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Fear Is Contagious and Used to Control You

By Dr. Mercola | Waking Times

Governments are using fear to control and manipulate their citizens. That has now been admitted by members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior (SPI-B), a subcommittee that advises the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in the U.K. And they should know, because they advocated for it, and now say it was a regrettable mistake. As reported by The Telegraph, May 14, 2021:1

“Scientists on a committee that encouraged the use of fear to control people’s behavior during the COVID pandemic have admitted its work was ‘unethical’ and ‘totalitarian.’ Members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior (SPI-B) expressed regret about the tactics in a new book about the role of psychology in the Government’s COVID-19 response.

SPI-B warned in March last year that ministers needed to increase ‘the perceived level of personal threat’ from COVID-19 because ‘a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened.’

Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the team, said: ‘Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government. By nature I am an optimistic person, but all this has given me a more pessimistic view of people.’”

Psychological Warfare Is Real

The Telegraph quotes several of the SPI-B members, all of whom are also quoted in the newly released book, “A State of Fear: How the UK Government Weaponised Fear During the Covid-19 Pandemic,” written by Laura Dodsworth:2

“One SPI-B scientist told Ms Dodsworth: ‘In March [2020] the Government was very worried about compliance and they thought people wouldn’t want to be locked down. There were discussions about fear being needed to encourage compliance, and decisions were made about how to ramp up the fear. The way we have used fear is dystopian.

The use of fear has definitely been ethically questionable. It’s been like a weird experiment. Ultimately, it backfired because people became too scared’ …

One warned that ‘people use the pandemic to grab power and drive through things that wouldn’t happen otherwise … We have to be very careful about the authoritarianism that is creeping in’ …

Another member of SPI-B said they were ‘stunned by the weaponization of behavioral psychology’ during the pandemic, and that ‘psychologists didn’t seem to notice when it stopped being altruistic and became manipulative. They have too much power and it intoxicates them.’

Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said: ‘If it is true that the state took the decision to terrify the public to get compliance with rules, that raises extremely serious questions about the type of society we want to become. If we’re being really honest, do I fear that government policy today is playing into the roots of totalitarianism? Yes, of course it is.’”

The Manufacture of Fear

For nearly a year and a half, governments around the world, with few exceptions, have fed their citizens a steady diet of frightening news. For months on end, you couldn’t turn on the television without facing a ticker-tape detailing the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

Even when it became clear that people weren’t really dying in excessive numbers, the mainstream media fed us continuous updates on the growing number of “cases,” without ever putting such figures into context or explaining that the vast majority were false positives.

Information that would have balanced out the bad news — such as recovery rates and just how many so-called “cases” actually weren’t, because they never had a single symptom — were censored and suppressed.

They also refused to put any of the data into context, such as reviewing whether the death toll actually differed significantly from previous years. Instead, each new case was treated as an emergency and a sign of catastrophic doom.

Don’t Be Confused — Contradiction Is a Warfare Tactic

Aside from the barrage of bad-news-only data — which, by the way, was heavily manipulated in a variety of ways — fear and anxiety are also generated by keeping you confused. According to Dodsworth, giving out contradictory recommendations and vague instructions is being done intentionally, to keep you psychologically vulnerable.

“When you create a state of confusion, people become ever more reliant on the messaging. Instead of feeling confident about making decisions, they end up waiting for instructions from the Government,” she said in a May 20, 2021, interview on the Planet Normal podcast.3

An example provided by Dodsworth is the pandemic measures implemented over Christmas 2020:

“Family Christmases were on, then off, then back on, then off again. You have got someone tightening the screw, then loosening the screw, then tightening it again. It’s like a torture scenario.”

But that’s not all. As explained by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin, by layering confusion and uncertainty on top of fear, you can bring an individual to a state in which they can no longer think rationally. Once driven into an illogical state, they are easily manipulated. I have no doubt driving people into a state where logic and reason no longer registers is the whole point behind much of the conflicting information we’re given.

The Fear Factory

In her book, Dodsworth details a number of branches of the British government that are using psychological warfare methods in their interaction with the public. In addition to the SPI-B, there’s the:4

Behavioral Insights team, the so-called “nudge unit,” a semi-independent government body that applies “behavioral insights to inform policy, improve public services and deliver positive results for people and communities.”5 This team also advises foreign nations.

Home Office’s Research, Information, and Communications Unit (RICU), which is part of the U.K.’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, advises front groups disguised as public “grassroots” organizations on how to “covertly engineer the thoughts of people.”

Rapid Response Unit, launched in 2018, operates across the British Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s office (colloquially known as “Number 10” as in the physical address, 10 Downing Street in London) to “counter misinformation and disinformation.” They also work with the National Security Communications Team during crises to ensure “official information” gets maximum visibility.6

Counter Disinformation Cell, which is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Both monitor social media and combat “fake news” about science in general and COVID-19 in particular, with “fake news” being anything that contradicts the World Health Organization’s guidance.7

Government Communications Headquarters (QCHQ), an intelligence and security organization that provides information to the U.K. government and the armed forces. According to Dodsworth, QCHQ personnel, and even members of the 77th Brigade, have been enlisted as so-called sockpuppets and trolls to combat anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown messaging on social media.

According to Dodsworth, there are many others. In her book, she claims at least 10 different government departments in the U.K. are working with “behavioral insights teams” to manipulate the public.

We’re Just Seeing It Now

Importantly, the government’s reliance on behavioral psychology didn’t just happen as a result of the pandemic. These tactics have been used for years, for myriad PR purposes, and while the pandemic may be winding down, Dodsworth warns that more and more behavioral scientists are being hired:8

“It’s growing and growing. Right now, I feel we are in a maelstrom of nudge,” she says. “In the past, there have been calls to consult the public on the use of behavioral psychology, and those calls have come from the behavioral scientists themselves. And yet it hasn’t happened. We haven’t yet been consulted on the use of subconscious techniques which effectively strip away our choices …

I fervently hope this book [‘The State of Fear’] is actually going to inspire a much-needed conversation about the use of fear, not just in the epidemic, but the way we use behavioral psychology overall.

It’s not just a genie that has been let out the bottle. It’s like we’ve unleashed a Hydra and you can keep chopping its head off, but they keep employing more of these behavioral scientists throughout different government departments. It’s very much how the Government now does business. It’s the business of fear …

I think ultimately people don’t want to be manipulated. People don’t enjoy being hoodwinked and they don’t want to live in a state of fear. We maybe need to be a bit bolder about standing up more quickly when something is not right.”

Fear Is Contagious

Fear has long been the tool of tyrants. It’s profoundly effective, in part because it spreads from person to person, just like a virus. The contagion of fear is the topic of the Nova “Gross Science” video above, originally aired in mid-February 2017. Among animals, emotional distress responses are telegraphed through pheromones emitted through various bodily secretions such as sweat and saliva.

As explained in the video, when encountering what is perceived as a serious threat, animals with strong social structures, such as bees and ants, will release alarm pheromone. The scent attracts other members of the hive or colony to collectively address the threat.

Humans appear to have a very similar capability. When scared or stressed, humans produce chemosignals, and while you may not consciously recognize the smell of fear or stress, it can have a subconscious impact, making you feel afraid or stressed too.

Humans also tend to mimic the feelings of those around us, and this is yet another way through which emotion can spread like wildfire through a community or an entire nation — for better or worse. Behavioral psychologists refer to this as “emotional contagion,” and it works both positive and negative emotions.

For example, if you’re greeted by a smile when meeting someone, you’re likely to smile back, mimicking their facial expression and behavior. If someone looks at you with an angry scowl, you’re likely to suddenly feel angry too, even if you weren’t before and have no subjective reason to — other than that someone looked at you the “wrong” way.

However, while both positive and negative emotions are contagious, certain emotions spread faster and easier than others. Research cited in the Nova report found that “high arousal” emotions such as awe (high-arousal positive emotion) and anger or anxiety (high-arousal negative emotion) are more “viral” than low-arousal emotions such as happiness or sadness.

The Nova report also points out that researchers have been mining Twitter and other social media data to better understand how emotions are spread, and the types of messages that spread the fastest. However, they ignored the primary culprits, Google and Facebook both of which steal your private data and use it to manipulate your behavior.

At the time, in 2017, they said this information was being harvested and used to develop ways to avoid public messaging that might incite mass panic. But the COVID-19 pandemic suggests the complete opposite. Clearly, behavioral experts have been busy developing ways to generate maximum fear, anxiety, and panic.

How to Inoculate Yourself Against Negative Contagion

At the end of the report, Nova cites research detailing three effective ways to “immunize” yourself against negative emotional contagions.

  1. Distract yourself from the source of the negative contagion — In the case of pandemic fearporn, that might entail not reading or listening to mainstream media news that for the past year have proven themselves incapable of levelheadedness.
  2. Project your own positive emotions back at the source of the negative contagion — If talking to someone who is fearful, they might end up “catching” your optimism rather than the other way around.
  3. Speak up — If someone is unwittingly spreading “negative vibes,” telling them so might help them realize what they’re doing. (This won’t work if the source is knowingly and purposely spreading fear or anxiety though.)

Pandemic of Panic

In a recent Tweet,9 Ivor Cummins, a biochemical engineer who researches the root causes of chronic disease, shared a short video detailing the root cause of the panic pandemic. Why has the whole world seemingly gone mad from fear?

As explained by Cummins, the outsized level of public fear is the result of a catastrophic feedback loop system where political and mainstream media drivers are pushing fear onto the public, and public fears are then feeding the media (fear sells) and pushing politicians to take action, which generates more fear messages. And so, round and round it goes.

However, at a certain point, this engine of fear starts losing steam. To keep the pandemic pandemonium going, academics bearing doomsday predictions were brought in to scare politicians and provide more fearporn fodder for the media.

Aiding the academic drivers are unelected, undemocratic organizations such as the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Big Pharma (just to name a few), all of which support these academic doomsday prophets from behind the scenes or openly promote them.

All of the organizations Cummins mentions are part of a technocratic, unelected elite that are making decisions for the entire world. If we were to somehow shut down this secondary engine that feeds into the first, the global insanity would probably start to abate.

The question is, can that be done? Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has likened our current predicament to “an apocalyptical battle,”10 as we’re facing formidable undemocratic forces with seemingly unlimited financial resources, political influence, and the ability to control the global landscape of communications.

We’re facing a globalist agenda that ultimately seeks to gain total control by stripping away human rights and the rights of countries, and they’re using “biosecurity” as justification for it all.

Exposing the Grand Plan

As explained by journalist James Corbett in his October 16, 2020, Corbett Report,11 the Great Reset is a new “social contract” that ties every person to it through an electronic ID linked to your bank account and health records and a social credit ID that will end up dictating every facet of your life.

It’s about getting rid of capitalism and free enterprise and replacing them with “sustainable development” and “stakeholder capitalism” — terms that belie their nefarious, anti-humanity intents. As noted in the book, “Technocracy: The Hard Road to World Order”:12

“… Sustainable Development is Technocracy … The Sustainable Development movement has taken careful steps to conceal its true identity, strategy and purpose, but once the veil is lifted, you will never see it any other way. Once its strategy is unmasked, everything else will start to make sense.”

In her blog post “The Great Reset for Dummies,” journalist Tessa Lena summarizes the purpose behind the call for a global “reset”:13

“The mathematical reason for the Great Reset is that thanks to technology, the planet has gotten small, and the infinite expansion economic model is bust — but obviously, the super wealthy want to continue staying super wealthy, and so they need a miracle, another bubble, plus a surgically precise system for managing what they perceive as ‘their limited resources.’

Thus, they desperately want a bubble providing new growth out of thin air — literally — while simultaneously they seek to tighten the peasants’ belts, an effort that starts with ‘behavioral modification,’ a.k.a. resetting the western peasants’ sense of entitlement to high life standards and liberties … The practical aim of the Great Reset is to fundamentally restructure the world’s economy and geopolitical relations based on two assumptions:

One, that every element of nature and every life form is a part of the global inventory (managed by the allegedly benevolent state, which, in turn, is owned by several suddenly benevolent wealthy people, via technology).

And two, that all inventory needs to be strictly accounted for: be registered in a central database, be readable by a scanner and easily ID’ed, and be managed by AI, using the latest ‘science.’

The goal is to count and then efficiently manage and control all resources, including people, on an unprecedented scale, with unprecedented digital … precision — all while the masters keep indulging, enjoying vast patches of conserved nature, free of unnecessary sovereign peasants and their unpredictability.”

These new global “assets” can also be turned into brand-new financial instruments that can then be traded. For example, Zero-Budget Natural Farming is now being introduced in India. This is a brand-new concept of farming in which farmers must trade the carbon rate in their soil on the global market if they want to make a living. They’ll get no money at all for the crops they actually grow.

The Pandemic Has Been a Psychological Operation

There’s not a single area of life that is left out of this Great Reset plan. The planned reform will affect everything from government, energy, and finance to food, medicine, real estate, policing, and even how we interact with our fellow human beings in general.

It goes without saying that to radically transform every last part of society has its challenges. No person in their right mind would agree to it if aware of the details of the whole plan. So, to roll this out, they had to use psychological manipulation, and fear is the most effective tool for inducing compliance there is.

The following graphic illustrates the central role of fearmongering for the successful rollout of the Great Reset.

Social Engineering Is Central to Technocratic Rule

Technocracy is inherently a technological society run through social engineering. Fear is but one manipulation tool. The focus on “science” is another. Anytime someone dissents, they’re simply accused of being “anti-science,” and any science that conflicts with the status quo is declared “debunked science.”

The only science that matters is whatever the technocrats deem to be true, no matter how much evidence there is against it. We’ve seen this first-hand during this pandemic, as Big Tech has censored and banned anything going against the opinions of the WHO, which is just another cog in the technocratic machine.

If we allow this censorship to continue, the end result will be nothing short of devastating. So, we simply must keep pushing for transparency, truth, medical freedom, personal liberty, and the right to privacy.

Recognizing that the fear we feel has been carefully manufactured can help free us from its grip, and once we — en masse — no longer believe the lies being put before us, the engine driving the fear and panic will eventually run out of steam.




Repetitive Stupidity in Commercials is Programming the Hive Subconscious Mind

By Dylan Charles | Waking Times

At the heart of the social insanity, mindless acquiescence to authority, and automatic compliance with any and every new government rule or regulation, is a deliberate effort to dumb down the population. It takes place in the halls of our educational institutions, and it comes home with us at night to our television screens.

According to educational whistleblower and author of The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, Charlotte Iserbyt:

“…over a thirty- to fifty-year period-what must surely amount to tons of materials containing irrefutable proof, in the education change agents’ own words, of deliberate, malicious intent to achieve behavioral changes in students/parents/society which have nothing to do with commonly understood educational objectives.”

We know the education system is designed to produce drones, but today I’d like to bring your attention to the role television commercials play in engineering our society toward entropy, division, conformity, and decay.

Consider at once this ridiculous advertisement from Australia, where a wine company is hoping you’ll drink more of their booze after watching a computer-generated kangaroo liven up the party while getting the attention of supermodels. They overtly twist their brand name, Yellowtail, into crude sexual innuendo, appealing to your most base desires.

Young children learn primarily by observation of what other people do. If adults do stupid things, kids do stupid things. So it is as well with the so-called mature adults among us, who imitate each other in order to fit with each other.

When the templates for acceptable social behavior are pounded into our heads from television, humans emulate the celebrities, actors, and beauties on the screen. And commercials are the worst, as their rapid, attention deficit generating format are repeated again and again so as to become implanted in our minds.

Couple this with the fact that we are technologically isolated (while highly connected) in today’s society, and as such, mass media serves as a kind of common language, a way of relating to one another, and of establishing the broadcast-level reality. Now you have a world of people who take cues from advertisers, which are adopted by others, eventually snowballing into a real-life Idiocracy.

Here, Devour frozen foods has altogether given up on subtlety, turning the experience of eating processed foods laden with preservatives, colorants, and other chemicals, into an orgasm.

And in this creepy version, again for Devour processed foods, a drone-like office employee is so dumb, and so sexually confused, that he talks dirty to his plastic dish of synthetic garbage.

The corporate-controlled consumer matrix, which now guides the development of our cities and social lives, became a cultural imperative with the help of the scientific development of product marketing. Also known as corporate propaganda, it was pioneered mid-twentieth century by the author of the book Propaganda, Edward Bernays, who himself best explains the engineered scheme at play in pop culture:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” ~Edward Bernays

He would know. His ideas were heavily influenced by the work of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, the so-called father of modern psychology, who developed theories that still govern much of our understanding of the human psyche. He’s most recognized for the idea that humans are motivated first and foremost by the drive to fornicate. Bernays’ contribution was linking products to sex, with marketing that jars the perception of reality.

In this classic piece of commercial art, Axe Body Spray does a splendid version of the time-honored marketing illusion that the purchase of a product will bring sex with beautiful women.

https://youtu.be/I9tWZB7OUSU

A major purpose of this type of marketing is to suspend disbelief, which is a visual procedure that leads to the acceptance of outlandish claims. Commercials are the perfect open format for messing with people’s heads, where superstar, perfect people present conflicting, senseless ideas.

For its incredibly stupid product, MiO Liquid Water Enhancer goes far beyond the pale in this commercial where grown men talk about ‘squirting’ chemicals like propylene glycol into the water to make it taste good.

“The second ingredient in these little bottles is propylene glycol, a preservative, thickening agent, and stabilizer, also used as antifreeze to de-ice airplanes, as a plasticizer to make polyester resins, and found in electronic cigarettes.” [Source]

https://youtu.be/tXG0PACMUOo

Fifty-plus years of ridiculous advertising instructing our culture is bearing its intended fruit: a society of entitled, impatient, crass, unreasonable, and shallow people has emerged. In this climate, unity is impossible and the masses are more impressionable than ever, thus, the controllers are free to have their way with us.

Here, these two clowns in a Sonic fast-food restaurant commercial rattle on in a pointless stream-of-consciousness conversation that links chicken wings (the food) with hooking up with women, which have nothing at all to do with each other in real life.

It’s called television programming for a reason, and it is paid for by advertisers who tinker with society by bombarding us with absurdity and stupidity.

It could be entertainment.

And it could also be another mechanism of social control, urging your subconscious mind to buy the stuff you don’t need, to consume products and chemicals that are harmful to you, to behave immaturely and irrationally, to over-sexualize everything, to hold false expectations, and to participate in a manufactured reality that ensures self-destruction.

You decide.

I recently had a conversation with Jason Christoff about this, and he explains in detail how television is being used to program your subconscious mind into seeking mediocrity. Check that out HERE.

In the end, though, it’s your mind and it’s your responsibility to curate the contents of your mind in order to create a life worth living. As a self-mastery coach, I help people find expression for their deepest truths in a world full of deceit and lies.

About the Author

Dylan Charles is a self-mastery coach, the editor of Waking Times, and host of the Battered Souls podcast. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

Dylan is available for interviews and podcasts. Contact him at WakingTimes@gmail.com.

This article (Repetitive Stupidity in Commercials is Programming the Hive Subconscious Mind) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.




How to Hear the Whisper of Wisdom Beneath the Ego’s Cries

Most of us have heard of the ego and Sigmund Freud’s work around it which tells us that it’s development is a necessary part of who we are.  Without it, there is no “I” for us to identify with. Freud goes onto claim that without the ego, our minds would have no conscious way to comprehend where “we” end and the rest of the world “begins”. Image result for quotes on the ego freud

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Freud’s (more so around his less-popular theories on sexuality) and completely agree that without our egos, we would all be leaning toward completely unmotivated. The ego, if used properly as the tool is it meant to be, can show us areas within ourselves that still need healing. The trick, however, to working with the ego is to remember that it does WHATEVER it takes to prevent expansion, growth, change and pretty much anything outside of your comfort zone. It is an expert at convincing you that you are making good, productive choices for yourself when in actuality you literally could be setting lit matches to your proverbial treehouse.

So, the key here is to first study the ego and figure out exactly how it works and maneuvers. Guaranteed it is always sneaky, coercive, and slick in how it will make suggestions for your next move, word or action. But once we know how it works, we’ve pretty much disabled out ego’s best weapon (stealth). And now, we just need to keep playing the game and observing.

As we watch our ego in play we will begin to see patterns emerge which will make clear exactly how we are “still stuck” in life situations we swore to ourselves we would’ve had resolved weeks, months or even years ago. We will begin to see how our ego was the one whispering in our ear that “He’ll change and treat me with kindness if I just stick around long enough and prove how much I love him.” or “I deserve to eat this tub of ice cream because I had such a bad day today.”

There are ENDLESS examples that we could list here, but the point is, anything you can think of where you’re subconscious mind convinced you to do something that was not in your best interest, that was not serving your highest Self, was the workings of your EGO doing what it does best and keeping you in the same little box it has grown to love and adore to keep you living small!

So, how do we beat this little trickster at its’ own game? First, we need to find that place in our hearts to stop looking at the ego through eyes of judgment and see it through the eyes of love. Only then can we shift the energy around our ego from one of annoyance and avoidance to one of willingness to integrate what we can learn from it. And eventually, this process will allow us to grow past the blocks that the ego has previously succeeded with throwing onto our path.

When we know ahead of time the signature signs that certain thoughts, motivations, reactions, etc. are ego-driven, then we are empowered with the knowledge of how to take the next best step. And an uninformed person with a leading ego might end up writing a bunch of accusatory emails they later regret, or shout at their children for no reason, or sabotage a health regimen they’ve put in place for themselves. Why? Because their ego was successful in convincing them it was in their best interest in that particular moment, and because they were in “reactive” mode (letting the outer world determine their moods, thoughts, next move, etc.) they went with it. Related image

This is the difference between living a life of struggle and living a life of true empowerment. As we learn to master the latter, of course, we may shift back and forth between the two as with anything it’s definitely a learning process. However, the more you take the time to observe yourself and your ego the more familiar you become with it all and the simpler it becomes to stay in PRO-active mode.

Once you get a taste of empowered living, there’s no giving that up, there’s no going back to sleep. It would be like locking away your most valuable tool and never using it again; because you have seen how when you move from a proactive, empowered place, the game is yours and YOU now make the rules. Do you feel the difference there? Between insecure, needy, fear-based ego and secured, empowered, healthy ego? Image result for quotes on the ego freud

I truly believe the ego is meant to help humanity, not harm it. It is only when we as individuals allow our minds and actions to be ruled by ego does it negatively affect our lives and the lives of those around us. But the ego is best used as a compass of sorts, pointing the way to what areas within us need healing and integration so we can rise up energetically and show up in our lives as we were meant to; connected, yet unique slivers of cosmic Creator Consciousness.

If we listen closely, there is another voice underneath the egos’ loudness that speaks only Truth and has only our best interest in mind. This voice belongs to our intuition, our Higher Selves (Spirit) and if we wish to master the use of our egos, it is wise to let it be guided by Spirit. This is how we develop “healthy” egos that allow us to speak up for ourselves, say no to people with feeling guilty, say yes to people without feeling drained, speak our Truth, and stand authentically in our lives without feeling insecure or feeling the need to incessantly compare ourselves to others.

Another gauge of a healthy ego is that we are okay spending time with ourselves and doing things on our own. We really only feel the need to reach out for assistance when truly necessary and learn to truly value the time, energy and presence of others – because that is how much we now value our own time, energy and presence.

Much love and have a most excellent weekend! <3

 

tamaraTamara Rant is a Co-Editor/Writer for CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. She is an avid lover of all things Quantum Physics and Spirituality. Connect with Tamara by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com

Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.

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How Anxiety Hides in Your Habits

By Kira M. Newman | Greater Good Magazine

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of reading the same tips over and over about how to calm down and destress. I’m tired of trying to slow down my breathing when my chest feels heavy and question the worst-case scenarios running around my head.

That’s why psychiatrist Judson Brewer’s new book Unwinding Anxiety is so refreshing. Yes, it has some tips—but they don’t come until much later in the book. In fact, his whole point is that tips alone won’t help those of us who struggle with anxiety.

Brewer shows how anxiety exists inside the habits that make up our everyday lives, and habits are sticky. They won’t go away just because we tell ourselves to breathe— because, as crazy as it sounds when talking about anxiety, our brain is attracted to these habits because they create some sense of reward.

Implementing tips and tools skips an important step, Brewer argues. Before we can try to change anything, we have to spend some time observing our anxiety-related habits. Only then—by showing our brain viscerally how unrewarding these habits are—can we move to actually create new ones.

Unwinding Anxiety offers a three-step process to help you do exactly that, backed up by Brewer’s extensive habit research. While many well-being books can feel overwhelming, his approach is reassuring in its simplicity but different enough to feel like it just might work.

Step one: Map out anxiety habits

If you struggle with anxiety, it’s likely that anxiety has become a habit for you, writes Brewer. Many of our habits have developed to help us reduce stress or satisfy emotional needs, he explains, even if they don’t always benefit us long-term. Our habits exist in loops that consist of a trigger, a behavior, and a result. For example:

Trigger: Feel anxious
Behavior: Eat something sweet
Result: Be distracted from anxiety

Sometimes anxiety can trigger a habit loop, but it can also be the result in a habit loop:

Trigger: Feel unmotivated at work
Behavior: Read news
Result: Feel anxious about the state of the world

But the most pernicious anxiety-related habit is this basic pattern, which many of us fall into, where anxiety reinforces itself:

Trigger: Feel anxious
Behavior: Worry (ruminate on what’s wrong, what could go wrong, etc.)
Result: Feel more anxious

What reward could we possibly get out of a self-perpetuating anxiety cycle? Well, Brewer explains, the act of worrying can sometimes feel good—or at least better than just sitting with our anxiety. Worrying sometimes (rarely) allows us to come up with solutions, which makes it seem productive; we think we’re solving problems. Some of us are afraid we’ll be unprepared for the future if we don’t worry, and worry can give us a sense of control over the situation, even when all we do is go over and over the same fears.

In one of Brewer’s studies (currently under peer review), becoming aware of worry habit loops made people less anxious—and, for doctors, reduced their burnout and cynicism. But mapping out your habits is just the first step.

Step two: Work with your brain’s reward system

As Brewer explains, our brain stores a “reward value” for different people, places, and things we encounter. The more rewarding our brain thinks a behavior is, the stronger the habit around it will be.

But reward values can become skewed or outdated. For example, we might have developed a passion for cake as an anxious teen—but in adulthood, we now find ourselves in a queasy sugar coma after three slices.

“The only sustainable way to change a habit is to update its reward value,” writes Brewer. That means taking a fresh look at how a habit is affecting us now. And we need to do this over and over, each time we repeat the habit in our daily life until our brain updates its reward value and stops being drawn to the habit.

What does this mean in practice?

