How Are You America?

 

Focusing the Way Ahead

How distressed are you about where we are as a country?

Two Sides to the Coin

On the one hand our country is doing fairly well. Unemployment is low and there seems to be optimism in the business community where profitability and stock prices are rising. On the other hand we are mired in partisan politics and obstruction. And it is the later that should give us substantial pause because the world is changing fast and there are increasing numbers of people who are left behind and being left vocationally isolated. The clock is ticking.

In “mental health” we tend to focus on pathology rather than addressing life management and what that entails. We too often look at disability rather than need, change and adaptability. In so many areas there is a lack of vision. In opioid addiction we look at the addiction and fail to focus on the condition which led to the addiction in the first place. It is clear there are needs to be addressed. The list of issues is long.

Making a Beginning

Little is heard about an assessment. In the largest picture it is apparent that capitalism is changing and there is a talk of the postcapitalism society. In fact though, we are not clear what that means or entails.

In specific issues such as coal we are failing to face the challenge. Renewable energy is becoming steadily less costly but it seems we are intent on not facing the effects of what has come before.

Detroit is diversifying and we see, in the past decades, what happens when we fail to face change. Our auto industry had serous challenges and the response came late.

It seems we may have two countries. The country which is thriving and the county peopled by people who get no assistance to foster necessary changes. These are the left behinds.

Making An Assessment

We have a choice to make. We can stay mired in this tiresome conflict or we can face and be energized by the challenges. Challenges can be fascinating and thrilling. Energy can be generated and the fact is that the problems we face can be challenged and affected. But we have to examine them, come together to seek mutually acceptable solutions. This is a time for liberals and conservatives to meet. Liberals can bring ideas to help us move forward and conservatives can bring a perspective of the need for functional and reasonable efforts. No one needs to be reckless and no one needs to be stuck in the mud.

Change

Change is not always easy and challenges can be difficult particularly if we fight each other. But people can change and solutions can be found. Part of it involves seeking perspective and using vision to explore possibilities. 

America has a unique and interesting history. The people who came here were people who accepted challenge. Settling here was not easy and involved risk but one thing is clear, the people who came were venturesome, sought vision and faced challenges with solutions. These are traits which are passed down and those traits and the people are still with us. We just need to start exploring, setting goals and getting to work.

Coming Soon

Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation: Life Forces Revealed

(Book 3 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy)

The child of prophesy is coming of age.

Earth has descended into almost biblical chaos.

        Then comes an opening to a future never anticipated.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1  (Click to See)

Avery’s life of dedication is enhanced when she meets 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 ordained.

      Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2 (Click to See)

The Tethyan people of the sea have been joined by the Andromeda warrior women. They fight for the future of humankind. Then will come the Child of Prophesy.

Available now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.

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.

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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?

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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

Fiction Writing Process I – The Birth and Shaping of Fiction

Various Sources and Resources

 

The writing process is fascinating. There is conventional wisdom about how to do it, but there is considerable variation among those of us who write fiction. Nothing is universal. Clearly we are using our personal resources, but certainly we all need editors and a proofreader at the end. Of course there is the matter of inspiration. For me, I found some surprises. And those surprises came at many levels. First I noticed that I reached a point in the development of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy when I realized that I had been working on it, in what I call the back of my brain, for decades. 

Sources of Inspiration

And I found the source of inspiration was anything but confined. Over my life I’ve worked in a number of environments from medical establishments, helping people with personal conflicts, assisting in vocational choices and addressing inner city poverty. In the latter, our staff had to do battle with entrenched interests among the higher ups. While they were not despoiling the earth, they were working against the development of a rich new way to deliver services. Such opposition can be seen at all levels of our lives and in our societies.

Many Changes and Sources   

And at the time women were becoming more and more central and influential. My mentor was an extraordinarily bright black women. My feminist orientation was born in those days. Later I moved on to dealing with the crisis management of stepfamilies in formation. And through it all I was getting deep into people’s personal lives in psychotherapy and some of it was simply life management. 

From my educational background I had acquired a fascination with mythology and cultural processes. All of these elements coalesced in causing me to watch the world stage and political intrigue as our social life on this planet developed and we descended into environmental and social crises. 

And more recently women rising to power has become central as they gained control over their fertility and cultural events defined a need for new roles. I won’t try to detail the process because it is complex and is well covered elsewhere. But we can see their rise worldwide and the benefits attached are truly stunning.

Melding Sources and Themes

When I put all these components together a story was taking shape in my brain. It was attuned to feminism, the reality of growing conflicts and portrayed the need for stewardship of all kinds. And,of course, it had to have a mythological context which enhanced its creative shape.

Shaping the Story

At some point the question becomes how to shape the story. The author can simply start writing, can make notes and can also organize. My wife writes screenplays and in her work I saw something fascinating in the form of Dara Marks’ (see www.DaraMarks.com) Transformational Arc. I recognized it immediately. It is apparent at the movies. Specific elements are built including high points and culminations such as “as bad as it gets” which is the crisis which generally comes about three quarters of the way through a movie. The system does a wonderful job of shaping stories so they thrive rather than plod. I also used Carl Jung’s personality typology to help guide me in developing and joining characters. In fact, I present this tool in my book Creating Characters and Plots which is available as an ebook on Amazon.

But there was also the matter of containment when inspiration was truly sparked. The outpouring began which led to three books. I refer to it as coming from the back of my brain, but we know such things are fortified by the contributions of the right brain. And, with my knowledge of Carl Jung’s personality typology I could see that my personality components were making a contribution. My primary function of Intuition was leading me to speculative fiction and my auxiliary function of thinking was saving me from utter disorganization because it forced me toward organization.

In subsequent posts I’ll give more details on various components of what I call the writing process and what aids its organization and development.

What shapes the story of your life?

        ######

  Books by Roger B. Burt               

Available at Amazon                      Coming Soon                                         Book 1 of the:                                   Book 2 of the:

Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy-Mission Called          Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy-Challenge                       Women in Power                                                  The Chosen Rise

                                      

Health Care Alternatives and Reality – Series – Pt. 5

 

The Myth of Mental Illness

The above is the title of an important book by Thomas Szasz. Mental illness still dominates a significant portion of our health care system and it still has major conceptual problems. Of course, as a clinical psychologist, I was schooled in it. I actually came to love Carl Jung’s work a lot more than Sigmund Freud’s but his work still dominates.

Alternative Realities

And so we again return to where we live on the cusp. Over the decades I found nonphysical problems related to mental and cognitive issues to be far removed from “illness” and often nuanced. And when we move away from the dominant model, we find suitable alternatives. Unfortunately the insurance industry dominates the field and therefore may dictate treatment or at least what it is called. What it is called will often influence what is done. Substantial reform is needed.

Some of the Issues

When my wife and I personally confronted issues for remarried families (aka stepfamilies) we learned important lessons. An important initial lesson was that the process is a matter of adjustment, not psychopathology. Certainly there were some people with substantial disturbance from other causes but we learned to begin with our model of adjustment. The  couple was focused on initially. Too often the mother or stepmother was put in therapy as if they were the problem although they may have shown the greatest distress initially. And we were resistant to putting children in therapy because adjusting to a new family was not pathological in almost all cases. Because of our approach we could structure an information system and found that generally the family could take over adjustment and handle their own future after very few sessions. See our book Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership by Mala S. Burt, M.S.W. and Roger B. Burt, Ph.D.

Another major issue is what is termed post traumatic distress disorder or PTSD. The military is wrestling with removing the word disorder because it proves to be a bar to veterans getting help with their adjustment. Does anyone really believe that someone should go to war and kill people daily or risk being killed daily while suffering stress and not need to cope with management and an enduring reaction. I shared my perception with some friends who were veterans and found them in tears when I suggested they were not “sick” although there were still issues decades after their war experience. 

Enduring and Broad Issues

Those are just two examples of the reality of a world far more nuanced than what is described as mental illness. We can go on between things like personality diversity, numerous personal management needs as we pass through stages of our life. When I first came into the field the predominant viewpoint was that our development was finished in early adulthood. Absurd.

Management of life experience continues throughout life and it would be best if we approached our lives in that fashion. Take an area of life experience and we see that there is change, stress and adaptation. It would help if we defined a type of insurance that was appropriate and took these issues out of the hands of insurance companies focused exclusively on profit.

Life on the Cusp

Yes, here is that cusp again. Each of us is different with a raft of different experiences. We work for stability and commonality and often success. But it would help if we understood the richness of our diversity in the sense that much of the issues are not pathological and that our views from the cusp feed creativity, diversity and innovation. And life can be difficult, even jarring. From time to time we need to seek expertise and guidance but we generally do not need to cast it all into psychopathology. There are problems out there with profound biological origins where the person needs substantive help but very often management and guidance are what is needed.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Diagnosis and the Real World

Under what diagnoses do you suffer? (Curious question isn’t it?)

Let’s Begin Here

Two definitions come to mind at once as we look at this post. Psychiatry is defined as: “the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior.” Psychology has a variety of definition but I prefer: the study of human and animal behavior. The numerous other definitions suggest we aren’t actually sure what psychology is and I share that position. in fact, there is even a philosophical element which suits me just fine.

In Clinical Psychology

When we move on to the clinical area we quickly brush up against mental illness and as a student we quickly learn that diagnoses are generally expected. But how does mental illness fit with the broader definition of the study of human behavior. It seems like it must be a subcategory. What I found was that it is a restless subcategory and won’t keep its mouth shut.

Or at least it becomes a problem when we visit that devise place called the real world. And, of course, I believe in the cusp of reality which means I have questions. Are you hearing the pounding of philosophy at the door?

Then There Is Diagnosis

Freud defined a great deal of what is psychiatry and we entered a world of illness which required treatment and so there must be a diagnosis. The whole process was to be applauded because it moved emotionally disturbed people out of intervention for possession by demons  generally under the oversight of the church. They were in better, more compassionate, hands then. But not all of mental health people were devoted to Freud’s teachings. And that included Carl Jung who took us out into the world at large in a variety of ways. I won’t try to explore him. Take a look yourself.

What’s the Point?

It seems we are lost in a forest of exploration. There are those who believe in specific diagnoses for mental illness and in some case it yields helpful intervention. But there are others of us who believe it is far more complex than that. Sometimes diagnoses lead us down narrow corridors and sometimes it is more effective to shy away from an illness model and take the path to looking for functional factors and something I will call life management.

In This Age

Isn’t it interesting that as we rush forward into the future we are still mired in definitions and differing camps of adherents when it comes to what we call health care. At least we have latched onto prevention and a variety of preventive procedures. Those continue to need exploration and so do our responses to things happening to us that deserve attention.

That’s enough of the meshing of philosophical exploration with the real world. In future posts I’ll move deeper into the world of what we call mental illness and alternative forms of response which includes what I call self management.

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt