• Certified Transpersonal Hypnotherapist ; Past experiences: Dream Analysis /10 Years Experience •Psychotherapist / Use of Gestalt, Jungian, Zen, Reality and Energy Therapies /10 Years Experience •EMDR • Men and Their Journey: the neuroscience of the male brain, and the implications in sexuality, education and relationship • Women: Their Transformation and Empowerment ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) / 21 years experience •Ordained Interfaith Minister & Official Celebrant • Social Justice Advocate • Child and Human Rights Advocate • Spiritual Guide and Intuitive • Certified Reiki Practitioner • Mediation / Conflict Resolution • “Intentional Love” Parenting Strategy Groups • Parenting Workshops • Coaching for parents of Indigo, Crystal, and Rainbow Children • International Training: Israel & England • Critical Incident Stress Debriefing • Post-911 and Post-Katrina volunteer

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"An Unending Love"

This blog and video is devoted and dedicated to my daughter, my grand daughters, and my grand son. They are hearts of my heart. Our connection through many lives..... is utterly infinite.

The Definition of Genius


"ONLY LOVE PREVAILS" ...."I've loved you for a thousand years; I'll love you for a thousand more....."

The degree of our enlightenment is the degree of passion that we will have for the whole world." ~The Greystone Mandala

~The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill

"Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Do not go gentle into that good night."

Dylan Thomas


In “Conversations with God”, by Neale Donald Walsch, there is a warning I think of. I refer to it as the Atlantis passage, and I've quoted it a few times before." As I have said, this isn't the first time your civilization has been at this brink,"

God tells Walsch. "I want to repeat this, because it is vital that you hear this. Once before on your planet, the technology you developed was far greater than your ability to use it responsibly. You are approaching the same point in human history again. It is vitally important that you understand this. Your present technology is threatening to outstrip your ability to use it wisely. Your society is on the verge of becoming a product of your technology rather than your technology being a product of your society. When a society becomes a product of its own technology, it destroys itself."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"On Solitude" by Montaigne


