Tag Archives: Psychology


29 May

A number of terms are used to describe art that is loosely understood as “outside” of official culture. Definitions of these terms vary, and there are areas of overlap between them. The editors of Raw Vision, a leading journal in the field, suggest that “Whatever views we have about the value of controversy itself, it is important to sustain creative discussion by way of an agreed vocabulary”. Consequently they lament the use of “outsider artist” to refer to almost any untrained artist. “It is not enough to be untrained, clumsy or naïve. Outsider Art is virtually synonymous with Art Brut in both spirit and meaning, to that rarity of art produced by those who do not know its name.”

  • Art Brut: literally translated from French means “raw art”; ‘Raw’ in that it has not been through the ‘cooking’ process: the art world of art schools, galleries, museums. Originally art by psychotic individuals who existed almost completely outside culture and society. Strictly speaking it refers only to the Collection de l’Art Brut.
  • Folk art: Folk art originally suggested crafts and decorative skills associated with peasant communities in Europe – though presumably it could equally apply to any indigenous culture. It has broadened to include any product of practical craftsmanship and decorative skill – everything from chain-saw animals to hub-cap buildings. A key distinction between folk and outsider art is that folk art typically embodies traditional forms and social values, where outsider art stands in some marginal relationship to society’s mainstream.
  • Intuitive artVisionary artRaw Vision Magazine’s preferred general terms for outsider art. It describes them as deliberate umbrella terms. However, Visionary Art unlike other definitions here can often refer to the subject matter of the works, which includes images of a spiritual or religious nature. Intuitive art is probably the most general term available. Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art based in Chicago operates a museum dedicated to the study and exhibition of intuitive and outsider art. The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland is dedicated to the collection and display of visionary art.
  • Marginal art/Art singulier: Essentially the same as Neue Invention; refers to artists on the margins of the art world.
  • Naïve art: Another term commonly applied to untrained artists who aspire to “normal” artistic status, i.e. they have a much more conscious interaction with the mainstream art world than do outsider artists.
  • Neuve Invention: Used to describe artists who, although marginal, have some interaction with mainstream culture. They may be doing art part-time for instance. The expression was coined by Dubuffet too; strictly speaking it refers only to a special part of the Collection de l’Art Brut.
  • Visionary environments: Buildings and sculpture parks built by visionary artists – range from decorated houses, to large areas incorporating a large number of individual sculptures with a tightly associated theme. Examples include Watts Towersby Simon RodiaBuddha Park and Sala Keoku by Bunleua Sulilat, and The Palais Ideal by Ferdinand Cheval.

I have a big heart and a broken keyboard.

29 May

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A Morning Mantra, Resolution:

26 May

I  will soar: I have faith in the belief in myself to soar.

Between 3:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. yesterday I was sitting, waiting, wandering at airports and in airplanes.

The transitional move  up the coast to Portland only took an afternoon. The transition took the entire afternoon. The transition smashed me like a sardine, packed between thousands of journeys and bags, time traveling on a jet-fueled conveyor belt through space. The transition was an insular experience, and until halfway through my second flight, I did not read a word or listen to music as I looked inside myself with compassion and processed the changes in attempt to iron out the sentimental wrinkles tensing my muscles, heart, chest and mind. Hard to concentrate.

All of the above are simultaneously true. When I finally did open the New York Times, I read the paper in a record time (for me), inhaling the source like water on a dry sponge in under an hour. There was an op-ed debate and letters to the editor that stuck a cord in me. There had been an earlier article on ‘Mediocrity in the Military Academies.’ The people’s response was touching. Midshipmen received support from all angles, and in their own way, the responses asserted the qualities that these young men and volunteers strive to serve their country in a time of war: loyalty, honor, ethical discipline, selflessness, and serving others.

Another Op-Ed article was a comparative analysis finding the common thread through world religious traditions. The uniting piece between and amongst them all: compassion for others like compassion for self.

An article in the Science Times section traced the genetic origins of corn, a crop that only exists today as a domesticated plant. Red eyed male Tree Frogs are the first vertebrae  discovered to use vibrations as a signal to other males as an aggressive statement of territoriality. A bacteria has been found to cause snow and rain.

The world is fascinating. and my curiosity and thirst to absorb all that I can surges through me. Every morning,  my resolution to myself is to repeat the mantra upon waking as a way to connect with the qualities and selfless compassion as true fuel and nourishment through this journey–

I  will soar: I have faith in the belief in myself to soar.

The Hypostases

7 May

The Neoplatonic hypostases in relation to other esoteric systems of thought:

This diagram shows Consciousness in terms of progressive gradations of subtle worlds and aspects/substrates (of Physical, Emotional, and Mental), as well as increasing Transformation and Transcendence

The Spiral Dance – Special 20th Anniversary Edition A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess, by Starhawk — extended excerpt


Between the Worlds

The moon is full. We meet on a hilltop that looks out over the bay. Below us, lights spread out like a field of jewels, and faraway skyscrapers pierce the swirling fog like the spires of fairytale towers. The night is enchanted,

Our candles have been blown out, and our makeshift altar cannot stand up under the force of the wind, as it sings through the branches of tall eucalyptus. We hold up our arms and let it hurl against our faces. We are exhilarated, hair and eyes streaming. The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.

The circle has been cast. The invocations begin:

All-dewy, sky-sailing pregnant moon,

Who shines for all.

Who flows through all…

Aradia, Diana, Cybele, Mah…

Sailor of the last sea,

Guardian of the gate,

Ever-dying, ever-living radiance…

Dionysus, Osiris, Pan, Arthur, Hu…

The moon clears the treetops and shines on the circle. We huddle closer for warmth. A woman moves into the center of the circle. We begin to chant her name:




The chant builds, spiraling upward. Voices merge into one endlessly modulated harmony. The circle is enveloped in a cone of light.

Then, in a breath — silence.

“You are Goddess,” we say to Diane, and kiss her as she steps back into the outer ring. She is smiling.

She remembers who she is.

One by one, we will step into the center of the circle. We will hear our names chanted, feel the cone rise around us. We will receive the gift, and remember:

“I am Goddess. You are God, Goddess. All that lives, breathes, loves, sings in the unending harmony of being is divine. “

In the circle, we will take hands and dance under the moon.

“To disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of all heresies.” Malleus Maleficarum (1486)

Hint: Invisible Quotient

4 Apr

Adam Lives in Theory

Stitch. Pink. Seam. Prick.
Hole. Chrome. Harvest. Nourish. 
Cyclic. Elliptic. Spiral. Sound. 
Rise. Balance. Beam. Yellow.  
Up. Reveal. Rebel. Revel. 
Autumn. Change. Rain. Bridge. 
Build. Bricks. Cement. Source. 
Helium. Return. Loom. Fiber.  
Weave. Courage. Strength. Grow. 
Grains. Memory. Silent. Past. 
Before. Beyond. Sing. Dance. 
Old. Blue. Croon. Shift. Wheel. 
High. Duck. Revolve. Sow. 
Round. Deep. Slow. Lost. Blue. 
Truth. Honor. Awe. Hum. 
Explore. Temple. Quick. Sand. 
Pure. Clean. Stainless. Ring. 
Eye. One. Bell. Wind. 
Chime. Arise. Vibe. Ring. 
Hurricane. Curves. Gust. Vector.
Dynamo. Breath. Family. Funeral. 
Infinity. Relax. Tenses. Divide. 
Slip. Sound. Memory. Crack. 
Gaps. Blur. Unite. Heal. 
Story. Inhale. Past. Exhale. 
Future. Breathe. Grain. Wind. 
Lost. Found. Present. Now:
Stitch. Stance. Space. Appear.

Jungian Society of Oregon Says:

18 Mar

The soul never thinks without an image. Aristotle

Therefore, psychotherapy, as a political discipline, witnesses, records, and transmits these on-going experiential communiqués from and dialogues with this numinous/ transformative realm of being.  In some ancient cultures, every citizen was believed to be a vehicle for this living numinal dimension, for this living will and voice of the gods as mediated through human experience. The public sphere, the common marketplace of political interaction and achievement, was the Polis. This Polis was the living organism of Eros, of numinal energy flowing into the public heart and soul of things.

My work is revelation, not revolution.  – William Butler Yeats

Every life had a Destiny that served an aspect of this living, shaping, creating, numinal core of individual and cultural psyche. A well lived life was a life unfolded in a conscious, loving seeking out of this Destiny and, then, serving it with as much thoughtful, loving, and compassionate dedication as possible. Privately, this service would be to loved ones and vocation; publically, this service would be an engaged political interaction with one’s fellow citizens.

