Friday, 16 October 2009
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Sunday, 11 January 2009
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Friday, 7 November 2008
The Hilazon Tachtit site
is associated with the Natufian culture, which flourished in the eastern Mediterranean between 11,500 and 15,000 years ago.
"Finding a shaman's burial is like finding Napolean's grave,"
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Indirect evidence for psychoactive drug use in South America's ancient populations abound, ranging from the discovery of drug equipment to the identification of hallucinogenic herb residuals in snuffing kits.
To find a direct link, chemical archaeologist Juan Pablo Ogalde and colleagues at the University of Tarapacá in Arica, Chile, analyzed 32 mummies from the Azapa Valley in northern Chile.
analysis of the chemical composition of hairs from an adult male
dating between 800 and 1200 A.D., revealed the presence of the hallucinogenic alkaloid harmine
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
The government is promoting cognitive behavioural therapy as a cost-effective, no-nonsense remedy for our psychological ills. It's the triumph of a market-driven view of the human psyche, says Darian Leader
A woman convinced that she emits an unpleasant smell is persuaded to travel around on public transport with a portion of fish and chips to monitor how people react to her. This will allow her to assess the "evidence": she will realise that there is a difference between times when she is the bearer of a strong smell and when she is not, and this will help her to "correct" her beliefs.
Welcome to the world of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which has enjoyed a massive expansion over the past 10 years, not only in Britain but in much of the west. Where once a diversity of therapies flourished, today CBT is progressively replacing the older treatments. It's cheap, it shows results on paper and it chimes with a commonsense, problem-solving view of the world.
Developed by the American psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s, CBT was based on the idea that our emotions and moods were influenced by our patterns of thinking. The aim of therapy was to "correct" these processes, "to think and act more realistically". It would allow the patient to avoid the misconstruction of reality that had led to their problems.
Rather than focus on the patient's history - say their childhood and early experiences - like most other psychotherapies, CBT is mostly directed to the here and now. Patient and therapist agree on targets and formulate ways to achieve these in each session. Patterns of negative thinking are pinpointed and alternatives discussed. Homework is set at the end of each session, which might include self-monitoring, record-keeping and other tools of self-inspection.
After her strange sojourn on the tube, the woman with the fish and chips would meet her therapist and discuss the events of the day. If she realised that people in fact reacted to her less when she didn't have the malodorous meal, then she might be able to change her thought pattern, to see her life in a more positive way. She would learn that her symptom was an incorrect interpretation of reality and hopefully come to see the world as everyone else does.
But why did she suffer from this olfactory symptom in the first place? What function did it have in her life? If she was certain about it, what role did certainty play for her? Could it have been a solution to some other, less obvious problem? And if so, what would be the consequences of trying to remove it?
Most therapies aim to hear what is being expressed in a symptom: not to stifle it, but to give it a voice and to see what function it has for the individual. CBT, by contrast, aims to remove symptoms.
The popularity of CBT with government agencies is no surprise. This year has seen the launch of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), an initiative to train a "workforce" of mostly cognitive therapists to cure the nation's anxious and depressed inhabitants. Lord Layard, the so-called happiness tsar and one of the architects of this new project, is delighted. At last, everyone will have access to proven treatments that have the right scientific credentials. And we will save a lot of money into the bargain. Depression and anxiety cost the economy around £12bn a year - 1% of the total national income - yet the new therapies will be able to cure people for only £750 a head. The saving on drugs bills and incapacity benefits is staggering.
But what might the real costs of this initiative be? And what does the rise of CBT tell us about the world we live in today? The government also plans to regulate mediums and spiritualists. It will no longer be up to us to believe in them or not, but a higher power will tell us who is legitimate and who is not. Just as a new rhetoric of "science" tells us that CBT is the best treatment, so it will arbitrate the "other side" - and all government has to do is back up science with legislation.
These are extraordinary developments in our times. And they highlight a strange paradox of the modern self. We are told that we are responsible for our own lives, that we have the power to transform ourselves. Yet at the same time we are treated as minors who lack the faculty of critical judgment and must be protected against unscrupulous and dangerous predators.
Today it is plasticity and change that govern our self-image. Personality itself is represented as a set of skills that we can learn and modify. Just as we can alter our bodies through cosmetic surgery, so we can change our behaviour through "work" on ourselves. Reality TV displays princes who become paupers, children who swap parents and geeks who become Don Juans. The possibilities of transformation seem endless. Thatcher's dream of social mobility has become not just nightly entertainment, but also individual imperative.
CBT promises change just as swiftly. Unwanted character traits or symptoms are no longer seen as a clue to some inner truth, but simply as disturbances to our ideal image that can be excised. Instead of seeing a bout of depression or an anxiety attack as a sign of unconscious processes that need to be carefully elicited and voiced, they become aspects of behaviour to be removed.
The market has triumphed here, as our inner worlds become a space for buying and selling. We pay experts such as life coaches to teach us how to change in the desired way. Aspects of ourselves, such as shyness or confidence, become commodities that we can pay to lose or amplify. Depression or anxiety are seen as isolated problems that can be locally targeted without calling into question the rest of one's existence, in the same way that a missile attack on a terrorist installation is supposed to get rid of the problem posed by terrorism.
This is a modern self for which depth has become surface. In soaps and reality shows characters share their innermost feelings and emotions, as if there were a perfect continuity between interior and exterior life. If there's any ambiguity, a panel of experts is there, as on Big Brother, to explain people's motivations. The self is no longer a dark cave; everything is laid bare. In effect, we have been robbed of our interior lives.
Many social theorists have seen this atomisation as a consequence of market-led economies. As the market governs all, it was only a matter of time before basic human attributes would come to be taken as commodities and relationships as transactions. Students became clients of educational services, children clients of their parents. And it was no surprise that the view of human beings as subjects competing in the marketplace for goods and services would need a psychology to underpin it.
This new psychology broke radically from traditional ideas. The self had once been understood as a place of conflict: between reason and passion, between the will and understanding, between repressed desires and their inhibition. But, as Nikolas Rose observed in his study Governing the Soul, the self is now no longer intrinsically fractured, it just needs to "actualise" itself.
The divided self dear to the 60s has vanished, along with the recognition that grief, despair and frustration strike at the heart of our image of self-possession and fulfilment. The psyche has become like a muscle that needs to be developed and trained. There is no place for complexity and contradiction here: the modern subject is represented as one-dimensional, searching for fulfilment. The possibility that human life is aimed at both success and failure and never simply at wealth, power or happiness no longer makes sense. Suddenly the world of human relations described by novelists, poets and playwrights for the past few centuries can just be written off. Self-sabotage, masochism and despair are now faults to be corrected, rather than forming the very core of the self.
The new psychology is thus in the service of the market. Symptoms become understood as deviations, pieces of learned conduct that can be undone by short courses in re-education. This is the soil in which CBT came to flourish. Its textbooks refer unashamedly to "belief modification" and to "selling the treatment" to the patient. It follows a market-led vision of the psyche in which a symptom, for example depression or insomnia, is not seen as a general problem in a person's existence - which, if unravelled, might lead to the unravelling of the self - but as a local disturbance that can be managed and put right.
This commodification of the psyche is reflected in the change in mental health diagnoses. In the early 20th century, there were between a dozen and two dozen discrete diagnostic categories - breaking down different aspects of mental health. By the early 90s there were more than 360. Easily observable surface symptoms, such as shyness, have been taken to define disorders. Many of these have been developed and advertised by drug companies in order to carve out market niches for new drugs. Social phobia, for example, was sold as a diagnosis by the makers of a drug - moclobemide - that claimed to cure it.
The new focus on surface behaviour makes cognitive-style therapies seem more scientific. As Ian Parker, professor of psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, observes, if a disorder is defined by symptoms, get rid of the symptoms and you've got rid of the disorder. The therapist carries out a more or less mechanical procedure, a series of protocols formulated in advance, which have been approved by management and checked by inspectorate. On paper it looks good: symptoms appear reduced. But there is no tracking of so-called "alternative symptoms", the problems that will emerge in mind or body when the original symptom is removed. A woman troubled by a dog phobia may be able to overcome this with a behavioural treatment, but what of her relationship with her father, a concentration camp survivor who became terrified of German shepherds after the war? If her symptom articulated a certain identification with his anxiety, how would this find expression once she was deprived of the phobia?
These important complexities have little place in a society where depth has become surface. What matters are quick-fix cosmetic solutions, rubber-stamped by so-called experts. Where articles and books once used to develop concepts and ideas, today the expression "Research shows ..." encourages us to stop thinking. Not long ago the media excitedly carried the "news" that research had shown that depressed fathers had an effect on the wellbeing of their children. Well, who would seriously have thought otherwise? Was it really necessary to have a government grant to show this? And in fact, the methodology in most of these studies is deeply flawed.
This is a world in which nothing counts as knowledge unless it is sanctioned by experts. Advice on baby-rearing or nutrition may seem sensible, but can there really be a correct way to conduct a relationship, to fall in love or to maintain beliefs? Knowledge has become almost synonymous with a product: any new idea or discovery has to demonstrate how it can be practically put to use - which means sold. Researchers have to specify the "outcomes" they seek and how these will be beneficial. Even a public sculpture project has to explain what use each detail will have.
In today's outcome-obsessed society, people must become countable, quantifiable, transparent. And this leads to a grotesque new misunderstanding of psychotherapy. Therapy is now conceived as a set of techniques that can be applied to a human being. This makes sense if we see it as a business transaction with a buyer, a seller and a product. But it totally ignores the most basic fact: that therapy is not like a plaster that can be applied to a wound, but is a property of a human relationship. Therapy is about the encounter of two people, and the real work is done not by the therapist but by the patient. As the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott observed, the therapist provides a space in which the patient can construct and create something. The therapist encourages and facilitates, but whether a therapy takes place or not depends entirely on the patient.
Unlike CBT, traditional therapies do not aim to give access to a common, scientific reality but to take the patient's own reality seriously: to explore it, to define it, to elaborate it and to see where it will go. No outcome can be predicted in advance: the patient may go back to work but equally they may give up a well-paid job to pursue another path.
Therapies such as CBT, which claim to deliver a product, can certainly be helpful for some people. But it is crucial to distinguish the question of whether a therapy works and how it works. For any therapy to get started, unconscious belief systems need to be mobilised. Human belief is a very powerful thing and no external authority can tell us what to believe in, although the persecution of religion groups shows that this is hardly self-evident.
Lord Layard stunned therapists earlier this year with the following vignette: "The most striking experience I've had in the last few years was when the chief executive of a mental health trust ... said his life had been saved by CBT ... He said he is a fully fledged bipolar case but he has not had a day off work for the last 15 years. He has a little book, which he carries around and whenever he has funny thoughts coming into his mind, he turns to the relevant page, according to what kind of thought it is or if he has a mood attack, and he does exactly what it says on the page. Now, you could say that's mechanical. I say that it's brilliant and not so different, you know, from what Jesus or any other great healer did for people."
Mao would perhaps have liked this story, and hoped that the little book was his own. And indeed, cognitive therapy was perhaps used most widely in the Cultural Revolution in China, where people were taught that depression was just wrong thinking. Separated from their families, unable to contact loved ones, subject to cruel punishments and witness to the murder or "vanishing" of those closest to them, millions of people were "taught" to devalue their reactions. The world should be thought about in a different way, and happiness and enthusiasm replace despair and despondency. Positive thinking should banish unhelpful negative attitudes.
This denial of the legitimacy of people's symptoms may have dangerous consequences. Diverting psychological processes from proper working through can result in both new symptoms and acts of violence. CBT's effort to ignore the effects of an individual's history in favour of a shallow analysis of the here and now sets a bleak example to those who believe that if the 20th century had any lesson, it was precisely not to deny the significance of human history and memory.
· Darian Leader's latest book The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression, is published by Hamish Hamilton
Darian Leader : A quick fix for the soul
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Friday, 18 July 2008
The big cat eventually dragged its' prey into the grass and out of sight
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Under the new rules, which are due to be introduced next year and to take
Analysts say the new rules seek to govern the profession as if it were a
Friday, 11 July 2008
"only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I am not sure about the former"
The report, published in the Royal Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, said the case was the first of its kind, directly linking anxiety over climate change to psychosis
Friday, 27 June 2008
Friday, 20 June 2008
Friday, 18 April 2008
Anaesthetist Richard Venn was on hand in case of any problems, but surgeon David Llewellyn-Clark
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
By: Hara Estroff Marano
Therapy represents a great interpersonal irony. Therapists deal intimately with others, but no matter how rewarding, their work can be socially isolating. Members of Psychology Today's Therapy Directory opened a window onto their isolation.
"I see people all day but they are not relationships of equality and give-and-take."
Not a Drop to Drink
"It's like starving in a sea of other lonely people that you can't reach out to."
"Local bars and hangouts are filled with clients or potential ones and the Internet isn't really a good choice either because of the self disclosure and the need for a picture. What a lonely mess."
A Big Drain
"Many days can be emotionally exhausting, leaving little energy available for the kind of connection that mutually shared intimacy requires."
Big Talk, Small Talk
"It is the oddest thing to spend the entire day in a closed room listening to the deepest thoughts of others, and know the community outside my door is engaged in regular small talk which passes me by entirely."
Ways to Heal the Healers
Various people find solace in personal therapy, lunch dates, sharing an office suite, support groups, dinner parties, and volunteering in the community. "It takes an ongoing effort but I have a wonderful, full life."
Psychology Today Magazine, Jan/Feb 2007
Last Reviewed 2 Apr 2008
Article ID: 4261
The Loneliest Profession
Friday, 11 April 2008
Friday, 4 April 2008
During the events, which regularly attracted crowds of over 400 people, a number of associates would "pretend to be possessed by demons" and Fr Bazzoffi would allegedly exorcise them using ancient and obscure rites.
Only priests authorised by the diocese are permitted to carry out exorcisms.
Friday, 14 March 2008
Fires have broken out in the Tibetan city of Lhasa amid reports of rioting, as rare street protests led by Buddhist monks appeared to gather pace.
Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before the twentieth century,
Thursday, 13 March 2008
EMERALD TABLET VIII :
The Key of Mysteries
Unto thee, O man, have I given my knowledge. Unto thee have I given of Light. Hear ye now and receive my wisdom brought from space planes above and beyond.
Not as man am I for free have I become of dimensions and planes. In each, take I on a new body. In each, I change in my form. Know I now that the formless is all there is of form.
Great is the wisdom of the Seven. Mighty are they from beyond. Manifest They through their power, filled by force from beyond.
Here ye these words of wisdom. Hear ye and make them thine own. Find in them the formless. Find ye the key to beyond. Mystery is but hidden knowledge. Know and ye shall unveil. Find the deep buried wisdom and be master of darkness and Light.
Deep are the mysteries around thee, hidden the secrets of Old. Search through the Keys of my Wisdom. Surely shall ye find the way. The gateway to power is secret, but he who attains shall receive. Look to the Light! O my brother. Open and ye shall receive. Press on through the valley of darkness. Overcome the dweller of the night. Keep ever thine eyes to the Light-Plane, and thou shalt be One with the Light.
Man is in process of changing to forms that are not of this world. Grows he in time to the formless, a plane on the cycle above. Know ye, ye must become formless before ye are one with the Light.
List ye, O man, to my voice, telling of the pathways to Light, showing the way of attainment when ye shall be One with the Light. Search ye the mysteries of Earth's heart. Learn of the Law that exists, holding the stars in their balance by the force of the primordial mist. Seek ye the flame of the Earth's Life. Bathe in the glare of its flame. Follow the three-cornered pathway until thou, too, art a flame.
Speak thou in words without voice to those who dwell down below. Enter the blue-litten Temple and bathe in the fire of all life.
Know, O man, thou art complex, a being of earth and of fire. Let thy flame shine out brightly. Be thou only the fire.
Wisdom is hidden in darkness. When lit by the flame of the Soul, find thou the wisdom and be Light-Born, a Sun of the Light without form. Seek thee ever more wisdom. Find it in the heart of the flame. Know that only by striving can Light pour into thy brain. Now have I spoken with wisdom. List to my Voice and obey. Tear open the Veils of the darkness. Shine a Light on the Way.
Speak I of Ancient Atlantis, speak of the days of the Kingdom of Shadows, speak of the coming of the children of shadows. Out of the great deep were they called by the wisdom of earth-men, called for the purpose of gaining great power.
Far in the past before Atlantis existed, men there were who delved into darkness, using dark magic, calling up beings from the great deep below us. Forth came they into this cycle. Formless were they of another vibration, existing unseen by the children of earth-men. Only through blood could they have formed being. Only through man could they live in the world.
In ages past were they conquered by the Masters, driven below to the place whence they came. But some there were who remained, hidden in spaces and planes unknown to man. Lived they in Atlantis as shadows, but at times they appeared among men. Aye, when the blood was offered, forth came they to dwell among men.
In the form of man moved they amongst us, but only to sight where they as are men. Serpent-headed when the glamour was lifted but appearing to man as men among men. Crept they into the Councils, taking forms that were like unto men. Slaying by their arts the chiefs of the kingdoms, taking their form and ruling o'er man. Only by magic could they be discovered. Only by sound could their faces be seen. Sought they from the kingdom of shadows to destroy man and rule in his place.
But, know ye, the Masters were mighty in magic, able to lift the Veil from the face of the serpent, able to send him back to his place. Came they to man and taught him the secret, the Word that only a man can pronounce. Swift then they lifted the Veil from the serpent and cast him forth from place among men.
Yet, beware, the serpent still liveth in a place that is open at times to the world. Unseen they walk among thee in places where the rites have been said. Again as time passes onward shall they take the semblance of men.
Called may they be by the master who knows the white or the black, but only the white master may control and bind them while in the flesh.
Seek not the kingdom of shadows, for evil will surely appear. For only the master of brightness shall conquer the shadow of fear.
Know ye, O my brother, that fear is an obstacle great. Be master of all in the brightness, the shadow will soon disappear. Hear ye and heed my wisdom, the voice of Light is clear. Seek not the valley of shadow, and Light only will appear.
List ye, O man, to the depth of my wisdom. Speak I of knowledge hidden from man. Far have I been on my journey though Space-Time, even to the end of the space of this cycle. Found I there the great barrier, holding man from leaving this cycle. Aye, glimpsed the Hounds of the Barrier, laying in wait for he who would pass them. In that space where time exists not, faintly I sensed the guardians of cycles. Move they only through angles. Free are they not of the curved dimensions.
Strange and terrible are the Hounds of the Barrier. Follow they consciousness to the limits of space. Think not to escape by entering your body, for follow they fast the Soul through angles. Only the circle will give ye protection, safe from the claws of the Dweller in Angles.
Once, in a time past, I approached the great Barrier, and saw on the shores where time exists not, the formless forms of the Hounds of the Barrier. Aye, hiding in the mist beyond time I found them; and They, scenting me afar off, raised themselves and gave the great bell cry that can be heard from cycle to cycle and moved through space toward my Soul.
Fled I then fast before them, back from time's unthinkable end. But ever after me pursued they, moving in strange angles not known to man. Aye, on the gray shore of Time-Space's end found I the Hounds of the Barrier, ravening for the Soul who attempts the beyond.
Fled I through circles back to my body. Fled, and fast after me they followed. Aye, after me the devourers followed, seeking through angles to devour my Soul.
Aye, know ye man, that the Soul who dares the Barrier may be held in bondage by the Hounds from beyond time, held till this cycle is all completed and left behind when the consciousness leaves.
Entered I my body. Created the circles that know not angles, created the form that from my form was formed. Made my body into a circle and lost the pursuers in the circles of time. But, even yet, when free from my body, cautious ever must I be not to move through angles, else my Soul might never be free.
Know ye, the Hounds of the Barrier move only through angles and never through curves of space. Only by moving through curves can ye escape them, for in angles they will pursue thee. O man, heed ye my warning; Seek not to break open the gate to beyond. Few there are who have succeeded in passing the Barrier to the greater Light that shines beyond. For know ye, ever the dwellers, seek such Souls to hold in their thrall.
Listen, O man, and heed ye my warning; seek ye to move not in angles but curves. And if while free from thy body, thou hearest the sound like the bay of a hound ringing clear and bell-like through thy being, flee back to thy body through circles, penetrate not the mist before.
When thou hast entered the form thou hast dwelt in, use thou the cross and the circle combined. Open thy mouth and use thou thy Voice. Utter the Word and thou shalt be free. Only the one who of Light has the fullest can hope to pass by the guards of the way. And then must he move through strange curves and angles that are formed in direction not known to man.
List ye, O man, and heed ye my warning: attempt not to pass the guards in the way. Rather should ye seek to gain of thine own Light and make thyself ready to pass on the way.
Light is thine ultimate end, O my brother. Seek and find ever the Light on thy way.
Past life regression therapy, as described here, is a therapeutic technique that uses similar strategies and commands to hypnotic age regression (following a time line backwards, talking to the regressed persona etc) but which also draws strongly from Jung's waking dream technique of active imagination and the embodied re-enactments of past events called by J.L Moreno, psychodrama (Woolger, 1996). As in hypnotic regression and psychodrama, the patient is guided back to and encouraged to relive traumatic scenes or unresolved conflicts from the past that have been previously inaccessible to consciousness, but which are thought to be influencing and distorting current mental and emotional stability. But instead of being regressed solely to the patient's childhood, a strong suggestion is also given to "go to the origin of the problem in a previous lifetime". In other words, the notional time-line is extended backwards to assume the soul's continuity with previous existences via what some have called the soul memory or "far memory". In many respects the rationale of past life therapy is similar to that of post traumatic stress therapies as well as to the cathartic or abreactive approach taken, but later abandoned by early psychoanalysis (Hermann, 1992).
Past Life Regression and Psychotherapy
The ontological status of "past-life" memories is inevitably controversial given the dogmatic adherence of western psychology and Freudian psychoanalysis to a tabula rasa view of the infant's psyche at birth, but this has long been challenged by Jung's theory of a collective unconscious that transcends historical time (Jung, 1935, Assagioli, 1965) and by the widely known school that calls itself "transpersonal psychology" (Tart, 1975, Grof, 1985, Rowan, 1993, Boorstein, 1996). Moreover, there exists the monumental work of psychiatrist Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia, an erstwhile president of the British Society for Psychical Research. For over 40 years Stevenson and his coworkers collected cases of spontaneous memories of "past lives" from many parts of the world, mostly from among children. These cases, which he calls "suggestive of reincarnation," and which were meticulously verified, are published in five volumes. Their findings have never been seriously rebutted. His most recent book Reincarnation and Biology (Stevenson, 1997) was described by the reviewer for the British Scientific and Medical Network as "one of the great classics of twentieth century psi research" (Lorimer, 1997: 53). Nevertheless Stevenson's work continues to be ignored by mainstream psychology. (For a detailed review of parapsychological, religious and metaphysical interpretations of "past lives" see Woolger, 1987).
As for the therapeutic value of recalling "past lives" a growing number of therapists from different countries have become persuaded of its effectiveness (Lucas, 1993). Many contemporary practitioners stumbled upon "past life" scenarios when loosely instructing clients during a hypnotic regression session to "go back to the origin of the problem" even though neither therapist nor client believed in "past lives". Such was the case with eminent neuro-psychiatrist Dr Brian Weiss of the University of Miami, who staked his reputation and career on the publication of the case of a client who recovered rapidly when an an unbidden "past life" surfaced spontaneously during a hypnosis session (Weiss, 1990). As both Weiss and the present author concluded after reviewing hundreds of such cases "it doesn't matter whether you believe in reincarnation or not, the unconscious will almost always produce a past life story when invited in the right way" (Woolger, 1987, p. 40)
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
People with schizophrenia use different areas of their brain to process some short-term memories, research suggests.