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214 Responses to This page is for comments page 5

  1. Sylvia says:

    I’ve arrived; thanks for the new page, Gretchen.

  2. Bernadette says:

    I wanted to check out what the Good News Network had to say these days.
    There are quite a few inspiring stories, such as the guy who sits with his typewriter on a sidewalk in New York and helps people write letters to friends who have the blues. Another story is about a Pfizer coronavirus vaccine being 90% effective. And yet another one about Coloradans giving the thumbs-up to reintroduce gray wolves west of the Rockies, yay! For dog owners, this one is about a Vermont mountain retreat that is “the Mecca for dogs and dog lovers” — all you dog owners must check it out!

    But I chose to post this link. It’s about psilocybin mushrooms that are exceptionally helpful with depression and anxiety. My question…. where do I get that stuff???

    • superstarguru says:

      Well coincidentally shrooms were just legalized for therapeutic usage in Oregon during the election which just took place. Small amounts of street drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, were also decriminalized in that state.
      I took shrooms a few times in college where a buddy of mine scored me a quarter-ounce bag. I did have a couple of good trips off of it before my tolerance became too high and there was no effect for me. Although the high can last about 6 hours and I did a lot of laughing at how stupid everything was around me, that also became the time I started to seriously wonder, “Why do I need to be taking this stuff? Is there really something wrong with my mind which necessitates my taking this? Why doesn’t my dad need to take something like this when I deem it necessary?”
      As you read what I just wrote, it’s worth keeping in mind I was groping around in an ultra-low information environment as a 90’s college kid with no internet and a few years before I ran into Janov’s books. Never mind the car collision problem in this country which also inflicted massive damage on my life without any broadened scope of knowledge about how our military-industrial overlords need to keep the human cost quiet, etc. The true dark ages.
      I view what I did as extremely risky, and I did it before my brain was fully developed (which takes place around age 25).
      Would I do shrooms again today? Probably not.

      • superstarguru says:

        As I wrote above, I was asking myself a host of disturbingly clueless and discouraging questions about why my life was so inexplicably mediocre and, once the shrooms wore off, my depression was enhanced by the persistent nature of those questions.
        No college course or library was offering this book at the time which would have helped me traverse those years on slightly steadier footing at the very least:
        Looking back on this sparks my anger and ire once more. Why couldn’t our military-industrial overlords at least give me the fucking courtesy to tell me what the fuck was really going on instead of designing college courses for their own profit?
        Looking back with what I understand now, it was really unnecessary for me to take any shrooms. All I needed was a least a few answers as a starting point to latch onto, particularly in matters of life and literal bone-crushing death. My mother’s death certificate didn’t have a pretty description of her femur bones and our military industrial overlords didn’t give a shit. Keep the cars running.

        • Sylvia says:

          Hi, Guru. As you say, knowing why these senseless deaths keep happening on the road would have made some sense of why your mom died. You could focus your attention to blame for the devastation it did to your life. You feel it could have anchored you in some way against your lost feeling. But also the death of a family member for any reason would also be devastating, such as from cancer, though it would be more easily accepted as possibly a part of nature. That there is no general support or recognition about the greed that drives the damage on the roads makes it harder to bear. There was nothing to latch onto as when a soldier dies and his/her family has recognition and support.

          But I don’t think that just knowing the reason for your mom’s death was what would have made things better and easier to cope with, ultimately. I think all the confusion and lost feelings were from the trauma laid down of being wrenched from the person you were closest to at two and a half yrs old. Inclusive of that was the devastation your father felt at losing his life partner and how he was coping. That pain was there all the time you were growing up. Whether it was death of a parent from an accident or illness or another way of loss, a little child will be devastated and grow up probably asking–‘what went wrong?’ Adding to that is the feeling of being cheated from the life you should have had.

          I think what some of us deal with here is our very early years when the imprints were laid down that will affect the rest of our lives. And I think reliving those traumatic moments of loss, the need for safety and closeness and love from a parent that we didn’t get is what is finally freeing and resolving. Just my opinion.

          • superstarguru says:

            Sylvia, it’s clear you’re trying to extend as much love, sympathy, and support as you possibly can for me here….and it feels as though I would be wrecking any future prospects of your gratefully received support if I spent any energy starting to explain more specifically why I have some disagreements with your opinion. I’ve decided at this time your support and sympathy is more important for me than those other considerations. It would take an enormous amount of carefully organized presentation work for me to explain our differences of opinion. I am not dismissive of Janov’s ideas, but rather it is only a fraction of the picture where I am concerned.
            I did spend an extra day quietly mulling over your post and I felt this is the best way to respond overall.
            I would need a healthy amount of lifetime income assurance from annuities, a beachfront Malibu home, and a hot pitcher of coffee while watching the sunset before I can begin pouring my entire heart and soul into absolutely all the little reasons why I can’t completely align myself with your opinion, which you graciously put forth in a humble fashion (much appreciated for that, thank you).

    • Phil says:

      This stuff probably just helps open up feelings. But we’re already doing that with primal and in a better way.

      • David says:

        My thoughts, too, Phil; and perhaps in a negative way because the body’s ability to shut down, shut the door, when it has had enough is impaired.

  3. superstarguru says:

    Bernadette, I would exhaust all non-drug options as much as possible before venturing on to shrooms. It’s unfortunate that the answers beneath why I resorted to that option myself were so infuriating (as explained above). Maybe you just need a little more time to uncover personal answers safely before trying something which could radically alter your brain chemistry on a permanent basis?

    • Larry says:

      I like your advice Guru. I felt the same since my late teens regarding taking mood altering substances. I’m fortunate that I was never so overwhelmed that I needed to take drugs to shield me from reality. I came close, but luckily read the Primal Scream in time and the insight from it let me hang on to some hope and helped me to limp along until I could get to therapy.

      • superstarguru says:

        Larry, you know…I just finished talking about how the greed of the richest depends on endless automotive travel with all its dire consequences for many thousands of people, and shortly thereafter you talked about how FUN your truck is driving through the snow. I won’t try to stop you from saying it, but….it almost felt as though you were trying to torment me indirectly.
        Something like…Daniel talking about losing his grandparents to Hitler and I would come along and say, “Hey HEY everybody! Look how COOL my new iron wrought ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign is in my living room!”

        • Larry says:

          I read your recent posts Guru, but I can’t remember if that was before or after I posted here the copy of my letter to Gretchen. I was thinking only of all primal bloggers and friends in general when I posted it. My intention was to offer something upbeat for a change instead of always my feelings of hopelessness and emptiness. It never occurred to me that my post would torment you, although I can see why it could now that you’ve explained it.

      • David says:

        I used the, ” being a good boy,” good friend to all, opiate. The cool kids hated me and I thought they were cracked. Oh, fuck, to be honest, me and my guitar provided the mood music for my cool friends to make out to. I was too fucking numb to know I was overwhelmed. There’s a book, ” I’ve Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me.”

  4. Margaret says:


  5. Larry says:

    It occurred to me this morning that I come to this blog and write about my life mostly when I’m in distress and am trying to sort out my life. So I think why not for a change share good news, about a day when everything worked out for me, because this therapy isn’t just about pain, it’s also about good outcomes. Here is what I wrote to Gretchen yesterday afternoon:

    Right after Zoom group on Sunday I underwent a few bouts of crying. I cried that it shouldn’t have been so difficult for all of my teenage and adult life to have a relationship with a girl, a girlfriend. I cried that I am still the same person right now, with exactly the same fear and difficulty regarding relationships as I had back then. I cried that as always I want to avoid relationships and retreat into the ‘imaginary’ bosom of my family, but there was in reality no such safe haven for me from which to gain confidence in risking life. Finally I cried how scared I am to move forward because I inherit from childhood the terror of moving forward alone, and yet how deadly it would be to just stand in place because then I will stay alone as I am and have been most of my life.

    We were having a blizzard of sorts here during Zoom group on Sunday that lasted to 3 am this morning. It wasn’t the worst blizzard I’ve experienced but it did leave a foot of snow, blown into higher accumulations in drifts in places. I was really keen to see how my RAV4 Hybrid All-wheel drive (with the option of TRAIL drive mode), with its high ground clearance and studded winter tires would handle driving in the foot deep snow. I was up at 5 am and outside at 6. First I had to sweep the snow off the RAV4 and shovel it away from the doors so I could get inside. Then off I went, one of the first vehicle in places through the condo parking lot and in the streets. IT WAS SO FUN. The way the RAV4 churned through that snow I felt like I was floating through it. I passed a few vehicles parked askew in the parking lot and in the street, abandoned by their unfortunate owners because they got stuck in the snow. I even passed by a City bus stuck and abandoned in the street.

    This was the first time I drove my RAV4 through streets and parking lot made impassable to most vehicles by snow. Having gained confidence in it’s performance, at 9 am I texted my special lady friend that I’d love the adventure of trying to drive the 5 miles or so to her place through the snow filled streets and I’d relish the physical exercise of shoveling the snow off her driveway. I thought she would say I was silly and to not risk the journey or the possibility of hurting myself with shoveling. But no, she replied ‘I would not want to deprive you of fun exercise so come on over.’ It was SO FUN plowing through the snow filled streets to her place. Not many vehicles were able to get through that snow. Mine felt like is was floating through it. After I arrived a her place, I totally enjoyed the physical exertion of shoveling her driveway for her.

    She came out and helped shovel for a while, as much as she was physically capable of without hurting herself. Sometime after noon I was done and went into her house to have some tea with her and visit for a while in her sun room. We fell into a really enjoyable conversation. I’m able to say more to her more openly and honestly. More and more I’ve discovering I can be entirely myself with her and letting her see who I am. She is appreciating it and is honest with me in return. I’m liking her more and more and feeling more and more comfortable with her. I’m trusting more and more that something special is growing between us.

    She wants to make me some soup in return for shoveling her driveway. I told her it really wasn’t necessary, I enjoyed myself, but I would graciously accept her offer of home made soup.

    I am happy.


    • Phil says:

      Larry, that’s great news! Even a blizzard can’t slow you down.


      • Larry says:

        Ha ha. For me blizzards are a special time, a kind of adventure when people pull together in community to help one another. Blizzards can be aggravating, scary, dangerous and even deadly, but my experience of them has been more positive than not, maybe because when growing up on the farm, playing outside in winter was normal and fun, especially in the piled up snow banks resulting from a blizzard, and having grown up on self-dependent, resourceful prairie farms my parents knew to take precautions and make preparations to optimize the comfort and safety of our lives and their farming livelihood through whatever winter could throw at us.

    • Bernadette says:

      Larry, what a great story, and so romantic! I am happy to hear that you are happy! I love hearing good news, so keep them coming 🙂 From the way you describe your new friend, she sounds really special, warm and caring.

      • Larry says:

        Thanks Bernadette. Every now and then I come up against and emotional wall though, where something about her tells me she is not the one and I feel I don’t want to go any further with her. Such is how I am feeling now after a phone conversation with her last night. I expect a primal is on the rise for me, after which I expect I will see more clearly what is/was preventing me from wanting to go further with her.

    • David says:

      Wonderful , Larry; and thank you for the good news story. I don’t know how to post from Youtube to this page, but for anyone interested, ” The World Could Use A Little Good News Today, ” Anne Murray;

  6. Margaret says:

    I was really touched while reading your story.
    i am so happy for you, it is inspiring.
    Today I once more experienced how nice company entirely cheers me up, even while often on forehand it feels like too much to cope with and even scary for that matter.
    I would have lunch here with my best girlfriend, but texted her about an upcoming migraine this morning , and that I had taken some medication but still did not feel very good.
    luckily she did not notice my message and came over and by then my headache and nausea had subsided and we had a great meal and even greater conversation and laughed a lot.
    so more and more I am able when fear sets in before socializing to remind myself it will most likely be very enjoyable.
    and much much better than the safe but lonely and empty option of staying by myself at home and fight off depression by being busy or reading or eating etc.
    it is good to still have stuff to do and places to go to or people to meet, on Zoom or otherwise, despite of the partial lockdown here.
    I have two forms allowing me ‘essential travelling’, one from the nursing home, and one from the phone helpline volunteering service.
    that last instruction course is now mostly on Zoom but not always.
    tomorrow I visit my mom, sometimes before also feeling not very enthusiastic about it, and reminding myself I do it for her, and not necessarily for myself, but invariably I find out how well it makes me feel, I always feel very good on and after a visit.
    so I hope all those irrational fears will keep wearing off, bit by little bit.
    primal therapy did help me very much to get stronger and more sensitive and real, and has improved the quality of my life so much I have no words for it…

    • Larry says:

      Enjoying spending time with people has such a positive effect on us Margaret. Our species is wired to need and be social. That’s the key to our survival. Without connection we die. I’m glad you enjoyed time with your friend. I wish more of that for you.

  7. Phil says:

    why could the prospect of company with your girlfriend be scary ahead of time? That’s great you went through with it and had a good time.

  8. Margaret says:

    that is a good question.
    it is a person I feel most safe with actually, this morning it was for a big part the physical discomfort of the migraine , with some leftover old irrational feeling, irrational in this case, of fearing I would not be able to cope somehow.
    the ‘not feeling up to it’ might be a mixture of very early fear of not making it through birth, combined with the sum of awkward nesses and bad experiences that still make up some unprocessed residue.
    but the good thing is that with this girlfriend I feel really very safe and we laugh a lot and also are able to talk about painful stuff.
    time flies with her mostly, until we both start to sense it has been ok or one of us has to do something else. so it is very easy really and very enjoyable…

  9. Margaret says:

    I was very moved by an item on the news about music therapy for people with dementia.
    an old Spanish lady with severe Alzheimer, who passed away since, was filmed sitting in her wheelchair lost in her own world, without contact with people around her.
    she had been a prima ballerina in her younger years.
    then Tchaikovsky’s Swan lake music was played loud enough so she would hear it, and you could see her lift her head, she slowly started making small movements with her hands in the rhythm of the music, according to the actual choreography of the original ballet that was showed as well.
    then gradually she started lighting up, smiling, and making bigger and bigger movements with hands and arms, sitting up straight and even lifting her arms up, it was really extremely touching.
    it is part of a video from a music therapy organization, who show it can also trigger alert and clear moments in the persons with dementia, as actually that same old ballerina was then asked about her former dancing, she was still smiling and responded to the questions.
    this video seems to be going viral, which is good as too many people don’t make efforts anymore to reach people with dementia, not even some relatives.
    i am still often amazed at how my mom keeps surprising me with some of our conversations or some of her actions and sense of humor.
    i am trying to convince the nursing home lately to stimulate her more, as they have diminished the amount of animation too much and it has a negative effect on many of the residents in her ward, who get depressed or angry, out of boredom and frustration and loneliness.
    when I go tomorrow it will be the third visit I make in six days, and then my brother will go on Sunday,.
    of course I can’t do that every week but I go minimally once a week and often twice.
    and i call her every day, and I notice that even with her forgetfulness she is starting to look forward to it and tells me every time she thought it would be me, and how happy she is to hear me…
    my brother just called me as well and asked about her and about me, which feels good as there had been some slight frictions between us lately.
    caring about the people around us feels linked to caring about oneself…

  10. Margaret says:

    I think the lady, Conchita (?) Gonzales with Alzheimer that started suddenly making the dancing movements with her hands and arms and sat upright smiling, was so very touching because of the big contrast between her doing these proud graceful gestures and the image of the ‘poor dementing’, that people feel sorry for and often treat in a condescending way as if they are little children or don’t address at all.
    Inside of all of them is still a feeling person, a unique being with an unique story…
    worth looking up, this video, really!
    the words music therapy, ballerina and Tchaikovsky spelled possibly differently, and Gonzales, might do it…
    dignity is a key word for me in all of this.
    maybe it touches me even more as being blind and half deaf makes dignity an issue for me as well as opposed to shame and embarrassment and being or feeling like an outsider.
    respect is also a key word, too often not given to the elderly in general…

  11. David says:

    A dear friend so diagnosed was non verbal, but when I remarked how much she enjoyed teaching she would, every time, begin conversing with me, those memories always intact, and clearly with appropriate emotions, and that she retired because she, “.. didn’t have the motivation anymore.” I feel sad that in this country the public senior care system offers only herd confinement.

  12. David says:

    Yesterday was the first time in months received a post or could access the page. Hope all are doing ok.

    • Sylvia says:

      David, since you said you have not been able to access the blog in months, perhaps you did not hear, sadly, of Jack’s passing. He died on September 18th, I believe it was a few days short of his 88th birthday. You may want to read some of the comments here on the blog in that week and the following week on page 4. He is missed.

  13. Jo says:

    Posts haven’t been coming in by email since page 5, not sure why, and have just got up to date.
    Larry, I’m glad your relationship is developing, and great that you’re fit enough to shovel snow so soon after your health problems..tho maybe you were fired up on adrenaline!!!

    • Larry says:

      I was fired up on something Jo. 🙂 Likely I was hit with a triple whammy of 1) post-blizzard effect that stirs able-bodied locals to help neighbours and friends recover from a bllizzard, and 2) sense of adventure and itch to try out new, high clearance, all wheel drive, small/medium SUV hybrid in city made impassable to most vehicles (including anything I’ve previously owned) by deep new snow effect, and 3) desire to engage in endeavour leading to high likelihood outcome of spending more time with special lady-friend and getting to know her more effect. #3 not only adds to but symbiotically intensifies 1) and 2). And lastly, d) post-blizzard aversion to feeling stuck, isolated, helpless and alone at home effect.

