G7. Fear & our Inner Child

G7.1: "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"

Fear is a warning and so is pain. Explore your inner child and discover what early childhood or more ancient fears may be lurking in your imagination and possibly holding you back from fully succeeding as an adult. 

G7.2: Alice Miller and others have written about our "Inner Child."

Alice Miller is a psychotherapist who was one of the early writers to describe the concept of our "inner child" - the free spirit within ourselves who as a toddler likes to play and explore and ask the question "why" more times than a parent may be able to find patience to answer. The answer is not important to the young child, that is why the question isn't either. The child simply wants to keep the conversation going and  doesn't have the conversational skills to turn a corner and ask a new question.

     The parent with a shred of patience left in their parent arsenal might redirect the string of "why" questions onto a new topic themselves. The adult is the expert, the child is an eager sponge soaking up every experience at top speed. It can be difficult to keep up with a toddler when they're full of energy and curiosity.

     Alice Miller answers a question a reader asks about the inner child theory on her website, "Denying the Inner Child," see alice-miller.com: (G7.1)

     In summary, a reader wants to know why we should look for our inner child if some people don't have one or if research can't prove they exist. Alice Miller responds with a point about civil rights or individual differences, roughly - just because some people haven't the ability to reach or believe in an inner self doesn't mean that should stop everyone or anyone else from exploring their own inner world of beliefs and experiences.

     In my own growth as a person I found that I wasn't always ready for certain information until a later stage. The blind can't see what they aren't ready to admit is important or that they may feel is a betrayal of their family to admit - everyone's childhood was perfect because it was exactly what they were used to - not quite, but roughly. 

     A child in severe trauma situations likely knows they are in a desperate place but as a toddler, how could they know what they had never experienced?

G7.3: Healing the inner child may mean accepting grief and shame.

John Bradshaw is another author who has written about the concept of our inner child and cognitive and emotional therapy techniques for helping re-parent the hurt child or angry child or frozen child that might be hiding within an adult struggling to understand why they are feeling so hurt or angry or frozen as an otherwise apparently healthy adult. Emotional pain can linger deep within old habits and jokes that you might not even realize are hurtful still, or did hurt the child you.

     A frequent giveaway phrase that may indicate unspoken issues from the past is the response "My childhood was perfect," when asked about it. Life is not perfect. If open communication is allowed during childhood, then the memory banks on replay as an adult would likely have some good and bad episodes, not an instant "perfect' and nothing else. 

     Therapy techniques for accepting loss of a loved one were developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (G7.3) that have been helpful for working through the grieving process when given a chronic or life threatening diagnosis. The steps to work through grief can also be helpful to work through the grief or shame that might surface when thoughts of the "perfect" childhood reveal some murkier memories.

     Suppressed memories of trauma may surface that can increase negative symptoms while the pain is being re-experienced from the adult perspective. The therapist can help question what the child you may have learned from the experience and then discuss what an adult might have been able to do differently or how the lesson learned then might have helped protect a child but is no longer helping the adult. A child might have learned to always make a sarcastic joke to lighten a tense environment or deflect anger - but acting a clown as an adult could be annoying to your adult coworkers or professionally limiting your chances to be promoted. another child might have learned to lash out in anger from fear or defensiveness and as an adult they might be making irritated comments about petty office differences. The child who learned to freeze, quiet to not attract angry or derisive or sexual attention perhaps, might be the adult who gets everything done so quietly in the background of the office environment that no one notices them.

     The grieving process as an adult may include accepting that your parents actually weren't perfect after all - and that can be sad if not devastating for a short while.  Working on recovering memories that were suppressed since childhood, or whenever the event occurred, can be painful, as the emotional memory when replayed feels just as wrenching, maybe, or almost as it did initially. It would be hard to know what a child felt, but for me it has been painful and still can hurt. In some ways a glowing endorsement of "My childhood was perfect." is a kind way to make whatever did happen feel a little more perfect than it did at the time, or that the child was allowed to admit to at the time.

     Children need help learning the language to describe emotions and it helps any trauma survivor work through painful memories if they are able to talk about the experience. Each retelling can help move the memory from the hot button emotional center of the amygdala into longer memory storage that is less "emotional." Memories stored in the amygdala are more likely to be emotionally strong in some way, so trying to remember them and re-examine them can also be restoring the original pain or fear at the same time. 

     But then working through the feeling with the therapist helps reduce the strength of the feeling and helps replace lessons that were learned with new ways to approach similar situations. The clownish adult may see that cracking jokes is a defense mechanism and learn how to better assert themselves with normal communication instead of making jokes that might have some passive-aggressive or angry subtext (unspoken meaning). The angry adult might also see that lashing out isn't as helpful as adult assertive conversation. Assertiveness isn't aggression, it is asserting a point, making a case in normal language and then letting the other participant in the conversation respond. The frozen adult might learn that they really, really need assertiveness training.

  1. 6 Steps to Help Heal Your Inner Child, psychcentral.com: (G7.2).
  2. 5 Stages of Grief, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, grief.com: (G7.3).
  3. Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child , johnbradshaw.com: (G7.4).
  4. Working With Your Inner Child to Heal Abuse, an article by an online support group, isurvive.org: (G7.5).

G7.4: “Whatever Happened to Assertiveness Training?”

Whatever Happened to Assertiveness Training?” asks a psychiatrist in an article focused on the need for assertiveness training for physicians. (G7.6

     David M. Allen shares his concern that the changes in the health insurance coverage and managed care industry have left physicians more stressed and rushed than is healthy for them or their patients - potentially. The solution that has been offered is mindfulness training, to help cope with stress. He makes the point that it is not a solution that would help protect patients or the physician's time and stress caused as a direct result of having ineffective conversations with managed care or insurance company representatives. Who in turn can be rude or abrupt, or just a human but one who is having to enforce annoying, unrealistic policies that may even be life threatening. And oh, yes, the physician might be pressed for time as well.
     Mr Allen recommends assertiveness training for the physicians to help them directly reduce stress by giving them better tools for managing the real underlying cause of some of the stress - having to perform a job that has unrealistic demands on their time, and their patience and professional need to prevent harm to their patients. (G7.6)    

     As a mother I had a natural instinct to protect my newborns from harm even if I had to fight tooth and nail - claws unfurled and ready to bite if needed. I felt that feeling, literally in a body language claw forming attack mode way, and very strong, "Don't you touch my baby." - I felt that same feeling for all of my clients to some extent. I never had a problem standing up for a client's right to individualized health care by writing a letter on their behalf to a physician or other health official if there was a concern with their child that wasn't being addressed appropriately or was being misunderstood. Children can be removed from a parent's custody if health issues are suspected to be due in part to neglect or mis-care.

     Being a health professional can be very emotionally draining. Social workers may commit suicide less often than physicians due to a difference in training about self care. Social workers are reminded to not become overly invested in the job or with a particular client’s troubles by having balance in their other roles in life.

