Personality Lecture #11

Discussion thread for Personality and Its Transformations - Lecture #11

study group discussions

Discussion as part of our Study Group.

my notes

  • 04:00 - because suffering is built into the human experience, psychopathology is an expected result, to the existentialist

  • 06:00 - if someone is facing a problem, sometimes a correct label helps them discover it is not just their own suffering - it allows their calibration to be validated, that their suffering is calibrated, and they are not just neurotic

  • 09:50 - slide from pascal

  • 17:10 - slide

  • 21:30 - slide

  • 22:00 - the few key concepts of psychotherapy - (1) you must enter into a willing relationship with your client, (2) exposure to fear voluntarily cures it

  • 23:00 - cortisol administered involuntarily is destructive, when administered voluntarily, it is beneficial as it actives the circuits that dominate weakness

  • 27:00 - the way the model is constituted represents your implicit assumptions about the situation

  • 28:00 - we don’t learn to be afraid, we learn to be calm - being afraid is our default state - being calm is a privilege state

  • 29:00 - most animals brains are orientated around smell - the cat smell is a predator archetype to a rat, like a snake image is to us - our environment is an expansion of where we can live without dying

  • 31:00 - a rat that is reminded that it is not safe, is not a fearful rat, you maintain your emotional stability by staying where you belong, a rat that has explored its environment is a calm rat - how the hell do you ever feel secure ever? part of the mystery of that is to never go anywhere where you’ll feel upset, so you stay in your territory, where you know things are not dangerous, most of the time that will be correct, but sometimes it will not be - a psychometric point of view, you are calm and collected if your psyche is well organised, which is correct in some sense but there is more to it, you must turn yourself into a function being, in a functional landscape, and have concordance between yourself and your landscape to be a good fit for your society. The existentialists say, in the depths of your existential terror, the wisdom to cope in that terror will be found. The more behavioural the psychotherapy, the more implicit it is. Despite the fact that you are mismatched your existential complexity, there is something in you that is far more complex than you know. And if you challenge it, it will respond by growing and developing, and that will not protect you from the existential anxiety, it is not a shield that you can hide behind, it is not a defence, what happens instead is you actually learn how to deal with it.

  • 35:00 - fire discussion - if you stress yourself properly, you incorporate more of the world, and you can master it, and it will transform your biologically structure - there’s more to you than you know, and the way you bring it out, is by challenging yourself at the levels that you can manage

  • 37:00 - existentialists were optimists despite their nihilism - humans are fundamentally week, but if we face our opponents, all sorts of possibilities manifest themselves, there it is not clear what the limits are for that - they make the strongest case possible for the vulnerability of human beings, as well as the strongest case possible for their strength and power

  • 38:00 - agoraphobia/acrophobias have a tendency to be women, and a tendency to seek authority when they are afraid - what they are afraid of is not having an authority to run to - it is not a good solution to the problem as recourse to authority can only take you so far - how you treat this, is what the rat does, you keep exploring your fear until you become bored with it, then you can feel calm in the face of that previous danger - you can look at the elevator without dying - find the edge between order and chaos, and creep closer to that boundary, when you hit it, realise you don’t die, and do it long enough, you will get bored of it, after a few weeks of doing this, you push your boundaries more and more, to enlarge your are of perceived safety - the trick to this, is the patient must trust you, so you tell them and meant it, that we will stop doing this, whenever you want, as soon as you say so, this is completely up to you, I am not pushing you, I got no demands on you, you are not performing for me, this is not a test, this is not a contest, it is none of that, and when you are done, we are done

  • 43:00 - Freudian regression - a lot of the time people consciously know they can be safe, but they don’t unconsciously know - part of them is thinking they are a 4 year old kid, they can’t get out of there and nobody will listen to them - people can turn into a children very easily

  • 44:00 -** agoraphobia/acrophobia - she would never risk upsetting authority, as if she upset authority, then it would expose her to the world** - if you just treat the elevator fear, then it will just pop up somewhere else, that is symbolic substitution, but that isn’t always what happens, if they are more likely to enter into an elevator, then they are more likely to take a taxi - it’s because they weren’t learning that things are less frightening, they were learning counterconditioning, basically the person has been afraid of whatever it was, and you put them in face of that and let them breathe and relax, but it wasn’t that, so then you think it was* fear reduction and habituation*, which is when you learn to ignore, but it wasn’t that, what it actually was is you teach them for the first time how to be brave, before they just thought of themselves as pathetic and fear ridden and tiny and vulnerable and useless, so they are acting like that, and you help them with one fear, and they realise, wow I can do that, I’m not as useless as I thought, and then they have the courage to try new things, and they make many more small improvements, that reinforce their abilities to take on the world more - they may even stand up to a family member, which may encounter psychotherapeutic resistance from a family member, which is something you need to ask the family members, do you really want your partner to be better, a little more assertive, and a little less fearful, you might not be able to tyrannise over them as easily - and the patient may not be happy about that, as they may be getting a lot of secondary benefits for being neurotic and martyred, as that is a vicious weapon to be weak and useless, if you can wield that as a weapon, it is extraordinarily effective

  • 48:00 - slide - :in many ways [existentialism] is the unique and specific portrayal of the psychological predicament of contemporary man…" May, R. Existence: Origins of the Existential Movement - this is that modern people have been stripped of their archaic belief systems are exposed more completely to the possibility of a meaningless and painful existence with no superordinate meaning

  • 48:26 - slide - existentialism is not a school of thought nor reducible to any set of tenets. The three writers who appear invariably on every list of existentialists - Jaspers, Heidegger, and Sartre - are not in agreement on essentials. Such alleged precursors as Pascal and Kierkegaard differed from all three men by being dedicated Christians; and Pascal was a Catholic of sorts, while Kierkegaard was a Protestant’s Protestant. If, as is often done, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky are included in the fold, we must make room for an impassioned anti-Christian and even more fanatical Greek-Orthodox Russian imperialist. **By the time we consider adding Rilke, Kafka, Ortega, and Camus, it becomes plain that one essential feature shared by all these men is their perfervid individualism. The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs whatever, and and especially of systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic, and remote from life - that is the heart of existentialism. **- that is another element of individualism, the locale of action is in the individual, you are fated in some sense to suffer and to be an individual, so the right level of analysis is at the individual, which is a primary tenant of individual psychotherapy

  • 51:00 - self authoring program,** eliminates the assumption that weaker performance is can only be rectified by sociopolitical interventions, and not individual psyche interventions **- women outperform men by a long margin in academia now, this program repairs that, everyone improves, but the men jump ahead of the women afterwards, despite the improvements to the women - the hypothesis here, that men are ornery enough, that unless men have their own plan, they will not perform, this seems associated to their disagreeableness

  • 54:00 - << the more people talk about themselves, the more it turns from a dodgy essay full of contradictions into a coherent integrated story - perhaps this is why self authoring works - perhaps this is why women are more integrated than men these days, as women talk about themselves a lot >>

  • 55:27 - slide - rejection of the “rational man”: man as thinking (or even sensing) subject - substitution, the individual in motion:

  • 58:10 - funny pose

  • 57:00 - critique of rationality, as we are also beings of more than rationality - emotional being, etc.

  • 59:39 - slide

  • 59:42 - slide

  • 1:03:00 - slides on Nietzsche

  • 1:04:33 - slide

  • 1:04:55 - slide

  • 1:05:29 - slide

  • 1:06:04 - slide - I can say in a sentence, what it takes other people a whole book to say, and also what they can’t say in a whole book

  • 1:09:08 - if two set of conclusions can be drawn from the same experience, then you cannot say it was the experience that drew the conclusion, that is dishonest, it was you who chose to draw the conclusion that you preferred

  • 1:09:27 - slide

  • 1:10:00 - the fact that one thing can collapse on you, indicates that anything can collapse on you, and can make you completely unwilling to manifest faith in anything whatsoever - and that is the emergence of nihilism

  • 1:11:00 - slide - the life now, not later, is so rife with suffering, that it needs to be addressed now, and promising an afterlife is not sufficient explanation to do away with the need to rectify that suffering

  • 1:12:00 - no goal or value structure, no positive emotion - it is easy to get rid of positive emotion - try to get rid of your negative emotion instead, good luck, that is not going to happen - so what happens, is if your value system collapses, then all you are left is negative emotion - people then flee to totalitarian certainty over nihilistic chaos

  • 1:14:08 - slide - it is kind of like Dostrovsky provided the drama, and Nietzsche provided the philosophical commentary

  • 1:14:12 - slide - notes from the underground, Dostoyevsky

  • 1:16:58 - slide

  • 1:22:52 - slide

  • 1:31:04 - “be yourself! what you are at present doing, opining, and desiring, that is not really you” - Nietzsche, Untimely Meditation on Schopenhauer as Educator - perhaps suffering is just as beneficial to to humans as well being - caprice