      I’d been exercising at the gym through the summer and fall during my health problems, so I have a reasonable feel for my physical limitations. I did only as much shoveling that day as I felt comfortable with without hurting myself, reveled in the physical exertion, was tired by the time I stopped and left the remaining half for her young renter to finish another day, and felt terrific about being a sort of rescue/hero–a way better feeling than being stuck alone and helpless at home post-blizzard. The next day I shoveled out a 78 year old lady friend’s car in the street. While doing hers I felt how tired I was physically from the previous day and it was a real chore to get her car shoveled out and recognized I could hurt myself here if I’m not careful. I am in recuperation now and haven’t touched a shovel in the two days since, nor do I have any desire to, oddly enough.

      As regards to the gym, a couple of weeks ago I stopped going because the number of new COVID cases per day keeps rising here and the community incidence feels too high for me to feel safe to workout at a gym, especially since no one else but me was wearing any kind of mask in the gym. I wore a locally available K95 to protect not only my community but especially to protect myself. More recently I bought N95s that I found online.

  14. Margaret says:

    Larry, thanks for your nice wish.
    actually it is surprising how busy my life has been lately despite the partial lockdown.
    with the visits to my mom, specially those with a nice cat-loving driver with which i am developing a friendship, the brief weekly visits of the caretakers who do my shopping and some administration, now and then a girlfriend still coming by for a lunch with mostly social distancing, and the Zoom groups , my household and the cats and all electronical and other problems to solve, and audio books to fill up the little gaps here and there, it is not empty at all.
    on Saturday the classes for the phone helpline are through Zoom, from 10 am till 3 pm, with a few pauses here and there.
    I just read up about this time’s subject, crisis calls and suicide calls, their backgrounds and how to deal with them in different stages of urgency.
    then Sunday Zoom group, and next week for a change two dentist visits hm….
    i also started a new course as the third statistics module does not work right now, practica cancellations and now private help by teacher due to Corona.
    so I started a new course in the meantime, Anthrozoology from a psychological perspective, about the relations and interactions between humans and animals, from the earliest times in evolution up to today, for many different animals, raised by humans or animals getting profit by hanging around them to pets and assistance animals.
    I am just starting but it seems very interesting.
    i am glad I did take those initiatives and don’t sink away in Corona isolation depression.
    yesterday during my visit to mom, I took her out in the garden and we ventured deeper into the wood, it is a large garden, than I usually do.
    mom sees stuff she wants to pick up and look at as she still revels about nature, leaves, chestnuts, feathers etc., so we wandered off and back on to some trails, and finally lost sight of our exact location.
    i told her to look through the trees to spot the buildings, but we ended up on some parking between cars , it was a bit scary bo be lost but I did not panic, could always call the home and well, not tell them to pick us up at a certain spot but to come look for us on their grounds on some parking lot for example.
    but luckily we finally encountered an old man who took us back through some shrubs to a spot I recognized and from which mom and I could make our way back.
    a whole adventure, haha, nothing better against threatening boredom and routine!
    but next time I won’t go that far anymore, stay with mom on the outsides of all those huge old trees so I can keep some track of where we are…

  15. Phil says:

    Margaret, it sounds like you’ve got a lot going on, and that’s an interesting new course you’re taking. You and Larry have inspired me to share.
    My wife and I are now doing much better, quite good I would say, after having difficulties. I hope to keep it this way, and to move quicker when we seem to be going down hill., Usually I have a lot of trouble doing that.
    I’m happy with the used car we bought for my son because his new job involves a lot of driving, so he really needed it. He helped pick it out, and is quite pleased with it too.
    His old one is on it’s last legs and isn’t at all reliable. Yesterday before leaving with the new car, he was complaining a lot about his job. About the work distribution and how things are done etc.. He has always freely shared his complaints with us, and in a few days he may be feeling completely different about things. Whether the job works out or not, he deserves a good, safe, car., but I think and hope it will work out for him.
    Both our son’s will be coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s hard to imagine them not coming. One tries to be very careful, when it comes to Covid, but we don’t notice so much that he is. The other doesn’t try at all; he only does what’s mandated. It is worrisome considering what’s going on around the country. It seems only a matter of time before the number of cases sky rocket again here.


    • Vicki says:

      Phil, I would be worried that the one son or both could pass Covid to you, if they’re not really being careful, and could be carriers, with no symptoms. Take care.

      • Larry says:

        As am I worried for you and your wife Phil. It is only one Thanksgiving to miss to avoid an elevated risk of catching COVID….a horrible illness, in my opinion. There will be many more Thanksgivings, if you stay healthy.

        • Phil says:

          Vicki and Larry, we’re thinking on how to deal with this for Thanksgiving and Christmas. One thing I’m thinking is we should wear masks if they do come, although that will feel weird. I have been going to work since the pandemic started and have been wearing a mask all day, every day. Or maybe they shouldn’t come at all. The case numbers are pretty low here but are starting to rise. The governor has just put back some restrictions on restaurants, bars, and gyms. I’m starting to think I’ll get the vaccine as soon as I can, even though it will be a new product that I might think of avoiding. I think it will be available first for hospital workers. It has to be stored in extremely cold freezers, which hardly anyone has. It’s going to take a long time to get everyone vaccinated.

          • Larry says:

            True enough that the case numbers are pretty low in New York State and in New York City. Better than they are here. In fact, the US in general is doing better than Canada, in terms of # cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days.

            Manitoba 202
            Saskatchewan 92
            BC 64

            New York 24.4 (excluding New York City)
            New York City 16.7
            California 17.1

            • Phil says:

              Our tentative plans have our sons visiting for the holidays and we will be wearing masks. Our kitchen has seating and opens up to a dining room, so we can have distance for meals. Sars-cov-2 is not invited to any of our festivities.

        • Vicki says:

          Sure, wear masks, Phil. But obviously not while actually eating — and even make sure you’re not talking loudly or singing, because those project more — what is the term, I don’t remember — volatile virus particles – “respiratory droplets”. So choirs catch it easily. And hopefully your sons are on-board with the plan, or I would bow out.

  16. Margaret says:

    thanks for sharing!

  17. OTTO CODINGIAN says:

    chopped liver, that’s what i am. dear gramma, missing mom, young aunt, middle aunt and mean uncle, old,aunt and uncle…could not pay any attention to me for too many seconds, minutes, hours, days, years…so it is natural that this is my 1st nature. then, now, and forever. what am i, chopped liver? yep

  18. OTTO CODINGIAN says:

    at least that intense pain of ‘not even being alive’ is pushing off to the side my new intense. pain of ‘doggie death’. neat trick i learned.

  19. OTTO CODINGIAN says:


  20. Margaret says:

    yesterday we had a zoom group for more schooling for the free phone helpline volunteering.
    the subject was ‘crisis calls’ and ‘suicide calls’.
    after some theory and brief exercises there was a ‘mystery guest’, who made a so called call to the Tele help desk.
    we were divided in two groups of about 7 persons, who could freely take turns in the role of the one answering to the call.
    the mystery guest was a lady calling in distress, after she had had an argument with her partner who had left to go get drunk.
    she was very scared he would beat her on his return, and also worried about the two children.
    she did not have many persons to turn to and felt resistant to do so as well, and felt she depended financially on her partner etc.
    it was interesting to hear how the other trainee volunteers dealt with the lady, some good, others not so good in my opinion.
    of course I also tried, and actually then she was prepared to call a friend, which gave me a good feeling.
    of course it was an exercise, an experienced volunteer doing the role of the lady, but she did it really very well and we all learned a lot from the feedback.
    in the afternoon there was a second mystery guest, this time a young man who had been at the terrorist attack on the airport some years ago, who still felt extremely stressed and scared, especially around the date of the attack every year.
    he felt so bad he considered ending his life.
    he also played his role so well it was very convincing, and again we were a little group interacting with him when we felt like doing so.
    that too was a very interesting exercise, and again I felt some people did very well and some actually, in my humble opinion, not at all.
    it makes me wonder how the supervisors deal with someone that does not seem to be empathetic enough, even after all the coaching.
    but well, again I really liked the exercise, and it was especially nice I got a compliment for several of my interventions afterwards in a mail from one of the instructors.
    i am so very glad to start being part of this, to learn more as this is a specific kind of skill, as it is a specific situation, which can vary a lot with every single call.
    it feels very rewarding even just to learn and interact with the others.
    i don’t seem to have any time to get bored, with the university course about people and animals and all the other stuff to do, life feels surprisingly full these days, despite Corona.

  21. Margaret says:

    just wanted to say thanks to you as well, in group I was too upset and overwhelmed to do so, but I did hear you when you stood up for me by saying I had already explained etc.
    It felt like a voice of sanity to hold onto somehow.
    i knew I also overreacted probably but well, better that then to bottle it all up i guess…
    it is strange, I felt so good at the beginning of group, how things ca change so quickly when some feeling gets triggered.
    now i am not feeling that upset anymore, guess it came on so hard as I had not seen it coming at all…
    have a very nice week, smiley, M

    • David says:

      ” i knew I also overreacted probably but well, better that then to bottle it all up i guess…” Margaret this touched something in me. Maybe it’s your courage to be vulnerable, first feelings of, wow, how great to be matter of fact, and sharing it; somehow that honesty feels very reassuring, safety. Now triggering my anxiety of reprisals, abuse, getting into trouble for making a fool of myself.
      Decades ago, and I may have written about this before, I was a Help Line volunteer trainer. The one element that sticks with me was sharing with them that whenever they took a call, regardless of any self perception, motivation to accept the position, they are exactly who the caller believes and needs them to be. I also believe that I was the recipient in my various volunteerings; the opportunity to serve.
      Good on ya Margaret. dave hardy

    • Larry says:

      Thank you Margaret. I feel that everyone’s nerves had become frazzled by the frequent and loud, irritating interruptions from the piano, and after the piano was muted hadn’t had time yet to calm down when interruptions from you digital assistant became the new source of people’s still pent up irritation.

      • Jo says:

        Hmm… not my take on it. I felt, and others indicated irritation from the start of group, with one person’s irritation exploding before the piano interference,

  22. Margaret says:

    hi Dave,
    thanks for your reply.
    next week I will be meeting my own personal mentor at the helpline, a long time experienced lady volunteer, and can listen to her answering some calls to learn from it, without hearing the caller for privacy reasons.
    i like our training, it is thorough and theoretically and emotionally well organized, a client centered approach with high standards of quality and respect for every caller.
    what did you find most rewarding and most difficult personally as a helpline volunteer?

    • David says:

      I was only a trainer, Margaret. I volunteered in other programs. A sad experience, a guy I’d been friendly with showed up at a session I was doing at a local hospital. He was a long time Help Line volunteer. We spoke briefly and he sat in the front row. At break he told me he had come because I was doing the session and gave me some accolades. I watched him during the second half and was convinced he had come to say goodbye. He slipped out sometime before the end. I argued with myself if I should drive out to his house and talked myself into thinking I was overreacting. He was dead by then, a self inflicted gunshot. He left a note which included a short message to me about how much I, or how I treated others, meant to him. I messed up. Although I believe people who make an accurate appraisal of their circumstances and reach a conclusion to suicide have that right. I recall a few folks I would never have wished forced to live.
      I do have a genuine deep caring for others. But I also have a neurotic caring response, I cared for a mother who several times tried to murder me. Then she disarmed my rightful feelings about that by telling me the horror stories about her own childhood abuse, a Dickensonian nightmare she then visited upon me. The perfect storm that birthed a social worker, a therapist, a self taught repairman who fixed clients’ and friends’ major appliances and cars, cut the hair of dorm mates…… I truly was looking for nothing from them. Just being there for them was enough.
      That’s also what volunteering gave me, the gift of being able to be there. I never saw the recipients as being fortunate they had someone to turn to, to receive; I was the lucky one, I owed them for that privelege, the privelege of serving.
      I once jokingly told my mentor I was sorry I’d ever met him, developed personal responsibility and had deep unconditional empathy because it was at times a cross to bear, and, just maybe the guy who worked at a brain numb job and regularly drank a 24 case of beer had it figured out…(:

  23. Vicki says:

    I found this on Facebook, and and reposted it, and — it’s getting a lot of loves & likes, so I thought you’d like to see it:
    “In order to make a relationship last, you really have to flow with a person as they change. Give them space. My friend always told me about his grandfather who was with his wife for 60 years before she passed. His grandfather said that through all that time, his wife changed so much it felt like he had been with 8 different people by the end. But he said the secret to making it last was that through all those changes, he never suffocated his wife with his own idea of who he expected her to be. Rather he loved, fully, every new woman she became.”

    • David says:

      WOW !! 60 years in an enduring, endearing relationship. Would that mean she likewise reciprocated every time he became a, “new,” man ? I often think that I am the only one who is not extended the privilege of change in my relationships. I weary of that imbalance, I embrace changes and growth but my individuality I am supposed to compromise to compliment their newnesses.

    • Jo says:

      I read this on FB but thought it biased: I’d be great to see it a guide for everybody

      • David says:

        read what on FB, Jo ? Invisible ink or are ya toyin’ with us… be warned we’re a rough crowd, (:

      • Jo says:

        Hi David .. I was replying and referring to Vicki’s post above 😉

      • David says:

        ok, got it now… yes, yes ! It’s not only the princess that dreams of prince charming and forever and ever life long in love mating. That was my dream, still waiting for my lady soul mate to tap me on the shoulder…. (:

    • superstarguru says:

      The human body replaces all of its atoms every 7 years or so (give or take a few years for absolutely EVERYTHING).
      So yeah it makes sense that this grandpa felt as though he had been with eight different people within a single wife throughout sixty years (8×7 years = 56 years)

      • Phil says:

        Guru, all our atoms may be changed every 7 years or so but they are identical, as far as I know. One carbon atom is the same as every other, the same with hydrogen and oxygen. Water is water (but Coke is the real thing). I guess it’s the exact combination of all those atoms and molecules that matters.

  24. David says:

    This new page is working GURRRRRRREAT, opens in a flash and posts nearly as fast. I take it , it’s THANKS to Gretchen.

  25. David says:

    A reworking of , ” A Little Good News,” Covid 19 inspired

  26. David says:

    No inspiring words from friend, Jack , ?

  27. David, Maybe you did not hear of Jacks death ? Gretchen

  28. Margaret says:

    while I only produce the Zoom announcement about being temporarily unmuted in a new screen on the moment I unmute myself, i ended up being blamed for noises that did not come from me at all.
    even Barry asking me ‘Margaret when will you finally fix that computer of yours?’, he was actually reacting on long repetitive sounds coming from somebody else using his spacebar to unmute, while accidentally also touching another kay, which indeed causes a continuous noise.
    that was not me at all but that actually set off the explosive chain reaction.
    i did try to say it had not been me but that did not make much difference. it was not only about my 5 seconds of noise I guess, other feelings played, as the one person who actually gets most upset by background noises actually stood up for me.
    i still feel hurt being under attack for a temporary thing that can be irritating at times, for me as well, but that is also a temporary side effect of the only tool enabling me to attend and participate in group.

  29. Margaret says:

    I felt like adding some more clarification about the Voice Over assisted working.
    it is not I cannot switch it off, that is not complicated at all, it is just I rather do not do so as it puts me in a tricky situation.
    for example, it did happen to me in the past that accidentally also the speech, a subfunction of the screenreader Voice over, had been separately been turned off.
    so then, when I use the short keys to switch Voice Over back on, it does do so, but says: Voice over back on, speech switched off.’
    then I am in trouble, because to fix that there are different options, but for some reason, sometimes a bug in some upgrade, ,the trackpad command gives no result, and I have to go into menus and submenus to switch the speech function of Voice Over back on, which of course I cannot do as there is no way to know where my focus is ending up exactly.
    then there still remains the option of completely shutting down the system, but also that without any feedback gets tricky when several applications are being used at that moment, as the computer starts giving pop up screens with warnings and questions and I have no clue as to what it is saying on the screen.
    if I start clicking I risk messing up the system more and more.
    then even if I can eventually close it and restart, it still is not entirely certain Voice Over will restart with the speech function again switched back on, and I risk messing up the logging in while trying to do so without any control or feedback.
    So you see, it is not at all that I cannot turn Voice Over off, but that I rather don’t do it if there is any way to avoid it.
    i have thought of some extra command I might try next Sunday when I unmute, to stop the computer voice from rambling on, that command always worked fine, until one of the big updates of the operating system, when suddenly it only functioned on rare occasions.
    now last Saturday I had another big upgrade to OSBig Sur, so we will have to wait and see how it responds to my command to shut up when it starts speaking when I don’t want it to. if it works I should be able to stop it even in mid sentence without really changing any of the basic settings.
    but you see, all of this is not what I felt like spending time on in group, it should be enough imo I say I have my reasons, but well, maybe that was not the case. ,
    the situation reminded me a bit, on hindsight, of my brother hearing me explain over and over why I don’t want to move to assisted living and like staying in my present home for the moment, and then he brings it up again and again and ignores all I have said and does not really respect my decision and judgement.
    but well, ok, the dust has been settling and we can move on hopefully.

    • Larry says:

      From trying to help you to get on to Zoom group back in the Spring, I understand that there are technical complexities that you have to deal with that would frustrate even a normally sighted person, and how frustrating it would feel for you to have to explain your technical problems over and over again to people who don’t seem to be listening or how frustrating for you that some don’t accept and trust that you are doing the best that you can with trying to quiet your Voice Over Assist entourage .

