Category: psychology

If people and God are more important than animals, why train animals?

by Andrea Elizabeth

The answer I can most confidently give, but is not probably the first, is therapy. Such as when normal human relations aren’t working out so well. There are a couple of equine therapy centers around me that I’ve heard give injured people a sense of control, whether it’s ptsd, physical handicap, or other emotional issue. This is not necessarily to say all animal involved training is done by injured people. Well, in a sense everyone’s injured. Animals used to be employed for physical work, perhaps this is their new job. As physical human and animal work decreases, perhaps emotional stress increases without the outlet. We are created to move.

Regarding control. Used to be, we didn’t attribute much of an emotional life to animals. I’ve heard Black Beauty was a break-through in attributing emotional pain to animals in response to abuse and separation. While animals may not be as anthropomorphic as they are in Disney movies, studies have shown that animals are very much affected by their treatment and have long memories. So with the previous understanding, control was a one-way street from higher life form to lower life form. This traditional view also translated in family and social human hierarchies such as husbands over wives, women over children, etc. though I’m sure that is not the only way things were. It’s just the rule that was passed down, not necessarily always the actual way it worked out.

Nowadays cooperation is more in vogue where you have comprehensive discussions, and ,while the alpha may ratify a solution or course of action, the effects and happiness of the lowers is compassionately considered. Watch Buck, the original horse whisperer, or Cesar Milan’s dog training shows for what is now considered the proper, persuasive approach. The human alphas are still the ones in control, however.

One show on military ptsd equine therapy I saw talked about what it meant for the soldier that the horse wanted to listen to him and do what he asked. I’m not sure why that’s such a breakthrough if the issue is control. If the horse had to be intimidated to obey it wasn’t as therapeutic, even if he had the same outcome. Animals are capable of love, and this is what many people positively respond to. I wonder if soldiers who believe in their mission and feel well-directed from their superiors suffer as much from ptsd. Maybe they suffer because they are put in dangerous situations where it is up to them to survive: the ones who charge ahead of the safe zone. There’s probably different types. I think many just don’t feel supported, and to have a horse willingly support you is very nice.

For some, human relations for some reason do not make a person feel supported. Having an animal cooperate and show affection feels more safe than humans who for some reason don’t seem to know how to deal with damaged(?) people to the same effect. Maybe it’s because society is so deluded and damaged, and the sensitive ones who need things to be more natural are the only healthy ones.

Time Lapse

by Andrea Elizabeth

is a 2014 indie, low budget time travel film that may or may not have fatal errors (link includes spoilers). I like how it works anyway and many times prefer minimalistic staging with maximalistic psychology. From Wikipedia,

“Time Lapse is a 2014 American indie sci-fi thriller and the directorial debut of Bradley King. The film centers upon a group of friends who discover a machine that can take pictures of things 24 hours into the future, causing increasingly complex causal loops. It premiered on April 18, 2014 at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.”

*my spoilers here on out* I won’t get into the mechanics but instead explore the morality from a Darwinian survival of the fittest or one with the most knowledge point of view. Yes I think it is the one with the most knowledge who survives the longest, but this cannot override fate. Niceness overrides selfishness too, but again, not fate.

The girl wanted to be loved by the boy, the boy wanted to paint, and the friend wanted money, or perhaps just winning. The girl and the friend were probably the most selfish, but the boy was stymied, and possibly a coward. The girl and friend were the most committed to their gain and the boy to altruism, but blocked. The girl’s selfishness unblocks him somehow. But her selfishness was willing to bargain. Her goals were more mutually beneficial. Letting him stay stymied didn’t do him any good either. He blamed himself for her fall, and maybe that’s fair. Her alternatives, besides the one she chose, were to give up on him and commit to someone else, which I think he would have let her do (his apathy may have made this option less attractive) or to live a life of mutual death. Both of these alternatives required giving up, which she could not make herself do.

Introvert versus Extrovert

by Andrea Elizabeth

While driving to Sts. Constantine and Helen Saturday afternoon for a Christian burial inservice and distracting myself from my already week-long intense anxiety about public speaking, I listened to the last half of NPR’s “A Way With Words“. The call that got me thinking since then regarded google’s choice definition of the word, introvert: “Introverts tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and minimize their contact with other people.” Or,

From Google:
“A shy, reticent person; a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.”

From Cambridge Dictionaries Online:
“Someone who is shy, quiet, and unable to make friends easily.”

