Centenary

from Centenary

BART Station Bard

I know you’re angry.
So am I.
How could we not be?
Children ripped from their parents,
Concentration camps in Texas.
“I can’t breathe”
“I remember their laughter”
A child-man throwing ugly decrees from his high chair.

But from a high shelf in Europe come watercolor images a century on.
French families fleeing destruction.
Children starving in Yemen.
Corpses of trees standing witness as men follow orders into death.
As we follow our leaders.

They know who we need to hate.
In front of City Hall we are led in chants.
We know the story.
Our indignation gives us the right to hate.
We have worked so hard, but They stole our votes, our climate, our lives.
We will make them pay!
We will come here every night if necessary!
Bearing placards, twisted pictures of an uncrowned King.
A piñata we can beat to death
Until we get our hands…

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A Definition of Evil

“I was motivated by absolutely humane feelings. I never had any other intention. I never had any other belief than that those poor miserable creatures-that the painful lives of these creatures were to be shortened.”

Karl Brandt, the physician who suggested that Hitler use poison gas to exterminate the Jews.

Portrait of Dr. Karl Brandt

To Karl Brandt, the people he murdered weren’t human.

They were creatures.

They were “those” poor miserable creatures.

Brandt told himself that killing Jews was an act of mercy; the behavior
of a civilized man.

M. Scott Peck, the psychiatrist who authored, The Road Less Traveled, described evil as a form of “militant ignorance“.

He addressed human evil in “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil“.

According to Peck an evil person tells himself he’s doing good to keep up
an image of perfection.

They,

  • Deceive others as a consequence of their own self-deception
  • Project their sins onto specific targets (scapegoats) while being
    apparently normal with everyone
  • Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others.
  • Abuses political (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”
  • Maintains a high level of respectability based on lies.
  • Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
  • Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)

For me, the most horrific aspect of the violence I experienced as a child was the worst anti-Semitic beatings were given by adults in the neighborhood.

I was that Jew.

That Christ killer.

The adults at that time felt they had a moral duty to debase and humiliate
me.

How is it different today?

How does it feel to the six-year-old son of impoverished immigrants who hears his parents described vermin?

What happens when a society abuses children as a matter of policy?

What happens to America with a President who incites violence?

M. Scott Peck defines evil as the use of cruelty against people who
cannot defend themselves.

 

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No resume required

from House of Heart

House of Heart

Job opening:  The Border

Communication skills unnecessary.

Must enjoy tearing families apart.

Detachment required.

Willing and able to work long hours.

Strong hands  to hold back resisting mothers and fathers.

 

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Dissociative Identity Disorder: Learning to Trust

The patients’ job in intensive psychotherapy is to ask why.

Why do I seek out women who are devoid of the capacity for love?

Why do I veer from an extreme identification with the middle class to an extreme identification with the poor?

Why do I force myself to fail economically just as I get closest to winning?

Why do I sometimes behave as if I hate myself?

I first grappled with the problem of internalized stigma during the early days of the AIDS epidemic when I wondered if the AIDS was God’s judgment.

None of the intellectual and political constructions that served me as gay activist in the 1970’s could defeat the internalized homophobia unleashed by AIDS.

I watched men die from grief, self-hatred, and fear and I was nearly one of them.

This was when I realized the true function of any ‘ism’ is to convince the target to self-destruct.

This was why any novel written about gays before Stonewall usually ended with suicide or the impoverished death of the gay character.

AIDS was the greatest tragic ending, infused with the dissonant myth of a loving, yet vengeful God.


Internalized homophobia was the least of my problems.

AIDS was trauma on trauma.

I didn’t know I had a dissociative disorder.

I was living in the worst possible place at the worst possible time
for someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Any spot on my arm sent me into panic, so much, so I became a frequent
flyer at the local crisis clinics.

The shrinks eventually gave me a prescription for Xanax.

Xanax
                                 Xanax

The only thing I knew about Xanax was it made the fear go away.

The pharmaceutical industry reported Xanax had an anti-depressant effect.

By 1986 I was on a prescribed dose of eight milligrams a day.

A seizure when I decided to stop the drug was how I learned  Xanax is addictive.

2011 photograph of a mannequin in a shop window on Mission Street taken in 2011 with a Blackberry
Xanax

My DID allows parts of me to form attachments while protecting the parts that are fragile and afraid.

One goal of my treatment is for me to learn to trust a woman.

This process of building trust with a woman who wants what’s best for me and who acts in my interests is a path to becoming whole.

John C. Calhoun Homes
A digitally altered snapshot of one of my childhood homes.

As I enter my 8th year of intensive psychotherapy, the questions I must
ask are less confounding.

When I entered treatment in October of 2011, I felt like a helpless child.

It is now October 2018.

I feel more whole.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2018
The Photo of Xanax found on Google Images

First posted November 1, 2015-updated November 8, 2017 – Rewritten and Updated October 21, 2018

 

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