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Today’s Top Tweet – Can you petition the Lord with prayer?

I was happy to see this (tweeted) web page today. We need more talk about parapsychology. Awareness and intelligent debate about parapsychology and its link to spirituality (and nuttiness) could help those overly invested in the medical perspective on self and others.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-psychiatry. Far from it. Medications can help, short and maybe even long term. But anyone concerned with their overall health would be wise to consider alternatives. Different approaches might enable some to discontinue their meds. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but over the long haul. And that would be a good thing. Not only would their bodies like it. Others on our planet would be happier too (see Drugs in the Water).

Glancing over the articles in today’s tweet, I see a problem that often crops up with parapsychology research: The method does not match the madness, if you’ll pardon my pun.

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakur...

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakura shrine. from original to remove black space (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take, for example, intercessory prayer. One article concludes that intercessory prayer has no verifiable effect on health. But this begs at least two questions:

  • What kind of intercessory prayer?
  • What kind of health?

Intercessory prayer takes different forms. One is vocal (or internally vocal) and the other is more contemplative and quiet.

For me, the latter is more effective. I often liken vocal prayer to using a squirt gun to put out a fire, while contemplative prayer is more like rolling out a heavy duty fire hose. Kids play with squirt guns. Adults risk their lives with fire hoses.

Mind you, all prayer is good and we’re all different. At the same time, I think there are differences in power between vocal and contemplative prayer.

But I could be wrong. Only God knows for sure.

The second question – What type of health? – is actually related to the first.

Intercession may not be visible to everyone. But I believe it helps us, psychologically and spiritually. And contrary to what some religious people say (especially those who pass themselves off as saints while behaving more like angry nuts), I believe intercession is a multi-directional interpersonal dynamic. It’s not just one-way.

Intercession may involve degrees of effectiveness but my analogy of squirt guns and fire hoses is only that. An analogy.  Life is far more nuanced than putting out a fire.

And it takes all types to make life complete. 🙂


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Today’s Punchiest Pin – Close to the edge… but not over

Image via Pinterest

Variety is the spice of life. Instead of Today’s Top Tweet we’ll look at Today’s Punchiest Pin.

David Bowie passed just over a year ago. I didn’t mark the day because, well, I busy doing other stuff. But I knew it was either coming up, around, or had just passed by.

This morning I read this excellent (pinned) article and found a surprising fact:

The World of David Bowie

The World of David Bowie (Photo: Wikipedia)

Bowie got really paranoid at one stage of the game.

But he also got out of it.

How many artists, creatives and seekers have gone a little too close to the edge but luckily pulled back just in time? My guess is a few more than most of us are willing to admit.

The funny thing about paranoia, in my opinion, is that it might sometimes be based on a very loose, distorted or misunderstood truth. The drug user or imbalanced person senses something dark and scary in their social and perhaps spiritual environment but egregiously misinterprets what they’re picking up.

When paranoid, a person lacks the usual analytical skills for assessing unpleasant or frightening impressions. Fear feeds on fear, so sometimes things escalate. This can lead to the emergency room or, better, chilling out on a friend’s comfy sofa. Sometimes I think it just depends on whether we have a good support group or not. Other times, we might have a life path and undergo difficult, challenging experiences for some greater, good reason.

Only God knows for sure. But in my view a little insight and care can go a long way in prevention.


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Today’s Top Tweet – What makes you happy?

Human beings are all so different I don’t think we can generalize. We all have our own yardsticks for measuring happiness. But for me, knowing that this life is short… well, life without spirituality at this stage of the game would not only be depressing but also quite meaningless. But again, that’s me.

What makes you happy?


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Flip that tired old New Year’s resolution thing

Big Red Carpet Nursing

shutterstock_378935893-1

New Year’s Day: it’s that magical time when people traditionally make grandiose promises, set ambitious new goals that soon fall by the wayside.

Again.

How many failed diets, how many unused gym memberships and dusty pieces of “miracle” exercise equipment result from this tradition?

Enough, I say. Enough!

Unless it’s sustainable, and sustainable in reality – not just in your impulsive imagination – such “resolutions” are huge wastes of time and energy. They’re also soul-killers. They set you up for failure. They teach you that goals and failure are one and the same. Bad, bad, bad!

So here’s your choice. You can slog along with all the other lemmings and endure yet another round of such futile, annual self-flagellation, OR you can try something different. A new approach is just the thing when an old one fails you. Learn and adapt! That’s how life gets better and better is, well…

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Going Through The Years – Unconscious vs. Controlled Regression

I listened to one of my old Supertramp albums last night on Spotify. It was sublime, and went well with my latest update at earthpages.ca:


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New ways of thinking about psychological discomfort and distress

Note – As we see on CNN and elsewhere, for educational purposes the following talks about the n-word (in reference to black people) and the f-word (in reference to gay people) 

Today’s tweeted story reminds me of a somewhat unpopular viewpoint of mine and a few others.

