Category Archives: psychology

BODY IMAGE and SELF-ESTEEM

2009-01-17_bodyimage

BODY IMAGE is very important to self-esteem. We look for flaws, we compare ourselves to attractive, air-brushed celebrities and that is a battle you can’t win.

“Honey, do you think she is more attractive than me?”

“I, uh, well, I guess, it depends.”

A better idea is: don’t ask, don’t tell.  Or maybe, don’t seek perfection but TRY to be as healthy as possible.  On the one hand, it’s damaging to drive yourself crazy over perceived or exaggerated physical imperfections. On the other hand, it’s also damaging to go the route of complete acceptance, like the Fat Acceptance Movement.  You’re beautiful the way you are, except if you weigh 660 pounds and they have to remove a wall to get you out of the bedroom, not so much.  Accepting the way you are at the moment, does not mean you can’t strive in a realistic way, to improve.

I think the philosophy of Frank Zappa can be applied to this issue of body image and self-esteem.  Zappa asked the haunting question: “What’s the Ugliest Part of your Body?”  And he has an unexpected answer.  I made the video below with my version of the Zappa song.

LANGUAGE & REALITY

shutterstock_1117213-words

Words matter.  Whether spoken aloud or self talk, words are the FABRIC that weaves together our perception of the way things are. It’s not that the words have magic, it’s more that we give them magic — they have the power to influence, magnify, focus and set the entire framework that we use to view the world.  In other words, language creates and maintains our psychological “reality.” Words and thoughts are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them. Can you have a thought without words?  Can you have words without thoughts? Shakespeare though it was possible but not a great idea:

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

shakespeare

Clearly our choice of words influences, insults, and charms other people. But perhaps more importantly, if we say the right words to ourselves often enough, they can completely alter our attitude.  The good news is that the mind is very susceptible to positive programming. The bad news is that the programmer is often asleep or in some endless daydream of worry and anxiety.  Wake up and encourage yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

THE FEAR OF DEATH

THE FEAR OF DEATH  by Dr. Michael Thweatt

_________________________________________________________

Seasons don’t fear the reaper, nor do the wind or the sun or the rain.  We can be like they are…

death-02

________________________________________________________________

As human beings, we fear a lot of things. If the fear becomes exaggerated and irrational, it is considered to be a phobia. Always high on the phobia list is fear of snakes, spiders, heights and crowded spaces.

 

bush-viper

Ironically, FEAR OF DEATH (THANATOBIA), is often missing from the lists of most common phobias.  Death is so scary and so avoided it is not even considered a phobia by a lot of people.  Of course for the fear of death to be a true phobia, it must be irrational – so therein lies the issue: is it RATIONAL to fear death?  Can there be a “rational” fear of death, compared to a more obsessive “irrational” fear of death?

____________________________________________________________

WOODY ALLEN & DEATH

woody-allen

WOODY ALLEN once observed that the fear of public speaking was the number one reported phobia, even ranking above the fear of death. He concluded that people must be more afraid of delivering the eulogy than being in the coffin.

_____________________________________________

“When the music’s over, turn out the lights.”

JimMorrison

 It could be argued that people fear death above all else, because it is the end of all other projects. As JIM MORRISON bleakly but succinctly puts it:

This is the end, my only friend, the end.  Of our elaborate plans, the end.  Of everything that stands, the end.  No safety or surprise, the end.   I’ll never look into your eyes, again.”

______________________________________________________

THE DENIAL OF DEATH

 81YTHK2Yt0L

In his astonishing masterpiece, the Denial of DeathErnest Becker argues that death-denial propels us to engage in activities, beliefs and “projects’ that affirm our immortality, despite strong evidence to the contrary: 100 Billion human beings are estimated to have lived and died since the emergence of homo sapiens. What makes you an exception to the rule? 

________________________________________________

StephenWright

Comedian STEPHEN WRIGHT declares his IMMORTALITY PROJECT with more simple honesty than most humans:  “I plan to live forever. So far, so good.”

______________________________________________

RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL RESPONSES TO DEATH

CHRISTIAN

580-christ

Christians believe in a Life after Death, in which the individual personality is preserved.  In other words, the body-less “soul” remains an individual and furthermore retains awareness of others so that they may be recognized in the “here-after,” thus enabling a reunion in heaven.

