Some good Thanksgiving reading!


As the first decade of the 21st Century draws to a close, TIME Magazine has taken a look back and concluded that the 00's constituted the "worst decade ever."

This is from TIME's cover story on what it calls, "THE DECADE FROM HELL!":

"Bookended by 9/11 at the start and a financial wipeout at the end, the first 10 years of this century will very likely go down as the most dispiriting and disillusioning decade Americans have lived through in the post-World War II era."

I'd like to add two additional "bookends" that suggest the U.S. may have hit bottom in the 00's - the election of George W. Bush in 2000 and the rise of "The Biggest Loser" to the top of the ratings on television.

Everyone knows by now, even a majority of Republicans, that W was perhaps the most incompetent and inane leader we have ever had in the White House. That is why so many humiliated "former" Republicans are pretending to be "independents" now, longing for the good old days before the greatest Republican, Abraham Lincoln, when people of color and women were regarded as chattel, homosexuality wasn't even a word, and there were no anti-trust or labor laws.

Anyway, Bush is history, and the self-described balls-in-the-mouth "teabaggers" are a sad sideshow, but the popularity, no, the very existence of The Biggest Loser is as close to an apocalyptic sign as any earthquake, tsunami or 2012 movie.

Wednesday's New York Times pulled the curtain back on NBC's ratings juggernaut, this so-called "reality" game show which features overweight contestants competing to lose the most pounds. The Times reported that Season 1 winner Ryan Benson, who lost 122 of his 330-pound starting weight, will be absent from an upcoming reunion show. Mr. Benson is now back above 300 pounds but he thinks he has been shunned by the show because he publicly admitted that he dropped some of the weight by fasting and dehydrating himself to the point that he was urinating blood.

Now in its eighth season, “The Biggest Loser” is one of NBC’s most-watched prime-time programs besides football, drawing an estimated 10 million viewers each week, according to Nielsen. TEN MILLION VIEWERS! That's the apocalyptic part, folks, that so many of us are so emotionally numb, spiritually disconnected and intellectually addled that we could possibly become obsessed with such an exploitive, no, demented, carnival act.

“I’m waiting for the first person to have a heart attack,” said Dr. Charles Burant, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System director of the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center. “I have had some patients who want to do the same thing, and I counsel them against it,” Dr. Burant said. “I think the show is so exploitative. They are taking poor people who have severe weight problems whose real focus is trying to win the quarter-million dollars.”

Getting contestants to talk openly about the environment of the program is difficult. Shortly after a reporter started contacting former contestants to interview them about their experiences, a talent producer on the series sent an e-mail message to many former contestants reminding them that “serious consequences” could ensue if they ever talked to a reporter without the show’s permission. To do so could subject them to a fine of $1 million!!

HELLO?!!? Now, why would a producer be so adamant about contestants not talking about what goes on behind the scenes on their show?

Don't get me wrong. 9/11, Iraq, Katrina, torture, economic collapse, all part of the horrific legacy of the Bush-Cheney years, yes, but we were all part of that debacle, people, and again, unbelievably, 10,000,000 of us are currently flooding our consciousnesses with a game show about obesity!

So, who's the biggest loser?


"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln


Here's Bill Maher:

"Just because a country elects a smart president doesn't make it a smart country. And before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we're presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and 'listen to their constituents.' An urge they should resist because their constituents don't know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to 'keep your government hands off my Medicare,' which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.
"I'm the bad guy for saying it's a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don't know what's in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don't know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.
"Not here. Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife's name right on the first try.
"Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words 'Bush' and 'knowledge.'
"People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It's actually less than 1%. And don't even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, 'Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?'
"And I haven't even brought up America's religious beliefs. But here's one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.
"And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There's a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. 'Inside the beltway' thinking may be wrong, but at least it's thinking, which is more than you can say for what's going on outside the beltway.
"And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they're talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin. Which is the way our founding fathers wanted it. James Madison wrote that 'pure democracy' doesn't work because 'there is nothing to check... an obnoxious individual.' Then, in the margins, he doodled a picture of Joe the Plumber.
Until we admit there are things we don't know, we can't even start asking the questions to find out. Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can't stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: 'My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying... It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.' To which most Americans would respond: 'Are you calling my mother a drunk?"


Here's an excerpt from a MUST READ ARTICLE in Salon.com on the state of stupidity in America:

"In the parlance of our times, the term 'idiocracy' means a nation run by idiots -- and the term 'idiot' is defined by the dictionary as 'an utterly foolish or senseless person' who exhibits 'a mental age of less than 3 years old.' There are obvious reasons to believe America is becoming an idiocracy - a series of horrendous government and business decisions strongly suggest that we've seen the ascension of utterly foolish, senseless people, many with the mental age of infants (yes, W., I'm looking at you)."


Integrative Mental Health: A New Model For Depression Relief

Well, it's not new to everybody, but it's definitely worth the read. Below is an excerpt:

The World Health Organization has predicted that by 2030, more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem. Yet of all the dysfunctions of modern medicine, the way we treat depression may be the worst.

As outlined in "Are You Depressed, Or Just Human?" by Andrew Weil, normal changes in mood are often labeled as depression, leading to an overdiagnosis of the condition. But even if the patient is truly depressed, the prescribed treatment is almost always limited to a potent pharmaceutical. In other words, a complex, multifaceted problem is frequently treated with an oversimplified, expensive therapy that, sadly, is often ineffective.