      If you want to test the OSBig Sur upgrade before Sunday and practice telling it to shut up, I could set up a Zoom meeting for you and me and email you the invitation link. You are 7 hours ahead of me, so how about a Zoom meeting this Thursday between 3 and 9 pm your time. I’m tied up after 9:30 pm your time. You choose the hour.

      Of course everyone wants to live in their own home for as long as they can. If the person can manage it even with some assistance, my understanding is that research suggests it is in most cases the healthiest option.

    • Vicki says:

      Margaret & Larry, good Luck with troubleshooting OS Big Sur! At my work, we are advising students not to get it yet, as there are unsolved compatibility problems with other software the students must use. At least some software vendors have said that compatibility upgrades will not be ready before the new year. This new OS has significant changes, is a major update.

  30. Vicki says:

    Below are excerpts from a brilliant review of the film ‘I Am Greta’, which Jonathan Cook says isn’t about climate change — it’s about the elusiveness of sanity in an insane world.

    “Erich Fromm, the renowned German-Jewish social psychologist who was forced to flee his homeland in the early 1930s as the Nazis came to power, offered a disturbing insight later in life on the relationship between society and the individual.

    In the mid-1950s, his book ‘The Sane Society’ suggested that insanity referred not simply to the failure by specific individuals to adapt to the society they lived in. Rather, society itself could become so pathological, so detached from a normative way of life, that it induced a deep-seated alienation and a form of collective insanity among its members. In modern western societies, where automation and mass consumption betray basic human needs, insanity might not be an aberration but the norm.

    Fromm wrote:

    The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.

    Challenging definition

    This is still a very challenging idea to anyone raised on the view that sanity is defined by consensus, that it embraces whatever the mainstream prefers, and that insanity applies only to those living outside those norms. It is a definition that diagnoses the vast majority of us today as insane.”

    Jonathan Cook’s Blog, 17 November 2020:

    • Phil says:

      That’s very interesting Vicki; it must be a good film. Phil

    • Bernadette says:

      Vicki, great article by Jonathan Cook! I especially like the “Four forms of insanity the adult world adopts in response to Thunberg” and his statement that “this insanity derives from unexamined fear.” How insightful! Which makes me wonder how many forms of insanity the American population adopts in response to the current political situation, haha!
      Reading the quote by Erich Fromm made me think back to my early twenties when I read some of Fromm’s books in German on my quest for “the truth.” Not that I remember much of it, but his concept that a person who appears normal and well-adjusted to society could potentially be mentally sicker than a person who appears not well adjusted and doesn’t fit in, was intriguing to me. I could relate to it, as I had a hard time finding my place in society, still do. Reading his books gave me hope and courage to keep looking for a solution for my dilemma, which then led me to Janov and primal therapy.

      • Vicki says:

        Yeah, Bernadette, I thought his writing is particularly intelligent, and I want to see the film about Greta. I had heard once that she has Aspergers, but had forgotten all about that, in the midst of the wonderful things she has said and done. I also read Eric Fromm in college, like friends did back then, but only retained that it had a “good vibe”, like a lot of other things we investigated. Some of what Jonathan Cook says, I have thought for many years, but seldom encounter others who echo those ideas.

  31. Renee says:

    Jack, I’m really missing you. And I’m also really angry with you. I don’t know if you remember, but I specifically told you please not to die. But you went ahead and died anyway. I know it wasn’t deliberate. But still. I wish you could come back. The blog is not the same without you.

  32. Margaret says:

    ok, the testing will just take a very brief try, it either works or not and is just one command to try in combination with the unmuting.
    will send you an e-mail or whatsapp about the time, thanks, it will also be nice hearing you, briefly as tomorrow my time is limited.

  33. Vicki says:

    I originally liked the music of Peter, Paul & Mary, and was saddened years ago by Mary Travers’ death, but didn’t know the circumstances until recently — she had leukemia, several rounds of chemo, and surgeries, but what killed her was some disease caused by the chemo, when she was 72 yrs. I am reading her book “Mary Travers: A Woman’s Words”, and especially struck by how natural and simple, unpretentious, and honest she writes. I’m really surprised at this, and at how much feeling she shows when she sings — she is passionate about the songs she sings. It has led me to look for more of their music, and one I found was made years ago, but I never heard it before, “Don’t Laugh at Me”. The link below is followed by the lyrics.

    I’m a little boy with glasses
    The one they call a geek
    A little girl who never smiles
    ‘Cause I have braces on my teeth
    And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep.

    I’m that kid on every playground
    Who’s always chosen last
    A single teenage mother
    Tryin’ to overcome my past
    You don’t have to be my friend
    But is it too much to ask?

    Don’t laugh at me
    Don’t call me names
    Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
    In God’s eyes we’re all the same
    Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
    Don’t laugh at me

    I’m the beggar on the corner
    You’ve passed me on the street
    And I wouldn’t be out here beggin’
    If I had enough to eat
    And don’t think I don’t notice
    That our eyes never meet


    I’m fat, I’m thin, I’m short, I’m tall
    I’m deaf, I’m blind, Hey, aren’t we all?

    Well I’m fat, I’m thin, I’m short, I’m tall
    I’m deaf, I’m blind, In a way we’re all

    I’m black, I’m white, And I am brown
    I’m Jewish, I’m Christian, And I’m a Muslim

    I’m gay, I’m lesbian, I’m American Indian
    I’m very, very young, I’m quite aged
    I’m quite well fed, I’m very, very poor

    Don’t laugh at me, don’t call me names
    Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
    In God’s eyes we’re all the same
    Someday we’ll all have perfect wings, don’t laugh at me

    My country, ’tis of thee, oh, sweet land of liberty
    It is of thee, that I sing

  34. Bernadette says:

    OK, time to fess up! I have been hiding out. Let myself spiral down into depression and despair. Into helplessness, powerlessness, wanting to give up and die kind of feelings, what’s the point kind of feelings, and worse, separation and withdrawal, leave me alone, I don’t need anything anymore, and, most definitely, I don’t want to, cannot, give anything type of feelings. What pulled me out finally: Vicki posting the links to the previous page for David, where it all began – thank you Vicki! I read my previous posts and asked myself: who is this woman who wrote all this? This woman who has a voice and an opinion, a vision, a strong belief, an undeterred sense of moving in the right direction, who can express her thoughts and feelings with words and phrases and sentences – a skill that eludes me now? I am in awe of such a woman, because these days, I am in an entirely different place! I am angry, resentful, and worse: jealous and envious and hating myself for it, and brain amputated, not able to find my way out of this mess. I don’t recognize myself.
    How did I get here??
    I am trying to retrace my emotional steps that I took from “there” to “here” but can’t. Feelings I’ve had over the weekend come to mind; they might point me in the right direction. The conflicting feelings of: I deserve so much more vs But I am not getting it! The resulting helplessness and powerlessness, for not knowing how to get it, or give myself what I deserve. Not entirely believing that I deserve more and better than what I have. Doubting myself, maybe I don’t deserve more after all? Just shut up and be content with crumbs! It is based in an old feeling, obviously! But at least, finally admitting that I need something more, something else, or “something” instead of denying that I need anything. I am an expert in denying my needs! Why admit, even to myself, that I need something when part of me knows that I never will get it? Isn’t that the very thing that creates more pain? Gretchen knows all about this dilemma in me, but nobody else. Until now.
    The last feelings that I wrote about on this blog were about my dad. Him not seeing me, not wanting to acknowledge my existence, not taking any interest in me, my thoughts, feelings, talents, needs. See, I must be undeserving! But that can’t be true! I was an innocent child who needed her daddy’s approval and admiration and love! Ha! Like that would ever happen! I am feeling so psychotic right now! Something that I needed soooo badly but knew I would never, ever get. I feel my brain being twisted and jerked around as I’m writing this.
    There must be something so horrendously painful and having a long lasting permanent impact on me that when I hit these feelings, I spiral down into oblivion! My brain stops functioning and my entire being wants to give up.
    This is a first attempt to counteract this spiraling down. I want to fight this. I want to get through this. I NEED to get through this, or I will spend the rest of my life feeling resentful and jealous and envious of everyone who got what I don’t have and that I so desperately need myself!
    I realize that I am making myself utterly vulnerable by posting this. But I just don’t see any other option, if I want to grow and move forward with these feelings. I can’t deal with them in hiding. They have to be voiced and expressed. So, here I go.

    • Larry says:

      Thanks for sharing Bernadette. We’re all wrestling with similar stuff, although of course the details of experience and feeling are unique to each of us. Nevertheless it’s inspiring to hear you acknowledge and try to reverse a destructive pattern that is keeping you from getting anything and is killing you.

      • Bernadette says:

        Larry, sad to hear that “we all” are wrestling with this type of feelings. I thought I was the only one – just kidding, of course, after all it is only logical that everyone must be at some point in their therapy face these feelings. But honestly, one of the reasons of why I have not been able to express it – apart from it being extremely painful – is because I didn’t think people could relate to this dilemma. Maybe I conveniently have chosen to ignore it when I heard other patients talk about their feelings in this aspect, or I had “the answer” for them, or I was instantly in denial about myself or thought I could “handle” it. Who knows? Truth is, I have handled it, but I am tired of handling it. I want to feel it now and get a resolution!
        And I am happy that you are one of “we all” who is getting something precious and valuable out of life these days!

      • Larry says:

        Having almost died while being born must be an added dimension of terror underpinning all of your feelings about life and your primals Bernadette. You are a brave lady to go to those feelings.

        When I was 11 months old, my mother found me turning blue in my baby carriage. My parents rushed me to hospital where I was left (abandoned) in an oxygen tent for a week. Never in my decades of primalling have I yet tapped into that specific episode in my life. I’m convinced that what happened is that at 11 months old I realized my parents wouldn’t meet my needs. To protect myself from becoming fully conscious of that, I stopped crying out….I mentally and physiologically suffocated my need. I developed asthma. To this day it is triggered when I’m under emotional duress, and by allergens more so when I’m under emotional duress. Sometimes I experience a rise in my need for my inhaler, for days, weeks, or even months when I’m wrestling with disturbing reality and primals on the rise that cause me much anxiety. After the primal(s), for a while I’m not holding my emotions in check so much, my bronchial tubes feel cleared of stress and I breathe more easily.

        I go through those phases of dealing with my anxieties when stirred as I follow through with my desire to get to know my special lady friend and open up to my feelings for her. The process feels risky. In opening up to her, I open up to feelings that have been in me for all of my life, of devastating off-this-planet aloneness. Because she is worth it, I go there. I drag myself through those primals so that I can be with her. If she ever decides she doesn’t want me, I will be devastated. For a while I will feel untethered to Earth, alone in outer space. But so far we want each other, and to enable me to open up to this new special person, to make sure I don’t kill this, I drag myself through the burning coals of those primals. Then healing primal therapy happens, changing my life to an openness and self-confidence I’ve never experienced since I closed down in childhood. I talk to her a bit about my primals because she is curious and asks how I’m feeling and I want her to know that they are an aspect of my life. I’m sure she has no idea though of how being with her is changing my life right to the core, because I’m willing to primal into deadly aloneness to be with her.

  35. Margaret says:

    I would love to hear you, even if only from time to time, in sunday’s primal Zoom group!
    to me you always come across as a fresh mountain breeze, pure and sincere.
    I relate to craving attention and approval, from each one of my parents but in very different ways as a child.
    lately I noticed once more how I can be thrown out of balance unexpectedly even when only one person seems to dislike me.
    it merely has a temporary effect luckily, unless it comes from someone I really trusted and regarded as a friend.
    but still, I am surprised how I was surprised when Gretchen said that if you are yourself there will alwys be someone who does not like you…
    it makes sense, but it is telling it wasn’t obvious to me.
    it is still sinking in it is ok, I should not win over everyone, someone not liking me does not necessarily mean something must be wrong with me…
    and sometimes it is just my fear telling me someone does not like me which is ironic as my defense then tends to make me want to snap and growl at them, show my teeth, like don’t you even think of hurting me, so then I set myself up for not being liked at times…
    all complicated, and as you are very good with words and feelings I would love to hear more of you, you sound so genuine.
    you might meet my cats in group, they tend to make guest appearances…

    • Bernadette says:

      Margaret, yes, I agree, it takes very little to trigger these deeply hurtful feelings, IF I allow it. I was thinking the same today, as I had a very hurt reaction to my brother’s comment on WhatsApp. I had sent him a song that has been circulating, a Zoom performance of an inspiring song about the current situation that is affecting everyone in the world. The song touched me and brought up some tears, so I sent it to various people. My little brother (stinker!) made a comment that he couldn’t let himself wallow in sentimental feelings like me, and that he keeps himself busy to stay happy. I took it as a criticism and felt really misunderstood and rejected. I thought I was showing a vulnerable side of me by sharing the song, and felt his reply was a slap in the face. It obviously touched on some very deep and painful old pain in me and I let myself cry a few tears. But as you mentioned, it had only a temporary affect on me, as it sometimes happens to you, and after I felt the hurt, I wrote a good reply to him. I said that appreciating a beautiful song is not wallowing in sentimental feelings (=standing my ground) and I only wanted to give him some joy (=pointing out my intent). His reply then was that he did enjoy the song but all he wanted to say was that he didn’t have the same time for such things as I have (which is either an excuse or very sad or both).
      But I am inspired by you when you said that you snap and growl and show your teeth. I think it’s necessary at times and shows strength and personal power. On the other hand, of course you have to allow yourself to feel the hurt at some point and connect it to the old pain, which I know you do. Making myself vulnerable to people who don’t like my, I think would feel counterproductive to me. And yet, part of the reason why I can come out with all my deepest scariest feelings is precisely because I don’t need everyone to like me anymore. I have gained some personal power that allows me now to be more vulnerable. I hope that makes sense.

  36. Phil says:

    I hope you can get through these feelings and come out of the downward spiral you’re talking about.
    I can relate to a lot of what you said.
    For me, when when I seemingly have what I need, big feelings of something being wrong routinely come up anyway. I would like to escape completely from my
    pattern. Those thoughts came up after reading your message this morning.
    It happened for a few weeks while we were on vacation travelling, but that wasn’t enough. I guess it wouldn’t ever be enough because the problem is inside of me.

    • Bernadette says:

      Phil, now you’re making me think, because just very recently I thought about how much in my life has gone right, in fact, I thought at the time that everything happened all exactly the way it was meant to happen. And this seems to be in total contradiction to the other feeling that I have, which is: I didn’t get anything that I wanted! But if I’m honest, even the things I didn’t get happened exactly the way it was meant to be.
      So, when you talk about the pattern of “having something that you need in the present bringing up feelings that something is wrong” – I think that is a common primal pattern. From the way I understand this primal concept is that we have to get something in the present that roots and strengthens us in the present, and in turn, this strength and personal power then allows us to make ourselves more vulnerable to face yet deeper and more painful feelings.
      Here are my thoughts: The feeling of “something is missing” that can’t be pinpointed, I think must be a very early feeling. So early in life that we were not able to form a mental concept about it. It’s a feeling based in utter physical-emotional need. As I’m writing this, a newborn baby comes to mind, just pushed out of a warm, safe, and comforting environment into the cold, harsh world. And depending on how well your birth process proceeded (in my case I almost died), and how you were received by your mother (mine was irritated and disappointed – yet another girl!) that would make your first impression of this new world either pleasant or painful. And would last an everlasting imprint on the brain.
      Being cuddled and comforted and entirely loved all the way around isn’t something that I was ever able to experience. Maybe that is what’s wrong (on top of being ignored by dad). Because in reality, as grown-ups, we are, or should be, able to give ourselves everything that we need. And if we can’t do it and can’t even pinpoint what it is that is missing but we need something, by definition, it must be based in an early unfulfilled need.
      But then again, we can’t really give ourselves everything – cuddles and being entirely loved all around we can’t give to ourselves. We need someone to give us the love. Which means making ourselves vulnerable and allowing it to be given.
      But enough of my rambling. Let me know your thoughts on this.

      • Phil says:

        Bernadette, you asked me for my thoughts and I posted a reply which disappeared, so I’m trying again. In response to what you said, I can say how it is for me.
        Because I still have unfulfilled needs, and other traumas to feel, my pain will continue to come up regardless of what I get or have achieved in the present. That’s because my feelings have been opened up and my primal process is active.
        I have a pattern of making changes in my life, then being unsatisfied, and wanting more changes. Even things I do have and stay with, start feeling not enough. It wouldn’t ever be enough, I’m afraid.
        Related to this is a feeling many times of being unable to get what I want, of not even being able to get started, feeling stuck. This was the big feeling which brought me to therapy to begin with.
        When I’ve gone deep with this, it seems to be birth feelings. I needed help and didn’t get it. When I feel like I get help and have a little success, then I can move through the feelings of being stuck, although they can easily reemerge.
        This was an ongoing pattern If my mother was maybe unhelpful for me during birth, she was definitely unhelpful later. There was very little, if anything coming from her, as her illness progressed. She already had it when I was born. Later on, I can say she literally forgot about me completely and couldn’t direct a kind word my way, or actually anything at all. so I gave up trying with her.
        My father was more available, and was around my entire childhood, but was also quite unaware and largely unhelpful. I found myself on my own emotionally.
        I could write much more on all this, but that’s enough for now.
        I hope you’ll stay with us on the blog and not disappear for long periods of time. I like seeing what you have to say, it’s very helpful. I hope you see the value of continuing here.

  37. Vicki says:

    Bernadette, what you wrote early this morning, makes me wonder if that is what has happened before, each time you just “disappear” for weeks or months — that’s been a pattern for you, you have said that before, too. I remember I suspected years ago, that after an intense period of involvement and activity, you must just get really ‘down’ for some reason, and lose your way, direction, your will to go on, maybe even who you are. Just the thoughts I had, back then.

