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Main | April 2006 »

March 30, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #26 of 52: The Human Personality and its Disorders

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Each human being has a personality. This means that he has a specific and habitual pattern of relating to his world, of relating to his physical and social environment, of relating to other people. Each person has a pattern of thinking and behaving in his world. That habitual pattern of thinking is his personality.

From the moment a child is born, he begins to learn ways to adapt to his world. His inherited biological constitution and his social experiences play roles in the manner he adopts in relating to his world, in forming his personality. (In this brief essay, we shall not concern ourselves with personality theory, observers’ speculations on how people came to develop their personalities.)

Personality can be normal or abnormal. Where it is normal the individual, more or less, gets along with other people in his world in a harmonious manner and is able to hold down a job and make a living.

Where there is a personality disorder, the individual has social conflicts and is unable to get along with other people. Whereas, his intellectual functioning may be well, he has social disorders. He may, for example be a good engineer, but has problematic interpersonal relationships.

Psychology currently has eleven personality disorders; paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, antisocial, avoidant, obsessive compulsive, dependent and passive aggressive. We have covered these personality disorders elsewhere and will, therefore, only briefly review them here.

The paranoid personality is genially very suspicious, does not trust other people, feels that other people are trying to demean him, insult him, denigrate him, humiliate him, and belittles him. He is always accusing people of demeaning him and is very litigious, sues people he believes demeaned him, so as to use the legal system to make his ego seem important in his and other people’s eyes.

The schizoid personality does not care much for socializing with other persons, and keeps to him self most of the time.

The schizotypal personality is eccentric and odd and is interested in extrasensory perception and may claim to have extraordinary powers, such as psychic powers.

The narcissistic person feels that he is special, important and, as such, that other people ought to admire him and pay attention to him; believing himself superior to other people, he often justifies exploiting other people, uses them to get what he wants and discards them when they are no longer useful to him.

The histrionic personality seeks attention through dramatic ways and lacks deep caring for other people; she gravitates to those who give her attention and place her on a pedestal.

The borderline personality has dysfunctions in many areas of her life and often threatens suicide when she is not paid attention to; she carves on her body to get other people to feel guilty and pay attention to her; she may have gender issues and gravitate to confused sexual behavior with whoever pays her attention.

The antisocial personality does not care for other people; he steals and may even kill and does not feel remorse or guilt from doing those things; in fact, he may enjoy harming other people.
The avoidant personality feels inferior and thinks that if other people get close to him that they would see that he is not good and reject him and to avoid rejection he avoids other people. In social isolation he retains precarious positive self esteem.

The obsessive compulsive personality is always thinking; he thinks as if ideas are intrusive and he cannot not think about them; sometimes, he acts compulsively, such as touch things, check and re-check his doors to make sure that they are locked, his stove, to make sure that the stove is turned off etc.

The dependent personality feels weak and wants other people to lead him, to tell him what to do with his life; he is a follower, not a leader.

The passive aggressive personality pleases every person; he goes along with their demands on him then feels resentful towards those he is pleasing, for he feels imposed on by them, and every once in a while explodes with anger at those he feels are relating to him as if he were a door mat.

There are other possible personality types, such as masochist (desires pain from other people) and sadist (inflicts pain on others). But these could be subsumed under the ones we already mentioned, the masochist could fit into passive aggressive personality, while the sadist could fit under antisocial personality disorder (also called sociopath or psychopath).

I will not attempt to explain these personality types here. I have done so elsewhere. My present goal is to list the various personality types and leave it at that. If you feel that you have a personality disorder, please go see a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist) for help.

Whereas most people are normal in their personality structures, at least, five percent of the population has personality disorders. It is these disordered personalities that cause most of our human problems.

The truly mentally ill, the schizophrenic and or manic, are too out of it to create problems for society; it is the partially sane and partially insane personality disordered person that creates problems for society.

A paranoid personality, for example, is motivated by power. He feels totally inferior and inadequate and seeks power. In organizations, he wants to be the boss and may wound up the president of his country and proceed to harm, even kill those he believes do not see him as he wants to be seen: an all powerful god. Examples are Hitler, Stalin, and Idi Amin etc.

Antisocial personalities steal and murder people. In short, persons with personality disorders do create problems for their fellow human beings.

If you have a personality disorder, do not deny that fact; go seek help for your lifestyle problem. It is possible to understand your personality, and where it is problematic change it.

Psychotherapists exist to help folks understand themselves and change themselves, where change is possible and live with what cannot be changed. Nigeria is filled with personality disordered persons; in fact, these people run the various Nigerian governments. It is about time we removed these disordered persons from our governments and, instead, had healthy and pro-social persons govern us.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #25 of 52: Cognitive Psychology

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- The term cognition mans thinking. Human beings are thinking animals. We are always thinking. In fact, there is no time that we are not thinking. We even think in our sleep. Dreaming is our thinking transformed into images, pictures.

Cognition and mentation mean the same thing. Mentation is thinking (hence mental disorders are thinking disorders and mental illness is cognitive and behavioral disorders).

Cognitive psychology studies how people think. Human beings have patterns to their thinking and we can understand those patterns and enhance them, where they are useful and extinguish them, where they are unproductive.

Human beings have nervous systems, particularly the central nervous systems (brain, spine). Much of their thinking takes place in their nervous system. Therefore, the science of the brain, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology are related.

To really understand human thinking we must understand the human brain at the physiological level; we must understand brain physics, chemistry and biology if we are to understand how human beings think and behave. The study of Psychology is increasingly becoming the study of the human brain, neuroscience.

Cognitive psychology studies brain science, neuroscience and human thinking processes.

For our present purposes, what I want to observe is that people do have thinking disorders. That is to say that they think in such a manner that the result is bad behaviors. Hence we study cognitions and behaviors conjointly. At the intervention level, we attempt cognitive behavior therapy. This means that psychotherapists attempt to simultaneously change the individual’s thinking and behavior patterns.

Epictetus, a Roman stoic philosopher, said that it is not only what happens in the environment that makes people fearful, anxious, sad, happy, paranoid etc but how they think about it. That is, the individual’s thinking, his interpretation of the stimulus emanating from his environment plays a role in his mental equilibrium. One can think differently about the same event.

Consider. A person calls one a put down name. This may depress one and make one feel lowered self esteem. If a white person called a black person a nigger, the black person could feel sad about himself. On the other hand, the black person may choose to say that other people’s opinion of him is not his opinion of himself, that other people do not have all the facts about which he is, and that therefore what they say does not describe him well. A black person may even choose to pity a white person who puts him down by telling himself that one must feel inferior and inadequate to feel that he would be important only when he puts other people down. One can feel good about ones self by not putting other people down and by working for our common good.

An event that can be interpreted as threatening ones life hence generating fear and anxiety in one can differently be seen as an opportunity to overcome the obstacle. Let us say that a white racist threatens a black person’s life, that could make him fell anxious, but he can choose to fight back, physically and or legally, and in doing so develop courage and self respect.

An event that could make one suspicious, fearful and paranoid could also dispose one to choose to investigate it, as objectively as is possible. Thus, paranoia is choice for one can choose not to be suspicious, guarded, scanning of ones world; one can choose to understand why one and people are prone to fear and overcome it.

Cognitive behavior psychology studies how people think and where thinking patterns seem to generate inappropriate behaviors teach alternative thinking and behavior patterns. It attempts to restructure and reoriented people’s thinking patterns.

A self defeating thinking pattern could be corrected and made self serving thinking pattern. A thinking pattern that produced anxiety, depression and or paranoia could be changed to produce more positive affects for the individual.

In a different paper, I pointed out that most of what is called mental disorders is really thinking disorders. The mentally disordered person thinks in a disordered manner. Consider the schizophrenic and the manic. In these mental disorders individuals thinking are disordered. We can teach them to think in a different manner. When the individual thinks that other people are out to get him, he can be taught that no one is ought to get him; when he thinks that he is very important, is a god in his powerfulness, he can be taught that in reality all human beings are the same and coequal.

Mental health is exactly that, thinking health, thinking orderly, thinking appropriately. Through instruction in correct thinking, the individual’s mental disorder can be healed.

I am interested in Igbo group paranoia. As I have pointed out elsewhere, many Igbos tend to be paranoid in their thinking and behaving, and like most paranoids, of course, deny that they have mental health issues (they attack me for pointing out their paranoia, instead of being grateful to me for pointing out their obvious issues).

My goal is to teach these people to think in a logical and mentally healthy manner. No body is out to get you/them; no body is demeaning you/them; relax and trust every person in your world. Give up your grandiose desire to be superior to other people. See yourself as the same and coequal with all people. See all people as friends, and work for our common social interest and you heal your thinking disorder called paranoia.

Paranoia is thinking, that is, a mentational, cognitive and behavioral disorder; it can be understood and healed through changed thinking and behaving patterns.

Cognitive psychology and cognitive behavior therapy aims at understanding how people think and behave and where their thinking and behaving are problematic change them, so as to produce healthier patterns of thinking and behaving. If the individual is, for example, prone to anger, he can be taught how he thinks and behaves when he is angry. Subsequently he can be taught how to think and behave differently, so as not to be angry.

It is not the environmental stimulus, the person who attacked one, alone, that made one angry, it is how one interpreted his attack. One can interpret the same stimulus, attack, different and behave differently. One can think and behave differently. Human beings have choices as to how to think and behave; they are not programmed to think and behave only in one set pattern.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #24 of 52: Social Psychology

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Social psychology is like learning theory for it assumes that most things human beings do are learned, but learned from other human beings. Other people, including the child’s parents, siblings, peers, teachers, ministers, every person in his group, influence him.

Society posits accepted social behaviors, norms, and teaches children those behaviors. The various units of society: family, peers, school, church, work etc teach the individual approved social behaviors and reward him positively to the extent that he approximates approved behaviors and punish him when he deviates from them.

All known human societies on earth reward their members who engage in pro-social behaviors and punish those who engage in antisocial behaviors. If you do what helps the group survive as a group you are rewarded with social honors, work and money; on the other hand, if you do what hurts other people (steal, kill, rape, etc) you are apprehended, tried and sentenced to jail and prison. Every known society discourages its members from engaging in antisocial behaviors.

Other people influence the individual in many ways than one. In fact, it is difficult to know what the individual does that is not really a product of influence from other people. It is fruitless to debate this issue, that is, what is original in the individual and what is a result of other people’s influence on him; one just assumes that whatever one and other people do is a product of social learning.

Man is a social creature and from the moment he is born is socialized into a preexisting social group. He learns how that group adapts to its environment; he learns his group’s culture and by a certain age has internalized the parameters of that culture and behaves according, and as an adult pretty much does things as other members of his group does them.

The individual speaks the language of his group and language carries the group’s world view and culture; the adult individual speaks like other members of his group do; he walks as his group members’ walk. He does just about every thing as his group members do. Even his mental health or lack of it is rooted in group behavior.

Consider paranoia. If a group is excessively fearful of other people, it tends to teach its children, via modeling and other means of learning, to become paranoid in their behaviors. Until recently, slavery existed in West Africa. People were apprehensive of being caught and sold into slavery. They tended to be very cautious and fearful of their neighbors. They produced paranoid cultures and socialized their children into a generalized paranoid manner of behaving. Group paranoia, follie adieu, is a social phenomenon.

For our present purposes, the salient point is that just about everything human beings do are learned within the group context and understanding how society influences the individual is the function of social psychology.

There are many issues in academic social psychology but those would not concern us in this informational essay. Suffice it to say that folks are products of their society and culture. Even when they think that they are behaving independently, they are, in fact, influenced by their groups.

Stanley Milligram’s study at Stanford University showing how normal proscial students were turned into prison guards who administered electric shocks to other students (those playing the role of prisoners) teaches us that most people can be taught most roles society approves. Nazis taught the average German to be a killer and that is all there is to it. Society has a great impact on us.
In fact, the group is so influential that if a significant number of persons in the individual’s group say that a ruler is ten inches long, instead of twelve inches long, the individual is likely to go along and say so. The individual feels that he must conform to the group to avoid the group’s rejection of him and possible punishment of him.

Most people are afraid of their group’s rejection (it leads to feeling fearful, anxious and arouses existential abandonment issues etc). Most people are afraid of their group’s punishment; society can authorize the killing of the individual. Simply stated, folks do whatever they could to conform to their group’s norms, so as to be accepted by most persons in their world.

It is society that teaches us to become who we are, and the role of individual choice in the matter is often exaggerated. A society that is very entrepreneurial, like the United States of America, teaches its people to become business persons and rewards them if they do so, reward them with material and social success. Thus, folks become business men and women because their society encouraged them to do so, not because they have more innate propensity to become entrepreneurs than other human beings.

You can teach children to be unproductive socialists, as in the former Soviet Union, or productive business persons, as in the USA. It is all a matter of social choice.

If we are a product of social factors, we might as well understand how this phenomenon works, study it and do it consciously. This is the mission of social psychology and sociology.

Our idea of reality, truth, is largely constructed by the society we live in. Reality, sociologists tell us, is a social construct, the current agreement by many persons in the group; perhaps, by the ruling classes of the group. What we call real is the consensus opinion of the dominant members of our society. As such, we really do not know what is real, yet. In as much as society influences even our conception of reality, we had better study how it does so rather than deny the all powerful effect of society on us.

The individual is a product of his group; if he has exaggerated belief in his individualism, he has delusion of independence. In truth, we are controlled by our society.

Social psychology is a necessary branch of psychology; it enables us to understand how the individual came to be the type of person he is. Sociological and biological variables largely influence the individual’s personality and behaviors.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #23 of 52: Learning Theory

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Learning theory is the idea that most things we, as human beings, know are learned rather than inherent in us. Learning begins from the moment of birth, if not before in the womb. The child learns from every person around him.

The child’s learning takes place in an informal manner, that is, he is not being formally taught by a teacher. In every minute of his life, the human child is learning about how to cope with the exigencies of his world.

There are different modes of learning, including observational learning, role modeling, direct instruction, teaching, classical and operant (conditioning) learning.

Much of the child’s learning consists of observation. The child observes what his parents, siblings, peers and significant others, in general, do and copy them. He does things the way those round him does them without them formally teaching him to do those things in a certain manner. A child comes into the bathroom and observes the parents brush their teeth and learns to brush his teeth exactly as they do; indeed, holds the brush as they do. Perhaps, up to 90% of the child’s learning takes place through observational learning?

The adults in a child’s life are role models. They are always modeling socially accepted behavior patterns for him, so he learns from them. The child observes what his parents say and do and tries to do the same. Indeed, he observes how they wear their clothing and tries to do the same. The adults, particularly the significant ones like parents, ministers, extended family members etc are always modeling socially accepted behavior for children to learn. (It is, unfortunately, also true that they can model socially inappropriate and unproductive behaviors for children to learn. Parents who are thieves may model that behavior for their children and approve it in them and of course that then brings them into trouble with the larger society that does not approve of thievery.)

Children are sometimes taught in a formal manner by their parents. Some parents teach their children how to read and write and do their mathematics. Formal teaching continues at school. Elementary, secondary and college education are part of the formal learning process.

Behaviorist psychologists, those who emphasize learning in how human beings becoming who they are, generally divide learning into two main categories: classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

In classical conditioning, people around a person informally teach him to continue doing something by rewarding him when he does something they like. Parents may say thank you, praise the child and even give him some material rewards when he does what they like. Teachers give good grades to students who did their school work as the teachers approve. The peer group and society, in general, rewards the individual when he does what they approve. Reward could be praise (such as saying to a person, that was a good job you did there) or social status (such as promotion on the job, social attainments etc), money (wealth) and fame (being known all over the place).

In operant conditioning, psychologists consciously undertake to teach people certain behavior and or change certain behaviors. They employ the whole armament of social engineering (behavior technology, such as behavior modification, extinguishment, punishment, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, reward, ignoring etc) in these efforts.

Consider anti social persons. These people engage in behavior that society does not approve and behaviors that might be hurtful to other persons. Obviously, no society that wants to survive would tolerate anti social behaviors in its people. Thus, society attempts to extinguish those behaviors where they already exist. It might do so by arresting and incarcerating criminals, punishing them, systematically positively reinforcing socially appropriate behaviors when criminals do the right thing (such as engage in socially helpful behaviors).

I once worked with sex offenders, and pedophiles. The sex offenders were systematically taught appropriate sexual behaviors. The pedophiles, adult men who said that they were sexually aroused by only children under age twelve, were taught to be aroused by adults through many means and where those failed punished every time they were aroused by children. (If the pedophile is shown a child’s picture and he felt sexually aroused, he is electrically shocked, for example.)

The success rate of these treatments is very marginal, for there is an element of choice in what adults do. Adults who prefer sex with children choose to do so and ought to be put away in prisons for the rest of their lives, for they are a threat to children.

For our present purposes, there are many ways psychologists attempt to change people’s behaviors through operant conditioning. B.F. Skinner wrote that human beings are essentially organisms that respond to stimulus from their environment.

Stimulus-Organism-Response is Skinner’s model. We are boxes that are being impinged upon by environmental stimuli, stimulated by factors emanating from our world and we respond to them. Our own responses become stimuli to other people, who then respond to us, and that way there really is no beginning and ending to stimulus-response continuum.

It does not matter where the stimulus originates, we respond to it and our response becomes a stimulus for other people to respond to, ad infinitum. We live in general systems where everything is affecting every thing else, everything is a stimulus to which others responds to and in turn are responded to. We are all adjusting to stimuli emanating from our environment and our environment is adjusting to stimulus emanating from us.

The environment is always changing as a result of these mutual responses and adjustments.

Skinner and other behaviorists somewhere along the line boasted that the entire human begins behaviors are learned, that there is no such thing as inherent propensities in us, and that we lack freedom and dignity.

If you want a child to be a certain type of person, for example, to develop a certain type of personality, teach him to be so through classical and operant conditioning, reward his behaviors that tend in that way and punish behaviors that tend not that way. This is all it takes to produce the type of human being you desire, nothing else is needed.

Clearly, we learn most of our behaviors but man is also a cognitive creature and through ratiocination does come to know many things and decide what to do or not to do. Indeed, our inherited nervous system plays a role in our behavior.

Behaviorism over played its hands, just as psychoanalysis did. There is truth in everything, but no particular thing is the entire truth. Man does learn things and also is more than his ability to learn.

In the meantime, learning is that branch of psychology that attempts to figure out the best way to teach people to do what society wants them to do and reinforce the learned behavior until it becomes habitual and automatic in people.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #22 of 52: Memory: Past and Present

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- We all have memories. But we seldom think about them until something happens to us and we lose them. We have long term and short term memories. Long term memory, as the name implies is the ability to remember what took place long time ago.

For example, do you remember the year you were born, where you were born and what happened in your childhood? Short term memory refers to events that happened recently. Do you remember what happened yesterday, last week, last month? These may seem like silly questions but alcoholics in late stage addiction actually loose their short term memory and may not be able to tell you what happened yesterday in their lives.

Memory is stored information in our brains’ cells. The brain has trillions of neurons (nerve cells). Every thing that the individual has experienced, seen, heard, felt, touched, felt etc is stored in his brain cells, in his memory.

Folks store things in their memories that they are not even conscious of. Let us say that you drove through a street. The chances are that you are not conscious of seeing most of the houses on that street. Somehow, your memory, without your conscious awareness has picked up the nature of the houses on that street and stored them in your memory bank.

(In our dreams at night, our brains somehow ferret out information from our memory banks that we are not even conscious of and use it to construct our dreams. You may have passed a grotesquely looking person at some point in your life and did not give him much thought. If your dream drama requires that a grotesque person play a role in it, somehow, your brain will ferret out that grotesque person you passed years ago; indeed, your brain will age him to make him as old as he would look today, when you are dreaming.)

Neuroscience teaches us that our experiences are stored in the trillions of neurons, nerve cells, in our brains. How this is done is beyond the scope of this essay, nor has it fully been understood. I am not writing a technical paper on memory and the brain, I am just providing elementary information on memory.

For our present purposes, memory is all the information about ones past experiences stored in ones memory bank, ones brain, ones mind.

(The term mind has fallen out of use. Neuroscientists do not employ the term mind. Mind has otherworldly connotation, whereas neuroscience is rooted in the empirical world. Moreover, no one can pinpoint where the mind is in the brain. It simply is imprecise to employ the term mind. Indeed, some scientists go so far as to say that there is no such thing as mind independent of the brain. They contend that our thinking, hitherto attributed to mind, is really epiphenomenal, that is, is a throw up of the dance of electrical ions in our nervous system. This is pure materialistic philosophy, a monism that contends that everything is a product of matter and that there is no such thing as so-called spirit. This is atheism. Obviously, atheism is as much a belief as religion, for there is no evidence that we understand even one percent of our selves and certainly of the universe. In such massive lack of knowing, it would be speculative to say that there is god or that there is no god. Be all this academics as they are, this is an essay and an essay is presentation of opinions that one believes to be true. I believe that there is such a thing as spirit and mind and will proceed on that basis.)


THE USES OF MEMORY

We store information from the past in our memories for a purpose. We store them as libraries that we could revisit to enable us know how to cope with events in the present. When we are confronted with a present situation, we send information to our brains and search our memory bank for clue as to how to deal with it. If we had had similar experiences in the past, we retrieve information on how we dealt with them and use them to solve the present task. If we have developed successful coping patterns, we pretty much do what we did in the past; but if we were not successful in dealing with such situations in the past, our memory would probably tell us to try certain things.

Let us say that a lion confronts the individual. Has he had an experience in the past where a lion confronted him? What did he do to prevent the lion from eating him: run from it, fight it? The chances are that he ran from the lion since his physical skills are no match for the lion’s, and the lion would probably defeat him, eat him, so he would be told to run from the present lion confronting him, if he wants to live to see another day, that is. Of course, if he has a gun, that is another story, for he could protect his life by shooting and possibly killing the lion.

Information stored in our memory banks are meant to enable us deal with present and future situations we find ourselves in. The function of memory is to enable animal organisms to survive the on-going challenges posed to them by their changing environment.

If we did not store information on how to cope with situations we would be perpetually relearning how to respond to every situation we find ourselves in. Clearly, if that was the case, the chances are that we would not survive.

In effect, memory enables us to survive in this world, for it enables us to store information in our brain cells that could come to bear in present and future situations where our lives are threatened. Without our memory we probably would not survive on this dangerous planet.


MEMORY IS INFORMATION FROM THE PAST

Information stored in the memory is information on how we behaved in the past. Memory, therefore, is of the past, not the future.

In as much as memory helps us to survive in the present and the future, the past enables us to survive in the present and future. Without what we learnt in the past we may not be able to do what we need to do to cope with present and future exigencies.



CONTINUITY OF THE PAST IN THE PRESENT AND FUTURE

This situation sounds innocuous enough until we think of the implications of utilizing the past to survive in the present. It means that we utilize our past experiences to color our present experience. As I observed in the essay on perception, we use our past learning to color our present situation hence distort it. Memory enables us to employ our past to color our present and distort it.

In so doing, memory of the past perpetuates the linear world we live in, for it means that we shall do things in the present and future as we did them in the past. Memory makes changes difficult.

Memory perpetuates the world order, as it is, and makes change of the world very difficult to accomplish. Memory perpetuates the individual’s personality, his habitual pattern of responding to stimuli from his environment and makes change in his life style difficult.

To change, to do things differently, we have to look at our environment in a different manner; we cannot look at environmental stimuli like we looked at them in the past, as we stored them in our memory.

In as much as we have memory, the past, we always color the present with the past (our learning, history, experiences etc) hence is not able to radically break away from the past.

How are we going to be able to do things differently if we are always using our past to judge and shape our present and behave accordingly? This is a conundrum.


THE PAST IS OVER YET INFLUENCES THE PRESENT

Life on earth is change. Yesterday is gone forever and probably will not repeat in history. Our experiences in the past are over with and probably will not be repeated. The world of the past is over, and is long gone.

But we keep our past experiences, the past world, in our memories and use that memory to influence the present and make it seem like the world of the past. In effect, we keep the past in our memories and use it to make today like the past, to perpetuate the past that is long gone.

We invented a world of separation, space, time and matter. We want that world kept alive, for it enables us to seem separated from each other and from our creator, God. So, we keep that world in our memories and use it to color our present.

God, through his Holy Spirit has taken the world of space, time and matter we made and remade it. He remade it with love and forgiveness.

When we see the same old world of space, time and matter with the eyes of forgiveness and love, it becomes a new world, a remade world, a reinvented world. Our old world becomes a new world, in Christian categories, Jerusalem becomes a New Jerusalem, Israel becomes a New Israel; man becomes a new man, now no longer in the image of separated self but in the image of Christ, that is, unified self, hence happy and peaceful.

The old world is kept in our memories and used to color the present, so we must now give our memory to the Holy Spirit and he would transform them and use them to show us a purified world, still the old ego self and old egos separated world, but one where we love and forgive one another.

(Although we need not go there, but let me just say that the empirical world is over, long ago. It is over but it is kept in memory and that memory is used to make it seem to still exist. This idea is very difficult for a rational person to accept, so we shall not pursue it. But if you are capable of seeing the world as a dream, an illusion you are capable of accepting that the world is a past dream kept alive and used to color the present dream that we are separated from each other. The children of God are always in God and in each other; they are always unified. As it were, while in God, they close their metaphoric eyes and sleep and dream themselves to be in a non-existent world. The Holy Spirit has already overcome that world and it is past. But because they desire that world of separation, for what it gives them, a sense of separation and self creation, they keep it in their minds and use it to still dream that the world exists, when it does not exist. When one experiences mystical union, one understands what I am talking about. In reality, we momentarily dozed off and forgot heaven and dreamed this world; this dream was done in an instant and reawakened in that very instant; we are already returned to the realities of heaven without missing heaven for a second. This is very difficult to understand, so let us not push it. It is difficult enough to ask you to accept some of the metaphysical ideas I have talked about.)


LOOKING AT THE PRESENT AND FUTURE WITHOUT THE PAST

Our past learning teaches us, for example, that other human beings are powerful and could harm and or kill us. Let me be specific. History teaches me, a black man, that white Americans, in the past enslaved Africans and discriminated against them. Information of white abuse and oppression of black people is stored in the individual and collective consciousness (ala Carl Jung) of black persons.

As a black person, that history, my past, urges me to be wary of the intentions of white folks. They have a history of exploiting other people, so I watch out and make sure that they do not use me in the present to secure their welfare.

Most black persons are suspicious of white folk’s intentions; they tend to see whites as sociopaths. Most black persons have functional paranoia when they relate to white folks, for they do not trust white folks to safeguard their black interests.
The fear of white abuse is rooted in empirical facts so it seems realistic. Realistic or not, however, that fear is rooted in past events, not present events. Past or not, it colors perception of whites in the present.

When I see a white person, I see a potential abuser and do not trust him. I am on my guard and scan his activity trying to ascertain his respect of my rights. This is the racial situation in North America. The result is lack of social harmony, peace.

The question is whether it is possible to look at the present without the past? Can I see you without information from my past, information stored in my memory?

The answer is no and yes. The individual can consciously know what the past tells him to do and choose not to do it. He can choose to overlook his past, to ignore it as a guide for present and future behaviors and do something differently. He may, in effect, choose to forgive the past and live in the present; one can choose to love all people, regardless of what they did to one in the past.

Please pay attention, for if you understand what I am talking about, you would have understood Christianity, that much talked about but ill understood religion.

Jesus chose to forgive the past, to ignore the past and live in the present. Jesus was physically and psychologically attacked. His past experiences told him that if he wants to survive as a separated self housed in body that he had better defend himself. He chose not to defend himself. He chose defenselessness. He chose to overlook the past and its world. In doing so, he overcame the past; he overcame the separated self, the ego and its world.

The moment Jesus chose to not see the present with the yardsticks of the past, to respond to the present without information as the world teaches him to respond, he saw the world differently.

He saw the people and world about to murder him in a beautified light. While hanging on the cross, he saw all his brothers in their light forms.

Finally, he went beyond perception and experienced oneness with God and all creation. First, he purified his perception via forgiveness of the past and then he attained unified spirit (Holy Instant).

At that moment, he became a world teacher of God and is at the head of all those who teach about God. Jesus is the head teacher of God.


FORGIVENESS AS A MEANS OF OVERCOMING PAST MEMORY

Are we talking mysticism here? Not at all. We are talking science in the sense that what we are talking about can be verified by you, now, not tomorrow. How?

Select the person who did the most egregious thing to you. If you are a black man, select a white person, for whites abused us and we are angry at them. If you are a woman, select men for men did awful things to women, raping them, inflicting pain on them. Select the human being that you are most hateful of and angry at, the person who in your judgment did the most evil thing to you.

Then consciously overlook what that person did to you. Forgive him and mean it. In fact, pray for his welfare. Tell yourself that you are not going to look at him with the information stored in your memory about his cruel behavior. Ask the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the whole, God, in the part, us, to guide you. Forgive and leave it at that.

When I was in my twenties, I wanted all white folks burned to death for enslaving and discriminating against blacks. At some point, in my late thirties, I chose to forgive white folks, to not look at them from my past. I overlooked what they did to my people. (Who are my people? Then blacks, now all people.) I literally chose not to see the present with the past. When I see a white man, information stored in my memory bubbled up and urges me to be suspicious, paranoid etc. I ignored it and simply looked at the white person as a brother, lovingly.

Try what I have just told you to do. If you do, you would at first feel peaceful and happy (for peace and happiness go together; they are, in fact, synonymous; you cannot have one and not the other; if you are happy you are peaceful and if you are peaceful you are happy).

After you have forgiven all people, the world, then try meditation. Meditation entails clearing your mind of all hateful thoughts; clearing your mind of all conceptual thinking; stopping all thinking for thinking itself is using past categories to think about the present hence distorting them. Just tell yourself that you do not know who you are, who other people are, what any thing means and stay quiet. In your mental silence you will be told what things are by the spirit of the whole, the Holy Spirit.

If you have done what we have asked you to do, suddenly, you would see yourself and other people in light forms. This is literal, not figurative.

When at first it occurs, you might think that you are hallucinating (visual) but you are not, for there is a difference between psychosis and mental health; in psychosis you are all conflicted and irrational, whereas in Spirit you are totally calm and rational.

Meditate. But remember to forgive yourself and all human beings what they did to you in the past. Overlook the ego and its activities. Then wait.

Do not tell the Hotly Spirit what to do, just do what he asks you to do, and leave it at that: he asks us to forgive and love all God’s children.

I did what I have asked you to do, forgive and love all and tried meditation. In meditation, I heard a voice that said: open your eyes and I did and saw myself in light form. I got up and tried to touch it and it had no physical dimension. I walked through it. I thought that I was hallucinating. I have had my psychotic clients tell me about their auditory and visual hallucinations and did not think I could ever hear a voice or see what is not there, as there.

Amazed, I reached to my phone to call my Swami (I was then a devotee of Hinduism) and tell him what is happening and suddenly the light form disappeared and I lost awareness of this world and was in the world of oneness, a word that I cannot describe.

Subsequently, I returned to this silly world of ours. However, I had learned one lesson from the experience of Holy Instance: I know that we are all one. My character was changed forever, for now, I am a giver, not a receiver; I give to all God’s children, for in giving to them I am giving to me, for all of them are parts of me. I am giving you here and in so doing giving to me, clarifying knowledge for you hence for me. I am not better than you. One only gives to ones self, not to other people, for there are no other people.

I do not need to go into areas that the reader may not yet be ready to comprehend. What is salient is that it is possible to overlook our memory and look at the present without the past. If we do so, we have forgiven the past. That is actually what is meant by forgiveness, seeing the present and future without information from the past.

Seeing the present and future with the past perpetuates the old world; overlooking the past changes the world.


THE MISSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Holy Spirit has already reinvented the old ego self and its world. When we separated and invented particles, atoms and elements and used them to form our bodies and world, God entered the world as the Holy Spirit and remade the particles, atoms and elements we made and used them to invent light bodies for us.

Each of us has a dense body, the one he currently has, as well as a light body. Try doing what I asked you to do and see if you would not first experience peace and joy, then your light body. If, in fact, you forgave and loved all people, you would see Jesus in light body, and, ultimately, experience oneness, a formless state of being, immortality.

Look at the present cleansed of the past. This is called purification of your memory and perception. You are still in the world of separation and perception, for if you see at all you have a sense of you and me, separation. You are, therefore, not in unified state, aka heaven, for heaven is oneness and in it there is no you and I, just one self and one mind, with infinite selves and infinite minds.

The Holy Spirit is given the charge of purifying the separated self and its perceptual world. He purifies our perception via forgiveness and love.

When your perception is changed, that is, when you look with forgiveness and not hate, with love instead of asking for punishment for the person who wronged you, you are now living in peace.

Metaphorically, you are now at the gate of heaven (purgatory, real world, call it what you like). Here, you experience people in light forms and every once in a while disappear into God and he, God, disappears into you; you experience oneness, which you cannot explain.


ETERNAL GUILTLESSNESS AND GUILT IN TIME

After the experience of oneness, you become a teacher of God, a minister of God. And what do you teach? You teach that all of us, the children of God, are innocent, for we have not done what we see ourselves do on earth. We are as God created us: sinless, guiltless and innocent.

We merely dream separation but are not separated. We merely dream and in our dreams seem to harm and kill other people. What we do in dreams have not been done. When we overlook the dream, the ego and its world, we return to the world of formless spirit, the world of God and his children.

I have dwelled a bit on metaphysics, so let me return to memory. Memory is storage of information of how one should adapt to the world of separation, space, time and matter, to the world of illusion. As long as one consults ones memory, which is the past, one would do things the same old way one does them before. As such, one would adapt to this world and perpetuate ones old ego and this world.

To do things differently means not to consult ones memory when new situations present themselves to one.

Try to forgive all people and yourself their past. When the past is ignored, forgiven, and overlooked, you see things through the eyes of Christ (also called the eyes of the Holy Spirit…this is called spiritual seeing or Christ vision or corrected perception, still illusion, for it sees physical things that are not there but perception that approximates the non-perceptual world created by God).

When memory is wiped clean, it is still there but the past in it is now seen through the eyes of love.

I still have my past experiences. I am still Ozodi Osuji who has experienced this world since the1950s. I have all my experiences intact. But, I have reinterpreted that experience and now see through the eyes of forgiveness and love. Where hitherto I saw an ugly world, I now see a beautiful world.

I see sleeping, dreaming children of God. I see folks who do awful things to one another. I forgive them what they do to one another and in doing so forgive me my own evil towards other people.

Forgiveness gives me a feeling of peace and happiness. I cannot ask for more. I like to share my peace and joy with you, and that is why I write this unsolicited material. (Your ego does not solicit it but your higher self, the Christ in you, asked me to write it so that perchance you learn about our truth, unified spirit, and turn your attention God wards and experience the peace and joy that is the reward of living a loving life.)


CONCLUSION

We have memories where we store information from our past experiences. The information in our memories helps us adapt to the world in the present and future. In doing so, we color the present and future with the past and perpetuate the type of world we know, the world of conflict, attack and defense. That world has lasted billions of years.

The goal is to ignore memory and relate to the world from the eyes of forgiveness and love. If we do so, we exit the world of dense matter and experience the light world.

If we truly love one another, we enter the unified world of God, a world beyond speech and ego conceptual categories, for concepts adapt to the separated world.

Find out for yourself if these statements are true or speculations. The ball is now in your court.

You may continue to distort the teachings of brother Jesus, as the Christian Church did, so as to keep living in your ego separated state, or you may listen to this new interpretation of the gospel of Jesus the Christ, Jesus the true son of God, and do what would enable you rise above your false self, your separated ego and regain awareness of your true self, the Son of God, the Christ, the unified spirit self.

We, the seeming separated children of God, made memories to enable us store information about our past, so as to use that past to color the present and perpetuate the past in this world. Now, we must give our memory and the information about the past stored in it to the Holy Spirit to reinterpret for us and employ differently.

The Holy Spirit takes what we made in the past and remakes them with forgiveness and love. Our past is now looked at with forgiveness and love. Our world is now looked at with forgiveness and love.

When this is done, we experience the world as peaceful and joyous. Peace and joy are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the immanent God, the God in the temporal universe, who is also the transcendent God, the God outside this world.

The Holy Spirit is not a person; he is God. God is the union of himself and all his children. In that sense, the Holy Spirit is our better self, the part of us that thinks only loving and forgiving thoughts.

The Holy Spirit is the communication link between God and his separated children; he is the bridge between heaven and earth, the world of matter and the world of spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not a person; he is an abstraction, just as the ego is not a person but an abstraction.

The ego is the idea of separation and the self that accepts separation as reality. The Holy Spirit is the idea of union while still in the world of separation.

The Holy Spirit is aware of the nature of heaven (union), and is also aware of the nature of this world (separation).

If you like, the Holy Spirit is the mediator between heaven and the world, union (heaven) and the world (separation). He reconciles the world of separation the children of God made with the Unified/ Holy world God created.

The Holy Spirit is the counselor of the children of God in their world of pain and scarcity. He is their guide in their journey homewards to God, Union and Heaven, their return to their real self, unified self.

(The ego, on the other hand, guides them in their separation from their true self, in their journey to nowhere, for the world they think that they went to does not even exist; the prodigal son’s journey away from his father is a journey without distance, for wherever he goes he goes in God, for God is everywhere; we cannot separate from God, our real self, unified self.)

At all times, let the spirit of God in us, love, and union guide all your earthly activities, and if you do, you will experience peace and joy. If you do you would have stopped trying to make your separated wishes prevail in your life. You would have given up the illusion that there could be another will in the world beside the will of God.

God’s will has no opposite. The son of God, you and I, cannot not do the will of God. God is union and love and when we are sane we do God’s will, forgive and love all people.

The desire for a separated wish is a will of the wisp; an illusion that produces only dreams of pain, suffering and death.
Our world must be transformed, so that we all obey the will of God, which is our real will.

God’s will is love and if we obey it and love one another we are obeying our better will. In a loving each other, the world, the will of God is done, and finally the kingdom of God replaces the kingdom of man; the separated self gives way to the unified self and unified world of God. In a unified world peace and joy reign supreme.

Whatever your secular profession is, do it with the spirit of God, with forgiveness and love.

