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Passions in Poetry

Can Anyone Other Than A Recluse

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Huan Yi
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0 posted 07-08-2008 09:33 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


actually be himself?


.

Essorant
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1 posted 07-08-2008 09:56 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

How is it possible actually not to be oneself?
Bob K
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2 posted 07-09-2008 11:42 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

     A philosophical answer to a psychological issue will often answer only the intellectual aspects of this particular question.  The confusion comes, I believe, from two distinct meanings of the word "self" which we tend to use interchangeably:  1) The "self" is the same as the philosophical and grammatical "subject."  Western Culture is particularly unclear on this sort of distinction, as rapidly becomes clear when you reflect of Freud's use in his metapsychology of the word "object" in this context.  He's gotten little but grief on the matter for at least the last 40 years from people who should know better.

     When Essorant talks about the impossibility of not being one's "self,"  this seems to be the sort of "self" that it is impossible to avoid being, the impossibility of stepping out of one's particular grammar while operating simultaneously within its language.  To do so creates a paradox  of meanings at the level of the discussion.

     The other meaning of the word "self" is distinct: 2) The totality of the person in his own perception.  (Worth noting here is Harry Stack Sullivan's definition, which suggests that the self is the person as perceived by the others in his life.)  Under this (actually, in both of these) definitions it is entirely possible to hold multiple concepts of the "self," to identify with one and find one's own actions originating "outside the self" as foreign and a puzzle.  Consider such problems as over-eating, or people who constantly get into the same kind of relationship jams with different partners.

      Others may be more adept at fooling themselves and others about the rationality of their behavior, and are fully convinced that what they do to themselves and others is perfectly rational and even laudable.  This may even be the case a fair amount of time.  It may also be the result of  a life that is almost wholly pretense but which appears virtually ideal.  These people look wonderful but spend their lives feeling hollow and depressed.  There are more of them than you think.    

     Huan Yi's question is reasonable.  

     But first the incredibly social nature of such a question is worth savoring.  Without others, a recluse does not exist, and his whole notion of self is utterly dependent on their actions as much as or more than his own.  His time is filled not only with being himself but with pretending to be other people so he might fulfill the tasks he might otherwise be able to forget unless he choses to give up clothes and shelter and food beyond that which he gathers from wilderness he entrusts to other people to keep wild.

     I believe that the nature of us human folk is that we are constructed "in relation to."  Forever after we are riding the line between, as the theologian Nels Ferre once put it, "Don't lock me out and don't fence me in."

Bob
Grinch
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3 posted 07-09-2008 01:45 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

You can always spot a good question when ,as soon as you start to consider the possibilities in-depth, the answer changes continuously backwards and forwards between yes and no.

That’s what happened when I tried to answer your question.

I think the answer depends, as Bob suggested, on the definition of “be himself”.

I took it to mean that the person was free to act in whichever way he deemed fit - to do exactly as he pleased without suppressing any urges or whims contrary to his initial urge and whim. Acting, in fact, without amending or adjusting his behaviour for any reason.

If that’s the case my answer is that nobody, in any practical sense, can be themselves, even a recluse.

If pushed I can probably explain my reasoning given time.

Good question though
serenity blaze
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4 posted 07-09-2008 03:39 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

*push*

serenity blaze
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5 posted 07-09-2008 10:57 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Aw, c'mon, Grinch.

Elia Kazan's novel, "The Arrangement" addresses this...sort of.

If you haven't read it, I recommend it, for whatever my recommendation is worth.

But being yourself?

I dunno.

Wouldn't you have to know yourself first? And then decide if you were being yourself, which pretty much indicates past tense...because--

that would require an objectivity that is physically impossible, and no doubt the goal of wise men, prophets, and them that search for the philosopher's stone, since we are contantly in the midst of change, thus the old cliche' "All is now" thing would have to apply.

Er...wouldn't it?
Essorant
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6 posted 07-09-2008 11:15 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I am the only one that may be myself.
serenity blaze
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7 posted 07-09-2008 11:33 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Explain?
Huan Yi
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8 posted 07-10-2008 04:06 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.

http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/arnold/writings/buriedlife.html


.
serenity blaze
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9 posted 07-10-2008 05:19 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

That's good stuff, John.

