Alienation                                                                           Edited

“If you want to oppress people constrain their sense of the possible…” Rick Hanson

“The kindness, sacrifice, and “jen” that make up healthy communities are rooted in a bundle of nerves that has been producing caretaking behavior for over 100 million years of mammalian evolution.” Dacher Keltner

“Our society denies us autonomy and meaning…” Gabor Mate

“To the extent that alienation makes a person / human being different from what he (she) ought to be and to the extent that behavior is imposed….  this alienated human / person becomes an object, a mere thing to whoever imposes the alienation….” (Carlos Castilla Del Pino, The Alienation of Women, 1978, Odysseus Publications)

Today I am sharing the third painting I’ve been working, as part of a series of thematically related paintings.
I’m also sharing links to podcasts / talks I’ve listened to – lots of ideas and food for thought.

The first podcast at:, is titled Rediscovering Your True Self: Parentification and the “Gifted Child”. Dr Rick Hanson and his son Forrest Hanson discuss topics related to Alice Miller’s classic book, The Drama of the Gifted Child, which I finished re-reading a few days before listening to the podcast. I will probably be returning to the book in the next post, unless some other idea or topic emerges. Many themes are touched upon in this podcast. Forrest begins by saying that “when a child is particularly emotionally intelligent, and a parent is particularly emotionally vulnerable, an inversion of the typical relationship can occur where the child devotes themselves to meeting the parent’s needs rather than the other way around”, in other words a process called parentification may take place, and which often can lead children to lose touch with their own wants and needs and their authentic self and to feelings of worthlessness and self-alienation in adulthood. On this episode Rick and Forrest Hanson explore how we can heal from the effects of these difficult and yet common early experiences and rediscover who we truly are. They touch upon themes like: self-definition vs. defining yourself through relationship /s; intergenerational patterns; accumulation of subtle forms of parentification over time;  the healthier and less healthy dynamics of love, aspiration, and power in parenting styles; the need to let go of our idealized versions of our childhoods and create a more coherent and more realistic narrative, and grief as a process that facilitates freedom and the reclaiming of our true nature.

In the second podcast ( Dr. Dacher Keltner (professor of psychology at the University of Berkeley, founding director of the university’s Greater Good Science Center and writer) and Tami Simon talk about his exploration of pro-social emotions like: awe, gratitude, empathy, compassion and others, and how they are tied to our capacity to live a life of meaning. They discuss Charles Darwin’s study of emotions and how “survival of the kindest” may be more true than “survival of the fittest”; the instinct of sympathy; the connection between emotions, ethics and power; making kindness our core principle, which by the way is a core principle in all cultures. They also talk about the “vagal superstars” and the practice of compassion; the need to establish healthy boundaries in order to avoid empathic distress; creating positive changes in the health-care system and choosing pro-social emotions in stressful, energy-draining situations and contexts like hospitals, for instance. In relation to how health providers can cope with empathic distress Keltner says they should watch out for too much pure empathic distress, taking in other people’s suffering, remember why they are there, name the emotion, separate it, and find agency in that awareness. He also adds that “Healthcare providers have enormous power. They may not feel like it, but they shape the lives of many human beings. It’s to remember what the other person’s set of concerns is, what are mine and how can I care for those concerns, and to start to be mindful of those boundaries.” They also focus on the experience and the science of awe, which seems to be good for the body, lowers inflammation, elevates vagal tone, reduces amygdala activation, “gives muscle to our thinking, makes us more rigorous and more holistic in our thought…..and helps us take in the bigger picture, reduces neurotic nagging, opens us up to see the creative bigger picture.”

In the third talk at: Dr Gabor Mate, a physician and writer, drawing on scientific research and decades of personal experience as a practicing physician, discusses the role that stress, emotions and the environment  play in an array of diseases, and the ineffectiveness of treating symptoms and organs, de-contextualized from the whole person and their environment.

Finally, in the fourth talk at: Dr Gabor Mate talks about how we now have a lot of scientific evidence that childhood adversity can create harmful levels of stress, especially if a child is left to manage their responses to that adversity without emotionally reliable relationships. He begins with the concept of alienation from our self, work, others and nature. He explores the theme of trauma as disconnection from the self and why relationships are central to the prevention and recovery of trauma. Another interesting and hopeful fact in relation to this talk is that Scotland is in the midst of a growing grassroots movement aimed at increasing public awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Their vision for an ACE Aware Nation is that all 5 million citizens of Scotland should have access to this information in order to explore ways to prevent and heal the impacts of childhood trauma. Could this be a vision for all countries? Gabor also analyses the various models of disease and addiction to demonstrate how a more complex and holistic perspective is more grounded in reality and more effective in supporting people’s health.

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