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INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY
In my five years of tertiary education and training I studied psychology three times, that is, I took three courses in psychology. Of the many courses I studied from 1963 to 1988, the year when I ceased my enrollment in all formal and institutional educational programs, only 3 were explicitly in the field of psychology. I was enrolled in FT post-secondary study from 1963 to 1967. I took a summer course in Ontario in 1970 with the education department of that Province. This was, back then, a common activity for teachers-in-the-field. From 1972 to 1988, I studied externally and/or taught at several universities, colleges of advanced education(Cs of A.E.), and technical and further education colleges(Tafe colleges, now polytechnics) in Australia.
From the 1970s to the 2000s I taught psychology perhaps a dozen times as part of: (i) several social science and behavioural studies programs to students working on their B.A., B. Ed(primary), B.Ed(secondary), B.A.(business), B.Sc., and Bachelor of Engineering(BE) in universities and in Cs of A.E., and (ii) Associate Dip, Adv Dip, Dip, and Cert 1 to IV in: (a) human services, (b) general studies, (c) aged-care and child care courses, (d) and hospitality & management studies programs, among other courses in Tafe colleges in Australia, what are now polytechnics. Twice I taught courses in child psychology at the Ballarat College of Advanced Education, now the University of Ballarat. That was in 1977 & 1978. Most of the notes from all these courses are lost to me now, given away to other teachers, or thrown away decades ago when my career-direction changed from state to state, and city to city.
My life, from the mid-1970s to the middle years of the second decade of the 21st century, a period of 40 years, went in a wide-range of directions due to and involving: (a) ill-health and hospitalization, (b) a number of non-academic jobs, (c) moves from one end of Australia to the other, (d) academic study and teaching, (e) changes from one marriage to another, and (f) changes from one stage in my lifespan to several others. All this was part of my life-narrative, a life-narrative that is impossible to summarize here in a few lines, although I do make attempts in my autobiography now posted at several sites in cyberspace and easily accessed by Googling the words: "Ron Price autobiography" or "Ron Price resume."
By the 1990s I was back in Tafe colleges and they slowly became polytechnics in the 21st century in Australia. From 1992 to 1994 I taught 'an introduction to psychology' unit or course, subject or discipline at the Thornlie Tafe College which became part of the Swan College of Tafe in Perth Western Australia, and then Polytechnic-West, Thornlie Campus. I have kept a core of notes from that course; they are found in my psychology files in my study here in George Town Tasmania.
In the 20 years since last teaching that course in psychology, 1995 to 2015, I have widened the scope of those notes that I had gathered. I taught some psychology in a School for Seniors from 2000 until 2005; that was my last formal teaching experience in psychology or in any other subject. Since my retirement from FT, PT & most volunteer work, by stages, in the years 1999 to 2005, I have been able to get my teeth into psychology. Due to my wide-ranging academic interests, though, psychology is but one of the fields of my interest as I now head through 70s in the years 2014 to 2024. More than 20 years after beginning to gather those notes for teaching purposes, after that initial photocopying & printing of course materials in 1992, I have added a great deal of hard copy to my notes. Most of this is from the internet in the years, 2006 to 2015.
I have found psychology to be a fertile field of study during these years of my retirement. As was so often the case when I taught or studied a subject from 1949 to 2005, I never really had a chance to develop my academic interest in that field. I always had one eye on the teacher, and on passing the course on the one hand when I was a student, and just getting "up" on the basic course content when I was a teacher and lecturer, tutor and adult educator. This was due to the fact that I was a generalist who taught literally dozens of different syllabi in my 32 years of classroom teaching, and who studied many subjects in the 18 years I was a FT and PT student. This total of half a century enrolled in schools and colleges, universities and a variety of educational institutions from pre-primary to post-secondary schools, is now a useful background for my continued studies in my 70s, 80s and 90s, if I last that long.
I have always been a generalist beginning in my four years of university from 1963 to 1967. If I include my primary and secondary education, I could argue that all of my formal education as a student was as a generalist, four decades, from 1949 to 1988. Even as a teacher I never specialized in one subject. That is still the case in these years of my late adulthood, but for quite different reasons. Now an interest in a host of subjects, as well as psychology, occupy my attention across a wide spectrum of disciplines, prevents me from getting those teeth, that I referred to above, into any one subject. It seems that circumstances, all the way back to my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, have destined that I be a generalist not a specialist. This has been especially true, as I say, from my tertiary studies when I was in my early 20s in the '60s. Now during my retirement, as I head through the last decade(70-80) of late adulthood, the years form 60 to 80, in this 3rd millennium, I remain what I have always been: a jack-of-all-academic-trades and a master of none.
There is always so much to learn and to focus on in any one subject, one field of study. Specialization, as it is sometimes called, seems to be determined by some practical requirement like the desire to be employed in some job that requires a particular academic background. To be a professional psychologist, for example, requires at least a degree in psychology. Sometimes a person develops a special interest, an interest that often arises for many possible reasons, & often quite mysteriously even when one outlines the possible range of factors that are involved. A focus on one subject by any person is only partly explainable from life's mix of choices and career directions. The many subjects and topics, the many interests and desires that are part of someone's life, and that develop, as they go from one stage of life to the next is at the core of the life-narrative of each person.
I was a war-baby, that is, I was born between 1939 and 1945; my generation, and the baby-boomers who followed, did not have the advantages that the X, Y and Z generations have had in terms of the immense flexibility that enables a chopping-and-changing of both academic study and career direction. This is a complex subject, too complex to deal with in this introductory statement on my life-experience of psychology. I leave it to readers with the interest to examine the complexity of the changes in study programs, career directions, and life narratives as they have evolved in countries like Canada and Australia where I have lived in the 8 decades since the end of WW2.
It has been more than fifty years since I first came across the subject of psychology at university in Ontario in the autumn of 1963. It would appear that my half a century of interest in this social science discipline will continue well into the future. It will continue as long as I am healthy and my mind is active as I head into old-age in 2024. Old-age is considered to be the years after 80, according to one model of human development used by psychologists. There are, of course, wider influences that first lead to my study of psychology in my early 20s, influences like: family and religion, employment and culture, technology and science, inter alia. Perhaps at a future time I will comment on these influences in this general introduction to my current set of psychology notes in: 4 arch-lever files and 2 two-ring binders. This introduction to my current notes in psychology was first written, and then revised, during the period 14/8/'12 to 15/6/'15.
A HOST OF PSYCHOLOGY SITES
The following link will take you to a host of pscyhology sites some of which you might find useful: http://www.psychology.org/links/
ONLINE JOURNALS IN PSYCHOLOGY
The list of online psychology journals is now burgeoning. Go to this link for such a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_psychology_journals Here is a new one you might like: http://issuu.com/thisisomelet One of the issues begins as follows: This is a wake-up call, a strategic report on today's man. This man of 2014 isn't what he used to be; he’s a far cry from the beer-drinking, pizza-eating, baby-fearing stereotype. The Man of 2015, and beyond into the 21st century, is free to craft his own identity, based on a bevy of interests and experiences. In this issue of Omelet, they set out to track the social trends and cultural twists that have contributed to this shift; this issue’s pages are packed with the insights you need to change the current state of male marketing, or manvertising.
Government organizations can only protect consumer privacy, client confidentiality and political privacy to a limited extent. The acquisition of personal identifiers by criminals and others has become relatively easy. Identity theft is a form of stealing someone's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else. This is done by assuming a person's identity, usually to gain access to resources or obtain credit & other benefits in that person's name. The term identity theft was coined in 1964; less ambiguous terms are identity fraud or impersonation. An unpublished study by Carnegie Mellon University noted that "Most often, the causes of identity theft are not known." Another study concluded that "the probability of becoming a victim to identity theft as a result of a data breach is ... around only 2%". Still, identity theft, fraud & impersonation are common; readers can access relevant details at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_theft_in_the_United
The Australian story is found at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-14/identity-theft-hits-australians-veda/6390570 I have been an active internet user for nearly 20 years. My website provides a great deal of personal information, information that I happily give out due to the autobiographical nature of my website. I enjoy a high degree of personal security since: (i) I don't use credit cards online, (ii) I buy nothing online, (iii) I have no online ID cards, and (iv) there is never much money in my bank-account. There are also some 5000 other people in cyberspace with the same name as mine making the question of identity theft, at least in my case, nearly irrelevant. There are many other Ron Prices of fame and wealth and the theft of their identity would be more rewarding than the theft of my identity. Identity thieves would not gain much if they tapped into my financial resources. It simply would not be worth their while.
The extent to which data breaches have resulted in identity theft is not well known. This is largely because of the difficulty of determining the source of the data used to commit identity theft. However, available data and interviews with researchers, law enforcement officials, and industry representatives have indicated that most breaches have not resulted in detected incidents of identity theft, particularly the unauthorized creation of new accounts. In reviewing the 24 largest breaches reported in the media from January 2000 through June 2005, the accountability, integrity and reliability website(GIR) found that on 3 occasions there was evidence of resulting fraud on existing accounts. There was only 1 occasion when there was evidence of unauthorized creation of new accounts. For 18 of the breaches, no clear evidence had been uncovered linking them to identity theft; for the remaining occasions there was not sufficient information to make a determination.