    • Hi Bernadette, I was wondering if your down cycle had anything to do with the additional info I sent you about my neighborhood situation? Just blinking once for ‘yes’ or twice for ‘no’ will tell me everything I need to know here, thanks.
      Also, I think Vicki might be onto something about these ups and downs possibly being part of a grander, natural cycle which we shouldn’t judge ourselves too harshly on?
      I can go for a week or two of being a chess grandmaster at computer programming and then burn out for the next two solid months, not able to stand the logical rigidity anymore with my brain needing pleasant free association and aimless reverie, plummeting my productiveness.

      • Bernadette says:

        Guru, I didn’t get your additional information on your neighbors. I was wondering about it because after I returned your initial email, I didn’t receive anything else after. Now I think it must have landed in the spam folder, or I accidentally deleted it with the spam that arrives daily in the swisslady inbox. Sorry!! Please send it again, if you don’t mind, I am still interested.

        Yes, Vicki is right about my off and on cycle. I have always been that way, and I am not judging myself for it, nor do I feel that she is judging me for it. As I wrote to Vicki above, I am now ready to do another cycle of cleaning out my primal cesspool. I think it is going to be a particularly nasty bit this time!! And I have caught myself this time before spending too much time in the “off” position. That said, I will not ignore my need for – as you so beautifully put – “pleasant free association and aimless reverie” without which I surely would drown in the cesspool! Yikes!

        • You didn’t see my mail?? Oh, geez! Yes I originally sent the info only about 24-36 hours after you replied to my first mail. OK, I will try again in a few days. Only this time, I will post here immediately after sending it so you can check your spam folder.
          See?? All this time I kept wondering, ‘Why didn’t Bernadette respond? Did I do something wrong? Did I say something creepy? Did I scare the poor gal? Am I too firmly of an outsider to a special coterie she may be in that I am not good enough for?”
          All these questions whizzed through my mind…all a variant of, “What exactly went wrong?”
          Since you caught my first mail and responded to it, I lowered the chances of your genuinely missing my second mail and took it for something more personal.
          These are the hazards of trying to operate on limited information, as I’ve complained about so much in the past.

          • I remember one time…..a LONG, L-O-N-G time ago…6-7 years ago Vicki was very upset about something on the blog, and I had a critical piece of info she needed to make the terrible feeling she had at the time almost completely dissipate for her in profound relief upon her learning what I knew.
            Unfortunately I completely forget what the subject matter was at time, but I do remember successfully resolving the incident to her satisfaction.
            Anyway, my point is sometimes we may be lacking some crucial piece of knowledge which can ease ongoing suffering all its own. Too bad it’s difficult to figure out what the missing puzzle piece might be in many cases. (“You can’t know what you don’t know”, etc.)

            • Bernadette says:

              Guru, I agree! One single word or phrase, or a comment to acknowledge or underline or even oppose for any good reason, can have a huge impact on the reader. I have experienced it myself in this very blog. Just one line someone wrote in response to someone else helped me gain my sanity back; it was not her intention, all she did, was express her opinion, and it fit into my pain perfectly to help relieve it. And you remembered the photo of my dad, which brought up a whole lot of stuff for me, I am glad you remembered it! I have to remind myself that anything I write here could potentially have a great impact on the reader.

          • Bernadette says:

            Guru, Your questions: “Did I do something wrong? Did I say something creepy? Did I scare the poor gal? Am I too firmly of an outsider to a special coterie she may be in that I am not good enough for?” — as Jack would say, it’s all your feelings! Nothing like this at all. I am not that easily put off and would tell you if I couldn’t help you or couldn’t handle it. That “not good enough” feeling, boy, do I know it! A particularly nasty feeling, but it’s just that: an old feeling! I will be super careful from now on before deleting spam!

    • Vicki, yes I still have significant trouble with the smoldering internal miasma where the predator is concerned.
      Dealing with a man in his fifties screaming at me, threatening me, and insulting me on my own front porch while furiously jumping up and down on my porch floorboards & warping them because I couldn’t park my car in the exact spot he wanted (because of traffic HE caused for HIS OWN COMMERCIAL GAIN!) on top of buying everything around my home, trying to pressure me over years of time to force me out. Numerous other shitty items to tell, etc.
      I already talked about how he forced four senior citizens out of their 30 year home next door and demolishing that, didn’t I?
      Unfortunately the porch incident was in 2003 and it still leaves me utterly FURIOUS to this day. I dearly wish I had had it taped. I though it was weird how he dropped dead just a few weeks later. Almost 1,000 people went to to his funeral, only seeing the smooth-talking pretty side of him…while I am seemingly the only one seeing the ugly side and screaming “FUCK YOU!” I still scream that to the walls today, never having had the courage to tell him to his face at the time.
      The Tenth Commandment of the Bible starts with, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors house…”
      A couple months after that man’s death I was mowing the backyard grass bordering their parking lot (previously the elderly family’s home now pulverized into featureless commercial asphalt). Along the borderline I saw a $10 bill fluttering in the slight breeze, stuck to my fence near the ground….The most money I ever found ‘in the wild’ in my life.
      $10 bill…10th commandment symbolism for the spiritually inclined?
      Or just desperately reaching mental gymnastics as the atheists would conclude?
      I know where the vast majority of this blog stands on such a question, no need to tell me.
      It’s just a story and I’m really fucking irritated that I am still traumatized by it.

      • The $10 bill was in crappy shape, worn and weathered though still spendable. I wish I had kept the bill as a lifetime souvenir, as I didn’t think about any possible Tenth Commandment symbolism until many years after the bill was long gone.

      • Vicki says:

        Guru, it might help you to focus on when he was jumping up and down on your porch, warping the floorboards, and what you were feeling at that moment, and write about that, and why you were unable to respond to him, and write what you should have said to him then, if you could have — just write that for yourself, not necessarily here (unless it seems appropriate). Writing what you might have really been willing to say to him, might help you more than raging and venting out loud endlessly now — because something different happened in between the original event, and your fantasy response now. Something stopped you, and that’s more important to uncover.

        • Thank you, Vicki, I’m too exhausted to say much more now except that it would have been extremely risky, even dangerous, to say to him what I say now (1,058-page explanation). One of my old friends (who knew the man very well) remarked that he was surprised the guy didn’t literally die of a heart attack on my front porch in front of me.

        • Bernadette says:

          Vicki, good advice to Guru! I agree that looking at what he wished he could have said but were unable to say is very important, and so is exploring the reasons why he couldn’t say it. Over the years, I have been doing a lot of writing for myself, pages and pages of it, and it helps expressing and documenting, even only to myself, the thoughts and feelings and wishes, including all the anger and frustration, agony and pain, and especially fears and anxiety. For me it was the start of expressing some ‘secret’ feelings that I had, next was expressing them to Gretchen, before I could express them in public. Your advice to Guru to write it down first, is thumbs up!

    • Bernadette says:

      Vicki, you have a good memory and know me well. Excellent observation! Yes, this is exactly what happened a few years ago (4 I think) when I spilled my guts here about my dad and got into very deep feelings about him. And then I disappeared again.
      Not sure what exactly happens. I’m sure there are several reasons for it. Maybe I can only go so far before I have to shut down again because of the intensity of the pain, and I can only take so much of it. Not knowing the answers to my pain makes me feel very unsafe and vulnerable, so I internalize it instead of verbalize it. Another reason could be that, in truth, I am not good at letting people close. I suck at it. So it is safer to withdraw and try to figure it out by myself. This works to a certain extent, but then it all has to come out into the open. Didn’t Janov say something along the lines of: Primal pain has to be shared and witnessed before it can heal? I think this is true, even if he didn’t say it (and if he didn’t say it, he should have, haha).
      But as I wrote above, I have grown in my personal power over the last three years thanks to a gazillion sessions with Gretchen, so that making myself vulnerable is now backed by a bit more strength and courage that I can hopefully make use of now. I am hell-bent to make it through another mountain – or rather cesspool – of primal pain. Now I remember Gretchen observing how many secrets I had, stuff that I had never revealed in therapy or to anybody before I opened up this time. Everything at its time, I guess!

      Regarding your post above about Peter, Paul, and Mary. I knew and liked them before and thought of them as a bit old fashioned but sweet, and their songs had something to say that I could relate to. I like the song you posted. But a few months ago I saw a 2014 documentary on them on PBS (they ran it during one of their pledge drives) and I was impressed. I got sucked in because I was fascinated by their personalities – kind and genuine – but especially by Mary. As you said about her writing, she came across so very genuine, open, relaxed, and emotionally present while singing. I think even P&P made comments about it, how much Mary “made” the group by being so much her true self, held her own as the only female member of the group, and how much impact she had on the audience.
      If you like here is the link on YouTube of the documentary.

      • Vicki says:

        What a coincidence, Bernadette — I had just ordered that video yesterday! I had no idea it was available online. As more than one person said, “Mary sings with her whole body”. I also wanted to know more about Peter Yarrow’s conviction for for taking “improper liberties” with a 14-year-old girl who went with her 17-year-old sister to Yarrow’s hotel room seeking an autograph. “Yarrow answered the door naked and made sexual advances that stopped short of intercourse.” He pled guilty, and In 1970 served 3 mos. in prison of a 1-3 yrs. sentence. Coincidentally or not, PP&M split up and all went solo in 1970. In 1981 Peter received a pardon from President Jimmy Carter; nonetheless, it has followed him ever since, periodically he is rejected from events and awards, even 50 yrs. later. He also exposed that he has been in an alcoholic recovery program. I would have loved to ask Mary how she felt about what Peter did. I know that they eventually reunited, and performed together regularly. The final four years of Mary’s illness, it was she who kept them singing — she very much wanted to.

        • Renee says:

          Vicki, your reference to Peter Yarrow’s sexual assault and his subsequent conviction and prison sentence, left me thinking about what occurred at the Institute in the early 1990s. When Rick was a therapist. If you, or any other blog readers, were there then, you will likely remember that he decided he wanted a romantic/sexual relationship with one of his clients. Which was an abuse of his power as a therapist, not to mention unethical and illegal. Many clients, including myself, were shocked and outraged to find out that the administration supported and enabled him to do so. And that they allowed him to stay employed at the Institute, as the receptionist. (His mother was a little wishy-washy when it came to setting boundaries with him.)

          A few years ago, I reconnected with someone who left the Institute due to these events. They mentioned to me that the client who Rick ended up in a relationship with, later sued the Institute. They did not know the outcome of the lawsuit. They wondered if I knew anything, but I didn’t. Unlike Peter Yarrow, I doubt that Rick was ever convicted of anything or did any time in prison. Sadly. My guess is that it was settled out of court, but I could be wrong. Does anyone here know anything about this?

          • I only went to LA a few years after that apparently happened, but I did hear a couple of rumors from elder patients corroborating your account, albeit in less detail than you’re providing.
            It seems obvious to me that a Primally-oriented therapy would be more prone to intimacy pitfalls which aren’t professionally sanctioned as opposed to a cognitive therapist with a client, for instance.
            When two people start to share sensitive lower-brain sensations with each other regularly, I could see how tempting it would be to throw hollow-sounding, sterile, and arbitrary words such as “patient” and “therapist” into a meaningless dustbin in favor of a richer intimacy of the present moment. I’d have to guess this is one of the reasons therapists are admonished not to share too many personal details with patients.
            In any case, Rick must not have stayed too long as the receptionist because Atty was already there when I arrived.

            • Renee says:

              Ugg, I’m confused. Are you saying that a Primally-oriented therapy includes something that happens when “two people start to share sensitive lower-brain sensations with each other regularly?” And how does this contribute to healing from childhood traumas, which I think is at the core of a Primally-oriented therapy? When many patients, as well as therapists, come from families where boundaries were either non-existent and/or inappropriate, how helpful is it to have therapists recreate that again in therapy? Doesn’t what you describe simply justify and rationalize all kinds of therapists’ abuses of power (of which Rick Janov’s behavior was just one example)? I don’t get it.

              • Before I go any further, may I put a much simpler question out of the way first? How come you refer to me as ‘Ugg’? I understand when people use ‘UG’ for ‘Ultimate Guru’, but when you use ‘Ugg’ it almost sounds derogatory, like ‘UGH!’, as though I am a disgusting creature. Is this what you are trying to convey?

                • Renee says:

                  Calling you Ugg, allows me to see beyond your often rough and prickly demeanor. It helps me to remember that you also have a soft, warm and fuzzy side, like my Ugg boots. Which helps me feel more connected to you. I don’t see you as a disgusting creature, although I can certainly relate to feeling like a disgusting creature at times.

                  • Renee..the reason I brought up “UGH” is that the letter “g” is immediately precedes the letter “h” in the alphabet, “ugf”..”ugg”…”ugh”…”ugi”…”ugj”….so yeah that’s why your using “ugg” seemed extremely close to “Ugh, something disgusting!”
                    I am embarrassed to say my fashion sense is in a shambles, and I had never heard of Ugg boots until just now, so I will accept the plausibility of your explanation, thanks for telling me.
                    Perhaps if I had had an eight or nine-figure settlement for what happened to my mother (a very reasonable demand given her past resume), I would have had more carefree energy for fashion sense instead of constantly worrying about long-term survival.

          • Vicki says:

            Renee, 1) You have converted Peter Yarrow’s conviction for “taking improper liberties with a 14 yr.-old” into “sexual assault”, which usually has a heavier meaning with more aggression and force, up to and including rape. But in this case, the girl said “No”, her older sister witnessed it, and it stopped before intercourse. We still don’t know all the details, it’s still not good, and still makes him untrustworthy, especially with his alcoholism, regardless of his acceptance of blame, and serving time in prison, and being in recovery. But online, what I found calling him a pervert, castigating him and wanting him punished forever, were people who don’t like his political and social activism, so I think they are just using his crime as an excuse and outlet for their hatred.

            2) Why are you telling this story about Rick Janov? I heard different versions, way back when, less glaringly sensational than yours, but I never wanted to use the story the way you have. You have some hidden agenda in writing about this, and you are not being honest about that. You are hiding your anger and pretending this story is a real issue you want to alert all of us about. And in a pattern I have seen you repeat, you again avoid writing about your feelings behind this, just as you ran away from your feelings in groups, in the past. For a practicing therapist, you really need to have the guts for your own therapy, and to write about your own feelings and real problems, instead of what you’re doing.

        • Bernadette says:

          Vicki, I love that “Mary sings with her whole body” – so true! I didn’t know about Yarrow’s “improper liberties” – very disappointing to say the least! What a creep! At least he had the decency to plead guilty and I am glad he went to prison for it. Knowing this now, I don’t think it was a coincidence that the group split up around that time. And yes, I would be also very curious what Mary felt about it. Let me know what you think about the documentary!

          • Vicki says:

            Bernadette, I loved the documentary online, altho I haven’t yet watched the DVD, which is supposed to have more songs. I did have a reaction to your comment “What a creep!” because I can’t see it that way easily. I would have to meet him, and see if he felt creepy — I have had that experience, so I know how “creeped-out” feels to me. He not only pled guilty, went to prison, and rehab for his alcoholism, but for 50 yrs. he has been rejected for some appearances and awards, and he has just accepted it, in his responses. I don’t know how deep that goes for him, but I would want to give him a chance to have redeemed himself, even while I would want to be careful.

            It is interesting that other crimes don’t seem to get as much lasting condemnation, as crimes related to sex. I am by no means in favor of “opening doors to predators”, but I also don’t assume that everyone “caught” is forever a “predator”, regardless of their efforts to live differently. I would have liked to have a conversation with him, and see what he says about the whole thing, if he makes any excuses or what. I don’t believe Mary would have rejoined the group, if she didn’t like Peter and the kind of person he was. I don’t think Paul would have, either.

          • Bernadette says:

            Vicki, my comment “what a creep” was mostly directed at Yarrow at the time of his transgression, and in part was a gut reaction in response to my old feelings that got activated (being a survivor of child sexual abuse myself). When I saw him on PBS supporting the pledge drive, I didn’t know about this and didn’t get a creepy feeling from him, the opposite was true, I thought of him as kind and feeling full. But when I read what you wrote, I was disappointed in him, and I also doubted my judgment, because I had judged him as kind and feeling full and thought I should have picked up that sex offender creepiness. Now I think, the fact that I didn’t, probably means that he must have changed over the years, after doing time in prison and rehab and taking the rejection from the public for such a long time. I agree with you that Paul and especially Mary would not have reunited the group, if he had not changed. If I had the chance to meet him in person, I probably would be a bit careful and wary of him. But I also would be open to find out if he has genuinely changed.
            I don’t know why sex crimes have such a long lasting impact on people. Though that doesn’t seem to be the same for everyone. When I think about Biden and his attack on Tara Read – I happen to believe her that *something* happened – everyone seems to forget about it and give him the benefit of the doubt or forgive him, etc. I had to cringe really hard when I marked Biden for the presidency on the ballot. I could only allow myself to vote for him because Trump is so much worse in so many ways and is truly dangerous for the safety of the country and democracy. Biden always evokes a bit of a creepy feeling in me, and that was even before I knew about Read’s allegations. He was definitely not my first choice for the presidency, just to say.

        • Bernadette says:

          In addition, I must say though, reading this brought up some yucky feelings and memories for me. I wish my high school teacher who took advantage of gullible me would have gone to prison for his sexual advances that also stopped short of intercourse! What a bastard he was! And I learned much later, that I was not his only victim. Apparently, he had his “favorites” in every class, year after year. And what’s worse, I believe that his superiors and colleagues knew about it, and nobody did a thing about it. It still makes me angry!

