Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age: September 2019
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.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Incarceration or Treatment

Some may remember that the “war on drugs” began in 1971 as a result of drug use both in the United States and among the US troops serving in Vietnam. The solution was simply incarceration with the result of compromising too many families. Of course, those arrested with black skin far outnumbered those with white skin.  Even the penalties for possession were more severe for the blacks. This essay suggests we should eliminate our punitive war on drugs and replace it with more empathetic, holistic and research oriented strategies.
This is another war that we’ve lost. Let’s look at the following statistics: 1. One American was arrested for drug possession every 25 seconds 2. More Americans die each year from overdose then those perished in Vietnam, Afghan and Iraqi wars combined. 3. More than 2 million children in America live with a parent suffering from illicit drug dependency 4. The White House has estimated that the opiate crisis exceeds $500 billion a year - suffering from illicit drug dependency. That’s equivalent to roughly $4000 per household and that doesn’t include cocaine, meth and other drug use. 5. Alex Kral, an epidemiologist with the RTI International Think Tank stated “legislative and law enforcement solutions to drug problems in the US have constantly caused more harm than they have solved.”
Another way at more humanly dealing with substance abuse has been implemented in Portugal and Canada. Portugal, for example, decriminalized possession of all drugs in 2001. The result- Portugal’s overdose death rate has plunged. Canada has provided heroin, with medical supervision, for long-time users who can’t break their addictions. In our country, Seattle has started directing people toward social services assistance instead of incarceration. In essence, they have decriminalized the use of hard drugs. They understand that to deal with this addiction problem, one must think about underlying causes.
Picking on West Virginia, we found that 14% of babies are born exposed to drugs and perhaps 5% more on alcohol. These newborn babies are dependent on opioids. They tremble, cry, can’t sleep, vomit, barely eat and lose weight. It’s clear, these babies have symptoms of drug withdrawal. Babies going through severe withdrawal are likely given medication like methadone or heroin to ease the symptoms. Yes, symptoms are treated with drugs even for the young. I’m not a betting man, but the likelihood of those babies developing into productive human beings are slim.
It’s a crime to ingest certain drugs but not yet a crime for a drug addicted mother or drug addicted father to become a partner in an unplanned or planned pregnancy. There should be some moral consequence for having a baby under these negative circumstances. We know that incarceration doesn’t work. Perhaps, a program to deal with physical, psychological and economic health that includes options for preventing pregnancy, aborting pregnancy, adoption and/or foster care for the newborn. No one asked the baby if it wanted to be born with these hobbles. A program is also necessary to assist the baby with its drug dependency status as well. This may mean separating the baby from its addicted mother.
Sources: The New York Times August 28, 2019 “Ending the War on Drugs” and the New York Times September 8, 2019 “Newborns Crying for Drugs, Not Milk.”

Friday, September 20, 2019

Bye-Bye Love

In last week’s post, I mentioned that Epicurus, with his pleasure-absence of pain philosophy, believed that friendship was most significant in order to achieve the highest goal in life - happiness. Many years later Barrett, with an existential slant, stated that “the individual is thrust out of that sheltered nest … He learns that the solitude of the self is an irreducible dimension of human life …. In the end, he sees each man as solitary and unsheltered before his own death. More recently, Horney and others wrote about the anxiety and tension system surrounding the cutting of the umbilical cord at birth and further, the negative consequences of anxiety throughout life. In fact, the Everly Brothers, in the 1950s, recorded Bye Bye Love. This popular hit touches on the theme {dynamics of loneliness} of this essay. The first stanza as follows: Bye bye love; Bye bye happiness;   Hello loneliness; I think I’ma gonna cry.  With those lyrics and the interrelatedness of the above as background, let’s turn our attention on the beginning separateness of the infant.
The infant immediately experiences anxiety and trauma when expelled from the womb. The anxiety or tension from the infant’s physiological needs are reduced by the caretaker. Eventually, the association between tension reduction by the caretaker are reinforced.  Then, at about six months, when that caretaker leaves the room, the six-month-old experiences separation anxiety and cries over the loss. At this point, the infant experiences being alone and separate from the caretaker. Psychologically, dependency, solitude, nakedness and loneliness surfaces. That infant is unable to survive on its own and is clearly dependent on another for its life.
