Are you really autonomous?

Autonomy*

The attainment of autonomy is manifested by the release or recovery of three capacities: awareness, spontaneity and intimacy.

Awareness

Awareness means the capacity to see a coffeepot and hear the birds sing in one’s own way, and not the way one was taught. It may be assumed on good grounds that seeing and hearing have a different quality for infants than for grownups (1), and that they are more aesthetic and less intellectual in the first’ years of life. A little boy sees and hears birds with delight. Then the “good father” comes along and feels he should “share” the experience and help his son “develop.” He says: “That’s a jay, and this is a sparrow.” The moment the little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. He has to see and hear them the way his father wants him to. Father has good reasons on his side, since few people can afford to go through life listening to the birds sing, and the sooner the little boy starts his “education” the better. Maybe he will be an ornithologist when he grows up. A few people, however, can still see and hear in the old way. But most of the members of the human race have lost the capacity to be painters, poets or musicians, and are not left the option of seeing and hearing directly even if they can afford to; they must get it secondhand. The recovery of this ability is called here “awareness.” Physiologically awareness is eidetic perception, allied to eidetic imagery (2). Perhaps there is also eidetic perception, at least in certain individuals, in the spheres of taste, smell and kinesthesia, giving us the artists in those fields: chefs, perfumers and dancers, whose eternal problem is to find audiences capable of appreciating their products.

Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future. A good illustration of possibilities, in American life, is driving to work in the morning in a hurry. The decisive question is: “Where is the mind when the body is here?” and there are three common cases.

1. The man whose chief preoccupation is being on time is the one who is furthest out. With his body at the wheel of his car, his mind is at the door of his office, and he is oblivious to his immediate surroundings except insofar as they are obstacles to the moment when his soma will catch up with his psyche. This is the Jerk, whose chief concern is how it will look to the boss. If he is late, he will take pains to arrive out of breath. The compliant Child is in command, and his game is “Look How Hard I’ve Tried.” While he is driving, he is almost completely lacking in autonomy, and as a human being he is in essence more dead than alive. It is quite possible that this is the most favorable condition for the development of hypertension or coronary disease.

2. The Sulk, on the other hand, is not so much concerned with arriving on time as in collecting excuses for being late. Mishaps, badly timed lights and poor driving or stupidity on the part of others fit well into his scheme and are secretly welcomed as contributions to his rebellious Child or righteous Parent game of “Look What They Made Me Do.” He, too, is oblivious to his surroundings except as they subscribe to his game, so that he is only half alive. His body is in his car, but his mind is out searching for blemishes and injustices.

3. Less common is the “natural driver,” the man to whom driving a car is a congenial science and art. As he makes his way swiftly and skillfully through the traffic, he is at one with his vehicle. He, too, is oblivious of his surroundings except as they offer scope for the craftsmanship which is its own reward, but he is very much aware of himself and the machine which he controls so well, and to that extent he is alive. Such driving is formally an Adult pastime from which his Child and Parent may also derive satisfaction.

4. The fourth case is the person who is aware, and who will not hurry because he is living in the present moment with the environment which is here: the sky and the trees as well as the feeling of motion. To hurry is to neglect that environment and to be conscious only of something that is still out of sight down the road, or of mere obstacles, or solely of oneself. A Chinese man started to get into a local subway train, when his Caucasian companion pointed out that they could save twenty minutes by taking an express, which they did. When they got off at Central Park, the Chinese man sat down on a bench, much to his friend’s surprise. “Well,” explained the former, “since we saved twenty minutes, we can afford to sit here that long and enjoy our surroundings.” The aware person is alive because he knows how he feels, where he is and when it is. He knows that after he dies the trees will still be there, but he will not be there to look at them again, so he wants to see them now with as much poignancy as possible.

Spontaneity

Spontaneity means option, the freedom to choose and express one’s feelings from the assortment available (Parent feelings, Adult Feelings and Child feelings). It means liberation, liberation from the compulsion to play games and have only the feelings one was taught to have.

Intimacy

Intimacy means the spontaneous, game-free candidness of an aware person, the liberation of the eidetically perceptive, uncorrupted Child in all its naïveté living in the here and now. It can be shown experimentally (3) that eidetic perception evokes affection, and that candidness mobilizes positive feelings, so that there is even such a thing as “one-sided intimacy” – a phenomenon well known, although not by that name, to professional seducers, who are able to capture their partners without becoming involved themselves. This they do by encouraging the other person to look at them directly and to talk freely, while the male or female seducer makes only a well-guarded pretense of reciprocating.

Because intimacy is essentially a function of the natural Child (although expressed in a matrix of psychological and social complications), it tends to turn out well if not disturbed by the intervention of games. Usually the adaptation to Parental influences is what spoils it, and most unfortunately this is almost a universal occurrence. But before, unless and until they are corrupted, most infants seem to be loving (4), and that is the essential nature of intimacy, as shown experimentally.

REFERENCES

  1. Berne, E. “Primal Images & Primal Judgment.” Psychiatric Quarterly. 29: 634-658, 1955.
  2. Jaensch, E. R. Eidetic Imagery. Harcourt, Brace & Company, New York, 1930.
  3. These experiments are still in the pilot stage at the San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminars. The effective experimental use of transactional analysis requires special training and experience, just as the effective experimental use of chromatography or infrared spectrophotometry does. Distinguishing a game from a pastime is no easier than distinguishing a star from a planet. See Berne, E. “The Intimacy Experiment.” Transactional Analysis Bulletin. 3: 113, 1964. “More About Intimacy.” Ibid. 3: 125, 1964.
  4. Some infants are corrupted or starved very early (marasmus, some colics) and never have a chance to exercise this capacity.

 

* Adapted from: Eric Berne M.D. (1910-1970). Games People Play – The Psychology of Human Relationships (1964). Chapter 16, page 158.

The Shadow: It is as evil as we are positive

“Where there is light, there must be shadow, and where there is shadow there must be light. There is no shadow without light and no light without shadow. Karl Jung said this about ‘the Shadow’ in one of his books: ‘It is as evil as we are positive…the more desperately we try to be good and wonderful and perfect, the more the Shadow develops a definite will to be black and evil and destructive…The fact is that if one tries beyond one’s capacity to be perfect, the Shadow descends to hell and becomes the devil. For it is just as sinful from the standpoint of nature and of truth to be above oneself as to be below oneself.”

1Q84 (Book 2, Chapter 13), 2011Haruki Murakami (1949).

One would be foolish to consider oneself better, or even different…

“One would be foolish to consider oneself better, or even different, merely because one could claim something others could not. The crowdedness of family life and the faithfulness of solitude – both brave decisions, or both decisions of cowardice- make little dent, in the end, on the profound and perplexing loneliness in which every human heart dwells.”

Kinder than solitude (2014), Page 61. Yiyun Li (1972).

Have A Good Time

“Yesterday, it was my birthday.
I hung one more year on the line.
I should be depressed.
My life’s a mess.
But I’m having a good time.

I’ve been loving and loving and loving.
I’m exhausted from loving so well,
I should go to bed.
But a voice in my head says:
“Ah, what the hell”.”

Paul Simon, Have A Good Time, album Still crazy after all these years, released on October 25, 1975.

Life is the game

“Life is the game that must be played:
This truth at least, good friend, we know;
So live and laugh, nor be dismayed
As one by one the phantoms go.”

