The Relativity of Expertise (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 239)

My brother recently adopted a new puppy and my dad has aided and assisted him throughout the process, as well as with some of the follow up veterinary care required. My brother doesn’t talk to me, that’s another lengthy story, but my dad and I are closer than ever and we have real conversations with one another; you know, the ones where both people speak and both people listen.

My dad, to his credit, has learned to listen and abide by the veterinary recommendations and behavioral advice I give him. He has seen the repetitive objective evidence and listened to my observations and justifications for why I approach things the way I do. He has accepted my expertise.

Oddly enough, even after I graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, my mom would continuously argue with me about the facts of physiology, anatomy, diagnostics, historical case evidence, and behavior. She was discomforted by my knowledge and expertise on the subject, framing these qualities as “my opinion” while framing her own uneducated and unchallenged rationale and comforting delusion as “indisputable fact.” Let’s just summarize and say my brother eventually went down that same wormhole of delusion for the same exact behavior glitch in his psyche.

So, my brother is failing in house training his dog, effectively walking his dog, and in setting up the other proper pack boundaries and structure for his dog which expresses itself in other undesirable manifestations. He had decided his puppy had “physical” issues to explain these failures, which is highly unlikely, up until recently.

My dad tried over and over to pass along my advice to my brother without success, without heed or hesitation, for the longest time. That all met a deaf ear and a closed mind.

My father finally established some breakthrough success getting creative and giving my brother a book written by Cesar Milan (of course, a sensational society approved celebrity). My brother apparently read at least some of the book and since doing so he has improved much of the puppies behavior. He was even proud of his learned knowledge and took the time to show my dad some of the tricks “he knew” about puppy behavior.

My dad and I laughed about this the other day. It wasn’t to be mean and it wasn’t to be ugly. It was to process the stultifying denial and delusion we all tend to inflict upon ourselves in some vain attempt to avoid our fear of one thing or the other. My brother was in fulminant denial until he could twist reality enough to his liking to accept its validity. It seems so bizarre and so backward, but I promise you I see the same behavior from some other pet owners quite often.

At the end of our discussion about this issue, my dad suddenly turned to me and chuckled a good bit as he seemed to stumble upon an internal epiphany. He said “Jeff, can you imagine what kind of reaction or response Steven would have if you strolled into his civil engineering office and started telling him how to build things, manage a project, or compute a critical and complicated engineering formula that carried great liability with it? Can you just imagine what kind of hellacious hissy fit and temper tantrum he would have?”

I smiled back at my dad and I thought “Wow, dad just keeps surprising me with his observations lately, how awesome is that?” But I held the thought silently and only chose to reply “Absolutely, I have no doubt whatsoever how he would react. He would lose his shit like Mount Vesuvius.” And we laughed a little bit more together about all of it because we both knew how profoundly true that statement happens to be.

Jeff Cribb DVM          2018

An Affectation of Simplicity: Tolstoy on Insecurity and Misperception (Love vs Sex 250)

Another thing that used to rile me but which I afterwards enjoyed was his complete indifference and, almost, disdain for my appearance. Never, either by word or look, was there a hint that he thought me pretty : on the contrary, he would make a wry face and laugh when people complimented me on my looks in front of him. He took a positive pleasure in picking out my defects and teasing me about them. The fashionable clothes on which Katya liked to dress me up and the way she did my hair for festive occasions only provoked his mockery, mortifying the kind-hearted Katya and at first disconcerting me. Katya, having made up her mind that he admired me, was quite unable to understand his not liking to see a woman he admired shown off to the best advantage. But I quickly came to see what was behind it. He wanted to be sure that I was devoid of vanity. And so soon as I realized this, I actually was quite free from any trace of affection in the clothes I wore, or the way I did my hair, or how I moved; but a very obvious form of affectation took its place – an affectation of simplicity, at a time when I could not yet be really simple. I knew that he loved me; but whether as a child or a woman I had not then asked myself; I prized his love and, feeling that he considered me better than all the other young women in the world, I could not help wishing him to continue in the illusion. And involuntarily I deceived him. But in deceiving him I became a better person myself. I felt how much better and more worthy it was for me to show him the finer side of my nature than any of the physical attractions. My hair, my hands, my face, my ways – whether good or bad, it seemed to me he had appraised them all at a glance and knew them so well that I could add nothing to them except the wish to deceive him. But my inner self he did not know, because he loved it and because it was in the very midst of growth and development; and there I could – and did – deceive him. And how easy my relations with him became once I understood this clearly! My groundless confusion and awkwardness of movement completely disappeared. I felt that from whatever angle he saw me, whether sitting or standing, with my hair up or down, all of me was known to him and, I fancied, satisfied him. If, contrary to his practice, he had suddenly told me, as other people did, that I was beautiful, I believe I should have been anything but pleased. But, on the other hand, how happy and light-hearted I would feel when, after something I said, he would gaze at me intently and say in a voice charged with emotion which he would try to hide with a humorous note : ‘Yes, oh yes, there is something about you. You’re a fine girl, that I must admit.’

Happily Ever After

Leo Tolstoy          1859

Cribb Comment:

In this passage Tolstoy writes from the perspective of Masha or Marya who is married to Sergei. Masha’s description of her own feelings is intended to display her inaccurate perception and interpretation of the behavior of her husband Sergei due to the insecurity and immaturity which plagues her soul. Sergei finds Masha to be the most attractive woman that he has ever known, but his profound love for her originates even more so in his awareness and appreciation of her drive and inner spirit. Sergei perceives and appreciates the unique exquisiteness of the totality of Masha’s essence far beyond any other person mentioned within the novel.

I would suggest that the conundrum and potentiated expression of Masha’s insecurity and misperception is buried within the “dominance challenge” created by the union of these two special souls. Masha’s unusually profound love for Sergei is both a supreme blessing and a curse to her as it bombards her relentlessly. Due to her youth and her lack of mature comprehension of the “simplicity” of genuine love and genuine life, she throws herself into an undulating and unstable fear-love pendulum of  perception and assumption. Her fear of losing Sergei’s love, which is too simple and too unexcitable to satiate her preconceived notion of such things, leads her to subconsciously exert efforts to justify her own attempt to dominate and/or demonize him.

The first third of the passage ends with a clarifying explanation. Sergei’s befuddling behavior has been focused primarily on a true appreciation of Masha’s exquisite beauty and, because of such awareness, not wanting her to run to ruin via the all too temptible sin of such exceptional attractiveness, vanity. Masha goes on to state that she “could not yet be really simple” and that she wasn’t sure if he “loved her more as a child or a woman.” She continues by saying that nonetheless “she prized his love” no matter how unfounded it might be and that she could not help herself from wanting to enable “this illusion” of his. To paraphrase, she is saying that she is scared and unable to comprehend how a man of such worth could love her in such simplicity. This fear leads her to doubt the true nature of his love, and though she cannot escape that insecurity, she also cannot let go of the possibility that his love could actually be genuine. Thus, she must continue down her undulating path of uncertainty by “wishing the illusion to continue.”

Masha’s many references to Sergei knowing, seeing, and perceiving her in every respect, also illustrates a dynamic rift in her psyche which she is unable to resolve at this time. On one hand, she is enamoured and overjoyed by his attentions, but on the other, she feels looked down upon, pitied, and too exposed by her vulnerability to be a worthy equal. As a result, she focuses on the mental triumph of “deceiving him” in order to raise herself up in confidence and self worth. That deception takes place secretly or passive aggressively in her psyche to avoid the direct or natural correction that would confront such behavior if she employed it directly or consciously.

Masha’s unwarranted fear and confusion turns into an undulating mind game which is then used to justify her passive aggressive need and employment of willful deception to bolster her self worth and confidence. Because she cannot fathom how Sergei might love her otherwise in simplicity, she attempts to turn herself into the exact opposite of such simplicity and/or his direct opponent. She cannot sustain the vision of how Sergei sees her. She can only sustain the vision of how she sees herself.

In the last line of the passage, we swing back once more into the slight glimmer of a faint flame of hope. Paradoxically, a simplicity is displayed in that sentence by Sergei that seems to somehow slip through all of Masha’s defenses to keep a tiny lingering tendril of her love for him enduringly intact.

Cribb          2018

The Act and Threat of Opening Up (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 235)

If you feel guilt, shame or anxiety when you actually open up to someone as the real you, as your genuine inner essence of perception, experience, and contemplation, by sharing a raw and fully exposed conversation with them, you should not be ashamed, nor fear that person, nor assume that you have overburdened that person with something unjust or sinful.

You should reflect and understand why you felt a visceral perception that you could be yourself, fully vulnerable and uncloaked, in your interaction with that person and you should also consider why your normal and longstanding inner circle of friends, family, and associates has marked you to feel that guilt, shame, and anxiety whenever you have tried to let the real you come out and play in your true glorious splendor in the past. Do not confuse those who have done such marking on your soul with those who are scapegoated as the abomination for trying to reverse the spell, for trying to reverse the curse.

There are dangerous doppelgangers, mimics, and chameleons who might sweep in and take advantage of a soul yearning to free itself openly, but those imposters will always be posturing, leveraging, and controlling in intent, kind of like that marking inner circle, but just better at it than that collective.

The genuine empaths, the lovers of shared core essence, will not posture, leverage, or destabilize another soul, so that they might feed upon it or pull its strings. They will help lift you out of all the traps, darkness, and deception, because they genuinely delight in seeing you shine in your own unique and fulminant radiance.

The authentic and adept empath removes the marks of the inner circles and the marks of the mimickers, counters the curses, and slays the shame, guilt, and anxiety if you allow them the opportunity. They worship you like no other and they do so not out of need, boredom or self empowerment. They worship you like no other, because they perceive that core essences are intended to shine in the undeniable exquisite beauty of their unique individual composition. That shine is the universal element of union, love, and unyielding transcendence. That shine is the culminating and supreme grace of our collective existence.

Cribb          2018

Family in Reality and Delusion (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 226)

My dad has told me several times over the recent past that he can’t talk to my brother like he talks to me. My brother is a highly intelligent and professionally successful forty six year old man and what my dad means specifically by his statement is that he can’t speak truth or have a genuinely open conversation with my brother about anything. If my dad were to attempt to do so, my brother would have a temper tantrum and yell abusively at him or withdraw immediately from the conversation and my dad’s presence or somehow punish my father in a retaliation like ostracizing him from his grandson forevermore.

This isn’t an overstatement or a paranoid delusion. It is a reality and I know that my father is speaking truth when he makes the statement. I believe he has reminded me of this reality as of late for two primary reasons.

I think it saddens him to know that he can never actually engage in a profoundly genuine interaction with my brother. He can’t speak his real mind or thoughts to his own son or be a father who can offer hard truths and external insight in the hope of helping his direct offspring slay his demons.

I also believe that my dad reminds me of this fact to let me know how happy he is that I allow him to express his core feelings, emotions, expressions, and reflections with me, without imparting a reflexive guilt, admonishment, or brandishing judgement upon him. He grew up in a family situation where less parental involvement occurred and tender heartfelt discussion was avoided. I find it to be very sad when families focus more upon pretending to be a family than actually behaving like one. To this day, I still have to remind him that it is okay for him to give me his opinion or advice. I remind him that I know he means only the best for me and that I don’t consider his recommendations an intrusive behavior or bully move. I tell him that it is okay to be my father in word and deed, that such is dearly appreciated, and that debates and disagreements do not have to cause pain, fear, withdrawal, guilt, or an end to any conversation or relationship. Those unfortunate endings, we can avoid together.

It is odd that I have spent my entire life trying to figure how to end the suffering of my mother and her “replacements” which I have always migrated towards in my relationships, without any significant success, and yet, I have been able to extract a man from the numbing collective matrix of deindividualized superficiality whom I once so falsely and so tragically perceived as the cause of every bit of all of that suffering. I have seen the transformation of my father. I have witnessed the person, the human, once lost completely within the suppressed and homogenized herd, once also nothing more than a sacrificial lamb of excuse for my mother, find his way. I have witnessed my dad’s rebirth and I believe his epiphany that real talk, real conversation, is the good stuff, the priceless tough love of the soul, that life is not made to do without.

My brother doesn’t realize that psychologically he is only a reverse imprint of my mother. Basically, he saw my mom treat my dad a certain way all of his life and his response was to then declare that no woman would ever treat him like my mom treated my dad. He suffers from severe insecurity, just like mom did and he continues to avoid any check or correction from reality that comes too close to making him face that fear. That’s why he chooses to control his reality by avoiding real conversation. That is why he is so terrified of such an interaction.

My dad expressed some guilt to me the other day for maybe not doing enough to push or convince or nurture my brother into facing his fears so that he might engage in objective reality. He felt he had let my brother down.

I had to remind my father that he had done nothing wrong. I admitted that my brother’s condition was sad and unfortunate, and potentially tragic, but that his life and his choices were solely up to him. His life and choices could not be forced upon him by someone else, even his own father. I told my dad that he had done all that he might and that he must let the issue rest until my brother decided it was time to help himself.

I said “Dad, as crazy and insane and confused as I have been, I never stopped asking the questions, never. I still remember mom asking me why, why I always asked such silly questions. I may have been mad or foolish or lost, but I always wanted to figure a way out of the trap. I wanted to overcome all of the endless shit and anxiety and anger that I felt and that I saw others experiencing. I could never dismiss the fact that such an achievement wasn’t possible. The joy and beauty I had felt in part could not be sacrificed or even balanced with all of the pain and suffering. It only made sense to figure out a path that would allow that joy and beauty to reign. I know I got lucky in many ways and I know I still make mistakes, but I figured it out. I got there because I never stopped asking questions and seeking the truths present within reality. I think you have done the same, dad, in your own way. Unfortunately, mom’s fear paralyzed her to the point where she decided to retreat within her own mind and never ask another legitimate question of the outside world ever again. She folded. That was her decision. Your other son, has proceeded in the same manner as mom. He isn’t asking any real questions of you or me because he is too fearful of where it might lead, the truths he would have to face if he did. We can’t do anything else for him until he decides he is ready to ask those real questions for himself. I wish it were different, but it’s not. I promise you that’s the truth.”

Cribb          2018

With That Moon Language (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 215)

With That Moon Language

Admit something:

Everyone you see,

you say to them,

“Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud,


someone would call the cops.



think about this,

this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one

who lives

with a full moon in each eye

that is always saying,

with that sweet moon language,

what every other eye

in this world


dying to hear?

Muhammad Hafiz


Stopping the Curse and Cycle of Mental Illness Before it is Cast (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 212)

My mother was a highly intelligent, hyper-aware individual. She was also unquestionably mentally ill. It is impossible for me know or assess how much of her mental illness was purely genetic/inherited and how much was environmentally nurtured. I am confident that both factors are involved in such a disease, but her ratio of risk from each factor will always remain a mystery to me. I have come to believe that the environmental factor, the taught and imprinted perception and behavioral interpretation, thrust upon a child from their parents (their earliest authority figures) is the primary governing consequence which determines the child’s ultimate susceptibility to the degree or extent of suffering from mental illness in the overwhelming majority of cases.

If my assessment is accurate, that means that the majority of mental illness is actually as much or more of a behavioral problem as it is a mental one. I can prove this in animals and the correlation to people is more than easy to illustrate to anyone who is willing to listen and consider the obvious evidence.

As a result of suffering from mental illness and lacking the help, support, recognition, comprehensive understanding, and nurturing stability required to treat such a condition, my mom fell into the predictable state of severe anti-social introversion, paranoia, chronic anxiety, and severe insecurity. In other words, the instability she had suffered, her failure to understand it, and her inability to put it in its proper perspective, left her mentally suffering, crippled with fear and believing her best option was isolation from almost everyone.

Yet still, a spark of desire for human connection remained in her, as it does even in those of us who are the most damaged. My father cared for her the best he could and I believe loved her to the fullest extent she would allow. Because of her overriding insecurity, she banked almost all of the love she thought she needed in the world into her children; into entities that she could control, and “protect”,  and “love”. But, protection and love are easily twisted by an insecure psyche, and most commonly, a parent suffering from such will over-nurture (spoil) their children in an effort to “buy or purchase” their child’s love and commitment. This is doomed to fail. It weakens and destabilizes the children, teaching them to be bullies who are paradoxically often dependent on those they bully. Those children also have often inherited the high awareness and high drive of the mentally ill parent which often confuses the matter exponentially more. These children, now high drive, highly aware, bullyish, but also codependent on those they bully, eventually grow into adults.

I dealt with such issues for a very long time and only through tenacious unrelenting introspection, and perhaps the luck of my external life, was I able to move beyond this curse or possession. In those who remain trapped and suffering, they often detect or feel an unrecognizable inescapable pathogen, but they can never quite come to the point of realizing that the psyche they have chosen to live by is the demon that torments them so hellishly.

The key to avoiding such suffering in any individual and in such an individual’s eventual children is to stop the cycle and the curse before it develops, not after it has snowballed into a juggernaut beelzebub reproducing abomination for years and years, or even half a lifetime. Children, most especially the highly aware and the highly intelligent, need the structure, insight, and guidance, of a truly stable and balanced pack leader in their early developmental stages to ward off all of the demons of mental anguish and instability which constantly swirl about to infect, and linger, and fester in our souls.

This is why behavior and genuine stability is so important. It is the only way to break the cycle. It is the only way to deliver our highly aware and highly intelligent children, and even our high drive pets, from the otherwise inevitable confusion, suffering, and mental illness created by being trapped in an unstable pack (support group).

Jeff Cribb DVM          2017

Phobic Towards Her Own Response (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 205)

Gwen was a good example of someone who had not allowed her anxiety, or possibly her excitement, to become part of her self-experience. Phobic towards her own response, Gwen was unable to experience herself as anxious and was thus unable to remain in any intimate encounter whose excitement or threatened loss of ego boundaries provoked the not-to-be tolerated emotion. As it turned out, Gwen thought that “it was wrong” for her to be anxious in a romantic situation such as this and that she should, instead, “be opening like a flower.” Her actual response confirmed a view of herself consistent with one she had developed in response to a critical and rejecting mother: that there was something wrong with her. The flaw, in her view, was the anxiety, which she experienced as a dangerous and threatening entity that could overwhelm and embarrass her, rather than as a temporary and contextual self-experience. 

thoughts without a thinker

Mark Epstein, M.D.          1995