Great ennoblers of wisdom Frankl & Kalas on the taboo topic of suicide (e.g. Van Gogh) & on bane of Christians Nietzsche

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl

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A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche:  “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.   That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”     He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”    Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on.    
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As the struggle for survival has subsided, the question has emerged: survival for what? Ever more people have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.       
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Man is able to snatch everything except one thing, the last of human freedoms: the choice of an attitude under any given set of circumstances to determine his own path.
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Man considers only the stubble field of transitoriness and overlooks the full granaries of the past, wherein he had salvaged once and for all his deeds, his joys and also his sufferings. Nothing can be undone, and nothing can be done away with.   I should say “having been”  is the surest kind of being.
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The transitoriness of our existence in no way makes it meaningless. But it does constitute our responsibleness; for everything hinges upon our realizing the essentially transitory possibilities.
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If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.  But unnecessary suffering is masochistic and unjustified.
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Kalas    —
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Living through loved one’s suicide involves many layers of hurt

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On Aug. 16, I published a column in response to a woman whose adult son had completed suicide. You can reference that column at this link: http://www.lvrj.com/view/steven-kalas-therapy-may-help-mother-cope-with-son-s-suicide-127815283.html.

Then I received the heartfelt letter below in reply. My editor has agreed to make an exception in this case for the normal 750-word limit. So, grab a cup of coffee and join the dialogue.

Hello Steven: I read your two articles on suicide. The first was not only wrong but extremely hurtful. I don’t think judging or generalizing about people being in rages will lower the rate (of suicide) or help the relatives. Inadequate medical care for the terminally ill, schizophrenics, bipolar, clinically depressed is a big cause (of suicide). Violence to spouses and children is another reason for it. Bullied gay children also. Victims are in nonsurvival states emotionally and mentally and escape hopelessness, not in rages.

Addiction to legal and illegal medications is also a cause. No work or the parents working too much are causes also. Many different reasons are common. I am a naturalist, not religious, so I don’t judge them and condemn them to hell. I think older people need a more humane death, like in Oregon. I know that they are different from murderers who have more going mentally.

I realize you are probably tired of the sad, depressing topic and need new work. Too long in that area makes people feel angry or depressed. Our society is corrupt and money-hungry, not healthy. Caring and compassion are in short supply. All of the areas need a lot of work. But deciding they die in rages is not truthful, as the relatives know all the problems involved. It’s just a pointless attitude. People all have feelings and are entitled to them except for those who write for newspapers and get more influence and exposure. You should be more careful about generalizing in sad areas. — J.B., Las Vegas

Thank you for your letter, J.B. It was from the heart and deserves a respectful response.

First, I’m writing unaware of a second recent column (you mention reading “two articles”) regarding the subject of suicide. For the record, then, I’m responding only to your concerns about the Aug. 16 column of last year.

Next, I know you’re a survivor of suicide. That’s jargon from the American Association of Suicidology, meaning not that you once tried to kill yourself and survived; rather, that you were closely related to someone who did complete suicide. Surviving suicide is fraught with a terrible and almost always complicated grief. I admire the courage and resolve with which you have walked it. Your brother would smile at the way you’re standing up for him.

Finally, in a historical accident of fate, I actually got my start in behavioral health work in suicidology. Prevention, intervention, postvention — suicidology is a particular focus of my training and work as a clinician. The crux of my Aug. 16 column comes from a speech I often give across the country called “A Unique Grief.” I am a survivor of suicide, three times over. Lost two cousins and an uncle during a 16-month span. It was like a grass fire ascended from hell. I’m right there with you, J.B. Let’s talk.

You say I’m judging. It is true that I take seriously moral deliberation regarding human behavior. Also true that I sometimes am willing to draw moral conclusions, which I’d agree are, then, judgments. Specifically regarding suicide, I make no apologies for my insistence that suicide is a moral event. That is, it can never be a nonmoral event.

If you’re asking about my personal beliefs, I say that suicide is … wrong.

Yet, I suspect that, by judgment, you mean something more akin to condemnation. And that I don’t do. First, because I’m not God. But second, because condemnation is not something I want to do. If I was to say this theologically, I would say that, in the love of our Maker, the door to hell has been permanently locked open. No one resides there who does not absolutely insist upon it. While you said you were not religious, I just wanted you to know that not everyone who lives by faith needs or wants to condemn your loved one to hell. Though I apologize for the many religious folks who have gleefully insisted suicide is unforgivable. Just saying that’s not me.

Generalizations? The idea of suicide as retroflected anger (rage) is no generalization. More a psychoanalytic observation. Perhaps my favorite Sigmund Freud quote of all time is, “The consequences of our behavior tend to reveal our motivations.” Whatever the felt or stated “reasons” of a suicidal patient, a suicide is in the end an act of violence that kills. And this violence is, at minimum, connected to a motive for behaving violently. If not officially rage, it expresses at least a deep antipathy for one’s own life.