Once you’ve identified your habits that support anxiety, you need to be mindful when they occur. If you’re anxious and you start worrying about the future, make a mental note; observe the tightness in your chest, the lump in your throat, how little you get done at work that afternoon.

The good thing about this approach is that moments of anxiety become an opportunity to learn about yourself, not something to be afraid of, and not a failure in your quest for Zen. (Self-judgment, apparently, seems to go hand in hand with anxiety.)

If you have trouble being aware of habits in real-time, you can also look back on your day or your week to see the effects of a particular behavior. If your anxiety made you snap at your partner, how did that feel? Rather than analyzing it, just try to re-experience it in your body.

Over time, Brewer suggests, our brain will naturally become disenchanted with our anxiety habits without us having to use so much willpower, allowing more space for new habits to form.

Step three: Create new habits

This step is where most other advice begins: the healthy habits and behaviors that we want to engage in. But it makes sense that there isn’t much room for these new behaviors until our brains detach from the old ones.

Brewer suggests a variety of mindfulness-related behaviors that you could insert into your habit loops when a trigger arises, many of which may be familiar to you already:

  • Curiosity and mindfulness: Rather than judging yourself for being anxious, or getting obsessed about where your anxiety is coming from, just get curious. What does it feel like, and where? How does it change? Brewer even recommends saying “Hmmm!” out loud to yourself, to encourage that sense of curiosity.
  • Breathing: Tune in to the breathing sensations in your body. Breathe into places where anxiety shows up, and breathe out anxiety. See how things change.
  • RAIN: This is a mindfulness practice where you Recognize and relax into the present moment; Accept and allow it to be there; Investigate your bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts; and Note what is happening.
  • Noting: This is a practice of labeling what experiences are predominant in your mind from moment to moment, including any of your senses (hearing, touch, sight), thinking, or feeling.
  • Loving-kindness: The practice of sending kind, caring thoughts to people, including yourself, and feeling that sense of warmth in your body.

To reinforce these habits, Brewer explains, you can apply techniques from step two—but this time, instead of observing the detrimental effects, you observe how good it feels in your body to be curious or generate loving feelings.

Brewer is a habit expert—much of his research has focused on smoking and eating disorders—and although his book is about anxiety, the overall framework could apply to many habits in our lives. His insights reveal why so many of our good intentions to exercise, meditate, and otherwise, self-improve don’t translate into action. Brewer’s book gives us the tools to work with our brains, rather than constantly feeling like we’re fighting against ourselves.

About the Author
{author}

Kira M. Newman

Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good. Her work has been published in outlets including the Washington PostMindful magazine, Social Media Monthly, and Tech.co, and she is the co-editor of The Gratitude ProjectFollow her on Twitter!




How Pandemic Fatigue Made Us Antisocial

By Kira M. Newman | Greater Good Magazine

On a Thursday morning in mid-February, writer Donna Ashworth woke up in lockdown in Scotland, and something felt different. “You could feel the collective quiet,” she says.

At night, her neighborhood no longer came to life with raucous cheers and clapping for health care workers. Her phone was no longer buzzing with messages from group chats, friends checking in, or invitations to virtual game nights. When someone did reach out, Ashworth felt guilty about how long it took her to reply.

She sat down to write a short poem about her feeling and then posted it to her Facebook page, Ladies Pass It On. The poem went viral, garnering more than 7,500 comments as of this writing. People across the world reached out to thank her for putting into words what they were feeling:

We are spent.
We have nothing left to say.
We are tired of saying “I miss you” and “I cant wait for this to end.”
So we mostly say nothing, put our heads down and get through each day.

© Donna Ashworth, Ladies Pass It On

If the response to Ashworth’s poem is any indication, something happened early in the year—after the distraction of the holidays and before vaccinations really ramped up—where many of us withdrew into ourselves, cutting down on social interaction.

According to University of Essex social psychologist Gillian Sandstrom, the lockdown got harder as it went along, even for people who coped well last year. Over in the U.S., psychotherapist Lindsey Antin has seen her clients’ energy and social activity go up and down in waves, depending on how hopeful they feel at any given moment.

Why would we withdraw, even though we desperately need each other?

It’s not just an academic question for psychologists or historians to answer. Vaccines are rolling out fast, and more of us will soon be able to meet up with friends and family, including those whose messages we sometimes ignored.

Perhaps, if we understand the roots of our social behavior during the pandemic, we’ll be more likely to forgive ourselves and the people around us for withdrawing. This could help us come back together in a post-COVID world.

COVID-19 blues

It’s not news that the pandemic has brought us extra stress, loneliness, and depression—but what perhaps went unappreciated is how much these mental states led us to avoid interacting with others.

Loneliness, rather than prompting us to connect, actually makes us withdraw, according to research. We start to feel unworthy of our relationships, worried that people are judging us or don’t enjoy being around us. Depression saps our energy and motivation and affects our sense of self-esteem. It makes it hard to do the things that would help alleviate the depression, including engaging with other people.

According to Antin, people with depression often feel like they don’t have much to bring to the table in conversations with others. Particularly if they’ve been isolated and inactive, they don’t always know what to talk about that would be interesting to another person.

The same is probably true for many of us during the pandemic, stuck at home and unable to eat out at restaurants, enjoy many of our hobbies, or take vacations that would make for good stories.

Sandstrom agrees, adding that many of us are probably sick of talking about COVID. Her own research focuses on people’s expectations and experiences around social interactions, and it suggests that we underestimate how enjoyable interacting with other people will be. At the prospect of talking to a stranger, we worry about whether they will like us and enjoy talking to us, and about our ability to sustain a conversation. And people probably worry about many of the same things around their friends, she says.

“We might think, ‘Oh, I could have told that story better than I did,’ or ‘Oh, why did I say that? What if they don’t understand me? What if they’re offended?’” she says. “We have this voice in our head judging ourselves the whole time, and it’s not very positive.”

In addition to feeling pressure to be interesting, some also feel pressure to be positive. Early in the pandemic, many people rallied together with optimism—the collective sense of “we can do this.” We reassured kids and elderly parents that things would be fine. But after a year, keeping up that positive spirit isn’t so easy anymore.

It’s exhausting to constantly act cheerful and hopeful when you don’t feel that way. But if all we have to share are complaints, pessimism, and sadness, we may worry about being a burden to others. This was certainly the case for Ashworth, who has always played the role of uplifting and encouraging the people around her.

“I think nobody had anything positive to add, so everybody just kind of shut up for a while,” she says.

By not sharing those heavy thoughts with others, she thinks, we also managed to avoid really examining them ourselves. The losses and uncertainty of the pandemic felt so monumental, from worries about whether our kids will be damaged to the inequities in who gets sick and who gets treatment; avoiding people meant we wouldn’t be forced to face them.

“Nobody really wants to dig too deep anymore because the answers are so disappointing,” says Ashworth.

Pandemic fatigue

Even for those of us who aren’t struggling as much, we are simply lacking in time and energy. We are overwhelmed.

It’s natural that our social worlds would contract right now, focusing on the people who live in our household, and maybe our closest friends and family. Last year, many adults were suddenly tasked with homeschooling their kids, supporting partners who lost their jobs, or constantly cajoling older relatives to stay home and take the pandemic seriously.

Indeed, around the world, in just one year, millions of people lost their lives to the pandemic, and millions more suffered severe cases of COVID-19, which affected an uncountable number of other people in ways that were incredibly stressful and even traumatic. We all knew that death and suffering lay outside the walls of our homes. Every apartment was like a tiny lifeboat.

“In some ways, our close relationships are the most positive but also the most taxing, because they’re the ones we have to be there for and deal with all their crap,” says Sandstrom. “It could be that with close relationships, we just feel like we really have to support right now and we don’t have any energy left over for other people.”

In a way, it’s similar to what happens with new parents: Having a baby—a novel experience that keeps us at home more and deprives us of sleep, not unlike the pandemic—increases our contact with neighbors and decreases our contact with friends.

With so many demands on our attention, when we do have a moment to ourselves, sometimes all we crave is a bit of peace and quiet. But we can’t always get it, especially when we’re stuck sharing space with other people in lockdown.

We need solitude, too

According to research, “aloneliness”—the opposite of loneliness, the lack of solitude—is a real problem. People who are lacking in solitude can “end up feeling irritable, overwhelmed, or drained,” writes psychologist Virginia Thomas. They are more stressed and less satisfied with their lives.

In an effort to avoid this fate, some of us may be clinging to any moments of solitude we can get, rather than responding to a text or joining in digital catchup.

Even Antin’s first-grade son was feeling it. One day recently, she went to check on him and found him alone upstairs, eating graham crackers and reading a book. So, she invited him to sit with her while she worked. “He’s like, ‘No, I need some time by myself,’” she recalls with a laugh.

When we do have enough energy to connect, the options are fraught and often unsatisfying. Spending time in person requires an elaborate risk-reward calculation based on the other person’s pandemic behaviors, and possibly an uncomfortable conversation about whether you’ll wear masks, physically distance, and meet outdoors.

Online social interaction was fun and novel for a while, as we discovered new platforms for watching movies, playing games, and even dancing together-but-apart. But now, many of us are just exhausted. According to researchers, Zoom fatigue is real, and it comes from the fact that most video calls involve unnatural levels of eye contact, the distraction of staring at our own reflection, the inability to move around, and difficulty interpreting people’s body language.

“Virtual hangouts tend to be less fulfilling than in-person ones and leave us longing for that physical connection,” writes Kelsey Borresen for the Huffington Post. And the opposite happens, too, when the hassle of getting all suited up to meet someone outdoors and then barely being able to hear them through masks and distance makes you wish you’d just had a phone call.

We’re tired of the options available to us, says Antin. No solution is perfect, so sometimes we opt for no solution at all.

Closing the distance

More than a month after Ashworth wrote her viral poem, she is seeing a shift in people’s moods. Thanks to vaccines, many are starting to feel excited about the future, even as we worry about being disappointed again as lockdowns get extended and timelines pushed back.

When all this is over, our relationships—digital or distanced—won’t be the same right away. Even being around other breathing humans may be anxiety-provoking at first. Our social skills may still need practice, because they are skills, after all, Sandstrom says. And the effects of pandemic-related trauma or depression won’t immediately go away once we get a shot in the arm.

There are a few things we can do to ease the transition. We’d do well to remember Sandstrom’s research on how surprisingly fun it is to interact with others. Even during the pandemic, when she paired up strangers online, they ended up talking longer than expected—40 minutes, on average, as opposed to 14—and found the conversation more enjoyable and easier to maintain than they thought it would be. We are built for this, even when the little voice in our head says otherwise.

Our relationships will bounce back better and stronger if we don’t take the past year’s unreturned messages or declined invitations personally. It will help to be patient and understanding of the people around us who are finally emerging from their homes, perhaps more slowly than we are, perhaps with more anxiety than they had before.

If we’re lucky, all the Zoom fatigue and loneliness and aloneliness will remind us of what it was like to lose each other—and what it was like to find each other again.

About the Author
{author}

Kira M. Newman

Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good. Her work has been published in outlets including the Washington PostMindful magazine, Social Media Monthly, and Tech.co, and she is the co-editor of The Gratitude ProjectFollow her on Twitter!




Why Thinking Like a Scientist Is Good for You

By Jill Suttie | Greater Good Magazine

In a rapidly changing world, it’s important to be able to adapt and change rather than stubbornly adhering to old ideas and opinions. This was one of the lessons of 2020, a year that forced us to question many of our assumptions about what behaviors are safe, how work and school can be conducted, and how we connect with others.

“In a changing world, you have to be willing and able to change your mind. Otherwise, your expertise can fail, your opinions get out of date, and your ideas fall flat,” says organizational psychologist Adam Grant, author of the new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

In his book, Grant explains why it’s so important for people to be humbler about their knowledge and stay open to learning and changing their minds. The book is filled with fascinating research and guidance on becoming more flexible in our thinking, while helping others to be more open-minded, too. This skill is crucial not only for facing crises like the pandemic, but also for navigating complex social issues, making good business decisions, and more.

I spoke to Grant recently about his book and what we can take away from it. Here is an edited version of our conversation.

Jill Suttie: Your book focuses on the importance of people questioning what they think they know and being open to changing their minds. Why is it so hard to do that?

Adam Grant, Ph.D.

Adam Grant, Ph.D.

Adam Grant: It’s hard for a few reasons. One is what psychologists call “cognitive entrenchment,” which is when you have so much knowledge in an area that you start to take for granted assumptions that need to be questioned. There’s evidence, for example, that when you change the rules of the game for expert bridge players, they really struggle, because they don’t realize that the strategies they’ve used for years don’t apply. There’s also evidence that highly experienced accountants are slower to adapt to the new tax laws than novices because they’ve internalized a certain way of doing things.

A second barrier is a motivation: I don’t want to rethink; I’m comfortable with the way I’ve always done things. It makes me feel and look stupid if I admit that I was wrong. It’s easier to just stick to my guns (or my gun bans, depending on where I stand ideologically).

The third reason is social. We don’t form beliefs in a vacuum. We generally end up with opinions that are influenced by and pretty much similar to the people in our social circles. So, there’s a risk that if I let go of some of my views, I might be excluded from my tribe, and I don’t want to take that risk.

JS: In your book, you talk about the importance of the “scientific mindset.” What do you mean by a scientific mindset and how does it help us in rethinking?

