General and Psychology and Relationships and Therapy05 Aug 2019 08:51 am

The following is an essay I wrote for the staff at a transitional living facility for which I consult.

In general one is able to avoid shaming another person by using descriptive strength based language. Vague terms even when not highly critical of another can be shaming if they have a person feel labeled, pigeonholed or judged. Since our initial and primary goal is to have our students feel better about themselves, shaming is best to be avoided whenever possible.

Embarrassment, on the other hand, can be an acceptable and sometimes valuable therapeutic experience/tool.  Psychology has long recognized that embarrassment, while often not a comfortable experience, contains elements of pleasure and validation.

In our meeting yesterday both Abe and Cal gave examples of the possible positive aspects of embarrassment with the students. Abe gave a marvelous impersonation of Russ responding to one of Abe’s insightful observations/teachings in a therapeutically beneficial fashion. One of the skills we are working with Russ is to have him identify his being able to use his chess master prowess in other areas of his life, both in finding ways to use his chess acumen in other areas of his life and social interaction, and to find additional hobbies and interests that use a similar skill set.

Abe, while standing next to Russ noticed/sensed that Russ was using his chess mind while observing/socially integrating with the other guys. He leaned over and said to Russ, “so you’re doing that chess thing with the other guys right now aren’t you”. Abe physically modeled for us Russ’s response which we have all seen before. It was a perfect exhibition of pleasurable embarrassment, in which Russ showed a bit of discomfort with being found out, with the joy and pleasure of feeling seen and understood by Abe.

The “hidden pleasure” and therapeutic element of embarrassment often centers around this basic primal need for children/people to be seen, found, understood and appreciated. One of the first games children learn to play is peek a boo. In this game they get a jolt of endorphins and oxytocin rush almost each time mom reappears after being temporarily out of view/lost. 

This seen/not seen scenario gets played out primarily in games such as hide and seek, red light, Simon says, mother may I, etc. and secondarily in game such as tag, duck-duck-goose, 7 ups and red rover. The thrill of being seen is maybe even surpassed by the thrill of mom or dad chasing and catching you, or capturing you when you were an infant in the cradle and making noises that they were “eating you up” of snuggling and making noises into your stomach. 

There is a local middle aged Asperger man in Asheville who makes some very poignant observations of life on the spectrum and, therefore, human life in general. He likes to talk of the fact that he “never got” the true meaning of tag during his early of even teen years. He always felt that he was great at tag because he was never it. He ended each game feeling like he was the winner and was baffled at how often other kids were “it”. It was only in his late 20’s and 30’s that he realized that the whole purpose of the game was to be chased and caught by someone who wanted to chase and touch you and make you be it. Being “it”, was, as he discovered, a sign of being “caught” in friendship the same way that a child is chased and caught in mom or dad’s loving arms.

So, tag is the joy of being sought after and chased. Being “it” shows that you are desired and your friendship bond is appreciated. In peek a boo you are the treasured object to be cradled in the gaze of your parents and loved ones. 

Often times in psychology the emphasis of peek a boo is on an infants development of object permanence. In early perceptual stages infants do not understand that objects hidden or currently out of view continue to exist. So, in peek a boo, the child sees mom disappear and miraculously reappear every time she hides and shows her face.

Yet, the relationship aspect of peek a boo is often ignored or minimized in the analysis of the significance of peek a boo. As mentioned above the infants squeals of delight and writhes of joy are due not to only seeing mom, but by her seeing him. Even before a child understands the words, they definitely gleefully feel the meaning of “Peek a boo, I see you”.

No matter how old a person gets it is important for them to feel seen and understood in a supportive loving fashion. Many of our young adult’s joy of being seen has been injured by trauma, predatory behavior of peers, or by receiving a disproportionate amount of angry criticism  over praise and recognition.

This is why many of our kids are initially skeptical or resistive to our observations and teaching. Wariness can quickly escalate to power struggles when we replicate their experience of receiving an ample amount of criticism and frustration over a lack of functional proficiency. 

Strength based teaching where we focus our attention on Catching Them Being Good begins to reestablish their innate joy in the fulfilling of their basic need to be seen, understood and validated. The more therapeutically sensitive the skills and central messages are, the more powerful the impact on raising their self-esteem and sense of connection. Skill work that is observational and fun is in the best possible tradition of peek a boo, hide and seek, and tag. 

The better we are at noticing and valuing their well intentioned, respectful and compassionate behavior the more lasting will be their improvements in positive self-regard. Similarly, the more frequent the repetition the easier it is for the student to incorporate (inculcate)   these new habits, attitudes and activities (hobbies and interests) into their daily life.

Our basic needs of belonging and being recognized as a unique and special human being are tended to in the games of childhood listed above. Those basic needs never go away, and our skills teaching becomes an excellent means to restore the joy and validation of being seen and valued. 

Yet, one’s ability to enjoy being seen, to overcome the risk and vulnerability “of becoming naked to others”, involves many factors such as trust, comfort and safety. One always must respect a person’s need for privacy and personal boundaries. Therefore, we should always move cautiously and with our observational eyes wide open and not try to push through resistances with an iron will. 

The more we create positive experiences for our students in the areas of mutual respect, positive self-regard and competency the increased likelihood they will be open to our invitations and guidance to replace old self-sabotaging habits with newer more efficient and life affirming ones. The hidden pleasure of embarrassment is only present when they want to be seen and found, and they take joy and solace in being known and appreciated by us.

General27 Apr 2019 07:40 pm


Due to the pervasive nature of mass media no previous culture has been as influenced by PR, propaganda, spin and perceptual management as ours. Our opinions, consumer habits, desires, goals, values and perspectives have never been more a central target of so much time, energy, research and economic resources.

We are monitored, watched, prodded and herded towards specific attitudes and ideologies which serve and benefit powerful alliances. More and more money is funneled into fewer and fewer hands which allows for the message to be honed and refined into a truly narrow focus. This allows for increased consistency of the message and goal. This is not to say that one day all variance will disappear with only one totalitarian message surviving, but rather that the variances that do survive will be relatively small and the shared goals of the remaining voices will become gospel and reality, at least for the vast majority of people.

