Tag Archive | "Psychology"

FF Podcast (Audio) 46: Depression


Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 46 - Depression

This week, we talk about Robin Williams, his death, and the general public reaction to suicides.

You may also download the podcast file here.


 

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio): Darrel Ray (Conversations for a Cause)


Darrel Ray

Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with Darrel Ray, psychologist and author of Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. We discuss polyamory, how religions use guilt, and curing the “God Virus.”

Darrel Ray is also the founder of Recovering from Religion.

You may also download the podcast file here.




Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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A Conversation with Darrel Ray


Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with Darrel Ray, psychologist and author of Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. We discuss polyamory, how religions use guilt, and curing the “God Virus.”

Darrel Ray is also the founder of Recovering from Religion.

You may also download the video file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Religion, Science, Society, VideoComments (0)

FF Podcast (Audio): Dan Ariely (Conversations for a Cause)


Dan Ariely

Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with Dan Ariely, psychologist/behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational. We ask him about attractiveness, cheating, and the value of human irrationality.

You may also download the podcast file here.



Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Religion, Science, SocietyComments (0)

A Conversation with Dan Ariely


Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with Dan Ariely, psychologist/behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational. We ask him about attractiveness, cheating, and the value of human irrationality.

You may also download the video file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Science, Society, VideoComments (0)

Filipino Psychologists Take A Stand Against LGBT Discrimination


On October 27, the Statement of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) on “Non-Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression” was made public on PAP’s website.

According to the website, PAP’s non-discrimination statement aims to “eliminate stigma, prejudice, discrimination and violence against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender)” people by supporting efforts to:

• oppose all public and private discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression;

• repeal discriminatory laws and policies, and support the passage of legislation at the local and national levels that protect the rights and promote the welfare of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions;

• eliminate all forms of prejudice and discrimination against LGBTs in teaching, research, psychological interventions, assessment and other psychological programs;

• encourage psychological research that addresses the needs and concerns of LGBT Filipinos and their families and communities;

• disseminate and apply accurate and evidence-based information about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to design interventions that foster mental health and wellbeing of LGBT Filipinos.

By releasing this statement, the PAP joins the ranks of other mental health professional organizations around the world in affirming that “lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations are normal variants of human sexuality.” These organizations include the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, British Psychological Society, the Colombian Society of Psychology, Psychological Society of South Africa, the Australian Psychological Society, and the International Network on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns and Transgender Issues in Psychology, among others.

A Society of Tolerance not Acceptance

The statement includes a general list of how LGBT Filipinos still experience stigma, prejudice and discrimination in Philippine society such as “bullying, teasing and harassment of LGBT children and adolescents in families, schools and communities; media portrayal of LGBTs as frivolous, untrustworthy and even dangerous or predatory; denying transgender Filipinos entry into commercial establishments; pigeonholing LGBT Filipinos into particularly limited roles and occupations; or curtailing their rights to participate in the political sphere.”

In addition to these cases of discrimination, there have also been an increasing number of reported LGBT killings. According to The Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, a monitoring group that documents hate crimes in the Philippines, there have been more than 141 reported cases of LGBT people killed in the Philippines since 1996.

Long Journey

The release of this statement traces its roots all the way back to the beginning of 2011. In February, a PAP-certified clinical psychologist guested on the morning show Umagang Kay Ganda (Beautiful Morning) and stated on national TV that LGBT people can become straight and achieve a happy life by going through therapy.

According to Eric Julian Manalastas, an assistant professor of Psychology at the University of the Philippines – Diliman and a member of the PAP, this was a “misleading, inaccurate, and unethical statement.” It prompted him to write to PAP to ask the organization to take action on the matter. On October 8, the board of directors approved a statement that Manalastas drafted along with Prof. Jay Yacat, a professor from the same university.

The Real Work Begins

But the long journey doesn’t stop with the statement’s approval. “…when I saw it finally released on the official PAP mailing list and the website, I was thinking, wow now the work begins,” said Manalastas. He expects that out of the several commitments, the last one (disseminate and apply accurate and evidence-based information about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) will have an immediate effect on the lives of LGBT Filipinos. “I would like to see all Filipino psychologists know that diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity is a compelling reality of human life…and that they apply and share this knowledge when they teach students, do research, talk to the media, and deliver professional services like counseling and therapy,” he added.

Personal Connection

Manalastas said he got a lot of personal satisfaction when the statement was released. He holds a strong connection to the issue as he and Yacat personally worked on the statement together until its approval. Despite the long journey and the challenge posed by society, Manalastas seemed hopeful and shared that “though few compared to in other countries, Filipino psychologists are well-placed (in schools, universities, organizations, clinics, etc.) and have a good opportunity to impact directly on the well-being, self-esteem, and personal identity of LGBT and non-LGBT Filipinos.”

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Article also appears on Digital Journal

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Faith Fails, Science Saves


It is apparently controversial to say that science will be able to tell us what is important in life. Science, as paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said, tells us how the heavens go, while religion tells us how to go to heaven. And for the most consequential things, it seems that science must yield to faith when considering what it means to have a good life.

But there is something gravely wrong with this kind of thinking. What it says is that reason cannot be used to distinguish right from wrong, happiness from suffering. But, even if reason, evidence, and methodical thought fail to illuminate our understanding of what constitutes a life worth living, what are our alternatives?

The mere suggestion that science can determine how we ought to behave understandably irks religious conservatives. For the faithful, this is an act of war against religion, which has always claimed for itself the realm of ethics and human values. That this assumption of moral authority still holds sway, when religions have failed in accurately representing practically anything in the world, is baffling. If religious traditions have been completely wrong about what goes on in the universe, why would they suddenly be unquestionably correct about what goes on in the mind?

A morality that is not based on authoritarian precepts is merely the acceptance that the world is not black and white and actions can have unforeseen consequences. And a science of morality would have to agree with what religious demagogues have been saying all along: there are moral truths to be found and there are objectively wrong ways to act. It seems especially strange then that, while they decry moral relativism, conservatives try to explain away the disgusting depravities in the Bible by calling for them to be placed in “context.” This precisely argues for a relativist morality—justifying mass murders (by Yahweh himself), rapes, and social outlooks by the culture at the time.

Saying that there are objectively good acts means only that there is a difference between an action that can bring about happiness and another that results in suffering. We can be right or wrong on whether homophobia is conducive to well-being. We can be right or wrong on whether misogyny is a good principle on which we should run our society. Our beliefs regarding these matters are, essentially, claims about conscious experience—how the brain responds to stimuli and how well-being is realized in the brain. And in this realm of facts, as in all others, there is no reason to put religious claims on a pedestal.

As we study more about the brain, our opinions on ethics will become increasingly constrained by psychological research and neuroscience. Findings such as those on the effect of corporal punishment on children and on the structural differences between the brains of normal and psychopathic human beings will change how we relate to each other and how we organize our societies. Our traditional views on parental roles and on how responsible people are for their actions may be altered as we continue to investigate how the evolved mind interacts with its surroundings. We might find that our justice system is not conducive to a peaceful society. We might find that our economic system inevitably leads to abuse and suffering. We might find possibilities for moral awareness that were never available to our pre-scientific ancestors or contemporary religious leaders.

There is public trust in science for many things that we’d never look to religion for answers, such as in believing in corrective glasses over faith healing. But, why is it that when the stakes are highest, when we are considering lives and the happiness of conscious human beings, science, reason, and logic take a back seat? The question on what makes a life worth living is, to say the least, hard to solve, but there are answers: based on facts and not on the musings of men who thought that all animals used to be herbivores.

Not only is science considered impotent when contemplating the deeper questions in life, it is generally believed that rationality ruins romance.

Consider the classic challenge against atheists. When questioning the existence of God, atheists are invariably asked to compare God with love. That is, love is said to be intangible and it admits of no rational inquiry, but we know it’s there. We can just feel it. While the analogy is false (love is realized in the brain as the sum total of specific neural activity and, thus, exists in the natural world), it reveals a common perception that scientific scrutiny is incompatible with an awareness for wonder in this world.

But that is clearly not true. The chemical process that results in feelings of love is itself a thing to behold and appreciate. That there is something material underlying our affection for others or art takes nothing away from our experience. And here we can expand our moral circle beyond even just humans.

Since our capacity for love and moral action evolved (not to say that morality should reflect the cruelty of Darwinian natural selection), it necessarily implies that other animals have similar, if not identical, capacities for compassion and cooperation. And here is where Christianity, in particular, is extremely impoverished. That humans (and specific kinds of men) are set apart by God is nothing short of speciesism and bigotry. Though there are cognitive differences between humans and other animals, that is what differentiates our moral responsibility to each other and not the entitlement assumed to be bestowed by a creator.

A non-supernatural outlook emphasizes the importance of our relationships in the here and now. We should thank doctors for healing us; we should thank farmers for providing for us food; we should thank our friends and families for comfort and companionship. These are the people who should matter to us, and attributing our happiness to something that isn’t there steals away from what other people rightly deserve.

Many believe that one day the world will end and that this would be the greatest thing that could ever possibly happen. Every action we do here in life is meaningless outside the goal of eternal paradise. This nihilism is why we must rid ourselves of religion wholesale. How could we ever endeavor to build a lasting society when our neighbors secretly yearn for doom and destruction, leaving all us suckers who never bought into religion to burn in perpetual torment. These are beliefs that are not conducive to mental health, let alone peace and human flourishing.

