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Yet The Sea Is Not Full

1 The words of Kohelet, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Futility of futilities, says Kohelet; futility of futilities, all is futile. 3 What profit does man have in all his labor wherein he labors under the sun? 4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes; and the earth endures forever. 5 And the sun rises and the sun sets – then to its place it rushes; there it rises again. 6 It goes toward the south and turns toward the north; it turns about continually, the wind goes and returns to its circuit. 7 All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place where the rivers flow, there they flow once more. 8 All matters are wearying; man cannot utter it, the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 Whatever has been is what will be, and whatever has been done is what will be done. There is nothing new under the sun. 10 Sometimes there is something of which one says: “Look, this is new” – it has already existed in the ages before us. 11 As there is no recollection of the former ones, so too, of the latter ones that are yet to be, there will be no recollection among those that shall come after.

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The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.37

Historically speaking, one can look at Freud’s theory as the fruitful synthesis of rationalism and romanticism; the creative power of this synthesis may be one of the reasons why Freud’s thinking became a dominating influence in the twentieth century. This influence was not due to the fact that Freud found a new therapy for neuroses, and probably also not primarily because of his role as a defender of repressed sexuality. There is a great deal to say in favor of the assumption that the most important reason for his general influence on culture is in this synthesis, whose fruitfulness can be clearly seen in the two most important defections from Freud, that of Adler and of Jung. Both exploded the Freudian synthesis and reverted to the two original oppositions. Adler, rooted in the short-lived optimism of the rising lower middle classes, constructed a one-sided rationalistic-optimistic theory. He believed that the innate disabilities are the very conditions of strength and that with intellectual understanding of a situation, man can liberate himself and make the tragedy of life disappear.

Jung, on the other hand, was a romantic who saw the sources of all human strength in the unconscious. He recognized the wealth and depth of symbols and myths much more profoundly than Freud, whose views were restricted by his sexual theory. Their aims, however, were contradictory. Freud wanted to understand the unconscious in order to weaken and control it; Jung, in order to gain an increased vitality from it. Their interest in the unconscious united the two men for some time without their being aware that they were moving in opposite directions. As they halted on their way in order to talk about the unconscious, they fell under the illusion that they were proceeding in the same direction.

 

Erich Fromm – The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.37

The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.4

It is not surprising that many people were attracted by the promise that there are faster and cheaper methods of “cure”. Psychoanalysis had opened up the possibility that one’s misery could be alleviated through professional help.With the change in style to greater “efficiency,” rapidity, and “group activity” and with the spread of the need for “therapy” for people whose income did not suffice for prolonged daily sessions, the new therapies necessarily became very attractive and drew away a good many potential patients form psychoanalysis.

Thus far I have only touched upon the more obvious and superficial reasons for the present crisis of psychoanalysis: the wrong use of psychoanalysis by a large number of practitioners and patients. To solve the crisis, at least on this level, would only require making a stricter selection of analysis and patients.

It is, however, necessary to ask: How could the misuse occur? I have tried to give some very limited answers to this question, but it can be answered fully only if we turn from superficial manifestations to the deeper crisis in which psychoanalysis finds itself.

What are the reasons for the deeper crisis?

I believe that the main reason lies in the change of psychoanalysis from a radical to a conformist theory. Psychoanalysis was originally a radical, penetrating, liberating theory. It slowly lost this character and stagnated, failing to develop its theory in response to the changed human salutation after the First World War; instead it retreated into conformism and the search for respectability.

 

Erich Fromm – The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.4

The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.5

The most creative and radical achievement of Freud’s theory was the founding of a “science of the irrational” – i.e., the theory of the unconscious. As Freud himself observed, this was a continuation of the work of Copernicus and Darwin (I would add also, of Marx): they had attacked the illusions of man about this planet’s place in the cosmos and his own place in nature and in society; Freud attacked the last fortress that had been left untouched – man’s consciousness as the ultimate datum of psychic experience. He showed that most of what we are conscious of is not real and that most of what is real is not in our consciousness. Philosophical idealism and traditional psychology were challenged head-on, and a further step was taken into the knowledge of what is “really real.” (Theoretical physics took another decisive step in this direction by attacking another certainty, that concerning the nature of matter.)

Freud did not simply state the existence of unconscious process in general (others had done that before him), but showed empirically how unconscious processes operate by demonstrating their operation in concrete and observable phenomena: neurotic symptoms, dreams, and the small acts of daily life.

The theory of the unconscious is one of the most decisive steps in our knowledge of man and in our capacity to distinguish appearance from reality in human behavior. As a consequence, it opened up a new dimension of honesty and thereby created a new basis for critical thinking.

 

Erich Fromm – The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.5

Unconditional Parenting p.55

When we make children feel powerless, forcing them to submit to our will, this often generates intense anger, and just because that anger can’t be expressed at the moment doesn’t mean it disappears. What happens to it depends on the child’s personality and the specifics of the situation. Sometimes the result is more battles with the parent. As author Nancy Samalin comments, even “when we ‘win,’ we lose. When we make children obey by force, threats, or punishment, we make them feel helpless. They can’t stand feeling helpless, so they provoke another confrontation to prove they still have some power.” And where do they learn how to use that power? From us. Not only does authoritarian parenting make them mad; it also teaches them how to direct that anger against another person.

Such children may grow up with a constant need to thumb their noses at authority figures. Sometimes they bring all that hostility with them to school or the playground…

And sometimes, if a child is afraid of defying you to your face, he’ll figure out a way to do it behind your back. Lay-down-the-law parenting may produce kids who seem to be so well behaved as to be the envy of the neighbors. Often, however, they’ve just learned to be sneakier about their misbehavior, which sometimes turns out to be appallingly mean-spirited.