Michel de Montaigne (1533-92): On Solitude

Michel de Montaigne represents the consummate literary style of the French Renaissance in his Essays. He is at once an advocate of the classics (the Essays are crammed with quotations from Latin authors)  and a modern, conversant with his society, his contemporaries, its temper. Montaigne lived during the seething religious civil wars of France, which formed the heart of his reflections on how an intelligent person copes with a world gone mad.
Ostensibly a neutral during the wars, Montaigne was a middle-class lawyer and civil servant of the king - whoever he happened to be. He was despised by the extremists on both sides of the Catholic-Huguenot wars. The Essays reveal him a fideist, a Stoic, a skeptic; there is an independence of spirit that suggests his allegiance is to none but reason alone, but there is also a melancholy that reveals Montaigne as a resigned soul.
On Solitude is number 39 of scores of essays. He returned to it three times during ten years of editing and emending for publication. Montaigne quotes Juvenal, Horace, Virgil, Persius, Lucretius, Tibullus, Terence, and Propertius, but these are exercises required to display his wide reading and to identify him with the ancients, whom he projects to be saner company. The essence of On Solitude is a stoic acceptance of the stupidity of society and the wisdom of living a life of imagination and virtue. Is this solitude? Not by a strict definition, except that like his true mentors, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, solitude is the sense of separation in the crowd, the disdain for ambition, the aloofness in the heat of war, the tragic sense of life.
Here are some representative passages:
Contagion is very dangerous in the crowd. One must either imitate the vicious or hate them. Both these things are dangerous: to imitate them because they are many, and to hate them because they are unlike us.
The wise person will flee the crowd, endure it if necessary but given the choice, choose solitude. We are not sufficiently rid of vices to have to be contending with those of others.
The aim of solitude is to live more at leisure and at one's ease.
Exchanging one trouble for another is  the cycle of ambition, avarice, irresolution, fear and lust pursuing the individual who thinks it sufficient to change career or livelihood in order to change himself. But it pursues the solitary into "cloisters and schools of philosophy." "Neither deserts, nor rocky caves, nor hair shirts, nor fastings will free us of them."
It is not enough to have gotten away from the crowd, it is not enough to move: we must get away from the gregarious instincts that are within us, we must sequester ourselves and repossess ourselves.
Seneca said that we are all chained to fortune: some chains are gold, others more base. This may be inferred as a social condition, but Montaigne (without quoting this passage) offers us a psychological angle by saying that the chains are our own fashioning, the cravings and vices pursuing us throughout life. He quotes Lucretius to demonstrate the philosophical import of this necessity to "purge our heart."
We must take the soul back and withdraw it into itself; that is the real solitude, which may be enjoyed in the midst of cities and the courts of kings; but it is best enjoyed alone.
This is Montaigne's Stoic compromise versus that of Lao-Tzu or the Desert Fathers: to continue to reside in the world but assume one is not of the world. It is the heart of the issue, and Montaigne knows what our ideal should be:
Now since we are undertaking to live alone and do without company, let us make our contentment depend on ourselves; let us cut loose from all the ties that bind us to others; let us win from ourselves the power to truly live alone and at our ease.
He tries to identify what this solitude should consist of, revealing his own loyal but aloof fidelity: "We should have wife, children, goods, and above all, health, if we can; but we must not bind ourselves to them so strongly that our happiness depends on them."
A discourse on love and what Buddhists call loving-kindness would help elaborate and hone this noble ideal, despite the apparant sang-froid of Montaigne. Following is his most famous line:
We must reserve a back shop all our own, entirely free, in which to establish our real liberty and our principal retreat and solitude.
But the remainder of On Solitude suggests that solitude is retirement from the world, or at least from public service and civic obligation. Montaigne considers solitude a regard for a life devoted to others, a welcome relinquishing of social ties.
"Even in retirement we should not be held captive by anything, neither pleasures nor desires." Montaigne disagrees with Pliny's advice to use solitude to devote oneself to study, for even books and learning, he says, are a tyranny. "Books are pleasant; but if by associating with them we end by losing gaiety and health, the best parts of us, let us leave them." "I like only pleasant and easy books which entertain me," he declares, "or those that console me and counsel me to regulate my life and my death."
And Montaigne rejects that final temptation offered by Pliny's version of retirement: reputation, fame, glory, and the glow that accompanies the worldly man into his autumn years.
We must do like the animals that rub out their traces at the entrance to their lairs. Seek no longer that the world should speak of you, but how you should speak to yourself. Retire into yourself, but first prepare to receive yourself there; it would be madness to trust in yourself if you do not know how to govern yourself. ... Borrow nothing except from yourself, arrest your mind and fix it on definite and limited thoughts, and rest content with them, without any desire to prolong life and reputation.
Adhere to these simple guidelines to a productive solitude, advises Montaigne, not to the "ostentatious and talky philosophy" of classical authors whose concept of retirement from the world is vainglory.


Quotations adapted from Montaigne's Complete Essays, translated by Donald M. Frame. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1958. Reprinted in The Complete Works: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters, translated by Donald M. Frame with an introduction by Stuart Hampshire. New York : Knopf, 2003.

"Do You Have Empathy for People Who Don't? Should You?" / Leon Seltzer, Ph.D. / Psychology Today

Do You Have Empathy for People Who Don't? Should You?
geralt, empathy/Pixabay Free Illustrations
Source: geralt, empathy/Pixabay Free Illustrations
Appreciating empathic individuals is easy. They’re caring and more than willing to listen and respond positively to your wants and needs. Neuroscientists view the highly empathic as having an extremely active mirror neuron system, which enables them to be remarkably receptive—both cognitively and emotionally. For they’re gifted in vicariously thinking and feeling what you do. And with this highly developed ability to identify with another’s experience, their actions tend to be kind, thoughtful, and pro-social. Compassionate, even altruistic, they’re among the most dependable of friends—especially when you’re in distress and need someone to turn a sympathetic ear toward you.On the contrary, appreciating, and getting along with, individuals who demonstrate a notable lack of empathy can be unusually challenging. And empathizing with them even more so. They’re not people who (knowingly, at least) you'd want to get too close to—even if they’d permit you to (!). They don’t—and in many respects, can’t —“get” you or truly care about you. So if you’re looking to feel truly understood or emotional supported, you’ll come up empty with them.
To advance their own agenda, some unempathic individuals are good at faking empathy (e.g., narcissists and sociopaths). But if you can recognize that such “fellow-feeling” is spurious, you’re obviously much better off staying away from them. For you certainly have a right to protect yourself from their manipulations. And those who lack empathy, in their unwillingness or inability to put themselves in your shoes, really don’t have your own interests in mind (or heart). “Objectifying” you as potential prey, they’re more likely to exploit you to address their own generally egoistical needs.
Descriptors typically employed to characterize the unempathic include insensitiveselfish or self-centereddetached or distantuncaring and unconcernedcoldaloofexploitativecondescending and (at least for some of them) downright contemptuous. And that’s hardly what you’d want in a friend or associate—and certainly not in a mate. For in their emotional unavailability they can make you feel frustratingly, and hurtfully, alone. In terms of their whole life stance, as opposed to being pro-social, they’re much more commonly anti-social.
What Makes Some People Lack Empathy
Yet before hastening to dismiss—or damn (!)—those seriously lacking in empathy, there’s a lot more to be consider. And that’s the origins of those who have in fact been labeled as having an Empathy Deficit Disorder. In short, because of many factors—such as, their genetics or biology, how they were parented, the environment they grew up in, and the various “accidental” forces that shaped their development—they may have been deprived of what all the rest of us take for granted. So, especially after delving into my characterizations below, though you may still not want to befriend them, it would actually be rather callous or insensitive to blame or censor them (i.e., “There but for the grace of God go I”).
Consider also that these empathy-challenged individuals might suffer as much, or more, from what they lack as you yourself might in your so-irksome dealings with them. And consider, too, this caveat by James Earl Adams III, who rightfully observes that saying someone lacks empathy “does not [necessarily] mean they are predatory. It does not mean they are irresponsible. It does not mean they are sadistic. Do not be persuaded into demonizing such people" (“What Do People Who Lack Empathy Act Like?” Quora, March 15, 2014).
Here’s one real-life example that substantiates these points:
Citing psychologist Douglas LaBier, director of the Center for Adult Development in Washington, D.C., Amanda Robb (writing for CNN) notes:
Virtually everyone learns the basics of empathy in childhood (from our parents comforting us when we're in distress), but my father died when I was 4, and afterward my mother had to be very can-do, juggling three jobs, graduate school, and two kids. When I was upset, she never said, "Oh, I'm sorry. It must be hard to have me away so much after losing your dad."
Instead, on good days, she'd say, "Why are you crying? Nothing is wrong." And on bad days: "You'd better toughen up because life can get a lot worse." Looking back at my 20-something self, I realize that if, as LaBier says, empathy is "the ability or the willingness to experience the world from someone else's point of view," I wasn't brought up to be able to do that [emphasis added].
At least my lack of empathy was not unusual. Having practiced as a psychotherapist for 35 years, LaBier believes that what he calls empathy deficit disorder (EDD) is rampant among Americans.
Going still further, Robb adds (and this is, well, a little scary):
LaBier says we unlearn whatever empathy skills we've picked up while coming of age in a culture that focuses on acquisition and status more than cooperation and values "moving on" over thoughtful reflection. LaBier is convinced that EDD is at the heart of modernity's most common problems, macro (war) and micro (divorce). (“Empathy Deficit Disorder—Do You Suffer From It?”, CNN, June 18, 2008)
So, whether or not you’d like to deny it, those with EDD may not be radically different from the rest of us.
Now let’s explore further why some people are without the empathy that would make them more accessible—and likeable—to us.
Much has been written on how environmental factors, particularly parenting styles and relationships generally, affect empathy growth in children. Wikipedia, which covers the topic of empathy with extraordinary thoroughness (including no fewer than 199 scholarly citations) is well worth quoting here:
[According to the research of C. T. M. Tisot, 2014] a few parenting practices . . . contribute to the development of empathy in children. These practices include encouraging the child to imagine the perspectives of others and teaching the child to reflect on his or her own feelings. . . . Paternal warmth was found to be significantly important . . . especially in boys.
And doubtless, there are a large variety of ways that the normal growth of empathy can be stunted. Here are just a few:
hansiline/Pixabay CCO Public Domain
Source: hansiline/Pixabay CCO Public Domain
Parents’ modeling is routinely mentioned as a major factor in what children learn (almost by a kind of osmosis). So if parents demonstrate non-caring, and perhaps also a ruthlessly competitive relationship to others, such an interpersonal stance could powerfully influence a child’s development. Might the caretakers’ attitude toward kindness and compassion be cynically negative—an empathic concern scorned, regarded as signaling weakness rather than strength? And, to better adapt to their family, might the child have felt compelled to ignore or repress feelings their parents prompted them to regard as deficits?
