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Saturday, April 03, 2004
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art by Knute Rockne. © 2004. All rights reserved.

woman achieving
spontaneous enlightenment
after reading book

12:19 AM | link |

Monday, March 29, 2004
some notable women in psychology
and sociology
It seems I've become known in many quarters today as your basic rabid attack dog. Which I don't really mind. I mean, what else would someone called RageBoy do? Say "let us reason together?" Not likely. However, because so much New Age "literature" is written by (and for) women, I worry that my negativity (ewww!) toward these (picking my words carefully here) fools makes it uncomfortably easy to see me as a card carrying misogynist. Which, I would argue, I am not. But neither do I tread lightly (nor carry a small stick) when it comes to calling a spade a spade. And a bitch a bitch.

On the other hand, in the last couple years -- critical years for me in more ways than one -- I have been helped and inspired by many women whose work I deeply respect, and I want to thank them here, as well as turn you on, Valued Readers, to some small sense of what they've accomplished. Please don't all applaud at once, as I've come to know myself well in enough in these same few years to realize I may have unconsciously written all this just so I could work in that reference to not having a small stick. The penis enlargement spam must finally be getting to me.

And now [fanfare and drum flourish], the moment you've all been waiting for. The envelope please...

Narcissism and Intimacy: Love and Marriage in an Age of Confusion
Marion F. Solomon
The first book I read about narcissism. I found it in a London bookshop just before I first met Gary Turner, about whom more soon, as we're fast coming up on the second anniversary of our historic intersection at the Chukka Bar in the Langham Hilton. I was over there to address the management of the BBC. This book kept me alive on what was a very sad solo trip. Don't be put off by the title's unfortunate reference to marriage. The ideas apply to any intimate relationship.
Healing Trauma: Attachment, Mind, Body, and Brain
Marion F. Solomon and Daniel J. Siegel (eds)
Much more recent (2003) than the above, Healing Trauma teams editors Marion Solomon and David Siegel (author of The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are), who bring together contributions from developmental neuroscience and attachment theorists such as Allan Schore, Bessel van der Kolk, Mary Main, Robert Neborsky, Francine Shapiro, and Diana Fosha.
Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas
Deborah Anna Luepnitz
I "reviewed" this one for the C.G. Jung site that my analyst and friend Don Williams maintains. Then I read the book. It's much better than my rant there might lead you to believe. ("My only problem with all this is that, obviously, neither of these mojo-intellectual Aryan geniuses [Schopenhauer and Freud] ever set foot in the woods.") The author also wrote The Family Interpreted: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Family Therapy, which I haven't read.
Trauma and Recovery
Judith Herman
If you only read one book on post traumatic stress this year, let this be the one. <g> Judith Herman's description (and advocacy) of "complex PTSD" is an important contribution to the literature, as there are many conditions not covered under the DSM-IV's criteria for PTSD. These include especially psychological and emotional abuse. Herman looks at a range of traumatic experiences from Vietnam combat to spousal battery to child neglect.
Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
Deborah Blum
The author won a Pulitzer for her work leading to The Monkey Wars. Goon Park, is a wonderful biography of Harry Harlow, the complex (twisted, brilliant, alcoholic, contrarian to a fault) individual who proved that love can't be reduced to operant conditioning to food rewards or anything else. Love is love. Harlow's monkey research provided the first really solid underpinnings for John Bowlby's attachment theory. Hugely readable. Highly recommended.
Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century
Lauren Slater
I have written at some length about Lauren Slater elsewhere on this blog. Among others covered in Opening Skinner's Box is Harry Harlow (see above), which is primarily why I bought the book. But I would read Slater's shopping lists if she published them. She's that good. Welcome to My Country is an insightful and moving collection of essays, and Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir is a tour de force. The NY Times reviewed Skinner's Box just yesterday.
Insult to Injury: Rethinking our Responses to Intimate Abuse
Linda G. Mills
This 2003 book is sure to cause controversy. The author, a feminist herself, accuses what she calls "mainstream feminists" of using the simplistic notion of patriarchy to account for abusive male behavior. For one thing, as the supposedly patriarchal power structure is predominantly white and male, such theorizing does nothing to explain non-white or lesbian interpersonal violence. She also casts serious data-based doubt on the assumption that men are more abusive than women.
A Shining Affliction: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy
Annie G. Rogers
Uncannily reminiscent of Lauren Slater's work, Rogers' writing on psychotherapy is deeply personal and poetic. In this memoir she describes her own descent into psychosis, which happened while she was treating a young boy whose problems triggered memories of her own abuse. The book also revolves around a cruel betrayal by own her analyst. Strong stuff, moving and painfully, as well as refreshingly, honest. You have to have said hello before you can say goodbye.
Flesh Wounds : The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery
Virginia L. Blum
It's no surprise that a book on plastic surgery would include much discussion of narcissism. What is surprising is how well grounded Blum is in psychoanalytic theory. At one point, she questions whether narcissism can be seen as a genuine pathology, since tireless self-absorption has become the "lifestyle choice" of choice for a majority of Western society. The pressures created by a consumerist mindset come in for serious discussion.
The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling
Arlie Russell Hochschild
The author also wrote The Commercialization of Intimate Life. From the titles alone, you begin to get the idea. A major research focus is airline stewardesses, who tell of having to sell more than their time to the company. More devastating than the appropriation of their bodies (weight, looks, dress, etc.) is the colonization of their personalities. First published in 1983, The Managed Heart is a feminist classic, but the implications go far beyond gender.
Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism
Eva Illouz
My favorite part of this shows how "dating" coevolved with a consumer economy. Illouz questions how much our ideas of love are inherent to the human heart, and how much driven by the demands of capitalism, to the interests of which all truly human values have been subsumed. Plenty of books today question the reality of love, but this one is not out to show it's bogus, just that it's been manipulated so as to be nearly indistinguishable from other forms of consumption.
Interpersonal Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders
Lorna Smith Benjamin
I blogged some passages from this one a year ago (April 6, 2003) under the unlikely title slug: OTHER PEOPLE'S PERSONAL SHORTCOMINGS MAKE IT HARD FOR THEM TO GIVE ME THE COMPLIMENTS AND ATTENTION THAT ARE DUE ME. Including this: "The theory of the Klute syndrome suggests that patients cannot change in therapy if they repeatedly have orgasms while conjuring images having the interpersonal dimensionality of the disorder."
Psychoanalytic Diagnosis: Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process
Nancy McWilliams
In the same blog post mentioned above, I listed some entries in this book's table of contents: Repression, Regression, Isolation, Intellectualization, Rationalization, Moralization, Compartmentalization, Undoing, Displacement, Reaction Formation, Reversal, Identification, Sexualization, Sublimation... Which is odd, as I had a conversation with Don today in which I said I'd never heard of "undoing." Except in the sense "she'll be my undoing." If there's a difference.
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self
Alice Miller
A bit over two years ago, I picked this one up and got the first powerful flash that things were not what they seemed. Today, things are even less so. I guess I have Alice to thank. Or blame. Aye, there's the rub. While Drama barely mentions narcissism, another edition of the "same" book, titled Prisoners of Childhood, is all about narcissism. I'm still trying to figure out what happened to cause this massive revision. Could it be some weird wrinkle on sexual politics?
Attachment Theory: Social, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives
Susan Goldberg, et. al.
I list this book, in addition to its own value, as a tribute to the work of Mary Ainsworth and Mary Main, two researchers who hugely advanced the core theoretical work of John Bowlby. Attachment theory is no longer really a theory, as it is more firmly grounded on empirical research than any other aspect of psychoanalysis. After having been rejected by the psychoanalytic establishment for decades, it is now being incorporated into many aspects of psychotherapy.
Attachment Disorganization
Judith Solomon and
Carol C. George
There is secure attachment, which is the good kind to have experienced as a 0-3 year old kid. And there are two main kinds of insecure attachment: avoidant and ambivalent. Avoidants make great narcissists. Ambivalents make great borderlines. And then there's disorganized attachment. Which perhaps makes for great schizophrenics. This is partly tongue-in-cheek. But only partly. Disorganized attachment is the worst, a nightmare. You can see how I'd be attracted.
The Birth of Pleasure
Carol Gilligan
The author weaves a lengthy meditation on love using the myth of Eros and Psyche as a starting text. It is the only Western myth, she says, wherein love doesn't end in tragedy. I read The Birth of Pleasure in the midst of my own tragedy, and was deeply moved by it. Gilligan is a widely famed feminist, known largely for her ground breaking work about adolescent girls, In a Different Voice, originally published in 1982. I discussed Gilligan's work with my daughter when she was 13.

8:46 PM | link |

Sunday, March 28, 2004
Live and Let Die
the astonishing power of homicide

Last night I wrote about self-absorbed self-actualizing self-styled "New Age" (if you'll forgive the expression) "culture" taking a fatal header into a spiritually empty swimming pool. But I'm telling you, this synchronicity shit really works. I just now searched Amazon for "new age" and the first book that comes up is the one you see pictured at the right, Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting: The Astonishing Power of Feelings. And sure enough, there's the diving board!

Now, whether or not it was that particular post that put her over the top, it seems I have once again drawn fire from Elaine of Kalilily, Self-Proclaimed Resident Crone of Blogdom. This time, to be sure, Elaine stops short of foaming at the mouth, which is unfortunate, as the only reason I blog is to elicit this reaction from her. This time she is careful to not to attack me outright, as she has done in the past, bless her twisted little heart, but rather to insinuate that I have no life. (I could have saved her the trouble had she only asked -- "No, Elaine, I have no life, as I've tried to communicate here more than once, God knows! And yes, I spit on both poetry and the moon!") However, despite the lack of full-frontal prudery, the tropes she employs in this post on "tinkering" constitute an excellent demonstration of what is generally referred to as passive aggression.

Note the rhetorical use of the interrogative, encouraging witless readers to unwittingly adopt her perspective. For instance: "Chris likes to tinker with the ideas of others. No, wait a minute. He doesn't really tinker, does he? He blasts with his creative bombast." If you buy the charge implied in the question -- i.e., (somewhat amazingly) that I don't tinker -- then you're more likely to buy the unstated but implied conclusion: that I attack unfairly, without warning or reason.

"We project instead of protect," the frumious Crone of Blogdom writes. Though, by "we," I doubt very much she means that she does that. She means I do that.

Yes, and?

You see, it's all part of our mission...

To Project and Serve

The example Elaine gives is my purposefully unREASONable savaging of Virginia Postrel. It was part of the joke, doncha know? Not, I should hasten to say, that I don't despise Postrel. Perhaps I should have explained why. But a) I thought it too obvious to bother with, and b) even haphazardly glancing at her books, which have sat unread on my coffee table for longer than I like to think, gives me apoplexy. Yes, Virginia, there is a Hannibal the Cannibal, and I hope he eats your brain. Soon.

Moon June Spoon. Fuck yoon!

OK, OK, I'll tell you why, goddammit. It's because her first book, The Future and Its Enemies (which I have not read), is an extended ayn-randian paean to the "dynamism" of swill-hearted technofascists and venture capitalists, and a head-wagging tsk-tsk-ing of the "stasis" championed by such weak willed "enemies of the future" as those who would suggest curtailing environmental rape and the processing of the indigent into lunchmeat for the rich. Most of us already, after all, lead lives of soylent desperation.

Her second book, The Substance of Style (which I also have not read), argues for the ascendancy (as the cliche has it) of style over substance, rationalized with all sorts of aesthetic ballyhoo, full of sound and fury signifying -- who would have guessed? -- das kapital. God is dead. No problem. Tattoo a swoosh on your ass.

Other than that, she's pretty cool. And smart? Ohmygod! Plus, which never hurts, given the purported substance of style, she's cute.

Now see, Elaine, I don't hack on these people just to be mean. I hack on them because they deserve to die painful deaths, say, squashed flat by a steamroller or slowly devoured by giant clams. (Except I hate to think of the environmental impact on the clams.)

But none of this is what I sat down to write about this evening. No. What I had planned to do was to tinker with -- or, if you prefer, "blast with [my] creative bombast" -- the dumbfuck author of the book pictured above, Lynn Grabhorn (no, I did not make that up) about how (excuse me) your life is leaking out on the sidewalk, and none too soon. For as it is written:

An 'nem schönen blauen Sonntag
Liegt ein toter Mann am Strand
Und ein Mensch geht um die Ecke
Den man Mackie Messer nannt.

On the sidewalk Sunday morning
Lies a body oozing life
Someone's sneaking 'round the corner
Is that someone Mack the Knife?

But let not the savaging come this time from my own lips, but rather in the form of the following left-handed praise heaped on this hapless excuse for an author by a couple of her fans. First up, we have the this review except by one "lulubella (see more about me) from Chicago," titled "willful suspension of disbelief needed." I'll say.

"According to Lynn Grabhorn, the reason that most of us are trapped in unhappy, unfulfilling lives is because we vibrate negative energy and therefore attract negative energy, much as a tuning fork vibrating at a particular pitch vibrates other similarly pitched tuning forks. So we need to consciously change the vibrations we're sending out in order to attract positive things into our lives.......she uses the example of visualizing yourself driving a shiny red sports car instead of focusing on the fact that you don't have one, because if you focus on the fact that you don't have one, you'll continue to not have one."
Now is that just fucking profound, or what?

Back to Elaine for a sec: is it unkind of me to notice the inbuilt idiocy of such... (how should I put this?) thoughts? Does my "creative bombast" -- so far exceeding the gentle accommodation of mere tinkering -- result from my not having looked often or longingly enough upon the juny moon? From never have sung the loony tune?

I leave these questions, as I must, to you, most Valued Reader.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, "reggaejunkiejew [I shit you not] from Toronto, Ontario" writes:

"The experiences of Lynn Grabhorn originate from the channeled material of Esther and Jerry Hicks, known as ABRAHAM. She makes this knowledge, and her experiences available to people who would typically be closeminded to such a thing as the channeling of non-physical entities and intelligence."
Now that one really got to me. Shucks, I guess I'm beginning to see your point, Elaine. Maybe I should broaden my horizons a little instead of going around making fun of nice little old new age narcissists like you and your witch pal Laurie Doctor. Thank you for this precious insight.

But it all makes me wonder if you ever watch snuff movies. I mean, early on in our lives, we marvel at the avalanche of psychotic abuse cascading out of our parents' bedroom. And then, one day we look around and find ourselves mired in shit and stink and missing the pure trauma that can be tinker-toyed from our all too private hell. We retch instead of etch a sketch.



you don't
want to fuck with shady


because shady
will fucking kill you!

- eminem -

3:01 AM | link |

"RageBoy: Giving being fucking nuts a good name since 1985."
~D. Weinberger
28 October 2004

Chris Locke's photos More of Chris Locke's photos

Until a minute ago, I had no photos. I still have no photos to speak of. I don't even have a camera. But all these people were linking to "my photos." It was embarassing. It's still embarassing. But I'm used to that.

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