Temperament / Personality What are they?

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Early Greek system of diagnosis and a juvenalized modern version. Many many modern ideas owe their origin to the persistence of ancient ideas. Culture is an institution that grows though hoarding, not editing.

Asking Google this question produced:

1.Temperament refers to the different aspects of an individual’s personality like extroversion or introversion. It is regarded as innate or inborn and is not learned.
2.Personality is what arises within an individual. Personality, which remains throughout an individual’s life, is made up of certain characteristic patterns like: behavior, feelings, and thoughts.
3.Temperament is a basic inherited style whereas personality is acquired on top of the temperament.
4.The personality of an individual can be acquired in years. Factors such as education, socialization, various pressures in life, and other various aspects affect the personality of an individual.
5.Some of the fundamental characteristics related to personality are: consistency, psychological and physiological impact on behaviors and actions, and multiple expressions.

Read more: Difference Between Temperament and Personality | Difference Between | Temperament vs Personality http://www.differencebetween.net/language/words-language/difference-between-temperament-and-personality/#ixzz3p2BH8RyN

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Temperament refers to the characteristics and aspects of personality that we are born with. For that reason, they are similar to traits in that they are both innate (born with these things) and enduring. Infants who are anxious and nervous tend to be the same way when they are older. One difference though is that temperament more often relates to emotionality…the specific emotional characteristics such as calm, anxious, or nervous. In psychology, trait theory (also called dispositional theory) is an approach to the study of human personality. Trait theorists are primarily interested in the measurement of traits, which can be defined as habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion. CONFUSED YET?

Personality is a person’s unique behavioral and cognitive patterns; OR, a person’s unique consistent pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting. For example, some peoples’ personality tends to be shy and introspective while others tend to be outgoing and extroverted. Because personalities, by definition, are stable patterns which cannot be changed easily, there has been great debate between personality theorists and social psychologists about the actual impact of personality on behavior, thought, and emotion. For example if someone is shy, does that mean that they will virtually never act in an outgoing manner?

Read more: http://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.php?term=Personality#ixzz3p2CjR0zZ (Adler University)

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Temperamental Qualities at Age Three Predict Personality Traits in Young Adulthood: Longitudinal Evidence from a Birth Cohort 

Avshalom Caspi1,* and Phil A. SilvaChild Development / Volume 66, Issue 2, pages 486–498, April 1995

In an unselected sample of over 800 subjects we studied whether behavioral styles at age 3 are linked to personality traits at age 18. We identified 5 temperament groups (labeled Undercontrolled, Inhibited, Confident, Reserved, and Well-adjusted) based on behavioral ratings made by examiners when the children were 3. These groups were reassessed at 18, and their personality styles were measured with the self-report Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. Results pointed to continuities across time. As young adults, Undercontrolled children scored high on measures of impulsivity, danger seeking, aggression, and interpersonal alienation; Inhibited children scored low on measures of impulsivity, danger seeking, aggression, and social potency; Confident children scored high on impulsivity; Reserved children scored low on social potency; and Well-adjusted children continued to exhibit normative behaviors.

Hmmmm…does not support the vast amount of intervention being applied to correcting or changing a child’s temperament-driven behavior.

Personally, I think the intractable nature of many Aspie “symptoms” is due to the misidentification of TEMPERAMENT, which is innate, as symptoms of a “developmental disorder” – no amount of coercion, training, or social pressure will change temperament – negative attacks on WHO WE ARE will only continue to produce anger and failure in those who want to change us AND retreat on our part.

einstein

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At my father’s house in Illinois / RAW DAYS

 

At My Father’s House in Illinois

I am accustomed to writing about landscape, but at present the internal picture takes precedence. The outer view encompasses a gray-skied, bare-treed, cold and windy Midwestern midwinter day. Longing overwhelms my inner state and I am thankful that the land is bleak. A blue sky over red cliffs, shadowed hills, or a dark, abrupt mountain side might provoke an unbearable contrast to the lock that despair has placed on my heart.

A fir tree composed of a gently curving trunk, its branches resembling dogs’ tails, stands in front of my truck. I start the engine periodically and slide the heater lever far to the right to counter cold air that sinks through the windows. My brother paces outside, indifferent to the cold. He is not lazy per se, but for some reason he is not productive either, expending energy on the complications that can be made to adhere to any project, and in the process, derailing his efforts into lost canyons. I confess that this compulsion baffles me. A monthly flea market located west of Chicago attracts thousands of buyers, come rain, snow, or as we have joked, nuclear attack, but my brother will not sell there.  He mentioned a dealer with whom he had a disagreement of some sort, hinting that the man had stalked him afterward: that is, he showed up at the same place once or twice. This was years ago, but he will not sell at that market.

Today we have dragged a trailer load of goods to the parking lot of an antiques store, the same store my brother refused to venture into last week. He sent me instead, carrying a box of things to sell. The owner was not in. I waited for an hour, passing the time by dusting egg cups and figurines, and straightening doilies.

