February 24th, 2003

you think you know...

"Well, you mend your clothes and patch your roof and slivers of God's shattered truth grow tender.."

This Sunday NYTimes Magazine has an interesting article suggesting that this tell-all, go back and dredge up all your traumatic memories, form of psycotherapy may actually not only not be helpful but may even be damaging. Which is not to say that its never good to talk about stuff, of course, but i think it’s a really good article. And score one for the Yankee grit mentality. :)

Repressors, others posit, may be protected by their presuppositions regarding -- and subsequent perceptions of -- stressful events, meaning that where you see a conflagration, they see a campfire, where you see a downpour, they see a drizzle. Still other researchers suggest that repressors are good at repressing because they can manipulate their attention, swiveling it away from the burned body or the hurting heart, and if that fails, they believe that they can cope with what befalls them. They think they're competent, those with the buttoned-up backs. Whether they really are or are not competent is not the issue; repressors, Ginzburg suggests, think they are, and anyone who has ever read ''The Little Engine That Could'' knows the power of thinking positively when it comes to making it over the mountain.


Girvani Leerer of Arbour-H.R.I. Hospital in Brookline, Mass., doesn't necessarily agree with my lock-and-key longings. ''Facing and talking about trauma is one of the major ways people learn to cope with it. They learn to understand their feelings and their experiences and to move out, beyond the event.''


And yet clinicians still resist the relevance of the Ginzburg findings. Bononno says, ''We just don't want to admit they could be true,'' and that's true. The repression results appear to insult more than challenge us, and this feeling of insult is almost, if not more, interesting than the findings themselves. We are offended. Why?

Alexis de Tocqueville might know. In 1831, when he came to this country, he observed as perhaps no one has since its essential character. Tocqueville saw our narcissism, our puritanism, but he also saw the romanticism that lies at the core of this country. We believe that the human spirit is at its best when it expresses; the individualism that Tocqueville described in his book ''Democracy in America'' rests on the right, if not the need, to articulate your unique internal state. Repression, therefore, would be considered anti-American, antediluvian, anti-art and terribly Teutonic. At its very American best, the self is revealed through pen and paint and talk. Tocqueville saw that this was the case. So did Emerson and Thoreau and of course Whitman, who upheld the ideas of transcendentalism, singing the soul, letting it all out.

But the resistance to repression goes back even further than the 19th century. Expression as healing and, consequently, repression as damaging can be found as far back as the second century, when the physician and writer Galen extended Hippocrates's theory that the body is a balance of four critical humors: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. Disease, especially emotional disease, Galen suggested, is the result of an internal imbalance among these humors, and healing takes place when the physician can drain the body, and soul, of its excess liquid weight. Toward this end, purging, emetics and leeches were used. Wellness was catharsis; catharsis was expression. It's easy to see our current-day talking cures and trauma cures as Galenic spinoffs, notions so deeply rooted in Western culture that to abandon them would be to abandon, in some senses, the philosophical foundations on which medicine and religion rest.
I also really like Dusty Miller’s psychotherapy, that focus on developing skills and strengths and moving forward with your life instead of dwelling on the past.
hermione by oatmilk

in which our lady proves she is capable of studiousness after all

The Big Caper does not excite me at all.

Pat Miller did it with her classes, and Kim told her classes about it. Kim’s students always wanted to it, so we get stuck actually doing it. But i don’t wanna.

If you want to be part of the greatest mob ever, email me back with a short creative/humorous anecdote about any talent/skills you have that would be an asset to the mob, or about your sense of adventure. Anything dramatic.

I don’t like role-playing stuff, and the idea of putting together some sort of handbook does not excite me. I’m up for researching the Mafia, though, and planning “the perfect crime” has appeal. And there will be 10 other people in my group. Doing this on top of all the rest of the work for that class, plus the work for all my other classes is really not appealing, though. But having written this all down, it looks much less worrisome.

AND, the Big Caper plus the end of semester group presentations on Murder American Style together count for 15% of our total grade, so even if i got a 0 on it i could pull off a B+ or better for the term i expect.

Kim: Part 3 of the exam is a potato chip.
Class: [confused murmurs] Do you mean a piece of cake?
Kim: Cake can be very complex.

I have no idea how to relate any of the readings we’ve done so far to the film we watched in Soc of Crime class. It’s only a one-page (double-spaced) thing, though, and it counts as much as an in-class essay (of which she drops the two lowest, and which in total counts for 10% of our grade), so i’m not worried. (And as Joan pointed out, i have until 3:00 on Tuesday to come up with something.)

I have, however, done almost all the reading for all my classes for the rest of the week (excepting Language Acquisition, because as with Linguistics last semester i don’t do any of the reading except when i need assistance with the homework) as well as my weekly Women’s Studies posting.

I have now actually read the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) decision. Wow. Collapse )

I have a copy of The Marrow of Tradition on hold at Forbes and will be picking it up on Tuesday. We have a portion of Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman (inspiration for D. W. Griffith’s 1915 Birth of a Nation, which we will be viewing probably in late March) in our reader, but i’m a dork, so i got the full novel from Neilson and will read it in its entirety at some point this week. I also now have The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man from Neilson as well. Round of applause for not actually purchasing any of the books for this class. :)

And now, to bed with me.
i do it for the joy it brings

It's snowing again. :)

Turns out Ann gave me one list too many to enter on Friday, so on Wednesday i'll be deleting lots of entries. C'est la vie.

I made Linda Muehlig crack up. She was singing some old song and i looked quizzical and she said i was much too young to know what it was from. She started trying to figure out just how many decades too late i was, and at one point i looked confused and said that would make her older than i thought she was. "How old do you think i am?" she asked. I told her, and she started laughing hysterically. She had expected me to be way off, but i was right. "I'm glad i can bring you such joy," i said. "You always bring joy," she said. :)

I had some free time at work, so i caught up on the NYTimes and chatted with Allegra for a while.

Dinner tonight reminded me how much i love my school.


I got into Oxford!

Subject: Oxford Summer Seminar

Dear Elizabeth,
I'm pleased to inform you that the Admissions Committee for the Oxford Summer
Seminar has approved your application to the program. A packet of material--
including a formal letter of acceptance--will be sent to you within the next 2-
3 weeks. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please feel
free to contact me at: jim.leheny@chancellor.umass.edu

Jim Leheny, Director
Oxford Summer Seminar