47 Chapters
Medium 9781782200901

Chapter Ten: Autodidacts and the Garden of Eden

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

Health and optimal functioning of any sort is dependent on various types of balance. One of the best indicators of a person's physical health is their body temperature. Getting too hot can be just as lethal as getting too cold. Vegetation can be damaged as much by flooding as by drought.

In the same way, emotional balance is crucial to psychological health and optimal functioning. Emotional balance concerns the central question of confidence and self-image. Insufficient confidence and belief in oneself, on the one hand, can inhibit learning and performance and may even prevent it altogether. On the other hand, excessive confidence and an inflated idea of one's ability can be just as big a block to learning and as much of an interference to performance.

Problems of insecurity and lack of confidence have always been familiar to the teaching profession, as well as parents, as is the role of encouragement. Beyond these general concepts, there still seems to be relatively little, clear understanding about what is involved in this crucial aspect of early development. There seems to be even less awareness in society, as a whole, of how many of the problems people have in adult life in the workplace, in social relationships and elsewhere, are a result of this crucial aspect of their development remaining incomplete.

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Chapter Eight - Sexuality and Perversion

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER EIGHT

Sexuality and perversion

It is symptomatic of our culture that sexuality is mostly thought of in terms of behaviour, as opposed to meaning and experience. “Sex” to most people nowadays immediately suggests physical activity, with little or no thought of the feelings or thoughts that might be involved. So, what is the essence of sexuality?

In evolutionary terms, the function of sexuality is, almost by definition, that of propagating the species. With human beings, however, the all-pervasiveness of sexuality is clearly completely out of proportion to the necessities of the survival of the species. The average human being would only need to engage in sexual intercourse a dozen or so times in their lifetime to produce enough offspring for the species to continue. The universal preoccupation—one is tempted to say, obsession—with sex and sexuality must, therefore, reflect something about the essential part it plays in our social and emotional well-being.

If we then look at the thoughts and ideas that most commonly characterise sexuality in cultural expression through music, literature, art, sculpture, etc., it is clear that they centre round the idea of a creative connection. So, to sum up what we have somewhat laboriously arrived at, sexuality is essentially about love and creativity. As we observed before, when two people genuinely “make love”, as opposed to simply “having sex”, there is always a baby conceived symbolically in the minds of the lovers, in the form of an amalgam of the most valued parts of each of them.

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Chapter Nineteen: Useless Intelligence: Sensible and Nonsensical Uses of Standardised Tests

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

The subject of intelligence is a central aspect of life. In ordinary everyday situations, we are used to thinking about someone being “quick to pick up” a new skill or being “slow to understand” something. Some people seem to be generally very intelligent and able in almost everything they do while, at the other end of the spectrum, there seem to be people who struggle with just about everything. An equally familiar experience is that there are people who seem to be quite ordinary but have some spectacularly advanced skill or ability which distinguishes them. Similarly, as we have discussed previously under the heading of typology, everyone has underdeveloped areas or blind spots in their functioning, even if they cope with life generally with success. These are all examples of the concept of Intelligence.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, psychology was beginning to be established as a science in its own right, and several pioneers emerged who attempted to study and quantify intelligence scientifically. Charles Spearman, who died in 1945, originally trained as an engineer and is often known as the father of classical test theory. His book: General Intelligence Objectively Determined and Measured came out in 1904. Largely because of the statistical method called factor analysis which had just been developed at the time, the study of intelligence came to focus on identifying some kind of central, unitary quality which Spearman called the general factor or simply g.

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Chapter Twenty-One - Abigail: Survival through Invisibility

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

Abigail: survival through invisibility

Abigail was the youngest child of a large family. Her father was a professional, middle-class man who developed an addiction to prescription drugs and eventually committed suicide when Abigail was a small child. She had been working as a nurse for about ten years when she presented for analysis. At the initial interview, I understood the reasons for wanting analysis to be to do with anxiety levels in her work and social relationships. It was some time, however, before I got any clearer picture, as for almost the first year of the analysis she hardly spoke at all. The sessions were taken up by her lying tensely on the couch, leaving me to try to notice what she was making me feel and play it back to her. When she did eventually start to utter a few sentences, it was to tell me coldly that she was trying to imagine there was no one else in the room! There seemed to be two things going on in this strange drama. First, she seemed to be undergoing a kind of birth experience, where first of all that was nobody there, and then she gradually emerged. Second, she seemed to be reliving a key feature of her early experience where she could only survive if either she pretended not to be there, or else she pretended that no one else was there.

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Chapter Ten - Romantic Agony

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER TEN

Romantic agony

Sadism, cruelty, and brutality tend to be associated with coldness and lack of emotion. In thrillers and suspense films, we are familiar with the idea of the emotionless psychopath, the hitman, or the pitiless serial killer. The ingenuity of mechanisation and the legacy of the Industrial Resolution turned out to have a dark side when it came inevitably to be applied to the machinery of war. The terrible carnage of the First World War was partly possible because the generals were still thinking of warfare as it was at the time of Waterloo, where two armies meet each other on the field of battle, rather than a new situation where men could be mechanically mown down in their thousands.

With Hiroshima, and the long-range nuclear missiles of the Cold War, a new level of disconnection from emotions was facilitated by the possibilities of indiscriminately killing unlimited numbers of other people in another part of the world, at the press of a button. In recent years, even more frightening scope for emotionless killing has been opened up with the drone, unmanned aircraft which can not only attack a target hundreds of miles away, but can actually be programmed to “think for itself” and choose its target.

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