AG: I think too many of us spend too much time thinking like preachers, prosecutors, and politicians. [Phillip] Tetlock made a very compelling case that when we’re in preacher mode, we’re convinced we’re right; when we’re in prosecutor mode, we’re trying to prove someone else wrong; and when we’re in politician mode, we’re trying to win the approval of our audience. Each of these mental modes can stand in the way of “thinking again,” because in preacher and prosecutor mode, I’m right and you’re wrong, and I don’t need to change my mind. In politician mode, I might tell you what you want to hear, but I’m probably not changing what I really think; I’m posturing as opposed to rethinking.

Thinking like a scientist does not mean you need to own a telescope or a microscope. It just means that you favor humility over pride and curiosity over conviction. You know what you don’t know, and you’re eager to discover new things. You don’t let your ideas become your identity. You look for reasons why you might be wrong, not just reasons why you must be right. You listen to ideas that make you think hard, not just the ones that make you feel good. And you surround yourself with people who can challenge your process, not just the ones who agree with your conclusion.

JS: Why would people ever want to look for reasons to be wrong?

AG: One of the reasons you want to is because if you don’t get good at rethinking, then you end up being wrong more often. I think it’s one of the great paradoxes of life: The quicker you are to recognize when you’re wrong, the less wrong you become.

There’s an experiment where entrepreneurs were being taught to think like scientists that’s such a good demonstration of something we can all practice. Italian startup founders went through a three- to a four-month crash course in how to start and run a business. But half of them were randomly assigned to think like scientists, where they’re told that your strategy is a theory. You can do customer interviews to develop specific hypotheses, and then when you launch your first product or service, think of that as an experiment and test your hypothesis.

Those entrepreneurs that we taught to think like scientists brought in more than 40 times the revenue of the control group. The reason for that is they were more than twice as likely to pivot when their first product or service launch didn’t work instead of getting their egos all wrapped up in proving that they were right. To me, that is some of the strongest evidence that being willing to admit you’re wrong can actually accelerate your progress toward being right.

JS: But shouldn’t we be able to embrace our expertise rather than always giving every idea equal weight?

AG: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have standards. The whole point of rethinking is to change your mind in the face of better logic or stronger evidence—not to just roll the dice and say, I’m going to pick a random new opinion today.

There’s a great way of capturing what I’m after here, which is something Bob Sutton has written about for years. He defines an attitude of wisdom as acting on the best information you have while doubting what you know. That’s what I’m saying here. You need humility.

I think people misunderstand what humility is. When I talk about humility in experts or in leaders, people say, “No, I don’t want to have no self-confidence. I don’t want to have a low opinion of myself.” But, I say, that’s not humility. The Latin root of humility translates to “from the earth.” It’s about being grounded, recognizing that, yes, we have strengths, but we also have weaknesses. You’re fallible. Confident humility is being able to say, “I don’t know and I might be wrong,” or “I haven’t figured it out yet,” which is essentially believing in yourself but doubting your current knowledge or skills.

JS: People often seem to not want to rethink, and they’ll use strategies to shut down the conversation, like saying, “I’m entitled to my opinion” or “I don’t care what you say, I’m not changing my mind.” How can you encourage somebody to be more open to rethinking if they’re unmotivated?

AG: Your options are not always going to work. But one option is to show your own openness and admit that you might be wrong or your knowledge might be incomplete. The reason people shut down is often that they’re afraid of being judged. So, they would rather disengage and avoid that. But if you say, “Hey, you know what? I’m not sure about my opinion here,” there’s a possibility they’ll realize that you’re both here to learn from each other.

A second option might be to ask questions that help to consider what would open their mind, which at least encourages them to contemplate situations where they might rethink. If they acknowledged evidence could change their mind, at least it’s a step toward progress.

A third possibility is to do something I’ve been doing since I wrote the book: to acknowledge my own stubbornness at the beginning of these kinds of conversations and admit that I have a bad habit of going into “logic bully mode.” I bombard people with facts and data, but that’s not who I want to be. I want to come into conversations with people who disagree with me in the hopes that I can learn something from them. I don’t want to be a prosecutor.

So, I invite people to catch me doing that and ask them to please let me know. A couple of things happen when I do that. One is sometimes people will call me out and it helps me. Just last week, I was in a debate by email with a colleague and he said, “You’re going into lawyer mode again.” It was a good prompt for me to think, “Uh oh, I’d better rethink the way that I’m having this fight.” The other thing that happens is when I put my cards on the table, often the other person will say, “Oh my gosh, I do that, too. I don’t want to be like that either.” It sets the terms for the conversation a little bit.

JS: At the end of your book, you have 30 practical takeaways for rethinking. Can you mention a few that are particularly important or easier to embrace?

AG: One of my favorites is being a “super-forecaster,” which means, when you form an opinion, you make a list of conditions that would change your mind. That keeps you honest because once you get attached to an opinion, it’s really hard to let go. But if you identify factors that would change your mind upfront, you keep yourself flexible.

By encouraging other people to think again, you can avoid argument dilution. Most of us try to convince people with as many reasons as possible because we think that giving people more reasons makes it easier for them to change their minds. But we forget that two things happen. (I’m tempted to give you many more, but I’m going to try to avoid diluting my own argument.) The more reasons we give, the more we trigger the other person’s awareness that we’re trying to persuade them, and they put their guard up. Also, if they’re resistant, giving them more reasons allows them to pick the least compelling reason and throw out the whole argument.

The lesson here is, if you have an audience who might be closed to your point of view, sometimes it’s more effective to give two reasons instead of five. Lead with your strongest argument.

“If you can embrace the joy of being wrong, then you get to anchor your identity more in being someone who’s eager to discover new things, than someone who already knows everything”

―Adam Grant, Ph.D.

On the collective side, I love the idea of doing a rethinking checkup. We all go to the doctor for regular checkups, even when nothing is wrong. We should do the same with the important decisions in our lives. I’ve encouraged my students for years to do annual career checkups where they just ask themselves once or twice a year, “Have I reached a learning plateau? Are the interests and values I had when I came in still important to me now?” We can do the same thing with our relationships or pretty much anything that’s important to us.

JS: You write that being wrong is tied to a more joyful life. Why is that?

AG: I had noticed Danny Kahneman [the Nobel prize–winning behavioral economist] just lights up with joy when he finds out that one of his hypotheses is false. So, I asked him, “Why do you look so excited when you find out that you’re wrong?” And he corrected me. He made clear to me that no one enjoys being wrong, but that he takes real joy in finding out that he was wrong because that means now he’s less wrong than he was before. All of a sudden, it clicked for me: Being wrong means I’ve learned something. If I find out that I was right, there’s no new knowledge or discovery.

In some ways, the joy of being wrong is the freedom to keep learning. If you can embrace the joy of being wrong, then you get to anchor your identity more in being someone who’s eager to discover new things, than someone who already knows everything or is expected to know everything.

JS: Do you have any hopes for people engaging in rethinking as a way of bridging our political divide?

AG: It depends on who’s doing the talking. So many of us fall into binary bias, and we only focus on the most extreme version of the other side, which is a caricature, where we say they’re either dumb or bad. If you let go of that, there’s a whole complex spectrum and many shades of gray between these two political extremes.

Peter Coleman’s research shows that, instead of introducing a complex topic like abortion or guns or climate change as representing two sides of the coin, if you can encourage people to think about it through the many lenses of a prism, they become more nuanced and less polarized, and they’re more likely to find common ground. Any time you see someone creating an “us versus them” dichotomy, you can ask, “What’s the third angle, what’s the fourth lens on that?” That gives people the chance to belong to multiple belief systems and to open their minds to multiple ideas, as opposed to sticking to one.

JS: What are your hopes for this book?

AG: I hope that it will encourage more people to be more flexible in their own thinking, to say they care more about learning and improving themselves than about proving themselves. Too many of us get trapped in mental prisons of our own making. But if we could be committed to rethinking, we might have a slightly more open-minded society.

About the Author
{author}

Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good.




In a Coma, I Dreamed a Whole Other Life—I’m Still Dreaming It

Why am I still dreaming what I dreamed while in a coma?

After the birth of my son, I got sick, really sick, with a mysterious blood clotting disorder, and because the panicked doctors couldn’t figure out what to do, they put me into a medical coma, with memory blockers. They didn’t want me remembering the pain or any of the procedures.

But a coma is a mysterious thing. Nobody knows exactly what happens in a coma. Some scientists believe coma patients don’t see or feel or hear a thing. Others say something different. Some scientists believe that coma patients actually dream.

I don’t know if I dreamed. But I do remember something the memory blockers couldn’t stem. When I woke up, it felt like someone had pulled me violently from one world I knew to another as if I had stepped from one room to another. I began to talk to Jeff, my husband, to my friends Nancy and Lindy, who had sat by me every day, that I had been living in this imaginary town, and that it had been, well, incredible. It had all these stores, and my apartment was hard to get to, but it was big and beautiful and I knew the streets, the people, and I knew it was real.

They nodded supportively. They encouraged me to talk, but when I told the doctors, they just said, “Well, you’re on a lot of nasty medications.” They told me I was just adjusting now, that all those crazy thoughts and feelings would pass.

Except they didn’t. I kept dreaming about the town.

By the time I got home, the imaginary town kept coming back in my dreams, so real, so vivid, that I knew it was something different than a regular dream. It felt as if it were calling me and I didn’t know why, or what it wanted, or what I was supposed to do. I knew it wasn’t lucid dreaming, where you know in the dream you are dreaming even though everything looks and feels and seems like real life because I’ve had those dreams. This one felt different.

I just knew that it was real.

The dream kept coming back. Over and over. I was always surprised to see the imaginary town again, surprised that I knew which streets to go down, that I knew how to progress through it. At first, I was living in a house that had no way to get to anywhere at first. there were no subways, and the house had a moat and dangerous animals guarding it.

The next time I dreamed about the town, I heard that someone I had loved who had died shockingly had actually not died at all. He had faked his death and everyone had agreed to pretend about it, and now he was living in California. I bolted awake. But the dream wasn’t gone. Instead, I believed it was true as if I could hold two realities in my mind.

I’ve kept dreaming over the years, always the same town, the same people in it, but things change. I’ve moved out of the house with the moat and to a place close to the subway, now in the West Village, where I’ve always wanted to live. Do our dreams come out of our emotions? Maybe they do, but I can’t figure out the emotions of this dream, other than I have this complete sense of familiarity and wonder all at once.

I feel like I need to figure out these dreams. I talk to my therapist about them, and she points out, well, they started in the trauma of a coma. It makes sense that they still reappear. Maybe, she says, this is just like the way I immerse myself in another world writing fiction, that I live other lives through my characters in order to understand my own. After all, the worlds I write about in my novels feel just as real to me as the world I navigate. But then I talk to a quantum physicist friend of mine, who tells me about parallel worlds, different realities that can coexist. “Is that just theory or true?” I ask her, and she shrugs. “Who knows for sure?” she says. Maybe the coma did something to my brain to make my dreams appear like real life. Maybe I’m processing some cellular memory from an ancestor. “Who knows?” she tells me.

“But isn’t it exciting?”

The truth is, I don’t know whether to be scared or excited by these strange dreams. All I know is something is happening and I’m choosing to see it as an adventure, to stick around for what might come next. Or not come next. Remember that old song, Life is but a dream? Maybe, in this case, it’s the dreams that are real life.

By Caroline Leavitt | Psychology Today

Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times Bestselling author of 12 novels, including Pictures of You, Is This TomorrowCruel Beautiful World, and With or Without You from Algonquin Books, many of which were on the Best of the Year lists and Indie Next Picks. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, The Daily Beast, Modern Love in The New York TimesThe MillionsPoets & Writers, and more. She teaches novel writing online at UCLA Writers Program Extension and Stanford and to private clients. She was a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellow in Fiction, and a Finalist in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab in pilot and feature film. Visit her at www.carolineleavitt.com or at @leavittnovelist on Twitter.




How Childhood Trauma Leads to Anxiety

Witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event as a child can have long-lasting effects that continue into adult life. Some adults suffer from the side effects of trauma without even recalling the incident that caused them. This shows just how far-reaching the effects of trauma can be.

This is why it is important to spot the signs of childhood trauma early so that they can be helped and treated early to avoid later problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.

What is childhood trauma?

Trauma is an event that causes the child to be overwhelmed emotionally and distressed which can lead to lasting mental and physical effects. These events can either happen to the child or be witnessed by them and examples of trauma can include but are not limited to, the following:

  • Car accidents or other accident
  • Conflicts or war
  • Physical, psychological, or sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • The sudden or violent loss of a parent or loved one
  • Witnessing a violent act
  • Living in a crime-ridden area

As children grow up they will experience difficult and unnerving situations. Normally children will learn from these experiences and be able to cope with them. However, sometimes there could be an occasion that makes the child fear for their safety and this is where trauma can stem from.

They may witness violence in their home or the surrounding neighborhood. A parent or carer may have substance abuse issues and this will lead to neglect and sometimes other forms of abuse. A child needs to feel safe and cared for and when they witness these types of behaviors as a one-off or as part of an ongoing cycle of events it can lead to childhood trauma.

What are the symptoms of childhood trauma?

Signs of trauma can differ between children and being able to spot child anxiety symptoms can help. Some children who witness a traumatic event may recover from it quickly in a matter of days and others may take months or even longer. There can be physical, psychological, and emotional effects from being part of or witnessing a distressing incident and the symptoms can be widespread. They may include some of the following:

  • Signs of depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty forming attachments with others
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Difficulties concentrating and with attention spans
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulties at school
  • Easily upset or startled
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of guilt or shame

There are many more signs that a child may be suffering from the effects of trauma. If your child has been part of a traumatic event then you need to make them feel safe like they did before the incident happened.