This is evident in how our political system has evolved (decayed) to the point in which millions of citizens parrot and accept the premise that one has to vote for the lesser evil. Anything or anyone challenging or seriously questioning the status quo is either an idealistic dreamer, or a crazed conspiracist (quite an impressive disinformation campaign by our perceptual managers, I have to admit).

Since perceptual management is vital to the continued survival and success of the power elite, it is important for us to not only accept and identify its existence but try to remain at least partially immune to its influences. This becomes increasingly difficult as our busy lives and our exposure and dependency on their messages through all forms of media and information make it impossible to be as vigilant in maintaining perspective as they are devoted to molding and altering our perception 24/7.

Before talking about the current faux deflective controversy regarding vaccinations, I would like to visit a couple other divisive and confusing controversies that have raged during my lifespan. The two I’d like to recall are the smoking causes cancer and the current global warming debates.

The ill effects of smoking on one’s health became pretty obvious the more the entrenched the habit became in the lives of ordinary citizens. As the craving for and consumption of tobacco products increased so did health issues regarding lungs, heart as well as smokers ability to jog, be active or in many cases even walk without becoming winded or exhausted. 

Many scientists and health care professionals began sounding the alarm that smoking could negatively impact one’s health and quality of life. When the public response remained muted it became apparent that the addictive qualities of cigarettes over rode the health and quality of life concerns. The response of those concerned of the health implications of smoking was to intensify the message and suggest that the health harms of cigarettes could result in death. 

Expanded research seemed to bear this out and much data showed an increased probability of terminal cancers, and heart disease in the future of many smokers. The tobacco industry turned the entire discussion away from the irrefutable evidence regarding negative health impacts of smoking into a debate on whether or not smoking “caused “ cancer. This clever and effective distractive dialogue shifted people’s attention from the obvious health restrictions and impact on one’s personal quality of life at the hands of a habit/addiction into a theoretical, and almost impossible to win debate, on whether smoking or any individual variable could ever truly be said to cause cancer. 

As you know the debate lasted decades and the word games and spin continue even till today. The tobacco industry shows its compassion by offering programs which help people who want to quit smoking do so, while also supporting groups that espouse that smoking is a matter of personal choice and smoking is a right on par with any other freedom.

While the ill effects of air and water pollution were known for centuries the “ecological” movement became a popular political scientific entity in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The corporate industrial spin doctors borrowed from the tobacco industry play book and seized every opportunity to deflect common sense and observable negative impacts of toxic materials and pollution on personal and global health into a debate over whether pollution can prove to be the cause of some abstract global tragedy.

Despite the admission of the harmful effects of various toxins and poisons in our air water and land, the bulk of the political debate has been on whether certain forms of air pollution cause the destruction of the ozone layer, and now whether or not industrial practices “cause” global warming. Whether or not global warming is truly an imminent problem, or even if such a thing exists is still up for debate, in much the same way that evidence regarding smoking’s relationship to cancer was challenged and dismissed decades ago.

The main point of the above discussion is to show how spin and perceptual management were used to obfuscate a discussion away from some basic common sense observations. Just as one can observe that depriving a person of oxygen results in death, one could state that lung capacity, breathing efficiency, etc. are impaired by smoking, or that toxins and poisons in our water, air and land are by definition generally harmful to life.

Big tobacco portrayed smokers as fun loving individuals who wanted to maximize the moment and enjoy life, and anti-smokers as up-tight busy bodies that wanted to control everyone’s life and end their freedoms. Environmentalists were posed by corporate industry as alarmists who were opposed to progress or misguided and paranoid extremists who didn’t understand or appreciate the reality of modern life. 

In the current “debate” and “controversy” over vaccinations the “anti-vaxxers” are portrayed as paranoid, naive, or misinformed nitwits who are unintentionally going to cause the resurrection of the very epidemics that the vaccines have successfully eradicated from society. The anti-vaxxers are deemed either opposed to all medical science or attempting to falsely blame the illness of their child or loved one on vaccines.

In many ways Big Pharma has turned Big Tobacco’s message on its head. Where Big Tobacco claimed that the anti-smoking crowd’s opposition to freedom and free choice was trying to inhibit the joy and quality of life afforded the smoker, the anti-vaccers refusal to get inoculations (freedom of choice) is endangering the health and quality of life of others, potentially leading to death or major disability (through the re-emergence of a disease such as polio).

While the above concerns contain much truth, the framing of the issue is where this “controversy” is being manipulated and spun in a similar fashion. In the cases of tobacco, industry and now Big Pharma the core issue is to protect and maximize profits and all arguments are designed to create controversy and debate in a way that obfuscates the issue. The misdirection and purposeful framing allows them to maximize profits and jeopardize the heath of others while avoiding any meaningful reform or engaging in social responsibility.

The very term “anti-vaxxers” is highly misleading and provocative. It implies that people questioning or challenging any aspect of Big Pharma’s implementation of its vaccination policies and methods is based on a blind and biased opposition to the very existence of vaccines. It purposely polarizes the situation as a black and white decision to vaccinate or not. It tries to make any challenge of their practices on vaccine administration into an attack on vaccines in and of themselves. It is framing the situation in such a manner as to make those who, through experience or data, are uncomfortable with vaccines as being anti-science or reckless alarmist trying to dismantle one of the greatest forms of disease prevention and extinction ever accomplished in the history of medicine.

The majority of people “opposed” to vaccines, are only concerned about the “disputed side-effects’ such as autism, immune system disorders, etc. observed after immunizations especially when administered in early infancy with its recommended schedule. 

The scientists denying any possible tie between vaccines and serious health repercussions sound extremely similar to those scientists who diminished or even denied the data of smoking related problems, and the scientists who claimed that the levels of mercury, arsenic, etc. found in air, water and land were at safe levels.

The number of lives damaged by being exposed to unacceptable levels of mercury and lead, just to give two examples, in paints, pipes, water, air and land during the long debate is quite sobering. We are similarly being assured that the levels of heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum added to our vaccines are no where near approaching a dangerous level. 

It is my understanding that the heavy metals contained in the majority of the standard vaccines are not essential to the efficacy of the vaccines. They are used as “stabilizers” or preservatives in order to increase the shelf-life and therefore the profit margin of Big Pharma. 

