Thursday 26 April 2018

Short Observations

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JMH International Essays — Announcement

Original Essays on the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence 

We thank all those who have submitted an essay to the JMH International Prize Essay Contest. As of now, February 1, 2017, we have decided not to continue with the contest.

For those who feel they have an important contribution to the subject of the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence, please feel free to submit your essay with the form provided here. If the judges agree that the essay is a significant contribution, we will publish it here (subject to agreement with the author).

We include here links related to past essays — For the 2014 contest, click here for the summary article and here for the list of winners; for the 2015 contest, click here for the summary article and the list of winners; and for the 2016 contest, click here.

Longer Observations

Dear Reader suffering from Ambivalence,

(This is not meant as a replacement for psychotherapy! but as a thought that might be helpful for certain people at certain times who are already working in therapy.)

The following presentation is taken from real life:

A person is having trouble whether or not to have a colonoscopy (a question that has developed for more and more people in the United States where colonoscopies have become routine). On the one hand is the fact that colonoscopies are the best bet for detecting curable colon cancers while they are still curable. On the other side is possible physical discomfort, the natural modesty people have, possible side-effects, possible inconveniences, etc. The doctor insists it is obvious that the colonoscopy should be done (starting at the age 50 and then every 10 years), and ones family may go along with the doctor. However doctors have their hidden motives, and there are such things as medical fads (what was standard practice ten years ago is no longer standard). Also medical research is subject to many forms of error, and outcomes are biased by financial influences. So, here we have a whole series of factors and data and thoughts and feelings and arguments, and we have to decide. If you suffer from ambivalence, you go back and forth and back and forth.

It may or may not help to realize that nothing is certain, that you have to jump in and decide, that not deciding is also deciding, that either way you go some will approve and some won't, that nothing is perfect in life and that you might as well accept this and get on with life. You might even decide to throw a coin. And you might throw the coin and then, when you see it is committing you to go one direction, you suddenly realize you really don't want to do go that route (and never did, deep down), and you do the opposite. But, even after such an awareness, you may hesitate again and fall back into doubt.

At this point it becomes worthwhile looking into ones deeper feelings. For example, perhaps you had a mother or father who demanded you behave in certain ways, the ways they wanted you to behave, and now that you're an adult, you realize you don't have to listen to anyone and that you can make your own decisions. And yet you come to realize that, deep down, you are still afraid to go against people in authority. You see that you have a pattern: You rebel and do what you want, but then you back off. You start and stop. You go part way and then turn around. And you come to see that this is what is going on here. Besides all the usual and normal and legitimate questions many people have about whether to get a colonoscopy or not, you are in an unconscious battle with your doctor who is insisting you get one. You are, without being aware of it, thrown back into the exact same type of situation you were in with your demanding parent who said they knew what was good for you. You are not really making a rational decision about the colonoscopy but are reacting to someone talking about colonoscopies. This awareness can free you. For the first time you can feel you are free to examine the pros and cons instead of being caught in some compulsive to and fro.

So there can be different levels of an ambivalence, and solutions may require a lot of deep awareness and not just a philosophical understanding of the nature of decisions.

Two Approaches to Understanding Psychology

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

   the One   the Whole
the Sacred
the Ordinary
feeling stuck
feelings of failing,        of dying
 waking up — feeling reborn
   focusing   on the self
confronting the   unconscious
the whole person
living in multiple       worlds
learning about     the world
feelings of success,     of the good life