parents who were in their forties and fifties when I was born.

Some writers and analysts see these uplifting items, these funnies and wee-wisdoms---as part of the trivialization of the human battle, the denial of tragedy, the dislike of authority, part of a defence mechanism to ward off real personal commitment. Such writers see the authors of this form of communication here in Australia as a form of communication based on the desire to escape and to dismiss all self-questioning as ratbaggery. Ronald Conway, Australia’s most famous clinical psychologist, puts it this way. Others see it as part of a chronically skeptical society as the literary critic Susan Langer once defined so much of the output of the electronic media factories?

I hope readers don't find this little think-piece too heavy, too much thinking, too long without the quick-natural-lift, message or laugh that is part of this particular sub-genre of emails. In the end you may see me as too critical but, as I used to say to my students, that is the risk you take when you open your mouth or write or send items my way. It is part of the risk one takes, I might add, in living.

Being nice is, for me, part of the great Canadian white-way and has been all my life; perhaps this epistle is just a means, a tool, for a man now in the evening of his life, to balance off all this niceness with some elements of my ego, my dark, my animalistic heritage which I have been struggling with successfully and unsuccessfully, at least with only partial success all my life. With my new, my fifth major medication package in more than forty years, though, I am gradually achieving a balance. Such are the advances in medicine for which I am truly thankful. I’d like to be able to put this all down to spiritual development but, sadly, this I cannot do. When I am without my medication, I descend into an abyss which seems to be some other person, a person I do not like and do not want to live with. But life, on and off the internet, has its perils for all of us, eh?

GETTING TO THE POINT: CARRY ON GANG

In a more general sense, I have been giving and receiving various forms of advice/wisdom for some 68 years now: 2011 back to 1943 when I was in my mother's womb and she was imbibing, as she so often did, the earliest 20th century form of positive thinking and Christianity from Norman Vincent Peale's radio program which my mother first heard in the years before she met my father circa 1940. The program was called "The Art of Living" which began in 1935. In 1952 Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking which has now sold over 7 million copies.

By the early 1950s my mother began to read to me passages each morning from The Daily Word, a publication of the Unity School of Christianity with its world centre in Madison Wisconsin, if I recall correctly after all these years. I have come to see those readings and their accompanying affirmations, as the experience of my first mantras. Then, in those same early fifties, when my mother began to take an interest in the Baha'i cause, I was exposed to Baha'i prayers. Baha'i was a religion that had been in Canada at the time, in those early fifties, for a little more than fifty years. The books my mother read from were English translations of Persian and Arabic Baha'i prayers. They were just beginning to be published in prayer books. I found those words beautiful then and I still do after the slow evolution of nearly sixty years.

Life began to assume a more serious aspect in the years of my late childhood(1953 to 1957). Then, in my teens(1957-1963): school and sport, girls and entertainment gave this serious side some competition in life's round of activities. I imbibed wisdom as a student from several founts of knowledge which I won't go into detail here. I was exposed to much and I investigated a good deal as a youth. Youth was and is a period I have always defined as those years in their teens and twenties taking-in as that period did the years of early adulthood.

Wisdom came my way after I graduated from university in 1967 in several roles: as a teacher and lecturer, tutor and adult educator in the social sciences and humanities—including such subjects as human relations, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, negotiation skills, and working in teams as well as a list of subjects as long as your proverbial arm. During those years trying to communicate stuff to others I received and dispensed advice and wisdoms in a multitude of forms. I was clearly into the advice and wisdom absorbing and dispensing business right from the dawn of my life. It was part of the very air I breathed.

I'm sure even in those years of unconsciousness, in utero, and in the years of early childhood where no memories reside, I had my very earliest experiences of wee-wisdoms. Funnies, though, were in short supply during the war and shortly thereafter, at least in my consanguineal family. My mother was one of those seekers, always willing to try on a new idea if it came into town. And now, more than thirty years after her passing, I have a small book of the wee-wisdoms she collected in her half a century of collecting from the late 1920s, in her early twenties, to her death in 1978. They were sent to me by my mother’s sister, an equally serious and religious person as my mother.