The label of ‘anti-vaxxers’ is a spin smokescreen to avoid any serious discussion on how we can maximize the benefits and reduce any potential harms of our vaccination policies and their implementation. Instead we’re being forced into a false debate in which we have to choose between to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. 

The number of articles pertaining to a potential “outbreak” of a once eradicated disease such as measles are appearing more and more frequently in the corporate press. The cases though most likely real are being posed in the most alarmist fashion, with commentary designed to up people’s fear of an epidemic while blaming either tacitly or directly those who refuse to immunize themselves or their children. The call for forced immunizations is growing with stories of parents being arrested and charged with neglect or some violation of a health code for not immunizing their child. 

The dialogue is now shifting towards a debate between freedom of choice versus public health. This feels like just another obfuscation, another way to protect the profits of Big Pharma under the guise of public health similar to the push for our acceptance of a loss of all our freedoms for the safety of the surveillance state in its fight against terrorism both internal and external.

Jim Guido

General18 Mar 2019 06:28 pm

I recently started binge watching episodes of Mad Men. Since I was born in 1955 the show naturally speaks to my early childhood, and more directly to the world of my parents. While my family was relatively poor there still are significant similarities between my parents world and that portrayed in the adults in Mad Men. 

One of the most glaring characteristics of the era is the fact that adults often had at least one of their hands occupied with beverage or cigarette. My parents and their tribe did not drink hard alcohol as much as the Madison Avenue types, so other than in evening social gatherings the glass of liquor was replaced by cups of coffee. 

My mom in particular spent the bulk of her waking hours smoking cigarettes (between two and three packs a day) and drinking coffee, a pot or two a day is my recollection. Most of my parents friends and relatives also smoked and drank with great regularity. While the confines of many jobs, such as factory work, kept a lid on both smoking and the drinking of coffee (and a few years later carbonated beverages) free hands usually were occupied by one or the other.

Though my mom was surely addicted to nicotine and dependent on caffeine, she was equally dependent on the oral habits of both activities. My mom stated and even looked lost, “naked”,  and lonely without a cigarette or cup of coffee in her hand. I can recall many occasions where my mom would go through an entire cigarette without even taking a single puff. 

She would be sitting on the couch deep in conversation with a friend with her hand poised above the ash tray occasionally flicking away a long ash and never once taking a drag. When the cigarette burned to its completion she would instantly replace the old cigarette in her hand with a new one, and continue talking. 

My mother, and many of her contemporaries, only seemed to feel complete and secure with a cigarette in hand. Sure cigarettes were chemically addictive and people began to be aware of the oral addiction of beverage and cigarette alike, but no one seemed to focus on the hands being occupied habit.

Cigarettes were the adult version of the toddlers stuffed toy or “security’ blanket, whose softness they found comforting, but also the object became part of their body image. A toddler often felt incomplete and vulnerable without their “softy’ in their hands or being cradled in their arms.

Looking back at my early childhood it now seems pretty obvious to me that the majority of adults and parents I knew used cigarettes, coffee and alcohol as hand held transitional object companions that had them feel complete. Without such objects in their hand they felt alone, empty, vulnerable and experienced a sense of loss. A hand without a cigarette mourned the emptiness similar to a widow misses the physical presence of their spouse in bed and around the house after they die.

I think the same sense of being incomplete, of an empty hand being experienced as a deep loss,  and the missing of an integral body part is now being replaced by the smartphone. Screen addiction is becoming accepted as an official diagnosis. Like cigarettes there seems to be a recognized habit addiction, but I do feel we are yet to fully realize that its not just a habit, but smartphones are becoming central to many people’s body image. Without their smartphone, they aren’t just disconnected from the virtual social world and missing the habit of having it in their hand, but it’s more than their hand being empty, it is experienced as missing a vital part of their body. 

Just as a young toddler’s identity and body image is made complete by their transitional object, so to are an increasing number of youngsters, teens, and adults feeling incomplete and physically deformed without their smartphone safely in their hand. The belief that the smartphone screen addiction is mainly about staying socially connected, or is just a habit of the hand, is missing a very important element of the smartphone. Smartphones are being experienced as an integral part of the body, where an empty hand is felt as an incomplete body.

It is not unusual for toddlers to give their stuffed toys a name, imbuing them with a personality and speaking to them as if they are a companion. While this is considered to be a generally healthy and natural stage of development it does become problematic when a toddler isolates and walls themselves off from the community of others and communicates almost exclusively with their stuffed toy.  

With smartphones, being our companion is less of an act of imagination that the stuffed toy. Smartphones can now speak to us with a human voice, they can inform and educate us, and even tell us stories. As the technology improves they will be able to converse and entertain us in an increasingly sophisticated and seductive way. Most toddlers eventually find the real world of others to be more rewarding than the pretend world of stuffed toys and inanimate objects, I’m not so sure if the same realization will be made to those addicted to smartphones.

Jim Guido

Music and Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology28 Nov 2018 07:02 pm
The following is from the liner notes of a yet to be released album of mine, entitled Visceral Vicissitudes.

Visceral Vicissitudes relates to all the myriad of changes that occur deep in our core and in the flesh. The lyrics of the songs focus and dwell on the beauty, wonder and challenges of sentience and the interplay of consciousness and the body.

Modern man has frequently emphasized the ego and self-consciousness at the expense of appreciating and valuing our sensorial visceral world of sentience. This often results in our being conscious of consciousness rather than being aware and savoring our sensorial and visceral experience.

Often we are conscious OF or ABOUT things such as beauty, logic, love, truth, values, belief and happiness, than engage in the actual sensorial visceral fullness of our experience. We often think about experience, instead of actually and fully participating and savoing visceral experience.

Many often aspire to get beyond the physical to the spiritual or transcendental essence, and purposefully strive to live pure consciousness. Through “elevated” states of consciousness one hopes to witness their own body and experiences from a transcendental plane, and strive to become pure mind or spirit.

When we place our attention on Visceral Vicissitudes we experience ourselves as being intertwined and interlaced with life and not so much as a separate or detached consciousness. Our sensorial sentient body experiences itself as more OF the world, rather than IN a world.