  • Regarding social workers and compassion fatigue: Compassion Fatigue: Being an Ethical Social Worker: (11.25)
  • Regarding physicians and suicide: Details on suicide among U.S. physicians: Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System. (11.26)
  • Regarding suicide statistics by profession; farming has the highest risk, pesticide exposure is speculated to possibly increase risk due to neurological effects: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Suicide Rates by Occupational Group — 17 States, 2012, (11.27).
  • Tips from the perspective of a successful business leader: 11 Ways Successful People Deal With People They Don’t Like, (11.21) . 

Don't get overly invested in other's drama was one of the tips from successful business leaders.

     Transference and countertransference of mood and symptoms is - getting overly invested in your therapist or your therapist getting overly invested in you, to some extent. Symptoms seen in the patient may become a problem for the counselor. These terms are from the field of psychiatry and mental health counseling. The patient and counselor may form relationships and emotional patterns similar to what had been learned in their childhoods and negative symptoms may develop in the counselor while the patient may or may not be aware that the relationship became more personal and less professional than is recommended for counseling. 

     The theory of transference and countertransference may also apply to long term relationships that form in other areas of life. If you always played the clown and your sibling always played the angry over reactor and something about a coworker or patient/counselor combination reminds you of the childhood roles and you may find yourself acting in the behavior patterns that had been formed as a child. 

  • Read more: The Space Between: Transference and Countertransference (11.22)
  • Transference and Countertransference: A Common Sense Perspective, includes exercises to help a person become more aware of their own body tension or relaxation and other responses that occur naturally during a conversation. We tend to "mirror" each other's body language and style of speaking without being consciously aware of the tendency. The physical tension however can have very real effects on our mood. (11.23)
  • Transference and Countertransference in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a journal article with examples of scenarios and clinician responses: (11.24)

To return to the question - “Whatever happened to assertiveness training?” - I don’t know. For all the years of therapy and many different therapists that I’ve seen - none ever directly provided or arranged for assertiveness training sessions for me. I’ve read books about it though. (That's not really adequate though.)

     So is my recommendation to have a baby? No - or not unless you already wanted to.      

     No, my recommendation is to seek out whatever training you feel the need for and interest in having, including assertiveness training. The exercises in the links for transference and countertransference are addressing the body language cues that we react to in each other, often without consciously being aware of them. Dr. Allen recommends role playing with the family members together and practice the healthier ways to communicate as problems can sometimes result when change is attempted alone.

     The problem with one person working on more effective communication or more assertive communication techniques is that they can backfire and be less effective in that situation where there are still people using unhealthy communication. If the “frozen” adult is still in a relationship that does require silence to avoid abuse then suddenly “practicing” assertiveness techniques would seem like the quiet person had “attacked” instead of “practiced,” and might result in even worse abuse. 

     Dr. Colin Ross (G3.32) stressed the point that children in traumatic situations should not be treated therapeutically in ways that attempt to remove their protective strategies until the child is safely out of the traumatic or dangerous situation. It is actually very difficult to “remove” a child from their primary caregiver’s custody, so if there is any question of suspected abuse please do report it. 

     Reporting suspected child abuse can be done anonymously or with a name but the family would not be told who had filed the report with Child Protective Services.

 

  • See Dissociative Identity Disorder: Diagnosis, Clinical Features, and Treatment of Multiple Personality for more information about therapy for a child or adult with DID. (G.32

Other Crisis Hotlines and Resources for Children and Families:

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: a variety of toll-free hotline numbers for concerns involving the safety of children, see childwelfare.gov: (I.20)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 24/7 confidential support at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224, see thehotline.org: (I.19)
  • Power and Control and Equality Wheels  The following training materials are for helping victims of domestic violence and batterers learn how to recognize problem behaviors but emotional manipulation or abuse of power and control can occur in many types of relationships not just between couples.The Power and Control Wheel (I.21) was developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP). (I.22) Manipulative behaviors are grouped into eight categories in the model. An additional Equality Wheel (I.23) was developed to help guide batterers and victims of emotional or physical abuse towards healthier ways to interact. It is grouped into eight equivalent categories with examples of healthier ways to interact with each other. Problems frequently can involve communication issues by both people in a relationship.

Crisis Hotlines and Resources:

  • Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, RAINN Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE. See RAINN.org: (I.18).
  • U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: ‘Call 1-800-273-8255, Available 24 hours everyday.” Or see suicidepreventionlifeline.org: (I.16).
  • National Helpline: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: "SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders." See samhsa.org for more information: (I.17).

G7.5: What is Love? What is creativity? -oxytocin, vasopressin & dopamine are involved.

To return to a few topics introduced previously, the question of love was introduced and oxytocin and vasopressin are involved but there are different aspects to love. Physical love is the type most based on hormones and may be felt with the "falling love" rush of energy and maybe love-sickness, with a fluttery stomach. The feelings can be strong and may feel like a great romance but if it all was in a glance and really you only just met then it may be romantic but it isn't a romance yet. More mature love may grow into emotional caring and trust based on knowledge that expectations were met and the person can be relied on to do whatever those expectations were - which is a critical, what people expect from a "love" or "trust" relationship might not match what the other person expects. 

     Missed signals can result from the mismatch. If a romantic gesture is unnoticed the person who went out of their way may be hurt by the lack of thank you or some other response from the recipient. Or if the gesture was meant to be something nice but was misunderstood the recipient might get upset instead of being appreciative.

     Dr. Gary Chapman put into words some unspoken expectations about love which he found varied somewhat between people.  (G7.8) In his book he shares five types of "love languages" - those expectations of what it means to give or receive love. People might enjoy and appreciate all of the types but have a tendency to prefer one type or a couple types of ways that love is shown and felt:

  1. Is love the hug and kiss on the forehead from mom? - touch shows love. 
  2. Or the snack everyday after school? - routine, small daily services or tasks shows love in daily devotion to fulfilling needs or comfort. Or a large service rather than routine daily chores may also be ways to say  "I love you." -  Did the person clean or repair the whatever it was that no one would want to do unless you paid them really well - or they really loved you?
  3. Or the special little gift on the pillow at night for no reason, or birthday gift that was exactly what you wanted without your even realizing it? - physical tokens and gifts show affection and love and that the person knows what you like.
  4. Or does the once in a lifetime special event that you will never forget mean someone loves you enough to have gone to all that work? The fabulous birthday party or holiday extravaganza? Or the walk on the beach at sunset or the film festival in the park - quality time together can be an important way to say "I love you."
  5.  The actual words "I love you," and other words of affection can be essential ways for some people to give and receive love.  (G7.7, G7.8

Problems with hurt feeling can result from the couple or parent/child combination who aren't hearing each other's words or tokens of affection as they were intended. The parent setting boundaries for a teen is saying I love you by spending some quality time to devise the plan, acts of service to monitor the teen's behavior and enforce the plan, and the words of affection to explain the plan and any follow through in a nurturing manner. The teen may just take it as bossiness - the nurturing is tricky at any time but teens are at a stage of development where taking more autonomous control of their lives is a normal desire. The caregiver who enjoys making things or planning events might go to a lot of effort but the child might not appreciate it as much as having a snack waiting every day after school as soon as you got home.

  • Read more: The 5 Love Languages, the Secret to Love that Lasts, by Dr. Gary Chapman.  Wikipedia: (G7.7), Amazon: (G7.8). 

When the information about pair bonds and monogamy is added to the love language theory it may be possible that the preferences have something to do with the person's hormone and receptor activity. The monogamous pair bonding type of species in animal research had receptor activity that responded to a pair bonded partner but not to other potential mates. In a similar type of animal that did not pair bond monogamously receptor activity occurred with any friendly mate. (pages 110-111, 7.3

     The person who really needs the daily small acts of service to show love may be the type of person with more monogamous activity in their oxytocin or vasopressin receptors. The person who needs to receive and likes to give physical touch would be responding to and desiring oxytocin or vasopressin and may or may not have the monogamous type of activity in their receptors. If they enjoy touch with many partners it is possible they don't have the monogamous type and are receiving the hormones with any friendly touch. The person who likes quality time regularly, on a daily or frequent basis may be the monogamous type who gains comfort and physical healing from their pair bonded partner while the person who likes to make a large occasional show of affection or service might be the type who doesn't need or gain as much extra benefit from routine signs of affection.  

     Choosing a "partner for life" may be a more long lasting decision if the styles of showing affection match fairly well. Opposites can attract and help strengthen each other's weaknesses but if the differences are too extreme they may just end up constantly being slightly irritating to each other instead of being received as "affection or love" and who wants to constantly be misheard and misunderstood when they were just trying to be nice and "normal" in their own way. If a couple can each slightly modify their definition of "normal" to fall within the other person's comfort zone instead of triggering the "that's so annoying" button, then the relationship might "Last a Lifetime."  

     It helps to talk about the minor irritants at a neutral time and calmly discuss the specific behavior that is annoying rather than using language that suggest "you are purposely doing ______ to annoy me  - please stop." The please might be polite but the rest of the sentence was an accusation rather than a statement of one's own needs - "I need a half hour of quiet time when I get home from work in order to switch headsets so that I can be fully ready to engage with you - my dear darling partner." - no polite "please" in that statement but it also did not include an accusation. "You never give me any peace when I get home, you're driving me crazy on purpose," or the person is just lonely and really glad to see them and chattering away without thinking that the other person had a busy day in their work role and just needs to shift gears back to their family role and maybe resolve a "HALT" issue of their own - "hungry, angry, lonely, tired." (G7.9

     Recognizing your triggers is encouraged and discussed in addiction recovery programs. “HALT” is a slogan to help remember to recognize triggers and to plan ahead to prevent them by packing a lunch or joining a social group. (G7.9)

     If a couple has definitions of what is loving or soothing that are too different from one another's they may not be able to be very happy together because each is not feeling like their own love is being appreciated and that they are not being loved in return - even though each is trying in their own ways to be "loving" as they understand it.

     If love for one person, subconsciously or consciously, means expecting their love interest or partner to be home with dinner ready at a certain time everyday then they may be hurt if the person isn't ready or isn't home. While the partner who is expected to be home with a meal ready may feel hurt by the daily expectation. Subconscious expectations would remain unspoken and may be leftover from childhood when there was always a shared meal or maybe there was rarely a shared meal and it was missed. Conscious expectations would exist when there had been a previous conversation and a plan for a shared meal with a set time and place had been discussed and agreed upon. 

     Problems might occur if the partners don't share similar natural inclinations or childhood family routines to eat regular meals at set times. If one prefers to eat whatever seems appealing whenever they get hungry instead of a set time and planned meal, then the person might feel like they are being expected to act as a servant who is only loved if their chores are complete instead of as a love interest who shares the same preference for sharing a meal, and therefore who is betraying or neglecting that love by not being in the expected time and place with the planned meal ready. If the partner who is expected to prepare a meal regularly is not hungry or busy or for whatever reason doesn't make the expected meal, then the partner who was looking forward to relaxing over a shared meal with their  love interest is also likely to become dissatisfied and feel hurt, neglected or abandoned or betrayed - who knows why? Without open communication about the hurt feelings or the old family routines the couple might never understand why they seem tense or upset with each other. 

     The partner who likes a daily ritual may be the sort of person who strongly has monogamous activity in their oxytocin or vasopressin receptors while the person who prefers to do things when the timing feels right and who has few daily routines may not need their emotional "love" bond to be renewed with daily routine acts of small service and might be more likely to give occasional "large" one time acts of service or planned event as their way to show they love someone.

  • A discussion of various hormones and their affect on behavior is available in the book Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, by Robert Sapolsky: (pages 99-265, 7.3

Parents and coworkers give and receive positive and negative communications in their words and actions. Patterns from childhood may be appearing in your present adult encounters without your noticing that the grade school humor or sarcastic defensive remark is not funny in the business setting and is no longer helping to defend you from a person you knew during childhood - look around - nope they aren't here, probably, unless you brought them along.


Creativity may be an essential part of keeping love alive, more alive with the "falling in love" feeling at least. Interviews with couples who celebrated many decades together have said that time apart and time together is essential, having some independent interests and shared ones, and trying new ones together just for fun. Falling re-in-love each day, each decade as each changed and grew up into a new phase of their life and their lives together was also stressed. Be an individual and a couple that accepts that growth is normal and expected, and enjoyed and appreciated.

     The problem with childhood patterns is the risk of becoming trapped in them - always fearing the big bad wolf even when there really isn't one this time, here as an adult; or seeking out the big bad wolf because that is what normal is and life just isn't normal without the fill-in-the-blank: "____", bad or traumatizing or memorable childhood experience. Repeating the same patterns from the past may be seen in strings of broken relationships that were all with similar people - similar to some issue from childhood that was your norm then and until you work through it as an adult, unfortunately may continue to show up in future relationships. The risk of trauma affecting relationships was also seen along with adult experiences of trauma. Vietnam veterans were more at risk for aggressive behavior against an intimate female partner if they had PTSD and problems in the relationship mediated the affect. (G7.10

     Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can involve dissociation and a imagined recreation of the traumatic event and surroundings and be dangerous for the individual and others. child trauma can cause similar types of symptoms and may result in a diagnosis of PTSD at some point later in life. The brain undergoes physical changes that make the person less able to tolerate stress as well as a person of average brain development.

     The upside of the down is a possible increase in creativity.

