Morgan Meis on the core dilemmas explored in folklore:
The feeling we get from hearing or telling the story of Poor Heinrich is that there is something tremendously important and tremendously difficult at stake in surrendering ourselves to another human being. This surrender has the capacity both to destroy us and to redeem us. We hate to be compelled to surrender any aspect of ourselves to other people.
And yet, we suffer terribly when we refuse to open up the boundaries of our selves to the impact of other selves. In acts of surrender we often are brought to the realization that we neither control nor fully understand the boundaries of the self anyway. This realization is both terrifying and liberating. It cannot be faced. It must be faced.
“ Every transition begins with an ending. We have to let go of the old before we can pick up the new — not just outwardly, but inwardly, where we keep our connections to the people and places that act as definitions of who we are.
Argentina has more clinical psychologists per population than any other nation on earth. Simon Romero explores how this impacts their culture in The New York Times:
Argentines often manage a smile upon hearing that psychoanalysis has been on the wane in the United States and other countries, rivaled by treatments that offer shorter-term and often cheaper results than years invested in sessions of soul-searching. Even as Argentines grapple with high inflation and an economic slowdown, many seem to know precisely what they want (at least in one area of their lives): psychoanalysis, and plenty of it. […]A few years ago Vaughn Bell wondered why this might be in The Psychologist:
“There is no taboo here about saying that you see a professional two or three times a week,” said Tiziana Fenochietto, 29, a psychiatrist doing her residency at the Torcuato de Alvear Hospital for Psychiatric Emergencies, a public institution. “On the contrary,” said Ms. Fenochietto, who has been in therapy herself for the past eight years, “it is chic.”
Argentina is not just an anomaly for its quantity of psychologists, but for the saturation of psychology, and particularly psychoanalysis, in the culture. Psychoanalytic language is used in all levels of public discourse, from the discussion of celebrities to the weighing up of political decisions. Last year, the right-leaning paper La Nación ran an editorial critical of the country’s successive presidents, husband and wife team Nechor and Cristina Kirchner, suggesting that their policies could be explained by an oedipal struggle rooted in unresolved conflicts in their infantile sexual development. […]Both articles are worth a quick, but fascinating read.
In fact, clinical psychology in the whole of Latin America is heavily psychoanalytic and there are good historical reasons for this. With Argentina to the south and the United States to the north the intellectual traffic of the 20th century favoured the influences of the two most developed countries, where Freudian and neo-Freudian thought dominated mental health. But since working on the continent, I’ve realised there are other structural reasons as well. Evidence-based scientific psychology is simply much more difficult here. It requires access to journals, which are priced out of the range of most universities, let alone smaller clinics or individual practitioners, and it requires training in experimental methods, which is often thin on the ground.
Stephen Marche for The Atlantic, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?:
Loneliness is at the American core, a by-product of a long-standing national appetite for independence: The Pilgrims who left Europe willingly abandoned the bonds and strictures of a society that could not accept their right to be different. They did not seek out loneliness, but they accepted it as the price of their autonomy. The cowboys who set off to explore a seemingly endless frontier likewise traded away personal ties in favor of pride and self-respect. The ultimate American icon is the astronaut: Who is more heroic, or more alone? The price of self-determination and self-reliance has often been loneliness. But Americans have always been willing to pay that price.Inspired by Ario.
Today, the one common feature in American secular culture is its celebration of the self that breaks away from the constrictions of the family and the state, and, in its greatest expressions, from all limits entirely. The great American poem is Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” The great American essay is Emerson’s “Self-Reliance.” The great American novel is Melville’s Moby-Dick, the tale of a man on a quest so lonely that it is incomprehensible to those around him. American culture, high and low, is about self-expression and personal authenticity. Franklin Delano Roosevelt called individualism “the great watchword of American life.”
Naturalist Diane Ackerman for The New York Times:
When two people become a couple, the brain extends its idea of self to include the other; instead of the slender pronoun “I,” a plural self emerges who can borrow some of the other’s assets and strengths. The brain knows who we are. The immune system knows who we’re not, and it stores pieces of invaders as memory aids. Through lovemaking, or when we pass along a flu or a cold sore, we trade bits of identity with loved ones, and in time we become a sort of chimera. We don’t just get under a mate’s skin, we absorb him or her.
“ My grief, like that of millions of others, signalled the loss of something truly vital in my life. This pain was part of the remembering and maybe also the remaking. It punctuated the end of a time and a form of living, and marked the transition to a new time and a different way of living.
“ Even in our weird information-saturated world, there’s so much we don’t, and can’t, know, even about something as mundane as a company. The writer M. F. K. Fisher said: “Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.” Every company, until it breaks (i.e. gets its email subpoenaed Enron-style, I guess) is that egg. Every family is that egg. Every person is that egg. And that’s a wonderful thing, because it means there are always mysteries.
This looks great and it’s one of the most important health issues in our country. Glad to see there is more attention being given to why our cities and economy were designed to make health so hard.
A provocative new 4-hour series soon to air on public television, Designing Healthy Communities, examines the impact of our built environment on key public health indices, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer and depression. The series documents the connection between bad community design and burgeoning health consequences, and discusses the remedies available to fix what has become an urgent crisis.
Yashar Ali doesn’t accept the idea that all women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in moments of anger and frustration. To make his point, first he defines a term used by mental health professionals to indicate emotional manipulation:
The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull off this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.
Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, “You’re so stupid,” or “No one will ever want you,” to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged. The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-meditated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.
That’s the setting, here’s the plot:
And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.
Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men. It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice. Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute.
The Life Reports, a project by David Brooks at the Times, wherein he asks people over 70 to submit essays about their own lives and what they’ve done poorly or well. It’s really wonderful reading. Here’s a snippet:
Measure people by their growth rate, not by their talents. The best essays were by people who made steady progress each decade. Regina Titus grew up shy and sheltered on Long Island. She took demeaning clerical jobs, working with people who treated her poorly. Her first husband died after six months of marriage and her second committed suicide.
But she just kept growing. At 56, studying nights and weekends, she obtained a college degree, cum laude, from Marymount Manhattan College. She moved to Wilmington, Del., works as a docent, studies opera, hikes, volunteers and does a thousand other things. She acknowledges, “I did not have the joy of holding my baby in my arms. I did not have a long and happy marriage.” But hers is a story of relentless self-expansion.
Photo by me.
“ We are social creatures to the inmost centre of our being. The notion that one can begin anything at all from scratch, free from the past, or unindebted to others, could not conceivably be more wrong.
My very talented friend, Amanda Mae Meyncke, wrote and directed this short film. It’s her first, but you wouldn’t know it. I believe in my heart of hearts that this movie will make it to Sundance and beyond. Keep your eyes out for the awesome.
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