Sunday, November 20, 2016
Do you believe that exercise can enhance learning? If so, then exercise should play a significant part of the school curriculum. When I attended elementary, junior high and secondary school, physical education was included and was a significant part in the curriculum. For instance, in elementary school, special classes, which included physical education, music, art, science, etc. were held in either the morning or afternoon while the 3Rs were taught in homeroom separate from the other part of the school day. From what I’ve heard, that is no longer the arrangement in schools. A recent article in the July 31, 2016 New York Times titled Muscle Mnemonics received my attention. Researchers at Radboud University and the University of Edinburgh hypothesized that there is a relationship between learning and remembering new material and exercise. Briefly, 72 healthy adult men and women were tested on a visual and spatial learning task [Observed pictures on a computer screen and then asked to remember their locations]. That test was followed by having them watch nature documentaries. Immediately after this test, 48 of these men and women subjects then participated in interval training on exercise bicycles for 35 minutes. The remaining 24 subjects did the same exercise work out, but only 4 hours after the visual and spatial learning test. Two days later, all the subjects repeated the original test while an MRI machine scanned their brains for activity. Which group learned and recalled the most coupled with an increase or a more consistent release of a biochemical [biochemical related to mental function]? Those of you [my wife and friend Tony were asked the question too] that predicted exercising immediately after the test were incorrect [Unless you are a rodent]. The winner were those that predicted exercising, 4 hours after the test. These subjects learned and remembered more. Experimenters admitted, at this point, “we don’t know why?” Could it be, the Detroit Public Schools knew about the relationship between exercise, memory and learning back in my day? They separated the time between reading, writing and arithmetic from playing baseball, basketball, volleyball and track. Why not learn something, have lunch with friends and then perform physical exercise. Often, for me, many of my ideas seem to generate and become clarified while trail running. Putting my ideas to paper become clearer. I recommend that those that want to learn and remember, incorporate exercise in your daily life, even if it’s not four hours later. No one can argue that learning and memory are not good for your soul. The more we learn and remember, the healthier we are. Just ask an old folk.
Friday, November 18, 2016
In dealing with this upcoming psychosocial crisis, letterman in this past year, traveled to India for 11 days, learning about India, and Climate Change. That was the subject of a documentary recently aired at the end of October titled “Years of Living Dangerously.” During that trip, he realized that India was very different from anything experienced in America. And that “India makes New York City look like naptime.” Letterman spent more time talking to people than anybody alive, said the television producer who accompanied him. Let’s face it, applause and adulation from a TV audience is pseudo-intimacy, compared to interacting with the people in the flesh. At least he learned that important detail In the article, letterman talked about his 12-year-old son, Harry and letterman’s insecurity about parenting, his son in the correct way. He doesn’t know how strong or how lenient he should be with Harry in Harry’s development. Letterman wondered that if he tried to steer and influence Harry in some direction that Harry would then rebel instead. He also added, “You really don’t want a carbon copy of yourself running around.” With that statement, letterman colors his innermost feelings of self. This stage in Erickson’s model is called Generativity vs. Stagnation. The primary psychosocial concern for the individual is related to teaching and learning, with the “dependence” of the older generation on the younger one. Simply put, the task is establishing and guiding the next generation-- one’s own offspring or others. Erikson added that mature man needs to be needed. Letterman certainly takes this psychosocial stage seriously and wants to teach and take care of and guide his offspring. He joked when he said “I will just say that all the negative qualities, I think, are from his mother’s side. All the positive uplifting qualities seem to come from the letterman’s side. And I don’t mean that as an insult, no.” Starting a family late in life in his late 50s, letterman is confronted with two psychological stages-first, his progeny and then dealing with the dignity of his own lifecycle. It’s important that he remains physically and psychologically healthy. It’s imperative that he continues to be productive, in ideas, giving back to others while keeping the future and focus. It’s important that he continues to teach and learn as there are no do overs. It’s clear that letterman’s talk show host career did not provide significant meaning for him. It’s important that his life task continues to be on the productive side and creative in order to have a life that he alone can define with integrity, so not be left with emotional despair.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
The article “He Shops at Target These Days” found in the New York Times, October 23, 2016 referred to former talk show host David letterman. Erik H Erickson’s Childhood and Society published by WW Norton and Company, Inc. provided insights into some of letterman’s current psychological issues .He had been with CBS’s “Late Show” for 33 years. Erikson postulated that the human personality unfolds according to predetermined psychosocial crises found in one’s life cycle. The emphasis here is about and limited to the psychosocial, while the task is about the ability or potential to acquire human strength. In May 2015, David Letterman, age 69, left the television world. For the past year and a half, he had been living a relatively normal life - even shopping at Target. He commented that he had grown a beard and that for him “A beard is a good reminder to me that that was a different life. I’m hopeful that I will either find something else, or something else will be presented to me.” Some might say that letterman is in retirement, and now what? Some might say that he had influenced prior generations. Some might say that he has vitality left, and is not yet ready to pull the plug. Letterman went on to say that he doesn’t miss late night television “I’m a little embarrassed that for 33 years it was the laser focus of my life.” He added that he was in combat with his one-time friend Jay Leno