The reason? Money. Our profit-driven medical system makes it difficult for doctors to spend enough time with patients to make a correct diagnosis and to craft truly individualized treatments. Also, patients themselves often demand the drugs they have seen advertised, and overworked, harried doctors frequently go along.

There is another reason for this regrettable situation. Many physicians are not trained in other treatment options for depression, though these can be safe, inexpensive and highly effective. So even if both physician and patient favor an alternative to drugs, they often lack the knowledge to employ it.


DADLOFF responds to two posts by PL (linked below):

State Labor Dept. Finds Park Slope Restaurants Underpaid Workers


TODAY'S QUOTE! by Bob Cesca

Now, here's DL's responses:

"Where have you been lately? I don't think I know of too many places where you can eat these days that don't have many illegal aliens working for below wages. Be it Park Slope, Manhattan, Westchester or here in upstate New York where some of the 11 to 13 million illegals work below wages and for cash as well. And by the way, what do you mean by 'coolie labor?'
Next item: What kind of inherent talent does Obama have for leadership? He may have natural intelligence but not any notable skills or experience to be leader of this country. He is probably winging it and depending on the people around him to guide him along. That to me is troublesome. The reason he got elected is because people didn't want to elect another republican. Any democrat that ran could have won this time around."


So, DL, are you saying that because the exploitation of non-citizens occurs in a lot of places in New York, I should give Park Slope, a very wealthy community, a break? Or are you implying that it is somehow the fault of said non-citizens willing to be exploited that we have this exploitation? I'm confused. And what I mean by "coolie labor" is what coolie labor is defined as - a system of indentured servitude, just above outright slavery.

Regarding Obama versus Sarah Palin, are you suggesting, DL, that "natural intelligence" is a throw-away asset when it comes to leadership? Until Obama's election, we hadn't had any intelligence of any kind in the White House yet in the 21st century. While you may disagree with some of Obama's policies, I hope you at least would agree that intelligence is a bottom-line prerequisite, unlike the Republican Party of the 21st Century which seems to believe that intelligence and education make you an "elite," while macho bluster, superstition, homophobia, racism, sexism and xenophobia make you their kind of leader.

And are you actually basing your point of view on a belief that President Obama is, in your words, "probably winging it?!" Our last president was most certainly winging it, and as Sarah "Wilma Flintstone" Palin might say - "You betcha the people didn't want to elect another Republican!"

What are you saying, Dadloff?


State Labor Dept. Finds Park Slope Restaurants Underpaid Workers

Upscale neighborhood, narcissistic stroller set, fascist food coop... paying coolie wages to those who serve them? Just connect the dots, folks. That's all you ever have to do.


"Where Ronald Reagan was a celebrity in the old-Hollywood framework, Palin is a celebrity in the talentless, Balloon Boy, reality show, Prejean, new-Hollywood framework. Suffice to say, this strategy further devalues what it means to be considered 'presidential.' It chips away at all of the basic but necessary prerequisites for the gig, replacing them with nothing but the base notion of fame. Not even popularity as it applies to fame, but merely the quality of being known. Consequently, this can only contribute to a future when we choose a president based solely upon his or her ability to achieve the most real life drama, irrespective of any sort of inherent talent for leadership, natural intelligence or any notable skills whatsoever. A reality show president."
Bob Cesca


I had the privilege last night of being at a screening in New York of director Alex Merkin's new feature film, "ACROSS THE HALL."

It was an astonishing and very heartening experience for me, as a movie lover and as an aspiring screenwriter and filmmaker.

Across the Hall was astonishing not simply because it was an edge-of your-seat, adrenaline-draining thriller, or because the shooting style and editing made me imagine what Alfred Hitchcock might be doing today if he were young and alive and had his hands on today's technology. Nor was it astonishing mainly because the actors, particularly the two main characters, played by Mike Vogel and Danny Pino, were encouraged by Merkin to maintain a level of close-up intensity that never burned out and never burned the audience out. All of those elements made the film great, but what made it astonishing was that this was the first feature by this director, and it was shot in seventeen days on a very low budget, and it was still great!

Across the Hall was heartening because like my hero as a writer, Alan Ball ("American Beauty"), Alex Merkin clearly made the film he wanted to make, not the film that an aspiring director might think the Hollywood money people would want him to make. (Praise to producer Stephen Fromkin for giving Merkin the latitude to express his budding creative genius in this project.)

Filmmaking is not just a business, folks, and while there is always pressure to make it so from the suits of Hollywood and Wall Street, it cannot ever become only that because storytelling is a practice necessary for human evolution. From the earliest cave drawings and sand-paintings to today's webisodes, we communicate not just through language, but through the metaphors of story that convey our deeper yearnings and common experiences, and give us pause to laugh, cry and ponder.

As I watched this film last night, I couldn't escape having a couple of thoughts: Alex Merkin is going to become a household name soon, and I want this man to direct one of my films!

Congratulations, Alex!


HERE'S A LINK to a few pieces I've posted about spanking, some a little tongue in cheek, if you'll excuse the pun, and below is a news item about a new study that shows that spanking children is harmful to them. Is there a more emphatic expression than "DUH!" that I could use?!


"Think a little spanking won't do much harm to kids? New research says the effects can be long-lasting.
Children are too young to understand when parenting behavior is wrong, a social psychologist says.
A new study of more than 2,500 toddlers found that spanking may have detrimental effects on behavior and mental development.
Lisa Berlin, the study's lead author and research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University found that children who were spanked as 1-year-olds tended to behave more aggressively at age 2, and did not perform as well as other children on a test measuring thinking skills at age 3. The study is published in the journal Child Development."

By the way, one of the studies that I referenced shows that Republicans by far spank their kids more than Democrats, and that 8 of the 9 biggest spanking states voted for McCain in 2008. I repeat - "DUH!!"


I watched a funny movie a while ago that I hadn't seen in a long time - "Defending Your Life," starring Albert Brooks and Merryl Streep. It's about two people who recently died and had to make their cases to the heavenly powers that be as to whether they would be allowed to stay in Heaven, or needed to be returned once again to live another lifetime on Earth. The determining factor on which the two would be judged was how well they learned to manage and overcome fear.

Yep. Fear. Not anger or greed or selfishness, but fear as the mortal sin that could prevent one from moving onto eternal bliss.

Why fear? Because fear, not hate, is the true opposite of love. In all disciplines of true understanding, be they spiritual or psychological, fear is understood to be the antithesis of love. In fact, while hate is an ugly, distorted expression of love, to be sure, fear is what prevents love its expression and therefore leads to hate.

Love and hate are both based upon self-identification. In other words, you do not bother to love or hate someone you cannot identify with at all. In fact, you often love or hate another individual because the person evokes in you glimpses of yourself. And in the other person, you sense your own potential. In his or her eyes you see what you can be. But... you must first love yourself before you can love another. You cannot hate yourself and love anyone else, and as I discussed in my recent blog entry, "Full Permission Loving," love is the thing we all fear the most. (See that entry for the reason why we fear love so intensely.)

Lately, I am struck by how much hatred has infused our public discourse, and in particular, how much hatred is being directed at the least hateful president we've had in decades, Barack Obama. Obama is spreading a message of unity and hope, and yet to watch the far right pundits and talking heads, you'd think he was the devil incarnate. Why do they fear him, and therefore hate him, so much? Is there something so insidious about Mr. Obama that I am somehow missing, even after thirty years of studying the nature of human beings as a psychotherapist and sociologist? Is Barack Obama really the Antichrist? Or could it be that perhaps those individuals who hate him have become so fearful of facing how separated they've become from their own best potential, so unable to inspire anything but negativity, anger and despair in others, and so removed from their genuine capacity to love, except abstractly of course, like loving the flag or the cross or the "troops," that they must seek to denigrate and destroy anyone who puts forth a message that is positive and loving?

We've been here before haven't we? Martin Luther King, the Kennedy's, Ghandi, and of course, Jesus himself, all messengers of hope and unity, all brutally murdered for delivering that message.

King himself once said this:

"Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true."

I can't predict what will happen in the public square as this year ends, and a new one begins. As a species, the human race seems to barely be in its adolescence developmentally, and we know how that goes so often.

Maybe these more optimistic words by MLK can offer us some solace:

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."


Amazing how the jingoistic crowd of right-wingers who whole-heartedly (and empty-headedly) supported one of the most ignorant, incompetent and corrupt administrations in U.S. history, during the Cretaceous Era between 2000 and 2008, as if being a Republican was their patriotic calling card, are now claiming to be... Libertarians!


Like the character created by Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live, "The Pathological Liar," whose signature line was "YEEEAAAH, THAT'S THE TICKET!", these mortified and mortifying hypocrites now claim they were betrayed by the Fake Cowboy and Darth Vadar who they blindly pledged their undying loyalty to for 8 years, while 4,000 of our children were actually dying in their fake war.

"Yeah, we was betrayed... that's the ticket!"

Suddenly, these drooling, clueless children are lost in the wingnut wilderness without their soulless leaders. So, these new "former Republicans" are imagining that they're reincarnated pioneers in coonskin hats tracking down "Injuns," this time masquerading as Liberal savages, or maybe in their delusions, they're Confederate Soldiers in old Dixie fighting for their states rights to enslave other human beings to preserve "their way of life."
That's the really pathetic part. Every single "birther" cretin is the descendent of an immigrant, but yet they cry crocodile tears about how "their country is being taken away from them," presumably by the descendent of a renegade slave now in the White House.

Sorry, folks, but your desperate attempts at independence, now, are easily exposed by your trying to block real democracy and progress in our country by screaming inane screeds at town hall meetings or hanging tea bags off off your straw hats, when you don't have a clue about what's really going on in the halls of power in our country. And crying that the democrats have fucked up, too, isn't really a position, is it kids? No. It's just what kids say when they've been caught being mean, selfish or stupid.

"He did it, too!"


Nice try!


Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group that travels around the country holding anti-gay rallies, protested outside the school attended by President Obama's children on Monday morning with this sign!

Why do I get as riled up about this subject as I do about, let's say, drugging school children or government sanctioned killing? Because after treating people of all ages and backgrounds in therapy for thirty years, and as a sociologist studying our culture, my conclusion is that the single most prevalent and insidious cause of dysfunction in our world today is sexual repression and suppression, from Middle America to the Middle East. (And make no mistake, the Iraq War was started by one sexually repressed and fanatical government, steeped in religious ideologies that subordinate sex and women (the BUSH-CHENEY administration), against another such government (Iraq's).


Whether you look underneath the facades of the perpetrators of child abuse or of war, you'll find someone with a harsh or otherwise distorted relationship to sex. Just read the newspapers!

This is not a new or original idea here, folks. It has been understood throughout history. The truly organic, spiritual nature of sex, and the detrimental effects of sexual repression, have been written about for thousands of years - in the East and West - from the Kama Sutra to the writings of Sigmund Freud. But more importantly, you know, each of you know, that it's true experientially. How could something that feels so good and is so compelling in our very nature be wrong?! What must it do to our psyche and emotional life to be told that something so desirable inside of ourselves, something that feels so exhilerating and life-affirming, is sinful, or must be controlled, except under the strictest of conditions prescribed by legislators or religious leaders? It doesn't compute, right? That's why you masturbate secretly? Or have affairs or seek out prostitutes.

Now, mind you, when I use words like "life-affirming," I'm talking about real sex, not "faux sex," ala Elliot Spitzer or Bill Clinton or the school teachers in the mid-west seducing 13-year olds. That kind of impulse-disorder driven behavior is in fact the result of sexual repression caused by guilt and shame about sex. I'm talking about sex that is the celebration and exploration of our human nature, sex that elevates, not denigrates.

Here are some beautiful excerpts from a Pathwork Guide lecture called "The Spiritual Significance of Sexuality:"

"In the human realm the power of sexuality can, in its most ideal form, be the greatest 'representative' of spiritual existence. There is no other human experience that conveys so fully what spiritual bliss, oneness, and timelessness are: the timeless Now, beyond the confines of time. In the total sexual experience man breaks through the confines of time and separateness to which his limited mind has bound him. Through such an experience man is reminded of his true existence in the eternal."

So, again, why would we seek to deny or control such a wonderful and powerful force with externally enforced celibacy or internally oppressive defense mechanisms? Because the sexual experience reveals us, for one thing. It opens and exposes us, if it's real sex. It blows our egos out of the way, freeing us up to see ourselves and others in a purer way than we're used to.

Here's more form the Guide lecture:

"Whatever exists within the human psyche shows up in the sexual experience. It is impossible to keep it out of it. The sexual experience is therefore an infallible indicator of where a person is: where he is liberated and at one with divine law; where he is evil and destructive; where he is stuck and stagnant because his destructiveness is hidden and not being dealt with. Hidden facets become magnetized and energized by the sexual current and they determine its direction. When this direction is negative, and therefore shamefully denied, both development and the vitality of the life force are being hindered. The powerful creative energy that is inherent in the sexual expression creates a condition in which all character attitudes, all aspects of the most hidden nature, must manifest."

Wow! The sexual experience as an "infallible indicator" of where a person is at? Well, take a look around you, and at yourself, and ask whether or not this seems obvious to you. It certainly does to me.

Hey, editors at the New York Times, stop giving equal weight to regressive movements like "Abstinence Only." If you have to report on such a phenomenon, be honest. This is not just another legitimate philosophy about sex and love. This is a distortion of our humanity. And it causes harm. The single most common reason for divorce is sexual incompatibility, especially among people who didn't have sex until after they were married, and the most common reason for violence against women and children is sexual repression, as well.

And while you're at it, stop acting like giving children drugs in order to perform more efficiently in school is any different than athletes taking steroids to perform better on the field.

Oh yeah, and one more thing - while I'm going off - how about if we stop pretending that deciding to become a cop or a soldier isn't a pathology. Who in their right mind signs up for a career who's job description includes having to kill human beings?

Please, let's just be honest.


This is excerpted from an article by Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, authors of "Conscious Loving." (For a related article written by me a while ago, you can reference my piece, WHY RELATIONSHIPS "FAIL"-IN PURSUIT OF EROS.)

Here are the Hendricks, quoting from an important study. See if you're in there - if you dare!

"Some years ago John Cuber and Peggy Harroff did one of the few in-depth studies ever done on the relationships of successful people. From studying the relationships of 437 successful people, the authors found that 80% of the people they studied had unsatisfying marriages and long-term relationships. Only about 20% of the couples had relationships the authors called "Vital." The other 80% had three main styles of unsatisfying relationships:

1. Devitalized. In these relationships, the partners remained together in spite of having fallen out of love with each other years ago. They had been "going through the motions," sometimes for decades. The relationships often looked okay from the outside, but there was little or no passion between the individuals.

2. Passive-Congenial. In these relationships, the partners had never been passionate about each other in the first place. Their relationship was based more on affectionate friendship, much like business partners. Their expectations were low, so they were seldom disappointed with each other. Because of the low expectations, they didn't fight much and so remained together in a state of ho-hum harmony.

3. Conflict-Habituated. In these relationships, the partners had created a lifestyle based around constant conflict. Whether engaged in low-level bickering or heated conflict, they remained together as long-term combatants, interspersed with periods of truce. They seemed almost to thrive on conflict, which provided them with an adrenalin-infused state of ongoing arousal."


Birther Lawsuit Witnesses: "Orly Taitz Told Us To Lie"

Lou Dobbs: "This will be my last broadcast,"

Sean Hannity: "And although it pains me to say this, Jon Stewart, Comedy Central, he was right. Now on his program last night, he mentioned that we had played some inccorect video on this program last week while talking about the Republican health care rally on Capitol Hill. He was correct, we screwed up."




A screenplay, "GRAF," that I co-wrote with one M. Roman Rosales just won the Best Action-Adventure Screenplay in the Gotham Film Festival here in NYC.

What the heck, folks! All I want to say about this is just don't ever say no to yourself.


This must sting a bit. Sarah Palin's newest conspiracy theory on the "disturbing" redesign of U.S. coins was too much, even for Fox News - on Tuesday night, Fox fact-checked Palin.

Last Friday, Palin, the erstwhile former neighbor of Russia who believes that humans roamed with the dinosaurs a mere six thousand years ago, rolled out her latest conspiracy theory, this time on the redesign of U.S. coins. Palin waded into the subject by remarking that there had been a lot of "change" of late, for example, the redesign of U.S. currency which moved the once-centered text "In God We Trust" to the edge of coins.

"Who calls a shot like that?" Palin demanded on Friday. "Who makes a decision like that?"

As Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted: President Bush, that's who.

Baier commented on the not-so-hidden subtext of Palin's speech: "Unsaid but implied was that the new Democratic White House was behind such a move to secularize the nation's currency." Baier added: "In actuality the coin's design was commissioned in 2005, when Republicans controlled congress, and then was approved by then President Bush."



"The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America."


Here's Laura:

"It feels like you're on to something, Peter! I'm going to give this a try!"

Here's PL:

Yes, Laura, you can try this at home!



How does the therapeutic relationship end?
“Termination” is the ominous term used to describe the end-phase of conventional therapies. In this phase of therapy, the patient is thought to go through the final throws of separation and individuation issues, played out in transference with the therapist. This is also supposed to be a time when the patient will temporarily regress into a final crisis, until finally arriving to a state of autonomy. A requirement here, in traditional thinking, is that the patient and therapist must sever all contact after a formerly agreed-upon last session. Thus, the absoluteness of the word, “termination.”
Yet, it seems obvious that if a patient needs to have such an absolute cut-off dictated to them by a dictating “authority figure”, the implication is that the patient is still quite prone to dependency…so, how “successful” could the therapy have been? (Ironically, termination is thought of as one of the most important phases of the treatment process and yet, it is the least talked or written about in the psychotherapy profession.)
There often is a crisis period that occurs in the later stages of a full-spectrum healing process as well, but it is not precipitated by the pending “termination” of the relationship with the therapist. This crisis occurs within the context of the therapy at its own natural time, without needing to have set an ending date to initiate it. It occurs naturally when the person is strong enough and no longer needs to be defended and armored against deep feelings. It is a deeply healing crisis. It can be a final grieving for the losses of one’s early life, or a final release of the terror caused by childhood traumas, or perhaps a final expression of anxiety as a patient’s sexual feelings emerge in full force.
The actual ending, in whatever form it takes, of the therapeutic relationship becomes kind of anti-climactic, then, more like a transition experienced with a celebratory sigh and embrace, not with a somber tone of severance. Because neither the patient nor the therapist are neurotically dependent on one another, the ending need not be compulsorily absolute. What actually ends at the “end” of a successful therapy is the continued making of transferences to the therapist – and for that matter, to any other people in the patient’s life. The patient acknowledges comfortably at this point that the therapist and she are “equals”, adults who are not in need of parental figures anymore. So, the therapeutic relationship, like every relationship, can end or transform gracefully, according to the nature and purpose of the connection between the two individuals.


Are you expressing yourself in a creative, joyful work-life that energizes your mind and spirit and brings you financial comfort? Are you contributing light into the world with your positive thoughts and actions? Are your relationships harmonious and full of laughter and open, honest communication? Do you regularly reveal yourself to others and seek to know others at deeper and deeper levels? Are you fulfilled in your love life? Are you having invigorating, soul-quenching sex with someone you love? Are you so in love that you can't help but feeling like the luckiest person on earth? Do your children feel comfortable being emotional, self-assertive and independent? Is your body a temple at which you celebrate life?


Are you isolated and angry? Fearful that the world and life are slipping away from you? Sexually frustrated? Cynical about love? Do you need medication in order to sleep, get it up, bring your blood pressure down, keep your anxiety and depression levels manageable? Are you frustrated creatively and financially? Are you engaged in a work-life that is meaningless to you? Does your body feel like it is deteriorating and betraying you with the passage of time?

If your answer to the top paragraph is "Yes," then congratulations, and keep doing what you're doing, and please share the knowledge and wisdom you've acquired.

If your answer to the bottom paragraph is "Yes," but you're working to heal yourself in any kind of serious way, or at least seeking guidance from someone, then know that you are not alone.

If your answer to the bottom paragraph is "Yes," but you're not working to heal yourself in any kind of serious way, or at least seeking guidance from someone, then you should be silent. You don't have a contribution to make to the discussions about the direction of the country or the world. You are a dependent child, pretending to be a victim, and your negativity is not a gift that the world needs. Be silent, learn, and let the rest of humanity repair the damage that you have done.


More about that must read book, THE BIG LEAP, by Gay Hendricks:

This is a very, very important subject for people who have already done some significant work on themselves, have accomplished a degree of self-awareness and emotional connectedness, and may be somewhat successful in the areas of love and work already, yet are nonetheless resisting taking that full leap into an even more complete and actualized new life, into what Hendricks calls "The Zone of Genius." This is a place that is beyond competence, even beyond excellence. It is a place of inspiration, where our abilities to love and create and experience life totally are so expanded that we actually fear it and want to put a lid on it - thus the "Upper Limit Problem."

In a my post of mine, JUMP INTO YOUR NEXT LIFE, I likened this syndrome to having the winning lottery ticket but refusing to cash it in. I am really glad to see this being written about in a book.

Here's an excerpt:

"What Is The Upper Limit Problem? The ULP is the human tendency to put the brakes on our positive energy when we've exceeded our unconscious thermostat setting for how good we can feel, how successful we can be, and how much love we can feel. The essential move we all need to master is learning to handle more positive energy, success and love. Instead of focusing on the past, we need to increase our tolerance for things going well in our lives right now. If we don't learn how to do this, we suffer in every area of our lives."

This subject is also addressed quite eloquently in a Pathwork Guide Lecture: THE GREAT TRANSITION IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

The Guide talks about our resistance to becoming fully happy, even though we have done so much work to attain that very happiness. It's almost like we never really expected that the hard self-work we've done would actually work! OOPS!!

Here's the Guide:

"At the very beginning of this path you learned to recognize your faults, your weaknesses and your shortcomings on the most superficial and obvious level. This recognition was not easy, because you were untrained and unused to any kind of self-observation and self-honesty. From that stage onward you learned to explore deeper levels and find the greater subtleties of your nature.
The second major phase of this path dealt with your complexes, your images, misconceptions, and your unconscious confusions and conflicts.
Now comes a third major phase on this path. For those of you who have already gained an overall understanding about your inner problems... and how the human soul struggles against this! How afraid it is to leave a state of unhappiness for a state of happiness and security! How foolish of you to fear, deep within your hearts, that in leaving the old world and attaining the new you have to leave something precious behind."

Take the Big Leap, folks. READ THIS BOOK!


HERE'S a must read by Kathlyn & Gay Hendricks from their recent book, THE BiG LEAP.

This is a very, very important subject for people who have done some significant work on themselves, but are resisting taking that leap of faith into a new life. A few days ago in my post, JUMP INTO YOUR NEXT LIFE, I likened this syndrome to having the winning lottery ticket but refusing to cash it in. I am really glad to see this written about.

Here's an excerpt:

"What Is The Upper Limit Problem? The ULP is the human tendency to put the brakes on our positive energy when we've exceeded our unconscious thermostat setting for how good we can feel, how successful we can be, and how much love we can feel. The essential move we all need to master is learning to handle more positive energy, success and love. Instead of focusing on the past, we need to increase our tolerance for things going well in our lives right now. If we don't learn how to do this, we suffer in every area of our lives."

Repost: "Leave the Radishes, Take the Cookies!"

This is from a fascinating little essay that was in the NY Times a while ago that totally relates to Full Permission Living. Sandra Aamodt, the editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience, and Sam Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, are the authors of “Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life.”
Their piece in the Times is about how little tolerance the human organism has for asceticism (defined by my dictionary as: "the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence.") I have frequently said that the soul of a human being hates being told "No!" for arbitrary reasons of self-judgment.
Well, here's two scientists demonstrating that harsh self-discipline, especially the kind that inhibits feelings, leads to excessive acting out in other ways.

Here are some excerpts:

"With a relatively long recession looking increasingly likely, many American families may be planning to tighten their belts. Interestingly, restraining our consumer spending, in the short term, may cause us to actually loosen the belts around our waists.
"The brain has a limited capacity for self-regulation, so exerting willpower in one area often leads to backsliding in others. The brain’s store of willpower is depleted when people control their thoughts, feelings or impulses, or when they modify their behavior in pursuit of goals.
"In one pioneering study, some people were asked to eat radishes while others received freshly baked chocolate chip cookies before trying to solve an impossible puzzle. The radish-eaters abandoned the puzzle in eight minutes on average, working less than half as long as people who got cookies or those who were excused from eating radishes.
"Other activities that deplete willpower include resisting food or drink, suppressing emotional responses, restraining aggressive or sexual impulses, taking exams and trying to impress someone."

Thanks, Sandra and Sam! I think I'll have an espresso and a chocolate biscotti now before I start my morning's work.




What comes after re-alignment?

I’ve come to call that place “full permission living.” The phrase came to me spontaneously after I broke through my own character structure. I felt that I could now be more and more able, as time progressed post-character structure, to follow my desires, trust my impulses, act spontaneously – basically, do whatever I wanted – and that, in so doing, I could trust that I would be living in my own best interest, and in harmony with others and with life.

Full permission living is a place of being. Having moved from awareness to understanding to knowing, a person at this level of their development is simply a human… being.

Eva Broch, in Pathwork Guide Lecture #127, delineates four stages of the evolution of consciousness: “automatic reflex, awareness, understanding and knowing.” Spinning off from that lecture, one can think of the movement through states of consciousness in the healing process as having four stages: awareness, understanding, knowing and being.

Awareness and understanding come by freeing up the mind. This is accomplished first by clearly seeing what is going on in one’s inner and outer life (awareness), and then making the cause and effect connections about the events (understanding). Awareness can begin increasing right in the first therapy session with the therapist’s initial reflections and assessment. Often in a first session, a patient may say in response to the therapist’s observation about something, “Oh! I never realized that before.” His awareness has been activated.

Understanding comes somewhat afterwards as connections are made mentally and repetitive patterns that were previously thought of as mysterious or cruelly random are seen in their predictable light. Hidden agendas, intentions and beliefs are accepted as personal realities.

Knowing comes with freeing up the emotions in the body. It is only from our gut, from within our bodies, that we can ever say “I know” something with certainty. That is why we say, “I just feel it”, when we are definite about something. The person who truly feels, knows their own truth confidently. Getting to a place of knowing takes hard work and determined effort. In addition to developing awareness and understanding, one must now undertake the “breaking” of the body’s defenses and armoring, and really feel, especially, at first, the difficult feelings of sorrow, rage and fear. This is the “point of no return.” If a person breaks through here - and it could take 6 or more years - they will never “go back” to their previous levels of functioning. They are on their way to being.

Being is just living, spontaneously and naturally, and comes from letting go. Of everything! It is living without attachment. Although awareness, understanding and knowing are part of being, they are incorporated now without effort, without thinking in the usual sense. Basic trust has been firmly re-established, but now combined with the knowledge, courage and wisdom of an adult.

The re-establishment of basic trust leads to the rediscovery that at its base, life “works”, and that at our own cores, we are loving, creative, compassionate beings. At this phase of development, a person knows that he or she creates their own reality and he accepts responsibility for his creations without judgement or blame. One lives without attachment to outcomes, without regrets about past events, without worry about future happenings. Dualistic thinking falls by the wayside, and there is a true sense of oneness felt in connection with all others and with life. Body, mind and spirit are felt to be one. The person here doesn’t think of oneself as “sick” when experiencing a symptom, but rather this person experiences pain as information and guidance. There is no irrational fear of death… or life. Perfection is not demanded from oneself or others. Life is lived spontaneously.

In one way, life at this point resembles life before therapy. Neurotic individuals operate pretty much automatically in their lives, operating automatically, from what Broch calls "automatic reflexes”, acting out the dictates of their unconscious mind unquestioningly. It is only the suffering that keeps intruding into their daily existence that makes them question what’s going on and seek out guidance. Their suffering is caused by the fact that the unconscious dictates they’re acting out are coming from the wounded child aspect of the personality. The healing of this wounded aspect in us requires a very intense and focused period of intrusive “excavation” into the unconscious mind and body. It is an immersion in self-examination, questioning, exposing, analyzing, surfacing, penetrating, releasing, cleansing, re-educating and re-aligning that takes years.

However, once the “hard work” is done, in a sense the person can go back to living automatically again. Only this time, it is the most developed aspect of the self, the “higher self”, that is motivating actions more directly. This higher self aspect is also unconscious to the person for the most part, but the free adult can understand and sense its workings more clearly because now the ego has gone back to its original, natural function: observing. Whatever happens in the person’s life at this point, including what used to be thought of fretfully as obstacles, problems or illness, he just observes events without judgement or irrational fear, and accepts everything as information and guidance. The person here is identified with “that which observes”, rather than ‘that which is observed”, as Eva Broch puts it in Guide Lecture #189.

Or as Saint Thomas Aquinas put it in describing the realization at this level of consciousness: “Who we are looking for is who is looking.”


"You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans."
Ronald Reagan (March 29,1981 - barely 2 months into his 1st term)


Here's Casey:

"I appreciate your comments ("STRIPPING DOWN STRIPPING") and overall perspective on stripping. Strip club customers are immature. Emotionally/spiritually healthy men should find strip clubs to be boring and sad. Unfortunately the uhealthy male masses have a craving to fill and the uneducated and oppressed female masses have financial needs to fill. As well as a certain amount of emotional problems to address because it's true that few strippers do it JUST for the money.

I know this because I've been one for 13 years. I'm a recovered addict, with less than one year of college (24 yrs ago), attempting to get a writing career off the ground and I need a job with very flexible hours and a decent income in order to do it. Stripping is the only job available to me that fulfills these needs at this point in my life. However that's not why I first started doing it.

I first started stripping (at 18, 24 yrs ago) mostly for the money but also propelled, in part, by my emotional/sexual baggage, issues I've yet to fully heal (though I've come a long way, baby).

Anyway, I blog about it at www.MyDancerDiary.com if you're interested. And I happen to stumble on your blog today and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Just wanted you to know that some of the approx 250,000 exotic entertainers in this country do agree with your points, while also continuing to work at one of the best (of the very few) viable jobs available to us."

Here's PL:

Thank you, CD, for a candid and very lucid response to my post. I appreciate what you wrote so much that I am hesitant to counter any of it, so I will mainly say just this: that combing what you call the "cravings of the unhealthy male masses" with the material needs of "the uneducated and oppressed female masses" is a recipe for mutual exploitation, and so cannot be "one of the best, viable jobs" for said female masses. There is a paradigm, a belief system at work underneath this apparent dilemma that if it could be uncovered and challenged would change the outer reality.

I look forward to reading your blog, Casey, and thanks again!


Here's an excerpt (below) from an interesting piece about the profession of stripping, called "My Life In a G-String: A Round Up of Stripper Memoirs," by Katie Roiphe.

Katie focuses on how so many of the so-called inside looks into the world of stripping via "memoirs" by strippers, all sound the same, but she doesn't offer any insight or analysis of what she is documenting, although some things are clearly implied. Denial, for one thing. And a masochistic/psychopathic character structure combination, often with an overlay of narcissism, and an underpinning of sexual abuse in childhood, be it overt or subtle. In other words, stripping is not about what it seems to be about, and it certainly isn't about sex or sensuality or economics.

Woah! What does that mean, PL?

Well, it means in simplest terms, that no one becomes a stripper "just for the money," and that stripping, contrary to what some of the memoirs suggest, is as far from being a "feminist act of empowerment" as being Vanna White turning letters on Wheel of Fortune once was. The world of stripping isn't even one of high level voyeurism or exhibitionism. Only the most immature and disconnected from their own sexuality would find pole dancing by women in thongs for money anything but tedious and boring, if not downright sad and pathetic.

I love sex. And the revealing of oneself is a very sensual part of the experience. Likewise, watching your partner in love,Eros and sex undress in front of you is hot. Sitting at a table at "Scores," with a bunch of indiscriminately horny men seeking to control and exploit the women who are seeking to control and exploit them, is not hot.

Anyway, here's Katie:

"Are all naked women pretty much the same? Reading stripper memoirs would lead one to think so. It is a surprisingly rigid genre, with a set of rules and conventions as strict as those of sonnets or villanelles. These memoirs vary in tone, from Ruth Fowler, in Girl, Undressed, who writes like Sylvia Plath without the talent (“The bruise of men’s kisses has stained our breasts like crushed berries, fading gently into the sickly olive of a memory”) or Diablo Cody, of Juno fame, in Candy Girl, who writes like a grown-up Eloise at the Plaza (“Bossy bottoms absolutely slay me”), but they do tend to follow a surprisingly predictable form. You would think the subject would have a certain voyeuristic frisson, but something about stripping lends itself to cliché and obviousness, to the literary equivalent of fake breasts and caked mascara and silver thongs.
"It is puzzling that such promising and prurient subject matter would lead to such flat books. This stylized form of sexuality seems to lend itself to cliché. In all of these memoirs, there is something false in the revelation and mechanical in the execution, that is—if we take the word of these bored and jaded ladies—something like stripping itself. Some of the writers, like Eaves, are smarter than others; some, like Cody, are more charismatic. But I think one could read memoirs about working in a diner that would be more various and diverse and interesting. (Think of Barbara Ehrenreich in Nickel and Dimed.) Perhaps, in our porn-saturated world, we are overly familiar with the interior of a strip club; there is not much in these books that we didn’t know or couldn’t imagine on our own. After indulging in these books, with all of their posing, their vacant mirror gazing, their empty dramatization, the reader may begin to feel like a business man on vacation who would prefer a little of the real thing."



Here's the fourth installment from my training class on the Stages of Healing that I taught to prospective therapists a while ago. Readers will note that the stages of healing in therapy move along with what should be the natural stages of our development.

If a person in therapy has developed basic trust and formed a genuine alliance with her therapist, has uncovered his inner beliefs and faced the childhood traumas they were based on without any glossing over, and finally, if she has freed herself up emotionally and physically, this person has broken through her character structure. This is an incredible and heroic accomplishment! If entering into therapy is reminiscent of the initial crisis of being born in a desperate state of need, then breaking free of one’s character structure is like the experience of being “born again”, only this time into a healthy, loving environment.
This time around, the newly “born” person’s basic trust stays intact, because the patient has now become her own loving parent. So, the person can go about the business of exploring life, just like a well-loved and secure baby does, outside of the inhibiting armor of a defensive structure. Stimulation and sensations in the internal and external worlds are experienced as new again, and, as such, are felt to be both exciting and frightening at first. Just as the newborn child needs to learn how to walk and talk and orient himself to life on planet Earth, a newly opened adult needs to re-learn how to do those things outside of the cramped confines of an inhibited life and contracted or de-energized body.
Also like an infant, who doesn’t have an “identity” based on roles or images yet, a newly released adult has a much more fluid and undefined sense of self. At first, many people at this stage of therapy “complain” that they feel “lost” or say, “I don’t know who I am anymore”, or “I don’t know where I’m going.” This feeling is not “replaced” with a new identity, however. Instead, the person, over time, gets used to living more like a “spirit”, free of the limited notions of a clearly defined “self”, and free from rigid ideas about space and time. More and more moments of exhilarating freedom and a humble but genuine self-confidence begin to infuse the person as a result.
Finally, like a baby who has no conception of the past or future but is totally in the moment, focused only on the immediate input to its five senses, the free adult is once again a sensate being, connected to the now. The richness of physical life and the importance of pleasure become clear. Judgements about one’s desires fall away. Ruminating about the past and worrying about the future no longer occupies the mind. The actualized adult’s ego is “repaired”, and assigned to its proper functions of observing, mediating and remembering, instead of controlling, punishing and suppressing.
This stage of therapy is a time of getting used to expansive influxes of energy, and once again, as in infancy, it is a time of feeling emotions and sensations in one’s body intensely. The therapist needs to explain that the feelings of fear the patient is having now are not regressive, “old” feelings, but rather, they are appropriate, natural feelings of fear that anyone on a new adventure has. The therapist can reassure the patient that he or she will no longer be paralyzed by strong emotions, and that there is no longer the possibility of regression. This could take time, but now, for the person at this stage, time is an ally. The patient who has broken through his character structure has re-ignited his natural healing process and will only “get better” with the passage of time. This person will truly “age gracefully.”
Inevitably, at this time in the person’s development, sexual gratification and creative expression become paramount issues for the patient. No longer suffering “neurotically” (unconsciously repeating childhood scenarios symbolically over and over again), the patient now becomes focused on the adult needs to share deep intimacy and pleasure with another and to fulfill what Erikson called “generativity”, the desire to give back to the world and the next generation through creative expression. This will often be a time, regardless of the patient’s age, of going back to school, changing careers, and exploring one’s sexual nature, including for many, “learning” how to enjoy sex joyfully, without guilt or shame.
The therapist is mostly engaged in supportive counseling and “teaching” at this time, no longer needing to focus on uncovering hidden images and beliefs or unblocking feelings in the body. This patient knows her own story now and he can cry or laugh fully when the moment calls for it. Meditation and journal writing are very valuable tools to facilitate the process at this stage of development, because just as the body has to re-adjust to free living, so does the mind. Habitual ways of thinking and behaving will assert themselves occasionally, particularly under stress or fatigue, but since the person is now operating consciously, and not locked in her body, subtler techniques will bring him back to a centered, balanced place in shorter and shorter amounts of time.

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