Introduction

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I am a 29-year-old girl from Norway where I work as a psychologist. On my free time I love to read, travel and experience new things. I also like taking photos and creative activities like scrapbooking and decoupage. My personality? For those of you who know the BIG 5 personality test, I am high on 20130623-181833.jpgOpenness, Conscientiousness, middle on agreeable and on extroversion/introversion. It basically means that I`m a flexible person, work hard, usually don`t make a fuss and love to be with others, while also needing to be alone to think and calm down. I also want to add that I love the Italian language, my family, Haruki Murakami, good music and my friends. I am VERY emotional, but calm when I have to be. Earlier I had a tendency to put other`s needs first, believing that I wasn`t worthy of any attention myself. Luckily I have grown in heart and mind since then, and learnt that being there for others mean taking care of your own needs first.

This blog is a blend of my personal story (called narrative or the sound of..) topics related to psychology and just random things I find interesting. I work daily as a clinical psychologist, and most of my clients have been abused and neglected in heartbreaking ways. Many of my posts will cover subjects related to trauma and dissociation. I am quite open and honest in my posts, because I believe it might make us psychologist less mysterious.

Most of the psychologist I know are kind, intelligent people. Some with their own stories, but all with a genuine wish to help. In this blog I want to share what I know about overcoming challenges and following your dreams.

IMG_0377Since more and more people have started to read this blog, I unfortunately found it necessary to password protect some of my more personal posts. If you want to read them, feel free to contact me at forfreepsychology@gmail.com. I am also on twitter (@ninjafighter), instagram and Facebook. I also have two other blogs that are dedicated to psychology and the “Kindness project” that I started one year ago, You find them here: Free psychology and The kindness project.

In the last blog I post interviews with different people. I ask them questions about good things they do, and my hope is that their answers will inspire others to do be kind towards others. I have also invited guest bloggers to share their stories on “Free psychology”. They are brilliant writers, so feel to explore their story on this blog. I am always open to invite more bloggers who want to write, so feel free to contact me at any time if you`d like to write about topics relevant for the blog. 

I started my blog three years ago, and it has grown so fast I almost can`t believe it. I am really proud of it, and grateful because I have made new friends and found other blogs that I like.

I want to thank all my readers and offer some encouragement to everyone who suffers or have done so in the past. I have been in the deepest valleys myself, and felt emotional pain so intense that I was afraid of it.

I hope this blog might prove that the fight for a better life is worth it.

Thank you.

WHEN BRAIN DAMAGE UNLOCKS THE GENIUS WITHIN

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BRAIN DAMAGE HAS UNLEASHED EXTRAORDINARY TALENTS IN A SMALL GROUP OF OTHERWISE ORDINARY INDIVIDUALS. WILL SCIENCE FIND A WAY FOR EVERYONE TO TAP THEIR INNER VIRTUOSO?

The Genius Within

Paul Lachine and Graham Murdoch

Derek Amato stood above the shallow end of the swimming pool and called for his buddy in the Jacuzzi to toss him the football. Then he launched himself through the air, head first, arms outstretched. He figured he could roll onto one shoulder as he snagged the ball, then slide across the water. It was a grave miscalculation. The tips of Amato’s fingers brushed the pigskin—then his head slammed into the pool’s concrete floor with such bone-jarring force that it felt like an explosion. He pushed to the surface, clapping his hands to his head, convinced that the water streaming down his cheeks was blood gushing from his ears.

At the edge of the pool, Amato collapsed into the arms of his friends, Bill Peterson and Rick Sturm. It was 2006, and the 39-year-old sales trainer was visiting his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Colorado, where he lived. As his two high-school buddies drove Amato to his mother’s home, he drifted in and out of consciousness, insisting that he was a professional baseball player late for spring training in Phoenix. Amato’s mother rushed him to the emergency room, where doctors diagnosed Amato with a severe concussion. They sent him home with instructions to be woken every few hours.

It would be weeks before the full impact of Amato’s head trauma became apparent: 35 percent hearing loss in one ear, headaches, memory loss. But the most dramatic consequence appeared just four days after his accident. Amato awoke hazy after near-continuous sleep and headed over to Sturm’s house. As the two pals sat chatting in Sturm’s makeshift music studio, Amato spotted a cheap electric keyboard.

Without thinking, he rose from his chair and sat in front of it. He had never played the piano—never had the slightest inclination to. Now his fingers seemed to find the keys by instinct and, to his astonishment, ripple across them. His right hand started low, climbing in lyrical chains of triads, skipping across melodic intervals and arpeggios, landing on the high notes, then starting low again and building back up. His left hand followed close behind, laying down bass, picking out harmony. Amato sped up, slowed down, let pensive tones hang in the air, then resolved them into rich chords as if he had been playing for years. When Amato finally looked up, Sturm’s eyes were filled with tears.

Music Man

Courtesy Derek Amato

An accident left Derek Amato with a severe concussion and a surprising ability to play the piano. One theory is that his brain reorganized, making accessible existing memories of music. Another is that his brain no longer filters sensory input, enabling him to hear individual notes rather than melodies.

Amato played for six hours, leaving Sturm’s house early the next morning with an unshakable feeling of wonder. He searched the Internet for an explanation, typing in words like gifted and head trauma. The results astonished him.

Amato searched the internet for an explanation, typing in words like gifted and head trauma. the results astonished him.

He read about Tony Cicoria, an orthopedic surgeon in upstate New York who was struck by lightning while talking to his mother from a telephone booth. Cicoria then became obsessed with classical piano and taught himself how to play and compose music. After being hit in the head with a baseball at age 10, Orlando Serrell could name the day of the week for any given date. A bad fall at age three left Alonzo Clemons with permanent cognitive impairment, Amato learned, and a talent for sculpting intricate replicas of animals.

Finally Amato found the name Darold Treffert, a world-recognized expert onsavant syndrome—a condition in which individuals who are typically mentally impaired demonstrate remarkable skills. Amato fired off an e-mail; soon he had answers. Treffert, now retired from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, diagnosed Amato with “acquired savant syndrome.” In the 30 or so known cases, ordinary people who suffer brain trauma suddenly develop almost-superhuman new abilities: artistic brilliance, mathematical mastery, photographic memory. One acquired savant, a high-school dropout brutally beaten by muggers, is the only known person in the world able to draw complex geometric patterns called fractals; he also claims to have discovered a mistake in pi. A stroke transformed another from a mild-mannered chiropractor into a celebrated visual artist whose work has appeared in publications like The New Yorker and in gallery shows, and sells for thousands of dollars.

The neurological causes of acquired savant syndrome are poorly understood. But the Internet has made it easier for people like Amato to connect with researchers who study savants, and improved brain-imaging techniques have enabled those scientists to begin to probe the unique neural mechanisms at work. Some have even begun to design experiments that investigate an intriguing possibility: genius lies in all of us, just waiting to be unleashed.

* * *

Pure Genius

Paul Lachine and Graham Murdoch

Bruce Miller directs the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in San Francisco, where as a behavioral neurologist he treats elderly people stricken withAlzheimer’s disease and late-life psychosis. One day in the mid-1990s, the son of a patient pointed out his father’s new obsession with painting. As his father’s symptoms worsened, the man said, his paintings improved. Soon, Miller began to identify other patients who displayed unexpected new talents as their neurological degeneration continued. As dementia laid waste to brain regions associated with language, higher-order processing, and social norms, their artistic abilities exploded.

Though these symptoms defied conventional wisdom on brain disease in the elderly—artists afflicted with Alzheimer’s typically lose artistic ability—Miller realized they were consistent with another population described in the literature: savants. That wasn’t the only similarity. Savants often display an obsessive compulsion to perform their special skill, and they exhibit deficits in social and language behaviors, defects present in dementia patients. Miller wondered if there might be neurological similarities too. Although the exact mechanisms at work in the brains of savants have never been identified and can vary from case to case, several studies dating back to at least the 1970s have found left-hemispheric damage in autistic savants with prodigious artistic, mathematical, and memory skills.

Sudden Sculptor

Courtesy Nancy Mason/Gifted Hands

After suffering a head injury as a toddler, Alonzo Clemons began to spontaneously sculpt animals with incredible accuracy and speed.

Miller decided to find out precisely where in the left hemisphere of regular savants—whose skills usually become apparent at a very young age—these defects existed. He read the brain scan of a five-year-old autistic savant able to reproduce intricate scenes from memory on an Etch-a-Sketch. Single-photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT) showed abnormal inactivity in the anterior temporal lobes of the left hemisphere—exactly the results he found in his dementia patients.

In most cases, scientists attribute enhanced brain activity to neuroplasticity, the organ’s ability to devote more cortical real estate to developing skills as they improve with practice. But Miller offered a wholly different hypothesis for the mechanisms at work in congenital and acquired savants. Savant skills, Miller argues, emerge because the areas ravaged by disease—those associated with logic, verbal communication, and comprehension—have actually been inhibiting latent artistic abilities present in those people all along. As the left brain goes dark, the circuits keeping the right brain in check disappear. The skills do not emerge as a result of newly acquired brain power; they emerge because for the first time, the areas of the right brain associated with creativity can operate unchecked.

Full Spectrum

Courtesy Nancy Mason/Gifted Hands

Savant skills lie on a spectrum of ability; Clemons is considered the rare prodigious savant—one whose talent would be exceptional even for a person not impaired in any way.

The theory fits with the work of other neurologists, who are increasingly finding cases in which brain damage has spontaneously, and seemingly counterintuitively, led to positive changes—eliminating stuttering, enhancing memory in monkeys and rats, even restoring lost eyesight in animals. In a healthy brain, the ability of different neural circuits to both excite and inhibit one another plays a critical role in efficient function. But in the brains of dementia patients and some autistic savants, the lack of inhibition in areas associated with creativity led to keen artistic expression and an almost compulsive urge to create.

* * *

In the weeks after his accident, Amato’s mind raced. And his fingers wanted to move. He found himself tapping out patterns, waking up from naps with his fingers drumming against his legs. He bought a keyboard. Without one, he felt anxious, overstimulated; once he was able to sit down and play, relief washed over him, followed by a deep sense of calm. He’d shut himself in, sometimes for as long as two to three days, just him and the piano, exploring his new talent, trying to understand it, letting the music pour out of him.

Amato experienced other symptoms, many of them not good. Black and white squares appeared in his vision, as if a transparent filter had synthesized before his eyes, and moved in a circular pattern. He was also plagued with headaches. The first one hit three weeks after his accident, but soon Amato was having as many as five a day. They made his head pound, and light and noise were excruciating. One day, he collapsed in his brother’s bathroom. On another, he almost passed out in Wal-Mart.

Still, Amato’s feelings were unambiguous. He felt certain he had been given a gift, and it wasn’t just the personal gratification of music: Amato’s new condition, he quickly realized, had vast commercial potential.

Tortured Artist

Liam King

Jon Sarkin says he saw things differently, more vividly­­, after suffering a brain hemorrhage and a stroke. And while the chiropractor had always dabbled in art, he suddenly became obsessed with creating it.

Cultural fascination with savants appears to date as far back as the condition itself. In the 19th century, “Blind Tom” Bethune became an international celebrity. A former slave who could reproduce any song on the piano, he played the White House at age 11, toured the world at 16, and over the course of his life earned well over $750,000—a fortune at the time. Dustin Hoffman introduced the savant to millions of theatergoers with his character in the 1988 movie Rain Man. Since then, prodigious savants have become staples of shows like 60 Minutes and Oprah. But acquired savants, especially, are perfect fodder for a society obsessed with self-improvement, reality television, and pop psychology.

Acquired savants are perfect fodder for a society obsessed with self-improvement, reality television, and pop psychology.

Jon Sarkin, the chiropractor turned artist, became the subject of profiles in GQand Vanity Fair, a biography, and TV documentaries. Tom Cruise purchased the rights to his life story. “To be honest, I don’t even mention it to my wife anymore when the media calls,” Sarkin says. “It’s part of life.” Jason Padgett, the savant who can draw fractals, inked a book deal after he was featured onNightline and in magazine and newspaper articles. Reached by phone, he complained that his agent no longer allowed him to give interviews. “It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I want to speak to you, but they won’t let me.”

To Amato, acquired savantism looked like the opportunity he’d been waiting for his entire life. Amato’s mother had always told him he was extraordinary, that he was put on the planet to do great things. Yet a series of uninspiring jobs had followed high school—selling cars, delivering mail, doing public relations. He’d reached for the brass ring, to be sure, but it had always eluded him. He’d auditioned for the television show American Gladiators and failed the pull-up test. He’d opened a sports-management company, handling marketing and endorsements for mixed-martial-arts fighters; it went bust in 2001. Now he had a new path.

From Chiropractor To Painter

Liam King

“Eight years ago, I didn’t draw for a while and I found out what happened,” Sarkin says. “I had a nervous breakdown. And I have been drawing pretty much constantly ever since.”

Amato began planning a marketing campaign. He wanted to be more than an artist, musician, and performer. He wanted to tell his story and inspire people. Amato also had another ambition, a goal lingering from his life before virtuosity, back when he had only his competitive drive. He wanted, more than anything, to be on Survivor. So when that first interviewer called from a local radio station, Amato was ready to talk.

* * *

Few people have followed the emergence of acquired savants with more interest than Allan Snyder, a neuroscientist at the University of Sydney in Australia. Since 1999, Snyder has focused his research on studying how their brains function. He’s also pressed further into speculative territory than most neuroscientists feel comfortable: He is attempting to produce the same outstanding abilities in people with undamaged brains.

Last spring, Snyder published what many consider to be his most substantive work. He and his colleagues gave 28 volunteers a geometric puzzle that has stumped laboratory subjects for more than 50 years. The challenge: Connect nine dots, arrayed in three rows of three, using four straight lines without retracing a line or lifting the pen. None of the subjects could solve the problem. Then Snyder and his colleagues used a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to temporarily immobilize the same area of the brain destroyed by dementia in Miller’s acquired savants. The noninvasive technique, which is commonly used to evaluate brain damage in stroke patients, delivers a weak electrical current to the scalp through electrodes, depolarizing or hyperpolarizing neural circuits until they have slowed to a crawl. After tDCS, more than 40 percent of the participants in Snyder’s experiment solved the problem. (None of those in a control group given placebo tDCS identified the solution.)

Sarkin’s Art

Liam King

The experiment, Snyder argues, supports the hypothesis that the abilities observed in acquired savants emerge once brain areas normally held in check have become unfettered. The crucial role of the left temporal lobe, he believes, is to filter what would otherwise be a dizzying flood of sensory stimuli, sorting them into previously learned concepts. These concepts, or what Snyder calls mind-sets, allow humans to see a tree instead of all its individual leaves and to recognize words instead of just the letters. “How could we possibly deal with the world if we had to analyze, to completely fathom, every new snapshot?” he says.

Savants can access raw sensory information, normally off-limits to the conscious mind, because the brain’s perceptual region isn’t functioning. To solve the nine-dot puzzle, one must extend the lines beyond the square formed by the dots, which requires casting aside preconceived notions of the parameters. “Our whole brain is geared to making predictions so we can function rapidly in this world,” Snyder says. “If something naturally helps you get around the filters of these mind-sets, that is pretty powerful.”

Sudden Savant

Paul Lachine and Graham Murdoch

Treffert, for one, finds the results of the experiment compelling. “I was a little dubious of Snyder’s earlier work, which often involved asking his subjects to draw pictures,” he says. “It just seemed pretty subjective: How do you evaluate the change in them? But his recent study is useful.”

Snyder thinks Amato’s musical prodigy adds to mounting evidence that untapped human potential lies in everyone, accessible with the right tools. When the non-musician hears music, he perceives the big picture, melodies. Amato, Snyder says, has a “literal” experience of music—he hears individual notes. Miller’s dementia patients have technical artistic skill because they are drawing what they see: details.

Berit Brogaard believes the left-brain, right-brain idea is an oversimplification. Brogaard is a neuroscientist and philosophy professor at the Center for Neurodynamics at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She has another theory: When brain cells die, they release a barrage of neurotransmitters, and this deluge of potent chemicals may actually rewire parts of the brain, opening up new neural pathways into areas previously unavailable.

“Our hypothesis is that we have abilities that we cannot access,” Brogaard says. “Because they are not conscious to us, we cannot manipulate them. Some reorganization takes place that makes it possible to consciously access information that was there, lying dormant.”

In August, Brogaard published a paper exploring the implications of a battery of tests her lab ran on Jason Padgett. It revealed damage in the visual-cortex areas involved in detecting motion and boundaries. Areas of the parietal cortex associated with novel visual images, mathematics, and action planning were abnormally active. In Padgett’s case, she says, the areas that have become supercharged are next to those that sustained the damage—placing them in the path of the neurotransmitters likely unleashed by the death of so many brain cells.

In Amato’s case, she says, he learned bar chords on a guitar in high school and even played in a garage band. “Obviously he had some interest in music before, and his brain probably recoded some music unconsciously,” she says. “He stored memories of music in his brain, but he didn’t access them.” Somehow the accident provoked a reorganization of neurons that brought them into his conscious mind, Brogaard speculates. It’s a theory she hopes to explore with him in the lab.

* * *

On a beautiful Los Angeles day last October, I accompanied Amato and his agent, Melody Pinkerton, up to the penthouse roof deck of Santa Monica’s Shangri-La Hotel. Far below us, a pier jutted into the ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway hugged the coastline. Pinkerton settled next to Amato on a couch, nodding warmly and blinking at him with a doe-eyed smile as three men with handheld cameras circled. They were gathering footage for the pilot of a reality-TV series about women trying to make it in Hollywood. Pinkerton is a former contestant on the VH1 reality show Frank the Entertainer and has posed for Playboy; if the series is green-lit, Amato will make regular appearances as one of her clients.

“My whole life has changed,” Amato told her. “I’ve slowed down, even though I’m racing and producing at a pace that not many people understand, you know? If Beethoven scored 500 songs a year back in the day and was considered a pretty brilliant mind, and the doctors tell me I’m scoring 2,500 pieces a year, you can see that I’m a little busy.”

Amato seemed comfortable with the cameras, despite the pressure. A spot on a reality show would represent a step forward in his career, but not a huge leap. Over the past six years, Amato has been featured in newspapers and television shows around the world. He was one of eight savants featured on a Discovery Channel special in 2010 called Ingenious Minds, and he was on PBS’s NOVA this fall. He recently appeared on a talk show hosted by his idol, Jeff Probst, also the host of Survivor. In June, Amato appeared on the Todayshow.

Many savants exhibit exquisite computational or artistic capacities, but almost always at the expense of other things the brain does.

Musical renown (and a payday) has yet to follow. He released his first album in 2007. In 2008, he played in front of several thousand people in New Orleans with the famed jazz-fusion guitarist Stanley Jordan. He was asked to write the score for an independent Japanese documentary. But while Amato’s musical prowess never fails to elicit amazement in the media, reviews of his music are mixed. “Some of the reaction is good, some of it’s fair, some of it’s not so good,” he says. “I wouldn’t say any of it’s great. What I think’s going to be great is working with other musicians now.”

Still, as we strolled down Santa Monica Boulevard to a sushi restaurant after the filming, he hardly could have seemed happier. At the table, Amato smiled broadly, gestured manically with meaty forearms tattooed with musical notes, and poked the air with his chopsticks for emphasis.

“There’s book stuff, there are appearances, performances, charity organizations,” he said. “There are TV people, film people, commercial people, background stuff. Shoot, I know I missed about another half dozen. It’s like I’m on a plane doing about 972 miles an hour! I’m enjoying every second of the ride!”

Amato hasn’t exactly been coy about his desire for fame, mailing packets of material to reporters, sending Facebook requests to fellow acquired savants, and continuously updating his fan page—behavior that has raised some doubts among experts.

Rex Jung, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico, grew suspicious of Amato after reading about his history as an ultimate-fight promoter. “I couldn’t be more skeptical,” he says. Jung studies creativity and traumatic brain injuries, and he has spent time with Alonzo Clemons, the savant who sculpts animals. He believes acquired savantism is a legitimate condition. But he notes Amato does not display other symptoms one would expect.

Many savants, Jung says, exhibit “exquisite” computational or artistic capacities, but “almost always at the expense of other things the brain does.” Clemons, for example, has severe developmental disabilities. “I am highly skeptical of savants that are able to tie their shoes and update their Facebook pages and do strong marketing campaigns to highlight their savant abilities all at the same time.”

Overnight Artist

Paul Lachine and Graham Murdoch

There is no way to definitively prove or disprove Amato’s claims, but a number of credible scientists are willing to vouch for his authenticity. Andrew Reeves, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, conducted MRI scans of Amato’s brain for Ingenious Minds. The tests revealed several white spots, which Reeves acknowledges could have been caused by previous concussions.

“We knew going in that it was unlikely to show any sort of signature change,” Reeves says. But Amato’s description of what he experiences “fits too well with how the brain is wired, in terms of what parts are adjacent to what parts, for him to have concocted it, in my opinion.” Reeves believes the black and white squares in Amato’s field of vision somehow connect to his motor system, indicating an atypical link between the visual and auditory regions of his brain.

As I drove through the streets of L.A. with Amato last fall, it seemed to me that there was something undeniably American about his efforts to seize on his accident—which struck when he was close to 40, staring into the abyss of middle-age mediocrity—and transform himself from an anonymous sales trainer into a commercial product, an inspirational symbol of human possibility for the legions of potential fans dreaming of grander things. Treffert, Snyder, and Brogaard all spoke enthusiastically about unraveling the phenomenon of acquired savantism, in order to one day enable everyone to explore their hidden talents. The Derek Amatos of the world provide a glimpse of that goal.

After parking on Sunset Boulevard, a few blocks from the storied rock-and-roll shrines of the Roxy and the Viper Room, Amato and I headed into the Standard Hotel and followed a bedraggled hipster with an Australian accent through the lobby to a dimly lit bar. In the center of the room sat a grand piano, its ivory keys gleaming. The chairs had been flipped upside down on the tables, and dishes clinked in a nearby kitchen. The club, closed to customers, was all ours. As Amato sat down, the tension seemed to drain from his shoulders.

He closed his eyes, placed his foot on one of the pedals, and began to play. The music that gushed forth was loungy, full of flowery trills, swelling and sweeping up and down the keys in waves of cascading notes—a sticky, emotional kind of music more appropriate for the romantic climax of a movie like From Here to Eternity than a gloomy nightclub down the street from the heart of the Sunset Strip. It seemed strangely out of character for a man whose sartorial choices bring to mind ’80s hair-band icon Bret Michaels. Amato didn’t strike me as prodigious, the kind of rare savant, like Blind Tom Bethune, whose skills would be impressive even in someone with years of training.

But it didn’t seem to matter. There was expression, melody, and skill. And if they could emerge spontaneously in Amato, who’s to say what spectacular abilities might lie dormant in the rest of us?

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of the magzine.

But it didn’t seem to matter. There was expression, melody, and skill. And if they could emerge spontaneously in Amato, who’s to say what spectacular abilities might lie dormant in the rest of us?

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Part of Nature by Stuart Mcmillen

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Part of Nature cartoon

This cartoon is heavily influenced by the books Natural CapitalismPaul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins (1999) and Mid-Course CorrectionRay Anderson (1998). It is also in the same vein as the flash animation “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard, which I watched when I was about 90% of the way through the drawing process.

Mass suggestion: A way to save the world? 

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Psychological research has had a tendency to study negative effects of behavior both on the individual and cultural levels. The recent years, however has started to focus more on what makes something work. I like this shift, as I think it will be more effective for society as a whole. A TED talk I watched, for example, was about scientists interested in studying genetic superhumans. That is, people with genetic ‘flaws’ that has proven to give these people abilities normal peple don’t have. By getting more knowledge about these ‘superhumans’ we are also a step closer to knowing what environmental, psychological and biological factors contribute to their genetic make-up.

Mass suggestion 

If we are in a huge mass, we are all inclined to think the same thoughts as the mob, and to have the same emotions aroused within us as sway the masses of the people. It is difficult for one of the crowd not to be moved with the crowd. This is why people, who in the ordinary way are sensible, go “mafficking” on occasions of national rejoicing. It is also the reason why people who are peaceable and harmless in private life may, when in a crowd, join in acts of violence and disorder. It is simply that the mass emotion gets hold of them, influencing them so strongly they get carried away.

There are thousand different ways we can be affected by suggestion. We receive it through the eyes, the ears, taste, smell, and touch. We are victims of it at every turn, unless we learn to become positive-minded.

A mass suggestion social media experiment 

If I had the chance to do an experiment myself, I would want to study the whole of humanity. Let’s for fun’s sake call it a social media experiment. If every person shared the research hypothesis that  I’m about to present, to one person, it would be interesting to see how many could get involved in this experiment.

My hypothesis would be something like: Can we by mass suggestion, make people around the world do the same thing on the same day? 

For example I could propose that the 15th of september, every one of us tries to do one good thing towards another human being. What do you think would happen? Would the world get a little better than before? 

The date can be set one year in advance to make sure that many get the message, but as information can spread like fire in the right circumstances it might not be necessary to wait that long.

So, would somebody be interested in a experiment like that? What can each and all of us achieve by collaborating with as many people as possible? 

Why not try? We got nothing to lose.

  
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Mass suggestion ideas 

Mass suggestion in society

Moonlight sonata

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Good morning!

I am so happy I bought a piano and started to take piano lessons. Right now I am trying to learn one of the most beautiful classical pieces by Beethoven. Here you can find the list of the 10 best Classical Music Pieces. In the meantime, enjoy the moonlight sonata.

Reprogramming my inner computer 

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Our mind is a wonderful mystery. We still know so little about it, even if we slowly are starting to reveal its secrets. Normally it works effectively, like a brand new computer, but sometimes it stops working. In a computer, programming mistakes slow an a otherwise perfect system. When that happens, the programmer must find the mistake and fix it. When he does, the computer must be left in peace. The programmer must focus must be on one issue at a time. If the programmer is exhausted, it will take longer time before he can do his job. 

Our body is a fine-tune system perfected through evolution. When something goes wrong, we notice it immediately. Genetic abnormalities or disarray in the brain can manifest itself in many forms. When our body produce problems for us, we try to fix it. Sometimes we manage to do this by ourselves, by doing things that are good for our body. By sleeping, eating healthy, talk with others or listen to music, we give ourselves space and time to let the body get rest so it can work like it always does, on reclaiming the balance it needs. Sometimes we can’t do so on our own, however. Sometimes we need our own programmers, with an intimate knowledge of what makes us tick.

 Unfortunately we can’t find that help like frustrated computer-users can. There is no phonebook with numbers directing us to a competent healer, that will solve all our issues. There is only trial and error, meeting different people and experiencing different things that can help us in the long run. 
I have worked as a psychologist for 4,5 years now. When I try to contemplate the fact that I’ve worked for so long, it’s almost incomprehensible. In this process my mind has usually managed to fix itself. When I’ve been sad, angry or helpless, I’ve dealt with those feelings and come out of it stronger. I’ve found and trusted helpers that pull me up if I’ve made mistakes. But sometimes my stubbornness has gotten the best of me, and I’ve not taken the time to reboot my overactive system because I thought I could fix everything myself. Even if I know my mind better than anyone else, I have parts of it that I don’t know as well too. When those parts start to give me trouble, I need to trust the expertise of others. After all, computers can’t fix themselves if something goes wrong. 
I’m lucky to always have competent and intelligent people around me who guide me when I’m too certain of my own infallibility. When my mirror neurons are overloaded after too much emphatic work, I have others who see me and inform me that I need to take a break. A break for me might be completely different from somebody else’s break. For me, the break will consist of a lot of alone-time where I can write, read, sing and think. With three weeks holiday in front of me, I will have just that now. I will upgrade my inner computer so that it is ready for more work later. 

So, don’t forget to reboot your own inner computer, or ask for help if you can’t fix it yourself. It will do you good.

  

Protected: Fighting for freedom 

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Sometimes it’s not enough to love. 

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There is an old woman. The lines across her face are deep. Oceans of tears have made their marks, and the scorching heat of harsh words have etched them firmly to the canvas of her face. She loved him, deeply. So deep that he could stand on her broken back while she sat on the floor. When life got tough for him, after to many whiskeys and nights out, she was there. She was always there, crawling in the dark caves of his mind. She felt safe in the dark, as her father always said that she had to be silent and not show her ugly face when visitors came. She was not there to shine, only to wash the dirt of others faces. In his fatherly wisdom, he shares his knowledge. Men and women are different, he told her, so wives must do like their husbands say. They should kneel on the floor and scrub it. Because men can’t go around with dirt on their shoes. 

She looked at her husband with love and devotion. He laughed at her, and she knew why. She was simply a joke, and she was lucky to have someone who’s actually took the time to laugh and degrade her. She knew that one could not expect to be seen, so she was satisfied with any sign of him noticing her. It was so much more than she deserved. She would be happy for the rest of her life if she could just love him, because she didn’t deserve to get anything in return.

One day, he was dead. He got a stroke after sleeping with his mistress. She didn’t know what do with herself, so she started cleaning. But then she had to sell their house and move into a little apartment, and realized that she had nothing to fill her days with. Her children had grown up and moved to another city, so she only had herself to take care of, and there were only so many things she could wash before she had nothing more to do.

She used her neverending free time to think about her husband. She missed cleaning his dirty shirts that always smelled of perfume. Not his, she knew that, but she was still happy she had a role to fill. She didn’t expect much of life, but now her whole reason for existing had died together with him. She thought about what she had longed for in their marriage: That he had said thank you, only once. But she knew no matter how much she loved him, sometimes it’s not enough

Sometimes you get nothing, and that was all that was left of her life. 

  

Social behavior and oxytocin

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Oxytocin

Once I met a girl from Turkey who told me that usually, all women met on Sunday to groom each other. They talk and laugh while fixing their hair and putting on make-up. She said that she missed this in Norway; People come together mostly on Friday nights to drink and then go out. The rest of the week was dedicated to work or studies, and the social life was just a fraction of what it was for her in Turkey. That reminded me of how I felt when I traveled to Turkey myself. People sat in restaurants and talked between meals. They drank, but not so much as in Norway. There was no hurry, just a lot of smiles and love sent back and forth. They touched each other more: On the shoulders, on the small of the back when they went home and often warm embraces while they said their goodbyes for the night. In France they kiss each other on the cheek two times, and in Italy the people behave much the same way. People in the south of Europe simply are more social, and I love that. We need it in Norway too, but in my opinion, there are far too many lonely people out there. Maybe this is due to the distances in our country. I grew up in a little place myself, so it wasn`t just to visit whoever you want (even though I really tried). 

Oxytocin is a hormone we need to interact with others. It calms our nervous system and makes us feel at peace with the world. Mothers feeding their babies, have a lot of oxytocin in their systems, and so do happy couples. Oxytocin levels varies from person to person, and there are also huge differences in the animal kingdom. The animals with the highest levels of oxytocin are also the most «faithful» of them. Swans keep their mate for life, and their levels are sky-rocket. In the world today, the divorce rate is high. I don`t mean to advocate a view where we should`t get a divorce when necessary, because real freedom is to work out what works best for each and every one of us. But I do think that relationships is important for most of us. People with Asperger or autism are known for being less able to connect with others in a meaningful way, but that doesn`t mean that they don`t have a need to connect in any way they can. Some get engrossed in objects, and if you think about it, that is a relationship too. Who are we to judge what kind of relationships they should have? Another thing that strikes me, is the fact that some of them love to be wrapped in a «hug machine». They get calmer and don`t need to bang their heads, as some autists do. It might be safer to them, to have something nonliving touching them, than unpredictable humans that they don`t understand. But they still need to get their oxytocin shots from somewhere. We should not scold them for not wanting a hug from the primary caregiver, because they have their reasons. By accepting and trying to understand variations, we are able to be where others are and give them good lives and feel good in return. Nothing makes us happier than doing the right thing.  

For me, being social has swung back and forth like a pendulum. Sometimes I isolate myself, but when the need comes, I call a friend. When I had 5-6 patients a day, I could not see more people that day, as I had to refuel my energy with books or other activities. In the summer I am often more social, as I have more time to do both. That is also when I love to meet new people. To have time to talk and understand even more about how other minds work. I also love hugging and touching, and have realized that even if I`m single, I can get my dose of oxytocin without feeling very lonely. I know I will be very happy and content in a good relationship but there are so many ways to be happy, and as long as I get my dose of warm embraces, I feel calm and at peace with myself and my life.

So, no matter where you`r from or what your cultural etiquette is, try to get what your body craves and needs. Even if some people slap instead of touch gently, there are still a major percentage of the population who wants to see others grow and feel good about themselves. It`s much easier to spot those people if you get experience and try to get closer to others again. Fear has an important function, but we need to tame it when it steals away moments of potential happiness. Because, in the end, we all need a hug when we feel alone. 

Oxytocin-8

Oxytocin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Feet of Baggage

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Reblog from Magic Behind the Morning

Let’s talk about baggage. No, not emotional baggage. Physical baggage. When my grandmother died, all of her belongings and her mother’s belongings, including several rooms’ worth of large pieces of furniture and boxes and boxes of glass and china, went to my mother. When my mother died and my father moved, all of that stuff, along with many of my mother’s belongings, were divvied out between my sister and me, which meant that I ended up with half of four generations of belongings.

What I’ve discovered about myself is that I am the master of manipulating myself into keeping things that I don’t want or need, much of which have no emotional or monetary value for me (insert dramatic Hoarders soundtrack here). Here is my logic: “Oh, but there is a label on this handkerchief that says it came from my grandmother’s friend’s mother; I can’t get rid of that!” Or “Well, I don’t actually like this sweater, but my mom wore it at some point in time so I should keep it,” or “This doesn’t hold any fond memories for me, but I feel like I need to keep it anyway.”

have gotten rid of things here and there, so it never felt like this was a serious emotional problem deeply affecting my quality of life, but at some point I looked around my home and realized that almost none of my belongings were actually things that I picked out. Truthfully, I have accumulated the type of belongings that many people don’t have until their late fifties, and even then have had much more time and emotional space to cull through them. Most of my furniture was willed to me. Most of my clothes to this day are hand-me-downs from someone.

On the one hand, my gratefulness for having been given these items far overpowers any frustration that I have with it, and truly, there are many things that I have that I absolutely love. Still, the strange thing is that at it has taken me until my late twenties to stop and ask what my personal style truly is, and what I want my belongings to look like, or even what kinds of belongings I want and need in my life. I used to believe that having these items was saving me money as well, and I’m sure the smaller items were, but the thing is, items that take up physical space mean more cost in moving and storing those items, especially for someone who has moved several times like I have.

I recently read a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I won’t go into everything the book says (you can read it if you want to) but there were four pieces that I took away that were the most helpful for this type of baggage:

1. Only keep things in your life if they “spark joy” in you.

2. When you get rid of belongings, thank them for the place they have had in your life and the things they have taught you. Sometimes an item’s purpose is to teach you what you don’t like.

3. A gift’s purpose is to show the gratitude and love of the giver. Once the gift has been given, it’s purpose has been filled. 

4. If you are keeping something purely for sentimental reasons, consider taking a picture of the item instead. 

I am now immersed in a deep process of tidying up. And here is where I have created a method that Marie Kondo may possibly hate: the guilt box. It’s label literally says “Stuff I Feel Guilty Getting Rid Of.” Everything in that box are things I am keeping not because I love them, or because I find them to be useful, or because they have great sentimental value, but simply because I feel guilty getting rid of them.

What’s the point, you say? Well, the point is that everything outside of that 2x3x1 box in my life brings me joy. I’m allowing myself that much baggage, that much guilt, that much “but what if I need thing X?” or “but so-and-so really loved thing Y.”  In allowing just a little bit, I can quell any anxiety, guilt, or fear I have about getting rid of other belongings; if I can fit it in the guilt box, I can keep it. And, I’m hoping that by being brutally honest about the reason I’m keeping things, I can become more discerning about what I keep and what I discard.

What I have found through this is that I have a true love for many of the things I have in my life that were given to me, like my grandma’s beautiful quilts, much of my mom’s jewelry, and some absolutely beautiful dresses and cardigans that I was given by my in-laws. I hadn’t noticed how much I appreciated those things before because I hadn’t had the physical and emotional space to savor their beautiful history and fine craftsmanship. Now that I am starting to identify the types of things that bring me joy in life, I am hoping to truly savor my home, and to discerningly bring only things into my space that truly enchant me.