Coming to the Cusp of Reality This Fall

 

 

The summer holidays are over and we are now in what can only be described as a momentous fall. Coming this fall and into the winter will be posts devoted to several categories of issues. 

Monthly Newsletter for the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. On the second Monday of the month I will publish the Roger B Burt – Myth and Transformation newsletter.

Feminism– It has been coming for some time but seems to be cresting presently. It deserves ongoing exploration because the potential is essential for our future and shows us that the potential of half our people is being released at last.

Author Issues – I can’t resist digging into some of the issues writers of fiction face. Obviously they are affecting me and sharing is useful. Included will be revelations about the Origins of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

Health and Mental Health – If we manage to achieve a stable, productive government we have a long overdue set of issues to affect. Mental health must be redefined and health in general needs significant attention.

Vision – There are issues that deserve our clarification and there are many issues not being spotlighted presently which require deep consideration.

Emergent Topics – Surely we cannot foresee what may demand our attention.

Let’s Begin with America in Crisis

Today we start with a topic I have generally stayed away from, the momentous crisis America finds itself in and the meaning of politics.

Beyond Politics to the Soul of Our Country

First there is an issue which is fundamental to seeking clarity. Here is a definition of politics—

“the activities, action, and policies that are used to gain and hold power in a government or to influence a government.”

This is where the cusp of reality comes in. Listening to the discussion and rants we find almost everything being said to be political. And therein lies a huge mistake. There is so much more going on and it is inappropriate to reduce it to partisan politics.

The soul of our country, in all its complexity, is being displayed at last. We refer to America as the “Shining City on the Hill”. It seems not presently and what we have to face is that what is happening to us is not purely a function of an unstable, severely pathological, narcissistic sociopath. We have to own what is happening to our country and what we are displaying about ourselves. Who we are deep down and our failings are not a matter of politics although it may feed into politics.

Waves In the World

But there is another process to which we must attend. World affairs are often conditioned by waves of change or, perhaps a better description is, eruptions of change. It was not so long ago that we saw a hopeful world and now we see manifestations of authoritarianism to be very common across the globe and very much here at home.

At home there was the dreadful “error” (or was it just ideological) by the Supreme Court with Citizens United. Now we are exposed to the revelations indicating deep money corruption affecting our government. That’s not politics, it is pure corruption which has eaten away at a major party.

Essential Vision

And now comes another favorite theme of mine—vision. We are so caught up in the eruption of authoritarianism we are utterly failing to attend to some of the things I have been touching on in this blog such as the rise of feminism, attention to jobs of the future and health issues among others.

We can only hope that this fall may be a turning point for us domestically. Even if we achieve that turning we still must face what we have learned about our citizens. What facing it means is a design for problem solving issues that deeply affect those citizens. Confrontation will at times be necessary but it will not turn the tide of their future. 

And above all we must remain hopeful and dedicated to vision so we may solve our problems in constructive ways.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health

Opportunities Not to Be Missed

 

Accelerating Change

The title of this blog is Cusp of Reality. Equally it might have been The Challenge of Vision.

This is a distressing time in that it seems events are moving faster and faster. We are talking about the PostCapitalism society and world conflicts are accelerating after a hopeful period.

Frustration With Research

When I decided upon psychology as my career I was intrigued by the human mind and what I ran into at once was the fact of needing to do research to foster development. Too often though the reality I found was that psychologists looked to an area of study and then would tweak the research to be able to publish a paper. it generally was not groundbreaking.

Sorry if my colleagues find that offensive but my personality type gets in my way all the time. I want to forge into possibilities. And that means taking risks and fostering speculation as a way to open new possibilities. 

The bottom line is that I find much of what is going on out there in this rapidly changing world is narrow-minded. The world is racing forward and, too often, it seems we are being left behind. Let me offer some examples.

The Depth and Meaning of the Women’s Movement

Maybe I’m not looking in the right places but I find the commentary about women too often stifling. There are some outstanding books written by women about the coming days of women. Yes, I said days of women. In this country we are seeing a marked change. I won’t even attempt to catalogue what is happening but the subjugation of women is not just being challenged, but it is clearly coming to an end—and the changes are worldwide. One indication is that we suddenly are seeing markedly smart, perceptive and capable women appearing as commentators on television. Can we have some broad based search of this movement? Why now? Where might it lead? And to my male colleagues—Will men please wake up! Especially older white men.

Jobs and the Future in a Rapidly Changing World

I realize the call for coal jobs to come back was a political ploy but in so many areas the expectation for the future is narrow. Artificial intelligence among other tech areas is racing forward and I hear next to nothing groundbreaking in terms of looking at how people need to be prepared. We need research first of all looking at what might be the jobs needed in the future and then we need to look at how people can be prepared. And there is something even more fundamental. We are seeing whole categories of our citizens who are dismissed as future hires because we have not looked at their abilities in an enlightened fashion. I know from my career and my evaluation of intelligence that there is unexpected potential. And when I bring it up, it is dismissed out of hand. A stunning lack of willingness to even attempt vision crucial for our future. Not to say these studies will be easy. No, they will be extraordinarily 

challenging and the time to begin is now.

Then There’s Transformation

Transformation is another one of my favorites. The situation we have now has great potential and that means we may be looking at transformation in the near future. Of course the other possibility may be devastation which strongly suggests we need to be paying attention and work hard in our own behalf to transform our future in a positive fashion. Currently our country is in the throes of a major political and ideological crisis. We can only hope that we will gain control of it and put ourselves on a more positive track. 

Responding to the World As It Is

We can’t afford to continue as we are now. We talk about a rapidly changing world but chatting about it is not a good way to approach the future. We need comprehensive and groundbreaking research. Often that is considered more than challenging but risky as well because the undertaking requires trying things which may not work. It would require constant revision and refinement. Yes, we have a choice. We can be passive or we can vigorously start challenging the meaning and possibilities of our future. There I go again. Always the initiative type personality.

What possibilities have you run across that requires research and exploration?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health

Summertime

 

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. We travel, visit relatives or cool off in the water, so I cut back a little. There will be no posts this week and from now through Labor Day there will be only one post a week—typically Monday. 

I’m sure by Fall there will be lots to cover.

Have a great summer.

Roger

Diagnosis and the Real World

Under what diagnoses do you suffer? (Curious question isn’t it?)

Let’s Begin Here

Two definitions come to mind at once as we look at this post. Psychiatry is defined as: “the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior.” Psychology has a variety of definition but I prefer: the study of human and animal behavior. The numerous other definitions suggest we aren’t actually sure what psychology is and I share that position. in fact, there is even a philosophical element which suits me just fine.

In Clinical Psychology

When we move on to the clinical area we quickly brush up against mental illness and as a student we quickly learn that diagnoses are generally expected. But how does mental illness fit with the broader definition of the study of human behavior. It seems like it must be a subcategory. What I found was that it is a restless subcategory and won’t keep its mouth shut.

Or at least it becomes a problem when we visit that devise place called the real world. And, of course, I believe in the cusp of reality which means I have questions. Are you hearing the pounding of philosophy at the door?

Then There Is Diagnosis

Freud defined a great deal of what is psychiatry and we entered a world of illness which required treatment and so there must be a diagnosis. The whole process was to be applauded because it moved emotionally disturbed people out of intervention for possession by demons  generally under the oversight of the church. They were in better, more compassionate, hands then. But not all of mental health people were devoted to Freud’s teachings. And that included Carl Jung who took us out into the world at large in a variety of ways. I won’t try to explore him. Take a look yourself.

What’s the Point?

It seems we are lost in a forest of exploration. There are those who believe in specific diagnoses for mental illness and in some case it yields helpful intervention. But there are others of us who believe it is far more complex than that. Sometimes diagnoses lead us down narrow corridors and sometimes it is more effective to shy away from an illness model and take the path to looking for functional factors and something I will call life management.

In This Age

Isn’t it interesting that as we rush forward into the future we are still mired in definitions and differing camps of adherents when it comes to what we call health care. At least we have latched onto prevention and a variety of preventive procedures. Those continue to need exploration and so do our responses to things happening to us that deserve attention.

That’s enough of the meshing of philosophical exploration with the real world. In future posts I’ll move deeper into the world of what we call mental illness and alternative forms of response which includes what I call self management.

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Orlando! The Meaning and Impact of Mental Illness II

 

Have you had contact with mental health professions?

An Ongoing Dispute

When I wrote the initial copy for this post it was entitled The Myth of Mental Illness. That was also the title of the 1961 book by Thomas Szasz that I hold in high regard. He questioned the foundation of psychiatry as do I. His case gets stronger as time passes.

The fact is, I chose to become a psychologist for reasons I’m still uncovering. Probably the chief among them was my need to deal with my mother’s severe depressions. They seem to have been the result of personality problems but mostly reflected a genetically based vitamin D deficiency. I had set out to study particle physics but an unforgivably bad calculus professor turned me off on the mathematics which I viewed as fundamental. And so I found my way into a field I’m still disputing.

Decades later I have concluded that the term mental illness should be relegated to the dustbin of history. Recently I saw that someone had come up with a “diagnosis” for people who are concerned about healthy eating. Diagnosing them has the implication of viewing such a justifiable concern as an aberration or some kind of deviation of behavior.

The Beginning

In college I found the study of psychology interesting but that there were two parts. The clinical people were usually over in the medical settings and the academic setting was closer to experimental studies. They declared psychology was a science. Early on I was not impressed by the science part. I could see philosophy among other things. In the end I went to Duke University to study experimental psychology but within days asked to move to the clinical program which they granted. Steadily I was introduced to psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy.

I was not prepared for the authoritarian nature of psychiatry. I attended Grand Rounds and saw patients paraded on stage while their history of “mental illness” was presented and discussed. (I should say this was decades ago and things have probably changed.) I also learned that psychiatric residents were not permitted to declare a diagnosis. A senior staff member would step forward and deliver the definitive word. 

There were times when graduate students such as myself went to clinical meetings and presented findings from our testing. Our findings were frequently used to harass and haze both medical students and residents. The effect was to build a wall between psychiatry and medicine in general.

Learning By Doing

I realized after the fact that I often was given very difficult cases. One of them was a very pretty, very dysfunctional and hysterical young woman. In her interest I managed to get her diagnosis changed from schizophrenia to a less damaging diagnosis which meant she might get more flexible and dedicated treatment in the years ahead. But one day I got a call from the emergency room. I found her seated on a gurney. A terrified intern was in attendance. In front of her he informed me (and her) that if she had sliced at her arm and throat in a different direction that she would have bled to death. It seemed he had not been prepared for this kind of management.

My supervisor asked that I be very careful with this young woman and said he assumed she had already driven three therapists into research partly because of her extreme behavior and seduction efforts. Her late night forays and partying led to a pregnancy and she wanted an abortion. The nature of the times was such that she had to seek out senior psychiatric staff on her own and plead for a diagnosis to permit an abortion. She was unsuccessful.

We struggled on and she managed to achieve more stable functioning. I assumed there would be a long road ahead. In all regards I found the system deeply flawed.

Moving On

After graduation I went to Baltimore to work in a community mental health program. Our group of dedicated twenty somethings formulated reality based approaches for the people of the community and were faced with obstruction by our seniors in that they had a much deeper self serving agenda.

To be continued:

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Building an Unplanned Business

 

Do you have a life plan?

It Just Seemed Like a Good Idea

The house was finished and we had it furnished. But we weren’t going to move in full time. We had our clinical practice near Baltimore. This was a vacation home and we thought it would be a retirement home someday. We had okayed first to build a cottage but our builder, Wayne, had sold us on the idea that we might want to rent it so we went larger.

How Did That Happen?

We hadn’t actually thought a great deal about the rental process and so we didn’t think about it until the house was set up and furnished. At that point, when we inquired, we learned we were too late for wholesalers to handle it that season. With no other options we decided to simply advertise it for short term rentals in the Baltimore Sun. The winter was filled what felt like almost over night. That was easy!

What’s Next?

In fact we had more people who wanted a vacation in St. Lucia than we could accommodate. In effect people were standing there wanting to know where we could put them. Ooops! So, in desperation we called the real estate company that was managing the house for us when we were away. We found out it was not a problem.

Taking Another Tour

So we went on a tour of other houses that did short term rentals and booked in the people who were interested. The commission was respectable. So we looked around and found other places to advertise rentals. It proved not to be a problem. We had houses of all shapes, sizes, and costs we could offer.

Americans Like to Explore

We learned something else. Americans often don’t want to go to the same place year after year. The Europeans tended to go to the same island year after year and spent a month to six weeks. But Americans were asking “Where else can you send us?” So we crossed the strait and took a look at Martinique. We absolutely loved it. The French were very friendly and the island just as beautiful as St. Lucia. It even had its own active volcano and we stayed at the most romantic resort we had ever seen on the edge of the rain forest. But many Americans didn’t want a place where English wasn’t the first language. On to other islands.

One After The Other

It was so interesting. Each island we went to was different. Our advertising budget was expanding with our clientele. So, we added St. Martin/St.Maarten (French and Dutch), Barbados, and the Cayman Islands. We looked at Puerto Rico and the Turks & Caicos Islands but by then had enough inventory.

A Major Change

We were running the short term rental business on the side along with our clinical practice helping stepfamilies. But along came the insurance companies of managed care. They had found that they could effectively block mental health related practices and save money. Our model for stepfamilies was specific and they basically would not accept it. The mental health field was being torn apart by the insurance industry. So, regretfully we closed our practice and devoted full time to building our villa rental business. 

So Much For That Life Plan

It was an interesting experience. We assumed we would retire from our practice. But we fell in love with a Caribbean island, stumbled into building a house, rented it and, finally had a full time villa rental business. Both of us had always thought you built a life plan but in this instance good fortune, life insurance company depredations and an attractive opportunity sent us in another direction entirely.

Do you see a major redirection in your future? Would you like one?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Freud Versus Jung

Two Forms of Reality

What do these names mean to you?

Once again we encounter the question of what is reality. These two names represent very different views and relationships to the larger elements of society and culture.

Anyone in the mental health field will inevitably come in contact with the writings of Sigmund Freud. Not necessarily Carl Jung. Freud was important in advancing the field of mental health and forming it into a system used to treat what were called mental disorders. He made us aware of the existence of the unconscious mind which we are only now being able to look at in brain imaging. Jung might have come from another planet.

Why Mental Illness?

Freud was very close to the development of western medicine. We had come to the point where there was the thought that people might not suffer infestation by evil spirits. Calling what was happening a mental illness meant they could be removed from not well informed intervention by the church. That was a step forward but as we will see in later posts it was not always to the point.

A Broader Perspective

I’ll be frank to say that Jung fascinated me much more so than Freud. Both men were Europeans but Freud was closer to western thought. Jung foraged the world and shed light on not just our mental systems, but culture and elements of deep meaning.

Both men brought us utility of different kinds. Freud made us realize that there was such a thing as an unconscious mind. It is only now as we probe the brain with new tools that we can see the operation of the unconscious forming up prior to conscious awareness. Each man dealt with reality in their own way.

Myth and Truth

In Jung’s search he related to mythology and he brought us fascinating commentaries and revelations. But he did something more. In searching the world he recognized that there is a personality system in humans. A systematic study of human personality turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with mental illness. The system Jung devised, or perhaps the better word is uncovered, is the basis for the Myers-Briggs Personality Typology which, if you would like to know about your personality you can find it on line. Simply ask our friend Google and you will be taken to it.

Both of these men dealt with reality in their own way. Freud seemed closer to the western scientist while Jung sought reality of other sorts. What I found particularly fascinating about Jung was the mythological components which take us to all manner of alternatives. We can see a great deal about our speculative foragings.

Jung had fascinating perspectives. He wrote an entire book about alchemy. His conclusion was that it was not a search for how to change lead into gold. He saw it as a bridge from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment as people were exploring new ways.
In Jung’s autobiography Memories, Dreams and Reflections is found fascinating revelations about a man who broke the bounds of ordinary reality. It is both about him and philosophical.

Both Offer Meaning

Sometimes there is a debate about truth and these men. I see no such debate needed. Each offered something fascinating and brought us forward. I have to admit I feel much closer to the work of Jung because we are the same personality type. Freud did good work but his thinking did not enroll me in his world. Both men speak to us about important elements of the human experience and, in the end, they may have nothing to do with mental illness.

Have you encountered the work of these men? What was your reaction?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt