Category Archives: Psychology

Letter from Anton Chekhov To His Brother Nikolay – conditions cultured people must satisfy

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Letter from Anton Chekhov To His Brother Nikolay

Translated by Constance Garnett:

MOSCOW, 1886.

… You have often complained to me that people “don’t understand you”! Goethe and Newton did not complain of that…. Only Christ complained of it, but He was speaking of His doctrine and not of Himself…. People understand you perfectly well. And if you do not understand yourself, it is not their fault.

I assure you as a brother and as a friend I understand you and feel for you with all my heart. I know your good qualities as I know my five fingers; I value and deeply respect them. If you like, to prove that I understand you, I can enumerate those qualities. I think you are kind to the point of softness, magnanimous, unselfish, ready to share your last farthing; you have no envy nor hatred; you are simple-hearted, you pity men and beasts; you are trustful, without spite or guile, and do not remember evil…. You have a gift from above such as other people have not: you have talent. This talent places you above millions of men, for on earth only one out of two millions is an artist. Your talent sets you apart: if you were a toad or a tarantula, even then, people would respect you, for to talent all things are forgiven.

You have only one failing, and the falseness of your position, and your unhappiness and your catarrh of the bowels are all due to it. That is your utter lack of culture. Forgive me, please, but veritas magis amicitiae…. You see, life has its conditions. In order to feel comfortable among educated people, to be at home and happy with them, one must be cultured to a certain extent. Talent has brought you into such a circle, you belong to it, but … you are drawn away from it, and you vacillate between cultured people and the lodgers vis-a-vis.

Cultured people must, in my opinion, satisfy the following conditions:

They respect human personality, and therefore they are always kind, gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others. They do not make a row because of a hammer or a lost piece of india-rubber; if they live with anyone they do not regard it as a favour and, going away, they do not say “nobody can live with you.”

They forgive noise and cold and dried-up meat and witticisms and the presence of strangers in their homes.
They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone. Their heart aches for what the eye does not see…. They sit up at night in order to help P…., to pay for brothers at the University, and to buy clothes for their mother.
They respect the property of others, and therefore pay their debts.
They are sincere, and dread lying like fire. They don’t lie even in small things. A lie is insulting to the listener and puts him in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker.

They do not pose, they behave in the street as they do at home, they do not show off before their humbler comrades.

They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others. Out of respect for other people’s ears they more often keep silent than talk.
They do not disparage themselves to rouse compassion. They do not play on the strings of other people’s hearts so that they may sigh and make much of them. They do not say “I am misunderstood,” or “I have become second-rate,” because all this is striving after cheap effect, is vulgar, stale, false….
They have no shallow vanity. They do not care for such false diamonds as knowing celebrities, shaking hands with the drunken P., [Translator’s Note: Probably Palmin, a minor poet.] listening to the raptures of a stray spectator in a picture show, being renowned in the taverns….

If they do a pennyworth they do not strut about as though they had done a hundred roubles’ worth, and do not brag of having the entry where others are not admitted….

The truly talented always keep in obscurity among the crowd, as far as possible from advertisement…. Even Krylov has said that an empty barrel echoes more loudly than a full one.
If they have a talent they respect it. They sacrifice to it rest, women, wine, vanity…. They are proud of their talent…. Besides, they are fastidious.
They develop the aesthetic feeling in themselves. They cannot go to sleep in their clothes, see cracks full of bugs on the walls, breathe bad air, walk on a floor that has been spat upon, cook their meals over an oil stove. They seek as far as possible to restrain and ennoble the sexual instinct…. What they want in a woman is not a bed-fellow …

They do not ask for the cleverness which shows itself in continual lying. They want especially, if they are artists, freshness, elegance, humanity, the capacity for motherhood….