If you are a medical doctor, serve all your patients with love. If you are an engineer, construct structures for all of us with love. If you are a psychologist, teach all your brothers about their true self, with love.

In the temporal universe, we believe that we are separated selves and live in bodies and need all the things this world offer, so let us do them with love.

When we realize that we are not separated and are spirit then we do not need the things of this world and all our professions are useless.

But until there is mass awakening to the consciousness of oneness, we all need to do our part in the welfare of the sleeping children of God.

Do whatever you do to earn your earning in the world of scarcity (ego) with love, and you help transform our world into a world of abundance (peace and happiness). Cheers.


Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

March 6, 2006

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #21 of 52: Motivation: Why do you do what you do?

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Each of us finds himself or herself doing certain things, so why do we do them? First, there are certain things that all of us do in common. We all desire to live and seem to fear death. To live we seek food, clothes and shelter.

The desire for physical survival is probably the greatest motivation all people have. People do just about everything they do on planet earth to procure their physical survival. Think about it; why do you work? To earn money? What is money for? To buy the things you need to physically survive. If one did not have a need to survive one would not struggle to earn a living.

Moreover, why do people tolerate social and political oppression? Why do folks accept slavery? They do so because they want to live, they want to live so much that they would tolerate other people abusing them provided they permit them to live on earth, in body. Apparently, the slave so fears death, so wants to live in body that he permits other people to abuse him physically, psychologically and in any other manner feasible.

One would think that given that life on earth is pain then we die that folks would not tolerate slavery. Death is inevitable, so why not take up arms against oppressors, fight them and, if one is killed, so what?

No, everywhere on planet earth, folks permit other people to abuse and oppress them, so long as they are permitted to physically survive, even if it means survival with psychological damages (as is the case with slaves).

The desire for physical and psychological survival is great in all human beings. People do not want their physical bodies to die; people do not want their psychological selves, the sense of I, the separated self that lives in space, time and matter, to die, so they tolerate other peoples abuse, so as to make sure that the self-concept and the self-image survives for 100 years then die, as it must.

The body has built-in mechanisms for protecting and defending itself. The body is a system of defense; it defends itself with food, medications, shelter and internal defense mechanisms such as the immune system; without defense the human body dies. Simply stated, everything that we do is to protect our bodies.

The human body is a means to an end; the body itself is not an end. There is something in the body that wants to survive. The body itself is not different from trees, animals (who also want to survive) and rocks. The same elements are found in all material and biological things on earth. There is something in animals that wants to survive through the survival of bodies.

That thing that wants to survive through the human and animal body is the human sense of self, the I, the separated self. The human self wants to live in bodies and defends body, makes sure that it does not die, so as to have the opportunity to live in bodies.

So long as a person is defending his body, that person is the separated I, the ego. As long as we identify with the separated self, the ego and house it in a body, we must defend it, for if we do not the body dies and the ego seem to die along with it. (Actually, the sense of self does not die upon our physical death. How do I know? I just know.)

Spirit is outside body and cannot be hurt by what hurts body and therefore does not need defense. Spirit is defenseless. (Body must be defensive; that is, a person who identifies with body must be defensive, for body in itself does not do any thing, is neutral and does what the self in it asks it to do.)

To be defenseless a person must deny his body and affirm his spirit. One must look at ones body and say to ones self: I am not this body and mean it literally. If one is not this body why is one defending it through food, medications, shelter, and all the things folks do on earth? It is absurd to say that one is not ones body. If one is not ones body one must not defend it.

If you did not defend your body, it would die, literally. If you did not defend the separated self, the I, it would die, literally. The separated self and the body that houses it must be defended to seem to exist. If you stopped wishing to exist in body and having a separated self and were honest and did not defend them you would find yourself die.

You would leave your body, go through a clouded area, see a point of light, enter it and become part of that light. That light has no beginning and no end. It is everywhere. It is peaceful and joyous. It is eternal. It is all knowing. That light is the home of the sons of God and their father. God and his children are one continuous light that begin nowhere and end nowhere. In that unified light self there is no you and I, there is no subject and object, no seer and seen (all are one so there is no one that is not ones self to be outside one to see; thus it is not a world of perception but a world of knowing; the knowledge of oneness and eternity).

All we need to do is posit that there is another world, the spirit world, the world of unified spirit self where all selves are literally one self and one mind. In spirit we are infinite and yet are one spirit; we all share one mind, we all have one mind, the mind of God and his children. In that oneness, each of us is in each of us and we are all in God as he is in each of us.


PSYCHOANALYTIC HYPOTHESIS

The founder of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and his followers had ideas on what motivates people. According to Freud, we are born with Id, (and, later, develop Ego and Superego). The Id is sort of like Instincts (of Sex, Pleasure Aggression, and Thanatos) and it motivates us. We seek food and physical pleasures like sex because of Id; we fight because of Id. The Id energy motivates us to do most of the things we do. If we do not gratify that need we feel frustrated? If we do not have sex we become obsessed with it, as hungry persons are obsessed with food; if we do not engage in sports to satisfy our aggressive energy, our aggressive energy is not given outlet so we engage in war.

Some of our Id desires obviously could not be tolerated in civilized society. If, as Freud believes, we are polymorphously sexually perverse it follows that society cannot permit the individual to exercise his sexual desires at all times, for to do so would lead to war. Imagine a situation where a man wishes to have sex with all women and makes sexual advances to his neighbor’s wife; he could be slapped very hard by the man and the result would be social conflict. To avoid and or minimize social conflict, as Freud sees it, society represses sex. As Freud sees it, society represses many things we want to do.

In time the sum of social repressions and the force repressing them in us is the Superego. The superego, as it were, is the internalized norms of ones society. Children introject and interiorize their group’s culture, which includes how they should behave in every situation they find themselves. When they behave as socially expected, they are positively reinforced, they are rewarded with praise or material things, and when they deviate from approved social norms they are negatively reinforced, sometimes punished. The superego is an individual’s internal mechanism that punishes or rewards his behaviors.

The ego acts like a referee balancing the demands of the superego and the desires of the Id. Where it is appropriate to gratify the desires of the Id the superego permits it. For example, the Id desires sex. If society permits such sexual activity, say, in marital situations, the ego gives the individual green light to go ahead and engage in it and discourages engaging in it where society disapproves it; if the individual does not listen to the ego and does whatever he likes to do he is, sooner or later, apprehended and punished by his society. Society must punish deviates lest there is anarchy and chaos in society.

According to Freud, we repress some of our ungratified Id desires into our unconscious. From there they influence our behaviors. We need to cathect what is repressed, bring it out to the conscious. In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, folks dredge material stored in the unconscious out, through free association, and the analyst analyzes them. Now, for example, the individual learns that he had desire to have sex with his mother, and if a girl with her father. The oedipal complex is resolved.

Alas Freudian psychoanalysis does not change people. Analyzed persons are still neurotic, may be talkative neurotics. Obviously, Freud was spawning a fairy tale, a mythology that has no relevance in the world of facts. His disciples, like Alfred Adler, actually, had a more empirical hypothesis on the etiology of neurosis. Adler believes that the exigencies of this world make children feel inferior and that they compensate with a desire for superiority and that the psychotic goes further than the neurotic and believes that he is, in fact, superior to other people. The neurotic knows that he is weak and merely seeks superiority but the psychotic forgets that he is weak and now thinks that he is the fiction of superior self, hence has lost touch with reality.

Adler derived his human sense of inferiority from the here and now empirical world. A child born with organ inferiority, physical and medical disorders and or social deficits may feel inadequate Vis a Vis children born with healthy bodies and into middle class families.

It is true that organ inferiority and social deficits play a role in the genesis of inferiority feeling, but they are not the only causal factor in this all too human phenomenon. As I pointed out elsewhere, we feel complete in unified spirit and when we separate from it we feel incomplete. That is to say that the spiritual factor complements Adler’s excellent etiological hypothesis.

We do not need to waste our time talking about what psychoanalysts said about the origin of human behavior for they really cannot be verified. When I was a child I played with childish things. As a young man I played with Psychoanalytic ideas. As an adult I know that they are fairy tales, so let us not waste our time with them.


SELFISH GENES

Sociobiologists like Edward Wilson tell us that we are selfish and that our genes are selfish genes. Our motivation is for our selfish genes to survive. We marry and have children and work hard to support our children because we want to survive through the children. Specifically, our selfish genes want to survive through them. Okay. But why do we want to survive at all? What makes our genes selfish?

Make no mistake about it, human beings are selfish. Just look at Nigerians and you see self centeredness at work. These folks are nothing but selfishness concretized. In all my life, I have not seen a Nigerian transcend his ego self and do something altruistically, for the public good. All I see are people who take from the public to serve their personal interests and may be serve their immediate family members. Public service? That is not known in Nigerians’ vocabulary. See, they even sold their siblings into slavery, so as to obtain trinkets to adorn their filthy bodies and do not even feel guilty from that heinous and barbaric action. These people are evil through and through.

Yes, Professor Wilson of Harvard University is correct in stating that we have selfish genes that motivate us. I do not quarrel with his empiricism. In fact, I am an empiricist plus. I add the spiritual dimension to empiricism but I do not mix both of them, for they belong to different orders of reality.


THE DESIRE FOR AN IMPORTANT SELF

Some people pursue power, others pursue wealth, yet others pursue fame and or all three. Human beings desire attention and admiration from their fellow human beings and those motivate their behaviors.

Some persons are motivated by power and glory and go into politics to become the most powerful person in their world, and tell other people what to do. May be they become as powerful as Adolf Hitler and decide people’s life and death issues; and kill whomever they do not like. Now that is ultimate power.

Some people just want money. Wealth enables folks to do most of the things they would like to do with their lives. A Bill Gates and his billions of dollars can pretty much do whatever he wants to do in this world and that is power of sorts.

The various actors and actresses are admired all over the world. Think Movies, think Brad Pitts, Leonardo Dicapri etc and that is fame and power of sorts.


MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

Abraham Maslow posited a formal hypothesis of what motivates people; he called it Hierarchy of needs scale. As he sees it, people are motivated by five things, in order of importance: physical, safety, social, esteem, self actualization and spiritual.

Each person has physical needs for food, clothing and shelter. Those are the primary needs and must be satisfied before other needs are pursued. Once they are satisfied, then the individual seeks the protection of his physical body; he wants to feel secure in his person; thus the pursuit of security is the next order of needs.

Once safety needs are met, the individual wants to make sure that people around him like him; he seeks social approval and does what gets it for him; every person wants to belong to a social group.

Once social needs are met the individual seeks positive self esteem and respect from other people. He wants to be seen as a very important person by people in his world and does what he believes would bring their positive estimation.

When the lower four needs are met, the individual seeks to actualize whatever he believes is his potential, his nature. Each of us, apparently, has inherent potentialities, some capabilities we either came to this world with or learn and want to actualize them. For example, one may sense that one has understanding of human nature and undertakes to write about it and in doing so actualize ones potential.

Ultimately, Maslow believes that we ask existential questions like wanting to know who we are and where we came from etc. These types of questions tend to lead to searching for our origin and that may mean paying attention to spiritual matters. Maslow was influenced by Oriental religions and equated his idea of being with Buddhism’s oneness, the sense of union with all Being and the sense of bliss derived from that Nirvana.

Other psychologists have speculated on human motivation. However, I have said enough for you to try to figure out why you do what you do. We do not need to do the whole literature review here. Instead of doing a literature review, I will merely posit a hypothesis for you to consider.


THE PURSUIT OF THE BIG SELF

In spirit, human beings were in a state of completion and perfection. Another way of putting it is that in God human beings were completed and perfect; in the whole human beings, parts of the whole, felt completed.

When we separated from the whole, when we separated from God, in pursuit of separated identities, each of us feels little.

On earth, human beings are characterized by a feeling of littleness, incompleteness, imperfection, in Alfred Adler’s psychological categories, a feeling of inferiority. On earth each child begins out his existence by feeling inferior and inadequate. (To feel inadequate and inferior, he must have known their opposites; he knew their opposites, adequacy, completeness, perfection etc in heaven, in God).

Since our natural state (in spirit) is completion and perfection, we cannot really accept a feeling of littleness and inferiority.

Moreover, to adapt to the exigencies of this tough world requires pursuit of Power, as Adler pointed out. The individual needs power to enable him cope with his physical and social environment. He must master his world or his world masters him. Without power he cannot adapt to his world and would die. Power is a necessary instrument for surviving on this very impersonal world.

A human child, and for that matter, all animals react to their perceived sense of inferiority with pursuit of superiority. All human beings initially feel inferior and desire to seem superior.

To drive my points home, I will draw from my personal experience, not because I am narcissistic, vain and attention seeking, but to drive the points home, I am not talking abstraction here but facts. As a child, I felt totally inferior. I was motivated to seem superior. I struggled to seem superior. Since relative to my peers I was smart I felt superior to most of them. I used to wonder why they found what I found easy difficult. As an undergraduate student I actually used to teach graduate students their subjects. All said, I somehow fancied myself superior to most people around me. This perception of ones self as superior to other people is what Adler called neurosis.

The neurotic personality, which is all human beings, in degrees, would like to think that he is superior to other people.

If, in fact, one believes that one is superior to other people one is no longer merely neurotic (aka personality disordered) but psychotic. The psychotic (schizophrenic, deluded, manic etc) actually believes that he is superior to other people. He acts as if he is superior to other people and wants them to accept his delusion as true. Of course, other people do not accept his insanity for they know that despite our posturing we are all the same and equal. Feeling that other people do not accept his madness of superiority the deluded person feels angry at them. He sees them as demeaning his imaginary importance.

For our present purpose, the salient point is that human beings feel existentially unimportant, little and inferior and desire to seem the opposites of those negative states. They compensate with pursuit of superiority at the individual and social level. To be a human being is to feel a sense of internal minus and to desire a plus state. We are all this way; the difference is whether it is normal, neurotic or psychotic in one.

In normalcy the person feels group rooted superiority. He identifies with a group and works for his group’s superiority and to the extent that he does so he feels important. Adler called the normal person a person who works for social interest.

A neurotic, unlike the normal person, does not work for his group’s interests but for himself. He wants to seem important as an alone individual. He pursues personal superiority. In today’s psychiatric language he is personality disordered (in particular paranoid, narcissistic, antisocial personality disorders etc).

In unified spirit state, we are the same and equal and know it. To be mentally healthy one must feel perfect sameness and equality with all human beings and with all creation. The moment one feels inferior and or superior to other persons, one is not mentally healthy, one is normal, neurotic and or psychotic. All three: normal, neurotic and psychotic are states of relative insanity.

The normal person is insane but within the group insane level; the normal person is, in fact, as insane as the neurotic; the difference is that he seeks superiority within the group’s context whereas the neurotic and psychotic are seeking superiority in the individual context hence their insanity is very apparent to all. In normal persons the individual’s insanity is masked from himself and from those around him. In neurosis his madness…desire for superiority…is not masked; in psychosis the desire for superiority is overt, for the psychotic believes to be true what the neurotic merely wishes were true, that he is better than other people.

(Exactly a month ago, an Igbo brother of average intelligence told me that he is superior to me. He went on and on bragging about how he is rich, powerful and so on. He experienced transient psychosis. Ordinarily, he is a paranoid personality with intermittent explosive disorder. Generally, he seeks to seem superior to other people, but during his temporary psychosis he actually believed that he is superior to other people. I represented the humanity that makes him feel inferior and by telling me that he feels superior to me, he sort of felt good, psychotic good.

Nevertheless, one should make no mistake about it, for during his temporary delusional disorder episode, the individual could kill some one. Thus he is a dangerous person and ought to be reported to the police and watched. He felt totally little and restituted with fictional worth and in that false state felt justified in doing whatever he wanted to do, which included attacking, harming and killing people. People kill out of a state of insanity. In sanity they can only love their fellow human beings.)

Nigerians, like most human beings, generally are operating at normal levels. As I have pointed out at several places, Igbos tend to have a higher proportion of paranoid personality disorder and masked delusional disorder. When you push an Igbo his underlying paranoia is likely to come out and he acts out angrily. The Igbo feels inferior and wants to seem superior and works hard to seem superior.

Any one who wants to seem superior to other people is neurotic (of different varieties, narcissistic, paranoid etc).

The relevant point is that human beings feel inadequate and seek to become adequate selves. Their lives are geared towards seeming important selves. They are motivated to seem very important persons. If they are normal they can attain their fictional importance by working for social interests, by being professionals: medical doctors, engineers, lawyers, politicians, business men etc. If they were unable to satisfy their desire for existential importance, they do so vicariously, that is, pretend to be important, as neurotics do or believe that they are, in fact, important, as psychotics do.

In body, in ego state, we human beings are unimportant. To personalize, I Ozodi Osuji, as a separated self, as an ego living in body, am totally worthless and valueless.

The human being as an ego housed in body is worthless. (If you melt down the individual’s body and sell it, it is worth less than a dollar.)

I accept my total physical and psychological worthlessness. Have you?

I see you, every human being as like me, totally worthless and valueless. No matter how you package your body and what social position you have, you are garbage in my eyes. This is literal. I remember when I was a college student and had the opportunity to travel all over Europe and North America. I remember taking a tour of The American White House, where their president lives, and saying to myself: so here is where the great ape lives. The occupant of that mansion, then Ronald Reagan, had no value in my eyes. I visited similar places in France, Italy, England, Germany etc and in each of those castles the folks living in them were not different from garbage.

You get the point. I do not have negative self view and then see other people as better than me. I see all of us, as egos and bodies, as nothing. We are shit, literally. Actually we are a few pennies worth of particles, atoms and elements temporarily bonded and act as animals.

And do not go thinking that I am depressed, for if there is a real self accepting human being on earth it is me. I just happen to see things with amazing clarity, while most folks are in sleep and delude themselves that a lie is the truth.

The truth is that we have perfect worth and value in spirit, in unified state, in God. The children of God and their father have grandeur and magnificence. But in our separated ego-body state we have no worth; we are worthless and valueless.

Nothing we do on earth can make us important. The Igbos have an apt saying that no matter how much you wash the anus that it would always smell of feces( Eje nkwa ncha sa otula oga ji kwa eshi shi shi). Meaning that our lives are worthless and no matter how much we desire them to be worthwhile, they must be worthless. But do not feel depressed, for there is worth. There is worth in our real self, in our spirit self.


UNIFIED SPIRIT SELF

What I add to secular psychology is the spiritual dimension. There is an agent in us that wants to survive as a separated self. That separated self attaches itself to a body and struggles to survive in body.

The whole idea of having a body is to survive as a separated self. Body is a means of survival as a separated self.

I have explained this phenomenon elsewhere and do not intent to repeat myself here. If you have been following this series you probably have an awareness of what I am talking about.

Briefly, eternity is unified, is one self and one mind. Eternity is like a coin with two sides. God is one side of the eternal coin and the other side is his children. God and his infinite children have existed for ever and will exist forever. There is no beginning or end to God and his children.

The children of God are God; God is his children. God extended his one self into his children. Therefore, the terms God and his children are misleading, for they assume two selves. There is literally one self, God.

God is one self that knows himself as God and as the children of God. God is a whole that knows that he has parts and that he and his parts are one self.

Where God ends and his son begin is nowhere and where the son of God begins is nowhere. God and his son are one self and one mind, literally, not figuratively.