Visceral experience complemented by self-conscious awareness is rich, deep, satiating, and intimate. Consciousness of the visceral is grounded and has substance, and is often poignant and full of emotional significance.

The call for Visceral Vicissitudes is a call to our humanity, to our nature and to our actual presence and intimate interconnection with all of organic life. A visceral connection with oneself and organic life makes the very possibility of war, torture, slavery or abuse intolerable. The justification for war, slavery, abuse, etc. is based on abstract concepts such as Truth, good and evil, justice and belief and not on a visceral experience of the integrity of organic life.

On a visceral level we gravitate towards pleasure and avoid pain, and we gravitate towards and are absorbed with life and not on ideals and abstractions. When our experience is viscerally based, we have skin in the game, and we put the human back into our humanity.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships14 Oct 2018 01:44 pm

In the previous post, Well-Being Defined, I mentioned my plan to write a third book in my Art of Living series. Today I’d like to give an overview of the first two books, Exploring Intimacy and Cellular Joy as well as a basic outline of the third book, Your Results May Vary.

In Exploring Intimacy we treated intimacy as a  basic human drive. Intimacy was defined as our basic desire to become closer to and increasingly familiar with. The list of things we can become more intimate, closer and more familiar with, is almost endless. 

We can become more intimate with ourselves, friends, lovers, nature, ideas, sports, history, art, music, furniture or a specific hobby such as stamp collecting. We can become more familiar and intimate with mythology, magic, food or any beverage such as tea, or wine. The entire universes of ideas, activities, things and feelings are all ripe with intimate possibilities.

Exploring Intimacy carves out a space in the world of the Art of Living comparing and contrasting itself with ideals and beliefs in the various realms such as religion, spirituality, philosophy, psychology and mysticism. Intimacy is compared and contrasted with views on transcendence, enlightenment, and other traditions and disciplines concerned with happiness, meaning and the quality of life.

Since in Exploring Intimacy, Intimacy is treated as a natural drive, we explore the obstacles to intimacy which limit and suppress this basic drive. We discuss the role fear, inhibition and trauma play and how one can even use our human limitations as a means of unfolding intimacy. 

The goal of this exploration is to help people identify how they can increase the quality, intensity and frequency of intimacy in their lives in a realistic and fulfilling manner. Intimacy is shown to be a full and rewarding organic experience and not just an abstract ideal.

The second book, Cellular Joy, is a journey into the rewards of integrated experience. Cellular Joy is divided into three sections, Survive and Thrive, I and Me, and Bodyfullness.

In the first section we consider how the Fight for Survival and the tendency for life on earth to thrive and become lush and plentiful are both true.  The significance, importance  and value of these perspectives is explored through a number of sub lenses such as domination and co-existence.

While our culture has a tendency to emphasize the fight for survival and scarcity and its related fears, we can appreciate its truth while also appreciating how plenitude is both an observable reality and important lens to keep in mind. The ability to to see things from a multitude of perspectives, and to apply them in decision making, is a hallmark of wisdom. Being able to see things from different viewpoints is literally “keeping things in perspective” and is very valuable in cultivating joy and satisfaction in life.

In the second section we explore the synergistic and essential relationship between the self-conscious mind (“I”), and the sentient body (“Me”). We observe how the sentient body lives in the moment with amazing speed and agility and the role the reflective ego plays in savoring, enriching and guiding the body which lives in the world. 

In essence the sentient body lives in the actual while the self-conscious mind lives in the possible. The body senses, perceives and experiences while the ego organizes and instills experience with history, meaning and perspective.

The third section focuses on the rewards of integrating the experiences of the sentient body and self-conscious mind. The entwining of thought, emotion and sensation into one integrated whole is given the name of Bodyfullness. 

Bodyfullness is distinguished from Mindfulness in that mindfulness can often be an act of consciousness, an act of awareness, in which visceral and sensorial experience is often marginalized or transcended. Cellular Joy being steeped in the integration of I and Me, of the sentient and visceral habit body with the self-conscious ego, is a full bodied experience. 

In the section on Bodyfullness we explore how Cellular Joy can become a daily experience and become one’s default mode. While happiness can be an abstract idea, attitude or state of mind, joy is identified as an experience felt deep in one’s core and radiates through the body. 

Your Results May Vary builds upon Bodyfullness by expanding on the experience of well-being. We feel well-being when our heart rate, body sugar, and many other biochemical systems stay within an acceptable range. A sense of well-being does not create Cellular Joy, but more often than not needs to be in place for us to access it.

In Your Results May Vary I plan on discussing how “feelings” are central to our quality of life. We feel not only physically/sensoriallly but also psychologically and emotionally. Feeling well, the experience of well-being, is common to all four realms (the sensorial, the psychological the emotional and the visceral/physical). 

While Your Results May Vary the goal is for us to become as engaged and enthralled with the world as when we were infants. An infant’s energy, joy and engagement are awe inspiring. One of the reasons a toddler is so engaged is that without worded language they are locked in the actual (the present). While this allows them to be engaged it prevents them from most memory, ego appreciation and reflective savoring.

Yet, the danger of the possible is that it can be used to deflect, avoid and transcend as well as appreciate and savor. We often can get lost in thought or become enamored with chasing abstract ideas and exercises of mind. While this has its own form of joy, it more often than not takes away from our body, our heart and our actual experience.

In Your Results May Vary our journey will involve exploring the possibility of intertwining  the toddlers engagement in the actual with the ego’s ability to reflect, savor and appreciate. The goal of this exploration will be to see to what degree we can turn the flashlight of our attention back towards our engaged intimate and joyful experience, so that can best maximize our integrated experience and live a life rife with Cellular Joy.

Exploring Intimacy is currently available on this website in the Words section.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships11 Sep 2018 11:19 am

Well-being, is the sense of being or feeling well. Our general sense of well-being is often dependent on our staying within an acceptable range of functioning regarding basic physiology and biochemistry. Such ranges would include vital statistics such as blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate to blood sugar, cholesterol and dopamine. 