______________________________________

EXISTENTIAL

Sartre-1500x

For Existentialists, the key problem is that people can’t conceive of non-existence and so we make the fundamental error of importing existence into the concept of death. To put it simply, people are terrified of being dead, but you can never BE dead, because when you die, you ARE NOT. So, we mistakenly project a continued consciousness past death and create the horrors of hell and wonders of heaven to fill the vastness of eternal time.

You experience dying, you don’t experience death. There is no blackness, void, loneliness, pain, burning in hell fire, glory in heaven, etc. There is not even nothing because nothingness is a concept. There are no concepts, no words, nada. To talk or think about death is self-defeating because you are imposing language and the dynamics of consciousness on that which is not.

____________________________________________

BUDDHIST

buddha-7

Buddhist believe the “self” is not a permanent thing.  The self is a socially-constructed, temporarily convenient invention.  Useful, but it doesn’t have the inherent “realness” of the body.   So, grieve not, nor should you ask  for whom the bell tolls, because we are ephemeral as individuals. Attachment equals grief because all things must pass.

 

BIZARRE PHOBIAS by Dr. Michael Thweatt

 

BIZARRE PHOBIAS   by Dr. Michael Thweatt
 bizarre-phobias-1
———————————————————————–
In our modern era of global financial meltdown, cyber warfare, biological weapons and various other unnamed and unknown apocalyptic threats, it is perhaps understandable that there are now literally hundreds of named phobias.
Particularly bizarre phobias are now emerging.  This whacky new generation of phobias reflects our increasingly chaotic world. The more crazy the world gets, the more crazy our fears get.  Let’s consider a few examples:
ZEMMIPHOBIA: FEAR OF THE GIANT MOLE RAT

naked-molerat-inline

Okay, the Giant Mole Rat is a little creepy.
______________________________________________________
GENIOPHOBIA – FEAR OF CHINS

jay-leno

I’m guessing that Fear of Chins is more like fear of multiple chins, not fear of Jay Leno’s chin.
__________________________________________________
TYRRANNAPHOBIA – FEAR OF TYRANTS

JW_T-Rex

I thought it was normal to fear tyrants, especially tyrants that are 13 ft. tall and weigh 7 tons.

_____________________________________________________________

GNOSIOPHOBIA – FEAR OF KNOWLEDGEBooks_Ted_Cruz-05a70 (1)
Optimized-42-79118890-2

_______________________________________________________________

POLITICOPHOBIA – FEAR OF POLITICIANS
Optimized-42-79118890-2 I believe that Ted Cruz will make America what it once was –   an arctic wasteland covered with snow.

________________________________________________________

HIPPOPOTOMONSTROSESQUIPEDALIOPHOBIA – FEAR OF LONG WORDS.

tumblr_o1oeznaZnr1v69leeo1_500

 If you’ve got this one, avoiding reading Faulkner.

_______________________________________________________________

REAL PHOBIAS are no laughing matter. They are very disruptive to normal living.  Phobias are symptoms of some hidden anxiety that we don’t want to face, like an insane clown with spider’s crawling over his face. Who wants to see that? I’d rather see Ted Cruz than that clown.

ANXIETY, TIME & LANGUAGE by Dr. Michael Thweatt

ANXIETY, TIME & LANGUAGE  by  Dr. Michael Thweatt

anxiety

ANXIETY is the mother of most psychological disorders and problems. Alcoholism, phobias, drug abuse, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, all stem from anxiety.  In fact, it’s fair to say that many psychological problems are merely symptoms of the fundamental disease – anxiety.

Past-Present-Future-neon-sig

Anxiety comes from dwelling on  the PAST or FUTURE.   Of course, it’s natural to “visit” past events and future scenarios – but if you start to dwell there, live there, establish your residence there, it can become a real problem.  if you start to import past regrets and future concerns into the present, then you lay the foundation for anxiety.

TIME JUMPING

http://brightwallpapers.com/

“Time jumping” into the past and future  is one of the legacies of acquiring language.  Awareness of it is the key to moderating anxiety.   It helps to develop a sensitivity for the trigger words that send us temporarily away from the present.

