Cusp of Reality Blog

Waves in Human Existence

A Living Planet

 

The image of an ocean beach is always engaging. The movement and the sense of a living planet is essential and stirring. But, as we sense the attitudes of our life we can see that the waves exist everywhere and are compelling. 

Sometimes there is talk of the march of history but a march does not describe the essence of the experience of life on our planet. Certainly there is nothing steady and, for that, I am grateful. It is the overlapping waves at so many levels which makes life interesting. Demarkations, twists and turns are essential as well as the swelling to a crescendo. In fact, I wish to publicly thank Eve and the snake for freeing us from the prison that was Paradise. It would have been terribly boring. Challenge is better.

Dynamic Explorations

Life need not be a passive experience or at least I would never wish it to be so. Life is to be an exploration of meaning and possibilities. And within all those things are waves. Our social groups experience waves, our cities, cultures, countries and, now, I believe humankind is confronting a wave of the largest magnitude of our history.

For most of my life I have been something of cynic and not prone to accept the common wisdom. And I have always been suspicious of claims of an impending fulfillment religious or otherwise. Perhaps it is the word fulfillment of which I am suspicious. But presently I am perceiving, rightly or wrongly, that we seem on the verge of a consolidation of our future. As grim as things seem in so many parts of human existence currently, there appears to be a process which holds promise. And such promise is most often born of challenge and conflict. 

It is the theme of a wave of change or denouement which was central in driving my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. The first book, Gaia’s Majesty: Discovery: Mission Called – Women in Power sets the scene and develops the characters to travel with us as humankind faces a denouement with profound implications.

Of the Personal and the Species

Looking back I see repeated waves appearing in my life.  I see them of various duration and in everything from the personal to the societal and now in the existence in humankind as a whole. Personally I saw it in the wonder of growing up in vibrant New York. Then in the 1970s the city teetered on the edge of bankruptcy and we saw a very different city for a time. In our economies we see it over hundreds of years as we move through feudalism, capitalism and now it seems, toward postcapitalism. 

Repeatedly I turned to mythology and the meaning it coveys even as we experience the numinous or spiritual dimension. In our personal lives the mysterium, which is the mystery of woman, ensnares us bringing wonder and fulfillment. It may invoke fear among men but also fulfillment. And in turn it leads to the meaning of the empowerment of women and all facets of its meaning. And it is not a momentary phenomenon but is better characterized as a wave swelling and then breaking – toward what end?

Exploration and Enriched Reality 

In the coming posts I’ll share some thoughts about the waves we experience as humans, about what may happen to countries and our country in particular and I will be paying special attention to the human climate. This is an unimaginably fascinating time. I chose the cuspofreality for the name of the blog because I think we need to be exploring not just ourselves but our world so we may move toward an understanding of what is happening. Nothing is fixed and everything open to interpretation—like reality.

Waves enrich us in all aspects of human existence and I could not resist sharing a mythologically cloaked adventure about the wave which I believe may be dominating our lives right now and leading us into our future.

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

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Time to Revise the Medical Model (PTSD)

The Medical Model and Diagnosis

By now I think it should be clear that I have serious reservations about the medical model and that includes diagnoses. As I’ve said, granted ,taking people out of the realm of possession by demons was a distinct move forward. But now it is time to reevaluate a great deal about what we call mental illness.. Once we have a diagnosis then we are supposed to have a clear course forward. As a psychologist I must say I do not agree with that viewpoint. I’ve seen psychiatrists recommending long term intensive psychotherapy for heroin addicts. I prefer to think of long term guidance and support to gain a viable life course. The difference is notable. Such can be said in many other places.

A Lifetime Issue

Now we have what is called PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder.  It seems to have arisen as a recognized disorder during the Vietnam War. Actually it was discussed at least as far back as World War II and possibly World War I as such things as shell shock. Probably though we have always recognized forms of battle fatigue etc. The problem now is that the disorder often gets in the way of people getting help. The military is struggling with simply adopting post traumatic stress and dropping the word disorder. And we need a clear view that reacting to living months in an environment where you are trying to kill people or be killed may overwhelm people. In fact many don’t seem overwhelmed but some simply shut down and close themselves off. I’ve met such cold and distant people.

What’s The Point?

The point is that we have yet to come to terms with the reality of human existence. It is not an indication of mental illness if a person is reacting to a high stress environment or sudden trauma. It is much more reassuring to tell someone they are having a normal and understandable reaction. Granted reactions can vary from person to person but that is to be expected.

We still seem to not have clarity about these facts. There have been several times when I discussed such a reaction with a veteran in a social occasion and they were then in tears. Often they would express relief that they weren’t pathological and that a burden had been lifted.

Just Recently

And just recently we seem to have jumped a barrier. Particularly after the mass murder in a school in Florida the students began to speak about PTSD. Yes! Of course! You go to school on a quiet day and suddenly someone is running through the halls killing your fellow students and friends. What would be wrong is if the other students didn’t have a reaction. They need to accept feelings and work to deal with them either personally or with others. But a reaction is to be expected and may be variable but above all it should be accepted as reality. Life delivers blows to us and we have to respond and cope.