(How do I know? Because I know, and if you would stop deceiving yourself you also already know this reality).

The children of God, that is, God as his children, the whole as its parts, pretended to be separated from God.

Parts cannot separate from the whole and the whole cannot separate from the parts. So separation has not and cannot occur.

What cannot happen is dreamed. We, the children of God, that is, God, dream that we are separated from God and from each other.

We invented space, time and matter and seem to live in this separated world. We seem to put ourselves into bodies and live in bodies. We made our bodies vulnerable to feel hurt, to feel fear and anger and to be attacked so that we are perpetually defending them.

In defending our bodies we seem separated from those we are defending against. A mosquito bites you and you defend against it by killing it. In doing so, you convince yourself that you are separated from the mosquito.

But in truth there is no mosquito and there is no you, in bodies. There is only one life force, God, in both you and the mosquito.

In the here and now world each of us sees himself in body and lives in space, time and defends his body and in doing so survive as a seeming separated self.

The individual’s motivation is to keep his separated self in body alive. That is what we do here: keep our bodies alive, so as to keep our separated self alive.

If one does not desire to keep the separated self alive then one would not desire to keep the body that houses it alive. One would voluntarily undertake to have ones bodies die by not eating food or defending body when it is attacked by other people.

This is what Jesus did. His body was attacked and he knew that he is not his body and not his separated self, so he did not defend his body and separated self. It would seem like his body was destroyed. He reappeared to other folks in his light body. (Each of us has a dense body as well as a light body).

All these seem hooky but find out for your self. Stop defending your body with food etc. Fast and do not wish to be in body. Then meditate. You will experience yourself leave your body and see yourself in a light body and ultimately you will know yourself as one self with all selves.

The unified self cannot be explained in our world’s categories, for our world is a divided place and the categories of division cannot explain the categories of a unified world, the world of God and his children.


CONCLUSION

Originally, and in the present, too, human beings, animals, trees, everything is spirit. We are all part of unified spirit self. This is a fact, not speculation.

We seem to have separated from that unified spirit self. We seem to exist as separated selves in bodies. As long as we are in bodies we must feel inferior, inadequate and little.

Initially, we seek adequacy by trying to seem important in this world. We pursue the categories of the world that make people seem important. Academic attainments, political and economic power etc seem to give us worth. I was born poor but by my early thirties was running human service agencies. I was driven by neurotic ambition to seem important via achievement. In my mid thirties I recognized that nothing on earth could give me worth. I turned my attention to God and began studying the religions of mankind.

Man will always feel inferior and inadequate as long as he is separated from his creator and father, God. He can seek worth in all sorts of places but would not find it. He can only find worth when he takes his place in his father’s presence. In God we feel peaceful, joyous and worthy.

The motivation to experience our real self, unified spirit, must replace the motivation to adapt to this world. However, when the individual makes this reversal is not for any of us to say.

Some persons are totally satisfied pursuing the things of this world. Some of us, right from the beginning, saw through the tinsel nature of earthly things and gave them up. Life in separated state, in ego, is transitory, ephemeral and does not satisfy the children of God. What satisfies them is return to union with God and all of us.


Ozodi@africainstittuteseattle.org

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #20 of 52: Decision Making: Who Guides you? Ego or Christ

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- We are always making decisions, every second of our life on earth. We make decisions to wake up in the morning, decisions as to what to do, what not to do; when we leave our house, we make decisions to cross the street or not? (Fear can be so extreme that it paralyzes folks from even leaving their houses; this is called agoraphobia, and or panic disorder.)

We cannot not make decisions and still be on this planet. It is folly to think that one can avoid making decisions, for even fence sitting, vacillation, and wishy-washiness is a decision, is a choice, a chosen action, a choice not to choose.

In fact, living itself is a choice. We choose whether to live or not to live on planet earth. How so? Each of us has the capacity to kill himself and, at any moment, can choose to kill himself. I can choose, right now, to put a bullet into my brain and get my miserable life over with. If, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, I tell myself that the reason I do not destroy myself is because I do not know what lies on the other side, indeed, that I do not even know whether there is an other side, whether there is heaven or hell, fear of punishment by God etc, my indecisiveness is a decision. I can choose that it does not matter what happens after I die, I will cross that bridge when I get there, and, after all, I did not know what this world was like when I was born, yet I deal with its awful exigencies.

Nothing could be worse than this world; I simply cannot imagine life after death being worse than the hell we call planet earth. Life in human body is awful. We are born, we grow up, we live in pain and we die. We watch our loved ones age and die. It is amazing that any one would want to live in a place like this, a slaughter house where folks kill each other and are killed by virus, bacteria, fungi and assorted diseases, not to talk of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, volcanoes, earthquakes etc. This is a dreadful world. If, in fact, there is an after death place and it is lived in body, I would rather not go there, for I cannot bear to live in body any more and be subjected to the pains of living in body.

To live in body is to suffer. We suffer, as Buddha reminds us, because we want to live in separated ego states, and bodies enable us to seem separated from each other. If we did not want to live in separation and in body we would not suffer the pains of living in body.

I simply do not want to live in body, if body characterizes the after death world. But if the after death world is spirit and spirit is not subject to physical suffering, now we are talking sense.

All said, no matter what rationalization we employ, the fact is that all of life on earth is decision making and we are making decisions at every moment in our lives.

We make decisions what to eat, what to wear, what type of education to obtain, what vocation to pursue, how to relate to other people, lovingly or hatefully and so on.


THE CHOICE TO BE ON EARTH

I was going to write an essay that is strictly secular psychological, that is, empirical and scientific, in nature. I have changed my mind and decided to make this essay spiritual psychology oriented. If you do not like that subject, skip it. In my courses on management, I do teach decision making, and that entails examining alternatives and choosing one and knowing about the opportunity cost. When we choose one thing we do not choose the other things that we could have chosen. The advantages the other alternatives could have conferred are let go, this is the opportunity cost, hence the decision maker must carefully examine all the alternatives before he decides what course of action to pursue.

Someday, I will write a pure secular psychological essay on decision making, but now, I am motivated to give this essay a spiritual turn.

To live on planet earth is a choice to live in space, time and matter. As pointed out, each of us has the capacity to end his life at any moment, so, logically, no matter how one came to be here, it is one who chooses to be here.

As long as you want to live to see tomorrow, that is your choice, for you can choose not to see tomorrow. I am assuming that you are like me and you want to live to be, at least, a hundred years; if so, you have made a choice to be in this world.

Since this world entails suffering, you have made a choice to suffer, it is your choice, so, do not deceive yourself as to who made that choice for you, you made it for you; I made it for me.

This world is a choice to live in body. If you do not want to live in body you can end it now. As long as you are here, you have chosen to live in body.

Body is a means, not an end. Body is a means of living as a separated self, an ego. Body houses the separated self. Body gives the individual a sense of boundary between himself and other selves. Body is a means of separating from other people, a means of division.
The choice to be on earth is the choice to separate from the whole, and live as a separated self. If you call the whole God, the part of the whole, the Son of God, the choice to be on earth is a choice by the Son of God to live apart from his father.

But since the part cannot be apart from the whole, it follows that the Son of God cannot live apart from his father. He must always live in his father.

(If you are a Christian, as I am, please see the Gospel according to John, chapter 14, read all of it.) Jesus pointed out that the father is in the Son and the Son is in the father; that where you see the Son you see the father, and that you cannot see the father outside of his Son (Son in this case means all of us, all the parts of the whole) since he is in his Son.

Jesus spoke in parables. He knew that not all people are yet ready to understand his mission, so he spoke in an oblique manner, leaving it to those who are ready to figure out what he meant to do so, and in the process of trying to figure it out come to understand the truth about them.

Here is my metaphoric representation of reality.
There is a whole. The whole is inconceivable unless there are parts. A whole presupposes parts. Parts, in turn, presuppose the existence of the whole. Therefore, by logical necessity, there is a whole and there are parts.

There are infinite parts to the whole called our universe. The part of the universe cannot see the entire universe for the universe is infinite in size. At any rate, if the part could see the whole, it follows that the whole is outside it. If the whole is outside it and does not contain it, it is a whole minus one part hence, logically, is not a whole.

For the whole to be a whole, the individual must be inside it.
The whole, by logical necessity, includes the part. The whole is inside the part, as the part is inside the whole.

Each part of the whole contains the entire whole, albeit in minuscule quantity. (You probably know that most of the chemical elements, so far identified to be about 104, are in the physical make up of the individual, as they are everywhere in the universe, hence the individual’s body contains all the universe, albeit in a minuscule portion.)

Simply stated, logic demands that the whole must be inside the part and that the part must be inside the whole. It was on this basis that the enlightened brother, Jesus Christ, would say: the father is in me and I am in the father and I am in you (each and all of us). My father and I are one.

And Philip asked him: show us the father, so that we may go to him. Jesus answered, as it were, by saying: fool, can’t you learn the obvious? The father is in the son, so where you see the son you see the father. Where you see Jesus you see God. Where you see each of us you see God, as it were, in miniature.

You cannot see God outside his creations, for he is inside them as they are inside him.


God being a father must have a son, for it takes a son for there to be a father. By the same token, there must be a father for there to be a son. The son of God, us, must have a father, to be the children of God.

What is the point, you ask? The point is that there must be God (whole) and that there must be children (parts of the whole) of God. The one presupposes the other. The one cannot exist unless the others exist, too. (Please pay attention, Africans did not reason out the logical necessity of God, like the Hindus did. Africans just assumed the existence of God, which is true. My function is to help you, if you are the rational type, what Hindus call Jnana yogis, to understand the logical necessity of God. I am not interested in having you believe in God. Faith is not necessary to prove God’s existence; reason can do so, but not ego based reason.

God is creative. To create is to extend ones self into producing other things. If God were not creative he would not be God. Logical necessity makes God creative.

God is always creative; for, if there was a time he was not creating he was not God. God has always existed and has always created.

What is God creating? He is creating his children, us. God extended himself to his children.

One God extends himself to a son. He extends all of himself into that one son. That one son now contains all of God. Remember that the part contains the whole and the whole contains the part.

God remains as the whole and is also the part he has extended himself to. (The whole remains as the whole yet is in the part; the part is itself yet is in the whole.)

Containing all of God and God’s creative spirit, the Son of God extends himself into his own children. His own children contain all of God’s creative energy and extend it to their own children.

Creation has no beginning and no end. There was no time that God was not creating his children and his children creating other children.


Since God’s children came from him, they are as old as he is. God has existed for ever, so if his children are as old as he is; they have existed forever.

You are as old as God, for you have always being inside God. God is permanent, eternal, immortal and changeless.

The son of God is always in his father, as his father is in him; they are unified, they are one. All children of God are in God and in each other and in their father.

There is no space between God and his children or between one child of God and others. All of us literally share one self and one mind, the self and mind of God. (Mind is our agency for thinking.)

Though they are unified, the Son of God can imagine himself separated from his father and from his brothers.

It is impossible for the son to separate from his father and brothers, for the part to separate from the whole, but he can imagine it. What he cannot attain in reality, he imagines and dreams of.

Since the mind of the Son of God is the mind of God it has God’s powers. It can, therefore, make what it imagines seem real to it.

Thus, we, the children of God, imagine a world of space, time and matter, a world where we are separated from God and from each other, and make that world seem real to us. We do so collectively during the day, and individually at night when each of us sleeps and dreams and sees a world that seems real but is not real when he wakes up in the morning.

Our day world is equally not real but as long as we share it, it seems real to us. Our day world is a collective dream, a collective illusion.

Actually, our world is a collective delusional disorder, where we see what is not true as true. Because it is a shared delusion, follie adieu, it seems real. What is shared seems real. Moreover, because the world is a shared delusion it seems to last long, billions of years, whereas the unshared dreams we have at night lasts only during the sleep. Our individual nightly dreams are not shared hence its unreality is immediately recognized when the individual wakes up in the morning.

As long as other people share ones day life, one thinks that it is real. It lasts long because it is a shared delusion. But every once in a while, one of us transcends that delusion, that dream, and wake up and recognize that he is one with the father and all of us. He experiences union, Holy Instance, etc and then returns to the separated world to teach all of us our truth of oneness.

Our lives on earth are shared delusional disorder; it is also shared hallucination. As long as all of us shared it, it seems normal.

But some individual’s have their own specific delusional disorder and or hallucination and we call them psychotics. The psychotic’s delusions and hallucinations are individualistic and are not share by other people; hence he is living in his own fantasy land.

The normal person’s delusions and hallucinations are shared by other people. (We see what is not there, the physical world hence are literally hallucinating.)

We want to think that our bodies are important. Our bodies are composed of particles, atoms and elements and are literally nothing. They have no value and worth. A flood can sweep our bodies along with other animals, trees, rocks etc to wherever it wants to dump them, meaning that our bodies have no value. But each of us would like to think that his or her body has worth.

What is life on earth but effort to make our bodies seem important? All society and laws are designed to make our bodies seem important. In making our bodies important we struggle to earn a living to maintain them.

Body is a means; it houses the separated self, the ego. It is really the ego, the separated self concept, the self image, that we want to make to seem important. Every where, folks have the delusion that they are very important persons.


SEPARATION AS THE ORIGIN OF OUR SENE OF LITTLENESS

By logical necessity, the whole, God, must be complete and perfect. The part (son of God) cannot be complete and perfect, except in so far that it is part of the whole, God.

Human beings separated from the whole, God and by logical necessity must feel incomplete, for they feel complete and whole only in God, in the whole.

As long as they are on earth, feel separated from God, the whole, they must feel little, in Alfred Adler’s terms, they must feel inferior and inadequate.

People, the children of God, came from a world where they felt complete, whole and adequate. In oneness with God and in all of us, if you like, in heaven, we felt grand. Therefore, we cannot accept a sense of incompleteness, imperfection, inadequacy and inferiority. Thus, we struggle to make us seem superior.

On earth, in separated state, we feel little and struggle for importance. Each of us wants to seem import, grand. He wants to do it on individual basis.

In unified state, aka heaven we are grand but on a shared basis. If you do something that contributes to social interest, to other people’s well being and feel important, your sense of importance is normal, for it is derived from your utility to other people. But if you want to feel important as an alone person without contributing to society, your importance is unrealistic and grandiose, that is, psychotic.

That is to say that even on earth worth lays in shared self, just as in eternity our magnificent worth lays in our union with each other and with our father, God.

The purpose of society and the laws of society are to give the individual the illusion that his separated self and body has worth. Society and its laws protect our ego selves and our bodies and make them seem important.

(As an aside, I found my body worthless. I sought to have an ideationally perfect self that I conferred worth to. Through ratiocination, I constructed an ideal self and made it seem important. That ideal self was amazingly ambitious. In my late thirties, I recognized that I am not my ideal self. Thereafter, my world collapsed. All the fantasies that motivated my life could no longer give my life meaning.

On earth, people live meaningless and purposeless lives, but if they can give themselves a purpose to live for, such as pursuit of greatness, their lives suddenly seem to have meaning for them.

Some of us, fortunately, see through the world’s glitz and know that it does not satisfy. We see that it is us, human beings, who want to adapt to this world. In trying to adjust themselves to the world of separation, ego and body, they experience pain and suffer. In effect, it is they themselves that give themselves their pain and suffering. They suffer because they want to seem separated from the whole. They want to seem the opposite of reality, which is whole. They want to seem the opposite of God, whole. In doing so, they inflict unnecessary suffering to themselves. If they give up their mad desire for separated self, do not try to adjust to the realities of the world of ego, space, time and matter, they would die to the world. In dying to the ego and its separated world they would be resurrected to their real selves, the unified self and unified world.

What satisfies human beings is finding out that we, in fact, are, not who we think that we are. In the meantime, those going through the process of real self discovery, may find our world meaningless. In fact, they find most vocations in the world meaningless and drop out of the work world and remain unemployed rather than go do what seems to them meaningless work. Such persons find all the professions on earth boring, all ennui.

Some try to escape from their boredom by fleeing into addictive behaviors. If one is addicted to drugs, one stimulates ones body and in doing so seem excited and life seems worth living. Some escape into sex addiction and or pornography. Always seeking sex or watching pornography excites ones body. Excited body makes one seem physically alive. Additionally, sex gives folks a feeling of release from their stress and pain.

Addictions to sex, and or drugs, alcohol etc are mere masks; they mask folk’s existential crisis but do not solve it. What solves the problem is finding meaning and purpose.

Only turning to God can satisfy human beings, for we are the children of God and God is our home and until we are in God, we feel like strangers in this world; we feel alienated from our true self and flounder all over the place seeking purpose and meaning that always elude us in the world of separation.

Alas, on earth, one must eat to survive; eating requires money to buy ones food. So, one must work unless one malingers and have society support one.

The alternative is to find a career that satisfies one. Spiritual psychology combined with secular psychology satisfies some of us.

In spiritual psychology, one learns how to live in this world, how to be in the delusion of separated self and be happy in it. The delusion becomes a happy delusion, a happy hallucination, and a happy dream.

The enlightened son of God knows that life on earth is an exercise in purposelessness and meaninglessness. Nothing we do here on earth matters or have any worth or value. The earth is a dream and what is done in dreams is neither good nor bad. Therefore, one overlooks what other people are doing, for they are doing nothing important. As long as people’s actions do not hurt one another one tolerates them.

One makes only one judgment: one judges this world as meaningless and overlooks it; and in doing so experience the world that has meaning, the unified world of God.

One then tolerates other people’s meaningless activities. (When I first saw homosexual persons, they were so revolting that I wanted them all killed. How could they do the idiotic things they do? Now, that I understand that they are engaged in meaningless activities because they are living in a meaningless world, I let them be. They are in a dream where they want to make their egos and bodies seem real. What is done in a dream is neither good nor bad; it is nothing and does not matter. Thus, I overlook their absurd behavior and still love the spirit of God in them. I forgive them their silliness.)

To forgive is to overlook what people are doing. Forgiving them means tolerating what they do, loving their inner Christ self and not paying attention to their absurd ego behaviors. Forgiveness does not change other people, it does not make other people behave differently; it merely makes one tolerate their absorb behaviors and live peacefully and happily despite the absurdity of human behavior.

Despite your forgiveness, people are still going to behave in evil manners; they are still going to kill each other etc, whether you forgive them or not. Just over look people’s behavior and love the Christ in them; it is that Christ, the son of God who sleeps and dreams himself doing the silly things people do on earth.

People are the children of God. As such, they have the power of God in them. Whatever they want to do they can do for they have the power of God to do so (to create and to miscreate).

Whatever you believe matters to you, matters to you. In the final analysis, in God, it may not matter, but because you want it to matter, it matters to you. Indeed, the physical world does not exist, but because we want it to exist, so that we may think that we live separated existence, it exists for us.

Our world does not exist but the power of our minds makes it seem to exist and it exists for us; it exists for as long as we want it to exist, for as long as we want to dream.

Consider Africans. They are always destroying each other. I just had this experience lately. I started a school and brought some Africans on board. What did they do? They worked to destroy the school; that is Africans for you. Instead of working together for their mutual good, they seek only self centered good and in the process destroy each other.

Africans want to experience poverty and wretchedness. They chose it and experience it. No one else did this to them; their egos did this to them. It is their choice and they experience what they choose, poverty. Their lack of love for each other is incredible, they are self centered beyond belief.

You cannot change Africans and prevent them from engaging in their chosen self destructive life styles. You can forgive them, you can overlook their destructiveness but they would still be self destructive. You can employ secular psychology and psychotherapy to help them understand the nature of their ego selves, their amazing infantile grandiosity and help them to shrink their egos to normalcy. They have to do so if they are ever going to make headway in this world.

The son of God can live in his father and tells himself that he is apart from his father; he can live in the whole and imagine that he is apart from it. The belief that one is outside the whole, apart from God, is a delusion, is unreal, for one, by logical necessity, is always in the whole and inside God as part of him.

As it were, we are in God and dream that we are separated from him. Separation is an impossible event. In reality, the part is in the whole and the whole is in the part; this means that we are all inside God and inside each other, thoughts cannot leave their source, we are the thoughts of God, we are ideas in the idea of God, the part is an idea in the idea of whole, but we can dream that we are separated from God and from each other.

The world is the dream, the illusion that we are separated from the whole, from God and from each other. The reality is that we cannot not be part of God and of each other.

We are the children of God, the parts of the whole. The whole is powerful; God is powerful. The part must also be powerful, for it is the whole in a part.

The children of God are very powerful. They are so powerful that they can make dreams and illusions seem real to them and seem to live in them.

Only union exists but we made separation seem real and live in it. What we desire we see.

What we see is what we desire. Desire and belief produces the world we see. Nothing can exist in this world that is not our desire.
Nothing can happen to us that we did not wish for. If we did not wish for something it cannot happen.

If what we did not want could happen to us, we would not be powerful. The only way that we cannot be powerful is if the whole, God, is not powerful.

Nobody can look at this world and say that it does not contain awesome power. We share in that awesome power of the world.

There is a whole self, a holy self, and a unified self. This is reality. In reality, only the whole and its parts exist, for the whole presupposes parts and parts presuppose a whole. The whole, God and his parts, children of God, by logical necessity must exist.

In what folks call heaven God, whole, and his children, parts, exist and know that to be the case. They know their holiness, their eternal union. They do not have doubt that they exist as a unified self; on earth we have doubt that we even exist. In eternity, God and his creations know that their existence must be necessary.

Eternity, heaven, is knowledge of the fact of the eternal existence of the union of father and his infinite children, the whole and its parts.

The parts of the whole chose to seem to separate from the whole.
Parts are in the whole. So, in effect, God, the whole, chose to seem to separate from himself. Yes, it is God himself, in the guise of the Son of God who seems to have separated from himself.

This is because God and his son are one. (Hinduism is correct in stating that it is Brahman himself that dreams this world of separation. Brahman, the whole, is the same as Atman, the part. So what the part does the whole does and what the whole does the part does. A Course in Miracles is also correct in saying that it is the son of God that separated from his father, and that it is the son that dreams this world. Logically speaking in as much as the father extended himself into his son, the father as the son; the father does what the son does.)

When the Son of God, that is, the whole of God in disguise is the son of God, chose to separate from itself, it is now called the ego; the sense of separated self, the I. The ego is a separated God, God separated from himself; this sounds absurd to say that God separated from himself.

The part made his seeming separation from the whole possible by inventing space, time and matter (body) to live in. He sees space between him and other selves, he takes time to reach others; he seems to be housed in body and body gives him a sense of separation from other seeming others.

To be in this world is to have chosen to be an ego, to have chosen to be in body. Who made that choice? The individual made it. The Son of God made it. Since one Son of God is all sons of God, all of us made that choice. Since the children of God are God, God made the choice to be an ego.

(But the whole cannot be apart from the part, so God has not made a choice to be separated from his part, from himself; he still knows that he is unified with all his children. But the God on earth, the son of God still believes that he is separated from his real self, unified self; on earth God thinks that he is separated from himself; the son of God thinks that he is separated from his father and all his brothers, the two statements are the same. In heaven, which simultaneously exists with earth, God knows himself to be unified with his children and his children know themselves to be unified with their God and all their brothers. The ideas expressed here are very difficult to grasp. If you understand them, congratulations. See the writings of Shankara; he points out that Brahman, God, is awake in heaven, Brahmaloka, and, at the same time, is sleeping and operating in this world as Ahankara, the ego. Shankara is very correct. How do I know that he is correct? I know.)

On earth, each of us chose to seem separated from all of us, from God, from himself; put differently, on earth, each of us, Son of God, God, chose to seem separated from himself.

We have already made a decision to live in space, time and matter, to live on earth, to be ego, to be separated. Everything that happens to us is our choice, a choice that we make every second. Nothing that we do not want can happen to us. Accidence cannot be possible in the world.

To live as an ego is to live as a separated self and choose to forget that one made that choice. The ego is a wish to think that things that one does not like can happen to one, so as to justify fear, anger and hatred. One chooses everything that happens to one and forgets that one chose them. The nature of life on earth is to choose to forget that one made the choice to be on earth and the choice of what happens to one.

When one goes to sleep at night one dreams a world that seems real; it is one dreaming it, and no one else is dreaming it for one. On earth, one is dreaming all that is happening on earth. I, Ozodi nwachi, son of God, am the dreamer of all that is happening in this world. Of course, I do not know that I am the one dreaming it, just as the dreamer at night does not know that he is the one dreaming his dreams. I think that events happening in this world are outside me, outside my control, but I dream them all.

Since other people are part of me, they, too, dream the entire world; what I dream, other people dream.

I am responsible for the war going on in Iraq; it is my dream; you are part of me, and therefore, you are responsible for the war in Iraq; Iraqis are part of me and you and therefore are responsible for dreaming the dream of themselves been killed.

(If the war in Iraq is my dream, can I stop it, wish it to stop, dream that it not to be going on? No. Dreams do not stop themselves. It is when the dreamer awakens that he stops his dreams.)

In the meantime, we are all doing something, at the ego level to continue that war and simultaneously trying to stop it, for the ego is offense-defense done at the same time, we want war and we do not want war. We struggle not to have war but do what generates war; both trends are simultaneously going on at the same time; that is what the world is, the coexistence of chains of opposites, war and peace, hate and love, not one or the other. The result is the world of conflict, not peace.

Each of us, as the Son of God, Nwachi, Nwachukwu, made the choice to be on earth. Since Nwachi is Chi, since the Son of God is God, God made the decision to be on earth (while he is still in heaven; the son of God is still in heaven…the dream of earth can be overlooked and all he experiences is heaven).

On earth, each of us is an ego; but an ego is a dream figure, so each of us is still the Son of God disguised as an ego; each of us is God disguised as his son and disguised as the ego.

For our present purposes, each of us chooses everything that happens to him on earth (but he does not know how he did it, for it is a dream of forgetfulness).

I have chosen everything that happens to me without been conscious of how I did it. If I find myself in any situation, I must accept that I placed myself into it, how, I do not consciously know.


EGO DECISION REMADE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

My ego has placed me where I am. Now, I must ask the Holy Spirit, the representative of my awake self in this world to tell me what to do.

Do not ask the Holy Spirit to tell you where to be, for your ego has already placed you where you are. All that you can do is choose to see where you are differently, to see it with the eyes of love and forgiveness, the eyes of the Holy Spirit.

Do not ask for other people not to do to you what they do to you. They must do to you what they have to do to you, for it is you doing to you what they do to you in your dream of separation. Just accept what other people do to you.

Now look at it from a different perspective, the perspective of the Holy Spirit. Over look what they do to you. Love them no matter what they do to you.

This does not mean condoning evil. If others attack you, unless you want to die, you must defend yourself. But know that it is mere dream attack and defense, they do not matter; still love the attacker’s real self, and your real self. Defend against the thief but love his Sleeping Christ self. That is, over look the ego in him and still love your spirit.

You have already made a decision to be in this world. You have made a decision as to where you are. Accept it. Now, respond differently to the events around you. If others attack you, go ahead and defend yourself but know that you still love the persons attacking you. If you did not want them to attack you they would not have attacked you. Nothing that you do not want can happen top you.

Do not tell the Holy Spirit where to place you. The son of God, your dreaming mind, has already placed you where you are.

It is not your ego that placed you where you are, for the ego is the dream figure; it is not the ego that is doing the dreaming; it is the Son of God, it is God that is doing the dreaming.

Just accept where you are and what is happening to you and look at them differently. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Since the Holy Spirit is not a person but is your loving and forgiving self, is God in his loving and forgiving self, is the son of God in his loving and forgiving self, just love and forgive all the people that attack you.
This does not mean condoning their attack. It means doing what you feel is right in the situation but not doing it out of vengeance; do not want to get even, and do not want to punish; only want to correct the hate you see for hate is misguided. Teach only love, not by telling people to love one another, but by loving them.

Whereas one must have compassion for ones self and for others, one must not pity other people. This is because they are exactly where they want to be. They are doing to themselves what they want to do. They are experiencing what they want to experience. Their ego, your ego, the sleeping son God, God, has put them where they are. Just teach yourself and teach all people how to respond differently, to respond with forgiveness and love.


Jesus is an ego; Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is Christ; Jesus is God. All four statements are correct.

By the same token, I am an ego; I am the Son of God, I am the Christ, I am God. You, too, are an ego, the son of God, the Christ, and God. (As God and his son, I/you dream this world; as God and the Holy Spirit, I/you dream salvation.)



LENT

Today is Wednesday, March 1, 2006. In the Christian world today is the beginning of Lent. Let me, therefore, end this essay by saying a few things about lent.

Lent lasts forty days and culminates on Easter Sunday. Lent is a period of reflection. Jesus is about to go get himself crucified, voluntarily, so that his mission might be carried out. So, he fasts and prays, trying to purify his mind and body of those things that would prevent him from carrying out his mission. If you recall, he prayed thus: God, it is my desire to live in ego, separated state and its body house, but since it is your will that I leave that state and return to unified spirit state, to die to the ego and its world of separation, I accept it, for your will must be done. The will of the father must be done in the son’s life. The son must give up his wishes to live as a separated self and accept his father’s will for him to live as unified self. When the son of God is sane, his will and his father’s will are the same. Both will union and love. It is only when the son of God is insane that he wishes to have a different wish, separation.

Lent is a period of fasting. One prepares ones mind to die to the ego and resurrect to the Christ spirit within one. One releases the ego, lets it go and embraces the Christ spirit.

The ego is characterized by separation, fear, anger, hatred, self condemnation, self recrimination, judgment, punishment etc. One lets go these ego based negative thinking.

Ones mind must always think for the mind cannot not think. If you give up negative thinking, you must replace them with positive thinking. Thus, you deny negative thinking and affirm positive thinking (denial and affirmation); you deny your ego weakness and affirm your strength in Christ.) You release anger and hatred and replace them with love for yourself and for all human beings. You accept Christ’s courage and fearlessness.

Lent is preparation to let go of ego and let Christ replace him in your life. You accept your physical death so that you may experience your rebirth in spirit. You must literally be prepared to be killed physically, and that way you stop being afraid of physical death. When you look death in the face and say: come get me, I do not care, you will experience Christ self. But as long as you desire to be an ego and live in body and find your body precious you must be afraid of death.

(Do not, however, kid yourself. Life on earth is a desire to be an ego, so the ego is very powerful. We are on earth to seem a separated self housed in body. We want to enjoy bodily things: food, sex etc. The enjoyment of these bodily things is the perpetuation of the ego. Any people who enjoy flesh tend to be egotistical and tend to be adjusted to this world. They tend to work hard to attain the things of this world. Americans are an example, they enjoy their food, sex and bodies; their whole civilization is geared towards making the ego and body live well, hence they study science and technology to make their chosen home, body as comfortable as is possible.

Those who see through the ego and body and do not seek enjoyment of sensate things seldom do well in the world.

You should never mix the four categories of being, Ego, Ego Ideal, Holy Spirit directed ego and Spirit.

The ego adapts to this world and is comfortable in it.
The ego ideal sees this world as bad and uses imagination to come up with ideational ideals; this is the abode of fantasy, neurosis and psychosis.

The Holy Spirit accepts this egos world as it is and makes it lovely by urging folks to love and forgive one another.
Spirit is non-material.

You should not use ego ideal to judge ego, for ego is rooted in the material whereas ego ideal is mental and fantasy.

You should not use spirit to judge the ego for spirit is non-material and does not understand ego and its material world.

Only the Holy Spirit is the best judge, for it accepts the egos world and wants to make it a lovely dream, a lovely delusion and a lovely hallucination.)

Lent and its fasting means that you want to stop identifying with your body and now identify with your Christ spirit. Do this with me: fast for the next forty days. I am fasting. I will drink only fruit juices and water, no solid food, for forty days. I have done it before.

When you fast, you forget that you are a body and become aware that you are spirit, the son of God, the Christ.

Lent is forty days of purification of the ego into Christ, for, after all, the ego is no other than Christ; the ego is the sleeping son of God who took a physical image as his real self; who took the shadow self as the real self.

Fasting helps us cleanse our old selves and prepare us to live as our real selves. We become in touch with the indwelling Christ in us.

During fasting one starves ones mind of negative thoughts and fill it with positive thoughts, thoughts about forgiveness, love, peace and happiness. One stop criticizing ones self and other people and concentrates on loving ones self and other selves. One stops dwelling on the failures of ones weak ego self and accentuates the strength of the Christ in one.

Feast your thinking; feast your mind with spiritual, Godly thoughts. Get up in the morning and remind yourself that you are the child of God whom God loves. Affirm this positive thought throughout the day.

Deny the negative thought that you are an ego, hence weak. Resolve to love you and all people. Say Hi to every person you meet during this lent time. Do not permit fear and anger to take over your thinking. Of course, fear and anger will come into your mind, but negate it. Deny fear and affirm that which dispels fear, love.

There is time and place for everything in our lives. As Paul said, when we were children we played with toys (ego and its world). Now that we are adults, we must put away the things of childhood, the belief in separation and ego, and embrace reality, our oneness in God. Stop fighting with other people and know that you are one with all people. Make a living from a job that makes sense to you and provide for you and all those around you. Do so with love.

Good Friday means the day you voluntarily let your ego self and your attachment to the body to die. You allow your body and ego to be crucified and do not defend them. You are defenseless and forgiving.

On Easter Sunday, you resurrect to the awareness that you are one with God and all people. (You will, in fact, see yourself in a light body). You have overcome the ego and its world; you have over come the attraction of the world, the attraction of flesh and returned to the awareness that you are always spirit, unified spirit, spirit that seems to sleep and dream that it is in body in a world of space, time and matter.

Make decisions with forgiveness and love for all human beings in mind. If you do, peace and happiness, the gifts of God, would be your reward.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #19 of 52: Perception and Distortion of Reality

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- We live in a perceptual universe. This means that we perceive phenomena through our five senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, feeling). Everything that we think that we know about any thing is derived from perception.

I am over here. You are over there. I see you. You see me. I believe that I see a certain type of person. This is my perception of you. Now, how do I know that the you I see is the real you? How do you know that what you think that you see is even there and if it is there that you are seeing it correctly, hearing him or her correctly etc?

(Idealism, particularly solipsism aspect of it, argues that the seeming external world that we think that we see is actually in our minds, just as the world we see while we sleep and dream is in our minds. See George Berkley, Dialogues; also see Arthur Schopenhauer, World as Will and Idea; and Hinduism, Hinduism is totally solipsistic, it believes that the world is a dream in the mind of Brahman/Atman. The converse of idealism, of course, is materialism. Materialistic monism believes that the empirical world, the world we see, is outside of us. See David Hume, Human Understanding.)


SPACE, TIME AND MATTER

Perception is made necessary by the nature of the phenomenal world we live in. We live in a world of space, time and matter. Another way of putting it is to say that we live in the world of separation.

I am over here (a place in space) and you are over there (another spot in space). If I want to reach you, I have to travel, journey from where I am to where you are. It would take me time to reach you. Things in the world of space take time to reach other things.

Thus, if there is space, there must necessarily be time? As it were, space and time presuppose each other; if the one exists the other must necessarily exist? (Can you refute this proposition? I am taking you on a philosophical cum psychological discourse, so, put on your thinking hat and try to refute, if you can, everything that I say.)

The moment space came into being, time also came into being? Question: which one came into being before the other?

There must be space before there is time, correct? If so, space preceded time? But since if space exists time must also exist, it follows that time came right on the heels of space? Right? Perhaps space preceded time by nanoseconds?

Nevertheless, since the existence of space requires the existence of time, both can be said to have come into being simultaneously?

There must be an object traveling from one spot to another in space for there to be time? An object is composed of particles, atoms, elements, matter?

If there is space and time there must also be matter?
Matter moves from place to place? What moves it? Energy?

Matter and energy are the same? (See Albert Einstein).

Let us summarize: if there is space, there must be time and matter and energy. It follows that, as it were, by logical necessity space, time, matter and energy must coexist since the existence of one presupposes the existence of the other. As it were, space, time matter and energy came into being at the same time since one must have the other to exist; though, logically space would seem to exist before time and matter.

(Can you refute this proposition? You cannot, not with the parameters of Aristotelian syllogism, anyway.)


STORIES OF CREATION (ONTOLOGY)

The physical universe, the world of space, time, matter and energy, as it were, came into being at the same time. Contemporary cosmology agrees with this thesis. Contemporary cosmology holds that at a point in time, speculated to be fifteen billion years ago (?), something happened; that there was a giant explosion and in nanoseconds space, time, matter and energy were invented.

The speculation is that prior to the Big Bang that everything was concentrated inside a ball, no larger than an atom and that somehow this ball exploded and spilled out its guts and those innards invented space, time, matter and energy.

Interesting speculation this; perhaps, as laughable as the New Testament (Bible) story of creation that posits that there was a God who conjured out the world of space, time and matter out of nothing. The Big Bang story of creation of the universe conjured out the world of space, time and matter out of nothing.

What was inside the atom sized ball out of which everything was created? Science is mum on that subject. Presingularity state is, apparently, beyond the scope of physics, hence is the abode of metaphysics?

Man is always looking for a story of his beginning; he wants to understand his origins (ontology). All human groups have their own stories of origin, their mythology of how they came to be on planet earth.

We must keep looking, for, obviously, our present religious and scientific stories of creation seem unpersuasive to logic.


SPACE- TIME-MATTER REQUIRES PERCEPTION

In a world where there is space, time and matter there must be perception? If I am over here and you are over there in space and time, there is no way that I can fully understand you, and there is no way that you can completely understand me? To understand each other, we must not be outside each other; we must be inside each other. Whatever is outside the individual is beyond his complete understanding?

We see each other from a distance (space) and when we actually see a person is mediated by time.

The individual standing over there is seen through the auspices of light. Light travels at a certain speed (which Einstein tells us is 186, 000 miles per second). By the time that the light that leaves his body reaches me, to show him to me, he is conceivably a different person?

That is to say that in as much as there is space and time separating people, they are not seeing each other as they are and certainly not at the same time. They are seeing each other as they were in the past. They are not seeing each other in the present.

Please note this statement: you see other people’s past, not their present; you do not know what their present is; for all you know, the person in front of you may not even be there!

For our present purposes, the world of space, time and matter requires perception. Perception requires that one not totally know what one sees, since it is apart from one; perception requires guessing to understand what one thinks that one is seeing.