How can you help to alleviate the symptoms of childhood trauma?

Once a traumatic event has occurred and immediately in that aftermath, it is important to make your child feel reassured and safe. Life needs to continue as normally as possible but while being aware that your child may be disturbed by what has occurred.

The following are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Make your child feel safe
  • Stay calm and if you are anxious to keep it away from your child
  • Stick to normal routines
  • Listen to your child
  • Discuss what happened
  • Avoid any news reports or disturbing TV coverage
  • Distract them and have fun

The main thing your child will be wanting is to feel safe. If they have witnessed a violent incident such as a mugging then they need to know their home is safe and you are there. Hugs and cuddles will enforce a feeling of security. Even subtle childhood traumas can lead to problems later so it is important to try and reduce the effects as soon as possible.

Sticking to normal routines will reassure your child that life is normal and nothing has changed. Don’t let your child get away with anything they couldn’t before. Life should be kept along the same lines as before including meal times and playtimes. Playing with your child will help distract them from negative thoughts and over time make them reappear less and less.

If your child has questions then listen to them and discuss what happened. Do this in a natural way, don’t make time for a forced discussion, just chat naturally if and when the subject occurs.

What are the lasting effects of childhood trauma?

Childhood trauma can lead to adult anxiety and long-term pain so it must be treated early. There are direct links between a child suffering from a traumatic event or series of events and how it affects them in adult life. It is proven that childhood trauma can lead to mental and physical health problems.

Untreated childhood traumas can lead to adult attachment issues and problems with forming relationships. They can also cause a number of health problems later on. Someone who has suffered from childhood trauma will have an increased chance of the developing some of the following:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Heart problems including palpitations
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • PTSD
  • Diabetes

There is also a much-increased risk of self-medicating and developing serious substance abuse problems. There is a direct link between trauma and substance abuse, and alcohol and drugs can play a big part in the adult lives of those who suffered from trauma as a child.

How does childhood trauma affect the daily lives of adults?

Childhood trauma can impact directly the quality of life that is enjoyed by that person as they grow older. It can be felt in the workplace and their personal life. At both work and in social situations they may have difficulty with trust and responsibilities. They may struggle to cope with adversity and struggle to be intimate with partners.

If a child suffered from physical or emotional abuse they may have difficulties in their personal and romantic relationships later on. They are more likely to enter into disastrous relationships and have low self-esteem and self-worth. Confidence will be a struggle and this will lead to poor quality of life.

Eating disorders from childhood trauma

Another problem that can arise from early trauma is binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia among other disorders. Just in the same way people use alcohol or narcotics to alter their mood, many people use food in the same way. It is generally cheap, available and it is legal so it is a convenient way to manage emotions. It is, however, deeply unhealthy and can lead to many health problems.

Therapy to improve the effects of childhood trauma

As you can see there are many effects that childhood trauma can cause such as eating disorders and addiction. Trauma resolution therapy is a way to assist the victim with these areas and more to help them improve the quality of their lives.

Trauma therapy is designed so that the person can identify a traumatic event that they may not consider to be the cause of their symptoms and then bring it to the surface. Through the use of controlled environments and professional therapists, that person can express their emotions through art, act out parts of the event and write about it. They can even write to the person who caused that event to express how they feel. This helps to let all the pent-up emotions and feelings come out and the person to start to think more positively and enjoy a healthier life.

Summary

Childhood trauma is incredibly damaging and left untreated it can cause misery and depression in adult life. Different treatments such as CBT or cognitive behavior therapy can help and through trained professionals, individuals can have happier and more fulfilling lives away from the shadow of their trauma.




7 Common Methods Used By Behavior Analysts in Patient Care

Human behavior is complex, and it depends on several aspects. Psychological experts dig deep down and analyze several elements to determine why a person behaves in a certain way. They observe people keenly, look into their past experiences, relationships, physical well-being, and evaluate human reactions to stimuli. They pinpoint why humans act and react the way they do. As the term implies, behavioral science is the study of human behaviors, and it helps develop different approaches to improving people’s behavior.  Professionals possessing skills in analyzing human behavior are referred to as Behavior Analysts, and they work in various settings, such as educational institutes, healthcare facilities, and non-profit organizations, to name a few.

Dealing with differently-abled people requires special training and qualifications, and patience on the therapist’s end. Behavior analysts use practical techniques to assess behavioral issues and treat problematic human behavior patterns, identifying the underlying mental or neurological predicaments.  They work closely with patients and give attention to detail to figure out the issue and then devise treatments. Behavioral analysts help people improve their social behavior, and they work with people of all ages, but more often than not, they deal with children with ADHD and autism. They modify their techniques depending on the severity of patients’ conditions. The following are some of the methods behavior analysts use inpatient care:

1. Communication

Behavioral analysts have impeccable communication skills, and they know when and where to change the tone of their voice to derive the desired reaction from people. Behavioral analysts handle adults who suffer from partial memory loss or who show signs of stubbornness. The latter can be a significant hindrance in delivering adequate patient care. They often have to repeat the same instructions multiple times to see an impact on their patients.

Behavior analysts use communication as a tool and encourage their clients to incorporate small changes in their lifestyles to improve their everyday conduct. People who react aggressively can see a remarkable difference when they visit a behavior analyst. Professionals can understand verbal messages and translate non-verbal cues, as patients often do not communicate but show their emotions through body language. They need to share with patients’ families and have practical communication skills to precisely articulate the messages.

2. Chaining

Chaining is another method that behaviors analysts use to enhance people’s everyday practices. They assign small tasks to patients, which they can master over a small amount of time. The tasks are generally simple but require consistency. Once patients show consistency, analysts ask patients to practice the same chain of tasks in their everyday lives. Chaining is an instructional technique where behavioral analysts keep on repeating instructions to teach smaller tasks to patients.

3. Behavioral Contracts

The behavioral contracts strategy does not generally apply to very young children but helps teenagers who can read and write. Behavioral contracts help inculcate good habits in people and make them realize that they need some modification in their behavior. They make a contract and admit that they need some alterations and agree to change their attitude. Experts suggest patients to pen down their objectives and goals, which help them adhere to them and keep track of their progress. Behavioral analysts retain the proof of the patient’s resolutions and remind them if they start to divert from them.

4. Language Training

A common problem among people showing behavioral issues is that they find it challenging to express themselves. This leads to aggression and frustration. First, behavioral analysts look into the patent’s history and analyze their behavior patterns. When they realize that the patient has yet to develop communication skills, they stop other treatments and teach them how to communicate using words.

Behavioral analysts teach them how to express negative emotions via non-violent channels. They also teach family members how to show love and affection without forcing people into a hug, and say it instead. Language training is a slow process, but behavioral therapists can easily measure their patient’s progress and take steps to fast-track it.

5. Motivation

People with behavioral issues cannot change their conduct overnight. While they may be behaving as per their instructor’s recommendations for a few days, one incident can make them go back to their previous routine.

Behavior analysts need to buck them up from time to time to keep them on track and motivate them to continue showing good behavior. Lack of motivation can make them revert to their problematic conditions. Positive reinforcement has a lasting impact, and it brings desired results with consistency.

6. Modeling

People with behavioral issues need to see a concrete example to adopt changes in themselves. Behavioral analysts cannot help people improve their practices when their conduct is questionable. If they want to teach a soft-tone and kindness to their patients, they need to model it for them. Similarly, suppose a behavioral analyst wants their patient to be a little tranquil. In that case, they cannot be hyperactive in front of them.  In this technologically driven world, therapists have multiple options, and they can show a video and demonstrate that this is the preferred way of behaving to give a proper reference.

7. Prompting With Cues

Behavioral analysts have an in-depth insight into psychology, and while dealing with clients, they know about their previous experiences. Behavioral analysts use non-verbal cues in bringing out the desired behavior from them. For instance, they can show a nod or an approval smile when they see that the client is attempting small changes. The approval nod will serve as a motivation factor, igniting a sense of pride in the client.

Conclusion

The field of psychology has expanded, and today it encompasses several subfields. Behavioral analysis is a significant aspect of psychology, and behavioral therapists help people enhance their social practices. Behavioral analysts go through training and learn techniques of dealing with patients and use different methods to improve their conduct. The modern ways are vastly different from previous years, but their motive is still the same, improved mental and social well-being for differently-abled individuals.




3 Ways Human Psychology is Being Exploited to Create an Obedient, Self-Policing Society

By Dylan Charles | Waking Times 

Things are changing. Rapidly. So, get used to it, and don’t look back, because as we march into this brave new world together, the pressure and stress of the situation is going to affect people’s mental health and personalities in more dramatic ways.

The human psyche is built to withstand only a certain amount of pressure, and in our ever-connected world, during a global crisis, the stressful stimuli we’re soaking up in a single day is astronomical. The mind has a few coping mechanisms, like fight or flight, cognitive dissonance, denial, Stockholm syndrome, etc., but in a time like this, you’re likely to experience it all.

As the chronic stress grinds on, with no end in sight, it wears us down emotionally, physically, and mentally, and in this state, we regress into more habitual, subconsciously driven behaviors, and the mind becomes very easy to manipulate. To the interrogator or torturer, sustained stress is the key to unlocking the mind and the key to creating obedience and conformity.

The scientific study of the mass mind has become an integrated tool of the economy and the state. Edward Bernays laid the groundwork for this. He was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, and in a few classic publications like Propaganda and Crystallizing Public Opinion, he articulated his theory that the mass mind can be controlled to an extraordinary degree.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” ~Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (1928)

In the preface to A Brave New World, Aldous Huxley warned us that a minority interest in our world was deliberately and successfully exploiting the mass human mind for the interests of commerce and politics.

“Impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously accelerated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new techniques for manipulating, in the interest of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.” ~Aldous Huxley, Preface to A Brave New World

There has been a sustained, century-long effort to crack the code of the mass mind, which today includes all of the tools of technology, media, and social media. In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, in the most divisive period in modern American history, some of the more dangerous aspects of human psychology are taking root in the mass mind.

1. Deferring responsibility to perceived authority figures.

When people are told what to do by an apparent authority figure, they will even go so far as to harm and even kill another.

Stanley Milgram’s famous 1961 social experiment on obedience to authority is hailed as a milestone in our understanding of how people’s ethics can drastically change when responsibility for their actions is deferred to an authority figure, such as an ‘expert’ or leader. Intrigued by the role of Nazi military personnel in concentration camps during WWII, Milgram wanted to know how much coercion people needed in order to willingly inflict harm on another person.

“He asked volunteers to deliver an electric shock to a stranger. Unbeknownst to the volunteers, there was no shock—and the people they were shocking were actors pretending to be terribly hurt, even feigning heart attacks. Milgram found that most people would keep delivering the shocks when ordered by a person in a lab coat, even when they believed that person was gravely injured. Only a tiny percentage of people refused.” [Source]

The suggested conclusion is that people are inherently unable to think for themselves when given a subordinate role in some authoritarian hierarchy, such as the role of the people in a state-controlled world. Their natural and unconscious reaction is to defer responsibility for their actions to someone of authority, relieving themselves of the stress of guilt.

“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.” ~Stanley Milgram, The Perils of Obedience, 1974

In the Covid-19 reality, the masses are being deliberately directed toward one set of experts and influencers and directed away from other credible but contrarian perspectives. Those today who believe in mainstream authority are taking the franchise in bullying, harassing, censoring, and threatening those who would prefer to be neutral or contrarian.

Coverage of this experiment is seen below:

Furthermore, the official enforcers of new Covid policies present more concrete examples of how this dynamic plays out. Recent footage from Australia shows a male cop choking a woman for improperly wearing a mask, and around the world, those obeying the rules are increasingly violent and callous towards those not obeying.

There’s also this video of a woman telling two young children she hopes they die for not wearing masks:

2. When put into a position of authority people will abuse their power. When put into a subjugated position, people will behave like prisoners.

Dr. Phillip Zombardo conducted another well-known study on social authority in 1971. In what is known as the Stanford Prison experiment, students at Stanford University answered an ad to participate in a research study with the aim of studying the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or a prison guard.

The group of prisoners were humiliated, searched, deloused, and locked up, humiliated, taunted, and abused.

“A degradation procedure was designed in part to humiliate prisoners and in part to be sure they weren’t bringing in any germs to contaminate our jail.” ~Stanford Prison Experiment

They were issued uniforms, ID numbers had their hair covered with a nylon stocking, and had one ankle bound in a heavy chain, thus masking their personal identity and stripping it away.

“The process of having one’s head shaved, which takes place in most prisons as well as in the military, is designed in part to minimize each person’s individuality, since some people express their individuality through hair style or length. It is also a way of getting people to begin complying with the arbitrary, coercive rules of the institution. The dramatic change in appearance of having one’s head shaved can be seen on this page.” ~Stanford Prison Experiment

The guards were given no specific training and were free to do whatever they felt was necessary to maintain order. They were dressed in khaki uniforms and sunglasses and given whistles and billy clubs with which to harass the prisoners at all hours of the day.

The full story of this experiment is fascinating, but the short version is that in no time the guards found all kinds of ways to tease and punish the prisoners, and the prisoners attempted rebellion only to be suppressed and ultimately reduced to withdrawn, emotionally unstable behavior.

The dynamic of power and powerless was clearly defined and the prisoners coped with it in a variety of ways.