The term homeostasis has been given to this range of well being where organisms not only survive but thrive and flourish. Our general health and safety is generally assured when our  bodies and nervous systems stay within these ranges. Homeostasis (well-being) is therefore not a static state or reaching some ideal form of balance but rather the staying within a life affirming range in a host of variables.

While the staying within the acceptable biochemical and physiological ranges often results in our feeling good, safe and comfortable, we also can experience well-being on mainly emotional or psychological levels. Studies have shown that even when people stray beyond the acceptable ranges of biochemistry their emotional and psychological feelings of well-being can limit the harm or danger posed by their detrimental physiology. This is not to suggest that one can overcome all realities of physiology and biochemistry through attitude alone, but only that emotional and psychological well being can help lessen the danger and ill effects of our biochemistry slightly passing beyond the acceptable thresholds of homeostatic physiology. 

Organic homeostasis  and emotional/psychological well-being often reinforce each other resulting in our experiencing a high quality of life. Individuals who frequently experience well-being physiologically, emotionally and psychologically usually report a high quality of life resulting in a joyful and fulfilling existence.

I am currently planning on writing a book entitled Your Results May Vary, the third in a series of Art of Living Books which will focus attention on the experience of well-being and its impact on our lives. This post is the first in a series which will flesh out many of the themes I hope to expand on in the book regarding well-being, self-consciousness, the body and integrated experience.

Jim Guido

Ecology and Psychology28 May 2018 11:40 am

We are born sentient beings. While some senses like eyesight improve over the first few months, others such as smell begin fully developed. General states of well being, as well as sensorial sensations dominate the first year or so of life. Our internal sensations of comfort and discomfort and our sensorial experiences of pain and pleasure guide and direct our responses, reactions, movements and activities.

Our early lives are very similar to other mobile organisms with complex nervous systems and brains (such as mammals). We are processing information, making choices and having feelings based on our perceptual sensorial world. We adapt and thrive in our environment by learning from our experiences in mostly a trial and error methodology. 

The bulk of our time is spent in the actual and only over time do our perceptual images of our environment allow us to proactively plan and allow us to live in the possible. The journey to becoming a self-conscious autonomous person is a long, slow process. Growth in our ability to turn images into tools of imagination which we use to secure memories and project a future are vital to the emergence of self-consciousness and sense of personal history. Slowly we go from an actor responding to events, feelings and situations into a self-aware author of our own personal story.

The acquisition of language quickly turns the story into an ongoing internal narrative. We begin to tell our story to ourselves as well as others, and begin to see and hear that our story is often different from others with whom we speak. Developmental psychologists generally agree that most children demonstrate the ability to see and refer to themselves as a separate individual at around eighteen months. Yet, many research psychologists state that a firm and consistent sense of self may not fully form until the age of four. 

While the body is a thing, the mind is a process. Sentient experience is always a combination of body and mind, whether that be in humans, animals or birds. Yet, the majority of sentient life is not self-conscious with an internal narrative or worded thought. As we described above, humans too, are not born self-conscious but only become so through language, a growing ability of imagination to project a future and remember a past, and an emerging ability to be aware of their own feelings and emotions.

Since the process of the emergence of self-consciousness from mere sentience occurs so smoothly and quickly in modern humans its importance is often minimized or completely overlooked. Add to this the fact that once we attain self-consciousness it dominates our experience and in fact becomes the very definition of our identify, it is easy to see why we ignore and forget that we were born sentient and not self-conscious.

It would appear that self-consciousness is itself a stage of development dependent on the interplay of the sensorial body, and autonomic and central nervous systems. Self-conscious awareness does indeed seem to be secreted by the body as an advanced and sophisticated means of improving our ability to both survive and thrive. With this in mind, it is not difficult to imagine humans existing without being self-conscious and easy for us to see this reality reflected in all sentient life and not just in apes and other highly sentient life forms.

So while a child only takes a couple of years of their life to become self-conscious the transformation of sentience becoming self-consciousness is even more pronounced and obvious on an evolutionary level. Currently life scientist estimate that multicellular organisms made their appearance around 700 million year ago. Around the same time they developed non-centralized nervous systems allowing their body of cells to communicate with each other. Nervous systems make their appearance in organic life approximately 500 million years ago along with a centralized primitive brain. The brain went through a number of stages and at around 320 million years ago the cerebral cortex seems to have emerged. While the exact date of the emergence of sentience is still not known it would seem logical to deduce that organisms with a cerebral cortex would be sentient.

Yet, the neocortex which seems to be the strongest candidate to herald the birth of self-consciousness as opposed to just sentience is placed as emerging only about 200,000 years ago. Therefore, you can see the incredible expanse between the emergence of sentience and the eventual emergence of self-consciousness.

While we have already discussed the important role language plays in self-consciousness we still do not know exactly when humans acquired language. We are fairly certain that language existed 70,000 years ago, but we do not know if came into existence at the same time as the neocortex or for how long the neocortex predates the birth of language.

Yet, even if later research cases significant changes in the above timeline, one thing seems rather certain and that is nervous systems producing sentience preceded self-conscious by hundreds of millions of years. We know that sentient beings used their perceptual abilities to not only survive but to flourish. Internal and external mechanisms such as comfort/discomfort and pleasure/pain guided organic life in its successful journey towards surviving and thriving. 

Through natural selection organic life became more adept and adaptable and its developing nervous systems and brains increased its survival skills and mobility allowing territorial expansion and finding more suitable living conditions. As pointed out earlier in this article, the shift from sentience to self-consciousness in many ways was a shift from living and responding to the actual to being able to live in the possible and fictitious. 

So, for hundreds of millions of years our evolutionary path was grounded in our ability to survive and thrive in real and in-the-moment events. While very advanced sentient beings can anticipate and plan based on a history of past events, as evidenced by the behavior of both predators and prey, only self-conscious beings can truly invent and create. 

While being able to think, plan and act in the possible increases our abilities to thrive and survive, it also untethers us from the real and actual. Natural selection is a process that ensures that what is life affirming survives and succeeds and that which is not adaptive and generative dies out. Mechanisms such as pain and pleasure could impel us towards the life affirming and away from the life threatening. Through millions of years these built in attributes of natural selection fostered our developing into increasingly sophisticated and complex organisms with growing survival talents and skills.