I don’t expect this view to be embraced overnight. In my opinion society is not yet in a place to fully get it. Sometimes I feel like a feminist, black or gay rights activist must have felt in the 1940s. It’s not too hard to imagine how most people back then would have reacted to innovative thinkers concerned with social justice. And it is not so different, I believe with the idea of mental illness.

The word “illness” lends support and legitimacy to the current medical model. And the term is used so often that to simply question it is usually met with indifference or, worse, hostility.

But there are other ways of looking at psychological discomfort and distress. Ways that involve personal transformation, spirituality and, yes, our largely unknown and mysterious universe.

Catholic devotional image of Saint Dymphna, the patron of those afflicted with mental and nervous disorders

Catholic devotional image of Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of those with mental and nervous afflictions

So when I see the term “mental illness” a red flag goes up.

Several corporations have launched “Let’s talk about mental illness” campaigns. I’m not certain how sincere these campaigns are. They may be genuine. They may also be an effort to publicly shine with the hope of boosting profits. Possibly both.

But what concerns me most is the persistent and widespread use of the phrase mental illness.

Consider:

  • In the doctor’s office I saw a sign that read, FACE MENTAL ILLNESS
  • On an Ontario highway a large billboard said I GOT MY DEGREE DESPITE MY MENTAL ILLNESS, replete with a smiling, slightly unusual looking woman wearing a mortarboard
  • At Catholic Mass a Jesuit priest and a Monsignor repeatedly offer up prayers “for those suffering from mental illness”

And, as I say, corporations regularly advocate discussion and promote charities for “mental illness.”

Sounds good, right?

Well, not to me. Sometimes I’ve felt that these drives are tantamount to saying something like:

  • It’s okay to be a n*****
  • Face being a n*****
  • I got my degree despite being a n*****
  • We offer our prayers for the n*****s among us
  • Let’s talk about being a n*****
  • BEING A N***** IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. BUT STIGMA AND BIAS SHAME US ALL

Or, perhaps, something like:

  • It’s okay to be a f**
  • Face being a f**
  • I got my degree despite being a f**
  • We offer our prayers for the f**s among us
  • Let’s talk about being a f**
  • BEING A F** IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. BUT STIGMA AND BIAS SHAME US ALL

If that’s not clear enough, I am alluding to the old, pejorative n-word once commonly used for black people, and the old pejorative f-word once widely used for gays.

For those who question or see beyond the overly medicalized understanding of psychological suffering, many signs and slogans about so-called mental illness seem strangely paradoxical and indicate just how unenlightened we are in 21st century.

It’s time to not just talk about mental illness in the mainstream sense, but also about the negative and limiting connotations carried by the very phrase, mental illness. This phrase is widely and unconsciously used today, just as the n- and f-words were once ignorantly tossed about in the past.

Words have power. They affect how people think and act. And the built-in assumptions and implications of many words can be harmful or helpful.

So I offer this perspective as something to think about. It’s time to talk. Not unconsciously, just kicking the same old ideas around—but consciously, with open, discerning minds.

About the Author

Michael Clark did his PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada (1997). His doctoral thesis focuses on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity and Michel Foucault’s postmodern theory.


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Today’s Top Tweets – At one time considered part of psychiatry’s dark history, ECT is on the rise again

English: Portrait of Mary Shelley

Portrait of Mary Shelley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was an undergrad student taking psychology courses in the mid 1980s, ECT was portrayed as something from one of the dark chapters in psychiatric history.

“We know better now” was the general message put out by psychology textbooks.

So when I recently heard that ECT was on the rise again, I was truly surprised.

Actually, ECT never entirely went away, despite what those psychology textbooks claimed.

I understand that only those who are severely depressed undergo treatment. But surely there’s a better way.

Scientists don’t even know why it works. Some theorize that it temporarily blunts the emotions by decreasing blood flow to a region of the brain.

Critics say that ECT usually causes disorientation and memory loss and when the treatment wears off, things are even worse.

To me, the whole thing sounds like something frightening out of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle era or perhaps further back to Mary Shelley.

Sociologically, statistics show that late middle aged women receive this treatment significantly more than men.

No wonder I abandoned psychology as my undergrad major and switched to sociology. As one sociology professor put it while I was contemplating the change, “psychology is hindering your intellectual development.”

Of course, sociology fell short too. As did philosophy and, as you may have read yesterday, the academic study of religion.

That’s why I like to talk about the issues. Nobody has everything all figured out. And anyone who emphatically thinks they have are probably insane, naïve, brainwashed or fanatical.