Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is Coping Wrong?

On reviewing an old post questioning whether America should legalize marijuana, I began thinking about the reasons that I used to argue for legalization. What were the benefit to people and society?. And that got me thinking about coping, as coping is the main reason for addictions, at least in the beginning. Is coping "wrong"?

All humans cope to escape fears, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, frustration, boredom, anger, loneliness, lovelessness, isolation, and I'm sure I'm leaving some human emotions out. All of these feelings leave one seeking answers, or questioning one's existance, and one's future. All humans do this.

Psychologists and psychiatrists, have medicatons and therapies that address such feelings. But there are numerous ways/therapies in which these feelings are addressed. And medications depend on the diagnosis. But, therapies and medications are acceptable ways of coping. "Addictions" are not.

What is an addiction but a way to cope? Addictions are wrong because of a person's dependence on them. but, depedence on a therapist and medication is not considered unhealthy. The problem with addictions is the costs to the indvidual and society at large. Interesting, isn't it? Acceptable coping is a "cost analysis" to society, first and foremost.

I am in no way justifying addictions, but questoning society's means of addressing such addictions and asking why is this methold useful or accepted?

Religous ways of coping are no more less an addiction, but seems worse to me, because it is depending on a transcendent realm that isn't even possible to affirm. Twelve step programs use "a power greater than oneself" to get beyond addiction. Why would this work? Is it a sense of being "helped"? I believe it is more the case that these Twelve Step groups are support groups. People tend to respond to "like-mindedness". It gives them a sense of identity and less a sense of isolation, which addresses one of the main culprits of addictons, "hiding one's true feelings".

Coping is and should be a way of living, as none of us are immune to pain, suffering and chance in this world. Therefore, we do need friends especially in times of crisis. But, friendship everyday helps everyone to cope a little better in this world. And I believe such need is of major importance n our society today. This is one reason why social networking on the Internet has become so popular! All human need a friend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brain/Mind and Human Needs

It has been understood that the human always looks for causes to explain the world he lives in. Early in human history, humans understood the "cause" as "God" or Providence. Nowadays, science sneers at such beliefs, because science has understood itself as the tool to understand physical laws, not superstitious belief. But, what of human needs, as to the brain/mind?

The human not just needs to understand and explain the causes of the universe, which can be explained by the facts of science, understanding natural laws. But, humans need the ability to trust that certain results will come from their "world". That is, humans need consistance in some way to be predictable, so that humans can organize their life and "feel they are free" and not pawns of some natural force that is unpredictable.

Predictability begins to be understood by the child, as he grows to understand the world at his parent's knee. The parent is "god" in the sense that the parent trains the child to predict what will happen if certain behaviors are done or left undone. This breeds a sense of security in the child as the child understands himself and the world as a predictable place.

Humans do not fare well in natural disasters, human tragedy, or other types of "irregularity" in their "world". It traumatizes the human to experience such disruptions to the regularities fo life. It breeds anxiety and some experience the effects of Post Traumatic Stress.

When the child grows to be a teen, he begins to understand that the law, which guards the socety, which he is a part of, also is predictable. If you transgress, then there are costs. The law maintains social order, so the teen can understand what is expected from him in his society.

The adult comes to understand that though the law protects the social order, life isn't nice and neat, like reaping and sowing, but results , sometimes, in human tragedy that is unpredictable, and sometimes disorienting. Such tragedies should never be judged as getting what one deserves, but understanding that life isn't as predictable as one once thought.

Humans do need predictability, and this is when those that are prone to authoritarianism are prone to believe judgment is always the best way to treat such offenses. Otherwise, "the community" and soceity would go to "pot". These are anxious about protecting and defending what they deem as "absolute", and sometimes these people use 'God" to enforce their positions.
Others think that compassion is a better way to express solidarity in life. No longer is it necessary to protect oneself from unpredictability, by control, nor to defend "God's order", nor is it necessary to affirm oneself in comparison to another. One has come to a point of understanding that life, and living are much more than a certain choice, that causes certain consequences. But, that life has parallel universes that produce different realities, this is true, but that life can be embraced, no matter which "world" one has chosen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Death, Suicide and the Person

I don't know what made me think about these subjects today, other than some postings on 9/11 on Facebook, and thinking about liberty! What makes one's physical life, a matter of value or commitment? And what makes for a life that is worth living? I come to my conclusions after considering those that have committed suicide. What were their reasons? And what makes a life not worth living?

The first case was the Attack on America. The question was asked on FB, "Where were you and what were you doing on 9/11?". My thoughts turned to that day, that was just like any other, and the answer left me suffering the effects of the attack itself. That particular day, I was just an average person that was going about my morning routine of putting on my make-up, when I heard on the radio that there was a plane that had flown into one of the towers. Upon hearing of the accident, I started to cry, as this was how I had experienced my life, psychologically, at that point.

At the time, the announcer didn't know if it was a commercial flight and assumed it was only a private plane! But as the events started unfolding it was obvious that those that had flown the planes, as well as those that were n the burning towers, weren't valuing their lives.