“At first, some prisoners rebelled or fought with the guards. Four prisoners reacted by breaking down emotionally as a way to escape the situation. One prisoner developed a psychosomatic rash over his entire body when he learned that his parole request had been turned down. Others tried to cope by being good prisoners, doing everything the guards wanted them to do. One of them was even nicknamed “Sarge,” because he was so military-like in executing all commands.” ~Stanford Prison Experiment

Watch a documentary on this experiment here:

Today, with lockdowns around the globe the masses have assumed the role of prisoner, forfeiting their individual identity and discernment. Most people go along to get along, but many are assuming the role of a prison guard, attacking and harassing those who, for whatever reason, choose not to comply with new mandates about masks and other arbitrary Covid restrictions.

3. When people are put into a doctor/patient relationship as the patient, they will develop a sense of helplessness and powerlessness.

The doctor/patient relationship is perhaps the most economically and psychologically exploited relationship in society today. It is the foundation of big pharma’s grip on modern medicine, and it is big business. The influence doctors have over patients is total, and our society is being reshaped with the masses being positioned as patients who must defer all medical decisions to an elite class of approved doctors and experts.

In a short film, Amazing Polly explains how the medical establishment’s invasion into our bodies amounts to torture and is historically one of the most dangerous forms of psychological control. Not only does it disempower the patient, but it also over-glorifies the doctor, who then has an incentive to assert more dominance over the patient.

We’re seeing a manifestation of Munchausen syndrome on a mass level, as the populace is kept ill by palliative care and held hostage by the vaccine industry. Rather than being empowered to protect ourselves by caring for the body and the immune system, we are being told to wait helplessly for a vaccine.

This is well laid out in the following video:

https://youtu.be/2deFTjEDgGA

Final Thoughts

One of the most important observations made about the Stanford Experiment is that during the whole thing, not one person realized the changes in their own personality. They were said to have been so wholly wrapped up in the experience, that neither the guards nor prisoners could see the whole picture of what was happening and how they were all changing together.

This is precisely what is happening now as these psychological dynamics are put into play at the mass level. In response to the new and chronic stressors in our lives, we are re-organizing ourselves to conform, be obedient, and be self-policing.

In a 2012 research paper entitled Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo’s Studies Really Show, authors Alexander Haslam and Stephen D. Reicher comment:

“…the fundamental point is that tyranny does not flourish because perpetrators are helpless and ignorant of their actions. It flourishes because they actively identify with those who promote vicious acts as virtuous. It is this conviction that steels participants to do their dirty work and that makes them work energetically and creatively to ensure its success.” – Haslam and Reicher

Most people don’t see it. Are you paying attention?

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and host of Battered Souls: A Podcast About Transformation, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

Dylan is available for interviews and podcasts and offers his services as a professional life coach to people looking to break free from the patterns and programming that hold them back in life. Contact Dylan at WakingTimes@gmail.com.

This article (3 Ways Human Psychology is Being Exploited to Create an Obedient, Self-Policing Society) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.




Acedia: The Lost Name For The Emotion We’re All Feeling Right Now

By Jonathan L. Zecher | The Conversation 

With some communities in rebooted lockdown conditions and movement restricted everywhere else, no one is posting pictures of their sourdough. Zoom cocktail parties have lost their novelty, Netflix can only release so many new series. The news seems worse every day, yet we compulsively scroll through it.

We get distracted by social media, yet have a pile of books unread. We keep meaning to go outside but somehow never find the time. We’re bored, listless, afraid, and uncertain.

What is this feeling?

John Cassian, a monk, and theologian wrote in the early 5th century about an ancient Greek emotion called acedia. A mind “seized” by this emotion is “horrified at where he is, disgusted with his room … It does not allow him to stay still in his cell or to devote any effort to reading”. He feels:

such bodily listlessness and yawning hunger as though he were worn by a long journey or a prolonged fast … Next he glances about and sighs that no one is coming to see him. Constantly in and out of his cell, he looks at the sun as if it were too slow in setting.

This sounds eerily familiar. Yet, the name that so aptly describes our current state was lost to time and translation.

Noonday demon

Etymologically, acedia joins the negative prefix a- to the Greek noun kēdos, which means “care, concern, or grief”. It sounds like apathy, but Cassian’s description shows that acedia is much more daunting and complex than that.

Cassian and other early Christians called acedia “the noonday demon”, and sometimes described it as a “train of thought”. But they did not think it affected city-dwellers or even monks in communities.

Rather, acedia arose directly out of the spatial and social constrictions that a solitary monastic life necessitates. These conditions generate a strange combination of listlessness, undirected anxiety, and inability to concentrate. Together these make up the paradoxical emotion of acedia.

Evagrius of Pontus included acedia among the eight trains of thought that needed to be overcome by devout Christians. Among these, acedia was considered the most insidious. It attacked only after monks had conquered the sins of gluttony, fornication, avarice, sadness, anger, vainglory, and pride.

Cassian, a student of Evagrius, translated the list of sins into Latin. A later 6th-century Latin edit gave us the Seven Deadly Sins. In this list, acedia was subsumed into “sloth”, a word we now associate with laziness.

Acedia appears throughout monastic and other literature of the Middle Ages. It was a key part of the emotional vocabulary of the Byzantine Empire and can be found in all sorts of lists of “passions” (or, emotions) in medical literature and lexicons, as well as theological treatises and sermons.

It first appeared in English in print in 1607 to describe a state of spiritual listlessness. But it’s barely used today.

Making like monks

As clinical psychology has reclassified emotions and mental states, terms like “melancholy” can sound archaic and moralizing.

Emotional expressions, norms, and scripts change over time and vary between cultures. They mark out constellations of bodily sensations, patterns of thought, and perceived social causes or effects.

Since these constellations are culturally or socially specific, as societies change, so do the emotions in their repertoire. With the decline of theological moralizing, not to mention monastic influence, acedia has largely disappeared from secular vocabularies.

Now, the pandemic and governmental responses to it create social conditions that approximate those of desert monks. No demons, perhaps, but social media offers a barrage of bad (or misleading) news.

Social distancing limits physical contact. Lockdown constricts physical space and movement. Working from home or having lost work entirely both upend routines and habits. In these conditions, perhaps it’s time to bring back the term.

More than a label

Reviving the language of acedia is important to our experience in two ways.

First, it distinguishes the complex of emotions brought on by enforced isolation, constant uncertainty, and the barrage of bad news from clinical terms like “depression” or “anxiety”.

Saying, “I’m feeling acedia” could legitimize feelings of listlessness and anxiety as valid emotions in our current context without inducing guilt that others have things worse.

Second, and more importantly, the feelings associated with physical isolation are exacerbated by emotional isolation – that terrible sense that this thing I feel is mine alone. When experience can be named, it can be communicated and even shared.

Learning to express new or previously unrecognized constellations of feelings, sensations, and thoughts, builds an emotional repertoire, which assists in emotional regulation. Naming and expressing experiences allows us to claim some agency in dealing with them.

As we, like Cassian’s desert monks, struggle through our own “long, dark teatime of the soul”, we can name this experience, which is now part of our emotional repertoire.

Image: Unsplash




Why You Can ‘Hear’ Words Inside Your Head

By Andrea Moro | BBC

Why do we include the sounds of words in our thoughts when we think without speaking? Are they just an illusion induced by our memory of overt speech?

These questions have long pointed to a mystery – one relevant to our endeavor to identify impossible languages — those that cannot take root in the human brain. This mystery is equally relevant from a methodological perspective since to address it requires radically changing our approach to the relationship between language and the brain. It requires shifting from identifying (by means of neuroimaging techniques) where neurons are firing to identifying what neurons are firing when we engage in linguistic tasks.

Consider this simple question: what is language made of? Sure, language consists of words and rules of combination, but from the point of view of physics, it exists in two different physical spaces – outside our brain and inside it. When it lives outside our brain, it consists of mechanical, acoustic waves of compressed and rarefied molecules of air – ie sound. When it exists inside our brain, it consists of electric waves that are the channel of communication for neurons. Waves in either case. This is the concrete stuff of which language is physically made.

There is one obvious connection between sound waves and the brain. Sound is what allows the contents of one brain, as expressed in words, to enter another brain. There are, of course, other ways for two brains to exchange linguistic information – through the eyes, via sign language, or through tactile systems such as Braille or the Tadoma Method, for example.

Sound enters us through our ears, traveling across the tympanic membrane, the three tiniest bones in our body known as the ossicles, and the Corti organ in the cochlea – a snail-shaped organ that plays a crucial role in this process. This complex system translates the acoustic signal’s mechanical vibrations into electric impulses in a very sophisticated way, decomposing the complex sound waves into the basic frequencies that characterize them. The different frequencies are then mapped onto dedicated slots in the primary auditory cortex, at which point the sound waves are replaced by electric waves.

At least since the pioneering work of Nobel Prize-winning electrophysiologist Lord Edgar Adrian, we have known that no physical signal is ever completely lost when it reaches the brain. What we’ve more recently discovered is surprising: apparently electric waves preserve the shape of their corresponding sound waves in non-acoustic areas of the brain, such as in the Broca’s area, the part of the brain responsible for speech production.

These findings shed important light on the relationship between sound waves and electric waves in the brain, but almost all of them rely on one aspect of the neuropsychological processes related to language: namely, sound emission decoding. Yet we know that language can also be present in the absence of sound, when we read (just as most of you are probably experiencing at this very moment) or when we use words while thinking – in technical terms when we engage in endophasic activity.

This simple fact immediately raises the following crucial question: what happens to the electric waves in our brain when we generate a linguistic expression without emitting any sound?

The acoustic information is not implanted later, when a person needs to communicate with someone else, it is part of the code from the beginning

In 2014, my colleagues and I set out in search of answers. We compared the shape of the electric waves characterizing the activity in the Broca’s area with the shape of the sound waves, not just when speakers were hearing a sound, but also when they were reading linguistic expressions in absolute silence – that is, when the input was not acoustic at all.

Analyzing inner speech is not a novel idea in neuropsychology, as we know from sources ranging from the Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s speculations on psychological development to analyses based on neuroimaging. But the technique we used to explore this phenomenon was unusual and illuminating, and the results were unexpected, to say the least.

In our experiment, data were collected by means of so-called awake surgery. This technique offers the possibility of stimulating and analyzing the electrophysiological cortical activity of patients who have been awakened after a portion of their skullcap was removed. The invasive nature of this technique, the fragility of the organ involved, and the cooperation of patients in an extremely delicate emotional state make this research very difficult for obvious psychological, technical, and ethical reasons.

The surgeon who cuts the cerebral cortex to remove a tumor, for example, cannot know in advance (except in specific cases) whether cutting the cerebral tissue will interrupt a neuronal network and thus impair or destroy a cognitive, motor, or perceptual capacity that is supported or conveyed by that network. To minimize any potential damage from the surgery, then, once the patient has been anesthetized and a portion of the skullcap has been removed to access the surgical site, the surgeon wakes the patient for a short transitional period of about 10 to 20 minutes and asks him or her to perform some simple tasks that should require their utilizing the exposed cortex.

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As they perform them, the surgeon stimulates the patient’s cortex by means of small electrodes, which causes no pain since there are no pain receptors in the brain. If the electrical stimulation in a certain portion of the cortex interferes with the performance of a given task, the surgeon knows that cutting that fragment of the cortex could permanently damage the patient and can evaluate whether an alternative surgical site is available.

The patient gains an invaluable advantage from these exercises and one that is practically impossible to obtain through any other technique. At the same time, this technique provides us with a unique opportunity to investigate brain functioning and obtain extremely important data.

First, the surgeon can establish the position where a crucial node of a neuronal network associated with a specific task is located in any given patient, which neutralizes one of the major problems related to neuroimaging techniques – the fact that subjects may vary considerably as to precisely where a certain function is carried out in the brain. The surgeon can also record with progressive precision neuronal electrical activity down to the level of a single neuron – although this level is only reached in extremely rare cases with current technology.

This technique has increasingly been used for pathologies other than focal lesions – for example, cases of pharmacologically intractable epilepsy. In such cases, the surgeon can also implant temporary electrodes that, once the skullcap has been closed, provide continuous information for a lengthy period of time in an everyday environment, and information that is not limited to the scope of the operating room. This measuring method offers us a further step forward in comprehending the neurophysiological processes taking place in the brain. It provides a more precise and defined level of spatial resolution than what neuroimaging techniques are capable of and provides specific measures of electrical activity not available through indirect other means of measurement.

Let us now turn back to our experiment. Sixteen patients were asked to read linguistic expressions aloud, either isolated words or full sentences. We then compared the shape of the acoustic waves with the shape of the electric waves in the Broca’s area and observed a correlation (which was not unexpected).

The very fact that the majority of human communication takes place via waves may not be a casual fact

The second step was crucial. We asked the patients to read the linguistic expressions again, this time without emitting any sound – they just read them in their minds. By analogy, we compared the shape of the acoustic wave with the shape of the electric wave in the Broca’s area. I should note that a signal was indeed entering the brain, but it was not a sound signal – instead, it was the light signal carried by electromagnetic waves, or, to put it more simply, a signal conveyed by the alphabetical letters we use to represent words (ie writing) but definitely not an acoustic wave.

Remarkably, we found that the shape of the electric waves recorded in a non-acoustic area of the brain when linguistic expressions are being read silently preserves the same structure as those of the mechanical sound waves of air that would have been produced if those words had actually been uttered. The two families of waves where language lives physically are then closely related – so close in fact that the two overlap independently of the presence of sound.