          • Vicki says:

            Bernadette, that really is awful! If it’s not too much to say, how did you stop him, or get out of the situation? He really needed his actions exposed.

          • Bernadette says:

            Vicki, it stopped after I left high school. He pursued me for a while when I was in college but because I felt stronger there and was not under his daily influence as I was in HS, I was able to tell him not to come see me anymore. He then disappeared out of my life. Not until 2010 when I lived in Switzerland for a while and I noticed him at the public swimming pool. I recognized his facial profile as he was swimming his laps. I thought about going over and telling him what I thought of him all these decades later, but then decided against it. He looked old and vulnerable. He died a few years later, around the same time as my dad, and I actually went to his grave and told him in a loud voice that what he did was fucked up, and that I hoped he would see and regret it now. It was important to me to tell him.

  38. Vicki says:

    One of the things I have lamented this year and before, are the vast beliefs in conspiracies and general-purpose lies that “our President” has fostered and incited world-wide, in striving to dominate. Abbie Richards, a 24 yr. old climate-science master’s student, analyzed currently-in-vogue conspiracies, and created a Conspiracy Chart, which I find illuminating the spectrum of “reality” from connected to disconnected. She intends to keep updating her Chart.

    • Phil says:

      Vicki, what really astounds me is that Trump supporters seem to believe whatever Trump says, a lot of which is conspiracy stuff or just outright lies. So they believe he won the election and that his victory was taken away by fraud. And I guess they believe many of the other crazy things Trump says. He was preparing way before the election for this claim about fraud, and for ways to make sure he’d win regardless of the outcome. It’s all so outrageous. The day Trump leaves as president will be a day to celebrate.

      • Viicki says:

        Phil, I have also read more than once, and a friend told me she heard it from a nurse — that some Trump supporters have Covid, are on oxygen and dying in hospital, and still don’t believe they have Covid. They believe it’s a hoax, and die gasping for breath, but continuing to believe Covid doesn’t exist. I think these must all be religious people who already have a history of fervently-held delusion, so “belief in Trump” is another plausible insanity for them.
        With the margin of “victory” so small — 72 million still voted for the Liar-in-Chief! — I have grave doubts about how effective Biden’s presidency can be (he will try). McConnell and others, and the right-wing dominated Supreme Court, I am afraid will do all they can to prevent Biden from accomplishing “anything”. Many Repubs are really that craven for power, lacking integrity, racist, and destructive of democracy. They have lost the ability to feel how painful life is for the millions who are not wealthy, and they no longer care about any except themselves. They are deluded about the damage our overpopulation of the planet has wrought, and humans are well on their way heading into an extinction event.

        • Vicki, I am familiar with that South Dakota nurse’s story and a lot of people are questioning her account since her colleagues weren’t independently witnessing similar occurrences:

        • Phil says:

          Vicki, I don’t think Biden will be able to do big things, even if the dems get the senate majority by winning those two seats in Georgia. What he can do is reverse many of Trumps bad policies and decisions. I don’t think there will be any green new deal or public health insurance option, however. And Trump could try again and win in 2024, I’m afraid. It’s great to be getting rid of him for now, hopefully, but conditions are still quite discouraging.
          Today we went for a bike ride and I noticed a new flag at a neighbor’s house, replacing the Trump portrait flag which was there. It’s an American flag with a blue stripe in the middle. I looked up and learned that flag is meant to honor law enforcement, but has now become a symbol of resistance to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s the first time I noticed that type flag. The country is just so divided with so much animosity. I hope people will give Biden a chance to do something about that, but it will be very difficult when Trump and his supporters will still be around. It would be nice to have a good option for leaving planet, or maybe some aliens from outer space can save us.

        • Vicki says:

          Phil, did you see the post about Portland, that a group of white anarchists are co-opting the BLM protests, with violent, destructive results. It was in the L.A. Times, with the head of Portland’s Black Lives Matter chapter saying that “the activists had nothing to do with the social justice movement”, and in the minds of the public, anarchists have “melded with Black Lives Matter, but they’re 90% white and they don’t reach out to Black organizations.” She says her volunteers are giving out food, not smashing windows. So BLM wants to separate from the violence and those who will only damage their cause. Hopefully this distinction will become clearer, so BLM does not continue to be maligned.

          • Phil says:

            Vicki, I never followed closely reporting on events in Portland. I didn’t realize how much anarchists have melded with the Black Lives Matter movement, with negative results. I don’t think anarchists are that active in other large cities around the country. I know there was a lot of vandalism and looting that didn’t necessarily have any connection to anarchy.
            People are trying to figure out why the dems didn’t do as well as expected, and why polling was so wrong.
            Trump clearly has charisma, even though it’s foreign to me. It’s negative, designed to benefit himself. Biden might end up being a good president, but he isn’t very charismatic. I don’t need that, but maybe that’s what many people need to inspire them to vote. Obama had it.
            The very high election turn out I think was mainly about Trump, either for or against.
            What I want is sane leaders who try to help us make progress with important issues like climate change, Covid, healthcare, racism, etc.

  39. Phil says:

    We were finally able to make the decision here that our sons will be coming for Thanksgiving, after a lot of thinking on it. But they’ve agreed not to spend indoor time with their friends. One said he would not spend the whole weekend, in that case, which is fine. We’ve seen him quite a few times in past weeks and so I saw no reason not to for the holiday. Our other son works at a university where everyone gets tested once a week.
    None of this insures we won’t get Covid, of course. Our sons are glad about this, but to begin with my wife was leaning towards having no gathering. I think we’ve made a good compromise. Our numbers are still pretty low here and our gathering will be small.

  40. Bernadette says:

    Silvia, I was thinking of you the other day when I watched the documentary below. You mentioned a while back that you didn’t believe in many stories in the Bible and I said they were just parables and not to be taken literally. Here is a documentary that shows an interesting alternative about the Exodus based on scientific and archeological evidence. I thought you might be interested just for kicks.

    • Sylvia says:

      Hi, Bernadette, I just saw this, sometimes I don’t get notifications of posts. Thank you for thinking of me. I will watch it tomorrow.

      I just wanted to say something about the Mary Travers discussion you and Vicki were having. I was quite taken with the group when I was a teenager. I thought it was great that Mary really seemed to be the leader. I loved the group’s albums. “Peter, Paul and Mary”, what a delightful trio. As I watched them perform on the family tv, my mom said, “She’s a whore!,” meaning Mary. I didn’t know if it was true or not, and I doubt she knew if there was any prostitution in Mary’s background. I could not listen to anymore of their songs without the disapproval words of my mom ringing in my consciousness. I really didn’t care if it was true at all, but those poisoned words were forever coupled in my mind with admiration of their music.

      Years and years later, at a small Christmas gathering, my uncle received an album of “The Village People,” from my brother and his wife. He had told all of us before that he loved their music. My uncle was a macho guy and we all knew that he didn’t know that the group was gay. When he unwrapped the gift and was so happy to get the album…yes, my mom said, “You know they are gay.” I don’t think he ever played that record or enjoyed the group’s songs after that.
      So, just a cheery note before the holidays. A toast to bubble-busters.

      • Vicki says:

        Sylvia, that’s horrible! Makes me so angry at your mom, for peddling such vicious lies about Mary Travers! What pleasure could she get, except knowing she hurt you? That is not an action of love. Especially if you weren’t able to fight it off, and enjoy the music! Your mom must have beern so angry, she bitterly derived happiness from ruining other people’s enjoyment of life! Oh, my god! And why else could she want to hurt your uncle. I am sorry she just chronically wanted to hurt you — and kind of amazed if you weren’t angry at her doing that, and making you more miserable. My mom hurt me in some similar ways, and tho I felt hurt, I also felt angry a lot, and fought back. I hope you did too.

        • Sylvia says:

          I’m not sure she deliberately set out to hurt me, though she knew I liked the group very much. I was used to her calling things as she saw them despite how it affected anyone. I was looking up some of the early critics of Peter, Paul and Mary and they were dubbed as two Jews and a Hooker, though that was untrue, but haters will be haters. I think my response to my mom’s ways was that I became accepting of everyone and didn’t discriminate like she did. But it did make me mad when she said the Beatles had no talent. I defended them noting the poetry in their songs, but I knew I could never persuade her of anything. That she got some joy from ruining my uncle’s Christmas, well, we said, “how could you”, she just laughed a tiny bit–she just couldn’t resist. He was kind of a blow-hard ex-cop and probably felt he deserved it. I’m not sure, I felt bad for him anyways that his big sister would do that.

          As to Guru’s mention of sadomasochistic pleasure, yes, I figure it was an act-out for sure from the pain my mom grew up with. Her early loss of a parent and violence, cruelty and poverty shaped her outlook and her suspicion of people. Ours was not a quiet household to grow up in. None of us kids can get together without talking about how strange mom was, and how scared we were of her sometimes.

      • Yes, just as I had mentioned to Bernadette about how critical pieces of information can relieve suffering, they can also CREATE suffering as illustrated by Sylvia’s mom. Is there a subtle sadomasochistic undercurrent of pleasure when bursting bubbles like that? If I want the real truth at the deepest levels about something no matter how much it hurts, I should seek out people who enjoyed popping birthday balloons or popping mail package bubble wrap as kids.

      • Phil says:

        The group Peter, Paul, and Mary was significant for me too as a teenager. Some of their songs help me with feelings because of my history with them, and just because they were good songs which felt meaning full to me. I remember I got a new record player for Christmas one year and my sister gave me a Peter, Paul, and Mary album. She was actually leaving on a jet plane herself, which was very sad and difficult for me, not to return for several years.

    • Sylvia says:

      Thanks, Bernadette, I finished watching the “Exodus” video. That’s interesting how Pharaoh interpreted the dying of first-born Egyptians sons as a sign that he should let “The people go.” Guilty conscious there. And that the parting of the Red Sea (Reed Sea) was coincidentally a coming together of geological events of a sliding lake and river colliding to raise enough land for the Chosen people to escape the Pharaoh’s soldiers and then a resulting cataclysmic tsunami covering the Egyptian pursuers–just like in the movie. That’s must be an example the universe’s synchronicity for sure, I think. Wonderful timing. The water turning to blood as an oxidation rust process, the locust and other plagues all scientifically explained. Good to know the researchers did good investigations. It was a good video. Thank you.

      • Bernadette says:

        Silvia, I’m glad you enjoyed the video. I think the dying of the first-born sons was the straw that broke the camel’s back after the Egyptians experienced all the other plagues that came before. The Pharaoh had to surrender, finally,. I marvel at the scientific evidence that was discovered. The miracles that a believer takes on faith, now actually have some real basis. Maybe all synchronicities in our lives could be called miracles?

  41. Mary was in a lot of debt because she had to rob Peter to pay Paul.

    • Phil says:

      We were very into folk music at my house for awhile, due to my sister’s influence. She basically became a pot smoking hippie. I remember I smoked some at our kitchen table for the first time, my father too, I was only about 12 years old. But, that was a one time family event.. There was a much different environment, of course, then there is now around all this.

    • Sylvia says:

      Still more rumors about Mary–ha, ha. funny, though.

      • I wrote that while chuckling, yes, but I would rewrite it now as ‘Mary was in a lot of debt, for…’ or ‘Mary was in a lot of debt since…’
        I would throw out the word ‘because’ for quality improvement.
        It’s becoming clear to me now that I often correct my grammar here on the blog as a carryover effect from the constant, mercilessly unyielding precision demanded by the little software programs I develop.
        Humans are a little more forgiving than that, for the most part.

        • Sylvia says:

          You’re right, no need to correct with us here, I think. I do that too, think, oh I could have said that so much clearer. It’s usually my fear of coming across as unsophisticated or stupid, though. Depends how tired I am at the moment of writing whether or not I can make myself clear and succinct, and without spelling errors.

  42. OTTO CODINGIAN says:

    i am ranting loudly at the computer and most likely driving b crazy, since i have no soundproofing in my bedroom. my fingers are numb and hit the wrong keys a lot and i hate the people i
    work with and i hate this job, and as i told b yesterday while driving around, i am pretty much disappointed in Life. she wanted to drive around and see anything interesting and get some
    exercise,and she didn’t even have to say a word to me, but i laid a bunch of crap feelings on her anyways, since i was impossibly silent in group again. driving around, without the dog,
    looking for new things to see, and we went south towards playa del rey, to find some place to walk where there was no people with their droplets of covid hanging in the air, that just want
    to kill the 2 of us thereby dooming all these frigging cats to starving orphanism. too many people there, at the lake in playa, where many years before, we had released 2 ducks we had
    raised, because the 3rd one had gotten ravaged by a possum the night before in our backyard. the same lake where i had noticed a rowboat 30 years ago, and had thought in vain how i could
    get our young kids involved in something, my oldest the most, since he had gotten hooked on drugs and alcohol a while earlier. the same lake where someone had gotten married years back,
    maybe it was warren and janet, just dont remember. anyway, to make a long story short, we got as far as the sewage plant at dockweiler, so i wanted to get the fuck out of their, did not want
    to continue on to manhatten beach to see more happier-than-shit people dining outdoors in all the cute restaurants, when i haven’t been happy since 1968, so i turned left on a road with no
    uturns allowed and we ended up in inglewood near the airport, and i hate the ugliness of that area. so somehow finally got back to culver city, by marina del rey, where we lived a year or
    two, raising our children, barely, and driving all over there was so sickening to me, since so much had gone wrong there, trying to eak out a living and trying to raise happy kids in vain.
    so sickening, so drastically horrible was that time of our lives, and to tell the truth, not much better before or after. so it was impossible to not tell b how horrible i felt seeing that
    whole area where we had lived, and she listened, i don’t know why she listened, i was very very depressing. so, i address this to nobody in particular. although my poor grandmother used to
    talk to herself and god. and i am being frivolous, or in all events, assholish by mentioning her, because i did have some connection with her, although it was impossible to have much of a
    connection with her. maybe a little more than just watching gomer pyle together on tv. who knows, it is so long ago, but this shit makes me tear up anyways.back to work.just an exercise in
    releasing a tiny smidgen of the rock-solid pain i am embroiled in.

  43. OTTO CODINGIAN says:

    sorry if i offend by saying inglewood is ugly. it is ugly to ME, as is that whole stretch of cities that were destroyed by the 405. santa monica is also ugly to me. in fact, all i see is ugly and scary, except my house and backyard, which are probably ugly to anyone who ever sees it.

  44. Bernadette says:

    in response to your post on November 22: Your experience when you were only a 11 months old baby, realizing that your needs wouldn’t be fulfilled and you suffocated your needs and developed asthma – it sounds extremely painful! Thanks for explaining the connection between the emotional triggers in the present bringing up an asthma attack. It makes so much sense! You are extremely brave facing your feelings of “devastating off-this-planet aloneness” over and over again in order to give yourself the chance to have a fulfilled life with this special person. It is so satisfying to hear you say that your life is changing, that you have access to “an openness and self-confidence” that you have not experienced before. You deserve it! And it gives me hope.
    You might think this is crazy, but for me, the feelings of dying are easier to feel than the feelings of needing and not getting. I have gone there many times, to the point of experiencing the giving up and dying, and I know now that I am not going to die, in the feeling anyway, and not yet in reality. But allowing to feel an unfulfilled need and the desperate attempt to fill a hole inside so that I can live with contentment and fulfillment, I find it extremely difficult to feel. I don’t even know where to start.
    My obvious physical symptoms are (more or less) chronic pains in my spine, shoulders, and especially neck, often resulting in headaches. I have scoliosis, and a chiropractor once told me that I was born with these injuries. I know this because I have felt many times my birth process, when I was stuck, lodged in, my mother pushing but not opening up and my neck and spine getting crunched up. I had to be pulled out with forceps.
    In the feeling, I know that I am very close to dying. The birth process all starts normally, I participate in the labor process, rhythmically moving and stopping when the impulse comes, and the feeling of a normal collaboration between mother and fetus occurs for a while, but then I get lodged in and can’t move forward. Then comes the time when I realize I am stuck and desperately struggle to move forward but can’t, until I have no more strength left and then I give up. At the same time I am being pushed but being stuck, my neck, shoulders, and spine get crushed. I sense my mom’s helplessness, powerlessness, and hopelessness, not being able to help me out, and my sense of abandonment is immense! There is a total disconnect.
    When I am under any type of stress now, emotionally or mentally, the physical pain gets worse. The more stress, the more pain. And since I hate taking pain killers, I had to find other ways to manage the physical pain. Yoga helps and conscious relaxation and meditation. When I need to do something that requires any type of effort, the pain arrives with it. It’s very hard to handle and no wonder I want to give up and die when life gets tough.
    But enough said for now.

  45. Bernadette says:

    Oh, I just realized that the birth pattern of “doing everything until I am exhausted and then giving up and not doing anything” – well, that’s very often my pattern in life. I’m either all in, or all out. Like with the blog, ha! I have never been able to pace myself in a healthy way. When I am in the “doing” phase, I can’t do enough, I can’t stop, I keep going like an Energizer Bunny, I constantly feel that I am running behind, there is not enough time to do everything I want to do, etc., this until I crash, and then I am dead to the world! At least now that I am more aware, this is something I can observe and maybe make some healthy adjustments….