Now the only thing I'm wondering is why you asked in the first place! *chuckle*

Shine on, sunshine! <--now that didn't hurt much, did it? *chuckle*
Grinch
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10 posted 07-10-2008 05:34 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
Wouldn't you have to know yourself first?


Knowing yourself is easy, the trick is not knowing anyone else.



Knowing yourself.

The real you is the one responsible for all those ideas and urges that you get but don’t act on.

The influence of others.

Is the reason you don’t act on them.

The recluse can separate himself from everyone he’s ever met but he can’t remove their influence on his behaviour. Throughout his life the recluse has been conditioned or influenced to curb his urges and ideas until it’s almost impossible for him to act upon those urges. You could argue of course that those influences are now an intrinsic part of the recluse’s “self” which would mean that any action, however conditioned and influenced by others, was a true reflection of the recluse.

Here’s the rub though. If the recluse hadn’t been influenced his actions would have been different, and those uninfluenced actions could be said to be a more accurate reflection of the recluse’s “self” than the conditioned “self“.

Would the real recluse please stand up.

A simplification

My dog does what it wants, if it has an urge to do something it just does it, but that isn’t quite true is it. My dog is influenced by me, it may have the urge to chew my shoes but modifies its behaviour, curbs its urge, because it knows I don’t like chewed shoes. A wolf would chew my shoe, and probably most of my leg, right? A wolf must truly be “itself”, but that isn’t true either. A wolf may want to chew my shoe but it’s influenced by the pack just as my dog is influenced by me, it has to curb the urge to chew my shoe based on the influence of the other pack members. The pack leader? Even here there is a modification in urges, a suppression in the face of an offspring or a potential mate.

To completely be oneself requires a total and complete isolation from others from birth, it’s possible to imagine a recluse that has never known another being, one who could completely and truly be himself but in practical terms it’s impossible.


Ron
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11 posted 07-10-2008 07:27 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Sure we're influenced by others, Grinch. We're also influenced by the weather, the time of day or night, and even occasionally by what we had for dinner last night. Influences color our choices. Influences, however, do not negate choices.

What is "self" if not the choices we make?


Essorant
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12 posted 07-10-2008 09:15 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Being dependant and influenced on/by other things and other beings is a native part of being oneself right from the beginning.  It is not at all unnatural or not being oneself.  Instead, if one were completely detached, it wouldn't be being oneself at all.  For without the rest of the universe, one may not be a person in the first place.  In order to be ourselves, I think we also need to be Cornered

Bob K
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13 posted 07-11-2008 10:54 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Ron, Grinch, Essorant, Serenity, Huan Yi:

         One possible answer to Ron's question, "What is "self" if not the choices that we make?" is to remind him that he is using a highly limited reference frame that is focused on the experience of the individual.  It's a perfectly useful frame of reference.  Many insights, such as the one he offers here, can be derived from it and applied usefully to everyday experience with good effect.  It is not, however, the only useful reference frame.

     Once again I remind you all of Harry Stack Sullivan, who provides us with an interpersonal reference frame.  Within This particular framework the self is defined differently.  Sullivan talks about "self" as the sum of the ways in which you are perceived by other people.  "You" serve as a locus for those impressions and are an embodiment of them.

     Other observers and researchers in the field have pointed out that there is really never such a thing as a human child or a baby in isolation.  They are always part of a dyad, generally a mother-child dyad, and for the child to survive childhood in functional form, there is a minimum quality threshold that needs to be met.  It's part of the work of D.W. Winnicott to show that the threshold needs only to be "good enough," not spectacular, for success.  The work of Renee Spitz shows that if it's below that level, the result tends to be dead babies.

     Humans from birth require good enough social contact to even survive.  At some point, if the need for contact and nurture has been met at good enough levels, not too much, not too little, then the child may begin to seek out its own preferences for levels of contact and intimacy, and seek to pattern contact and withdrawal in a way it negotiates with those in its environment.

