Friday, January 15, 2021

Why Trump’s Influence Will Remain After He’s Gone


            Many of us are counting the days until the President of the United States makes his official exit from the American government.  The hope is that a new era is dawning of more civilized humane inclusive equitable governance.  And the United States will get on track again to be a more constructive leader of the free world.

            To some extent, the basis of this hope is justified.  But unlike other American presidents, Trump is not going to simply retire to the sidelines of the game of politics.  We must remember that 71,000,000 people voted for him.  And they aren’t going to simply disappear into the  woodwork.  The results of the November election demonstrate this.  Even though the Democrats won the two runoff elections in Georgia, they will control the Senate by the slimmest of margins.  And contrary to their own pre-election assessments, the Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives.  So Trump may be out of office soon, but Trumpian ideas are alive and well, thank you.

Actually, to even name what Trump has to offer as ideas is an undeserved compliment.  While there may be some consistent themes in his presidential actions like nationalism and racism, the most consistent theme is unpredictability.  And constantly and arbitrarily challenging the status quo.  The latter has been particularly present in his last days in office, as he tries to hold onto the presidency through every maneuver he can exercise.

In truth, though, the problem is not just him.  Thousands of his followers carried out a violent insurrection on the day that Biden’s election was supposed to be certified.  These extremists broke into the Capitol building with guns and rifles and bombs and who knows what else.  They did it, because they believe that Trump was cheated out of the presidency.  Wonder where they got that idea.  Anyway, we are not just talking about the possibility of peaceful demonstrations here.  We’re talking about insurrections with armed violence.  And Trump, of course, was winking at this the day of Biden’s certification.

Plus, Trump is already talking about running for president again.  As are many of his Trumpian followers.  So the Trump posture is firmly positioned in the Republican Party for the foreseeable future.  But why?

As I have discussed before, the problem with his followers is not simply one of ideology .  How much coherent ideology does Trump have anyway?  The problem is one of psychology.  And one of the main causal factors has nothing to do directly with typical political issues.  This factor is the excessive immersion in modern technological living environments and, in particular, modern consumer technology.  Even people who live in rural communities in the United States have become totally captivated by the screen reality created by modern consumer technology.  Their connection to the organic stimuli of natural environments becomes attenuated as their connection to the screen reality created by modern consumer technology grows.   At any rate, people in modern technological society are sinking deeper and deeper into an experiential vacuum that has resulted in people becoming increasingly numb.  And because this numbness is experienced as a kind of scary living death where people cease to feel that they have agency over their lives, they try different kinds of compensatory experiences to pull themselves out of the numbness.  Experiences with sharp edges to them.  Experiences with kicks.  Like riding motorcycles and driving race cars.  Like going to concerts where the music is so loud, it eventually causes hearing loss.  Like opioids.  Like experiences with violence as in mass murders.  And like Trump.  Trump is followed not so much because of the substance of his beliefs.  Trump is followed because everything about him is constantly shifting.  He takes his followers on a wild ride, as if he were a bucking bronco.  He brings people out of their numbness and back to life.

            Now as I have shown, Trump is not the only experience available that can pull people out of numbness.  But over 70,000,000 people voted for Trump.  That’s an awful lot of people who were seduced by his persona.  And even if his antics do cause some of his supporters to feel buyers’ remorse, as in the case of the recent insurrection, an awful lot of them will be left.  And even if Trump should disappear from the political scene, he has set certain things in motion such that his way of doing things will continue now and well into the future.  Already, other Trumpian politicians are planning for a campaign for the presidency in 2024.  Some of them, senators, were involved in slowing down the certification process for Biden.  With the encouragement and pressure from Trump, some of them were involved as conduits for undermining the credibility of the presidential election.  And thus for setting in motion the violent protests that occurred in Washington D.C.

            Unfortunately, the Trumpian craziness will persist, because of the influence of something that is part of the modern landscape.  Until we can find a way to reconfigure the fields of experience today, adding much more organic stimulation to the mix, and cutting down drastically on the immersion in screen reality, the Trumpian problem will persist.  And it’s not just about Trump anyway.

© 2021 Laurence Mesirow




Juvenile Difficulties With Learning During The Age Of Covid

            Two articles ago, I wrote on the effects of the interaction between Covid and modern consumer technology on the socialization of young people today.  In this article, I want to focus on the effects of this interaction on the education of young people today.  In particular, I want to focus on the effects of learning through all the two-dimensional imagery from computers.  One might say that books only give off the two-dimensional imagery of letters, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and whole pages.  But letters and words are symbols that stimulate a lot of conceptual thought, which knows no boundaries in terms of physical dimensions.  On the other hand, watching screens definitely though subtly molds thinking in a particular bound way.  Watching a lot of images on a two-dimensional screen definitely interferes with the development of deep thinking. On the other hand, book reading does lend itself to deeper thinking.  Book reading is a combination of defined discrete entities in thoughts moving across the page in flowing blendable continual imagery.  All radiating out in many different directions.

            Screen learning, which is what many students are doing during the age of Covid, configures the mind to be receptive to entities and images that in many cases started out physically three-dimensional (the professor or teacher and his class presentation) and get converted by the computer into visually two-dimensional entities and images.  There is something unreal, almost ghostly about these entities and images.  They lack mass, matter, substance and texture.  There is nothing physical to touch or hold onto.  These entities and images are abstracted vacuumized phenomena with which it is much more difficult to bond than if they were three-dimensional phenomena or even conceptual phenomena from books.

            When all is said and done, our ability to mentally group concepts together corresponds to our potential to physically group things together.  Stereoscopic (three-dimensional vision) is like a kind of prehensile vision – vision that touches and grasps.  When we eliminate three-dimensional (stereoscopic) vision from learning, we eliminate one of the most important senses for knowing the world.  And we put our students into an experiential vacuum.  A vacuum where it is difficult to bond with the knowledge that students are supposed to learn.  Covid and consumer technology make it very difficult to bond with knowledge and with the teachers that present it.  And less bonding means less absorption.