 

Alfie Kohn – Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason p.55

Unconditional Parenting p.119

I want to propose a baker’s dozen guiding principles. Each of these has practical implications that may be more surprising and challenging than its capsule description would imply.

Here they are all together:

  1. Be reflective.
  2. Reconsider your requests.
  3. Keep your eye on you long-term goals.
  4. Put the relationship first.
  5. Change how you see, not just how you act.
  6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
  7. Be authentic.
  8. Talk less, ask more.
  9. Keep their ages in mind.
  10. Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.
  11. Don’t stick your no’s in unnecessarily.
  12. Don’t be rigid.
  13. Don’t be in a hurry.

 

Alfie Kohn – Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason p.119

 

Why Gender Matters p.270

A popular notion about transgender individuals is that sex-reassignment surgery reliably relieves the mental distress associated with being transgender. But researchers who have actually studied transgender individuals postsurgery have arrived at a different conclusion. As one investigator found, “even once the transsexual has achieved sex reassignment, the figure of being trapped in the wrong body, or being wrongly encased, continues to be evoked.”

Transgender adults who begin receiving hormonal therapy do benefit, on average, from that therapy: one year after starting hormonal therapy to transition to the desired gender, the rates of anxiety, depression, and impairment among transgender individuals are significantly reduced. Nevertheless, even after sex-reassignment surgery and hormone treatment, the rate of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder among transgender individual remains much higher than among the general population. “Sex reassignment is associated with more serious psychological sequelae and more prevalent regret than had previously been supposed,” conclude other reviewers. In the largest and longest follow-up available, researchers studied everybody who underwent sex-reassignment surgery in Sweden between 1973 and 2003: 191 MtF individual and 131 FtM individuals. These investigators found that 19 percent of MtF clients and 17 percent of FtM clients had been hospitalized for psychiatric problems prior to undergoing sex reassignment, compare with less than 4 percent of matched controls. After sex-reassignment surgery, transsexual clients were still nearly three times more likely than controls to be hospitalized for psychiatric problems other than gender dysphoria, even after adjustment for prior psychiatric problems. There was some benefit from sex-reassignment surgery, to be sure. Transsexuals who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery reported feeling less gender dysphoria – less of a sense of being trapped in the wrong body – and were somewhat less likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric problems than they were before the surgery.

But only somewhat. Even after sex-reassignment surgery, transsexual clients were still nearly five times more likely to have made a suicide attempt and nineteen times more likely to have died from suicide than were matched controls, again after adjusting for prior psychiatric problems. The researchers did not find any significant differences between MtF individual and FtM individuals on any of these outcomes. Being transgender, even in Sweden and even after having sex-reassignment surgery, puts you at much greater risk of having major psychiatric problems, including death by suicide. This finding is consistent with multiple other studies.

 

Leonard Sax – Why Gender Matters p.270

Why Gender Matters p.327

Professor Kim Wallen and his colleagues at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta decided to do this familiar study again, with a little twist: instead of offering human children a choice between dolls and trucks, they gave that choice to monkeys. They gave monkey the opportunity to play with a “boy toy” such as a truck or with a “girl toy” such as a doll.

The basic pattern of results was similar to the pattern seen with human children. The female monkeys slightly prefer to play with dolls rather than trucks. The males substantially prefer to play with trucks rather than dolls.

It is difficult to invoke the social construction of gender to accommodate this finding. You would have to assert that a monkey in authority, maybe a parent, is saying to a young male monkey, Don’t let me catch you playing with a doll! But in fact nothing of the sort happens. Monkeys don’t appear to care whether other monkeys, female or male, are playing with trucks or with dolls. And yet the main effect – the preference of the male to play with a truck rather than with a doll – is clearly present in monkeys, as it is in human children. But the social construction of gender cannot reasonably be invoked to explain this effect in humans, in view of the fact that a similar effect is present in monkeys…

Developmental psychologist Gerianne Alexander found sex differences among monkeys similar to the sex difference we see among human children. In 2003, one year after she published her monkey study. Professor Alexander published her theory explaining why female and male monkeys – as well as female and male humans – might prefer to play with different toys.

Scientists have known for more than thirty years that our visual system is actually two separate systems operating in parallel, beginning at the level of the ganglion cells in the retina and extending back to the visual cortex and visual  association cortex. One system is devoted to answering the question What is it? What’s its color? What’s its texture? The other system is devoted to answering the question Where is it going? And how fast is it moving? These two systems in the brain are often referred to as the “what” and the “where” system.

Professor Alexander was the first to suggest that hardwired sex differences in the visual system may explain finding such as the observed sex difference is the toy preferences of children (as well as monkeys). She conjectured that maybe girls have more resources in the “what” system, while boys have more resources in the “where” system. Girls are more likely to play with a doll rather than with a dull gray truck because the doll has a more interesting color and texture. Boys are more likely to play with the dull gray truck because it has wheels. It moves.

Professor Alexander’s hypothesis helps to make sense of many finding that otherwise are hard to explain. For example, baby girls (three to eight months of age), but not baby boys of the same age, prefer to look at dolls rather than at toy trucks. When researchers show women and men different colors and ask them to name the colors, “women respond faster and more accurately than men.” When researchers test men and women to see how accurately they can target a moving object, men are significantly more accurate than women… Finally researchers in Germany have reported dramatic sex differences in the anatomy of the human visual cortex in adults, with significantly more resources devoted to the “where” system in men that in women, even after adjusting for any overall size difference in the brain.

 

Leonard Sax – Why Gender Matters p.327