You list many “causes” for suicide: mental illness, inadequate care for mental illness, domestic violence, bullying, addiction, joblessness, hopelessness. Yet, in my work, we don’t call these causes; rather, they are risk factors. I’m saying these states of suffering do not explain suicide. All we know is that suicidal patients are commonly experiencing these sufferings. Yet, other patients with these same sufferings don’t kill themselves. So, risk factors point to statistical risk, not to cause.

You say that suicidal patients are different from murderers because murderers “have more going mentally.” I must tell you that, in the case of ordinary people (not sociopaths) who commit murders, I don’t know that I know your view to be true. The evidence points to both people having a lot in common in terms of mentality. Both are commonly in crisis. Both are desperate. Hopeless. Both are in tremendous pain.

And both tend to be angry.

Actually, it’s not at all true that I am “tired” of the topic of sadness. Nor does the subject make me the least angry or depressed. Grief is a particular calling of mine. I find a continuous inspiration in working with sad people.

You and I agree that our society is corrupt and money-hungry. That caring and compassion are in short supply.

You say that my linking suicide and anger is “a pointless attitude.” I, on the other hand, am keenly aware of my point. Two points, specifically: observing this link will decrease the risk of suicide and help survivors.

When patients present as suicidal, they often are unaware of their anger. The inability to hold anger consciously is consequential. Unconscious anger is, at minimum, exhausting. It saps vitality (depression). But it also can be destructive or even lethal. It follows then, that identifying anger (making it conscious) can give a patient more choices about what can be done with anger. Throughout my career, I have many times noticed that encouraging a suicidal patient to meaningfully engage anger usually decreases suicidal ideation, often rendering these fantasies no longer necessary.

Next, the survivors. Over and over I have watched survivors protect their broken hearts with what I called in the column a poetic narrative. The story is told as tragedy, for which we then mobilize compassion, empathy, understanding, and in some cases, unexamined “explanations.” We get the victim off the hook, because our broken hearts very much need for the victim to be exonerated.

Then, several months or even years later, those same survivors often show up in a counselor’s office with malaise, depression, acting-out symptoms — psychic stuckness. They have surrounded their loss with a story that does not permit disappointment, indignation, or as Dr. Sue Chance says (the author of the book I referenced, “Stronger Than Death: When Suicide Touches Your Life,”), being “righteously pissed.”

At some point, most survivors need to include a moral accountability laid at the feet of the victim. Suicide is deeply intimate, deeply personal to those left behind. It hurts. Someone has killed my loved one. That someone is my loved one.

Asking the victim to be ultimately responsible for the decision to die, whatever the list of risk factors, is a crucial part of healing for most survivors. I’m committed to helping them find a voice for that outrage. When they are ready, of course. It’s never my practice to tell any patient how to feel about anything. Rather, I push my patients to tell themselves the truth about how they are feeling, or whether some denied feeling is at the root of their symptoms. As you say, “People all have feelings and are entitled to them.” I completely agree.

I’m sorry you experienced my column as “extremely hurtful.” In my work, I do frequently have to be willing to articulate things that must uncover a great hurt. I take no pleasure in that. But I derive great joy and satisfaction out of watching someone lean into their hurt and thereby find a lighter spirit and more choices for living well.

Which, from the bottom of my heart, is my wish for you.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/taboo-talk-about-suicide/

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/steven-kalas-therapy-may-help-mother-cope-with-son-s-suicide-127815283.html

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Therapy may help mother cope with son’s suicide

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QUESTION:

I lost my 31-year-old old son to suicide two years ago. He left a wife and five small children behind. It has been so hard since he died. The day before he died, he had come without his family and spent two days with me. I have a daughter and another son. We are all having such a terrible time trying to live with our loss. For so very long after Cody’s death I would turn all the lights on in the house. I would stay downstairs and wait for morning to come. Then I would go upstairs to get ready for work. Even now there are so many days I come home from work and sit in a chair and wait for night to come. I find myself just sitting and staring. Some days I sob hysterically, some days just weeping softly. Even now there are many days that I cannot function. I tried to do everything anyone has suggested, but my heart is broken and I don’t know how to make it better. So I guess that my reason for writing you is to ask if you have any suggestions for me. I need to learn how to live with my broken heart. Some days it feels like you are actually going to have a heart attack. It feels like you can’t even get a breath of air.

– C.J., Farmington, Utah

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ANSWER:

Oh, dear woman …

Perhaps it would help to put into words what you’re up against. This column provides limited space, so forgive me if I am direct and to the point.

Surviving suicide is a unique grief. By that I mean uniquely awful. Bereavement is a specialty of mine, and in all of my work with grieving people, nothing is harder than trying to wrap a broken heart around suicide. There are reasons for this so obvious, yet the reasons don’t become obvious until you say them out loud. And we tend not to say these things out loud because of love and fear: we desperately loved the deceased, and we’re rightly afraid of the pain the truth must provoke.

Because of love and fear, we tend to “romanticize” suicide. By that I mean we tend to wrap it in a story of poetic tragedy. People who are acutely suicidal tend to do that, too, even as they fantasize about dying. We say things like, “Think of how much pain he/she must have been in to even consider such an act.” We desperately try to mobilize compassion and empathy for the deceased.

Yet, consider this: If your son had been murdered, it is unlikely that you would have said, “Think of how much pain the murderer must have been in to even consider such an act.” You would not be mobilizing empathy; rather, outrage.

Observed clinically, suicide and homicide have more in common than not. Indeed, suicidal patients and homicidal patients are both in a lot of pain. If one deserves compassion for pain, then so does the other. Indeed, both are likely suffering some diagnosable psychological ill health. And, despite what it might appear, both patients are very, very angry.

In psychological parlance, homicide is the ultimate deflection of anger. Suicide is the ultimate retroflection of anger. It’s the same energy, just pointed in different directions. I’m saying that suicide is an act of hostility, aggression and violence. Not at all poetic.

Now, I am not arguing to vilify your boy. I’m arguing for radical responsibility. The only person ultimately responsible for suicide is the person who decides to die.

If your son was murdered, you’d be angry with the murderer. What makes suicide so ghastly painful, complicated and difficult for survivors is precisely that our loved one has murdered him/herself.

In my work with survivors, I find that debilitating grief often is protracted because the survivor can’t get to both the sorrow and the outrage. It is very difficult to do both of those things at once regarding the same human being.

I urge you to consider six to eight sessions with a caring and skillful bereavement therapist who can help you work through the many complicated layers of your grief. Also, go now to amazon.com and purchase “Stronger Than Death: When Suicide Touches Your Life,” by Sue Chance, M.D. The author is herself a survivor, and her book is not merely the best work ever on the subject. The book is an act of unspeakable courage, generosity and love.

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Suicide_assessment_first_step_for_depressed_friend.html

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Suicide assessment first step for depressed friend

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Question: I have a friend who is suffering from depression and has recently joked about suicide. He is a people person and able to maneuver to just about any conversation with anyone. He lives a comfortable life with a lavish house, car and new tech toys. He acts happy and worry-free when he is around people, but once he is alone he starts feeling depressed and would call me or send me messages about his uneasiness and hopelessness. In the last five years he has suffered some health problems along with insomnia.

I (tried introducing) him to my friends, and he would start talking about his depression. My other friends would then chastise me for bringing him. I also tried introducing him to my other single friends. They would hit it off in the beginning, then he would start to get clingy, which leads them to get uncomfortable and end up deserting him.

He has a long-distance relationship with another person who also happens to be married. I am afraid he is setting himself up for heartache. He is the sole breadwinner of the family. To add insult to injury, a member of his family was recently diagnosed with cancer. I am worried that if he gets involved with the wrong person or crowd due to his vulnerability he can end up in a more uncompromising situation. He mentioned to me that he tried seeking professional help before but it did not help. I am running out of resources and will on where and what I can do as a friend. Please help.

– P.J., Spokane, Wash.

You don’t have to be a professional therapist to execute a skillful suicide assessment and intervention. Indeed, a skillful suicide assessment is the beginning of a competent intervention.

The larger number of people in an acute, suicidal crisis do not make overt threats. They make covert threats. They “joke” about suicide. They make inferences. They talk in crypticisms: “People would be better off without me” … “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up” … etc. They withdraw suddenly from relationships or pleasurable activities. They give valuables and sentimental belongings away.

The most important step is the first one: making the covert overt! You ask. Straight up. You can ask graciously, “one-downing” yourself: “This is kind of embarrassing, and I’m sorry if this question sounds crazy, but … are you having thoughts about killing yourself?” Often this is all it takes to make a person say: “What?! No! Why would you ask me such a thing?” And then you can reference the “joke” about suicide, shrug and say, “Just checking.” Even if people are lying baldfaced, making the issue overt is sometimes all it takes to wake them up and get them back to a firmer, more stable grip on their own lives.

And sometimes you’re not gracious. In some cases, when the evidence and threats are more acute and obvious, we ask uncensored: “Are you going to kill yourself?”

