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Thu, 24 Oct 2019
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Science of the Spirit


Why it's wrong to cast stones at Jordan Peterson for seeking treatment

Jordan Peterson
Benzodiazepines can be thought of as wolves in sheep's clothing.

It is no secret that while social media can be a wonderful world of learning and connection, it can equally be an ignorant cesspool that serves as a window into the darker corners of human nature.

Recently, Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson — author of the international bestseller 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos — along with his daughter, decided to bravely pre-empt a foreshadowed character assassination by disclosing on social media that he had sought treatment for clonazepam dependence at a rehabilitation center.

Peterson had been prescribed clonazepam — a type of anti-anxiety medication of the benzodiazepine class — to help manage the stressors associated with the recent devastating news of his wife's cancer diagnosis.

When it comes to the addiction and mental health treatment world, benzodiazepines can be thought of as wolves in sheep's clothing, with the exception of their beneficial use in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal. If benzodiazepines are used repeatedly and temporarily to avoid or cope with uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, and memories, their use could lead to the development or worsening of psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety.


The newly rediscovered benefits of having a humble disposition

© Francesco Ciccolella
Humility is not the boldest of personality traits, but it's an important one, studies find. And it's hard to fake.

In their day jobs, research psychologists don't typically need safety goggles, much less pith helmets or Indiana Jones bullwhips. There's no rappelling into caves to uncover buried scrolls, no prowling the ocean floor in spherical subs, no tuning of immense, underground magnets in the hunt for ghostly subatomic particles.

Still, psychologists do occasionally excavate the habits of lost civilizations. In a paper published in the latest issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a team of researchers reviewed studies of a once-widespread personal trait, one "characterized by an ability to accurately acknowledge one's limitations and abilities, and an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented rather than self-focused." Humility.

"Research on humility has been growing, and fast," said Daryl Van Tongeren, a psychologist at Hope College in Michigan and lead author of the new paper. "It was time to bring people up-to-date and lay out the open questions to guide further research."

Comment: See also:


Employees are most productive when bosses are kind and compassionate

employee productivity
© pexels.com
"Subordinates and employees are not tools or machines that you can just use. They are human beings and deserve to be treated with respect."
Feel like your employees aren't giving it their all in the office? A daily dose of genuine kindness and compassion may do the trick. A recent study by researchers at Binghamton University finds that simply being nice to employees and taking interest in them personally and professionally almost always leads to better productivity and improved job performance overall.

"Being benevolent is important because it can change the perception your followers have of you," explains researcher Chou-Yu Tsai, assistant professor at Binghamton University's School of Management, in a university release. "If you feel that your leader or boss actually cares about you, you may feel more serious about the work you do for them."

Tsai and his team of international researchers tried to determine how the presence and lack of generally benevolent attitudes and behaviors by superiors affect the performance and productivity of their subordinates at work. The authors surveyed about 1,000 members of the Taiwanese military and nearly 200 adults working full-time in the United States. They examined three different leadership styles, defined as authoritarianism-dominant, benevolence-dominant, and classical paternalistic leadership.

Comment: For a more in-depth discussion of effective leadership, listen to MindMatters recent review of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.


5 Rules of Recovery for Addictions of Any Kind


There's light at the end of the tunnel if your willing to put the work and effort into it.
Not all rules work for all people, nor do they necessarily work in the way you want them to work. But when it comes to Recovery, these 5 Rules are rock-solid.

1. Change Your Life

Changes may not be easy as ABC or 1-2-3, but here's a way to remember the key:

- Adjust attitude: work beyond negative thoughts
- Beware people, places, and things associated with using
- Complete Honesty

Comment: Addictions of any kind are multi-faceted and rooted in psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual matters. Purpose, connection, trauma, emptiness, selfishness, love, self-loathing, instant gratification and pain & suffering all play a role on whether we become susceptible to addictions or not. In some ways it represents an extreme form of the human condition that just about everyone experiences. 5 rules aren't enough to offset this, but you need to start somewhere and it's good to have some guidelines to help a person get started or fall back on and reaffirm your values when you fall of the wagon or lose your way. See also:

Take 2

Leading neurocriminologist Adrian Raine considers Joker "a great educational tool"

joker arthur dent joaquin phoenix
© Warner Bros.
Adrian Raine did not go into his screening of Joker last Friday with lofty expectations. The neurocriminologist is a pioneer in researching the minds of violent criminals, having been the first person to use brain imaging to study murderers. Truthfully, the revered British researcher — who devoted decades of his life to understanding what makes criminals tick — just wasn't that much of a Batman fan. So when he stepped into a Darlington, England, screening of the controversial Todd Phillips film, it was mostly to spend quality time with his nephews while on break from his professorial duties at the University of Pennsylvania.

But what Raine saw onscreen stunned him. According to the neurocriminologist, the script — from Phillips and Scott Silver — authentically traces the way a man could be driven to deeply troubling acts of violence by a combination of genetics, childhood trauma, untreated mental illness, and societal provocation. And though Raine was not sure how to pronounce Joaquin Phoenix's name, the neurocriminologist was staggered by the nuance and grim grace the Oscar-nominated actor brought to the role — summoning the odd behavior, appearance, and social tics exhibited by those who suffer from certain personality disorders. Predicted the neurocriminologist, "He's sure to be in the Oscar race."

"[The film] was a surprisingly accurate prediction of the kind of background and circumstances which, when combined together, make a murderer," said Raine, who was already considering integrating Joker into a forthcoming course at the University of Pennsylvania. "For 42 years, I've studied the cause of crime and violence. And while watching this film, I thought, Wow, what a revelation this was. I need to buy this movie down the road, make excerpt clips of it to illustrate [...] It is a great educational tool about the making of the murderer. That threw me," confessed Raine, still surprised by how much he appreciated the film. "I talk about all of these factors in the class, and honestly, it's really hard to get a true-life story that fits all of these pieces together, let alone a very dramatic and stylized movie that illustrates these factors quite strongly. That was really a revelation."

[Spoilers ahead for those who have not yet seen Joker.]


The basics: How to raise competent kids in an incompetent world

raising competent kids, children life skills

If you never give a kid responsibility or show them how to create a workaround, how do you expect them to magically be able to “adult” just because they hit some arbitrary age?
It's probably no surprise that the young people of today aren't particularly independent. Not only does the "education" system take great pains to mold them into a bunch of terrified, follow-the-herd automatons, society, in general, doesn't force them to do much for themselves either.

I'll never forget when my oldest daughter came home for summer vacation after her first year of college. She told me that her younger sister, age 13 at the time, was much more mature and competent than many of the kids in her student apartment building. "I had to show a bunch of them how to do laundry and they didn't even know how to make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese," she said.

Apparently they were likewise in awe of her ability to cook actual food that did not originate in a pouch or box, her skills at changing a tire, her knack for making coffee using a French press instead of a coffee maker, and her ease at operating a washing machine and clothes dryer.

One girl, she told me, kept coming to my daughter's apartment for tea and finally my daughter said, "I can't afford to keep giving you all my tea. You're going to have to make your own tea in your apartment. The girl said sadly that she couldn't because she didn't have a tea kettle. She was gobsmacked when my daughter explained how to boil water in a regular cooking pot for making tea.

At long last, my daughter admitted that even though she thought I was being mean at the time I began making her do things for herself, she's now glad that she possesses those skills. Hers was also the apartment that had everything needed to solve everyday problems: basic tools, first aid supplies, OTC medicine, and home remedies.

This got me thinking about how life will be when disaster eventually strikes.

Comment: More on learning basic life skills:


Pop Spirituality: The commodification of spirituality and simulated desires

pop spirituality, commodification spirituality

Popular spirituality – today’s pop spirit – has become its own marketplace in the modern world.


the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character.

the prevailing or typical quality, mood, or attitude of a person, group, or period of time.
"A moment of enlightenment is of no use to someone who needs a good week of it." ~Idries Shah
We may need more than a week of enlightenment, yet in our modern cultures all we get are bite-sized Youtube-compatible fleeting moments. The prevailing mood of our times is one where the 'spirit' is like the radio-friendly three-minute pop song. It is a digestible burst that we can chew on without it giving us indigestion. We have literally thousands of online videos showing us how to improve almost every aspect of our lives by breathing, body postures, mental exercises, visualizations, and the good old self-to-mirror pep talks. We are told that we 'create our own reality,' despite the obvious fact that in many countries we have accepted sociopaths in power - or perhaps we voted them into office? If that is our reality, then what does it say about ourselves - that most of us are latent sociopaths with a hidden agenda for inflicting suffering upon others? If this is creating our own reality, then most of us must also be secretly longing for therapy.

Comment: Spiritual Bypassing: Ten completely B.S. practices of supposedly spiritual people
"Spiritual Bypassing: A term first coined by author John Welwood. The spiritual bypass is the tendency to jump to spirit prematurely, usually in an effort to avoid various aspects of earthly reality (practical challenges, unresolved emotions and memories). The bypass has many symptoms - the starry-eyed bliss trip, radical detachment from one's self-identifications, premature forgiveness, ungrounded behaviors, wish-full thinking etc." - Jeff Brown
See also:


Russian shaman aims to capture really big evil spirits (and a record) as she crafts dreamcatcher the size of Soviet block

Shaman Bibigul Mamaeva
© Sputnik / Ekaterina Chesnokova
Shaman Bibigul Mamaeva crafting a giant dreamcatcher in 2016.
Russia's Lake Seliger has probably become much safer from evil spirits after a 13-meter-wide dreamcatcher appeared on its shores. The massive shaman-made talisman is slated for the Guinness Book of Records.

Bibigul Mamaeva, an ethnic Kazakh shaman who boasts of being a "direct descendent" of Genghis Khan, has been working tirelessly for almost a week to create the enormous amulet on the shores of the lake, located some 380 km northwest of Moscow.

In a bid to break the record, Mamaeva has created a dreamcatcher 12.63 meters in diameter, using brushwood for the hoop and strained yarn, decorated with beads and feathers, placed on the inside. For comparison, a typical 5-story Soviet block of flats of the Khrushchev era is 14-15 meters high on average.

"I want the world to really start changing. There are a lot of angry people now. It's an attempt for the people to come together for good."

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MindMatters: Self-Help Without The Shallowness: The Hidden Depths of Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits

stephen covey
It's the book you've heard about for years, but probably never read - especially if you have an aversion to shallow self-help books promising success, influence, power and money. But Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is no shallow self-help book. It's actually a book about virtue - the development of character, and the timeless principles governing true success in life for as long as there has been history.

Today on MindMatters we discuss some of the overall themes of the book, Covey's unique but universal worldview, and some of the great stories he shares to really make his points hit home.

Running Time: 01:20:33

Download: MP3 — 73.7 MB


David Berlinski in conversation with ID-friendly Muslims

david berlinski
I had the following dream last night. In it, mathematician and Darwin skeptic David Berlinski was stretched out on a red couch, schmoozing entertainingly with a couple of ID-friendly, C.S. Lewis-quoting Muslim chaps. Dr. Berlinski stretched out so far that the pair of interviewers were confined to one distant end of the couch, though they didn't seem to mind. They cracked up at all his jokes, as I did, too. Dr. Berlinski held a cane with a golden head which he used to illustrate points, and he appeared not in his usual splendid attire but, much more casually, in a cut-off jean jacket over a t-shirt. It was quite a fun dream and went on for about 45 minutes or so.

I'm kidding, actually: it wasn't a dream, though there is arguably an element of the surreal. It was a video from the very amiable and, yes, ID-friendly crew of Ahmadi Muslims at the thoughtful site Rational Religion. You must watch this.