Sanity Versus Insanity

Do you know what insanity is?

No Clarity

As a clinical psychologist I have come to mistrust the definitions of sanity and insanity. And for that matter I also question the clarity of what is or is not reality. That is why this blog is called cuspofreality.com.

Most of us would like to believe we have a firm grip on reality but the “reality” is that we are deeply influenced by the context, our personality, our mood, culture and on and on. Reality changes from moment to moment as does the perception of what is or is not sanity.

What a Surprise!

Not long ago there was a great deal of excitement when someone showed the same dress as white and gold or blue and black. It was an internet sensation. How could the same dress be those different colors. It was, of course, explainable in terms of the type of light, how we looked at it, etc. But it shook people’s belief in what was reality. Could it really be both sets of colors? Sorry to say, yes it can be or at least can be perceived as such.

We do, indeed, spend most of our lives believing in that thing we call reality. And people who see things differently from us, whether it is visually or cognitively, are simply wrong. I know. I have the proper perspective.

Facing the Task, Not the Diagnosis

For those of us in the mental health field, when we have to help people who are struggling with their emotional and cognitive lives, we often have to spend time determining the role of insanity. After decades in the field all I can say is that I dislike having to make such a determination. I’m not sure the label is helpful. I prefer to think in terms of how well the person copes in the world and how effective they are in relating to other people, including their coworkers, and how good they are at life management.

If a person is harmless and happy with how they see the world, in many ways it is not important to define exactly how sane they are or are not. Labels may be rather pointless. Often we need not face the fact that most of us have varying forms of reality from which we relate to the world. There are, in fact, people who are quite insane in a fashion we can all agree on. Some people have a biochemical disorder which means their reality is fickle and they have terrible problems relating to other people.

Contextual Adjustment

What is the point you may ask? Sometimes we just have to adjust our belief as it relates to what is fair, correct, moral or just plain effective. And I am led back to the matter of the empowerment of women. We come from a history in which women’s rights were restricted. It is as if they were flawed and incapable of being truly independent. We are now rethinking this belief. And in doing so we are casting aside thoughts of sanity versus insanity or even incapacity. Perhaps we simply have to move to what is fair, correct and appropriate. We are already seeing the benefits. No matter how we view it, it is surely going to be a struggle.

How have you had to adjust your view of things in the past and in our current political crisis how do you assess reality?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Thank You For Your Service

Have you ever had a stress reaction?

Have We Defined Stress Incorrectly?

Maybe our recent wars did not create an apocalypse for our nation, but we’re now facing some consequences of the wars. An apocalypse is ongoing for many of the residents of the Middle East but there is also significant distress among some people in our nation.

Some of that distress will be referred to as mental illness. I am not a huge fan of the medical model as it relates to mental and emotional functioning because I think there are often other more useful ways to look at some of the things that happen to us. We created the concept of mental health so that we could remove mental and emotional suffering from the hands of the church. It is no longer common to describe people as being possessed by the devil or demons. But sometimes viewing something as an illness is not useful either.

World War II Is Still With Us

Long before there was the currently popular Post Traumatic Stress Disorder we had war related stress problems but they were not diagnosed nor helped very effectively. We hear a great deal about PTSD currently. It almost sounds like it is a new problem.

I had a couple of awakenings in my practice over the years. In one instance a man came to see me about an ill-defined depression which had been nagging at him. We talked for several sessions until at last he said, “I think you need to meet my father”. His father had been a bomber pilot in World War II and had flown on both missions to destroy the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania. In each attack they lost 90% of the planes. His father had passed survivor guilt on to his son.

In another instance I was dealing with a young Jewish woman. Again, we were getting nowhere until she asked to bring her grandmother in. Her grandmother was a survivor of the Aushwitz concentration camp and had passed on this heritage within the family.

More Recent Events

It should not surprise anyone that we have similar problems for people who served in Vietnam and more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq and we will see what will be the outcome of the current troop withdrawals. The revelations have been ongoing. From time to time I have occasion to talk with veterans. In one instance when I told a man that reactions to this stress were essentially normal there were tears in his eyes. He was grateful and said, “I thought I was mentally ill.”

Normalizing the Experience

The military is beginning to work to drop the D from PTSD because calling it a disorder is serving as a bar to seeking help. People don’t like being called mentally ill. The fact is that the types of reactions we are seeing should be characterized as normal reactions to prolonged stress. Exactly how is a person to feel when they spend every day killing people and having people trying to kill them? Since we don’t have a draft we have sent people back for multiple tours of duty which is utterly irresponsible.

Thank You For Your Service

Yes, we should thank them for their service but we are too often not giving them service in return. I used an image of a homeless man on the street for this post because it exemplifies the service we are not giving. They should not be suffering. Too often the wait times for those seeking help is much too long and there should be no veterans homeless on the street.

We are failing to step up to our obligations. Politicians are threatening more war and few are really responding to and supporting the response to real need created by past wars. The fact is that there are understandable reactions to prolonged stress and they can be dealt with.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

The Morass of Medication/Drugs

Medications are what we take for health issues unless of course that medication may be something we can take for recreational purposes. And then there is the matter of cost and who benefits from the price of the item and who sells it. It is hardly a clean and open field.

Gaining a Focus

The point of this post relates to management and pricing. And the specific focus is on the crisis we have in this country and much of that has to do with marketing. Back a ways one focus on drugs often related to the dealers in things such as heroin and marijuana. We bungled management of marijuana and succeeded in fostering the development of drug cartels with a particular focus in Central America. That in turn has led to a deep humanitarian crisis in Central America and on our southern border.

The Other Cartel

One way to foster discussion is to cast the drug companies as a cartel of sort. Prices have been spiraling up and it is out of control, posing a major problem for people of limited means and even average means. $3000 per month for one drug crushes families.

As I noted in another post, I needed to start taking a blood thinner recently. I had a choice between a big pharma product (Xarelto) which cost $7100 a year or a long existing one favored by what I’ll call counter culture types (Nattokinase) that cost $240 per year. I chose the later, not just because of the price differential. The one I chose clearly has thinned my blood but does not cause clotting problems. I also know historically it has a good reputation.

Another Issue

And then there is another issue I also mentioned recently. My mother took a big pharma drug and it gave her Parkinson’s Disease. She died a terrible, prolonged and agonizing death. The company did not have a long history of evaluation of the drug which is also true for many current drugs. They tuck profits away and then they have the money to fund the suits when things go wrong. This is a long and winding road with questionable ethics.

Advertising

Television is flooded with advertising by drug companies. Their instructions are bizarre and frightening. But it goes on and on. Isn’t the use of such drugs supposed to be an issue between doctor and patient? I’m supposed to make sure the doctor knows my history of illness and other issues. Shouldn’t he or she already know that?The long and short of this is that many countries ban such advertising and it is my belief we should also ban it. Your doctor should help you make decisions.

Focus and Intervention

It is time that we took a long hard look at the marketing and pricing of drugs. And also how their effects are studied. What I hear too often is that the studies may be with very few people. We clearly have a whole set of issues to deal with about the production, utilization, marketing and pricing of drugs. This is a national crisis. And in this climate it can become terribly personal.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Peripheral Awareness

NOTE: 

Enter for a chance to win an autographed paperback copy of Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise, book 2 in the Gaia’s Majesty Series.

Email me your entry at roger.burt@earthlink.net

Feel free to pass on the offer to others.

—————————-

Do you think life experiences shape your future?

Building Perceptions and Expectations

It seems unlikely that many of you would say life experiences do not shape us. It depends upon the experience and how substantial the meaning is. Only occasionally is it profound and mostly the day to day does little to shape us except in aggregate. Too many interpersonal rejections and people go into hiding whether it is global, social or seeking a love life. Sometimes, though, there is something deep down. And it may be that we can see the deep down and the profound in fiction. And sometimes we do, indeed, see it in our own life.

An Early Lesson

When I was sixteen my father went on a cleanup campaign and since I was the son who was generally amenable I joined in. There was a dead limb over the drive that needed removal so I went up the ladder. I hit my elbow, destabilized and fell fifteen feet to an asphalt drive. When my father got to me he found my heart had stopped. Being a surgeon, he was able to restart it. He later shared his personal devastation at having almost lost his son under such circumstances. Something deep inside me had changed. It was decades later that I learned what.

There It Was Again

Decades later I was coming home from the office late at night. There was a slow moving pickup in front of me. Then around the sharp curve ahead a speeding black SUV swerved into the pickup. The truck sailed off the road and the SUV continued straight at me. Then he swerved, went off the road and came back in directly in the center of my driver’s door.

Being Strange

My personality is a little strange. I remember things people generally forget—such as trauma. If you are old enough to have listened to stories on the radio, you will recall car accidents meant screeching tires and breaking glass. No such thing. The crash I experienced was a mind numbing thud. My left leg exploded as the bones disintegrated. Flashing through my mind were the words, “that should do it.” I know that’s odd.

I had sustained a concussion, broken ribs, a spinal injury, broken left arm and the worst closed femur fracture Shock Trauma in Baltimore had ever seen. Over the coming days every single vision and feeling of the accident came back to awareness.

When I regained consciousness in the car the pain was so intense it cannot be described. Being sealed in a destroyed car with such pain causes a feeling of intense loneliness which I had never experienced before nor since. I crawled into the right side of my body to get away from it and stayed there for twenty years until I was coaxed out by an oriental therapy. The next morning I awakened with my wife at my side while I waited for the first of many surgeries. Again, something was different.

Determinism

At the time it was popular to believe everything that happened to you was of your choosing. In the car I considered and decided that was nonsense and I would waste no energy on such an exploration. I had a wife and four children and I was going to crawl out of the “Pit of Hell”.

The surgeries over the coming years were devastating and since I became friends with the staff they shared how frequently I had died and was brought back in the surgeries. 

Life Energy

Through it all I learned about energy. Often all the energy I had was to hang onto life. The pain was so intense, it was a year before I could turn over in bed. At last victory came and, in time, I finally began to walk again.

The bottom line is that I learned about loneliness and death. I’m not into pain but death holds no fear for me. Naturally I don’t want to leave my loved ones but death is in another sphere. As your energy subsides there is a serenity related to inevitability that may not be under your control at all. I fought back frequently but am left with an understanding about an end, an ebbing of life and peace. Nothing about it stands up to description. It simply is and, quite honestly, I find it reassuring.

What explorations have you had?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called:Women in Power Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called:Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

The Tyranny of Older White Men

 

The Rule of Men

Throughout history mostly it is older men who have ruled. They sent their people into endless wars, took the riches for themselves and dominated women. Currently in America the domination is clearly in the hands of older white men. While I am an older white man my eyes remain on a time of discovery I had over fifty years ago.

Forced Awareness

Early in life can be a time of discovery but it may also may be a time of innocence from which we have to recover. For me the awakening came in stages. While I am an intuitive personality type and seek what may be, I also begin with an acceptance of how things are until forced to reassess. As I have said, moving to North Carolina in the 1960s was a time of coming to see entrenched racism  But when I took the job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore it became a time of new discovery.

End of Innocence

I had never been close to poverty and what I saw in Baltimore was deeply disturbing. But I thought there was hope. I had taken the job to bring much needed mental health services through the dynamic community mental health movement. How naive we all were!

Our staff was a racially mixed batch of twenty somethings both male and female. We had been given a structure that we had to dispense with immediately. It was a grand idea but we had come not understanding that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. We had to implement a whole new agenda.

The Grand Impediment

We went to work to respond to how things were and what was needed but there were people who did not see it our way. The management of the program was in the hands of men in the university and the state. Those systems were ruled by older white man who cared not at all for our mission. They basked in the glory of having gained the grant from the federal government and wanted to use the funds as they saw fit, not as they were needed. We were young, dedicated and intransigent.

Some Examples

The mental health system generally worked on two levels. There were people who could pay for services or use insurance to get mental health services. Then there were the impoverished people. At the time in Baltimore they were seen by psychiatric residences who generally did not give therapy but medication. And these people were seen as being there for helping to train medical students who passed through on six week rotations. The students knew nothing about the real life of these people and six weeks is much too short to really begin to work with an individual or a family. We found a variety of ways to block the residents and medical students from dominating our program. For that we were not at all popular.

My “Elevation”

We had a resident in our unit who did not particularly like his job and shortly he resigned. By then our intransigence was known but I was elevated to head the unit. I knew it was not an accolade. Psychologists fall just below psychiatric residents in the metal health hierarchy so I was next in line. The new position was fine with me and the staff but was clearly not an affirmation of my abilities. But it put me, along with my staff, in a position to see the operations of senior staff were actually not in the interests of our clientele.

The Bottom Line

I could go into extensive details but the point is already made. My naivete was gone. In my twenties I saw the domination of older white men as they served their own interests and not the interests of the people. This lesson has been carried forward through my life and I consider it entrenched corruption. 

The other major event was the women in the program who began to work for their empowerment. My support of that movement has also been carried forward. I believe their empowerment is going to be important in overcoming the often corrupt rule of older white men.

These life lessons fueled my interest in writing my magical realism series, Gaia’s Majesty. 

The Overlords represent the older white men I had seen and the activist women the dedicated women I had seen and suggested the future I believe we must see.

In time the dedicated and rebellious twenty somethings moved on and were replaced by more compliant staff. The system and the innovation collapsed and it moved back to the origin system. The breadth and revolution had been destroyed. What has not changed is that we are still ruled by the older white men. Need I say I believe its time to have them taken down from power?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge