Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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Remembering Viktor Frankl and “Man’s Search for Meaning”

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Naturally, most of us humans are pleasure-seeking creatures which does almost everything for the fulfillment of desires and sometimes, for purely “earthly or animalistic” satisfaction even if it produces harmful consequences. This sometimes comes from the accumulation of wealth or money, gaining social power, having promiscuous lifestyle, gambling and other extreme addictions, and even from harming or oppressing others. However, what is great is that there are many people who took the other way and explore the unknown, so to speak, in the midst of inevitable condition during the moment of their serious struggle. One of them is a philosopher and psychologist born in Vienna, Austria. Along with other important philosophers of our time, he used this situation to bring an important message of hope for humanity by showing the positive natural characteristics we have that are essential for the survival and evolution of our kind. For decades, this thinker have inspired so many people around the world by having sense of purpose and meaning by understanding the importance of responsibility, social and individual.

I am talking about Viktor Frankl, the author of the remarkable book that sold tens of millions of copies titled “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It is about his experiences in the concentration camp during the Nazi Germany era and how he sees the condition he’s in at that time, which is suffering, through optimistic and empathic perspectives to explore the different human facets during crisis and draw answers and solutions from them. Viktor Frankl is an example of human resiliency and the symbol of human virtuous nature, extracting substantial meaning from the lessons of the one of our very dark moments in history, the so-called Nazi holocaust. Written in 1945, this book inspired the following generations to transcend beyond their circumstances and carry the flag of human glory amidst the most difficult times; to find meaning from these sufferings and see the right path and the light for the coming world. Thus, Viktor Frankl’s wonderful book encouraged many individuals to have a stronger will to survive amidst difficult challenges instead of wilting, bending, or withering.        

In this book, he presented the horrors of this time using his strong mental attitude, which is of course to make things possible. Instead of giving up and dwelling in hopelessness, Viktor Frankl use the strengths he has to show the world how the concentration camps of Auschwitz and others looks like during those times. Along with his sharp philosophical insights, he used his knowledge in psychology to make sense of his experiences as a conscious moral human being able to comprehend and define circumstances and things, destined to be in that remarkably unfortunate situation. During these moments Frankl has been fascinated by some people who are still “generous” and still holds the diamond in their hearts, sometimes, regardless of the dangerous consequences they might receive from forbidden actions such as helping other prisoners. Sometimes, sad to say, it is out of fear that a person commits a horrible act. However, Frankl praised this positive predisposition our species have and encourage us to develop this ability to choose our attitude towards any situation, guided by our inner principles, our ability to value right over wrong, for us to beat the problems of our lives.         

If you want to read a book that could surely motivate you and gives you more understanding of our greatest human potentials and our incredible capacity to feel compassion and empathy even during the most critical and hard times, you should really read Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. In this work, he did a great service to humanity by bringing messages for our future and for teaching people to discover and value our collective purpose and the realities that are greater than ourselves; for us to be aligned to our true creative and dynamic spirit. This will help you look at suffering and sacrifices in a more profound sense and provides you insights on how to use them for your freedom and growth. Although, it is true that it will be so disrespectful to disregard the prisoner’s experiences during those times, and for many, it was totally obviously unfortunate, we must also remember that if we want to choose the right way, to help alleviate or lessen the suffering, which is a constant condition of life, it is helpful to draw something from our experiences that provides solution or answers to our collective trials and tribulations instead of getting stuck on helplessness and victimhood. 

Reference:

Hypergamy and the Coolidge Effect: Why People Need to Know About These Concepts

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There is a theory in evolutionary psychology known as “evolved preferences theory”which suggests that when looking for a potential mate, “men usually choose physically attractive and traditionally feminine features of women as it resembles fertility and good health for their offspring while women prefer resources rather than looks as they have evolved to be dependent on men due to pregnancy and child-rearing”. However, many experts do not agree with this and suggest further studies as, according to them, this theory contradicts with what we know about our hunter-gatherer past. Instead, some claim that the preferences of women in mating must have something to do with the social roles they play since the post-agricultural society on so many levels.

Photo: trademe.co.nz/art/prints/other/listing-2394594547.htm

The theory of hypergamy and the Briffault’s law

According to evolutionary psychologist Jordan Peterson, there is a consistent indication of female hypergamy across cultures and societies. This is observable even in egalitarian societies such as the Scandinavian, as what Peterson suggests, that women prefer to mate with men that are on the higher social and economic status hierarchy. So usually they will marry men, for example, who earn the same amount of money as them or even more but not lesser. Meanwhile, this seems correlate with the idea of Robert Briffault, an English surgeon and anthropologist who died in 1948. According to “Briffault’s law”, “the female, not the male, determines all the conditions of the animal family. Where the female can derive no benefit from association (relationship) with the male, no such association takes place”. In a sense, it suggests that “intimate relationships between men and women result from a calculated cost/benefit analysis by women”. If this is true, it makes sense to the notion of female hypergamy.