At best, perception can be refined, purified, corrected so that one has some understanding of what one sees, but at no time would perception be the same as knowledge of what one is seeing.

I cannot fully know you and you cannot fully know me. Perception eliminates knowledge.

Perception is synonymous with not knowing; perception is the same as ignorance. To live in the world of space, time and matter, which is to live in the world of perception, is to live in ignorance, to be unknowing.

Can you refute this proposition? You cannot. But try your hand at logical reasoning, anyway.



PERCEPTION REQUIRES SEEING THE PRESENT THROUGH THE PAST
How do we see, anyway? We see what is in front of us through our past learning. Beginning from the moment that we are born on earth we begin to learn about our world. Our social group gives us its understanding of the nature of the world we live in. Each of us is socialized into his culture’s construction of reality.

Socially constructed reality is exactly that, social constructs, not reality itself. In fact, if you subject the ideas of reality in any given human culture you would find that most of them are not close to empirical reality. Much of human culture is illusion of reality, not reality itself.

A child is born and learns about his world through his parents and society. His culture of origin mediates how he subsequently sees the world. By the time he is an adult he has internalized certain perceptual schemas with which he interprets the nature of what he sees around him.

Put differently, when the individual sees an object in front of him, now, he is seeing it through his past learning, his history and all his past experiences. He is not seeing that object as it is, in fact, but as his past learning disposes him to see it. His past tells him what to call a tree, and what to call an animal. But is what he names tree or animal those? What are those, in fact? For our present purposes, we do not know what we are seeing.


THE PROBLEM OF CONCEPTUAL THINKING

Human beings are conceptual animals. They think in concepts, ideas and images. They have concepts, ideas and images of whatever they see in their world.

Conceptual thinking requires using past concepts that the individual has already learned to think about what the individual sees in the present.

I see you. I see you through the lenses of my perception. I see you through my past learning. I try to understand you through concepts that I learned in the past. My past tells me to see you as a man or woman, as black or white etc.

Since I am seeing you with the categories of my past, am I really seeing you correctly?

The obvious answer is no. No human being sees another human being, animal or objects correctly. We always distort what we see in the present with our past history of learning and experiences.


THE PROBLEM OF INTERPRETATION

In as much as we do not understand what we see, we engage in interpretations, trying to run what we see through our minds, interpret them with information stored in our memories. I see you. I quickly ransack my memory, my past; information stored in my brain and uses them to figure out that I am seeing a man or woman, of a certain race etc. My perception of you is influenced by the nature of information stored in my memory bank.

The quality of the information stored in my memory, their health or lack of it, influences how I interpret what I am seeing.

For example, in the past, many white persons honestly believed that all black persons are unintelligent. That was a European cultural presupposition and preconception. A white person who internalized that presupposition, upon seeing a black person immediately concludes that he is seeing an unintelligent person. He would proceed to treat him as if he were unintelligent. If, in fact, the black person is unintelligent, or acts unintelligent as black Americans were disposed to act, the white person’s presuppositions would be reinforced and he would not experience cognitive dissonance.

On the other hand, if the black person in front of the racist white man is one of those unique human beings with superior intelligence, and he were to say things that would make the white man suspect that he is not as dumb as he had expected, the white man would experience cognitive dissonance/conflict. He feels anxiety and internal dis-at-ease. His old presuppositions and reality has collided; he must now reconcile them.

He now struggles to either reject his old assumptions of which blacks are or find reasons to remain with his old views. He could resolve the cognitive conflict by avoiding that particular smart black person and mostly relate to dumb blacks or dumb acting blacks, and in so doing continue believing that blacks are dumb.

(In America, white persons generally hire dumb blacks and in surrounding themselves with dumb blacks and seeing dumb blacks manage to retain their presupposition that blacks are dumb. They generally deny smart blacks access to their world, for smart blacks create cognitive dissonance for them. Cognitive dissonance is a very painful state of mind to be in and folks try to avoid it as much as is possible.)

In sum, we see the present with our past. Therefore, we do not see the present correctly. We distort the present with our past. This is the reality of human perception.

The challenge of perception is to try to see the present as correctly as is possible. It is doubtful that as long as we live in a perceptual world that we could ever see other things perfectly correctly, but we can try; we can attempt to purify our perception and, hopefully, see other things as correctly as is humanly possible.

In the area of matter, clearly, science is gradually enabling us to see material things nearly correctly. Unfortunately, our understanding of science is still primitive, thus, we still do not see material things as they are. But as our understanding of physics improves, our perception of matter improves in its correctness.

Unfortunately, our understanding of our selves lags behind our understanding of matter. We are the understander itself, the conceptualizer, the ideationer, the thinker; it is difficult to understand the thinker as it is to understand his thoughts.

Who is the thinker in us, any way? Is he the epiphenomenal throw up of matter or Spirit?

When I see you, I see you with the sum of my education, history and experiences and there is no way that I can see you correctly; by the same token, there is no way that you can see me correctly.


THE PROBLEM OF MENTAL ILLNESS

So far, I assumed that most people in the perceptual field are mentally healthy. Human beings, unfortunately, have the added problem of being mentally unhealthy. Consider the human being with delusional disorder and his distortion of perception.
The paranoid person wants to understand what he sees. Like all of us, he wants to understand his world. Like all of us, he does not understand his world.

Whereas, the average normal person accepts that he does not and cannot understand what he sees, certainly other people, the paranoid personality has a compulsion to understand other people. Since, no matter what he does, he cannot understand other people, for no one can understand other people in a perceptual universe, he projects his ideas of who he thinks that other people are to them and behaves towards them as if they are his understanding of them?

The paranoid personality, which is every human being, in degrees, tries to interpret other people with his past and necessarily distorts them. Generally, the paranoid person’s past is one where he was probably persecuted. He now expects other people to persecute him. So, he misinterprets other people’s innocent behaviors to mean persecution of him. He sees others as hating him when, in fact, they only have love for him.

For example, Igbos tend to feel persecuted by other Nigerians. They are always on the look out to see if other Nigerians are persecuting them. They evaluate other people’s behaviors to see if they are loving or hating. Often, they misinterpret other people’s motivations and behaviors, and see them as against them. Having erroneously interpreted others motivation, they undertake to defend themselves by attacking them.

I have been perceived as anti Igbo when, in fact, there is no Igbo more pro Igbo than I am. This is the nature of false interpretation of people’s behaviors based on ones past interpreting schema.

One can be as loving as Christ himself and paranoid personalities interpret ones behaviors as hateful. The relevant point is that all human behaviors are based on perception and interpretation of environmental stimuli and that much of those interpretations are false hence our behaviors are prejudiced. At best, the individual struggles to refine his perception, but it is doubtful that as long as he lives in a perceptual universe that he can ever see other people as they truly are?

Some religious persons, metaphysicians posit that in our perceptual world that all perception is apriori biased by the past with which we perceive the present. To them, all that we can do is striving to improve our perception. (See Helen Schucman, A Course in Miracles.)


THE BIBLE’S OLD TESTAMENT GOD AS AN EVIL GOD AND THE NEW TESTAMENT GOD AS THE GOOD GOD

Let me visit Gnosticism. (For literature review see the writings of Platonus, The Gospel according to Thomas and The Gospel According to Mary, The Gospel According to Peter and the Dag Hammadi papers in general; these gospels were not included in the Catholic Church’s Canon, The Holy Bible; they are called apocrypha; they present an alternative interpretation of Jesus.)

According to Gnosticism, Christian and non-Christian versions of it, the world is evil and, as such, only an evil God could have created the world.

Some schools of Gnosticism call the evil God who created the world Demiurge, others call him Lucifer etc.

Ultimately, Gnosticism believes that the God of Genesis in the Christian Bible, the God that created this world is an evil God. No loving Person, they believe, would create this world where we are born, suffer and die. Only an evil God could have created a purposeless and meaningless, pain filled world, Gnosticism posits.
The evil God that created this world is filled with fear, anger, and desire to punish those who disobeyed him.

If you disobeyed the Old Testament God he would cast you into eternal hell fire. He was a narcissistic God, a pathological narcissist who sought attention and admiration from his children or else he cast them into eternal hell fire.

The Old Testament God was a punitive God; he bore grievances and sought revenge. The sins of fathers, he tells us, are visited to the tenth generation, that is, children who did not commit the said sin against God are punished by him. This must be an evil God, Gnosticism postulates.

The evil God created a world of evil. Our world is a world of space, time and matter. According to Gnosticism, any thing associated with space, time and matter is evil.

The whole goal of Gnosticism is to escape from this evil world, to escape from the evil world of matter and return to what it construes as a good world, the world of light.

As Gnosticism sees it, the good God is the God of light; the evil God is the God of darkness, body and matter.

To Gnosticism, the human body, matter, is evil and must be negated, transcended, for one to become good and return to a non-material world, the world of light. In sum, Gnosticism associates the material, temporal world with evil and negates it and wants to escape from it and return to a world it imagines is its opposite, a formless, good world.


Gnosticism claims that the God of the New Testament is a good God. He is a forgiving and loving God, not a God that bears grievances and punishes people. The New Testament God has no hell to cast his children into.

Jesus Christ, Gnostics believe, represent the fullest manifestation of the good God. He is the Christ, the Son of God who is most like his father, loving and forgiving.

Helen Schucman wrote a wonderful poem that summarizes the Gnostic perspective on the world. According to her, the creator of this world is the Son of God, not God himself.

As she sees it, God create his son and his son resented the fact that his father created him and wanted to created himself. Unable to do so in reality, the son of God dreamed a world where he seems to have accomplished his desires, our world.

Our world, according to Dr Schucman, a clinical psychologist, a one time tenured professor at Columbia University, New York, is the dream of the Son of God. In that dream, he seems to have created himself, created his brothers and created his father.

The invention of the self concept, self image and personality is the Son of God’s idea of self creation.

The self concept is an idea, an idea in our minds, just as the Son of God is also an idea in the mind of God.

God himself is an idea. God is the idea of the whole and his Son is the idea of the part. Both God and his creations, his children are ideas.

We are all ideas in the mind of God and in the minds of each other. Ideas leave not their source; we remain in the mind that thought us, God, and remain in each others minds.

We cannot separate from God and from each other. But we can dream that we are separated from God and from each other, Dr Schucman, a modern Gnostic thinker, tells us. (It is interesting that the Gospel of Mary, supposedly written by Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus, reached similar conclusion. Some speculate that the two women are the same person, one a reincarnation of the other.)

For our present purposes, the salient point is that according to Gnosticism this world is evil. The world of space, time and matter is evil. Space, time, matter and energy are evil and those who identify with this world must be evil.

We are evil, for the world was created by an evil thought, the idea of separation from God, the wish for the opposite of God, opposite of wholeness.

Perceiving the material world as evil, Gnosticism wants to escape from this world. Its metaphysics aims at negating the world and returning to its juxtaposed non-space, non-time, non-material world of union, the world of God, aka heaven.

Gnosticism negates this world whereas traditional Christianity affirms this world. Traditional Christianity accepts the ego self, the separated self and its separated world as real and wants Jesus to guide it, but it does not want to relinquish the ego and its world.

The Gnostic, which Jesus is said to be one, wants to relinquish this world, to escape from it, to negate this world, to over come the world of ego and separation and return to the world of union, the world of love.

This is exactly what Jesus did, according to Gnosticism, escape from this world. But folks who still do not want to escape from this world, stay here and do not know a damn thing about what their so-called savior was talking about, says Gnosticism.

Jesus exited this world and teaches a gospel on how to exist from this world of perception. Those who want to stay here distorted his teaching to make it possible for them to continue staying in ego state and its separated world.


FORGIVENESS AS OVERLOOKING THE PAST TO SEE THE PRESENT CORRECTLY

Jesus Christ, a Gnostic philosopher, we are told by Gnosticism ( though many of those who call themselves the followers of Jesus do not know that he is, in fact, Gnostic) says, in effect, that all perception of other people is incorrect because we do so with our past preconceptions of them. He then teaches that we should overlook other people’s past. He asked his followers to forgive what other people did to them in the past. He asks them to over look the past, theirs and other people. He teaches forgiveness as meaning not using ones understanding of the past (evil) to judge the present. Jesus teaches that if we forgive people (their past) that we see them as correctly as they could be seen in the world of perception in the present.

AN EXPERIMENT

Here is an experiment for you. Select one person, select the person who has done the most egregious thing to you in the past and forgive him. By Forgive him, Gnosticism means, do not see him through your knowledge of his past behaviors. Over look his past. Do not use your past interpretations of things to see him in the present. Now see him and say to yourself, I will not use my past to see him.

What do you think would happen? You cannot see him without your past. Without any kind of past (learning) there is no perception, for perception requires the past and future.

Nevertheless, try to see that person without your past ideas about him. If you truly mean it, you will momentarily see that person differently. What would you see? Gnosticism teaches that you would see him in a light form.

That is correct, if you forgive people their past sins, you would suddenly see them in a beautified manner. Their beauty would so astound you that you would feel compelled to fall on your knows and worship the very ground that they stand. Forgiveness, that is, seeing the present without the baggage of the past, Gnosticism tells us, makes the present look beautiful.

Now continue with forgiveness. Totally forgive the people around you whatever evil you believe that they did to you.

If you are a black man and believe that white folks enslaved black folks and still discriminate against them and, thus, you hate white folks, forgive whites the evil you believe that they did to you.
According to Gnosticism, if you truly forgive other people, you have also forgiven yourself the evils you might have done to other people.

When you truly forgive the world, first, you see it in beautified light forms, and, finally, you experience the world disappear from your sight.

That is correct; the seeming solid world you see would disappear from your perception, for you have now transcended the world of perception. Your forgiveness has enabled you to transcend the world of separation, the world of space, time and matter. You enter the world of formlessness, a world religionists call spirit world. Gnosticism says that that world has no name. It is a world where you know, not perceive, a world of knowledge.

What do you know in the world of union? You know for sure that you and other people share one self, share one mind and are parts of each other and are parts of one God. All of us are extensions of God, the whole.

God is the whole and we are his parts. The whole is not apart from the part. God extends himself into each of us. God is not separate from each of us. God is in each of us. Each of us is in God. Each of us is in each other. Where God ends and each of us starts is nowhere; where each of us ends and other people begin is no where. We all, literally, share on self and one mind. (Mind is the thinking agency of spirit self.)

The whole, anthropomorphized as God, extends into a part, us. That part of the whole is anthropomorphized as the Son of God.

The part seems a new creation. But, since it was already in the whole before the whole created it, it is as old as the whole. God and his sons are of the same age. Since they have always existed, they are eternal; they have no beginning and no end. The children of God, in the formless spirit that God created them as, are immortal.

Where is the whole? The whole is everywhere. The whole is infinite. God, the humanized whole, is infinite.

There are infinite parts of the whole; there are infinite children of God.

The whole is an idea of the whole and does not exist anywhere in particular. Therefore, the whole cannot be seen as any where. The whole is non perceptual.

The son of God, a part of the whole, can be seen as somewhere within the whole. The son of God is God in manifestation. He can be seen in form, whereas God cannot be seen in form.

The son of God can be seen in light form and or in dense material form, our bodies. Each of us has a gross, dense body, as well as a light body, Gnosticism teaches.

But you cannot see both forms at the same time. You must desist from seeing one to see the other. Right now, we want to see ourselves as dense bodies, as ego and see ourselves as such. With love and forgiveness, we see ourselves in light forms, the purified forms of us. Love purifies everything whereas hate desecrates everything it touches.

(Whole, God; part of the whole, son of God, are metaphors representing ideas. Metaphors are not reality; they are abstractions, not concrete facts.)


UNIFIED STATE

In the world of union, there is no you and I, no seer and seen, no subject and object. There is only unity.

Where all are unified, there is harmony and peace. In the unified world is total peace and joy, there is bliss. The unified world is the world of eternity, it is a world where there is no beginning or end to it; in it we are not born and do not die. In that world we have perfect knowledge.

Try it, forgive the people who have wronged you and mean it; try not to defend yourself from other people’s attacks and see what happens.

First, you feel peaceful. Later, you experience other people and you in light forms and, finally, you experience union, God.

The taste of the pudding is in the testing. Do not argue, try loving other people. To love is to forgive the past. When the past is forgiven the present is experienced as it is in fact, it is not distorted with the past.

The present is union. Union is love. In the present of God there is only love. Love is peace. Peace is joy. In the eternal present of God, a world without the past and future is only love, peace and joy.

Forgiveness is a means for transcending the world of separation, space, time and matter and returning to the world of formless spirit, the unified world, the world that is as God created it, unified, permanent and eternal. Forgiveness brings us to the gate of heaven, to a purified but still separated world; love takes us into heaven, into oneness with all creation and its creator.

This, according to Gnostics, is the teaching of Jesus whom the Greeks called the Christ.

The Christ is the son of God who is as his father created him: he is unified with his father and his brothers.

Only the formless, the same and equal, can unify; Christ and God are formless, are the same and equal, though God created his children, Christ, and the sons of God, Christ, did not create God; the whole produced the part, the part did not produce the whole.

(It is necessary to repeat this fact for it is the delusion of self creation that produced this world, Gnosticism teaches. One must accept that God created one and that one cannot create ones self or create God; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; God is greater than us, even though he is the same and equal with all of us.)

According to Gnosticism, Jesus let go his belief in separated self, his ego and returned to the awareness of his unified state, his union with his creator, God, and with all creation, all of us. He gave up his desire for separated self and regained awareness of unified state, his Holy self, the self that he shares with his creator, God and all of us.

Of course, all these sound improbable Nevertheless that is what Jesus Christ the Gnostic taught his followers. Very few of the followers have even understood what the man taught them. If they understood the man’s message and practiced it, Gnosticism tells us that our world would experience peace and happiness and become transformed into a light world and eventually know itself as one with the world of formless spirit, God.


CONCLUSION

As long as we live in the world of space, time and matter, we must live in the world of perception. In the perceptual universe, we do not know anything completely. This is because other things and other people are apart from the looker and he cannot know what he is looking at, for to know the other one must be him and or be inside him.
Metaphysics talks of ways to close the gap between the individual and other people so that he may begin to know other people. But metaphysics is abstract; we live in the here and now concrete world of space, time and matter and must deal with that reality.

Do you have a problem with this proposition? If you do, please let us hear from you.


Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #18 of 52: Impulse and Control Disorders

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Here we go again. I am about to say something that will probably bring out the usual suspects swinging at me. As it were, they seem to believe that if they deny that an issue exists that it does not exist, or that if they say that psychology is a pseudo science…which it may well be…that what it says does not matter.

(Every therapist hears that one daily: a teenager is forced by his parents to come to therapy and he says, “Them shrinks do not know anything”. In saying so, he convinces himself not to listen to them. This sort of ego defense mechanism, Psychoanalysts used to call resistance, blocking, transference issues etc. We do not want other people to understand us and if they claim to do so we dismiss them as quacks. What else is new under the sun?)

Many Nigerians have impulse control issues. Some, in fact, seem to believe that their acting out somehow makes them powerful. These folks intermittently explode in rage and verbally and or physically abuse other persons and seem to think that they are being powerful in doing so. If they are told that such behavior is considered a mental disorder, of course, they would be confused and probably see the bad news bearer as foolish.

I have been called all sorts of names but I must do what I came here to do: help folks become mentally healthy.

