Labels, Lifestyles, and the Like

People-Too-Complicated-for-Labels

While on the road to self-actualization and introspection, one will quickly find stories of finding an identity within a community under a word.

Spritual, pantheist, asexual, gay, bi, dom, femme, male, teacher, mother, Christian, Atheist, joker, trans, black, crazy cat lady, republican, bipolar………………..

The amount of words we use to identify ourselves are immensely vast and varying in type and category.

They serve a purpose. Community, fellowship, rapid ability to identify with another. But does it serve to help, or hurt the individual?

Oftentimes, it helps. For a while. They research, ask around, and eventually find self-meaning. Immediately a feeling of “finally!” comes, and joy in finding people to relate and connect with.

The problem comes when you are known as that, and not as you. If the bond is created because of the shared affiliation, when change comes, and it will as life would have it, the community once shared and feeling of belonging falls. A depressed state often follows.

Some labels we do not choose. Our race and our gender are easy examples. These two can be harmful as genitalia do not define gender identification, and race is not often helpful (a black English, a white African, etc).

None of these thoughts are ultimate, as I’m sure they vary. My thoughts, presently, are that in the least labeling leads to decreased introspection. By accepting “I am this”, although it may be true, it can hinder how the individual actualizes that identity. We all know of the varying denominations of Christianity, yet they are all under that umbrella. Digging deeper, within the denomination, almost every individual has at least 1 theological point they differ on. So do we keep creating names? Everyone fleshes out themselves in their own, extremely unique way.

But, I’m curious. Personally, I see the benefits and frustrations with accepting a lifestyle identity or label, but I also see the impossibility of it.

What are your thoughts?

Perhaps, if you will, what are your identities and how do you personally flesh them out that not necessarily everyone under the umbrella term do?

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Dreams

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Last night, I had another instance of sleep paralysis. Anyone who has had them can probably understand how horrifying they can be for a thinking person. At least during the first instances. There are ways to control them and stay conscious and in control.

I haven’t been able to yet. They’ve evolved into what I can only refer to ask multiple levels of inception (fuck that movie).

What’s worse is I’m a philosopher so my mind immediately goes to discussions on dreams. Such as, naturally, Descartes’ mediations, Hobbes’, and countless others. This has also been a favorite discussion with Matrix-esque believers and, it seems, many psychedelic drug users.

The mind is an amazing thing. It constantly regulates trillions of bodily functions without any conscious action from ourselves. It morphs, learns, evolves, and is in constant work commanding the body in various functions.

Time can suspend itself to terrifying lengths, all by the mind’s eye (a watched pot never boils), it can reduce a person to a quivering mass of anxiety, or simple drive one to hallucinations in their waking hours or, just plain “insane” ( I hate that word) and unable to function in society.

What are your experiences with dreams? Thoughts? Reflections?

Emotions

I woke up this morning, 11 hours of sleep, groggy and angry at the world for both oversleeping and not feeling rested.

As I kept pouring coffee down my throat, flipped through blog posts and FB statuses, one thing I’ve learned kept knocking around inside my skull.

I can trace it back to last night’s indulgence into skepticism and refreshing my mind with logical fallacies. The words “skepticism,” “truth,” and “logic” kept bouncing around in my cranium until I felt sick. Like something wasn’t right about this constant inundation to pursue these things like nothing else matters.

What in the blazes was it?

Emotions.

This small, almond shaped part of our brain called the amygdala which feeds the rest of our body if gone unchecked. Too many times have I witnessed skeptics, thinkers, and the like ignore emotions as “illogical” (oh, Spock…) and pay it no conscious mind, despite the fact that doing so allows it to unconsciously control the entire body, including mental functions such as where to store memory.

What I am most tormented by is how far science has gone in researching how to regulate this destructive, illogical little but in our brain: not far. Well, to be specific: we have been able to reproduce stressful responses easily while happiness doesn’t seem so black and white. Stick a monkey with a prod: pulse sky rockets, blood pressure rises, muscles tighten… all the repercussions of the negative emotions. Give the monkey a banana? Still stressed cause you prodded it.

My mind spins with this in a mess of jumbled words and thoughts. My only hope: we can better research this thing that controls us so, rather than ignore it.

Help me out here with some thoughts?

On another pot of coffee.

Childhood

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Just a little psychology humor to lighten the mood.

Freud gets a bad wrap for having linked a lot of dysfunctions with sexual desires for one’s mother. And sure, the guy was on a lot of drugs and said a lot of shit we dismiss, but the basis of his exploration into one’s childhood as the cause of dysfunctions remains relevant today.

I was stricken today by the sheer discernment in someone asking me a simple question, “When did that start?” I was indulging on a personal fault and cognitive dissonance that I am struggling with changing. The question broke me from my dissonance and sent me searching for the first cause, the ground zero of the cognitive catastrophe. When did it start, indeed?

Clearly, in my childhood. Which got me thinking, just how many of our poor behavior, emotional handicaps, and intellectually shortfalls have roots in our upbringing? I have to, also, give credit to “Spinning for Difficulty”‘s comment on for bringing up concerns of parents creating cognitive dissonance in their children’s minds through religious indoctrination. So please go and engage this person as well, because the wisdom therein was inspiring.

Upon reflection, I believe if one can return to their “ground zero,” their initial cause, then one can begin to mend, heal, and change.

Do you agree? PTSD patients have shown great improvement, after all, by returning to the trauma inflicted and facing it. Surely, many of us have these “traumas” in our life, small yet powerful, that gently pushed us in the direction of whatever dysfunction we ended up in.

Thoughts?

Is Marijuana really safe?

Is it?

Is it?

Is it really?

I am neither anti- nor pro-drugs, let me say that first. I live my life pro-choice, believing strongly that it is one’s right to do with oneself what one wishes. However, I am unsure of how safe it is to tout certain mind-altering drugs as entirely safe.

Amongst humanity there is the negatively connoted reality of mental disorders, and other neuro-biological conditions. The most scientific of studies (not CannabisTimes, mind you, actual medical journals) suggest that the use of these types of drugs, weed included, can lead to and increase the risk of psychosis.

Is it any coincidence that so many thinkers, artists, philosophers, and the like have killed themselves? Does their drug use have anything to do with this? They say that drugs can not make you do anything you would not otherwise, but for the deep thinker.. just how terrifying is that? We know that we are entirely capable of all things as a human being, so why not?

However, this post is not to arouse doubt but to discuss because it is something that must be:

Are mind-altering drugs safe for all? Would you do them, or have you done them? What were their effects?

Penny for your Thoughts?

Men are from Mars…

men are, women are

 

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” The implication of this phrase is that the female and male gender act differently, think differently, process things differently and simply are, in conclusion: different. There have been many a book written trying to grapple with just what these differences are, including one with the phrase as the title.

Although there is natural truth to be found in this understanding, I have always really struggled with addressing it. I do not like it, nor do I entirely agree with it as an absolute statement.

However, my problem is not with the designation of “differences,” but in the “male” and “female.” It is simply not true in all cases, and therefore is not something I can accept. It’s as inappropriate, to me, as saying “girls have long hair, boys have short hair.” The issue is with the implied “all”, and, as with most things, generalizations are usually not entirely accurate.

But, rest assured, this is not a post about sexism, feminism, or misogyny. This is a post attempting to discover the true reality behind the accepted idiom.

Surely, most people will accept the removal of the implied “all.” Not all females are feminine, and not all males are masculine. It, also, does not have anything to do with sexual preference as there are masculine heterosexual females, masculine homosexual males, and so on.

So then, “Masculinity is from Mars, Femininity is from Venus” seems to be more accurate.

So where does femininity and masculinity come from if not from the assumed sex? My belief, and it seems Biology would support this, is that it is the hormones: Testosterone, and Estrogen. Some others are in their too, but those two are the usual mainstream understood hormones.

I must digress here though.

It seems we are still different. We still disagree, and we still see things differently.

What exactly are the differences? How can we reconcile them? Can we come to understand each other and what can we do to better expedite this process? What expressions, acts, generalities of either is considered by media/mainstream as weaker in a harmful way? What is usually assumed to be a “masculine” or a “feminine” trait that is just another untrue generalization?

And so many more questions…. Pennies, many pennies for your Thoughts!

Mind: Illness and Illumination

mental illness

John Nash, known best for his depiction in the film “A Beautiful Mind,” suffered from debilitating schizophrenia. He won the Nobel Peace prize for his work in Mathematics and the Game Theory.

Sylvia Plath, known for her dark poetry and many other works, suffered from depression until it pushed her to take her own life.

Vinvent Van Gogh, French painter and artist, although created many great works under the influence of absinthe, a careful review of his letters indicates he may have suffered from manic and depressive episodes. He committed suicide at the age of 37.

I write this post under the cloud of my own disorder. It is debilitating, confusing, and a constant battle that far too many understand all too well. Despite the fact that so many undergo such conditions, and so many end up leading brilliantly creative lives, the stigma towards mental disorders keep us hiding under a rug, afraid to talk to any about what we struggle through.

The words that we bear as the name describing what we daily fight through, find themselves as the punch line of jokes or the careless belittling of someone we do not like.

Over the past few days, I heard and even used the term “bipolar” to describe the behavior of individuals at my job who were not everyone’s favorite to work with. Upon careful inspection, it may become clear to any caring individual that, maybe – just maybe, they did struggle from bipolar disorder. The tragedy is that many go untreated because of the stigma, the name calling, and the poor treatment.

“A Beautiful Mind,” albeit not entirely accurate to John Nash’s struggle, portrayed the story of a mathematical genius inflicted with schizophrenia. It wasn’t until half-way through the movie that viewers uncover, along with Nash, that his adventurous escapades were not at all what he thought but were elaborate hallucinations composed out of the misconstructions of his own mind. It can be difficult to put what an individual with such a condition goes through without artistic methods, as too many who have this condition end up on the streets as “that rambling homeless man talking to himself on the subway.” The movie eloquently depicted a side of the condition that few ever see: the struggle.

Too few of us care to see that side, even among those of us who undergo it. The mind is a beautiful and terrifying thing, capable of pressing us to create marvels, and wreak havocs. With our minds we can create vaccines, invent airplanes, and paint pieces of art that inspire anyone who views it. With our minds we can also drown our new born infants, leap in front of trains, or lead a nation into believing another race is a blight on human kind and insight them all to commit atrocities against them.

Each individual is capable of creating and destroying. Each person we work with, see on mass transit, or making our coffee is capable of ending their infant’s life, or finding the cure for cancer.

Which will it be? Which will our words move another to accomplish? Will our haphazzard label of “crazy,” “bipolar,” or “depressed” push our fellow man over the edge to self harm? Or, perhaps, will we choose the higher road of listening and asking “How are you today?” while truly listening… and carry our fellow man through the storms?

A Penny for your Thoughts, or a penny for your fellow man?

Color Perception

color-emotion

After having a conversation with a co-worker about color perceptions, I decided to delve into it as a thought experiment. Digging around on news articles, youtube videos, and the like didn’t quite answer the question adequately. She mentioned “thinking in color,” where not only herself, but her child, attached certain colors to concepts. For example: “March is blue,” “7 is green.” We understand the fully extended idea of this type of perception as synesthesia, a synthesis of perceptions.

We have this created concept we call “colors” which are not too much more than light refracting off of objects and into the lenses of our eyes which is then interpreted as an image in our brains. Most humans perceive objects on our understanding 4-color wheel of blue, green, red, and yellow.

Industrial Psychology, especially that which words in advertising, has long understood and discovered colors to create certain reactions onto our psyche. The discussion as to why we react to colors in a certain way is debatable, and seems to vary by culture (red being royalty to some, and evil to others). It could have very early evolutionary causes, such as “red” being attributed to blood and the pain attached to when that is seen.

Now, let’s throw an even bigger monkey wrench into this concept of colors. Meet, the mantis shrimp:

mantis shrimp

This colorful creature has 16 photo-receptors in which they are able to see a broader color spectrum, as well as UV, visible and polarized light. Conceiving of the possibility of seeing different colors than we conceive of, alone, is a mind-twister. Our minds simply can not quite grasp what it means to be able to see with our eyes more than what is currently available to us.

The whole discussion begs far too many questions: Does mass have within itself that which we call “color” or is it a perceived phenomenon, something our brains merely interpret? Why is it that we attributed, as a society, certain colors to certain concepts: ex feeling blue, red means stop, orange for hazards, only girls wear pink, etc. What of synesthetes, those who see colors in response to numbers, letters, or even smells.

Penny for your thoughts? What color is this post?

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Sources for more delving:
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130731-helping-the-deaf-to-see-sound
http://limpingchicken.com/2012/09/07/deaf-news-glasses-invented-to-let-deaf-people-see-sounds/

http://phys.org/news/2013-09-mantis-shrimp-world-eyesbut.html

Memorize that Nationwide Jingle! Do you have to try?

"Heeeeeeere's Johnny!" Name that movie! Oh, who am I kidding. You may not have even seen that movie or read the book, and yet know the movie and who wrote the book.... don't you?

“Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!” Name that movie! Oh, who am I kidding. You may not have even seen that movie or read the book, and yet know the movie and who wrote the book…. don’t you?

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The ability of the brain to retain information is fascinating. A study of ancient history will show quite a few cultures, such as the Hebrew people, where memorizing word for word lengthy stories were quite common. Pharisees were done their title when able to produce a certain quantity of memorized portions of the Torah.

All of our brain’s have the capacity to memorize and retain at alarming quantities.

In my life, this rears its head most unfortunately in my religious upbringing rearing its familiar head. Almost all of us who’ve had strict, or even semi-strict, religious upbringing can recite, In KJV of course: Genesis 1:1, John 3:16, The Lord’s Prayer, and Psalm 23. If you were raised Jewish, then you assuredly know the Shema, assuredly many of the Siddur recitations, and, if you did good, your Torah or Haftorah portion from your coming of age.

After 4 years of being an out-of-the-closet Atheist, I still have knee jerk reactions to certain phrases or expected answers to a series of words. I’ll illustrate for any religious savvy reader’s entertainments:

“God is good” (Answer: “All the time”) “All the time” (Answer: “God is good”)

That’s one us Bible camp kids will know well. I still have the knee jerk reaction of “All the time” when someone says that God is good, to this day. There are many of such examples. Although, this IS subjective to one’s denomination as well. Different denominations have different songs and carrying-ons in their sermon. As such, my memorization are not Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, or other. I don’t know Hail Mary’s, but I can sing for you “Mighty to Save” by Reuben Morgan, and “Shout to the Lord” by Darlene Zschech along with an interpretive dance.

I digress and move on to the main experiment which everyone should enjoy, no matter what your faith or lack thereof.

I would like to do an experiment that many of you who’ve taken Sociology/Psychology 101 probably had the pleasure of being mind-blown with. These are phrases, jingles, and songs that many of us have lodged in our brains by well-paid and researched Advertisements.

Enjoy, see how many of these you can finish. Some of these might be dated, just for the pleasure of both our older souls and reader. So don’t go nuts if you can’t get one, and don’t you dare google! Those that are songs may be more difficult to recall, so my hint that sing-songing may help for these ones with me **. Not all jingles will be prefaced with it, only ones that we almost always sing when we recite and don’t say:

1. “Like a good neighbor….”
2. ” Melts in your hand… “
3. * * “I wish I were an….. “
4. “Double your pleasure…. ” Bonus: After your answer, if you got it, finish it: “with….”
5. ** ” I don’t wanna grow up….”
6. **”I am stuck on …. cause …. “
7. “An apple a day….”

Ok, fun? Another Experiment. Name the Advertising company, or what the slogan or catchphrase is advertising:

A. “Keeps going and going and going and going and going………….”
B. “Just do it.”
C. “The Happiest place on Earth.”
D. “Finger Lickin’ Good.”
E. “American by Birth. Rebel by Choice.”
F. “Between Love and madness lies obsession.”
G. “You can do it, we can help.”

For an ad that you will not see anywhere anymore from the 1920’s I bring you a BONUS QUESTION:

“I’d walk a mile for a…”

Go ahead and google that one if you can’t. I’d love to hear from anyone who has had that one lodged in their brain though!

Share your reactions and your non-cheating answers. Or, just respond with how many you got immediately and nauseatingly. Advertising works, doesn’t it? How does that make you feel?

Penny for your Thoughts? My apologies that I can not pay for them as much as advertising companies do.

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Sources and easy non-googling checking your answers:
http://www.advergize.com/advertising/40-best-advertising-slogans-modern-brands/
http://www.catchphrases.info/advertising.php
http://tvcomedies.about.com/od/listsrecommendations/tp/Best-Sitcom-Catchphrases.htm
And just for fun, another mind memory test with movie quotes. This list works great for having fun remembering classic movies with friends, and laughing how we all KNOW them:
http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/3/5/150-movie-lines-and-catch-phrases.html