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Today’s Top Tweet – Is psychiatry “fixated” at a base level of human understanding?

Is psychiatry “fixated” at a base level of human understanding? Generally speaking, I would say yes and no.

Yes… because individual spirituality is often suspect in psychiatric circles. We’ve all heard the phrase “magical thinking.” Problem is, some people really are on the edge, and not in a good way. So that only reinforces psychiatry’s potential marginalization of sane, non-violent individuals who might be pioneers in redefining how we, as human beings, relate to God and all of creation.

No… because psychiatry does recognize recognized religions. But what a joke. That means it’s okay, from the psychiatric perspective, to sign up and identify with traditional “Catholics”—a social group that closets or turns a blind eye to in-house gays while at the same time calling homosexuality disordered. As Shatner says, “Weird or What?”

Having said that, there are always exceptions. Some psychiatrists no doubt are more open-minded and aware than others. Contrary to what the APA and other “Royal Colleges” would have us believe, there is variation among psychiatrists, just as there are exceptions and variations among Catholics and Catholic priests.

Sociologically, psychiatry is a lot like a religion. And its ever-changing DSM∞ is reminiscent of new interpretations of religious scripture. If practitioners in a given “school” deviate too far, they’re out. So even those who think freely must toe the line or lose their jobs, in both psychiatry and religion.


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Today’s Top Tweet – What is Religion, after all?

This one isn’t exactly flying so I thought I’d mention it here:

I fell asleep around midnight last night and awoke about 3 a.m, quite awake, so began revising this entry at earthpages.ca. Finished a revised draft about 6 a.m. Napped again, awoke around 10:30 a.m. and further revised and illustrated.

Others with unconventional sleep patterns might see their condition as a “sleep disorder” and even seek disability payments from taxpayers. But I prefer to just work when I’m awake and sleep when I sleep. Just because someone is different does not necessarily mean they have a disorder. I believe it sometimes depends on how we look at things.


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Why I switched my major from Sociology to Religious Studies (not that that was the be all and end all…)

This morning I came across a tweeted story (below) that at first glance I liked. It reminded me of my sociology days at Trent university where many of the professors in that department were above average. Especially in sociological theory. John Hillman covered the classical thinkers with an admirable depth for an undergrad course. Frank Nutch was the fun, alternative professor; a real gem of a guy who introduced me to the sociology of science. Andrew Werknick covered contemporary sociological theory, mostly European. Coming from the UK, Wernick seemed to have a close connection to the European scene. And the late Alexander Wilson was one of the coolest guys you could ever hope to meet. Up from California, he talked about Disneyland as a microcosm for all the imagery and spin we see in the greater North American media. These guys and a few other professors, male and female, really opened my mind. And I thank them.

But it wasn’t enough and I had to move on to something more comprehensive. Hence my switch to comparative religion and then religious studies. Not surprisingly, I used a sociological method (the postmodern work of Michel Foucault) in my doctoral thesis on Carl Jung. I was happy to graduate but, to be honest, that work was the outcome of so many strange and unsettling political forces that I don’t see it as a pinnacle of personal achievement. In retrospect, I see my graduate studies as another bridge I had to cross.

Anyhow, here’s a quote from this morning’s tweeted story:

For Bahro, a peaceful eco-communist alternative to capitalism is both possible and essential, but the belief that capitalism offers a life that is desirable must first be overturned if this alternative is to flourish. Through a variety of psychological strategies subsumed under the rubric of ‘retail therapy’, capitalism promotes pseudo-individualistic lifestyles, drives the desires of the self-absorbed, and promises fulfillment from the menu of all-you-can-eat. Retail therapy locates meaning in life through clothes, cars, homes, holidays and furniture. (view in context).

So what’s wrong with this view?

Well, the overall piece talks about spirituality but it sets up a false conflict between capitalism and spirituality. For me, going out to shop can be a spiritual exercise. We don’t need to compartmentalize “spirituality” and “the world” as so many hack thinkers do. It’s not as if God closes his or her eyes the moment we decide to enter a Pizza Hut or Tim Hortons. Far from it. If we do not objectify other people, interacting with employees can be quite spiritual and an important part of one’s overall journey.

So why the sharp division between “capitalism” and “spirituality?”

A person with any spiritual depth understands that God is everywhere. He or She is not just locked up in monasteries or in the Green movement. Everywhere is everywhere. Period.

All we really have to do is open our eyes and see what’s already there. And I think this perspective, if anything, would help to make the world a better, fairer place. If we see other people as our human brothers and sisters, there is far less chance of wanting to exploit, lie, cheat or rob.

Sadly, the biggest joke is that religion often bolsters people into doing bad things. These people believe the end justifies the means. But in most cases that’s ass backwards. As the good book teaches:

A good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit (Matt. 7-17).

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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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Today’s Top Tweet – Every nation has a shadow, says Quartz author

Quartz just posted a Jungian article about how every nation has a shadow (or shadows), a topic I talked about here.

The tweeted article probably uses the singular “shadow” in the header because this reads better and is more attention grabbing than the plural, “shadows.” This usage seems simplistic but if we read on, the plural form arises:

Just as individuals have shadows, so do societies and nations. And, according to Jung’s theory, it’s important to be aware of your shadow in order to manage it. “If you’re aware of it, you can have more control over it instead of it controlling you,” says Bennet. “The more things are being repressed, hidden and denied, [the more likely] they will emerge in other ways.”

Not to imply that I am a die-hard Jungian. Far from it.

The shadow is an archetype in Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious. But feminist scholars like Naomi Goldenberg have been questioning the Jungian idea of the archetype for decades.

Goldenberg says that ideas about an “Eternal Woman” can lead to and reinforce unfair sex role stereotypes. And I, myself, have questioned the idea of the archetype when New Age enthusiasts say that The Virgin Mary, Kali, Kwan Yin, and Isis (the goddess) are all the same.

Still, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that different nations respectively have something in common which comes out as national identity. On the other hand, with increased globalization we have to wonder if this is an idea subject to change.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Mysticism hits the mainstream

Today’s top tweet points to a story about an Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) exhibit claiming that mysticism has the power to save our violent, secular society.

It’s a nice sentiment and I’m happy to see the topic of mysticism reach a mainstream venue. But, really, it’s not that simple. Most religious traditions and depth psychologist point to the belief that dark, “downward” mysticism coincides with light, “upward” mysticism. And most spiritual people believe that we are always tempted by the former.

So those with unresolved psychological issues are more likely to fall prey to – even come to enjoy, in a twisted way – the “power of the dark side,” as the Star Wars saying goes.

Art Gallery of Ontario at dusk. Toronto, Ontar...

Art Gallery of Ontario at dusk. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible also talks about a struggle with dark forces in high places. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe evil rulers on Earth being influenced by the numinous power of Satan. But the point is, there’s always struggle. And mysticism alone won’t solve that. However, good ethical choices will help. That’s a bright ray of hope that empowers us all.


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A Little Sunday Reading…

I just updated a 2009 earthpages.ca entry about Rastafarianism. I’ve been meaning to update this for several days but partly because I wasn’t feeling motivated and partly because I was busy with other things, I didn’t get around to it till today.

It seems that if I wait and do an entry when the spirit moves me, the outcome is much better than just “trying to get the damn thing done,” as I’ve been guilty of in the past.🙂