Can we now take a different approach to trauma. Diagnosis really doesn’t show us the way forward. Each person may well have a different reaction or way of handling it. They may need to discuss tactics but need to accept that a reaction is understandable and is not pathological.

A Personal Story

I  can share a personal story. In 1984 I had a catastrophic auto accident when someone drove in my driver’s door at high speed. I went through years of surgery and recovery. Then ten years later I was waiting at a traffic light when a man turned a corner at high speed, spilled his coffee on himself and totaled my car. I got off with a light blow to my head. But within twenty-four hours I recognized that I had been hurled back to the other accident. I called a colleague and we spent three sessions discussing it and my reaction. I was then able to put away my experience with PTS.

The Bottom Line

Life can be difficult, dangerous and terrifying. We need not deal with such events and our reaction with a diagnosis and a declaration of mental illness. And we need to deal with insurance companies and their practices. If it is not pathology then they won’t pay for someone getting help with management of a reaction. But help is often essential. The bottom line here is that there is such a thing as life management which is crucial. And life management often requires help with understanding, restructuring and engagement of coping tactics. Its time to reframe mental illness and life management.

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

Chasing El Chapo

Now that the election is over, how about another change of focus. Now that the shouting is over for awhile we need to focus on many ongoing needs.

How important did you think El Chapo was?

Stay Tuned!

El Chapo was a celebrity drug lord. In the news constantly, he showed the extent of his power by who he corrupted and how he escaped. A long television program was devoted to his most recent escapades and recapture. At the conclusion of the show I did not feel like celebrating. All I could feel was “what a waste”.

Chasing Illusive Suppliers

Once again we had wasted huge resources chasing a criminal. Year in and year out we spend billions in this form of “The War on Drugs”. And right behind El Chapo stands a long line of men ready to take his place. We did nothing to stop this trafficking. It makes headlines but little more.

Lack of Vision

It seems we have learned nothing. And it all demonstrates a monumental lack of vision. Our first prohibition was a failure. The supposedly noble effort to end the use of alcohol led to the creation of a large network of criminal gangs which then metastasized into many other illegal enterprises. Then we did it again with the second failed prohibition of the more recent war on drugs. We decimated vulnerable citizens with invasive searches to find small quantities of drugs, gave them long sentences  and swelled our prison population for 1 million to 2.4 million while we destroyed the future of young minority men and the hopes of their families. At last we are bringing that under control and must now contend with healing the wounds created in police/community relations.

Facing Reality

So what are we to do? Drug use is a complicated matter whether you look at the numerous suppliers and profiteers or the victims in the form of users. We do not spend adequately to create the range and levels of treatment programs. What I learned as a clinical consultant in a drug program is that there needs to be a range of flexible options to help move people toward stability. They are probably not mentally ill but more likely disadvantaged in many different forms. They need help rebuilding lives, fighting addiction, gaining job skills and on and on.

It Isn’t Dramatic

But there is a broader front which is often called prevention and includes social intervention. We had  another very damaging drug called tobacco which we fought and it taught us lessons. These kinds of problems do not lend themselves to short term or easy solutions. 

It Is Multilayered

Anyone who has been through addiction knows the complexity. I wrestled with my nicotine addiction and was working on quitting (for the umpteenth time) when I received painful and unexpected help. Someone drove his SUV in my driver’s door and I was flown into Shock Trauma. They do not pass out cigarettes in the intensive care unit. I don’t recommend that solution but it helped.

Overall addictions in general represent a long road including prevention, incentives to quit, changes in social attitudes. We spent decades in campaigns against smoking and the results are interesting. We have decreased usage and have in place social restraints and legal restraints regarding availability of purchase and acceptability. We are now beginning the same process with marijuana. 

Social Commitment

Where are the ad campaigns regarding all forms of drug use and abuse? They are few in number and rarely heard. Where are the social sanctions and attitude statements about not using drugs. Television is flooded with ads for big pharma products with notations of often terrible side effects but the campaign to reduce drug abuse is almost nowhere to be seen or heard.

The lessons from the war on drugs, from our interdiction efforts and what happened with tobacco is clear. We need a great deal more efforts on prevention, treatment and tending to social attitudes. It will not stop overnight but we can make a significant difference. 

What have you found to be effective?

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

Caribbean Diversity

 

 

How about a little break from the American electoral intensity?

In the past I had been posting about the Caribbean. I thought I might now share some experiences and information about some of the islands. It is an amazingly diverse universe. We tend to think of them as just a collection of palm tree covered islands with beaches and numerous large resorts. Not so.

Martinique

This island is a possession of France and therefore has a large French population. The island itself is gorgeous. In the south it is relatively flat with some hills but as you proceed north you arrive at two large mountains, one of which is an active volcano. The rain forests on them are lovely. In that area is one of my most favorite resorts. At the edge of the rain forest sits a restored plantation house with a large pool area in front. We went off season and it was quiet. One evening we had dinner in the main area all to ourselves. Habitation LaGrange was a treat.

The grocery stores feature French delicacies and a luscious array of wines. There is an array of small and larger French resorts. Since the French treat their colonies as if they are in France proper, the roads are excellent and everything is up to date. Since we were looking for properties to rent for our business we got  acquainted with the Beké who are the descendants of the original planter families. We made some good friends.

Highly recommended. If you speak a little French it is better but not essential. Almost everyone speaks English. But you must say Bonjour! My joke is that if you speak no French, they speak no English. If you speak a little French they speak perfect English.

Barbados

A little further out in the Atlantic is an island which is a part of the sea floor that got pushed up long ago. Its fairly flat but has truly lovely beaches. It is English speaking with some wealthy English in residence. We found restaurants very much to our liking. There are no mountain vistas but if you want to hang out at the beach it is quite nice. Very comfortable villas and hotels.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten

For a reason I never understood this island is half French and half Dutch which gives it diversity. Again, everyone speaks English and there are really nice small hotels to choose from if you aren’t interested in a large chain’s resort.  With the French influence the dining out was quite nice. It is much favored by Americans.

The Cayman Islands

Very well known by the scuba set. Everything is air conditioned and you can see screens on all windows. That is because sometimes there are a lot of mosquitos —not always. It is generally best to stay in a beachfront resort on the beach because it is a coral island and less well tended beaches have sharp coral in the water. Best to wear booties. The center of the island is scrub and not very attractive. Look out to sea and go scuba diving.

Turks & Caicos Islands

A huge attraction is that they are not far off the Florida coast so they are easy to get to. Not highly developed oddly enough. Nice resorts and villas. The water colors are magnificent and the beaches absolutely lovely. Uncrowded and laid back. Just below the Bahamas. If there have been recent hurricanes check it out carefully to know if things have been repaired.

An Array of Other Islands

The islands listed above are the ones we handled to rent villas but there are many others such as the Netherland Antilles just off the coast of South America, tiny islands like St. Vincent and Dominica. If you like to move around year to year the Caribbean islands offer a glorious display.

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

Beyond Speculative Fiction

 

Are you searching for a fulfilling perspective?

In fiction we can speculate and explore. But is it mere foraging or are we looking to define emergence and process? Having an adventure is fine but we seem to be arriving at choice points. At choice points we are also looking at turning points. Certainly they are more than entertainment and it is my contention that our world social scene is enduring significant choice points. Information technology is exploding and our world is shrinking. That is a dynamic scenario to which we need to attend. What fun? I think not. It is a challenge.

Utilizing Exploration

In fiction I’m not interested in idle exploration but think it is possible to edge into social commentary and define underlying realities and emerging themes. And wouldn’t it be nice if we had the guidance of a challenging but benevolent goddess. By putting the issues in a different light we may gain choices and recognitions. If we are edging into a postcapitalism world we need to pay attention. If deeply hidden themes are surfacing, we need to pay attention.

Essential Recognition

One theme which is clearly surfacing, but is not sufficiently recognized is the gathering import and impact of women. Women have been subjugated but what is happening is more than the liberation of them as they gain control of their fertility. Clearly men feel threatened by their liberation and try to hinder development.

But this is not about fertility. I would contend there is a fundamental threat and it is being expressed in misogyny as women gain power. I utterly fail to see that this is being recognized sufficiently and I expect this thought will not go unchallenged. 

The Power of Women

Let me lightly touch upon the power women hold. They enrapture men and at first men love it but she had best be careful because men don’t yield power easily. And so then there is sexual exploration. The man feels the rush of desire but with fulfillment comes a diminution of his power. And beyond that women are coming to explore themselves and what they wish for themselves. That means the man must yield some things to her. If they achieve true partnership, which takes some effort and negotiation, the outcome offers tremendous benefits—if it can be achieved. But for now we must attend, define and work to achieve a goal we can use for mutual benefit. It is in our interests.

Spirits and Beyond

We can also approach many other issues. Everywhere in human history are stories about spirits and a variety of life forms to be conjured and raised to awareness. Some of this, of course, reflects our need for an eternal life. But it also may just be touching on something that may be. Our senses are defined for specific purposes in our lives as they are. If our senses were different it is possible we would sight layers of life and amazing diversity.

Reaching Out

And the question “Are we alone” relates to this possibility. It also seems we have the yearning to find the other out there for contact and the wonder of diversity. Of course, there is also danger. But wonder does not always pay attention to danger.

And then, of course, there is the universe itself. Monumentally creative and destructive, it is a lure we reach for. We are stardust and have learned that we are. Again there is danger in the maelstrom of the universe but the creativity is worth the danger and we can only begin to see the kinds of encompassing life forms which may exist.

And to come full circle in this commentary I have to say adventure is intriguing but exploration can lead to the most wonderful discoveries. At the same time we must fight our way through our struggle and conflict. It helps to look out and examine our possibilities and what may be. We may strike a chord of guidance. 

Where does speculation lead you?

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