I should by now be a fount of unusually perspicacious aphorisms from the wisdom literature of history or, at the very least, I should run 'wisdom workshops' for the lean and hungry. The funnies department of my life, though, as a child, as an adolescent or in the first decade of my young adult life from 20 to 30, was never as extensive or successful as the wee-wisdom section. Right from my first exposure to jokes about: Newfees, Polocks and the Irish or the genitals of males and females and their mutual interconnections, I generally found much of the humour distasteful. So was this the case back in my late childhood and adolescence; perhaps this was due to the gently puritanical and pious(perhaps religious is just the right word) upbringing I had, an upbringing I now appreciate to the full, although not in its entirety then.

I must confess, indeed I am pleased to acknowledge, that more than 40 years of living in Australia(1971-2012) has taught me a rich appreciation of the funny side of life probably due to the humour that lurks both below the surface and at the surface of so much of Australian culture and inevitably bubbles to the surface in this essentially pleasure-loving people. Australian stoicism is strengthened by this ability to see the lighter side of life. In this dry dog-biscuit of a continent, with a beauty all its own and where fires burn up part of its landmass every summer from December to March, and droughts and floods also do their share of damage, humour is, as I say above, virtually compulsory.

By now, I should have an accumulation of jokes-and-funnies to keep everyone laughing in perpetuity. And I did by 1999 to 2005 as I pulled the plug on just about any form of work that came my way and got into retirement as fully as I was able.  I've never had any problems with the word 'retirement' and after half a dozen years(2006 to 2012) of all-ahead-full I'm looking down the barrel of the gun of late adulthood and old age with a sense of great pleasure in my veins.  By the time I retired and as I headed toward the new millennium and away from FT teaching, I had a whole section of my filing cabinet stocked with items, with funnies, that I had received from my students, in their hope that I could see the funny side of life--and occasionally I did.

Now, in the evening of my life, I feel a little like the marriage guidance counsellor who has been married six times. He has never been able to pull-it-off, marriage that is, but he has had a lot of experience trying. For some nine years, during the final part of my educative process as a full-time teacher(1990-1999)--and educative it was--I used to give out "a summary of the wisdom of the ages" on several sheets of A-4 paper to the approximately one hundred students I had every term or semester. One of the strong threads in this summary of wisdom literature were several quotations from Murphy’s Law, a set of sayings that contained many grains of truth and humour and which had gained a high degree of popularity in Australia. Thousands of intending students of leisure and life--and I--went through the material to see if we could come up with the 'wisest of the wise' stuff, practical goodies for the market-place and for the inner man or woman. For the most part I enjoyed the process. Giving and receiving advice was a buzz, particularly when it was sugar-coated with humour. Advice-giving can be a tedious activity and the advice can act as a weight even if it is good advice, unless the context is right. Humour often makes it so.

Now that the evening of my life is in full swing, the wee-wisdoms, the upliftings and the funnies continue to float in or on cyberspace unavoidably, inevitably, at least the inevitability comes if one is open to human contact in that increasingly popular internet domain. From emails and the internet, among other sources, material is obtained from my interlocutors which they, in turn, obtain from:

(i) the wisdom literature of the great historical religions;
(ii) the wisdom of the philosophical traditions
(outside traditional religions);
(iii) the wisdom of popular psychology and the social sciences
….usually from the fields of: (a) human relations, (b) interpersonal skills, (c) pop-psychology, (d) management and organizational behaviour and (e) endless funnies, upliftings and wee-wisdoms from known & unknown word and audio-visual factories; and
(iv) the electronic media.

The social sciences provide the disciplines in which so much of the wisdom literature I receive is now located. The social sciences are either old: like history, philosophy and religion; or young: like economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology and human relations, inter alia. Unlike some of the other academic fields, say the biological and physical sciences, all these social sciences are inexact, highly subjective and infinitely more complex than the physical and biological sciences--such is the way I see them anyway. Everybody and their dog can play at dispensing their wisdoms, with the dogs sometimes providing the best advice in the form of close friendships, at least for some people with canine proclivities. Unlike the physical and biological sciences, too, knowledge and experience is not required.

Anyone can play the game. Often the untutored and apparently ignorant and those who have read nothing at all in the field, can offer humble wisdoms and funnies which excel the most learned, with or without their PhDs. So be warned: it's a mine field, this advice and wisdom business. It’s highly democratic, individualistic, egalitarian. The result for many practitioners who would really like to be both wise and entertaining is the experience of a field that resembles a mud-pie, poorly constructed and not of much use to humanity, although lots of laughs are had and wisdom gets distributed liberally—which, as far as it goes, obviously has some use to us all in what very well may be the darkest hours in the history of civilization. Who would want to deny or prevent the liberal effusion of this new art form? The industry, the word factories, pour out their wisdoms and their humour with greater frequency at every passing day. As that entertaining critic of American society, Gore Vidal, one remarked, the lounge-room of western society and now our global society have laughing-gas pumped into them every night.  I often wonder how that fountain of the Enlightment, Voltaire, would have coped with all this laughing-gas.  He said he never had one "ha ha" in his whole life. If he had come to the Antipodes, I think he would have gone home to France pretty fast on a boat with the whinging-poms, if he had ever come to Australia way back when in the years of the Enlightenment over two centuries ago.

And so I begin or, should I say, end with apologies all-round to any who might take offence here. But I felt like having a little think about this sub-genre of emails at this 20 year mark(1992-2012) in my email-life. On what you might call my wisdom/advice-lifeline, I have just entered the middle years(65-75) of my late adulthood, the years form 60 to 80 as some human development psychologists call them. As I, and you, continue to imbibe the endless supply of resources available from the endless supply of word and audio-visual factories, we will continue to get both our laughs, our funnies, our wisdoms, our upliftings and the endless aphorisms. And we should thank the Lord for them! For who would want a life without laughs and/or without wisdom?

I hope my satire, my sarcasm, here is gentle and does not bite too hard or at all. Canadians are, on the whole, a nice people who try to perform their operations on their patients in such a way that their patients leave the hospital without the suspicion that they have even been operated on at all, but with the new glands, the new body parts, fully installed for daily use. Like the pick-pocket and the burglar, I want to get in-there-and-out without alerting anyone to my work. A state of total anaesthesia is helpful during the process.

The New Testament calls it, or so one could argue, the act of: 'The Thief in the Night,' or so one could render one possible interpretation. The phrase was applied to prophecy when Christ said He would come again. But, again, this is a prophecy capable of many interpretations, as all prophecies are. I send this communication your way in response to the many emails I've received in this sub-genre in recent months/years. There are, perhaps, a dozen people now who are really 'into this sub-genre' and who send me this special type of material in the course of a year, some with a zeal bordering on the religious or should I say the fanatical. This dozen sends me many delightful pieces, more it seems as the years go by, including photos, images, attachments of various kinds and colours, to embellish the content of the wisdom and humour.

I feel, after so many years of giving out my jokes as a teacher, that it is only fair that I now receive humour and wisdom as graciously as mine were accepted by my students over those many years. Like my in-class jokes, some of the material I receive is funny, some not-so-funny; some is wise, some not-so-wise. But, then, you can't win them all. Both wisdom and humour are hopefully irrepressible quotients, at least in some people. And again, perhaps, we have the Lord to thank for that. So, carry on gang with your own particular brand of giving and receiving. Who am I to put a lid on your enthusiasms?

I have noticed, might I add parenthetically, that some enthusiastic senders of these email goodies often drop off the radar-screen suddenly and their goodies are seen no more or, at least, far less than they once were in the hey-day of their goodie-sending life. There are, of course, many reasons for this that one might hypothesize: a change in their life’s role, a drop or a rise in their lifeline status, a desire to save downloading space in their monthly allocation from their internet provider, a desire to save money for the process can be costly, a simple fatigue with the process of getting and sending(by which as the poet Wordsworth once said “we lay waste our powers”)-- for one can only get overkill, overdone, overwork, overstate, overfully, so many times. Sometimes such enthusiasts completely drop-out of the email game. As their life goes in other directions their output moves to other domains.

Can one get tired of laughing? Who knows? But there is definitely a lifeline, a lifespan, a life-funny-line trajectory for each person who gets into the funny-uplifting-wee-wisdom sending and receiving business. It does not continue at the same pace year after year in perpetuity. And thank the Lord for that.  George Bernard Shaw used to say that: "I can no more write what people want than I can play the fiddle to a happy company of folk-dancers." So he wrote what he thought his readers needed. What people need and what they want are usually not the same. Many found George presumptuous. I hope that readers here will not find this essay in the same category as Shaw's---presumptuous that is. I hope, too, that this somewhat lengthy read has been worth your while. If not, well, you now have......ten choices regarding what to do next:

A FOLLOW-UP EXERCISE FOR READERS

A.

(i) delete the above;
(ii) print and save the above for pondering because it's wise, clever
and something quite personal from the sender;
(iii) read it again now, then delete it;
(iv) save the very good bits and delete the rest;
(v) none of the above;
(vi) all of the above, if that is possible;
(vii) write your own think-piece on this sub-genre of emails;
(viii) send me a copy of your 'writing on this sub-genre of emails'
for: (a) my evaluation(1)and/or (b) my pleasure;
(ix) don't send your evaluation to me; and
(x) don't think about what I've written; just dismiss it as the meandering of a man
moving speedily within the early years of his late adulthood.

B.

If time permits from your busy life rate the above piece of writing using either the scale:

A+(91-100), A(81-90) and A-(75-80); B+(71-74),B(68-70) and B-(65-67); C+(60-64, C(55-59) and C-(50-54); D(25-49 hold and try again) and E(0-24 attend a workshop on 'wisdoms and funnies')---or

C.

You might prefer to provide feedback in an anecdotal form with: (a) commentary, (b) advice, (c) suggestions for improvement, (d) et cetera. Just forward it to Dr. Funwisdom via myself. And I will

.....remain yours sincerely and, I hope, faithfully

Ron Price
6 Reece Street
Pipe Clay Bay
South George Town
George Town
Tasmania 7253
---------------------
Updated On: 15/8/’12
No. of Words: 5000


THE PERSONAL GENOME PROJECT

The Personal Genome Project is an initiative in basic research, not personal discovery. Yet the technological advance making it possible — the plunging cost of genome sequencing — will soon give people an unprecedented opportunity to contemplate their own biological and even psychological makeups. We have entered the era of consumer genetics. At one end of the price range you can get a complete sequence and analysis of your genome from Knome, often pronounced “know me”, for $99,500. At the other you can get a sample of traits, disease risks and ancestry data from 23andMe for $399. The science journal Nature listed “Personal Genomics Goes Mainstream” as a top news story of 2008.

Like the early days of the Internet, the dawn of personal genomics promises benefits and pitfalls that no one can foresee. It could usher in an era of personalized medicine, in which drug regimens are customized for a patient’s biochemistry rather than juggled through trial and error, and screening and prevention measures are aimed at those who are most at risk. It opens up a niche for bottom-feeding companies to terrify hypochondriacs by turning dubious probabilities into Genes of Doom. Depending on who has access to the information, personal genomics could bring about national health insurance, leapfrogging decades of debate, because piecemeal insurance is not viable in a world in which insurers can cherry-pick the most risk-free customers, or in which at-risk customers can load up on lavish insurance. For more go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11Genome-t.html?pagewanted=all


ANXIETY

Most of us are anxious pretty much all the time – but frequently imagine that other people aren’t. It’s time to admit the truth. Anxiety is just a basic fact about being human. For a u-tube item on the subject go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW0gj3n4D1Q   Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events, such as the feeling of imminent death. Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat; whereas anxiety is the expectation of future threat. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing. It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and problems in concentration. Anxiety can be appropriate, but when experienced regularly the individual may suffer from an anxiety disorder. For more of this overview on anxiety go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxiety

PERSONALITY THEORIES AND STUDIES


A.

As our minds become subtler and our occupations less stable, short-term modifications suited to the situation at hand become more advantageous than permanent modifications. This is already happening, according to Judith Rich Harris and her book:
No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality. The reason parental influence doesn't control children's behavior outside the home is that they adjust to context. "Children are capable of generalizing — of learning something in one context and applying it in another — but they do not do it blindly," Harris observes. At home, where you're the younger sibling, you yield. At school, where you're one of the bigger kids, you don't. And unlike other animals, you can shuffle your self-classifications. In seconds, you can go from acting like a girl to acting like a child to acting like a New Yorker. For more go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/books/review/05saletan.html?pagewanted=print

B.

Jung, a disciple of Freud, asserted that everyone was born either extroverted or introverted. According to what he called ''the psychology of individuation,'' extroverts concentrate on people and things, introverts on thoughts and concepts. People who use logic and analysis in decision-making are thinkers; feelers make decisions based on personal values. In overall life orientation -- a category that appears in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a pioneer of Jungian personality tests -- judgers are organized and devoted to planning; perceivers are spontaneous and adaptable.

