June 23, 1934
Madlin's serious illness, emotional conflicts, normal activity on the Fort Madison frequency changer job, the X Club "As I See Life Now" publication and meeting at Lakeview - all mark the last few weeks. Jack's whooping cough, and the steamer excursion today are recent highlights. The review at Mrs. Heller's of the X philosophies is a bright spot. Conflicting interests on Pal and that microbe called Patsy blossomed out today. Joe's letter, displaying bitterness toward present political incumbents, takes the prize for most interesting correspondence.
Part of editorial in June 2 News-Record:
"Once we are fed up with all the palliatives and expedients we shall turn once again to this only recipe for enduring progress. One of these days we shall cease trying to wish substance into the speculative bubbles of the twenties; we shall abandon the ludicrous effort to swell employment by boycotting the tools of efficiency; we shall foreswear the grotesque notion that greater abundance for all can be achieved by destroying our produce and curtailing our productivity; we shall satisfy ourselves that fictitious prices for goods or services cannot be fixed or maintained without respect to supply or demand. Whatever emergency purposes these strange devices may have served, we shall see them in all their futility as motors of enduring progress and we shall invoke anew the power that has driven us to our present level." ---- "We need but to see clearly that the only substantial and enduring wealth is that which results from scientific progress, that the only sound investment of capital is that which actually increases our productivity."
From "Outwitting Our Nerves", a Primer of Pshchotherapy, by Jackson and Salisbury.
75% of all people who apply to physicians for help are nervous people. Not mental incompetents, but among highly-organized, consciantious folk who have most to contribute to the leadership of the world. Obviously should be taught how to solve inner conflicts and keep well. Greater need than ever for people to keep at their tasks without long enforced rests, people who can think deeply and continuously without brain fag, people who can concentrate all their powers on the work in hand without wasting time or energy on unnecessary aches or pains, people whose bodies are kept up to top notch of vitality by well-digested food, well-slept sleep, well-forgotten fatigue, and well-used reserve energy. Not Utopian dream, but merely a matter of knowing how.
Diseases may be caused by physical or pshchic forces. "Nervous" disorder caused not by lack of energy but by misdirected energy.; not by overwork or nerve-depletion, but by misconception, emotional conflict, repressed instincts, and buried memories.Neurosis sequence of "caused by's"Like a drama a neurosis has its conflict, its villain, and its victim, its love-story, its practical joke, its climax, and its denoucement. Sometimes psychotherapy steps in as a fairy-godmother to release the victim, outwit the villain and bring about the live-happily-ever-after ending.
Lack of adaptation to social environment.
Lack of harmony within the personality.
Wrong ideas or ignorance.
And reversed sequence of "cured by's"
Readjustment to environment.
Hunger, which, like the reproductive instinct is stimulated by the changing chemistry of the body, can be satisfied only by achieving its primary purpose, the taking of material food; but the creative impulse to reproduce oneself possesses a unique ability to spiritualize itself and expend its energy in other lines of creative endeavor. If a person is able to express himself in some real way, to give himself to socially needed work; if he can reproduce himself intellectually and spiritually in artistic production, in invention, in literature, in social betterment, he is drawing on an age-old reservoir of creative energy, and by so doing is relieving himself of inner tension which would otherwise seek less beneficent ways of expression. Term "sublimation" borrowed from chemistry by Freud.
Sublimation too often fails. Too many nervous wrecks by the way, too many weak indulgers of original desires, too many repressed, starved lives with no outlet for their misunderstood yearnings, and too many, in spite of big life-work fail to find satisfaction because of unnecessary handicaps carried over from childhood.
The conflicts confronting civilized man are the direct outcome of the evolutionary history of the race and of its attempt to adapt its primitive instincts to present day ideals. Character is what we do with our instincts. We may follow our primal desires, we may deny their existance, or we may use them for ends which are in harmony with our lives as we want them to be. First course leads to degereracy, second to nervous illness, and third to happy usefulness. Sublimation sometimes accomplished unconsciously, but sometimes reestablished only when the conscious mind gains an understanding of the great forces of life - latter psychotherapy.
The subconscious mind is vast yet explorable Lowest layers, represented by instincts, are as old as life itself. The higher are more modern, full, and accurate records of our own lifetime. Lowest is primitive, infantile, instinctive, unalterable, universal, knows no restraint, no culture, nor prudence.