If they say anything close to “It has crossed my mind,” then, as a friend, we let them know firmly and compassionately that their suicide is not OK with us. At once, we accept that we don’t have the power to keep anyone alive, yet we also bind them — in words — to the ties and accountability of our relationship.

Once the issue is overt, the assessment continues …

History: Does this person have a history of suicidal ideation or attempts? Plan: Does this person’s current ideation focus on a plan (gun, medication, etc.)? Means: Does this person have access to a gun, medication, etc.? (Amazing that some folks’ spoken plan for suicide has no likely means to execute the plan.) Intent: The assessment ends where it began. “Are you going to kill yourself today?”

With each “yes,” the person is assessed as a more acute suicidal risk.

If they are a moderate to high risk, you insist they seek treatment. And if they make an overt threat and insist they are going to die and refuse to seek help … you do your moral duty. It’s called “danger to self.” You call the police and ask for a “welfare check.” You report the threat as you heard it. Not because you have the power to keep suicidal people alive but because, should the person insist on dying, you want to be able to tell yourself you didn’t participate in the suicide because you knew and did nothing.

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/abusing-ethics-further-anti-gun-politics-ridiculous

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Let me be clear that, until a few days ago, I had never heard of The Western Center for Journalism, which describes itself as “a vigorous watchdog that reports on government corruption and abuse. … We believe that informed public debate requires quality journalism and reporting.”

A friend forwards a link to one such effort of “required quality,” written by B. Christopher Agee: http://www.westernjournalism.com/court-says-police-allowed-kidnap-gun-ow…. Call it up. Read it. I’ll be waiting at the top of the next paragraph.

(Cue elevator music.)

Dear Mr. Agee:

Do you know about state laws (not to mention a counselor’s or doctor’s professional licensing ethics obligations) under the category “duty to warn” and “duty to protect”? These laws and standards of practice require certain professionals (primarily physicians and mental health counselors of various ilk) to do exactly what this doctor did.

And the police are trained (not to mention prompted by scores of successful civil lawsuits) to do exactly what these police officers did. That is, law enforcement does not attempt to become psychological evaluators when responding to a “duty to protect” call from one of the above professionals.

Unlike the deliberate propaganda of the Web photo, the police do not in fact show up with gas masks, billy clubs, scatter guns and SWAT gear. But they do show up. And by the time they get there at the behest of a doctor or counselor’s testimony of suicidality, they don’t come to make a clinical assessment. They come to fulfill the “duty to protect.”

Ms. Sutterfield “mentioned something about suicide”? There is not a psychiatrist on this planet (who is not him/herself derelict) who would ever respond by saying: “A-ha! I hate guns! My anti-gun politics have an opportunity here. And since my government is anti-gun, I will deploy the police department to further my politics in this case.”

Nor is there a psychiatrist on this planet who would ever make a “duty to protect” call just because a patient “mentions something about suicide.” A lot of my patients mention suicide. Suicidal ideation happens at some juncture to most human beings. No, a mental health professional makes a “duty to protect” call in response to overt suicidal threats not followed by a clear verbal contract not to die.

If, in person or on the phone, I had a patient make such a threat, refuse to make a verbal no-suicide contract, and then bolt from my office or hang up on me, I would make a “duty to protect” call. If, in the interim, should my patient call me back and beg me to call off the impending police intervention, I would not call it off. For the same reason that Transportation Security Administration agents don’t laugh at jokes about bombs in the screening line.

Ambushed in her home? Poppycock! The police drove to her home. Confiscated her guns? Damn straight. Without a warrant? The “warrant,” in this case, is the professional’s testimony. Involuntary psych hospitalization? But of course! In our society you surrender some of your rights, for a few days at least, when you make a suicide threat to a professional. For the same reason that, should you make a joke about a bomb to a TSA agent, you will miss your plane and get a chance to tell that same joke to a couple of FBI agents, who might or might not arrest you.

The Fourth Amendment does not, in fact, guarantee the right in every case to be left alone in one’s home. If you lock yourself in your house, call a friend, a professional or the police and say, “I’m sitting here with a gun in my lap and I intend to kill myself,” well, you’re gonna get some uninvited company at your door.

Mr. Agee, you write, “The entire ordeal stemmed from an allegation by her doctor that (the woman) has since denied.”

But of course such a patient would deny it!

Yes, the law (regarding such cases) does present one grave vulnerability. To wit: I suppose a professional could make a “duty to protect/warn” call for corrupt or evil reasons — to make a particular patient “look crazy.” But I simply have never heard of such abuses. And certainly not abuses to further anti-gun politics. That’s … ridiculous.

Mr. Agee, this column, relative to the goals of Second Amendment activists, is, on a good day, a non sequitur. And, can I just say that, were I a passionate Second Amendment activist, I would cringe to have this “quality” piece of “journalism” arguing my cause.