Turning the focus on the underlying crisis of “loneliness”, as a significant and primary anxiety state, we now have one of the main dynamics that motivates man. The child quickly learns that by crying, day or night, it can likely reduce its separation from the caretaker. In childhood, the ability to make associations, with others, is one criteria for mental health. The interpersonal interactions take on the degrees of three main strategies. One can move aggressively or sadistically toward another; one can be dependent or masochistic with another; or per Fromm, one can learn to interact with care, respect, responsibility and knowledge {characteristics of love] with another.  In any event,  the individual learns to reduce its anxiety, uneasiness and discomfort of being alone by associating with another.
Throughout one’s development, one attempts to learn many conscious techniques or strategies to escape the emptiness of loneliness.  As an adolescent, one can become part of a clique; join a team, a club or some other association; attach oneself to a girlfriend or boyfriend; falling in love; engage in a lot of sex; have a baby of one’s own; use drugs, alcohol or some other substance; lose oneself in an electronic device or devices; identify with some sports hero, media star or other “famous” individual etc. Of course, these strategies are just” fixes” because one is always “alone.”
Later on the individual attempts to reduce loneliness by getting married. Remember the marital vow says to death do us part. Getting married was supposed to alleviate the loneliness crisis. We also have divorce followed by another marriage even though one might have said” I’m not ever getting married again.” In fact, some even divorce and remarry the same individual.
Unfortunately, marriage does not resolve the loneliness dynamic. Further, it’s not surprising, but after a long union, when one spouse dies it’s quickly followed by the death of the partner. It’s also not surprising, that we have the empty nest syndrome; having many children; moving in with children etc. Also, it’s not surprising that so many have difficulty with retirement and lose their work friends in the process. The death rate following retirement is also high {for teamsters, it’s 3 years|.
It’s a fact, that many individuals submerge and distract themselves in cognitive or physical work; keep busy at a frantic pace; and live an exhausting life. However, when it comes to sleeping at night, there are unable to turn off the thoughts in their head and retire with a good night’s sleep. Also, how many drive their vehicles in complete silence or walk around their home without having TV or radio playing in the background? It’s very difficult to be alone because of the anxiety, uncomfortableness or restlessness it generates.
Another terrific option for companionship rests with owning a pet. In fact, my equines and dogs were more than companions. My horses Nowata, Leo, Running Bear, Raider and Gypsy carried me during my Ride and Tie and endurance competitions. My lab Beau and border collies Scampi, Misty and Sherry accompanied me on many trails while conditioning my horses and myself. I have shed many tears with their departures.  The grief was severe. It’s also been said that a man’s best friend is his dog and there’s a lot of truth in that saying. The article in the August 4, 2019 of the New York Times titled “Things People Say to Their Dogs” tells more of the story with the following examples: “You’re so cute and so smart. And worth money; I could marry you.” “Don’t even think about it.” “Be nice; when you get tired, you get nasty.” “You guys are going to have to get coordinated.” “Be part of the solution, buddy.” “We talked about this; no eating stuff you find on the street.” “Hey; Stop it; We talked about this yesterday.”
Despite the numbers of roommates, romances, apps, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., Great Britain has a loneliness epidemic. We have senior living centers where old folks can meet new associates .Unfortunately, it’s a setting where everyone dies. Residing in Senior Centers are simply sadomasochistic arrangements. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many social media friends, tweets, and followers one has, because one is separate and the existential crisis reality is that everyone dies alone. This is the quandary of human nature.  And, the 3 powerful words “I love you “do not solve the loneliness crisis. Some, for their solution, look to God on their death bed.
