Sunday, January 31, 2016

First Day of Class -- Michael Hettich

I was thinking of starting a forest, he says,
when I ask what he plans to do with his life
after he graduates. If I did that,
he explains, I would have to learn self-reliance
and I’d understand the animals. I wonder how many
trees I’d have to grow to become
a forest, a real one. The other students listen silently
and some even nod, as if what he said
was something they’d considered too. But they’ve all told me
lawyer or physical therapist, nurse
or businessperson. There have been no dancers
or even English majors. But this young man is serious,
sitting there in tee-shirt and baseball cap, straight-backed
and speaking with a deferential nod, as though
I could help him--as I’ve been explaining I’m here
to do, their professor. We’ll form a small community
I’ve told them, or I hope we will, and we’ll discuss the world.
It seems to be raining this morning, though I’m not sure
since this classroom doesn’t have windows. It was raining
when I drove in at first light, splashing through the streets:
Some of the students wear slickers; others carry
brightly-colored umbrellas. And now another young man
raises his hand and says that, on second thought,
he wants to be a farm, an organic farm with many bees
and maybe even cows and pigs no one will ever eat
that live like pets. I love fresh milk, he says.
Then someone else tells us she’s always secretly
yearned to be a lake somewhere up north in the woods—
let’s say in Maine, since I love seasons
and I wonder how it feels to freeze tight,  not move
for months, how it feels to open up again
in the spring; and I’ve always wondered how fish would feel
swimming through my body, how that might  make me shiver
like love. And she laughs then. And thus the room grows wild.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Frontier Psychiatrist -- The Avalanches (2000)

Victor Frankl says, "Dude, you stole my look."

Is Dexter ill? Is Dexter ill? Is Dexter ill
Is Dexter ill today, Mr Kirt, Dexter's in school?
I'm afraid he's not, Miss Fishpaw

Dexter's truancy problem is way out of hand
The Baltimore County school board have decided to expel
Dexter from the entire public school system

Oh Mr. Kirt, I'm as upset as you to learn of Dexter's truancy
But surely, expulsion is not the answer

 I'm afraid expulsion is the only answer
It's the opinion of the entire staff that Dexter is criminally insane

That boy needs therapy, psychosomatic
That boy needs therapy, purely psychosomatic
That boy needs therapy

Lie down on the couch, what does that mean?
You're a nut, you're crazy in the coconut
What does that mean? That boy needs therapy
I'm gonna kill you, that boy needs therapy

Grab a kazoo, let's have a duel, now when I count three
That, that, that, that, that boy, boy needs therapy
He was white as a sheet and he also made false teeth
Avalanches is above, business continues below

 Did I ever tell you the story about
Cowboys, m-m-midgets, the Indians and, Fron, Frontier Psychiatrist
I, I felt strangely hypnotized

I was in another world, a world of 20,000 girls
And milk Rectangles, to an optometrist, the man with the golden eyeball
And tighten your buttocks, pour juice on your chin
I promise my girlfriend I'd, the violin, violin, violin

Frontier Psychiatrist
Frontier, frontier, frontier, frontier
Frontier, frontier, frontier, frontier
Frontier, frontier, frontier, frontier

That boy needs therapy, psychosomatic
That boy needs therapy, purely psychosomatic
That boy needs therapy

Lie down on the couch, what does that mean?
You're a nut you're crazy in the coconut
What does that mean? That boy needs therapy
I'm gonna kill you, that boy needs therapy

Ranagazoo, let's have a tune, now when I count three
That, that, that, that, that boy, boy needs therapy
He was white as a sheet and he also made false teeth
Frontier Psychiatrist

Can you think of anything else that talks, other than a person?
A-a-a bird? Yeah, sometimes a parrot talks
Hello, hello, hello, hello
Yes, some birds are funny when they talk
Can you think of anything else? Um, a record, record, record


Friday, January 29, 2016

Western Civilization has entered its Decadent Stage: Jacques Barzun

Jacques Barzun (1908-2012)
"But why should the story [of Western Civilization] come to an end? It doesn't, of course, in the literal sense of stoppage or total ruin. All that is meant by Decadence is "falling off." It implies in those who live in such a time no loss of energy or talent or moral sense. On the contrary, it is a very active time, full of deep concerns, but peculiarly restless, for it sees no clear line of advance. The loss it faces is that of Possibility. The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result. Boredom and fatigue are great historical forces.
It will be asked, how does the historian know when Decadence sets in? By the open confessions of malaise, by the search in all directions for a new faith or faiths. Dozens of cults have latterly arisen in the Christian West: Buddhism, Islam, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Dr. Moon's Unification Church, and a large collection of others, some dedicated to group suicide. To secular minds, the old ideals look outworn or hopeless and practical aims are made into creeds sustained by violent acts: fighting nuclear power, global warming, and abortion; saving from use the environment with its fauna and flora ("Bring back the wolf!"); promoting organic against processed foods, and proclaiming disaffection from science and technology. The impulse to PRIMITIVISM animates all these negatives.
Such causes serve to concentrate the desire for action in a stalled society; for in every town, county, or nation, it is seen that most of what government sets out to do for the public good is resisted as soon as proposed. Not two, but three or four groups, organized or impromptu, are ready with contrary reasons as sensible as those behind the project. The upshot is a floating hostility to things as they are. It inspires the repeated use of the dismissive prefixes anti- and post- (anti-art, post-modernism) and the promise to reinvent this or that institution. The hope is that getting rid of what is will by itself generate the new life."
-- Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Great VMI Armored Car Holdup of 1989

Val Kilmer in Heat (1995)

NYT, 1/19/1989
"Two cadets at Virginia Military Institute and a father of one of the cadets were arrested yesterday by Federal agents and charged in the armed robbery of $4.5 million from an armored car in Clifton, N.J., last month.
The cadets, who had disguised themselves as police officers during the carefully planned holdup, were taken into custody yesterday afternoon by F.B.I. agents on the campus of V.M.I., the prestigious military academy in Lexington, Va.
The third suspect, Robert W. Jasinski, 51 years old and a part-time employee of the armored car company that was robbed, was arrested at his home in Boonton, N.J., said John C. McGinley, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Newark.
Mr. McGinley identified the cadets as Bryan Smalls, 21, of Columbus, Ohio, and William Thomas Jaskinski, the 22-year-old son of Robert Jasinski.  
Money Recovered
A large quantity of the money stolen from the armored car on Dec. 22 was recovered by the F.B.I., Mr. McGinley said.
The three suspects were charged with violation of the Hobbs Act, which bars interference with commerce by threats of violence. Special Agent McGinley said the charges stemmed from the robbery of a vehicle owned by the Coin Depot Armored Car Corporation of Elizabeth, N.J. The robbery occurred after three guards had parked the armored car behind the First Fidelity Bank at 66 Mount Prospect Avenue in Clifton.
The guards were approached by two men dressed as police officers carrying an automatic rifle and sawed-off shotgun. ''They subdued them, handcuffed them and placed them in the rear of the armored car,'' Mr. McGinley said. The armored car was then driven to a nearby industrial park where the robbers were met by a white van, which Mr. McGinley said was apparently driven by Robert Jasinski. Guards Not Harmed
After transferring most of the money to the van, the three robbers left the guards in the armored car unharmed.
Mr. McGinley said that if the three suspects are convicted, they could each be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for up to 20 years.
A Federal complaint filed in United States District Court in Newark yesterday said that Robert Jasinski was a part-time employee of the armored car company who had worked on the same route used by the truck that was robbed. The complaint said that Mr. Jasinski admitted planning the robbery, and that his son, a senior at V.M.I., and Mr. Smalls, a sophomore, carried it out.
Both cadets were on Christmas vacation when the robbery took place, officials said. They rented their police uniforms from a costume store in Paramus, N.J., Mr. McGinley said.
Robert Jasinski led Federal agents to a house in Parsippany, N.J., where ''numerous garbage bags and a footlocker,'' stuffed with money were found in the attic, officials said.", 6/6/1989

Two former Virginia Military Institute cadets and the father of one of them pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to a $4.5 million armored-car robbery in December.
The three men exhibited the same discipline in court that officials said had characterized the armed robbery, during which the two cadets wore rented police uniforms while the elder Jasinski drove a getaway van.
When Judge Brown quizzed them individually whether they had pleaded guilty voluntarily, each responded briskly, "Yes, your honor."
John P. Lacey Jr., an assistant U.S. attorney, said the government had agreed to drop charges of conspiracy against the three men in exchange for their guilty pleas to the robbery charge.
In exchange for their pleas, Lacey said, the government would recommend the minimum sentence in a range suggested by probation officials.
"Because of their cooperation, we've agreed to recommend the minimum," Lacey said. Nevertheless, he said he expected the sentence would be ''substantial."
More than $4 million of the loot was recovered after the elder Jasinski confessed to the robbery and led the FBI to the attic of a friend's house, where he had stashed the money.
The men also placed more than $300,000 and the weapons taken from the armored-car guards near a garbage can in Newark in the hope that someone would spend the money and divert investigators, federal officials said. That money was not recovered.
The two cadets were on holiday break from the prestigious military school when they robbed the armored car. They resigned in January rather than face certain expulsion from the school, which is noted for a strong honor code.
The younger Jasinski was Smals' mentor [dyke] at VMI, and the Ohio student often visited the Jasinski family in New Jersey."

 LA Times, 1/30/1990

"A former security guard was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for masterminding the largest armored-car robbery in U.S. history. The court found that the man's son and a friend had been coerced into participating and sentenced them to shorter prison terms.
Robert W. Jasinski, 52, of Boonton, told U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown Jr. that he expected no mercy for himself, but he asked for leniency for his son, William, 22, and William's friend from military school, Bryan Smals, 20, of Columbus, Ohio.
The two younger men were sentenced to five years each."

I wonder whatever happened to that missing $300,000?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nothing is going to surpass the Great Transformation (1870-1940)

"You're welcome. Beat that, William Shockley."

"Robert J. Gordon, a distinguished macro­economist and economic historian at Northwestern, has been arguing for a long time against the techno-optimism that saturates our culture, with its constant assertion that we’re in the midst of revolutionary change. Starting at the height of the dot-com frenzy, he has repeatedly called for perspective: Developments in information and communication technology, he has insisted, just don’t measure up to past achievements. Specifically, he has argued that the I.T. revolution is less important than any one of the five Great Inventions that powered economic growth from 1870 to 1970: electricity, urban sanitation, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the internal combustion engine and modern communication.
In “The Rise and Fall of American Growth,” Gordon doubles down on that theme, declaring that the kind of rapid economic growth we still consider our due, and expect to continue forever, was in fact a one-time-only event. First came the Great Inventions, almost all dating from the late 19th century. Then came refinement and exploitation of those inventions — a process that took time, and exerted its peak effect on economic growth between 1920 and 1970. Everything since has at best been a faint echo of that great wave, and Gordon doesn’t expect us ever to see anything similar.
As he says, “Except in the rural South, daily life for every American changed beyond recognition between 1870 and 1940.” Electric lights replaced candles and whale oil, flush toilets replaced outhouses, cars and electric trains replaced horses. (In the 1880s, parts of New York’s financial district were seven feet deep in manure.)
Meanwhile, backbreaking toil both in the workplace and in the home was for the most part replaced by far less onerous employment.
What happened between 1870 and 1940, he argues, and I would agree, is what real transformation looks like. Any claims about current progress need to be compared with that baseline to see how they measure up.
And it’s hard not to agree with him that nothing that has happened since is remotely comparable. Urban life in America on the eve of World War II was already recognizably modern; you or I could walk into a 1940s apartment, with its indoor plumbing, gas range, electric lights, refrigerator and telephone, and we’d find it basically functional. We’d be annoyed at the lack of television and Internet — but not horrified or disgusted.
By contrast, urban Americans from 1940 walking into 1870-style accommodations — which they could still do in the rural South — were indeed horrified and disgusted. Life fundamentally improved between 1870 and 1940 in a way it hasn’t since.
Now, in 1940 many Americans were already living in what was recognizably the modern world, but many others weren’t. What happened over the next 30 years was that the further maturing of the Great Inventions led to rapidly rising incomes and a spread of that modern lifestyle to the nation as a whole. But then everything slowed down. And Gordon argues that the slowdown is likely to be permanent: The great age of progress is behind us.
Gordon suggests that the future is all too likely to be marked by stagnant living standards for most Americans, because the effects of slowing technological progress will be reinforced by a set of “headwinds”: rising inequality, a plateau in education levels, an aging population and more.
It’s a shocking prediction for a society whose self-image, arguably its very identity, is bound up with the expectation of constant progress. And you have to wonder about the social and political consequences of another generation of stagnation or decline in working-class incomes."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

David Bowie's 100 favorite books

This is going around the internet. People generally seemed awed by it, probably because most people don't know anyone who has read a hundred books. (If you did read 100 books over the next 3 or 4 years, you wouldn't be the same person you are now.) But a lot of Bowie's books seem like the sort of thing that weekend readers indulge in, just "passing fancies." The majority I have not read, and probably will never. But there could be some gems in there somewhere.

I was heartened to see some classics, books I would consider essential reading for any aspiring clinical psychologist:

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Iliad by Homer
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante Alighieri

And some interesting ones, too, that I have read and liked but which might not make it on my own list of 100 favorites:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
1984 by George Orwell
White Noise by Don DeLillo

And a few that reminded me that I have been meaning to read them:

Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
The Bridge by Hart Crane
The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima

Here's the entire list:

Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
Room At The Top by John Braine
On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
City Of Night by John Rechy
The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Iliad by Homer
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
David Bomberg by Richard Cork
Blast by Wyndham Lewis
Passing by Nella Larson
Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Puckoon by Spike Milligan
Black Boy by Richard Wright
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
McTeague by Frank Norris
Money by Martin Amis
The Outsider by Colin Wilson
Strange People by Frank Edwards
English Journey by J.B. Priestley
A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
1984 by George Orwell
The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
Beano (comic, ’50s)
Raw (comic, ’80s)
White Noise by Don DeLillo
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
The Street by Ann Petry
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
The Bridge by Hart Crane
All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Teenage by Jon Savage
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Viz (comic, early ’80s)
Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
Maldodor by Comte de Lautréamont
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler
Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Transcendental Magic, Its Doctine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
Inferno by Dante Alighieri
A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
The Insult by Rupert Thomson
In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg

Monday, January 25, 2016

Paranoid Personality Disorder in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield: Miss Murdstone

David Copperfield, Chapter IV, Charles Dickens

After dinner, when we were sitting by the fire, and I was meditating an escape to Peggotty without having the hardihood to slip away, lest it should offend the master of the house, a coach drove up to the garden-gate and he went out to receive the visitor. My mother followed him. I was timidly following her, when she turned round at the parlour door, in the dusk, and taking me in her embrace as she had been used to do, whispered me to love my new father and be obedient to him. She did this hurriedly and secretly, as if it were wrong, but tenderly; and, putting out her hand behind her, held mine in it, until we came near to where he was standing in the garden, where she let mine go, and drew hers through his arm.

It was Miss Murdstone who was arrived, and a gloomy-looking lady she was; dark, like her brother, whom she greatly resembled in face and voice; and with very heavy eyebrows, nearly meeting over her large nose, as if, being disabled by the wrongs of her sex from wearing whiskers, she had carried them to that account. She brought with her two uncompromising hard black boxes, with her initials on the lids in hard brass nails. When she paid the coachman she took her money out of a hard steel purse, and she kept the purse in a very jail of a bag which hung upon her arm by a heavy chain, and shut up like a bite. I had never, at that time, seen such a metallic lady altogether as Miss Murdstone was.

She was brought into the parlour with many tokens of welcome, and there formally recognized my mother as a new and near relation. Then she looked at me, and said:

'Is that your boy, sister-in-law?'

My mother acknowledged me.

'Generally speaking,' said Miss Murdstone, 'I don't like boys. How d'ye do, boy?'

Under these encouraging circumstances, I replied that I was very well, and that I hoped she was the same; with such an indifferent grace, that Miss Murdstone disposed of me in two words:

'Wants manner!'

Having uttered which, with great distinctness, she begged the favour of being shown to her room, which became to me from that time forth a place of awe and dread, wherein the two black boxes were never seen open or known to be left unlocked, and where (for I peeped in once or twice when she was out) numerous little steel fetters and rivets, with which Miss Murdstone embellished herself when she was dressed, generally hung upon the looking-glass in formidable array.

As well as I could make out, she had come for good, and had no intention of ever going again. She began to 'help' my mother next morning, and was in and out of the store-closet all day, putting things to rights, and making havoc in the old arrangements. Almost the first remarkable thing I observed in Miss Murdstone was, her being constantly haunted by a suspicion that the servants had a man secreted somewhere on the premises. Under the influence of this delusion, she dived into the coal-cellar at the most untimely hours, and scarcely ever opened the door of a dark cupboard without clapping it to again, in the belief that she had got him.

Though there was nothing very airy about Miss Murdstone, she was a perfect Lark in point of getting up. She was up (and, as I believe to this hour, looking for that man) before anybody in the house was stirring. Peggotty gave it as her opinion that she even slept with one eye open; but I could not concur in this idea; for I tried it myself after hearing the suggestion thrown out, and found it couldn't be done.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Berg (A Dream) -- Herman Melville (1819-1891)

I saw a ship of martial build
(Her standards set, her brave apparel on)
Directed as by madness mere
Against a stolid iceberg steer,
Nor budge it, though the infatuate ship went down.
The impact made huge ice-cubes fall
Sullen, in tons that crashed the deck;
But that one avalanche was all—
No other movement save the foundering wreck.

Along the spurs of ridges pale,
Not any slenderest shaft and frail,
A prism over glass-green gorges lone,
Toppled; or lace of traceries fine,
Nor pendant drops in grot or mine
Were jarred, when the stunned ship went down.
Nor sole the gulls in cloud that wheeled
Circling one snow-flanked peak afar,
But nearer fowl the floes that skimmed
And crystal beaches, felt no jar.
No thrill transmitted stirred the lock
Of jack-straw needle-ice at base;
Towers undermined by waves—the block
Atilt impending—kept their place.
Seals, dozing sleek on sliddery ledges
Slipt never, when by loftier edges
Through very inertia overthrown,
The impetuous ship in bafflement went down.

Hard Berg (methought), so cold, so vast,
With mortal damps self-overcast;
Exhaling still thy dankish breath—
Adrift dissolving, bound for death;
Though lumpish thou, a lumbering one—
A lumbering lubbard loitering slow,
Impingers rue thee and go down,
Sounding thy precipice below,
Nor stir the slimy slug that sprawls
Along thy dead indifference of walls.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mad World -- Puddles Pity Party, ft. Haley Reinhart

I once showed a patient this TAT card and he said, "There’s a Tears for Fears music video with the same shot, a really sad song – “The dreams I dream I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had" -- “Mad World.” So I guess the guy got home and there’s not much going on in his place – it’s dark and depressing, he’s peering out, at the city below, or countryside, to escape from the darkness of his place. Later, after the sun goes down, he will turn on the lights, read a book, and just go to sleep. It's wishful thinking – having good stuff to look forward to. He's hopeful, but wary of being too hopeful."

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you,
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it's a very, very
Mad world, mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday
And to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me, what's my lesson?
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you,
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it's a very, very
Mad world, mad world, enlarging your world, mad world


Friday, January 22, 2016

Schizophrenia in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield: Mr. Dick

David Copperfield, Chapter XIV, Charles Dickens

'Ha! Phoebus!' said Mr. Dick, laying down his pen. 'How does the world go? I'll tell you what,' he added, in a lower tone, 'I shouldn't wish it to be mentioned, but it's a—' here he beckoned to me, and put his lips close to my ear—'it's a mad world. Mad as Bedlam, boy!' said Mr. Dick, taking snuff from a round box on the table, and laughing heartily.

Without presuming to give my opinion on this question, I delivered my message.

'Well,' said Mr. Dick, in answer, 'my compliments to her, and I—I believe I have made a start. I think I have made a start,' said Mr. Dick, passing his hand among his grey hair, and casting anything but a confident look at his manuscript. 'You have been to school?'

'Yes, sir,' I answered; 'for a short time.'

'Do you recollect the date,' said Mr. Dick, looking earnestly at me, and taking up his pen to note it down, 'when King Charles the First had his head cut off?' I said I believed it happened in the year sixteen hundred and forty-nine.

'Well,' returned Mr. Dick, scratching his ear with his pen, and looking dubiously at me. 'So the books say; but I don't see how that can be. Because, if it was so long ago, how could the people about him have made that mistake of putting some of the trouble out of his head, after it was taken off, into mine?'
I was very much surprised by the inquiry; but could give no information on this point.

'It's very strange,' said Mr. Dick, with a despondent look upon his papers, and with his hand among his hair again, 'that I never can get that quite right. I never can make that perfectly clear. But no matter, no matter!' he said cheerfully, and rousing himself, 'there's time enough! My compliments to Miss Trotwood, I am getting on very well indeed.'

I was going away, when he directed my attention to the kite.

'What do you think of that for a kite?' he said.

I answered that it was a beautiful one. I should think it must have been as much as seven feet high.

'I made it. We'll go and fly it, you and I,' said Mr. Dick. 'Do you see this?'

He showed me that it was covered with manuscript, very closely and laboriously written; but so plainly, that as I looked along the lines, I thought I saw some allusion to King Charles the First's head again, in one or two places.

'There's plenty of string,' said Mr. Dick, 'and when it flies high, it takes the facts a long way. That's my manner of diffusing 'em. I don't know where they may come down. It's according to circumstances, and the wind, and so forth; but I take my chance of that.'

His face was so very mild and pleasant, and had something so reverend in it, though it was hale and hearty, that I was not sure but that he was having a good-humoured jest with me. So I laughed, and he laughed, and we parted the best friends possible.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sorry, but combat PTSD is actually a risk factor for domestic violence

The rate of intimate partner violence perpetration within the past 12 months ranges from 15% to 60%, depending on veteran sample, with a mean of 22%.

SF Gate

"There have been days when there are more military family members killed by their veteran on the home front than troops killed in action on the war front. March 23, 2012, was one of them. Kristy Huddleston wasn't a soldier who had already served multiple tours, or a combat veteran traumatized by war, but her husband was. That put her at a higher risk of experiencing potentially lethal domestic violence than virtually any other demographic in the nation. As Kristy lay on the kitchen floor, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head, her 10-year-old son called 911. The murder trial of Bourne Huddleston, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is on the docket for April 7 in Jackson County, Oregon.
Combat veterans are responsible for almost 21 percent of domestic violence nationwide, linked to the development of post traumatic stress disorder. This is comparable to the fact that veterans alone account for 20 percent of U.S. suicides. We call the problem of veteran suicide an "epidemic," funding research, convening conferences, and creating new programs, hotlines and therapies aimed at prevention, intervention and reducing the stigma of seeking mental health care. But we don't talk about veteran intimate partner violence at all, effectively ensuring that the catastrophic consequences remain largely unacknowledged and unaddressed."
Galovski and Lyons (2004)

"Empirical studies have examined the relative influence of combat exposure versus PTSD in predicting domestic violence. Petrik, Rosenberg, and Watson (1983) explored the hypothesis that it is the military combat experience itself that makes men more prone to general violent behavior. They investigated violent abuse toward 100 female partners of male psychiatric inpatients (not necessarily PTSD) with and without combat experience. Fifty percent of the combat veterans and 57% of the noncombat veterans reported using violence against women. Results suggest that combat experience alone was not a strong influence on reported use of violence. Carroll, Rueger, Foy, and Donahoe (1985) in their comparison of 60 treatment-seeking Vietnam veterans (21 PTSD; 18 non-PTSD, combat; and 21 minimal combat exposure veterans) found that hostility and physical aggression discriminated between the PTSD and non-PTSD group in the expected direction. There was no significant difference in level of reported hostility and aggression between the PTSD and minimal combat groups. No significant differences in verbal aggression emerged between any of the groups. Finally, Jordan et al. (1992) compared 122 wives of PTSD veterans to 252 wives of non-PTSD veterans and found that wives of PTSD-veterans reported more violence on the part of the veteran and admitted to committing more violence themselves. These data suggest that it is the presence of PTSD, rather than combat exposure, that is associated with elevated levels of hostility and physical violence."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Macbeth (2015), dir. Justin Kurzel

Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth

"With Michael Fassbender as Macbeth, its gimmick is there is no gimmick: according to historical record, the setting is the Scotland of 1057, a place of cruel violence where crowns are made from bone and dogs lap at the blood of kings.

Of course, the thing about Macbeth is that...its menace endures. To [director Justin] Kurzel, making it felt like kids playing with a Ouija board. “After 18 takes of Marion doing “Come you spirits …” the atmosphere gets pretty weird. Once you start invoking certain things, it is like you’re getting close to … evil, really.”

Does he believe in evil? “Yeah. I do. I think there’s a precipice that we stand on looking down on it, and it’s paper thin. We know we can’t come back if we jump, but we’re drawn to it anyway. That’s why Macbeth is so popular. The madness.”

Act I, Scene 5

Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry 'Hold, hold!'

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Human ingenuity and the profit motive are usually enough to overcome worries over resource scarcity."

Denver Post
"As recently as 2009, a headline in The Denver Post announced a gathering of "peak-oil theorists" who insisted the planet was "running out of oil faster than society suspects," and predicted the resulting spot shortages would "blow up prices, shock economies and destabilize governments."
Little did they realize that the shale oil revolution in the U.S., already under way, was about to push domestic production to unforeseen heights. As it turns out, the real threat to stability around the globe was an oil price too low to support the budgetary commitments of petrostates such as Russia and Venezuela, among others.
Needless to say, peak oil — the high point of production after which it steadily declines and oil is never cheap again — is no longer on the horizon. Indeed, some experts are saying that huge upward price spikes aren't likely in the future, absent war, because of immense supplies and the ability of producers to react faster than ever to market signals.
They may be proved wrong, of course, just as peak-oil pessimists were, but their logic at least bears considering. 
Peak oil handwringing was popular for most of a decade, with even a somber editorial on these pages 10 years ago highlighting some of the arguments. Suffice it to say that human ingenuity and the profit motive are usually enough to overcome worries over resource scarcity. Or at least that has been true in the case of oil for all of its history: one prediction after another of impending permanent shortage followed by an unforeseen gusher of supply and diving prices."

Monday, January 18, 2016

What is psychology without poetry?

Jim Bugenthal

The New Existentialists

"There’s now a separation between the humanities and the sciences – one so vast that it seems novel to suggest it could be any other way.  But it could:  perhaps especially in psychology.
As former APA president Frank Farley wrote:

The spiritual side, the poetic side, the giving and forgiving side, the generous and loving side, are humankind's finest features.  Hebb defined psychology many years ago as not being poetry.  Although Hebb was my scientific hero, I demur from defining psychology without poetry.
That, Greening says, is because the arts and humanities provide both insight into the human condition and a means of ennobling it – and what else is psychology for?
For [Rollo] May and [Jim] Bugental there was certainly never a separation between psychology and the arts and humanities:  in fact, they saw the latter as being a crucial part of the former.  So much so that Greening and May once created an alternative … albeit satirical … licensing exam.
It included questions about the Rhyme of the Ancient MarinerWar and PeaceMadame Bovary, Thoreau, Hamlet, Siddhartha, Faust, Guernica,  Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Elie Wiesel, Mullah Nasrudin, and Icarus … among many others.  
How many psychologists could pass that today?  If there aren’t many, Greening says, their patients are poorer for it. “Do you feel safe walking the streets at night knowing there are psychologists out there who don’t know who Faust and Siddhartha are?” he asks.
 “Of course, there’s different kinds of psychology – there’s quantitative, statistical analysis, neurophysiology, drug based  psychopharmacology… and that’s very important, I’m glad people are doing that,” Greening said. “But in the other direction there are the humanities, and people like Rollo and myself believe that they are a crucial resource for anyone who wants to better understand what human beings do and how human beings think and feel.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

In Memory of Sigmund Freud -- W.H. Auden

When there are so many we shall have to mourn,
when grief has been made so public, and exposed
     to the critique of a whole epoch
   the frailty of our conscience and anguish,

of whom shall we speak? For every day they die
among us, those who were doing us some good,
     who knew it was never enough but
   hoped to improve a little by living.

Such was this doctor: still at eighty he wished
to think of our life from whose unruliness
     so many plausible young futures
   with threats or flattery ask obedience,

but his wish was denied him: he closed his eyes
upon that last picture, common to us all,
     of problems like relatives gathered
   puzzled and jealous about our dying. 

For about him till the very end were still
those he had studied, the fauna of the night,
     and shades that still waited to enter
   the bright circle of his recognition

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I'm Beginning to See the Light -- Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra, ft. Joya Sherrill (1944)

Joya Sherrill at what looks to me like the Newport Jazz festival, early 1960s. The photo was in Life Magazine.

I never cared much for moonlit skies
I never wink back at fireflies
But now that the stars are in your eyes
I'm beginning to see the light

I never went in for afterglow
Or candlelight on the mistletoe
But now when you turn the lamp down low
I'm beginning to see the light

Used to ramble through the park
Shadow boxing in the dark
Then you came and caused a spark
That's a four-alarm fire, now

I never made love by lantern shine
I never saw rainbows in my wine
But now that your lips are burning mine
I'm beginning to see the light

I never cared much for moonlit skies
I never wink back at fireflies
But now that the stars are in your eyes
I'm beginning to see the light

I never went in for afterglow
Or candlelight on the mistletoe
But now when you turn the lamp down low
I'm beginning to see the light

Used to ramble through the park
Shadow boxing in the dark
Then you came and caused a spark
That's a four-alarm fire, now

I never made love by lantern shine
I never saw rainbows in my wine
But now that your lips are burning mine
I'm beginning to see the light

Now that the stars are in your eyes
I'm beginning to see the light
Now when you turn the lamp down low
I'm beginning to see the light

Used to ramble through the park
Shadow boxing in the dark
Then you came and caused a spark
That's a four-alarm fire, now
Now that your lips are burning mine
I'm beginning to see the light

I'm beginning to see the light
I'm beginning to see the light
Now that your lips are burning mine
I'm beginning to see the light


Friday, January 15, 2016

Democrats Hate Republicans (and vice versa) more than Whites Hate Blacks (and vice versa): Jonathan Haidt
"If you were on a selection committee tasked with choosing someone to hire (or to admit to your university, or to receive a prize in your field), and it came down to two candidates who were equally qualified on objective measures, which candidate would you be most likely to choose?
__A) The one who shared your race
__B) The one who shared your gender
__C) The one who shared your religion
__D) The one who shared your political party or ideology
The correct answer, for most Americans, is now D. It is surely good news that prejudice based on race, gender, and religion are way down in recent decades. But it is very bad news—for America, for the world, and for science—that cross-partisan hostility is way up.
My nomination for “news that will stay news” is a paper by political scientists Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood, titled “Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization.” Iyengar and Westwood report four studies (all using nationally representative samples) in which they gave Americans various ways to reveal both cross-partisan and cross-racial prejudice, and in all cases cross-partisan prejudice was larger.
First they used a measure of implicit attitudes (the Implicit Association Test), which measures how quickly and easily people can pair words that are emotionally good versus bad with words and images associated with Blacks vs. Whites. They also ran a new version of the test that swapped in words and images related to Republicans vs. Democrats, instead of Blacks vs. Whites. The effect sizes for cross-partisan implicit attitudes were much larger than cross-race. If we focus just on White participants who identified with a party, the cross-partisan effect was about 50 percent larger than the cross-race effect. When Americans look at each other or try to listen to each other, their automatic associations are more negative for people from the “other side” than they are for people of a different race.
In another study they had participants read pairs of fabricated resumes of graduating high school seniors and select one to receive a scholarship. Race made a difference—Black and White participants generally preferred to award the scholarship to the student with the stereotypically Black name. But Party made an even bigger difference, and always in a tribal way: 80 percent of the time, partisans selected the candidate whose resume showed that they were on their side, and it made little difference whether their co-partisan had a higher or lower GPA than the cross-partisan candidate.
In two additional studies Iyengar and Westwood had participants play behavioral economics games (the “trust game” and the “dictator game”). Each person played with what they thought was a particular other person, about whom they read a brief profile including the person’s age, gender, race, and political ideology. Race and ideology were manipulated systematically. Race made no difference, but partisanship mattered a lot: people were more trusting and generous when they thought they were playing with a co-partisan than a cross-partisan.
This is extremely bad news for America because it is very hard to have an effective democracy without compromise. But rising cross-partisan hostility means that Americans increasingly see the other side not just as wrong but as evil, as a threat to the very existence of the nation, according to Pew Research. Americans can expect rising polarization, nastiness, paralysis, and governmental dysfunction for a long time to come."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Robert Trivers profile in Psychology Today

Psychology Today

"[Evolutionary biologist Robert] Trivers’ first paper, on the evolution of reciprocal altruism, described a theoretical model showing how altruism among strangers could naturally develop—people cooperate with the expectation of similar treatment from others. This model explained a wide variety of feelings and behaviors, from friendship to moralistic aggression. The emotion of gratitude, for instance, evolved to motivate us to return favors, encouraging cooperationGuilt motivates us to repair relationships we’ve harmed. Anger makes us avoid or punish those who have harmed us. And gossip makes us mindful of our reputations. Trivers suggested that complex strategies of cheating, detecting cheating, and the false accusation of cheating (itself a form of cheating) pushed the development of intelligence and helped increase the size of the human brain.
Next, in Trivers’ second paper, he hypothesized that a single factor drives sex differences across all species. He argued that differences in parental investment—the energy and resources invested in an offspring—lead the sex that invests more (females, in most species) to focus on mate quality and the sex that invests less (males) to seek quantity. So in humans we expect choosiness in females and aggression between males as they vie for females. The theory has tremendous explanatory power, from justifying the brightly colored feathers of male birds to illuminating why sexual jealousy is a leading (and, until recently, legally defensible) cause of homicide—men prize their mate’s fidelity above all.
In another paper, Trivers conceptualized offspring not as passive recipients of parental investment, but as independent actors, generating the theory of parent-offspring conflict. A child wants disproportionate attention and resources for him- or herself, but a parent wants to spread the goods equally between all offspring. And so we have kids who bawl until they get what they want, siblings who maintain lifelong rivalries, and parents who try to instill equality no matter how selfish the kids’ tendencies. It was for these three papers, plus another two, on insect colonies and on parents’ ability to vary the sex ratio of their offspring, that he won the Crafoord.
After writing papers addressing how we treat strangers, friends, lovers, parents, and children, Trivers offered a no-less-powerful theory on how we deal with ourselves. In a sentence in the foreword to Dawkins’ book, he proposed that self-deception evolved to facilitate the deception of others. Trivers says he’d planned to flesh out the theory but didn’t get around to it because he was “smoking too much strong herb.”"