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Thinking_of_depression_as_stuck_anger.html

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Depression is “stuck” anger

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First, I want to take a shot at extracting you from the pointed end of an unhelpful dichotomy:  Is this chemical?  Or can I just will myself to think positively and get over it?

I’m a big believer in the ‘power of positive thinking,’ R.F., as long as we can agree that the power of positive thinking is relative, and not absolute. I mean to say that I don’t put a lot of stock in therapeutic models whose essential message is “buck up,” or “snap out of it,” or, “…if you really belieeeeve.” In some cases, such nonsense (sold as science) actually adds to the burden of depression.

Here’s the paradox that heals the dichotomy: Human moods cause changes in brain chemistry, and changes in brain chemistry invite a lot of variations of mood, not all of which are happy. It’s both. At once.  Almost always.

I’m saying give yourself a break, and turn your energy to other, more useful questions.

Now, to the metaphor of “stuck anger” …

My point in the column was my passionate prejudice that healthy access to healthy anger is a HUGE part of human vitality — our ability to feel energetic, creative and alive. Anger is ‘life force.’ Without this healthy access to healthy anger, the energies of our vitality slow down. They don’t flow. They get, well, stuck.

Let me risk a bit of crass so as to make the point provocatively and powerfully: My frequent experience of depressed people, both clinically and personally, is that they are royally and righteously pissed, and perhaps have been so for a long, long time. But in the case of depressed people, they are often the last to know they are angry. The anger was too painful. Perhaps where they grew up, too risky. Perhaps their religion made anger taboo. But one way or another, they don’t have access to this vital and important part of being human.

In therapy, the goal, by hook or by crook, is to slowly find a ‘crack’ in the depressed, well-defended self. Some contradiction of “how much I just LOOOVE my mother,” etc. Some behavior that speaks to agitation, aggression, or even veiled fascination with violence. Wanna know how my therapist first introduced me to my anger? — By noticing the way I bit, mutilated, and simply trashed my fingernails and cuticles. I’m not kidding. That began a long journey for me; a journey that ended with me getting aquainted with a deeper, more vital, more honest, albeit often unsettling and sometimes frightening version of myself.

When patients surrender to an authentic embrace of anger, they, in that moment, aren’t complaining of depression. I’ll sometimes interrupt the demonstration of anger with a dramatic question: “In this very moment, right there on that couch, where is your depression?” They often look befuddled. Their eyes dart, as if to look for misplaced car keys. “It’s gone,” they’ll mutter, with no little incredulity.

This phenomenon (authentic emotional flow as antidote for depression) is also observable during the catharsis of acute, heretofore “stuck grief.”

I’m not saying it’s an end-all cure-all. But depressed patients frequently report improvement as a result of therapeutic models helping them to access anger and grief. Add regular exercise and healthy diet to this prescription, and certainly medication when necessary, and the suffering of many, many depressed patients can be greatly decreased and in some cases ameliorated.

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A Van Gogh saw reality so deeply and clearly, yet could not ultimately disconnect his heart [“be not of this world” — self-respect despite this indifferent and tragic sentient life] from this abject reality or the other people in it.

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And in this gap were a crushing emptiness and an aloneness that can make you lose your mind and a sadness that can make your heart question the wisdom and the relevance of continuing to beat — a sadness no person can bear alone. Van Gogh died because, in the end, he could not differentiate himself [self-respect] from the Collective Unconscious [our indifferent & tragic lack of empathy/compassion in our broken/flawed sentient nature] into which he was compelled to wander.     

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/54285947.html

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/van-gogh-the-wisdom-and-soul-of-the-ways-of-our-cherished-old-but-do-not-kill-yourself-like-he-did/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/starry-starry-night/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/54285947.html

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Again and again van Gogh descended to his inner self, and returned to share that self nakedly with brushes, oil and canvas. Of course, at the time, nobody knew what they were seeing. In his lifetime, van Gogh sold only one painting for a meager 400 francs, and that just a few months before he died, in his own mind and by any worldly standard, an utter failure at family, romance and vocation.

That would be the same Vincent van Gogh who, in his 37th year, killed himself. He had the courage to make the journey, the generosity to share the journey with an unappreciative world; but, in the end, van Gogh was overwhelmed by what he beheld. For while there is unspeakable beauty and breathless truth contained in uncensored Reality, there also is a crushing emptiness. An aloneness that can make you lose your mind. A sadness that can make your heart question the wisdom and the relevance of continuing to beat.

On some days, to very much wish it would stop beating.

Much has been said about van Gogh’s mental health. Indeed, he paints “Starry Night” while a patient at a mental hospital in 1889. There is evidence that he suffered from bipolar disorder. He was odd and alienating. From an early age, he lived as one bearing a terrible psychic injury.

