Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age: July 2015
It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Character of the Lone Wolf

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, many Europeans migrated to the United States as a result of oppression, discrimination, desire for a better life, political freedom, and to improve their socioeconomic levels for their family. Some were likely motivated by hearing that “the streets were paved with gold”, which of course was incorrect. Back then, legal immigration to the United States was called the “melting pot.”
However, more lately with the worldwide popularity of US made movies and US television enabled the more recent immigrants to get another glimpse of residing in the present United States society.  Andrew O’Hagan in his article, The Happiness Project in the July 19, 2015 edition of The New York Times wrote about his early view of our country. O’Hagan, an immigrant from Scotland, wrote about the image of the United States that he had as a young boy. He remembered seeing a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Disney movie, in Scotland, with his father in the 1970's. That left them both enthralled. For young Andrew, this was magic and formed for him in his mind ideas about work, play, domestic life, and love. This imprinting also shaped his idea and he concluded   that happiness was a creation. Not only that, it was something that anyone could accomplish. It was definitely not about inheritance. Disney was able to portray on film and send the message that America was a happiness mall and available to everyone. And, that one has a golden opportunity of becoming or achieving anything under the moon and stars. It was a genius of an idea even though it was managed by corporations. For all practical purposes, these notions are translated into the opportunity for freedom for today’s new arrivals. Thank you, Walt Disney for your creation and message.
What seems clear is the fact about the Lone Wolf does not seem to be well connected and is not significantly taking part of the advantages in the US culture of today. These Lone Wolves have not totally integrated or blended into our society as did the Europeans of 100 plus years ago [yes, it didn’t happen overnight]. Despite attending school and/ or college, they are not an integral part of us, but remain segregated, separate and do not share the same values of Main Street USA.

This is not to say they are unaware of the multitude of American individuals taking advantage of all the significant benefits of living in our free and open society. They know about the advantages in the upper middle and lower upper class classifications; they watch the affluence on US television; they see movies of violence, sex, etc.; and they have become aware of the illusions, fantasy, goodness, playfulness, utopia and creative imagery that takes place in the magic of Disney Land and its film. If you’re not part of this American culture, American dream scenario, you might initially unconsciously admire what it is like living in our culture and  society, but then more likely experience the development of a sense of envy and shame. Unfortunately, the unconscious or conscious feelings of envy, jealousy, shame and doubt lead to the overt expression of anger, willfulness, resentment, hate and violence. Note that the ability to love, have goodwill, identify with pride and have positive self-esteem are negatively affected. This individual is severely and emotionally disturbed. We’re not talking about a happy individual.
All of us are born and then develop our own ego ideal. This means that consciously or unconsciously, there’s a drive to improve and overcome our perceived limitations, faults, flaws or deficits through idolized persons or objects. This might mean a physical limitation or impairment, emotional-social problems, intellectual issues or personality flaws. The ego attempts to compensate, repair and fix its damaged self even though the mechanism for solution is unrealistic, totally out of the question, and impossible to obtain. In this case, the deficits are related and translated into personality dynamics of low self-esteem, powerlessness, insignificance and fears. These unconscious elements linger and may not even reach consciousness. However, the individual carries these heavy psychological burdens throughout. It’s not like a bag that you can set down and leave. It’s more like being in your hidden pocket all the time.
Developmentally, through irregular child rearing, difficult socioeconomic and political experiences an authoritarian like character evolved along with the ego ideal mechanism. As a result, personality Issues of envy, shame and doubt, coupled with lack of control, insufficient autonomy, sadism and masochism trends, feelings of inferiority with a mindset for violence, destruction and death lead to inhuman like patterns of behavior. This character style is definitely not about individuation, love of self,    and love of mankind, unification or universal brotherhood. The individual with these character style strivings has to fuse and become dependent on something or someone projecting a great power since they are not trusting nor autonomous individuals. They are unable to stand on their own two feet and are easily duped ready to follow regardless of the cost to self. The people they kill our anonymous and are not seen as humans, but simply a nondescript enemy. As a result, these individuals are easily drawn and seek out various terrorist groups [Idolized object] that project a negative power, ability not only to terminate a life, but to perform and murder sadistically. The defenseless victim or victims are mutilated, blown up or shot. It’s not a fair fight, In fact, it is not a fight at all. This is not about courage, it’s about sadism at its worst. In fact, the holder of the saber; bomb or the automatic weapon is weak and fearful and has an inflated sense of power and control. His victims are generally unarmed and totally unsuspecting of the terror that awaits. The goal is to tear down, kill and destroy and to unconsciously/consciously commit suicide.
 In the Islamic religion, one can become “happy” in the hereafter according to one’s interpretation of the Koran. As a result, if you’re are willing or driven with a mission to take up arms against someone in the United States, which has the largest, most powerful military in the world; along with an outstanding police force; along with all the government cameras; along with all the individuals that have cell phones in their possession, the end result is predictable – suicide and death to the Lone Wolf. A distortion of this belief, and that this terror results in finally achieving  becoming “ happy” or a martyr, and be covered, front page, by our media  with its resulting tremendous propaganda message. Being in the media, certainly gives one “fame-significance.”

 In this interpretation of the Lone Wolf, the terrorist group becomes the idolized object which completes, complements and/or equalizes the ego deficits or inferiority-it leaves the individual with essentially a concealed or unconscious readiness to join and become part of this disease. In essence, we’re not talking about growth, evolution or of life. We are talking about finality, decay and death in which the Lone Wolf dies miserably alone.  Sad! History over and over has shown duped humans repeating this sickness of hate behavior against other humans.  Thank goodness the majority of humans are decent, have brotherhood values, a sense of ethics and do the right thing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Attitude of Happiness

The philosophy of the Stoics added status to their idea of pleasure/ happiness. They argued that a person had the capacity to be happy regardless of how daunting or painful the negative circumstances of one’s life. My attention immediately retrieved Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning-An Introduction to Logotherapy” from memory. While in the Nazi concentration camps, the will to survive and contemplate about the future was paramount for the prisoner’s survival. Dr. Frankl’s account did not detail happiness but he did detail the psychological misery of the inmates. Although at the time of liberation, prisoners exhibited a number of emotions. Yes, there was happiness [difficult to assess] but also relief from the horrible inhumane conditions of the camp.

In the Middle Ages, Christianity’s regarded pain as the more appropriate pathway for a happy life on earth. Pain, was the desired state. And the only pathway could be attained by God in heaven. Life on earth was difficult for the majority, while reaching heaven was certainly going to bring long-awaited happiness. Then, during the Renaissance period, the definition of happiness was changed and could be attained on earth through individual responsibility. Along with the Reformation [Luther and Calvin] and the rise of capitalism, happiness was now equated with being productive and hard work. The social class boundaries now became more malleable for the first time historically. Presently, we market ourselves, climb the corporate ladder; and have developed a despising and hateful attitude toward those who are lazy, accept welfare and those who don’t look for employment.  The Age of Enlightenment, followed and influenced Thomas Jefferson. He wrote that the pursuit of happiness was not only an unalienable right, and that man should also have the right to acquire and possess property. He certainly wasn’t referring to the black man who could be possessed and purchased. Approximately 80 years later, Lincoln and the Civil War defined the pursuit of happiness much differently.

Today, and more recently, the path to happiness is to become enlightened emotionally of one’s inner self, to pursue our own dreams, and to become anything we want. Some even pursue themselves by worshiping their bodies by long-distance running, boot camps, iron man events and Cross-Fit competitions per the professor

Taking issue with Prof.Cederstrom, I have competed in long-distance running [Running the Western States 100 mile one day run] and many other events. These experiences allow me to add my two cents. I must say that while running the Western States and other extreme events, I experienced numerous emotions of which happiness was absent. I realize my experience could be idiosyncratic. I hardly experienced a lot of on pleasure during, and wondered at times, “Why am I doing this?” And after completion of some of these events, especially Western states, I felt exhausted, relieved, had a smile on my face and then puked. I was happy that the event was completed and over.
Happiness is very difficult to access and is fleeting at best. My experience as psychologist is that many people distort their feelings as they use their thoughts to determine feelings –especially, whether or not they’re happy. And by employing thoughts, they are deceiving themselves as result of their defense mechanisms. Denial, intellectualization and rationalizations are commonly used defense mechanisms. Of course, when it comes to happiness they would likely disagree with me while expressing feelings of irritation, annoyance and perhaps anger with their verbal response. And I just smile in return.

For me, my pursuit is intellectual, emotional and physical well-being. Stress and poor health would result in unwelcome pressure as well as a state of misery. So, I engage in behaviors that are supposed to minimize stress and perpetuate terrific mental and physical health. Although some might argue, that I increase stress prior to an ultra-run. Yes, I do experience stress prior and during these events. I want to make clear that I don’t run “Ultras” every day or every week. Thank goodness for that. I also rationalize and tell myself many things about running ultra-events, especially after I completed one without developing an overuse injury, cramping or some other electrolyte imbalance. My ratio is the positives outnumber the negatives. If and when that ratio changes, I will reduce my mileage. The mantra is to keep moving.

 If Aristotle and the Stoics had something to say, they might evaluate me according to their definition of happiness as I’m a good person and employ reason in pursuing moral virtues. I also pick and choose when I’m going to experience pain and do it on my terms. Certainly, I subscribe to hard work as in the Reformation era; am in touch with my inner self; and pursue my own earth goals. In essence, I am incorporating ideas and take a somewhat eclectic approach to this happiness philosophical argument. For instance, after a running event, my running partner Tony and I head to the nearest Baskin-Robbins or Ghirardelli ice cream shop for some combination of delicious ice cream. I admit that at this point, I am seeking pleasure and my hedonism reveals itself as I’m extremely happy and in touch with my happiness. If you don’t believe me, just as Tony. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Romantic Love

A simplified glimpse into Theodor Reik’s notion of romantic love.  Let’s begin with one premise regarding the psychological state. The inherent idea that practically everyone has a tension system or drive to improve, to become a better self. That drive for improvement can refer to one’s intellectual, psychological and/ or physical attributes over a lifetime. For example, an individual attends college in order to become smarter, to find a mate as well as to increase the probability of making more money - the one who has more or the biggest toys wins. Or, an individual seeks out psychotherapy, some form of meditation, etc. to improve one’s mental health and emotional state. Individuals also visit dermatologists, plastic surgeons and other medical providers to improve one’s physical attributes and/or physical health. Many persons also become involved in the billion-dollar physical fitness industry to become healthier, stronger, etc. -find your own personal trainer, coach to practice and train “Practice makes perfect.” Many attend church, synagogue or temples to become more fully involved spiritually. And, if need be, one can find that right person or soulmate to make you happy on that special dating site. Just pay attention to Internet and TV commercials-they have the answers regarding improvement of self. The perfect outfit or smart suit “Makes the man or makes the woman.” It is clear that the self is not perfect and requires improvement.  The expression “There’s always room for improvement” says it all.

This motivational idea to better self begins much before adulthood. This drive, need to or remove deficits to oneself originate in the unconscious, can enter the conscious level, and is an ongoing and back and forth process. One way of understanding this motivation is called the Ego Ideal.  Not only do we seek out ways for self-improvement, but we also unconsciously / consciously seek out others to fulfill our perceived flaws. We may have desires to become more protective, outgoing, tender, loving, socially refined, wealthy, altruistic, fun, exciting, dangerous, strong, beautiful , handsome, empathetic, proactive, sexual, confident, etc. -conquering and catching is also part of the deficit equation. The ego ideal can fulfill those imperfections. However, our ego ideal sets the bar at unrealistic heights so that practically no one can attain this perfection. Even though we fall short, time after time, we still head down the same road. Einstein once said something to the effect that “Making the same mistake over and over again and expecting a different result is insane.” As this drive is often at the unconscious level, our blinders, illusions defense mechanisms and distortions interfere with reality.

An individual might be initially drawn to another [Idealized object]   in order to fulfill [ego completion or ego improvement] what’s apparently missing or absent. This unknowing male is  drawn to  the idealized object  with some desired qualities that he lacks or that merges well with his personality characteristics  -somewhat, sometimes but not always  “Opposites attract. “ This often sets the stage for the beginning of romance. During this initial phase, there is typically a desire to possess and to unite or join as one. The “I “merges and becomes a “We” or an “Us.  “The brilliant Shakespeare in his Romeo and Juliet play addressed what is considered a significant part of us-the name. It is the expression of the separated personality, which now has no meaning. Juliet speaks:
Tis but thy name that is mine enemy;
Thou art myself, though not a Montague.
O, be some other name!

Shakespeare added further, the idea of merging in this play. Merging can be considered a most tender form of taking possession of another-it also encompasses the surrender of oneself. While this is going on, the individual thinks about the idealized object incessantly and cannot live without her. The memory and idea of the person interferes with the ability to concentrate. The anxiety and excitement builds with anticipation of future meetings. The individual’s life is changed dramatically, and he cannot help sharing this with others. It’s as if she is now the center of his universe. All sense of rational reason and control seem unimportant. He becomes more impulsive, driven. It’s like a snowball going down the mountain, becoming larger and larger. No one can stop it. Further, that love is about giving and the pleasure is being able to give to the other, as opposed to receiving. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has Juliet saying: 
 …. as boundless as the sea
My love as deep; the more I give thee
 The more I have, for both are infinite.

 This love becomes the fulfillment of one’s ego ideal but is not endless in duration. On the one hand, we initially experience admiration, tenderness, happiness, infatuation and passion which is a necessary feeling of incipient love. One difficulty is that the unconscious admiration of another’s qualities has a limited time duration and when it hits home consciously, it begins to expose the others deficits. When this occurs this can lead to discontent, irritation, jealousy, hostility, and even hatred. So very often there is a dance or a battle that begin in the unconscious. This is like a fight, an encounter with the other and. then a retreat. It’s like push-pull tug-of-war fight, or flight. The expression of hostility becomes merged with tenderness and as that dynamic becomes more conscious, it plays out - we have-lovers quarrels, violent behaviors interrupting tenderness, etc. Although this romantic love is not endless there is also no length of time that defines it.

Romantic love is on shaky ground when one individuals perception, image, fantasy of the object changes of the idealized object. This process takes place as the components in the unconscious usually rise to the conscious level of awareness. This conscious awareness soon leads to the individual seeing more clearly blemishes and flaws of the object.  Of course, the blemishes and flaws were always there; however, now they are clearly seen, and cannot be avoided. Even, what was once perceived unconsciously as a strength or a positive now becomes a negative. There is additional pulling away emotionally, withdrawing affection, expressing irritation and displeasure with the other –indifference. While this is happening, the ego ideal is greatly affected and so is romantic love. And emotionally and behaviorally without affection and tenderness results in a relationship that is severely threatened. Once again, we’re talking about perception and the change in perception and going from the depths of the unconscious to conscious levels of awareness. Of course the other in the equation also experiences and reacts to the changes of the other partner. The perceptual and awareness changes that take  place between the two lovers   is like being on a rocky canoe in the middle the ocean .It becomes very tipsy and goes from side to side. Can the canoe right itself to become stable? It’s important to remember that changes in perception lead to consonant changes in thinking, emotion and behavior.

Whether or not this signifies the end of the relationship with the idealized object is dependent upon numerous variables such as age, emotional maturity, previous relationships, dependency, socioeconomic and external factors as well as the ability to understand self and other. And, more importantly, the resolution of the battle within the ego ideal and the idealized object requires an ending or a different beginning.  The very same variables apply to the other person. Remember romantic love is not identical with mature love. And, if we were actually in touch with the depth of our unconscious, we would have better clues as to our ego ideal, idealized object and emotional potentialities of both players. However that is not the case, and mistakes are made.    Additional ideas’ about love and mature love dynamics to follow.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fear of Failure-Fernando Cabada and Thom Darden

Graduating from high school, Fernando’s had an eventful and non-typical college career. He initially earned a scholarship at the University of Arkansas, as result of his running ability. He withdrew from that school and then enrolled at Fresno State. And after another dropout, returned briefly to the University of Arkansas, for a brief period, before dropping out again. He then enrolled at Minot State in South Dakota. That didn’t last long as he left there also. Finally, he wound up at Virginia Intermountain College.  Fernando, despite hardships and setbacks eventually completed his mission or goal’s. For instance, Cabada won 7 N. A. I .A.  Titles running for VIC.

Fernando’s work career has also been irregular. Was employed as a sales clerk at Sears; worked 10 hour days with a cleaning crew [Oilfields in North Dakota]; worked as a laborer laying tiles and cleaning hotel rooms. Fernando, despite all the obstacles, was highly motivated to succeed and overcome the difficulties of his past. His motivation about persevering, not giving up fits him well. In fact he employs running as his therapy. This young man would like to become an ego ideal for others and to demonstrate what can be done, accomplished despite poverty, meager resources, and an absentee father. Despite all this, he’s become one of the top distance runners in the United States. He ran a 2:12: 27 marathon-the Fukuoka. He improved and ran a 2: 11: 36 Berlin marathon in 2014. This year, he ran the Boston Marathon in 2:18:25 and finished 16th.

Fernando’s 100 miles, plus or minus per week running regime has been devised by Brad Hudson, a running coach from Boulder, Colorado. Coach Hudson described Fernando like a very tough Mexican boxer. He wears his heart on his sleeve and says what he means. He has passion and with fire. Although 33 years of age, Cabada hopes to make the 2016 Olympic team.

  Reading Fernando’s story in the April 19, 2015 edition of The New York Times, reminded me of Thom Darden. Thom, an only child, was reared in the projects in Sandusky, Ohio, by two hard-working parents. They did not allow him to cut corners with clear-cut boundaries. Thom was fortunate to have an athletic father who modeled and practiced with his talented son. Young Thom was a southpaw baseball pitcher and his father schooled him in the art of throwing the hardball. So a base was established at an early age. His parents made sure that young Thom did not let his studies slip. That paid off as Thom was allowed to participate in the college prep high school academic program. Academics segregated the school population in Sandusky, as nearly all nonwhites were prohibited from that program. Thom was an exception.

In part, a strong academic background benefited this young African-American athlete. On the other hand, he was segregated from his neighborhood brothers. His friends in part, likely envious, got on him and told him he was too short, he was too slow, not big enough, not fast enough- In other words, he was not a good enough athlete in baseball, basketball and football. Thom was also well aware of the segregation within the white school environment. It was okay for him to look, but not touch or become too close to any female. Yes, Thom had two working parents. But, this young man had plenty to prove. His father told him if he wanted to go to college, he had to receive a scholarship. It’s safe to say, that fear of failure was a strong motivating force for this athlete.

Thom learned his trade by competing on the field, and attending, during the off-season, tutoring from his high school coaches about the game of football. While in the pros, he was injured and again was assisted by one of his Cleveland Browns coaches in helping him learn more about the cerebral game within the brutal game of football. This defensive All Pro back, even returned to Ann Arbor to assist, Bo Schembechler and the newly hired defensive position coach Jack Harbaugh at the University of Michigan. Thom installed the Pittsburgh Steelers famous cover two defense for his former coach.
Thom married, has children and as a business entrepreneur still enjoys the challenge of using his skills to better the community. He is well connected to his parents, his church, and his community. 

He used his fear of failure motivation in his life after football. He knows what it is to overcome hardships and achieve at the highest levels. Hopefully, Fernando Cabada can attain his dreams. His journey is far from over and like Thom employees fear of failure to achieve his goals.

Join Thom, his teammates and Frank images at Sesi Motors on September 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor from 6 to 8 PM. Go Blue!

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Thoughts about human development. Potential problems initially exist, for the unborn embryo, the mother engaged in drug and alcohol behavior. Even if not, development is affected by the birth. Although Sigmund Freud criticized the details of Otto Rank’s ideas regarding the trauma of birth, Freud did, however, considered the birth trauma as a prototype for later anxieties. This first experience of severe threat, according to Freud could provide a pattern for subsequent reactions-the sudden flooding of the immature nervous system with sensory excitation and the prominence of motor discharge through the respiratory and cardiac systems as a fetus begins to breathe independently. And to rid itself by increased heart action of the toxic products accumulated in the bloodstream during birth. Freud thought that the later anxiety states typically involve a similar sense of being flooded by stimuli, difficulties breathing and rapid heartbeat. In other words, this first experience, creates an enduring pattern of reaction to danger. Similarly, Rank believed that the change from the all-encompassing effortless bliss and warmth and protection in the womb to the painful experiences of postnatal conditions was the basis in developing “mortal fear”- he called primal anxiety. In other words, as result of birth, we develop and a baseline for our first experience of anxiety and fear in the conditioning of that experience. So we start out life with a recipe set for anxiety or catastrophic danger.

Much later on in development within the prefrontal cortex is the further development of perception, language, thinking, and emotion.  Further, Freud wrote about the “ego ideal.” This theoretical concept has to do with the part of the personality that relates to the aims and goals of the self. This process-concept refers to a conscious or unconscious emulation of significant figures with whom the person has identified. These figures could be parents, teachers, presidents, sports figures, entertainers, movie stars, etc. This identification process begins at an early age and continues during the span of aging. It is not only the kids that collect baseball- football cards. Go to a book signing and have that football player sign your football playing card, your cap, your jersey, or your book. That autograph is important for that adult.

Or even, retrieve that piece of clothing from that rock star as he leaves the stage. One may even have, in their collection, a postcard with the signature of an ex-United States president or some other politician. Just go to a concert or watch a Jennifer Lopez TV special, and view all the screaming and adoring fans in the audience. Even the parade, of the Pope results in transformed adults on the sideline.   Our ego ideal hardly ever seems to rest as there are plenty of opportunities to yell, shout, scream, and express those emotions at the numerous and various venues available to all of us.

One important aspect of the ego ideal is the basis or foundation for its development. Don’t forget there already exists, either consciously or unconsciously mortal fear or anxiety. Potential anxiety is ready to express itself at any time. In addition to anxiety, a sense of insecurity, inferiority or some other deficit within ourselves is ready to be expressed. Alfred Adler coined the term the “inferiority complex.” This was a term Adler used to describe the uneasiness most of us feel in our individualistic and highly competitive society. Adler believed that heredity, such as a general bodily defects was associated with “Organ inferiority.” This significantly affects the development of personality as well. An example, is the famous Demosthenes, who became a great orator to compensate for his early speech impediment. And there are numerous examples of individuals who have overcome their organic anomalies.

Another insecurity to overcome relates to the school years. Erik H Erickson in his psychosocial model of man wrote about the stage of Industry versus Inferiority. Very early, in pre-and elementary school our place is established within the classroom. That pecking order is based on how we perceive ourselves relative to others in the classroom. Can we spell, know our numbers, ABC’s, perform arithmetic calculations and read as well as others? Some of our classmates seemed to know and perform flawlessly. We were aware, as well as our teacher. Teachers had a way of identifying and showing favoritism to those who were smarter and could answer those questions quickly. Maybe they were called “teacher’s pet.” Don’t forget that someone corrected those mistakes and did not allow them to pass unnoticed. The teacher knew, classmates knew and so did you when a mistake was made. The smart kids, the egg heads seemed to associate together. Yes, there was status within each classroom, year after year after year.

Those that don’t fare as well; those that don’t develop the tools and skills necessary for developing the necessary foundation  for work [deficits in the 3Rs-making things], have difficulty identifying in this technology arena and develop a sense of inadequacy and/or inferiority. These Individuals consider themselves mediocre and inadequate.
These deficits and perceived deficits without a perceived beautiful face, beautiful figure, and beautiful hair become apparent. Further, our social skills or lack of are also on exhibit. How we walk, how we talk and the color of our skin are also factors. In other words, each of us has potentially plenty of deficits to deal within the aging process. Thus primal anxiety and the need to improve or cover and mask our deficits are psychological issues that we face.

Our political leaders and advertisers also know about people psychology. What politician does not employ fear and is there to protect the public from harm? Just think of what is happened since 9/11. We have what’s called  Homeland  Security ; have been at war ever since; are combating terrorist groups; debating about Iran and the bomb; talk about Second Amendment rights, like bearing arms. We have the largest military and spend more for military than any other country. What president hopeful or what political party’s theme says they are going to protect you the best?

Our advertisers are more sophisticated when it comes to employing fear, anxiety, or taking care of those human deficits. That hair extension; facial cream; lipstick; diamond will help you get the man of your dreams. Of course, the latest dress, top, belt, shoes and handbags-the outfit makes the difference. And, if you drink the right beer, you will be there with that pretty woman. Just think of what a drug like Viagra will do for you?

All right, we all have anxiety and insecurities. It’s important to know thyself, and what pushes your buttons. The ego ideal emphasizes what one should be or do. However, hopefully, it doesn’t determine what one should not be or do. Making decisions with awareness, certainly helps. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Importance of the Ego Ideal

It’s common knowledge that diet alone is not necessarily a prescription for health because of the accompanying importance with some form of exercise. We have numerous physical health facilities, 24 hour fitness centers, cross fit plans, online programs, books, and the latest exercise equipment designed to turn an individual into a Mr. America, etc. Similarly, statistics tell the same story when it comes to exercise as it does with keeping on a diet-people do not stay the course.

A Freudian concept called the ego ideal might assist in explaining in part why many become defeated when it comes to their physical health and the many problems connected associated with being overweight. The Freudian model of man posits that early experiences and learning affect the psychological development of the individual. As a result, childhood experiences lay the foundation for what is to follow. So early history foreshadows later history and experience. We also know that there is a mind-body connection in that what we think and feel also affect diet and our mental and physical health behavior.

Early on the child develops crushes, invents heroes, and becomes attracted to objects outside of self. The favorite could be one’s parents, an older sibling, or a favorite family relative within the extended family. The model could be a special baseball, football, basketball or soccer player; a singer or music group; a movie star, or some other celebrity; a president; an astronaut; an Einstein like figure or even some comic book figure. These, as their can be more than one figure or figures become part of the conscious and/or unconscious workings of the mind. The individual may also seek out books, stories, trading cards, movies and other articles pertaining and correlating with the fantasy. The individual may likely play at a sport too. Individuals also daydream and have night dreams about their participation or their fantasy of being a star, just like their hero. A popular term like role model has been used. However, ego ideal is a much more theoretical concept and provides more depth in describing the identification with the older star, hero or heroine.

Thus, the child creates a standard of perfection and identifies with someone or something admired that he would like to be or like or become. The Freudian Psychological interpretation is that this is a universal process that develops with humans. This process proceeds because all individuals have inadequacies, imperfections and are not satisfied with some aspect of their physical and mental qualities let alone their position or station in life. For example, a young child would like to be prettier, better looking, taller, handsome, more popular, sweeter, or even stronger than they are in reality. Not only that, a child does not have all the tools, skills, experiences and abilities to compete and be like or similar to their heroes or heroine’s. What child doesn’t know his or her station in life, especially in dealing with his peers or even adults? However, the child can remove himself from reality and imagine in his mind and wish and even become like their hero. The child can be a hero in their daydreams and/or their dreams.

Well, what does an ego ideal have to do with diet, exercise, or health in later life? This is my guess. If for example, ones ego ideal as a child growing up was related to a sports figure, a health figure and/or a competitive person- activity, this would set the stage for later involvement in a similar or adjunct behavior such as in a career or participating in a sport or related hobby. The point is that if sports, exercise, health, or foods played a part in early formidable childhood experiences, than likely there would be some carry over to adulthood. If the individual liked, and played sports through childhood or adolescence, they would be more than likely to be open to and recognize the importance of exercise regarding their health. One would then expect to see them competing or playing sports, while aging through the lifecycle. On the contrary, if the individual was not athletic and didn’t do well, nor even like sports, then sports involvement or behavior while aging might prove more difficult to engage much later.

So current behavior is more than likely a product of previous thought, illusions, fantasy and imagery that took place during the formidable years. In my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” seven individuals were profiled while still competing in sports at the age of 65 and older. Every one of these individuals loved and participated in sports during their childhood. And, the nine men in “Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football” either had careers in sports, were passionate about sports , and  sports became paramount throughout  their lives. Yes, these nine loved sports in their childhood as well.

Remember your ego ideal and find the correlation with current behavior. Coach Jim Harbaugh loved sports as a kid and still loves sports. As a kid, he used to run around the Big House chasing footballs balls during Schembechler’s practices. Currently, you will find him throwing footballs at the Big House. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Love, Sex and Marriage

Researchers, Masters and Johnson, a number of years ago, studied, in the laboratory, sex and sexual response. They identified the human sexual response cycle as-excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. They believed that a partner can initiate sex for reasons aside from excitement, arousal, and that may precede desire.

So in the current research study, the investigators hypothesized that more sex would be equated with being more happy, having more enthusiasm and more energy thus greater well-being. First of all, they hypothesized that more intercourse would lead to a better emotional state, along with a more physical energy. We know that thinking and emotions are related. And that one’s emotional state is brought into any situation, especially having to do with intercourse. This means that our emotional makeup affects how we think, as well as our behavior, especially with other people. For instance, if the partners fully enjoyed having sex with each other, then it is likely by having more sex their expectations would be very different from those that only had sex about  once per week. I’ll bet if we were employing sexual expectations as an intervening variable, we would have different and more positive results. Further, these researchers used a questionnaire to measure so-called mood and behavior. Remember, those individuals that had sex once per week qualified for the study. Perhaps, keeping track of sex relations on a weekly basis is likely a sign of discontent. All in all, did the measuring tool, in the study, effectively evaluate mood and/or physical state? In other words, was this instrument valid, as well as reliable?

We also know the following: 1. That the time between intercourse and filling out a questionnaire is critical, especially if both partners like each other; are mutually agreeable about having sex and want to please each other [with or without orgasm]; do not have either  mental , and/or physical distractions. Further, what meaning and importance does each person have about sex in their relationship-frequency or number of times and what mental, emotional state are they bringing psychologically to their partner before, during and after the sexual encounter? 2. We know the act of sex is a physiological response. Can it be tension reducing as well as tension inducing between the two people? Yes, individuals can have sex without love. 3. After sex and orgasm, depending upon age, relationship length, environmental conditions, alcohol, and or drugs, when individuals feel safe, tired, relaxed and an absence of tension are intervening variables. If someone is filling out a questionnaire at that time, their responses will likely be very different than 12 hours later. Feelings, mood and psychological states can rapidly change and do rapidly change over time. So the time, in which a questionnaire is administered is critical. Likely, even though the researchers think they were measuring mood, they were likely measuring thoughts and/or attitude about their partner as well as themselves. We know that, individuals distort their own reality in various ways. The idea of defense mechanisms illustrate that point. Further, individuals have great difficulty identifying feelings and often use the word “I feel,” in a sentence, but in error. They think they’re talking about their feelings when there really illustrating their thoughts. Even basic emotions such as anger, disgust, fear, sadness and joy are difficult for people to admit, let alone label correctly.

I’m really not sure what these researchers measured and likely they mixed up mood and physical energy even though they called it by such names as happy, enjoyable, enthusiasm, well-being and energy. What was perfectly clear from the study was that only 40% or 12 of the 32 couples actually increased the frequency of sex over a 90 day period. And that a number of couples didn’t like deviating from their sexual routine and said that more was not better, but worse. I certainly would like to interview those couples to hear more of the story.

Neither Freud nor Masters and Johnson have told the entire sex story, but they certainly provided a super start and terrific framework. Remember, one can have sex without love, as well as love without sex-that’s another story. To be fair, I did not read the original study In the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, and perhaps some of these criticisms were addressed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sex and Happiness

The lucky group completed a short daily online questionnaire that measured the quality of their sex the previous day and their subsequent moods. This particular study lasted about three months. The researchers discovered that some in this group did manage to double their rate of intercourse. On average there was a 40% increase in sexual relations.

Before sharing the results, a few comments are in order. 1. Any conclusions to the study are related to these 32 couples. These couples were not randomly selected from the entire universe of the heterosexual married. The findings are certainly suspect. 2. Although the article in the June 28, 2015 edition of The New York Times did not describe the character of these 32 couples, maybe the original research did. However, what were the personality characteristics of these individuals? What was the meaning of sex for these individuals within their entire life space-their personal lives, their relationship, their marriage? Freud, in his model, talked about the release of sexual tension-pleasure. For these couples, were there other reasons for having sex other than the release of sexual tension? Are we talking about intercourse and/or ejaculation or what? What about the political, economic and social conditions for each individual couple? What about procreation as a variable? 3. There are many reasons for the frequency of intercourse? Certainly the couples that had sex once a month versus the couples that had sex three times a week were different. I’d be interested in knowing about their sexual differences. 4. In this particular experiment there was only a 40% increase in sexual relations. I’d like to know the why behind that figure. 5. These researchers employed an online questionnaire. More interesting and more valuable, insightful results would have been established from an in depth interviewing process.

Findings of the study found that additional sex did not make these people state more well-being in measures of energy and enthusiasm. Some reported that more intercourse wasn’t much fun. There’s mention as to the quality of sex, but it wasn’t explained.

In a 2004 study with 16,000 adults, people said that increasing the frequency of intercourse from once a month to once a week increased their happiness to the likelihood of having an additional $50,000 in the bank. What if these individuals were involved passionate work environments. How much would that be worth in a bank?

These studies apparently were concerned about numbers and/or statistics. In the more recent study, intercourse frequency were just a snapshot within a 90 day segment pertaining to these 32 heterosexual couples. What if 32 married homosexual couples, or 32 unmarried couples were measured? How different would the results be? As we know, love, tenderness and mutuality of respect are important components within any relationship where the expression of sex is associated. And sex just doesn’t mean intercourse. An abundance of sex as opposed to compulsive sex is pleasurable, especially under the right conditions. The mood, energy and alone time of the couples play and important part within any relationship. Maybe, just maybe, the study was really an indictment about the state of marriage in our country. Don’t forget that married US households were 72.2% in 1960 and in 2012 and that number decreased to 50.5%. Yes, we have falling marriage rates in the United States.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happiness Is What?

  Roger Cohen commented on Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule”- the notion that this is the time required for the acquisition of perfected expertise in a particular field -and that in today’s get it now society, grind is underappreciated. The writer thought that duty was more than likely related to happiness. He also thought that life was not always revelatory. He included by saying if you want to be happy mow the lawn; collect the dead leaves; paint the room, do the dishes or get a job. Make sure to persist and endure, day after day.  Money, fame, peer pressure, parental expectations, are simply distractions and may get in the way and not solve the happiness problem. He quoted Rilke’s notion that companionship is a strengthening of two neighboring solitudes-you have to solve the conundrum of your solitude .Cohen was also not convinced that the notion of living your dream solves the problem either. He illustrated the punishment that was handed out to the Greek mythical figure Sisyphus, by the gods-he was with the task of pushing a boulder up the hill and repeating the task through all eternity. Remember the large stone rolled down again and again. Could this arduous task be reframed and looked at not as being a source of despair but maybe the beginning of happiness, he questioned?

Roger Cohen quoted a passage from Albert Camus’s book “The Plague.” Bernard the doctor at the center of the novel, battles pestilence, day after day. And that the whole thing is not about heroism, but about decency and that the only way to fight the plague is with decency. Cohen concluded with the notion that decency consists of doing his job and that he didn’t think he had any taste for heroism or sainthood. He just wanted to be a man, and concluded it’s in the everyday task at hand were happiness lurks.

I agree that many are looking for happiness, and likely don’t know where to find it. Likely, it is idiosyncratic in nature and everyone might have their own definition. But I’ll wager that many believe they’re on their way to happiness but they are simply deceiving themselves and live an illusionary life. I just received a phone call from a friend that I met, but 18 years ago, in a Ride and Tie competition. At that time he was 34 years of age and involved in the business world, making money for him and his new family. He got involved in real estate, land acquisition, while the market was great. He built an energy-efficient straw bale home and was exploring his self in a variety of ways. He threw great parties and was still searching through the use of drugs and non-drugs alike.
The market crashed, my dear friend  became depressed and went through a psychological crisis. Coming out of that, he started downsizing and became involved in a superfood retail business. During the years, he traveled all over the world and presented his kids with unusual experiences. Homeschooling with this family was not traditional in any way.

Jerome  is now 52 years of age and still evolving. One might say that he has been pushing that rock up the hill over and over again, or that he has not put in his 10,000 hours as of yet. He certainly is not mowing the lawn and finding happiness that way. However, he is connected to his wife and family and can be characterized as being a decent, loving human being. Has he found happiness, maybe, or maybe not?

Perhaps, happiness is not an inalienable right per the framers of the Constitution. Maybe the key to life relates to “Know Thyself.” The more self-awareness of conscious and unconscious motivations might be the tool for navigating one’s life space. It’s important to see reality and not get caught up in the illusions, distractions of an industrial society that’s so economically driven. There are certainly many illusions, as well as distractions that go on day-to-day. We are given and fed so much meaningless and trite information. Just watch a news program where they show you a picture, and then get a so-called “expert” to tell you what’s in the picture. It’s important to use your own brain and figure as many things out for yourself as you can.

Lifespan is about many things, and developmental stages present different challenges and tasks. For me, know thyself is a beginning step. Additionally, making decisions, having and achieving goals, making mistakes are an important part of the life process. I believe my aunt Eva was correct when she said something to the effect “when you have your health, you have it all.” My goals and decision making are related to my philosophy. I pursue health as opposed to the pursuit of happiness. Find your step, you’ll know the way. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Grimm Brothers Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The only emotions or feelings exhibited by this bear family were anger and apparent fear and surprise. The father bear came across as expressing only anger. He growled, suggesting anger on three separate occasions. The first was when he noticed that someone took a bite out of his porridge. Was this father hungry, angry that someone dear took a bite out of his food or angry about the intrusion? How did he know that somebody sat in his chair and why would that elicit anger? Was that chair his narcissistic possession, and an expression of his authoritarian character?  He also growled when he noticed that somebody had been lying in his bed. Was the bedding messed up, and did this disturb this compulsive bear’s lack of order and control. In essence, the theme and characterization of the father bear was only that this bear was growing over minimal circumstances. Are fathers generally angry is the message.

The mother bear, on the other hand, exhibited no emotion. It didn’t matter whether someone ate her porridge, sat in her chair, or even slept in her separate bed. She was certainly a noncontroversial figure and somewhat inconsequential to the story. Perhaps she was the peacekeeper or the go-between. But based on the story, she just told the facts and expressed that clearly or robotic like.  Are mothers without emotion and follow their authoritarian and dominating husbands around without opinion? Or, does this traditional mother figure stuff and repress emotions and not very 21st-century like?

Now for the baby bear. The baby bear consistently cried, perhaps from anxiety or fear or even hunger as in the case of not having any food. This baby bear also cried pointing out that its chair was broken. We don’t know the sex of that baby bear so whether or not crying was appropriate and/or the result of the controlling “parenting” of the father bear. Single children certainly do not like to share when they are the center of attention-was that crying just attention seeking? This baby bear exhibited immature crying behavior. However, the baby bear exclaimed-either surprise or anxiety when finding Goldilocks in its bed.

Goldilocks, on the other hand, exhibited intrusive and criminal like behavior by entering a house with apparently no one there. She just walked right in. She was also self-centered and narcissistic, and likely got her way because one porridge bowl was too hot while the second porridge ball was too cold. She didn’t cool off the first porridge bowl or heat the second porridge bowl. She devoured and ate up the third bowl exhibiting a feeling of being happy. It is apparent that her conscience had no limits. She was not thinking that she was doing anything incorrect. Hungry Goldilocks simply enjoyed eating someone else’s food. She was just meeting her own selfish, egocentric and hunger needs.

Being hungry, she went into the living room to sit down. This time she exhibited the emotion of “exclaimed”-maybe irritation or annoyance, along with whining about the second chair. She didn’t like the fit in the first two chairs and simply liked, with a sigh, the third chair. However, it didn’t bother her when she broke the chair. She made no effort to fix it or make amends. Once again responsible behavior was not exhibited while sitting in the chairs. While going upstairs to the bedroom and lying down in the three beds, she expressed no emotion whatsoever. Goldilocks just went to sleep. However, when she woke up, she was frightened by screaming help and was now the victim. She was a perpetrator in the story and now she becomes the victim. She ran out of the room, ran down the stairs and ran away into the forest. Appropriately, she never returned or broke into that home again.

Some of the messages and ideas that I learned at an early age from this fable were as follows: 1. Father types or authority figures are angry and displeased when things are not compulsively in order. It’s easy to angrily upset this cold human type. They don’t think, they just react angrily when things don’t go their way. They want to be in control at all times. They are scary figures.

 2. Mother types are subservient and passive in the household hierarchy. They are in second place and follow the father type. They also do not express emotion and simply repress their feelings. As a result, we don’t know what they’re thinking or feeling. We don’t have a clue with their robotic like responses. We don’t know what bothers them-could it be intrusion, eating one’s food, sitting in one’s chair, sleeping in one’s bed or even witnessing a baby’s chair broken?

 3. All babies do is cry. They cry about eaten food, having a broken chair-the baby is the victim in this story. Babies can be taken advantage of, because all they do is cry as opposed to saying what’s bothering them.

 4. A white human female disrespects someone below their station in life. They can take advantage and enter any house they want, eat someone’s food, sit in anyone’s chair-even break it and sleep in anyone’s bed. It doesn’t matter. This privileged white female has no obligation other than to dominate and take advantage of the situation. However, when confronted, she becomes the victim. In essence, the perpetrator takes advantage and then becomes victimized in the process. Poor me, help me forget that I am the perpetrator.

This in human fable fantasy or illusion taught me a lot and what I learned is not to repeat it to anyone other than to make a point of its unhealthiness.