Monday, February 14, 2022

Long term and short term memory.

This excerpt is from the February, 2022 issue of The Sun Magazine by James Hillman entitled: "Memory, Short-Term Loss, Long Term Gain."

Surely one of the remarkable feats of the older mind is its ability to divide memory into two sorts: long-term and short-term. As the first improves, the latter dwindles. While you can bring back the dresses of your girlhood friends of seventy years ago, you can’t find the glasses that you set down “somewhere, this very minute.”

Could this division have some wisdom in it? Could the mind be refusing to take in new stuff so that images of long ago and far away can rise up in strength and freshness? It may be annoying to you and infuriating to others that you let the kettle boil away, mislay your keys, forget your great-nephew’s name, but is character built of kettles and keys and the names of little boys? . . .

Geriatric psychology finds that older people spend more and more time taking stock, doing their “life review.” This is a work of recovery not from the past but of the past, a work of research — a “recherche du temps perdu,” as Proust called his massive, exquisite treatise on remembering. If past time is not to be lost time, one must give it presence. Therefore, new events come in only when they tie in with old ones. You travel to a foreign city and find yourself talking about another place it reminds you of; you meet a younger relative, and notice only the traits of her mother and aunts, who attended your wedding; you are served a special dish, only to tell how you used to make it. It is not the taste of the new dish or the face of the new relative that matters; only that they prompt old memories.

I observe this phenomenon often in my older clients. They are depressed over their short term memory loss and their lack of interest in current activities going on around them. They often complain about being in a "muddle."

I get asking them about their past and they come alive and brighten up. I share with them how valuable their experiences are and what they have learned from life. I tease them about writing their autobiography. They seem pleased but demure. Then we talk about their "psychological legacy" and I suggest they write down the ten most important things they have learned about life that they want their successors to know to save them time and pain and suffering.

Few actually do this but they seem pleased to have been asked and in subsequent meetings their depression gradually lifts. They attribute their improved well being to the anti-depressant their PCP prescribed. I know better.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Should schools teach reality?

From Scientific American, February, 2022, p. 10 

This regressive agenda threatens children’s education by propagating a falsified view of reality in which American history and culture are outcomes of white virtue. It is part of a larger program of avoiding any truths that make some people uncomfortable, which sometimes allows in active disinformation, such as creationism. Children are especially susceptible to misinformation, as Melinda Wenner Moyer writes in “Schooled in Lies.”

It is crucial for young people to learn about equity and social justice so they can thrive in our increasingly global, multilingual and multicultural society. When students become aware of the structural origins of inequality, they better understand the foundations of American society. They are also better equipped to comprehend, interpret and integrate into their worldviews the science they learn in their classrooms and experience in their lives.

Editor's note:

Gaslighting goes on not only on a dyadic level but at a group and societal level as well. Gaslighting would have people who question the disinformation and misinformation they are being taught, that they are the ones who are crazy for questioning the "alternative facts." How does one stand up to this kind of bullying? How are the attempts to silence and marginalize to be managed?

The first step is simply to name the disinformation for what it is. Give it a label.

The second step is to tell the truth.

The third step is to avoid getting defensive and simply let the truth stand there as a beacon of hope, goodness, and beauty.

The fourth step is to repeat the sequence described above.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

What is a parent who has lost a child called? "Vilomah."

In my search for the right word, I discovered Karla F. C. Holloway, a professor of English at Duke University who herself lost a child. Holloway writes that she felt “punished by this empty space of language.” Noting that the word widow comes from Sanskrit, she decided to look for another word from that ancient language to name her tragic identity. She found vilomah, which means “against the natural order.” In response to Holloway, scholars pointed out that the original Sanskrit word does not connote the death of a child. But it does connote the inversion of what is right, the opposition of what is natural.

It is the inversion of what is right, the opposition of what is natural, that the child should die before the parent. Vilomah is legacy erased, a genetic line extinguished as if it had never existed, oblivion, a reversal of creation itself. Yet claiming a name provides a balm. As Holloway puts it, “the difference between today’s grief and tomorrow’s is that now there is a name. Vilomah. A parent whose child has died.”

For more click here.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Is vaccination good for your mental health?

In a recent report from the U.S. Census bureau on 02/02/22 it is stated that unvaccinated Americans show higher levels of depression and anxiety than vaccinated people.

It also found that frontline in-person workers had higher levels of depression and anxiety than in-person non frontline workers.

For more click here.

Reflecting on this data raises some interesting questions such as do higher levels of depression and anxiety interfere with people getting vaccinated or does the lack of vaccination contribute to higher levels of depression and anxiety?