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Integral Options Cafe

Offering multiple perspectives from many fields of human inquiry that may move all of us toward a more integrated understanding of who we are as conscious beings.

Updated: 2018-02-14T15:51:18.723-07:00


15 Rules for Living a Self-Reliant, Honest & Compassionate Life (The Hobo Ethical Code of 1899)


[image from Wikipedia]Who knew that "hobos" had such a powerful and perceptive ethic sense? Wikipedia points to 1890 as the first known use of the word:A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond, especially one who is impoverished. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890.[1] Unlike a "tramp", who works only when forced to, and a "bum", who does not work at all, a "hobo" is a traveling worker.[1][2]According to a site called Britt, Iowa, the original hobo convention was in 1899, not 1889. They still have a Hobo Days celebration in that town.At Brk Trail, there is this sobering statistic from Riding the Rails, about hobo life in the Great Depression:Eighty-five per cent of the white youths said they were seeking work; for the African-Americans the percentage was even higher at 98 per cent. Fifty percent of the African-Americans had been unemployed for two years or longer. ~ Riding the Rails by Errol Lincoln UysTo the point:Here is today's post from Open Culture that outlines the 15 rules for living a quality life as a hobo. [Editor's note: Jungle refers to an area off a railroad where hobos camp and congregate, so jungling is living in such a place.]These are good rules for all of us.Who wants to be a billionaire? A few years ago, Forbes published author Roberta Chinsky Matuson’s sensible advice to businesspersons seeking to shoot up that golden ladder. These lawful tipsespoused such familiar virtues as hard work and community involvement, and as such, were easily adaptable to the rabble—artists, teachers, anyone in the service industry or non-profit sector… It must pain her that so many billionaires have been behaving so badly of late. Let’s hope so, anyway. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with aspiring to amass lots of money, the next generation of billionaires are playing fast and loose with their souls if their primary role models are the ones dominating today’s headlines. Wouldn’t it be grand if they looked instead to the Hobo Ethical Code, a serious standard of behavior established at the Hobo National Convention of 1889. Given the peripatetic lifestyle of these migratory workers, it was up to the individual to hold him or herself to this knightly standard. Hoboes prided themselves on their self-reliance and honesty, as well as their compassion for their fellow humans. The environment and the most vulnerable members of our society stand to benefit if tomorrow’s billionaires take it to heart. The Hobo Ethical Code 1. Decide your own life; don’t let another person run or rule you.2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.3. Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.7. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as badly, if not worse than you.8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling. 9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.13. Do not allow other hobos to molest children; expose all molesters to authorities…they are the worst garbage to infest any society.14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.15. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their he[...]

How Clinton Lost, by the Numbers, and More


Image sourceIn order to understand how Trump became president, it is helpful to look at the actual numbers. The following statistics are taken from the United States Election Project.Voting Eligible Population1:2008: 213,313,5082012: 222,474,1112016: 231,556,6221. As distinguished from Voting Age Population, which is a much higher number.Votes cast for highest office (nearly always less than votes cast):2008: 131,304,731 (61.6% turnout)2012: 129,070,906 (57.9% turnout)2016: 119,500,978 (53.1% turnout)It's important to note how voter turnout has declined since 2008 when the excitement for "Hope and Change" was fueling one of the highest turnouts (by percentage) in the last couple decades. Turnout this time was pathetic--seemingly representing the unfavorable ratings of both candidates (Clinton 59% and Trump 60% as of August 31, WSJ). Votes Won:2008: Obama: 69,498,516 (52.9%)2012: Obama: 65,915,795 (51.1%2016: Clinton: 59,861,516 (47.7%)2008: McCain: 59,948,323 (45.7%)2012: Romney: 60,933,504 (47.2%)2016: Trump: 59,639,462 (47.5%)In all three elections, the Democratic candidate took the majority of the vote--yet, this year, Clinton lost the Electoral College, echoing 2000 when Al Gore beat George W. Bush in votes and still lost the Electoral College. According to Derek Thompson at The Atlantic:Donald Trump won the electoral vote due to a margin of about 100,000 votes spread across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This critical difference represents about 0.04 percent of registered voters, a statistical speck. The real issue is that voters did not support Hillary Clinton as they had Obama. Trump received fewer votes than either McCain or Romney and still managed to win the Electoral College because Clinton, although receiving more votes than Trump, received a whopping 6 million fewer votes in 2016 than Obama received in 2012, and nearly 10 million fewer votes than Obama received in 2008.This would seem to indicate that the most liberal or progressive voters, who long proclaimed their refusal to vote for Clinton, kept their word and stayed home (or voted 3rd party).Third Party RoleMany had hoped this might be the year of the 3rd party candidate, especially in the spring. But the final numbers reflect an essential binary system in this country: Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson won 3% of the vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein took 1% (both of these are considerably, however, from 2012, when Johnson received 0.9% percent of the vote and Stein took 0.3% percent). Overall, roughly 5 million people cast votes for third party candidates this year.In Florida, with 29 Electoral College votes, Trump bested Clinton by nearly 129,000 votes in the state, while Johnson and Stein took home more than 268,000 votes between them. Winning Florida would not have been the difference-maker for Clinton, but this outcome was likely repeated in many swing states. There are echoes of the 2000 election that Al Gore lost (also winning the popular vote but losing the electoral college), when Ralph Nader (Green Party) won nearly 100,000 votes in Florida while Democrat Al Gore lost the state by just 537 votes--that was the difference maker in that election.Here are the six states won by Trump where the 3rd party vote could have shaped the outcome (from the Hit and Run Blog at Trump beat Clinton by four points; Johnson and Stein between them collected 5 percent. But most of that went to Johnson (3.8 percent), so it's unclear whether Trump or Clinton was hurt more by the other options on the ballot. Florida: Trump eked out a win by just 1.4 percent here. Johnson, Stein, Castle, and Rocky De La Fuente of the Reform Party between them collected 3.2 percent. Enough to cover the spread, but how many of those votes would have otherwise gone to Clinton? Stein got only .7 percent. Michigan: Trump won this ordinarily blue state by about .3 percent, and Stein got 1.1 percent, so Democrats who feel all Green votes are rightfully theirs are going to be seething at her over this o[...]

"It's Still the Same United States," Says Derek Thompson at The Atlantic


I saw this article on Google + so I went to read it, because it sure doesn't feel like the same United States to me. It does not even feel like my country, a place where my values and beliefs can be at least tolerated if not accepted or shared. The actual minority (fuck the Electoral College) who elected Trump are shouting down anyone who is concerned that Trump might actually, you know, do what he has promised.And I know there are many who share my values, because we have talked and cried together over the last 36 hours. But we feel like such a small minority at this point....The article is brief, so I am sharing all of it here.It's Still the Same United States What did Americans really learn about their country on Tuesday night?   Kevin Lamarque / Reuters By Derek Thompson In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s shocking victory, many liberals woke up Wednesday morning feeling like strangers in their own country, or perhaps, as if they were the familiar ones and it was the country itself that had become the stranger. I heard it in the voices of friends. I read it in texts from family. I found it in newspaper headlines from some of my favorite writers and in tweets and Facebook messages. What kind of a country do I live in? they asked. Something important has changed. This is not the nation I thought I knew. But America is what we thought it was. It is still a 50-50 nation, dominated by negative partisanship, in which about half of the country will reliably vote to defeat the other half for the foreseeable future. It is still a nation of propositional pluralism—“send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me”—crossed with ineradicable xenophobia—“go back to where you came from.” It is still a country teetering on the razor’s edge of both a social-democratic revolution and 1950s-era conservatism. That’s the country Americans knew we had at midnight Tuesday morning. And it’s the nation reflected in the votes tallied on Tuesday night. Here is what happened 36 hours ago. Hillary Clinton seems to have narrowly won the popular vote, yet narrowly lost the election, because of the geographical distribution of her support. Donald Trump won the electoral vote due to a margin of about 100,000 votes spread across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This critical difference represents about 0.04 percent of registered voters, a statistical speck. One vote in 2,500 was the difference between electing a liberal Democrat and rewarding a candidate for the most openly racist campaign in generations. On its own, this dramatic precarity is not an inspirational thing. But it is so much more inspiring than the prevailing idea that Trump’s victory is statistical evidence that the country Clinton-voters thought they lived in has disappeared, or utterly abandoned them, or never existed in the first place. In some ways, the current liberal mood is the mirror image of how many conservatives felt after Obama’s win in 2008. While Democrats were triumphant, convinced that the cause of modern liberalism had finally achieved escape velocity, many conservatives were despondent, convinced that the country they thought they knew had left them behind. But the future was not an extrapolation of these hopes and fears, but rather a reversion to 50-50 divisions. Eight years later, the nation is as divided as it had been eight years before in 2000, when, after another popular two-term Democratic president left office during an economic expansion, the electorate delivered a statistical tie that surprisingly handed the White House to a Republican. It is not self-indulgent for liberals to despair about Tuesday night’s outcome. They have many reasons to fear the near future of public policy. But it’s too early for them to despair about America. In a two-party system, the binary outcome of a vote will always be a simplified expression of the complex characteristics of the electorate. The arc of history is long, with many wobbles, and nothing about Tuesday’s vote s[...]

President Trump - The End of the American Experiment, the End of Decency


I blame the progressives who stayed home or voted 3rd party rather than face reality and vote for Clinton to keep Trump from becoming president.

I blame ignorance, fear, hatred, misogyny, racism, nationalism, and the Republican-orchestrated demise of the national educational system.

Only an uneducated and ignorant nation could choose an ignorant and hate-filled man to be it's leader. Well-played.

YOU wanted this - so deal with it.

Trump is not MY president

He will NEVER be my president.

I am anti-violence, and I cannot imagine taking arms against the government. But we have been moving toward this moment for years, and now it is here. We do not have government by the people and for the people - we have fascism.

Look it up - Mussolini defined fascism thus: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

It's time for progressives and liberals to become as well-armed as the racists and the redneck militias. There will be a time, not too far away, when WE will need to retake America from the powers of fascism.

2016 - Worst Presidential Election [Ever?] - Still Only One Choice We Can Live with as a Nation


"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." ~ Douglas AdamsWhat follows is an expansion of my penultimate Facebook post before I deactivated my page last week. Some of the comments to the original post were disturbingly blind to what I was trying to say. So I am saying it again, here, with more words and (hopefully) greater depth and span.Here is the original post:I used to believe that political differences should not be a reason to unfollow or unfriend someone. I am questioning that perspective. This feels like one of those times in history where people will look back and ask where you stood when hatred and ignorance were chosen to lead the nation, when a ruler was chosen who brings division and destruction, bigotry and violence. This is truly a "lesser of two evils" choice. One choice is evil as usual. The other choice is evil on a scale that we have not seen since the first half of the 20th Century.To be clear:Clinton is corrupt, greedy, and dishonest. She is politics as usual.Trump is racist, sexist, hateful, narcissistic, greedy, and quite possibly a sociopath. Electing Trump is on par with the elections of Hitler and Mussolini, both of whom promised to make their respective nations great again.What these two dictators from the 20th Century share with Trump is hatred -- of the "other." Oh, and they all three share many traits of the sociopath/psychopath.Says Tony Schwartz, who was the "ghost writer" on their joint book (they split the advance and the royalties, nearly unheard of for a ghost writer), The Art of the Deal, the 1987 book that made Trump famous:“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.” [The New Yorker, June 25, 2016]Emphasis added.Respected Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner considers Trump a "textbook" narcissist, one of the primary traits of the sociopath.According to a number of top U.S. psychologists, like Harvard professor and researcher Howard Gardner, Donald Trump is a “textbook” narcissist. In fact, he fits the profile so well that clinical psychologist George Simon told Vanity Fair, “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops.” This puts Trump in the same category as a number of infamous dictators like Muammar Gaddafi, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Saddam Hussein. [Raw Story, January 12, 2016]Trump is very clearly a narcissist, and his behavior, lifestyle, and collection of ever-younger wives shows this in stark, very public detail.But is Trump a sociopath or a psychopath?Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long. It is difficult but not impossible for sociopaths to form attachments with others. Many sociopaths are able to form an attachment to a particular individual or group, although they have no regard for society in general or its rules. In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard, disorganized and spontaneous rather than planned. Psychopaths, on the other hand, are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can eas[...]

Donna Zerner: The Shadow Behind The Light (on her experience with Marc Gafni)


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">Urban Tellers®, May 14, 2016Donna Zerner on the Portland Story Theater stage at Alberta Abbey for live storytellingHosted by Lynne Duddy and Lawrence HowardStatement from Donna Zerner on performing this piece:It took me ten years to feel safe enough to speak publicly about my experience with Marc Gafni.  I’m still pretty sure he’ll try to attack and discredit me in any way he can, but at this point the urge to tell the truth is far more compelling than continuing to silence myself out of fear of his retribution.I’m not on Facebook (last holdout on the planet!), but I’ve been following public FB comments about the story, and am gratified that it seems to be striking a chord for many.It felt both terrifying and liberating to tell my story.  Of course, in 15 minutes I was only able to reveal the tiniest fraction of my experiences, so it was frustrating what was left out... I could have easily spoken for hours and still barely scratched the surface.My intention was always that the story be healing for myself and for anyone who’s been affected by a similar dynamic. It definitely has been healing for me so far, though the process of creating it was extremely challenging, a constant surrender to the Feminine. With previous stories I’ve told, I pretty much typed them out at my computer and memorized them, but this one refused to be created that way; it would only come through my emotions and my body (requiring an often excruciating reliving of experiences). I never wrote a word, and I didn’t memorize it either. I also had no idea how it would end until the final words stumbled out of my mouth that night. The process was all about surrender; it ultimately felt like a shamanic initiation.I used a pseudonym for MG because the intention of the story wasn’t to expose or blame him, but to explore my culpability, to own my own journey. If I had named him it would have changed the tone and felt too much like an attack job. Of course there were clues sprinkled throughout as to his real identity (i.e., when I said “O.M.G.,” what I was really saying was: “Oh, MG”!).The video doesn’t capture how heavy and intense the energy got in the room— by about two-thirds through it felt like the entire audience was holding their breath with concern and outrage, which is why I felt compelled at one point to puncture the heaviness (too intense for a bunch of Portlanders out for a Saturday night's entertainment!).My hope at this point is that the story encourages more women (and men) in similar situations to recognize their own worth, honor their intuition, and speak their authentic truth from the heart.Please know that I hold with me a multitude of other MG-affected women (over a span of 36 years, up to the present day), most of whom are not ready to speak up but whose suffering at MG's hands was often quite profound, and continues to this day. And of course, the damage he has caused and continues to create expands to areas far beyond his exploitation of women.I pray for truth and healing for all affected, including for MG.[...]

Shrink Rap Radio #496 – Dreaming and the Dialogical Self with Prof. Hubert Hermans


Hubert Hermans' Dialogical Self Theory is one of the most robust and usable multiplicity-of-self models available. Dr. David Van Nuys speaks with Hermans on the dialogical self and dreams. The newest book is The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy: An Introduction, being released today in paperback.#496 – Dreaming and the Dialogical Self with Prof. Hubert HermansHubert Hermans is professor emeritus at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He is best known as the creator of Dialogical Self Theory. He wrote books like The Dialogical Self: Meaning as movement (1993), co-authored by Harry Kempen, Self-Narratives: The Construction of Meaning in Psychotherapy (1995), co-authored by Els Hermans-Jansen, and Dialogical Self Theory: Positioning and Counter-Positioning in a Globalizing Society (2010), co-authored by Agnieszka Hermans-Konopka. He is editor of the Handbook of Dialogical Self Theory (2012), co-edited by Thorsten Gieser. Since 2002 he is president of the International Society for Dialogical Science (ISDS) and editor-in-chief of the International Journal for Dialogical Science (IJDS). He is initiator and chair of biennial International Conferences on the Dialogical Self, which are organized in different countries and continents. For his merits to society and science, he was, on behalf of the Queen of the Netherlands, decorated as Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2002. Some of Hubert’s most impressive memories was when he looked, as a 6-year-old boy, in September 1944, at the passing soldiers of the American 30th Infantry Division “Old Hickory,” who liberated his place of birth, Maastricht, from the German occupation. Some months later, he survived a bomb attack which killed many neighbors living opposite his parents’ house. He describes such autobiographical events in his book Between Dreaming and Recognition Seeking (2012), in which he applies Dialogical Self Theory to his own life.A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.Podcast: Play in new window | Download[...]

Martha Stout's Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life


The following is from Martha Stout, Ph.D., in her book, The Sociopath Next Door (pages 156-162). These are good guidelines for anyone who knows, works with/for, or have been involved with a sociopath. As Stout points out, sociopaths are not rare--we all are likely to encounter one (or more) at some point in our lives.Considering that this blog has been very focused on unmasking Marc Gafni as the sociopath he is, this seems like a fitting part of that process.THIRTEEN RULES FOR DEALING WITH SOCIOPATHS IN EVERYDAY LIFE1. The first rule involve the bitter pill of accepting at some people literally have no conscience. These people do not often look like Charles Manson or a Ferengi bartender. They look like us. 2. In a contest between your instincts and what is implied by the role a person has taken' on--educator, doctor, leader, animal lover, humanist, parent--go with your instinct.Whether you want to be or not, you are a constant observer of human behavior, and your unfiltered impressions, though alarming and seemingly outlandish, may well help you out if you will let them. Your best self understands, without being told, that impressive and moral-sounding labels do not bestow conscience on anyone who did not have it to begin with.3. When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibilities he or she has. Make the Rule of Threes your personal policy.One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding instead. Two may involve a serious mistake. But three lies says you're dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior. Cut your losses and get out as soon as you can. Leaving, though it may be hard, will be easier .now than later, and less costly. Do not give your money, your work, your secrets, or your affection to a three-timer. Your valuable gifts will be wasted.4. Question authority.Once again--trust your own instincts and anxieties, especially those concerning people who claim that dominating others, violence, war, or some other violation or your conscience is the grand solution to some problem. Do this even when, or especially when, everyone around you has completely stopped questioning authority.  Recite to yourself what Stanley Milgram taught us about obedience: At least six out of ten people will blindly obey to the bitter end an official-looking authority in their midst. The good news is that having social support makes people somewhat more likely to challenge authority. Encourage those around you to question, too.5. Suspect flattery.Compliments are lovely, especially when they are sincere. In contrast, flattery is extreme and appeals to our egos in unrealistic ways. It is the material of counterfeit charm, and nearly always involves an intent to manipulate. Manipulation through flattery is sometimes innocuous and sometimes sinister. Peek over your massaged ego and remember to suspect flattery.This "flattery rule" applies on an individual basis, and also at ' the level of groups and even whole nations. Throughout all of human history and to the present, the call to war has included the flattering claim that one's own forces are about to accomplish a victory that will change the world for the better, a triumph that is morally laudable, justified by its humane outcome, unique in human endeavor, righteous, and worthy of enormous gratitude. Since we began to record the human story, all of our major wars have been framed in this way, on all sides of the conflict, and in all languages the adjective most often applied to the word war is holy. An argument can easily be made that humanity will have peace when nations of people are at last able to see through this masterful flattery. Just as an individual pumped up on the flattery of a manipulator is likely to b[...]

A Regularly Updated List of Current Articles on the Marc Gafni Controversy


Here is a listing of all known (at this time) articles about Marc Gafni that have appeared since the December 25th New York Times article. After the list of current articles, there is a list of articles on Gafni that have appeared on this blog, dating back nearly a decade (May, 2006).And now, below that, is the beginning of an archive of other posts/articles from around the Web about Gafni and his abuses. These articles go back to the first known piece in 2004.December 26, 2015:Marc Gafni, A Child Rapist, And His Ever Growing List of Famous Accomplices: The New York Times, Huffington Post & Whole Foods from Melayna Lokosky at Killing My CareerDecember 27th:The online Jewish magazine, Haaretz, picked up the story: Former Rabbi Accused of Improper Sexual Conduct Now Rising Star in U.S. Spiritual Movement.December 29th:Soon followed a second article from Oppenheimer at Tablet Magazine, part 2 of the NYT article.Also on the 29th, the Jewish Telegraph posted 4 quotes by ex-Orthodox rabbi Marc Gafni not in The NY Times article.Matthew Gindin posted Some Thoughts On Marc Gafni at his blog, Seeking Her Voice. Joe Perez "leaked" the supposedly "official" Integral Institute Report on Marc Gafni: Summary and Conclusions (circa 2008) , then deleted it. It became fully available online on Dec. 30th. To its discredit, there are several issues with this document, not least of which is the inclusion of material post-2008, with an addendum noting that it had been updated in 2011 and 2014. An "official" document of this nature is not updated, unless of of course it's NOT official. There is also the issue that those who know Gafni and his writing see his language and perspectives all over the text, again confirming it as unofficial, and in fact, pro-Gafni propaganda. What this DOES show is the lengths to which Gafni will go to cover his ass - forgery, lies, manipulation.  December 30th:A Call to Shun Marc Gafni (at Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives). The Jewish Telegraph reported on ALEPH's (Alliance for Jewish Renewal) disavowal of Gafni, Marc Gafni repudiated again by Renewal group after airing of sexual behavior. Failed Messiah added their commentary in Who Supports Accused Child Sex Abuser Marc Gafni? These People Do. The Jewish Week also posted The Reinvented Rabbi, Again. Amichai Lau-Lavie posted on Facebook about his brief but disturbing experience as Gafni's employee.Also on December 30th:Rabbi David Ingber began a petition at directed at John Mackey and Whole Foods and Esalen, as well as the follow sites: (an old link for Gafni's Integral organization that is still active), Marc Gafni, Center for Integral Wisdom, Ken Wilber, Integral Life, Trainingen - Venwoude International, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey offered a 12-minute audio of his Reflections on the Marc Gafni Situation.  NOTE: In all fairness, Robb Smith and Corey DeVos made Integral Life a Gafni-free place in 2011, a decision that had been in the works for a year or more, but coincided with Gafni's affairs that cost him his book contract with Sounds True, as well as damaging two wonderful women I had the privilege of speaking with and getting to know.December 31st: The Times of Israel posted Petition urges Whole Foods to cut ties with controversial ex-rabbi: Marc Gafni accused of of sexual misconduct; co-founder of supermarket chain on board of his New Age think tank. The Religion News Service posted Disgraced former rabbi’s ties to Whole Foods questioned. January 1st:The Times of Israel posted a moving first-person account from Gafni's third wife, A voice for Gafni's victims, from one who was there. Jew School also posted their position on this, which is also a report on the petition from [...]

Why So Few of Marc Gafni's Survivors Have Come Forward


As of today, only two survivors of Marc Gafni's (also known as Mordechai Gafni, Mordechai Winiarz, or Mordechai Winyarz) abuses have come forward with their names and their stories. They are the two who were youngest (that we know about) and who were raped (Judy Mitzner Rogers and now Sara Kabakov). Gafni's 3rd ex-wife came forward with her story, both in a deposition by email many years ago, and recently in a first-person account in the Times of Israel, of  life being married to Gafni, but she has chosen not to have her name attached to those stories.[See also, Marc Gafni: Beneath and Behind the Denials] A Little BackgroundGafni has denied that he raped Sara, claiming the "relationship" was about love in the recent NYT story about him.Mr. Gafni was quoted saying they had been in love. He added, “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.” In a recent interview, the woman, who asked not to be identified, said that she stood by her account from 2004 and that the encounters were not consensual.Gafni's story does not mesh at all with the way Sara experienced his molestation (which was statutory rape, but the statute of limitations has expired):I remember clearly that when he tried to touch me, I pushed him away, repeatedly. I remember saying “No!” over and over again. No one had talked to me about sexual abuse, but I remember knowing intuitively, with every cell of my body, that this was wrong.This pattern repeated itself, from the fall of 1980 through the spring of 1981. I became a girl disconnected from the world around her, inhabiting instead one full of contradiction and betrayal. I was trapped in a horrible situation with no way out that I could see. If I told, I would be blamed and shamed for what had happened.Each morning after being molested, I would wake up and walk into the living room, and see him wildly shuckling, rocking back and forth while beating his chest. He said he was doing teshuvah, repenting for what he had done the night before, and he told me that I should join him in doing teshuvah, too. I didn’t pray or do teshuvah, but just stared at him in disbelief. He really believed that I was a partner in sin. And then it would happen again: After every fervent bout of repentance, he would wake me up in the middle of the night the following week.Does the young girl in the picture below look like she's "14 going on 35"? Sara did not come forward with her story, in her own name, until her essay, January 12th, 2016, at The Forward (linked to above). She had told it, publicly, once before--anonymously--to Gary Rosenblatt for his 2004 expose on Gafni's abuse history.In the months following the end of Gafni's abuse, she tried to tell someone what had happened to her twice. Both times she was ignored or dismissed. When she was 18, she had the courage to finally tell her parents, but their response was, "How could you let him do that to you?" And we wonder why girls and women do not tell their stories.Over the years, when I told people about the abuse I endured at Gafni’s hands, many asked, “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” That’s a good question. But a better question is what happened when I did tell. It was almost as if I had told no one. People in the Jewish community who had the power and stature to make the abuse stop did not step up.* * * *On the other hand, Judy Mitzner told her story and had a friend, Susan, to support her (both Judy and Susan were threatened by Gafni to stay silent).I didn’t wait until years later to reveal what happened, as many do. I spoke out in 1986 right after it happened, and so few would even listen let alone accept it as truth.  I continued to tell my story, continued to cry out for help on so many levels and so little was done.  I was[...]

An Open Letter In Support of the Petition to Stop Marc Gafni (Maggidic Journey Havurah)


Another group has created a formal letter distancing themselves from (in this case their former teacher) Marc Gafni. Maggidic Journey Havurah, a community of former students of Gafni (2003-2005) have released the following letter.Before the letter, here is Russ Cashin's preface:I have realized all along that this endeavor was not for Marc Gafni as I don’t think he’ll hear it.  In our Open Letter, we are adding our voices to the many others out there who have experienced Gafni’s abuse and who want those in positions of leadership to refuse to provide him with support and a platform to continue to harm others.  Our group’s experience as his former students for two years gives us a unique shared perspective, especially as a cohesive group who have remained in contact for 12 years. During this time, we (not all of us) have attended conferences and retreats together, and sought assistance to help many of us move through the healing processes of grief, disappointment and shame that Gafni left upon us.  It is time now for us to speak up and share our unique perspective as a group of actual students of Gafni’s and to reveal the damage he does to his students.  We want to reach those who are now choosing to give Gafni a platform to teach anyone (not just young girls) and warn them of the harm they are doing by providing this dangerous man with a stable of new victims, both male and female.Among the charges are the usual wherever Gafni turns up: inappropriate sexual relationships with other women while he was still married, abuses, lies, plagiarism, and failed promises. An Open Letter In Support of the Petition to Stop Marc GafniJanuary 10, 2016We the undersigned, while not representing the whole, are members of the Maggidic Journey Havurah, a community of former students of Marc Gafni (we knew him then as Mordechai Gafni). From 2003-2005, we came together for a two year educational program at Elat Chayyim with Mr. Gafni which was supposed to lead us to a certification as a Maggid, or Holy Teacher.For many reasons, some of which are mentioned below, as a group we disassociated from Marc Gafni in the spring of 2006.We herein state that we are in support of the petition called Stop Marc Gafni from Abusing Again that Rabbi David Ingber posted at on December 30, 2015. We also support the statements by Gafni’s third ex-wife in her blog titled A voice for Gafni’s victims, from one who was there at that was posted on January 1, 2016.Like many of Marc Gafni’s students, at first we were enamored by his charisma and his ability to brilliantly convey Jewish Wisdom. A few of us even financially assisted or served in capacities that supported Bayit Chadash, the community Gafni co-founded in Israel and from which he eventually fled in 2006.  Little did we know that by the time our two year program ended we too would find ourselves deeply and adversely impacted by Gafni’s web of lies, deception and abuse.  Some of us know the women Gafni has harmed, including his third ex-wife. We now know that even as he taught us, unbeknownst to us, he was having inappropriate sexual relationships with other women while he was still married.  We were there and now stand as witnesses to his abuses, lies, plagiarism, and failed promises. Some of us felt and feel an incredible sense of betrayal by Gafni.  By the end of our two years together, Gafni had subjected members of our group to financial extortion, visits to our homes leaving huge phone bills, sexual indiscretions, false promises and outright lies, fiscal irresponsibility, manipulation of facts to support grandiose claims, theft of intellectual property, plagiarism, misuse of power, attempting to recruit us to discredit [...]

Marc Gafni - Beneath and Behind the Denials


[NOTE: I have been actively involved in the newest Marc Gafni situation for the last two weeks, posting a lot of material on Twitter and Facebook. This post has been in process since Christmas day. I had originally written 34 pages of text, outlining each and every manipulation, episode of lying, and sexual abuse allegation. That is too much. This is likely only part one of several articles in the coming weeks.][See also: Why So Few of Marc Gafni's Survivors Have Come Forward] On December 25, 2015, The New York Times posted an article (in print, Dec. 26) called A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed by a Troubled Past, by Mark Oppenheimer (with additional reporting from Jerusalem by Irit Pasner Garshowitz).One of the many things missing in the NYT article, and most of the ones that have followed, is a recognition that Gafni's pathology is not only emotional and sexual manipulation and other forms of abuse, it is also a sociopathic personality that almost hides the malignant narcissist within.   The NYT article exposed some of the controversies surrounding Gafni (which has led to the current outrage in the Jewish community and in the integral community, but in each instance allowed him to refute the allegations with no further exploration of the facts or statements by the victims. What could have been an important document revealing Gafni's 35-year pattern of abuses--interpersonal, sexual, and control--became little more than a PR piece for him and his "think tank."I expressed those feelings to Mr. Oppenheimer in a Twitter post, and he did not refute it -- he re-Tweeted it.Steven Hassan and Mark Oppenheimer Retweeted you 20h: @markopp1 I read the Marc Gafni article w/ hope, then sadness - you allowed this sociopathic sexual predator to make the article a PR pieceI know Oppenheimer spoke to a lot of Gafni's victims, as well as the expert on cults and mind control, Steven Hassan - I know this because they told me. Based on Oppenheimer's response to my Tweet, I can only hope he too wanted a more accurate article (he has since published two additional installments at Tablet - see below).One of the many unfortunate things in that article was Ken Wilber's defense of Gafni. Wilber allowed Gafni to convince of his innocence and since founded a think tank with him. Not surprisingly, most people in the integral community stopped paying attention to those Wilber endorses, with other egregious examples including Andrew Cohen, Dennis Merzel (Genpo Roshi), and even the notorious sexual predator Adi Da. Ken Wilber, considered the modern founder of integral theory, started the think tank with Mr. Gafni. Mr. Wilber said that before forming a partnership with Mr. Gafni, he personally researched the rumors about him and commissioned an employee to investigate. In the end, Mr. Wilber concluded that Mr. Gafni was, at worst, “insensitive as a boyfriend.”“Marc has a lot of Shakti,” Mr. Wilber said, using a Sanskrit word for energy. “I don’t think he understood the impact it had on people.”"Insensitive as a boyfriend"? Is that what we call emotional, psychological, and sexual manipulation these days?As will be noted below, the employee mentioned by Wilber was Clint Fuhs, a supporter of Gafni's return in 2008. By the way, the referenced documents are a fraud. For more on Gafni and Wilber, see Geoffrey D. Falk's Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment.[It is worth noting that, at the time (late spring/early summer 2008), both Gafni and one of Wilber's senior students, Clint Fuhs, as well as Jeff Bell, contacted me by email and telephone, wanting me to remove my posts about Gafni from this blog (I had defined him as an Abusive Guru). I complied initially but re-posted them a few days later, a[...]

The Many Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin - A Literature Review


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatic herbaceous plant belonging to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to southwest India (also cultivated in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and most of Southeast Asia), where plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes and propagated from some of those same rhizomes in the following season.When not used fresh (like ginger), the rhizomes are boiled for about 30–45 minutes then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep-orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in various forms of curries, as a dye, and to impart color to mustard condiments.One active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin (perhaps the most well-known as a result of the proliferation of curcumin supplements over the last two decades), which has an earthy, mildly bitter, and peppery flavor.The most important chemical components of turmeric are a group of compounds called curcuminoids, which include curcumin (diferuloylmethane), demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The best-studied compound is curcumin, which constitutes between 3-6% (on average) of powdered turmeric. In addition, other important volatile oils include turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberene.In India, turmeric has been used as a remedy for stomach and liver ailments, as well as topically to heal sores, basically for its supposed antimicrobial property.The active compound curcumin is believed to have a wide range of biological effects including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, antibacterial, and antiviral activities, which have shown a lot of potential for use in clinical medicine.In this review of the literature on curcumin, I am looking at the anti-inflammatory effects, diabetes prevention, anti-cancer effects, with a section devoted to prostate cancer, treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative disorders, and finally, its use of psychological disorders.NOTE: One of the well-recognized issues with turmeric/curcumin as medicine is its poor bioavailability through oral administration. There is considerable effort dedicated to finding a way to make curcumin/turmeric more bioavailable, including lipid delivery systems, self-microemulsifying drug delivery system (SMEDDS), nanoparticulate delivery systems. and many others - see Advanced Drug Delivery Systems of Curcumin for Cancer Chemoprevention for a good overview.If you choose to take turmeric/curcumin (traditionally, curcumin has been much more widely recognized, but newer research suggests the whole herb has more advantages), look for a product that contains piperine or Bioperine (black pepper extract), which inhibits the enzymes that break down most supplements and medicines in the gut.Contents:1. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS OF TURMERIC2. TREATING AND/OR PREVENTING DIABETES3. ANTI-CANCER USES FOR CURCUMIN4. TURMERIC/CURCUMIN and PROSTATE CANCER5. CURCUMIN FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE DISORDERS6. CURCUMIN/TURMERIC AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS######1. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS OF TURMERICThe ability to reduce inflammation may one of the most widely studied actions of turmeric/curcumin.Curcumin: An Anti-Inflammatory Molecule from a Curry Spice on the Path to Cancer TreatmentPurusotam Basnet and Natasa Skalko-BasnetMolecules (2011): 16; 4567-4598; DOI: 10.3390/molecules16064567Abstract: Oxidative damage and inflammation have been pointed out in preclinical studies as the root cause of cancer and other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. Epidemiological and clinical studies have suggested that cancer could be prevented or significantly reduced by treatment with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs, therefore, curcumin, a principal component of turmeric (a curry spice[...]

Loch Kelly - Shift into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness


Below is a promo from Sounds True for the new book from Loch Kelly - Shift into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness (links to Sounds True page for the book - here is an Amazon link). There is also a CD available with 20 of the meditations from the book (There are CEUs available as well - 3.5). Join this innovative teacher to explore more than 20 meditations including:• Awareness Yoga—a foundational practice in moving awareness• Embodied Presence—a practice for deeply feeling unity and acceptance• Unhook, Drop, Open, See, Include, Know, Let Be—a way to shift levels of mind that culminates in living from open-hearted awareness  “The goal of these meditations is not to transcend the human condition,” explains Loch Kelly, “but to discover how to live a fully intimate human life.” Shift into Freedom gives you the tools to navigate your life with clarity and unconditional love.Interestingly, I spoke with Loch when he was beginning work on this book. More than a year later he contacted me again about doing some editing, but by then I was very busy with my editing work at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.Recently, I heard from Loch again - the book was done and hitting the market. He had Sounds True send me a review copy, which I am reading right now. I will be posting my review in the coming weeks. I must that, so far, I am finding this an excellent book, and one I will be using with some therapy clients. This is the email Sounds True sent out (with a brief bio from the Sounds True website):Loch Kelly, MDiv, LCSW, is a teacher, consultant, and leader in the field of meditation and psychotherapy who was asked to teach by Mingyur Rinpoche and Adyashanti. The founder of the Open-Hearted Awareness Institute, he is an emerging voice in modernizing meditation, social engagement, and collaborating with neuroscientists to study how awareness training can enhance compassion and well-being. Dear Sounds True friends, I am delighted to share my new book and audio meditation program with you, Shift Into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness. I’m grateful to all of my teachers, students, and friends for their support in helping me bring this book and audio into form, and to Adyashanti for his inspiring foreword. I was fortunate to stumble upon meditation early in my life after a series of losses. Meditation was a great help to me because it revealed the inner foundation of a naturally spacious and loving awareness. My heart’s curiosity then led me to graduate school and to India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, where I met many renowned meditation teachers who generously shared their lives and practices with me. The particular approach I was drawn to is one where we discover the solution to suffering by directly shifting into our awake nature that is already here. Then through the practice of “small glimpses, many times,” we can experience freedom from fear, shame, and worry, and live an embodied, open-hearted life. My life’s work and love has been to discover the essence of these advanced practices and bring them to you in contemporary and accessible form. The book and audio provide a how-to guide for awakening. I have been refining these unique teachings and practices for many years, and have had wonderful results in sharing them with students. This book presents a distinct and clear definition of awakening. My goal is to bring the process of awakening into the mainstream of our culture in the same way that mindfulness meditation is now embraced, studied, and valued by Western medicine and psychology. Shift Into Freedom offers unique and helpful pointers from developmental psychology, neuroscience, psych[...]

Teleological Perspectives and the Pre/Trans Fallacy of Integral Theory


Teleology is an account of a given thing's purpose. For example, Aristotle argued that the purpose of an acorn, its intrinsic telos, is to become an oak tree. This is intrinsic teleology. [A purpose imposed by human use, such as a fork’s extrinsic purpose is to make eating certain foods easier, is extrinsic teleology.] Natural teleology contends that natural entities have intrinsic purposes, irrespective of human use or opinion. According to Wikipedia:Though ancient atomists rejected the notion of natural teleology, teleological accounts of non-personal or non-human nature were explored and often endorsed in ancient and medieval philosophies, but fell into disfavor during the modern era (1600-1900). In the late 18th century, Immanuel Kant used the concept of telos as a regulative principle in his Critique of Judgment. Teleology was also fundamental to the speculative philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.A recent example of teleological science is Thomas Nagel’s 2012 book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, an argument that the emergence of life, and in particular conscious life, cannot be explained by materialist or mechanistic principles but, rather, the required principles may be teleological.Integral theorist Ken Wilber has based his entire integral model on a teleological view of the universe (derived from Vedanta and Tibetan Buddhism), arguing that consciousness arose in the universe so that the universe could come to know itself. In one of his early books, Wilber says that the “Big Bang which was really the roaring laughter of God voluntarily getting lost for the millionth time” (Up From Eden, p. 328). Or this, from a later book:Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual's consciousness does indeed touch infinity - a total embrace of the entire Kosmos - a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. (A Brief History of Everything, p. 38)In Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Wilber offers, … these life forms were apparently not content to merely reproduce themselves, but instead began a long evolution that would eventually allow them to represent themselves, to produce sign and symbols and concepts, and thus out of life arose mind. Whatever this process of evolution was, it seems to have been incredibly driven from matter to life to mind. But stranger still, a mere few hundred years ago, on a small and indifferent planet around an insignificant star, evolution became conscious of itself. (p.3)This is a purely teleological understanding of evolution, of the universe. And for Wilber, eros is the force that drives the evolution of the universe.In this model of the universe, the intention, or even the purpose, can only be understood through actions. In essence, the result of an action (evolution is the seemingly obvious drive toward complexity in the universe as we know it) explains its intention (the purpose of evolution is for the universe to become conscious of itself).Wilber’s model, like Nagel’s, posits directionality—an intent—in nature. Wilber goes further and claims that the universe has become conscious of itself through human beings and that this is the intention behind evolution, going all the way back to the Big Bang (let’s ignore the fact that the Big bang is still a questionable origin story).But is this necessarily true?Psychologically, this is the sensorimotor stage of mentalization (the [...]

Thanissara - Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth (A Review)


Thanissara - Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth -- The Buddha's Life and Message through Feminine Eyes (To be published on August 18, 2015 - Pre-order at the Amazon link above for $7.47)About the AuthorThanissara and her husband Kittisaro (Harry Randolph Weinberg) are the founders of Dharmagiri Hermitage in South Africa, from where they support several HIV/AIDS Outreach Programs and help guide and fund-raise for Kulungile Care Center for orphaned and vulnerable children and teenagers.  Thanisarra and Kittisaro are authors of Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism (2014).Thanissara grew up in an extended Anglo-Irish family in London, attending Southampton College of Art and traveling extensively in Asia in the 1970s. Also inspired by Ajahn Chah, she spent 12 years as a Buddhist nun in Thailand. She holds an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Practice from Middlesex University and the Karuna Institute in the U.K. and co-facilitates the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. [NOTE: This book was sent to me by the publisher (free) with the hope that I would review it, favorably. I never make any promises in that regard. When I do review a book sent to me, it's because I think it is a good book.] The life of the Buddha has been told so many times by so many people, and in so many different ways, from mythic and magical versions to a very secular version (from Stephen Batchelor), but never has it been told in the context of environmental change and from a feminine perspective.In the Buddha's time, women were included among his followers and students, but in the following centuries, women were often excluded from those schools erected to perpetuate the Buddha's teachings.From the Introduction:This is a book I would have preferred not to write. I would have liked to write something lighter, happier, and more innocent. I would have liked to walk you through a serene wooded landscape, but instead I ask you to look with me at a burnt and tortured Earth and its polluted rivers, dying oceans, razed forests, devastated wastelands, and its litany of extinct species.This is a book about awakening to the reality of the planet we live on, the pain, the suffering, the devastation, and not blinking, not looking away, not putting it off for the next generation to deal with. It is a book about reality.The journey of awakening is not an incense-scented walk through a bed of roses--it wasn't for the Buddha, and it's not for us. It's a demanding look at reality. The reality we now face is climate chaos and devastation, an edge that is increasingly hard to move back from. (p. 45)Buddhism has long had a reputation of being little more than navel gazing. Perhaps that has been fair, perhaps it has not been fully accurate. After all, the Bodhisattva Vow promises to save all beings.Beings are numberless, I vow to save themDesires are inexhaustible, I vow to end themDharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter themBuddha's way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.In our time, we know that animals are also sentient beings, however great or small. For this reason, most Buddhists are vegetarian. In Seven Years in Tibet, we see Tibetan Buddhist Monks breaking ground for a building and they worry about harming the worms. They too are beings.An engaged Buddhist approach to saving our planet may rightfully claim that vegetarianism is a necessary part of that agenda. Approximately 36 football fields worth of forest is cut down every minute, and we have lost 17% of the Amazonian Rainforest over the last 50 years, primarily to convert the la[...]

Cults and Intelligent Sociopaths


 Adi DaNOTE: this post is based on a series of comments I made on a thread over at Facebook. The topic had to do with the relationship of brain science and understanding cult behaviors at both the small group level and the societal level.* * * * * * * * * * I think that attachment theory has a lot to add in understanding cult behaviors. Around 40% of the population (across cultures) is insecurely attached, which makes them perfect targets for cults and other dysfunctional communities. With insecure attachments, the right brain affect regulation system is underdeveloped and/or oversensitive, resulting in poor communication between the limbic system and the frontal cortex (especially the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in cognitive processing, decision making, and in integrating external reality with internal reality, among other things). People who are insecurely attached are much more likely to experience PTSD following trauma, exhibit less resilience to stressful experiences, and show highly levels of depression, anxiety, and dissociation.People who are insecurely attached often have a hard time regulating their affect (dissociation is one way an infant/toddler learns to regulate affect, but this is highly dysfunctional in adults). Consequently, these people often seek external regulation through relationships (an unconscious attempt to repair the attachment failure of infancy). Cults and charismatic leaders somehow sense this need and are experts at manipulation and control, which provides that needed regulation for the insecurely attached person. One of the ways they do this initially is through "love bombing" - a very directed attempt to make the new recruit feel special and important (filling the hole that results from lack of secure attachment). The cult (or charismatic leader/guru) then slowly institutes more and more control over behavior and thoughts, and even what is appropriate to feel. Part of this involves isolating them from friends and family and requiring secrecy about the group or the charismatic leader. Another part of this is countering the love-bombing with shame instillation, convincing the victim that they are worthless, sin-filled, weak, and so forth, and that the cult/charismatic guru is the only person who understands them and can "save" them.Over time, what develops is a trauma bond - a dedication to the group or leader no matter how abusive they become. By this point the group/leader has broken down their self-esteem to the point that their only sense of self is in connection to the group or leader. Even when horribly abused, it will be because they are not good enough, not because the group/leader is abusive (see Andrew Cohen, Adi Da, and many others).This is also a very common pattern in child molesters who groom their victims over time. By the time the victims get help, they will legitimately love the perpetrator even while knowing they have been abused.Same thing in cults. Same thing in intelligent psychopaths/sociopaths.* * * Followers tend to be wounded people - leaders are also wounded, but they seek control of others to boost their sense of self (their narcissism comes from an inner sense of worthlessness and neediness). Followers need acceptance and community, quite often. In general, I don't think the victims are sociopaths, although this can certainly be the case. Sally Kempton is the best example of this in her rabid defense of Swami Muktananda when his sexual abuse of students (some possibly minors) was exposed (see quote below). A couple of decades later, she became associated with the former Rabbi Marc Gafni, a guru well-known for his[...]

Hacking the Nervous System - Vagal Nerve Stimulation to Control Inflammation (from Mosaic)


From Mosaic, this is an excellent article on the medical aspect of polyvagal theory. Those who work in the psychological trauma field already know a little or a lot about polyvagal theory from the work of Stephen Porges (as well as Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine, who have done a lot to get Porges' work better known) - see Porges' The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.In this piece by Gaia Vince, the role of the vagus nerve in physical issues, such as autoimmune disorders is examined. Controlling inflammation through vagal stimulation could be a HUGE breakthrough in treating nearly all forms of disease (which are inflammatory illnesses at the molecular level). © Job Boot Hacking the nervous systemOne nerve connects your vital organs, sensing and shaping your health. If we learn to control it, the future of medicine will be electric.  By Gaia Vince. 26 May 2015When Maria Vrind, a former gymnast from Volendam in the Netherlands, found that the only way she could put her socks on in the morning was to lie on her back with her feet in the air, she had to accept that things had reached a crisis point. “I had become so stiff I couldn’t stand up,” she says. “It was a great shock because I’m such an active person.” It was 1993. Vrind was in her late 40s and working two jobs, athletics coach and a carer for disabled people, but her condition now began taking over her life. “I had to stop my jobs and look for another one as I became increasingly disabled myself.” By the time she was diagnosed, seven years later, she was in severe pain and couldn’t walk any more. Her knees, ankles, wrists, elbows and shoulder joints were hot and inflamed. It was rheumatoid arthritis, a common but incurable autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own cells, in this case the lining of the joints, producing chronic inflammation and bone deformity. Waiting rooms outside rheumatoid arthritis clinics used to be full of people in wheelchairs. That doesn’t happen as much now because of a new wave of drugs called biopharmaceuticals – such as highly targeted, genetically engineered proteins – which can really help. Not everyone feels better, however: even in countries with the best healthcare, at least 50 per cent of patients continue to suffer symptoms. Like many patients, Vrind was given several different medications, including painkillers, a cancer drug called methotrexate to dampen her entire immune system, and biopharmaceuticals to block the production of specific inflammatory proteins. The drugs did their job well enough – at least, they did until one day in 2011, when they stopped working. “I was on holiday with my family and my arthritis suddenly became terrible and I couldn’t walk – my daughter-in-law had to wash me.” Vrind was rushed to hospital, where she was hooked up to an intravenous drip and given another cancer drug, one that targeted her white blood cells. “It helped,” she admits, but she was nervous about relying on such a drug long-term. Luckily, she would not have to. As she was resigning herself to a life of disability and monthly chemotherapy, a new treatment was being developed that would profoundly challenge our understanding of how the brain and body interact to control the immune system. It would open up a whole new approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, using the nervous system to modify inflammation. It would even lead to research int[...]

How Perpetrators Make Themselves the Vicitms: "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender" (DARVO)


It's a well-known feature of perpetrators that they generally deny what they have done, attack the accusers (often attempting to destroy their character), and then reverse the situation so that they claim to be the victims.If you have any doubt about this, look closely at EVERY situation in which Marc Gafni has been accused of sexually inappropriate relationships with his students (often two or more at a time), which includes forcing them to lie about the relationships and controlling their contact with others outside his circle of trust.Psychologist Jennifer J. Freyd, at the University of Oregon, has detailed this behavior in a model she calls DARVO = Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. What follows comes from her web page on this topic. Freyd is one of the world's experts on betrayal trauma. Her books include:Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren't Being Fooled (2013)Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse (1998, reprint edition)Citation:Freyd, J.J. (2014). What is DARVO? Retrieved 5.28.2015 from is DARVO? Jennifer J. Freyd, University of Oregon Short Definition DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim -- or the whistle blower -- into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility or even blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.  Disclaimers DARVO as a concept is based on observation and analysis. The author has not completed systematic empirical research testing the coherence or frequency of DARVO. However, research is currently in progress in the author's laboratory at the University of Oregon.Other observers have likely noted the same phenomena and related phenomena using different terms; the author has been informed that some people have found the term DARVO a helpful mnemonic and organizing concept.Also the presence of DARVO is not necessarily evidence in support of the accusation of guilt; a truly innocent person may deny an accusation, attack the person making the accusation, or claim the victim role. Future research may be able to determine the probability of a DARVO response as a function of guilt or innocence. The author hypothesized that some sorts of denials and reactions such as DARVO are more likely when the perpetrator is guilty than innocent (Freyd, 1997); however this hypothesis has not yet been tested. Furthermore, even if research indicates that a DARVO reaction is more likely when there is actual guilt, it would be an error to use a DARVO reaction as proof of guilt.For now the concept of DARVO is offered as potentially memorable and useful term for anticipating the behavior of perpetrators when held accountable, and for making sense of responses that may otherwise be confusing (particularly when victim and offender get reversed). Research is needed.History of Terminology & Writings about DARVO Jennifer Freyd introduced the term "DARVO" near the end of a 1997 publication about her primary research focus, "betrayal trauma theory." (For more on betrayal trauma theory, see http://pag[...]

Arthur Gillard Interviews the Creators of the SF / Lucid Dreaming Web Series "Anamnesis"


The following is a guest post from my friend Arthur Gillard. He recently interviewed the creators of the science fiction/lucid dreaming web series, Anamnesis. Here is a brief synopsis of the series, from the website:When a woman dreams of her boyfriend’s death on the same night he’s murdered, she and a group of strangers begin to unravel a greater mystery by journeying into their subconscious.An abbreviated version of this interview will appear soon in Lucid Dreaming Experience, a free online journal. Enjoy the FULL interview! * * * * *Interview with the Creators of the SF/ Lucid Dreaming Web Series Anamnesis by Arthur GillardAnamnesis is a science fiction web series about lucid dreaming based on an original short film of the same name. It has been getting a great deal of positive attention in the lucid dreaming community based on its accurate and realistic portrayal of lucid dreaming, as well as its compelling storyline, good acting, professional production values, and gorgeous cinematography. I had a chance recently to interview Alex Calleros, writer and director of the original short, and Michael Tucker, who co-wrote and co-directed the web series with Alex. The following interview may contain some spoilers, so I recommend watching the original short and the five episode web series before reading the interview. You can see the original short here, and the web series here. Altogether it takes a little over an hour to watch. You can find out more about the series by following them on Google Plus, Twitter [@AnamnesisSeries], or Facebook, or via email at (Disclosure: I've agreed to manage the Anamnesis Google Plus page on a volunteer basis, without compensation.)Arthur Gillard: Why did you decide to make a film/web series about lucid dreaming? Was it inspired by your own experiences with lucidity, or did you simply find the subject intriguing?Alex Calleros: I’ve always been intrigued by the relationship between cinema and dreams. The experience of watching a film is often thought of as entering a sort of dream-state, and many of my favorite films play with questions of reality, consciousness, etc. The Matrix, Inception, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—these films were huge influences for me as a filmmaker and I had always wanted to play in the world of dreams using cinema. So, when I had the opportunity to write and direct the short film in 2012, it was a chance to finally make a film that essentially takes place entirely in the dream world. One of my favorite films is The Fountain, which explores the theme of death in an incredibly profound way, and that was also a huge influence on the short film.Michael Tucker: When we began thinking of how to continue the short film (which has a pretty definite conclusion), we played around with a lot of ideas. Alex’s close friend Gary Ruiz was very into lucid dreaming and had talked to Alex about it. The idea of becoming lucid within a dream world and being able to manipulate your surroundings fascinated us and seemed like a great concept to play with cinematically, as well as an idea we hadn’t seen done before. So we spent time researching lucid dreaming techniques and experiences, and grew attached to the idea of trying to portray the sensation of dreaming as accurately as possible. We didn’t want it to be blurry and fuzzy like how dreaming is often shown in TV shows, but we also didn’t want it to be as rigid and straight-forward as Inception. So finding that balance was our guiding light, and hopefully we achie[...]

George Lakoff: How Brains Think: The Embodiment Hypothesis


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Published on Apr 7, 2015

Keynote address recorded March 14, 2015 at the inaugural International Convention of Psychological Science in Amsterdam.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

George Lakoff
Departments of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley, USA
How do we answer the question, “How are thought and language constituted by the brain’s neural circuitry?” Neuroscience alone cannot answer this question. The field that studies the details of embodied conceptual systems and their expression in language is cognitive linguistics. In a book (in preparation with Srini Narayanan) we propose a neural computational “bridging model” as a way to answer the question. The talk gives illustrative details.

George Lakoff is a world-renowned cognitive linguist whose work reaches beyond the area of linguistics to provide groundbreaking insights into the realms of neuroscience and cognitive psychology as well. He is a pioneer in the multidisciplinary theory of the embodied mind, the idea that higher-order aspects of cognition are rooted in and constrained by bodily features such as the motor and perceptual systems. Additionally, his metaphor theory and insight into morally based framing, in which ideas are conveyed using very specific language that is tied to a larger conceptual framework such as freedom or equality, have made him a go-to strategist for politicians.
Read more about George Lakoff.

Books by George Lakoff that might be of interest.

Metaphors We Live By (2003, updated reissue)
Where Mathematics Comes From: How The Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics Into Being (2000)
Philosophy in the Flesh: the Embodied Mind & its Challenge to Western Thought (1999)

2014 Nobel Prize Winners Speak at the University of Arizona


Thursday afternoon, Edvard Moser, May-Britt Moser, and John O'Keefe, the three 2014 Nobel Prize winners for Physiology or Medicine, along with Eleanor Maguire, the winner of the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for her "London taxi driver" study on hippocampal plasticity, spoke at a public forum at the University of Arizona.Maquire's research on London taxi drivers, before and after going through two to three years of training required to learn and memorize 25,000 streets, revealed that their hippocampus grew as they memorized London's maze of streets. This was one of the first studies that demonstrated hippocampal neuroplasticity. She was awarded a 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for this study.According to Improbable Research, the bestowers of the Ig Nobel Prize, "The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." The Mosers and O'Keefe won their Nobel Prize in 2014 for their discoveries of specialized cells in the brain that together act as a navigation system. The Mosers discovered neurons that function as grid cells, found in the entorhinal cortex, while O'Keefe discovered neurons that function as place cells, found in the hippocampus. "All memories are attached in some way to where you are, and in that way, the hippocampus acts as an anchor for remembering yourself within your experience," said Carol Barnes, Regents' Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Neurology and Neuroscience, the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging.The hippocampus, according to Wikipedia, "belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation." If a person were to suffer severe damage to the hippocampus (both hippocampi, as one exists in each brain hemisphere), it's likely they may acquire anterograde amnesia, an inability to form and/or retain new memories (episodic or autobiographical memory, which are forms of declarative memory). In Alzheimer's Disease, the hippocampus is one of the first brain regions to experience damage, resulting in the disorientation and loss of recognition so common in the disease. However, damage to the hippocampus does not inhibit the ability to learn new skills, such as riding a bicycle (procedural memory).   Spatial firing patterns of 8 place cells recorded from the CA1 layer of a rat. The rat ran back and forth along an elevated track, stopping at each end to eat a small food reward. Dots indicate positions where action potentials were recorded, with color indicating which neuron emitted that action potential. [via Wikipedia]Below, I have included the honored guests as well as the first half of the press release about the public forum (which is heavy on the U of A is awesome rhetoric). Guests Edvard Moser, Professor and Director, Kavli Institute of Systems Neuroscience; Co-Director, Centre of Neural Computation, Norwegian University of Science and Technology May-Britt Moser, Professor and Director, Centre of Neural Computation; Co-Director, Kavli Institute of Systems Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology The Moser’s received the 2014 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology (along with J. O’Keefe) for this discovery of grid cells. John O’Keefe, Professor, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Anatomy, Universi[...]

SSRIs Add to the Existing Surplus of Serotonin in the Raphe Nucleus and Reduces Serotonin in Hippocampus, Where it Is Needed Most


This appears to be the first good research showing why SSRIs do not work for most people in treating depression and anxiety. It appears that early life stress increases serotonin levels in the brain to the point that a negative feedback loop develops, reducing the brain's sensitivity to the serotonin. The resulting depression and/or anxiety that develops is exacerbated by SSRIs, which just add to the existing surplus of serotonin in the raphe nucleus and reduces serotonin in hippocampus, where it is needed most.Early life stress may cause excess serotonin release resulting in a serotonin deficitData suggest a reason why SSRI medications may fail in many patients  Studies indicate that the majority of people with mood and anxiety disorders who receive the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant medications, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI's, are not helped by these medications. SSRIs are designed to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is key to maintenance of mood.  Researchers led by Jeremy D. Coplan, MD, professor of psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, have published data suggesting an explanation for the longstanding puzzle as to why low serotonin could not be detected in depression without suicidal intent, even though many antidepressant treatments work by increasing serotonin in areas key for mood regulation, such as the hippocampus. The pre-clinical research was published in a recent edition of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.  Dr. Coplan explains, "We have shown that serotonin is too high near the serotonin brain cells, reducing firing of the serotonin nerve cells through a well-documented negative feedback mechanism in the raphe nucleus. The result is that the hippocampus and other critical brain structures needed for mood maintenance do not get enough serotonin. We can see this because the hippocampus is shrunken and the white matter loses integrity. By the time serotonin metabolites are measured in a lumbar spinal tap, the usual way serotonin levels have been measured, the high serotonin has mixed with the low serotonin and you have no difference from people who are healthy."  He continues, "We have hypothesized in an earlier paper that this is a plausible reason why SSRIs may not work in a majority of people, because SSRIs will tend to make the high serotonin even higher in the raphe nucleus. The serotonin neuron may not be able to adapt and restore its firing, inducing a presumed serotonin deficit in terminal fields, evidenced by shrinkage of the hippocampus."  He adds, "We cannot say categorically, in our pre-clinical model, that high serotonin in the raphe nucleus leads to low serotonin in the hippocampus, but studies by J. John Mann, MD, a co-author on the paper, and Victoria Arango, PhD, both of Columbia University Medical Center, have shown that people who committed suicide exhibited high serotonin in the raphe nucleus and low serotonin in another area of the brain critical for mood maintenance, the prefrontal cortex. Additional studies should be performed, especially since better understanding of the serotonin system will significantly improve future treatment options."  In the earlier paper, also in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Dr. Coplan proposed augmentation therapies in treatment-resistant patients, including stacking one medication upon another in the most difficult cases: "Th[...]

Psychosocial Stress, Inflammation, and Adhesion Molecules


I have been re-reading a book by Joseph LeDoux (NYU), Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are (2002), in which he argues that synapses in the brain are the foundation of personality, the basis of our sense of self:My notion of personality is pretty simple: it‟s that your “self,” the essence of who you are, reflects patterns of interconnectivity between neurons in your brain. Connections between neurons, known as synapses, are the main channels of information flow and storage in the brain. Most of what the brain does is accomplished by synaptic transmission between neurons, and by calling upon the information encoded by past transmission across synapses. (p. 3-4)This is relevant to some of the work I have been doing for Dr. Cress at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Dr. Cress has been working for many years on the function of integrins in cancer metastasis, specifically in prostate cancer.Here is how integrins are defined at Wikipedia, which is as precise as any you will find.Integrins are transmembrane receptors that are the bridges for cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions. When triggered, integrins in turn trigger chemical pathways to the interior (signal transduction), such as the chemical composition and mechanical status of the ECM, which results in a response (activation of transcription) such as regulation of the cell cycle, cell shape, and/or motility; or new receptors being added to the cell membrane. This allows rapid and flexible responses to events at the cell surface, for example to signal platelets to initiate an interaction with coagulation factors.There are several types of integrins, and a cell may have several types on its surface. Integrins are found in all metazoa.[3]Integrins work alongside other receptors such as cadherins, the immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecules, selectins and syndecans to mediate cell–cell and cell–matrix interaction. Ligands for integrins include fibronectin, vitronectin, collagen, and laminin.Integrins are heterdimic adhesion receptors, meaning they have two different parts, the α (alpha) and β (beta) subunits. There are at least 18 α and eight β subunits are known in humans and other vertebrates (Takada, Ye, & Simon, 2007).Dr. Cress has been work with the A6B4 integrin (alpha 6 beta 4) and its role in metastatic prostate cancer. A6 is one of three laminin-binding molecules in humans (the others are A3 and A7), although other researchers suggest there are five laminin-binding integrins, A1, A2, A3, A6, A7 (Alberts, Johnson, & Lewis; 2007; Molecular Biology of the Cell. 5th edition). This graphic explains the functions of the different integrins and their combinations.Integrins are also expressed in the brain, especially in synapses and in the lamination of axons, which allows information to more quickly and efficiently through the brain (and through neural cells throughout the body). Schwann cells in peripheral nerves interact with axons and extracellular matrix (ECM) as part of their work in ensheathing and myelinating axons and they express B4 (beta 4 integrin) [Feltri, et al, 1994], and specifically A6B4.  In digging around for additional information on synapses and brain function, I found a related article by LeDoux - this is the abstract (crucial section is in bold):STRUCTURAL PLASTICITY AND MEMORYRaphael Lamprecht and Joseph LeDouxMuch evidence indicates that,[...]

Toward an Embodied Science of Intersubjectivity: Widening the Scope of Social Understanding Research


The following article is an introduction to the Research Topic on Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science: Towards an embodied science of intersubjectivity: Widening the scope of social understanding research.This is an interesting article and a very cool research area.Full Citation: Di Paolo, EA, and De Jaegher, H. (2015, Mar 2). Toward an embodied science of intersubjectivity: Widening the scope of social understanding research. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science. 6:234. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00234Toward an embodied science of intersubjectivity: Widening the scope of social understanding researchEzequiel A. Di Paolo* and Hanne De JaegherLogic and Philosophy of Science, IAS-Research Centre, University of the Basque Country, Donostia/San Sebastián, SpainThe study of human social phenomena in their proper scope demands the integrated effort of many disciplinary traditions. This fact is widely acknowledged but rarely acted upon. It is in practice often difficult to cross disciplinary boundaries, to communicate across different vocabularies, research goals, theories and methods. The aim of this Research Topic has been to make some progress in stepping across these borders.Not attempting this crossing in a subject as multi-faceted as intersubjectivity inevitably binds us to remain within self-enclosed conceptions. By this we mean a bundle of self-reinforcing perspectives, hypotheses, experimental methods, debates, communities and institutions. Traditional ways of thinking about social cognition frame the questions that are deemed worth researching. These all revolve around the issue of how we figure out other minds, assuming that other people's intentional states are hidden, private and internal. The proposed answers rely only on how the perceived indirect manifestations of other people's mental states are processed by individual cognitive mechanisms (Van Overwalle, 2009).We would like to raise, instead, the question of what an embodied science of intersubjectivity would look like if we were to start from different premises than those that delimit classical approaches to social cognition. For doing this, we thought the time was ripe for bringing together work that crosses disciplinary boundaries and informs us about different conceptions of how people understand each other and act and make meaning together.The move is timely. The internalist assumptions in social cognition research are beginning to shift. We have more and better tools to explore the role of interactive phenomena and interpersonal histories in conjunction with individual processes (Dumas et al., 2010; Di Paolo and De Jaegher, 2012; Konvalinka and Roepstorff, 2012; Schilbach et al., 2013). This interactive expansion of the conceptual and methodological toolkit for investigating social cognition, we now propose, can be followed by an expansion into wider and deeply-related research questions, beyond (but including) that of social cognition narrowly construed.Our social lives are populated by different kinds of cognitive and affective phenomena apart from figuring out other minds. They include acting and perceiving together, verbal and non-verbal engagement, experiences of (dis-)connection, relations in a group, joint meaning-making, intimacy, trust, secrecy, conflict, negotiation, asymmetric relations, material mediation of social interaction, collective action, [...]