            Stereoscopic vision, which is prehensile vision is the way we use sight not only to bond with other people and fully grasp objects and other phenomena, but it is also the way we have to ground ourselves in our living environments.  But if students continue to spend so much of their time in front of computers, not only will they lose the opportunity to spend a lot of time with sources for prehensile vision in the external world, but they will also lose the opportunity to fully develop the capacity to utilize their prehensile vision.  And they will remain stuck in the experiential vacuum that is two-dimensional vision.  And being stuck in this two-dimensional vacuum means being stuck in numbness. A numbness that will make it more difficult for them to group in a three-dimensional way the concepts and the information that they have to learn in school.  Screen reality learning can’t hurt short-term learning where all knowledge has to do is temporarily stick to the mind as it were.  But screen reality learning will affect long-term learning, where knowledge has to be grasped and held.  A situation when imprints made on the mind can be fully preserved.

             Screen learning is not a form of vibrant learning.  It just does not involve the kind of intense interaction with the subject which leads to a lasting impression from the encounter. And yet this is becoming the foundation for learning in the age of Covid.  And young people, at an important time in their lives are not developing their eyes and their brains in such a way that they can properly absorb, and utilize stereoscopic visual experience.  Without strong prehensile vision, young people don’t develop the capacity to hold onto and to apply and commit thoughts to situations in the external world.  Hence, the high turnover in employment in companies, the growing amount of divorce, the growing amount of physical mobility, as people lose the capacity to commit to a geographic place.  Finally, there is the growing loss of capacity to commit to oneself.  The numbness generated by screen learning is overpowering and makes it subtly more difficult to hold onto oneself as a coherent whole. Floating in a vacuum and not being able to bond or ground can lead to focused self-destructive actions to fight off the entropic disintegration generated by the vacuum.  One form of self-destruction to fight off a more subtle but larger destruction of the self.

            So stereoscopic or prehensile vision is often overlooked, but does have an important role in human development.  And too much immersion in online learning as a result of Covid will therefore lead to pathological consequences for young people in the distant future.

© 2021 Laurence Mesirow 

Finding A Deeper Honesty In Today’s World


                        When we hear the word honesty, we think of a concept that is fairly simple and straightforward.  But actually honesty serves two distinct purposes in life.  First, when someone is honest with someone else, it allows the two of them to share in an intersubjective, if not objective reality about a situation. This, in turn, allows the two of them to work and function more effectively in the situation.  Second, honesty allows the second person, if he knows he is receiving the truth, to open himself up emotionally to the first person, thus creating a deeper emotional bond.  The first situation leads to anchoring.   One is weighted down to the floor without attaching to it.  And people are juxtaposed without being emotionally merged.  The second situation leads to grounding.  One develops roots to attach to the ground.  Here people deep-bond with one another as well as ground in one another.

            Modern technological society, with all of its interchangeable machine parts, is very conducive to anchoring.  To come together, people share factual truths with one another in order to help themselves keep their complex machines and their increasingly mechanized social groupings operating effectively.  Factual truths are meant to help both individuals and groups trust one another which is the foundation of any successful group activity.

            Emotional honesty is something different.  It is an honesty that allows people to come together and deep bond and partially merge.  This involves a greater vulnerability of oneself.  A deeper opening up not only to the possibility of connection, but also to the possibility of hurt and even abandonment.

            Now these two kinds of honesty don’t always complement each other.  Should a husband tell his wife if she doesn’t look good in a new dress that she loves.  Some people might say that being honest in this case is being brutally frank.  That it disrupts the flow of emotional commitment by temporarily hurting the wife.  But you say, being emotionally honest means being able to trust what a person says.  The wife should appreciate that her husband loved her enough that he wanted to let her know when she was making what in his opinion was the wrong decision in buying the dress.  Unfortunately, some spouses would rather be lied to than to confront that kind of truth.

            And how does one deal with the situation where a parent manipulates a child’s school records in order to get him into a good college or university.  On one level, the child can maintain his sense of trust that his parent loves him and is there for him.  But this is done at the cost of the presentation of the factual truth to the external world.  Certainly, this would have repercussions in the child’s ability to believe his parent in other factual situations, even when the child is to some extent complicit in the parent’s fabrications.

            I would say that emotional truths and emotional honesty have been of greater importance in most more traditional societies while factual truths and factual honesty are of greater importance in modern technological society.  In a vacuum and tension-pocket society, where there are few natural physical spaces to ground and deep-bond, people are much more likely to focus on the factually accurate rather than the emotionally sustainable in dealing with problems of honesty.  Factual honesty may be very good for keeping a society running like a machine.  But when a person is as numb as most people are today, it is hard for such a person to not only be emotionally honest with himself, to love himself, and to be committed to himself, but also to be able to emotionally bond with others.

            In an ideal world, a person could have a balance between feeling grounded and feeling anchored.  There would be a perfect balance between traditional components and modern technological components in one’s living environment.  But time and life march on and such states of balance are like fleeting moments, if they ever really exist at all.  Right now, for the most part, there are imbalances towards factual honesty and away from emotional honesty.  Some people, as in the case of the parents who bend the facts of their child’s records so the child can get into a good school, overcompensate in their attempt to promote their emotional honesty over factual honesty leading to disastrous results.  This is not the way to show emotional commitment, but if one is numb, perhaps it is an attempt to blast through the numbness with emotional expression to prove to oneself that he is being emotionally honest.

            For most people today, the major cause for concern is an imbalance towards factual honesty.  And this corresponds to the way that modern technological society is set up with its focus on anchoring rather than grounding. Anchoring does not promote the deep connections to the external world that grounding does.  One can easily disconnect and break away from an anchor and float off in a vacuum.  So the key is to try to get connected to more natural environments or patches of natural environments.  These environments can act as templates for deeper bonding with other people and a healthier more balanced life where a large dose of emotional honesty can play a role.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow


Juvenile Social Isolation In The Age Of Covid

             Nowadays, there is a lot of concern expressed regarding the education of our children during Covid.  There is, of course, concern expressed regarding the potential dangers for these children having in-person classes.  So far, for kindergarten through 12th grade, there have been no major outbreaks of the illness among children physically attending school.  A different kind of concern has been repeatedly discussed regarding those children getting all or the bulk of their education online.  Such children experience social isolation as a result of not being able to physically mingle to some degree with their classmates in the external world.  Such children supposedly do not have the opportunity to develop the social skills necessary to becoming a fully functional human being.  My own feeling is that there is a legitimate reason to be worried, although, given the nature of Covid and how it can attack the teachers as well as students, it is certainly understandable that many school districts have implemented online learning.