My brother urged me to repeat the effort some days later, but I declined. Surprisingly, and to his profit, he went himself, but last night he refused to attend an auction that this same store owner frequents.

I look through the windshield at the gray Illinois sky to where my brother leans against the flank of my truck. Rotund and nearly fifty, with a gray knit cap squashed over his forehead, his greasy black hair straggling from beneath it, he wears a surplus parka with a rip in the sleeve and many stains on the front. He tilts his face toward the dark snow-spitting sky, and I notice that his eyeglasses are dirty, too. He smiles at me and I smile at him. Two people could not be more unalike, but nevertheless, we are family.

Winter’s box besets my father’s house. Barricaded by black trees, it is impossible for me to know what transpires in the larger world. A storm cloaked northern Illinois with ice during the night, and a thick skin mimics the shape of my truck. A red concrete goose, a lost daughter of Juno’s flock, is stationed at the entry to the house; she acquires a mantle of white wood ash that drifts above the sidewalk. The source is a trowel held in my father’s hand.

Last night my brother scrubbed the kitchen floor and I swept the porch. My father knows that we’ll track the mess inside, and yet he shakes the ashes onto the walk like some medicine man describing a chant.

A patch of blue sky can be seen for the first time in days, just above the tangled black oaks growing at the edge of the lot. A small forest begins there, dense and unlovely, like lines of type overprinted by a printer that is stuck. When I was nine years old my father ditched his mother and sister as if they were nothing. The shock of this event caused me to flee to the perimeter of the Garden, but his harsh judgment of the women followed me there, worn into my thoughts like hollows in the rocks beneath a waterfall. My father taught me that contrary to Christian conceit, it is not a supernatural Father that picks and chooses who among us shall suffer, but our earthly one.

Spring ought to have made gains, but the days remain gray and ice-sheathed. Without notice, something sharp and cautionary breaks through. Impulses one could call manic threaten the compliant and silent demeanor I have cultivated these many weeks. Happy hysteria is feared and yet longed for; the green brightness within has become something to withhold – a peculiar, protective, irrational impulse in someone who badly needs a lift.

Tiles fall away from a tub surround that is black in places with mold. Chunks of plaster tumble into the tub. I shower anyway, feeling a shadow of guilt by doing this healthy and normal thing. According to my father and brother, my insistence on bathing is ruining the tub enclosure; the extra and unneeded water will hasten the rot. The two calculate that by not bathing they can delay making repairs indefinitely. I recall seeing my brother with damp hair on two occasions; my father never, but he hasn’t much hair.

My father cuts deadfall with a chainsaw this morning. The branches are about three inches in diameter. He cuts enough to fill the bottom of an old wheelbarrow, and then rolls it up the lawn to the screened porch, which is sealed by plastic sheets that remain in summer. Unavailable as a bug-free haven, the space is reserved for makeshift stacks of scrap wood, which he loads into the fireplace day and night, winter and summer, like bodies into a crematorium. It is my observation that neither the heat gained, nor the life of the flames, propel what he calls recycling.

Broken pallets and dismembered furniture, roof shingles and plastic are burned as a sacrifice to the darker purpose of being perverse for perversity’s sake: he punishes the air we breath in order to punish us. The abundant deadfall is the result of my father’s indifference to the health of the trees on his lot, which are not trimmed, shaped, sprayed, or removed when dead. Infested branches plummet audibly to the ground. Several metal rods dot the yard, each with a rusted can balanced on top, marking where volunteer trees grew long ago from the seeds of a rotted hickory. My father marked them in this way in order to avoid mowing them down. He may have done so anyway: regardless, they died. I offered to remove the rods and cans that remain, but was forbidden to do so.

We never mention my mother, but I thought of her tonight as I plucked giant yellow tulips from the yard in front of my father’s house. The tulips grow in the lawn along a line that marks a relict garden, which is why I thought of my mother. It was only to remark how she would have liked to see the flowers, but as they were before she died, when the lawn was mowed, the beds were readied for planting, and weeds were kept at bay. A section of sidewalk has subsided so that a fault scarp, as well as a pair of overturned urns, must be negotiated on the way to the door. Next to the stoop, a crater of unknown origin is being colonized by bright cones of convallaria that erupt through ferns that lie brown and prostrate as if blown down by an explosion. We never mention my mother, as if there had always been just the three of us.

My brother and I searched the yard for scrap materials to build flower boxes – anything to focus my attention. Our contact over the last three months has been like that of wild animals forced to drink from the same small water hole. At one point I looked at him and wondered, What’s wrong with clean clothes, a hair cut, and polished eyeglasses? Just then a spasmodic cough overcame him: I turned to face a giant pear tree dressed in thousands of fragrant white blossoms. Where did this apparition of life, this white tower of profuse flowers come from in such a place?

My brother halted every few feet on his way to the house to bend over and cough. Whatever is wrong with him, it is none of my business, although if he were an acquaintance or a stranger, I would ask. His health is yet another part of the family’s world from which I am excluded, a world where nothing is open to discussion.

The drive home from town lends a reprieve when the highway crosses a valley edged by low glacial ridges. The view ahead clears and the sight of a narrow asphalt thread snaking eastward toward my father’s house reminds me of roads that cross western plains. The rolling gray road lets me know that I belong to the universe, not to my family nor to anyone else.

My existence tears and flutters like tissue, and yet I survive. Last night I checked inside, looked into the goo that resides at the bottom of the well. The stuff began to rise like a gas bubble in heavy oil and strange things appeared as it broke the surface; bouquets of sea creatures appeared black and metallic, and yet glinted with color. A nuclear wind reduced me to a crouching corpse transformed into a lump of ash. I breathed a short gasping breath. Someone spoke and I was encouraged: my father entered the room where I cowered in bed.

“I’m in bad shape,” I told him, a confession of weakness that pegged me as the perfect audience for a monologue about what a clever lad he had been. The man possesses a remarkable memory for data such as the height of the fence posts at his childhood home, or the dimensions of a boat that he constructed as a boy, but he can’t recall that I’m staying at his house because I’m quite ill. Despair overcame me as he droned on, but the ordeal helped to pass the time.

Days slide underfoot, passed from front to back like buckets of debris in a rescue brigade; my days are wasted in the knowledge of the Gothic cathedral and its chain of souls, the apex of daring among men and women who imagined heaven as an experience. Love comes to me in post cards of traveling stones and earthbound sagebrush, of grassy islands in the dust, of seed wands that nod beneath boiling clouds.

On the morning that I didn’t leave my father’s house for the 5th, 6th, or  7th time, I can’t remember which, the air was cold and the sun was shining. The rumble of a prop plane carried into my escape pod, a travel trailer parked in front of a shed nearer to the road than to the house. The dogs lay with me on top of an electric blanket, unaware of the journey that they would miss that day. I was sick with confusion, cigarettes, and self-hatred and I wanted to lie in bed until I died. I lit another cigarette and tried to imagine that the three of us were parked along a clear stream a thousand miles west. Soon I must go up to the house: hunger and humiliation called. I closed my eyes and sought relief in the warm blanket, but the airplane circled and my stomach dipped and dived with it.

“You are a coward,” my throbbing head observed. Two days earlier I had informed my father and brother that I must leave: this was true. My confidence slipped as I spoke, but having declared that I was leaving, I had to. My father reacted as if I were planning a vacation; he brought a dusty bundle of fishing rods up from the basement. He looked as if he would cry. I felt dismal, and worse, I felt my strength and resolve dissolve.

I didn’t have the courage to leave this morning, but went up to the house and drank three cups of coffee, saying things like, “I hate myself,” which I did.

My father said to me what he used to say when my mother was ‘blubbering’ over something: “Quit getting all worked up.” He still doesn’t know that lamentation is the result of distress, not its cause.

“It’s good that I’m crying – I haven’t cried for ten terrible months,” I said.

Signs of life were brief, so it was out to the trailer and back to bed, the aluminum hull a serving as a second skull that protected me from whatever would happen next. The sun went down and I walked back to my father’s house like a shipwreck unwilling to let go of her leaky raft despite having washed up on a beach.

The day that I left my father’s house, my destination was a motel a mere eight miles away, a small affair attached to a dairy farm. A German shepherd met me inside the office, so I was encouraged that my dogs might be welcome.

I returned to my father’s house to tell him what I’d done. He may have been upset; it was hard to tell. He was likely thinking that it was a fool thing to do when I already had a roof over my head. The empty motel called to my confused grasp on the idea of salvation, but I spent one more night at my father’s house, gathering some clothing and a box of food.

In the afternoon I left for the motel, but the room seemed ugly and smelled like vomit. Feeling silly, I asked the manager to move. The new room proved to be warmer in color, the carpet was newer, and the room didn’t smell, but I panicked around dinner time  and felt ridiculous.

The next morning I didn’t feel well, but this had been going on for months, so I did what I’d done every morning: brushed my teeth, showered, dried my hair and dressed, then pulled on rubber boots. It had snowed overnight and a drift blocked my truck. Two orange shovels leaned on the wall by the office door, but no one was about. There was nothing to do but dig in. Eventually the owner joined me.

“That shovel you’ve got doesn’t work too well,” he said. We kept digging until the truck was free.

I drove to a coffee shop and surprised myself by eating a plate of eggs, hash browns, and toast, with three cups of coffee. Encouraged, I drove to my father’s house where I discovered that whoever had plowed the driveway had also piled the snow in front of my trailer.

The dogs burst into the yard when I opened the truck door, running circles around the big oak trees and plowing trails through the snow with their noses. No one was at home: the house felt less awful now that I no longer lived there, but I crept around like a thief collecting shampoo and a scarf, my electric teakettle and mouthwash.

Back at the motel I felt all right, perhaps relaxed. That night I lay sleepless as the curious situation played on my mind: eight miles from my father’s house and homeless. What did that mean? Was I capable of hooking up the trailer and driving away? If so, where would I go and what would I do when I got there? Could I pull off my own rescue without ambition or desire?