Did the child’s parents, because of a fragile ego resulting from their own childhood psychological injuries, possibly protect themselves from others’ criticism by sharply turning any adverse judgment against them back upon the accuser? Or did they, in advance, invalidate anyone whose viewpoint threatened to differ from their own—and so, implicitly, instruct their child to do likewise. In Time Magazine (04/17/2010), Maia Szalavitz, the co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential—and Endangered (2010), observes that “unempathic (psychologically wounded) parents are unlikely to encourage empathy in their kids, so this developmental deficit is apt to pass down the generations.”
Beyond poor modeling, was the child’s family emotionally constipated? Did the child grow up in a home where feelings were never discussed—maybe didn’t even appear to exist? If they became alienated from their own feelings (in a much deeper sense, from their very selves), how could they possibly be expected to grasp, let alone empathize with, the feelings of others?
And how about abusive or neglectful parents? If a child’s caretakers were unduly or harshly punishing (whether verbally, physically, or both), that child’s pained reactions may have been much too distressing to bear. Without the emotional resources to effectively counter such abuse, their only way of coping may have been to repress their self-denigrating feelings, to force them underground. And once this emotionally driven defense against shame or humiliation has taken root, they may no longer be able (at least not without professional assistance) to recover their natural feelings of vulnerability, or emotional accessibility—even if they’ve moved far, far away from their caretakers.
By psychological necessity programmed to squash their more tender feelings, they may have left at their disposal the only “invulnerable” emotion remaining—and that’s anger. Which is hardly an emotion that would endear them to others. Nor is it an emotion that would enable them to empathize with those others. Such an adverse situation may certainly be regrettable but, if we’re to look at these individuals humanely, can we in good conscience blame them for what they felt was imperative to shut down in order to survive their belittling childhood?
In this sense, it’s only natural that, repeatedly subjected to their caretakers’ almost brutal lack of empathy, these childhood victims might later become perpetrators themselves. As Szalavitz (cited above) notes: “Although children can be astonishingly resilient, surviving and sometimes thriving despite abuse and neglect, studies show that those who experience such early trauma are at much greater risk of becoming aggressive or even psychopathic later on, bullying other children or being victimized by bullies themselves.” And yes, it cuts both ways—neither of them favorable to their development.
Less directly related to parenting deficiencies perhaps are those who lack empathy because of excessive self-absorption. The enduring insecurities typically associated with such self-centeredness generally go beyond deficiencies in their upbringing to also include how they were treated by their peers, teachers, siblings and other relatives, as well as the general environment they grew up in. Whether they suffer from depressionanxiety disorders, or one of many personality disorders that involve self-absorption (from avoidant to borderline to paranoid to narcissistic and sociopathic), their obsessive self-focusing makes it exceedingly difficult for them to refocus on what others may be thinking and feeling.
Even with the personality disturbances we’re least likely to feel sympathetic toward (i.e., narcissistic, psychopathic, and anti-social), many writers have noted—as, for one, has professional counselor Steve Mensing (10/07/2010)—that “these conditions may have been brought on by severe emotional deprivation, traumatic conditions, and in some cases brain injury and anomalous brain conditions.”
Biological Causes for Empathy Deficits
One point not sufficiently emphasized in the literature is that the underpinnings for individuals' lacking empathy are not exclusively psychological. Drawing on the work of several academic studies, Wikipedia’s elaborate coverage of the subject concludes:
Empathy can be disrupted due to trauma in the brain such as a stroke. In most cases empathy is usually impaired if a lesion or stroke occurs on the right side of the brain. In addition to this it has been found that damage to the frontal lobe, which is primarily responsible for emotional regulation, can impact profoundly on a person’s capacity to experience empathy toward another individual. People who have suffered from an acquired brain injury also show lower levels of empathy according to previous studies. In fact, more than 50% of people who suffer from a traumatic brain injury self-report a deficit in their empathic capacity.
Biological hindrances blocking the development of empathy have also been linked to autism. Wikipedia notes various studies suggesting that autistic individuals have an impaired theory of mind. That is, they can neither interpret their own, or others’, mental and emotional states, and so they struggle to comprehend that another might have wants, beliefs, intentions, knowledge, and viewpoints different from their own. And though (if we can empathize with their plight) we’re hardly justified in making a moral judgment against them, still Wikipedia’s summary of the pertinent research indicates that they “self-report lower levels of empathic concern [and] show less [if any] comforting responses toward someone who is suffering.
Conclusion: Be Cautious—But Kind, Too
So where does all of this leave us?
As already characterized, because of their inability to respond to you in ways you need them to, individuals conspicuously lacking in empathy are likely to leave you frustrated—if not totally exasperated. So unless circumstances require you to maintain at least a minimal relationship with them (they’re your mother, child, boss, co-worker, etc.), you’re doubtless better off avoiding them.
But given the unfavorable dynamics underlying those deficient in—or altogether devoid of—empathy,  you really can’t condemn them either. It’s not as though, clear-eyed, they looked at all their options and deliberately chose to be unfeeling, insensitive, cold, or psychopathic. True, some of them lack a moral compass, such that many of their behaviors deserve denunciation. Yet, as the famous French expression goes: “Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner”  [to understand everything enables you to forgiveeverything]. So if you can truly grasp why these individuals were somehow “fated” to act the non-admirable ways they do—whether it’s through an inherited aberration, organic injury, or environmental misfortune—then you ought to be able to conjure up some fellow-feeling, or compassion, for them.
And this isn’t to imply that you don’t have every right to stay away from them. It simply means that it’s only humane to empathize with them as grievously wounded—that you not shame or scorn them but attempt to view them with generosity of spirit—as well as be grateful that you yourself aren’t afflicted with such a grave personality defect . . . unless, that is, you find it utterly impossible to empathize with them (!).
© 2017 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
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Friday, February 3, 2017

