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Re: [stoics] Re: Stoic Handling of Past Trauma

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  • JIM GODDARD
    Hello Jan, This may not seem relevant to the original purpose of this thread, but I think it is because understanding the nature and origins of our emotional
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 14, 2013
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      Hello Jan,

      This may not seem relevant to the original purpose of this thread, but I think it is because understanding the nature and origins of our emotional life is, in my experience, a huge help in dealing with our emotions. This particularly applies to dealing with past trauma and present anxieties, which is a current research interest of mine. 

      I'm currently reading the first volume, on attachment, of John Bowlby's renowned 'Attachment and Loss' trilogy. This volume focusses, for those who don't know, on attachment behaviour in infants and small children. In the first 200 or so pages of the 'Attachment' volume, focussing on theory and methodology, Bowlby deals with Freud's 'psychic energy' approach to the emotions. While he follows Freud in other respects, he rejects the psychic energy model and its consequent focus on blockages and other hydraulic metaphors. 

      Instead, Bowlby draws on a seemingly eclectic but actually integrated series of disciplines to develop a new approach to explaining the origins and expression of our emotions. Wherever one stands on these issues, I would suggest that Bowlby is well worth reading. He offers a series of fresh perspectives on the nature, purposes and development of emotional life.  

      Regards,

      Jim 


      --- On Thu, 14/2/13, jan.garrett@... <jan.garrett@...> wrote:

      From: jan.garrett@... <jan.garrett@...>
      Subject: [stoics] Re: Stoic Handling of Past Trauma
      To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Thursday, 14 February, 2013, 23:55

       

      Many years ago, I read Robert Solomon's book on the emotions. (I have not had time to consult it again before writing these thoughts.) He developed a cognitive or judgment-based theory of the emotions, not strictly Stoic but close in that particular aspect. His book also contained a critique of what he called the hydraulic theory of the emotions, with Freud as the primary proponent of the latter. I think it fair to say that the Freudian theory of repression presupposes the hydraulic model, with libido being the name for the energy which flows or is blocked or rechanneled in the hydraulic fashion.

      At the time I was more or less convinced, but in recent years as I wondered about the ramifications of the Stoic cognitive model, and began to have some doubt about the adequacy of that model, I also read a lot of Freud and even more of Wilhelm Reich's writings in his psychoanalytic and character analytic phase. I was sufficiently impressed especially by Reich's work in that tradition that I do not think an adequate understanding of the psyche is possible without something like the hydraulic model; the cognitive model may still be valid in certain respects; for instance, perhaps it helps explain how certain mental exercises can actually make an emotional difference, but it seems to me that the two models work together; it is as if the mental exercises may result in new plumbing or switching previously stuck and unmovable old faucets on long-rigid plumbing to release dammed up energies. The combined theory is worth considering.

      I think dogmatic resistance to admitting any relevance to the hydraulic model betrays a latent dualist or idealist metaphysics and leaves unexplained the very real material or rather energy component of emotional life.

      Best wishes,

      Jan

      --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "TheophileEscargot" wrote:
      >
      > I'm venturing dangerously into other people's fields here, since other
      > posters are experts in psychology and I'm not! But I think it's not
      > clear whether repression actually exists. Psychologists seem divided on
      > it.
      > This review paper for instance says "This comprehensive evaluation
      > reveals little empirical justification for maintaining the
      > psychoanalytic concept of repression":
      > http://img2.tapuz.co.il/CommunaFiles/28421076.pdf
      > The main school of psychology that still believes in repression is the
      > Psychoanalytic school. That's a different school of psychology to the
      > Cognitive school, which has adopted some ideas from Stoicism. Cognitive
      > psychologists seem to be fairly skeptical about repression as far as I
      > know.
      > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_repression
      > So, I'm not aware of any material dealing with stoicism and repression.
      > I'm not aware of the ancient stoics having such a concept.
      > In terms of dealing with past trauma, I think you would deal with it the
      > same way as current trauma: by critically examining every such thought
      > or impression that occurs to you. If you're troubled by a thought about
      > a past event, you could say to yourself "it's over now, nothing I can do
      > can change it, so there's no point letting it trouble me".
      > Here are a few extracts from Seneca that might be useful if thinking
      > about past suffering.
      > In Epistle 5 he recommends trying to live in the present, not worrying
      > about the past or future:
      > But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves
      > to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. And so
      > foresight, the noblest blessing of the human race, becomes perverted.
      > Beasts avoid the dangers which they see, and when they have escaped them
      > are free from care; but we men torment ourselves over that which is to
      > come as well as over that which is past. Many of our blessings bring
      > bane to us; for memory recalls the tortures of fear, while foresight
      > anticipates them. The present alone can make no man wretched.
      > In Epistle 13 he says we should try to see past traumas as something
      > which can make you stronger:
      > This is the touchstone of such a spirit; no prizefighter can go with
      > high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue;
      > the only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who
      > has seen his own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his
      > opponent's fist, who hasbeen tripped and felt the full force of his
      > adversary's charge, who has been downed in body but not in spirit, one
      > who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever.
      > So then, to keep up my figure, Fortune has often in the past got the
      > upper hand of you, and yet you have not surrendered, but have leaped up
      > and stood your ground still more eagerly. For manliness gains much
      > strength by being challenged...
      > Epistle 78 says:
      > It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he
      > has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with
      > complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: "None
      > has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I
      > endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my
      > family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are
      > placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!" However, even
      > if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in
      > reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you
      > were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells
      > lies to himself And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have
      > borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one's ills. Two
      > elements must therefore be rooted out once for all, the fear of future
      > suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no
      > longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet. --- In
      > stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Richard" wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > I think I'm beginning to get how a Stoic approaches current crises and
      > traumas.
      > >
      > > Q: Does Stoicism address the case of suffering in the past,
      > especially those scars that might remain from a difficult childhood?
      > Usually those feelings get repressed. Is there a practice for
      > processing them proactively?
      > >
      > >
      > > "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
      > > Regards, Richard
      > >
      >

    • Dave Kelly
      On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM, TheophileEscargot ... Epictetus had his own concept of catharsis which, of course, predates and differs from Freud s.
      Message 2 of 14 , Feb 15, 2013
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        On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM, TheophileEscargot
        <snailman100@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        > I'm venturing dangerously into other people's fields here, since other posters are experts in psychology and I'm not! But I think it's not clear whether repression actually exists. Psychologists seem divided on it.
        >
        > This review paper for instance says "This comprehensive evaluation reveals little empirical justification for maintaining the psychoanalytic concept of repression":
        >
        > http://img2.tapuz.co.il/CommunaFiles/28421076.pdf
        >
        > The main school of psychology that still believes in repression is the Psychoanalytic school. That's a different school of psychology to the Cognitive school, which has adopted some ideas from Stoicism. Cognitive psychologists seem to be fairly skeptical about repression as far as I know.
        >
        > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_repression
        >
        > So, I'm not aware of any material dealing with stoicism and repression. I'm not aware of the ancient stoics having such a concept.
        >
        > In terms of dealing with past trauma, I think you would deal with it the same way as current trauma: by critically examining every such thought or impression that occurs to you. If you're troubled by a thought about a past event, you could say to yourself "it's over now, nothing I can do can change it, so there's no point letting it trouble me".


        Epictetus had his own concept of catharsis which, of course, predates
        and differs from Freud's.

        http://goo.gl/6UHp6


        >
        > Here are a few extracts from Seneca that might be useful if thinking about past suffering.
        >
        > In Epistle 5 he recommends trying to live in the present, not worrying about the past or future:
        >
        > But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. And so foresight, the noblest blessing of the human race, becomes perverted. Beasts avoid the dangers which they see, and when they have escaped them are free from care; but we men torment ourselves over that which is to come as well as over that which is past. Many of our blessings bring bane to us; for memory recalls the tortures of fear, while foresight anticipates them. The present alone can make no man wretched.
        >
        > In Epistle 13 he says we should try to see past traumas as something which can make you stronger:
        >
        > This is the touchstone of such a spirit; no prizefighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue; the only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen his own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent's fist, who hasbeen tripped and felt the full force of his adversary's charge, who has been downed in body but not in spirit, one who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever. So then, to keep up my figure, Fortune has often in the past got the upper hand of you, and yet you have not surrendered, but have leaped up and stood your ground still more eagerly. For manliness gains much strength by being challenged...
        >
        > Epistle 78 says:
        >
        > It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: "None has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!" However, even if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells lies to himself And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one's ills. Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all, the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet. --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Richard" wrote:
        > >
        > >
        > > I think I'm beginning to get how a Stoic approaches current crises and traumas.
        > >
        > > Q: Does Stoicism address the case of suffering in the past, especially those scars that might remain from a difficult childhood? Usually those feelings get repressed. Is there a practice for processing them proactively?
        > >
        > >
        > > "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
        > > Regards, Richard
        > >
        >
        >


        Best wishes,
        Dave
      • TheophileEscargot
        Sure. But this is very different from the Freudian notion of catharsis (the hydraulic model). Epictetus is saying that the way to purge negative emotions is to
        Message 3 of 14 , Feb 15, 2013
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          Sure. But this is very different from the Freudian notion of catharsis (the hydraulic model).

          Epictetus is saying that the way to purge negative emotions is to think rationally about them and correct the false judgements behind them. This is a cognitive model of emotion.

          The catharsis/hydraulic model says the way to purge negative emotions is to indulge in that emotion, which will reduce it in the future.

          Epictetus however says that indulging in an emotion increases it in the future. For instance, Discourses Book 2 Chapeter 18.

          "So it is with respect to the affections of the soul: when you have been angry, you must know that not only has this evil befallen you, but that you have also increased the habit, and in a manner thrown fuel upon fire. When you have been overcome in sexual intercourse with a person, do not reckon this single defeat only, but reckon that you have also nurtured, increased your incontinence. For it is impossible for habits and faculties, some of them not to be produced, when they did not exist before, and others not be increased and strengthened by corresponding acts."

          Modern psychology has increasingly tended towards the cognitive view, and away from the hydraulic/catharsis view. That's because experiments and research have generally not supported the hydraulic/catharsis view:

          http://illinois.edu/lb/files/2009/03/26/9293.pdf

          "In one of the first experiments on the topic (Hornberger, 1959), participants first received an insulting remark from a confederate. Next, half of the participants pounded nails for 10 minutes— an activity that resembles many of the "venting" techniques that people who believe in catharsis continue to recommend even today. The other half did not get a chance to vent their anger by pounding nails. After this, all participants had a chance to criticize the person who had insulted them. If catharsis theory is true, the act of pounding nails should reduce subsequent aggression. The results showed the opposite effect. The people who had hammered the nails were more (rather than less) hostile toward the confederate afterward than were the ones who did not get to pound any nails."

          ...

          "In this study, angered participants hit a punching bag and thought about the person who had angered them (rumination group) or thought about becoming physically fit (distraction group). After hitting the punching bag, they reported how angry they felt. Next, they were given the chance to administer loud blasts of noise to the person who had angered them. There also was a no punching bag control group. People in the rumination group felt angrier than did people in the distraction or control groups. People in the rumination group were also most aggressive, followed respectively by people in the distraction and control groups. Rumination increased rather than decreased anger and aggression. Doing nothing at all was more effective than venting anger. These results directly contradict catharsis theory."


          The fundamental question is: does indulging a negative emotion increase it, or reduce it? Most modern psychology seems to bear out the stoic view that it increases it.

          The only counterexample that seems to be given is male sexual arousal. But that's not really a negative emotion (pathos) in stoicism. In stoicism it was seen as either an indifferent, or a function of nature and therefore part of the good.



          --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Dave Kelly <ptypes@...> wrote:
          >
          > On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM, TheophileEscargot
          > <snailman100@...> wrote:
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > I'm venturing dangerously into other people's fields here, since other posters are experts in psychology and I'm not! But I think it's not clear whether repression actually exists. Psychologists seem divided on it.
          > >
          > > This review paper for instance says "This comprehensive evaluation reveals little empirical justification for maintaining the psychoanalytic concept of repression":
          > >
          > > http://img2.tapuz.co.il/CommunaFiles/28421076.pdf
          > >
          > > The main school of psychology that still believes in repression is the Psychoanalytic school. That's a different school of psychology to the Cognitive school, which has adopted some ideas from Stoicism. Cognitive psychologists seem to be fairly skeptical about repression as far as I know.
          > >
          > > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_repression
          > >
          > > So, I'm not aware of any material dealing with stoicism and repression. I'm not aware of the ancient stoics having such a concept.
          > >
          > > In terms of dealing with past trauma, I think you would deal with it the same way as current trauma: by critically examining every such thought or impression that occurs to you. If you're troubled by a thought about a past event, you could say to yourself "it's over now, nothing I can do can change it, so there's no point letting it trouble me".
          >
          >
          > Epictetus had his own concept of catharsis which, of course, predates
          > and differs from Freud's.
          >
          > http://goo.gl/6UHp6
          >
          >
          > >
          > > Here are a few extracts from Seneca that might be useful if thinking about past suffering.
          > >
          > > In Epistle 5 he recommends trying to live in the present, not worrying about the past or future:
          > >
          > > But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. And so foresight, the noblest blessing of the human race, becomes perverted. Beasts avoid the dangers which they see, and when they have escaped them are free from care; but we men torment ourselves over that which is to come as well as over that which is past. Many of our blessings bring bane to us; for memory recalls the tortures of fear, while foresight anticipates them. The present alone can make no man wretched.
          > >
          > > In Epistle 13 he says we should try to see past traumas as something which can make you stronger:
          > >
          > > This is the touchstone of such a spirit; no prizefighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue; the only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen his own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent's fist, who hasbeen tripped and felt the full force of his adversary's charge, who has been downed in body but not in spirit, one who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever. So then, to keep up my figure, Fortune has often in the past got the upper hand of you, and yet you have not surrendered, but have leaped up and stood your ground still more eagerly. For manliness gains much strength by being challenged...
          > >
          > > Epistle 78 says:
          > >
          > > It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: "None has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!" However, even if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells lies to himself And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one's ills. Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all, the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet. --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Richard" wrote:
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > I think I'm beginning to get how a Stoic approaches current crises and traumas.
          > > >
          > > > Q: Does Stoicism address the case of suffering in the past, especially those scars that might remain from a difficult childhood? Usually those feelings get repressed. Is there a practice for processing them proactively?
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
          > > > Regards, Richard
          > > >
          > >
          > >
          >
          >
          > Best wishes,
          > Dave
          >
        • chrys1943
          I don t see any surprises for a physicalist model in the observation that an initial flow of some substance or energy in a channel increases the probability of
          Message 4 of 14 , Feb 16, 2013
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            I don't see any surprises for a physicalist model in the observation that an initial flow of some substance or energy in a channel increases the probability of subsequent flows. If a moderate rainfall cuts a channel in a receptive patch of ground, subsequent rainfalls will tend to take the same path and erode it further.

            If electrical flows through neurons are the physical basis of action, then an action of a certain type, when repeated, will tend to form a habit. The point of at least one form of psychoanalysis inspired by Freud is that the energy behind what you call negative emotions (say, anti-Semitic hatred invoked by the Nazis) is the same as the energy behind not-necessarily-pernicious emotions such as sexual desire. The blockage of sexual desire by repressive patriarchal institutions is experienced as inner torment but it can be temporarily released if it can be employed, with the approval of authorities, in trashing Jewish businesses or invested in military exercises with an eye toward avenging the insult to the Herrenvolk for the loss of World War I. However, by the logic of habit formation, if a person harms another who is perceived as an X and this gets positively reinforced, other things equal, he will be more likely do it again. Since sexual desire, at least in people of a certain age, is naturally generated, if repressive institutions are sustained, renewed energy will be available for diversion in hateful ways.

            --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "TheophileEscargot" <snailman100@...> wrote:
            >
            > Sure. But this is very different from the Freudian notion of catharsis (the hydraulic model).
            >
            > Epictetus is saying that the way to purge negative emotions is to think rationally about them and correct the false judgements behind them. This is a cognitive model of emotion.
            >
            > The catharsis/hydraulic model says the way to purge negative emotions is to indulge in that emotion, which will reduce it in the future.
            >
            > Epictetus however says that indulging in an emotion increases it in the future. For instance, Discourses Book 2 Chapeter 18.
            >
            > "So it is with respect to the affections of the soul: when you have been angry, you must know that not only has this evil befallen you, but that you have also increased the habit, and in a manner thrown fuel upon fire. When you have been overcome in sexual intercourse with a person, do not reckon this single defeat only, but reckon that you have also nurtured, increased your incontinence. For it is impossible for habits and faculties, some of them not to be produced, when they did not exist before, and others not be increased and strengthened by corresponding acts."
            >
            > Modern psychology has increasingly tended towards the cognitive view, and away from the hydraulic/catharsis view. That's because experiments and research have generally not supported the hydraulic/catharsis view:
            >
            > http://illinois.edu/lb/files/2009/03/26/9293.pdf
            >
            > "In one of the first experiments on the topic (Hornberger, 1959), participants first received an insulting remark from a confederate. Next, half of the participants pounded nails for 10 minutes— an activity that resembles many of the "venting" techniques that people who believe in catharsis continue to recommend even today. The other half did not get a chance to vent their anger by pounding nails. After this, all participants had a chance to criticize the person who had insulted them. If catharsis theory is true, the act of pounding nails should reduce subsequent aggression. The results showed the opposite effect. The people who had hammered the nails were more (rather than less) hostile toward the confederate afterward than were the ones who did not get to pound any nails."
            >
            > ...
            >
            > "In this study, angered participants hit a punching bag and thought about the person who had angered them (rumination group) or thought about becoming physically fit (distraction group). After hitting the punching bag, they reported how angry they felt. Next, they were given the chance to administer loud blasts of noise to the person who had angered them. There also was a no punching bag control group. People in the rumination group felt angrier than did people in the distraction or control groups. People in the rumination group were also most aggressive, followed respectively by people in the distraction and control groups. Rumination increased rather than decreased anger and aggression. Doing nothing at all was more effective than venting anger. These results directly contradict catharsis theory."
            >
            >
            > The fundamental question is: does indulging a negative emotion increase it, or reduce it? Most modern psychology seems to bear out the stoic view that it increases it.
            >
            > The only counterexample that seems to be given is male sexual arousal. But that's not really a negative emotion (pathos) in stoicism. In stoicism it was seen as either an indifferent, or a function of nature and therefore part of the good.
            >
            >
            >
            > --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Dave Kelly <ptypes@> wrote:
            > >
            > > On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM, TheophileEscargot
            > > <snailman100@> wrote:
            > > >
            > > >
            > > >
            > > > I'm venturing dangerously into other people's fields here, since other posters are experts in psychology and I'm not! But I think it's not clear whether repression actually exists. Psychologists seem divided on it.
            > > >
            > > > This review paper for instance says "This comprehensive evaluation reveals little empirical justification for maintaining the psychoanalytic concept of repression":
            > > >
            > > > http://img2.tapuz.co.il/CommunaFiles/28421076.pdf
            > > >
            > > > The main school of psychology that still believes in repression is the Psychoanalytic school. That's a different school of psychology to the Cognitive school, which has adopted some ideas from Stoicism. Cognitive psychologists seem to be fairly skeptical about repression as far as I know.
            > > >
            > > > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_repression
            > > >
            > > > So, I'm not aware of any material dealing with stoicism and repression. I'm not aware of the ancient stoics having such a concept.
            > > >
            > > > In terms of dealing with past trauma, I think you would deal with it the same way as current trauma: by critically examining every such thought or impression that occurs to you. If you're troubled by a thought about a past event, you could say to yourself "it's over now, nothing I can do can change it, so there's no point letting it trouble me".
            > >
            > >
            > > Epictetus had his own concept of catharsis which, of course, predates
            > > and differs from Freud's.
            > >
            > > http://goo.gl/6UHp6
            > >
            > >
            > > >
            > > > Here are a few extracts from Seneca that might be useful if thinking about past suffering.
            > > >
            > > > In Epistle 5 he recommends trying to live in the present, not worrying about the past or future:
            > > >
            > > > But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. And so foresight, the noblest blessing of the human race, becomes perverted. Beasts avoid the dangers which they see, and when they have escaped them are free from care; but we men torment ourselves over that which is to come as well as over that which is past. Many of our blessings bring bane to us; for memory recalls the tortures of fear, while foresight anticipates them. The present alone can make no man wretched.
            > > >
            > > > In Epistle 13 he says we should try to see past traumas as something which can make you stronger:
            > > >
            > > > This is the touchstone of such a spirit; no prizefighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue; the only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen his own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent's fist, who hasbeen tripped and felt the full force of his adversary's charge, who has been downed in body but not in spirit, one who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever. So then, to keep up my figure, Fortune has often in the past got the upper hand of you, and yet you have not surrendered, but have leaped up and stood your ground still more eagerly. For manliness gains much strength by being challenged...
            > > >
            > > > Epistle 78 says:
            > > >
            > > > It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: "None has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!" However, even if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells lies to himself And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one's ills. Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all, the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet. --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Richard" wrote:
            > > > >
            > > > >
            > > > > I think I'm beginning to get how a Stoic approaches current crises and traumas.
            > > > >
            > > > > Q: Does Stoicism address the case of suffering in the past, especially those scars that might remain from a difficult childhood? Usually those feelings get repressed. Is there a practice for processing them proactively?
            > > > >
            > > > >
            > > > > "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
            > > > > Regards, Richard
            > > > >
            > > >
            > > >
            > >
            > >
            > > Best wishes,
            > > Dave
            > >
            >
          • Richard
            «Epictetus however says that indulging in an emotion increases it in the future. For instance, Discourses Book 2 Chapeter 18.» Indeed, Modern research
            Message 5 of 14 , Feb 16, 2013
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              «Epictetus however says that indulging in an emotion increases it in the future. For instance, Discourses Book 2 Chapeter 18.»

              Indeed, Modern research supports this [Epitctetus usually got it right!] :

              See EG
              Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Travis

              Also I would like permission to share this with others.


              "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
              Regards, Richard
            • Richard
              TheophileEscargot: «Epictetus is saying that the way to purge negative emotions is to think rationally about them and correct the false judgements behind
              Message 6 of 14 , Feb 16, 2013
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                TheophileEscargot:
                «Epictetus is saying that the way to purge negative emotions is to think rationally about them and correct the false judgements behind them. This is a cognitive model of emotion.»

                This is termed "cognitive" reframing.

                For Anxiety I call it the Rubber Snake model. Namely, that later on we realize that the proverbial snake that previously scared us when we were impressionable was merely a "rubber" snake all along. This realization reframes everything.

                It works for anger too, especially since many arguments are due to "mis-understandings".

                REBT-CBT have some practical models but it was Epictetus et al. That first discovered/described these principles. This is what origially spurred my interest in Stoicism, viz. its vast treasure of "lost" wisdom.

                "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
                Regards, Richard
              • TheophileEscargot
                First, I m not sure that these processes in the brain really fit the metaphor of flows of energy. Yes, neurons need energy to function. This is supplied
                Message 7 of 14 , Feb 17, 2013
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                  First, I'm not sure that these processes in the brain really fit the metaphor of flows of energy. Yes, neurons need energy to function. This is supplied chemically: when a neuron fires it moves from a high energy state to a low energy state, sending out signals to neighbouring neurons which may also fire. The neuron is then temporarily exhausted until it can get back to the higher state.

                  However, energy is not literally moving around as the signals are sent. The energy supplied to the neurons is a bit like the electricity supplied to traffic lights: necessary for the signals to be sent, but not the same as the signals, and not actually moving the traffic.

                  While neuron paths are reinforced by use, perhaps a bit like water carving a channel for itself, key parts of the hydraulic metaphor don't seem to apply. There is no equivalent of the fluids being emptied or exhausted, which is an important aspect of how Freudian therapy is supposed to work. Also I don't see any obvious equivalent of the "blockage" concept. Neuron paths are reinforced or fade gradually through not being reinforced: I don't see how "blockage" occurs.

                  Applying the hydraulic metaphor to neurons just doesn't seem to fit very well: there are so many differences that it seems to confuse rather than enlighten.

                  This confusion seems to get worse when I try to apply it. In the metaphor you say sexual "energy" is the same as the "energy" of violence. What does this even mean in terms of neurons? That the same chemical energy supplies neurons whatever thinking the brain is doing? True, but trivial: the same electricity supplies a traffic light if it's green or red, but the behaviour caused by that energy is very different. That the patterns of neurons firing are the same for sex and violence? Is that true? Why is the input and output of these patterns different then?

                  Secondly, I'm not at all convinced by the idea that the Nazis in particular, and patriarchal societies in general, were/are sexually repressed.

                  Wilhelm Reich sold the idea successfully on a popular level in his heyday, but it's not exactly academically accepted. Other psychologists and sociologists don't think the Nazis were particularly sexually repressed. From Christopher Turners biography of Wilhelm Reich "Adventures in the Orgasmatron":

                  "The picture Reich painted of the Nazis as sexual puritans became the dominant view for decades (especially in America). However, revisionist historians such as Dagmar Herzog have shown that as soon as the Nazis had crushed the "Jewish" sex reform movement , they appropriated many of their arguments, although the fascist embrace of sexual freedom was controversial among some Nazis. In 1938 a Nazi physician named Ferdinand Hoffman complained that 72 million condoms were used a year in Germany and that only 5% of the brides were still virgins. But some Nazis seemed to share distorted versions of Reich's sexual beliefs...

                  In his party-endorsed advice manual Sex – Love- Marriage (1940), the Nazi psychologist Dr. Johannes Schultz described sex as a "sacred" act and endorsed child and adolescent masturbation and extramarital sex, calling for all young women to throw off the shackles of repression to enjoy the "vibrant humanness" to which they were entitled. Like Reich, Schultz differentiated between the hasty, superficial orgasm and the orgasm that led to a "very intensive resolution…extraordinary profound de-stabilizations and shakings of the entire organism." Schultz, however, had a totalitarian solution for those who fell short of what Reich would have called an "orgastically potent" ideal: he called for the extermination of handicapped people and homosexuals, who he deemed "hereditarily ill". Schultz forced homosexuals to have sex with prostitutes under his clinical gaze. Only those who achieved a satisfactory orgasm were saved a train ride to the camps."



                  Another example. Societies don't get much more patriarchal than ancient Greece, where wives were virtual prisoners forbidden from leaving the house alone. But male members of that society had plentiful free and open heterosexual and homosexual sex with wives, slaves, dancing girls, "musicians", prostitutes all the time. Patriarchy seems perfectly consistent with uninhibited and unrepressed sex for men.

                  Overall, whether looking at neurons or societies, I don't see much evidence of the theory that sexual energy blocked by patriarchal societies is a major cause of violence.




                  --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, jan.garrett@... wrote:
                  >
                  > I don't see any surprises for a physicalist model in the observation that an initial flow of some substance or energy in a channel increases the probability of subsequent flows. If a moderate rainfall cuts a channel in a receptive patch of ground, subsequent rainfalls will tend to take the same path and erode it further.
                  >
                  > If electrical flows through neurons are the physical basis of action, then an action of a certain type, when repeated, will tend to form a habit. The point of at least one form of psychoanalysis inspired by Freud is that the energy behind what you call negative emotions (say, anti-Semitic hatred invoked by the Nazis) is the same as the energy behind not-necessarily-pernicious emotions such as sexual desire. The blockage of sexual desire by repressive patriarchal institutions is experienced as inner torment but it can be temporarily released if it can be employed, with the approval of authorities, in trashing Jewish businesses or invested in military exercises with an eye toward avenging the insult to the Herrenvolk for the loss of World War I. However, by the logic of habit formation, if a person harms another who is perceived as an X and this gets positively reinforced, other things equal, he will be more likely do it again. Since sexual desire, at least in people of a certain age, is naturally generated, if repressive institutions are sustained, renewed energy will be available for diversion in hateful ways.
                  >
                  > --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "TheophileEscargot" <snailman100@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Sure. But this is very different from the Freudian notion of catharsis (the hydraulic model).
                  > >
                  > > Epictetus is saying that the way to purge negative emotions is to think rationally about them and correct the false judgements behind them. This is a cognitive model of emotion.
                  > >
                  > > The catharsis/hydraulic model says the way to purge negative emotions is to indulge in that emotion, which will reduce it in the future.
                  > >
                  > > Epictetus however says that indulging in an emotion increases it in the future. For instance, Discourses Book 2 Chapeter 18.
                  > >
                  > > "So it is with respect to the affections of the soul: when you have been angry, you must know that not only has this evil befallen you, but that you have also increased the habit, and in a manner thrown fuel upon fire. When you have been overcome in sexual intercourse with a person, do not reckon this single defeat only, but reckon that you have also nurtured, increased your incontinence. For it is impossible for habits and faculties, some of them not to be produced, when they did not exist before, and others not be increased and strengthened by corresponding acts."
                  > >
                  > > Modern psychology has increasingly tended towards the cognitive view, and away from the hydraulic/catharsis view. That's because experiments and research have generally not supported the hydraulic/catharsis view:
                  > >
                  > > http://illinois.edu/lb/files/2009/03/26/9293.pdf
                  > >
                  > > "In one of the first experiments on the topic (Hornberger, 1959), participants first received an insulting remark from a confederate. Next, half of the participants pounded nails for 10 minutes— an activity that resembles many of the "venting" techniques that people who believe in catharsis continue to recommend even today. The other half did not get a chance to vent their anger by pounding nails. After this, all participants had a chance to criticize the person who had insulted them. If catharsis theory is true, the act of pounding nails should reduce subsequent aggression. The results showed the opposite effect. The people who had hammered the nails were more (rather than less) hostile toward the confederate afterward than were the ones who did not get to pound any nails."
                  > >
                  > > ...
                  > >
                  > > "In this study, angered participants hit a punching bag and thought about the person who had angered them (rumination group) or thought about becoming physically fit (distraction group). After hitting the punching bag, they reported how angry they felt. Next, they were given the chance to administer loud blasts of noise to the person who had angered them. There also was a no punching bag control group. People in the rumination group felt angrier than did people in the distraction or control groups. People in the rumination group were also most aggressive, followed respectively by people in the distraction and control groups. Rumination increased rather than decreased anger and aggression. Doing nothing at all was more effective than venting anger. These results directly contradict catharsis theory."
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > The fundamental question is: does indulging a negative emotion increase it, or reduce it? Most modern psychology seems to bear out the stoic view that it increases it.
                  > >
                  > > The only counterexample that seems to be given is male sexual arousal. But that's not really a negative emotion (pathos) in stoicism. In stoicism it was seen as either an indifferent, or a function of nature and therefore part of the good.
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Dave Kelly <ptypes@> wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > > On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM, TheophileEscargot
                  > > > <snailman100@> wrote:
                  > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > > I'm venturing dangerously into other people's fields here, since other posters are experts in psychology and I'm not! But I think it's not clear whether repression actually exists. Psychologists seem divided on it.
                  > > > >
                  > > > > This review paper for instance says "This comprehensive evaluation reveals little empirical justification for maintaining the psychoanalytic concept of repression":
                  > > > >
                  > > > > http://img2.tapuz.co.il/CommunaFiles/28421076.pdf
                  > > > >
                  > > > > The main school of psychology that still believes in repression is the Psychoanalytic school. That's a different school of psychology to the Cognitive school, which has adopted some ideas from Stoicism. Cognitive psychologists seem to be fairly skeptical about repression as far as I know.
                  > > > >
                  > > > > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_repression
                  > > > >
                  > > > > So, I'm not aware of any material dealing with stoicism and repression. I'm not aware of the ancient stoics having such a concept.
                  > > > >
                  > > > > In terms of dealing with past trauma, I think you would deal with it the same way as current trauma: by critically examining every such thought or impression that occurs to you. If you're troubled by a thought about a past event, you could say to yourself "it's over now, nothing I can do can change it, so there's no point letting it trouble me".
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > Epictetus had his own concept of catharsis which, of course, predates
                  > > > and differs from Freud's.
                  > > >
                  > > > http://goo.gl/6UHp6
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > > Here are a few extracts from Seneca that might be useful if thinking about past suffering.
                  > > > >
                  > > > > In Epistle 5 he recommends trying to live in the present, not worrying about the past or future:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. And so foresight, the noblest blessing of the human race, becomes perverted. Beasts avoid the dangers which they see, and when they have escaped them are free from care; but we men torment ourselves over that which is to come as well as over that which is past. Many of our blessings bring bane to us; for memory recalls the tortures of fear, while foresight anticipates them. The present alone can make no man wretched.
                  > > > >
                  > > > > In Epistle 13 he says we should try to see past traumas as something which can make you stronger:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > This is the touchstone of such a spirit; no prizefighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue; the only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen his own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent's fist, who hasbeen tripped and felt the full force of his adversary's charge, who has been downed in body but not in spirit, one who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever. So then, to keep up my figure, Fortune has often in the past got the upper hand of you, and yet you have not surrendered, but have leaped up and stood your ground still more eagerly. For manliness gains much strength by being challenged...
                  > > > >
                  > > > > Epistle 78 says:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: "None has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!" However, even if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells lies to himself And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one's ills. Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all, the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet. --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Richard" wrote:
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > I think I'm beginning to get how a Stoic approaches current crises and traumas.
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > Q: Does Stoicism address the case of suffering in the past, especially those scars that might remain from a difficult childhood? Usually those feelings get repressed. Is there a practice for processing them proactively?
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
                  > > > > > Regards, Richard
                  > > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > Best wishes,
                  > > > Dave
                  > > >
                  > >
                  >
                • Richard
                  «Secondly, I m not at all convinced by the idea that the Nazis in particular, and patriarchal societies in general, were/are sexually repressed.» I agree
                  Message 8 of 14 , Feb 17, 2013
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                    «Secondly, I'm not at all convinced by the idea that the Nazis in particular, and patriarchal societies in general, were/are sexually repressed.»

                    I agree with some caveats

                    1. Himmler was puritanical. And his persecution of Ernst Rohm and Nazi Homosexuals during the Night of the Long Knives imho reflects his hangups

                    2 Hitler was probably sexually "weird". There are scenes in movies where Mussoini hints at this to Hitler, when Count Ciano is executed. Mussolini a father with a wife had several mistresses and seemed quite "unrepressed"

                    Also the Japanese Bushido in that era had all kinds of sexual issues hence the Geishas.


                    "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
                    Regards, Richard
                  • Scott Rhodes
                    Klaus Theweleit s Male Fantasies might be of interest here. It s about the Friecorps, militia groups that developed in Germany between the wars and were
                    Message 9 of 14 , Feb 18, 2013
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                      Klaus Theweleit's "Male Fantasies" might be of interest here.  It's about the Friecorps, militia groups that developed in Germany between the wars and were quickly subsumed by the National Socialist party as brown shirts, SS etc. 

                      The author does not quite use the theory of repression to explain their sex and violence but he does employ Reichean armoring, as well as other continental theorists.

                      Even though he does not subscribe to Freud's repression per se it is very close since in both the problem is rooted in early periods of ego formation. The very earliest for Theweleit.

                      Where Freud might say that fascist aggression against femininity is a defense against their own interior impulse for love and desire, being anxious about the weakening of boundaries, Theweleit simplifies it to the initial separation in infancy, it's the primary antipathy at first blush when mother become other. So there's no denial at all, no impulse restraint whatsoever. One reviewer quoted Adorno saying "psychoanalysis in reverse".

                      «Secondly, I'm not at all convinced by the idea that the Nazis in particular, and patriarchal societies in general, were/are sexually repressed.»

                      I agree with some caveats

                      1. Himmler was puritanical. And his persecution of Ernst Rohm and Nazi Homosexuals during the Night of the Long Knives imho reflects his hangups

                      2 Hitler was probably sexually "weird".  There are scenes in movies where Mussoini hints at  this to Hitler, when Count Ciano is executed. Mussolini a father with a wife had several mistresses and seemed quite "unrepressed"

                      Also the Japanese Bushido in that era had all kinds of sexual issues hence the Geishas.


                      "All Paths to Wisdom Matter",
                      Regards, Richard

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