Betrayal

Trumpf built his entire administration upon demanding unctuous loyalty from his allies and now finds himself wounded by what he sees as their shabby betrayal of him. He is entirely without integrity, using one standard for assessing the self and another for judging others depending on egoistic motives. This sort of switch can occur more or less consciously. When mental habits are very strong little conscious effort is needed to have them be executed. Hence, they playout more or less automatically. Should the duplicity become apparent to the self one can use rationalization to feel better (i.e. cognitive dissonance reduction operations). These include: Coming to believe more strongly than ever that one’s positions are right, and denigrating the others as themselves being without integrity. When the treasonous person really starts to lose it they can have psychotic delusions of grandeur that go beyond the distortions of dissonance reduction. Psychosis is the Big Leagues of psychological defense. (By the way when Trump was thought to say ‘Bigly’ he was saying ‘Big League’ in New Yawkese. Few if any seem to have noted this).

In any case, leaders set examples of ‘how to think’ for followers. Currently a bit less than half your neighbors think like Trumpf. The horror of this is illustrated by seeing the ten commandments through the eyes of Trump-like thinking:

The Ten Commandments as seen by a Trump personality

  1. I am the Lord your God (“I am a stable genius.” )
  2. You shall have no other gods before me (“I will be very angry at Mike Pence if he doesn’t listen to me.”)
  3. You shall not take my name in vain (Say whatever comes to mind. Be wild and impulsive.)
  4. Observe the Sabbath (“Kosher, Shmosher. Let’s play golf!”)
  5. Honor your father and mother (If they have given you millions of dollars.)
  6. You shall not kill (Have your followers do it for you.)
  7. You shall not steal (Stealing assures always winning)
  8. You shall not commit adultery (Why not?)
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (“To hell with fake news. They always lie about me. It’s a witch hunt”.)
  10. You shall not be envious of what your neighbor has (“Envy and greed are good…the Dow has hit records during my reign!!)

The ‘Congress Riots’ were Reality TV

The January 6th invasion of the congress is being described in grave tones as: ‘The most dastardly day in US history’;’ Our country’s worst hour’; ‘The greatest threat to democracy’, and so on. The deaths and the scenes of yahoos defiling the nation’s sacred space were nauseating. But at some level it was just another day in Reality TV America.

January 6th wasn’t the French, Russian, nor American Revolution. In those real government overthrow attempts, the actors actually had some values they were interested in risking their lives for. Did Trumpf put his life at risk? No he didn’t. He ‘fought’ like a TV wrestler fights. Trumpf wasn’t even there in the front lines with his admirers but back in the White House watching things on TV. The Congress Riot Actors wore wild costumes like the TV wrestlers do. The whole thing was another meaningless act in the last 40 years of The American Howdy Doody Show . It will likely inspire hope that things will change. But will they?

Ventriloquist’s dummies’ appear to have meaningful conversations if the audience imagines the dummy is real. Anyone who has taken Trumpf seriously, who thinks him real, is the dummy. Do you take him seriously? Seriously? Yes? YOUR’E FIRED!!! I think a Trumpf mob member’s greatest wish is to not be fired. To not lose their seat in The Ivanka Peanut Gallery (recently remodeled for 7 Billion Fake Trumpf Peanut Dollars ). They would be so alone then. So sad. Not merely not great again but having never been great even once.

The only beliefs or values at issue in the Trumpf Show have to do with stage craft. The art of making others ‘suspend disbelief’ and getting good ratings. Trumpf’s stage craft is limited to getting unsophisticated fans of TV wrestling and 80% of the people living in Red States to believe patently false absurdities. It has been TV wrestling and The Three Stooges since day one with Trumpf. Reverse Birther Theory even proves that Trumpf is the formerly unknown Fifth Stooge—Donald Fine Trumpf.

From the book “Sophistication”

Self Help books

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was published in 1936. It is still one of the better-selling books in the world. Carnegie was somewhat sophisticated about human psychology.  He had read the work of Sigmund Freud, who died in 1939. Freud’s ideas about how the mind operates consciously and unconsciously are called psychoanalysis or depth psychology.

I read Carnegie’s book long ago, but I am pretty sure it suggests that influence over others can be promoted by using their names a lot, being friendly, and dressing nicely. Wearing a hat may have also been suggested. These recommendations were not psychoanalytic depth psychology.  But they were plausible enough and people bought the book.

Since How to Win Friends, thousands or millions of books have been written that help readers become more popular, happy, rich, thin, spiritual, and so on.  These are called self-help books. Self Help books are ‘how to’ books or instruction manuals. They promise to increase readers’ success in achieving social goals like popularity and wealth.  This is somewhat different than manuals that help you fix a car, for example.  In self-help instruction manuals, you are the car.

This book may be of some practical help to readers. It is based very loosely on a formal neuroscience theory (Bernstein 2011, 2014, 2015). The theory, experiences I’ve had doing biology and psychology, plus some limited knowledge of Yiddish have contributed to what I say here.

The book describes four states of mind that we all experience.  When a state of mind becomes very habitual or chronic, it defines who you are.  It is your personality.  I call these mind states or personalities: shmo, schmuck, schadenfreudist, and sophisticate.

 A personality is made up of all of one’s strong habits of thinking and acting.  We have thousands or tens of thousands of habits that are in mutually controlling relationships.  If some of your habits persist long after childhood, such as being afraid of strangers, you probably have what is called a personality disorder.

In any case, our personal mental habits influence the nature of the decisions we make.  The primary function of the mind, which sits in the brain, is to make decisions.  Most generally we can only make three kinds of decisions in response to objects in the world and in our minds: avoid, approach, or freeze.

You can move your legs and approach another person on the street. Or, you can run the other way when you see them.  And freezing or ‘playing dead’, has some advantages. Physical approach involves moving your muscles. Mental approach involves moving your mind’s eye to attend to or avoid specific contents of mind (e.g. thoughts, feelings, intentions).  Moving the mind’s eye is neurologically very much like moving the muscles that control the eyeballs next to you nose.

Decisions controlling your organs are made mostly automatically, unconsciously in the brainstem. The neocortex, which sits on the top of brain, is where conscious awareness works to form intentions and control overt behavior and private thoughts.

Unlike other organs that have very few conscious inputs, the lungs are controlled 50% by nerves emanating from the neocortex. Breath control is so important in yoga inasmuch as the lungs represent equally unconsous and conscious processes—the borderline between psyche and soma. 

Deciding explicitly or unconsciously to avoid thinking about an upcoming colonoscopy is somewhat like avoiding looking at parts of the body associated with the feared procedure. That is, the derriere.  Conflicting thought and conflicting real things can cause confusion and nervousness.  Being nervous can degrade a person’s ability to think and make good decisions.

I am assuming here that a person in a mental state of sophistication can make better decisions than others. If sophisticates make better decisions than do shmos, schmucks, and schadenfreudists, they should be more successful at work and love than others.  This book offers some suggestions about to become more sophisticated.  These might lead somehow to you becoming more successful in life.  Or not.

Post-Election America

Many pundits have warned that the polarization of America that began with Reagan and spun out of control with Trump will continue and worsen. I don’t think so. Without an immature leader at the helm, polarization should at least stop accelerating. The importance of a leader has never been more apparent than over the last four years. Up until 2016, all presidents, competent and incompetent, were “presidential”. They continued a tradition of behaving overtly with civility and humility. How unseemly it is when the powerful boast of their power. Trump constantly behaved from a more or less unconscious assumption that he lacked power. He had to fire everyone who disagreed with him. Some democracy.

Lyndon Johnson made awful decisions on Viet Nam. But he was otherwise a great president. He kept his less than civil habits behind closed doors. And, he had a sense of humor. Trump on the other hand is completely without a sense of humor. Have you seen him at one of those dinners where the powerful gather to poke fun at each other? He is entirely tone deaf. And frankly, so have been the late night talk show hosts who assumed that they had hit the jackpot with a dope like Trump as president. The problem is that Trump is inherently a sad bully. Making fun of a bully who is constantly trying to overcompensate from a, more or less, unconscious assumption that he is essentially without competence and power is very hard to do. It is like ridiculing a disabled person. Nothing sticks to Trump because he has the emotional intelligence of a child. His defenses are too impermeable.

He should have been ignored not ridiculed each and every night for four years on talk shows!! You can’t get to an 8 year old who says when insulted, “I know you are but what am I?” Partisanship will persist. But it will lessen without a humorless, insecure, child in the White House who has made everyone, left and right, miserable. Trump’s biggest effect on the country was to leave all his critics unable to effectively criticize him. He was not funny and none of the critics were funny. He should have been entirely ignored. Why listen every day to a liar? You can say what he lied about with ‘fact checking’. But what a waste of time.

TV Wrestling and The Three Stooges

I was interested in phoney wrestling matches shown on TV. When I was ten, I had my father take me to Sunnyside’s Gardens in Queens New York to see the “championship fight” between Haystack Calhun and Bruno San Martino. My favorite, the chronic loser Arnold Scoland, did not get to the championship because his role in TV wrestling was as a sympathetic, hometown loser. On TV, Sunnyside Gardens seemed to be filled with screaming fans. In reality, only about 40 dopes were arranged on ring side. These were captured by the TV cameras which did not pan to the rest of the empty arena.

At that age, ten, boys of my generation liked TV wrestling and The Three Stooges. The wrestling and the Stooges appealed to a similar mentality. Ten year old boys sense of reality has not been fully formed. They can easily ‘suspend disbelief’ and enjoy moronic wrestling and slapstick comedy.

You know that Donald Trump has been involved with the current version of TV Wrestling shown on what i think is called WWF. I am not sure what WWF stands for but it is an extensively produced form of fake madness. It can be taken as real by today’s ten year olds and many older, immature men, the kind of people who like Trump. It is as if the Three Stooges and Carl Von Hess, a wrestler who dressed in a Nazi uniform, were running the country. Actually they are. Oh man!!

Conspicuous Consumption

I just came back from a Walmart Super Store. Therein one can seemingly buy ANYTHING. The place is gigantic and stocked with food, clothing, hardware, kitchen ware, camping gear, drugs, electronics, home and office furniture, bath items, toys, automotive items, and on and on. It is the the Mount Everest of an economy built on constant demand for many essential and many stupid products. To me, the place is entirely depressing. Maybe it’s efficient to be able to buy anything you want in one place. But this is not what is disheartening about being there. It is seeing all the buyers trudge sadly through the aisles looking for what they think they need. They search for crap instead of feelings of friendship and love. The things that really matter. These feelings have been replaced by the need to acquire things.

I found it telling that when the virus quarantine was first lifted, people crowded into stores in order to buy new clothes! Modern societies depend on constant demand for consumer goods, needed and inane. This requires constant production, ruthless competition for money, and status seeking. These in turn create alienation, class warfare, envy, denial of health needs, environmental degradation, racism, and the election of a schmuck like Trump. Consumer economies have worked to overshoot the carrying capacity of the planet and of human societies. I think this may all end soon and violently .

Seeking Something Old in Something New

When one has lost a cherished relationship they tend to seek a new one. But the new must have elements of the old. All Intimate relations involve satisfaction of needs for the warmth and comfort experienced in childhood. That is, satisfaction of basic, old needs are are a key aspect of all close relations. While the person who can satisfy those needs may be a new person, they still have to met the old, unchanging needs. All of our intimate relations serve the same function regardless of who the other person is.

A barrier to forming new bonds after old ones are severed is feeling of regret and perhaps guilt about the ending of the old connection. This means we may find it hard to be open to a new relationship. So, our basic unchanging needs will go unsatisfied for a long time. Depression, loneliness and despair will occur. How can one overcome this? Somehow we have to honor our needs. Realise that they are universal requirements for life. Denial of our needs is a denial of life. Knowing this can put one in touch with life outside the 3-D. One needs to connect to the ‘spiritual’ side of things. This is a basic need too.

Security, Risk, Gender, and Achievement

Adult feelings of safety and comfort are based, in large part, on memories of experiences in infancy at the hands of a reliable mother. Without such memories a person will have a life of chaos, anxiety, and insecurity that might only be changed by extensive psychotherapy. Without a stable sense of security built on early life interactions with a comforting other, the adults ability to work and love is severely compromised.

If secure in childhood, the person is able to take risks in adulthood. Everyday life involves risk. Small risks are taken after waking up in the morning. Taking a shower, making hot coffee, and driving to work expose you to falls, burns, and fatal accidents. Higher risks are taken when leaving home for college, getting a new job, getting married, and many others. Then there are extremely high risk situations such as new business ventures, daredevil driving, dangerous sports, sex with strangers, military combat and drug taking.

One is always balancing security needs with needs to achieve things in life. Some incline to value security more highly. They prefer staying at home in a comfortable family and persisting in uninteresting jobs that, at least, pay a living wage. They are slow to adopt new fashions in clothes, food, music, and beliefs. The risk averse are “conservative”. Those tilting more to achievement than security must be able to tolerate more risk than others. They likely had in childhood, very secure relations with mother and father. In the recent past, only the father was assumed to foster achievement motives in male children. Security motives were the mother’s domain. Now security and achievement needs are thought to be unrelated to parental or child gender. But security and risk taking tendencies must still be balanced.

Divorcing gender roles from security and achievement behaviors is very interesting. ‘Androgyny’ is the tendency to value both social security and achievement motives. For the androgenous, decisions between security and achievement is not a zero-sum, either-or choice. Rather , one need not disavow security motives in order to seek achievement, or forsake achievement entirely to feel secure.

The Misery of “Customer Service”

I just spent literally 2.5 hours getting a new health insurance policy. I spent 2 hours attempting to purchase an account with a computer company. Through both these calls, I was subjected to various sales pitches, suggestions to use online service sites, long wait time, crappy music, and mostly friendly real human beings. However, in the insurance case, the services reps had to recite over 50 features of the policy, 25 legal disclaimers, and a whole other lot of crap. In the case of the computer company, no one on the service line was able to find the right office for me to get help with my problem.

These sorts of annoyances are part of everyday life. This is in part because companies prefer customers to use the internet so as to not hire living service reps. The combination of corporate efficiency motives and excessive legal regulations makes these interactions horrible. I actually have to brace myself before making these calls. There are today few forms of sensible interactions over the phone with companies. Machines and legal minutiae have combined to cause anxiety about trying to buy complex health insurance and other regulated products on a phone. I was told at least 10 times something to the effect that further charges may apply. The sales rep was ‘required by law’ to make me agree to many conditions and exclusions of the policy. These issues are in no small part why people, especially those over 60, are exasperated by living in this ‘modern culture’. The ‘old days’ were much more preferable.

MBA killers

Starting about when Ronald Reagan got into office, college graduates who formerly wanted to attend medical or law school began going to business schools. They got a degree called Masters in Business Administration—the MBA. As far as I can tell, MBAs are taught to make as much money as possible without getting thrown in jail. The best schools, like Harvard, Wharton, Duke, and Columbia seem to attract the most aggressive sharks. There is even a TV show called Sharks on which no nonsense MBA types decide if some naif’s business plan will succeed. The contestants are grilled in a harsh manner and most plans are rejected as being too weak.

I saw this kind of MBA attitude when I took five psychology students to the Columbia business school to participate in a mock labor negotiation. The event was hosted by Margaret Chandler, a famous labor relations scholar. The psychologists played the role of labor, naturally the business students took the management roles. Though this was only a practice exercise the MBAs had the psychologists scared to death. They used a classic negotiating technique in which one person on the negotiation team acts entirely nuts, shouting and screaming like a psychotic This terrified the touchy feely psychologists so much that they lowered their demands to get the thing over with and flee the room.

In the old days MBAs were relatively scarce. They wound up as CEOs, CFOs, and other high level positions. Now, with many MBA graduates around, they often find themselves managing service departments, the mail room, and really every function in organizations. The MBA credo is to turn every office of a company into a profit center. For example, when you call the service department of the company that sold you a phone, vacuum, bicycle, or whatever, you don’t get service. Rather they try to sell you a new, more expensive replacement for the broken one. Now service goes from a cost center to a profit center, from service to sales. MBAs know that sales is where the money is. Service is a loser. Service interactions are a form of ‘bait and switch’. They catch the poor customer with a promise of service but then switch their role to sales. If not illegal, this is a kind of moral crime very common in business today.

The ‘anything for a buck’ attitude has spread throughout the country. MBA values dominate the entire culture. It is not an accident that two of the worst presidents in American history, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, were graduates of MBA programs.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=harvard+business+review&cvid=a7820cf4231b4fed96aa3416bee60f25&pglt=299&FORM=ANSPA1&PC=DCTS