Saturday, March 15, 2008

IFS Parts Work - The Escape Artist

Today's day-long session is with Richard Schwartz, founder of the Internal Family Systems model of therapy -- The Healing Self.

Here is a brief refresher on the three types of parts IFS recognizes (not including the Self at the center of the system).

Managers, Firefighters, and Exiles

Are there common roles for parts across people? After working with a large number of clients, some patterns began to appear. Most clients had parts that tried to keep them functional and safe -- tried to maintain control of their inner and outer environments by, for example, keeping them from getting too close, or dependent on others, criticizing their appearance or performance to make them look or act better, and focusing on taking care of others' rather than on their own needs. These parts seemed to be in protective, managerial roles and therefore are called the "managers."

Where a person has been hurt, humiliated, frightened or shamed in their past, they will have parts that carry the emotions, memories and sensations from those experiences. Managers often want to keep those feelings out of consciousness and, consequently, try to keep these vulnerable and needy parts locked in inner closets. Those incarcerated parts are known as the "exiles."

The third and final group of parts clicks into action whenever one of the exiles is upset to the point that it may flood the person with its extreme feelings or makes the person vulnerable to being hurt again. When that is the case, this third group tries to put out the inner flames of feeling as quickly as possible, which earns them the name "firefighters." They tend to be highly impulsive and drive to find stimulation that will override or dissociate from the exile's feelings. Bingeing on drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or work, are common firefighter activities.

So far the day has been an introduction to the model and how it works. Still, each time I hear Schwartz speak I get something new out of it, new subtleties, more depth.

We did a quick meditation at the beginning of the session to familiarize people with the idea of parts. Useful, but nothing major. But then we did one later, just before the lunch break, that allowed us to access and work with a part directly (for those of us who were able - not everyone can do so the first time they try).

Although the suggestion was to work with a manager, which is safer as a way into working with parts, I chose to work with a firefighter that I had never worked with before -- my escape artist. He is the part of me that used drugs as a teenager, drank as a teen and adult, watches dumbass TV to go numb, or uses food to self-medicate -- among other behaviors.

When I called up an image of this part, it looked like John Belushi. My initial response was disgust and revulsion -- that this part was just an out-of-control mess. Obviously, my critic was having its say, as it always did/does whenever the escape artist (EA) acts up and hijacks the system.

So I asked the critic if it would be willing to back off and let me work with the EA directly, which it allowed. As soon as it backed off, the EA transformed into a vast, borderless ocean of blue-green space.

It felt more serene and calm -- and rather than the revulsion I had felt moments before, I now felt curious and compassionate toward this part of me. It seemed almost peaceful.

After feeling through some questions, I asked it what it wanted for me. It's answer was that it wants me to feel peaceful and to honor my creativity. This only made partial sense to me, in that I often used alcohol to write even after I quit drinking as a way of life. And also that I used to self-medicate my SAD (social anxiety disorder) with alcohol, which made me feel less anxious and more at ease.

So then the big question, which is important for all parts -- what is the burden that you carry?

Parts which become extreme are carrying "burdens" - energies which are not inherent in the function of the part and don't belong to the nature of the part, such as extreme beliefs, emotions, fantasies. The part can be helped to "unburden" and return to its natural balance.

Burdens arise from any number of sources -- traumas, empathic failures, attachment failures, humiliation, intense fears, and so on. The important thing to realize about parts and burdens is that the part is not its burden; it has taken on that burden to protect the exiles or the self-system, but it would rather not carry that burden at all. Of course, it will only give up that burden (and its associated behaviors) when it is convinced that the exile or self-system no longer needs protection.

So, back to the exercise. When I asked the EA what its burden is, the reply was, "I am your father's son." OK, so just slap me upside the head, why doncha.

That's a huge statement, and I don't even know where to begin to explain what all is meant in that simple sentence. First, some facts about my father:

* He was an alcoholic, though he had stopped drinking by the time I was born.
* He was a "failed" artist, both as a painter and as a photographer.
* He ate to bury his feelings after he quit drinking (thus diabetes, heart disease, and death at age 54 from a heart attack (his fifth)).
* He watched TV and read Sci-Fi as an escape from family life.
* He was essentially a loner who married because that is what you did then.

The similarities, which I had never really looked at before, are a little scary. On the bright side, I have managers who repress this part most of the time (this is generally healthy as long as we realize that the part needs to be healed at some point), and other managers that push me toward behaviors (weight training, healthy diet, and so on) that are in direct opposition to my father's behaviors.

Nothing was resolved in this little exercise, and the burden is still in place, but now I have a new path of exploration in becoming healthier as a person. I'm not sure which exile the EA is trying to protect, so I still need to get to the bottom of that as well.

One other note on this. Although the EA is a firefighter in essence, it is also an exile because the managers fear it as much as they fear the exile(s) it is protecting, so they repress it as much as they can. There are times in my life when it is much more active, such as when I am depressed, or when I am in therapy working on hard stuff.

I enjoy how easy it is to use this model for personal work -- and I really look forward to when I'll be able to use it with clients.

More on Tibet Uprisings

From Yahoo:

Exile group says 30 killed in Tibet

BEIJING - China kept government workers confined to their offices Saturday and ordered tourists out of Tibet's capital while lines of soldiers sealed off streets where riots had erupted, witnesses said. A Tibetan exile group said at least 30 people were killed in protests Friday.

Chinese state media reported that at least 10 people were killed when demonstrators rampaged in Lhasa Friday, protesting Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama's exiled Tibetan government in India said it had confirmed at least 30 dead but said the toll could be as high as 100.

There was no confirmation from Chinese officials of the death toll and the numbers could not be independently verified.

Earlier News:

BEIJING (AP) — China locked down the Tibetan capital Saturday after the largest and most violent protests against its rule in the region in nearly two decades. At least 10 people were killed when demonstrators rampaged through Lhasa, dashing Beijing's plans for a smooth run-up to August's Olympics.

Officials demanded protesters turn themselves in, while baton-wielding police patrolled Lhasa's mostly empty streets on Saturday. Fires still smoldered from the Friday clashes, and residents were under curfew.

Reports of deaths, arrests and numbers of protesters varied and could not be independently confirmed.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said 10 people — including two hotel employees and two shop owners — were burned to death, but that no foreigners were hurt. The exiled Tibetan government in India said about 100 were believed dead, citing unconfirmed sources.

Buddhist monks led the protests, which began Monday on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. The violent turn comes two weeks before China's Olympic celebrations kick into high gear with the start of the torch relay, which passes through Tibet.

The following links will take you to latest news of Tibet:

Dharamshala, 14 March 2008
China rolls out tanks to suppress Tibet Protests

International Campaign for Tibet

The Canada Tibet Committee

Radio Free Asia
KATHMANDU, March 14, (RFA)
Chinese Police Fire on Tibetan Rioters in Lhasa, At Least Two Dead

International Herald Tribune
BEIJING, March 14, 2008
Protesters clash with police in Tibetan capital: Tibetan capital in turmoil as violence erupts

Associated Press AP
BEIJING, March 14, 2008
[Ongoing AP coverage updates]

BEIJING, Fri Mar 14, 2008
[Ongoing Reuters coverage updates]

Carolyn Wonderland Plays the Blues

I guess it's woman rocker day at the Cafe. Enjoy -- she's a fine guitarist. Wonderland closed out this year's SXSW music festival in Austin.

Brick Wall - This embed has 14 videos.

Wind Cries Mary

Miss Understood

Something's got a hold on me

Cat Power - "New York" (Sessions)

It's great to see Chan Marshall finally getting her due.

On Religion - Daniel Dennett Talks with Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers was the guest host for Charlie Rose when Rose was in the hospital a year or so ago. Dan Dennett stopped by to talk about his then new book, Breaking the Spell. [I may have posted this before, but I am too lazy to check.]


Tibetan Fox Chows on Some Pikas

Is it just me, or do the heads of these foxes seem to be shaped like the rocks in the landscape?

There are 14 total videos in this embed.

Cowboy Junkies - Trinity Sessions

Metafilter posted links to several of the videos from songs the Cowboy Junkies did on their Trinity Sessions album - here are a few of them.

Sweet Jane

With Natalie Merchant... Working on a Building

Angel Mine

One (U2 cover)

I'm So Open

Friday, March 14, 2008

China Uses Force to Stop Tibetan Protests

Perhaps seizing a moment in history when the Chinese government was less likely to use deadly force to put down protests, Tibetans have launched an intifadeh against China. All images are from Reuters.

Fresh protests broke out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa on Friday, with indications that what had until now been peaceful demonstrations had turned violent. There were no confirmed reports of casualties, but residents, academics and activists said there were clashes between Tibetans and Chinese security forces and that police cars had been burned and a large market was also in flames. Other reports had gunfire and bodies in the streets. Whatever the outcome, though, it seemed to be a turning point in the history of Tibet and perhaps also China. "This is massive," said one Tibet specialist who was in touch with many Lhasa residents, "it is the intifadeh. And it will be a long, long time before this ends, whatever happens today or tomorrow."

While the scale of the protests and the temper of the reaction by Chinese authorities remain to be seen, the outbreak of violence was an ominous sign for Tibet, where resentment against Chinese rule has been simmering for years. An already tense situation has been exacerbated by China's sensitivity about its human rights image ahead of the staging of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August. Some observers argue that what appeared to be carefully planned and executed protests — the first on such a scale in nearly two decades — were likely deliberately timed to take advantage of the media attention focused on the upcoming Games.

The demonstrations began on March 9 when hundreds of monks from three large monasteries on the outskirts of the city, Drepung, Sera and Ganden, attempted to enter Lhasa to commemorate an uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 that was ruthlessly suppressed with hundreds of protesters reportedly killed. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was forced to flee Lhasa for refuge in India, where he has lived in exile ever since. (Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1949 when the Communists finally claimed victory in the country's prolonged civil war).

The anniversary protests had passed peacefully — until now.

While Time didn't report any deaths, Reuters has. And of course, China is blaming the Dalai Lama for the riots.

Independence protesters burned shops and cars in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on Friday and Chinese police were reported to have shot dead at least two people, in the fiercest unrest in the region for two decades.

China accused followers of the Dalai Lama of "masterminding" the uprising, which shatters its carefully-cultivated image of national harmony in the buildup to the Beijing Olympic Games.

A spokesman for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader called the allegation "absolutely baseless". The Dalai Lama appealed to China to stop using force and begin dialogue. Similar protests in the past have been crushed with gunfire and mass arrests.

Peaceful marches by Buddhist monks in recent days have given way to angry crowds confronting riot police.

"Now it's very chaotic outside," an ethnic Tibetan resident said by telephone. "People have been burning cars and motorbikes and buses. There is smoke everywhere and they have been throwing rocks and breaking windows. We're scared."

Radio Free Asia, quoting witnesses, said Chinese police fired on protesters, killing at least two. A source told Reuters two Tibetans were shot dead near the Ramoche Monastery near Lhasa. The deaths could not be verified.

Finally, here is more from the New York Times:

The defiance reported this week in Lhasa is highly unusual. Security is heavy there, and the penalty for protesting is harsh. News of the protests has been censored in the Chinese news media, and Beijing does not allow foreign journalists to travel to Lhasa without permission. But accounts from Tibetan advocacy groups, from the United States-financed Radio Free Asia and from tourists’ postings on the Internet suggest that protests emerged from three of the most famous monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism.

Robert Barnett, a Tibet specialist at Columbia University who has communicated with Tibetan exiles, said the initial incident occurred Monday when about 400 monks left Drepung Loseling Monastery intending to march five miles west to the city center. Police officers stopped the march at the halfway point and arrested 50 or 60 monks.

But Mr. Barnett said the remaining monks held the equivalent of a sit-down strike and were joined by an additional 100 monks from Drepung.

“They were demanding specific changes on religious restrictions in the monastery,” Mr. Barnett said. He said monks wanted the authorities to ease rules on “patriotic education” in which monks are required to study government propaganda and write denunciations of the Dalai Lama.

On Tuesday morning, the Drepung monks apparently agreed to return to the monastery.

But another protest was under way in the heart of the city, outside the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred temple in Tibet. About a dozen monks from the Sera Monastery staged a pro-independence demonstration, waving a Tibetan flag. Police officers arrested the monks. Foreign tourists posted video on the Internet of officers shooing onlookers away.

The arrests set off another protest on Tuesday. Witnesses told Radio Free Asia that 500 or 600 monks poured out of the Sera Monastery, about two miles north of the Jokhang Temple. They shouted slogans and demanded the release of their fellow monks.

“Free our people, or we won’t go back!” the monks chanted, Radio Free Asia reported. “We want an independent Tibet!”

Witnesses said the police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

A protest was reported on Wednesday at the Ganden Monastery, 35 miles east of Lhasa.

Radio Free Asia reported Thursday that two monks at Drepung had attempted suicide.

The protests were timed to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibet uprising that forced the Dalai Lama to flee to India. Mr. Barnett said they were the largest in Lhasa since 1989, when protests by monks from Drepung and Sera led to a bloody clash with Chinese security forces.

He said he doubted that the protests were coordinated, though he said the small group of Sera monks arrested Monday must have anticipated a confrontation. Their photographs have already been forwarded to Tibetan exiles in India and posted on the Internet by groups that support independence for Tibet.

He said that Chinese troops seemed to be more restrained than in the past, even as the protesters took the bold step of waving the Tibetan flag.

The Olympics also have emboldened protesters outside China. Tibetan exiles in northern India who vowed this week to march to Lhasa over six months to protest China’s control of their homeland were arrested Thursday. They then began a hunger strike that they said would go on until they were released.

Although some experts seem hopeful that China may be forced to change their Tibet policy as a result of these protests, I simply do not see that happening. Too bad.

Imago Therapy - A Critique & A Proposal

I was registered to do a full-day session with Harville Hendrix on Dialogue and Transformation: Creating a Relational Space, which is based on his Imago Therapy. After the morning session, I decided not to return for the afternoon portion. So, instead, I am critiquing the theory -- and please note that I am not an expert.

Imago Therapy

Hendrix has a very useful premise -- most marriages are not bad (even the ones that end in divorce), but the ones that fail do so as a result of a "ruptured connection" between the partners. In his mind, this is always the root problem, no matter what the precipitating event might have been. And further, this ruptured connection always results from childhood wounding in one or both of the partners.

This is all pretty standard stuff.

I tend to agree with this view of how we end up with the people we (sort of) choose -- in many ways, it's similar to the bonding patterns in the Voice Dialogue model of Hal and Sidra Stone:

Apparently you have found an Imago partner. Someone, I'm afraid, who is uniquely unqualified (at the moment), to give you the love you want.

Furthermore, this is what's supposed to happen!

Let me explain. We all think that we have freedom of choice when it comes to selecting our partners. But regardless of what it is we think we're looking for in a mate, our unconscious has its own agenda.

Our primitive "old" brain has a compelling, non-negotiable drive to restore the feeling of aliveness and wholeness that we came into the world with. To accomplish that, it must repair the damage done in childhood as a result of unmet needs, and the way it does that is to find a partner who can give us what our caretakers failed to provide.

You'd think, then, that we would choose someone who has what our caretakers lacked. If only that were so! But the old brain has a mind of its own, with its own checklist of desired qualities. It is carrying around its own image of the perfect partner, a complex synthesis of qualities formed in reaction to the way our caretakers responded to our needs. Every pleasure or pain, every transaction of childhood, has left its mark on us, and these collective impressions form an unconscious picture we're always trying to replicate as we scan our environment for a suitable mate.

This image of "the person who can make me whole again" I call the Imago.

This view asserts relationship is a spiritual path, which it most certainly is for those who wish to grow in life. With our partner, if we engage in true intimacy, all our vulnerable spots get exposed. Further, we find our wounds and have an opportunity to heal them.

Where I ran into difficulty was with his Imago Dialogue approach. It's a very structured and rigid method for teaching couples to communicate in a non-harmful way. Here is the basic description (I edited this a bit to make it readable):

Imago Dialogue is a unique three step process for connection, developed by Harville Hendrix PhD and Helen LaKelly Hunt PhD. Although it looks simple, the process was formulated through extensive study of psychological theories of relationship and clinical work with couples.

The three steps are Mirroring, Validation, and Empathy, and they are described in detail below. The essence of dialogue is any conversation in which people agree to listen to others without judgment, and accept their views as equally valid as their own. We have found the Imago dialogue to be a particularly effective way to start off on your journey to connection.

You can find directions on how to use the Imago dialogue here. What follows is a description of how to use each step.

The Imago Dialogue is initiated when a partner asks for an appointment and the other partner agrees to participate.

1. Mirroring
Using “I” language, one person sends a “message” to convey his/her thoughts, feelings, or experiences to the Receiver (“I feel,” “I love,” “I need …”). They should avoid shaming, blaming, or criticizing their partner, and instead talk about themselves.

In response, the Receiver echoes the Sender’s message word-for-word or by paraphrasing, using a lead sentence like, “Let me see if I’ve got you. You said ....”

Mirroring helps me to listen to what the other person is actually saying rather than listening to the reactions and responses going on in my heads while my partner is talking.

Then there’s a beautiful question the receiver can ask. “Is There More?” When I ask that question I leave a little time, to show I really mean it and want to hear more. Often my partner might pause, “Well no…er...let me see…maybe there is.” Often as they are given space and time, they will go deeper and share more with me, and that sharing can be the most fascinating part.

Keep on with it. You might be more encouraging -- “Wow. Interesting. Is there more about that?” The more I reassure my partner that I am open to what she is saying, the more I can voyage on a wonderful journey into her world, and experience connection, even if do find the subject area challenging or unfamiliar

When my partner says, “No, that’s all”, then I can try a summary. “So, in summary I heard you say that…." Then check to see if you got it all. My partner might often say “Well you missed this little bit – and it’s quite important to me that you hear it.”

2. Validation
When I mirror my partner well, they will probably already be feeling that I have heard their point of view, and seen that for them it is valid. But it’s nice to say that too.

This part of the process can be quite hard too, if my partner has a very different perspective on things from me. But to be connected, it’s important for me to recognize that what my partner says makes sense for her. Sometimes her view might be so different from mine that I am tempted to think that she must be wrong. But in dialogue, creating the connection is paramount. Who is right and who is wrong doesn’t matter. Harville Hendrix likes to say: “You can be right, or you can be married!” With this process, you might even discover that you can find a solution together where it doesn’t matter whether either of you are right or wrong over this issue, because the underlying pain is what really needs to be addressed. Precisely because you are in relationship with another person, it is healthy to be able to accept that you hold different viewpoints.

After I have summarized my partner, I can validate her by simply saying, “That makes sense to me.” I don’t have to agree with her, but show that I respect her reality. If I can, I might go on, “That makes sense to me because….”

Sometimes as I watch my partner, I can see a physical sign of relief. It’s a lovely thing to have your views validated by another.

3. Empathy
The third and final step of the Imago Dialogue is empathy.

In the empathy step, I imagine what my partner might be feeling. Feelings are simple words such as “Angry, Sad, Lonely, Afraid, Happy, Joyful etc.”

I would just ask my partner, “I imagine you might be feeling afraid, and perhaps a little sad too. Is that what you are feeling?” Then I check in with my partner, and if she shares other feelings then I mirror them to show I heard. “Ah, a little excited too.”

As you can see, there are very prescriptive phrases that he uses and insists should be used. Here is some more, where he gives some suggested phrases:

Here are some specific phrases you can use as you practice dialogue

I would like to dialogue about . . .
Is now okay?
I feel . . .
I love . . .
I need . . .
What’s bothering me is . . .

1. Mirroring
Let me see if I’ve got you.
I heard you say . . . or You said . . .
Am I getting you? or Did I get that?
Is there more about that?
Summary mirror
Let me see if I got it all . . .?
Am I getting you? Did I get all of that?
or Is that a good summary?

2. Validation
You make sense to me, and what makes sense is . . .
I can understand that . . .given that . . .
I can see how you would see it that way because sometimes I do . . .

3. Empathy

I imagine you might be feeling . . .
Is that what you’re feeling?

There's nothing inherently wrong with this system on the surface. If both partners are comfortable with the rather rigid approach to communicating and being heard, then it may well be a very useful tool for helping people learn to communicate. I have no doubt that a great many couples would welcome the opportunity to be heard and mirrored in a safe space, and that they'll use any tool given them to get that experience.

But, and it's a big BUT, one then gets to the theory behind the system.

Critiquing the Theory

Hendrix rightfully criticizes traditional communication styles as monological -- one person speaks and the other person listens passively (or often, doesn't listen at all). He refers to this as a vertical hierarchy of experience -- superior speaker and inferior listener. He sees this structure as inherently oppressive and abusive. In relationships, I can agree that this is destructive, but abusive is questionable to me (although I certainly know of instances where it is abusive).

He posits in its place a horizontal, relational model, which is more egalitarian and balanced. He referred to this as an I-Thou relationship, in reference Martin Buber:

Ich-Du ("I-Thou" or "I-You") is a relationship that stresses the mutual, holistic existence of two beings. It is a concrete encounter, because these beings meet one another in their authentic existence, without any qualification or objectification of one another. Even imagination and ideas do not play a role in this relation. In an I-Thou encounter, infinity and universality are made actual (rather than being merely concepts).

Buber stressed that an Ich-Du relationship lacks any composition (e.g. structure) and communicates no content (e.g. information). Despite the fact that Ich-Du cannot be proven to happen as an event (e.g. it cannot be measured), Buber stressed that it is real and perceivable. A variety of examples are used to illustrate Ich-Du relationships in daily life - two lovers, an observer and a cat, the author and a tree, and two strangers on a train. Common English words used to describe the Ich-Du relationship include encounter, meeting, dialogue, mutuality, and exchange.

What Buber had in mind and what Hendrix has in mind seem to be very different things. Hendrix would like to evoke that content-less experience in his process, but it is far too structured to allow for that openness. In order for individuals to feel that openness with their partner, the relational space must be more fluid and safe than a rigid system can allow. It is more likely to happen in silent gazing into each other's eyes, or while making love -- but these things require a safe space that couples seeking therapy are not able to achieve (or they wouldn't be in therapy).

The real issue, however, lies in the rejection of vertical hierarchy in favor of horizontal communion. This is the shadow side of the relativistic, relational stage of development. "All hierarchies are bad" is itself a hierarchy (as Ken Wilber likes to point out), so we have a problem.

The problem is further complicated by Hendrix's sense that he is master of the therapy room -- a paraphrase: "couples can be dysfunctional on their own time, with me they will communicate the way I ask them to." Where is the relational element in that? I see the value in setting clear boundaries for clients, especially when doing couples work where the old, destructive patterns can derail anything good that is happening. But there must also be some fluidity here as well.

I am forced to wonder if there might be a better, more integrated way of approaching couples counseling.

An Integrated Model

While creating the horizontal, relational space Hendrix advocates is crucial to relationships, it seems to me that there must also be some room for vertical differentiation, as long as it is done within that relational space. Otherwise all we hear is what the other person feels without situating the problem in its proper context within the relationship and (more importantly) within our own differentiation process.

Rather than using a rigid model such as Imago Therapy, I would much rather see couples learn mindfulness techniques so that they can communicate in a more fluid way without resorting to demeaning language and attacks. The goal is to recreate the intimacy that most couples shared at the beginning of their relationships.

Here is David Schnarch on the traditional approach to marriage counseling, which generally begins with issues of sexual frustration:

Donald and Betty had tried marital therapy before, but their therapist had taken the usual approach of dealing with each complaint individually--job demands, parenting responsibilities, housework division and sexual difficulties--as if they were all separate but equal situational problems. Typically, the clinician had tried to help Donald and Betty resolve their difficulties through a skill-building course on compromise, setting priorities, time management and "mirroring" each other for mutual validation, acceptance and, of course, better communication. The net result of all this work was that they felt even worse than before, even more incompetent, inadequate and neurotic, when sex didn't improve.

[Emphasis added.]

According to Schnarch, who I think is among the best authors on relationships, all couples at some point enter into conflict -- whether to maintain an autonomous and whole self, or to give in to the other person and lose one's integrity as a person. But if we can be mindful of what is happening, and not lose ourselves in the process, then we can actually grow from these conflicts and become more whole individuals.

Like grains of sand inexorably funneling toward the "narrows" of an hourglass, marriage predictably forces couples into a vortex of emotional struggle, where each dares to hold onto himself or herself in the context of each other, in order to grow up. At the narrowest, most constricting part of the funnel--where alienation, stagnation, infidelity, separation and divorce typically occur--couples can begin not only to find their individual selves, but in the process acquire a far greater capacity for love, passion and intimacy with each other than they ever thought possible.

At this excruciating point in a marriage, every couple has four options: each partner can try to control the other (Donald's initial ploy, which did not succeed), accommodate even more (Betty had done so to the limits of her tolerance), withdraw physically or emotionally (Betty's job helped her to do this), or learn to soothe his or her own anxiety and not get hijacked by the anxiety of the other. In other words, they could work on growing up, using their marriage as a kind of differentiation fitness center par excellence.

Differentiation is a lifelong process by which we become more uniquely ourselves by maintaining ourselves in relationship with those we love. It allows us to have our cake and eat it too, to experience fully our biologically based drives for both emotional connection and individual self-direction. The more differentiated we are--the stronger our sense of self-definition and the better we can hold ourselves together during conflicts with our partners--the more intimacy we can tolerate with someone we love without fear of losing our sense of who we are as separate beings.

Where Imago Therapy seeks to create safety through sharing -- a horizontal process -- Snarch seeks to create growth (differentiation) through intimacy -- a vertical process.

If we can fuse the idea with the Imago that our partner represents (bonding patterns) with the differentiation model of Schnarch, using mindfulness as a primary tool, we might have a more integrated approach to working with couples. And obviously, for a lot of couples, the dialogue approach Hendrix advocates will be useful.

Just my two cents.

Chris Hedges on the "Fundamentalism" of the New Atheists

This was posted at The New Humanist yesterday -- interesting stuff. See below for more.

It's interesting to see that Chris Hedges' new book is an attack on the New Atheists. Perhaps best known as a foreign correspondent, early last year Hedges published American Fascists, which compared the Christian Right in America to the early European fascist movements. Around that time, he wrote an article for New Humanist on the opening of the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

Having attacked Christian fundamentalism, Hedges is now training his sights on what he perceives as "atheist fundamentalism" in his new book I Don't Believe In Atheists, which has just been published in America.

There's an intriguing interview with Hedges on Salon that I urge you all to read. He says he's only recently found the New Atheists on his "radar screen", but suggests that he finds them every bit as dangerous as the Christian right, putting his view that "Hitchens and Harris do for the neocon agenda in a secular way what the religious right does in a so-called religious way."

Hedges even expresses a fear that the religious right and New Atheism might one day join together in an attack on Islam: "What I worry about is that in a moment of collective humiliation and fear, these two strands come together and call for an assault on Muslims, both outside our gates and on the 6 million Muslims who live within our borders."

Much of this seems somewhat over the top, but it's certainly interesting that someone like Hedges would launch such an attack on the New Atheists. You only have to read the article he wrote for us last year to see that he would be in broad agreement with atheists on many issues – indeed, his views on the Christian Right should really mark him out as a potential ally for the New Atheists – but there's just something in the aggressive tone of Hitchens et al that's really troubled him.

Many of us who understand that religion is not intrinsically evil can see Hedges' point pretty easily. Obviously, fundamentalism of any kind is the problem, as Hedges pointed out in American Fascists.

Here is some of the interview with Hedges from Salon -- in this we get a better sense of where he is coming from and why. He is not uninformed -- he has debated both Harris and Hitchens.

You say that "I Don't Believe in Atheists" is a product of confrontations you had with Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. How did those debates inspire the book?

In May of 2007 I went to L.A. to debate Sam Harris, and then two days later I went to San Francisco to debate Christopher Hitchens. Up until that point, I hadn't paid much attention to the work of the New Atheists. After reading what they had written and walking away from these debates, I was appalled at how what they had done for the secular left was to embrace the same kind of bigotry and chauvinism and intolerance that marks the radical Christian right. I found that in many ways they were little more than secular fundamentalists.

Although I come out of a religious tradition -- I grew up in the church, my father was a Presbyterian minister, I graduated from seminary -- I've spent my life as a foreign correspondent, mostly for the New York Times, and I have a pretty hardheaded view of the world. I certainly understand that there is nothing intrinsically moral about being a believer or a nonbeliever, that many people of great moral probity and courage define themselves outside of religious structures, do not engage in religious ritual or use religious language, in the same way that many people who advocate intolerance, bigotry and even violence cloak themselves in the garb of religion and oftentimes have prominent positions within religious institutions. Unlike the religious fundamentalists or the New Atheists, I'm not willing to draw these kind of clean, institutional lines.

A lot of people would find it counterintuitive that you would go from your last book, "American Fascists," which was a scathing critique of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S., to writing against atheism. Do you see these as connected projects?

I do. I didn't start out that way, because these guys were not on my radar screen. I think a lot of their popularity stems from a legitimate anger on the part of a lot of Americans toward the intolerance and chauvinism of the radical religious right in this country. Unfortunately, what they've done is offer a Utopian belief system that is as self-delusional as that offered by Christian fundamentalists. They adopt many of the foundational belief systems of fundamentalists. For example, they believe that the human species is marching forward, that there is an advancement toward some kind of collective moral progress -- that we are moving towards, if not a Utopian, certainly a better, more perfected human society. That's fundamental to the Christian right, and it's also fundamental to the New Atheists.

You know, there is nothing in human nature or in human history that points to the idea that we are moving anywhere. Technology and science, though they are cumulative and have improved, in many ways, the lives of people within the industrialized nations, have also unleashed the most horrific forms of violence and death, and let's not forget, environmental degradation, in human history. So, there's nothing intrinsically moral about science. Science is morally neutral. It serves the good and the bad. I mean, industrial killing is a product of technological advance, just as is penicillin and modern medicine. So I think that I find the faith that these people place in science and reason as a route toward human salvation to be as delusional as the faith the Christian right places in miracles and angels.

Don't you think that a belief in perfectibility or progress may be necessary for people who devote their lives to big endeavors, like, say, developing vaccines? Americans especially are known for big dreams. It seems like to lose the idea of progress would be a kind of defeatism.

Well in science, one does have progress, because science is based on what can be proved and disproved.

But you say in the book that the Holocaust, because it was framed as a modern project and an outgrowth of technological advance, was that kind of scientific progress, as well.

Well, I wouldn't quite say it that way. I would say that the fascist agenda was Utopian, and that it adopted the cult of science. That's what leads Hitler to try and breed humans and apes to try to create an oversized warrior or to send expeditions to Tibet to find a pure, Aryan race. I mean, that's not science. It's the cult of science, and I think the New Atheists also make that leap from science into the cult of science, and that's a problem.

The Enlightenment was both a curse and a blessing, because it was really a reaction to the kind of superstition, intolerance, bigotry, anti-intellectualism of the clerics, of the church. But it also ended up with the Jacobins, [who said] well, if we can't make certain segments of the society "civilized," as we define civilization, then they must be eradicated, in the same way that you eradicate a virus.

I write in the book that not believing in God is not dangerous. Not believing in sin is very dangerous. I think both the Christian right and the New Atheists in essence don't believe in their own sin, because they externalize evil. Evil is always something out there that can be eradicated. For the New Atheists, it's the irrational religious hordes. I mean, Sam Harris, at the end of his first book, asks us to consider a nuclear first strike on the Arab world. Both Hitchens and Harris defend the use of torture. Of course, they're great supporters of preemptive war, and I don't think this is accidental that their political agendas coalesce completely with the Christian right.

So you think that Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris are just shills for a neocon agenda?

Well, Dawkins is a little different, because he's British. But looking at our own homegrown version of new atheism, yes. Hitchens and Harris do for the neocon agenda in a secular way what the religious right does in a so-called religious way.

Read the whole interview.

For those who think he might be exaggerating things by linking the New Atheists with the neo-cons, I need only remind you of Sam Harris' defense of torture.

A little more from Salon, just for fun.

If we're afraid to privilege Enlightenment values, don't we run the risk of sanctioning religious rituals that discriminate against women and minorities?

But I would never argue that! I mean, I think genital mutilation is disgusting. I'm not a cultural relativist. I don't think that if you live in Somalia, it's fine to mutilate little girls. There is nothing wrong with taking a moral stand, but when we take a moral stand and then use it to elevate ourselves to another moral plane above other human beings, then it becomes, in biblical terms, a form of self-worship. That's what the New Atheists have, and that's what the Christian fundamentalists have.

A lot of the book is devoted to making this comparison between Christian and what some call secular fundamentalists, but you are pretty hands off when it comes to fundamentalist Islam.

The only reason I go after Christian fundamentalists and New Atheists is because they're here and I'm an American. Fundamentalism -- whether it's Hindu fundamentalism or Jewish fundamentalism or Christian fundamentalism or Islamic fundamentalism -- is the same disease. Karen Armstrong has explained that brilliantly. Fundamentalists, no matter what their religious coloring -- bear far more in common with each other than they do with more enlightened members of their own religious communities. I'm an enemy of fundamentalism, period. And if I'm not going after Islamic fundamentalism in this book, it's because what I've tried to do is talk about these two very dangerous ideological strains within American society, although the New Atheists are peddling this under the guise of enlightenment and reason and science in the same way that the Christian right tries to peddle it as a form of Christianity.

I think Hedges makes some good points. The idea that both fundamentalist Christians and atheists place "evil" somehow outside themselves is very problematic, and it may be the single greatest defining factor for fundamentalist beliefs.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

Kurt Vonnegut - How to Get a Job Like Mine (2002)

Great stuff - taped when he received his honorary doctorate from Albion College.

BTW, if you want to be a writer, never use a semi-colon.


Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton

Geraldine Ferraro made some comments about Barack Obama that offended some folks, including Keith Olbermann.

Here is Ferraro defending her comments on CBS. She is pretty convinced that she has done nothing wrong. But later in the day she resigned her honorary post in the Clinton campaign.

Here are Olbermann's comments, which are pretty strident, but then, that's what he is known for now.

And, surprisingly, Clinton has apologized for the comments and the uproar created by Ferraro. Maybe it's not so surprising -- Clinton can't afford any negative press.

Here are some of Clinton's comments:

Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton supporter and fundraiser Geraldine Ferraro gave up her honorary position with Clinton's campaign after she said in an interview last week that Obama would not have made it this far if he were white. Obama said Ferraro's remarks were "ridiculous" and "wrong-headed."

Of Ferraro's comment, Hillary Clinton told her audience: "I certainly do repudiate it and I regret deeply that it was said. Obviously she doesn't speak for the campaign, she doesn't speak for any of my positions, and she has resigned from being a member of my very large finance committee."

As first lady and senator, Clinton rarely cedes an inch to her critics. On the issue of her vote to authorize the Iraq war, for instance, she steadfastly has refused to apologize, coming close by saying she regrets it, despite calls from many anti-war voters in the party to make a more explicit mea culpa.

So, what do you think? Was Ferraro out of line for suggesting that part of Obama's appeal is that he is a black candidate with a serious shot at the White House? Furthermore, why not also contend that Hillary would not be where she is if she were not a woman? Would a male candidate with her views (and personality) have made it this far?

In my view, it's unfortunate that any discussion of race and gender is off-limits. We can never change the embedded prejudices in this country if we cannot openly discuss them. Maybe Ferraro went about it all wrong, but she raised a real premise that may be a partial truth.

Satire: Some Old Man Still Churning Out Marmaduke

From The Onion.

Some Old Man Still Churning Out Marmaduke

March 14, 2008 | Issue 44•11

MONTGOMERY, TX—Inching his feeble frame toward an old drafting table for quite possibly the millionth time, 83-year-old Brad Anderson begins his day the same way he always has: by closing his eyes and tracing the well-worn outline of America's most lovable dog.

Anderson, who completed his 20,000th Marmaduke cartoon last month, created the post–World War II funnies-page staple in 1954. Today, almost six decades later, the plucky octogenarian continues his tireless work, bringing laughter and joy to millions of readers long since dead of old age.

Enlarge Image Some Old Man

Cartoonist Brad Anderson in a press shot from circa 1921 or so.

"I love what I do," said the elderly cartoonist, his body and mind left crippled by an endless and repetitive stream of doodles featuring the Great Dane. "Working on Marmaduke all this time—why, I couldn't imagine anything more fulfilling."

Apparently uninterested in a life of creative growth and social relevance, Anderson stumbled upon cartooning in his late 20s. Before long, Marmaduke had captured the imaginations of men and women still decades away from owning a color television set.

"To have success like that, it's really quite astonishing," said Anderson, who on his deathbed will hopefully be comforted by the knowledge that he has spent an accumulated nine and a half years of his life drawing canine slobber. "Suddenly, you feel a great sense of validation. A feeling that this was something you were meant to be doing all along."

"I'll never forget it," added Anderson, his famous creation now permanently burned into his failing retinas.

Although muscle memory has all but supplanted artistic inspiration and the assistance of a live-in nurse is now required to steady his quivering drawing hand, Anderson said he still has fun with his daily strip.

"Believe it or not, I still get a kick from getting inside Marmaduke's head," said Anderson, who, as he grows old alone, can actually better relate to a fictional dog than to most human beings. "In in some strange way it's almost as if he's alive. Sitting right here, next to me, as I draw."

Though half of his readership was lost to a cholera outbreak, and hundreds more fans likely perished during the Great Chicago Fire of 1959, Anderson has never given up on Marmaduke—a strip that has survived 10 U.S. presidencies, as well as everyone the cartoonist has ever known and loved.

"Throughout my career, the one thing I've tried to do more than anything else was make people smile," said Anderson, referring to a goal that now rivals being able to dress himself in the morning and get into bed without the aid of a stepladder at night. "That's what Marmaduke was always about."

Anderson will be honored this week by the National Comic Strip Artists Association, which had no choice but to acknowledge the now-obsolete senior for his contribution to the art form, his influence on today's cartoonists, and his sheer bewildering duration.

When asked if the soulless conduit for another 20 years of Marmaduke cartoons had any new and exciting projects up his sleeve, a coy Anderson replied, "No."

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Greetings from Houston

I'm sitting in the Houston airport waiting for my connection to Washington DC. I'm on my way to the Psychotherapy Networker Conference. I skipped the first day -- today -- and am doing three day long sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The last two days are both with Richard Schwartz, creator of Internal Family Systems Therapy. Needless to say, for those who know me and my interest in IFS, I am stoked. (Does anyone say "stoked" anymore?)

I don't really have anything to say -- I'm just bored and I have a free connection.

If you're bored too, you might want to check out the The Very Best of The Hubble Telescope. Enjoy it while you can -- according to an article I just read in Scientific American, in about 100 billion years, the rest of the universe (aside from the now combined Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies) will be invisible, having expanded beyond the event horizon (the particle horizon of the observable universe). To scientists observing the universe then, it will appear as though the Milky Way is a lone galaxy in endless, static space, just as was thought as the turn of the 19th century and into the 20th.

New Poem: Love Poem IV

Love Poem IV

silence / the space between
inhale and exhale / white
as snow / but open / a heart
of compassion / trees shadowing
frozen terrain / a purity
like love / but more

when she smiles
her eyes blind the sun / fog
descends on my mind / engulfed
in feeling / the space between
breaths / silence like flakes
falling from a gray sky

foreseen? / can I have dreamed
this woman into my life? / her
touch on my arm / my lips
on hers / a day sitting beside moving
water / finding source
in the desert / tender as snow

22 Signs That You’re A Highly Sensitive Person

From Evolving Times, an article that purports to tell you, based on 22 "symptoms," whether or not you are highly sensitive person. As someone who self-identifies as an HSP, some of these fit, some of these don't, and some seem like New Age crap. Be that as it may, here is the list -- and you might want to go to the site and check out the useful introduction.

To their credit, they are not claiming that all of these apply to everyone who is an HSP, and that one might be an HSP if 10 of the items apply to you. So read on . . . .

So if you have ever wondered if you are highly sensitive, here is a list of signs that could indicate that you are a Highly Sensitive Person. (I’ve added some personal notes to a few of the items on the list).

1. Can you hear things others cannot, especially high-pitched sounds?
Do you hear sirens long before anyone else? Does the high-pitched hum of a partially dimmed light fixture get under your skin when no one else seems to notice? Does the whirring fan in your computer distract you? Is it difficult for you to sleep in the same room as a refrigerator? Do you need to cover your ears when a loud siren passes by? Do you use earplugs at concerts or on planes?

2. Do you notice smells that others miss?
I have a weird olfactory sense: When it comes to nice, natural smells such as roses and lilacs, I have to put my nose right into the flower in order to smell it. But when it comes to not-so-nice smells I am highly attuned. I can smell cigarette smoke from 50-feet away when I’m outside and the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. When I walk into a restaurant that has just cleaned up with chlorine bleach, I often have to turn around a leave because the smell is overpowering. And don’t get me started on some of the unnatural perfumes that have nearly made me… well I think you get the idea!

3. Do you know what other people need before they ask?
This post, Intuition or Observation & Analysis, provides a great example of this.

4. Do you notice the flicker on older computer screens or older fluorescent fixtures?
I’m still amazed at how often I used to sit down at someone else’s computer and wonder how they were able to work on it with the refresh rate set so low. If they were not looking over my shoulder I would usually go in and quickly increase the refresh rate which took away the flicker and provided me with some relief.

5. Do you get “overwhelmed” by joy when you experience great beauty: A beautiful sunset, an incredible musical performance, the smile of your child?
High vibrational sensitivity is not always triggered by “negative” experiences. Positive, beautiful, sublime experiences can also awaken that sensitivity. But again, the difference and occasionally the difficulty for sensitive people is the intensity of the experience. Highly sensitive people can be truly overwhelmed by a beautiful experience, which is fine if you are alone on the beach watching a spectacular sunset, but may not be so great if you happen to look out the window at work just at the peak moment of that beautiful sunset.

6. Do you feel threatened or uneasy in large crowds or big cities?
Sometimes I enjoy going into San Francisco, and other times I just can’t wait to get out. But no matter how I’m feeling while I’m there, I always notice a distinct sense of calmness descending upon me as I leave the City. It’s as if I’m passing through an invisible energy boundary as I cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

7. Do you have “emotional radar” that picks up on what others are feeling?
Do you know what people are feeling before they tell you? Do you ever walk into a room and sense that there has been an argument?

8. Do you pick up physical symptoms from other people?
Have you ever been feeling great and then run into a friend who had a headache and suddenly noticed a headache coming on? I once massaged a friend’s knee after she tweaked it during a yoga class. When I was done, she felt great, but I could hardly walk!

9. Does reading or hearing about bad news have a dramatic impact on your mood?
Once upon a time I was a news and information junkie. Knowing what was happening in the world was important. As my sensitivity awakened, however, I began to recognize that the news is almost exclusively low-vibration information and had a dramatic and usually negative impact on me. A few years ago I did a week long news fast to see if it would make a difference. It did! Soon after that, I stopped watching, listening to or reading the news on a regular basis. And while I still don’t watch or listen to the news, I am now able to read the paper or gather snippets of news from the Internet without noticing a dramatic effect on my mood.

10. If you see a bad car accident does it affect you for the entire day?
Most people have a reaction when seeing an accident but for some highly sensitive people the effect can be dramatic and long lasting.

11. Have you been diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and/or do you experience a noticeable drop in your energy and mood during the winter?

12. Have you ever had a transcendent or mystical experience?
Highly sensitive people are naturally more open to experiences of bliss, ecstasy and spiritual awakening.

13. Do you have a strong reaction when you drink caffeine or when you attempt to stop?
Everything we put into our bodies has both a physical and energetic effect. For most people the physical effects of caffeine are not that dramatic. But sensitive people also feel the energetic effects of that caffeine and the combination can be quite powerful.

14. Do you have food sensitivities or allergies?
Most of us are putting stuff into our bodies that was never meant to go there. This is fine for people who are not highly sensitive (not really!) but if you are highly sensitive your body may tell you, in no uncertain terms, what you can and cannot put into it.

15. Do you have allergies or asthma?
As with food allergies, environmental allergies can indicate that you are reacting to allergens on both a physical and energetic level.

16. Are you a “lightweight?”
A friend of mine used to say that I could “get drunk from sniffing the bottlecap!” And she wasn’t that far off. My karate buddies nicknamed me Ed “No Mas” Mills because of my tendency to get a little rambunctious after a couple of beers. If one glass of wine puts you under the table you might be highly sensitive.

17. Are you sensitive to over-the-counter, prescribed or illegal drugs?
Can you take half the recommended dosage of a drug and experience a noticeable effect? Have you had an overwhelming experience when experimenting with other drugs?

18. If you have ever had surgery, did it take longer to recover from the effects of the anesthesia than from the surgery itself?
For many sensitive people anesthesia can have a long-lasting and powerful effect. Anesthesia impacts not only the physical body but also the energy body by putting you into a completely unnatural state. It’s a neither here nor there state that can wreak havoc on a sensitive person’s system.

19. Is being in a calm, peaceful environment very important for you?
Does clutter, stress you out? Do harsh, disharmonious colors fluster you? Do you feel at peace in a beautiful garden? Is it important for you to create a “sanctuary” within your home?

20. Do you get claustrophobic when you spend too much time indoors?
For many sensitive people, being inside for too long leads to a feeling of claustrophobia, lethargy and/or irritation.

21. Is it important for you to spend time alone?
Highly sensitive people often feel better when alone. In extreme cases, this need to be alone can be debilitating to the point where being around others is almost impossible.

22. Do you experience dramatic mood swings, sometimes for no apparent reason?
Have you ever been sitting at work, or on the bus, or in a cafĂ©, feeling pretty good, and suddenly, for no apparent reason, started to feel sad, or angry? Highly sensitive people are more sensitive to both their own emotional content as well as the emotions of those around them. So if this happens to you, you may be connecting with something happening inside of you, but you might also be unintentionally “tuning in” to the emotional content of someone else.

23. Do you know when people are lying to you?
Have you ever just known that someone is telling you a lie, even when you have no “logical” reason to believe that to be so?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. These are examples of possible “symptoms” of high sensitivity. If ten or more of these experiences rang true for you, it’s highly likely that you’re a highly sensitive person. But even if you said “Yes” to just a handful of these you could be highly sensitive. In fact, even just one or two of these, if they are very strong for you, could indicate high sensitivity.

Go to the site to read the rest. More on being an HSP here.

Heather Wilhelm Reviews "The Age of American Unreason"

Over at Real Clear Politics, Heather Wilhelm reviews Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason. I can't imagine this book has anything to add to what Al Gore wrote in The Assault on Reason, but who knows. Based on the review, it sounds like it's just more religion bashing, which leaves it far beneath the level of Gore's book.

Just how ignorant are Americans, anyway? These days, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone defending the nation's collective intellect--and, in some cases, for good reason. Two thirds of Americans between ages of 18-24 can't find Iraq on a map. When asked what function DNA serves, two thirds of Americans have no idea. And in a recent survey that would have Copernicus turning in his grave, one in five American adults believe that the sun revolves around the earth.

Bashing American ignorance, of course, has long been popular. In 2004, slumped punk band Green Day earned a comeback--and a Grammy Award--with their album "American Idiot." Bush mockery has grown into a cottage industry, giving cash registers a workout across the country. The latest surge of bestselling books, meanwhile ("God is Not Great," "The End of Faith") belittle American religion as a silly refuge for the ignorant masses.

With her new bestseller, "The Age of American Unreason," Susan Jacoby adds fuel to the public bonfire. Americans are not only increasingly knowledge-challenged, she argues: they're also proud of it. "America is now ill," she writes, "with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism." This new, insidious strain--at odds with reason, objective facts, and modern science--has grown over the past twenty years, she writes, and is incredibly dangerous for American culture and politics.

Building upon Richard Hofstadter's 1963 Pulitzer Prize winner, "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life," Jacoby weaves through various purported causes for American "unreason," including mass digital media, the legacy of the sixties, youth and celebrity culture, and historical egghead-bashing. Some of her explanations are satisfying, particularly those surrounding our rapid-fire "culture of distraction." The majority, however, are clouded by the author's quickly evident and sizable hang-up regarding a well-worn bogeyman: the powerful, united front of intolerant American fundamentalists bent on national control.

Read the whole review.

Frogs in Boiling Water - the Psychology of Global Warming

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert explains why we are not particularly well suited to solving the issues of global warming, whether you believe it is caused by humans or not. Gilbert has a great sense of humor, and is clearly liberal, but don't let that deter you -- this is good stuff.

I wonder: Are we bound by our biology in this instance? How much variation is there in individuals when it comes to affective forecasting?