All life is bound to carriers who realize it, and it is simply inconceivable without them. But every carrier is charged with an individual destiny and destination, and the realization of these alone makes sense of life. –  C. G. Jung

Everyone is politically engaged. Some are simply more aware of and disciplined about that engagement and its attendant social responsibilities. Every act in the public sphere is a political act, an act that builds up more loving and compassionate connection to the living numinous or tears it down. But every act, conscious or unconscious, aware or unaware, is a healing or destructive political act. We are all citizen politicians. We all have a public duty. We all serve the gods in the fervent hopes that the gods will then serve us and our community and lead us to more light and not more darkness.

It may well be prejudice to restrict the psyche to being “inside the body.” Insofar as the psyche is a non-spatial aspect, there may be a psyche “outside-the-body,” a region so utterly different from “my” psychic sphere that no one has to get out of oneself…to get there. – C. G. Jung

This brief seminar sketches some clinical and cultural examples of these profound experiential psycho-political transcripts that emerge within or penetrate into depth therapy. Using frequent illustrative images from, especially, contemporary cinema and art, Friday’s lecture opens up the outlines of the model and Saturday’s seminar fleshes out that outline in more depth and breadth.

The psychological question now is, How do we house this greater subject that takes up residence in us, radically altering the center from which we live?  How do we accommodate this “tremendous stranger,” or this “mysterious density of being”? How do we, how can we, live in relation to it?

The theological questions ask, Who has taken up residence within and among us? Who is the One?  – Ann Belford Ulanov


13 Mar


In broadest terms, syzygy (pronounced /ˈsɪzɨdʒi/ ) is a kind of unity, especially through coordination or alignment, most commonly used in the astronomical and/or astrological sense. Syzygy is derived from the Late Latin syzygia, “conjunction,” from the Greek σύζυγος (syzygos). Syzygial , adjective of syzygy, describes the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in the same gravitational system along a line.

  • Astronomy: a syzygy is the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in the same gravitational system along a straight line. The word is usually used in context with the Sun , Earth , and the Moon or a planet, where the latter is in conjunction or opposition . Solar and lunar eclipses occur at times of syzygy, as do transits and occultations . The term is also applied to each instance of new moon or full moon when Sun and Moon are in conjunction or opposition, even though they are not precisely on one line with the Earth.

  • The word ‘syzygy’ is often loosely used to describe interesting configurations of planets in general. For example, one such case occurred on March 21, 1894 at around 23:00 GMT , when Mercury transited the Sun as seen from Venus , and Mercury and Venus both simultaneously transited the Sun as seen from Saturn . It is also used to describe situations when all the planets are on the same side of the Sun although they are not necessarily found along a straight line, such as on March 10, 1982.

  • Gnosticism: a syzygy is a divine active-passive, male-female pair of aeons , complementary to one another rather than oppositional; in their totality they comprise the divine realm of the Pleroma , and in themselves characterise aspects of the Gnostic (known) God . The term is most common in Valentinianism . In some gnostic schools, the counterpart to Christ was Sophia .

  • Mathematics: a syzygy is a relation between the generators of a module M. The set of all such relations is called the “first syzygy module of M”. A relation between generators of the first syzygy module is called a “second syzygy” of M, and the set of all such relations is called the “second syzygy module of M”. Continuing in this way, we get the n-th syzygy module of M by taking the set of all relations between generators of the (n-1)th syzygy module of M. If M is finitely generated over a polynomial ring over a field , this process terminates after a finite number of steps; i.e., eventually there will be no more syzygies (see Hilbert’s syzygy theorem ). The syzygy modules of M are not unique, for they depend on the choice of generators at each step.
  • Philosophy: The Russian theologian/philosopher Vladimir Solovyov (1853–1900) used the word “syzygy” to signify “unity-friendship-community,” used as either an adjective or a noun, meaning: a pair of connected or correlative things, or; a couple or pair of opposites.

  • Poetry: syzygy is the combination of two metrical feet into a single unit, similar to an elision. Consonantal or phonetic syzygy is also similar to the effect of alliteration , where one consonant is used repeatedly throughout a passage, but not necessarily at the beginning of each word.

  • Psychology: Carl Jung used the term “syzygy” to denote an archetypal pairing of contrasexual opposites, which symbolized the communication of the conscious and unconscious minds : the conjunction of two organisms without the loss of identity. Examples include Dieties of Life and Death or of Sun and Moon, which are frequently depicted as male and female, and having a mutually opposing and mutually dependent relationship.