Ram Dass, in his wisdom, stated “The ego, this incarnation, is life and dying. The soul is infinite.” Aside with his brilliance, believed in meditation and in the here and now. His spiritual friend and teacher was the Maharaji. In fact, Steve Jobs traveled to India in 1974, on a pilgrimage, in search of the Maharaji. Unfortunately, this spiritual leader had died a year earlier.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Conscious and Unconscious Motivation

Greek philosophers explained motivation.  With their insight, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle believed that knowledge, rationality, wisdom, and virtue was associated with good behavior. In fact, Aristotle believed that the highest achievement for life was happiness and that it could be reached through reason.  While Aristippus, perhaps the originator of hedonism, believed that pleasure, in the moment, was necessary for happiness to occur. Then, Epicurus advocated pleasure but disapproved of sexual intercourse. Instead, he believed that friendship was to be advocated. These Greeks were smart.
Later, St. Augustine considered the will as the most important aspect of life and that it was separate from knowledge. He believed will and virtue would rule the body. Yes, that was how he controlled sexual passions. Years later, Machiavlli blamed bad education and religion as affecting poor government. He saw power, egoism, along with fear and love as effective tools for manipulating the masses. Later Rosseau’s belief was that man was essentially good but was spoiled by a bad society and poor government. These intellectual giants believed in conscious determinants for action.
Another philosopher Spinoza, postulated that man was influenced by his unconscious for determining behavior. The idea that consciousness caused behavior was challenged. Could man be influenced by an area of the mind that was hidden from him? Later, Freud postulated and incorporated the idea of interaction between a conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious mind.
Freud’s model of the mind was very detailed and complex. Let’s start with his idea that “the child is the father of the man” as history was important. Further, the qualities of the unconscious or primary process of the mind included: being unorganized, illogical, and timeless, coupled with an absence of good, an absence of evil, and an absence of morality as unconscious components. In the conscious or secondary process model of the mind or executive functions, we find: ability to perceive, remember, judge, discriminate, abstract, generalize, think, reason, feel and act.
To begin, it was believed that unconscious forces work along with the occurrence of developmental crises which have either been resolved or not. The developmental process continues along with individual needs and various conflicts, coupled with anxiety .These interact and point to the why or the driving forces of behavior. When asking someone to explain their actions, conscious explanations are given. However, according to the unconscious model, one looks into the unconscious to find meaning. The presented conflict did not begin nor originate in the present, but belongs to the past within the repeated history of the individual. A current response would be colored by history within the unconscious.
This brief overview provides a limited interpretation, at best, of the workings of the mind. What goes on in the mind motivates actions. Let’s use an example of a male figure denying a rape or sexual assault charge. There are a large number of people that would support the accused and discount the female in question. One way to explain the remarks or explanations follows. More than likely, a denial about the male behavior and blaming the female would generate anxiety in the mind of the individual. Therefore, the emotional overlay would relate to a previously caused conflict occurring from that individual’s past. The past conflict might be associated with a verbally or physically controlling aggressive male; perceiving females to be property, being in a vulnerable situation with a powerful male; being fearful of females, being fearful of aggressive males; having some sexual difficulty; dislike and conflict with females; some impaired interpersonal interaction; experiencing guilt or something that she/he did, did not, or wanting it to happen etc. With that being said, the current thinking reduced the unpleasantness of the anxiety of the prior conflict in order for the mind to reach homeostasis. The mind created defensive options in order to do just that.
 In other words, the supporting individual might verbally reply defensively as follows: She deserved it because of her flirtation; she should’ve fought back and defended herself; since it happened a long time ago, she doesn’t remember fully or correctly; she probably consented in some way; she’s doing it for the money; what took her so long to report this; she’s lying. Statements like these are called defense mechanisms and place blame on the female. Statements that exonerate the male include the following: Males are just aggressive and she “no” really meant “yes”; he’s honorable and trustworthy; look at all the support he has from males and females, they believe him; he was young and that’s how men act. Essentially, a defense mechanism reduces anxiety and allows the individual to overlook, dismiss, give the benefit of the doubt, and distort by creating a defense or protection for self.
Within Freud’s thinking, a mental explanation, of the above, would also be part of an emotional connection with that individual identifying with a particular tribe, group or certain individual.  With an anxiety producing statement or idea, that anxiety or tension has to be reduced. The degree or importance of the attachment or symbolization of the present or person can be traced back to one’s early history. Defense mechanisms and identifications surface.
