Joy Is Joy

Ten AM.

I don’t feel very intelligent this morning, though it’s getting better with a shot of Snapple tea. At the market I ran into Craig, the guy whose car I hit with my truck in the parking lot six years ago. He asked me if I was keeping warm, and I said that was a good question. It was about 30 degrees when I made my daily pilgrimage for groceries. I put on a navy blue beanie in addition to my old blue parka and went out to brave the frost.

I used the word “pilgrimage” above. This might be a loose connection with my thoughts on Chaucer and the Wife of Bath earlier this morning. I was thinking that masochism is not for me, but different people have different feelings about it. It seems strange to me to derive pleasure from pain, and yet I remember some odd things from my early childhood: weird instincts that I later weeded out as logic took over consciousness. Freud treats masochism as a matter of course, but more recent psychologists often differ with him. I’d prefer to think that pleasure is pleasure, pain is pain, and the enjoyment of suffering is something kind of weird. Dostoevsky deals with this in Notes from Underground, I recall from a lecture… Joy is very distinct from pain and suffering, and we know when joy happens to us. It’s a pure and direct thing rather than convoluted and complicated. I think maybe my Freudian days are over.

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What’s Toxic?

Sometimes it feels like life is nothing achieving. I mean, life in our society today. I read an article on NPR about the problems men are having, according to this guy and his book. Though I agree with it, he is such a minority voice, really on the margin of culture as it is right now. Oh well. But still it leaves me feeling frustrated for being a guy and having very little to say about it. I think it really sucks. It raises the question of how free are individuals in society. It seems to me again like my life has gotten out of my control. Above all I feel emasculated.

The author of this book observed about people in psychology fields. In the Eighties, 40 percent of psychologists were male, whereas now it’s one in ten. He said that often men need a male therapist, but the field is dominated by female therapists. From my own experience, I know I miss my psychiatrist and kind of regret that I left him.

I even forget that I’m a guy sometimes.

I wonder where it’s all coming from, this demonization of masculinity. I have some ideas on this, but probably they’re not very pc or acceptable by most people.

How can it be a white overcast and be so dark outside? It hasn’t been raining today, though the sky is a solid sheet of cloud. I haven’t done much all day. I restrung my new bass but unfortunately the strings expose the limitations of the instrument. Maybe I’m just having a bad day.

Piñata

One o’clock.

It’s a mixed up kind of day. I didn’t get to market until noon because of a phone conversation with my sister that lasted almost two hours. My case manager is baffled by the email I sent him last night, so maybe my impressions were inaccurate regarding our last visit. But all I know is how I felt during that time: like a person under interrogation. It’s difficult to describe, and I might be all wet. What usually happens in mid October in my life? Except for the smoky air it would be a beautiful afternoon. I think old fashioned psychoanalysis is interesting, but it’s a language no one uses very much today. If we turn a blind eye to a certain fact, does the fact go away? Are the truths of psychology merely what people dream up and make terminology about? I don’t believe the things we neglect simply vanish. Or maybe we’ll see a Renaissance of psychodynamic theory not too long from now. Maybe it’s already underway but just not in Oregon. The trends are capricious and ever changing.

I feel like a child swinging a baton at a piñata in a dark room.

No Ideas But in People

I did most of a two liter of Coke but I threw the rest away because I felt bloated and woozy from the sugar and caffeine. As far as the psychology stuff, it was a short lived phase and now I’m back to pretty much normal. I think I kind of like Adler still but not Freud and Jung so much. I was brainwashed with Freud in college and then I read a lot of Jung on my own after school ended. Two new slogans I can add to public opinion: “You are what you read” and “No ideas but in people.” After my first episode of schizophrenia I also read tons of Lawrence over ten years, and he got some influence from Freud, though he twisted his message quite a bit. And then, when I got a job in an office, I quit reading altogether for a long time. I only started to question my beliefs and rearrange things when Kate was my friend. I learned from her how to think like a realist and we got into Cognitive Therapy, which is related to traditions like the Enlightenment and the Vienna Circle: very rational and realistic. Finally I stopped drinking and got myself a therapist who emphasized Cognitive Therapy, followed by a second therapist who was similar. I don’t know how I was able to accommodate both CT and Christianity at the same time. And now, currently, I’ve found out that CBT has really watered down the original cognitive formula: two schools of thought have been merged into one, the other one being strictly behavioral. I was disappointed when I got a recent book on CBT. And as for religion, I’ve grown pretty skeptical of the supernatural, or maybe I felt that way all along underneath the surface.