  • Zoology: The association of two protozoa end-to-end or laterally for the purpose of asexual exchange of genetic material; the pairing of chromosomes in meiosis

Educational Psychology Interactive: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

26 Jan

Educational Psychology Interactive: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Steven Pinker Podcast Lecture-The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

7 Jan

Steven Pinker Podcast Lecture-The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

I am re-reading Steven Pinker’s book The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. I very much enjoyed listening to the lecture he gave to Princeton University on the topic (linked above).


2 Jan

SAN DIEGO—Being one of the true geniuses of the modern era, Albert Einstein recognized that a useful method for understanding the brain’s role in creativity was to study the brains of highly creative people. He also realized that there would be a great deal of interest in examining his own brain after his death, so he willed that his brain be removed before cremation. However, nearly all of the 240 blocks into which Einstein’s brain was dissected were lost and never analyzed.
Thirty years later, the Brodmann’s area 39 portion of Einstein’s brain was analyzed histologically by Marian C. Diamond, PhD, and colleagues. They reported that this area of Einstein’s brain contained a higher proportion of glial cells versus neurons, compared with the brains of control subjects. Assuming that the paucity of cortical neurons was not the result of aging (the control subjects were significantly younger than Einstein at the time of his death), how did the loss of neurons relate to Einstein’s creative genius?

When Einstein was about age 3, his parents brought him to a pediatrician because he was not yet talking. Researchers have learned that Einstein had developmental dyslexia. More than a century ago, it was found that lesions of the left angular gyrus—ie, Brodmann’s area 39—induce acquired alexia. Therefore, it is possible that people with developmental dyslexia may also have abnormalities in this region, Kenneth M. Heilman, MD, suggested in his lecture at the 17th Annual Meeting of the American Neuropsychiatric Association. In his view, however, the high ratio of glial cells to neurons that was reported by Diamond et al was less a sign of Einstein’s dyslexia than an indication of the high degree of what Dr. Heilman refers to as “connectivity.”

After viewing photographs taken of Einstein’s brain before its dissection in 1955, Witelson and colleagues noted that Einstein had an enlarged left inferior and—unlike most human beings—undivided parietal lobe, suggesting that this bigger and more highly connected supramodal cortex gave Einstein an advantage in doing mathematics and spatial computations. In 1985, Geschwind and Galaburda posited that delay in the development of the left hemisphere of the brain may allow the right hemisphere, which mediates spatial computations, to become highly specialized. It was Einstein’s view that his own creativity was heavily dependent on spatial reasoning. Thus, the abnormal development of his left hemisphere may have led to the right hemisphere becoming highly specialized for spatial computations, Dr. Heilman theorized.

“If you have something going on in one side of the brain, [could] that ‘disinhibit’ the other side of the brain [into] developing even greater ability?” Dr. Heilman asked. “Could Einstein’s dyslexia and lack of development of his left hemisphere have allowed his right hemisphere to grow and be well connected and to have excellent modules?… People who have tremendous creativity also have tremendous connectivity.”


According to Dr. Heilman, who is the James E. Rooks, Jr, Distinguished Professor of Neurology and Health Psychology at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine in Gainesville, connectivity is a key component of “creative innovation,” a concept that combines two of the four stages of creativity—incubation and illumination (the others are preparation and verification)—identified by Hermann Helmholtz in 1826.

In an article titled “Creative Innovation: Possible Brain Mechanisms” appearing in Neurocase in 2003, Dr. Heilman and his colleagues, Stephen E. Nadeau, MD, and David O. Beversdorf, MD, defined creative innovation as “the ability to understand and express novel orderly relationships.” A high level of general intelligence, domain-specific knowledge, and special skills are necessary for creative innovation, but even when they coincide, these three components are not sufficient for creative innovation. One further crucial component is the ability to develop alternative solutions—otherwise known as “divergent thinking”—yet, even the coexistence of specialized knowledge and divergent thinking is not enough to enable an individual to find the thread that unites the two.

“Finding this thread might require the binding of different forms of knowledge, stored in separate cortical modules that have not been previously associated,” the authors wrote. “Thus, creative innovation might require the coactivation and communication between regions of the brain that ordinarily are not strongly connected.”

Based on the findings of anatomic studies, it appears that creative individuals such as Einstein may have alterations of specific regions of the brain’s posterior neocortical region. At the same time, it has been observed that creative innovation frequently takes place during times of diminished arousal (eg, sleep) and that many well-known creative people have experienced depression, suggesting that alterations of such neurotransmitters as norepinephrine might play a critical role in creativity. In the view of Dr. Heilman and his coauthors, highly creative individuals “may be endowed with brains that are capable of storing extensive specialized knowledge in their temporoparietal cortex, be capable of frontal mediated divergent thinking, and have a special ability to modulate the frontal lobe-locus coeruleus (norepinephrine) system, such that during creative innovation cerebral levels of norepinephrine diminish, leading to the discovery of novel orderly relationships.”

In his lecture and in a follow-up interview with NeuroPsychiatry Reviews, Dr. Heilman focused on the importance of divergent thinking in creative innovation, how our understanding of its neurobiologic underpinnings has evolved over the past two centuries, and the clinical implications of depression and other brain disorders for future neuropharmacologic treatments.

“To be creative, people need to break away from what they have been taught to believe, and thus divergent thinking is a critical element of creativity,” he said. “Patients who have their frontal lobe[s] removed or injured cannot perform divergent thinking…. The major hypothesis of this talk is that creativity is dependent upon the ability to diverge and then form innovative solutions.

“The development of innovative solutions is dependent on the ability to coactivate anatomically distinct representational networks that store different forms of knowledge. This simultaneous distributed activation … may allow people to develop alternative innovative solutions, thereby finding the thread that unites.”


Dr. Heilman cited several items that are important for clinicians to know to get a handle on current research into creativity and the brain. Besides the importance of both divergent and “convergent” thinking, he observed that “many people who are very creative have a higher incidence of mood and addiction disorders [and that while] many neurologic disorders can reduce creativity … there are some that might enhance creativity.”

As an example of the latter, he cited the work of Miller and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, describing a series of patients with frontotemporal dementia who acquired new artistic abilities despite evidence of deterioration in the left anterior temporal lobe (see NeuroPsychiatry Reviews, June 2003, page 1). “These are people who had no history of artistic production,” Dr. Heilman said. “They actually became creative—perhaps because the deterioration on the left side ‘disinhibited’ their right side, and the right side got creative doing artistic things.”

Regarding mood and addiction disorders, Dr. Heilman explored the links among creativity and sleep, dreaming, rest and relaxation, and depression, and observed that one thread uniting them all is changes in neurotransmitter systems. Two components indispensable to divergent thinking appear to be disengagement and the ability to develop alternative solutions. To arrive at a creative solution to a persistently unsolvable problem, an individual must often change the method by which he or she has already attempted to solve the problem—in other words, think outside the box. Observations on problem solving have included William James’ view, expressed in 1890, that the ability to switch strategies is integral to divergent thinking and Charles Spearman’s suggestion in 1931 that creativity results from bringing together two or more ideas that previously have been isolated. One way to solve a persistent problem, then, would be to see it in a “new light” by combining different forms of knowledge and cognitive strategies mediated by the two hemispheres of the brain.

Dr. Heilman cited as examples a number of scientists who reported solving a difficult scientific problem while asleep or when falling asleep or awakening from sleep. He also pointed to the association between creativity and novelty seeking and the high rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, bipolar depression, and monodepression among such creative types as writers, composers, musicians, and fine artists. Based on what is known from existing evidence, such associations raise more questions than answers, according to Dr. Heilman. “For example, does treatment of depression and bipolar disorder influence creativity, and what are the effects of different treatments?” he asked.


Can creativity in individuals be encouraged regardless of the makeup of their brain, or are we limited by such factors as the number of glial cells and amount of white matter? “I believe creativity can be ‘encouraged,’” Dr. Heilman responded. “We have known for decades that when young rodents are put in a stimulating environment, they have a much richer neural network than their sibs who were not raised in this environment. Thus, bringing up children in an enriched environment and making certain that they receive a good education is critical for their brain development.

“The frontal lobes appear to be the part of the cortex that is most important for creativity, in that they are critical for divergent thinking and might modulate the coactivation of diverse cognitive networks so important in innovation. The means by which family and friends might be able to encourage the development of the frontal lobes is to encourage independent and divergent thinking.”

Apart from such sociocultural interventions, Dr. Heilman believes that there is a limit to the extent to which neuropsychiatry and neuroscience can enhance creativity, particularly with regard to the development of new neuropharmacologic treatments. “It is possible that certain drugs taken by people might enhance creativity and others inhibit creativity,” he said, citing an editorial titled “Cosmetic Neurology,” written by one of his former fellows, Anjan Chatterjee. “But physicians have learned that ‘when it is not broke, do not attempt to fix it.’ In other words, if you alter a person’s homeostasis, there might be a price paid.”

—Fred Balzac

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