     Creativity may involve dissociation and dopamine - the "in the zone" creative flow of the artist or inventor at work. Arthur Koestler wrote about creativity and other authors wrote essays about his work and the topic of creativity in an anthology celebrating his life and work. He wrote scientific nonfiction works and fiction novels and gained acclaim in both fields. The discussion in the anthology suggests that many great works have involved a flash of insight or "eureka" type moment and that the "answer" tended to be in visual images or the sound of the symphony rather than a written text, math formula or musical score.  A review of the book Astride the Two Cultures, Arthur Koestler at 70 is available at KirkusReview.com: (G7.11)

     Our nonverbal brain is smart - it's just nonverbal. It can be scary to explore your dreamy side especially if you think there might be a childhood memory lurking. On the other hand, drawing and writing and playing musical instruments can free the creative side to vent and release some of the trapped feelings.

     It can help to have a therapist available to discuss some of the issues that arise or to be able to share some of the creations you made for further help understanding and working through the feelings and learning from the event or issue the artwork represents. 

     How would an adult handle that situation differently? Were those adults or other children being fair or was it a situation that any child would have had difficulty in? Sometimes it can help a lot to just hear that - yes, that was not normal, yes, you had an unusual experience, good job surviving, now it's time to look at from the adult perspective and then start to move on with that new framework.

     In the child's eyes parental guidance might seem harsh or maybe it was harsh but now it is time to see that they were human and humans aren't always right, especially in the way that a child views a parent as being the most right, best and superior person in the world, at least until a certain age when peer group starts to take more of a central role in the child's life.

     The style of parenting a child experienced can affect work or personal relationships and may affect our political choices as well. A need for security and how we feel more secure may play a part in our choice of political party and the candidates and policies that we support with our votes. Alice Miller wrote about the possible link between authoritarian, more strict, parenting styles, and dictatorships such as the Nazi regime in one section of her book Paths of Life: Seven Scenarios. The scenarios are examples, composite people that represent a type rather than actually being  a certain person such as in a biography,  a review is available on the author’s website: (G7.12).

Disclaimer; and "Find an expert" near you:

See a healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert

G7.6: Fear, generosity and politics.

G7.6.1: Who and what do you fear? How much and who do you give money or support too?

Fear of public speaking? Fear of change, or foreigners or people who look or act differently than you? Fear of the people that your parents feared?

     What we value is learned from our parents or other caregivers and from our peer groups and educational and entertainment choices. "Morals" is another word for values. "Core values" is a term used in mental health regarding our early childhood experiences and what they taught us. It is difficult to change those core values because they are learned from very early ages and from nonverbal experiences primarily rather than from "rules." They are the "unspoken rules" discussed earlier in the 11: What is Sexism? section.

     A cognitive linguist, George Lakoff, discusses our core values in relation to politics in his book Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, Third Edition.  A review of the book is available online at  uchicago.edu: (G7.13). He provides examples of words and phrases that we use and how they are connected to the values we make a priority in our votes or other actions. The first part of the book is academic and nonpartisan but it is clearly liberally biased in a later section. As examples the book typically includes some from both liberal and conservative voices as the title suggests. The parenting style we grew up with is related to our trust level as an adult. Attachment styles were discussed in 8. Trust is learned early

     The type of parenting style a child grew up with may lead to more secure attachment to others and is associated with being more trusting and more prosocial behavior - helpful to society.

  • Strict parents may set firm boundaries and rules and enforce standards more harshly than nurturing or permissive parents. The child growing up with an authoritarian caregiver may develop an avoidant or anxious attachment style with a preference for authoritarian guidance or adherence from others, and expect more clear rules and adherence to following rules by people such as a candidate. 
  • Nurturing parents have boundaries but they also listen and may make changes if appropriate. Negotiation with guidance can support autonomy and lead to a more secure attachment style. The author George Lakoff suggests this style represents the liberal voter and that the "strict" style represents the conservative voter. (G7.13
  • There's also the anxious-resistant style which might correlate to the modern day "helicopter parenting" - a parent who may be overly involved in scheduling or controlling their child's life.
  • The disorganized style is a mixture of some variety of the other styles. It may be most harmful to a child's development to have inconsistent caregivers who may demand adherence to strict rules and then never mention them again until suddenly they do.

Two points are mentioned but not really addressed thoroughly in the book Moral Politics:

  1.  Authoritarian parents can be nurturing,."Strict" does not have to mean "spare the rod, spoil the child", it might mean more curfews and other rules - and some personality types may benefit from that type of more clear guidance, if it isn't accompanied by physically or emotionally damaging punishments or verbal criticism instead of guidance. In my observation of approximately 13,000 babies or toddlers, from the cradle some babies tend to be placid and happy to watch the world and wait for the world to drop by for a visit as long as it isn't too startling or crying may result and it is a good fit when the mother  or caregiver recognizes this and provides it or is by nature also calm and controlled and not startling to the infant. While other babies, from the cradle, are trying to get out of the cradle and while pinning them into the cradle isn't allowed, the straps on infant and toddler car-seats are elaborate enough to do a good job when used correctly - however while imprisoning a curious child in a playpen, highchair or car seat has become a cultural norm it is not satisfying the curious child's need to taste, touch and learn absolutely everything they can about their environment. Children are amazing if allowed to be. 
  2. Liberals and Independents - what about the liberals and the other types of attachment styles? The initial work on which the current attachment theories are based included three basic styles of how infants and caregivers responded to each other. It is possible that a book about two groups is making an inaccurate assumption. What if both "Liberals" and "Conservatives" as group averages, not individuals, are not "secure" because they are identifying with a group, wanting a guide, and it is the Independents who are "secure" and comfortable enough to make their own choices from the variety of candidates.

Based on the conversational and other examples from the book the Conservative voice might indeed have the authoritarian parent, who might be nurturing but firm rather than physically abusive; but the Liberal voice might represent an anxious type of helicoptering parent who cares so much they may be overly controlling and therefore "authoritarian" in their own "this project is for your own good, whether you like it or want it or need it or not" loving way.

     The Independent who looks at controlling ways as being overly controlled might have a difficult time finding a "secure" candidate on either party's ballot because the "Party Platform" of both major parties is somewhat authoritarian, just in different ways, and so any candidate who is cooperating with their Team's platform or agreed upon plan of action - the policies that the team have agreed upon as  group to all try to work towards achieving together, against the platform or plan of action agreed upon by the other Team. 

     The U.S. electoral college makes the likelihood that a Third Party candidate would win an election, especially a contested election, practically non-existent.  As a "policy" trying to win a federal election as an Independent or Third Party candidate in the current system is not really plausible if not actually impossible seeing as how a candidate can win the electoral college while losing the popular vote. However a well delivered campaign might help move platform points that were raised by Third Party or Independent candidate onto a major party platform and feasibly into elected office - if enough voters appear to adopt the platform point then major party  officials or candidates may decide to incorporate the point into their own platform in the hopes of getting the independent voters to vote for a major party candidate.