To date, self-consciousness is the most advanced skill and talent generated by natural selection with unprecedented potential to have us thrive and be life affirming for not only ourselves but almost all of organic life. Yet, while living in the possible provides perspectives and knowledge increasing our ability to advance the cause of natural selection it also allows us to ignore and abandon the very laws that have guided the proliferation of organic life over literally billions of years.

In the previous article entitled Killing the Host we explored some of the potential harms and catastrophes that our self-consciousness could inflict on our fragile and lush planet. I would suggest you read that article now, and use it to help you better ponder the incredible opportunity and danger that natural selection has released through the emergence of self-conscious life.

It would seem prudent and wise for self-conscious beings to ponder well the road that natural selection has placed us upon and how it has assisted us, and organic life in general, in both surviving and thriving.  Our current tendency to want to transform and transcend natural selection and to demean or reject all of our past is quite risky and extremely arrogant. While the debate between nature and nurture is vital to our understanding of who we are and where we are going, it seems foolish for us to denounce all our old ways of life and being in the world as arbitrary, archaic or as obstacles to our freedom and development. 

Impulsive and reactionary behavior done from a level of self-consciousness does not have a great track record of being life affirming and furthering the cause of natural selection. Such tendencies of human nature have been grossly exploited to foster and justify war, prejudice and hatred. It is likely that further growth and development in the area of being life affirming and improving the quality of all organic life will be more an extension of the processes that have dominated the last few billion years than a rejection or dramatic transformation of its methods, mechanisms and strategies.

 

Jim Guido

Ecology and Philosophy and Social Issues13 May 2018 01:11 pm

I, on numerous occasion throughout the years,  have included in my posts the observation that the Industrial Capitalists have taken liberally from Big Tobacco’s play book of how to defeat scientific and populist concerns about their behavior and policies. When science and citizens began complaining about the unhealthy effects of tobacco and smoking, Big Tobacco shifted the debate from health to whether or not cigarettes “caused”cancer. 

This debate, as you well know, went on for decades as proving something causes cancer is all but impossible. So instead of having to admit the obvious and highly documented negative health impacts of tobacco including the incredible number of toxins and poisons in the cigarettes, they were able to fend off such realities with a conceptual debate on causes of cancer or there even being a possible way to ascertain absolute cause of any multivariable health issue.

The science of the early ecological and environmental science movement is the late 60’s and 70’s had no trouble showing and documenting the unhealthy aspects of dumping tons of toxins and poisons into our land, water and air. And like big tobacco, the industrialized corporate community could tie up litigations in courts for years. Yet, like big tobacco they reveled at the opportunity to switch the debate from easily documentable health implications into a theoretical debate as to whether the poisonous assault on our environment is/was causing global warming.

During the great cancer debate smoking enthusiasts (nicotine addicts) were able to cite personal or anecdotal testimonials of people who had smoked two or three packs a day for decades and never got cancer. Likewise the capitalist industrialist (greed and wealth addict) is able to cite numerous examples of how their practices have in some way improved the environment and quality of life while finding many isolated and cherry picked studies which draw into the question the whole reality of the cause of global warming or its very existence.

While the term ecology was coined in the late 1860’s it took almost a full century before ecological science had popularized concerns that the very survival of much of the life of the planet was being threatened by human generated pollution and industry. In the mid 1960’s Buckminster Fuller began to popularize the idea that the earth was in essence a self-contained spaceship hurdling through the universe. He maintained that while the earth had evolved over billons of years to become a lush and flourishing home to an amazing array of organic life it was also a vulnerable and fragile enclosed biosphere that could be destroyed by the careless actions of humanity.

The more we learn about the planet and all of its organic life the more we see how intertwined and interlaced it all is. While it is true that the fight for survival gets played out in so many arenas of organic life, it is equally obvious that there is an even stronger dynamic of things working and functioning together. Life on planet earth does not just survive, but thrives and flourishes. In general, life uses the dead and dying life as fuel as a means of getting rid of waste and having the greater organism (earth) grow, thrive and flourish. The more we learn, viewing the earth’s biosphere as a living organism is more literal than figurative. 

When one acknowledges that the earth is one huge spaceship one can easily see how foolish, dangerous and destructive pollution and war are to the long term survival of much of organic life, including humans. The Starship Enterprise, the famous spaceship from the TV series Star Trek was supposed to be half mile long and home to a couple of thousand people. Imagine how quickly it would have become a mass grave if it would have been home to endless wars amongst its crew members or would have been generating poisons and toxins inside the spaceship and becoming part of its circulated air and water supply.

While space ship earth is far larger it is still silly to think we and most of organic life can continue to survive and flourish when under constant assault through the propagation of poisons and toxins into our living environment. The earth took some 3 billion or so years to become stable and suitable enough to allow organic life to survive. All of organic life has a relatively narrow band of temperature, chemical composition, etc. in which they can survive. While it is true that the adaptable survive, it is also true that adaptation takes time and acceptable changes move at a snails pace in which hundreds of our generations aren’t even a recognizable blip on the screen.  

The above discussion now has advanced to the point where we can talk about its title, Killing the Host. The earth is the host of all of life, and as a planet it is itself a living biosphere teeming with life. The earth as biosphere is alive and is filled with life in the very same manor that each human being is alive and their body and viscera is teeming with life.

Our activities are killing the host, that being earth, in much the same way that microbes, bacteria, germs, etc. can  threaten, make ill and even kill the body. While the fight for survival is usually dominated by a need to kill or eat the dead, dying or disabled to acquire fuel the killing the host method is quite rare and inefficient. In general organic life does not eat or kill something into extinction for a predator is dependent on the survival and flourishing of its prey for its continued survival and flourishing.

The vast majority of organisms that kill the host do so only during a relatively short adjustment period (especially considering the organic life time line which spans hundreds of millions or even billions of years). Once mutual adaptation occurs, if not becoming a mutually beneficial “teem/team” member, the once lethal organism either adapts to being a parasite or becomes  an agent causing temporary dis-ease.

