“The Education of Little Tree” is one of my favorite novels. Published in 1976, it is a poignant and tender tale of an orphaned part-Cherokee boy named Little Tree who is raised by his half-Cherokee grandfather and full-Cherokee grandmother in the mountains of North Carolina during Prohibition. It is also one of the most anti-racist books I have read. Yet its author, Asa Earl Carter, who published it under the pen name of Forrest Carter to hide his identity, had about as racist a history as anyone in 20th century American history. He was a violent Ku Klux Klan leader, an outspoken segregationist and anti-Semite, and a speechwriter and politician who ran (and lost) in his last election, for governor of Alabama in 1970, on a racist platform. This is, to say the least, a major curiosity.
The New York Times, which outed Carter for his real identity, denounced him and labeled his book a sham that exploits Native Americans. Continue reading
For those interested, I just put up a new essay on the blog “Mad in America”, titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?“. It was a risk for me to place this essay there, because some of the essay’s ideas, such as a good therapist wouldn’t have children and wouldn’t preach forgiveness of parents, are not in synch with conventional thinking. I assumed these ideas would meet with backlash from more conventional readers, and from the comments of the first few hours, this has proven to be the case. I am finding responding to be an interesting experience. It gets me thinking – and offers me a chance to engage in dialogue.
I am full of fear about my new life. I am planning, with my friend Fred Timm, to start a not-for-profit organization called Conscious Community — a hub, online and also in-person, for people interested in and dedicated to becoming more conscious. This is the first time I have spoken publicly about this group. We have been working hard on formulating its principles for some time and it’s almost ready to go. I don’t want to say much more about it right now, beyond that its ideas are in synch with the values I have been espousing for the last ten or so years.
In framing this essay, I’d like to ask myself some questions about my fear. Sometimes I find interviewing myself to be quite helpful. So here goes. Continue reading
Child mortality has been dropping around the word for decades, but what about the mortality rate of the inner child? From what I have observed, the inner child of most people, even in developed countries, gets stuck in a state of suspended animation forever, such that most people die inwardly before they even become adults. Their emotional traumas overcome them and snuff out their spirit. Their family systems convert their minds into deadness. They lose their creativity and wildness, they block out the emotional reality of their childhoods, and they become automatons. They survive in order to live for comfort, happiness, and emotional camouflage. They become the norm. Continue reading
Dear humans of the year 2100,
By the time you read this I will be long dead, probably forty or fifty years already. The things about which I write are obvious to you. To you it is obvious that we, your progenitors, failed. We failed to make the changes necessary to allow our species to live sustainably on this planet. We failed to use the technology at our disposal to live cleanly on Earth. We failed to use farming and waste disposal methods that did not poison the land and water and air. In our quest for lives of comfort we used our planet, and psychologically our children, as a sewer. Continue reading
When I was a child, there was a pond I loved. It lay a fifteen minute hike from the apartment complex where my family lived, over a hill and through some woods. It was in the middle of a meadow, fed by a natural stream. In it were tadpoles, a few species of frogs, crayfish, eastern painted turtles and snapping turtles, sunfish and catfish, perch and minnows, dragonfly larvae and salamanders, clams and snails, watercress, algae of several different varieties, and waterlilies. Butterflies of multiple species flitted around its shores, drinking water from the mud and nectar from the flowers nearby. Continue reading
I have recently been enjoying good conversation with some friends who describe themselves as “anarchists” and “voluntaryists.” Although I am new to exploring the meaning of these labels, my friends have explained them to me by returning to certain philosophical cornerstones: the non-aggression principle, respect for boundaries, and the avoidance of the use of force. From what I have gathered, a summation of their point of view, be it political or economic or simply interpersonal, is that all human interchange and interaction should be voluntary: that is, that no one should be forced to do anything by anyone or should practice force on others. Perhaps one could restate it by saying that no one should be aggressive toward others or cross others’ boundaries. This, they explain—assuming I have understood it correctly—is the basis of morality. Continue reading
I’ve been on a roll — just made another mini-film, again starring Fred Timm. It’s on the subject of psychotherapy, healing childhood trauma, and clearing out the old to make way for the new. Enjoy!!
I’ve been thinking for a while about branching out with my filmmaking and making films not just on recovery from psychosis or changing the mental health system. So, I finally did it! I made my first new film, a short film, called TRUTHTELLER. The subject is my friend and colleague Fred Timm, a visionary in New York City who has very clear ideas on what’s going wrong with our species, what the consequences of this will be, and what we need to do to fix it. Continue reading
(written on May 1, 2013, Zagreb, Croatia, finally published almost 8 months later!)
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Why don’t traumatized people take good care of themselves?
Although this may seem like a huge and complicated topic, the crux of the answer to this question is simple. I will break it down into a few parts.
But before jumping in, there are two preliminary things to know:
1) No one is created traumatized. We begin life perfectly unscathed. Continue reading
[I wrote this essay on June 25, 2013 — and probably didn’t publish it until now, six months later, because of the intensity of the ideas. I guess I wanted to make sure I agreed, over a decent period of time, with what I wrote. And I do.]
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1) You’ll traumatize them one way or another
That is, you’re not ready to have kids because you will screw up their lives. Chances are you are not healthy enough to avoid somehow depriving them of their emotional needs, and to deprive children of any of their emotional needs is to traumatize them. Continue reading
I was recently going through some old essays of mine and found this one from 2002, written two years before I had a website. I forgot that I even wrote it. I didn’t expect to like it much, but instead found the opposite: I really liked it. It expresses some concepts that I didn’t even realize I was thinking about at that time, and in some ways I find that they may even be more advanced than that which I think about now. Also, at the end of the essay I will discuss a couple of points this essay brought up for me. But for now I’ll leave the essay to you…
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I grew up in Upstate New York on what was once Cayuga Indian land. To me it is the most beautiful country in the world: rolling hills, crisp, cold streams, cascading waterfalls, Continue reading
I’ve known for a while that I’m rather lost. Not totally lost — but still, kind of lost. I’m not sure exactly where I’m going or what path I’m on. I would say that I have been kind of lost for about three-and-a-half years. It’s a stage of my life.
Recently I have come to think of my conscious life as having been in four stages so far.
The first stage of my conscious life was from about age three or four to age twenty. In a nutshell I guess you could call that stage my conscious childhood. Continue reading
[Written in early 2007. Note added, 12/27/13: This is a humorous, ironic essay. It was written tongue-in-cheek. Sorry I didn’t note that earlier.]
- You give your son a gift by hardening him early on to life’s inevitable pain
- Circumcised boys never have to face teasing for having a filthy foreskin – and your bleeding, stunned, little infant will thank you for this later
- Moses and Jesus lived productive lives without foreskins – what, you think your kid is special? Continue reading
[Written in 2004.]
Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, wrote at some length about his psychic turmoil over having been a key player in the murder of so many Jews. Shortly after sharing this, in 1947, he was hanged in Poland by a war crimes tribunal. His death was a loss to the world, and tells volumes about the troubling dynamics that led society to murder him. Continue reading
[Written in 2004.]
Americans experienced the trauma of the 9/11 attacks the same way all adults experience trauma: through the lens of unresolved childhood trauma. In a country packed with immature people parading as mature adults, we reacted to 9/11 in a far less mature way than we might have had we been more enlightened. Continue reading
[Written in 2004.]
Gandhi embodied courageous introspection and daring public expression of himself. His autobiography, though largely dull, is the work of a unusually self-reflective person. Gandhi was celibate for years and never shied away from speaking about its value, and was honest about his relationship with his wife and with his own sexual self. Continue reading
[Written in late 2009.]
Grief is painful, but opens the door to healing and growth. If there were no grieving, we would stay stagnant—the numb, seemingly comfortable stagnancy that is the goal of the norm. When we are in the midst of grieving we might wish to have it all go away, because in a sense the pain of grief is terrifying, but this is only the terror of facing ourselves—a deeper, more vulnerable, more hidden side of ourselves that we are usually able to plug up in our daily lives. Continue reading
[Written around 2004.]
Self-doubt is part of the healing process. As you progressively break from your family on the quest to become a true individual, a part of yourself remains a clone of the family in attitude and behavior. This part does not want to change. It views the world through the sick family perspective and hates that the deepest part of you desires to free your spirit and stand on your own. The weak attacks the strong, and you feel this attack as self-doubt. Continue reading
[Written in 2004.]
Honesty is the channel of truth between the soul and mind. Those who nurture it are imbued with enormous power: the power to see, the power to know, the power to differentiate, the power to reflect, the power to choose, the power to speak the truth, and ultimately the power to grow. Continue reading