Dr. Joshua Coleman / global specialist on PAS (Parental Alientation Syndrome)

Dr. Coleman writes about several issues with the most reality-based information and process about PAS (Parental Alientaion Syndrome) that I have experienced to date. He comes from a perspective which also acknowledges the love and hurt experienced by the parents. He is on many internet sites, which assists any parents and children with expert support. He has my highest regards in his work on that subject.

Dr. Coleman is a psychologist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area and a Senior Fellow with the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-partisan organization of leading sociologists, historians, psychologists and demographers dedicated to providing the press and public with the latest research and best-practice findings about American families. He has lectured at Harvard University, The University of California at Berkeley, The University of London, Cornell Weill Medical School, and blogs on parent-adult child relationships for the U.C. Berkeley publication, Greater Good Magazine.

Dr. Coleman is frequently contacted by the media for opinions and commentary about changes in the American family. He has been a frequent guest on the Today Show, NPR, and The BBC, and has also been featured on Sesame Street, 20/20, Good Morning America, America Online Coaches, PBS, and numerous news programs for FOX, ABC, CNN, and NBC television. His advice has appeared in The New York Times, The Times of London, The Shriver Report, Fortune, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Psychology Today, U.S. World and News Report, Parenting Magazine, The Baltimore Sun and many others.

He is the author of numerous articles and chapters and has written four books: The Marriage Makeover: Finding Happiness in Imperfect Harmony (St. Martin's Press); The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework (St. Martin's Press); When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along (HarperCollins); and Married with Twins: Life, Love and the Pursuit of Marital Harmony. His books have been translated into Chinese, Croatian, and Korean, and are also available in the U.K., Canada, and Australia.

He is the co-editor, along with historian Stephanie Coontz of seven online volumes of Unconventional Wisdom: News You Can Use, a compendium of noteworthy research on the contemporary family, gender, sexuality, poverty, and work-family issues.

Testimonials and Reviews of Breaking the Ties that Bind | PAS

Testimonials and Reviews of Breaking the Ties that Bind | PAS

"there were no words, but images flooded every cell in her being ...

"there were no words, but images flooded every cell in her being ...