Ballad By The Fire – Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869 – 1935)

 

General info:

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/edwin-arlington-robinson

http://www.earobinson.com/pages/HisLife.html

 

Preguntas para vivir y morir mejor

“Alejandro Jadad, médico catalogado por la revista ‘Time’ como uno de los genios del siglo XX, invita a los lectores a hacerse preguntas antes de morir…

  1. ¿Tiene tiempo para pensar en estas preguntas? Mientras menos piense, más vulnerable es.
  2. ¿Qué lo hace feliz?
  3. ¿Qué necesita para vivir feliz?
  4. ¿Cuál es la acción diaria que refleja que se esfuerza por ser feliz?
  5. ¿Qué cosa para usted no es negociable?
  6. ¿Se ama?
  7. ¿Hace el bien?
  8. ¿A qué le tiene miedo?
  9. ¿Qué haría si no tuviera miedo? Anthony Melo decía: “Lo contrario del amor no es el odio, lo contrario del amor es el miedo”.
  10. ¿Cómo le gustaría morir?
  11. ¿Qué está haciendo para morir de esa manera?
  12. Si muriera mañana, ¿estaría haciendo lo que hace ahora?
  13. Si fuera un enfermo terminal, ¿estaría con la pareja con la está ahora?
  14. ¿Se aguantaría al jefe que tiene ahora si le quedaran pocas horas de vida?
  15. ¿Tiene otra alternativa para no tener que depender de su empleo?
  16. ¿Qué tiene pendiente en su vida que cree que puede hacer después?
  17. ¿Qué cosas hizo que no debió haber hecho, que hirieron a otras personas?
  18. ¿La deuda en la que se metió o en la que está a punto de meterse lo va a obligar a estar en un trabajo que no le gusta?
  19. ¿Realmente necesita aquello por lo que se va a endeudar? Algunos se pasan la vida pagando una casa que va a estar vacía.
  20. ¿En quién puede confiar?
  21. ¿Quién lo ama más de lo que usted merece?
  22. ¿Quién lo puede ayudar a cuidarse de usted mismo?
  23. ¿Qué lo distrae de su vida?
  24. ¿Por qué tiene ese deseo de alcanzar? ¿Quién se lo ha impuesto?
  25. ¿Por qué quiere reconocimiento? ¿Cuántas personas quiere que lo reconozcan?
  26. ¿Qué tanto reconocimiento necesita? ¿Lo necesita realmente?”

 

Estas preguntas hacen parte de la entrevista hecha a Alejandro (Alex) Jadad Bechara (1963) por la revista colombiana Semana.

Adaptado de “¿Por qué debería pensar en la muerte?”, artículo publicado por Semana.com (http://www.semana.com/vida-moderna/articulo/por-que-deberia-pensar-en-la-muerte/491111) .

Para más información:

http://ehealthinnovation.org/people/alex-jadad/

http://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/summit/video/alex-jadad-heal-beautiful-word#.V77Hjvl97IU

Professor Alex Jadad appointed Director of the Institute for Global Health Equity and Innovation

Singularity University Lectures: Dr. Alex Jadad on Making Longer Life Worth Living

García Márquez y poliamor

“Se acordó de Ángeles Alfaro, la efímera y la más amada de todas, que vino por seis meses a enseñar instrumentos de arco en la Escuela de Música y pasaba con él las noches de luna en la azotea de su casa, como su madre la echó al mundo, tocando las suites más bellas de toda la música en el violonchelo, cuya voz se volvía de hombre entre sus muslos dorados. Desde la primera noche de luna, ambos se hicieron trizas los corazones con un amor de principiantes feroces. Pero Ángeles Alfaro se fue como vino, con su sexo tierno y su violonchelo de pecadora, en un transatlántico abanderado por el olvido, y lo único que quedó de ella en las azoteas de luna fueron sus señas de adiós con un pañuelo blanco que parecía una paloma en el horizonte, solitaria y triste, como en los versos de los Juegos Florales. Con ella aprendió Florentino Ariza lo que ya había padecido muchas veces sin saberlo: que se puede estar enamorado de varias personas a la vez, y de todas con el mismo dolor, sin traicionar a ninguna. Solitario entre la muchedumbre del muelle, se había dicho con un golpe de rabia: “El corazón tiene más cuartos que un hotel de putas”. Estaba bañado en lágrimas por el dolor de los adioses. Sin embargo, no bien había desaparecido el barco en la línea del horizonte, cuando ya el recuerdo de Fermina Daza había vuelto a ocupar su espacio total.”

Tomado de El amor en los tiempos del cólera (1985) de Gabriel García Márquez.