     Since the Citizen's United decision by the Supreme Court changed fundraising rules for politics the focus on personality and mudslinging has taken even more precedence over platform points. You as a voter or candidate could help individually try to bring substance and discussion of policy back to the voters and out of the hands of lobbyist fundraisers by discussing policy in a rational and informed manner as a candidate and vote for candidates who discuss platform goals more than the character flaws of the other candidate or other party or other nations or blaming all societies woes on the handful of terrorists who have caused some destruction while ignoring the homegrown violence being perpetrated by white men against a variety of targets including racial, religious, disabled, or female victims - the "Brave" showing they are superior to the "weak" is not manly or macho and is not protecting "traditional values" except that of an irrational vigilante or someone who was made to feel their masculinity was slighted and they need to defend their "honor." Any tradition that encourages men to incite other men into killing women doesn't seem honorable to me it seems to be shouting the opposite - I'm so unmanly I have to try to build myself up taller by stepping on someone smaller. If honor killing was a female thing then our current President would have been "dishonored" three times already by three sets of women's families who all would have risen up to protect the honor of their female family member. Instead we hear talk of "boys will be boys" - when do men need to be men and take responsibility for bad policy decisions?

     Politics is about writing and enforcing effective policy that is helping improve everyone's lives on a daily basis, not just about throwing campaign rallies and asking for donations to cover the cost.

G7.6.2: So who is afraid of the big, bad wolf? - Sensible people.

We all have some survival instincts because our ancestors did have to avoid dangerous predators in order to be able to survive. It is natural to want to protect family and friends over strangers, but it is also human nature to protect strangers too, when possible. 

     To return to the discussion of the Golden Rule, the moral values described by George Lakoff in his book Moral Politics, Third Ed., (G7.13) and attributed to the "Conservatives" and "Liberals" are similar to the "negative" and "positive" versions of the Golden Rule. According to the linguistic analysis by George Lakoff, roughly, the Conservatives may value the negatively phrased version more, "Don't do bad to others" - but maybe not to the point of giving them the shirt off your back especially if it doesn't seem like they are a hard worker,and they may even feel a right to take your shirt if they think they are more deserving because they work harder and deserve it because they earn more money. While the Liberals may value the positively phrased version more, "Do good to others," - even if the person doesn't really want the help. 

     My suggestion is bypass both of those versions now that we are all living in such a mixed society where "doing" anything "to" others might be taken wrong, and switch to the "Ask others how they would like to be treated first, and try to accommodate those preferences if possible, within reason," version that is also represented in human culture. 

     This concept is exemplified in the Native American Talking Stick strategy for group communication. And it is also represented by one of the concepts that Stephen Covey put into words in his book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." (G7.14) Whitepapers on a variety of effective leadership strategies are available for free download from the time management business company which evolved from the initial book: (G7.15).

      With the Native American Talking Stick, only the person who has the Talking Stick is allowed to speak except for questions from the group which pertain only to clarifying the speaker's idea. Once the person agrees that the group understands the idea they pass the Talking Stick to the next person who wants to add more to the idea or bring up an alternative idea of their own. And then they repeat the process, speaking and clarifying the idea until it is fully understood and they pass the Talking Stick to the next person who wants a chance to be heard. (G7.16)

    The Covey version of the Talking Stick concept has made it into grade school lesson plans - so there are easy learning materials ready to adapt for employees too: (G7.17). Or there are many adult versions of books and time management aids that support and teach the Covey effective work habits. If your employee is stuck in a grade school humor mindset though - it might be just what they need to help snap them out of it so they can finally join the adult world of conversation with more effective communication strategies. (G7.18/The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) I used a variety of time management tools during my professional career from the Franklin Covey company and found them very helpful for keeping track of my many obligations as an government employee with more responsibilities than time or staff - magic, that is how policy gets written (not really).

     Dedicated employees working overtime for the love of the public good more than personal profit is the magic would be my guess. My policy books tended to get written in spare moments and in my personal time, so for me it came at a cost to my family and social life. 

     I made time by saving time and delegating work. Having adjusted to the tending of nine times four sets of policy and procedure manuals, I created on my own a set of self directed lesson plans with handouts and do-it-yourself lessons and quizzes that participants could complete on their own for completing the educational component required by the federally funded program. It saved time and many clients preferred it to having to make a separate appointment for a group class. The set grew into another ten or so binders times four, enough for each clinic location. The supplies for all of those ring binders may have been purchased by the agency but I may have bought the supplies myself, and saved receipts as a donation to a non-profit organization. 

     Public teachers also may spend a significant amount of personal money for educational supplies. My agency budget barely covered a few staff. I had to find free handouts from commercial organizations or make my own version to provide a variety of topics in addition to the basic topics covered in some state funded handouts. The requirements for a Lesson Plan Local Agency Policy Manual included a requirement for a lesson plan and examples of the handouts and analysis of the educational level of each handout for seventy or so topics. 

     Autonomy is nice, it was nice to have freedom to create our own materials but on the other hand why require each county to recreate the wheel? That was an enormous and impossible request to add on top of everything else I had to do. Somehow I managed, counties shared lesson plans and handouts with each other and some were provided by the state or shared at an interstate level - best practices for education in different  settings for slightly different target groups. It made for interesting reading to compare so many examples of how different agencies delivered the same educational message. I frequently shared my best examples too at the state's annual conference. I can't say that all of my handouts had grade level analysis forms completed though. I still managed to sleep at night about that issue - a client with health issues was occasionally an individual worry that showed up in a dream Obviously I still  remember the lack, time was the issue, writing and enforcing effective policy also means knowing it, but auditors didn't make an issue out of it. Maybe they realize impossible and implausible policies are also unreasonable. 

     One state level law tried to set policy regarding a federal program and didn't provide any budget. Rather than press the impossible nature of the legislation the program officials and local agency coordinators eventually reached a consensus on a policy that would shift more focus to the goal but by offering a fee service from another agency that used state funds - writing unconstitutional law that state workers have to follow is an example of bad policy, not just impossible, implausible or annoying but moving into illegal to use federal funds for a state goal.

     My own work may have been positively recognized as the county and agency where I worked was used as an example county for a federal audit that required two counties to be evaluated for the state agency's federal review and renewal of the accreditation of the program, and we did well - so I heard. 

     I became more stressed and unhealthy preparing for the audit, I had policy manuals to organize or update that had gotten overdue with the rest of the workload. there were also personal issues that reached new and bad levels of stress. I was asked to resign due to medical marijuana use, not due to poor job function or any complaints from clients. I knew there is no protection for use of medical marijuana as an employee and that I was in the wrong, and I resigned without filing a grievance. 

     When I'm wrong I admit it, however I do not agree with the national policy. People can work while using other prescription medications that affect cognition. Functional ability and whether the medication is aiding an employee's ability to function or reducing it should be a standard on which to base the question of the use of medications in job settings as well as the nature of the job. I was cleaning my office on a non-client day - in preparation for the federal audit.  I had told my boss that I was having some troubles coping about a month prior and instead of encouraging Employee Wellness Programs or additional staff support I may have just left myself open for increased scrutiny. (Don't bother calling for a recommendation, my boss is retired now.)

     If there is a genetic difference and it is actually helping me function better to have an external source of cannabinoids then it is discriminatory at the national level to make it illegal to obtain and use the most concentrated and effective source. 

     I'm not advocating for "drugged" employees but I am advocating for supporting the unique metabolic needs of all individuals rather than making some people's physiological needs illegal to easily obtain. For some people it might be the essential nutrient their body needs to reach the state of normal physiologic function that other people have everyday of their lives - from birth. That would be nice but I missed that experience.

     There is a synthetic medication available but it is not as well balanced as the natural plant's variety of cannabinoids and physician typically won't prescribe it. That some people need an external source of cannabinoids every day as an essential part of their diet due to metabolic differences in their ability to make it internally the way people of average health are able, is not yet recognized by the medical community - in part because it is federally illegal to say that marijuana is of medical value - we have a circular reasoning logic loop spiraling down into worsening health and worsening addiction and worsening fertility problem as a result of a physiologically impossible policy written by an administration whose leader was impeached. Why are we clinging to a policy about health from over fifty years ago which medical organizations have recommended we revise?

     Fear of the big, bad wolf? - the scare tactics that have been written into news and movies and books about the dangers of marijuana? It really isn't as dangerous as alcohol or cigarettes and it is certainly less dangerous than opioids - and may be more beneficial to health than many would ever have suspected. Infants need cannabinoids in breast milk to stimulate their appetite so the grow and gain weight well. A malnourished woman has less of the naturally produced cannabinoid content in her breast milk. The types of fats found in breast milk largely reflect the balance of fats found in the diet so a diet without essential fats will result in breast milk with little essential fatty acids.

     It is genetic discrimination to not provide infants or adults with the essential nutrients they need for health because the essential nutrient was declared illegal due to being "not of medical value." I read a book or two on assertiveness training but the time I've spent online trying to share the good news that health is possible if we simply allowed it has been a real lesson in better and less better ways to attempt to assert myself - but babies are being starved and I'ma mother who fights tooth and nail for her babies - all of them, no matter what their skin color is or their genetic issues may be. Everyone has a right to be able to seek a nourishing diet for their individual needs without being declared a criminal.  

     Children with seizures of some types are  helped by a noneuphoric type of cannabinoid and yet it is difficult if not illegal for them to obtain. Why should nature be made illegal just because we're scared of changing fifty year old policy? Our prisons and hospitals are full. Shall we wait until we run out of people? 

     Nixon's administration was found to have designed the policy as a means to harass and imprison the "hippie and black" populations - is the big bad wolf that we are still enforcing the policy for that very reason and so we really don't want to change the policy even if health is healthy? People who are healthy right now - ask yourself, if this medication could prevent seizures or paralysis or cancer from occurring in your own body - would you want to use before the chronic illness developed, once it had already developed , or never have access to the life saving herbal medication that humans have been cultivating and consuming for thousands of years - right up until the last century? 

     Ask yourselves if it was healthy enough for human consumption for 1900 years why aren't we benefiting from it now? Why has this life saving and environmentally friendly product not in use? Street drugs are stronger might be an argument, and more dangerous - well if safe alternatives were readily available at a reasonable price then there would immediately be no black market left. Medical marijuana has cut down on the black market sales of marijuana and that may have resulted in an increase in black market opioid sales as the workers still need a job and income stream. The story of drug policy in the US is murky and a documentary series is available online which dives into the unclear waters: (G7.19) the War on Drugs and the War on Terror are somewhat similar in that different elements of government seem to be funding one side and fighting the other. 

     An effective team has clear goals and makes priorities that don't have opposite effects. Dig a hole and refill a hole - shoveling sand on a beach is not an effective use of time unless you are playing and just making temporary sand castles for fun. National policy should be an effective use of taxpayer funds and be not too annoying for the surrounding environment and other nations.


So just who is the big bad wolf? did granny always have such big teeth? Disclosure: I have walked in a parade in a big bad wolf as granny costume, however in this metaphor, to be clear as mud, the granny in wolf's clothing is the government programs that fight drugs or terror with one program while supporting it in less obvious ways with  other agencies or foreign support. While the war on terror is complicated by many national interests our own nation could change the listing of marijuana to that of an herb with medicinal value and research into its use medically would be free to take place. 

  • See the section from the Introduction, Addiction or Starvation?, for more information about the genetic connection between some types of eating disorders and substance abuse and the cannabinoid receptor system. 

G7.6.3: Cognitive Dissonance and the definition of "is."

I was so busy working or recovering from too much work that I didn't really pay attention to politics except for the major news events and even those I may only have caught the headlines. The headlines and what I was seeing didn't always match. Cognitive dissonance is a term for when the mind has to deal with having to believe two different "conflicting beliefs at the same time," (G7.20) or to have to try to suppress one belief about reality because someone is claiming a different version of reality to be true. 

     For children having inconsistent caregivers can lead to the most difficulty coping as a child or later as an adult according to research into early childhood development and attachment theory, discussed in 8. Trust is learned early

     If a child knows that they can trust dinner will be ready or can trust that they have to scrounge for themselves then they at least have a sense of control over what to expect. The child who occasionally gets lavished with great meals and then is left with an empty kitchen and no money is going to have less skill to scrounge for themselves and more bewilderment or hurt that they occasionally may need to fend for themselves instead of always getting the lavish meals. 

  • Bruce Dow, M.D. discusses the effects of early childhood trauma and cognitive dissonance more in the article Cognitive Dissonance, PTSD, and Control.  (G7.20)

Starting to dislike something is a common strategy for coping with the cognitive dissonance of not being able to get something that we want according to the article by Bruce Dow M.D.. (G7.20)

     If you can't have something anyway, associating a negative idea with something may make it easier to think about it less. However if it is a false association, a false reason for the dislike, you may end up fooling yourself in the long run by talking yourself out of trying for something that only seems unobtainable but may just require additional work to obtain or additional teammates or time, etc.. The best way to try to solve a problem is to believe that there is a solution; the worse way to try to solve a problem is to believe that is can't be solved. 

     What is the definition of "is." That is a problem that can be solved with a dictionary or a lawyer. I choose a dictionary or common sense. The definition of "is" is the sort of news headline that I ignore, policy manuals are more exciting. In a "he said, she said" story I want to hear the words "I was wrong," or I change the channel.

     I don't need a dictionary for what the definition of "is" is.  The definition of "is" is existential at the most literal sense of the word existential - "is" is about the existence of something or the state of being at which it currently is existing- a caregiver to a child: "The stove is in the kitchen and it is hot, so if you go out there please don't touch it or you might burn yourself."

     How we phrase things and speak to each other or about our actions can give subtle messages that we may not realize.

     The stove is not a bad evil dangerous thing that is maliciously out to get the child: "don't touch it, like a naughty child, or you might get burnt."

     The stove is a tool that exists in the kitchen and it currently is in the state of "on" which is "hot to the touch" and so a child reasonably deserves a safety warning that the tool in the kitchen is in a state of "hot" and it should not be touched for the purposes of safety. Messages that warn the child with threats or shaming don't educate them about their curiosity about the tool that the caregiver uses occasionally. Children are curious.

     Never mentioning history because it is agreed by a group to be not mentioned by anyone, ever, is cool if everyone is in agreement, but not cool if there is a significant difference of opinion and if sanctions are used to enforce the "not mentioning it ever" policy - controlling what is allowed to be discussed is a sign of dictatorship. 

     Pretending something didn't happen is a child's behavior not an adult's. Not talking about something can be polite, but it can also be a bad thing on which to base policy - what if deep down everyone isn't comfortable about the issue and just not talking about it isn't actually making the situation childishly "all better now." What if the polls only represent the ones who are being allowed to voice their "yes" opinions and everyone else is choosing to voice their opinion in the voting booth? 

     Cognitive dissonance may be used as a tactic by extremely manipulative people to gain and maintain control over other people or children. Narcissism is a personality trait that can be more or less evident in a person's characteristic behaviors, some narcissism is healthy, too much isn't. As a parent or as a person in a relationship of a personal or business nature the manipulation of a narcissist may not be noticed until already caught up in the cycle of loving or flattering attention followed by dismissive neglectfulness and messages of unworthiness. 

     It can be easy to get caught in a cycle of admiring and enjoying the charismatic fun side of a narcissistic person and then feel that they are right about your need to become more "worthy" in whatever way is being implied - which quickly change, as one hurdle is met another is simply added - the point is not to help the person improve. The goal of the extreme narcissist is to make the other person feel unworthy so they will continue to try to please the narcissist by doing what they want or giving them the flattering attention that they need. (G.narcissist manipulation

     The more severe narcissistic personality may have once been a defense for a child who found safety in making people laugh or admire daring stunts. More narcissism was found in males than females for two of four sub-categories that were reviewed in a meta-analysis of research on the topic.  Exploitative/Entitlement and Leadership/Authority were facets of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) that were found to be more significantly common in males than females. There was no significant difference found between males and females for the Grandiose/Exhibitionism facet of the NPI or for vulnerable narcissism, another type that isn't included in the NPI which is less similar to the stereotypical mirror loving "narcissist". Vulnerable narcissists have symptoms of low self-esteem, neuroticism and introversion. (G.digitalcommons)

  • Of "three facets of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)" the "Exploitative/Entitlement facet (d = .29; k = 44 studies; N = 44,108) and Leadership/Authority facet (d = .20; k = 40 studies; N = 44,739)" were significantly associated, "whereas the gender difference in Grandiose/Exhibitionism (d = .04; k = 39 studies; N = 42,460) was much smaller." Another type, "vulnerable narcissism - marked by low self-esteem, neuroticism, and introversion," was also reviewed and found to be represented fairly equally between the genders, "men and women did not differ on vulnerable narcissism (d = –.04; k = 42 studies; N = 46,735) ."  (G.digitalcommons)

The discussion suggests that the difference may be based on a true difference between the genders but that how boys are raised may also affect their sense of entitlement or leadership.  (G.digitalcommons)

     Child trauma can affect lifelong reaction to stress and cause an increase in cortisol response. (G.PTSD & cortisol) For either gender, levels of testosterone and cortisol have been associated with an increased risk for severe narcissism but not for the other antisocial personality traits. Speculatively then, that could mean there may be potentially treatable health factors involved in narcissistic tendencies that may not be involved in other antisocial traits. Read more:  Testosterone, cortisol and the Dark Triad: Narcissism (but not Machiavellianism or psychopathy) is positively related to basal testosterone and cortisol. (G.researchgate) Having a history of PTSD has been associated with increased risk for intimate partner violence among male Vietnam veterans with PTSD. (G.PTSD domestic violence)

     Family Systems Therapy (G.Family Systems Therapy) was recommended for helping patients and families role play new ways of communicating together with the therapist in the book by Colin Ross about treating patients with severe child trauma. Changing behaviors for one person without addressing an unhealthy group interaction can result in worse problems for the patient or child who is still in the unhealthy setting. Problems can occur when one person in a group tries to change to a style of communication that would be considered "healthy" in normal groups but which might be received as an "attack" by a group that is used to dominating the patient in some way. 

     By role-playing the new ways to communicate with the therapist the family will be expecting the change. They may also learn something in the therapy setting that they might be unwilling or unable to learn from the family member who they are used to only thinking about and seeing in the dominated role that the person had been filling within the group. 

     In neuroscience the term cognitive dissonance is used more specifically to refer to the tendency to change beliefs if actions occur that conflict with previous attitudes. Neural activity was measured during conversation that involved cognitive dissonance and found to consistently occur in two areas of the brain. Read more: Neural Activity Predicts Attitude Change in Cognitive Dissonance,   (G.omicsonline.org

     The cognitive effects of music for helping cope with cognitive dissonance to better handle the stress was estimated by measuring how long participants were able to continue working on a test and with how well their results were. Listening to pleasant music during the test that included cognitive dissonance promoting factors of some type, was found to help participants work longer and achieve more correct answers compared to listening to neutral or unpleasant music. Read more: Mozart Effect, Cognitive Dissonance and the Pleasure of Music, (G.music for cognitive dissonance

     Cognitive Dissonance in research science is mentioned as a problem in the area of autism research in the book Autism: Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Immune Abnormalities, (page 356, 2009)

     The topic of cognitive dissonance in evidence-based medicine by physicians, researchers or unrealistic patient caregivers is discussed in helpful detail with additional resource linked in the article.  Read more: Cognitive Dissonance and Evidence-Based Medicine, (G. skeptvet)

     Thankfully we already have a solution that helps the body overcome the negative effects of oxidative stress and it would be fine for animals or humans. The TV show character Walter "Radar" O'Reilly from MASH may have been getting some extra health benefits from his Grape Nehi - extrasensory benefits though? (G.Radar) Whether or not it helps you sense the future, grape powder may help with recovery from effects of  stress induced by cognitive dissonance - the real thing, 1950's style Grape Nehi, not artificial flavor and colored "drink". Deep purple antioxidant rich grape juice or likely red wine would retain some of the positive phytonutrients more than white wines made from green grapes. 

     However the grape powder used in the research study was made from a mixture of purple, red and green grapes. Quercitin and resveratrol were the most effective antioxidants from the grape powder that was found effective for reducing oxidative stress in an animal based study. The animals were allowed to drink as much of the powder as they wanted in the form of diluted sweet water mix (like grape juice made from actual dried grape powder). (G.grape powder)

     For responsible grape juice drinking - stick to a moderate amount of alcoholic servings if you are of age and mix with some other carbohydrate foods for healthier microbiome and digestive health. Fruit sugar can increase bloating from imbalance in the intestinal microbes. Table sugar or other starches like crackers would provide sugars that feed other types of microbes than those that feed on fructose. Cognitive dissonance and a dislike for conflicting nutrition messages  is understandable. 

     With changes in understanding of health the public have been informed opposite messages about fats and sugars and various health products that turn out to be unhealthy. It's nice that we can still appreciate a glass of grape juice for it's health benefits - and if it has a little table sugar that helps feed a balance of intestinal microbes. Moderation is the key. 

     The 1950's bottle of Nehi soda was small, only 7 ounces. (G.ebay, a vintage oxidized sample - please don't drink this it is a food safety hazard) (G.soda history) Sipping grape juice all day long is not a "serving size" any dietitian I know would recommend. A four to six ounce serving of fruit juice is one serving and provides approximately the same calories as one large apple or medium banana. More concentrated amounts of quercitin and resveratrol are available from a variety of vitamin and herbal supplement companies however then the price per unit becomes costly. The Life Extension Foundation is a company that invests in extensive research and whose products I do use and have found reliably helpful for my symptom management. Other reliable companies exist. 

     A concentrated dark purple fruit juice of various types likely also have antioxidant benefits that would be similar. Adding 2 ounces of a berry concentrate juice to a glass of water would be tangy, adding a tablespoon of table sugar or honey would balance the types of sugars for the intestinal microbes.

     Trust your body not just a bottle or a health care recommendation and consider keeping notes when trying new products. It is easy to forget just how bad you used to feel until you stop taking the supplement and start feeling bad all over again. Do that a few times and you won't need cognitive dissonance to stress you out. Taking notes about symptoms and changes in dosing or frequency of doses can help you remember to take the supplement or new food product and can help you see your progress in fewer negative symptoms or more positive mood days. Record keeping can help make cognitive dissonance less of a problem because  - it is right there in black and white, written down for you to toss out in a week or two or share with a doctor or therapist if you have someone helping you with your health care progress. 

     Taking notes during a lecture was found to be more helpful for achieving better test results than trying to take notes after a lecture. (G.taking notes) Maybe note taking is most helpful during the short term memory phase when the long term memory is still being formed. Cognitive dissonance would likely be challenged by keeping records of events as they are happening. It would be more difficult to try to re-remember things differently in the case of becoming uncomfortable with one's own actions if you had a physical recording of the real event instead of just your memory of the event and that of your family or friends or coworkers. What is history? Whatever we all say it is, but we don't all agree so it is tends to be whatever the majority of history books say.


To bring it back to the beginning - and the question of what the definition of "is" is - I picked up a book I had left at an exciting point and hadn't returned to and there was an answer in neuroscience lingo. The word "is" is about existence and our sense of our place in it. Our ability to recognize emotions in ourselves and in others is a skill that varies for reasons of Nature and Nurture

  • Nature - physiologic reasons that may have to due with genetics or an imbalance in nutrients or an unhealthy mixture of intestinal microbes 
  • Nurture - who well our early childhood caregivers and other adult and peer experiences helped teach us a language for recognizing and discussing emotions - and skills for helping cope with stronger feelings in a way that supports healthy behaviors and healthy self esteem. Using shame and guilt as an educational method to control emotions and behaviors in children or teenagers can lead to problems with their ability to cope with emotions or relationships as an adult.

Returning to neuroscience, alexthymia is a term describing a condition causing difficulty to recognize emotions or to have empathy for others emotions. this isn't "rudeness"  although that is what it would seem like to others - but a general inability to identify emotions at all. The condition can occur with autism but can also be present without other autism symptoms so it is a separate condition. 

     The lingo regarding our ability to recognize our own and others emotions is divided into levels of awareness by "Lambie and Marcel (2002)":

  1. First-order experience: the biochemistry level of emotions, "the neurophysiological arousal associated with emotions". (p233, Lyons-Weiler). In other words - if we can measure it in a lab and prove that it exists - then it exists ("it" is the emotion in this example of  what the definition of "is" is: - She "is" happy! Her lab tests showed elevated levels of oxytocin and GABA and serotonin, which are all associated with a positive mood.).
  2. Second-order experience: The second level of awareness of emotions is referring to the individual's awareness of the physical arousal associated with our own emotions - recognizing the body language you may be "shouting" without realizing it. The scientific term typically used to describe this specific ability is "interoception." Examples: - My hands are curled into fists, do I want to punch someone? should I or should I walk away? more evaluation is needed - is there danger or just annoyance?; or - My hands want to reach out and touch, am I intimately aroused? or concerned for someone's pain or loneliness? should I touch or should I walk away? - more evaluation is needed: is this a business or social setting; is the person in a vulnerable position where you might be intruding on their ability to say No Thanks?; - etc.
  3. Third-order experience: The authors are suggesting that there is a need for third level of awareness of emotions - the awareness of the awareness of the physical signs of emotional arousal. Or in other words the ability to think about what emotions you might be feeling. That is the level described by the term alexthymia and to a lesser degree in many people on the autism spectrum according to the authors of the research article. (page 233, James Lyons-Weiler,, Ph. D. The Environmental And Genetic Causes of Autism, Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, (G.skyhorsepublishing). 

It would be difficult to discuss something you aren't even aware of, whether the feeling is present or not,  if someone isn't sensing it in the way people expect people to "sense" things then how could the person be expected to respond or discuss the feeling that they may be exhibiting in their body language but which their brain isn't recognizing. 

     A blind person isn't expected to understand the difference between "blue" and "green" but might be taught that the sky is considered blue to people with vision and that the grass and leaves on the trees are considered green to people with vision. a body sense of moist cool fresh smelling "green" might eventually develop in a blind person who spends time with "green" growing things. Or a sense of airy calming serenity might develop around the concept of "blue" for a person without vision who spends time walking in fresh air with cool breezes.

     Wise words from many writers over the course of time helps me to stay grounded when cognitive dissonance is disturbing my peace of mind. Serenity is difficult when two opposite beliefs are being forced to try to coexist in the mind. Trying to suppress, or to dislike or disbelieve one of the two conflicting beliefs can be a natural tendency to protect against the discomfort of the clashing truths. Looking to history, looking to wisdom from the ages of brilliant authors helps me identify the core values of human goodness that stand out across time - and which help identify which side of a cognitive dissonance issue to plant my flag.

     So the take home point for a potential health strategy for coping with political cognitive dissonance - skip the artificial fruit drink, of any color, and go straight for the natural grape products, of any color. Health benefits for reducing oxidative stress were found with red, green, or purple grapes. But freshness is important, the oxidized green of the 1950's soda in the image below is not safe and the antioxidant nutrients would have deteriorated to have produced that dark green color, it is the typical shade of oxidized fruit acids. 

     The benefits for coping with oxidative stress caused by cognitive dissonance are in the colorful antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables. And, ideally for a goal of health promotion, look for grape products or resveratrol or quercitin supplements that were made with grapes or other fruits or berries that were grown without artificial herbicides or pesticides. Any deep purple berry or other brightly colored fruit product is likely to have some similar antioxidant benefits to those seen with grapes.