Friday, March 30, 2012

Listen to the silence

I am currently seeing two patients who are suffering from a huge fear of flying. Is is not only the fear do plumiting helplessly to earth from 30,000 feet as much as just being trapped in a long aluminum tube without any chance of getting out for hours. Relax, sit back, enjoy the time off. Fat chance But I did. I got on a plane and flew out here in six hours. On the plane i read a great article on panic attacks. The plane landed, we picked up a car and three hours later we were up on the high desert. Joshua Tree National Park. Amazing rock formations, spectacular cactus, and high, flat arid lands that go on for ever. We walked the trails, gazed at the rocks, and wondered at the creation of it all. At one point as my friends walked on I climbed up on a rock formation. I climbed up and over several layers of rocks on top of rocks. I stood and looked over the long stretch of valley, flat, dry, accentuated with those beautiful Joshua cacti. I took a slow deep breath and realized, suddenly, there was no wind, there were no birds, there was no traffic. I held my breath and realized there was a kind of complete silence that I have not heard for years. The sky was clear,the rocks were immovable, the world was still and so quiet. I stood there on top of a small rock pile,looking over the valley, listening closely to the silence. I could not take a picture of it, I couldn't record it, I couldn't put It up on Facebook to share with my "friends.". I could only be there, in the moment, being me in the world, letting the moment envelope me; just being. Maybe five of the most alive minutes in months. The my wife called, wondering what happened to me. I rejoined my friends, and became part of society again. But more than before, being me, in the moment.Grateful to just be alive.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

By contrat

Sometimes it gets tough:  my first patient was in a wheelchair and his bones are deteriorating and there isn't much anyone can do.  My second patient was talking about another relapse to heroin and was feeling suicidal, my third has been out of work for twenty months and has lost hope .... with five more to come..

But the last three days, because of family obligations, I have been forced to get home in time to spend at least an hour with someone who is almost 16 months old.

Now I know clearly how to recognize the symptoms when someone has the complete opposite of depression: Joy, excitement and exuberance!

From throwing a ball and watching it hit the wall and come back --- what could be funnier than that?  How about hide and  not-hide, or making funny sounds.  Hysterical! Amazing! Fantastic!

The world is full of wondrous, joyous, ever surprising events happening every minute.  And you don't have to look very far to find them.

And you can keep going until bed-time.

But go to bed without too much fussing so we can do it again tomorrow morning at 6:42.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Talking, listening, and Not

   Some people talk a lot.  I get to see them in treatment.  Often I don’t have to say six words in the whole hour.  They want to hear what they have to say even more than I do.  Therapy often helps them as few other people will to listen to them that much.  Many of these people really do get to hear what they have to say, and it does them some good.
            Some people are very good listeners.  They don’t say much.  They pick up a lot of information and they roll it all around in their heads.  Many of these people have nimble, open minds, and they can take in new ideas and make use of them.  They may not say much, but they have a lot going on.
            While most people fancy themselves some combination of the two, and most people are, there are also those at the wrong ends of the spectrum.  There are those who talk a lot and really don’t know what the hell they are talking about, but they don’t want anyone else to talk, because it may prove frightening and embarrassing, as their lack of knowledge may become apparent to them, as it already is to most others.
            There are also those who don’t talk, but they don’t listen either.  They are stuck with the ideas that are already in their head, and do to fear, a rigid personality style, personal conviction, or just plain stubbornness, they are not very open to new ideas, and don’t want  to hear about them. Sometimes, these people make it even worse, when they think that other people ought to know what they are thinking and feeling, even though they have never said anything.  Then they get insulted when those other people don't respond correctly.
            Sometimes, especially in couples therapy we call that "a misunderstanding."  It is caused by the always popular "lack of communication."  But really, it is a serious form of magical thinking.

Friday, March 02, 2012

For this?

We have all this marvelous new technology:  The Facebook I love everyone, the Google I can be everywhere, and the Apple iBrain.  There is a commercial on that mocks people for learning this 15 seconds later than their friends.

But what is much of our newly discovered powers of search, find, learn, store, categorize, compare and retrieve.  Two things I read over the last week:

1.  The NYT Magazine article about how Target targets it's customers.  It has the data and it uses it to bring you back into their store.  Nothing sinister or illegal.  All their brain and computer power goes to get you to spend your money in their store.  Things you may want and need, and other things you may just get sucked into.  It's all fine with them. Just spend your money.

2.  The New Yorker article about the goings-on at the Davos World Economic Forum among the most  rich, most famous and most powerful, ends with a scientist and an entrepreneur walking out together.  The scientist is intrigued that the entrepreneur has decoded an algorithm of  human behavior.

What has he been able to track and predict?  He can tell when a gambler has lost so much money that he decides he must quit and leave the casino.  But with this new knowledge the casino can send someone up to him, give him a meal or a coupon that will lure him back into the room so that this poor loser will then give even more money that he does not have to the corporation that is raking it in.

Fighting world hunger?  Don't see it.  Finding out the algorithm for preventing wars between rival nations? Not unless there is a major profit.

Perhaps I'm just reading the wrong articles.

I should be listening to Rush.  He wants the new technology just for porn videos.