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

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

Struck With (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 209)

What I hear from trauma survivors, what I’m always struck with, is how upsetting it is when other people don’t help them or don’t acknowledge the reality of their situation or respond very poorly to the suffering, needs, and distress of all of those involved. I’m very struck by that.

And I’m very struck by how many Holocaust survivors got through because there was one person that focused on their survival or because they focused on another’s.

So, I believe that how we behave towards one another individually and in society can make a very big difference in the effects of environmental events (trauma, tragedy, disaster) on our molecular biology (expression of PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc.). It becomes very interesting when you think about it that way, but I believe it’s true.

Rachel Yehuda
Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Transcript excerpt from On Being recorded 2015

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

Love Not of the Real Child (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 197)

It is one of the turning points in therapy when the patient comes to the emotional insight that all the love she has captured with so much effort and self-denial was not meant for her as she really was, that the admiration for her beauty and achievements was aimed at this beauty and these achievements, and not at the child herself. In therapy, this small and lonely child that is hidden behind her achievements wakes up and asks: “What would have happened if I had appeared before you, sad, needy, angry, furious? Where would your love have been then? And I was all these things as well. Does this mean that it was not really me you loved, but only what I pretended to be? The well-behaved, reliable, empathic, understanding, and convenient child, who in fact was a never a child at all? What became of my childhood? Have I not been cheated out of it? I can never return to it. I can never make up for it. From the beginning I have been a little adult.

The Drama of the Gifted Child: the Search for the True Self

Alice Miller          1994

Supernerd Boy and Mr. Robot (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 196)

During my shared little shit fits and grumblings of frustration over observing people and their disheartening behavior towards themselves and one another, my girlfriend has often asked me if I believe that everyone is unstable and delusional. My answer is always the same; the overwhelming majority by far. Her response to my retort has become set in stone. “If you think everyone else is delusional and unstable, doesn’t that mean that you are the common denominator and suggest that you might be the only one who is delusional and unstable and not everyone else?”

I believe it to be an oversimplified and distractive question, but I still understand and acknowledge its merit. At this point in the dialogue, I have to remind her that I have never really declared my sanity or used it as a pedestal to stand on in front of others. If anything, I have flayed myself wide open in admission and vulnerability for anyone who desires to know the real me. I remind her how much time, how much desire, how much effort, and how much luck has been necessary for me to escape most of my demons and achieve the degree of stability and enlightenment which I have. I further remind her that it is a constant and never ending process for me, just as with anyone else attempting the same, to keep the delusion in check and to perpetuate personal stability.

Maybe it is an exchange and exercise she needs to test me with periodically, a barometer to see if I will continue to remain true to my thoughts in the challenges of time and redundant inquiry. Sometimes, questions and answers need to be repeated to fan the flame of motivation necessary to willingly engage your fear. And I should always re-challenge and reevaluate my perceptions and conclusions. One should never be allowed to become stagnant in the acceptance of such beliefs.

So, with all of this forever branded into my mind, I found it quite intriguing last night when watching a brilliantly written television show, to observe an imaginary character from the subconscious of a paranoid schizophrenic empathic genius, deliver an eloquent and comprehensive monologue, defining and illustrating how despite his existence as a delusional construct of a psyche, his inherent awareness still defined him as being more real, specifically far more real, than what the rest of the world had become and was systematically continuing to be with its collective awareness, perceptions, and behavior for over at least the last fifty years.

Bravo Mr. Robot, bravo.

Cribb          2017

But Not (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 194)

Pretext Comment: This passage is the most succinct yet comprehensive statement I believe that I have ever come across which explains the overwhelming majority of ongoing mental illness in any of its various forms.

I knew

what had been done to me,

but not

what I had done to myself.

thoughts without a thinker

Mark Epstein          1995