Or maybe it just appeared that way. Maybe some people are just born without guile. Maybe some people simply come to this lifetime with no choice but to see, hear and feel with shameless clarity. And maybe the rest of us have no choice but to see these people as odd, injured or crazy. A right pain in the ass.

Truly, I don’t know.

I just know there is more than one reason people decide to die. Yes, sometimes because of the delusions wrought by severe mental illness. Other times, suicide is a tragic moment of impulse, a retroflected rage that, even a few moments later, the deceased would have found resources to survive. Still others kill themselves as a narcissistic, twisted martyrdom, sold as a favor to the world, but in actuality intending to deliver a savage punishment to friends and family.

But Don McLean doesn’t think any of these describe Vincent van Gogh. Rather, “when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night, you took your life as lovers often do.” And I don’t mean romantic love for a woman, though certainly van Gogh saw himself as a miserable failure at that, too. No, van Gogh loved truth, beauty and authenticity. And he loved, admired and respected us enough to want to share it with us. To believe we’d want to see it.

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It’s a theme that echoes in significant religions. Religious folks, of whatever ilk, admonish us to seek God. To long for God. And yet, some of those same religions also say this endeavor ranges from impossible to dangerous: “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

Ironic, yes? Seek him, find him, know him — but there are inherent risks and real dangers in doing so. Count on returning from that journey with a limp. An injury. In some cases with a variable grip on your faculties.

I’m saying I don’t judge van Gogh for committing suicide. Neither am I saying, “Way to go, Vincent.” I’m just saying I get it.

And I don’t know why something so beautiful should have to cost so much.

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[van Gogh’s nature actually is of the idealized wise man — the opposite of the flawed indifferent collective unconscious   —-     

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wise_Old_Man#In_Jungian_psychology   ]

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_suicide#Liberalism

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Forms of Existentialist thinking essentially begin with the premise that life is objectively meaningless, and proceed to the question of why one should not just kill oneself  –   they then answer this question by suggesting that the individual has the power to give personal meaning to life  and to death by taking one’s own life  [killing oneself].

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But my pal Puerto Rican Frankie Boreliz born 1946, without even a formal grade school education, presciently and prophetically says that a suicidal person suffering from immense loss [of a loved one] needs encouragement and comfort and a re-building of self-respect and self-confidence.  

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Frankie wanted to kill himself after his wife continuously committed adultery with other men, but through the help of Frankie’s psychiatrist Dr. Bloomgarden — Frankie was able to restore Frankie’s self-respect.  

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Frankie’s baby brother Roy did not fare fortunately  — Roy OD’d on painkillers after Roy’s wife left Roy  — and Frankie laments till this day that if only Frankie & others could have carried Roy — literally — and held and comforted Roy  — Roy would be alive and joyful today!!    So sad.   Ohhh so sad  …..

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_wmS9DleJ4

[melody from Minuet in G major — J.S. Bach’s Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach]

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Oh darling, dedicated to Eliza of the Lustrous Hair [analog:  Lydia of the Purple Cloth in Scripture]

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykV-xocokFE&feature=fvwp&NR=1

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkmQCp_Vqkk

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http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6778/How-to-Let-Go-of-Resentment.html

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How to Let Go of Resentment

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When we are hurt, it can be very difficult to simply forgive and forget. We feel pain, anger, sadness or guilt over things that people have said or done to us. 

Or perhaps you’ve been the one to upset someone else and feel frustrated with yourself? 
It’s human nature to mentally revisit upsetting experiences as a way of processing an experience.
Holding onto resentment is considered a way of punishing yourself or the other person. However, by carrying around this negative feeling, you are hurting yourself, because this drains your resources. Ultimately, you add more stress and anxiety to your mindset and physical body.
Believing in yourself can be a real challenge if you lack self respect and self love, which can make it even more difficult to simply forgive. Not many people have mastered the true art of self love, but when you can be satisfied in your own skin, you will find that things and circumstances bother you much less frequently, you will have an ability to let things go with minimal fight because you stay centered from your core and are true to who you are and your self-belief.
If you feel people are constantly criticizing or judging you, remember that it is your own internal processing system that makes you decide what they are saying is upsetting. You are effectively judging yourself, because chances are they have hit a nerve in an area where you feel weakness. And in turn, for them to say or do something hurtful to you is a result of their own criticism in themselves. So effectively you become not only a victim to them, but to yourself as well.
When you let go of resentment toward someone, you are not necessarily condoning or agreeing with what they have done but you instead allowing yourself to be free and liberated from the heaviness of carrying it around. 
As you stop focusing on the mistakes of others, you will stop punishing yourself for your own.
Your ability to release what you decide are the wrongdoings of others will free your mind and improve your overall wellbeing. Nothing that anyone can do to you that has permanent effects unless you decide to hold on to it relentlessly.
Forgiveness is the doorway that leads to your having control of your destiny and self acceptance.
You can release the chains of your past, let go of the negativities that hold you back so you can make room for the future with a sense of freedom and liberation by releasing the weight of your exhausting sabotage.
 
Any day is a good time to think about letting go of some of these feelings of negativity towards yourself or others. Some people may even be your family or close work colleagues. Whoever they are, the solution is to appreciate that we all make mistakes and are ultimately on our own journey of self discovery. 
Remember that you are not letting them off the hook but simply allowing yourself to release the strain so you can put your energy into something that is good for your mind, body and soul.
 
If you are finding it hard to forgive yourself or someone else, finish off these sentences:
 
It is useful for me to feel resentment toward _____________ because _____________
To be able to let go of this resentment toward _____________ I would need to _____________
If I allow myself to release this resentment, I will _____________
If I do not release this resentment _____________
 
He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive.
~ A Course in Miracles
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music is my magical peace symbol   –   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVF9RR56rVg&feature=BFa&list=UUKFU_o4qqRS__FEaQVE0JcA

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“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”   — Mark Twain     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/mark-twain-quotes_n_2213697.html?utm_hp_ref=books#slide=1820214

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/great-sages-frankl-kalas-on-the-indomitable-nietzsche/

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Great sages Steven Kalas & Viktor Frankl on the indomitable Nietzsche

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/not-who-am-i-but-whose-am-i-and-this-radicalgestalt-changes-everything-from-sage-steven-kalas-born-1957/

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One of my favorite Friedrich Nietzsche quotes is, “Everything holy requires a veil.” Now, modern Americans might think he means that we should keep things covered up because those things are shameful. Nope. He means that some things are so beautiful, so huge, so powerful, so naked, so intimate, that to gaze casually upon them would be injurious to their meaning and value. Injurious ultimately to us.

Grief is such a thing.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/9146411.html

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“To be sure, man’s search for meaning may arouse inner tension rather than inner equilibrium. However, precisely such tension is an indispensable prerequisite of mental health. There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
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Lots of people don’t want to be present to sadness — their own or anyone else’s. Other people would like to be present to their bereaved friends and family, but don’t know how.

We live in a culture where grief is treated as a disease to be “cured,” or a weakness cursed of shame or self-loathing.

Contrarily, grief is the holiest of human journeys.

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I concur with your observation that people around us are largely inept at befriending us in grief. Yet I also encourage people like you to remember to veil (protect and value) their grief. Keep the circle of confidants small. Pick two and no more than five people who will hear the depths of your pain.

There are two ways to read your question at the end. Literally you ask how you might numb the heartache. But I’m guessing you aren’t being literal. In fact, it’s not a question at all, is it? It reads more like an indignation. Like, how dare anyone ask you to numb the heartache! How dare the medical community suggest drugging your bereavement!

See, J.R., you know how precious your sadness is. A breathless, crushing burden, yes. But precious.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/culture-s-approach-to-suffering-only-prolongs-pain-129608658.html

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And, for those kinds of sufferings/losses that can never be entirely healed, to bear it. To find meaning in it.  To turn that suffering into some transformative work in the world.

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And the truth is this: The human journey includes suffering. No one comes to ask for help who isn’t suffering.

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But, here’s another truth: In any given time in your life, the number of people who actually, really, honestly want and are willing to grant you an engaged and healing audience for your suffering/loss  is      …       small!!     Or nonexistent!!    

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Even people who sincerely love and adore you might find themselves ambivalent about really engaging and listening to the part of you that suffers. See, the people around us have egos, too. Their egos mobilize to protect them just like your ego does. “Cheer up … get over it … God has a plan … everybody is doing the best he or she can … don’t cry” — the felt motive for these messages is to help you.

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But each of these messages also contains the anxiety of the messenger:  Please stop bothering and disturbing me by suffering.

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And that’s what most modern people do. They try to stop suffering. They “get over it.” They build layer upon layer of pretense and persona over their wounds, because it’s, well, the sociable thing to do. Most of us, then, suffer unconsciously. Because that’s the way we’ve been taught to suffer.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/living-authentically-a-challenge-worth-embracing-89350462.html

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The more practiced you become at living authentically, the more often you’ll have to make friends with Alone.

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If you take seriously a commitment to authentic selfhood, you find that you regularly must sacrifice belonging. Living authentically includes regular renegotiations of how we belong to family. In some extreme cases, whether we will belong to family at all. Likewise, adjustments in friendships, and sometimes distancing and even discarding friendships.

There are journeys of selfhood and wholeness that must be walked alone.

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Individualism as ego overpride is not the solitary reflection of an authentic life   –

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/steven-kalas-we-are-individuals-in-consequential-relationships-162688016.html

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/alienation-i-dont-belong-and-estrangement-getting-dumped-because-i-dont-belong/

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alienation [I don’t belong] and estrangement [getting dumped because I don’t belong]

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Alienation & estrangement   –  the results of Loss  [e.g. getting dumped]  by your beloved  [lifemate/soulmate]   

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/_Retirement_leaves_time_for_pondering_self_relationships.html

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Question: What do all people seeking release from personal despair have in common?

Answer: They are suffering some combination of alienation and estrangement.

Alienation means a crisis of belonging. We are alien. We don’t belong.

Estrangement means the painful disruption of the bonds of relationship. Interpersonal injuries and injustices. To become estranged is to become a stranger to the one we love and by whom we are loved.

I’m saying your use of the word “misfit” sounds like a crisis of alienation and estrangement.

Actual A&E: Important relationships sometimes unravel (become estranged). Sometimes, the cause is egregious injury done to the other. Other times relationships just unravel. Some people are actually alienated by society.  Old people, gay people, poor people, Fierce Truth-tellers — some people are quite deliberately excluded in whole or in part from belonging.

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Humble honesty is not ego-driven self-pity [self-loathing]

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Surviving_economic_changes_requires_rethinking_happiness.html

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When we’re already feeling scared and depressed, the human ego finds easy purchase in resentment  (“This is unfair! I followed the rules!”), or self-loathing   (“I’m unemployed, therefore I must be a real loser!”)
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Mental health means telling the voices of entitlement   [being egotistic/singularly special], resentment  [feeling persecuted like Jesus]and self-criticism  [ohh woe is me]   to “sit down and shut up.”
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Self-loathing is, ironically, a consequence of narcissism — not humility.   When I was a priest, I used to say it this way to pilgrims making their strident, anguished case for unforgiveability: “OK, ‘For God so loved the world’ (emphasis mine) … except for you? The work of redemption in the life of Jesus set the entire cosmos free from sin and death … except for you? Well. Hmm. Aren’t you … remarkable. The one person in the history of time whose dereliction is more powerful than God.”That little speech invariably changed the tone, direction and energy of pastoral counseling. And for the better.
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My friend, Nate Larkin, would say it even better in his terrific book “Samson and the Pirate Monks: Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood.” Nate says we combine narcissism and self-loathing so brilliantly that both are invisible to us. In such moments, we become “the piece of (expletive) around which the entire world revolves.”

Yikes!

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It’s a virtual cliche for modern patients in therapy to self-diagnose with “I need to work on my self-esteem.” It rarely turns out to be a correct diagnosis.

I much prefer to focus on self-respect. Self-regard. A conscious and responsible self-acceptance. Because there are times when I have had sufficient self-respect to recognize that I do not hold my behavior, my tone/attitude or my words in high esteem. Enough self-respect to admit when these things do not deserve to be esteemed.

The capacity and willingness to feel an authentic remorse, regret and disappointment in self is, ironically, a key ingredient to an eventual return to the only self-esteem worth having — a true celebration of a whole self discovered through the work of facing ourselves as we are.

Here’s a dirty little secret: If you argue backward from the implications of their behavior and choices, people generally have terrific self-esteem! The default posture of human beings is to think pretty darn highly of themselves.

I can hear it now: “Oh, you’re wrong, Steven! People are crippled with low opinions about themselves! They need affirmation. Validation. They need to hear they are loved and worthy and special!”

No, actually, they don’t. Feel-good speeches self-inflate modern neurotics . In fact, continuing in such speeches tends to become conscripted into the patient’s problem of a false sense of self-importance.

What people need is to tell the truth and then to live with integrity.

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So, how do ruined people pick up and move on again toward a thriving, grateful life?   The first order of business is surrender. We stop railing against the harm.  Somewhere inside of ourselves, we make an authentic peace with the fact that no one is immune to harm. We decide to deeply believe that we waste our lives insisting every scale must be balanced before we are free.
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Second, in some cases, we walk away from the fight. Yes, we give up. We acknowledge that our naysayer self-important detractor has won and move on to other work, other opportunities to give life a chance.
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And third, we decide that no one has the power to make life anything less than good.  You might call this decision a decision of Faith.  I am a seminarian and minister by backdrop.
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Celebrate life, Petunia  — a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do    :-)    
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19 Responses to Great ennoblers of wisdom Frankl & Kalas on the taboo topic of suicide (e.g. Van Gogh) & on bane of Christians Nietzsche

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