The caller took umbrage with this negative and narcissistic definition and proposed an alternative that said that introverts are more sensitive to stimuli. Looks like the campaign probably is originating from Psychology Today. ” “An introvert is someone who has a preference for minimally stimulating environments, due to a difference in the way sensory input is processed in the introvert’s brain.”

I believe this alternative is much more correct. The introvert senses things, probably negative things, more deeply than an extrovert. An extrovert can shrug negative things off more easily than an introvert. He is instead receiving positive stimuli in more crowded situations. Introverts are probably more critical and extroverts are more opportunistic, imo. But that’s probably my critical nature coming out. The therapy for introverts is to talk themselves out of negatively interpreting things, but it is a battle. The few friends they have, by choice, not inability, understand and work with them through this interpretive process. Hopefully the opportunisitic ones are also open to examining their own motives and would explore whether they do enjoy and get jollies from taking advantage of social situations for power and control. Perhaps the introvert’s method of gaining power and control is to withdraw. But the withdrawal is probably due to the more negative response when they seem to lose. Their hold on feeling they have the upper hand is more tenuous. I don’t think they trust that they actually have it as much. And this doubt makes them more vulnerable to losing it.

The upper hand is not all bad. One feels more confident and thus is more attractive. The person will reach out more in anticipation of a positive experience. The problem is enjoying winning more than one’s fair share. As in everything, there must be balance.

Back to the google definition. I think introverts are probably more preoccupied with the thoughts and feelings of others than extroverts are. Extroverts assume a lot. Actually so do introverts. Like I said, extroverts assume more positively. I’m trying to be more agnostic. Unless someone is really good at convincing me.

from the heart

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’ve not read that much of Stephen King, but it seems he believes in instinctual motives. I don’t see his characters doubting their own morality. They all feel justified in their goals. And sort of stuck. Like Lee Harvey Oswald hitting his wife because he couldn’t hit his invasive mother who took joy in provoking conflict in his marriage. Good people have good instincts and bad people don’t. This isn’t very stoic. Stoicism to me is distancing yourself from your own reactions to calmly evaluate them. King’s good characters, those who have instincts to help and not reactively hurt, trust their instincts to fornicate and preemptively kill killers. But at least they are true to themselves, act on their convictions, and don’t stifle themselves to the point of chronic paralysis.

Don’t just blow them off

by Andrea Elizabeth

So if someone is engaging in erroneous mind reading leading to overly negative situational evaluations, I would rather ask what is your past experience rather than, ‘you’re wrong about me, you are being paranoid, groundless, and in error’ (pg 56-58 Ancient Christian Wisdom and Asron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy.)

One, they probably have a festering wound that needs healing. 

Two, mankind is united so I am connected to the person/people seen to have caused the initial wound, even if innocent of the particular bad intention, and if I remind the person of them, maybe I can help make reparations.

Three, there are bad intentions and sins of omission, committed in ignorance that are still sins even if the person didn’t mean to. Bad feelings aren’t groundless. 

a new way to be

by Andrea Elizabeth

I found the article: Raised by Parents with Low Emotional Intelligence.

Critique: The title is a little condescending and probably does fit too much in the blame your parents’ category. Nevertheless the person did feel unseen, unvalued, unloved, and unnurtured. Does the author want too much from the parents though? Was the child hypersensitive? Too self-pitying? Maybe, maybe not. I like the more positive thought training towards the end that does sound like, forgive them, they know not what they do. And I like that it says, it’s not all because you are lazy and weak.

Wanting different parents, though. That does sound like the child needs to learn to be thankful for what they have as well as work on ways not to believe sensitive people should be blamed for being weak and lazy. And I wish there was a more nuanced understanding of the parents. Their generation was more stoic and did not talk about feelings nor feel sorry for themselves. We now live in such an eggshell world, but at the same time I don’t think stoicism should be the only answer. A couple of generations before them produced some pretty subtle, nuanced, delicate art. How to be strong and sensitive…


whose fault is it?

by Andrea Elizabeth

In Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy, I am encountering difficulty with telling anxious and depressed people that it is all their fault and they just need to stoically re-spin their thoughts more positively. It may be my stage of dealing or not dealing with my own feelings and lack of faith, but I’m still not convinced there shouldn’t be a more comprehensive approach that incorporates more variables in the equation, which Father Alexis Trader may get to. So far I’m on page 57.