The higher, the storehouse of individual experience, bears the marks of acquired ideals, of cultivated refinement, and represents among other things the preceptt and prudence of civilized society. Subconscious not all emotion. Capable of elaborate thought, able to calculate, to scheme, to answer doubts, to solve problems, to fabricate the purposeful, fantastic allegories of dreams, and to create from mere knowledge the inspired works of genius. But it cannot reason inductively. A most skillful logician, it can reason deductively, but cannot arrive at a general conclusion from a number of particular facts. Except for inductive reasoning and awareness it seems to possess all the attributes of the conscious mind. Ordinarily it keeps its ideas and emotions, its complexes and moods in fairly accurate order, but when upset by emotional warfare, it gets its records confused and falls into a chaotic state which makes regular business impossible. It is master of the body but in normal life the servant of consciousness. Outstanding quality is suggestibility. Accepts any statement given it by consciousness, believes it implicitly, and acts accordingly. Nervous people are those too much under the sway of the subconscious, as is the poet and inventor. The highest type of genius is the man whose conscious and subconscious minds work together in perfect harmony, each up to its full power.
The gap between the body and the mind is bridged by the subconscious mind, which is at once the master of the body and the servant of consciousness. Downcast and fearful moods have an immediate effect on the body. When a nervous person finds out why he worries, he is well on the way to recovery.
"Nerves" a question of morals; a neurosis, an affair of conscience; a nervous symptom, an unsettled ethical struggle. This struggle is normal, the natural result of desire to change to a more civilized being. Those who capitualte to the primitive may not be nervous, but they are rarely happy. The voice of conscience is hard to drown, even when it is not strong enough to control conduct. The "immoral" person simply disregards the collective wisdom of society and gives the victory to the primitive forces which try to keep man back on his old level. The "salt of the earth" decide the conflict in a way which satisfies both themselves and society. By sublimation, their love-force, unhampered by childish habits, is free to give itself to adult relationships or to express itself symbolically in socially helpful ways. "Nervous" people have not finished the fight - both sides are too strong. Their energy is divided between the effort to repress and the effort to gain expression, and there is little left for the external world. There is plenty of energy wasted on emotion, physical symptoms, phantasy, or useless acts symbolizing the struggle. A neurotic is a normal person, only more so. Impulses the same, and complexes are the same kind, only more intense. He is exaggerated. It is quantity, not quality, that ails him, for he differs from his steady-going neighbor not in kind but in degree. More of him is repressed and a large part of him is fixed in a childish mold.
A neurosis is a confidence game that we play on ourselves, an attempt to get stolen fruit and to look pious at the same time - not in order to fool somebody else but to fool ourselves. No nervous symptom is what it seems to be, it is an arch pretender. It pretends to be afraid of something it does not fear at all, or to ignore something that interests it intensely. It pretends to be a physical disease, and the person most deluded is the one who owns the symptom. Its purpose is to avoid the pain of disillusionment and to furnish relief to a distracted soul which dares not face itself. The true meaning of a symptom is hidden, but may be traced, not to be punished for breaking the peace, but to be lead towards reconcilliation.
Nervous person is in need of change - not a change of climate or scene, in work or in diet, but a change in the hidden recesses of his own being. Outwitting nerves means first changeing ones mind, an inner and spiritual process. Self-knowledge essential, requiring an examination of the half-conscious or wholly unconscious longings which are usually ignored. A real understanding of self comes only when one is willing to analyze his motives until he sees the connection between them and his nervous symptoms, which are but the symbolic gratification of desires he dares not acknowledge. The materials out of which symptoms are manufactured is taken largely from superficial misconceptions concerning the bodily functions. Knowledge about the chemistry of fatigue and the way it is automatically care for by the body is likely to do away with the idea that nervous exhaustion as resulting for accumulation of fatigue. A simple understanding of the biological and physiological facts concerning the assimilation of food and the elimination of waste material, leaves the intelligent person less ready to convert his psychic discomfort into indigestion and constipation. Self-discovery is helpful only when it leads to better ways of self-expression.
Preventatives - When fathers and mothers realize that an over-strong bond between parents and children is responsible for a large proportion of nervous disorders, most of them will make sure that such exaggeration is not allowed to develope. And when parents are freed from their "conspiracy of silence" by a reverent attitude toward the whole of life, their very saneness will impart to their children a wholesome respect for the reproductive instinct. There will be found in the next generation fewer half-starved men and women carrying the burdon of unnecessary repressions and the pain of unsatisfied yearnings. Will remove the extra burdon of misconception, and make it easier for people to be "content with being moral".
That tired feeling - if no tuberculosis, heart trouble, Bright's disease, but physically fit and "merely nervous" here is a chatechism for the weary one:
Q: What is fatigue?
A. It is a chemical condition resulting from effort that is very recent.
Q. What else creates fatigue?
A. Worry, fear, resentment, discontent, and other depression emotions.
Q. What magnifies fatigue?
A. Attention to the feeling.
Q. What makes us weary long after the cause is removed?
Q. Why do so many people believe themselves overworked?
A. Because of the power of suggestion.
Q. Why do they take the suggestion?
A. Because it serves their need and expresses their inner feeling.
Q. Why are they willing to choose such an uncomfortable mode of expression?
A. Because they don't know what they are doing, and the subconscious is very insistent.
Q. Who gets up tired every morning?
A. The neurotic.
Q. Who fancies his brain so exhausted that a little concentration is impossible?
Q. Who believes himself exhausted as a result of work that is not ancient history?
Q. Who lays all his woes to overwork?
Q. Who complains of before he is well begun?
Q. Who may drop his fatigue as soon as he "gets the idea"?
A. The neurotic.
Q. How can he get the idea?
A. By understanding himself.
Q. How may he express his inner feelings?
A. By choosing a better way.
Q. How can he forget his fatigue?
A. By ignoring it.
Q. How can he ignore it?
A. By finding a good stiff job.
If he wants advice in a nutsshell, here it is: Get understanding. Get courage. Get busy. P> Since most indigestion is an emotional disturbance worked up by fear, anger, discontent, worry, ignorance, suggestion, attention to bodily functions which are meant to be ignored, love of notice and the conversion of moral distress into physical distress, here is a diet for Mr. Everyman:A calm spirit Plenty of good cheer A varied diet CommonsenseMeddlesome interference:
Judicious neglect of symptoms
Forgetfulness of the digestive process
A little accurate knowledge
A determination to BE LIKE FOLKSA centipede was happy quiteAbove an epitome of the truth about constipation, indigestion, insomnia, and other functional disturbances common to nervous folk.
Until a frog in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg comes after which?"
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how run.
Women's ills are not blunders of an inefficient Creator, but are home-made products, which quickly vanish in the light of understanding. The special functions are, as a rule, easily carried through unless complicated by false ideas or by fear.
We do not have to ask for sleep as for a special boon which may be denied. We simply have to lie down in trust, expecting to be carried away like a child. If our expectation is not at once realized, we can still trust, as with relaxed mind and body we lie in calm content, knowing that Nature is, minute by minute, restoring us for another day.
True adjustment to environment requires the faculty of putting out from consciousness all stimuli that do not require conscious attention. A paralyzed man is a cripple because he cannot run with the crowd; a nervous individual is a cripple, but only because he thinks that to run with the crowd lacks distinction. Understanding, judicious neglect of symptoms, whole-souled absorption in other interests, and a good look in the mirror, are sure to put him back in the running with a wholesome delight in being once more "like folks".
Persons who would be shocked at the idea of whiskey or champaigne, allow themselves good old emotional sprees, or chronic emotional tippling. In the choice between emotionalism and equanimity the selection of the former can only be in response to unrecognized desire. Experience is what happens to us plus the way we take it. We cannot always ward off the blow, but we can decide upon our reaction.
If self-knowledge is the first step in any cure so self-giving must be the final step.
Further notes, looking forward to an essay of Finding an Eden for an Eveless Adam:
(Sprees again) Humans have taken elaborate means to create the sense of aliveness, which they so much crave - any device which promises to lift one out of what he considers the monotony of the daily grind. Some of them - call them savages - have found satisfactory certain wild orgies in primitive war dances; others - out of date - have found simpler a bottle of whisky; still others find a cold shower more stimulating, or a brisk walk, or a good stiff job which sets them aglow with the sense of accomplishment. And alcoholism and emothioalism (cronic) are both indulged in because they remove inhibitions, give vent to repressed desires, and bring a sense of life and power which has somehow been lost in normal living. Both kinds of spree are followed by the inevitable "morning after" with its proverbial headache, remorse, repentance; but despite all this both are clung to because the satisfaction they bring is too deep to be easity relinquished. Whenever an emotion quite out of keeping with conscious desire is allowed to become habitual, we may know that it is being chosen by a part of the personality which needs to be uncovered and squarely faced. Nervous symptoms and exaggerated emotionalism are alike evidence of the fact that the wrong part of us is doing the choosing and that the will needs to be enlightened on what is taking place in the outer edge of its domain.One ship drives east, another drives west,
While the self-same breezes blow;
'Tis the set of the sail, and not the gale
That bids them where to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we journey along through life;
'Tis the set of the soul that decides the goal
And not the calm or the strife.
Rebecca R. Williams
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