Stability or Less (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 228)

Yesterday, a long term employee of mine expressed her gratitude to me for educating her in and helping her to understand the principle of stability in regard to all behavior, but most specifically in regard to that of her child.

As I myself have said on many occasions, she began talking to me by reiterating that “It’s very difficult to be a parent who truly cares about your child and wants more than anything to do the right thing for them. There isn’t any type of instruction manual and unfortunately, most of the advice that everyone wants to stuff down your throat, including your parents and the rest of your family, doesn’t really work worth a shit. That advice more often than not, simply perpetuates ongoing behavior in yourself and your child that isn’t helpful or healthy in any long term manner. The same sins, madness, abuses, and confusion of the parents usually get passed on to their children. It happens in a familiar presentation of the societal norm, routine parental expectation, and supposed love, but in the end, there isn’t any real growth or learning or escape from the past for that child. Everyone involved, though, just keeps smiling and pretending like everything that could possibly be done is being done, that it is what it is, and that life is only supposed to play out that way. And meanwhile, if you are a person who actually observes and engages your child without that common delusional filter, you can see their suffering and struggle with all of life. You want to do something about it, but you don’t know where to turn or who to listen to. It doesn’t seem like anyone knows the answer.”

I replied “Well, you know that I understand all of that and that I agree with every word of it. I guess most people are just too broken or oblivious to want to look at all of that in the face and then be forced to do something about what they see. They are okay pretending to care, pretending to be a parent in the “normal” way, but not with acknowledging the actual degree of responsibility and obligation that they should have committed to themselves before biologically reproducing. It’s exactly the same way so many people approach their pets. You know that just as much as I do. We see it every day, over and over and over. People, parents, owners, whomever. . .they love to talk and editorialize about love and all that they do for those they love, but their actions are irrefutable proof that they are more focused on telling the fairy tale and selling it to everyone, than actually figuring out what it profoundly means to love and cherish another living creature. Love is stability, of that I have no doubt. Less than stability is instability or unstable or destabilizing, however you want to describe it, and that’s not love, that is passing on torment, suffering, and confusion to another living creature. That is anti-love and it is despicable.

I’m not sure how everyone is supposed to figure all of that out. Like you said, there isn’t an instruction manual and most people are raised to have no clue whatsoever about awareness, behavior, and empathy. Generation, after generation, after generation, repeats the same cycles without anyone intervening or breaking out of the delusional conformity of their family tree. It is impossible to even know where the blame starts, but in the end that doesn’t matter either, because one person after another just keeps passing on the demons to their children and then, their children’s children. Everyone’s caught in this acceptable repetitive loop of conforming excusable deniability instead of simply engaging in the reality of love; of either fostering and nurturing genuine stability or encouraging and enabling destabilization. I have had to connect the dots from a lot of diverse and complex shit to bring all of that into the focus that I now possess, but I know it’s true and I know it works. I wish I could share it with people on a much greater level than I do now, but most don’t listen. They have no desire to contemplate such complexity or embrace such a never ending burden.”

My employee had tears in her eyes when she spoke next. “I’ve seen such a difference in him. He was having a lot of problems before and acting out frequently and feeling like a failure. He told me once that he didn’t think anyone liked him, and I felt so sad, so sorry for him. I told him that that wasn’t true and I tried to help him, but it was hard to know what to do to really help him, how to offset or change the influences in his life that brought him to that point and made him continue to feel that way. Working here, I have learned an enormous amount about stability from you. I’ve seen it over and over with our patient’s and I’ve seen it over and over in employee interactions. I’m so glad that I have because it has made all the difference in the world in my child’s life. He has responded so well. The difference in him is so astounding. He won an award the other day in school for being the best at something. He didn’t get sent to detention or recieve a bad mark or get it trouble for failing a test. He didn’t get attention for being a failure or doing something wrong. He got attention for doing something right and being great at something. He was so proud of himself. He felt so good about his accomplishment and what he had achieved. You should have seen his smile and how happy he was. It made me cry.”

I smiled back with perhaps the faintest trickle of a tear in my own eye and said “That’s awesome. That’s so great to hear. That experience will stick with him from now on in his life. I think you know it, but that is a profound paradigm shift, and it is in such a great direction. I’m unbelievably happy for you and for him. That’s the difference between destabilization and stabilization, between “love” and tough love. You would think everyone who knows him would recognize that change, what brought it about, and want some for themselves, but the sad part is, most will erroneously chalk it up to something irrelevant or happenstance. I wish more would get it, but we know that they will not even when it is that black and white. Nonetheless, we will keep doing all that we may at the Castle* to keep spreading stability in our funky way as far and wide as we might, and being happy in whatever change, great or small, that we catalyze in the world for the better.”

*The Castle is a term I use to refer to the veterinary hospital that I own and operate.

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

The Giant Screeching Metal Crayon Amalgamation (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 224)

A child comes into the restaurant with her grandmother and they both sit down together besides me. The child appears to be maybe three to five years old and she immediately displays a knee jerk response of inappropriate social shyness towards me (an unknown authority figure) when I say hello and wave at her in a goofy but amicable manner.

A moment later, the girl has changed positions and sits kneeling and prone across two seats with her butt pointed towards her grandmother. The child has now figured out that I am being silly to everyone around me and that I am not flexing my authority over anyone, including her. She becomes much more relaxed and begins smiling at me while making some silly and somewhat indecipherable noises that I know to be indications of her nervous or excitable energy. She is “playing” with me or “charming” me because she still doesn’t know for sure where she stands with me. In other words, she doesn’t know how much she can manipulate me or get away with around me, because I am a foreign authority figure to her normal existence. Her behavior is subtle enough not to threaten or upset me in any hostile manner while she gently ramps up her “dominance” or willful behavior to whatever level she can successfully achieve. This is extremely normal social behavior for a child who is highly aware and extremely intelligent, but who has not been taught appropriate structure, boundaries, and respect at home.

Meanwhile, the grandmother is rubbing and massaging the girl’s lower back. She does this as she tells me along with an sympathetic grin that “She makes me do this every night before she goes to bed.”

I smile back, because this isn’t my fight and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to help the situation even though I can accurately predict the next forty to fifty years of this little girl’s life. I slay my rational thoughts and focus on smiling like a blubbering idiot as I reply “And why wouldn’t she? I suppose that’s to be expected. Everyone loves to be massaged or get a good back and butt rub! That’s good stuff for the body and soul no matter who you happen to be.”

A brief period of time passes. I go back to being more focused on my book and eating my mid day breakfast. In the periphery of my mind and senses though, I do notice the little girl is proceeding behaviorally in the exact manner that I would normally expect for this dynamic. The child has grown louder with her nervous and excitable noises, and she has further ramped up her “assertive influence” on the environment by picking up her metal silverware in her hand, making a giant screeching metal crayon amalgamation of that silverware, and then drawing creatively with her new “instrument of attention” all over the table in front of her. This behavior continues for a few minutes, during which her grandmother appears completely obvious or perhaps satially content at the “creativeness” and/or “innocent adorable playfulness” of her granddaughter’s actions, but for anyone truly paying attention to the reality of the situation, the child’s antics are factually more disrespectful and rude in nature than anything else.

Again, I slay my thoughts as much as possible and shift all remaining unutilized reserve power to “Full Shields” on my starboard side.

The server, who happens to know this grandmother and grandchild by name, and who has been friendly and jovial with both since they came into the restaurant, walks over to the counter directly in front of them, and begins to try and take their food order from the grandmother. After a second or two, it is apparent that the noise of the giant screeching metal crayon amalgamation being wielded upon the table is making any reasonable communication and thinking, along with the order taking, nearly impossible. The server in a stable and steady firm voice says “Darling, you gotta stop that. You are scratching up the whole table top doing that. That’s not good. You can’t do be doing that. Okay?”

The little girl immediately and appropriately stopped, but then the grandmother now reflexively displaying hissyfit features and gesticulations of her face, neck, and arms, replied to the caught-off-guard server something along the lines of “Well, I guess we just won’t order then! We’ll go eat somewhere else!”, getting up and marching out the door before a further rational thought or comment might even register to anyone else.

The server had a reflexive, agonal, trailing off of “what. . . I. .what did she. . .huh. . . . . did she just. . .oh. . okay.”

Behavioral Summary:

This little girl would typically be a child of high awareness, intelligence, and drive. She is borne into a family environment that is not stable enough and/or aware enough to understand how to provide her with proper structure, boundaries, and balanced objective perception. Thus, such a child is inappropriately and pathologically addressed either through manipulative spoiling (over-nurturing) or induction of fear (overdominance). Neither leads to stability, accurate perception, or respect for others. Instead, it leads to the behavior noted by the little girl in the story above.

The grandmother displayed typical over-nurturing behavior towards her granddaughter, which unfortunately encourages the repetitive cyclical indoctrination of bad behavior and confusion of the child to “appear completely normal” to the child.

The server issued a stable and appropriate correction to the child. The correction was not over-the-top and it did not produce a fear response. It was and is precisely the type of “correction” and “tough love” that that little girl needs to develop properly in mind, body, soul, and spirit.

The grandmother ran (flight) because she knows she is too weak (or unstable) to be an effective authority figure or parent, even to an itty bitty little girl, who really needs her help. The server brought that reality into the grandmother’s focus, so the grandmother took her “victim” and her awareness and exchanged it, quite eagerly, for the anger and victim card of distraction and delusion.

Waffle House Conversations

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

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

The Two Poles of the False Self; The Root of much Mental and Behavioral Illness (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 190)

Paraphrased pretext note: According to Buddhist psychology, narcissism is an inherent consequence or side effect of maturation in human existence. It does not necessarily have to become a demon of future suffering, instability, and mental anguish, but most often it does. The adults suffering from such eventually become parents and pass this insufferable torch onto their children via their over invasiveness/intrusiveness or neglectful behavior in relation to their child’s true self. The child’s narcissistic anchor is unable to lock and hold on a stable parental entity in this dynamic and is thus unable to naturally autocorrect by withering away into oblivion from whence it came. Instead, the narcissistic anchor becomes a narcissistic “demon” possessing the child and that demon then assumes one of two possible versions, creating the shell of a false self around the child. Often, the child grows into an adult who continues to carry the demon for the rest of their life.

Cribb 2017


Just as the philosophers of the Buddha’s day could be described as either eternalists (who believed in an immortal heaven, God, or real self) or annihilationists (who believed only in the meaninglessness or futility of life, so the human psyche finds comfort in alternatively embracing one or the other of these views. they are in fact, the two poles of the false self: namely, the grandiose self developed in compliance with the parent’s demands and in constant need of admiration, and the empty self, alone and impoverished, alienated and insecure, aware only of the love that was never given. The grandiose self, while fragile and dependent on the admiration of others, believes itself to be omnipotent or self-sufficient and so retreats to aloofness or remoteness, or, when threatened, clings to an idealized other from whom it hopes to retrieve its power. The empty self clings in desperation to that which it feels can assuage its hollowness or retreats to a barren void in which it is unapproachable and which reinforces the belief in its own unworthiness. Neither feels entirely satisfactorily, but to the extent that we are governed by the demands of the false self, we can envision no alternative.

thoughts without a thinker

Mark Epstein, M.D.          1995