The cornucopia of personality tests on the market are most commonly applied in therapeutic and business settings. The Myers-Briggs test, for one, was developed almost 100 years ago by the mother-daughter team of Katharine C. Briggs & Isabel Briggs Myers, neither were psychologists. The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. These preferences were extrapolated by Katharine Cook Briggs & Isabel Briggs Myers from the typological theories proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, & first published in his 1921 book Psychological Types(English edition, 1923).  After reading Jung & corresponding with him, Mrs. Briggs worked on a test to identify which women would do well in the workplace while the men were off fighting World War II. For more on Jung's life and work go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung ...For Jung in relation to what is sometimes called 'shadow psychology" go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_(psychology) And more on personality theories go to: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/07/education/in-theory-the-teachings-of-carl-jung.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm


C.

The largest and longest studies to carefully analyze personality throughout life reveal a core of traits that remain remarkably stable over the years and a number of other traits that can change drastically from stage to stage in the lifespan. The new studies have shown that three basic aspects of personality change little throughout life: a person's anxiety level, friendliness and eagerness for novel experiences. But other traits, such as alienation, morale and feelings of satisfaction, can vary greatly as a person goes through life. These more changeable traits largely reflect such things as how a person sees himself and his life at any given point, rather than a basic underlying temperament.
The recent work poses a powerful challenge to theories of personality that have emphasized stages or passages - predictable points in adult life - in which people change significantly. For more on these findings from the 1980s go to:http://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/09/science/personality-major-traits-found-stable-through-life.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

ANNA FREUD

Anna Freud(1895-1982) was the 6th and last child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays. She followed the path of her father and contributed to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Melanie Klein, she may be considered the founder of psychoanalytic child psychology: as her father put it, child analysis 'had received a powerful impetus through "the work of Frau Melanie Klein and of my daughter, Anna Freud"'. Compared to her father, her work emphasized the importance of the ego and its ability to be trained socially. For a video on her life and work go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxaQnXY0bEA For more on Melanie Klein go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU3iSW6WTo8&feature=em-subs_digest

PSYCHOTHERAPY

Part 1:

Psychotherapy is therapy for a person's mental or emotional problems. The word comes from 'psycho' meaning mind, and 'therapy'. It takes place typically by conversing with another person. the process is known as talk therapy. This other person may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, counselor, member of the clergy, alternative practitioner or, to use the concept in its broadest sense, any helpful person. With successful psychotherapy, a client changes in a positive way, resolving or mitigating troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thought, or emotions. Ideally, these are replaced with more pleasant and functional alternatives. For more of a general overview go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychotherapy For a u-tube video on 'psychotherapy forums' go to: https://www.youtube.com/user/PsychotherapyForum

Part 2:

Edward John Mostyn Bowlby(1907-1990) was a British psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, notable for his interest in child development and for his pioneering work in attachment theory. In 1949, Bowlby's earlier work on delinquent and affectionless children and the effects of hospitalised and institutionalised care led to his being commissioned to write the World Health Organization's report on the mental health of homeless children in post-war Europe.The result was Maternal Care and Mental Health published in 1951. Bowlby drew together such limited empirical evidence as existed at the time from across Europe and the USA. His main conclusions, that “the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment” and that not to do so may have significant and irreversible mental health consequences, were both controversial and influential. The 1951 WHO publication was highly influential in causing widespread changes in the practices and prevalence of institutional care for infants and children, and in changing practices relating to the visiting of infants and small children in hospitals by parents. For a video on Bowlby go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LM0nE81mIE For an overview of his life and work go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bowlby

PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES

I could add here a commentary on each of the theories I mentioned at the beginning of this sub-section of my website. I could start with Adler and Freud, Horney & Lacan. There are many schools of psychoanalysis & many more theorists like: R.D. Laing, C.C. Jung, Otto Rank, Carl Rogers, Eric Fromm and Rollo May. There are many schools of psychology like: Humanistic Psychology, Existential Psychology, Socio-Historical Psychology. In the months ahead I will add some additional commentary on several of these theorists and several of these schools.


Some of my internet posts on theories in psychology are found below:


http://asingularcreation.com/Forums/viewtopic