Archive for the ‘fear’ Tag


The latest thing in “explaining” mass shootings is to focus on the shooter’s mental health. All good and well. Why wouldn’t this Psychologist be happy to know people’s mental health is gaining in focus and purpose?

But this Social Psychologist doesn’t like the way it’s being used to avoid the more basic horror – the cultural grounding in which poor mental health is being fostered. What sensible, alive, and aware person doesn’t carry a substratum ache of empathy, concern, and fear in this world of cruelty, killing, and destruction. It almost seems like a mark of emotional health to be disturbed. No, I don’t like the implication that the cause lies in an individual’s deviation from the norm. On the contrary, the cause lies in the culture that fosters the human potential for evil.

Will we ever get around to looking at the painful, destructive inequities in childcare, education, financial status, health care, gender acceptance, respect, and expectations for individual accomplishment (not necessarily measured by financial wealth)? What did I leave out?

It could be done. We could create a culture based on encouraging personal growth, self-confidence, gratitude, appreciation, cognitive competence, kindness, personal value – dare I say love?  But that would require reducing the “blame the other” emphasis implied in the focus on individual mental health and looking instead at our own responsibility as part of a culture. As it is, I’m afraid we have adopted “mental health” as a way to avoid looking at our own selves.

Please notice, I haven’t used the words “mental illness.” That’s a related but different story.

TWO A.M. – PTSD      6 comments

Sometimes when I wake up during the night I go right back to sleep. More often, though, thoughts catch me and I can’t let go of the pain of compassion. (Feeling with.) It’s in the DNA. You’ll see when you read My Father’s House.

 The other night I couldn’t help imagining being a man living free in my homeland – just living my life. And then being chased down and captured, bound, and delivered as cargo to a slave ship. There being shackled head to toe to make maximum space for a profitable cargo. Left to lie in my own and others bodily excretions, becoming thereby filthy black cargo. Living with my own pain and the moans of my fellow “cargo.”

I imagined being brought ashore in the states and hosed down for presentation to those who would buy me as a piece of cargo. Being totally re-defined by others willing to torture me into accepting my new less-than-human status. Struggling with the agony of losing the life I had and who I was. How could PTSD not become a part of my DNA to be transmitted to my offspring?

How could I not respond with fear, rage, running, resistance, fighting back? Is it at all surprising that George Floyd pleaded for understanding of his claustrophobia? that Treyvon Martin fought back when he was being followed? That Rayshard Brooks grabbed a weapon when he was about to be constrained?

But what do I know? I’m just an aged white lady imagining things in the middle of the night.








Since I closed on the sale of my townhome on August 30th, I’ve had a wonderful time living first with my friend and neighbor Jean in the unit across the way, and then Dianne, two units down. Now it’s time to leave here and move in on my son for a few days before we take off for the South American cruise we arranged to help me kill time – and find food and shelter – for another segment of the journey to the Waters of Excelsior. I’ve seen my unit twice, now, the second time to request some modifications. I love my apartment — can hardly wait to move in. But I have to wait for my scheduled move-in day — December 3.

In the process, my life has become a rather disorganized – albeit pleasurable – mess. But I have managed to stay on top of “My Father’s House.” At the suggestion of MaryCarroll Moore in the course I took at Madeline Island, the 900 some pages are being divided into separate books. The first one, with the working title “My Father’s House: Book One – from Tursås, Sweden to Forestville/Bristol Connecticut,” is about 300 pages long. Now I’m looking for people – preferably who don’t know me – to review it before it gets another editing — and then, probably, another. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate hearing them, and I’m happy to attach a “Word” copy to someone who’d like to commit to the task/pleasure. This is the time when I need people to be honest in their comments.

A good thing about e-mail is that it follows pretty easily wherever I go. I can even get it sporadically when I’m at sea (literally as well as figuratively.)

My regret is that I haven’t eked out the time to fulfil my middle-of-the night intentions to blog about my hopes and fears for my country and my part in it. In a nutshell, I long for decisions based on hope, compassion, and love. I dread choices based on fear, isolation, and hate. In the sleepless hours I’ve read Olivia Hawker’s “The Ragged Edge of Night.” (I do recommend it.) It’s the story of ordinary German’s working to live, love, survive and thrive in the shattering results of Hitler’s fascism. As bombs drop in the nearby city, and personal destruction threatens, they frequently ask the question, “When could we have acted to stop it?’ I ask the same question now – “How can we stop it?”

Like the characters in the novel, I know I have to work at staying alive, happy, and productive to avoid the potential for inaction and despair as I can’t avoid exposure to political smear tactics. My father and his house saw many terrible periods in our history, but I am sure there wasn’t the desire to destroy those in the opposition even after victory has been won.

So, I wish healthy, productive, and satisfying survival and growth mechanisms for all of us.








And a reminder of the real Palestinian/Israeli situation as well. Thanks to Sojourners, one of my favorite magazines, whose title reminds me that we are all just traveling through. fighting-real-enemy-fear#.UAxTUt8t6-w.facebook


“Set your alarm clock a few minutes earlier” and you’ll tap into your creative juices, Jonah Lehrer suggests in Bottom Line Personal, May 15, 2012. “Our minds tend to be drowsy and unfocused just after waking. Drowsy, unfocused minds are prone to wandering, and wandering minds are great at making creative connections between seemingly disparate concepts.” What a neat example of turning a perceived negative into a positive. Being drowsy and unfocused is a good thing.

Personally I need no alarm clock, not like I did when I was young and could sleep until 5:00 p.m. Really. One time when I was home on vacation from college my mother came to my room at 5:00 p.m., to ask if I’d like some dinner before I went to bed. I did, and I did. Right back to sleep, catching up after intense studying for hefty exams in the five courses I was taking – because that was standard.

Anyway, back to this morning. In my drowsy state, pieces dropped into place like some wiggly jigsaw puzzle: Mother’s day, detoxing – as in nutritional program and/or psychotherapy, skin – our outer layer and largest organ, change and fear/resistance to change, internal warfare, Jung’s Collective Unconscious as I understand it, Freud’s struggle to understand the battle between the forces of life and death, even telephones and automobiles and blogging.. Evolution is the right word.

 I wish I were a poet. The best I can do is a kind of bulleted approach, wondering what the ages look like from a God’s eye view, or even to genuine historians who see the context of time. But here goes.

 I was there when my granddaughter was born. So were my deceased mother and my grandmothers, and the women before them that I didn’t know much about. It was impossible to be unaware of the continuity of life that stared into my video camera as that baby was placed on my daughter’s belly. They tell me that she, now twenty-five, looks like me. I’d like to believe it, because she is beautiful. I mean really. But they don’t mean she looks like me. She looks like they imagine I looked at twenty-five. Together we are part of the life and death of cells in the body of humanity.

 I’ve been in a nutritional program for the past several months. First came treatment of the skin, reducing the inhibiting (he calls it blocking) effect of scars. Is it fair to say that’s removing the effects of our external wounds? Hmm, there’s a parallel in psychotherapy.

 Then came detoxing – slowly, because the body becomes accustomed to the bad stuff we carry around and resists parting with it, getting sick in the process of letting go. Many years ago I spent two years in psychotherapy, so painful I described it later as pulling barbed wire out through my pores, one bit at a time. At the end, everything seemed so clear, I wondered why it took me so long to “get” it. Like every cell in my body – every cell in humankind – I was afraid to release what Adlerians would call the irrational ideas that had me in their clutches. Those two years were years of violent internal cellular battle. The years since have not been without their struggles with personal conflict and sadness, as well as mini-depressions watching the world go through the same thing, wondering what my one little cell can do to help detox. But the barbed wire effect is long gone.

Telephones and automobiles? I am in the process of writing a piece about the evolution of telephones, from French phone party lines to bluetooth convenience, producing the effect of general schizophrenia as we walk around apparently talking to ourselves. Automobiles? My parents dated in horse and buggy. ‘Nuff said?

 Blogging. There are separate bundles of humanity coming together as one. Recently I’ve been moved by the rallying of so many in care of one woman blogging about the joy and stress of caring for her brother. We are all one body, rushing to the support of a part of us in need and, in turn, receiving the gift she gives of faith, hope and health.

And so to Jung as I understand him this morning. We are literally all one body, over the generations and right now. I hope this little cell called Mona will have, in some small way, removed some fear and violence toxins from the other cells in the body of which I am only a part. That would be a happy mother’s day theme.

I expect “A View From the Edge” will cite St. Paul from whom, I believe, I’ve stolen the title for this blog.

Happy Mother’s Day! For now and for eternity. Now wouldn’t that please the God’s eye view?


Good Friday; Good Holidays   2 comments

Good Friday; Good Holidays. Spent time in meditation at a midday service today, longing for the peace that comes of freeing oneself from fear – not from the reality of evil, but from the fear of one’s own dark side, like internalizing the Jewish emphasis on release from oppression and the victory of freedom. To remove the blockage of fear, accepting my own dark side instead of projecting it on others, freeing energy to flow as an estuary to the rich ocean of positive human energy. A goal much to be desired, a distant dream. And, yes, quite Jungian.

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