  46. Bernadette says:

    Phil, in response to your post on November 22: I have lost some blog posts before as well, it can be frustrating, so I appreciate that you reposted! I appreciate your thoughts – and thank you for encouraging me to keep writing.
    I can relate to so many things you wrote. I hear you and I’m with you on the feelings of needing help and feeling stuck and it being related to the birth process (see my posts to Larry above regarding my birth). My mother couldn’t help me either during the birth process, like yours, though the difference is, although I wouldn’t call my mother a cuddly and emotionally accessible mom, at least she was there and helped me a lot during my life. I learned a lot of good things from her, and although she had her weaknesses, I also see her as having had enormous strength, courage, and perseverance. I am sad that your mother was not available for you, it sounds like such a huge loss. Do you think it would help you to write about specific memories?
    Like you, I also have frequently made changes in my life, and still want something else, or more. On one hand I think that is normal and healthy, that we want to grow and experience more things in life, improve our circumstances. But for me there is also a need to “arrive” like come to a point where I am content and relaxed and free from constantly wanting/needing something more. I have said many times, I am happiest when I don’t need anything. I want to achieve such a state, but the very desire to want to achieve a state of contentment creates the struggle. What a dilemma! A therapist once told me that life is trying new things, and when we are tired of one thing, try another thing, etc. But I actually disagree with that view. I see a futility in this process, a never-ending search for “something” that seems to be an old feeling in itself. Surely, there must be an arrival point? Of course there is a difference whether I start something new out of curiosity, in an attempt to build up on what I already have and appreciate, or in contrast, whether I run from one unfulfilled moment to another desperately trying to find some fulfillment. I hope that makes sense. What do you think?
    To your feeling of “feeling on my own emotionally” – I totally understand, I’m there a lot. And that in spite of being married for years, and a part in me expects or desires that my husband is my closest confidant and most trusted person. He is to a certain extent, but very often, I am not able to completely open up to him, I often keep my deepest feelings to myself. This pattern is becoming more clear these days, and I realize how destructive this is for the relationship, and that keeping certain feelings from him could potentially sabotage our relationship. I am aware that it is my responsibility to make steps to bridge that separateness.
    Now I am wondering whether bridging this separateness and achieving emotional togetherness would fill some of the constant need for something new or else? Hmmm…. Because deep down I think life should not be that difficult, it should be simple, we should be content and satisfied inside, a state that surely we can only achieve with emotional connections rather than material things. Let me know your thoughts.

    • Phil says:

      Bernadette, what I said about “feeling on my own emotionally” in my previous comment, was about childhood experiences. That’s what I had in mind, but the pattern certainly exists for me as an adult. For the most part, I can’t and don’t share my deepest feelings with my wife. It’s unfortunate, but to expect that kind of sharing would probably be unreasonable. Our relationship was originally based on having good times together and enjoying each others company, and not on sharing deep feelings. Maybe that’s one reason why we sometimes have problems. If I would have been looking for that kind of partner, maybe I would still be alone to this day. My deepest feelings are sometimes too negative and painful to expect anyone to relate to them.. My relationship with my wife started out with the necessity of hiding them. I do, at times mention my deepest feelings, primal stuff, but the truth is, she isn’t really ready or able to hear it all, understand, and relate to it.
      Yes, I think it’s different to be trying new things out of curiosity, as compared to running around desperately looking for fulfillment. It’s good to have curiosity and openness to new things, I think.
      It’s good your mother was there and helped you a lot during your life.
      In my case, negative feelings and memories are mainly what come up around my mother.
      During the last years of her life, when she was sick and in a nursing home, that was especially true. She went there when I was 6 and she was there until she passed away when I was 11. We visited many times and what I remember is she almost never remembered, acknowledged, or even spoke to me, which was very painful for me. That behavior had already started while she was still at home with us, and I think it wasn’t only because of her MS illness.
      On the positive side, a quality I associate with my mother is an emphasis on doing well in school. Long after she was gone, I rebelled against that as a teenager. Later on, however, I became a good student and finished a graduate degree. Another memory I have is having the opportunity to learn to play the violin, when I was in first grade. I felt special being among the small group of kids given the chance. I very soon found practicing the instrument to be boring and tedious. I wanted to be outside running around playing. My mother very much wanted me to learn the instrument. She was a good pianist herself, but I don’t ever remember hearing play. We had a piano which took up a lot of space in our small living room. I rebelled against learning the violin, and quickly gave it up. But that was a shame, because I’ve always loved music, maybe I got that from my mother. I’m learning now how to play the saxophone and having a lot of fun, and getting satisfaction from that.

  47. OTTO CODINGIAN says:

    JESUS H.C. SOMETHING IS HORRIBLY WRONG! I am in a good mood, for however long that lasts. either talking about my pain, but definitely it is my birth month, sagitarius, and i wish the f that that light-hearted and outgoing personality had not been tortured out of me at such an early age, and then year after year.

    • Bernadette says:

      Otto, glad to hear that you are in a good mood – enjoy!! My mom was Sagittarius; her light-hearted and outgoing personality was buried under a lot of grief and pain but occasionally came through. I’m sure it’s somewhere in you, waiting to erupt.
      I related to your lousy feelings you wrote about on the 23rd when you looked back on your life. I get that way sometimes. I’m glad you were able to write them down here, and even better, that you were able to tell b your feelings. My experience is that even though it looks all negative at times, when looking at it from a different angle, there a many positive things in it as well. Just a hint for the future, Playa del Rey is always crowded on the weekends, I usually avoid it, although during the week it’s wonderful; we bike there often.

    • David says:

      Otto, I meant to post it here but the Gremlins, repositioned it. Barry once told me when I reported feeling ok at a session, ” Don’t worry, you’ll feel bad again.” (:

  48. Margaret says:

    ha Sagittarius Otto,
    that is good to hear!
    hope it will linger the whole Sagittarius month and more, and in any case, when moments come you feel down again, you can remind yourself that will not go on forever and forever without any hope for relief.
    as Barry said, all feelings are temporary, and I say no one feels ‘happy’ all the time, making the best of things seems more within our reach, while waiting for better times.
    so often it is little things, stroking a cat, or a cat doing something that makes you smile, or some sunshine or a cup of chocolate milk, that breaks through doom and gloom and lets some light ito the dark…
    and other people we feel ok with also help, by sharing with them or by laughing together about what sucks…
    i am feeling physically better, throat not sore anymore, but now my brother has a cold, and feels ill, let’s hope he feels better by Sunday when our mom becomes 90 and we planned a nice birthday celebration with her!
    M and cats

  49. Phil says:

    Here’s a really interesting article:
    “We have known for decades that mothers’ bodies and brains are transformed by the dramatic hormonal changes of pregnancy and childbirth. Now, new research is showing that men are also biologically transformed by the experience of becoming an involved father.

    When women become mothers, levels of the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin increase throughout pregnancy. Hormones have their biological effects by binding to receptors – molecules that sense the hormonal signal – throughout the body, and they can influence behaviour through binding to receptors in the brain. Oestrogen increases the brain’s capacity to detect another major hormone, oxytocin, and the massive release of oxytocin at birth, coupled with repeated pulses of oxytocin during breastfeeding, helps mothers bond with and want to care for their infants.

    But what about fathers? How do they get prepared to parent?….”

    • Phil says:

      There’s good news for me here since I was an involved parent. Bad news too:
      “Pups with more affectionate mothers have more oxytocin receptors. This might in fact be the mechanism for the transmission of parental caregiving styles from one generation to the next.” I think I missed out on this.

    • Vicki says:

      Phil, I really found that interesting, I was in a hurry earlier, and want to read it again. Clearly that played a part in my life.

    • Bernadette says:

      Phil, good article.
      I suspect that my father must have activated his anterior cingulate to the max when listening to my crying, hence his negative emotional response to me. Reading that this ‘empathic overarousal’ indicates that my crying must have stressed him out and in turn interfered with his motivation and ability to deliver compassionate care, almost makes me feel guilty and almost makes me feel sorry for him. Maybe there is an optimal state of arousal and degree of empathy in some fathers, but in the case of mine, the pendulum definitely swung more to the side of overarousal and personal distress.
      In the last paragraph, the author writes: “Our prefrontal cortex (“larger than expected for our brain size”) is what allows us to override ancient, evolved impulses in the service of honouring commitments, abiding by social norms, and exercising our moral responsibilities.” I wonder whether there is a study that shows a smaller prefrontal cortex in men who frequently step over the boundaries of social norms and moral responsibilities, such as testosterone driven rape and child sexual abuse. I just wonder.
      Thanks for an interesting read.

  50. OK Bernadette, I just now sent you the mail I promised to re-send. I forwarded the old mail I sent from November 1st. I said I would alert you when I sent this new mail so you can check your spam folder. You might want to set my email as an ‘allowed address’ (whitelist) to avoid further mishaps.

    I will tackle Renee’s questions soon enough, though I must admit I thought I had made myself reasonably clear on the topic and I know almost nothing about the Rick story…so all that remain are suppositions on my part which could be wildly inaccurate.

    Vicki seemed to cover much more hard-hitting and pertinent ground than I could, but I will still entertain Renee’s questions as soon as I can if it’s still necessary.

  51. Renee says:

    Vicki, I don’t think it benefits us women to use a phrase like “taking improper liberties”, which minimizes the crime, violence (physical and/or psychological) and trauma of sexual assault. My understanding of sexual assault is that it falls into 3 main categories: penetration crimes of a body part by another body part (i.e., penis penetration into mouth, anus, vagina) or of a body part by an object; contact with genitals, breast, butts, or other intimate body parts; exposure of genitals, breast, butts or other intimate body parts. From what you’ve described, it sounds like Yarrow’s behavior fits the exposure category.

    I brought up what happened with Rick Janov because I think it is so much easier to focus on the awful things that celebrities do, than reflect on what has happened “in our own back yard”, so to speak. I don’t think that what I shared was “glaringly sensational”, btw. I deliberately did not share the details of what I heard transpired at that time. Are you saying that the details you shared about Peter Yarrow behavior wasn’t “glaringly sensational”? If so, I would disagree. And anyway, how do you decide what is “glaringly sensational” and what is simply the brutal and cruel facts of a sexual assault? I would suggest that this happens in the minds of us beholders for our own personal reasons, which are sometimes complicated and often painful.

    As for the rest of what you say to me, I actually can’t connect with any of it. It sounds like you are angry with me and are letting me know this by trying to shame me. This makes me feel sad. I grew up with a lot of shaming. I’d like to be spoken to in a more respectful way.

  52. Vicki says:

    Renee 1) I don’t agree with your first sentence, nor the rest of the paragraph. It just seems like you’re using a broadly sensational paintbrush to bolster your judgement, which still seems to go way beyond reality in using Peter. But it’s really just to set us up for your use of Rick.

    2) I don’t believe you wrote about Rick for the reasons you are pretending. You have a secret agenda, that you haven’t the courage to expose about yourself. I don’t buy into “your story”. It does make me angry when I see you are lying about your motivations. The rest of your words are like manure you are spreading around, trying to leaven the ground, so your manipulation can gain traction and grow. And you cannot get respect with such dishonesty.

  53. Margaret says:

    I did not feel comfortable either with the story about Rick being described here in such a strongly disapproving way.
    after all, what do we really know about it, and to what point do the guidelines prevail if it is a case of a feeling of genuine true love from both sides?
    If I recall my own knowledge of what I have heard, it was thoroughly evaluated and he was put before the choice of ending his professional practice as a therapist and continue the relationship or ending the relationship and remaining a therapist.
    the love must have been deep as the first choice was been made, and in that case, if others of the team evaluate as objectively as possible and the persons involved are all capable of making a well considered personal decision, I don’t see a real problem.
    it cannot become a therapists regular attitude when such sacrifice is being demanded, as to start with, the person would not be a therapist anymore…
    and if the love is genuine, what is so bad about that?
    of course deontology is a good thing, but maybe not that good if it would be carved in stone as to reject and keep judging someone like Rick in this case, specially not by using terms as sexual assault in the process!
    I am not taking any side as I know little to nothing about the story, but well, just my common sense opinion and trust of those people’s I know common sense and sincerity in directing their staff and workplace.

    • Margaret, yeah your thoughts are similar to my own given we are both ‘limited knowledge’ people to to this story. I felt certain there was a ‘slippery slope’ from a strict client/therapist relationship, a rapport was built, one thing led to another, and a budding relationship ensued. The imagery that Renee originally put forth made it almost seem as though Rick walked into a room with a client, closed the door, assaulted the client, and walked back out without any consensual intermediary steps along the way.

  54. Daniel says:

    At the end of my residency the case I presented at my Licensing Examination was of a young woman who lost her father at a very young age. In fact, she had no recollection of him. At the time I wasn’t in a relationship but craved one. The patient was bright, insightful, open and good looking and at one point during her treatment I became infatuated with her. I was so alarmed by those emerging feelings in myself that I immediately told some of my colleagues, hoping the disclosure would protect me from any chance of acting upon my feelings. On the other hand, my supervisor at the time, with whom I also confided, half-jokingly said to me that perhaps I should peruse a relationship with this woman. After all, he said, true love is more important and therapy can be sought elsewhere.

    Within a week or so my infatuation subsided and then vanished. I became very interested in what happened to me and how it was related to the patient’s dynamics. Gradually, I came to better understand the meaning of this infatuation. As Freud alerted us in one of his most famous papers,

    “[The therapist] must recognize that the patient’s falling in love is induced by the analytic situation and is not to be attributed to the charms of his own person; so that he has no grounds whatever for being proud of such a ‘conquest’, as it would be called outside analysis. And it is always well to be reminded of this”.

    In that paper Freud discusses love in the therapeutic setting, goes over the options available for action and concludes that, 1) the therapist must never succumb to temptations of any kind; 2) the patient should remain in treatment; and 3) love in the therapeutic setting is to be therapeutically investigated. It is in that paper that he recommends therapists work in “abstinence” – a term that was first worshiped and nowadays is rather maligned.

    About 10% of mental health practitioners admit to having had inappropriate relationships with patients. These relationships are hardly ever straightforward, have many motivations and many outcomes, and are now universally forbidden ethically and at many countries also legally. Usually, a length of time must pass before a therapist is permitted to pursue a non-professional relationship with a former patient. Other professions (MD’s, physical therapists, etc.) also have similar occurrences. Putting aside sociopaths who are repeat offenders, my experience is that it has to do with unresolved narcissistic issues where love is felt to be ideal and panacean to the point of promising restoration of a much-needed harmony to one’s life.

    Had I embarked on a relationship with my patient back then, I have no doubt that after a while a breakup would follow and both her and I would find ourselves miserable over it. On the other hand, I do know of a couple who met in the consulting room and are still married some 20 years later. For me, that one incident was the strongest infatuation I ever felt in my career as a therapist. It was frightening at the time but I learned a lot from it, about both myself and my patient.

    By the way, Margaret’s point about real vs. non-real love is interesting and deserves a discussion.

  55. Daniel, Interesting post, you are brave to discuss those feelings. It’s not that the therapist is “ bad” for having those feelings or any feelings but rather that they feel open to exploring them with the hope of insight and resolution. The supervisors job must be first to put the patients best interest ahead of everything else but also to create an open non shaming atmosphere for the therapist to reveal what it is they are feeling. Posting a big red A on anyone’s shoulder only creates an atmosphere of concealment. Sometimes the counter transference that the therapist reveals can lead to a better understanding of the patient as well. In your case I’m glad you could work through those feelings for both the sake of yourself and the patient. Partly it is a reminder that being a therapist and being a supervisor isn’t for everyone. Gretchen

  56. Margaret says:

    my brother and me were preparing to celebrate my mom\s 90th birthday together with her on sunday.
    we even had the green light from the nursing home to share a meal with her at lunchtime.
    he already let me know he seemed to have a cold, right after mine got better last weekend.
    today he texted me he feels worse and canceled his visit for sunday.
    i managed to get the ok from the nursing home to bring my sister instead, and called my brother to ask him if it was ok for him, as the rules say she is now a covisitor for 2 weeks in a row and then he can take over again, as not to mix too many different visitors .
    instead of texting I called him, and was shocked at the sound of his voice, so coarse, so different…
    I asked him how he was doing and if he considered a Corona test, and he replied he felt bad, and that he felt like it was Corona. he would call his doctor and try to go for a test the next day, when he would hopefully feel a bit better…
    of course I wished him all the best and so, but it really hit me, the fear of what might happen, the fear of how fast these things can turn really bad…
    I am glad I called him and we talked about it briefly at least, instead of texting.
    but I feel so very worried and scared!!!
    i hate people that minimize Corona still, it feels so insensitive and crazy…
    my brother is 66, has a great technical and security job thanks to his continued self study and classes, and still some people suggest he should just have stayed home, you know, ‘elderly’, the only ones at risk in their crazy view, ha, makes me so angry and frustrated.
    anyone can get it, with a bit of bad luck, and also young people and kids can die of it, with just a minor genetic difference in their genes, or some hidden underlying latent affliction.
    ok, sorry, just so scared and frustrated as I said,

    • Bernadette says:

      Margaret, that is really scary especially because of his age group! Your brother should go to urgent care as soon as possible and request Remdesivir for treatment, if he has Covid, and even if he has to be hospitalized to receive it. It is supposed to shorten recovery time for Covid patients with lower respiratory tract infection. I hope he doesn’t have Covid, though, but only a flu, and in any case, I wish him a speedy recovery! It must be so scary for you both right now. I find it frustrating too that so many people still deny the pandemic and behave like nothing is wrong, this while thousands die from it. I keep my fingers crossed for you! Hang in there!

  57. Phil says:

    I hope your brother is OK, and doesn’t have Covid.
    I agree with you, young people do get Covid, can die, or have their bodies badly damaged. They do have a lower risk, but it doesn’t seem possible to segregate the population so that young people don’t come in to contact with older and vulnerable people. That hasn’t worked, as far as I know. Ideally everyone would be careful and take precautions, but that isn’t really happening.
    We canceled our usual very large Thanksgiving gathering, to instead have only our two sons here. We did have a big Zoom meeting, but that’s not the same. Things aren’t going back to normal anytime soon, I’m afraid. Even with vaccines coming out soon.

  58. Bernadette says:

    I was going to avoid this conversation, first, because I didn’t want to get into a struggle about what’s right or wrong, and second, because it brought up some real panic in me. It should be, and I want it to be a black and white issue, a simple solution, right or wrong – but maybe because the panic in me is unbearable, I want a quick fix. A part of me knows that there is no simple solution, the lines are blurred, and the situation is complicated. Feelings are complicated.
    I am not writing any of this to accuse anybody, or point fingers at, or pass any judgements. I am writing this in the hope to gain some clarity for myself and hopefully resolve some old stuff. Here is my baseline: Is it ethically and/or morally wrong for a therapist to pursue a relationship with a patient? Yes. There are clear guidelines. Is it a crime? No. Feeling wise, it doesn’t sit right with me.
    As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I am hypersensitive to incidents of “lines crossed” when I see it. I didn’t know Rick personally, nor the patient. I only knew them from the post-groups, and Rick at the reception at times. I didn’t pay any particular attention to either of them. However, at the institute I observed two incidents between Rick and the patient that clearly activated that “lines crossed” sixth sense in me. This was a few weeks before their relationship became public. I reported it both times (to two different therapists) and both times, I was brushed off and denied my reality – “it’s your feeling” type of thing.
    I am in no way suggesting that Rick’s patient had a similar history to mine, or had similar issues to deal with, I do not know. I am only describing what I would expect from a therapist in such a case as mine:
    As a result of my incidents of sexual abuse by different men in childhood and teenage years, my act outs as a young woman were promiscuity and unconscious flirting behavior with any man in a power position that I came in contact with – teacher, professor, doctor, chiropractor, supervisor, someone’s boyfriend or husband, therapist, etc. It was an automatic response and I was not aware of it.
    As a patient, I expect the therapist to catch this flirting and make me aware of it, not fall for it. I ask myself, How can a therapist who is professionally trained and knows that it is ethically wrong to pursue a relationship with a patient, let himself get carried away with his emotions. It is pretty clear to me that a young woman entrusting herself to a male therapist, would automatically subconsciously try to recreate a messed-up relationship from the past. Isn’t that called transference? Shouldn’t a therapist be aware of this and instantly counteract it? Wouldn’t a therapist avoid under all circumstances an emotional response? I know we can’t always control our emotions, but I expect a therapist to either work out his counter transference feelings, or withdraw from treating this patient. And I also would expect, that if the therapist cannot make such a decision, that his supervisor steps in and stops the insanity. This is where I stand at the moment. I might evolve as I go forward and explore my feelings about it.
    Can someone give me a definition of “genuine love”? Is it genuine love, if the relationship ends after a few years? If one party opens a law suit against the other party? Wouldn’t “genuine love” give it all to work through relationship issues? And if and when the relationship ends, at least find an amicable solution? Is a nasty breakup an indication that there were other feelings involved, such as “need” or “ownership” or “conquest” or a sense of “I have to be in a relationship with this patient in order to help her, because if I can show her how it’s really done, she can finally heal and recover from her trauma”? – none of these fit into the definition of genuine love, should there be one. Is there really such a thing as “genuine love” anyway? Especially between two people who deal with personal, unresolved trauma? From my own experience, being in a long term relationship, both of us in therapy and both severely traumatized, the fact that we are still together is mostly not dependent on how I feel about him, but how I feel about myself.
    Again, I don’t mean any judgment here. I am posing these questions in an attempt to explore my thoughts and feelings. And to hear anybody’s take on it, if possible.
    My panic level is hitting the roof as I am posting this.

    • Larry says:

      I’m wondering why your panic level is hitting the roof in regards to your post, Bernadette. The sense of urgency that you convey in hoping for a response or discussion of the questions you ask draws me into a reply. In my opinion and limited life experience there is such a thing as genuine love, in the sense of feeling deeply for the loved one and wanting to give attention to their needs being met almost as much as to your own.

      I’ve only heard some rumors; I don’t know any of the truth surrounding the details of the relationship you mention between Rick and his client. Since I don’t know what the truth is, I don’t make any judgement about it. However, I think that if I was a therapist falling in love with my client, I would remove myself from treating that client in order to pursue the romantic relationship. It seems to me that if the romantic relationship is to be a healthy one, neither party would be consciously doing therapy on the other. The former client would have to get therapy from someone else, not from the former therapist now lover. But it’s easy for me to imagine how I should behave as a therapist in such a scenario. How I would actually behave is thus far and likely forever unkown.

    • Phil says:

      I think you’re right on what you say here. It’s highly unethical for a therapist to be acting on those kinds of feelings towards a patient, and I think that’s true whether it’s genuine love or not.
      I guess that’s why nowadays there are regulations and laws against this type of abusive behavior. Not only is it unethical, but how successful could therapy be under those conditions? In the case of primal, a lot of money is spent, and commitment made to getting well.


    • Vicki says:

      Bernadette, I am glad you wrote this — some detailed and good questions to think about. And the “reality” of the “love” is bound to involve any unresolved feelings in both people — so perhaps there is a spectrum, for all relationships, of any type. With any therapist, if I had doubts about their clarity and felt some distrust, I would have to discuss that with them, before I could be willing to risk my trust with them. This is not always easy, and may require some involvement, to even work it out.

      I have worked with a few therapists where I immediately had doubts about their integrity or experience, but I agreed to work with them on someone’s recommendation, to try and see. It did not go badly for me, I benefitted therapeutically, and sometimes I was able to respond & confront when I felt it went wrong, or inappropriately, and we worked it out. Early in therapy, it was much harder for me to feel clear about what was going on, as I was so unclear about my own old feelings and connections to the present. But that has become easier with time and my own progress — some of those mistakes I would likely handle differently now. For all my therapy, I have had many feelings come up about things that have happened in therapy, and that has helped my progress immensely — I think we all go through that, to varying degrees.

      Among those incidents, there was one therapist where I immediately had a hunch of doubts about her integrity, yet I still benefitted from working with her — but eventually found out my suspicion was correct, as she did some thoroughly unethical things, to me and others, which I confronted forcefully and directly, only to catch her being dishonest, even lying, about what she had done. She soon left the Institute, and years later, when I ran into her outside, she was still inappropriate with me, which showed me she never did get the point that what she did was unethical & dishonest. I think her own unresolved neediness has blinded her to her self-serving actions. This is not something I expected to be true, when I started therapy, but I am glad I learned that lesson.

    • David says:

      I recall Barry saying to me when I reported a , ” feeling good,” moment; “Don’t worry you’ll feel bad again.”

    • David says:

      Not meaning to sound juvenile, nor condescending, but, of course there is agapy, parental,.. etc; in addition to romantic love. Call it kind personal regared, or whatever, but I would hope we care for those we serve. For me, had I ever engaged in romantic thought and behaviour with a client or patient, it would have been tantamount to incest and or predation. I addressed it with a thank you that I’m deemed worthy of such feelings, but I’m not in love with you and that will never happen. I didn’t offer an opinion on the etiology of the stated feelings, nor judgement.
      It was of interest that sexual abuse victims, confining this only to my experience, would request and investigator, and therapist, of the same sex as their offender. I am familiar with, ” why,” but will offer only it might be powerfully rebuilding to discover a healthy caring relationship with that gender.
      I knew of and reported psychiatrists who crossed that line both factually and in uttering sick dialogue after interviewing victims.
      I admire your courage in sharing.

  59. Happy Thanksgiving ! 🦃 An odd Thanksgiving to be sure but still much to be thankful for. Gretch and Barry p.s. Bernadette, I have loved your recent posts. Very courageous to be so open while feeling so vulnerable! G.

    • David says:

      Canadian Thanksgiving long past, by a month. Tofu, beans and rice..
      I feel envious that Bernaette is earning your accolades, Gretchen.
      I sat at this computer one night, after, rifle unlocked and loaded, I’d had enough, resolution decided upon, an aquaintance came by, after midnight, needing a favour. Feelinglessness Interrupted, I later turned to this community, (and more than once.) Perhaps the internet goblin gobbled it up, my agony… no response. I assume it was deemed unworthy, I didn’t qualify, I don’t belong to the club; and, of course, reality, no P patient on the blog knows me. And I have been an irritant at times. My lifelong feelings of worthlessness, hoplessness, imposter, are fed, and, I know, they can only be fed if they are already there. I recall thinking that amazingly brilliant thought, that attitude, when it was about, my clients/patients very early in my career, and thankfully dumped. But it’s not even the equivalent of a sugar pill to hear it, and not the only way, nor, IMHO, the most effective help for that to be the only tool in responders’ tool kit.
      Feeling slightly queasy in my stomach for my admission, or is it fear of further reinforcement… Whatever I’m in a manageable place today. Best thoughts to all.
      David H

  60. Jo says:

    Happy 🦃 Thanksgiving

    • Vicki says:

      Happy Thanksgiving, Jo. Did you have turkey for your Thanksgiving, yesterday?

      • Jo says:

        Thanks Vicki. I dont celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, but I’m always aware of the day, and my N.American residential friends’ tradition of the family/friends gathering for the big meal, (except this year is a little different, as Gretchen says). How was it for you?

        • Vicki says:

          Oh, that’s right, I forgot no “Thanksgiving”! I was fasting most of the day, but suddenly remembered I had bought some sliced turkey the week before, and forgot to eat it. I checked it was still good, and also re-heated some veggies, so it was good. But no pie, as I made sure I didn’t buy any “suicide food”. Otherwise, taking care to “stay safe”, since over half of those infected are apparently completely asymptomatic — not helpful!

  61. Bernadette, I hate to use the words right and wrong in general but since I have no other language to use I would go as far as to say it’s always wrong. For all the reasons mentioned it is wrong for the patient but also wrong for the therapist. I do know of one circumstance outside of the Institute where the couple married and are still together but still I think it’s a mistake. I do understand that those kind of feelings can come up but it’s incumbent upon the therapist to do everything possible to deal with their feelings. When you work with other therapists you can’t necessarily control anyone else’s choices but you can create an atmosphere without judgement or shaming or accusation ( or unnecessary gossip) that allows for all feelings to be discussed. It is really the only hope of working through the issues that come up for any therapist. If someone came to me today and said they were having feelings about a client would I tell them to leave the building and never come back ? Absolutely not. I would suggest they let me try to help them work through what was really going on and I would suggest they no longer work with that client. I might suggest they take a break from doing therapy at all for some time. Of course there are a million scenarios each to be treated differently. For instance we are discussing someone who reveal their feelings to a supervisor and nothing has actually happened as in the case with Rick vs someone who is seeing a client and already started an affair. That would be a whole different story of course. Anyway I’m glad you asked the question Bernadette but I have to give a nod to Vicki here and question why this issue that happened many, many years ago was brought up in the first place. I don’t think it was for purposes of intellectual discussion lol! I will leave it at that . Gretch p.s. I do think all this applies to teachers and many other professions as well.

    • Gretchen, yeah I am still wondering why Renee brought up this issue to begin with. Not that it hasn’t been fodder for valuable discussion all it’s own, but as Vicki pointed out earlier the entire discussion might be resting on a deceptive premise.
      Renee bringing up the Rick Janov topic reminds me of how I was at a retreat at Casa de Maria and Vivian was there (around the year 2000, I think). Vivian made it a point to pay extra attention to me in group, when I didn’t want that attention. As a diversionary tactic I brought up circumcision because I knew at the time it would be a hot-button issue for some guys and my raising the topic would subversively help enlist a few guys in group to force Vivian’s attention off of me right away. Sure enough, when I asked Vivian what she thought of circumcision, she said it’s standard procedure…which immediately enraged several men in group and she had to focus on that, taking her attention completely away from me for the rest of the entire day. I had achieved my objective through deceptive means.
      The entire circumcision topic rested on a dishonest premise, namely I simply wanted people to leave me alone in group. The topic itself had no inherent meaning for me; it was only provisionally useful for another purpose entirely.

      • Yes, I did briefly feel like an evil mastermind converting a few people into emotional chess pieces, unwittingly helping me to achieve my objective.
        Obviously, all I had to do at the time was tell Vivian I needed to be left alone and I was overloaded with too many things on my mind.
        The circumcision route was overly circuitous (pun intended).

  62. David, You are always welcome on the blog and I don’t think you have ever been an irritant. I’m not sure if you are saying you did not receive an answer to your comments or that your blog comments did not post. Sometimes it’s just a matter of no one being around at the moment we post. It’s the luck of the draw in a sense. In any case I’m glad you are here! Gretchen

  63. Bernadette says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I returned from a lovely bike ride along the beach with hubby and found all your posts. Awesome!
    We stopped at the Ballona Creek and I did some bird watching, while hubby sat on a bench. While watching the waterfowl through the scope, I thought about my earlier post, and I wondered: does hubby sitting on a bench patiently waiting while I watch birds count for genuine love? Smile.

    Larry: I appreciate your concern and your reply. The topic of (potential) abuse always puts me into panic, and speaking out about it reminds me that nothing that ever happened to me in the past was ever addressed, acknowledged or clarified. I never told my parents, and none of the perpetrators were ever found out or punished for what they did to me. This has left a bitter after taste, one that clouds my brain and judgement at times. Speaking out, writing about it in a clear (or confused) or critical voice brings up the panic. On top of that, I just had woken up from a terrifying nightmare where a spider in the size of a grapefruit attacked me! Yikes! It scared the hell out of me and made me realize that something more is pushing up into my consciousness. I knew then that I had to write. More to come, I’m sure. I like your definition of genuine love. You are lucky to have experienced it! And thanks for your input on the therapist/patient relationship question. Much appreciated!

    Phil, Thanks much for your clear voice. No ifs or buts, just straight forward. I wish I could think so clearly. And thank god for the clearly defined guidelines nowadays. For me, there is always a bit of a doubt because of my experiences in childhood. Are the lines always so clearly defined, or are deviations allowed. If so, how far? I am sure, as I keep feeling more of the panic, my head will become clearer.

    Vicki, I agree with your description of the “spectrum” of love in a relationship. Since we all have unresolved feelings, and we all have been conditioned to act in a certain way, it is quite difficult to pinpoint the reality of the feeling of genuine love. For example, I like Larry’s definition but instantly have questions when he says “wanting to give attention to their needs being met almost as much as to your own” – it sounds great but what if I have been conditioned to always give and look out for the other one, and because of this conditioning automatically go on meeting my partner’s needs but for other conditioned reasons don’t ever consider my own, that is not true love, and can only end in frustration. It’s complicated on a human level. Thanks for sharing your experiences with therapists at the institute. I can see how much you have grown over the years and that your voice (and head) is clear because you have put the effort into finding reality. I often think, Vicki doesn’t take any B.S. from anybody! I appreciate your clear voice.

    Gretchen, thanks for clarifying things. I wonder, if Rick did speak to a supervisor before anything happened, why could he not be stopped, or why did he not stop himself. It begs the question, when does the affair actually begin? Does it begin when an overt step is taken, or does it start much earlier, when the idea of an affair/relationship comes to mind. When did this all start in his mind? And how did things that had already happened in his mind influence him to make a step in real time? – – And I agree with you, there remains the question, why was this incident brought up on the blog in the first place, and what the motive could be.

    Guru, I was quite appalled when I first came to the U.S. and learned that circumcision is standard procedure! What? Not so in Europe, and neither should it be. I thought that circumcision was a Jewish custom, and was astonished that an entire country would give in to such a ruling. When I discussed this with another patient at a retreat, I said I think it is barbaric, and he agreed. Why a baby should be mutilated in such a way, is beyond me. I am glad that in the meantime, a mother giving birth nowadays can request beforehand that her baby boy should not be circumcised. Women fighting for their rights in terms of their bodies and abortion should also fight for the rights of their baby boys’ bodies. Thank god the percentage of circumcised baby boys has lowered over the recent years. I hope this trend will continue.

    • Bernadette, I wrote it slightly incorrectly in saying that Vivian described it as ‘standard procedure’. It was more along the lines of her saying it’s a ‘traditional briss’ in a matter-of-fact way. I knew beforehand she was going to say that and it would make a lot of guys upset.
      Anyway, I don’t want to open a can of worms over the circumcision topic as it has already been discussed extensively.
      I only told this story because it had similarities to the possibility of Rick’s story being raised with ulterior motives (as Vicki explained) with many others just taking the amorous therapist topic and letting it have a life of its own.

      • Bernadette says:

        Guru, got it! Thanks!

      • Bernadette says:

        Guru, good that you are acknowledging your deceptive diversion technique, but the question that remains is: what feelings were you avoiding when you diverted Vivian’s and the group’s attention away from you?

