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Sigmund and his daughter Anna Freud

Sigmund and his daughter Anna Freud via Wikipedia

In psychoanalysis, isolation is a defense mechanism developed by Sigmund Freud (and later by Anna Freud) in which a painful or traumatic memory and its associations are separated from the rest of conscious experience.

With isolation, memory is not repressed but the emotive content and associated feeling tones are severed or weakened almost to the point of non-existence. Related thinking, feeling and outward activity are essentially blocked for a period after having recalled the painful event.

This artificial stripping of the affective component from memory could occur, for instance, with victims of sexual abuse, rape or natural catastrophes.




Isis giving milk E11878 mp3h8710

Isis giving milk, Musée du Louvre, photo by Rama via Wikipedia

Isis was the central goddess of ancient Egypt, wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.

Her cult spread throughout the ancient Greek and Roman world, where she was linked with many mystery cults that were popular at the time.

In sculpture she’s often seen suckling the infant Horus. From this, Isis is regularly (and arguably wrongly) equated with the Virgin Mary and Kwan Yin by writers like Joseph Campbell and others who believe it’s valid to lump together different mythic beings on the basis of a few similarities in artistic representation. (In this case what’s similar is a woman suckling an infant, which is hardly unique considering many women have done this through the ages after having a baby).

Some feminist and New Age writers also subsume the different figures of Isis, Mary and Kwan Yin into a general idea of The Goddess.

In the Star Trek mythos, Isis is the name of a telepathic black cat and female partner of a time traveler, Gary Seven, who travels to 20th century Earth to prevent nuclear war.¹

¹ For more on this, see

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Statue c. 1792 - 1750 BC that represents an an...

BritishMuseum | Old Babylonian, probably 1792 - 1750 BC. The Queen of the Night represents an ancient Babylonian goddess, probably Ishtar or Ereshkigal. It might also represent Lilitu, called Lilith in the Bible - via Wikipedia

Ishtar is a Mesopotamian goddess of fertility, ‘sacred’ prostitution¹ and war, later associated with the planet Venus as a goddess of love.

In the Gilgamesh epic, Ishtar journeys to the underworld in an attempt to rescue her brother and lover Tammuz.

If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.²

As she enters each successive door in her descent, she is commanded to take off a specific piece of jewelry or clothing item. By the time she reaches the abyss she stands entirely naked.

Joseph Campbell points out how this story has obvious Jungian implications. To attain knowledge of the inner self, one must dispense with (or, at least, gain a new perspective on) all the trappings of worldly life. Unfortunately, Ishtar does not succeed. The evil underworld queen Ereshkigal imprisons Ishtar and she becomes ‘one of the dead.’

¹ Rightly seen as abhorrent today, the idea and practice of  ‘sacred’ or temple prostitution was widespread in the ancient world:

² Parallel myths and different scholarly interpretations of Ishtar’s descent to the underworld shed more light (or perhaps create more ambiguity) on this ancient mythic theme:

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Saint Irenaeus

Irenaeus compiled a list of apostolic successi...

Saint Irenaeus via Wikipedia

Saint Irenaeus (125-202) was a Greek-born luminary of the early Christian Church who had been acquainted with disciples (most notably Saint Polycarp) who, in turn, had known the apostles. As bishop of Lyons in Gaul he wrote Against Heresies, a fierce attack on Gnosticism.

In his writing against the Gnostics, who claimed to possess a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles — and none were Gnostic — and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture.[29] He emphasized the unique position of the bishop of Rome.¹

The scholar of religion and philosophy John Hick wrote about the Irenaean Theodicy (Irenaeus’ defense of God’s Goodness given the reality of evil) in the book Evil and the God of Love (1966). Hick said that, according to Irenaeus, a soul which freely chooses the good over evil is more valuable than one that, if such a thing were possible, automatically did the good like a robot.

However, before the ultimate goodness of souls freely cooperating with God comes about, sins will be committed and evil will manifest in this world until souls learn that choosing the good is the better option.

Tradition has it that Irenaeus was martyred and beheaded in 202 CE by Septimus Severus.

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Freud & Friends

Group photo in front of Clark University Sigmund Freud, Stanley Hall, C.G.Jung; Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sandor Ferenczi. Photo taken for Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts publication - uploaded by Psychology Pictures via Flickr

Introjection is a Freudian defense mechanism in which one relates to an external object in terms of its imagined instead of actual functioning.

The imaginary content is called an introject and can take negative or positive forms—e.g. the punitive mother, the kindly grandfather, the distant father, and so on.

According to Freud, introjection plays a role in the development of the superego and in diminishing separation anxiety. And it’s considered a normal aspect of psychological development leading toward ego independence.¹

There are a couple of issues here to be considered.

First, it should be stressed that introjection is part of a developmental process and as such, involves a series of ‘necessary mistakes’ in understanding—mistakes that must be overcome for true maturity to arise. However, we never really stop distorting our world, so it’s problematic trying to determine exactly where healthy imagining starts and unhealthy imagining stops. As in most scientific assessments, not a little bit of human bias is involved.

Another problem, one not really looked at by Freud or his hardcore followers, is that a person may be intuiting the unexpressed impulses and thoughts (aggressive or benevolent) of another which rarely (or possibly never) come to the surface, socially speaking. So if, for example, an aggressor is clever enough to mask his or her aggression in front of others, he or she may seem benevolent when, in fact, harboring aggressive tendencies. If a person picks this up at the intuitive level, he or she may be concerned, but a supposedly dispassionate psychoanalyst may dismiss that concern as a mere introject, when, in fact, it’s quite an accurate perception of aggression.

Freud’s at one time student C. G. Jung talked about the importance of intuitive knowledge to a greater degree than did Freud. Jung even incorporated intuition into his model of the self. But even Jung doesn’t really offer much more than an introductory analysis regarding the importance of non-localized, non-discursive knowing—at least, this is the perspective which most bona fide mystics would hold.

¹ Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, pp. 77-78.

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Internet Addiction

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...

Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them via Wikipedia

Internet Addiction is a term created in response to a relatively new psychosocial phenomenon, that of compulsive internet use. It may involve pornography, hacking, harassment, stalking and other unsavory activities. It may also entail an excessive use of social media, chat forums and the abuse of educational sites.

According to contemporary pop psychologists, internet use becomes a compulsion when the user finds that their activity makes them more unhappy and unduly interferes with their jobs or family life.

Internet addiction can arise as a compulsive, non-therapeutic escape from dealing with real personal problems, loneliness being just one of them. However, the American Psychiatric Association has not formally included it as a disorder specific to itself:

In 2006, the American Medical Association declined to recommend to the American Psychiatric Association that they include IAD as a formal diagnosis in DSM-V,[11] and recommended further study of “video game overuse.”[12] Some members of the American Society of Addiction Medicine opposed identifying Internet overuse and video game overuse as disorders.[13] Among the research identified as necessary is to find ways to define “overuse” and to differentiate an “Internet addiction” from obsession, self-medicating for depression or other disorders, and compulsion

Moreover, it would be a fallacy to say that all regular and heavy internet users are escaping reality or avoiding unresolved problems. In fact, the whole question of the legitimacy of the internet as a kind of new community type is now being reexamined, especially with the success of YouTube and other social media.

In the past, excessive TV watching hit the news headlines. Now it’s the internet. No doubt the next revolutionary technology that captures the imagination of many and compels us to relate in new ways will be demonized by those who don’t understand the importance of change. But again, like anything, too much of a good thing can ruin it, just as the perversion of a good thing can turn it into a bad thing. So the term internet addiction is by no means spurious.


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The CERN datacenter with World Wide Web and Ma...

The CERN datacenter with World Wide Web and Mail servers via Wikipedia

The internet (a.k.a. WWW, World Wide Web, the web, the net) is changing so rapidly that every time I come back to update this entry (that is, every few years), I find it hopelessly outdated.

First developed by the USA military in response to the Russian Sputnik satellite of 1957, the web really came to maturity in the 1990s, but free Telnet access had been available in the US since 1975.

Since dominating the market in the 90s, the web remains relatively new and fast changing. And although it didn’t create a global utopia, the internet does represent a whole new vista for mankind’s ability to share information.

Not just a massive, worldwide encyclopedia, the web is a medium – some would say “space” – where those with access to a computer and an ISP (internet service provider) may create their own web sites to express personal views, share information, communicate or sell goods and services.

In its beginnings, many hailed the internet as the new organ of democracy, others saw it as the royal road to riches. Then came the so-called winter where a large number of internet businesses went bust. Early idealistic and get-rich-quick thinking about the internet was gradually replaced by a more realistic view of its tremendous potential.

Although an exciting media technology, the web operates within existing global structures. As such, its economic and transformational potential depends on a variety of factors and, at bottom, choices made by human beings and their governing bodies.

While the web continues to get bigger and faster, specialty features like customized headline search involving RSS (really simple syndication) and various applications (Apps), in combination with new wireless technologies have made the internet an even more effective tool for gathering information. And social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, Flickr and free software like Skype have pretty much changed the way we relate as a species.

All this change has taken place with a simultaneous growth in hardware. Computer processors are always getting speedier, and short and long term memories larger. So a good computer of just a few years ago is really just a mediocre one today. And anyone who surfs the web a lot will be able to tell the difference in less than two seconds flat!

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