Twenty-Four Hours: On Erotic Love and Long Haul Flights

With transit in Saigon and Paris, my flight time reaching Tel Aviv is exactly twenty-four hours.

The transition is not merely countries, but I will be leaving the peaceful safety of my home and into the occupied territories, where armed soldiers freely walk with AK47s and are at liberty to interrogate and take what they want from me, where people are killed by snipers from long distances and where one can be detained without charge. Am I afraid? From the world’s most liveable city to a refugee camp, from the freedom of my life in Australia into the restricted and immobile space where I am at a much higher risk of being killed? Of course I am scared.

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It is in moments like this where you are confronted with guilt or with regret, where you find yourself wishing you could have said something that you buried within, or even reminisce on love and all that is beautiful and sad. Who are you and what have you done with your life? Who do you love, your family, friends? We can all imagine ourselves to be as honest as St. Augustine, but the truth is that most of us are – either intentionally or unintentionally – liars, especially when things are comfortable. We sometimes knowingly deceive and try to keep up appearances despite the utter exhaustion and anxiety doing this, and other times we are genuinely unaware of what we or others are doing. The long-haul flight has me thinking about the past, present and future, sometimes the echoes of the pointlessness of my existence and the futility in everything that I do, but mostly I think about what it is that I want in life.

The Past: Erotic Love

As I meander through Ho Chi Minh airport waiting in transit, the endless supply of lollies and souvenirs compelled me to crunch down some freeze-dried durian crisps, despite the empty calories. I am an extreme minimalist although I am a great cook, eating what is necessary as Dozer from The Matrix would approve given the sludge they ate: “It’s a single-celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals. Everything the body needs.” These delicious pieces of dried fruit are not what the body needs neither was the disgusting airline food, so I do feel guilty. I then remind myself that it is a much deserved delight given the next twelve hours will be spent flying into Paris and the anxiety of having to sit in close proximity beside a stranger is too difficult to digest, so let me digest something sweet!

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It initiates thoughts leading to this confession. I am not going to deny it, but despite all that I do – from my profession to my creative pursuits, or hiking and travelling – it seems that only one man has occupied my thoughts for a long time. I will admit that over the last three and a half years, I have thought about him everyday and I oscillate between love and anger, hope and hopelessness, the latter becoming more and more ever since he made it abundantly clear when he recently refused to even say hello despite seeing me. I think the reason he never left my thoughts was because my heart was unsettled, because he never allowed me to speak or to retrieve the answers I needed to lay things to rest.

The truth is, I did love him. There, I said it! Although it is completely insane, that is what I felt and I was embarrassed to admit that for a number of reasons, claiming it was brotherly love. It wasn’t. I was compelled by erotic love. Everything about him was wrong, reason and logic told me something completely different because he behaved like a moron and his lifestyle remains far from anything that I would admire or respect, but I still felt something. It was terribly confusing. It is like my intuition spoke to me without words and told me he was the one and that has never happened to me before, not with anyone. It was everything else that was sensible and logical telling me to run the other direction, to push him away and indeed all his wrongdoing created the silly things that occurred between us.

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I often asked myself what did he want as I hated all the games and feeling like I needed to lie just to communicate with him – which was why I was compelled to confront him physically as though saying ‘here I am’ with my presence – but then I realised the question I should be asking is what do I want? He once said to me that his girlfriend controls him and he has no idea how, which I guess is not that surprising. I cannot be with a man who doesn’t know what he wants, where I would have to manipulate and indirectly convince him to stay with me. I want a man to want me and for him to clearly articulate that, as an equal, someone who feels a strong desire to be my friend and admires me for what I do and how I think. The question what do I want? was enough to make me stop chasing a ghost and to really think about the value of my own personhood and I guess in some respects I should thank him for that.

I can write about everything wrong about him, but the reality is that I loved him and he doesn’t know neither did he reciprocate any feelings, that I have traditional standards of male/female courting and that I am someone that a man needs to earn and fight for, a challenge he refused. An unrequited love story really, nothing spectacular. It feels great admitting that I really did have feelings for him rather than trying to make excuses or attack him or deny my feelings as I have been doing for quite sometime. I felt something real and it was very powerful.

I have left the possibility of encountering him in public with the hope he may be encouraged to say something to me, I have moved far away and intentionally disconnected from the online forum where his ghost haunted me and what originally compelled me to return. I don’t mind indulging in the hope that he may one day find the courage to sit with me and talk as two adults and two friends, something I would have been deeply grateful for and perhaps the reason for my activities the last year. But sometimes you have no choice but to live with the scar. I smile at my now healthy, plump 59kg body that is no longer starved as I was several years ago, of how I am no longer sad and heartbroken as I was when flying out to Italy in 2015. I am rested,  my soul at peace today. My voluptuously athletic womanhood is a testament to the improvement of my mental health and I look forward to meeting someone else who has the courage the person I fell for lacked, to find a man that is not vain and who does not tolerate the things I find intolerable. I am eager to fall in love again as the new me.

 

The Present: Me

It was only a few hours before I landed in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to pass the horrible time flying for almost twelve hours that I watched Tomb Raider with Alicia Vikander who was refreshing for her honest and powerful appearance and I suddenly understood what envy can feel like.

I want adventure!

 

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And here I am on my way to make a documentary. Suddenly, I am overcome by the dread that I will ruin everything because of my lack of experience, especially with audio. As said by George Lucas:

“I feel that sound is half the experience… filmmakers should focus on making sure the soundtracks are really the best they can possibly be because in terms of an investment, sound is where you get the most bang for your buck.”

My thoughts seemed to be occupied by the fear I am going to ruin the whole experience because I am not that confident in my audio skills. I have a Takstar SGC-598 Shotgun Microphone that I will use on a Panasonic GH4 and I have tested it and it works perfectly well. It is directional, however, and in the case of filming groups of people in a room, the audio will clearly need to done more adequately. I could not afford wireless lavalier mics to attach on the main people, although I do have one Rode wired lavalier with an extension cord that I can connect to the DSLR and great for any one person interview I might do. To manage the group thing, I needed a condenser microphone that I could attach to a boom, but the costs of anything good and the weight it would add to my pack made it an issue for me given that I am completely broke. I instead purchased a Tascam DR-40 that I believe works really well in concert environments and any echoes can be removed in post. I may try and attach the Tascam to a boom pole with some duct tape if I have trouble feeding the voices into the inbuilt mics. I wish there were inflatable boom operators slash audio experts I could take with me!

Take a deep breath, I think to myself, and remember this is just something small, something so many others have done before me. I am learning, experiencing, going on an adventure both morally and mentally. And I am excited.

 

The Future: My Family

I open the window to see the sunrise before we land in Tel Aviv and such is the beauty! The slithers of pastel pink and purple wave over the tidal sky like sand underwater, burnt orange shattering the horizon that blinded me from the screen in front of me that played the pianist Shoshana MichelA Prelude to A Dream, perfect for this moment between me and the stunning sunrise high above the clouds. The contrails left from the planes tear across the skyscape like a sword slicing through fog, the lid of grey mushrooms below was blinded by the glare until suddenly the light came together and awakened the view.

It is nice to stretch the legs after such a long flight where I was trapped in the window isle for twelve hours and I feel dystrophic. This exhaustion is aligned with my somewhat indifference to Paris and I am glad that I am leaving, despite the nationwide celebrations for winning the world cup. I am not a tourist, I like to get lost in cities walking around and visiting strange and quiet places, including gardeans and galleries. While I am happy for the country and intrigued by the politics behind sports that is reminiscent of the Roman Empire, it is not the time to feel like a mouse among millions of drunk people and the garbage they seem to produce.

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I think that my attitude is telling of how I am as a person, that while I am happy for others and what they choose to do with their life, I much prefer the quiet solitude of home. A home has always been what I wanted, for someone to actually love me where together we can provide for one another. It is funny, for most people that is normal, a given, but it is something I have never had and that safety and togetherness is what I long for. It is probably the reason why I feel a little glad that I am navigating back to my parents and have begun communication with them, building a new relationship and a new way of living. Despite the difficulties of a past of wrongdoing, my focus is only on the future and only strengthening our bond. To get to know them as they are or the people that they are and not because they are my parents.

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

My mother has changed considerably, she is showing more affection and is responsive and happy, something that she never was before. My father has changed too, he is calm and we can have some great conversations about history and politics. He seems to have bonded well with my sister’s husband, Mark, who is American and I think he admires how he treats my sister and their daughter. He told me that I am the only person who he feared to hurt and always wanted my blessing and approval as I would always respond and fight back as a child, leaving home when I was very young because I disapproved of his behaviour toward my mothers, the violence culturally embedded and normalised.

While I admit that it is strange to have started a relationship with my parents, they still remain somewhat alien to me. I am not Turkish, I am not drawn to the culture at all and feel no connection to it. I felt more at home in Tel Aviv then I did trawling through the streets of Istanbul. I feel no emotional love for anything it offers other than the experience a tourist would have. It makes me understand them better and why we never connected or formed a bond. My siblings are a different story, there is still some work that needs to be done with them because they are not excused for their behaviour given that we were raised in the same environment and I was never as cruel as they had become. I was belittled for a considerable amount of time by most of them that I lost the opportunity to learn about my own identity.

My respect is something earned, however if I remove those expectations that I have in others and take a relativistic approach, that if I remove the emotions I feel for a negative history and instead try to understand who they are from a sociological and psychoanalytical method, I can work through the emotions that I feel and I simply love that challenge. It is navigating and creating a better future, a positive one.

 

Darkness Visible: Depression, Anxiety, Disassociation

A story of personal courage and the deliverance from an unrelenting suffering can have a great effect on the motivation of an audience, particularly those that feel crippled in their anguish and cannot appreciate the hope of any release from the prison they find themselves locked in. Indeed, as William Styron states: “The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.” If one suffers a physical injury, they experience pain and the suffering comes with it, but the elusive and subjective experience of depression is an injury that causes a similar experience of physical pain; the only difference is not knowing where it is coming from. Styron’ short but very powerful memoir Darkness Visible touches on the profound and debilitating experience of depression that almost led him to suicide.

The author of this astonishing memoir begins his personal and heartbreaking decline into depression while at a hotel in Paris, his presence there to accept the prestigious Prix del Duca award for his literary talent. At the time of acceptance, he felt honoured and privileged for the inclusion of his work among many other talented writers. But, it is in France that he begins his tale of the eventual decline into the somber malaise that would almost take his life. “Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self – to the mediating intellect – as to verge close to being beyond description.”[1]

Clearly affected by insomnia, Styron confesses to have taken the drug Halcion to aid him to sleep the night before the award ceremony; however his deteriorating condition was clear months in advance as he monitored his own gradual decline of “malaise and restlessness and sudden fits of anxiety.”[2] His previous and lengthy reliance on alcohol was abruptly put to an end that was once used to assist in managing these feelings of anxiety.[3] His depressive state impacted on his capacity to concentrate and his knowledge of medical conditions did not practically assist him to overcome the feelings of “gloom crowding in on me, a sense of dread and alienation and, above all, stifling anxiety,”[4] that he faced. During the ceremony in his honour, he outrageously declined to stay on to the luncheon organised months in advance for him and the members that selected him because of the illness that led to “confusion, failure of mental focus and lapse of memory,”[5] sieged at certain times later in the afternoon by “panic and dislocation, and a sense that my thought processes were being engulfed by a toxic and unnameable tide that obliterated any enjoyable response to the living world.”[6]

But Styron did what many people often fail to do; he sought help, conscious that his mind was dissolving and his distress increasing, he knew that any further denial would lead to a catastrophic result. After the ceremony and other commitments were over, he collapsed onto his hotel bed, entranced by the feeling of “supreme discomfort… a condition of helpless stupor in which cognition was replaced with ‘positive and active anguish’”[7] as well as being afflicted by the inability to sleep, loss of appetite and a decline in the libido. The intensity of his exhaustion gave him the sensation profound misery and self-loathing (what he refers to as depression’ premier badge) that made him “zombie-like”[8] and the storm of madness – or the storm of murk[9] – arrived in time for him to become aware that if this experience of “rare torture”[10] continued it would cost him his life. Death had become a daily presence, where items around them home became instruments to enable this possibility, what he admitted when he chose to visit psychiatrist ‘Dr. Gold’. While Dr. Gold offered consolation, Styron could barely process and describe his ‘desolation’ together with the fact that pharmacology had an impact on his ability to function; while anti-depressants can assist in some serious cases, both psychotherapy and pharmacology did not help.[11]