They do not swill vodka at all hours of the day and night, do not sniff at cupboards, for they are not pigs and know they are not. They drink only when they are free, on occasion…. For they want mens sana in corpore sano [a healthy mind in a healthy body].
And so on. This is what cultured people are like. In order to be cultured and not to stand below the level of your surroundings it is not enough to have read “The Pickwick Papers” and learnt a monologue from “Faust.” …

What is needed is constant work, day and night, constant reading, study, will…. Every hour is precious for it…. Come to us, smash the vodka bottle, lie down and read…. Turgenev, if you like, whom you have not read.

You must drop your vanity, you are not a child … you will soon be thirty.
It is time!
I expect you…. We all expect you.

Anton Chekhov

From Project Gutenberg

Title: Letters of Anton Chekhov

Author: Anton Chekhov

Translator: Constance Garnett


Release Date: September, 2004 [EBook #6408]
This file was first posted on December 8, 2002
Last Updated: April 8, 2013

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6408/6408-h/6408-h.htm#link2H_4_0016

 

The Opposite of Love Is Power… Not Hatred – C.G. Jung | Dr. Peter Milhado

By Peter Milhado PHD on March 9, 2014

 

There are two kinds of suffering.  Suffering imposed on us by the outside and suffering created by ourselves.  All we can do with suffering imposed by the outside is share it in the human family and show compassion, love and empathy for those who’ve been hurt.  Suffering created by ourselves is referred to as neurotic suffering i.e. ‘inauthentic suffering’.  At bottom, neurosis is a moral and ethical problem.

In other words symptoms like neurotic anxiety, depression, compulsions, ulcers, headaches etc. occur primarily because we try to manipulate others.

We do this in a variety of ways…i.e. blaming, withholding feelings and affection, using guilt to have others do our bidding, temper tantrums and primarily abusing power.  The opposite of love is power, not hatred.

[ … ]A calling may be postponed, avoided, or intermittently missed. It may also possess one completely. Eventually it wins out and makes its claim either in a soulful life, or if ignored, in meaninglessness, cynicism, hoarding, loneliness and alienation.

The dragon we must slay is no more that the monster of everyday expectations about how we “ought” to live our lives. If we realize this, we will be back in the world, but “no longer of it”. We will be able to interact with others without submitting to their definition of who we are supposed to be! This precious pearl that is one’s individual worth can only be found when we are willing to stand alone. By consciously choosing to pursue the inner journey, we transform impersonal fate into our own personal destiny.

Franz MatschFranz Matsch

via The Opposite of Love Is Power… Not Hatred – C.G. Jung | Dr. Peter Milhado.

On Knowing: Essays for the Left Hand

lefthand1969 edition cover design by Alfred Zalon

I picked up a copy of this book some years back, in a charity shop.  I wanted it for the content, but if I had found a copy of the 1969 edition that I came across online recently, with the cover design by Alfred Zalon, I would probably have bought it for the cover alone – alas, my copy has the rather more boring predominantly pastel blue cover.

“The left hand has traditionally represented the powers of intuition, feeling, and spontaneity. In this classic book, Jerome Bruner inquires into the part these qualities play in determining how we know what we do know; how we can help others to know-that is, to teach; and how our conception of reality affects our actions and is modified by them.

The striking and subtle discussions contained in On Knowing take on the core issues concerning man’s sense of self: creativity, the search for identity, the nature of aesthetic knowledge, myth, the learning process, and modem-day attitudes toward social controls, Freud, and fate. In this revised, expanded edition, Bruner comments on his personal efforts to maintain an intuitively and rationally balanced understanding of human nature, taking into account the odd historical circumstances which have hindered academic psychology’s attempts in the past to know man.

Writing with wit, imagination, and deep sympathy for the human condition, Jerome Bruner speaks here to the part of man’s mind that can never be completely satisfied by the right-handed virtues of order, rationality, and discipline.”

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Jung’s Active Imagination | Reality Sandwich

“More abstractly,  it’s a method of consciously entering into a dialogue with the unconscious, which triggers the transcendent function, a vital shift in consciousness, brought about through the union of the conscious and unconscious minds. Unexpected insights and self-renewal are some of the results of the transcendent function. It achieves what I call that elusive ‘Goldilocks’ condition, the ‘just right’ of having the conscious and unconscious minds work together, rather than being at odds. In the process it produces a third state more vivid and ‘real’ than either; in it we recognize what consciousness should be like and see our ‘normal’ state as at best a muddling-through”

by Gary Lachman

Jung’s Active Imagination | Reality Sandwich.

Benjamin Betts – Geometrical Psychology

Geometrical_Psychology_BW_Betts06

“Benjamin Betts’ Geometrical Psychology from 1887 contains a sequence of delicately toned geometric figures intended to represent no less than ‘the evolution of human consciousness from the animal, zero, or starting point, through to the culmination of human possibilities – the transcendental’. Originally educated as an architect, Betts resolved to end his career determined to visualise the internal through his idiosyncratic topological models.” http://www.dataisnature.com/?p=1693

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Geometrical Psychology

Geometrical psychology, or, The science of representation: an abstract of the theories and diagrams of B. W. Betts details Benjamin Bett’s remarkable attempts to mathematically model human consciousness through geometric forms. From the Introduction:

The symbolic forms which Mr. Betts has evolved through his system of Representation resemble, when developed in two dimensions, conventionalised but very scientifically and beautifully conventionalised leaf-outlines. When in more than two dimensions they approximate to the forms of flowers and crystals. …. The fact that he has accidentally portrayed plant-forms when he was studying human evolution is an assurance to Mr. Betts of the fitness of the symbols he has developed, as it affords presumptive evidence that the laws he is studying intuitively admit of universal application.”

Alchemical Psychology – Old Recipes for Living in a New World

“An alchemist is seen in physical form below this magnificent scene wearing a coat of stars, white one side and dark on the other. He stands in a grove of trees, each of which bears a symbol of the planetary metals and twelve fundamental substances. The alchemist holds a twin-bladed axe in either hand reinforcing the division of opposites in the manifest world. Yet he stands upon the backs of two lions sharing one head. This indicates his powers of discrimination and freedom from the opposites.”

Open Culture – 500 Free University Courses, including Psychology

Open Culture are providing free Psychology courses from the world’s leading universities. You can download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player. For more online courses, visit their complete collection of Free Courses.

http://www.openculture.com/psychology_free_courses

Open Culture are providing free online courses from the world’s leading universities. This collection includes over 500 free courses in the liberal arts and sciences. Download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player.

http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses

They are one of my favourite sites on the web and also offer a lot more – interviews, films, and so many other wonderful links such as this 1993 film http://www.openculture.com/2011/07/darwin_a_1993_film_by_peter_greenaway.html

An interesting paper on Brainwashing

“The word “brain-washing”, translated from Chinese communist jargon, is a
very strong metaphor, first popularized by Robert Jay Lifto n. It vividly
describes one person interfering with the personality make-up of another,
removing the other’s ideology and replacing it, and similarly tampering with
the other’s tastes, pool of information to rely upon and whatever else goes
into the make-up of the other’s personality. Clearly, in some sense or another
everyone interferes with the personality of people with whom they interact;
yet what is meant here is something much more drastic than friends
influencing one another’s tastes or opinions; it is something more dramatic
and more large scale.”

[…]

“Some people, in Plato’s
lifetime and in the modern world, view Socrates as a sly master of the art of
persuasion, as one adept in the art of stealing into people’s minds to influence
them with sophistry. Be that so; nevertheless, sophistry, even the most
objectionable kind, is not the same as brainwashing.
The same can be said of indoctrination. Good or bad, indoctrination is not
brainwashing. Perhaps re-indoctrination is–the taking away of one
indoctrination and the replacement of it with another. But this should be
examined in technical detail: what is the difference between the two? Why is
the latter so much more objectionable than the former?
One way to re-indoctrinate is through excessive and ceaseless propaganda.
This technique may work, since in time lies constantly presented as true may
penetrate great resistance. Anyway, this is also not the sort of thing that was
labeled brainwashing. No one ever denied that violence can crush people’s
intellectual independence. The best example that comes to mind here is the
Nazi propaganda theory. In it, as in George Orwell’s fables, Animal Farm and
1984, use is made of terror, lies, concealment, psychological pressure–and
these are well-known techniques. These are not the same kind of subtle
manipulations as those known as brainwashing.”

Full pdf article:

http://www.tau.ac.il/~agass/joseph-papers/brain.pdf

Who Am I? – Relationships ~ by Jaq White

tumblr_m18qllFj2T1qmemvwo1_500Continuing the theme of “Who am I?” today I’m going to focus on relationships. Often in a relationship, we can feel a bit lost. We’re told that relationships are a compromise, but we also need to make sure that we don’t make so many compromises that we end up asking “where did I go?”

We can lose oursleves pretty quickly in a relationship, for many reasons which I’m sure we’re all aware of. We may at some point find that we have agreed to an entire life plan, whether consciously or not, either to keep one person happy or, as a compromise whereby neither person is actually fulfilled.

One clue as to when this has occurred, is when people start to think “I have everything I always wanted but…” or “I am doing what I always wanted but….”

It is likely they may even only use the word “we” instead of “I”. Some people still use the word “we” years after a relationship has ended: “We went there.”  They stop seeing themselves as an individual, and in some cases, their memory only sees the other person, and their feelings about a place or situation is completely based on their memory of how that other person felt about it.

Paulo Coello has summed this up brilliantly in a passage in his book The Zahir.

“Marie, let’s suppose that two firemen go into a forest to put out a small fire. Afterwards, when they emerge and go over to a stream, the face of one is all smeared with black, while the other man’s face is completely clean. My question is this: which of the two will wash his face?”

“That’s a silly question. The one with the dirty face of course.”

“No, the one with the dirty face will look at the other man and assume that he looks like him. And, vice versa, the man with the clean face will see his colleague covered in grime and say to himself: I must be dirty too. I’d better have a wash.’What are you trying to say?’I’m saying that, during the time I spent in the hospital, I came to realize that I was always looking for myself in the women I loved. I looked at their lovely, clean faces and saw myself reflected in them. They, on the other hand, looked at me and saw the dirt on my face and, however intelligent or self-confident they were, they ended up seeing themselves reflected in me thinking that they were worse than they were. Please, don’t let that happen to you.”

This is akin to the Jungian concept of the animus/anima. Author and Psychologist Peter O’Connor explains this beautifully, when he writes that “Narcissistic and idealised longings for paradise exist in all human beings”. He explains that we often project the qualities of this fantasy person who fulfills our every need, onto real mortals with whom we “fall” in love. If we lack self-awareness, we don’t understand that we were or are seeing this person as a symbolic expression of part of ourselves. Some people never realise this, and insist that the other person has “changed” if they begin to express themselves in ways that don’t fit this idealised version.

Another analogy Coelho uses is that of a railway track. The two tracks are always the same distance apart, no matter how the route twists and turns, both have to go side by side, exactly the same distance. Do relationships have to be like railroad tracks? Who says?

As I’ve written in some of my earlier blog posts, when we learn to Know Ourselves, understand ourselves and love ourselves, we learn the purest kind of love, and we can bring that unconditional love into our relationships with friends and with partners/lovers.

Paulo Coelho’s The Zahir is a wonderful example of how one man comes to learn this.

I’ll finish this with some of his words:

“Esther asked why people are sad. “That’s simple,” says the old man. “They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”

[if people ask themselves why they are unhappy] “If we ask that question, it means we want to find out what makes us happy. If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy.”

“Esther, however, was the only woman who understood one very simple thing: in order to be able to find her, I first had to find myself.”

Paulo Coelho, The Zahir