There was a little more nuance in subjective meaning assignment (which he says is responsible for psychological states rather than specific situations) on page 55 when he says,

According to Beck, “The function of meaning assignment (at both automatic and deliberate levels) is to control the various psychological systems (e.g., behavioral, emotional, attentional, and memory). Thus, meaning activates strategies for adaptation.” In other words, an individual interprets a given event and has an automatic thought that expresses his personal interpretation. That interpretation, in turn, becomes the first link in a chain reaction resulting in a change in how that individual feels, what he recalls, what he focuses on, and how he behaves. For example, if a person interprets a situation as dangerous, he might have a fleeting thought such as “I’m in danger,” and then feel anxious; if he interprets an action as deliberately causing him injury, he might think “I’ve been wronged” and feel angry; if he views a gesture as an expression of love, he might have the thought “I’m loved,” and feel joy. In like manner, if an individual interprets a change as a loss, he might think, “Now I”m alone,” and feel sad. These psychological processes are all perfectly normal.

Oh, so sometimes it is ok to have these negative responses. Some interpretations are normal and some excessive. Who determines this, democratic vote? A jury of peers? A medically invasive diagnostic study that measures a person’s sensitivity and pain tolerance? I prefer Louis C.K.’s statement that you don’t get to tell someone their feelings shouldn’t be hurt by what you did. Anyway, he goes on.

In psychopathology, however, a person’s meaning assignment is skewed, excessive, or inappropriate, causing dysfunctional thoughts, uncomfortable emotional states, and maladaptive strategies for behavior. For instance, people suffering from anxiety interpret situations that are perhaps mildly threatening as extrememly dangerous; people suffering from depression interpret every setback as proof that they are dismal failures, and so on.

I’m all for people learning how to be less anxious and depressed, but this suffer-er focused approach to me is just as damaging as the often criticized in Christian circles, blaming approach. The latter tell you, don’t go to counselling because they’ll blame your parents for everything. But the former puts too much responsibility on the individual who may have been unfairly blamed for things and that is why he’s anxious and depressed. The weight is too great.

So if it’s not my fault, and it’s not their fault, whose fault is it? I don’t have time to find and discuss an article I read recently about emotional intelligence right now. TBC.

a stitch in time

by Andrea Elizabeth

One of the chief things I respect and practically live by is efficiency. This is why I went to a one year LVN nursing school. Then when the insurance companies took control of healthcare away from the doctors, they demanded hospitals employ RN’s instead. So I went to a 2 year transition program at the nearest community, then jr., college. Additionally, small loans are more efficient than big loans or even saving while renting. Sewing machines are more efficient than hand sewing, but I don’t want to completely sacrifice decoration for utility. Machine antique reproductions are also more efficient and pleasing than minimalist machine or hand work. In other words, I think there’s a way an efficient poor person can quickly have it all.

What this mindset breeds, among other things, is impatience. If your brain is used to looking for the quickest and most scenic route, then traffic jams, floods, and impractical, wasteful people can really cramp your style. You also quit reading whole books because wikipedia and movies give you enough information to get the gist with the added bonus of a nice soundtrack, and attractive people and scenery all in two hours. Why get bogged down in tedious details? I admit I prefer The Jesus Prayer as it’s got everything in one sentence. And why not just say Lord have mercy? Four very rhythmic beats that aren’t as clumsy as the full version. Four Gospodi Pomiloys can also take up only four beats if you’re fast enough. And it sounds cool.

All this makes one able to do more things in less time. And we do have limited time. The other side of the fence says it’s better to not get as much done, or do things better, with peace instead of stressful accomplishment. There’s a time to do and not to do. What has helped me recently to work through my impatience and frustration with boggers is realizing that efficiency can become a god and to quit sacrificing my peace to it.


Miss Sadie Thompson 2

by Andrea Elizabeth

So many issues.

“From the 1921 theatrical adaptation of Maugham’s story through both previous films, Davidson is a figure of religious intolerance, and Sadie after her conversion is presented as a zombie, reciting by rote the religious rhetoric pounded into her by Davidson’s psychological pressure. Here, Sadie quietly and with dignity relates how she came to reassess her life. “When O’Hara walked out on me,” she says, “and I had nobody to turn to, Mr. Davidson helped me. I didn’t feel lost anymore. I’m back to myself again. Like I was, long ago.”[3] Seeing an open Bible on her dresser, Dr. Macphail, the text’s representative of “objective” modern science, nods contentedly, as if to imply, “She can’t go far wrong with the Good Book.”

After being raped by the minister (who, since a Hays Code ruling in 1928, still cannot be identified on film as a minister), Sadie’s newfound “faith” waivers. However, in the 1950s text, the tolerance Dr. Macphail urges is not of Sadie as victim but of Davidson. “You mustn’t confuse what he did with what he believed in,” he tells her. Macphail’s unprecedented defense of the lapsed theocrat is part of the text’s desperate attempt to preserve the religion already shielded by Davidson’s unofficial status. By reconstructing Davidson as an example of “abnormal” psychology (he explicitly disparages “Freud, Adler, and Jung,” the decade’s other gods), the conservative religious ideology can be upheld as being essentially correct; only individuals occasionally go wrong. As Macphail says of Davidson after the rape, “He just couldn’t practice what he preached.” Sadie closes the circle uniting the men in the text verbally as well as vocally (and politically and sexually) when she says to the doctor, “You talk just like him.” And Macphail says disingenuously, “Do I? I didn’t realize.”

As a reward for her final capitulation, the forfeiture of her anger, O’Hara miraculously returns, suddenly willing to forget Sadie’s past. He belatedly explains that there should be no double standard for B-girls and marines, putting it in acoustic terms: “Counting up all I’ve done . . . I had no right to sound off.” Reunited and reengaged, Sadie rides off, propped up on her speedboat, happily restored to spectacle status, awaiting a rosy future with O’Hara.

The most reactionary and conservative version of Maugham’s story, Miss Sadie Thompson locks the woman into spectacle on all sides. Sadie’s happiness for the first hour rests on being the prized object, prime spectacle, “the only white woman” there. In the musical numbers, she cannot capture her own voice, and when she does speak her own experience, she is either barred access (presented as “hysterically” talking to herself offscreen) or unconsciously repeats the dominant ideology, presented at every point as inevitable. According to this classical text, the woman’s submission to spectacle status in both image and voice is, finally, the only possible course.

The convulsive repressiveness we saw in response to women’s efforts to speak in the films of the forties went underground in the fifties, camouflaged by spectacle on the one hand or transmuted into hysteria and melodrama—as in Sunset Boulevard .”

One issue is that the minister expects her to return to the states to face jail. I see a problem with the legislation of morality with punitive reprisals. What else could the state do? Enforce counselling? That’s what they do in civil cases, but what hope is there in that. Ms. Lawrence doesn’t seem too fond of Jung and Freud either. It’s like the attempted stoning of the woman caught in adultery. Sadie did want to change her ways not only because of the threats of Davidson, but because of how she saw she put other people in painful situations. The men were in pain before meeting her. Her incitement gave them hope of relief. *bigger spoiler alert* Davidson commits suicide after taking it, so that didn’t work. Can Sadie change? Will O’Hara still want her once he gets her? I think the movie is pretty convincing in promoting O’Hara as her only real help as someone willing to commit himself fully to help her instead of just offering advice and referrals elsewhere.

Then there’s the issue of her zombie state vs. feeling alive when she was getting fun attention. But there are happy nuns. St. Mary of Egypt found communion in solitude. Perhaps there is a transition state of withdrawal when one quits leaning on dysfunctional fixes. Ms. Lawrence is more concerned about her being portrayed as having a dysfunctional voice. Or one that is only functional when people are allured. I was not comfortable with her submission to Davidson even though I was glad she saw her methods more critically because of him. And I found the 23rd Psalm reading pretty moving and it’s effect on her nicely portrayed. Maybe he should have just referred her to God after that instead of the reflective conversations afterward. But I’m not comfortable with committing a damaged person to solitary confinement either. Nor is everyone in this day and age ready or able to go to a monastery. I think it’s a pretty dysfunctional age and maybe God will have mercy on people’s pitiful attempts to find positive connection.

Another reflection

by Andrea Elizabeth

Now I’m wondering if Kierkegaard had Borderline Personality Disorder because of the idea of leaking water. See the middle paragraph of this Essentials of Psychology page which mentions him. Borderlines “bleed out” emotionally. They go to the very depths of despair more easily than most people.

This is not to say that their opinions are of no value. I keep going back to Girl Interrupted where she sees through her therapist. If I remember correctly, it was her natural empathy that saved her. She just had to learn boundaries.