Photo: youtube.com/watch?v=eB7qKbZWoWk

Filipino Women as Example?

Furthermore, in the Philippines there was a recent online study that might suggest a confirmation to these two theories. In October of this year (2019), The Filipino Times, UAE’s largest Filipino newspaper, did an online poll segment for “netizens” about how women choose their mate or partner. According to the result, almost 87% of Filipino women who answered said they would “rather choose money over looks as this gives them more financial stability.

Photo: elitedaily.com/dating/gold-digger-doesnt-mean-youre-shallow-means-youre-smart/1669031

According to Rollo Tomassi, author of the book The Rational Male, hypergamy is the “behavioural manifestation complementary to women’s hormonal and biological realities”. In a biological sense, it is the woman’s practicality and effective mechanism for selecting the best mate for possible genetic breeding. In this sense, according to him, all women are hypergamous in nature. However, in many societies, hypergamy comes in many forms depending on the context and the cultural environment that affects the condition. Therefore, hypergamy is not only limited to financial aspects but also to social status as well.

What about the Coolidge Effect

All across mammalian species, there is a biological phenomenon called the Coolidge Effect. This drives male mammals, including humans, to desire for new mating partners for novel sexual experiences. According to this, usually the male’s interest and arousal towards their mating partner becomes lesser and so they get tired of having to copulate with the same sexual partner as “their presence becomes less rewarding to the primitive mammalian brain”. So the desire for this sexual partner becomes less and less.   

Photo: rewardfoundation.org/relationships/the-coolidge-effect/

To conclude, these theories cannot be simply denied or put aside because it is true that these are seemingly present in the current male-female gender dynamics of our societies. That is why we need to educate the people about this and we need more research and studies to find out if this is really true in all cultures and society so that we can learn to use these biological characteristics for our advantages instead of further social polarization and conflict through gender. However, if these are really fixed biological features, we really need to find out how to handle them. If not and if people remain ignorant of these topics, gender issues and problems will always continue to cause unrest.

References:

  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/talking-apes/201907/do-women-really-prefer-men-money-over-looks
  • https://filipinotimes.net/feature/2019/10/06/daig-ng-may-maayos-na-trabaho-ang-gwapo-lang/
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/machiavellians-gulling-the-rubes/201610/briffaults-law-women-rule
  • https://therationalmale.com/2018/01/15/hypergamy-the-misconceptions/
  • https://www.rewardfoundation.org/relationships/the-coolidge-effect/

Dopamine and the Constant Desire for Novelty

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Many of today’s people don’t know where their discontent comes from. Many are chasing happiness through unhealthy ways while some pursue theirs even at the expense of harming or oppressing others. In general, this feeling of dissatisfaction haunts almost all of us; it’s just a matter of how it manifests in our lives and how we fulfill or manage it. But sad to say, some people are stuck in a situation where their unhappiness negatively dominates their life and their seeking for pleasure leads them to destructive and toxic urges and actions. Though, it is perfectly normal to seek for pleasure, shallow or profound. However, maintaining the balance between thoughts and actions for a healthier life is what is challenging and important.

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2015/10/reducing-dopamine-in-brain-may-curb-alcohol-addiction/

As humans, all of us have this natural tendency because for immense amount of time our brain has evolved to be this way and to pursue this neurotransmitter called dopamine. This neurochemical, along with other so-called happiness chemicals in our brain, is the one responsible for pleasure that we feel in whatever activities in our lives that we really like doing. This is the reason why things or situations that are very pleasurable are very addictive. Because when these activities become so routinized and dull, the pleasure center of our brain will no longer work the same and will need more amount of stimulation.  

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/medication/what-does-dopamine-do-in-the-brain-and-what-is-its-function/

Addiction and dopamine

There is no difference on our receptors when registering pleasures that are derived from various kinds of substance or activities such as sex, eating, drugs, etc. And, drugs and other behaviors that are addictive are shortcuts for our brain to derive pleasure and reward; the individual will no longer exert so much effort and spend so much time for getting them. These usually flood the brain with dopamine, releasing large amount in a fast and easy way. However, when our brain receptors are overwhelmed, dopamine released becomes lesser, requiring more amount of the substance or more or newer forms of the activities. So the dopamine’s impact to the reward center of the brain becomes less; this is also known as tolerance, a kind of adaptation.

https://slate.com/technology/2013/07/what-is-dopamine-love-lust-sex-addiction-gambling-motivation-reward.html

Dopamine and novelty

So since the brain always chases this pleasure, it is also critical for it to constantly experience new things or tastes for an individual to derive happiness and satisfaction. And from activities, it demands more or looks for fresh experiences. As found in a study called the “Coolidge effect”, certain desire for novelty can be found all across biological species on this planet. For example, as observed in mice and in roosters, having constantly provided with new sexual partners keep the males of these species motivated in mating or reproducing/passing its genes. In humans, it can also be observed in couples but not only there, this can also have something to do with our tastes for movies, music and other forms of entertainments, fashion, trends, and food. Because of dopamine and other similar neurotransmitters, we humans constantly need new stimulants for us to be satisfied and happy. This is because desiring new sensations is part of the versatility of our psyche.      

https://www.lehmiller.com/blog/2017/4/28/why-we-crave-sexual-novelty

Serving as chemical messengers between brain cells, dopamine is also called the motivation molecule, an excitatory neurotransmitter that is very important for normal movement and balance and also for our memory, sex drive, digestion, and even cognition. Through the process called hydroxylation, dopamine is synthesized from the amino acid tyrosine. Just like serotonin, it controls our movement, mood, and whims. And just like serotonin, a deficiency of dopamine can result to mental health problems. And on the other hand, addiction by dopamine also leads to problems in physical health of an individual.      

References:

The Halo Effect: The Trick in Cognitive Biases

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Physical appearance and attractiveness play a big role in our cognition and perception as human being. We often automatically think that people who have attractive appearance are also good people and sometimes we even unconsciously believe they are better in many things compared to others who are not attractive. This is not to say that all people who are attractive are not good; what I mean is this cognitive bias called the halo effect which is basically our brain trick us into thinking that people who are handsome or beautiful or at least has an attractive appearance always possesses many positive traits. Because of this, people trust them easily and give them more help, attention or favour. The halo effect influences our impression and evaluation of someone; creating an idea, usually incorrect and inaccurate, that affects how we perceive them.

Photo: brandingstrategyinsider.com/2009/09/building-a-brand-halo-effect.html

One example where you can see the halo effect working is on how people see celebrities. Usually, celebrities are good-looking and attractive and this is the reason why many people also think they are smart, caring, successful, and virtuous. Conducted as a psychological experiment in the 1920’s by a psychologist named Edward Thorndike, the halo effect are very observable in our daily lives and affects our society on so many levels. This stereotype can sometimes be misleading and even dangerous and needs to be given understanding. We cannot deny that some people use their attractiveness to take advantage and to manipulate others into their will and selfish interests. And even sometimes, contrary to what we think of them, the truth is that they are sociopaths who cannot feel compassion and remorse.       

Photo: verywellhealth.com/why-do-we-listen-to-celebrity-medical-advice-4134669

The halo effect impact to the society is very noticeable everywhere. You can see these in many important institutions of our society such as in the education/universities, justice system, politics, workplaces/businesses, etc. In education for examples, a study found out that many teachers judges and treat students based on their appearance. Even students in the classroom exhibit the halo effect by giving special attention or treatment to their fellow students that has more attractive appearance, regardless if this students does well or not in class performances. However, this only not affects the students but teachers are also judged by their students according to how they look and present themselves. As we can see, this kind of psychology pervades the social fabric profoundly.      

In the workplace, the halo effect also has serious impacts not only to the workers but also to the climate of the place itself. It reinforces the culture of appraisal based on one’s physical characteristic which has totally nothing to do with the quality of his or her work. Oftentimes, the contribution and the performance of some workers who are doing a good service are overshadowed by another worker’s attractiveness and charisma or even through a simple fervour and attitude. In some areas, it seriously affects the economic aspect of some people. For example, the Journal of Economic Psychology conducted a study that shows how “attractive food servers earn more per year in tips than their unattractive co-workers”. Another example we can take is during job application. In this case, likable and attractive applicants are usually the ones rated as qualified. Lastly, through advertising, marketers use the halo effect to attract customers and convince consumers to avail their products or services. Usually, corporations use attractive celebrities to endorse their product and people believe even though that sometimes what the person says about the product or the company is a lie.        

Photo: onedio.co/content/the-phenomenon-effecting-all-our-lives-the-halo-effect-11763

In conclusion, people must be aware of these implications and consequences. We must take care not to be misled by this bias. The halo effect distracts and deceives us into committing mistake on our decisions. This even happens on the politics during election on a massive scale. It means it is something we need to think about. Though it is not easy, we must always do our best not to commit errors and misjudgements especially on our biggest and most important decisions in life. Now that you are already aware of this psychological phenomenon, you can now pause and reconsider your biases so that you can make proper assessment on things. Do not let this error of judgment affects your perception, preferences, and long term decisions.