Science allows us to comprehend the world around us in a way our ancestors never could. Still, many choose to bind themselves to the follies of the past, relying not on evidence but on the servile desire to let other men think for themselves. It is a shame, when available to us now are methods and insights that will allow us to not only have greater knowledge, but a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what it means to be alive and how we must act.

The acceptance that all that there is is this natural world requires from us the understanding that there is no delaying justice to an afterlife. There is no point in deferring mercy and charity to a final judgement. If we yearn for anything that would resemble heaven, our only choice is to create it here.

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Demeter and Persephone


Like many feminist psychologists, I wonder why Freud was so fascinated by the tale of Oedipus that it became the predominant metaphor of his theory of psycho-sexual development. To make a Greek tragedy short, Oedipus unknowingly took his mother as wife. Upon learning this, Oedipus suffered from such guilt and remorse, that he blinded himself.

There are less male-centric stories from the Greek classics about sexuality and innocence that Freud could/should have considered. At the very least it would have balanced his theories of sexual development and women would not have had to suffer decades of damaging psychotherapeutic advice.

For example there is the myth of Demeter and Persephone. A myth I prefer for reasons I shall explain shortly.

Demeter is the goddess of the earth, agriculture, growing. Her daughter is Persephone. Persephone was kidnapped by the god of the underworld, Hades. It is a classic case of kidnap-rape. Having lost her daughter, Demeter grieves. The earth turns barren and cold.

Soon the other gods must intervene. In the end, despite having eaten of the pomegranate fruit that condemns her to the underworld, Persephone is released by Hades to go home to Demeter for half of each year. Upon her return, Demeter rejoices, sunlight and warmth return, things begin to grow again, the flowers bloom and the world sings. It is a return to joy, where the earth is able to bring forth that which will nourish itself and humankind.

Patriarchal elements aside (personally I would have preferred that Hades be condemned to prison, but he is after all, already in the Underworld), the story has tremendous value as a metaphor for an egalitarian sexuality that would liberate men and women from the pathology of current heterosexist and patriarchal disillusions.

The story can be read in ways closer to female desire, passion, nurturing, joy and power. For one thing, the story of Demeter illustrates what neo-Freudian and feminist icon, Karen Horney states is primordial female power: we give birth, we nurture new life, we see to its growth. It is this that men envy and which is the psychic underpinning of men’s need to control and dominate women’s sexuality.

It is the full recognition and valuation of this primordial creativity, rather than its denial, that is the first step towards towards men’s embrace of child-rearing and other forms of nurturing. It is also a necessary element towards understanding the centrality of sexuality to political theory and emancipatory strategy.

To understand this delight in the fruits of our sexual bodies and to embrace it without fear, is to understand the path to joy without guilt. See Demeter and Persephone’s happiness and how the whole world participates in this revelry! It is a joy so marvelously free of the hate that the religious fundamentalists bring to any earthly and embodied pleasure. And here I would agree with Freud. Unless this misogynistic self-loathing is brought to light, we shall never get to the bottom of predatory sexuality. Here I agree with those social psychologists who say that the impulse to fascism (religious or political) is rooted in psychic structures of control and repression that begins with how we construct the sexual self.

The myth of Demeter and Persephone validates what decent men and women feel about their children, even the girl children that many societies try to convince us are less valuable. There is no heterosexual reconstruction of maternal love for the male child in this story—something Freud would do repeatedly in his Oedipus-based readings of female sexuality; something repeatedly underscored by patriarchal readings of the story of Mary and Jesus. There is no degradation of the daughter who has lost her virginity to the unwanted male.

To the rape victims in my clinic, I try to be Demeter. There can be no stigmatization that is attached to their ordeal. I require nothing more of them but to return to the light and to eventually learn again to dance and sing. There is no shame in having survived, no question as to whether they had anything to do with the rape and kidnap. No degradation that accrues to the victim. Only gratefulness that they have survived and the promise of a return to self-nurture and growth.

Some of my counselees are women coming home from overseas. They bring with them tales of abuse and loneliness. But they also tell me that they have eaten the pomegranate seed—the good salaries they appreciated; the child of their employer they had nurtured and learned to love; the intimacies of friendship and romance they found there; the release from the parochial values of small towns; the sophistication that comes from having encountered a different horizon.

Demeter and Persephone are a metaphor for the homecoming of Filipinos to Inang Bayan. It is especially appropriate for those who, for whatever reason, left the country unwillingly or at great cost. We must welcome them all, particularly the trafficked, the raped, the kidnapped, the abused. We must continue to work for a society that will allow them to stay home for good. Meanwhile, when they return, the earth must sing and dance and welcome them back, with joy.

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