            A larger question is why are so many people focused on the issue of social isolation only since Covid.  Covid has made things worse, but Covid definitely did not start the trend toward social isolation among young people.  If parents and educators are concerned about the loss of social skills among children, they can look to the growing non-educational use of computers and video games.  Over and over again, one hears stories about children who don’t want to go out to play after school with their friends, because they are so transfixed with their video games and with their social media.  As was pointed out in a previous article there are cases of kids who wear diapers so they wouldn’t have to interrupt a video game contest or tournament by going to the bathroom.  These are children for whom screen reality replaced external world reality as the dominant form of experience long before Covid came on the scene.  Perhap, Covid, by forcing adults to pay attention to an area of children’s experience for which they are directly responsible, has also forced adults to come to grips with what the increasing dominance of screen reality is doing to these children’s lives.

            The classic scene that gets conjured up in my mind is that of a group of pre-teen children sitting together in pre-Covid days, each one of which is texting a child who is somewhere else and not a part of the group.  It was so hard for these kids to connect through primary experience in external world reality with another kid who was sitting next to them.  Because of all the time that kids spend on their devices, they lose the capacity to connect with others in the external world, and to absorb such more intimate encounters.  As time goes on, more and more of these now grownup kids have trouble holding their marriages and their relationships with their significant others together.  The more time that people spend in screen reality, the more difficulty they will have bonding in close relationships.

            Now from what I will call the transition generations (people who first embraced modern technology well into late adolescence or young adulthood), the effects of this technology are definitely present, but more subtle.  We don’t know for sure what will happen to the kids who were first exposed to modern consumer technology as young children, but we can safely predict that it will lead to more and more lonely people who are incapable of properly absorbing what they so desperately need and want.

            Covid is temporarily at least making things worse if only because people aren’t so much being gently seduced into social distancing as they are being compelled to socially distance by, among other things, stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.  And when people do gather together at large parties, weddings, or religious services they are shamed and rebuked by the larger society.  So Covid is reinforcing the intentions of technology companies that want to make their devices and their software the main conduits of human communication.

            On the other hand, the fact that Covid is highlighting the situation of excessive immersion by young people in screen reality, and the resulting social isolation may have some long-term beneficial effects.  It will force teachers, educators, social workers and, most important of all, parents to come to grips with what is happening to the young people in their charge.  Hopefully, the adults in the lives of these young people will start focusing on ways to diminish the influence and control of this increasingly persuasive addiction.  In particular, maybe parents will start to realize that spending quality time with their children does not mean sitting next to them while they watch one television program after the next.  With Covid still around, parents can read to younger kids and play games and do crafts with children of all ages.  This will go a long way to alleviate social isolation at a time when it may be a little problematic for children from different households to play together.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow

Ageing In An Age Of Planned Obsolescence

             The other day, I was in a discussion with about 10 other people – all seniors – about aging.  The moderator asked all of us what was the first thing that we thought of when we thought about ageing.  Most people said deterioration, falling apart, or words to that effect.  Getting ready for the end.  It was all about going downhill.  This is very different from the way ageing is perceived in traditional societies.  There, older people are venerated for their wisdom and treated with great respect.  In traditional societies, older people are seen as being refined over a long period of time like an aged cheese or an aged wine.

            But in modern technological society, ageing is something that is not to be looked forward to.  A growing loss of respect leads to a sense of isolation.  Not only does ageing lead to a loss of physical grounding in one’s body, but it can lead to a loss of social grounding in one’s community.  An older person is seen as a repository of infirmities rather than a repository of memories and insights.  Older children frequently don’t live close to their parents, and so the parents lack a vital support system.  They end up in an experiential vacuum, living lives of boredom and numbness.

            The biggest problem we have in modern technological society, leading to incomplete distorted attitudes towards older people, is that we continually implicitly compare people to computers and other forms of machines.  We talk about people being “wired” for this and “wired” for that.  The last I looked there were no wires in the human body.  But we also look at the human body as a machine in another way.  We think that humans, like machines, have a planned obsolescence built into them.  That they simply deteriorate as they get older and that nothing, at least nothing that matters, improves.  This is why there is so much ageism in the modern workplace.  An older worker may not have the energy or volume of productivity of a younger worker.  But frequently, what we call wisdom can lead to an improvement of the quality of the work output.  Age does have its advantages.

            A machine is an entity made up of detachable interchangeable parts.  Parts can be continually replaced until it is concluded that it is no longer worth the money to keep the machine going.  A human is an entity made up of parts that are not easily detachable.  Yes, sometimes artificial parts are used to replace defective body parts as with hip and knee replacements.  And sometimes, organic parts are used to replace defective organs as with hearts and kidneys.  But the replacement of parts in humans is much more complicated than the replacement of parts in a machine in that there is a much greater likelihood of damaging the human’s total health in the process of the replacement.  Parts in humans are just not easily replaceable.  Which is why surgeons make so much more money than mechanics.  You can’t just screw off or screw on parts with humans.  A human forms an organic whole in a way that a computer or a machine does not form a mechanical whole.  A human is valued as a whole entity or should be much more than a computer or a machine.

            And this is why the comparison - both direct and implicit – between humans, on the one hand, and computers or machines is so dangerous.  It diminishes the value of humans.  And to see humans as they age completely in terms of planned obsolescence gives a person, as he gets older, really nothing to look forward to.  Because the things that are holding him together –  including even a coherent sense of self – just aren’t as significant as the things that are pulling him apart.

            And if a person, as he gets older, is unable to find people around him who value him for his qualities as an older person, that person has to find ways of maintaining his self-esteem by valuing himself.  And to find ways of valuing himself, he must first diminish his interfacing with consumer technology, and in particular, the technology of screen reality.  This unconscious interfacing will cause him to allow these modern machines to mirror him and to model for him and to plant a more robotic identity inside of him.  As a person gets older, he must find a way to increase the primary experience from the external world in his life so that he can continue to make, receive and preserve organic imprints so that he can feel more vibrantly alive and prepare for death when it does come with a meaningful surrogate immortality.  There should be no reason why a person can’t continue to develop some kind of a strong life narrative well into old age and thus, have something of value to live for.  So that he doesn’t have to see himself simply as a series of rusting body parts.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow

Are Private Militias Going To Take Over The World

             Since Trump became president, there has been an enormous growth of private militias in the United States.  There are a few reasons for this.  One of them is based on pure racism.  There is a white nationalist underpinning to the formation of many of these groups.  A lot of the members of these groups are afraid of what is going to happen to white people when white people become the minority race in the U.S.  So these militias feel an obligation to physically defend white people against what is seen as any possible threat - physical, psychological or social – from non-white people, among which Jews naturally are included.

            Another reason is to defend themselves against all sorts of perceived threats to their personal liberties.  The right to bear arms, the right to graze cattle on government land, the right not to wear masks or not to follow the rules for a lock down or for stay-at-home orders.  The right to keep businesses open during the pandemic.

            But militias are definitely not exclusive to the U.S.  Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, the Philippines, even Europe, all have ongoing problems with militias.  And these places all seem to have one thing in common: a breakdown in the grounding provided by the state.  When the state can no longer help to provide people with social stability, economic security, or personal safety, people are forced to fall back on their own resources for self-protection.  And in a militia, the whole collective protects each individual.

            However, not all militias are populist phenomena.  Many militias are private armies created by a wealthy person to protect himself, his family and his cronies.  The soldiers in this militia are mercenaries, soldiers of fortune who enjoy fighting.  These kinds of militias are usually found in Third World countries, where there is a great deal of political turmoil.  The state is weak and income inequality is pronounced.  And wealthy people feel extremely vulnerable.

            So what do all these different kinds of militias have in common?  They are all attempts to bind people together in a defined discrete entity as a form of protection when social grounding is disintegrating and when the numbing entropic effects of a social experiential vacuum are making themselves felt.  Social grounding is definitely falling apart in a lot of Third World countries where, because of ongoing income inequality and religious zealotry, the state has always been and still is fragile.  And in Central Europe, militias have been created to deal with the growing migration from African and Middle Eastern countries.  These immigrants are perceived to be disruptive culturally as well as economically.

            But perhaps another level of causation is at work here.  All over the world, people are experiencing the numbing entropic effects of modern technology.  These effects are subtle and almost imperceptible, on the one hand, but overpowering and enveloping on the other.  Which is why they are not normally taken into consideration as causal factors in human life.  To pull out of the numbness and feel alive today, people feel a need to create new conflicts or to exacerbate preexisting conflicts.  So underneath the surface situations of racial and ethnic competition, religious intolerance and economic inequality, there is this basic structural problem of a lack of organic stimulation.

            And becoming a part of a militia is a wonderful way to become focused and alert and to feel vibrantly alive.  In the Middle Ages, lords defended the vassals and peasants that were under them and that had sworn allegiance to them, doing it with their own armies.  This was at a time when there weren’t strong formal nation states.  Security could only be provided by the equivalent of modern militias.  Except that the backdrop during the Middle Ages was not the experiential vacuum created by modern technology.  Instead it was the passionate emotions generated by living closer to nature.  The militias of the Middle Ages were built as an attempt to control and focus the passionate emotions generated by all the organic stimuli from the more traditional and natural environments in which people lived.

            The question today is as modern technology takes over more and more areas of life, will the use of militias continue to grow as people feel more and more insecure not simply as a result of projected enemies, but as a result of a growing enveloping experiential vacuum.  The supposed enemy is the surface cause, the surface excuse.  In fact, the real enemy is intangible, but nevertheless very present.  Unless we find a way to balance out this modern technology with more organic stimuli, more grounding from more traditional and natural environments, the use of militias to fight in vain against the bad effects of numbness and the experiential vacuum will continue to grow.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow 

When Life Doesn’t Smell Right


It is encouraging to see that there are still some people around who are interested in propping up one of the five senses that is normally pushed aside in the technological transformation of society.  In terms of smell, not only is it not important in the interaction between humans and machines, but its use is being further diminished as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.  It is hard to smell when one is wearing a mask much of the time.  And loss of smell is a distinguishing symptom among many people who contract Covid 19.

So the Odeuropa project could hardly come at a better time. It is a project being developed by some scientists and historians to recreate the aromas, the scents, the odors and the stenches that inhabited Europe between the 16th century and the early 20th century.  Everything from the scent of perfume to the stench of waste products.  Smells have not been discussed much in the narratives of historians and the ethnographies of cultural anthropologists that I have read.  It’s always the events and the thoughts as conveyed by sights and sounds.  What these modern investigators of Odeuropa are trying to put out there is that smells have played a more important role in human experience than has been previously admitted by social scientists.

Smell is a more grounding sense.  Not as grounding as touch, but much more grounding than sight or hearing.  And yet as life has become increasingly mediated as a result of modern technology, because modern technology has not found a way to easily replicate or utilize smell, it becomes less and less available and more difficult for people to absorb.  People shower constantly because they can’t stand the smell of their own bodies or, for that matter, the smells of bodies of other people.  And yet, because it has been discovered that many people are allergic to perfume and cologne, these people are not using scented chemicals to replace the washed-away body scents and odors.  Such people end up with no body smell at all.  They create an olfactory experiential vacuum.

But I would submit a positive olfactory sensory connection is a sensory connection that helps people to bond with one another.  Just like a strong olfactory sensory connection can help a person ground in his living environment.  Smell is a form of sensory merger.  A person sends off chemical molecules that another person absorbs and becomes one with.  The smell is a part that represents a whole coming together.

People tend to take showers or baths every day now, not only because of concerns about cleanliness, but because they don’t like the way they smell and they are worried that others don’t like the way they smell either.  Life is becoming more mediated not only in terms of visual and auditory life experience, but in terms of olfactory life experience as well.  And the more mediated their life experience becomes, the less people are capable of absorbing those aspects of olfactory primary experience that remain.  People are certainly less tolerant of stench today than they would have been in the 16th century when there was no indoor plumbing like we have today.  But more and more people also seem to be intolerant of the scents of perfumes and colognes.  There are more and more scent-free work and residential environments, because of people who have allergies to what should be considered pleasant scents.  So what would have happened to all the traditional cultures that have used perfume and colognes as a means to compensate for infrequent bathing.

By bathing as often as we do, we turn our bodies into olfactory sensory vacuums.  We avoid one very important way by which people can bond with one another.  Furthermore, very few of us regularly use scented candles or incense as a way to add an olfactory dimension to our living environments.  And when we go outside in urban areas, most of the olfactory stimuli that we encounter are abrasive stimuli: fumes from cars and industrial fumes.  These are truly stimuli that we have difficulty absorbing.