A Defense Mechanism is an attempt, unconsciously, to alleviate or protect self from emotional conflict pertaining to instinct, affect, disagreeable situation and anxiety by employing some cognitive explanation to mask it. Explanations can be creative, rational or extraordinary. The focus or purpose is to operate unconsciously – the individual is not aware of what’s taking place and second, to reduce anxiety through justification, denial and distortion of reality. The particular defense mechanisms used are related to the individual’s particular identification, personal meaning of the crisis, and conflict which produced the danger or anxiety. There are 10 defense mechanisms available for the ego for utilization. A more complete description can be found in Anna Freud’s” The Ego and Mechanisms of Defense.”
We live life by consciously justifying or explaining our behavior or the behavior of someone else. It doesn’t appear to matter whether the behavior- is good, bad, moral, amoral, rational, or irrational. We are very sophisticated and continue to fool ourselves by employing conscious explanations, rational, or reasons for all our actions. Just listen to the tribal politics of cable news and hear their simplistic reasons, opinions, generalizations or their predictions about situations or world events. Thank you Socrates, Machiavlli, Rosseau and other philosophers for your wonderful, insightful and explanations for conscious behavior. These intellectual giants made significant contributions with their thought provoking ideas. However, that’s only part of the story. Yes, human behavior is complicated and defense mechanisms, identifications, and history make it more so.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Happiness Is a Pain

This essay complements a previous post regarding the seeking of pleasure and avoiding pain. Thomas Jefferson included the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution. The early Greek philosophers-Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other’s explored the notion of behavior in terms of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. And, seeking pleasure was equated with happiness which was considered pleasure.  The Greeks included other concepts in pursuing happiness like knowledge and wisdom. Freud Incorporated seeking pleasure within his concept of the pleasure principle and later added Thanatos – the destructive drive. However, it’s my contention that the need for pain or discomfort is a formidable barrier that interferes with achieving pleasure and satisfaction. In fact, goal seeking behaviors are often accompanied with painful consequences.   Murray called the motivation for self-inflicted pain an Abasement need.
It’s common knowledge that we begin life, at birth, with pain, discomfort, anxiety, fear, dependency, and being alone. And, if it’s not for a nurturing caretaker to meet our physiological needs, we perish. So our beginning is based on the gratification of our physiological needs along with the accompanying tension system of pain and/or discomfort. The baby is taken from the mother, slapped and then cries. Is this pleasure or happiness?  How‘s this for an introduction to the external world? Further, our psychosocial development is based on adapting and confronting unconsciously our precarious place within our psychological space. Essentially, we developed competencies in an attempt to master the many negatives and challenges surrounding our development. These competencies were difficult and often painful to achieve i.e., walking without falling.
In our capitalistic economic society, power, possessions, fame, control and perhaps well-being is believed to be based on the accumulation of capital. The acquiring of capital is admired especially by those that don’t have it. We can acquire capital through inheritance, trust fund, or create some technical device. We are told, statistically, that college graduates earn more than non-college graduates. Again, we are told that graduate and professional degree holders do quite well economically. Climbing the corporate ladder, employment on Wall Street, or running a large corporation can result in becoming part of the 1%. For others, chasing money, earning a living, or receiving government assistance matters. The accumulation of money is expected to result in achieving happiness but always has a personal cost connected with it. Steve Jobs died young with all that fame, fortune and impaired family ties. Andrew Luck achieved fame and fortune and then retired at age 29 as a result of injuries- “It wasn’t fun anymore.”
Securing that special job; purchasing that dream house; winning the lottery brings happiness or does it bring devices or things that mask the unhappiness or pain in the present. Yes, receiving that promotion results initially with a positive feeling. Unfortunately, that positive feeling doesn’t last because of the boredom, satiation and sameness of the job.  We can change employment; change relationships and wives; change our automobiles, homes and other economically based things. Acquiring and chasing do not result in long-term happiness or pleasure. Unfortunately, it’s only a mask, a temporary fix, for relieving the difficulty with the anxiety in living. How many divorces occur after purchasing that “dream house? “
Man has created many diversions, aids, devices and opportunities to alleviate his existential threat of being on this planet. Let’s just take a look at our bodies with its decay and aging. For instance, there are changes to our HGH; DHEA; estrogen and progesterone; and testosterone levels. These reduced changes affect us significantly. There are numerous minerals and vitamins supplements that are suggested for use or compensations. Where told to eat nutritiously, engage in movement and challenge our minds. The cliché is “use it or lose it,” but only if you can.  And, in the end we all die.
Linda had a reverse shoulder replacement {from an equine accident} roughly three months ago. For the previous two years  she put herself through physical therapy,  changed her diet significantly, and took numerous nutrients in an attempt to alleviate her pain and suffering. She did not have much fun during that period of time. That pain affected significantly her well-being, and as a last resort she decided to have surgery. Currently, after much discomfort during her rehabilitation, she is doing better and has less pain to avoid.  However, she has to be careful not to exacerbate her physical limitations.
My father had juvenile diabetes and he talked about his future which entailed the crippling of his body. He was in and out of the hospital on many occasions during my youth and adulthood. They started amputating and he died shortly thereafter reaching 70 years of age. He didn’t experience much pleasure during his life. Let’s look at more recent history.
For the last 22 years my attention or my illusion have centered on my body. The book “Stopping the Clock” was my Bible. I set out to fight, deter and change the inevitable. The inevitable is that I’m aging and all I have to do is look in the mirror to see that happening even though my mental life entertains adolescent thoughts at times. Once again, in this regard, I’m not pursuing pleasure but I’m attempting to avoid pain and the reality of atrophy.
In part for my health and well-being, my goal was to run the Western States 100 mile endurance run. For the most part, the grueling miles of trail running resulted in pain and overuse injuries. On a positive note, my training partner was a young good-looking female. I wouldn’t call it pleasure but I would call it a very pleasant distraction from the physical exertion. I also wouldn’t call running the Western States pleasurable. There was considerable performance anxiety prior to the run and I did not welcome being bitten by mosquitoes traversing over Squaw Valley. It was hot, with a dirty trail and physically exhausting. Moments of relief came from arriving at an aid station and interacting with the many acquaintances during the event. At Robinson Flat, I was joined by Jim my first pacer. Once again that was a pleasant distraction but it did not eliminate the pain. After crossing No Hands Bridge, Jerome, another friend and new pacer, encouraged me to overtake others ahead of me. I did so. Did I experience happiness? Happiness no, satisfaction yes. I finished, and was an age division winner. Did I then experience happiness? No, but I did find relief and tremendous satisfaction. When I got home, I puked. No happiness there. Yes, I did not avoid pain but in fact I subjected myself to it. Am I now healthier?
I know about diversions in attempting to avoid pain and to disguise reality. The corporations and big business have also figured out about minimizing pain by disguising everyday reality. We can distort pain through the wonderful world of chemicals as in alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. We’re making these chemical aids more legal in state after state. Is there a relationship with withdrawal from the environment and people and pleasure or happiness? We can distort and minimize pain through the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Surgery and opioid dependence and addiction are examples of attempts to reduce pain. The entertainment industry has many vehicles for relief. Once again these are temporary and may provide short-term pleasure. Vacations, shorter work weeks, and affairs are short-term attempts in reaching happiness. Simply put, they are superficial and can result in long-term negativity.  The Abasement need is dominant. Suicide rate among military and police and the opioid epidemic are facts.
In conclusion, the drive to seek pleasure is very strong as well as the motivation to self-inflict. Big business has figured out ways to feed that enormous contradiction cavity in our being. It doesn’t matter if it’s short-term or long-term at this point. Obviously, some relief is better than no relief from the challenge in living. We’ve been brainwashed or brain massaged to believe that chasing money or greed is good.  In fact our capitalistic economy is based on just that fact. One other point not addressed is the fact that man with his imagination and cognitive tools, can tell himself and rationalize all kinds of things like “I’m happy.”  Reality can be distorted through the use of various defense mechanisms. We humans are terrific at harming ourselves during the illusion of happiness.