What were some of the similarities and differences in these two categories of people. One was the agressor, against the "symbol of Western culture", "capitalism", while the other was just going about their daily tasks of furthering their own lives, as well as benefitting their society. One was motivated by a religious zeal that would make them fear "God's anger" and want "God's reward" for a "spirtualized kingdom". These terrorizors had separated reality from the "real world". Theirs was a spiritualized hope disconnnected from real people apart from their own religious tribe. These people were motivated by similar reasons as all people, as all humans are motivated by incentives and disincentives, as we are self-seeking creatures.

One would not intially see the simliarities in these two groups, as their cultures are so different. But, those in the burning inferno were seeking a way out of their fear of being burned alive or suffocating to death. This is a rational fear, that brought about an irrational action because of the possible pain that might have been suffered either physically or psychologically. These were suffering a real and present danger in the real physical world. Were those that jumped to their death less courageous than those that flew the plane into the Trade Towers, because they sought relief from a painful death? On the surface, the terrorists were the courageous ones.

Another group that suffers a real and present danger that impacts them long afterwards are our Armed Forces, who are experiencing suicide rates higher than at any other time. Many think that this is due to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Their "realities" in the present have been affected by their experiences. They are reactive, anxious and fearful of what they had experienced while on the battlefield! Some do not want to get help, while others continue to struggle against such "imagined realities' and overcome them. But at what point does one loose hope to overcome them?

Life is about choices. And fears breed choices that might not look rational, but are to those who suffer under such beliefs/thinking, whether religious spiritualized thinking, or past experiential thinking. Both impact what and how one views the present and interprets the future.

Was it right for those in the burning towers to jump to their death, or did they take their life in their own hands. Who is to make that judgment when they themselves are the only ones that know what they really faced? Were they to have courage in the midst of being burned alive, rather than a quick and timely death by jumping? This thinking based on real world experience.

But, real world experience is also the case for the ex-soldier, while his "reality" is not. Who is to advise him that his "stress" is only in his mind, when his mind might have been changed chemically, for all we know? Is he to be labelled fearful, because he has had these experiences that have affected him?

The religious agressor based their reality on a spiritualized "hope" that didn't care what might happen n the real world as this was not their value. They would be recompensed. This thinking cannot be challenged, as theirs is special knowledge that breeds confirmaton bias.

What makes for a rational decision? It depends on one's experience, beliefs, and fears. And each one of these categories of people had "rational reasons" for their behavior, at least according to their "Tradition", Experience, and/or Reason.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Religon and Philosophy......

Many want to understand how and why religion "works", as then, they can predict religous behavior and this is all important to protect against behaviors that might endanger all of us. So, some have tried various means to understand.

One way of understanding is "belonging", where group behavior is predictable, as we are all social animals. But, group behavior can be dangerous as much as beneficial. This becomes problematic, too, when there are "free radcals" in the group that might lead the group "astray" from the "social order" to be maintained! And then, when groups become tightly identified, what happens to the "rest of society"?

Another way of understand religion is "belief". These are philosophical ways of understanding life and all that is. "God" is the beginning and end of such thinking, as it is "theological". When theology is ahistorical, people become prone to disconnect from the "real world", either through their "denial" of reality; their belief that they will change reality into some spiritualized vision; or their withdrawal from reality and the real world!

"Behavior" is really the "end" of what scientists want to understand, as behavior is "social control". Social control is needed when radical believers want to implement their vision upon society, or act in ways harmful to themselves because of such a belief. Some psychologists have believed that social conditioning is the best form of "training the human animal". But, one must understand how that must be done without co-ercive measures. That becomes problematic to a free society!

Belonging is first formed within the family of origin. A child's sense of "who he is" and where he fits in the family is an important step to furthering the child's advancement or inhibiting it.

Beliefs are also first grounded within the family of origin. These might not be formally taught as in religious communities, but are modelled by the families "way of life". These become internalized values, until the child becomes "of age" and gains his own sense or what and why he wants to own or dis-own a certain familial value.

Behaviors are the result of a person's belief system. And one's belief about themselves and the world make for how one engages the world and presents themselves.

In a free society, it becomes almost impossible to predict and control behavior at large, because individuals are free to believe differently and contingencies are numerous!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Requirements of Leaders

Atlas Shrugged
You propose to establish a social order based on the following tenets: that you’re incompetent to run your own life, but competent to run the lives of others—that you’re unfit to exist in freedom, but fit to become an omnipotent ruler... P3C7

The first principle of leadership is that they are self-aware, knowing how to run their own lives and not seeking to run other's lives! Freedom does not mean lack of self-responsible behavior, but consciously choosing the values one believes in. Choosing and not blaming is the first requirement of leadership! Our country used to be a country of leaders, not followers. Now, though, our country needs leaders again!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Relationship, Values, and Integrity

Ayn Rand
The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not “selflessness” or “sacrifice,” but integrity. Integrity is loyalty to one’s convictions and values; it is the policy of acting in accordance with one’s values, of expressing, upholding and translating them into practical reality. “The Ethics of Emergencies,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 46

This can only be true if one values "love" as an "ultimate value". Relationship with those that have different values must be mutual compromise, or dissolving one's association to such a relationship. If the principle or value is too important to compromise without loosing "self-respect", then, compromise is asking the impossible. Self-respect is the foundation of integrity.

No one should be required to "help" in those areas they do not believe in. And no one that loves another would ask them to "help" in the areas they do not believe in.