Impulse control disorders are those disorders that have something to do with inability to control ones temper and behaviors. There are many of them, including Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Kleptomania, Pathological Gambling, and Pyromania and so on.

Briefly, in Intermittent Explosive Disorder a fellow looses his control and flips into rage and acts like he is insane for a while then regain his normal composure. In that angry mood he talks loudly, verbally abuses people, and may even hit people. He may kill; make no mistake about it for the angry man is an insane man.

In anger certain neurotransmitters are poured out into the body and some of these shut down the cortical part of the brain and accentuate the hypothalamus; they place the individual in a defensive mode and he behaves like an attacked animal trying to defend itself hence fights back. Thus, he can kill the person he perceives, rightly or wrongly, as his attacker. The perceived attack that elicited his anger response my be false, that is, it may be based on wrong interpretation of another person’s behavior. An innocent comment can be misconstrued as an attack on one, as demeaning of ones assumed great importance.

After the explosive behavior, the individual returns to his normal sensorium and appears like a level headed, calm person. But every once in a while something triggers him to resort to disproportionate anger, relative to the trigger.

Consider a man who believed that you called him an insulting name and that you put him down. Consider an Igbo man who believed that you put his ethnic group down. He felt angry and attacked you, verbally and or physically. Thereafter, he returned to being a seeming level headed fellow. He has intermittent explosive personality (disorder). If you look at his personality you would see a pattern of exploding at people every once in a while. You would perceive that he has been doing so since childhood, for personality is habitual pattern of responding to other people and is formed in childhood.

Perhaps he explodes at those he feels insulted him or insulted those who he identifies with. The underlying psychological issue is that he feels inadequate and wants to feel adequate and constructed a false superior self concept for himself and for his group and identifies with that fictional self construct. He presents it to other people to validate.

He tells lies to make him seem that important self. (Such persons are compulsive liars.) If others see through his lies and sees him as like all of us, an ordinary person, he feels demeaned and feels angry and strikes out at you, verbally or physically.

His childish anger is an effort to compel you to accept him as the fictional important self his neurotic ego wants to be taken as.

Neurotics feel narcissistic rage and explode in anger every now and then. Their vanity is so fragile that they feel pricked by folk’s normal innocent comments. The neurotic, as Karen Horney noted, is a proud person, he takes pride in a false important self. Healing for him is for him to let go of his false superior self and accept the reality of our sameness and equality.

We are not talking therapy here. We are merely identifying issues for folks to be aware of and go seek help if they think that they apply to them.

Kleptomania is stealing in a compulsive manner. What are Nigerian politicians but kleptomaniacs? These people are so mentally disordered that they no longer know that stealing is wrong. They actually do not know that there are people who would rather die than take a penny that does not belong to them.

Sometime ago I was in gym and apparently my wallet fell out. A white boy picketed it up and looked up my address from my drivers license and placed the whole wallet in an envelop, wrote my address on it, and put the right amount of stamp on it and mailed it to me. The twenty five dollars in the wallet was still there. He did not take it.

Now imagine the same situation happening in Nigeria and visualize what the boy would do? Take the money and credit cards and throw away the wallet? Do not think that he has done anything wrong? We are producing a nation of criminals and do not bother to think about it. We think that it is cute to take what does not belong to us.

Kleptomania is considered a mental disorder. I suppose thieving Nigerian politicians would shrug this off and see it as a white man’s issues, right? After they have made a mess of their country, they take off to the white man’s land to experience a well ordered society and live in peace and not worry of armed robbers coming to steal their ill gotten wealth. It is a pity what Nigerians are doing to themselves, turning just about every body into an antisocial personality, a thief and a murderer and thinking that it is normal state of affairs.

Pyromania, as its name implies, consists in taking pleasure in setting things on fire. There are people who set houses etc on fire and enjoy watching them burn down. In Nigeria public officials set government buildings on fire, to burn documents that would incriminate them.

Gambling disorders occur where folks find themselves addicted to compulsive gambling. Some folks would borrow money to gamble with; indeed, some would not eat food and instead use the little money they have to buy that lotto ticket, hoping to hit the jackpot. Baiting on horses and other forms of gambling is rampart everywhere.

These impulse control disorders are very rampart in Nigeria. Folks, therefore, ought to pause to find out whether they have them or not. Does your child like to set things on fire? Does he like to kill animals and seem to enjoy doing so? If yes, you have a budding problematic man in your hands. But since we do not define problems as problems, perhaps, you do not think that this is a serious issue? Well, your cavalier opinion not withstanding this is a serious issue that you ought to nip the problem in the bud.

My goal here is not to dwell on treatment issues but to highlight impulse control issues, so that you may become aware of them and seek help if they are your issue.

___________________________
*
In the last two weeks we talked mostly about pathological issues. But human beings are not only their disorders. Even the certified mentally ill, schizophrenics, for example, are actually normal most of the time and only psychotic for a brief period of the time. Beginning next week we shall talk about normal psychology, such issues as learning theory, perception, and memory and so on. Enjoy.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #17 of 52: Dissociative Disorders

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- It is really amazing how our Nigerian people do not have a clue as to the range of psychological disorders that affect them. Not long ago, a man from my area, Owerri, wandered off from his town and for over a year was not seen by any one. Folks searched for him in their immediate vicinity but could not find him.

A year later, some one in another part of Nigeria reported seeing him and tried to engage him in conversation. He did not remember his past or his given name; he did not remember where he came from and did not remember knowing the man talking to him (a fellow town’s man). This man has Psychogenic Fugue, an amnesic disorder.

In psychogenic fugue, folks forget their past, take on new identities and wander away from their home and may, in fact, live the rest of their life time, without remembering their past. Every once in a while you read about a man who wandered off from England and now lives in France, or from Germany and now lives in England and does not know anything about his past.

These types of mental disorders are called Dissociative Disorders. To dissociate is to remove ones self from ones old self, to assume a new and different identity.

There are many types of dissociative disorders; some of the common ones are Multiple Personality Disorder, Psychogenic Fugue, Psychogenic Amnesia, Depersonalization Disorder, etc.

You probably have heard of Multiple Personality Disorder. Much is written about it in the press even though its actual occurrence is rare (I have seen only two of them). Essentially, what occurs here is that the individual, usually a woman, takes on many personalities, called alters, and can switch into any of them and behave as if she is that person. Thereafter, she may return to her predominant personality and may not remember anything she did when she was in the alter state; she has gaps in her memory.

The phenomenon of multiple personality is actually not as mysterious as it sounds. Consider the shy introverted child. He is unable to do many of the things out going, extraverted children do. He sits around and imagines himself doing those things he could not do. He uses his imagination to visualize himself doing everything that in real life he is inhibited from doing. He is generally prevented from doing what he wants to do by his fear of social rejection. In the process he develops a very active imagination and uses it to construct an alternative self for himself. Whereas, if he is normal he knows that he is not his alternative outgoing self but it is conceivable for him to forget his normal shy self and flip into his alternative ideal self and act as such?

A shy socially proper girl may take on the identity of an outgoing girl and go to a party and have a good old time, as she imagines that extroverted girls do. The sexual prude becomes a sex libertine, if only for a night. She goes home and forgets the fling she had the previous night and returns to being her proper Christian girl who could not even get herself to mention the word vagina.

Whereas the scenario I presented above is simplistic, the salient point is that it is possible to understand how multiple personality works. In real cases, the current hypothesis is that some of these persons, usually girls, were exposed to traumatic experiences during their childhood (age one to twelve is childhood). The experience is so painful that the only way she could cope with it is to deny that it is happening to her and her body but to some one else. Thus, she denies her real self and takes on a different self, one not hurt by the abuser.

It has been hypothesized that rape and incest is so traumatizing for young girls that some of them dissociate from their true identity and invent different identities for themselves. Some victims were subjected to multiple abuses and apparently invented many personalities for themselves.

Thus every once in a while, particularly when under stress, persons with dissociative personalities deny their normal selves and take on the personality of the alter ego. A woman could have personalities that include women and men. (I have seen a girl take on a male character and, in fact, talk like a man talks, and eventually return to her girlish voice and behavior.)

Is it true that traumatic events caused multiple personality disorder? I do not know. This is a heuristic subject and researchers are still to find present conclusive evidence on the real etiology of dissociative disorders. Perhaps, biology plays a role in it? I ask this question because the disorder is predominantly found in women and the obvious association of female body to it comes to mind. In fact, in the past Freudian psychoanalyst used to call aspects of this phenomenon hysterical conversion.

This essay is not a professional paper so we shall not permit ourselves to be bugged down with technical debates as to causal factors in mental health disorders. Let us just acknowledge that we do not know what causes mental disorders.

We are not focusing on therapy, either. Therapy means change; it consists in any effort to change something. In the case of multiple personality disorder, therapy attempts to integrate the entire individual’s various personalities into one unified personality, so that she can function in our world. It is almost impossible to function as different persons in this world, particularly on the job; one must have a unified personality that other people can identify as who one is and relate to as such. It is confusing having many selves in one person to relate to.

Amnesiac disorders are memory loss issues. These persons have problems with their long term memory but not necessarily with their short term memory. In psychogenic fugue the individual forgets about his past but is still aware of the present. He forgets that he is from Lagos and now lives at Abuja with a different personality and functions appropriately on the day to day level.

In depersonalization and derealization disorder folks temporarily feel like they are not their old selves. As it were, they no longer know who they are. Each of us has a habitual pattern of behaving and has a self concept and self image. The self concept is exactly that, concept. Who the individual thinks that he is, is an idea and is not tangible. The set of concepts that constitute the individual’s idea of who he is can be shaken by events. Another way of putting it is that each of us has an ego, a sense of me, a self that sees itself as separated from other people, a self housed in body and lives in the world of space and time. Each of us uses the various ego defense mechanisms to defend his idea of who he thinks he is. (Some of the key ego defense mechanisms are repression, suppression, denial, dissociation, projection, rationalization, displacement, sublimation, reaction formation, fantasy, minimization, intellectualization, adjustment, avoidance, fear, anger, shame, and many others.) The self is defended with these ego defenses mechanisms. If the individual is undergoing tremendous stress his usual coping pattern may not work; his ego defenses are, as it were, decompensated. He feels like he no longer knows who he is hence depersonalization and derealization. He may try to recompensate with more absurd ego defenses and if he does so he may experience transient psychosis. A person who ordinarily copes by desiring to be important, under stress, when he experiences massive failure in life, may claim to be a very successful, important person; that is, he is now deluded, for he temporarily believes what is not true as true; he has transited from merely wishing for importance to believing in importance that he does not have. Folks tend to quickly return to their normal level of functioning when the crisis is over. Some, unfortunately, remain in the psychotic state for long.

There are many other dissociative disorders. In this short essay, I just wanted to call attention to the issue and leave it to folks to go find out more about them. There is no use pretending that these issues do not exist in Nigerians and Africans. If you are a trained mental health professional you see these issues operating in Nigerians and the saddest part of it is that they may not even know that they have a problem. Consider: a woman was always having interpersonal problems, saying how nobody loved her and occasionally cutting on her arm. No one knew what was wrong with her. It took me years of training to come to know that she has borderline personality disorder (we have covered this in our essay that includes personality disorders). Many of our people have all sorts of personality disorders and do not know it. This is a shame.

If after reading this essay and you feel that you have something resembling what I described here, please do not hesitate consulting a mental health professional for help. Our country is in a bad shape inter alia, because half insane persons are everywhere running the affairs of the state. We need to have sane persons running the affairs of the state.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

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March 26, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #16 of 52: Sexual Disorders

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- To talk about a disorder one must first have an order. To talk about disordered sexuality we must first establish what constitutes ordered sexuality. Unfortunately, there is no consensus as to what is ordered, what is proper sexuality.

As a matter of fact, the same goes for mental health in general. Folks flippantly employ the term mental disorder but if you ask them to tell you what constitutes mental health they are at a loss.

Sigmund Freud defined mental health as the ability to love ones self, love other people and earn a living for ones self and for ones loved ones. Alfred Adler defined mental health as having social interests, working for ones and other people’s interests, not just seeking ones interests at the expense of other people. You will probably agree that these definitions are not particularly helpful, or, are they?

The early psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Otto Rank, Wilhelm Reich, Eric Fromm, Karen Horney, Gordon Allport, Abraham Maslow etc believed that there is such a thing as appropriate sexuality. Whereas they had no consensus in their definitions, they all agreed on what can be loosely called normal and abnormal sexuality, correct and deviant sexuality. They all, for example, considered adults having sex with children, pedophilia, inappropriate and persons of the same sex having sex as deviant sexuality.

THE POLITICS OF NORMAL OR ABNORMAL SEXUALITY

The mental health field, like most fields, is shaped by politics. What is considered appropriate behavior is a product of social power plays. Those who are powerful get their views seen as normal behavior and those who are weak get their views seen as abnormal behavior.

In the Western world, the homosexual group became powerful and forced the American Psychiatric Association, in 1980, to reclassify homosexuality as no longer a mental disorder. Prior to 1980 it was considered a mental disorder.

That is to say that politics defines what constitutes mental health and mental disorder. In that light, one supposes that should pedophiles become powerful and is able to prevail on the psychiatric profession to reclassify pedophilia as normal behavior, so it becomes? We apparently live in a looking glass world, Alice in Wonderland, where something is right because the powerful said so and nothing is right in and of itself?

There are those who are cultural relativist and everything done by a group of people, their culture, is right and must be accommodated as such irrespective of ones moral judgment.

Judgment? Who gave you the right to dare judge something good or bad? To judge presupposes a moral standard seen as good, with which one judges’ human behavior. Who told you that there is an ideal standard with which you can judge people’s behavior? Who agreed that there is such a thing as self evidently right standard?

Everything is a social construct and there is no knowing what is right or wrong, so accommodate every behavior, moral relativists tell us. This is the philosophy of cultural relativism, the philosophy that rules the contemporary world.

Hindus used to have a culture where ten year old girls were married off to old men, a culture where women were required to jump into their husbands’ funeral pyres and burn to death; all these are appropriate cultural behaviors and one is supposed to look away and not judge them good or bad. That is the world we now live in, an amoral world where nothing is deemed good or bad in itself. We are told to just tolerate everything.

Indeed, very soon the antisocial personalities of this world (those who steal, kill and hurt other people and feel no remorse for their behaviors) will organize and claim that since there is strong evidence that they are predisposed by their genes to steal and kill other people that they are normal and not deviant persons. Why not? Who has a right to judge them deviant? Who gave one the right to judge a thief a thief? Isn’t all property stolen, communists like Proudhorn tell us?

It is going to be an interesting world, this amoral world we are entering into.

In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association produced the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This political manual reclassified many sexual behaviors that were hitherto considered abnormal normal. As it now stands, just about every sexual practice is normal unless it has ego dystonia, that is, the individual does not feel good about it. And if that is the case, all he needs to do is convince himself that what he is doing is okay, form a support group to reinforce his practice, viola, his behavior is now normal. As long as a group of people accept a behavior as normal it is normal for them, in the moral relativist world we live in, after all notions of right and wrong are socially constructed and nothing is in itself good or bad.

Nevertheless, the psychiatric profession, now that it has arrogated unto itself the godlike function of defining what is normal and not normal ( a role that used to be performed by the larger society, particularly by religion) managed to define some sexual behaviors as not normal (until some powerful interest group defines them as normal).

The currently accepted abnormal sexual practices are Fetishism, Frotteurism, Pedophilia, Sexual Masochism, Sexual Sadism, Transvestite Fetishism, Voyeurism and the various sexual dysfunctions, such as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Female Sexual Arousal Disorder, Male Erectile Disorder, Inhibited Organism, Vaginismus and others.

These disorders are really self defined and do not need further explanation but briefly, fetishism is characterized by such activities as a male using a female’s under wear to arouse himself sexually; pedophilia consists of desiring and or having sex with children (as defined by society, some societies, such as Brazil, define the appropriate age for sex as 14, others 16, such as the USA, and so on); masochism is desiring pain along with sex, sadism is desiring to inflict pain on the sexual partner; transvestitism consists of seeing ones self as the opposite gender and dressing in clothes meant for the opposite gender; voyeurism consists of peeping to see naked women and having sexual arousal from doing so. Sexual hypoactive means not overly sexual and hyperactive means overly sexual (as in nymphomania) and so on.


AFRICANS DENIAL OF SEXUAL DISORDERS

Nigerian, indeed, Africans would like to believe that they do not have sexual disorders. They would like to pretend that they are all normal, whatever that is. The fact is that they are human beings and have the same array of sexual issues that other human beings have.

However, in traditional African societies the culture used taboos to prevent people from engaging in what we might call deviant sexuality. Folks who committed incest, that is, have sex with their children and or siblings, were generally eliminated from African societies. Persons who had sex with their relatives wives or husbands were generally severely dealt with, such as being told to leave the village and disappear. Society protected itself by being very punitive to those who disobeyed the strict sexual norms it laid down.

African societies are no longer rural traditional societies where sexual taboos worked out well. Africans are increasingly becoming an urban people. The urban center has many characteristics, including anonymity. One does not really have a relationship with ones neighbor. Your neighbor is a stranger to you and what he does is none of your business, just as what you do is none of his business. Sociologists have talked about what they call anomie in the city.

In urban centers where people are cut loose from the watchful and controlling eyes of the rural village, people feel freed to act out their various sexual desires. Thus, in today’s urban Nigeria some folks act out homosexually (Gay and lesbian); some even engage in pedophilias and have sex with little children. These activities probably would have brought them instant social rejection, if not worse, in traditional African societies.

For our present purposes, however, what we need to know is that many things go with the urban territory. All the sexual deviances we encounter in the anonymous urban centers of the West are creeping into African urban societies. There is nothing anyone can do about it. My best female intellectual friend is a Nigerian lesbian. What can I say; such is our current world.

Of course, these seeming sexual aberrations will initially surprise Nigerians and efforts would be made to contain them through religious injunctions and even by passing laws against them. Alas, human beings are interesting creatures and will do whatever they want to do. Some say that they came to earth to defy whatever their creator, God and his will and have a defiant nature and will defy whatever they are told to do. If you told human beings what is appropriate sexuality, somehow, they would defy that injunction and do its opposite. The world is said to be in opposition to the will of God and as such must be a world where everything opposes every thing else. Abnormal sexuality must oppose normal sexuality or else we would not be living in an oppositional defiant world.

TOLERANCE

The Liberal approach to these matters is that as long as folks are not hurting themselves in whatever they are doing, good or bad, that we should look away and leave them to do their thing. But if they impose their will on other people and hurt them, they have committed a crime and are to be punished. If a man chooses to stick his penis into a willing man’s anus, that is their business, but if he imposes that will on an unwilling person he is to be punished for sodomy. That is where things currently stand in the Liberal Democracies of the West.

On the other hand, there are religious conservatives who believe that there is such a thing as right or wrong behavior, as defined by them (and their God). The Catholic Church represents this conservative bulwark against creeping modernism.


I am a political and cultural conservative, and agree with the Catholic Church on moral matters.

I presented this short essay just so you know what is out there. My goal is not to take sides. If you feel like you have issues with your sexuality that you would like to address, there are therapists who specialize on human sexuality. These sex therapists can help you sort things out.

