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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Jewish Psychologist-Media Star Dr. Joyce Brothers Dies

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Millions of Americans this week are mourning Dr. Joyce Brothers, the Jewish psychologist and media start who died Monday in Fort Lee, New Jersey Monday at the age of 85. She was buried at the Beth David Cemetery on Long Island.

Born in Brooklyn, she earned degrees in psychology from Cornell and Columbia.

She broke ground in the 1950s by deciding to try to win the big prize on the popular $64,000 Question show and picked the subject of boxing, for which she did enough homework to make her a self-made expert.

She won the prize and later was a color commentator for boxing matches.

Dr. Brothers was mostly known as a psychologist who relaxed viewers and readers though her newspaper columns and thousands of appearances on television, dispensing advice on all areas of life.

She appeared more than 100 times on the popular Johnny Carson “The Tonight Show” and was syndicated in more than 350 newspapers.

The Truths About Terrorism They Dare Not Speak

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

The current conventional wisdom about terrorism, Islamism, and the Middle East is being bent, but not broken, by two events. On one hand, there is the Boston bombing; on the other hand, developments in Syria and to a lesser extent Egypt.

In the Middle East, the misbehavior of Islamist movements is becoming more apparent. In Egypt, there is the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood regime, which may actually intend to create a non-democratic Sharia state! Parallel behavior in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Turkey is under-reported but occasionally surfaces.

The most important single story at the moment, though, is Syria. Basically, the Obama Administration has woken up and recognized what was easily apparent two years ago: They are helping to put radical, anti-American Islamists into power! They are helping to provide them with advanced weapons which might be used for activities other than what is intended!

When the government wakes up it nudges the media to get up also. What is quite startling is the extent to which the mass media is responsive to government policy, at least this government’s policy. I want to explain this carefully in order to be fair.

Take this article in the New York Times, which can be summarized as saying that Islamist rebels’ gains in Syria create a dilemma for the United States. Now this is an article about U.S. policy so naturally it describes how that policy is changing.

Yet at the same time, one wants to ask: Why haven’t the policy consequences of this situation been described continuously in the past? If a big truck is headed straight at you on the highway, might not the media sitting in the front passenger seat shout out a warning? Does it have to wait for the driver to notice and then it can say something?

And even so the diffidence is astonishing. It is good that the newspaper notices that the rebels are largely comprised of, “Political Islamists inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and others who want an Islamic-influenced legal code.” But why even now one can say “Islamic-influenced?”

For many years they have made it clear that they seek a total Islamic (in their interpretation) state. It is the precise equivalent of describing Chinese Communists more than sixty years ago, as they approached victory in their country’s civil war, as “agrarian reformers.”

This story also parallels the much larger-scale debate about the Boston bombings. There’s a long piece in the New York Times about the Boston bombers. The lead gives the flavor of its argument:

“It was a blow the immigrant boxer could not withstand: after capturing his second consecutive title as the Golden Gloves heavyweight champion of New England in 2010, Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev, 23, was barred from the national Tournament of Champions because he was not a United States citizen.”

The title of the piece is, “A Battered Dream, Then a Violent Path.” In other words, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not allowed to win a boxing championship because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Blocked by bad treatment from America, he became more Islamic and turned to terrorism.

Of course, it is vital to develop an accurate picture of the terrorists’ background and explain the factors providing a personal motivation. On the other hand, it is something quite different to suggest that if the United States was nicer to Muslims and perhaps gave people citizenship more easily, there would not have been terrorism in Boston.

Why is this fundamentally dishonest in the way it is being presented in most of the public debate? Because the voices enhanced by control over the most powerful microphones focus in on the political theme they want to push, excluding other factors in the context of their topic.

Where to begin? The article includes a photo of the future terrorist as a baby in Dagestan with his parents and his uncle. His uncle is wearing a Russian army uniform. While in the photo he is a baby, the point might still be raised: Isn’t Tamerlan Tsarnaev more a product of Russian than of U.S. conditions? After all, his family was involved in a conflict against the Russian state; he and his brother were largely shaped by that environment. He went back and forth to Russia and took instruction from terrorist groups which had arrived at al-Qaida from that basis.

In Hebrew: ‘Subconscious’

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

תַּת-מוּדָע

If מוּדָעוּת is awareness or consciousness, תַּת-מוּדָעis the subconscious or the unconscious. The particle -תַּת means sub- or under-, just as in English, in phrases like:

תַּת-יַמִּיunderwater
תַּת-מִיןsubspecies
תַּת-אָלוּףbrigadier general (subservient to the general)

An example of תת-מודע:

זִיגְמוֹנְד פְּרוֹיד פִּתֵּחַ אֶת הַמֻּשָּׂג שֶׁל הַתַּת-מוּדָע.
Sigmund Freud developed the concept of the unconscious.

Although, strictly speaking, the unconscious should be called תת-הַמודע, since תת-מודע is almost a single word on its own, it’s more appropriate to say הַתת-מודע.

Note that here unconscious refers to the psychological phenomenon, not the state of being unconscious of what’s going around around due to injury, etc. That is חֲסַר הַכָּרָה.

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An Awakening…or Just Terror?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Over the years I have urged readers to look behind the news. Now, amid relentless socio-political eruption and upheaval taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, there has still been too little serious effort to look for any underlying meanings and explanations. To some extent, perhaps, the reasons for this laxity have to do with an apparent sense of obviousness. On the surface, after all, much of the violence is entirely predictable, having been spawned by the traditionally visible array of Islamist fears andjihadist goals.

In essence, cascading and intersecting crises of religion, war, and terror in volatile sectors of the Islamic world represent distinctly primal kinds of social behavior. Such behavior, moreover, is the inevitable result of both compelling private needs, and ecstatic collective expectations.

Sometimes, even more than their typically overriding need to avoid death, human beings want to belong. This often desperate need can be manifested harmlessly, as in sports hysteria or rock concerts, or more perniciously, as in rioting, war, and terrorism. In all cases, however, the critically underlying motivations are pretty much the same.

Back in classical Greece, Aristotle had already proclaimed that “Man is a social animal.” Now, we readily understand that even the “normal” individual often feels empty and insignificant apart from his or her membership in the “mass,” the “crowd,” or the “herd.” Often, that herd is the state. Sometimes it is the tribe. Sometimes it is the faith (always, the “one true faith”). Sometimes it is the liberation movement, or, in a plainly kindred relationship, the revolution.

Whatever the particular demanding collectivity of the moment, it is the persistent craving for membership that hastens to bring forth a catastrophic downfall of individual responsibility, and, as corollary, a corrosive triumph of collective will. Today, unless millions of our fellow humans in parts of the Middle East and North Africa can learn to temper their overwhelming desire to belong, the prevailing military and political schemes to control regional violence, war, and terrorism will inevitably fail.

To best understand what is going on here analysts must first learn to locate pre-political causes. These “molecular” explanations stem from the celebrated fusion of susceptible individuals into popular crowd-centered collectives. Not every mass or crowdor tribe or herd is pernicious, of course, but war and terrorism can never take place in the absence of consuming collective identifications.

Whenever individuals crowd together and form a herd, the murderous dynamics of the mob may be released, thus lowering each person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where absolutely anything, even mass killing, can be accepted.

Publicly, current Arab/Islamic rioting, war and terror are fueled by certain effectively incontestable presumptions of Divine Will. In reality, of course, the net result of homicide bombings, chaotic riots, and mass denunciations must always be to drown out any residual hint of sacredness or godliness. Once empathy and compassion outside the Islamist herd go intentionally unrewarded, they become extraneous, and as virtues completely beside the point.

In the presumed name of divinity, Arab/Islamist war, terror, and the murder of “others” impose upon the wider world neither salvation nor holiness but groupthink. Reciprocally, and expectedly, the hideously intolerant rhythms of such a suffocating ethos make it increasingly futile to advance any meaningful efforts at coexistence. This futility is especially troubling in Israel, where assorted promises of a peaceful “two-State solution” are resoundingly unpersuasive.

To mount now urgent investigations of an already widening Arab/Islamic jihad against Israel and the United States, our scholars and policy makers should begin to look more closely at human meaning. Before we can prevent further expanding violence against innocents, certain Arab/Islamic states and terrorist groups will have to be shorn of their capacity to bestow significance upon complicit individuals. To affect those individuals who now turn ritually to rioting, war, terror, and killing for affirmations of importance, we will first have to identify more benign and similarly appealing sources of belonging.

An underlying cause of present Islamist violence in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan and elsewhere in the region is the enduring incapacity of individuals to draw authentic meaning from within themselves. In the Middle East and North Africa, at least among large swaths of enthusiastic Islamists, true redemption still requires Muslims to present tangible proof of “membership.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/an-awakeningor-just-terror/2013/03/06/

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