If you want to learn more about the halo effect, check out these links.

Studies about the halo effect:

Articles and videos about the halo effect:

Why Self-Awareness is an Important Task

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As individuals that are becoming more and more conscious about who we really are on this planet, we cannot stop our self from exploring and asking questions; seeking answers after answers after answers about ourselves. “Know thy self”, as the famous words of Socrates resonates from a distant past. However, at some point, it is sad to think that for many, time is a constraint and that they are not yet ready at the moment to adapt their evolutionary calling in the societal and spiritual direction; the tough process of seeing their true self. Obviously, the powerful forces are very successful on so many levels in driving our current civilization towards self-forgetting and self-destructive version; befuddling us from realizing our true purpose and worth in this journey. Because of this, many of us cannot have enough time for the vital task of self-awareness.

Photo: marceloveras.com/artigos/artigo-329-pensamento-critico-parte-ii/

Fortunately for some (or many), they can manage to live a dualistic life of work and at the same time, of earnest pursuit for psycho-spiritual elevation and liberation. Through practicing personal spirituality in a practical manner, it would make them more connected to their higher self. This exploration to one’s inner self through the process of self-awareness help them move from their dark shadows into the light; making their unconscious self conscious.

Photo: thriveglobal.com/stories/self-awareness-and-resilience-looking-for-weakness-to-find-strength/

The idea of the power of self-awareness is not just an abstract meaningless philosophical concept. Scientifically speaking, it is our essential key to self-development. In this sense we can be more creative, understanding, tolerance, more in-control of our self, open to new ideas and possibilities, and have more sensibility and healthy self-love; things that are very important for us to function well in the society. self-awareness is also mental health care. Meaning it is a self-care; our very important responsibility for our own well-being. How can we be healthy to others if we are not being healthy to our own body and mind? 

Photo: rebeccabalesilluminations.blogspot.com/2017/10/how-self-aware-are-you.html

To increase our s self-awareness, there are few things we can practice on a daily basis. These practical activities are scientifically proven to help us develop our inner awareness amidst our hectic schedules and fast-moving environment. Consistently learning and applying these tasks will also keep us resilient and evolving on this transcendent and somehow unfathomable journey. These ideas are inspired by Itai Ivtzan, Ph.D., a psychologist and senior lecturer at University of East London, through his book “Awareness Is Freedom: The Adventure of Psychology and Spirituality”.

The first thing we can do is read. Reading is the key to more discovery and learning. It will help our brain adapt to the nature of awareness not only to ourselves but also to the things around us. A good book or a powerful article/essay can change your life profoundly as it will show you more realities, wonderful and dreadful, amazing and ugly, that will introduce you to more aspects of your self and your existence.

Photo: zebedeeandsonsfishingco.com/self-awareness/

Another thing an individual can do to have more self-awareness is to study. These days, everyone can join different kinds of self-improving workshops, seminars, trainings, etc. and can also take online courses even for free for them to learn more and have sharp insights and broader perspectives. To sum it all – self-study is self-awareness.   

The next thing a person must do to raise self-awareness is therapy or coaching. Having someone who is knowledgeable enough to listen and to understand our thoughts and feelings is very important as it would facilitate growth and better opportunity for reflection and introspection. Seeking insights from others especially those which are related to our mental health and overall well-being is very essential for our resilience and psychological strength.

Photo: keystepmedia.com/self-awareness-one-moment-time/

Another thing we can do is learn new skills. Learning new skills gives you more motivation and will keep you focused to your unexplored capabilities, therefore exposing you to your unknown disposition. It will also help you discover your personal boundaries and will challenge your comfort zones; allowing you to go beyond your limitations.

Another best thing you can do to raise self-awareness is to connect with nature. This is because nature gives you silence and in silence, you can loudly and clearly hear the volume of your inner self. It is very important to listen to these voices from our hearts and nature is the right place to do this. Lastly, it is in nature that we can see more parts of our selves; revealing more healthy realizations in our minds.

Photo: efitfamily.com/your-self-awareness-guide/

One more thing we can do is meditation. Meditation is another important key to self-awareness. It helps you focus on the core of your being; the center of your heart. It will reveal so many stories and substantial information from the inside of your self. And because of this, you will have more self-awareness.

The last thing one can do is ask for feedback. Although self-awareness is about studying your self, always remember that at some point, we are all one and we are all connected. So this means that knowing others is also knowing your self. Their insights, perspectives, and other vital wisdom may also be useful to you, especially those elevated individuals who also worked hard to gain self-awareness. Asking for a feedback gives you more chances for reflection and more useful knowledge about your self.

To learn more about Itai Ivtzan’s books or to buy them, please visit this site:

  • https://www.awarenessisfreedom.com/books/

Stopping Psychiatric Medication: Ideas for Patients and Therapists

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It is already known in almost the whole world that psychiatric medication is very addictive and damaging to the person’s brain and to the overall wellness in general that is why many people right now are getting increasingly concerned about it, especially that most psychiatrists recommend this for long-term use. In some countries, many advocates and professionals right now are raising awareness about the side effects of these drugs as the ages of patients being prescribed are getting younger and the number of tragedy all over the world is getting greater and greater. And because people who do not agree, including psychiatrists and other concerned healthcare professionals, are being silenced, discouraged, and even threatened to keep the truth in the dark, those who want to get off from it cannot really get support and real guidance that would keep them safe in the process of withdrawal. It is true that usually, it will be so difficult and even dangerous for a person to stop taking these medications that’s why they really need professional support through non-authoritarian intervention.      

reddit.com/r/Antipsychiatry/comments/8pl28r/quote_from_peter_breggin_the_true_healer_of_human/

This is the reason why Dr. Peter Breggin wrote a book called Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Families. This book does not only provide researched-based and theoretical ideas on how to taper off and stop from using psychiatric medications but also proposes a great reform in the field of psychiatric institution. From providing ideas on how to treat adults and children that are dependent to these drugs to responding to emotional and mental crisis of the patient. In addition, Dr. Breggin in this book also proposes a new approach called “Person-Centered Collaborative Partnership” approach that would facilitate recovery without drugs and other self-enhancing programs that are patient-centered and family-centered.

In this book, Dr. Breggin provided his outline for a new approach that not only would guide patients and their family but also would help the therapists to work and establish a strong bond and trust with patients in the process of drug withdrawal. By having a proper knowledge about the drugs and its effects through this book, therapists can effectively treat serious emergencies and familiarize common reactions to the withdrawal process, including emotional and other psych meds related problems. Also, this book will help healthcare professionals learn to properly estimate the length of withdrawal and create an appropriate program for children and elderly, including those who are emotionally disturbed. Lastly, Dr. Breggin also clearly teaches through this book how psych meds affects the brain and how to prevent or at least minimize its use. With this book, patients, families, and healthcare providers will now have more proper understanding about psychiatric medications and the stages of withdrawal.   

By providing ideas on how to properly participate in the partnership with patients and their families in therapy and how to counter the culture of silence and tolerance to the terrible and inhumane system and practices, Dr. Peter Breggin clearly pointed out important and effective scientifically and ethically-based intervention tactics for therapists. With earnest attempt to elaborate the dangers of these psychiatric drugs, Dr. Breggin has proposed a kind of mental health recovery that is more person-centered as opposed to the drug-centered one. This book is a very important reference for everybody, for the patient, the therapist, and the supporting family to stop the dependency in a proper way to avoid possible serious consequences. Using his extensive clinical experiences and records, Dr. Breggin introduces a new form of psychotherapy that is clearly more humane and compassionate; a truly good replacement for the current profit-driven, cold-hearted mental healthcare system.     

To buy Dr. Peter Breggin’s book, click this link:

For more ideas on how to safely stop using psychiatric medication, please check out these websites:

https://www.wikihow.com/Get-Off-Psychiatric-Drugs-Safely

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/people-trying-to-quit-psychiatric-medications-can-get-help-from-online-group#1

Getting Off from Psychiatric Medication is Possible!

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Craig Lewis’ Resiliency and Gift for Humanity

I want to share the story of Craig Lewis, an inspiring peer counsellor who is currently doing amazing projects inside and outside the punk rock scene these days, touring around, meeting amazing community workers/activists, talking and educating young people about mental health, addiction, abuse, and recovery. Last 2017, I volunteered to translate Craig’s book on mental health recovery entitled Better Days into Tagalog (Filipino) language and this book will be available soon for a very reasonable price. What’s more amazing is that Better Days has also been translated into many different languages and it is now circulating in many different places in Europe, America, and Asia. Craig’s story brings lessons of hope not only to the individuals who want to stand up, use his strengths, create changes, and make sense in a society but also to the entire world that recovery from psychiatric medication is possible! We don’t deny that psych meds are somehow helpful to some people for them to cope. However, we must always remember that these substances are addictive and can cause dangerous and even fatal side effects (ex. suicidal and homicidal ideations, depressions, obsessive thought patterns, organ and neural damage, etc.) and are not really appropriate for long term use.       

Photo: Craig Lewis Facebook

“I know that I’m a living, breathing example of surviving the impossible. So if that’s the case and you know it’s true, why don’t have fun?”  