over succeeding Johnny Carson and that “it took a lot of energy and it probably would have been better expended elsewhere. Now it just seems like really, that’s what you did?” Further, the knowledge that he was not passive in the competition, and that there must be something wrong with him. Not only that, he said. “Maybe life is the hard way, I don’t know. When the show is great, it was never as enjoyable as the misery of the show being bad. Is that human nature?” Even with super ratings; surpassing Jay Leno; experiencing an enormous amount of applause and adulation; working five days a week; being a celebrity; living an upper-class lifestyle, his TV career did not provide him with enough significant emotional or intellectual meaning or supplies. Sad but true. Currently, he is dealing with what Erickson called approaching the stage of Ego Integrity vs. Despair. Briefly in this stage, Erickson described despair as the overriding expression and the feeling that the time is now short, too short for the attempt to start another life. Letterman is not there yet. He still has time to act and to be. It’s important that he use this time of its life prudently.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Narcissism is another danger that is self-directed throughout life. For instance, there can be a healthy or normal narcissist. On the other hand, unhealthy narcissism interferes with the ability to have appropriate and meaningful interpersonal relationships. This is because there is persistent behavior with excessive preoccupation with oneself and one’s concerns. Unfortunately, this psychological impairment persists in behaviors that seek pleasure and/or gratification from others. There is simply little concern about the needs, safety or welfare of the other. It’s about me, me, me, and only me in that order. Having a sense of my personal space and the personal space of another is another important psychological quality. Personal space is made up of thoughts, ideas, impulses, fantasies, and constraints or limits on attitude, actions or behavior. Likewise, the personal space of another is made up of the same. Mature individuals take into account the respect for the other. Without respecting the other, leads to aggressive, insensitive and sadistic interpersonal interactions. Certainly groping, kissing, grinding talking disparagingly about another is simply rule and sadistic. With impairment in developing trust, a healthy amount of narcissism, along with boundary limits affects the development of identity or self. Without a clear sense of identity development, the danger is the development of role confusion. This means there is the danger of over dedication of heroes, reality TV stars, celebrities, and other power figures. There is a tendency to become part of the moment by becoming part of a cliques, and then part of mob vitriol. How can one fall in love, let alone develop a sense of intimacy or fidelity, without having a sense of mature identity? Imperative, without a secure sense of identity development, leads to the exclusion of others that are different, such as in skin color, cultural background, etc. The stereotypes, loyalties, morality, ideology and appropriate behavior gets lost with a series of rationalizations, distortions and irrational thinking. This pathology leads to treating others of the opposite sex inappropriately. We require more than a discussion of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. It is simply nonsense to believe that these sadistic behaviors in males are part of being normal. It’s not normal nor is it typical in healthy psychological development. To consider these behaviors normal, speaks to the unhealthy view of that voice and that voice alone. For me, the issue is the development of a healthy identity leads to healthy male behavior. PS For Trump, a main drive is the exploitation of another. Remember, vocal or physical expression- behavior, is about making choices. Exploitation or choice can be expressed in the arena of achieving power; making money; or attaining sex.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
The title “How to Be a Man in the Age of Trump” in the October 16, 2016 edition of the New York Times concluded, “ it provided the beginning of a challenging discussion of what it should mean to be a man, and that it has inspired a bipartisan feminist movement.” In the article, the author identified a number of revelations about Trump like barging into the dressing room of the Miss Teen USA pageant; kissing a former Apprentice contestant during a meeting; grabbing the rear of a woman who was visiting his home in Palm Beach; jamming his tongue down the throat of a People magazine reporter, etc. the author also identified a number of high profile incidents of alleged harassment or sexual assaults that included: Clarence Thomas; William Kennedy Smith; Mike Tyson; Bill Cosby; Ray Rice; Roger Ailes, etc. The writer pointed out that such behavior is not representative men by a long shot, but can be found in high schools and college campuses. She gave an example of a situation were in a middle school dance when a male classmate slid behind a girl student on the dance floor , grabbed her by the waist and then grinded against her rear; and at college, when drunken party boys felt free to kiss, touch, and rub up against women as well. There has also been a defense that for Donald Trump, his sexist comments have simply been nothing more than locker room talk. I attended high school, university and played competitive sports and spent time in locker rooms. I was also in a college fraternity and I do not remember participating, witnessing or even hearing what I heard during this presidential election cycle. Further, I don’t have any baseline data to support my contention, but it appears that these behaviors are more plentiful than in the past. One way of viewing these sexist behaviors is the notion of identity formation. In forming an identity, important notions of developing trust, developing appropriate narcissism, establishing appropriate boundary limits are some of the psychological tasks required. For instance, a sense of trust, suggests a sense of being all right, of being oneself and becoming what other people trust one will become. However, the inability to develop a firm sense of secure trust leads to significantly impaired interpersonal relationships, as well as an immature and troubling personality. The dynamics of the ability to trust results in the following dynamics: an external goodness can become an internal certainty. By the same token, having a pathological distrust or anxious state, one simply experiences unpleasant inner or fearful harm as an outer one. This means that we tend to perceive people with evil or fear them, but this dynamic actually emanates within us. To Be Continued