        • Hi Bernadette, it’s nice that you would take the time to ask me this question…but honestly I was trying to work out some E-X-T-R-A-O-R-D-I-N-A-R-I-L-Y complex problems which would have been impossible to work out in a single group session (Lisa Lewis’
          “It’s No Accident” book I talked about earlier is suggested reading here as a starting point). I now remember it was the 2002 retreat with Vivian. I absolutely had to go at the time because it was during the time the entire world was utterly subsumed in octillions of words of 9/11 coverage and I was eyeing the 130 word article about my mother’s ending, thinking, “Hey, wait a minute!! Something doesn’t fucking add up here at all !! What’s going on here?? How do I begin to work this out?”
          Anyway, I was completely on my own and overwhelmed with this emerging issue, and there was no time to begin cutting into all of it that day with 20-30 other people vying for attention. I really needed serious time and space to sort out what the fuck was going on.
          Those issues have been resolved, anyway. The answers are grim as hell, though, and I’m still out untold tens of millions of dollars or more in economic damages.
          Going back to the present moment, I am more urgently trying to deal with my anger at the predator neighbor and continue working on trying to get by in life financially.

  64. Bernadette says:

    David, thank you for your thoughts! What jumped out to me was your statement “ For me, had I ever engaged in romantic thought and behaviour with a client or patient, it would have been tantamount to incest and or predation” – it sounds right, and I can relate to it. It reminded me of the time when I was working in the international admissions office at Santa Monica College. There I had similar experiences where young male students would come on to me, flatter me, flirt with me, wanted to invite me out, even marry me…their motive unclear (maybe they were after a green card, ha!)… but I had the same reaction as yours. It would feel incestuous to start an affair with one of these young students… definitely on the unethical spectrum.
    As to your other statement, that patients would request a therapist of the same sex as their offender in order to rebuild a healthy relationship to that gender: it makes sense, but that was different for me. I wanted to work only with female therapists in the first few years, and only after having dealt with some of the trauma, I was able to trust a male therapist enough to start rebuilding a more healthy relationship with a man.

    As to your other post to Gretchen, I had a reaction. I was afraid for you when I read that you sat with “rifle unlocked and loaded“ feeling at the end of your rope, and thank god you were interrupted. I relate to your feelings of helplessness and unworthiness… please keep writing about it here. Don’t give up! I have received some tremendous feedback here and expressing my thoughts and feelings in public has helped me a lot. Like you, I’ve had some of my posts gobbled up before, disappeared, that’s why I am making a habit of writing my posts first in a word document before I copy and past them into the blog. I hope to see you here more often.

  65. Daniel says:

    I could argue how love in the therapy room is not like “ordinary” love outside it. I could also reason that they are actually the same. In my own case, it felt every bit as real as any other infatuation outside the therapy room. The patient had things I felt lacking in me. She was open where I felt introverted, vivacious where I felt listless, feeling where I felt blocked, at ease with others where I felt cumbersome and tense around others. Or so she seemed. My attraction to her offered me a direct way to get all these precious things tax free, without having to go through my difficulties and pain to obtain them from within. In other words, my love had a considerable defensive part in it, a way to circumvent primal pain.

    Of course, you could argue that this defensive aspect is often an ingredient in “ordinary” love as well. True enough. My way out of this problem, as Gretchen, Bernadette, David, Phil and others also said, is via the concept of role. As a therapist I’m in a role and a big part of that role is to help the patient deal with her defences rather than play into them. The patient’s love may seem like a move toward but very often is a move away from something. It’s not always easy to tell the difference and two consenting adults who wish to overcome the obstacles to their being together is the subject of many a tale, from the Arabian Nights down to almost any Hollywood romantic comedy. It may seem like a road to happiness, but the role, if kept, is preventing that from happening. Although my love may seem to the patient like the thing she wants, in a deeper way I would be failing her if I stepped out of my role, which is, it should never be forgotten, what she came and paid for in the first place.

    Gretchen made an important point. Non-judgemental openness helps people be.. well… human.. with all their complexities, anxieties, self-judgements, loves and hatreds. She also hinted that therapy is a risk. Whenever two people meet nobody knows in advance how it is going to transpire, what will they say to one another or feel toward each other. It is a risk also because it can be a waste of time and money. I think it’s safe to say that all present believe this is one risk worth taking.

    Finally, I think Bernadette brings up an adjacent subject: how is it that we get attracted to something which is not “good” for us? Or, why is it that out sexual objects are at times different from the objects we like, that we feel kindness towards? What is it about desiring and consummating our desire that seem to have rules of their own, at times quite apart from our stated wishes, what we would like to have for ourselves? In other words, how is it that our appetites and fellow feelings become incompatible? How come we may find ourselves working for our sexuality rather than our sexuality working for us?

  66. Bernadette says:

    Phil, clearly, every relationship is different, and I get it that you don’t want to or can’t share your deepest feelings with your wife. It makes a big difference too, when both are in therapy, it is more natural to talk about feelings. That said, it is not at all easier for me to reveal some of my deepest feelings to my husband, especially when it is in regards to a problem in the relationship. (BTW, as a side note: I don’t think the problem is actually “in the relationship” but in me. I have to address the feelings that bother me, and I still need help with it). I think it’s a good thing starting a relationship based on good times and enjoying each others’ company. It’s a good base line to fall back to. In my case, I sometimes think we chose each other because of similar pain and that’s not always easy to deal with. When you said, your feelings are “too negative and painful” and you don’t expect anybody to relate to them, I just wanted to say, that’s an old feeling in itself. I believe that you deserve being heard and listened to and those are the very feelings that bring the most relief and insights once you can address them, with a therapist (or on the blog).
    Thanks for sharing your history with your mother. It sounds heartbreaking. It must have been devastating for you as a little boy, not being spoken to and then losing her at such a young age. I can see the little boy visiting mom at the nursing home and being totally ignored and overlooked. How hurt and forlorn you must have felt. I would imagine there is some deep seated pain.
    I was excited to read that you are learning to play the saxophone and that you have music in your veins! That is real inspiration! And I think you are right, you got that talent from your mother; it’s something to honor and hold on to. Do you take lessons, or are you learning on your own? I have learned to play a few instruments but never stuck with any of them, which I often regret now. Keep writing! I like reading your posts.

  67. Vicki says:

    I’m going a bit out on a limb here, with some feelings that seem complex to me, not completely clear, and not sure I’m being perfectly consistent. C’est la vie.

    A couple of nights ago, I woke in the early morning, and was thinking about what I wrote in response to Renee’s first post about Peter of PP&M, & Rick. And in wondering what’s going on with Renee, and the anger behind it, that seems so plainly obvious — it reminded me of a long ago time in my therapy, when several times, I was angry enough to consider leaving therapy, with feelings of betrayal, unfairness, distrust, and manipulation fueling my anger and intertwining it with paranoia, and making me wonder and imagine that maybe I was right, no one cared, and maybe I should leave, with a ‘fuck-off’ attitude, and hopelessness.

    Sometimes I went in and out of such feelings for weeks, trying to sort through and feel my anger, usually with not even enough trust to talk about my suspicions, afraid of being ‘stomped on’, ‘dismissed’, or ‘ridiculed’ for voicing such feelings, that felt aberrant, mean, vicious, or snotty. What also made it nearly impossible for me to express them, was the fact that I also knew I was “in old feelings”, as unclear as whatever they were. So even though I felt some of my anger was justifiable, I still thought I was likely so full of shit that it would be easy for someone to flay me alive verbally, and leave me pinned to the wall, gasping, wounded and bleeding. Those were my emotional expectations, for baring my personal torment.

    Sometimes I have talked about the feelings, in part, or tried to approach them, with varying results — depending on how pressing my torment was or how close acting-on-it seemed. If I have to put words to what I’m feeling then, it’s usually ‘disconnected’, ‘alienated’, ‘no one cares about me’. Some of my sessions and groups have partly echoed what I have seen happen with Renee (and others) in groups, so those incidents have seemed familiar to me. When that happens to me, I am left in such distress, not knowing what the fuck is going-on, and I can only cry or rant about how awful I feel, and hope it will ‘go away’ and sooner or later, it does.

    Over my years of feelings, these ‘unacceptable’ feelings have mostly subsided, or I have gotten more experienced at hiding them from myself (or some of both). I don’t feel driven to resurrect them, but I don’t assume they are really all resolved, and so they may come back to haunt me, I don’t know. All it takes is a flare-up of mistrust.

    That’s as close as I can get to imagining what Renee might go through, each time she has screwed herself up to leave a therapist.

    • Bernadette says:

      Vicki, good work and great post! I have been in similar situations at the Institute where I felt betrayed, not heard, lied to, etc., with resulting feelings of anger and mistrust, and stayed away for weeks or months because of it. I still think all my feelings were justified, but I also know in the meantime that there are ways to deal with these feelings, and more often than not, there is an old feeling component with it. I used to think that I can’t or are not allowed to express anger and frustration towards the therapist, an old feeling for me, as I was not allowed to talk back as a child, and being angry would have only resulted in more punishment. But I have learned in the meantime that the therapists are willing and able to hear my mistrust and anger towards them and deal with it and help me resolve the feelings. You have heard me in small group.

      That said, there is a difference between expressing anger and “dumping”! I cannot expect my therapist to have a favorable and understanding reaction and wanting to help me, if I dump my anger on them. I have to take responsibility for my anger, and verbalize it, make it clear, and acknowledge that there is potentially or most likely an old unresolved feeling behind it. Even if there is a percentage of truth in the real world (which there always is, for every feeling), the trick is to leave that aside in order to be able to deal with my own old feeling.

      The word “collaboration” comes to mind; dealing with it together rather than going against. My question to myself at that point is, Am I here to deal with my old shit, or am I here to prove that I am right and he/she is wrong. Of course, if I am not inclined to take responsibility for my own anger and the pain that is causing it on an old feeling level, then it is easier to dump all that anger on the therapist.

      Also I think that therapists are not perfect human beings, they too have their blind spots and unresolved issues, no matter how much they say they don’t! It is not up to me to make them see that or deal with their own stuff. I am only here to do my therapy. I don’t believe any of the therapists I worked with were deliberately deceptive or deceitful, or they had a good reason to hide the truth, like when the therapists denied the Rick-thing that I brought up to them. One of those therapists later apologized to me after the affair came out.

  68. Bernadette says:

    Another confession: I was lying in bed in the early morning hours contemplating about how to respond to Daniel’s interesting and thought-provoking post, I marveled at how complicated and opaque human relationships can be, how little we really know about our true motivations, and how much we fall prey to our subconscious mind, needs, and fears at times. I had some good ideas as to respond, but what made me jump out of the bed and start writing, were these sudden insights:

    When Larry asked me “why my panic level was hitting the roof” (in connection with the post about Rick) and I said that talking about potential abuse always makes me panic – well that’s true, and everything I subsequently wrote about my experiences and resulting confusion is true, but I know now, it’s only half the truth. I kind of “knew” when I responded to Larry that it was not the entire truth, but as tricky as my confused mind gets sometimes, I thought I would get away with it. Not anymore!

    I wrote about a dream I had during that time, in which a huge spider attacked me, stay with me, it is significant: Spiders in dreams are a symbol for deception and manipulation. When I tried to interpret my dream and find out who the spider could be representing, turning it one way and the other, I came to the conclusion that the spider was me, and I was deceiving myself.

    When I said “I was going to avoid this conversation” and wrote about the Rick issue – well that’s true, too, but what I really was avoiding was getting into a struggle with Renee about what is right or wrong. I was afraid to address Renee directly, speak my truth, for personal reasons, as we have a history off-blog that I didn’t want to dredge up, and I was afraid that Renee would attack me, retaliate, try to twist my brain, or what have you. I also wanted to keep my promise to Renee not to divulge things she has told me in confidence; although we are not friends anymore, I still want to keep that promise. So, while everything I have written about the Rick issue was valuable for me to work through and was my honest take, what I also needed to say is this:

    “Renee, honestly, this is really fucked up. I don’t know why you bring up Rick at this point. My spontaneous thought: you are trying to retaliate against something or someone at the Institute. Your “innocent” inquiry is in truth a fishing expedition for more “dirt” that you can use against the Institute, maybe to destroy its credibility. Or it might be even more personal, against Gretchen. You might also be looking for allies to back you up on this vicious attack. That’s just my instincts telling me. Also, there is no comparison between Yarrow and Rick. Yarrow abused a minor while Rick got involved with a consenting adult. The first is punishable by law, while the other is unethical but does not call for a prison sentence, as you suggest. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone Rick’s actions, I also think it’s highly questionable and unethical. That aside, I can’t help but think that you have something else in mind here. Your anger and bitterness are shining through loud and clear. Your disguised attack is really quite transparent. It would be more honest and helpful to you to address your feelings instead of attacking. What is really concerning here, is your motive, especially if you are not consciously aware of it.”

    I know this is way after the fact, and a bit too little too late, but in an attempt to stay honest with myself, and as a commitment to my mental health development and my own sanity, I am going ahead and post it anyway. And fuck the panic!

    Maybe the spider in my dream was you, Renee. It was quite pretty and shiny and could have been interpreted as an innocent toy at first sight, but like you wrapping your post about Rick in an “innocent” shroud of curiosity or attempt to initiate an intellectual conversation, in truth you have an ulterior motive. So the anchor that the spider in my dream threw out on its silvery shiny tether and that imbedded in my thigh, well, I am severing it as of now. I am not getting hooked and reeled in anymore. More power to me!

    And to Vicki: thank you for your steadfast voice, your courage to speak the truth, and taking no B.S. from anybody.

    I still want to reply to Daniel’s post, and I will get to that later.

    • I wonder if Rick happens to be reading this blog, and what might he be thinking about all these people talking about him?
      He’s either:
      a) Not reading the blog and not giving a damn what we think
      b) Reading the blog and laughing his ass off at all the crazy people chatting about him
      c) Reading the blog and practicing EXTREME self-discipline in not saying this might be upsetting for him to read, straining against massive temptation to reveal his thoughts/feelings here.

      Impossible for me to tell, and there may be other possibilities.

  69. OTTO CODINGIAN says:

    Bernadette, thanks for the kind words you said previously. Anyway, when we were kids, my older brother and i were (at least one time) in this crawl space under our house in hollywood. For some reason, whether to fuck with me, scare me, or maybe he thought he was joking, he was talking about black widow spiders, which he alleged were hiding from us only feet away. I am only writing this because you mentioned spiders above and it reminded me of my brother and the black widow episode. I am not trying to distract or shift focus away from your current feeling/topic as if I was a mini-trump; but your spider-mention just reminded me of my own experience. I have nothing better to do than write something on this wonderful Sagittarius Saturday, since my gardener made a surprise visit to our backyard to finely trim a tree, I guess because he had nothing else to do. So I could not go out there to clean up, especially since he and his latinx family do not wear covid masks, and so his droplets were verily contaminating my air out there. I could not clean up the kitchen or bathroom or anything else in the house, since b was watching tv, as she stated, she had nothing else to do or maybe she did not want to do a damn thing at all. If I try to clean when she is not confined to her office or bedroom, it irritates the hell out of me, because I will be washing dishes or whatever and she will be wherever I am and trap me and trip all over me. Whatever old and enduring pain that that is about, who knows…whatever… I was talking about frigging black widow spiders. Those black widow spiders haunted me for a good amount of time. My bedroom was directly over the crawl space, and I would cower under my covers every night, my body and my face tightly wrapped, sweating in fear, trying to fall asleep. I knew that the black widows were coming for me, my brother had told me so. I was sleeping in that room by myself, since my asshole brother had gotten me kicked out of the bedroom which we had shared together for a long time. He and I were playing in there, making noise as we lay in bed, late into the night, which kept my grandmother from falling asleep in the spider room that was soon to be MY room. She got up very early to go to work every day, and she got pissed, and so new sleeping arrangements happened. Like shit does. Anyway, that is just the tip of the iceberg. My brother got us kicked out of Hollywood by his pranky nature. He was also a Sagittarius, but he used his sagittariusness with an assholish bent. My somewhat-loving aunt and uncle lived next door, and I was comfortable there. In Hollywood, I had grown out of the horror years of my very early life, from 10 months old through 5 years old, in which my mom died and I lived with terrorist uncle albie for 8 months while mom was slowly dying, not to mention more early years after that, when my grandmother took me and my brother back from our respective foster-uncles. Any memories that I should have of that time of my life are pretty much non-existent, although if I write enough maybe they will surface. I have no memory of year 2 through 5. Anyway, my brother got caught with matches at school in hollywood, causing my grandmother to think my wonderful uncle ernie was a bad influence, since ernie was a smoker and my brother spent a good deal of time with him and had the matches allegedly to light ernie’s cigarettes, because uncle ernie had damaged his own hand too much to light his cigarettes himself. And so my grandmother ripped us away from the safety of aunt elsie and uncle ernie and my 3rd grade girlfriend and moved us boys to long beach, where I was left alone a lot (nothing much new for me) , while my brother was free to go out with his friends and hone his brand of stupid carelessness and cruelty. Anyway, the tip of the iceberg. I have to call him now to wish him a happy birthday and I hate talking to him. One day or another, one of us will get the phone call telling one of us that our brother is dead. My dog is dead, but my memory of her is fading, although the hole in my heart remains big.

  70. Sylvia says:

    I was just listening to some music on my computer; Gordon Lightfoot’s “If you could read my mind” , and “Puff the Magic Dragon,” by PP&M. Listening to Peter Yarrow’s sweet voice, he seems like such a gentle man. I have watched the online documentary of PP&M and seeing Yarrow’s kids talk about him with affection and how protective they seemed swimming with him in nature at a spring, and somewhat acknowledging a weakness in him. You wonder what in is background made him act out and jeopardize his career by his uninvited advances to a teenage girl. I have a feeling primal therapy could uncover what pains drove this. I recall in Art Janov’s writings of a football player he had treated who would flash women, risking his career driven by his compulsion. Anyway, I was just thinking about it all.

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