“The pain is unrelenting and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come.”[12] This eventual hopelessness that the pain of this elusive experience will go away left him in such a wretched state that he chose to throw away his life into the garbage, effectively choosing to die. As he prepared for the necessary arrangements that would lead to his end, one fateful night he had an epiphany. There was a joy available to him and he remembered the hope of happiness that was present; he realised that he could not die, he could not kill himself. The next day, he admitted himself to hospital. His final words to those afflicted by the debilitating illness is to see this hope, that “whoever has been restored to health has almost always been restored to the capacity for serenity and joy, and this may be indemnity enough for having endured the despair beyond despair.”[13]

There are a range of depressive disorders from major depression that can be short-term up to very long term dysthymia and the severity of these experiences can differ, although usually the symptoms are disabling enough to interfere with usual activities and can be characterised by a melancholic change of mood that often slows a person down. While the brain regulates our moods, for many uninformed people the idea that depression is caused solely from a chemical imbalance fails to consider a number of other factors that interact with or trigger the onset of the disease. The cause of depression is just as elusive as the experience itself, but there are a number of physical, environmental and cognitive factors that can influence the development in addition to brain chemicals including genetic, health and wellbeing, as well as drug and alcohol abuse and chronic medical conditions.

Depression is a non-communicable disease and the leading cause of disability worldwide.[14] As Styrone himself indicated, it is a disease.[15] In Australia, there are currently three million people living with depression or anxiety, with an estimated 45% experiencing this debilitating mental health condition in their life and only 35% of those three million accessing treatment to support their recovery.[16] Those living with the condition experience difficulties with personal relationships, careers and their general well-being and become more prone to substance abuse as well as an increased risk of health problems. There are risks that can increase “triggers” such as a loss of a job or financial loss[17] or chronic health conditions such as injuries from a car accident or ailments such as osteoporosis or arthritis.[18] At a global level, depression effects more than 300 million people with the second highest cause of death for young people aged 15-29 is suicide, whereby depression is known to lead to suicide and a total of 800,000 people take their own lives each year.[19]

“The madness results from an aberrant biochemical process. It has been established with reasonable certainty (after strong resistance from many psychiatrists, and not all that long ago) that such madness is chemically induced amid the neurotransmitters of the brain, probably as the result of systemic stress, which for unknown reasons causes a depletion of the chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin, and the increase of a hormone, cortisol.”[20] With a number of medical improvements vis-à-vis technology, brain imaging have enabled scientists to access a more clear picture of the effect depression can have on the brain itself. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) among other sophisticated and computed techniques continue to show that activities in the brain significantly alter when a person is experiencing depression. A person can be affected by chemical neurotransmitters that transmit messages between neurons of the brain and when low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine – organic chemical/hormone – the primary cause an imbalance between these transmissions impair mood and behaviour.

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The regions of the brain that play an important part of regulating mood and ultimately with depression include the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus all within the limbic system[21] and they are less active or significant reduce in size because of the suppression of the production of new nerve cells in the region[22] and why antidepressants can significantly increase neurotransmitters in the brain. The limbic system “has a major role in producing emotion and motivational behaviour. Rage, fear, sexual response, an intense arousal can be localized to various points in the limbic system.”[23] The amygdala in particular and it is often triggered by highly emotional events (strongly related to fear) including a death of a loved one or a severe car accident, and can affect the thalamus that directs sensory experiences to the cerebral cortex and inputs reactions and how one thinks into proper function. When the amygdala is activated, it initiates the evolutionary ‘flight or fight’ and thus gains immediate access and bypassing the function of the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for sensory, motor and association including learning and decision making. Additionally, the hippocampus within the temporal lobes play a predominant role long-term memory and recollection and the amygdala is can be activated by the experience of fear and a memory of a fearful experience that occurred earlier in life, leading to highly stressful experience that impairs the hippocampus. Thus, as the scans show, those experiencing depression appear to have a smaller hippocampus in size.

The standard reaction and ultimate taboo that renders comments on the subject of mental health concerns to be, “you’ll pull out of it” or “we all have bad days”[24] have only made the subject of depression even more difficult to socially articulate. It could also be why – together with our limited cognitive abilities should the trauma be experienced during childhood – that people often repress trauma that is revived later in life. Depression has been linked to other concerns including anxiety and experiences of disassociation, where feeling of an aching loneliness is accompanied “by a second self – a wraithlike observer who, not sharing the dementia of his double, is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion struggles against the oncoming disaster, or decides to embrace it.”[25] Disassociation has been termed as: “a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity.”[26] This includes feeling a sense of depersonalisation with a lack of control of connection to themselves. Styron shows as dissociative disorders and the eventual loss for any sense of self leads is very closely linked to the experiences of both anxiety and depression. “Nothing felt quite right with my corporeal self; there were twitches and pains, sometimes intermittent, often seemingly constant that seemed to presage all sorts of dire infirmities.”[26] A person who experiences conditions like disassociation, which is descriptive of a detachment of the self from one’s own environment is doing so as a defence mechanism to cope with potentially difficult conditions. Anxiety, can be described as an ongoing and distressing feeling as Styrone felt later in the afternoon that interfered with his daily life.

The onset of all these conditions are not fully known, although there are clear indicators such as social and environmental conditions including peer pressure, domestic issues or difficulties at work, traumatic event or experience, health and well-being including a poor diet, drug and alcohol abuse as well as chronic physical ailments, the experience of depression is unique to every individual because our experiences with the external world are different.  For Styrone, his substance abuse, in this case alcohol, was used for over forty years to become the “magical conduit to fantasy and euphoria, and to the enhancement of the imagination”[27] and was a means to “calm the anxiety and incipient dread that I had hidden away for so long.”[28]

In as much as Styron was influenced by the literary genius of Albert Camus, I too have been greatly inspired by this fascinating memoir that describes the rise and fall of a terrible illness, one in which I too have personally experienced. The lack of control, the horrible pain that one cannot describe, and mostly the helplessness was for me pushed to the furthest of reaches when I was taunted by other people who had neither the compassion nor comprehension for how I was feeling. Unlike Styron, I had no help, no support, but circumstances or “the healing process of time”[29] enabled me to eventually recover, however this memoir shows the importance of seeing professionals for help, of the importance of the love of people around you. The subject has for a long time been taboo and indeed, as a worker with refugee and asylum seekers, mental health concerns still remains taboo for many cultures and something I have experienced first-hand with my family and especially my mother. I highly recommend that everyone reads this concise, but accurately clear picture of this terrible illness.

 

 

[1] 5
[2] 6
[3] 39
[4] 9
[5] 12
[6] 14
[7] 15
[8] 16
[9] 46
[10] 48
[11] 55
[12] 61
[13] 85
[14] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.
[15] 5
[16] Op. Cit, Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008).
[17] Price, R.H., Choi, J.N. and Vinokur, A.D. (2002). Links in the chain of adversity following job loss: How financial strain and loss of personal control lead to depression, impaired functioning, and poor health. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(4), 302-312.
[18] Jacka, F.N., Pasco, J.A., Henry, M.J., Korn, S., Williams, L.J., Motowicz, M.A., Nicholson, G.C., Berk, M. (2007). Depression and bone mineral density in a community sample of men: Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender. Vol. 4 (3), pp.292-297.
[19] World Health Organisation, Depression: Fact Sheet, February 2017 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/
[20] 46
[21] Op. Cit, Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008).
[22] Ibid.
[23] Dennis Coon, John O. Mitterer, Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior, Cengage Learning (2008) 69
[24] 37
[25] 64
[26] 43
[26] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders
[27] 39
[28] 40
[29] 32

On The Identity Of The Soul: Do ‘I’ Exist?

What does it mean to have a soul? Is the soul an immortal bridge that enables passage between the material realm of space and time toward an eternal life, or as said by Homer: “[m]any a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures.” Or is it a part of the fabric of consciousness that vehicles experience beyond passive observations, the very terrain that uniquely identifies ‘you’ aside from the social and environmental influences that determine your character? Does the soul actually exist within an indefinite continuum where the death of our bodies is merely transiently corporeal, or is it an epistemic system that attempts to articulate a criterion that draws a singularity to the fundamental question of being?

It raises a number of questions about individuality contained within a complex nucleus and temporal situatedness of an external world. Socrates believed the soul itself is cyclical and demonstrated by an immortality where the very ‘I’ in individuality or the consciousness remains despite re-embodying to a new material form; knowledge can awaken as though we are recollecting a pre-existing intelligence. Socrates assumes that knowledge precedes sense-perception, whereby in the Republic he elucidates two types of a singular mind when discussing Beauty,[1] an ambiguity in our perceptions of the external world that stands midway between being and non-being where the purity of the phenomena exists but impossible to firmly conceive. This absolute reality, the Forms of Beauty or Good, existed prior to knowledge that we perceive and discover an understanding of through objects in the external world and as such, “discovering that it existed before and is ours, and we compare these things with it, then, just as they exist, so our soul must exist before we are born.”[2] We recollect the Form of Beauty or Good through appearances of sensual experience and thus the knowledge of them already existed, but further to this, the Forms are absolute reality, divine and non-composite.[3] This reality is impenetrable by our senses and if we suppose that somehow we could be free from our bodies and thus from the limitations of sense-experience, we could access this imperceptible realm through our mind or ‘soul’. That while we have a singular mind or a singular identity, our understanding of reality is divided into a schism between consciousness or ‘being’ and sense-experience or ‘not-being’[4].

This dualism was furthered by Descartes where the soul itself is separate to the body, a substance that the cogito – the epistemic ‘I think, therefore I am’ – demonstrates since if ever in doubt of reality, this doubt itself proves that one is thinking and therefore the mind must exist. But if an ‘evil demon’[5] is tricking us into believing that the material world actually exists, the external world can be doubted and therefore both the mind and the body are distinct from one another. As we are capable of imagining ourselves existing without a body, knowledge is attained by both sense-experience and the mind as two separate yet interconnected substances, but the mind is indivisible as it does not contain any physical properties unlike the material world. Imagining ourselves in these Cartesian thought experiment could nevertheless be considered psychological and therefore while we can see or imagine such realities, it does not necessarily imply that these realities actually exist as mind-independent properties; thus imagination is not a process of logic. Indeed, is intentionality – the very nature of our mental states – contingent upon physical properties that exist independent of the mind and therefore relational to objects of the external world, or does it merely require a reference to content and that knowledge does not necessarily require existence but exists within the mind?

Thus when a person experiences a loss such as a death or a detachment from someone that they love, they are forced to reconcile with the detachment of this loved person and this very detachment arouses unconscious opposition that seeks a substitution to avoid confronting the painful sensation of the experience, so much so that the individual turns away from reality and transfers into a neurotic reality or an unreal reality, a type of disassociation.

An example of this can be whether fictional characters exist; is it an illusion that drives the cognitive mechanism to engage with the external world and though the content is not actually real nonetheless enables real experiences? I am moved with horror and fear when I watch a movie like Irreversible where a woman is brutally beaten and raped, emotions clearly exhibited by the shock, the tears, the physical anxiety and shaking; while aware that the movie is not real and that the woman is in fact an actor, my experience of these emotions show that I must nevertheless believe that her rape actually happened and therefore my mind referenced the content rather than physical properties. The question is, was I moved by such emotional responses because I engaged in a fictional scenario that logically exists or is it merely psychological where I knowingly enabled my imagination to temporarily allow the fictional characters to exist?

Or are our emotional responses also fiction?

If we are moved by an emotional response that is subject to illusory content rather than physical properties, it may well be psychological. Indeed, consider the psychological disorder of hysteria or other somatoform disorders; a person experiencing such symptoms are capable of causing temporary blindness, paralysis and other physical ailments that are inconsistent with any medical or even neurological diagnosis. The physical ailment is apparent, the person is actually experiencing blindness or paralysis, but for no causal reason. It led Freud to discover the unconscious mind and psychoanalytic theory, indeed in his paper Mourning and Melancholia explained how the mind can establish with certainty a fictional reality.[6] “This opposition can be so intense that a turning away from reality takes place and a clinging to the object through the medium of a hallucinatory wishful psychosis.”[7] Mourning the loss of a loved one, such as when a parent dies, involves sensations that are natural, however melancholia is caused by strong feelings of painful dejection that interest in the world around them along with a capacity to feel or experience happiness is disturbed, destructive to the activity of a healthy ego. Thus when a person experiences a loss that needn’t be a death but could be a detachment from someone that they love, they are forced to reconcile with the detachment of this loved person and this very detachment arouses unconscious opposition that seeks a substitution to avoid confronting the painful sensation of the experience, so much so that the individual turns away from reality and transfers into a neurotic reality or an unreal reality, a type of disassociation. The condition becomes pathological and they disassociate from their own identity and self-image and while they actually experience and believe their reality to be authentic, their identity is merely simulating a false reality.

Franz Brentano wrote, “[e]very mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself, although they do not do so in the same way. In presentation, something is presented, in judgment something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired and so on. This intentional inexistence is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon exhibits anything like it. We can, therefore, define mental phenomena by saying that they are those phenomena which contain an object intentionally within themselves.”[8] This ‘intentional inexistence’ purports that the relation between the mind and experience relies on the internal structure of the mind and does not necessarily rely on physical or objective targets. An emotional response needn’t require any relation to real-world characters when all one would need to do is believe in the fictional representation and therefore our imagination is psychological. If we were to deconstruct our mental state to try and ascertain the very essence of these mental acts, would the complete elimination of these illusory presuppositions enable us to distinguish between what is real and what is fictitious? And while postulating this ontological problem, would that be characteristic of an authentic and conscious experience of reality by the soul or one’s very being? If we are unable to obtain actual knowledge of concepts like the soul neither experience actual reality, we become doomed to the limitations of our cognitive processes and language.

Indeed, Kant’ views on the soul and transcendental psychology purport that while we are unable to attain actual knowledge of concepts like the soul, we can rely only on faith. Similar to the Cartesian ‘I think therefore I am,’ epistemologically we reveal that we are or that there is substance to this ‘I’ and this substance is our soul. It is distinct and indivisible, what marks an autonomous identity, but this very ‘I’ is transcendentally illusory. To become cognisant of the object of this ‘I’ it must be done in the absence of intuition, that is, intuitions are sensual representations experienced with objects that enable cognition as said by Kant, “Objects are therefore given to us by means of sensibility, and it alone affords us intuitions.[9] The illusion, however, is that when we think of this ‘I’ it is not cognition but mere a concept and separate from our sense-experiences. It is impossible to intuit the ‘I’ and therefore the Cartesian proposition of I think therefore I am is impossible as is knowledge of the nature of our soul. We have left with rational psychology.

‘We’ are forever doomed to the epistemic limitations that articulates ‘reality’ as we see it and no ‘I’ exists.

[1] 479a-c
[2] (76d-e)
[3] 78c-79a
[4] 479c
[5] See The Philosophical Writings of Descartes: Volume 3, The Correspondence By René Descartes, p 316
[6] Freud, S. (1917). Mourning and Melancholia. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 237-258
[7] Ibid.
[8] Bryce Huebner, Distributing Cognition: A Defense of Collective Mentality, p133
[9] A 19/B 33, see Paralogisms of Pure Reason

 

Love Is The Only Way To Experience The External World

How can we be sure that we are experiencing the external world? While we may have conceptualised an external world within our own minds and interact with friends and family and a plethora of external stimulation, but just like how my dog hears that I have come home and becomes excitable, experience is not merely forming concepts as a passive observer. One may experience fragments of the external world where ideas causally evolve merely by a complex yet functional process of cognition within the parameters of the quality of our mental faculties, but that would mean that perceptions and experience are synthesized solely on an objective order of our physical activities. So how can we have an awareness of an external world without the experience, the very subjective quality that enables us to intuit representations, to capture a conceptual framework that transcends the mere cognitive ability to order complex physical events into an effective information system?

The mind-body dualism is a conceptual division between our mental states and the physical properties of the external world and the problem therein is whether one is capable of being able to distinguish themselves as separate to this external world. The experience of the external world can never adequately be explained, according to solipsism, beyond the limits of an individual mind and thus we become fundamentally incapable of moving beyond our own mental state and that therefore concludes that only our mental state exists. Indeed, the greatest flaw in metaphysics even until today is the inability to clearly and distinctly demonstrate the existence of an external reality. The problem, however, is that the notion sets in an entirely subjective experience that becomes devoid of an objective world, where – like the movie Matrix – our bodies are sitting warmly in a vat with plugs attached to the back of our brain that stimulates virtual experiences that we assume to be reality. Descartes’ cogito ergo sum is an epistemological inference that if one is capable of thinking, the latter being what he defines as the, “first and most certain of all to occur to anyone who philosophises in an orderly way”[1] then there is no doubt that the person exists, but the nature of this Cartesian aptitude is very specific, that one is required to have embedded in their nature an exclusivity that would enable the conditions necessary for ideal cognizance. Similarly, the psychological theory of introspection vis-à-vis the problem relating to the structure of our experiences with the external world suggest that we have the reflective capacity to examine our own mental state, but the practice relies exclusively on the quality of this self-examination that cannot guarantee an absence of error. A key to this is the authenticity that enables a reflective practice which can overcome the preventative thresholds that envelope the honesty necessary to facilitate a genuine narrative, what John Locke refers to as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind.”[2]

A phenomenology of this introspection, however, differs from an empirical view of the mind. While the mind as a functional tool necessarily requires the complex ability to maintain an order of the continuous inflow of experiences, empiricists such as Locke would say that all knowledge is formed by sensory experience of the external world alone and that we place experience within a framework based solely on this causal evolution. The first-order level of the mind or the rules that govern the cognitive resources and the sensibility that enable the objective conditions for understanding and perception exist that any phenomenal consciousness would need to move beyond empiricism. While phenomenology is the study of being and experience within an external world, introspection is fundamentally the epistemological relation that studies the inner experience of this being with the external world; consciousness is fundamental. That is, the introspective experience of phenomenal character or the subjective and intrinsic quality of qualia is accessible and is central to the nature of consciousness.

‘A sociopath may mimic A Streetcar Named Desire by telling himself that the woman he raped is crazy and that she wanted to have sex with him, but this clearly lacks the interpretative accuracy of the external world. Human beings, according to Kant, are innately evil that subordinates morality to self-conceit and the only solution to this is by overcoming our propensity to evil through the cultivation of moral agency.’

The phenomenal character of mental life is a feeling of this sensory experience, that is, perceptions have a distinct phenomenal framework that differentiates between a mere perception with consciousness of the perception, an actual awareness of the activity where each experience has a distinct, conscious character so to speak. It is lived action. Unlike the empiricist who believes the contents of our being are made up of a series of perceptions, Kant takes it one step further and claims that the transcendental conditions enable us to have the experience rather than being a result of this experience. His interpretation of the transcendental differs entirely to transcendence, which purports something that exists beyond perceptual experience or non-sensory modes of understanding, which is a realm that one cannot verify and thus ultimately irrelevant to our epistemological system since if it transcends knowledge, it is beyond knowledge and falls into the dimension of faith. The transcendental conditions that extend beyond the grounds of reason is defined by Kant as what enables knowledge to not just be occupied solely with objects, but the very mode of our a priori knowledge of these objects.[3]

Our experience of the external world is spatiotemporal, separated causally through an arrow of time that evolves over the period of our cognitive existence and thus while there exists an external world, time is entirely a subjective experience. The transcendental aesthetic is an a priori mode of engagement with space and time, where patterns of sensations and experiences ascribed spatiotemporally to cognition a priori that enables the coherence of the external world, rather than space and time being actual, external entities.[4] Yet, we are capable of non-empirical representations of space, where we can see a human in front of us without that person actually being there spatially that leads Kant to label this mode as Intuition and hence why he famously stated that, “[t]houghts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.”[5] Time enables the intuitions to make sense of the spatial experiences in an orderly fashion and this succession organises the mental states where knowledge of thus formed. The difference is that that intuitions are the representations themselves given in sensibility: “In whatever way and through whatever means a cognition may be related to objects, that through which it relates immediately to them, and at which all thought as a means is directed as an end, is intuition. This, however, takes place only insofar as the object is given to us; but this in turn, is possible only if it affects the mind in a certain way. This capacity [to acquire representations] is called sensibility. Objects are therefore given to us by means of sensibility, and it alone affords us intuitions.”[6]

‘It is not simply a disposition that one emulates and there needs to be an authenticity that one feels autonomously that evokes a strong sense of duty to moral principles themselves independent of the required obligations set by others.’

If we are capable of non-empirical representations of space, what exactly are the conditions that enable our sensibility to authentically be receptive to the external world? A sociopath may watch A Streetcar Named Desire and mimic the plot by telling himself that the woman he raped is crazy and that she wanted to have sex with him, but clearly the conditions therein lack the accuracy that interpret the external world correctly. Human beings, according to Kant, are innately evil that subordinates morality to self-conceit and the only solution to this is by overcoming our propensity to evil through the cultivation of moral agency. This is via a ‘revolution’ so to speak, an acquisition of a way of thinking that personifies moral goodness. But it is not simply a disposition that one emulates and there needs to be an authenticity that one feels autonomously that evokes a strong sense of duty to moral principles themselves independent of the required obligations set by others. If we look at this from a geometrically different angle (namely through the lens of Husserl), intentionality is the property of mental states themselves, the very internal experience that functions independent of the external world.[7] The mental states are thus empowered with the function to take an experience of an object and transcend beyond that experience, the nature of this property enabling a moral transaction. When one considers existential feelings of angst, for instance, the isolation and emptiness of feeling estranged from the company of the external world embodies an intentional state where one is conscious of this separation via possibilities that enable a non-empirical narrative and reconfigure consciousness to interpret ones place in the external world beyond space and time. It leads one on a path to ascertain the possible phenomenal connections that echo this potential merger between ‘I’ or my subjective experience with the external world.

It is thus through empathy that one is enabled with the sense experience of the external world, where ones ‘conscience’ becomes the key to consciousness of an external world beyond this self-conceit. It transforms that intuitive ‘possibility’ into an experience that enables a channel to the external world and objectifies a narrative of shared experiences, thus becoming the very foundation that builds an ethical mindset, but it nevertheless requires reason as a basis for being able to interpret and identify moral consequences. Conscience, the very sense of right from wrong and the will that propels one to act morally, is sensually the very experience of giving love, but universally even though this ‘revolution’ may have been initiated by love for one object or person. Moral agency embodies the ability to conceptualise abstract principles and for Kant is derived from pure reason; the duty that motivates the will to conform with these principles by sensually experiencing the suffering of others establishes a sense of sympathy and emotional angst that moves the will to act ethically. This very act of expressing moral standards sensed by a subjective pain irrelevant to our own experiences in the physical world is an act of moral consciousness – love – the very desire to want the pain or suffering of others to be removed, to want their lives to be improved, the very desire to care for another person and thus authentically explore the external world.  While this ‘revolution’ may be stimulated by a specific object or experience, this intuit becomes a principle that one conceptualises into an abstract form that becomes universal, hence the categorical imperative.

The question here is, is this shared experience merely a simulation or is it a genuine exploration of sensing beyond the subjective mind? Further discussion of this continuum cannot be furthered today as alas, the limitations of this poor blog post prevents me in doing so, particularly since a variety of complexities vis-à-vis developmental epistemology and other relevant features would be required to be discussed. I will touch more on the latter part of this subject in a later post.

[1]Rene Descartes, Key Philosophical Writings, Wordsworth Editions (1997) 279
[2] John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, P. H. Nidditch (ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon Press J. (1975) 115
[3] E. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (A11, B25)
[4] Ibid., (A23/B37-8)
[5] Norman Kemp Smith, A Commentary to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Springer (2003) 80
[6] Op. cit., Kant (A19/B33).
[7] Susi Ferrarello, Husserl’s Ethics and Practical Intentionality, Bloomsbury Publishing, (2015) 101

Love and the Ethics of Emotions

Bullying is an ambiguous term and can be understood as a low-level form of violence.[1] This includes a continuum of aggressive and inappropriate behaviour such as denigrating comments on appearance, intellect or lifestyle choices, ostracising or alienating, covert threats and harassment, deliberately enforcing meaningless or impossible tasks, or deliberately making competent persons appear incompetent, etc &c.[2] Bullying is commonly found in schools, online and in the workplace and it “may be the most prevalent form of violence in schools and the form that is likely to affect the greatest number of students.”[3] As a critical public health issue,[4] bullying can be either covert such as ostracising and slandering, or clearly perceptible and serious such as stalking. “A growing body of research has indicated that both bullying and being bullied can have extensive physical, social and mental health consequences, with a notable impact on academic achievement and social development.”[5] §55A (1)(a) of the Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 states that bullying behaviour is, “repeated and systematic, and that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten”[6] that ultimately creates a risk to health and safety.[7] This risk can include physical, emotional and psychological harm leading to deterioration in health and wellbeing. A negative culture often purports the individual or individuals as “lacking a sense of humour”, being “too sensitive”, or “lacking the talent or intelligence” [which often results in their dismissal] rather than focusing on resolving the problems being raised.[8] Reflection is an important cognitive feature that elevates critically the analytical structure of the emotions and the contribution it may have to moral and ethical wellbeing. Martha Nussbaum discusses emotions, or in particular emotional-thoughts, as contributing toward a better understanding of the subjective human qualities that reconstruct a conception of moral virtue.[9] One aspect of her work that I appreciated was her ability to reflect on her own personal experiences as part of her seminal study of human emotions of which I will attempt to replicate, in doing so knowing that this is all merely a study and process of reflection for my own personal advancement and healing.

I myself was a victim of bullying from multiple sources at the same time and over an extended period and I can assure you that the impact emotionally and psychologically was quite profound. The violence ranged from one man who made comments that I was going bald and other vicious remarks about my appearance that attempted to make me feel very ugly, indirect threats such as stating that ‘women deserve to get bashed’ and recommending that I watch a movie Irreversible about a woman who is brutally raped. The same man involved others by slandering me as a way to protect himself from being caught in the act and wanting – at the time – desperately for him to just stop hurting me, I gave him justifications for his slanderous remarks so that he could feel satisfied enough to leave me alone as I was afraid that he was waiting for a moment to physically hurt me. At the same time I was being harassed by family members [including verbal abuse and threats] that eventually required police intervention due to the serious nature of some of the threats made against me. I never felt so alone and afraid. The bullying and my emotional state raised the past and my childhood to the surface, further adding to the emotional confusion and all this was topped by a loss of my savings and a severe car accident; to protect myself from the onslaught of hatred, I felt it necessary to fabricate strength out of the fear that my vulnerability would be used advantageously that added stress to my already dismal state of mind. The harassment continued online through cyber-bullying and involving others I was again tricked and deceived; my emotional disbelief at that point allowed me to paradoxically pity my subjugator and admittingly even developed feelings for him, feelings I now understand were a result of my vulnerability and confusion. I began to appeal to his conscience, illuminating my personal history to him where I informed him that I did not have a mother or a father as my father was exceedingly violent and my mother emotionally disassociated due to the mental health effects of the trauma he inflicted. I explained that I had never been in a relationship because I was so afraid of being hurt as I was continuously harassed – being the youngest child – by my siblings who consistently told me that I was worthless and ugly likely as a consequence from the upbringing we endured. I even went so far as to admit that I have been alone most of my life and since I was a child would stare out at the stars wishing I would meet someone who actually cared about me.

I used methods of writing that would compel him to read particular topics of moral interest either theologically such as the Book of Proverbs or philosophically, particularly of existential themes to try and motivate a sense of compassion and wisdom. What I really wanted was for him to find the means to acknowledge his previously committed wrongdoing, to apologise to me and allow me to move on from the pain. That an apology and friendship would make him more of a man by truly representing moral strength. I knew that such an apology from my family was impossible as with each attempt at reconciliation they would instead search for and justify their actions by attacking me, usually through psychological manipulation and claim that the fault lies within me. The greatest difficulty was seeing past that, that bullies often blame the victim and make it seem as though it was their fault or that something was wrong with them. And that was how he finalised our encounter by stating that it was me who was ‘crazy’ and that the only reason he was communicating with me was due his sexual desire, words that became the very bullet in my heart knowing that his denial of any wrongdoing was the source of my hurt along with the added humiliation that sharing with him my personal story fell on deaf ears. I had no choice but to abandon the hope that he cared more for the life of an innocent human being over himself and his own ego, that the social ‘show’ he performs is of more importance than the honesty of obtaining a moral heart.

As the sciences define categories to distinguish and relate as part of a process that schematically represent key analytical labels in order to rationally approach and advance a particular topic, the human mind and our experiences function in the same manner. The only flaw in this process is that it is individually up to ourselves to traverse this cognitive dominion and any identification is dependant on a range of factors, more importantly the honesty that we study the biological, environmental, social and a range of other features including emotional and psychological responses with critical evaluation. This is not an easy feat, for instance whether one is an atheist or religious, both are beliefs and to question the nature of that belief and the certainty of conviction often entails a broad epistemic and phenomenological analysis; a mature mind is able to transcend ‘belief’ – broaden their horizon – and ascertain the subjective ingredients that reflect the causal nature prompting emotional responses and moral considerations, or the lack thereof. According to Kant, a moral agent is one who acts on maxims that attune moral judgements toward guiding and motivating virtuous principles and values: “[t]he moral law is for itself the motivation in reason’s judgement and those who make it their maxim are morally good.”[10] This is under the basis of a law of autonomy, the capacity to reflect and identify information, decisions and experiences accessible only to an individual separate from any dispensation to others whether it is institutionally, socially, religiously or even personally including family and friends; one capable to self-govern as an authority over his or her own existence. While many people believe themselves capable of such authority, it is clear that this individualism merely cloaks what is a strict adherence to social constructs that provide the falsification of an ‘individual’ – like in the United States there exists rhetoric that loudly speaks of individualism when a majority blindly follow in masses.

One particular element I found intriguing in Nussbaum’ argument is the nature of emotions being subject to a world that we cannot control, that our emotional responses become the impetus that compels a better understanding of value and of well-being. “Nussbaum argues that an emotion is constituted by judgements that we make in relation to objects that are of importance to our world and wellbeing. Commonly these evaluations pertain to things we cannot fully control.”[11] An important aspect to this argument is the impact this lack of control or separateness has on the individual – perhaps causally the reason for someone to become the ‘bully’ – as this separateness from the world around us provokes an emotional disarray, leading to such confusion and anxiety that one is compelled to repress or act in a manner that is damaging to others or themselves, becoming dishonest or deceitful in nature and incapable of confronting their own wrongdoing. As Nussbaum shows, the loss of a family member confirms that we lack any control. When I say separateness, I take the Frommian approach to the term:

“Man is gifted with reason; he is life being aware of itself; he has awareness of himself, of his fellow men, of his past, and of the possibilities of his future. This awareness of himself as a separate entity, the awareness of his own short lifespan, of the fact that without his will he is born and against his will he dies, that he will die before those whom he loves, or they before him, the awareness of his aloneness and separateness, of his helplessness before the forces of nature and of society, all this makes his separate, disunited existence an unbearable prison… the experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, indeed, the source of all anxiety.”[12]

The anxiety stems from the fact that we are alone and separate from the world around us that we create symbiotic attachments at personal and social levels to falsify a fictional connection, sometimes being brutal in our attempt to control our environment due to this unbearable anxiety. My emotional collapse following the extremity of the preceding experience enabled me the capacity to study and reflect on my own existential position in a world where aloneness became clearly perceptible that – slowly but surely – I became aware of the importance of my own health and body, my mind and my capacity to achieve that I suddenly realised my own significance; I transformed from a miserable, hollow person to a Kantian moral agent standing fearlessly in an eternal and universal form of love. I now find myself in the Maslow sense meta-motivated where I am strengthened by a motivation to consistently improve my state of mind and wellbeing and that I choose who I have in my life and who I refuse in addition to fortifying my professional and ethical position. Love and developing my moral stance has become the substance that fills the void, the universal and eternal sense of wholeness that nothing else, no fleeting or pleasurable feeling or relations with others could substantiate. Viktor Frankl discusses this deep emotional challenge following his experience during the holocaust where he transcended the suffering to illustrate the importance of finding meaning in his life. “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”[13] That the underlying and unbearable truth is that we lack a purpose.

I came to see that what we have developed to overcome this is the distraction of a consumer, perhaps a sociopathic society – that is a society with an impaired understanding of morality – characterised by egotistical traits under the fraud of material and fleeting physical considerations where meaning is merely the social position that one replicates for approval that only rapidly disintegrates the possibility of attaining individual autonomy. Imagine it like this; a person is listening to headphones and singing along to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams while dancing down the street, completely oblivious to a war going on around them, hopping over dead bodies and patting the heads of crying children. There are terrible things going on in this world, what are you doing? People have become worried about their bodies and appearances, afraid of what other people may think as though this neuroticism now coerces people to participate, enticed with sexual pleasures rather than intellectual pursuits and viewing people – even themselves – as a commodity. Lacking the capacity to reason with compassion is an exposure of what I stated once before – that society has become sociopathic – namely that moral virtue and wisdom is the basis for a genuine or honest individual and that acting according to an image is living in a state of delusion that disconnects one from their own emotions and thus from attaining any genuine sense of moral well-being. If the anxiety of being alone provokes such intense feelings of subjective anxiety, people mould themselves to environments and adapt to people that they are not genuinely happy with as though they would rather have noxious people in their lives than be alone [for instance, women who stay in relationships that involve domestic violence].

It is by being alone that one can embrace and retain the integrity that could define the conditions of an ‘individual’ and the strength to survive the anxiety is only possible by embracing love, whereby I interpret ‘love’ as being moral consciousness. While the pain occasionally arises where I do hope that I receive a genuine apology or as said by Aaron Lazare, “[a]pologies have the power to heal humiliations and grudges; remove the desire for vengeance, and generate forgiveness on the part of the offended parties,” I have come to accept my circumstances and no longer have the same intense emotions as I slowly advance toward a better understanding and appreciation of myself. An apology is taking responsibility for a mistake and as such reflects the same causal response or emotional reaction a victim would experience; that is, repentance allows one become aware of themselves. Emotions and being vulnerable are not a reflection of weakness, on the contrary they play an evaluative role that exposes an incompleteness that we feel but are yet to understand. The nature and role intuition – the oft elusive tool that I believe utilises an emotional reaction to an unconscious belief such as feelings of doubt, fear, or confusion arouses a reactionary response without conscious awareness – becomes an epiphenomena or by-product of an experience and the very stimulus that develops a perceptual examination of a moral or ethical quandary. That is, we may have experienced something we do not consciously understand or even remember objectively and thus when we encounter a situation that prompts an intuitive reaction, it is as though an epistemic mental representation without an explicit logical structure is speaking to us something that we already know but that we do not yet understand at conscious level. I have come to view my emotions as my strength as the heartache I endured enabled me to reflect on my past experiences with objectivity, to attempt to find forgiveness despite the consistent opposition.

Although I have been alone for most of my life, I now have the capacity to choose to find and commit myself to a mature love, one that distinguishes itself from symbiotic attachments and that involves honesty, genuine care and humility. That as a little girl, I looked up at the stars wanting to be cared for only to now see that I am still that little girl and was right all along. All we need to do is remove the mess of everything that happens from childhood until now and remember that innocence and that love within ourselves.

As said by Frankl: “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

[1] Glennis Hanley, “Don’t Do What I Do – Just Bloody Well Do What I Say! The Workplace Bullying Experiences of Australian Academics” Monash University Working Paper 63/03, September 2003.

[2] Clare Mayhew and Duncan Chappel, “’Internal’ Violence or Bullying and the Health Workforce” NSW Department of Health, Taskforce on the Prevention and Management of Violence in the Health Workplace.

[3] George M. Batsche & Howard M. Knoff, “Bullies and their Victims: Understanding a Pervasive Problem in the Schools,” School Psychology Review, 23 (1994), 165 – 175.

[4] John Blosnich and Robert Bossarte, “Low-Level Violence in Schools: Is There an Association between School Safety Measures and Peer Victimization?” Journal of School Health, 81:2 (Feb 2011), 107-113. The Mental Health Reforms through the Gillard Government has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to better mental health care to Australians due to the rising problem of mental health issues such as depression and suicide.

[5]Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study, “Covert bullying: A Review of National and International Research” Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australia, pp12-62

[6] §55A (1)(a) of the Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986

[7] §55A (1)(b) of the Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986

[8] Op.Cit., Glennis Hanley

[9] Please see Martha C. Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, Cambridge University Press, (2003)

[10] G. Felicitas Munzel, Kant’s Conception of Moral Character: The “Critical” Link of Morality, Anthropology, and Reflective Judgment, University of Chicago Press, (1999) 68-69

[11] Chris Barker, Emma A. Jane, Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice

[12] Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving: The Centennial Edition, A&C Black (2000) 8

[13] Itai Ivtzan, Tim Lomas, Mindfulness in Positive Psychology: The Science of Meditation and Wellbeing, Routledge (2016) 228