On the second morning after I left my father’s house, I began removing the snow that blocked my trailer. The plow had scraped leaves and gravel into the pile, and the resulting melange was difficult to dissect. My father came out to see what I was up to: an irritable comment escaped my lips.

On the third day after I left my father’s house, I didn’t go there.

On the fourth day it was time to finish off the snow that barricaded my trailer, since more bad weather was predicted. My father again appeared, this time carrying a garden shovel. He jabbed at the snow and leaves looking for an entry, then mumbled something about his failure to dispose of the snow pile for me.

“Don’t help her!” My brother shouted as he emerged from the house. He pushed past me, as if I was no more alive and present than a concrete statue. “This doesn’t concern us,” he added. No surprise, but why antagonize me now, when I would soon be out of his way?

“I didn’t ask for help,” I said. This brought a vicious reprimand from him, so I called him a jerk. He countered by hurling grudges from the stockpile of warheads he keeps armed like a Russian who aches to launch a few missiles, for old time’s sake.

Our father stood aside like a wounded sack of coal, passively sanctioning the bullying initiated by my mother and perpetuated by my brother. When I was a child there had been no escape, unless turning into a nervous wreck is a form of refuge.

“I’m leaving for Wyoming,” I told my father. That was the last time I saw either one of them.

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raw days editThis piece is from RAW DAYS, a book about being bipolar.

I had no idea I was Asperger at the time I wrote it, and now I see AS is the primary ground of my “differentness” with bipolar symptoms the result of an attempt by the brain to “adjust” to stress created by my dysfunctional family and to The Social Pyramid, an alien environment that is toxic to “people like me.”

My brother was schizophrenic, in denial, and refused treatment. He lived with our parents, who protected him from consequences of his disease. He attacked me viciously whenever I turned up, like a rabid fox protecting a hallucination. My parents never intervened and let him abuse me, so I stayed away for years at a time.

Despite being bipolar and Asperger, I was the healthy one in the family: the observer, the analyzer, the recorder, the documentarian. Survivor’s guilt accompanies my daring escape.

 

 

 

What is the Asperger “Blank Stare” all about?

What is the Aspie blank stare and why is it a disturbing facet of Aspie behavior?

Complaint from an Aspie ‘Mum’ about her son, decoded:

MUM: In my experience, I would get a blank stare when I asked (my Asperger son) a question.  It could be, for example, what he would like for dinner? What happened at school? You know – normal sorts of ‘Mum’ questions!

Answer: Social typical questions tend to be vague and non-specific. A specific question would be: “Would you like pizza or hot dogs for dinner?” Or try, “We’re having hamburgers for dinner. I bought the kind of buns you like and you can add tomatoes or pickles or cheese, or whatever else you like.”  “What stories did you read in reading class today?”

MUM: How did I interpret the blank stare that I got?

At the time, I believed that ‘the blank stare’ was used by (SON) to avoid answering the questions I asked questions I thought were easy to answer! I realize now, that in my frustration over not getting an answer, I would pile on the questions one after another, and (SON) didn’t have time to process even the first one! I would get cross with him, frustrated that he seemed to refuse to respond to my requests for information, and I would give up.

Answer: One of the big mistakes that social typicals make is to attribute INTENT to Asperger behavior. This is because social typicals are “self-oriented” – everything is about THEM; any behavior on the part of a human, dog, cat, plant or lifeform in a distant galaxy, must be directed at THEM. Example: God, or Jesus, or whomever, is paying attention 24 / 7 to the most excruciatingly trivial moments in the lives of social typicals. We’re not as patient as God or Jesus.

The Asperger default mental state is a type of reverie, day-dreaming, trance or other “reflective” brain process; that is, we do “intuitive” thinking. The “blank face” is because we do not use our faces to do this type of thinking. 

Sorry – we’re just busy elsewhere! When you ask a question, it can take a few moments to “come out of” our “reverie” and reorient our attention. If you are asking a “general question” that is meant to elicit a “feeling” (social) response, it will land like a dead fish in front of us. Hence the continued “blankness”.  

MUM: What is the real cause of the blank stare?

I believe that SON uses the blank stare while he is processing a question. If give him enough time, he will think deeply, and consider his response, which is often unexpected.

Answer: The “blank stare” is due to our type of brain activity. We process questions; processing questions adds to response time. Some questions are so vague that we simply cannot answer them. Some questions aren’t questions at all, but are an attempt to get our attention and to get a “social” something from us. This is truly confusing. 

MUM: (I’m told that) at any given moment an Aspie is taking in lots of information from the world around them. They notice details that normal people ignore. These details can easily result in sensory overload. The blank stare is used by Aspies as a way to ‘zone out’, or ‘go into themselves’ as a coping mechanism for when their senses are overloaded.

Answer: Not correct (in my experience). Sensory overload is another matter entirely; sensory overload results in the desire to flee, and if we can’t “get away” we experience meltdown. Other Aspies may have a different take on this.

Aspie chat concerning “The Stare”

“I watched “Rain Man” again recently. There was a scene where Dusty was sitting on a park bench and just looking at the ground, and Tom Cruise started YELLING at him. I felt like, “Hey ! sometimes I just sit and think about things, and maybe I’m staring at the ground, so cool it Tom.” We tend to look off into the horizon while we’re talking, and really, it’s not a big deal …”

“At work I’ll be at my desk just working away and people will tell me to cheer up when I don’t feel at all down. Also, if I’m standing around somewhere, and not focusing on anything in particular – and feeling fine, someone will ask me if I’m OK or if I’m pissed off about something. Something about my neutral (not happy or sad, just contented) expression makes people think I’m depressed or angry.”

“People are always doing one of the following: Ask me if I’m okay because I’m staring off into the distance; look behind their back to see what I’m staring at; or tell me to “SMILE!” because I don’t have any facial expression.”

Yes, social typicals are self-centered and demanding. They don’t want to “put up with” a blank face; it damages their perfect narcissistic universe, in which it is everyone’s job to make them feel important.

And then, there is the other “eye” problem:

“I dont get it…..my teacher tells me to look at her when she talks and when I look at other people they tell me to stop staring at them. What the…?”

“Apparently staring and looking are two different things, not that I know how to tell the difference.”

The teacher demands eye-contact because it indicates OBEDIENCE – SUBMISSION. Authoritarian adults demand instant obedience from children. But if you stare at a  “regular” person, that causes another problem. You are claiming higher status; predators stare down prey; you, dear Aspie, are unwittingly behaving like a predator.

“I stare because I get easily distracted by details and I want to see more; it’s just attention to detail. I’m doing better at straight eye contact, but open my eyes too wide because I’m trying hard to focus and pay attention.”

“If I am interested in what a person is saying – it’s new to me or important information, I will stare like a laser. Also if I am trying to recognize someone that looks vaguely familiar, or there is something interesting about how they look and I want to examine it. If I’m not interested, I won’t look at them. However, that does not mean I am not listening just because I am not looking at them.”

It seems to me, that Aspies use our senses as nature intended: We use our eyes to see and we use our ears to listen. 

 

 

 

Supernatural Consciousness (Does not exist)

That New Old Time Religion 

supernatural-powers

Supernatural consciousness does not exist.

The popular use of phrases such as “higher consciousness,” “mass consciousness,” “a new level of consciousness,” and “transforming consciousness” shows how supernatural ideas degrade the general body of thought. Phrases such as these are used by elites who employ supernatural mumbo-jumbo and a contrived vocabulary to make people think that they have rejected Old Time Religion for advanced spirituality. Discarding reason, gullible devotees buy into scam “religions,” part with large sums of money, and turn over control of their lives, to unsavory and controlling personalities.

“Supernatural consciousness” has replaced “higher education,” “familiarity with a range of information,” “exposure to other cultures,” “self-improvement,” “reading and study,” or “guiding children to become functioning adults.” “Higher consciousness” was used in the 1960’s to describe drug experiences, which are physical, but nevertheless, drugs were sold as the path to a supernatural dimension: by means of magical drug experiences mankind would be saved, universal love would become effortless, and paradise would be established, at least in California. The result of this misrepresentation is an epidemic of substance abuse across the United States.

As used in popular culture, consciousness has become just another word for “spooky and unexplained” and joins soul, spirit, god, angel, or ghost, which also confer the unwarranted belief that awareness and consciousness (what is it anyway?) originate outside the human brain as some kind of vibration – a gigantic radio that special people can hear – (you to, for a price) .

Claims that the supernatural version of consciousness is scientifically or medically based are deceptive; an entire industry has been built on promises of instant magical solutions to real physical problems such as insomnia or depression, or to sanitize anti-social impulses like greed. Hey! Let’s create wealth the spiritual way. This oxymoron has passed into Christian churches as, “Jesus wants you to be rich.”

Contrary to the emphasis on change, the supernatural version of consciousness erects a barrier to change by removing the physical brain and its functions to a non-existent dimension where nothing can occur.

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The following quotes are a sample of what has become an epidemic of supernatural thinking that is passed off (for profit) as intellectual innovation.

“A radical inner transformation and rise to a new level of consciousness might be the only real hope we have in the current global crisis brought on by the dominance of the Western mechanistic paradigm.” _Stanislav Grof       

Translation: Education about technologies that have harmed the environment would help people to make necessary and urgent corrections more quickly. By posing a supernatural solution as the “only real hope”, Mr. Grof makes the situation hopeless.

“All historical experience demonstrates the following: Our earth cannot be changed unless in the not too distant future an alteration in the consciousness of individuals is achieved.” _ Hans Kung 

Sorry Hans, the earth has been changing for 4.5 billion years without Homo sapiens. “Alteration in consciousness” is being used instead of “becoming educated.” Again, change is impossible because the solution is defined as magical.

“Art is the production of objects for consumption, to be used and discarded while waiting for a new world in which man will have succeeded in freeing himself of everything, even of his own consciousness.” _ Eugenio Mont 

This is a ridiculous statement, but such nonsense is regarded as visionary wisdom by many Americans.

“And we’re seeing a higher level of consciousness and many more opportunities for people to challenge their present ways of thinking and move into a grander and larger experience of who they really are.”­_Neale Walsch

Nonsense. Any one of us can make changes in both the content of our thought, in our patterns of thinking and behavior, at any time, but we are constantly told that we can’t, or that it requires secret supernatural knowledge.

“If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness.Les Brown  

This idea was formerly expressed as, “Education broadens one’s horizons.”

Mass consciousness

Mass consciousness is not supernatural in origin; it is an experience of the body, freely experienced in music and dance, which have their parallel behavior in the animal world, and these behaviors connect us where we are literally connected – the shared physical origins of living creatures. It is not an imaginary supernatural connection at “the top”, but the very physical common denominator of “animal existence” at bottom, that connects human beings. The history of our species is the journey of animal evolution. We need to be animals because we are animals. Our bodies are landlocked containers of seawater and a complex integration of myriad cell types that have emerged over hundreds of millions of years, ancient components that do their part in every corner of the body. We are not single life forms, we are composite beings. It is contrary to common sense to believe that we are aliens on our home planet, doomed to estrangement from all life.

 

Depicting Madness / Social View of Mental Illness

Franz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, while three gentlemen wait in line. Coloured lithograph by E.H., 1825. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons

The PARIS REVIEW

Full article: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/04/22/madness-and-meaning

Madness and Meaning

By Andrew Scull, April 22, 2015

Depictions of insanity through history.

Modern psychiatry seems determined to rob madness of its meanings, insisting that its depredations can be reduced to biology and nothing but biology. One must doubt it. The social and cultural dimensions of mental disorders, so indispensable a part of the story of madness and civilization over the centuries, are unlikely to melt away, or to prove no more than an epiphenomenal feature of so universal a feature of human existence. Madness indeed has its meanings, elusive and evanescent as our attempts to capture them have been.

Western culture throughout its long and tangled history provides us with a rich array of images, a remarkable set of windows into both popular and latterly professional beliefs about insanity. The sacred books of the Judeo-Christian tradition are shot through with stories of madness caused by possession by devils or divine displeasure. From Saul, the first king of the Israelites (made mad by Yahweh for failing to carry out to the letter the Lord’s command to slay every man, woman, and child of the Amalekite tribe, and all their animals, too), to the man in the country of the Gaderenes “with an unclean spirit” (maddened, naked, and violent, whose demons Christ casts out and causes to enter a herd of swine, who forthwith rush over a cliff into the sea to drown), here are stories recited for centuries by believers, and often transformed into pictorial form. None proved more fascinating than the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty king of Babylon, the man who captured Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple, carrying the Jews off into captivity all apparently without incurring divine wrath. Swollen with pride, however, he impiously boasts of “the might of my power,” and a savage and jealous God has had enough: driven mad, he “did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagle’s feathers, and his nails like bird’s claws.” The description has proved irresistible to many an artist: above, an unknown German artist working in early fifteenth-century Regensburg provides a portrait of the changes madness wrought upon the sane.

Much more…

Critique of DSM 5 / No Medical Basis for Diagnoses

1_HgubUPoLvaikrySJGsQ40APacific Standard Magazine  

The Problem With Psychiatry, the ‘DSM,’ and the Way We Study Mental Illness

by Ethan Watters

Imagine for a moment that the American Psychiatric Association was about to compile a new edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But instead of 2013, imagine, just for fun, that the year is 1880.

Transported to the world of the late 19th century, the psychiatric body would have virtually no choice but to include hysteria in the pages of its new volume. Women by the tens of thousands, after all, displayed the distinctive signs: convulsive fits, facial tics, spinal irritation, sensitivity to touch, and leg paralysis. Not a doctor in the Western world at the time would have failed to recognize the presentation. “The illness of our age is hysteria,” a French journalist wrote. “Everywhere one rubs elbows with it.”

Hysteria would have had to be included in our hypothetical 1880 DSM for the exact same reasons that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is included in the just-released DSM-5. The disorder clearly existed in a population and could be reliably distinguished, by experts and clinicians, from other constellations of symptoms.

There were no reliable medical tests to distinguish hysteria from other illnesses then; the same is true of the disorders listed in the DSM-5 today.

“Practically speaking, the criteria by which something is declared a mental illness are virtually the same now as they were over a hundred years ago.”

The DSM determines which mental disorders are worthy of insurance reimbursement, legal standing, and serious discussion in American life.

That its diagnoses are not more scientific is, according to several prominent critics, a scandal.

In a major blow to the APA’s dominance over mental-health diagnoses, Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, recently declared that his organization would no longer rely on the DSM as a guide to funding research. “The weakness is its lack of validity,” he wrote. “Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.” As an alternative, Insel called for the creation of a new, rival classification system based on genetics, brain imaging, and cognitive science.

This idea — that we might be able to strip away all subjectivity from the diagnosis of mental illness and render psychiatry truly scientific — is intuitively appealing. But there are a couple of problems with it. The first is that the science simply isn’t there yet. A functional neuroscientific understanding of mental suffering is years, perhaps generations, away from our grasp. What are clinicians and patients to do until then? But the second, more telling problem with Insel’s approach lies in its assumption that it is even possible to strip culture from the study of mental illness. Indeed, from where I sit, the trouble with the DSM — both this one and previous editions — is not so much that it is insufficiently grounded in biology, but that it ignores the inescapable relationship between social cues and the shifting manifestations of mental illness.

PSYCHIATRY tends not to learn from its past. With each new generation, psychiatric healers dismiss the enthusiasms of their predecessors by pointing out the unscientific biases and cultural trends on which their theories were based. Looking back at hysteria, we can see now that 19th-century doctors were operating amidst fanciful beliefs about female anatomy, an assumption of feminine weakness, and the Victorian-era weirdness surrounding female sexuality. And good riddance to bad old ideas. But the more important point to take away is this: There is little doubt that the symptoms expressed by those thousands of women were real.

The resounding lesson of the history of mental illness is that psychiatric theories and diagnostic categories shape the symptoms of patients. “As doctors’ own ideas about what constitutes ‘real’ dis-ease change from time to time,” writes the medical historian Edward Shorter, “the symptoms that patients present will change as well.”

This is not to say that psychiatry wantonly creates sick people where there are none, as many critics fear the new DSM-5 will do. Allen Frances — a psychiatrist who, as it happens, was in charge of compiling the previous DSM, the DSM-IV — predicts in his new book, Saving Normal, that the DSM-5 will “mislabel normal people, promote diagnostic inflation, and encourage inappropriate medication use.” Big Pharma, he says, is intent on ironing out all psychological diversity to create a “human monoculture,” and the DSM-5 will facilitate that mission. In Frances’ dystopian post-DSM-5 future, there will be a psychoactive pill for every occasion, a diagnosis for every inconvenient feeling: “Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” will turn temper tantrums into a mental illness and encourage a broadened use of antipsychotic drugs; new language describing attention deficit disorder that expands the diagnostic focus to adults will prompt a dramatic rise in the prescription of stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin; the removal of the bereavement exclusion from the diagnosis of major depressive disorder will stigmatize the human process of grieving. The list goes on.

In 2005, a large study suggested that 46 percent of Americans will receive a mental-health diagnosis at some point in their lifetimes. Critics like Frances suggest that, with the new categories and loosened criteria in the DSM-5, the percentage of Americans thinking of themselves as mentally ill will rise far above that mark.

But recent history doesn’t support these fears. In 1994 the DSM-IV — the edition Frances oversaw — launched several new diagnostic categories that became hugely popular among clinicians and the public (bipolar II, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and social phobia, to name a few), but the number of people receiving a mental-health diagnosis did not go up between 1994 and 2005. In fact, as psychologist Gary Greenberg, author of The Book of Woe, recently pointed out to me, the prevalence of mental health diagnoses actually went down slightly. This suggests that the declarations of the APA don’t have the power to create legions of mentally ill people by fiat, but rather that the number of people who struggle with their own minds stays somewhat constant.

What changes, it seems, is that they get categorized differently depending on the cultural landscape of the moment. Those walking worried who would have accepted the ubiquitous label of “anxiety” in the 1970s would accept the label of depression that rose to prominence in the late 1980s and the 1990s, and many in the same group might today think of themselves as having social anxiety disorder or ADHD.

Viewed over history, mental health symptoms begin to look less like immutable biological facts and more like a kind of language. Someone in need of communicating his or her inchoate psychological pain has a limited vocabulary of symptoms to choose from. From a distance, we can see how the flawed certainties of Victorian-era healers created a sense of inevitability around the symptoms of hysteria. There is no reason to believe that the same isn’t happening today. Healers have theories about how the mind functions and then discover the symptoms that conform to those theories. Because patients usually seek help when they are in need of guidance about the workings of their minds, they are uniquely susceptible to being influenced by the psychiatric certainties of the moment. There is really no getting around this dynamic. Even Insel’s supposedly objective laboratory scientists would, no doubt, inadvertently define which symptoms our troubled minds gravitate toward. The human unconscious is adept at speaking the language of distress that will be understood.

WHY DO PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSES fade away only to be replaced by something new? The demise of hysteria may hold a clue. In the early part of the 20th century, the distinctive presentation of the disorder began to blur and then disappear. The symptoms began to lose their punch. In France this was called la petite hysterie. One doctor described patients who would “content themselves with a few gesticulatory movements, with a few spasms.” Hysteria had begun to suffer from a kind of diagnostic overload. By 1930s or so, the dramatic and unmistakable symptoms of hysteria were vanishing from the cultural landscape because they were no longer recognized as a clear communication of psychological suffering by a new generation of women and their healers.

It is true that the DSM has a great deal of influence in modern America, but it may be more of a scapegoat than a villain. It is certainly not the only force at play in determining which symptoms become culturally salient. As Frances suggests, the marketing efforts of Big Pharma on TV and elsewhere have a huge influence over which diagnoses become fashionable. Some commentators have noted that shifts in diagnostic trends seem uncannily timed to coincide with the term lengths of the patents that pharmaceutical companies hold on drugs. Is it a coincidence that the diagnosis of anxiety diminished as the patents on tranquilizers ran out? Or that the diagnosis of depression rose as drug companies landed new exclusive rights to sell various antidepressants? Consider for a moment that the diagnosis of depression didn’t become popular in Japan until Glaxo-SmithKlein got approval to market Paxil in the country.

Journalists play a role as well: We love to broadcast new mental-health epidemics. The dramatic rise of bulimia in the United Kingdom neatly coincided with the media frenzy surrounding the rumors and subsequent revelation that Princess Di suffered from the condition. Similarly, an American form of anorexia hit Hong Kong in the mid-1990s just after a wave of local media coverage brought attention to the disorder.

The trick is not to scrub culture from the study of mental illness but to understand how the unconscious takes cues from its social settings. This knowledge won’t make mental illnesses vanish (Americans, for some reason, find it particularly difficult to grasp that mental illnesses are absolutely real and culturally shaped at the same time). But it might discourage healers from leaping from one trendy diagnosis to the next. As things stand, we have little defense against such enthusiasms. “We are always just one blockbuster movie and some weekend therapist’s workshops away from a new fad,” Frances writes. “Look for another epidemic beginning in a decade or two as a new generation of therapists forgets the lessons of the past.” Given all the players stirring these cultural currents, I’d make a sizable bet that we won’t have to wait nearly that long.

Looking Back / Life as an Avalanche


Looking back at my life, the first half was like this compendium of avalanches. I just didn’t know any better. The second half has been ‘living the aftermath’, in a state of shock and awe that I survived. Too true!

Empathy Nonsense / Crazy Psychology…again

Actually, this is one terrific test for finding out if you are a “Neurotypical” !

If this description of “how the social brain works” (hint; there is no “social brain”) is an acceptable “scientific explanation” as to how a real, living human brain works, then sadly, you are a Neurotypical and scientifically illiterate. 

H. Erectus Potpourri / Videos + paper

Homo erectus: Why can’t I get no respect!

Brain size? Some weaseling here! Late erectus up to 1250cc. Modern human range is 950cc – 1500cc.

It’s also “cheating” to compare H. erectus skulls to contemporary homo sapiens skulls, as if archaic Homo sapiens didn’t have a whopping big brow ridge and robust skull!

The fossilized remains of Homo sapiens idaltu were discovered in 1997 by Tim White at Herto Bouri near the Middle Awash site of Ethiopia’s Afar Triangle. Dating took place by the radioisotope method which analysed the volcanic layers containing the 3 cranial fossils [White 2003].

 The morphology of the skulls display archaic features not found in the later Homo sapiens, but are still seen as the direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens sapiens.  The remains discovered at Herto Bouri have been named ‘Herto Man’. Experts claim the finds are complete enough to be identified as early modern humans, since they show the characteristic globular shape of the braincase and the facial features of our species. However, both the adult skulls are huge and robust, and also show resemblances to more primitive African skulls.
Homo sapiens by Kennis & Kennis / Based off of Jebel Irhoud 1, one of the oldest remains of anatomically modern humans, an adult male at 160,000 years old, from Jebel Irhoud cave in Morocco:

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PMID: 18191986 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.11.003

Taxonomic implications of cranial shape variation in Homo erectus.

Baab KL1., Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University

Abstract

The taxonomic status of Homo erectus sensu lato has been a source of debate since the early 1980s, when a series of publications suggested that the early African fossils may represent a separate species, H. ergaster. To gain further resolution regarding this debate, 3D geometric morphometric data were used to quantify overall shape variation in the cranial vault within H. erectus using a new metric, the sum of squared pairwise Procrustes distances (SSD). Bootstrapping methods were used to compare the H. erectus SSD to a broad range of human and nonhuman primate samples in order to ascertain whether variation in H. erectus most clearly resembles that seen in one or more species. The reference taxa included relevant phylogenetic, ecological, and temporal analogs including humans, apes, and both extant and extinct papionin monkeys. The mean cranial shapes of different temporogeographic subsets of H. erectus fossils were then tested for significance using exact randomization tests and compared to the distances between regional groups of modern humans and subspecies/species of the ape and papionin monkey taxa. To gauge the influence of sexual dimorphism on levels of variation, comparisons were also made between the mean cranial shapes of single-sex samples for the reference taxa. Results indicate that variation in H. erectus is most comparable to single species of papionin monkeys and the genus Pan, which included two species. However, H. erectus encompasses a limited range of variation given its extensive geographic and temporal range, leading to the conclusion that only one species should be recognized. In addition, there are significant differences between the African/Georgian and Asian H. erectus samples, but not between H. ergaster (Georgia+Africa, excluding OH 9 and Daka) and H. erectus sensu stricto. This finding is in line with expectations for intraspecific variation in a long-lived species with a wide, but probably discontinuous, geographic distribution.

PMID: 18191986 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.11.003