Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Saddam: from Dictator to Martyr (2 of 4) - beasts and power thirst

“The beasts and demons that are asleep in the interior of the individual” emerge when man is invaded by a power that he cannot grasp and when he finds himself under a mass that supports him", Jung explains us. “In reality, we always live like if we were on the top of a volcano, and humankind doesn’t dispose the preventive resources against a possible eruption that would annihilate every person under its range”. Humankind prefers not to develop such means.

Instead, we prefer, like Frankl would explain, to alienate us searching superficial pleasure and ephemeral power, when, in reality, power should serve us as means to the search for meaning in a collective existence, which would have, as a “reward”, collective pleasure. Thirsty of power, we worry in getting to the top, going over everyone, transposing limits. And, again, Jung affirms: “the more man is able to dominate his nature, the more pride over his knowledge and power goes over his head” and “the bigger the power, the weaker and unprotected the individual” who owns it.

Sam Cyrous
(published in Psicologia Actual, Portugal, January 2006).

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Saddam: from Dictator to Martyr (3 of 4) - from present, past and (perhaps) future

We live in a society where everything is fast, even human rights are rapidly broken in astonishing speeds, and international community sits unperturbed, letting yesterday’s mistakes to repeat themselves. A society that is ruled by characters Adler wouldn’t refrain himself from using as examples to his theory, because, probably, they hold inferiority complexes, needing to manifest themselves, to grow publicly, to show off and tread, trough the systematic extermination of any free thinker or population that they please.

That is why Jung affirms that “one little disturb of the equilibrium of the heads of some chiefs is enough for the world to become blood”. And its result is genocide across the world; this is the consequence of wars for peace; this is the aim of judgments that are called impartial and fair.

A certain George affirmed, once, that war prefigures the ideal shape to crash, and launch into the stratosphere or to sink to the maritime abyss products that, otherwise, could serve to give an excessive comfort to the masses, and consequently, at large term, make them extremely lucid. War is the distraction factor, in the way the dictator – that would be hunted till the end of his days – deviates attention and alters the chain of human needs: people no longer focus on freedom of expression, need of equality, compulsive education, alimentation and health right, but on the need of safety and protection above all.

In the book 1984, George Orwell (and not W. Bush) speaks also about the theme of the incredibility of the leaders, of a dictatorial state, in the masses capability to make a revolution by their own initiative. That is what systematically happens: the Germany and the Italy of the II World War, the Serbia of the yesterday, the Iraq of today and the Iran of tomorrow; the leaders think they are legitimized by the people. Saddam himself, proudly echoed his 100% at the presidential elections!

Yet, with the same speed that it goes up: it falls. This is the law of physics! Another of physic’s laws is that we cannot alter the past: December, 13th 2003 Saddam Hussein was found at 17:30 (GMT) in Adwar, in an under-earth hole, a hole to scape from the forces that wanted to stop him; and December, 30th 2006 he was hanged in the peer out dawn (6:00 local time and 3:00 GMT), when less expected. But it is also from physics that we take our idea presented by Schrödinger, of the existence of diverse futures: from December 2006, present time, we see various future alternatives ramified, various probable realities (according to Sartre) – a choice falls under humankind’s shoulder. The choice of peace or the choice of war, of concord or discord, between the right and the easy.

Sam Cyrous
(published in Psicologia Actual, Portugal, January 2006).

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Saddam: from Dictator to Martyr (4 of 4) - epilogue

It is possible that the world is a calmer place since Hitler’s suicide, since Milosevic’s detention and strange death and, even, since the capture and the hanging of Saddam. But shall the world be free and safe while the defenders of peace rise themselves in unfruitful contend? While part of humankind is amputated under the look that ignores the rest? While a dictator, that didn’t allowed his people to breath peacefully, a dictator that killed thousands, that eliminates members of his own family in cold blood is killed by a pseudo juridical system, also in cold blood?

The world will only live in peace when – by fair, neutral and impartial means – people like Saddam Hussein (and so many others that are out there freely) are taken to international justice, demonstrating that international community does not tolerate their actions. Humankind will only give the next step ahead when the means of justice show to all dictators, that they are not judged because they have lost international prestige or power, but because they didn’t fulfill the most basic human rights. Humankind will only progress when she no longer gives the opportunity to people like Saddam Hussein to convert themselves into martyrs, making others responsible for their current situation, dying with a Koranic prayer and the religious comment – “God is great” – another patriotic – “The nation shall be victorious” – and, at last, the ultimate political comment – “Palestine is Arab”.

Thus, the memory of Saddam Hussein walks towards two sides: to the pantheon of the infamies assassins, dictators and genocides, at the same time that he strives the path of the saint and holly man, the martyr of Iraq and of an auto-proclaimed Islam. Once he tortured, killed, slaughtered; and yesterday he claimed the union between all Iraqis, for an Iraq free of the occupation forces. Sentenced for only one of his most atrocious crimes (the extermination of 148 Shiites), Saddam shall never see the light of an impartial court that makes him responsible for the million lives lost during the war with Iran or for the 180 thousand Kurdish exterminated.

He overused his last days for his last clamor: for the union amongst Sunnites and Shiites, amongst Arabs and Kurds, saying, on the lecture of his unchangeable sentence: “I call you not to hate because hate leaves no space to the person to be fair and blinds you and closes all the doors of thought”.

With his death announced, he raised his head and dreamed for himself the position of a martyr for his cause. Humankind helped him in his conversion into a hero of the post-war. And, one day, this same humankind will wake up and the father of the modern psychology, Freud, shall say it was nothing but a strange dream; a dream where there was the unconscious need to destroy, afraid to love – because, perhaps, humanity must have never learned how to love.

Sam Cyrous
(published in Psicologia Actual, Portugal, January 2006).

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

From coward to brave...

That to which the coward goes is the opposite of that to which the courageous goes; the one, for example, is ready to go to battle, and the other is not ready.

Protagoras in Protagoras or the sofists

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fifteen years later...

Today… Today is the anniversary of my departure from the Americas, the continent of the “new world”, with no certitude of the return, on the printed feeling of the returning dreams.

5.500 days that are multiplied into centuries when I think of my friends, left behind, of my lost childhood, of the fun of being a junior-citizen. 5.500 days divided in mere seconds, invested in my adolescence and youth, in the present and in my profession.

If I were there, how would it be? Each of life’s decisions takes us towards the following decision, in a meaningful opportunity, gaining autonomy, with more human plenitude. I would not have the friends I have now (I’d have others) or even work where I work now (perhaps I’d have another profession)… But, despite all, I would be me!

Today, despite the difficulties a foreigner feels, I feel not like a citizen of this or that country, but of Europe. Here I have found a continent that assumes itself as an organic entity, searching for meaning, not knowing how to grow, not knowing what to do… Today’s Europe is no longer the one oscillating between conservatism and excessive liberalism: it is the Europe of the cultural and social renewal: the Europe of integration; the Europe of Union!

From Europe, I absorb the pillars of Western knowledge, from Europe I take the linguistic plurality, with Europe I find the future in unity in diversity. But also there, in the Americas, I’ve found the idealistic dream of progress and expansion, we can find innovation, we find the capability to reflect and create; there, we also have pluralism and integrationalisms: the functional and real, not the theoretical one.

Thus, at the same time I feel an European citizen, I feel an American citizen (and even, an Asiatic citizen). We learn half-dozen tongues in a life time, we can pass through a dozen countries, meet half hundred people from the countries of the world and, certainly, we are not who we were before our previous decisions, or fifteen years before!

Mankind walks, in large but firm steps, towards that position in which, surely, no more we pride ourselves for being citizens of this or that nation, of this or that continent, but in having our role in this garden whose beauty comes from its multi-colority, in this garden that is but one country called Earth!

15.500 days later, thank you to all my friends that have helped me to strive this path towards plenitude, as a citizen of Earth!

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Who let the dogs in?

A few years ago, the song Who let the dogs out was a top hit in manifold nations of the world. Amazingly, it wasn't called who let the cat out... That is because it seems that we think more of dogs that of cats. On the movies The Blue Bird, the dog was always trustworthy and the cat was all for jealousy and envy.

The Brodway show created and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hannah-Barbera's Top Cat are exceptions to the rule. SuperBoy's best friend was Ktypto, a dog; Mickey Mouse had a dog named Pluto and one of his best friends was Goofy, a dog; even Scooby-Doo was a dog!

We eat hot dogs and we sing "The hounds of winter". How many foods are named after a cat, and how many movies dedicated to them? I can't remember of many.

That is probably because dogs are our best friends!!!

Deborah Wells (Queen's University) explained, in the British Journal of Health Psychology, that dog owners appear to suffer from fewer minor ailments as well as fewer serious medical problems, having lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels (perhaps due to regular walks with their pet-buddies).

I had a friend that could tell you that dogs are also good to call girls' attention. According to Dr. Wells, "The ownership of a dog can also (...) facilitate the development of social contacts, which may enhance physiological and psychological human health in a more indirect manner".

Other studies show that the presence of a dog can help chronically ill children endure potentially painful medical procedures, being able to sniff out malignant melanomas or the onset of low blood sugar in diabetics. In Israel, nation of the four great religions and the forecommer of many scientific discoveries, was also suggested that pets can help people with schizophrenia to feel calmer and more motivated.

In other words, if you want a pet: dogs are the ones!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

From Poirot to life: the reason for mistery to work out

I grew up watching Perry Mason solving his mystery crimes on court, and Poirot doing the same on an abandoned house in some eastern nation or in a train moving on... Just like life: moving on towards an incredible and surprising ending.

We never knew who was the "one", we never new it because we didn't have all those infos an intels Mason's people gave him during court or Poirot discovered somewhere in between-scenes. But, we could guess!

When Pierce Brosnam played Murder 101 he taught me that the thrill of mystery stories is based on one simple premise: surprise!

And now, according to a U.S.-German study – with Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick of Ohio State University and Caterina Keplinger of Hanover University as the co-authors –, understanding mystery novels (on paper or screen) has to do with our self-esteem: the lesser our self-esteem is, the more we need to have our ideas confirmed by our surrounding environment, in this case, by the movie that makes us feel smarter. So, if we believe that one character is the responsible for the mystery and it really happens: we get happier and, perhaps, that could even help the improvement of our self-perception as capable and smart beings.

But we can't have movies that we know what will happen at the end, like the cult movie Star Wars 3. The authors seem to agree that we, as humans, enjoy some amount of surprise: everyone seems to enjoy mystery stories, specially those in which we don't have many clues of how the plot will end: just like life!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Are you phobic?

You might have heard strange words ended with a "-phobia" component.

Basically, a phobia is a fear to have fear. You are more afraid of the response you and your body can give others than on what really could happen.

That is why in Logotherapy they talk about derreflection and paradoxical intention - things I hope I can talk about later on - so that the ones that think they are phobic can stop thinking in themselves and offering their thoughts to other subjects and persons.

Like on a speech: if you think "I’ll say something wrong", "I will sweat", "they will laugh because of what I am saying", think "they have me here, because they wanted", "I can offer them something", "we can relate to each other".

Focus your thought and actions on the others, not on yourself. Communicate: give yourself away!

And here is an interesting quiz on Kendra Van Wagner's blog.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

And we are still analyzing 2006...

Not even a month has passed and we are still analyzing 2006, the year that brought with it great challenges and appeased great torments. It was an year filled with the best and the worst of humankind, in the arts, in politics, in humanism. It was an year that made us be angels among demons and devils amongst saints.

2006 was the year that presented me to great creators of cinema like Oliver Sacks and George Romero and, made me find hope in the worse of circumstances in City of God and The Constant Gardener, of the Brazilian Fernando Meirelles, that allowed us to find beauty and serenity in corruption and peace in human vileness, being serene without being monotonous, sad without being piegas and realistic without taking our hope away!

On television Jack & Bobby (USA): a story of how, under circumstances of life, decisions may lead us to the highest heaven; and Sinhá Moça (Brazil): the unstopable struggle towards the unstopable equality between human beings.

2006 was also the year of the deaths of Milosevic (without certitude of the circumstances), of Saddam (without certitude of correctness), and of Pinochet (without certitude of justice), and the rebirth of Lula and Chavez, the sandinism in Nicaragua, and the doble victory in Mexico. It was the year that the governments of Iran and of Egypt used, once more, to tread the Bahá'ís; the year in which they put in cause the genocides perpetrated during the I World War and the the II World War. The year of the war in Syria and in Israel, of the fall of the republicans in the US, of the alleged fall of Blair... It was the year of the fall and of the elevation!

It was the year that permitted me assist the elevation of a formerly dream that was Psicologia Actual - the first divulgation magazine of Psychology in Portugal – and of the completion of my Master's final essay (with a change of subject and two months to work the new theme...). Three couple-friends elevated themselves to the ultimate commitment (marriage), and I, now, can add to the places I've visited the Basque Country (Spain/France) and Malaga (Spain), finding Positive Psychotherapy in Wiesbaden (Germany).

But the year that was just born shall be an even more complete year (after all, the sum of its numerals is 9, the most perfect and complete number, including within all the inferior numbers). It will be during 2007 that we shall refind Sudan and Chad and Somalya and Ethyopia on the headlines of the world; we shall see the Brazilian and the Venezuelan constitutions towards a change and the European constitution towards somewhere; we shall see if Yazdí continues with the thirst of elimination of all post-Islamism; if second generation occidentals will understand that they are the result of a beautiful trans-culturality, and if the natives open their arms to the embeautment of their mono-cultural gardens.

On my side... I have started to work on what I like and make what I want; see movies like The Transformers, The Spiderman 3 and Charlotte’s Web – cartoons that rested so much influence during my childhood – at the same time I expect do see great master pieces like Freedom Writers, East of Eden and Next.

I will try to see each and every movie that transmits me persons between two worlds: the world they always considered real, correct and just, and the world that is in fact the real one, the incorrect one, the unjust and the hypocrite one – and the decisions they'll have to take between one and the other realidaty... I shall see at the news how much it costs to save lives in Europe and in the Americas... Is it at the cost of the breeze of gardeners of lives that don’t know how to be constant? What’s the cost of the end of a war in Africa or in Asia, or the cost of the lives lost on those wars, the cost of the rebirth during the real life? These are the questions I want to see answered during 2007.

This shall be the year that I’ll be taken by life, in all of its dimensions and aspects and shapes. 2007 shall be the year in which I will read more and write more.

Miguel Garrido, the director of my Master course, used to say in our classes that university courses and academic titles were of few use if we didn’t read ten books per year. I went beyond that: during 2006 I've finished reading more than twenty books (many others shall walk by my side to be finished in 2007). There were three the genre and three were the authors that marked me this year, and most probably shall mark me during 2007: the pragmatic mysticism of'Abdu'l-Bahá in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, the psychological humanism of Viktor Frankl in Will to Meaning and the pragmatic humanism of Orhan Pamuk in his The White Castle. From the Nobel prize Pamuk, I underline the following passage, in which I whish to leave you all a 2007 full of meaning:

Man must enjoy the life he has choosen, to the point that he ends up assuming it.

And you: which choices did you like to make in 2006, and how are we assuming them for 2007?

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Making love, making speeches

I have just read an interesting article named “Make love, very healthy to your work life, based on Stuart Brody's study, recently published in the New Scientist. Several people were monitored to check how can sex influence stress levels.

And, he found out that those people participating as volunteers in the investigation, practicing observed sex presented lower stress-related blood pressure and performed better on public speeches.

You could think that whoever makes sex in public is able to make anything in public, but, according to Brody, this is because some cranial nerve is controlling some of our psychological processes, releasing oxytocin, the hormone that works out during sexual act, and that has a calming effect!

Now, remember what Frankl could say about this: sex shouldn’t become the means to a good speech, but the reason to start giving yourself to others. Making love could be, just like giving speeches, a experiential value that allows you to connect with another human, a human that, just like you, is able to give and to receive!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Twofold life (3 of 3)

Dwelling in that fear (that most times is not even conscious), each one of us strives to know the other... in an effort that only permits us to know what the other likes to read or do, what kind of food he/she is pleased by, or the type of movies he/she prefers... without understanding that we are keeping ourselves in a superficial plan. We do not know the true interests or the aims the other wants to achieve, we do not see the way he/she interacts in family or even what the conception of family may be. Preferring not to take a risk, we maintain ourselves in the ephemeral world of pleasures and diversion!

Diversion and pleasure are a part of life, undoubtedly! But the next reflection, the third step, should really be: “which is the aim, the objective: the pleasure by pleasure, or a twofold life?”. That is because a life of total hedonism has never permitted, nor shall ever permit, reaching a twofold life filled with meaning. Pleasure should be seen as a natural reward for something that is done, and not as an aim of everything we do!

And that is probably the biggest cause of couple-conflicts... or even couple-split: the shock when trying to live a twofold life, they find out they barely know each other and live two lives of one.

I once had the opportunity of observing, in therapy, a couple with decades of matrimony, then unstructured by suspicion, envy and dispute. Being asked by the therapist: “if it is so bad, then why did you marry him?”, she lowers her tone of voice, like in complicity with the therapist, or by shame, or perhaps simply by not having a better answer, she smiles and says: “you know, sex was too good!”.

Only when we have given the next step, finding responsibility in knowing the true character of the other, and not worrying only about the pleasures of life, we shall be able to reach that state in which hell is no longer the other (paraphrasing Sartre), and we start agreeing with Gabriel Marcel when he says “others, for me, are heaven”. Only in this state of transcendence one and one no longer are two, existing only as one being, new, that lives a twofold life.

Sam Cyrous
(published in Psicologia Actual, March 2006).

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Twofold life (2 of 3)

Only through reflecting, and the positioning between those two extremities, will there be forward steps in the relationship. Better said, why speak of relationships when we can talk about meeting? It is by meeting the other that I see who I am, that I see how I act, how I think, and react. It is through this communication (that in Latin could mean “put in common”) that commitment appears (“sending myself to the other”).

And how do two lives become one, one twofold life? Some great thinkers affirm that the human being is a giving being. That means, the same way it is the nature of the fountain to outpour water, showing itself alive and transmitting life, it is the nature of the human being to endow himself incessantly – endow his richness, endow his time, his energy, his values, his support and his love to all those surrounding him.

Nevertheless, it needs preparation; a firm and conscious effort of self-knowledge and knowledge of the other. It is this way that, once more, we come to the meeting. It is in this meeting that the “I” and the “You” transcend to a monadic “We” in which the human being becomes able to overcome his limits.

Knowing the other means knowing myself; because I reflect myself on the other, as a shadow that manifests itself only when there is a light to shine.

And this light might well be Love! A love that should not be blind, but, once again, conscious!

And the problem comes when love, which is born blind, wants to remain blind– or better – when we insist to remain blind, afraid of knowing the real character of the other, the companion we have idealized, afraid that knowing we no longer want him/her; afraid of being abandoned; afraid of solitude: afraid!

Sam Cyrous
(published in Psicologia Actual, Portugal, March 2006).

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Twofold life (1 of 3)

Twofold life, or two lives? Probably, the first of all steps is defining the relationship in which each one finds him/her-self. Should we be talking about a life of feelings, emotions, values and objective sharing, or about two lives living together, related to each other and that have some things in common (house, expenses...)?

Sam Cyrous
(published in Psicologia Actual, Portugal, March 2006).

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

The reason for a blog…

I was thinking in how to justify this blog... But, then again, should it be a reason for converging ideas all across the world? Or should it be a reason to defend every human being's right to exist?

This is the space that wants to bring different kinds of peoples and, therefore, different kinds of visions of the world. All based on one single idea: the respect for human rights and values.

A Psychoanalyst could ask me why I am doing this? A Systemic ask me what for? And, an Existentialist ask for the meaning of this project in my essence...

All I can say is that I am another one in the quest, searching for that “one point” that is knowledge, split in so many ideas and world-conceptions. Seeker is how I define myself!

This blog is the sum of many: many writers and collaborators from different cultural backgrounds will (once in a while) write their thoughts in things related to psychology (and not only); different readers (hopefully) from across the world; different experiences and different ways of seeing the same reality.

This blog wants to bring everyone the reflection on what I consider the four human dimensions: the Physical, the Mental, the Noettic and the Social, in all their possible meanings.

Please, be welcome

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