Shortly after developing microscopes strong enough to see bacteria we recognized the role they can play in deadly inflections, diseases and plagues. Soon the general populace began to view all germs (bacterium) as predatory and lethal, beginning a decades long, and in many cases still existing, war against the germ. 

Recent dissemination to the public of the essential and beneficial role bacteria play in digestion as well as many other functions of our organs and central nervous system has still not removed the evil status of germs. Even when acknowledging their necessary role in both our surviving and flourishing we still feel it necessary to talk of good and bad bacterial cultures such as in the talk on probiotics. 

When a microorganism is in its lethal stage, for its own survival, it must find a new host to inhabit before its old host expires. One of the more common ways in which lethal organisms jump from one host to another is when it becomes “air born” through sneezing or coughing. 

When one frames the current status of mankind as a lethal germ whose activities are endangering and killing the host (various biomes and the earth’s biosphere in total) we can equate our desire to seek survival through space travel and “colonizing” other planets as our truly “exploring” ways to find another host to infect and kill. We are totally capable of adapting and becoming as life affirming and promoting as any other organic organism on planet earth, but our current course is one of killing the host.

Please look for and read my next post entitled “Does the Body Secrete Self-Consciousness?” which poses how we got where we are at, and what are some potential alternative courses of action. We can in deed become one of the most beneficial organisms in natures progression in having organic life continue to thrive and flourish in an ever increasing efficient and life affirming manner.

Jim Guido

Psychology and Relationships and Therapy19 Jan 2018 08:15 pm

The change process is a crucial element to almost everything we learn or improve upon. In two posts I wrote over seven years ago I observed that the change process takes place on three levels.

The first level is that of a behavior or habit that you want to change. The second dimension involves the psychological and emotional elements which support and maintain the habit you want to change. The third dimension is the biochemical/neurological wiring that the habit creates in your body and brain.

While you can acquire improvement by just focusing on learning a new habit, real change occurs (and mastery of a new habit usually only results) when all three realms are honored and respected. Pease read the following links to the old posts for examples and a deeper explanation of the roles that habit/behavior, emotion/psychology, and biochemistry/neurology play in the change process.

Components of Personal Growth and Development

Components of Personal Growth and Development: Part 2

So today I’d like to talk about the change process in slightly different terms. A comprehensive and efficient way for you to effectively make changes in your life is by reframing, replacing and rewiring.

Reframing means that one is encouraged to see things from an alternate perspective. The process of reframing allows one to stop being locked or rigid in the way one feels or thinks about their habit or bias. It opens them up emotionally and psychologically to news ways of acting and being in the world.

It makes sense that what we think and say greatly effects the way we feel. The way we think and feel impacts the choices we make regarding actions we take and how we respond to others. The way we act and respond forms our habits. The feelings and emotions we have when engaging in habitual activity creates our neural networks in the brain and secretes the biochemistry which is the basis of who we are and how we are wired.

Therefore, by changing our perspective and attitude we become more open and receptive to developing new habits. New habits Replace the old habits, and new habits done over time Rewire both our neurology and biochemistry.

An anxious person has anxious thoughts and feelings. These anxious thoughts and feelings have one engage in actions which exhibit anxiety. A person who thinks, feels, and acts anxiously will have an anxious biochemistry and be neurologically wired to behave in an anxious manner.

Oftentimes, people’s attempts to change something in their lives are limited or unsuccessful due to an over emphasis on one dimension of the change process or even completely ignoring the other two dimensions. Talk therapy often helps a person gain insight into why they behave or react in a certain fashion. Yet, gaining insight into why I get angry or have trouble sustaining an intimate relationship doesn’t, by itself, prevent me from getting angry or being toxic or self-sabotaging in relationships.

People often try to end a bad behavior through just will power. In the language of the social sciences a person attempts to extinguish the old behavior by pure will and determination. Examples of this are when a person makes a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking, eating too much, or spending too much time on the computer. Such resolutions seldom fare well unless the person is able to find a suitable Replacement for the old habit. The replacement chances of success are increased the more the new behavior successfully addresses the emotional and psychological needs that the old behavior fulfilled.

Sometimes attempts at facilitating change focus on the biochemical level. The most common form of such a biochemical intervention is the taking of non prescription or psychotropic drugs. Yet, we often try to affect our biochemistry through other means such as exercise, meditation, or diet.

Pharmaceuticals seldom solve a problem, but more often than not just mask a symptom or shift the problem to another area. Taking an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant seldom cures the anxiety or depression, but does provide relief or causes a temporary change in one’s biochemistry deadening one’s unwanted experience.

Even though changes in biochemistry caused by increased exercise and healthy diet inherently involve the introduction of new habits, their long term success depends on the emotional and psychological needs also being addressed and met. While exercise biochemically elevates mood and provides needed energy, these benefits will have a hard time overcoming a highly stressful lifestyle, or a personal psychology dominated by self-hatred. Activities such as exercise or diet, which are inherently biochemical interventions, need frequent and consistent repetition if they have any hope of becoming durable and reliable facets of successful change.

Reframing, Replacing and Rewiring are essential and interrelated elements in the change process.  When it comes to the learning and mastery of a skill or talent it is best accomplished through the integration of habit, mind, and body. Reframing tends to the psychological and emotional elements through providing the necessary shift in perspective and attitude. Replacing deals with the actual habit, allowing the ritual to become part of our body memory no longer being dependent on conscious awareness. When one habit is replaced by another the new one becomes reflexive and our default mode when we aren’t consciously monitoring our behavior.

A reflexive habit becomes wired into our neurology. Each time we engage in the habit our body deepens the groove, the neural pathways, carved out by the behavior. Each neurological event elicits a corresponding biochemical experience. A new habit, therefore, Rewires us both neurologically and biochemically.

In therapeutic situations I have found it highly beneficial to pay close attention to the processes of Reframing, Replacing and Rewiring. A new book, The Parental Tool Box, written by my wife and I will be released at the end of this month. In each and every chapter we explore parenting strategies and techniques which help create a mutually respectful and rewarding home environment.

The various tools provided all incorporate aspects of Reframing, Replacing and Rewiring.The tools provided are not magic wands but means by which both parents and their children can find increasing joy and harmony in their interactions with each other.