As a writer and author, poet and publisher, I am not concerned about other people stealing or copying my work. I make this point several times on my website. According to the U.S. Copyright Office copyright is a legal right for someone to make copies of, sell, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or other creative work. A copyright is good for the life of the author, and then for a period of 70 years after the author dies. If the work was anonymous then copyright lasts 95 years from the date of publication, or 120 years from the date of creation (whatever comes first). I refer to use of my literary work, my prose and poetry, as "under license" or "with permission." I have placed all my writing in the public domain, & I regard it as public property.
I hereby offer my work under my own version of what is known as "A Creative Commons Copyright Licence." This means that I permit users to make use of my material in various ways. All the content of this website exists, as I say, under my own version of a creative commons copyright. This means that others are free to copy, distribute and remix what they find at this site. I would appreciate, but I do not require, that others cite the source of material they find at this site. These words provide a simple and readable summary of, but not a substitute for, a license.
Readers are free: (i) to share, to copy, & to redistribute the material in any medium or format found at this site. & (ii) to adapt, to remix, to transform, & to build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. Readers are advised, as I say above, to give appropriate credit for what they find here, if they use it for their own purposes. Readers may do so in any reasonable manner, & I do not ask readers to adhere to any other restrictions. In addition, I am not in the business of checking to see if readers have adhered to my advice and suggestions in the above paragraphs. For more on this subject of identity theft go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_theft#Financial_identity_theft
SELF-HELP AND HOW TO BOOKS
A self-help book is one that is written with the intention to instruct its readers on solving personal problems. The books take their name from Self-Help, an 1859 best-seller by Samuel Smiles, but are also known and classified under "self-improvement", a term that is a modernized version of self-help. Self-help books moved from a niche position to being a postmodern cultural phenomenon in the late 20th century. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-help_book
Oliver James examines the role the past plays in shaping our future, and offers practical suggestions for how to overcome what's gone before. His book How to Develop Emotional Health is a guide to leading a more enjoyable & fulfilling life. Rather than seeking to be happy, Oliver James offers the concept of 'emotional health': living in the present, two-way and fluid in communicating with others, insightful understanding, especially about the impact of our childhoods on our adult behaviour, playfulness, vivacity and authenticity. He provides practical advice for moving and turning the lead of our adversities into the gold of emotional health. The How To Book Series of self-help books are sponsored byThe School of Life and Pan Macmillan. They have established a new format for the self-help book. In the first series these books examined some of the great issues of life: sex, work, money, emotional maturity, digital life & changing the world. This new series builds on the strengths of the first, tackling some of the hardest issues of our lives in a way that is genuinely informative, helpful & consoling. The topics include: How To Be Alone, How To Deal with Adversity, How To Connect with Nature, How To Exercise and How To Age. 'Here are books that prove that term “self-help” doesn’t have to be either shallow or naïve’ -Alain de Botton
Some internet links for (a) MY POSTS and (b) SOME POSTS OF OTHERS on aspects of psychology:
Readers will find below many of my posts on psychology, but: (a) readers will have to single out my posts from other people whose names are the same as mine 'Ron Price' or posts with the word 'Price' at some sites, and (b) some of my posts are tangential to the subject of psychology.
Within the context of psychology, social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all psychological variables that are measurable in a human being. The statement that others' presence may be imagined or implied suggests that we are prone to social influence even when no other people are present, such as when watching television, or following internalized cultural norms. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the interaction of mental states and immediate social situations. In general, social psychologists have a preference for laboratory-based, empirical findings. Social psychology theories tend to be specific and focused, rather than global and general. For more of a general introduction to social psychology go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_psychology
In my five years of post-secondary school education working, as I did, on a B.A., a B.Ed, four post-graduate diplomas, one advanced dip.ed., one diploma, an M.A.(Qualifying thesis), and a M.Ed.(coursework completed, dissertation incomplete), my studies in social psychology were limited in nature. From 1963 to 1988, my years as a FT student & an external studies student, social psychology was a component of the psychology courses. But I never took a course in social psychology, as such.
I have made-up for this deficiency, to some extent, as a teacher and student of psychology in the more than 50 years from 1963 to 2014. There is a mountain of books in the field like: Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology(400 pages, 1981) by Henri Tajfel. Tajfel (1919-1982) was a British social psychologist best known for his pioneering work on the cognitive aspects of prejudice and social identity theory, as well as being one of the founders of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology. For a list of some of the major works in social psychology go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Books_about_social_psychology
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does & how it works. It includes research on intelligence and behaviour, especially focusing on how information is represented, processed, and transformed. This is done with a focus on faculties such as: perception, language, memory, reasoning, and emotion. There is also a focus within the nervous systems of humans or other animals, and machines like computers. Cognitive science consists of multiple research disciplines, including psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, & anthropology. It spans many levels of analysis, from low-level learning, decision mechanisms to high-level logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures." For more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_science
Susan Gammage is, like myself, not someone who has a PhD in psychology. She is no expert, but he has a wide academic and professional, life and personal experience. I draw readers to her work since she draws on psychology among other disciplines in very practical ways expecially for Baha'is. Although this website does not drown its readers in Baha'i-inspired, Baha'i oriented, material, it is a website which many Baha'is come to now due to its inter-disciplinary orientation by a person who has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for more than 60 years, virtually his entire life. She is on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGammage1 The following link is one example of Susan Gammage's online work: http://susangammage.com/
WILLIAM JAMES: AN INTRODUCTION
William James(1842-1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist who had trained as a physician. He was the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James wrote influential books on pragmatism, psychology, educational psychology, the psychology of religious experience, and mysticism. He was the brother of novelist Henry James and of diarist Alice James. Go to this link for more on William James:http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_James
For a review in the journal William James Studies 2010, Vol. 5, pp. 45-46 of the book The Heart of William James ed. Robert Richardson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010 go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/oct/27/most-entertaining-philosopher/ This review opens as follows: "Commemorating the centennial of the death of William James, Harvard University Press has published a collection of seventeen pieces, edited and introduced by James's biographer Robert Richardson. The 17 pieces represent an analysis of James’s most famous and significant ideas. The book serves as a digest of excerpts from Harvard’s nineteen-volume Works of William James, which appeared from 1975 to 1988. These 19 volumes are considered the definitive edition of the corpus of James’s writings.
The above book complements several other collections of James's writings: (i) William James: Essays and Lectures, edited by Richard Kamber and Daniel Kolak (Longman Publishers); (ii) Pragmatism and other essays, edited by Giles Gunn (Penguin); (iii) The Writings of William James, edited by John McDermott (University of Chicago); and (iv) the Library of America’s two volumes of James’s works.
For more than 20 years, 1993 to 2014, I have had a copy of The Principles of Psychology by William James. This book is a 900 page volume, and part of the Great Books of the Western World series published by Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., London, in 1952. This set of volumes has been an invaluable supplement to another set of encyclopedia which I have had since 1983. That set was published by Colliers, a company I worked for briefly while at university. I was a Colliers encyclopedia salesman in May of 1966 while living in Windsor Ontario before beginning my teacher training in September 1966 at what is now the University of Windsor. With the arrival of the vast field of published writings across many disciplines at a myriad of internet sites, my Great Books series has lost some of its former value. The print resources now available online, Wikipedia, et al., has become an avalanche for serious students of the arts & sciences due to Google, Amazon, Apple & others putting civilisation’s creative outpourings online as fast as their editing, scanning and recording machines can cope. Some commercial entities charge for access to information, whereas non-profit archives are generally free, open-source archives. I hardly use my Colliers encyclopedia, or any of my hard-cover books of the writings of William James, any more.
When, in the summer of 1898, at the age of 56, William James went to Berkeley, California to deliver a series of lectures on pragmatism, he could have used his own life to illustrate the immensely difficult but successful application of one of its tenets: that truth is best seen as ‘what it is better for us to believe’, not as ‘as an accurate representation of reality’, and that what is better for us to believe is what can be ascertained only in and through our actions, not by consultation with fixed ideas or traditions or, notably in his case, by family example. Until his late thirties, like his father, the theologian Henry James Sr, he had experienced breakdowns in which invalidism was compounded by the threat of insanity; like his brother Henry, 15 months his junior, he had had acute problems with his back and with constipation; like his sister Alice and another brother, Robertson, he had suffered nervous collapses, then called neurasthenia, which were augmented by recurrent eye troubles. Thanks to the further example of his father, who was famously leisured and vague, and to his mother’s benevolent inducement of hypochondria in all five of her children, William had been in danger of devoting himself, in Alice’s phrase, to the ‘life-long occupation of improving’, even as he tried to make a go now of one thing, now of another.
Howard Feinstein has written a brilliant study of William’s crises over idleness, illness and vocation, within the context of intense parental and sibling entanglements, especially as these lead back to his father’s own conflicts with his father, the fearsome William James of Albany. In the process, Feinstein offers an appalling account of the high incidence in three generations of the James family, and of many other privileged families in 19th-century New England, of affective disorders, alcoholism and psychopathology. For more of the above review in the London Review of Books in 1984 of The Principles of Psychology by William James, 1300 pages,1983; A Stroll with William James by Jacques Barzun, 350 pages, 1983; Becoming William James by Howard Feinstein, 400 pages, 1984; and Essays in Psychology by William James, edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Fredson Bowers, 500 pages, 1984. For more of this review go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v06/n19/richard-poirier/copying-the-coyote
Erich Seligmann Fromm(1900-1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. He was associated with what became known as the Frankfurt School of critical theory, a theory I came to study in some detail in the 1990s. A biography, The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, by Lawrence J. Friedman, was published in 2013 by Columbia University Press. I rarely buy books any more and generally settle for reviews and essays, and online publications of various sizes. This enables me to cover a wider field of study, suited to a person like myself who is a generalist.
I recall buying a copy of Erich Fromm’s popular The Art of Loving(1956) while at college in the mid-1960s; I remember it with gratitude; its reliance on the ideas of Freud and Marx may make it somewhat unfashionable now---but it is, for me, still relevant. I also recall first reading Escape from Freedom(1941) back in the late 1960s. It was one of the earlier attempts to explain what became known as the authoritarian personality: it was provoked by astonishment that so many otherwise rational people followed leaders such as Hitler, but it was much more wide-ranging in its exploration of the fear of freedom and the longing to be dependent. There were other books by Fromm, one published post-humously in 1994. I've had a life-long taste for his writing.
Lawrence Friedman’s biography has many virtues; it is meticulous, detailed, friendly to its subject but not uncritical, the result of many years of archival investigation and interviews with people who knew Fromm well. Friedman is a professor of history in the Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative at Harvard, and the author of several books on the history of psychology, including a biography of Karl Menninger. Erich Fromm himself was a far from careful scholar, but The Lives of Erich Fromm is a reassuringly solid piece of work. What makes it a model of intellectual biography, however, is the way it illuminates the Erich Fromm who became famous in America in the 1950s, by seeing him in his many different settings—geographical, social, intellectual, and emotional.
A passage in Erich Fromm’s The Sane Society came to my attention through some alert friends: Jack McLean, Ismael Valesco, Carol Rustein, Dr. Robert Stockman, and Dr. Udo Schaefer. Fromm’s passage teaches us both what we should and should not conclude when we discover something that reads as if it has been literally lifted from the Baha’i sacred writings. Fromm wrote the following in his book The Sane Society. "....for those who see in the monotheistic religions only one of the stations in the evolution of the human race, it is not too far fetched to believe that a new religion will develop which corresponds to the development of the human race. The most important feature of such a religion will be its universalistic character, corresponding to the unification of mankind which is taking place in this epoch; it would embrace the humanistic teachings common to all the great religions of the East and of the West; its doctrines would not contradict the rational insight of mankind today, and its emphasis would be on the practice of life, rather than on doctrinal beliefs." Fromm continues:
"Such a religion would create new rituals and artistic forms of expression, conducive to the spirit of reverence towards life and the solidarity of man. Religion can, of course, not be invented. It will come into existence with the appearance of a new great teacher, just as they have appeared in previous centuries when the time was ripe. In the meantime, those who believe in God should express their faith by living it; those who do not believe, by living the precepts of love and justice and–waiting." – The Sane Society, p.352. For more on Fromm and the Baha'i Faith go to:http://bahaiteachings.org/erich-fromm-the-sane-society-and-the-bahai-faith
Go to this link to read more on Fromm:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Fromm
THE ILLUSIONS OF THE SENSES
The feedback we get from our senses, the use we make of our senses in establishing the truth of anything, is only partly reliable. The worlds we see, hear, feel, smell, and taste exist independently, but we know them only through the fabrications of our brains. The colors we see do not exist apart from our perception of them. The words and sentences we believe we are hearing are a jumble of sounds, whistles, grunts, and silences. From a variety of external signals our brains create something that is not there. In doing so, they help us understand and manipulate our environments. Our sensory worlds—vision, hearing, and touch—are created by combinations of physical characteristics in our environments that stimulate our eyes and ears and skin surfaces. These combinations simplify and stabilize our sensory worlds. For more on this subject go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/21/secret-good-taste/
Bi-Polar Disorder and Anger: 70 Years Worth
In recent years there has been observed by researchers a co-relation between bipolarism and anger. I am 70, and rarely get angry any more in the sense of loss of control. When I do get angry, and when I have got angry in recent years, I am highly conscious of the pre-conditions that led to the anger, and I take whatever action I can to ensure that I am not placed again in the situation that caused the anger. The first time I remember getting angry was when I was 19, although one of my cousins informed me a decade or so ago that I was often angry in my early childhood. I got angry 2 or 3 times a year until I retired from FT work in 1999, and annually until I went on a pension at the age of 65. Anger has been part of my life, it would seem, from the age of 2 or 3. It has only been in the last decade or so, since my retirement from FT and PT paid-employment, 2005 to 2014, that I have seen a relationship between my anger and my bipolar disorder. The following prose-poem tells some of my story.
Recently I have been thinking about the anger component of my bi-polar disorder(BPD). Various studies on the subject of BPD indicate that some 40 to 60 per cent of sufferers from BPD experience anger attacks. Sometimes the anger is seen in the context of a quite separate illness called "intermittent explosive disorder." Sometimes, too, it is seen as related to, a part of, BPD; sometimes it is seen as a normal part of life, most people's lives. My intention here is not so much to analyze anger, and its several typical expressions across the spectrum of people's lives, but to get an overview of it in my own life in the first 70 years of my life-narrative.
The first time I remember getting angry was just before my 20th birthday in the spring of 1964, just before finishing my first year of university. My cousin informed me, as I say above, on a recent visit to Australia from his home in Canada that my mother used to take me to her brother's home when she could not cope with my disobedience at about the age of 2 or 3. But I do not remember this. As I say, I do not remember getting angry at all until I was nearly 20. The last time anger found a niche in my psyche was in 2014, more than a dozen years after retiring from full-time work. I was 70. It was controlled but, still, quite uncharacteristic of my normal self and precipitated by social interaction which was, at the time, too demanding.
Being able to successfully release the tiger of anger from its cage by buying a few precious seconds, recognizing the destructive potential of angry feelings as they emerge, and bringing them down to manageable portions, is something I can now do nearly all of the time. But I am not able to do this every time. It has now been 50 years from the ostensible onset of BPD in 1964 to a final medication treatment for my BPD with effexor an anti-depressant, and seroquel, an anti-psychotic. Since this new package of meds I have enjoyed much more peace. If I include those early childhood experiences I will have to extend my years of anger to nearly 70 years. I can say with some pleasure and a degree of contentment that I never had before: "peace at last, peace at last, thank god-almighty, it's peace at last," -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 8 June 2014.
Such a long, long story
punctuated by slices of
a bad dream on a stony,
tortuous road, never felt
like a message from the
gods......perhaps it was!
A too-conscious memory
now leaving in its wake
unease, fears, anxieties,
hopes, poetic resource
recordings in confusion.
Part of a cobweb, semblance
of reality, in the theatre of life,
I am left now with feelings,
pictures & meaning looking
back in reflection, with the
gathered associations by
the remarkable mechanism
of the brain, and that gentle
and delightful tyrant which
is memory, dominating us
softly and ethereally until
the last syllable of our life
with its content of events
of bliss and life's tragedy.
17/5/'11 to 4/11/'14.
HUMOUR IN MY LIFE
Not making use of the lighter side of life, not laughing at oneself & others in a country like Australia will make one's experience here very difficult. As my years in Australia advanced incrementally from my arrival in 1971 to, say, 1979, humour became a more overt part of my daily life. But readers won’t find much to laugh at here in this piece of writing.(1) They will find irony in mild amounts and even enough of that Benthamite psychology of the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain to satisfy some of the value-systems of readers, at least in Australia(2). I came to write the 4th edition of my autobiography, or memoirs, after living for more than three decades in Australia. Part of this book of memoirs, necessarily, unavoidably for my particular sensibility, analyses the things, the culture, around me.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) J.K. Galbraith in Harry Kreisler, Conversations With History: Intellectual Journey--Challenging the Conventional Wisdom, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1996; and (2) Ronald Conway in The Great Australian Stupor, Sun Books, 1971, p.17. Both these authors point to humour as “the highest value” and “the most vital of stratagems.” This was how Conway saw it, and expressed it, in his book in 1971, the year I arrived in Australia.
I think that some may find my autobiography peculiar. Such was the view of the autobiography of the nineteenth century novelist, Anthony Trollope. Late Victorians found his book cantankerous and they had trouble absorbing its contents. For reasons, not associated with cantankerousness in my case, I don't think many will find my now lengthy 5 volume work absorbing. Although, like Trollope, I chronicle some of life's daily lacerations upon the spirit, I also move in channels filled with much that comes from flirtations with the social sciences: history, psychology, sociology, anthropology and several literary studies. My book, or rather what is now five volumes and 2600 pages, has come to assume what many, I'm sure, will experience as unmanageable proportions. Five hundred pages and more is a big read for just about everyone these days; 2600 pages is impossible. Readers need to be especially keen to wade through a great deal of print. Perhaps at a future time I will divide the text into parts, into a series of volumes, chapters, or pages on the internet. But even then, in the short term, this world is a busy place and lives are now confronted with so much to read, to watch, to do and to try to understand. My memoiristic work will, I think, slip into a quiet niche and remain, for the most part, unread. I hope I am proved wrong. But I will not hold my breath waiting.
I like to think, though, that should readers take on this work they may find here the reassurance that their battles are my battles, that we are not alone and that the Cause is never lost. Most readers coming to this book, I'm inclined to think, already believe these things. But what I offer here could be seen as a handrail, if that is desired, a handrail of the interpretive imagination. Here, too, is a handrail informed by my experience, my life's basic business of shunting about and being shunted about, carelessly and not-so-carelessly, for more than half a century in the great portal that is this Cause. Finally, I like to think this handrail is coated with an essential compassion, and what Anthony Trollope’s wife Joanna says, is the monument of a writer, a hefty dose of humility. That's what I'd like to think and, with Plato, I’d like to think that I am "a good writer, who is also a good man writing.” But of course one never knows this sort of thing for sure. And, if one aims to acquire any genuine humility in life, it is probably better not to know but, rather, just to keep on aspiring.
In my poetic opus, my epic, Pioneering Over Five Epochs, I like to think that, with the American poet Walt Whitman(1819-1892), the reader can sense a merging of reader and writer. But I like to think, too, that readers can also sense in my epic a political philosophy, a sociology, a psychology, a global citizen--something we have all become. There is in my poetry a public & a private man reacting to the burgeoning planetization of humankind, the knowledge explosion and the tempest that has been history’s experience, at least as far back as the 1840s, if not the days of Shaykh Ahmad after he left his homeland in the decade before those halcyon, if bloody, years of the French Revolution.
NOT BEING PUBLISHED
If J.D. Salinger is right in his claim that “there’s a marvellous peace in not being published”(1) it looks like much peace lies in waiting for me. Some readers find my writing a little too subjective or should I say introspective. Like Henry David Thoreau I seem to be more interested in the natural history of my thought than of the bird life, the flora and fauna that I find here in Tasmania, in the Antipodes, the last stop on the way to Antarctica if you take the western-Pacific-rim route.
I read recently that Thoreau took twelve years to identify a particular bird. I found that fact comforting. I understand, for I have the devil of a time remembering the names of the birds, the plants and the multitude of insects that cross my path and my horizon from month to month. But what I lack, what interest is deficient with respect to the various forms of plant and animal life Downunder in the Antipodes, I make up for in my study of the varied humanities and social sciences. In the three decades of my teaching career I acquired, if I acquired nothing else, a passion for certain learnings, certain fields of study. My study, the place where I read and write, is littered, I like to think ordered, by files on: philosophy, psychology, media studies, ancient and medieval history, modern history, literature, poetry, religion, inter alia. I move from one field to another from day to day and week to week and I can not imagine ever running out of gas, of enthusiasm, interest. Thus, I occupy my time. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) J.D. Salinger in "A Review of the Book ' The 627 Best Things Anyone Ever Said About Writing,'" Deborah Brodie in BookPage, 1997.
Like Samuel Johnson’s dictionary published over 250 years ago, my memoir of 2600 pages is an ambitious work. But whether it will influence future generations as Johnson’s work did, I can only hope. Johnson wrote, among other reasons, to escape the pain of life. I wrote, too, for many reasons among which was to escape society’s endless chatter because I seemed to have run out of social synergy to keep up the chatter beyond a modicum of it every month. Some may see my insensible and sensible exit from the social domain into solitude during the years 1999 to 2005, the last years of my middle age, an exit from the extensive social activity that had characterized my life from 1949 to 1999, as an “inability to make the social adjustment expected of mature members of society.”
Such was the way literary critic Warren French described J.D. Salinger’s withdrawal from public life back in the 1960s. Still others, among the few who would concern themselves at all with my raison d’etre for writing as I myself do, might find my insistence on personal privacy difficult to understand; I experience a certain estrangement which inevitably results from withdrawal; the sympathy and empathy of others are sometimes experienced in smaller apportionments than once they were. Still others may hypothesize that I possess a hyperactive cortex or that I have achieved the same privacy, peace and quiet that they too want in life but, for various reasons, have been unable to attain.
INTERACTION AND EMAILS
There are several dozen people in my life now at the age of 70 whom I interact with physically, in person, but this interaction is rarely in excess of about 1 hour maximum at any one time. On perhaps two occasions every month the interaction with one or more people goes for three to four hours. I rarely use the phone unless I am sending or receiving messages to and from my more socially connected and involved wife. I use emails extensively for the vast majority of people in my life who don’t enjoy the advantages of propinquity in relation to where I live in northern Tasmania, the island state of Australia.
We all have to work out our modus operandi & modus vivendi. Salinger worked-out his for the last half of his life, 45 to 90. It was quintessentially a solitary one. I, too, have freed myself, as I say, from most of that endless chat which for forty to fifty years, and with other factors of wear and tear, wore down the sinews of my soul and strained my nerves or, more likely, the chemicals, in my brain, making me desire a life above syllables and sounds if not words and letters, a life in which much is merged into nothingness before the Revelation of a splendour the threads of Whose gold caught my eye and my ear some 60 years ago.
Unlike Salinger whose social and publishing history ceased at the height of his career, I now publish extensively on the internet in the evening of my life. I have never achieved the heights of literary prominence, neither Salinger’s heights nor anyone else’s—and I probably never will. In the last nine years I have published several million words on the internet. I engage in an extensive correspondence with the wider world via the internet, emails and letters. I have a more limited social involvement as I have indicated above, not as limited as Salinger’s became, but certainly more limited than I had in the years of my life up to the age of 55 when I took an early retirement. My quiet withdrawal is somewhat like the pattern of withdrawal and return Toynbee writes about in his A Study of History. It is a conscious intellectual and spiritual stance based on sober critical reflection and attention.
It is a withdrawal partly based on a fatigue, as I said above, with the social domain; it is partly based on the great religious event in my time--the growing influence of the prophetic figure of Baha’u’llah, an influence which is the most remarkable development of contemporary religious history--and my personal need to translate this development into some personal intellectual and creative response, a different response than the one that occupied me in varying degrees in the half century to the year 2000 and that engaged my life’s energies as a student, a teacher, a husband, a parent and as a member of the Baha'i community among many other communities.
The psychic event that has given rise to this new, this literary, response in the latter years of my middle age(50 to 60) and the years of my late adulthood(60 to 70) had developed sensibly and insensibly over decades. My watchful muse wanted to seize the fleeting opportunities of the hour and gain access to my mind and what seemed like divine or perhaps just obsessive promptings. Such promptings, divine or otherwise, have always been difficult to define and assess. They were promptings that occurred more extensively at first in my fifties, promptings to what had been my usually inhibited and fatigued, literary and mental state, occupied as it had been for so long with so many of life’s other demands and activities. But during the 1990s, as I began to psychologically wind-down from many of these activities, I experienced a release of energy, perhaps a ripeness of intellect, that was new and very refreshing. But this release of energy required of me a new form, a new modus operandi and vivendi in which to work. Since 2006 I have enjoyed: (a) a release from all FT, PT and casual employment, and (b) a series of new medications for my bipolar disorder which has brought a degree of peace for my literary life that has been immensely enriching; it has provided an ease and comfort I have never enjoyed. It has released, in the process, several literary muses that have enabled the wonders of the world to be manifested, a leaven of sorts, thanks to those muses. Of course, I can not be absolutely sure of this; it is a working hypothesis.
I have felt capable of apprehending no more than a fragment of the mental wealth that has poured into my lap as a result of the energies that have been progressively released in these last twenty years. Perhaps these energies have been created as a result of pouring over many questions in the long years of generativity that Erik Erikson says characterize middle adulthood, the years 35 to 55 or 65. Erikson says these are the years in which the ego development outcome is generativity. If generativity is not achieved the ego stagnates in self-absorption. The basic strengths of this second-to-last stage of life are productivity and care.(2)
The last stage in Erikson’s model of psycho-social development is late adulthood, the years from 55 or 65 to death. I have been enjoying these years for from 5 to 15 years, and I look foreward to their continuance as I go through my 70s in the years 2014 to 2024. The ego development outcome is integrity says Erikson. If this is not achieved the ego despairs. The basic strength of this stage is wisdom says Erikson. Erikson felt that much of life before the age of 40 is preparing for the middle adulthood stage(40-55/60), and the last stage is recovering from the middle stage. Perhaps that is because as older adults we can often look back on our lives with happiness & are content, feeling fulfilled with a deep sense that life has meaning & we've made a contribution to life, a feeling Erikson calls integrity. Our strength comes from a wisdom that the world is very large & we now have a detached concern for the whole of life, accepting death as the completion of life.
On the other hand, some adults may reach this stage and despair at their experiences and perceived failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering "Was the trip worth it?" Alternatively, they may feel they have all the answers, a feeling not unlike going back to their adolescence. This results in the experience of a strong dogmatism that only their view has been correct. The significant relationship is with all of mankind, "my-kind," says Erikson. It is interesting to reflect on J.D. Salinger using Erikson’s model of psycho-social development and I leave this further reflection to readers here.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Warren French, J.D. Salinger, Twayne,New York, 1963; (2) J. D. Salinger, Seymour: An Introduction, Penguin Books Ltd., Middlesex, England, 1976, pp.82-84.