I guess that’s my thumbnail sketch of the development of my mind from the middle of university to right now. I think it’s funny that I could’ve been indoctrinated with Freud without realizing whose ideas they were. I feel a lot better today than yesterday and the day before. Poor Aesop really hates it when I use the phone, especially when it’s my sister and we talk for more than an hour.

For the time being I think I’m done with psychology unless it’s Adler. His theories are both old and new to me. They’ve been floating around in conversation for a hundred years and they remind me of my dad. He took the superiority and inferiority complex and twisted them into his own demented policies toward people. Basically he was an invalidator. He put people down to make himself feel better, to puff up his ego. Of course that’s sick. And as a consequence he had no friends.

No Boogeymen

Quarter of seven.

Behind the clouds, the sun is just making the horizon. In order to be free, first believe in freedom. Liberating myself from my past required belief in liberty. I just realized that my old psychiatrist presupposed Freudian ideas, and these things kept me mired down a long time. He sometimes evidenced a belief in ulterior motives and slips rather than accepting accidents as accidents. Since then, I’ve fought to disabuse myself of Freudian determinism and his tripartite model of the mind, especially the unconscious. The more I can make the mind an integrated unit, the better. There’s no reason to set up an impulsive boogeyman in opposition to the conscious ego, though it’s the classic paradigm as old as Plato. All the more reason to discard it. People believe in Freud and Jung just because other people do. It’s a tradition handed down by the generations, often unquestioned and untested. The sky won’t fall if you should try something different. The past is a bucket of ashes. Give liberty a chance.

A Letter

As I said in my post today, I didn’t enjoy church this morning, but the whole day wasn’t a loss. My books came by the mail and I got to flap through them. And yes I did get a CBT workbook. I looked at that one first and wasn’t really impressed. However, the Tarzan book is very nice. I skimmed four or five chapters in the middle of it, read the whole introduction, and glanced at the afterword. I was 12 years old when I first read Tarzan of the Apes, so it’s amazing to remember my experience upon reading it again now. Gore Vidal is right to say that Tarzan is a daydream of power and domination of your habitat and to refer to Alfred Adler, not so much Freud. I think it’s an individual’s answer to feelings of oppression by an over civilized society: this and over organized. At some point this morning I also thought of 1984 by George Orwell, about the dystopian future, though I’ve never read the book yet.

The other book doesn’t address cognitive therapy as much as it does behavioral therapy, but it cost only ten bucks and I might still use it somehow.

I think a lot of my feelings nowadays resemble the theories of Adler, who in turn is a bit like Nietzsche. I feel the need for empowerment, for control over my life. And when you have a disability like schizophrenia and its stigma, these feelings make good sense. The opposite of this, Christian abnegation, doesn’t have the same appeal and doesn’t really compute for me in my situation. I don’t know if you’re following my argument or not but I’ll keep writing about it.

I’ve got a couple of books of Adlerian psychology that I can examine. I doubt if a contemporary therapist could understand or help me with my puzzle. I’m trying to be my own therapist, as inadequate as I may prove to be.

Midnight Mass

Midnight.

I woke from dreams of my garage just now, mingled with the image of my dad’s ghost. I felt violently towards him and I would’ve attacked him in reality. So much of what he did when I was a child was heinous that he deserved retribution. I grew to just hate him and didn’t make peace with him until after his retirement, which coincided with my dx of schizophrenia. Now I wonder why my mother had such a positive talent for picking losers to marry. My dad took the cake for all time assholes. But at his core he was a complete coward and weenie, like all bullies or men without balls. Incongruously, the music in my background is “Strike Up the Band,” an old disco tune by Chic. Whatever was happening with my life, or however dire it was, the music would keep playing obliviously, in benign indifference. It almost seems to say that life for the unconscious goes on no matter what the external circumstances. The soul has its own agenda and it operates in Dreamtime. Where this and reality intersect is something like a peak experience, perhaps a sublime deja vu. We have all been here before. Likely we’ll be there again.

Adler

Wee hours.

During the afternoon, something awakened me to the validity of other psychoanalytic theories than simply Freud, which I’d lived by ever since junior high school, namely Alfred Adler. He reminds us that we need security and confidence to carry out our lives, a skill to be proud of and do competently, etc. We need self esteem and a little bit of pride in ourselves. I’ve known some people who take this to the extreme of invalidating other people from their own feelings of inferiority, jealousy, or resentment. Perhaps even some therapists have done this to their clients. I feel I was shipwrecked by one such person four years ago, and the trauma still messes with me in the springtime. I never should have left my psychiatrist in the first place. Human relationships can be very delicate things. There’s always someone with a pellet gun to shoot down your balloon in order for themselves to rise. We say the good die young and nice guys finish last. But sometimes you have to protect yourself from predators. 

An Irreducible Schism

Wee hours.

It is odd how people come and go, even me. Everything changes over time, and we go where it benefits us to go. The hardest thing to face is the essential solitude of every human life, and yet the aloneness creates our freedom. I can see Teri’s face in my mind’s eye, the receptionist for the agency. This somehow becomes symbolic of my fortunes since the time of the pandemic. The church pastor flipped his wig and preached about demonic possession in the same breath as mental illness, which was a very serious mistake as far as I was concerned. After the memorial service for my friend was such a disaster, my mind was made up to walk away from Our Redeemer. Pastor’s misconceptions are incorrigible, unfortunately, and he won’t listen to anyone else. I believe they stem from a phobia of biology and the facts of science, which seem to pose a threat to his ironclad spiritualism. Indeed, this would put him in a very difficult position regarding theology and philosophy, an unavoidable contradiction. So his only recourse is to stick his head in the sand and deny the truth that consciousness comes from brain function. I find it ironic that Pastor’s phobia is the very contrary of Freud’s alleged phobia of metaphysics. This accusation came from Carl Jung after the two friends split over the disagreement.

Night Thoughts

Midnight.

Psychology is slow to catch up with modern philosophy, which started with Descartes in the seventeenth century with his cogito ergo sum, or “I think therefore I am.” Freud modeled his theories on ancient philosophy and drama, mostly Plato and Sophocles, and the psychological tradition followed his lead. Psychology is just now beginning to admit the contributions of more recent philosophy such as existentialism. Sartre was essentially a Cartesian in the way he started from the point of view of subjectivity, of individual consciousness. The ramifications of his thinking were the condition of freedom for all individual human beings. He denied the determinism of nature in the case of humanity: humankind was an end in itself, determining its own meaning and essence. Humanity is something special, according to his beliefs. 

Existentialism is basically very unscientific and non rational, a theory that grows purely out of arts and letters and standing independently of religion and science. It belongs to the no man’s land of philosophy, as Russell called it, though he avoided existentialism totally in his History of Western Philosophy. Perhaps he was wise to do so? His analytic tradition in philosophy is a completely different animal from the speculative tradition: more aligned with science and realism, which leads you back to determinism again. Maybe this perspective is more sane than the hyperbole of freedom and responsibility: more logical and consistent. The most convincing point of view will be consistent. And maybe the Cartesian approach was wrongheaded from the beginning? So that the absurdists didn’t know what they were talking about. Life is not absurd to a logical person, someone grounded in reality and in the laws of physics: in nature.