So the olfactory stimuli that we most commonly encounter today are machine-created abrasive stimuli, which, as mammalian humans, we are unable to properly absorb.  Nevertheless, as we try to live with these abrasive olfactory stimuli as well as the vacuum olfactory stimuli from the excessive sanitation we utilize in our daily lives, we develop difficulties absorbing the organic olfactory stimuli we should be absorbing.  So we repress the olfactory stimuli of our own bodies by constantly showering and bathing.  And most of us don’t use scented candles or incense.  And many people today don’t want to use perfume or cologne.

So our access to and our ability to absorb organic olfactory stimuli has been very effectively curtailed as a result of our encounters with modern technology.  We can only hope that the Odeuropa project will give us a new appreciation for the undervalued sense of smell.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow 








Mother Nature Is Not So Maternal Anymore


            Nature has played a very important role in the discussions presented in this column.  Nature is the foundational source of the organic stimuli for which human nervous systems were built. Most of the time, it presents stimuli within the range that we can most easily absorb.  These stimuli are neither too abrasive, too overwhelming nor too low-key or frictionless.  In other words, nature becomes the source of our physical and emotional grounding.  This positive side of nature acts as a template for human interaction and, in particular, human bonding.  Without at least some aspects of nature in our daily living environment, human society would fall apart.  This is distinct from all the animal, vegetable and mineral products that nature provides humans.  But what is important to think about is that nature, as commonly viewed, is not simply a source of things to consume, but rather a whole enveloping ambiance to absorb.  Many of us appreciate this distinction when we take our walks in the park or our trips to the country.  We become reconnected to ourselves, feel at one with ourselves.  Chicago, my home town, has the motto of Urbs In Hortus (City in a Garden) because most residential streets have patches of grass and trees between the streets and sidewalks as well as lawns between the sidewalks and homes.  Boulevards have greenery and trees on median strips.  And apart from the big parks, there are a lot of small parks strategically located throughout the city.  This is all wonderful, and it is nature at its tamest and most accessible.

            But nature doesn’t always behave so nicely.  Nowadays, nature is creating a whole series of new twists to the wild unruly behavior that frequently made humans feel so fragile and perishable in the days before modern technology came into its own.  Climate change is multiplying and exacerbating the natural catastrophes that drove people to modern technology as a vehicle for rising above the perishability of nature.  Except that our interventions to control nature have begun to have the opposite effect.  The effects of technology have so disrupted nature that our relationship to nature is, in a strange way, beginning to look as powerless as before the creation of modern technology.  All the heat waves with the resulting wild fires, the proliferation of hurricanes and tornadoes, the increase in earthquakes due to fracking, the breakup of traditional weather patterns in different regions of the world, the rising water levels of the oceans that threaten to swallow up coastal communities as well as islands.  The earth is definitely not what it used to be as a result of the increasing use of fossil fuels.  And even were we to switch now to solar, wind and biomass for the majority of our energy needs, the earth would not suddenly return back to “normal”.

            And then there is the problem of the pandemic, which has been so disruptive.  The pandemic is not so much the result of a misplaced attempt to control nature as it is an attempt interact with nature in inappropriate ways.  HIV supposedly entered the world of humans as a result of a human-chimpanzee sexual liaison in Africa.  By the same token, Covid 19 entered the world of humans as a result of the consumption of wild animal meat in China.  Meat from bats or meat from an animal like a civet or pangolin that had been kept close to the bats.  I know that the theory has been questioned by many since it was first proposed.  But many other pandemics have been started by human contact with animals, so it seems to me that at some point, humans went to bat caves in China.  And why would they go if it wasn’t for the potential meat.

            So humans destroy nature as a result of the mediation of technology.  And then they try to commune with nature in inappropriate ways as a desperate attempt to try to gain some pockets of  extreme organic stimulation and thus feel more vibrantly alive.  Except that the organic stimuli that they target are stimuli that they are unable to properly absorb because of the microbes involved.  And in the case of Covid 19, this then leads to withdrawing even more from many aspects of the world of primary experience into the increasingly mediated world of Zoom.

            So we are now at the point where we are confronted with two distinct worlds of experience: a technological world which is increasingly bland, sterile and numbing and a natural world which, because of climate change and pandemics, is becoming increasingly dangerous.  And people become more inclined to rely on the technological world, because of the surface safety that it offers.  And less inclined to rely on the natural world, which should be the main source of grounding in human lives, but which instead has been gradually moving to swallow people up.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow 

How Trump And The Republicans Influence Their Followers

            Pollsters and pundits are beating their heads against the wall trying to figure out how they got it so wrong in their predictions for American elections.  Nobody thought that the presidential race was going to be so close.  Everybody thought it was going to be a blowout for Biden.  And as for the Congressional races, rather than picking up seats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats actually lost seats.  Finally, rather than picking up perhaps five or six seats in the Senate, as the experts had predicted would happen, the Democrats have picked up just one.  Yes, there is the possibility of more seats from the runoff elections in Georgia.  But, by now, the Democrats should have been able to develop a comfortable lead in senate seats.  It didn’t materialize.

So what are we to make of this?  What is the cause of the fairly decent showing by Trump and the Republicans in the elections?  On one level, we can say that, even though he lost, some seventy million voters remained loyal to Trump.  And what generated his support?  Here we get into the idea that I have proposed that Trump is a wild free-floating figure who shocks people out of the incredible numbness they feel living in modern technological society and the experiential vacuum that it creates.  And as for the Republicans in Congress, they make people feel abrasively alive by a policy and philosophy that is very punishing to the average workers. These, on one level, rather than being focused defined discrete causes are very subtle seemingly infinite vacuumized causes.  The vacuum leads to wild and abrasive reactions from Trump and the Republicans which lead to strong support from the Republican masses.  These are just not the kinds of causes you can point your finger at and say “This is it!”

But the modern world is almost exclusively concerned with finding defined discrete causes for everything that they can.  And this is, of course, the result of the fact that people today rely on science, technology, math and logic as the only principal sources of truth.  And data, formulas, and logical statements are the main meaningful units of truth today.

            As I have stated previously, there are at least two other meaningful categories of causes to consider.  There are blurry flowing blendable continual causes that are very difficult to pin down in terms of when and why they start.  When exactly and why do two people fall in love?  When and why does a riot start?  Why do some performers become very popular and others not so much?  The responses would be very ambiguous.

            Finally, there are the infinite vacuumized causes generated by the vacuum of space that underlies everything in the universe and, in particular, the experiential vacuum that people experience a lot in modern technological society.  This is the most subtle category of cause of all, which is why I spend so much time focusing on it in this column.

            The reason so many people spend time today on puzzles – whether crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or jigsaw puzzles or watch television shows like “Jeopardy” or “Wheel of Fortune” is that they all reduce life to the first kind of causality.  Life becomes a defined discrete problem to be solved.  And this is the way we gain control over it.  A straight line series of steps or points on a pathway to a solution.

            The flowing blendable continual paths of causality are too blurry to be controlled in the same way.  No wonder most people in modern technological society try to diminish their importance.  The best way to deal with these paths of causality is to flow with them, to commune with them, to experience them and feel more vibrantly alive because of them.  Trying to control this kind of causal pathway is impossible.  They are not susceptible to logic or science.

            Finally, there are the infinite vacuumized causal pathways which have led to all the strong psychopathology we see in modern humans.  Just as in a physical vacuum where there is a random distribution of atoms, so a vacuumized numb mind leads to randomized pathological behavior, which is intended to shock a person back to life and out of the vacuum.  On the one hand, the vacuum can lead a person into a life of stillness, numbness, even psychological paralysis.  On the other hand, it can lead to abrasive, aggressive destructive action.  Many of these destructive actions can be found among Trump supporters who are definitely trying to shock the American society by refusing to admit defeat.

            Yes, I know some people will point out positive vacuum causal pathways like a vacuum that is conducive to being involved in certain activities like meditation, yoga, pot and some other drugs.  But none of these activities is conducive to an active engagement with life.  Instead, they lead to a passive fatalistic mediated approach to a life that frequently also becomes increasingly engaged in screen reality.  Not the kind of approach conducive to making and preserving strong organic imprints and building a personal surrogate immortality in preparation for death.  In truth, with the pervasiveness of modern screen reality, living a rich vibrant life is difficult indeed.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow



Trying To Absorb That Which Keeps Us Human

            One of the major points that has been brought up repeatedly in this column since its inception is that modern technological living environments create configurations of stimuli that are difficult for humans to absorb.  These configurations of stimuli can have elements that are both understimulating and overstimulating.  They are the foundation for vacuum and tension-pocket living environments.  These environments are the major sources of sensory distortion for humans in today’s world.  They are environments that don’t produce the organic stimuli that humans normally need to survive and thrive.

            Yet obviously humans have found some ways to somehow adjust to this sensory distortion.  Adjust but not totally adapt.  How does a mammalian human being totally adapt to the tension –pocket noises and fumes of a modern factory or the experiential vacuum created by all the different devices involved with screen reality.  The only way of totally adapting would be to become a machine oneself.  A robot or an android or a cyborg.  Then one could more fully interact with the other machines and the computers, and the Internet of Things and the 3-D printers and the augmented and virtual realities and all the other available manifestations of modern technology.  It would be like immersed with like.

            But humans are too mammalian to be able to fully absorb mechanical and digital stimuli.  They feel the presence of these mechanical and digital stimuli without fully absorbing them.  These mechanical and digital stimuli – defined discrete stimuli – leave impersonal marks on people’s minds rather than leaving organic imprints.  As a result they can create either non-enduring memories or overwhelming traumas but no easily absorbable coherent memories that can be useful for creating personal surrogate immortalities in preparation for death.

            So it is practically impossible for humans to fully adapt to the sensory distortion created by the mechanical and digital stimuli that come from modern technological living environments.  The key problem here is the lack of capacity to absorb and assimilate these technologically-based stimuli.  To absorb something is to introject it but with an implication of doing it in a more intimate tactile way.  Yet, as has been discussed before, touch is one of the senses the importance of which is diminished in the configurations of stimuli created in modern technological fields of experience.  Which is why absorption as a metaphor for touch is such a difficult process to carry out today.

            And with a dearth of organic experience to be able to absorb, it becomes very difficult to construct meaningful life narratives that carry a person from the beginning to the end of his life.  Because a person is not simply where he is at a given point in time but rather the whole flow of experiences he has absorbed from his birth to his present day.  And this includes both the organic imprints of experiences he has received from others as well as the organic imprints that he himself has created.  Without the flow of these organic imprints, a person becomes, to a great extent, the sum of a series of disconnected isolated impersonal events.  And so the person becomes a series of chopped-up life situations to which he has adjusted, not fully adapted, on his life path.  But without an organic temporal flow, there is no coherence in his sense of self.  And a person without a coherent sense of self is a person who is well on his way to becoming a robot.  And to avoid this outcome, this is why it is important for a person to be able to properly absorb the life situations to which he is exposed.  Which is why it is important that a person be able to literally and metaphorically touch that with which he comes into contact.

            To simply adjust to sensory distortion is not enough if one wants to be able to lead a healthy functional life.  Adjust in this case means giving up so much of that which makes a person essentially human.  Granted that we all, nevertheless, have to deal with modern technological environments to some extent in order to survive today.  It is the world in which we live.  But, at least, in those moments of time we can call our own, we don’t have to voluntarily always utilize modern technology for recreation.  During Covid, we will use Zoom to communicate with others.  But we can also have primary experiences with people with whom we choose to form a bubble.  We can engage in hobbies and avocations.  We can do exercise, take walks in parks.  We don’t have to sit glued to a screen reality.  In other words, we can find experiences that we can fully absorb as humans, rather than simply adjust to.  We can try to find those life situations to which we can fully adapt to.

            Now it is important to realize that many of us have spent so much time adjusting to modern technology that we have paradoxically lost our capacity to fully absorb the organic stimuli that our mammalian natures were meant to absorb.  The best metaphor I can think of for dealing with this situation is to think of how scuba divers have to come to the surface slowly so as not to create any major medical problems like the bends.  People who have been very separated from organic stimuli for a long time have to reintroduce it into their lives gradually so as not to be overwhelmed by it.  It took a period of time for these people to become separated from their mammalian natures; it will take time to reconnect with them.

            But eventually, it is very important that we can find life situations where we can fully absorb what we encounter, if we want to stay psychologically healthy.  Humans aren’t meant to be robots or cyborgs or androids or even avatars.  And trying to adjust to life situations where they have to behave like technologically-based non-humans creates psychopathology that is detrimental not only to individuals, but within the larger picture of things, to groups, communities, nations and all of humanity as well.

(c) 2020 Laurence Mesirow 

The New Normal Won’t Be Very Normal

            The main question on everyone’s mind today is when will things return to the way that they were before the pandemic.  When will things return to “normal”?   Okay, not everybody is asking this question.  Many people are realistic enough to understand that the pandemic has changed some things irrevocably.  But still there is the hope that someday we will have vaccines that afford us enough protection that we don’t always have to wear masks, or socially distance.  That we can go to restaurants, doctors’ appointments, parties and gatherings of all sorts, without being constantly afraid of this awful virus.  And we can go to schools and offices without fear of getting terribly sick.

            Now the virus has created greater hardship for some people than others.  Yet everyone on the planet has been adversely affected to some extent.  But, for some people, like many of the members of my entrepreneurial group, it has primarily provided an opportunity to segue into new forms of screen reality.  If they had their way, business meetings, doctors’ appointments and many other forms of human encounters would all be conducted from now on with Zoom.  So much more efficient in the use of people’s time.  So much cleaner and crisper as a form of human experience.  All the boundaries between people are neatly laid out.  These members eagerly look forward to creating a new normal rather than returning to the old normal.  There doesn’t seem to be that much hardship for them in physically isolating from other people as long as they have Zoom.

            But, for some people, there are two levels of hardship connected to Covid.  There is having to be physically isolated from other people.  And there is also having to use Zoom as the only way of staying connected to these people from where they are physically isolated.  For these people, it means immersing themselves in two different levels of numbness. 

On the other hand, one might almost say that for the modern technocrat, the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise.  It is forcing people to use new levels of technological mediation and to integrate this mediation as a part of their daily lives.  Whether or not on some level, it proves to be a hardship for them.

            And yes, hardship does not have to be something that is gratingly painful like extreme poverty, surviving a natural catastrophe like a wildfire or hurricane, or working on a chain gang.  These may be examples of more traditional organic forms of hardship.  But in today’s modern technological world, discomfort and even a kind of numb pain can paradoxically come from a loss of opportunity to have readily available external world sensation.  There is, in other words, a hardship that comes from the encompassing numbness of the experiential vacuum.

            So the excessive isolation that is resulting from the Covid pandemic and that is leading to an increasing use of Zoom for human communication is leading to a totally different kind of hardship from that which we normally would consider hardship.  And the use of Zoom, which is a form of screen reality that is increasingly replacing external world reality, is leading to the loss of use of stereoscopic vision, of smell, of taste, and, very importantly, of touch.  This means that Zoom is transforming our field of experience into a sensation-poor living environment.  If this is the new normal, the loss of these more intimate immediate forms of sensation will create a hardship from a loss of sensory connection and grounding.  And over time, the loss of opportunity to be stimulated along these more intimate immediate sensory pathways, will lead to difficulty in absorbing these overlooked stimuli even if and when they should present themselves.

            When we think of a normal situation, we think of a situation where there is a stability created by a balance of forces or stimuli.  But for the majority of people who use Zoom regularly today, there is not going to be a stability in the balance of stimuli.  The new normal is going to create emotional and behavioral abnormalities.

            Now as I have said in the past, using Zoom during the pandemic is better than total visual isolation from one another.  I am just worried about what will happen assuming the pandemic subsides.  Will technocrats like the people I know from my entrepreneur group push in making Zoom a dominating vehicle for communication between people?  Will “normal” people feel overwhelmed by in-person interaction with other people?  Such people will be caught between two kinds of hardship.  On the one hand, they will continue to feel the pain caused by the numbness from too much exposure to the screen reality of Zoom.  On the other hand, they will feel the pain caused by a sense of being overwhelmed by the primary experience stimuli of external world reality when they become more accessible again after the Covid pandemic subsides.

            The opened-up field of experience will thus create a two-part disjunction for people.  It will create a state of being for people that will be anything but normal in the sense of stabilizing or grounding.  In this sense, we can say that the new normal won’t be very normal at all.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Third Component Of Emotional Disturbance

            Living environments have an enormous influence on the way that human beings live.  In more traditional living environments the influence has been even more acute.  International trade was not such a determining factor in the kinds of products that were used and consumed.  The foods that were eaten, the clothes that were worn, the tools that were used, the structures that provided shelter, the vehicles that provided transport were mostly derived from local materials and animals and plants.  And these local entities were very effective in helping people to survive in the particular ecosystems in which they found themselves.

            Nowadays, although some allowance is made for climate and culture, people in most parts of the world tend to consume much more similar products.  Modern technology has lifted people above the local ecosystem which used to provide people their grounding.  The grounding was not only a physical grounding, but a psychological grounding as well.  And although nature could create some catastrophic situations and events for them – situations and events that could result in traumatic experiences – living in and around nature could also provide psychological healing for people.  After the catastrophe, nature restores itself and, insofar as people work to restore their own damaged connections to nature, in the process, they tend to restore themselves psychologically.  Because the connections are seldom totally broken for traditional people.  Traditional people, in such situations, usually remain a part of the ecosystem in which they live.  And this natural ecosystem remains a template for traditional human interaction.  Sometimes, traditional people may hate one another, they may go to war with one another, but somehow they don’t seem to lose their organic connection to one another.

            Perhaps it’s because most traditional people, being more grounded in nature, are automatically more grounded in each other.  Their collective sense of self is more developed, and their individual sense of self is less so.  The grounding of nature is a template that allows people to deep-bond with one another.  And to form a collective sense of self that is much greater than the sum of the individual senses of self.  The strength of this collective sense of self lies in the flowing blendable continual stimuli, the organic stimuli that flow through the collective and give the collective coherence.  These stimuli help to cushion a person against the damaging effects of trauma.

            In contrast, in modern technological society, people are structurally separated from the grounding in nature.  Physically and psychologically, they live in an experiential vacuum filed with tension pockets of free floating figures.  In such an environment, people become isolated from one another.  In an environment filled with random defined discrete stimuli, people have to develop senses of self with strong definition in order to survive.  These people are subject to two kinds of overlapping psychological danger.  Assaults from free-floating figures (conflicts with people including family and friends, abrasive experiences with environmental tension pockets: noisy modern machinery, crowded modern urban areas, etc.) on the one hand, and pure numbness from the experiential vacuum on the other.  Freudian psychoanalysis started the focus on the traumas experienced by free-floating human figures – disruptive events that, with a vacuum backdrop, are not allowed to be easily reabsorbed in the person’s mind.  Instead, these events replay over and over again and affect the person in a lot of different pathological ways.  Isolated defined discrete senses of self are more brittle and therefore open to more cracks.  Now such a sense of self does have the advantage of being more free to act on the basis of individual volition.  However, the problem is that that individual volition may not always be able to protect the person.

And numbness generated by the frictionless mediated technological backdrop in the field of experience can create pathological effects independent of the traumas from the tension pockets of figures.  Numbness can cause people to sink inside themselves with depression and anxiety, on the one hand, or it can cause people to strike out with abrasive actions in the external world in order to feel more alive.  It can be drug addiction or other addictions, suicide, mass murders or other crimes of numbness.  It doesn’t matter that these abrasive actions are, in the long run, destructive to the person committing them.  For these people, the intensity of the experience before and during the self-destruction is worth it.

            Traditional psychotherapy has been built on the assumption that one can treat a patient, to a great extent, independent of the larger physical living environment in which he lives.  But, as has been indicated, the larger living environment can play a very important role in terms of how the sense of self is shaped and in terms of how negative emotional situations and events are processed.  There is no question but that negative emotional situations and events are magnified in an experiential vacuum, against a vacuum backdrop.

            One last thought.  The main reason the Islamic terrorists give themselves, their lives, so easily to their cause through suicide is that they have such a strong collective sense of self as a result of centuries of traditional living close to nature.  If they die, their families, their communities, their cause lives on.  Even the Saudi hijackers of the 911 attack may have been modern on the surface, but they came from a culture that moved into the modern technological world very quickly as a result of sudden oil wealth, which means that under that modern veneer, there was still a very strong traditional collective sense of self.  And finally, according to Islam, the souls of terrorists continue to live on in a very vibrant palpable immediate paradise.  Jihad suicide simply means to pass from one state of life to another.  And the second one is so much better to them.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow






The Importance Of Pain In Human Survival


             I know I have spent a lot of time in my column talking about the importance of organic stimuli in our lives and how the gradual erosion of our natural and traditional living environments has led to a diminution of organic stimuli.  I have frequently described these stimuli as flowing blendable continual stimuli that are like waves on the ocean or like the shifting shapes in a lava lamp.  These are the stimuli that move us to bond and to merge and to rejuvenate ourselves.  They are positive pleasurable stimuli.  However, not all situations in life are positive and pleasurable.  When we get sick or hurt ourselves, and particularly as we age, we experience more organic stimuli on the discomfort, ache and pain spectrum.  These stimuli have a greater component of defined discrete stimuli: sharp stimuli that literally or metaphorically tend to hit us, pinch us or sting us.  They warn us that we are dealing with dangers of a smaller or larger nature that have to be dealt with so that we don’t deteriorate and so that our capacity to survive is not affected.  Actually, many of these negative organic stimuli can be found in the areas of hard physical labor or more primitive living conditions.  The discomfort involved in a hard nasty and brutish life.   It is precisely this discomfort and the vulnerability to the negative aspects of nature – negative climate events, disease and wild animals among other things – that pushed people to protect themselves against nature with technological innovation.  Centuries of innovation have led to the successful use of technology and technology-created living environments to mediate between humans and nature, and, in the process to protect people against the negative aspects of nature.

            Now, although technologically-created products are diminishing discomfort, aches and pain in terms of people’s health, negative organic stimuli are still present to some extent in dealing with the external world.  However, in the areas of labor and living conditions, there have been improvements.  Certainly, the creators and controllers of the technology, the people who live in modern technological society, are living with fewer discomforts, aches and pains in their external world reality.  Now because modern technology makes more and more of life not only mediated but also frictionless, it tends to put people in experiential vacuums.  As the use of modern technology grows, so does the presence of these experiential vacuums, and so does the numbness that people experience.  So the opposite of pain is not always pleasure.  Sometimes, it is numbness.

            And sometimes the numbness prevents people from experiencing pain that they need to experience to prevent them from experiencing a greater pain later on.  Sometimes, people have to inoculate themselves with little pains to learn how to ward off big pains later on.  As modern technology leads us to live in more and more levels of mediated experience, we protect ourselves from the primary experience of pain (and frequently of pleasure too).  And as we go on living in our nice safe-on-the-surface numbness, we become increasingly incapable of picking up signs of the potential build-up of future big painful situations.  How long has it taken people to confront the reality of climate change?  And for those who have confronted it and accepted it, how long has it taken these people to realize that their lives may have to change significantly, if the human race is going to be able to survive the effects of climate change?  People are going to have to experience more pain now than they would have had to experience, if they had perceived the potentially devastating effects of climate change earlier.  But they were too numb to pick up on the signals before.  And the only reason some people are acknowledging climate change now is because some really painful experiences are occurring like the increased intensity of California wildfires and the increased frequency of Gulf Coast hurricanes.  But even here, many people and, in particular, many people in power all over the world, continue to live in deep numbness with regard to the increasing effects of climate change.  They are people who have prospered under the protective mediating umbrella of modern technology and they feel that they are capable of keeping real external world pain at arm’s length.

            A similar situation can be said to apply to the Covid pandemic in which we are living.  There had been warnings of a big pandemic coming for some time.  But we had refused to acknowledge it and to properly prepare for it.  And even after having been infected with Covid, Trump, and Bolsinaro still refuse to take the pandemic seriously.  And, as a result, the U.S. and Brazil have among the highest infection rates in the world.

            To many people, the mediation of modern technology gives them a sense that nature is always controllable and repressable.  These people have no preparation in their own lives for the unleashed pain that nature can cause.  Never having been put into the position where they had to manage significant amounts of external world pain and discomfort on a regular basis, when the pain of climate change or a pandemic comes along, they start living in denial.  They are unable to absorb the pain of these crises in a manageable way.  This is why, for instance, there are so many people who walk around today without masks and demonstrate their denial by saying that masks are limitations on their freedom.  Particularly in the affluent protected frictionless mediated United States.  Hopefully, there will still be enough people that are sensitive to pain and who can help us to deal effectively with both of these crises.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow