Nov. 2, 2012

I saw a great movie the other night titled In Darkness. As Nazis overrunWarsaw during World War II, some of the city’s Jews hide out in sewers to avoid the Gestapo. A terrific movie.  The director of the movie reported that one of the children, who later wrote a book about her experiences, said that her year in the rat-infested, filthy sewers was the best time of her childhood! Hard to believe! She liked the fact that she spent every day with her family and the daily regimen was highly structured.

 

In my private practice I often experienced children searching for structure. They loved to come into my office and hide beneath my desk. These observations led me to the “Developmental Principle” which states that children are not midget adults. In my clinical experience, they often need structure and protection as opposed to overexposure and the push to behave in adult ways. More often than not, this frightens them and they become less adventuresome and creative as adults. This is just my opinion and it’s based on observation, not research. What do you think?

 

On page 255 of The Sheltering Tower, the protagonist, Monk McIntyre, looks at old Abe through tear-filled eyes and chuckles. He recalls the old Yiddish saying: “Man plans – – and God laughs.” I don’t recall where I heard this saying but it needs little or no explanation. Sometimes we need a little humility in order to avoid pride and hubris. That  goes for scientists and shrinks as well as ordinary folks.

 

I have friends who tell me that Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugs is the second most popular book after the Bible. They believe wholeheartedly in her philosophy of rugged individualism and opposition to government control. I see some positives in her thinking but the characters in her novel seem awfully bright to me. I have to wonder if it requires a 140 IQ to really live out her philosophy? Perhaps she just wants folks to try hard and do their best, regardless of their intellectual level — and not depend on others. Certainly, most folks aren’t going to be able to achieve at the level of the fictional characters in her books. I don’t see much overlap between Atlas Shrugged and the New Testament. One emphasizes self-assertiveness, achievement, and independence, while the other emphasizes love, forgiveness, and dependence on God. What’s your take?

 

Does one have to be a psychologist to understand mental abilities? Maybe not. Maybe brilliant writers such as John Irving can reach truths through careful observation and without the benefit of rigorous research. In Irving’s novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, he describes memory in this way: “Your memory is a monster; you forget – – it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you – – and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you! (Not bad John. Not bad.)