Photo: Craig Lewis Facebook

To give you a little idea of Craig’s murky past, he has been misdiagnosed by his family psychiatrist during his teenage years and with the consent of his parents, he was labelled mentally ill and prescribed many different psychotropic drugs for his “made-up” mental illness and this has caused serious harms in his life. Craig has been taking these psychiatric drugs for 30 years but now he has survived and uses his experience and earned skills to inspire people and save them from going the same direction that he temporarily got into. Drawing inspirations from the multi-faceted and vibrant punk communities around the world and from life-saving philosophies of Viktor Frankl, Craig Lewis is now committed to look back at his suffering and create meanings out of it by giving talks, trainings, and seminars to people who are interested to learn and share experiences about mental health or even to those who like to help others recover. Journaling and sharing his own experiences on recovery from emotional and psychological abuse and even substance addiction, he is now a dedicated mental health advocate who shares alternative perspectives and non-chemical/non-drug based ideas for therapy.

Photo: Craig Lewis Facebook

The lack of real parental love

The story begins when he was 14 years old; through his parent’s ignorance and will, he was institutionalized and ordered to take different kinds of medication for his so-called mental problem (which is made-up). Most of these drugs are very strong and therefore very damaging and disempowering to the individual, physically and mentally. This went on for 3 decades but thanks to Craig’s resilience and supporting friends, he finally made it and now it has been 4 years since he stopped taking medications. Craig discovered his record from the institution and this confirmed his suspicion that there was really something wrong going on with him being under the “care” of that facility. He found proof for the abuse and other maltreatments that he received during those years through the writings and the records of these “health care” providers themselves. As he recounted, he was first confined into this facility for 15 months and then was sent back home, labelled as “cured”. However, after 3 months, he was sent back to the same mental hospital again and then later put into another residential facility. Sadly, it was late when Craig learned that he really don’t have mental illness. The diagnosis was removed but now he had complex trauma and still coping to become his own real and healthy version as a person from decades of being “numbed out from the feelings or the sensation of the real world” through over-medication. 

Photo: Craig Lewis Facebook

“Healing comes from speaking…”         

In a recent podcast by Petra Velzeboer entitled Escape from Psychiatric Care (uploaded October 14, 2019), Craig Lewis was interviewed and Craig gave beautiful and inspiring words to the audiences. He spoke about his current struggles, coping, and processes in recovering from the long term effects of complex trauma and abuse and also the physical effects of psychiatric medication and how it affects his social life. He also talked about the important role of speaking in healing and how to stay alive through the drive of your passion and sense of commitment to help others in your own simple yet effective way. Without letting the suffering and the society drag you down to despair, Craig discussed, you can always create hopes not only for you but also for others. In this very heart-warming edition, Craig Lewis also talked about his understanding of his parent’s history and Jewish background, especially the presence of abuse that, according to him, made them unloving people who unconsciously projects their own trauma to him as their son; sending him to the psychiatric institutions for no valid reason. But despite all of this, Craig says that he forgive them. He is now unstoppable in sharing his gift to humanity.     

“I was thought by some people who learned before I did what it meant to survive the impossible, to survive the most brutal adversities… without those people showing me the way so I could break out, I wouldn’t be here today. So I have the responsibility to honour all those who had influenced me…”     

Photo: Craig Lewis Facebook

For questions, inquiries, or collaboration, please contact Craig’s email:

  • punx.in.recovery@gmail.com

To hear more about this very inspiring podcast (which I really suggest if you want to know Craig more) and also other interviews by Petra Velzeboer, go to this link:

Escape from Psychiatric Care with Craig Lewis:

To learn more about Craig’s books, clicks here:

More reference:

  • https://www.huckmag.com/perspectives/counsellor-using-punks-diy-ethic-promote-mental-health-punk-community/

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) versus Positive Childhood Experiences (PCE)

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Since 1995, there has been study about the impacts of a person’s negative experiences in childhood. They call this Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACE. According the this study, adults who have more ACE such as (but not limited to) neglect, physical, emotional, verbal, and/or sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc. in childhood are more vulnerable to various self-destructive behaviours and other unhealthy results such as substance abuse, obesity, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, impaired cognitive functioning and other mental health problems. Even things like divorce, addiction (of parents for example), chronic parental conflict, and incarceration of a family member contributes to the development of a person’s trauma or even their character and outlooks that’s why it is important to minimize these ACEs. Although, it is also true that in some cases, ACE do not really have serious impact and the person might function well in the society in adulthood without these symptoms.

Photo: Evalleytimes.com | National expert on adverse childhood experiences to speak after film screening

One of the important parts of healing from trauma is the acknowledgement of these truths within one’s self. However, it also necessary to have a strong support system from your families, relatives, or friends. In this way a person with high ACE from the past can have more chances of successful therapy. Using any of the varying approaches available such as “neurofeedback, journaling/writing therapy, meditation”, etc. individuals that are having difficult impacts from ACEs may now find hope to process and heal these emotional and psychological wounds. It was found out that individuals with higher ACE are typically more sensitive and more likely to consider normal situations as threats. However, just recently, fortunately another study from John Hopkins University was successfully acknowledged as a very important discovery as it counters ACE and is practical for everybody to facilitate and assess. To reverse the situation and reduce or minimize ACE, parents need to allow and boost positive childhood experiences (PCE) for the child.     

Photo: slideshare.net/UNICEFIRC/parenting-support-in-the-context-of-violence-prevention

So what is Positive Childhood Experiences (PCE)?

Photo: Psychology Today | 8 research based reasons I rose tint some childhood memories

To determine the PCE, experts conduct psychometric analysis and according to the outcome, there are seven major points for this. The recent research has found that individuals who grow up with PCE such as “1) being able to talk with family members about their feelings, 2) feeling that their family stood by them during difficult times, 3) enjoying community traditions, 4) feeling a sense of belonging in high school, 5) feeling supported by friends, 6) having at least two non-parent adults who took a genuine interest in them, and 7) feeling safe and protected by an adult in their home” are more likely to be well-adjusted to the society and have less physical, mental, and relational health problems in adulthood even having ACE.

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As parents, it is your responsibility to provide a better future for your children and this essentially includes reducing or preventing ACE. It is your obligation to your self to learn and understand these issues and have better perspectives and choices for your children’s future physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. For you to do this, you must also have a deeper understanding about these PCE and make them a priority for guiding your children’s daily life. Helping to facilitate these PCE as a parent can help a lot in your children’s growth and spiritual evolution as it helps them develop greater resilience and enables them to realize positive ideas that are more inclined to humanity’s greatest virtue such as ethics, morality, justice, compassion, and cooperation.  

To learn more about ACE and PCE, you can check out these links.

 ACE study by CDC:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/acestudy/index.html

More about ACE:

  • https://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

Adverse Childhood Experiences Journal Articles

  • https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/acestudy/journal.html

NPR on ACE

  • https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean

John Hopkins University study on PCE

  • https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2749336

Seven Early Experiences with Potential Benefits in Adulthood

  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201909/seven-early-experiences-potential-benefits-in-adulthood

Are You a Game Changer?

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Individual and organizational roles, tasks, and skills for social change and progress

Being a responsible and active citizen is not easy especially if someone wants to be heavily involved in his or her community, doing many tasks for various projects. Though, it is an exciting thing to do to our lives as it gives more meaning given that there will always be challenges in places or communities where we live, big or small. In addition, social activism could also a very spiritually fulfilling task if everything is well put into balance as we can be a catalyst for positive changes in our locality or even to the whole world. However, from the individual to the organizational level, people must really identify which role they can be effective so that the their community, group, or organization can successfully create changes or make something better such as policies, systems, and even customs that are oppressive or unfair to others. By carefully identifying the needs of the organization and knowing your focus, you can become more efficient.

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Choosing the appropriate roles saves time and energy and it can also help you as an individual and as a group fulfill important tasks or goals systematically. If you want to “change the game”, you must first learn how to play so you can come up with new ideas that are relevant and not useless. First, you must be truly responsible so people can respect your ideas and views as they see them being practiced. You must show sincerity in helping to keep your community safe, peaceful, and productive so that people will believe your words and support you when you say or propose something. Always remember that you chose to be an agent of progress so it is your chosen role to make the public aware and involved on these changes for them to have better understanding and motivation to act. Whether creating positive solutions in the community level or offering alternatives to unfair policies on the regional level, activists must learn how to be a real reformer who is smart and knowledgeable regarding the laws, society, and institutions.         

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As an activist who is dedicated to bring changes to the society/community, you might focus your energy on establishing and maintaining an effective communication strategy with other stake holders and even people who are in the position and has the power to make changes on the governmental level. You must develop this skill for you to have a real impact on your targets and for you to function effectively on so many levels such as judicial, city hall, corporate, etc. Being well-versed on strategic actions such as lobbying, rallies, petitions, and even legal aspects are some of the best ways to sustain an advocacy or reform something.

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As an individual, we are all somehow doing actions directly whether intentionally or not. Some of our actions break rules and defy laws even without us knowing it. However, for sure there are many times that we do this consciously because we know something is not right and that we have to do what we know is better even if that means the opposite, right? State laws are not an exception. But the point here is that with our simple direct actions, we contribute to the change or the collective as a citizen. Our dedication to the preservation of individual freedom, values, justice, principles, democracy, etc. motivates us to help and contribute to the society.   

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Lastly, having the right skills for gathering resource persons and inviting audiences and participants is also very important in creating social change. People have different interests and it is the role of an organizer to start a social movement and win the trust of all the involved people or groups for them to establish a connection and collaboration. Getting more support, spreading the campaign to a broader audience, and starting a sense of solidarity for a concrete action while also keeping the advocacy active is also very important task of an agent of change. Organizing and educating the communities and helping to keep them engaged are some of the important component for democracy and social progress. To be truly effective on this task, one must learn the science and the art of promoting strategies to the grassroots and securing long term engagements to ensure success in creating alternatives and better paradigm.

Inspired by the ideas of Bill Moyers:

  • https://commonslibrary.org/the-four-roles-of-social-activism/

Psychiatry: The Problem and the Solution

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In this complex time where knowledge and information are easily available 24/7 with just a few efforts through your fingertips if you are connected to the internet, it is not difficult to get a deeper understanding on the issues that are relevant to most of us. What is difficult is that, how are we going to use the information to contribute something valuable to the society we live in? One proper example for this is the issue of mental health. Given there are so many factors on our environment that can affect our mental state, what should we do to protect our self and others with regards to this individual vulnerability? And another question is, who can decide for the lives of the majority and who can really tell if a person is fit or not fit to merge in the society, including young children?

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Through decades of established institutional power over people, of course major institutions like the psychiatric institution can do whatever experiment they want to the public if not being checked. This has been happening ever since. Even though that sometimes their ideas are obviously wrong (diagnosis for example), these are still being believed and followed just because society is looking up to them as “real” authorities on the field of mental health and psychology. However, what most people don’t know is that this kind of compartmentalization that usually creates stigma can never be precise as you cannot pathologize every experiences of the individual and you cannot label them as accurately identical to the theoretical description and definition in the DSM-5 of a so-called illness. Some examples of the labels that have really very questionable definitions and that are open to subjective interpretation as just merely concepts are depression, BPD or borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia.        

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Limiting the individual’s experiences to abstract jargons and concepts

Focusing only to what they believed as valid examples of diagnosis and the actual experience of a so-called disease, most mental health professional in the psychiatric institutions become so restricted to its own narrow confines. Invalidating the individual’s discontent and complaints to the reality in his context, often the person’s distress is left untreated and even wrongly interpreted as the sickness through the use of absurd lexicons and terminologies. And oftentimes also, these sufferings are mistaken as the manifestation of the illness itself when the truth is, it is the normal reaction of the mind to the chaotic, problematic, and dysfunctional environment that he live in, for example. Just because it is difficult to understand and measure, doesn’t mean odd actions or experiences are necessarily pathologies or signs of mental disorder. Part of effective healing is also to understand the possible source of psychological stress and other forms of distress in the person’s mental aspect and examine them in a very careful and respectful manner.         

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Maintaining conformity and mediocrity

Through its rigidly constructed definition of so-called normalcy or healthy behaviour, society is always being conditioned and controlled to obey specific norms and social commands, including government propaganda, that are usually insidious and even protective of a corrupt reputation. This is very dangerous because as we all know, of course not all grievances and what we see as eccentricities are necessarily mental disorders. Never. Also, these dispositions and personal tendencies need to be understood and intelligently dealt with instead of being automatically defined and seen as biological defects and instead of being treated with chemicals and drugs and other harmful so-called treatment. Aside from stigma that it brings, this kind of attitude towards human diversity, consciousness, and psychological complexities does not allow growth and self-actualization but instead, more generations of mediocre minds and docile workers.

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The importance of grassroots mental health advocacy

Aside from creating false epidemics, mainstream psychiatry also legitimizes the mislabelling of various cultural expressions and social deviancy as mental illness; validating its own pathology by classifying human natural propensities as ailment. However, what brings hope here is that many people now from the west, which most of these accounts come from anyway, are becoming more and more educated, resistant, and vigilant against the mainstream psychiatry that brings great havoc to society across different cultures. It should be celebrated that many groups and grassroots movement, local and international, are now creating initiatives and awareness campaign about mental health on so many levels and avenues. If this kind of resistance and response to the abusive side of psychiatry continues to grow and become stronger throughout the globe, these detrimental Western ideas of so-called treatment and categorization surely cannot continue to uphold its rhetoric, power, and authority. Fighting against the abuse of mainstream psychiatry is fighting for the individual and the collective freedom.      

Reference:

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