Government and Politics and Psychology and Social Issues23 Sep 2017 03:27 pm

The constant assault by the corporate media on Donald Trump is both obvious and potentially dangerous in so many ways.The negative focus on Trump partially paralyzes the functioning of our government, diverts attention from other important issues, has us fantasize that he is the root of all our problems, and helps foment a social landscape full of fear, hatred and endless divisiveness.

The public treatment of Donald Trump as means of trying to purge from society all that is bad and evil finds its roots in psychology, comparative religions and social anthropology. The use of an individual to exorcise the demons in a family, community and society has occurred throughout history. In most cases all that is accomplished through these devices is a form of emotional release without any real substantive change occurring.

Here are the definitions of two common strategies used which while serving functional, psychological and emotional purposes due little to engender meaning change or progress:

Identified patient, or “IP”, is a term used in a clinical setting to describe the person in a dysfunctional family who has been unconsciously selected to act out the family’s inner conflicts as a diversion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapegoat

Trump is being vilified for making vulgar, insensitive and hateful statements regarding women and various racial and ethnic groups. Yet, many of those criticizing him are just as vulgar and insensitive in their vitriolic attacks on Trump and his family. Any of his archaic or potentially insulting remarks regarding women are more than matched by the attacks on his character being hurled by many feminists and liberals labeling him as a misogynist. The slurring and vicious attacks are also lodged towards any man or women who doesn’t engage in name calling or show of hatred at Trump. Any sign of tolerance is viewed as a sign of being a closet misogynist or homophobe.

His fitness of office is questioned because of his impulsive nature and how dangerous it could be regarding international affairs. He is accused of being a racist and an Islamaphobe for his protectionists stances regarding immigration. Yet, if this were truly the issue, and he was not just being used as scapegoat and identified patient, than why weren’t the deportations policies of Bush and Obama equally horrific. While the data can be interpreted in many ways it clearly shows that Trump’s actions pale in comparison to Obama.

https://www.blackagendareport.com/obama_beats_trump_deportations

The concerns regarding his impulsive, belligerent and possibly unstable personality endangering our safety is well worth our attention and concern. Yet, publicly calling a person crazy and unstable does not seem to be a wise thing to do. A mentally unstable person is the last person you would want to publicly and consistently call crazy and threaten with impeachment. This leads one to believe that those in the media and government with the most exposure to Trump do not fully believe the “he’s bat shit crazy” narrative.

Yet, if weren’t the identified patient and scapegoat he probably wouldn’t be singled out for his war like disposition and instead either be grouped with his predecessors or given a free pass like they generally have received. The previous president, and noble peace prize recipient, was the first two term president to spend his entire time in the White House engaged in war. The US was engaged in war with no less than seven nations, and many of his international policies such as the drone program and various sanctions were in violation of international law.

While Secretary of State Hilarly Clinton’s propensity towards military aggression and fomenting war attracted relatively little attention regarding her fitness for office. In a previous post http://guidoworld.com/blog/the-snubbing-… explored the inappropriateness of her showing such unabated and unrepentant glee at the brutal execution of Gaddafi who while being controversial, had an impressive record of improving the quality of life for many Libyans and African’s in general. Likewise Clinton’s and Obama’s stated desire to create a no fly zone did not alarm the press, despite its enforcement being a de facto act of war against Russia.

Trump’s being viewed and used as the identified patient and scapegoal helps explain many of the conflicts, ironies and discrepancies between how his actions and proposed policies are being reacted to so much more harshly than similar ones of his predecessors.

While Trumps impulsive nature is given as reason for his impeachment, to date, each of Trump’s more aggressive and impulsive acts of war, or threats and ultimatums to nations such as N. Korea or Russia have been met with positive press and praise from members of the Senate and the House. The only path apparently left open to Trump to lessen his being treated as scapegoat and identified patient is to continue our immoral and reckless policy of assassination and overthrow of specific sovereign leaders and governments who we frequently claim, but rarely prove, “kill or gas their own people”. Calls for his impeachment seemingly subside when he supports huge arms deals to other nations such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey who have documented histories of engaging in actual genocidal acts.

We are being conditioned to fear, despise and loathe every single action of Trump and “his supporters” as “deplorable” racists, misogynists, Islamophobes, etc. Anyone not eager to ridicule his every word and gesture becomes a modern version of a “pinko communist” of the McCarthy and Archie Bunker eras.

The spiritual left has now joined the ranks of the fanatical religious right in their righteous assertion that all those not sharing their beliefs as being evil, immoral and a danger to society. All, if not especially liberals are being conditioned to being close minded, mean and intolerant to any person who is hesitant to hate Trump, the Russians, or leader of any nation which we have/had designs on such Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Iraq and Libya.

It has become the national past time to foment hatred and division. The use of Trump of as scapegoat and identified patient seems to be more of a catalyst for an increase in social tension and chaos than a release. The identified patient and scapegoat provide temporary relief and deflection, but they more often then not do not bring about healthy change.

I, too, find much of Donald Trump’s policies and stances unsavory and reckless. Yet, while his presentation is often childish and rude the substance and content of what he says and the policies he espouses is in line with our nation’s basic policies for decades. He is not a rogue president, just one with poor filters. If all we do is demand that our presidents be more sophisticated in articulating and implementing heinous and destructive policies all we do is insure that our executive branch becomes a breeding ground for sociopaths and smooth speakers who feel that morals and international law don’t apply to this “exceptional and essential” nation.

Identified patients are a product of the dysfunctional families in need of therapy and services. Families which try to pawn off all their problems on the identified patient are only missing an opportunity for healthy growth and change. We are a nation in need of reflecting on how we can become more life affirming and an agent of peace and harmony.

Blaming Trump for all our ills, or preventing him from establishing better relations with nation’s who we currently do not trust and who have lost trust in us is counterproductive. I remember seeing a quote by a Congressman in which he said he could never trust the Russians, and therefore, he would never engage in diplomatic relations with them. Well, the whole purpose of diplomacy is to work with those that you don’t trust.

Without diplomacy there is only domination and annihilation. Peace isn’t dependent on complete agreement, only in learning how to adapt to and accommodate our differences and preferences.

Jim Guido

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