The acoustic information is not implanted later when a person needs to communicate with someone else, it is part of the code from the beginning, or at least before the production of sound takes place. It also excludes that the sensation of exploiting sound representation while reading or thinking with words is just an illusory artifact based on a remembrance of the overt speech.

The discovery that these two independent families of waves of which language is physically made strictly correlate with each other – even in non-acoustic areas and whether or not the linguistic structures are actually uttered or remain within the mind of an individual – indicates that sound plays a much more central role in language processing than was previously thought.

It is as if this unexpected correlation provided us with the missing piece of a “Rosetta stone” in which two known codes – the sound waves and the electric waves generated by sound – could be exploited to decipher a third one, the electric code generated in the absence of sound, which in turn could hopefully lead to the discovery of the “fingerprint” of human language.

Among the questions this discovery raises is what kind of electrical activity is elaborated in a language network (one that includes the Broca’s area) by persons who have never been able to hear any sound from birth? Can we exploit electro-cortical information to access the linguistic thinking of aphasic patients whose articulatory apparatus alone has been damaged, and hear them speak again, albeit through an artificial device? Can we get a better understanding of the language used in dreaming or in patients who are in a minimally conscious state? Can we consider severe stuttering as a form of miscoordination between different sound representations in different networks and hope to intervene and cure it? Can these discoveries lead to the unethical use of devices to excerpt linguistic thought from people who do not want to communicate it?

The very fact that the majority of human communication takes place via waves may not be a casual fact – after all, waves constitute the purest system of communication since they transfer information from one entity to the other without changing the structure or the composition of the two entities. They travel through us and leave us intact, but they allow us to interpret the message borne by their momentary vibrations, provided that we have the key to decode it. It is not at all accidental that the term information is derived from the Latin root forma (shape) – to inform is to share a shape.

In his Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein asked: “Is it conceivable that people should never speak an audible language, but should nevertheless talk to themselves inwardly, in the imagination?” The results of this experiment unexpectedly revive this prophetic question under a new light, and more importantly, they suggest new questions altogether.

* This article originally appeared in The MIT Press Reader and is republished with permission. Andrea Moro is a Professor of General Linguistics at the University School for Advanced Study (IUSS) in Pavia, Italy. He is the author of several books, including “The Boundaries of Babel”, “A Brief History of the Verb To Be,” and “Impossible Languages,” from which this article is adapted.




The Little-Known Sordid History Of Psychiatry

By Dr. Mercola | Waking Times

Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist, has written more than a dozen bestselling books on psychiatry and the drug industry. He’s frequently referred to as “the conscience of psychiatry” because he’s been able to successfully reform the psychiatric profession, abolishing one of the most harmful practices, namely lobotomies and other experimental psychosurgeries.

He was the first to take a public stand against lobotomies as a young man, and was able to change the field as a result. He’s featured in Aaron and Melissa Dykes’ excellent documentary, “The Minds of Men.”1

Now 83 years old, Breggin has seen a lot, and in this interview, he shares his own evolution and experiences as a psychiatrist. His interest in psychiatry began at the age of 18, when he became a volunteer at a local state mental hospital.

“It was a nightmare,” he says. “It was like my uncle Dutch’s descriptions of liberating a Nazi concentration camp. The place stank. People were sitting in these bare, barren concrete corridors.

They had a TV set that wasn’t working … and bolted down tables and chairs so the people couldn’t throw them at each other. No attention being given to them at all. Often just sitting there; some hallucinating, and somebody told me that the girl in the corner coiled up in a ball on the floor by a radiator had been a Radcliffe student …

The doctors were callous, the aids were callous, there was just no love in the place at all. I could tell, even though I didn’t really have much experience growing up with love, I could feel that what was missing was love, care, nurturing. It was so clear.”

Toxic Psychiatry

Breggin eventually became the leader of that volunteer program. He and 200 other students painted the walls and took patients for walks. He asked the superintendent to assign one patient per volunteer aid, to build real relationships. The superintendent balked at the idea, but eventually gave in. Breggin tells this story in his book, “Toxic Psychiatry.”2

“We ended up getting almost every patient out of that hospital,” he says. “We got them placed in different places that were much better. We got some back with their families. It was so clear to me that this was the way to go …

I watched electroshock and insulin coma shock where people would come in and they’d give them overdoses of insulin to send them into coma. They’d be frothing at the mouth, unconscious, having seizures and getting ready to die, literally. Then they would give them orange juice or sugar water and they would become alert again.

It was so clear to me what was going on. People would come in full of energy — angry, depressed, anxious and often resistant … They’d get this injection of insulin to knock them out, killing them, basically, but when they came awake they were like puppies. They were grateful, they said ‘Thank you, I feel like you saved me.’ They’d be docile … There’s no fooling about what this was. I knew exactly what it was.

I knew what shock treatment was … I’ve been fighting this, but we’re still doing it … It’s when they put electrodes on the forehead of the brain … You get a shock of a voltage … 10 times what you need to give convulsions … and it makes docility. It makes people out of touch with themselves. It makes people unable to complain … [Elevated mood] is the artificial euphoria [caused by] brain damage. This is very brain damaging.”

All of this is what motivated Breggin to go into psychiatry, in order to help reform the profession from the inside. Interestingly, as early as 1963, Jerry Klerman, who later became the highest-ranking psychiatrist in the federal government and a professor at Harvard, told Breggin there was no future in helping people strengthen their mental resilience.

The future, Klerman told him, was in drugs, and using computers to decide which drugs to use. After his first year at Harvard medical school, Breggin left and went back to the Upstate Medical Center (University) in New York, where he had already done internship.

“Then I went on to the National Institute of Mental Health … for two years. There I saw clearly what was happening. Psychiatry was leaving the psychosocial model behind.

My volunteer program had already been described by the last big Federal Commission on Mental Health. It’s mentioned two or three times and described as one of the solutions to the vast mental hospital problems … Nothing about drugs, drugging and shocking people in it.

It was much more real, much more about what was really going on with human beings and human sufferings, spiritual, psychological. I could just see this writing on the wall and I was not sure what to do. I was invited to stay at the National Institute of Mental Health.

I accepted briefly, in the child division. I was very interested in helping children. Then I thought, I can’t do this. I gave them warning without even having a job that I was leaving. I didn’t know what else to do, so I went into private practice.”

Breggin Spearheaded Drug-Free Psychiatry

Breggin focused on helping people without medication. “I learned very quickly that the most disturbed people would calm down and relate when somebody cared about them, wasn’t afraid of them, was interested in them and made no pretense of being superior to them,” he says. Drugs, he explains, were simply stifling the patients. While they might ease some of the suffering, that relief came at the expense of brain damage.

Breggin goes on to tell the story of how he prevented the return of lobotomies and psychosurgeries — strategies in which the brain is purposely damaged through electric shocks, radium chip implants or puncturing the prefrontal area of the brain with an ice pick inserted next to the eyeball, for example.

Breggin refers to lobotomies as a rape of the soul, the permanent mutilation of an individual’s selfhood, as damage to one area of the brain will harm the integration of the whole brain. As noted by Breggin, you cannot “plop out aggression” like a pit out of an olive. The brain doesn’t work like that. It’s an integrated organ and mental processes arise from integrated processes involving many different areas of the brain.

So many people now know that drugs are dangerous and shock treatment is horrible. But, the power of psychiatry grows and the drug companies grow … and more and more people are being recruited by all the ads and all the fake science.

He decided somebody had to stop the madness. And, while he received no support from any other well-known psychiatrist or professor, and came under vehement attack by the establishment, including threats of physical violence against himself and his family that at times necessitated the use of bodyguards.

Breggin eventually succeeded. It’s a fascinating story, so I highly recommend listening to the whole interview. When asked why he took on this formidable fight, he says:

“When I saw what was being done to people, I said ‘Somebody has to do this. I have no choice about this.’ I had no idea what I was up against. I had no idea that everywhere there would be enemies; that I’d be threatened with violence.

When I was invited to speak by Harvard Medical students, that people would rip down all the signs about the meeting; that there’d be blowback on the students and stuff like that. I had no idea what I was walking into.”

The Lawsuit That Ended Lobotomies

The end of lobotomies was brought about by a lawsuit filed by a young lawyer named Gabe Kaimowitz on behalf of a chronically hospitalized patient who had been promised release from the mental hospital if he underwent experimental psychosurgery. Breggin tells the story:

“[Kaimowitz] found out they were going to do a psychosurgery experimentation in the state hospital with a local university, Wayne’s State. It was all set up to go. He intervened. In fact, the case is called by his name, which is unusual … Kaimowitz v. The Department of Mental Health Wayne State University.

A three-judge panel met about the case. This [patient] had been interviewed by the Commissioner of Mental Health. He had been chronically hospitalized and then allegedly had sexually assaulted a nurse or something, but there was no record of it and certainly no adjudication about it; no meetings about it. He was a lifetime patient.

The Commissioner told him he could get out if he underwent the psychosurgery. Well, the judges looked over his case and decided that, first, he was going to be discharged because he was being held illegally. They discharged John Doe. Then the state said, ‘Well, the case is over.’ They said ‘No. You guys have set up this whole thing. We’re going to look at it.’

Well, I was the go-to person as … [Kaimowitz] brought me in. I couldn’t testify the first day because they were filibustering me. They wanted to force me to stay overnight so that … they’d have the whole weekend to review the case with the surgeons. Follow me?

Of course, they’re forcing me into testifying in the afternoon, filibustering in the morning. Gabe said, ‘This is really too bad because now they’re going to have the whole weekend to talk about your testimony with the surgeons.’ I said, ‘No, no, no. We’ll filibuster back. I’ll testify on something else for the afternoon.’ He said, ‘How are you going to do that?’

I said, ‘Well, I’ll talk about the history of psychiatry. I’m going to tie it into the extermination camps, which were very much modeled on state mental hospitals. Show the comparison and hopefully the judges will invoke the Nuremberg Code, which says that, of course, that man couldn’t volunteer in a state mental hospital because he’s in a total institution, just like the Nuremberg Code was applied to.

He said, ‘OK.’ I gave him a few questions and we went that afternoon and did that. Then on the following Monday, I started to talk about psychosurgery. They were so unprepared that all they could do was go through this 100-page paper that I had written …

We won the trial and it stopped, on the spot, all psychosurgery in the state hospitals in the federal programs. NIH stopped; VA stopped and all the state hospitals stopped. This was 1972-1973.”

It’s important to realize just how important this was, to put a stop to the return of lobotomies and experimental psychosurgeries. It was widely accepted as a practical solution for all sorts of problems, including race riots and behavioral problems among young children.

The beginning of the end of psychosurgery was the early 1970s. At that time, Breggin, who for most of his career struggled to get support, got the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, who could see the social consequences of psychosurgery being used on black children, as well as certain conservative Senators who thought it was immoral.

“I was the first person to criticize lobotomies in public, let alone the first psychiatrist. It was crazy. I still don’t understand human beings. I work hard about it, but I keep falling short. I couldn’t believe that I was so alone doing this,” he says.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE……




3 Ways Human Psychology is Being Exploited To Create An Obedient, Self-Policing Society

By Dylan Charles | Waking Times

Things are changing. Rapidly. So, get used to it, and don’t look back, because as we march into this brave new world together, the pressure and stress of the situation is going to affect people’s mental health and personalities in more dramatic ways.

The human psyche is built to withstand only a certain amount of pressure, and in our ever-connected world, during a global crisis, the stressful stimuli we’re soaking up in a single day is astronomical. The mind has a few coping mechanisms, like fight or flight, cognitive dissonance, denial, Stockholm syndrome, etc., but in a time like this, you’re likely to experience it all.

As the chronic stress grinds on, with no end in sight, it wears us down emotionally, physically, and mentally, and in this state, we regress into more habitual, subconsciously driven behaviors, and the mind becomes very easy to manipulate. To the interrogator or torturer, sustained stress is the key to unlocking the mind and the key to creating obedience and conformity.

The scientific study of the mass mind has become an integrated tool of the economy and the state. Edward Bernays laid the groundwork for this. He was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, and in a few classic publications like Propaganda and Crystallizing Public Opinion, he articulated his theory that the mass mind can be controlled to an extraordinary degree.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” ~Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (1928)

In the preface to A Brave New World, Aldous Huxley warned us that a minority interest in our world was deliberately and successfully exploiting the mass human mind for the interests of commerce and politics.

“Impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously accelerated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new techniques for manipulating, in the interest of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.” ~Aldous Huxley, Preface to A Brave New World

There has been a sustained, century-long effort to crack the code of the mass mind, which today includes all of the tools of technology, media, and social media. In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, in the most divisive period in modern American history, some of the more dangerous aspects of human psychology are taking root in the mass mind.

1. Deferring responsibility to perceived authority figures.

When people are told what to do by an apparent authority figure, they will even go so far as to harm and even kill another.

Stanley Milgram’s famous 1961 social experiment on obedience to authority is hailed as a milestone in our understanding of how people’s ethics can drastically change when responsibility for their actions is deferred on to an authority figure, such as an ‘expert’ or leader. Intrigued by the role of Nazi military personnel in concentration camps during WWII, Milgram wanted to know how much coercion people needed in order to willingly inflict harm on another person.

“He asked volunteers to deliver an electric shock to a stranger. Unbeknownst to the volunteers, there was no shock—and the people they were shocking were actors pretending to be terribly hurt, even feigning heart attacks. Milgram found that most people would keep delivering the shocks when ordered by a person in a lab coat, even when they believed that person was gravely injured. Only a tiny percentage of people refused.” [Source]

The suggested conclusion is that people are inherently unable to think for themselves when given a subordinate role in some authoritarian hierarchy, such as the role of the people in a state-controlled world. Their natural and unconscious reaction is to defer responsibility for their actions to someone of authority, relieving themselves of the stress of guilt.

“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.” ~Stanley Milgram, The Perils of Obedience, 1974

In the Covid-19 reality, the masses are being deliberately directed toward one set of experts and influencers and directed away from other credible but contrarian perspectives. Those today who believe in mainstream authority are taking the franchise in bullying, harassing, censoring, and threatening those who would prefer to be neutral or contrarian.

Coverage of this experiment is seen below:

Furthermore, the official enforcers of new COVID policies present more concrete examples of how this dynamic plays out. Recent footage from Australia shows a male cop choking a woman for improperly wearing a mask, and around the world, those obeying the rules are increasingly violent and callous towards those not obeying.

There’s also this video of a woman telling two young children she hopes they die for not wearing masks:

2. When put into a position of authority people will abuse their power. When put into a subjugated position, people will behave like prisoners.

Dr. Phillip Zombardo conducted another well-known study on social authority in 1971. In what is known as the Stanford Prison experiment, students at Stanford University answered an ad to participate in a research study with the aim of studying the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or a prison guard.

The group of prisoners were humiliated, searched, deloused, and locked up, humiliated, taunted, and abused.

“A degradation procedure was designed in part to humiliate prisoners and in part to be sure they weren’t bringing in any germs to contaminate our jail.” ~Stanford Prison Experiment

They were issued uniforms, ID numbers had their hair covered with a nylon stocking, and had one ankle bound in a heavy chain, thus masking their personal identity and stripping it away.

“The process of having one’s head shaved, which takes place in most prisons as well as in the military, is designed in part to minimize each person’s individuality, since some people express their individuality through hair style or length. It is also a way of getting people to begin complying with the arbitrary, coercive rules of the institution. The dramatic change in appearance of having one’s head shaved can be seen on this page.” ~Stanford Prison Experiment

The guards were given no specific training and were free to do whatever they felt was necessary to maintain order. They were dressed in khaki uniforms and sunglasses and given whistles and billy clubs with which to harass the prisoners at all hours of the day.

The full story of this experiment is fascinating, but the short version is that in no time the guards found all kinds of ways to tease and punish the prisoners, and the prisoners attempted rebellion only to be suppressed and ultimately reduced to withdrawn, emotionally unstable behavior.

The dynamic of power and powerlessness was clearly defined and the prisoners coped with it in a variety of ways.

“At first, some prisoners rebelled or fought with the guards. Four prisoners reacted by breaking down emotionally as a way to escape the situation. One prisoner developed a psychosomatic rash over his entire body when he learned that his parole request had been turned down. Others tried to cope by being good prisoners, doing everything the guards wanted them to do. One of them was even nicknamed “Sarge,” because he was so military-like in executing all commands.” ~Stanford Prison Experiment

Watch a documentary on this experiment here:

Today, with lockdowns around the globe the masses have assumed the role of prisoner, forfeiting their individual identity and discernment. Most people go along to get along, but many are assuming the role of a prison guard, attacking and harassing those who, for whatever reason, choose not to comply with new mandates about masks and other arbitrary COVID restrictions.

This recent video of a woman throwing hot coffee in the face a guy who was not wearing a mask is telling:

https://youtu.be/laaiY2qf_BI

3. When people are put into a doctor/patient relationship as the patient, they will develop a sense of helplessness and powerlessness.

The doctor/patient relationship is perhaps the most economically and psychologically exploited relationship in society today. It is the foundation of big pharma’s grip on modern medicine, and it is big business. The influence doctors have over patients is total, and our society is being reshaped with the masses being positioned as patients who must defer all medical decisions to an elite class of approved doctors and experts.

In a short film, Amazing Polly explains how the medical establishment’s invasion into our bodies amounts to torture and is historically one of the most dangerous forms of psychological control. Not only does it disempower the patient, but it also over-glorifies the doctor, who then has an incentive to assert more dominance over the patient.

We’re seeing a manifestation of Munchausen syndrome on a mass level, as the populace is kept ill by palliative care and held hostage by the vaccine industry. Rather than being empowered to protect ourselves by caring for the body and the immune system, we are being told to wait helplessly for a vaccine.

This is well laid out in the following video:

https://youtu.be/2deFTjEDgGA

Final Thoughts

One of the most important observations made about the Stanford Experiment is that during the whole thing, not one person realized the changes in their own personality. They were said to have been so wholly wrapped up in the experience, that neither the guards nor prisoners could see the whole picture of what was happening and how they were all changing together.

This is precisely what is happening now as these psychological dynamics are put into play at the mass level. In response to the new and chronic stressors in our lives, we are re-organizing ourselves to conform, be obedient, and be self-policing.

In a 2012 research paper entitled Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo’s Studies Really Show, authors Alexander Haslam and Stephen D. Reicher comment:

“…the fundamental point is that tyranny does not flourish because perpetrators are helpless and ignorant of their actions. It flourishes because they actively identify with those who promote vicious acts as virtuous. It is this conviction that steels participants to do their dirty work and that makes them work energetically and creatively to ensure its success.” – Haslam and Reicher

Most people don’t see it. Are you paying attention?

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and host of Battered Souls: A Podcast About Transformation, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

Dylan is available for interviews and podcasts and offers his services as a professional life coach to people looking to break free from the patterns and programming that hold them back in life. Contact Dylan at WakingTimes@gmail.com.

This article (3 Ways Human Psychology is Being Exploited to Create an Obedient, Self-Policing Society) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.




A Psychiatrist’s Tips for Calming Your Pandemic Stress

By Jill Suttie | Greater Good Magazine

What happens when the whole world is facing a massive threat like we are now with coronavirus? According to psychiatrist James Gordon, founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., the pandemic is setting off a community-wide mental health crisis. It’s creating anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation that are similar in some ways to what communities feel when enduring war, mass school shootings, opioid epidemics, or climate-related disasters.

Gordon has worked all around the world helping people deal with trauma and its aftermath, including refugees of several war-torn countries, U.S. military personnel, and those struggling with end-of-life challenges. His recently published book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma, outlines practices he teaches to help people cope—not only during a pandemic but any time they face difficulties in life. His methods, grounded in scientific research and the wisdom of his years of experience, help communities build supportive networks to heal from disaster.

In a conversation with Greater Good, he spoke about his work and its relevance for our times—including tools we can use to cope today.

Jill Suttie: How has the viral pandemic affected the mental health of the people you are seeing at your center?

James Gordon, M.D.

James Gordon, M.D. 

James Gordon: Pretty much everyone is anxious about what’s happening now—anxious about their lives, anxious about their health, their family’s health, their economic well-being. They’re often feeling disconnected from other people and, sometimes, anxious about their connections with others. Everyone is worried about the future and what it holds. So, they have the symptoms you would expect from people who’ve been traumatized.

I’m not saying they qualify for a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, but they have the kinds of symptoms you see in people who are in a chronic state of fight or flight, which is what we go into when we’re under threat. We react to the coronavirus threat as if it were a predator. Our heart rate and blood pressure go up, and our digestion goes down. Our frontal cortex stops functioning well; so we’re not terribly self-aware, compassionate, or thoughtful. Meanwhile, the amygdala—the center of fear and anger in the brain—is firing like crazy. [People are] anxious, they’re agitated, they have trouble focusing and sleeping, and they are often irritable.

Also, a lot of people are depressed and ask themselves, what’s it all about? What am I supposed to do now? There’s a level of uncertainty that’s bigger than it’s ever been. I don’t think something like this has happened in the United States since the second world war, but then the trauma was mitigated by a lot of communal effort and people all coming together. Plus, the war was somewhere else, far away. This may be worse than even the 1918 pandemic because we know more about it, but we’re not sure what to do. And everybody’s affected.

JS: Have you noticed that people are reluctant to admit that they’re suffering emotionally during this time?

JG: Yes, a lot of people are saying, “Who am I to be hurting? I’m safe in my home; I still have a job; nobody in my family has died.” So that can make some people feel uneasy about talking about psychological issues. But people who’ve lost family members or health professionals who’ve seen a lot of patients die are more willing to admit their grief and deep pain about what they’ve experienced to other people.

For the most part, these are not psychiatric disorders that people are having. These are ordinary responses to an extraordinary situation. People are overwhelmed, and that’s to be expected in this situation. Everybody is going to be affected, absolutely everyone. Try to tell me that the people parading in front of the Michigan governor’s mansion with semi-automatic weapons are not affected by this crisis; I don’t think so. They’re being triggered and they’re very fearful. This is their response to that.

JS: On top of the pandemic, we are facing the realities of racial injustice in our country. How has that affected people’s mental health during this time?

JG: The image of that cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes is now in everyone’s psyche, and it’s bringing up many emotions and thoughts for different people. Several black men have told me about nightmares they’ve had of choking and not being able to get their breath, and it’s bringing up feelings of powerlessness in people of every color. Many women have mentioned memories of sexual assault because that same feeling of being helpless and unable to do anything—of being trapped—is being evoked. In some cases, these are memories people thought they’d moved beyond, but now they’re being affected again. So, it’s stirring up images and memories of various kinds of oppression and brutalization in everybody.

It’s definitely increased the level of fear in many people, too—certainly in black people. Every black woman I know has told me that they are more scared for their children, especially their sons. This is something they’ve been afraid of anyway, but now they’re even more worried about their children being targets.

But it’s also opening up people to a greater sense of compassion, too. They feel more connected with people who’ve been oppressed. If there’s a positive side, that’s it. Also, part of the response to the dark side of re-experiencing feelings of oppression, subjugation, and not having a voice is that people are finding their voices again and coming together. They’re discovering that they have similar thoughts and feelings about their own oppression and the oppression of others, so it’s been a pivotal moment for many people.

JS: What can people do to cope with a massive-scale crisis like the pandemic—when so many are affected?

JG: I’ll tell you what we’re doing at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. First, we’re encouraging the communities we work with to provide information to people that explain what they’re likely to go through. People want to be reassured that what they’re experiencing is understandable, and they want to have perspectives and tools that they can use to help heal while being connected with each other.

Many of the people we’ve trained around the country are doing online groups where people can come together for two hours a week and work on helping themselves cope. What we’re offering is really pretty simple. We’re giving people the tools to come back into biological, psychological balance. And we’re helping them mobilize their imagination to look for solutions that can help them stop ruminating while providing them with support. This is the public health response that we should be having all over the country.

By now, there are probably a thousand or more of these groups happening all over the United States. We’re not the only ones offering these kinds of tools, but we’ve been doing this now on a population-wide level for over 20 years, and we’ve worked with probably a couple of million people around the world. So, we know how to do this. What’s required is that organizations in communities—say, the public health department or the school system—decide this is a priority. It should be an admission of our universal psychological vulnerability to what’s going on.

JS: What tools are you promoting to people?

JG: The tools we give people provide a basic way of dealing with the fight-or-flight response. To calm that down, we start with slow, deep breathing—in through the nose, out through the mouth, with the belly soft and relaxed. You do that for about 10 minutes, and your heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and you’re calmer and less irritable. This helps you realize that you can make a difference in how you feel.

Sometimes under threat, we go into a freeze response, and we withdraw psychologically and put up a barrier against the pain we’re feeling. To deal with that response, you’ve got to move your body. With the possible exception of working with a very skilled, compassionate therapist, physical exercise is the single best intervention for depression—better than antidepressant drugs, without the negative side effects. The movement exercise I teach first, which is the easiest, is shaking and dancing. It’s what indigenous people all over the world do regularly. If you shake your body, the feelings that you’ve been suppressing start to come out, and you feel better.

Beyond that, we use expressive meditations which help to break up the repetitive rumination and bring feelings back into our lives. Once you get more comfortable with these techniques and become more balanced in your physiology, there are many other techniques we teach people, too.

JS: How do these techniques create a supportive community?

JG: If you’re feeling lonely, anxious, and needy, it’s super hard to connect with other people. If you’re feeling a little bit more relaxed and more confident in calming yourself down, the parts of your brain that make a connection with others easier function better. This may seem counterintuitive or paradoxical, but the first way of connecting with other people is connecting with yourself. Once you start doing that, you’re better able to talk to others.

We offer a lot of groups through our website, and doing the practices together helps create a community. But, for people who are already connected to each other, it’s important to maintain those connections, too. Wherever you are, have a meeting, get together with people online, say hi to them. Whatever impulse makes you feel like connecting to other people, act on it. If you’re inhibited about doing that, close your eyes for a minute or two and ask yourself, “Who should I connect with today?” If somebody comes to your mind, reach out. Get over the self-consciousness.

What I’ve found is that during this time, people are generally more open to connecting than they were before the pandemic. But, besides reaching out to individuals, a lot of people are also doing online classes—an online yoga or cooking or dance class—and enjoying those. These can be important ways of connecting, too.

We need community right now, and the primary way of working on psychological issues should be within groups. Research shows that group support is the single most important intervention for psychological trauma, and that’s pretty much what we’re going through right now. People want to understand that what they’re experiencing is a normal response to an abnormal situation and to have tools to help them cope. Reassuring themselves that they are not alone should be a primary way of working through whatever they need to work through.

About the Author
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Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.