     This would seem to offer yet another way of defining "self,"  by ongoing negotiation with the world of people.

     By definition, you would never be able to know yourself because you are in a constant state of flux along certain lines of development.  Jane Loevenger in fact writes about typical lines of Adult Development open to everyone, one aspect of which is an increasingly complex notion of self, and an ability to observe the selves formed earlier in life and still functioning as current frames of mind from the separate, more completely articulated self still developing today, and to comment on one's own actions.  

     Some thoughts off the top of my head.  Any return thoughts?

Best to all, Bob

Ron
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14 posted 07-11-2008 03:20 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Sullivan talks about "self" as the sum of the ways in which you are perceived by other people.

So, once everyone who knows me dies I cease to have ever existed?

Sorry, Bob, but in my opinion, defining yourself as a reflection is probably the biggest problem a person can have. And, honestly, from where I sit, it also seems to be one of the most prevalent.

quote:
By definition, you would never be able to know yourself because you are in a constant state of flux along certain lines of development.

Do you know of anything that isn't in a constant state of flux, Bob? Anything at all?
Grinch
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15 posted 07-11-2008 03:46 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


I thought about the other influences Ron, they’re certainly a factor but, probably wrongly, I saw them as influences on the urge rather than the possible action.

Take the weather for instance, my dog Rocko absolutely hates the rain, my guess is that if I put my shoe on the lawn in a rainstorm the urge to chew shoes wouldn’t even enter his head.

I may be wrong of course, he may still get the urge but be influenced by the rain into consciously choosing not to chew the shoe. That’s the problem with dogs, you can never tell what they’re thinking.

Fortunately I do know what I’m thinking, when it’s fine I get the urge to do some gardening, when it’s raining I don’t. Oddly enough if I’m gardening and it starts to rain I eventually get the urge to stop gardening which sort of confirms that the weather can certainly influence my urges.

But what about influencing my choices?

I sometimes wake up with the urge to do some gardening but  on opening the curtains find that it’s raining, initially my thought was that at this point my urge changes but it could just be that I make a conscious choice not to act on my urge based on the influence of the rain. Either way my urge changes and as I act in line with my urge I could be said to be “being myself“.

So do the influences of  others work in the same way?

I don’t think so.

Sometimes I get the urge to punch someone’s lights out, fortunately the influence of society and in particular the influence of my mother normally results in me choosing not to. My urge however stays the same, in this case my urge and my choice aren‘t in synch - I end up believing that I‘m not really being myself.

Bob,

Are there two versions of the self?

Sure -  the perceived facade presented by your actions as seen by others and the reality of your urges which are known only to yourself.

You’re only being yourself when your urges and your actions are the same.

At least that’s how I see it, though that might change.


Bob K
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16 posted 07-11-2008 05:37 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Urges and actions the same?  Grinch, that's a pocket definition of psychopathy, and, not to be judgmental about it, I suspect that psychopaths lack a judging self to evaluate behavior.  The best they can do is substitute an observing self to do some mediation based on consequences.  This means, as many of our prison population will tell you, that their error was in getting caught.  Not all psychopaths are as bright as they believe themselves to be, they simply have less baggage to carry.

     The outer socially presented version of the self you mention is still another "self."  I agree the thing is real, and that it's necessary.  If we were all to walk around with our private thoughts and feelings hanging out in public, then we'd soon all kill each other off as a matter of paranoid safety.  Jung calls this part of people The Personna, The Mask.  

     Jung reserves the term Self, always with the capital letter, for the person who has integrated the various parts of himself into a pretty much whole entity.  Myself, I've always thought this was a pretty good way of looking at the thing.

     Ron—I'm not sure what to say here.  Sullivan has an interpersonal view of things, and he's one of the few people who actually understands that people don't grow up in a hermetically sealed container.  Do I think that once everybody who knows you dies, you cease ever to have existed?  I think the question is language play.  I think at that point your self is effectively dead, in much the same way your body is dead when your body dies.  I don't think either situation mandates you never existed.  I think you enter into social mythology at that point or you don't, like Lincoln, or Tolstoy or like the the guy the cousin Jim used to play cards with when he was thirty back in Saint Louis.
Odds are nobody remembers his name now, at least by that identifier.

     Defining yourself as the reflection of other people's perception of you may be the biggest mistake a person can make, but in practice it takes a nimble and constant awareness to even be aware of the processes by which it's done.  Half an hour of doing counter-projective therapy leaves me exhausted by the effort of simply noticing what one person is trying to make me on a word by word basis.
Certainly I miss much of the message and often I'm sure I miss the heart of it.

     How much of everything everybody you know says to you do you actually understand in terms of how each sentence conveys meaning and information about who you are?  I think if you're honest, you'll probably end up saying, not much; I'm simply not used to looking at people that way.  I think you're trying to take a subtle concept and make it simple enough to dispose of in a few quick words because you have other loyalties in terms of what a self ought to be or do.

     And yours may even be correct, mind you.  

     I recommend  a book by Leston Havens called Participant Observation which may be out of print but is worth reading on library loan.  Sullivan is himself a very bad writer and the books that were transcribed from his lectures are very bad as well, while Havens catches the quality of the thought in lively and understandable language.

     I don't know anything that isn't in a constant state of flux.  You're right.

     One of the things about the self, though, is that while there are always secrets that one keeps to one's self for private reasons, and while there is always the social facade once chooses for public consumption, the self has other aspects as well.  These are perhaps more to the point.  Nobody knows when you've built you're life or part of it on a misperception unless, afterward it comes up and gets corrected.  Even so, there it was for a time, controlling your life.  I was running a therapy group for recovering addicts.  One member was absent for weeks.  The group grew angry and resentful.  I called his home, fellow members called his home, I sent him letters.  Nothing got a response.  After six weeks, when the group was in the middle of working through its rage, we found out that our member had been lying in the morgue, unidentified, the whole time.  By shifting from unknown to known, the unknown segment of the self of everybody in the room enormously effected everybody.

     Then, of course, there is the segment of the self that other people know and the self doesn't.  Much is made in comedy about this, the toilet paper on the shoe, spinach on the teeth, how nobody likes the guy who's so high on himself or how everybody is rooting for George, who never expects it, in It's A Wonderful Life.  These are the minor examples.  Major ones include character problems that the self remains unaware of because nobody will mention them. ( "Claudia is so darn shy she drives me crazy.  I can't stand being around people that shy.")

     (Some of the framework above comes from material on the johari window.  It's an interesting piece of theory I ran across in a book by Joseph Luft, who's the Jo in johari.  There some slightly more complicated stuff on it in google, but it's still a good system.)

     That's why it seems likely that the self has, at the least, interpersonal aspects to it.  That's one of the reasons why you can never entirely know yourself.

    
Ron
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quote:
Sometimes I get the urge to punch someone’s lights out, fortunately the influence of society and in particular the influence of my mother normally results in me choosing not to. My urge however stays the same, in this case my urge and my choice aren‘t in synch - I end up believing that I‘m not really being myself.

So, Grinch, you would define self by your urges rather than what you do in response to those urges?

Wow. I am one really terrible person, then.

quote:
Jung reserves the term Self, always with the capital letter, for the person who has integrated the various parts of himself into a pretty much whole entity.  Myself, I've always thought this was a pretty good way of looking at the thing.

Yea, but we're either talking about something very different than Jung's self . . . or this is a decidedly under-populated planet.

quote:
Sullivan has an interpersonal view of things, and he's one of the few people who actually understands that people don't grow up in a hermetically sealed container.

Bob, I would certainly agree with an interpersonal view of many things, but not everything and certainly not self.

quote:
How much of everything everybody you know says to you do you actually understand in terms of how each sentence conveys meaning and information about who you are?

What people say to me can only convey meaning and information about who they think I am. I've had some extremely close and intimate relationships in my life, and so far, no one has quite got it right. Their words are much more likely to convey information about them than about me. Even when they think they're talking about me.

quote:
One of the things about the self, though, is that while there are always secrets that one keeps to one's self for private reasons, and while there is always the social facade once chooses for public consumption, the self has other aspects as well.

Absolutely. The self has many facets and is very complicated. No argument here.

quote:
Nobody knows when you've built you're life or part of it on a misperception unless, afterward it comes up and gets corrected.  Even so, there it was for a time, controlling your life.

So do you believe misperceptions should be held responsible for what people do?

I think perceptions, mis- or otherwise, influence our life, Bob, but I think control is much too strong a word to use. We make our own choices and, if we're going to be held accountable for those choices, we very much need to recognize where the control lies. In a similar vein, we also have to recognize that our perceptions, mis- or otherwise, are equally subject to choice. We pretty much choose what we see.


Grinch
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18 posted 07-11-2008 07:22 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
Grinch, that's a pocket definition of psychopathy


Perhaps it’s also a good definition of “being yourself”.

It is if the urges and actions are of a criminal, sexual or aggressive nature, in that case a man truly “being themself” and acting in accordance with his urges may indeed exhibit all the tendencies of a psychopath, but not necessarily so. What do we call someone whose urges and actions match but aren’t of a criminal, sexual or aggressive nature? Happy?

There may however be a problem with the liberal application of the psychopathic label, especially when trying to categorise the imagined recluse of my previous thought experiment who is a person separated from birth from human contact, because being anti-social has a pre-requisite that’s obviously missing in that scenario. By who’s measure are his actions criminal, sexual, aggressive or anti-social?

I think what I’m trying to say is that truly “being yourself” is an impossibility beyond the confines of a  constructed hypothetical thought experiment. The closest you can ever get is the mask that Jung suggests, or the “convenient fiction” described by Dennett. Both of which, as I believe Ron and even yourself have suggested, aren’t true representations of one’s real self.

I believe I’m not the person you think I am - that version is just the person that social interaction requires me to be, my true self is redder in tooth and claw and thankfully kept in check.

[This message has been edited by Grinch (07-12-2008 04:28 AM).]

Grinch
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19 posted 07-11-2008 07:26 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
Wow. I am one really terrible person, then.


I’ll take your word for it - my perception of your persona differs somewhat from yours but as you quite rightly point out:

quote:
defining yourself as a reflection is probably the biggest problem a person can have.



Bob K
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20 posted 07-11-2008 11:10 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


     The definition of an infant separated at birth from human contact is "corpse."   Such children waste away and die from a condition that was once and still may be called "failure to thrive."   Humans are social animals and are social animals from the first breath they take.  Exactly how social any single human may be can depend on the package of genetics they are born with, the infections they acquire, the people in their surround, the social and political conditions at the time and probably other factors as well.  Even orphanages, where there may be people around, but not enough time to develop a personal nurturing physical connection with the infant, will sometimes show a high proportion of "failure to thrive" children.  Often the children will show greater than usual difficulty in later live in forming connections with life partners.  If memory serves, there is a book called Children of The Kibbutz that reviewed research done following Israeli kids raised communally on some of the first experimental Kibbutzim.

     I must agree with Ron, Grinch, to the extent that he suggests that defining yourself by your wishes is insufficient; that it's too narrow.  The influence of your mother has become a part of yourself, though a devalued and despised part of yourself.  I would say that the effort of pushing it away, of devaluing and despising it, ends up  taking energy away from parts of your "self" that you might wish to savor, develop and enjoy.  If you actually think it's more "you" to punch somebody's lights out, I suspect your mother's getting a bad rap though.  About age twelve most folks get the basic message that if they have the fun of punching somebody's lights out, then they're gonna wish they'd have figured out some other way of having fun, like amateur boxing, where it's okay to do so, or martial arts, where you can learn how to do it right, instead of doing it in a way that will get you in legal trouble and cost money and maybe jail time.  If you're still blaming mom for that, you must be missing some of the major issues in your relationship, cause that one isn't very big.  Your mom is part of yourself now, like it or not.  Just as the urge is part of yourself.  

     If you want to hit people and get hit back, there are many types of Karate just made for you.  You can even box.  If you'd rather go more slowly on the sparing, you can study some of the chinese internal arts, which you'll be able to study far into old age.  You can make these things part of yourself and use the study of violence to transform yourself at the same time, should you wish to take your study in that direction.  You can use your urge to explore and transform yourself.  You can use your urge to make a bridge to that pesky mother part of yourself by learning to care for yourself in a better way than she was able to offer you.  These parts of the self are generally there for a purpose, you know, even if they look strange in the beginning.  

     When you can actually say, "Wow I really must be some terrible person then," that's not too bad.  It's a good starting place because it's got some authentic feeling behind it.  The problem raises its pointy little head when you don't allow yourself to look further, when that's all you allow yourself to see or say.  I too am a pretty terrible person for all sorts of reasons.  Boy, do I have a temper!
Bossy?  I'm more bossy than the  cow of the same name.
I could go on, and beneath the jokey tone I'm quite serious.  I also happen to be a pretty decent guy at the same time, and that happens to be part of me too.  I have to work at keeping all of me in mind, because it's very easy to just grab at one piece or the other.  On the surface they seem to be mutually exclusive, but selves are full of contradictions, and we need constantly to work at keeping ourselves in balance.

     Did I mention sententious?  At times I get sententious, too.

     Ron, I think, is right about the difficulty of  achieving the balance of the Self in the framework of Analytic psychology.  It's the kind of goal that people like to think they've achieved, like "the fully actualized person," from Maslow, or stage VI moral development in Kohlberg's schema.  I think you'd actually have to be carried into heaven in a chariot of fire actually to have attained such a thing; but, being humans, we can't seem to free ourselves from trying.  What rubes we are!  

quote:
Ron:
What people say to me can only convey meaning and information about who they think I am. I've had some extremely close and intimate relationships in my life, and so far, no one has quite got it right. Their words are much more likely to convey information about them than about me. Even when they think they're talking about me.



     Of course people can only approximate the projection you try to place on them with counter-projective remarks. I'm only an out of practice social worker. Anything I say has got to be off base, let alone about a guy nobody's ever really understood before.  A man's got to stand on his own, and the loneliness of a real individualist is probably too hard for anybody to understand.  It's probably better not to talk about it at all. Social workers are all inexperienced and undertrained anyway, you can bet on it, and all he can probably talk about is himself,  anyway.  Bor. . .ING!

     About misperception and responsibility.  I believe there are places the buck stops.  I believe that responsibility can be assigned.  
    
Bob K
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21 posted 07-12-2008 02:17 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

     Bob continues the above posting:

     Ron, for a guy who doesn't believe that a self should be defined by what other people attribute to it, you sure seem to be trying to put a lot of words in my mouth.  You claim not to believe in the concept, but with sentences like that first one in the quote above, you sure seem to know how to act as though you do.  You seem to have tried the same style of attribution above when you said,
"So, once everyone who knows me dies I cease to have ever existed?," once again making an attribution that required me to correct the way I was being defined.  I'm not complaining.  I notice that people do this to each other all the time in subtle or less subtle ways.  I simply use the opportunity to illustrate how the process works in your own back and forth dialogue.  I regard people who claim they aren't trying to manipulate conversations and relationships on an ongoing basis as folks who have chosen to be incompetent at what they do all the time anyway.  To some extent it's a choice to lead an unconscious life....  

     A misperception has no agency and by definition cannot bear responsibility.  One must be able to act before one has the ability to respond, or as folks have been saying for a while now, response-ability.  One must look to the entity with agency.  I could take other positions and argue them, as I suspect could you, but this is the one I believe most clearly fits my sense of the way things work.  LBJ is responsible for the US momentum toward war following the Gulf of Tonkin incident.  I recently stumbled across some documentation (I need to follow up on this; perhaps someone might help out if they get interested) that while the original torpedo boat attacks did occur, and North Vietnam acknowledged them and apologized for an idiotic local commander, the second incident which caused our congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in fact did not happen.  It was apparently either a glitch or a fabrication in the lower ranks of Naval intelligence that was never actually communicated up the chain of command.  The incident was buried until the past year or two.  50,000 death of U.S. soldiers, more than 1,000,000 Vietnamese apparently hinged on a lie, or a mistake or a misperception.  Much of the history of the past 40 years could have been possibly very different without that war.

     Was LBJ responsible?  Sure.  The buck stops there.  Even thinking he'd made the right decision, LBJ resigned, as well he should have done, given the situation. Nevertheless, there you have one misperception that took a lot of control away from a lot of people.  The fact that LBJ wasn't aware of it, didn't matter.  It didn't un-die any of the American soldiers or any of the Vietnamese.  It didn't keep Watergate from happening.

     As for our perceptions and our choices of what we see, some of that may be true.  But the research as I understand it doesn't seem to bear that out.  The big problem the cortex has is that it's overwhelmed with information from everywhere, and it has only a limited amount of processing power to deal with it.  Most of the brain works as an efficient  filter.  Most of the material about which you'd want to make those choices gets filtered out well before it reaches awareness.  Most background noise, many colors, a lot of the words in conversations are actually filled in at a level below consciousness.  That's why people sometimes don't see things sitting right in front of them; it's been filtered out before reaching consciousness as not important at this point in time.  Some people can exercise some control over some of these functions, but it usually takes more time and effort to learn the techniques of control than most folks are willing to put in.  Somebody skilled at T'ai Ch'i can push somebody else several feet into the air and across the room into a wall using about four ounces of force.  If you were willing to practice long enough and hard enough, you could probably do it too.  Not one person in a thousand is willing to learn, though.  It's simply too darn much work.  Nobody believes how loose and relaxed you need to be to make the skills work.  Nobody is willing to actually learn to listen to what their body feels when it feels another body.  Those are the sort of choices you need to make to be effective in the kinds of things I think you're talking about, otherwise you're simply too removed from your experience to have any idea what decisions have to be made, and to have the time and discipline to make them.  I strongly suspect that anything less, simply on a straight neurological basis, is simply empty talk.  A person's neurology and his thought process can't move quickly enough otherwise.  It's a matter of pragmatics.

     Clearly this must sound zany to anybody with any sanity to them.  But there are reasons that 80 year old masters can wipe out multiple young guys.

     Sure we choose what we see.  But it's like studying foreign languages in a way.  There's a major difference between wanting to be able to read ancient Greek and Sanskrit, and wanting to study them.  You don't get to read either language by wanting to read them alone.

     Good luck with the transition.  I hope everything comes up roses.  Best from here, BobK.  


Grinch
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22 posted 07-12-2008 06:27 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
The definition of an infant separated at birth from human contact is "corpse."


I agree, in fact I’ve said so all along but that doesn’t diminish the usefulness of a thought experiment that posits such an occurrence. As far as I’m aware nobody has ever argued that Schrödinger never in fact owned a cat or used the argument that demons don’t exist as a counter to Maxwell’s theories regarding the second law of thermodynamics.

quote:
I must agree with Ron, Grinch, to the extent that he suggests that defining yourself by your wishes is insufficient; that it's too narrow.


There are several options Bob, two of which are that your true self is the outward persona as seen by others which is based on what choices you make another is that it’s a culmination of the urges that come freely which instigate those choices. Unless you’re suggesting that the urges you get aren’t spontaneously derived from yourself, that they are somehow generated by another, I don’t see how you can deny that they are true reflections of yourself.


quote:
The influence of your mother has become a part of yourself, though a devalued and despised part of yourself. I would say that the effort of pushing it away, of devaluing and despising it, ends up taking energy away from parts of your "self" that you might wish to savor, develop and enjoy. If you actually think it's more "you" to punch somebody's lights out, I suspect your mother's getting a bad rap though. About age twelve most folks get the basic message that if they have the fun of punching somebody's lights out, then they're gonna wish they'd have figured out some other way of having fun, like amateur boxing, where it's okay to do so, or martial arts, where you can learn how to do it right, instead of doing it in a way that will get you in legal trouble and cost money and maybe jail time. If you're still blaming mom for that, you must be missing some of the major issues in your relationship, cause that one isn't very big. Your mom is part of yourself now, like it or not. Just as the urge is part of yourself.


Thanks for the attempted psychoanalysis Bob but frankly I think you’re talking twaddle, but at least your twaddle is useful in one way - it lends credence to my argument.

  

quote:
About age twelve most folks get the basic message that if they have the fun of punching somebody's lights out, then they're gonna wish they'd have figured out some other way of having fun


If the twelve year old gets the urge to punch someone’s lights out and then actually does, is the act a true reflection of the twelve year olds self? If you measure it by his initial urge the answer must be yes, if you measure it by the external evidence of his action or choice of action the answer is also yes.

So is the twelve year old simply being himself?

If the thirteen year old gets the urge to punch someone’s lights out and then decides to curb the urge based on external influences, is the act a true reflection of the thirteen year olds self? If you measure it by his initial urge the answer must be no, the urge and action don‘t match, if you measure it by the external evidence of his action or choice of action the answer is yes.

Why the sudden change in the attitude toward his urge Bob? One minute he was being himself the next he wasn’t - what changed?

I’d say that at twelve he was being himself and at thirteen he was influenced by outside forces to amend his behaviour - to alter his “self” to fit the requirements of social interaction. His true self hasn’t changed, only his projected persona is amended - his mask if you like or his convenient fiction.
Bob K
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23 posted 07-12-2008 01:57 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


     Because "the self" notices that things aren't always the fault of other people, and that it's no longer an accurate reflection of reality to say "everything would be wonderful if it weren't for them."  "The self" notices that it's capable of mistakes for reasons of ill will or error or incomplete knowledge about the world.  Especially around age 12, by the way, when "the self" is curious enough about other families to observe what the rules are for the way they function, it gets a powerful flood of new information because that's a developmentally mandated time.  Because this is frequently a time when children got to middle school from grade school or begin having a hormonal surge and start looking at the world in a different fashion.  Guys especially begin to make close friendships with other guys, and between now and the early twenties they can make many of their deepest life friendships.  That's what's different between 11 and 12, and to some extent between 12 and 13.

     If a 13 year old gets the urge to punch somebody's lights out, he has hopefully been gathering a flood of new data that he wasn't motivated to gather or interested in examining a year or so earlier.  He is now, for example, deeply interested in the question of what separates the actions of a man from the actions of a boy.  His notion of "the self" includes a clear wish to form himself into some sort of manhood that is modeled on somebody he admires, his dad, a teacher, John Wayne, a hero that he's made, and this includes a set of values that will form the core of his adult behavior.

     There may be people sitting on top of this kid's head with a hammer , saying, you have to act this way to adapt to society, Johnny, but any kid worth his salt knows how to minimize the effect they have on him.  He can pick and choose from what they want from him at some later date.  His business is much more immediate.  He wants to model his life and his behavior on some adult that he thinks knows what it's like to function in the right way in the world.  Who's successful with women and work and gains the respect of those about him.  Often "the self" can't get enough of watching and listening and thinking about how this person would behave in this or that situation.

     This isn't the twelve year old wanting to take a swing at some fool.  This is the twelve year old trying to make himself a 21 year old and experiencing that business as a rush order, something vital and immediate.  "The self" here is not looking backward at the impulsive behavior of childhood, though that will always play a part in "the self's" thinking and behavior, right up till the person "the self" constructs turns its toes up and dies.  "The self" here has become forward looking and fascinated by its own developmental needs.  That's why the U.S. Army for so many years used the advertising jingle "Be all that you can be!"  It was perfect for the longings of this developmental shift.  As is the current, "Dont be strong; be Army strong!"  These appeals are strong enough to get kids to run away from home to follow them.

     Of course they're also Bait and Switch marketing.

     Thoughts, Grinch?  I hope I'm making myself clearer here.  "The self" isn't a static thing.

Yours, BobK.  
Essorant
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24 posted 07-12-2008 02:01 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

A man himself is what he is, not what he does.  He is a being, not an act.  

 
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