Ozodi@africainstituteseasttle.org

Posted by Administrator at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #15 of 52: Organic and Geriatric Mental Disorders

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- There are mental health issues that are directly correlated with injuries to the brain. These are called organic mental disorders. Another class of mental health issues is called functional mental disorders; these have not been correlated with injuries to the brain, although some folks believe that they are also a product of disturbances of the human nervous system.

Schizophrenia, mania depression, anxiety etc are considered functional mental health issues, for although they seem rooted in biochemical and biophysical disorders there is, at present, no conclusive evidence that they are caused by biological factors.

In organic mental disorders there is apparent correlation between perceived injury to the brain and psychological disturbances. For example, if a person was involved in an automobile accident that damaged his brain and as a result began to see things that other people do not see his hallucinations can be directly related to the injury he suffered; or if he experiences radical change in his personality and becomes prone to anger when he was not given to anger before the accident his anger can be traced to changes induced by his accident (organic personality disorder).

Some mental health issues affect older persons. Whereas not all old persons have mental health issues, a substantial number of them seem to have them, thus we might say that age has something to do with mental health issues. Many persons in their eighties tend to have issues with depression, delusion, senility and Alzheimer’s disease.

In this essay I will briefly discuss organic and geriatric mental health issues. My goal is to provide basic information so that where folks see the issues they can go to mental health professionals for help.


ORGANIC MENTAL DISORDERS

In organic mental disorders the observer can see a direct correlation between an injury to the brain or any part of the nervous system and perceived mental disorder. There are many sources of injuries to the brain, including virus, bacteria, accidents, chemicals and aging.

Some viral and or bacterial infections of the spinal column and or the brain do produce changes in individuals’ psychological behaviors. An infected brain may result in delirium, delusion, hallucination, anxiety etc.

There are many germs that specifically attack the nervous system, such as meningococcal. I will not focus on the specifics of these germs and or how they affect the brain, such inquiry is for those interested in human physiology. What I want to note is that some germs produce changes in human behavior. How this is done is beyond the scope of this essay.

Most parents have witnessed their children infected by some germs and suddenly go into delirium where they are confused and are unable to remember the past etc. When the infection is healed the child returns to his or her normal mental functioning. Unfortunately, some germs do produce permanent injuries to the brain and permanent psychological disturbances.

Have you been in a prolonged operation where you were put under anesthesia? Anesthesia is produced with chemical agents. Some of those chemical agents, such as chloroform, do produce temporary changes in brain chemistry and for our present purposes produce psychological effects. It is not unusual for those recovering from operation, post operation, to experience some hallucination (mainly visual). Momentarily, such persons see what is not there or distort the perception of what is there: people, for example, may look extremely small and take on different colors than their real colors.

All sorts of chemical agents produce changes in brain chemistry, some momentary, others lasting. Where a psychological state is directly attributable to the effects of chemicals it is considered an organic mental disorder. If you remove the causal agent you change the perceived psychological effect.

Suppose that you are in a newly painted house and or in the presence of heavily perfumed women and feel dizzy, faintly and disoriented; it is apparent that the smell from the paint and or the fragrance from the perfume is the cause of your temporary discomfort. There are people with chemical and physical allergies; they cannot stand the smell of fresh paint, fragrances and heat or cold. These people’s behaviors literal change when they are exposed to those agents that negatively affect their nervous system.

Persons who were involved in accidents that injured their brains sometimes suffer profound changes in their psychological make ups. A person who was hitherto quiet and friendly may become very angry and hostile towards other people. In other words, he undergoes profound changes in his personality and behavior. He is no longer the person that he was before the trauma to his brain. Soldiers who were hit in their heads often suffer organic mental and or personality disorders.

Chemical substances like alcohol and drugs do affect the chemistry of the brain. Heavy alcoholics often loose short term memory as well as experience myriad other psychological issues.

Even when heavy drug users finally quit, some of them retain psychological changes due to their drug usage. (As they say on the streets, folks fry their brains with drugs.)

Folks who overdose on street drugs often experience organic mental disorders such as delirium, delusion, hallucination etc.

The aging process seems to produce some changes in the physical and biochemical make up of the brain. Whereas there is no conclusive evidence yet as to how this works some observers attribute some of the changes in behavior in some geriatric patients to changes in their brain chemistry and physics. Alzheimer, senility, delusions etc are said to be due to changes in the old person’s brain.

Organic mental disorders are many and varied. For our present purposes, all we need to emphasize is that they are due to changes in the nervous system and that they were probably brought on by many agents. Some of these organic mental disorders are temporary, while others are long lasting.


GERIATRIC MENTAL DISORDERS

Have you worked in nursing homes and or assisted homes for the elderly? If you have, you probably have noticed some changes in the behaviors of the elderly persons therein, changes that are probably due to the aging processes. It would seem that in old age minor character issues that were always present in the individual become exacerbated.

Some of the main issues seen in the elderly are depression, delusion, senility, Alzheimer etc. Let me briefly explain these.

Most people know what depression is. It is loss of interests in the activities of daily living. The depressed person loses interests in activities that he or she used to enjoy, such as sports, work, social activities, making friends, food, sex, personal grooming; he has a feeling of tiredness and fatigue and a desire not to get up from bed in the morning, to just stay in bed, and in severe stages, to just be left alone and die. Some depressed persons, in fact, attempt suicide and some do manage to kill themselves. Depression is, therefore, a serious mental health issue.

At the moment the various serotonin reuptake blockers seem to alleviate clinical depression. Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil etc seem to have done wonders for depressed persons. Unfortunately, these medications do not seem to work for all patients. Moreover, they seem to have terrible side effects so that some persons do not want to use them. For example, some men become impotent upon using these drugs and to have a sex life may stop taking them.

Old people tend to have lost many persons in their lives. By the time a fellow is in his eighties he has probably lost many of the persons he grew up with and may have even lost some of his significant others (wife/husband, children etc). These losses probably contribute to depression in older people.

It is the rare ninety year old person who does not have some depression. For one thing, the fear of death, which in young persons tend to be well masked, hidden from consciousness, cannot be hidden from older persons’ consciousness.

Any ninety year old person who does not appreciate that his journey on earth is coming near to end is probably in serious denial (delusion). It is safe to say that older persons tend to have some depression and that like in every thing else some of them have it more than others.

Those older persons with severe depression probably need to see mental health professionals for help. But if it is minor, perhaps, a philosophical awareness that this is the human condition is enough to handle such melancholia. We are born. In our youth we are full of vigor. In middle age we begin to lose our vigor. In old age we are weak and then life becomes one continuous pain.

Life is pain and then you die. What can I say, such is life, cest la vie. Man needs some philosophy and or religion to help him cope with the painful realities of this life of ours on planet earth.

I have articulated what seems to me a useful metaphysics elsewhere and we do not need to repeat it here.
In old age, folks do become weak and fragile. Some folks find this reality very difficult to accept.

I am sitting here typing. I ran five miles this morning. It just occurred to me that when I am old that I would not be able to run, indeed, that I may not even be able to walk. That would be a bummer, wouldn’t it? For a chap that struggled all his life to be physically fit, old age must be terrible. As a child, I felt inordinately weak and inferior. In Adlerian categories, I struggled to seem strong, hence I exercise addictively. But in old age my weaknesses and organic inferiorities would return to hunt me. What a bummer.

Some older persons resent their weak bodies and encroaching death. Death, they say, eventually wins over all our efforts. Death makes us feel inferior, powerless and like we are nothing. Just thinking about death makes one depressed. In death my handsome body (forgive that narcissism) would rot and smell to high heaven and become food for worms. My God, my body is nothing; my body is worthless and is valueless.

I am deliberately using myself as an example in these essays; I do so to bring the issues home to you; so that you apply the concepts to you and not see them as abstractions to be played with and ignored. In time, you will get old and die.

In old age I realize my imminent death and more importantly I feel weak. So what would I do? What did I do in childhood when I felt inferior? I tried to compensate with false strength. I pursued the fiction of superiority. I tried to seem powerful when, in fact, I am weak.

In old age some persons try to seem powerful, vigorous and youthful despite their apparent physical weaknesses. I recall my grandfather at 90. He was weak. But he refused to accept his weakness. He pretended to be strong. In his youth he was reputed to be the best wrestler and sports person in his world. So now in his old age he would like to think that he is still strong. He would challenge young men to wrestling matches. He would look at the most athletic chap in our world and invite him to wrestle with him.

No kidding, the old man wanted to prove to himself that he is still young and vigorous. Of course, the young man could dispose him in a few seconds. So he laughed and said: Na anyi Osuji, you are the best wrestler in this world. He gratified the old man’s ego, pride and vanity. Narcissism must be satisfied, you know, or else human beings feel like they are nothing important. Their make belief importance must be affirmed lest they acknowledge their existential nothingness and despair, feel depressed. Delusional disorder is a mask over underlying depression, William Meissner said in The Paranoid Process.

I was a very keen observer of the human condition even as a ten year old kid. I watched our folk’s humor grand father by telling him that he is a strong man when clearly he was a weak old man.


For our present purposes, old people feel weak and some deny their weakness and pretend to be strong. This wish to be strong and pretense that one is strong, when one is not strong, is akin to delusional disorder.

Delusional disorder or something like it tends to be seen in some older folks. As it were, they are in denial of their weakness; they deny their obvious weakness and approaching death; they affirm their strength and life; they affirm an illusion.

What can I say, I have seen it all. In a psychiatric hospital, geriatric word, I saw ninety something year old men talking tough as if they could whip twenty something year old nurses. Move your little finger and the old fella falls and breaks whatever bone is in his fragile body, but he talks tough like he were Hitler.

Talking of Hitler, what was he but a little man who felt very weak and talked tough, and pretended that he was god himself? That is the nature of delusional disorder, being a nothing while pretending to be a something very important.

I believe that old men who tend to pretend to be tough, who are delusional, probably had some of that disease all along in their personality structure, perhaps, in a masked form. Men and women who felt weak all their lives and acted as if they were tough and competed in sports and work in an effort to seem tough are probably more likely to pretend that they are tough in their old age. In other words, old age delusional disorder is an exaggeration of paranoid personality already present in such persons? This is heuristic and ought to be researched, proved or refuted and discarded.

Some old people have senility. That is, they forget things very easily. I lived with my grandparents for a while. My ninety year old grandfather would get lost and would not know how to get home. Some one would rescue him and either bring him home or send for me to come get him. I would go get him. Along the line, while guiding him home, I would pretend that he knows his way home or that he is guiding me home. I dared not tell him that his memory was not good or that he was lost.

My God, this man used to send to jail those who dared talk back to him when he was in his prime. He was into power and in old age could not handle his powerlessness too well, so we all, even ten year old me, knew how to make him seem powerful.

Oh what games we human beings play with each other. Life is nothing but games, games of make belief that we are important. A man sees a woman. He knows exactly what she is, what her body is: eventual food for worms. He tells her that she is such a beautiful woman. That admiration wins her over and both of them dance the dance of courtship and ego love on earth. When she is gone he asks himself, what is that all about, any way?

I remember when finally during my third year at the university I had sex. It felt ridiculous and filthy. What is this, I asked myself. Give it up and go become a Catholic reverend father. Celibacy seemed the right choice for me. (I have the mystic’s temperament; that is, I am inclined to escape from the temporal, empirical world and negate all sensual pleasures and focus on the permanent, spiritual world; but I force myself to endure the world.) In the meantime I had to pretend to the girl friend that the whole experience was interesting. Human beings are dishonest with themselves, let us move on.

Some old persons experience Alzheimer disease. Here, memory, both long and short term, is gone. Some of these folks do not even remember who they are, when they were born, where they are, who their children are etc. I have seen this drama unfold before my very eyes. The children and grandchildren of a man come to visit and he does not know who they are. Sad, very sad. Indeed, some would wander off the grounds and are found in a different state, not knowing where they are.

Alzheimer is due to problems with certain parts of the brain. But what is the existential implication of this disease?

Essentially these people behave like animals; some are even fed by other people, thus not performing the animal function of self feeding. So what are they, and by implication what are we? What am I?

I am an animal, yes? You are an animal, ya, ya, (as my German friends would say? May be, may be not.

What exactly is man? Somewhere, I speculated that we are spirit having physical experience.


Some older folks take an assortment of medications. My God some of them are on so many medications that you loose count. Some of these medications produce all sorts of side effects. Some of the side effects are hallucinations; hence one can say that some old folks have drug induced psychosis?

CONCLUSION

Some mental disorders are produced by injuries to the brain. Some older folks exhibit psychiatric mental disorders. I have mentioned some of the common disorders due to organic injury and old age.

If you have imagination you would know that since older people are afraid of dying that they may have existential anxiety, are stressed, are prone to fear and anger and other mental and emotional upsets.

Old folk’s homes are sometimes the house of mental disorders. In fact, sometimes there is no difference between a nursing home and a nuts home.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #8 of 54: Cape Verde

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 8. CAPE VERDE Flag of Cape Verde

Formal Name: Republic of Cape Verde.

Term for Citizens: Cape Verdeans.

Capital: Praia. Population: 82,000.

Independence Achieved: July 5, 1975, from Portugal.

Major Cities: Praia.

Geography:

Cape Verde is in West Africa. Cape Verde is estimated to have 1, 557 square miles. These ten islands and eight islets that constitute Cape Verde are located in the West- north Atlantic. The nearest neighbors are Senegal and Mauritania. The islands are volcanic in origin. The landscape is eroded and stark with minor vegetation only in the interior valleys.


Society:

The population of Cape Verde is estimated at 463, 000.

Ethnic Groups: The main ethnic groups are Creole 71%, Africans 28% and Portuguese 1%.

Languages: Portuguese is the official language but most people speak Crioulo, a pidgin Portuguese containing African words.

Religion: Roman Catholic with indigenous African beliefs added to it.

Education: primary education is available to all. Literacy rate is estimated at 76.6%.

Economy: production of crops like bananas, coffee, cocoa, corns, beans, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, and peanuts. Light manufacturing of beverages, food, fish processing, shoes, garments, ship repair, salt mining are on the rise. GDP estimate: $600 Million; Per Capita GDP: $1, 770. Monetary Unit: Escudo (pegged to Portuguese Escudo).

History and Government:

The country is divided into sixteen administrative districts. At the central level are a president, Pedro Pires, and a prime minister, Jose Marie Neves, who governs day to day. There is a unicameral legislature of 72 members and a Supreme Court.


CONTEMPORARY POLITICS

In the Mid 1400s, Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal gathered sailors to navigate the world. He began his quest by trying to find out what lay around the corner from Portugal, Africa. At that time, Africa had not been visited by Europeans and a whole lot of myths existed about Africa. One such myth was that a famous Catholic Saint, Prester John, resided in Africa.

Prince Henry’s sailors began exploring the West Coast of Africa by the 1450s. In 1456 they reached ten wind swept islands off the Coast of Senegal and called them Cape Verde.

According to Portuguese accounts, there were no human beings living on those ten islands. The Portuguese settled in and from thereon continued their sailing around Africa. Vasco Digamma sailed from Cape Verde until he reached Cape of Good Hope in present South Africa in 1488. Christopher Columbus also sailed from Cape Verde in some of his journeys’ to the new world.

Portugal considered Cape Verde part of Portugal and settled its people there. When the slave trade began in earnest in the early 1500s, the Portuguese brought slaves from all over West Africa, from Senegal to Angola, to Cape Verde. In effect, all the Africans living in Cape Verde, for all you know, could be Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo.

In the meantime, the various African slaves brought to the Island mixed with the Portuguese. Today 71% of all the folks living on those ten islands are of mixed race, mullato, Creole; 28% are pure Africans and 1% is pure Portuguese. The entire people speak Portuguese or a pidgin form of it, Creoles. No one speaks a pure African language.

The people of Cape Verde consider themselves Portuguese, not Africans. Indeed, they are currently working to join the European Union! Portugal is, in fact, working hard to get them admitted into the EU.

In the mid twentieth Century, Cape Verde suffered a series of rainless periods, droughts. As a result it was difficult to feed the population. Many Cape Verdeans left the country and went overseas. In Massachusetts, USA, alone there are over 265, 000 Cape Verdians. These people do not, of course, call themselves Africans but Portuguese. Many others went to Portugal itself, some to Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, Brazil, Senegal, France, and Scandinavia. Today, there are more Cape Verdeans living overseas than those living on the Islands. (About 401, 343 persons live on those islands).

Even though they considered themselves Portuguese, the people of Cape Verde joined the wind of change blowing across Africa during the post Second World War years. Africans were asking for independence from foreign rule and Cape Verdeans did the same. Amilca Cabral and his fellow fighters formed the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Guinea Bissau was a neighboring Portuguese African territory.

In 1975 Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde won their independence from Portugal. PAIGC came to power. In 1980 there was a military Coupe in one half of this republic, Guinea Bissau and as a result Guinea Bissau separated from Cape Verde and became a sovereign nation.

As a result of the split of the two territories what was PAIGC became known as PAICV, African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde. PAICV governed Cape Verde from 1975 until 1991, when for the first time; there was a democratic election in Cape Verde. A different party won that election. Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro replaced Aristides Pereira as the president of Cape Verde. In 2001 Pedro Pires (PAICV) was elected as the president. He had only 17 votes more than his rival, Carlos Veiga. Mr. Pires was reelected this last January as the president of Cape Verde.

In 1980, Cape Verde adopted a new Constitution that made it a republic. It has a unicameral legislature, The National Assembly, 72 members. The members are elected to five year stints in the legislature. The president is elected for five years. The legislature nominates a prime minister and the president approves him. The prime minister nominates the cabinet ministers and the president approves them. The party with the majority seats in the legislature nominates the prime minister. So far, it is the same party that controls the legislature and the presidency, so all seems to be running smoothly. It remains to be seen how things would work out if different parties control the two branches of government. The legislature appoints, with the consent of the president, the members of the Supreme Court.

As noted, Cape Verde has ten islands and eight islets, all but one is inhabited. The ten islands are Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sao Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista, Sotaventos, Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava. (Santa Luzia is uninhabited, it is a national park.) All the ten islands are volcanic, although no volcanic activity has occurred in recent times.

The economy of Cape Verde relies on fishing. The Islands lack natural resources. With the depletion of fishing in the North Atlantic, Cape Verdeans are economically strapped. In fact, much of the country’s income now comes from foreign aids and the money sent home by Cape Verdeans living overseas. Still, the income per capita of cape Verdeans, $1770 (World Bank, 2005) is far ahead of most African countries.

Cape Verdeans are culturally Portuguese and tend to be tangentially African. They tend to look towards Europe rather than to Africa, even though they are off the Coast of Africa. Indeed, many of the people consider it a put down to be called Africans. Continental Africans tend to have very little to do with Cape Verdeans, and vice versa. As a proto European country, Cape Verde tends to reflect the culture and practices of Portugal. When Portugal itself was ruled by a brutal dictator, Cape Verde was similarly ruled. With the democratization of Portugal Cape Verde is increasingly becoming an open society. There is freedom of the press and many newspapers compete. From all indications, there is no repression of the press, electronic and print. In fact, the political parties appear to be truly democratic and elections appear fair. This is unlike in continental African countries where elections tend to be fixed for certain parties. On the whole, Cape Verde, by all indices, seems a democratic country.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

February 20,

Posted by Administrator at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)


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