Saturday, March 28, 2015

…”She acknowledged feeling uncomfortable about seeing a psychiatrist because ‘you might think I'm crazy.’ “ Gretchen N. Foley, MD and Julie P. Gentile, MD in Nonverbal Communication in Psychotherapy

There has been a great deal of commentary by the talking heads of the media for the need of more extensive psychological testing of pilots in the light of the disaster of the Germanwings crash .  Psychology is a very inexact science and I opine offers very little to increase safety, mainly because it relies so much on the veracity of the patient.  Therapy helps people who want help - but some mental illnesses preclude that avenue.

To illustrate, I was once asked (long story)  if I was suicidal.  My immediate thought was, "If I were, I sure as hell wouldn't tell you." because you'd do what was necessary to prevent me from killing myself. So both the suicidal and the completely healthy person would say "no".  Now, if I was not suicidal but wanted help I'd answer "yes".  (Has anyone never had the random incidental thought of suicide?  If you did nothing else except read this sentence, I'd say you have.)

My point is that if you're mentally ill, your answers to the questions will be designed to conceal the mental illness except in some extreme cases. Why be truthful?  Are there psychological therapeutic tests that are not verbal?  The co-pilot's reaction to his diagnosis illustrates my point.  He concealed it and carried out the scenario that his mental illness dictated.

Life can't be perfect.

© 2015 Lester C. Welch

Friday, March 6, 2015

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ― George Bernard Shaw,

My wife is taking part in a church sponsored workshop about "Non-Violent Communication."  This sparked a discussion between us.  It strikes me that one must consider not only what you say, but where you say it. 

To prove my point, suppose you say, “That’s a lovely shade of lipstick you’re wearing.”  If you’re speaking to your niece at her wedding you’ll get a very different response than if you’re talking to the roughest looking dude at a biker bar. What is considered as “non-violent” in one milieu can be very provocative in another, so the greater skill is recognizing the milieu.

My wife and I have developed a mode of communication that I think is a bit abnormal – but it works for us.  We will raise our voices and appear to be angry when we’re really venting our frustrations.  We each recognize this pattern and know – as has happened many times in the past – that there is no great significance in our interaction.  Paradoxically, it’s not personal.  All will be smooth in a couple of hours.  However, other fringe family members and friends who hear the interaction fully expect to be called to the stand in a divorce hearing.

This mode is something I had to learn (to survive).  It was not the way my parents communicated (if, indeed, they did).  I attribute this mode to the fact that my wife was raised with only sisters (no brothers) and women - especially sisters - communicate differently than the rest of the universe. 

As an aside, I’ve seen the lot of them (5 now) when planning an evening out together, play ploys that would put Machiavelli to shame.  “I’m allergic to anything other than Italian!”  I’ve had Italian every night for the last 8 months!” They eventually do Chinese and have a great time.

So my wife has had to learn verbal scrapping at an extreme level and she used the skilled techniques on me.  I had to learn to swim or sink.

But, we do it very well.  We know we’re just blowing off steam.  I’m really anxious to see if “non-violent communication” makes the slightest dent in her approach to me.  I hope not.  I can handle the current mode.

© 2015 Lester C. Welch

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"In the world of money and investing, you must learn to control your emotions." Robert Kiyosaki

 I have a real prejudice against "financial advisors." 1) If they're so smart, why are they still working and not lounging on the beach in the Carribbean ? 2) Their recommendations generally will not be proven/disproven for decades - by which time they are no longer available and not accountable. Take 40 hours and learn the basics and make your own mistakes - and thereby learn.  Don't expect others to make you rich if they can't do it for themselves.

© 2015 Lester C. Welch

"I understand the Second Amendment. I respect the Second Amendment. I think we need to use common sense tools to keep the American people safe, to keep our streets safe." Eric Holder

The First Amendment to the US Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech - and we exercise it. However it has limits. You can't libel someone, you can't yell "fire" in a theatre. We respect those limits because they protect the innocent. Exactly where the limits are is an interpretation of the courts. Reasonable people accept that legal process. The Second Amendment guarantees the public the right to bear arms. It also has limits. One can't own a bazooka, or a side-winder missile. Where those limits are, should also be a rendering of the court. However whenever a reasonable person suggests an examination of those limits ( who can own an AK-15 or the size of a ammunition magazine clip) they are characterized as trying to get rid of the Second Amendment entirely. Such hyperbole by the opposition of such an examination undermines their credibility and shows the weakness of their position. No one is wanting to eliminate the Second Amendment - only to reach a limit where fewer innocent people get killed.

© 2015 Lester C. Welch

Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude." ...

If you're prone to be generous, compassionate and caring are you more likely to assume that others have the same characteristics?  If you're lazy, looking for an easy way out, and a way to make a quick buck, are you likely to ascribe those attributes to others?

Why do some people see government officials as corrupt, inefficient, and lazy?  Is it because they, themselves, would behave in that manner if they were in that position?

Why do others see those in power as acting only in the public good by wanting to eliminate poverty, hunger, and providing medical care for those in need?   Is it because they, themselves, would behave in that manner if they were in that position?

Is this the source of the progressive/conservative split in ideologies?  Perhaps both ways of thinking served a purpose in our evolution and each deserve credit for contributing to our continued existence and now we must bear the consequences of the dichotomy.

How much do you attribute to others your own personal attributes?

© 2015 Lester C. Welch 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"I have suggested that scientific progress requires a favorable environment." Ernest Lawrence

All progress of our species, civilization, and culture is the result of science.   The rest of mankind's endeavors is to provide an infrastructure so that scientists can do their work.  A better political structure (democracy?) means that scientists can be more efficient.  A better economic structure (capitalism?) means more resources for scientists in their endeavors.  Great art and music means that scientists can be inspired to further the cause of homo sapiens.  An efficient garbage collection system means scientists don't have to worry about such trivialities.  Better roads means we can get to our labs quicker.  A fair election system means that civil unrest won't disrupt the course of scientific research.  Science and scientists are the real reason for life.  All the rest is an appreciated supportive role.  Thanks.  (Disclaimer:  I'm a physicist.)

© 2014 Lester C. Welch 

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Without consciousness, space and time are nothing." Robert Lanza

The cruelest joke of consciousness is life.  If consciousness could extent through eternity without the vicissitudes of having to feed our bodies, worrying about the collapse of the economy and the insaneness of politics (all metaphors for the mundaneness of day-to-day living) would it be enjoyable?  Does "enjoyment" have a meaning outside of life?  A tenet of many religions is that "consciousness" exists beyond life - label it as "soul" if you wish. But, I submit, that the components of life that we cherish may not be an integral of consciousness. Even if we have a soul, we may lose the essence of life upon death.  If something exists - which I doubt - beyond our last breath, it is unfathomable.  

The biggest and unanswerable question is "Why is there something rather than nothing?"  My answer to that question - without specifying any further details, because of ignorance,  (and rejecting all popular characterizations) - is "God."

© 2014 Lester C. Welch