For Past Time Jumping, a key phrase is “if only.”  If you stop to think about “if only” is about the most useless and self-destructive mental exercises you can engage in.  “If only” is at the heart of all regrets.  If only I had done this other thing, instead of what I actually did, life would now be perfect.  Wrong.  But we obsess about it anyway.  Let’s consider some specific examples:

FB-share-logo

IF  ONLY I HAD STAYED IN COLLEGE

Homeless-Vietnam-Vet-480x365_________________________________________________________________

IF ONLY I HADN’T PUT THAT MESCALINE IN MY BEER.

Driving through the night
_________________________________________________________

IF ONLY I HAD ASKED HER OUT ON A DATE.

couple-sunset-silhouette-caribbean-beach-wedding_________________________________________________________

IF ONLY I HAD BOUGHT 100 SHARES OF MICROSOFT IN 1986

shutterstock_186500258

WHAT’S THE POINT OF SAYING ‘IF ONLY” ??

It is completely ridiculous to cry about “if only.”  You can’t go back in time and re-write history, so why wonder about it?_____________________________________________________

For Future Time Jumping, a key phrase is “what if?”  Let’s consider some specific examples:

maxresdefault (1)____________________________________________________________

WHAT IF I GET ATTACKED BY FIRE-PROOF ZOMBIES AND THERE’S NO WHERE TO HIDE?

burned-walker-walking-dead-season-5-zombies-are-totally-dangerous-and-disgusting-1-ever-notice-this-about-the-walking-dead-s-infected-jpeg-139616____________________________________________________________

WHAT IF I FORGET TO SEND MY GIRLFRIEND A VALENTINE CARD?

Angry woman using a computer

__________________________________________________________

WHAT IF BATMAN HAD THE POWERS OF THOR & SUPERMAN?

batman-arkham-asylum-wallpaper-3

DON’T WASTE TIME WITH “WHAT IF”!

Most of the future “what ifs” we worry about will never come to pass.  So it is simply an anxiety project to speculate about them.   If you can slow down the inevitable human propensity to time jump and dwell in the simple present, you will be much calmer.

But WHAT IF you can’t slow down enough to BE HERE NOW?
IF ONLY you had studied Zen Buddhism at an earlier age….

PROJECTION and Secular Humanism

PROJECTION

bigstock-Two-heads-of-people-with-mecha-25539083

In Freudian psychology, PROJECTION  is a defense mechanism in which undesirable thoughts are attributed to an external source, usually another person.  For example,  you dimly realize that your are often loud and obnoxious, but you don’t want to admit it to yourself, so you accuse other people of being loud and obnoxious.   This type of projection can have two ego-stroking effects: (1) Social dilution –  “I have lots of company, so I’m not so bad” ;  (2) Comparative easing “Compared to Donald Trump, I’m not that obnoxious.”

trump_flicker_face_yess

PROJECTION is even more effective when aimed at a supernatural external object. In this way,  Satan becomes the immortal personification of all evil.  Satan is far worse than anything you could ever be.  His crimes are certainly more horrendous than any blasphemous horror you could concoct.  As Mick Jagger informed us,  He “rode a tank, held a General’s rank when the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank.”   This ultimate type of Projected Blame Shifting is  summed up nicely in Flip Wilson’s signature line – “the devil made me do it.”

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT.

download

There is a powerful inverse relationship between blaming the devil and assuming blame ourselves.   If the Devil is 100% to blame, you are off the hook entirely.  You murdered that family because you were completely possessed by Satan.  If the Devil is only, say, 30% to blame, then you may can plea bargain down to “reckless endangerment.”  I don’t see how you can believe in the Devil and Free Will at the same time.   And it seems obvious ( to me) that Satan is a very convenient and very unfortunate psychological projection.

God

Following this line of thought, God and Jesus and all other “good” supernatural beings are also projections of our more positive aspects.   There is actually a New Age philosophy called “Self-Projection as God” which describes this phenomenon as “vicarious autotheism.”   In this case, we aren’t shifting blame, we are shifting credit.  Apparently it’s too much to believe that the human mind alone could be capable of  self-healing and other psychological “miracles.”

 

FEAR OF CLOWNS

FEAR OF CLOWNS

clowns1a1

According to Gary Lewis and the Playboys, “Everybody loves a clown.”  Many people who are terrified of clowns would disagree.  In the The Playboy’s 1965 hit, the singer is a sad, misunderstood “clown” who is never taken seriously by anyone, especially the girl he  loves. But for those suffering from Coulrophobia, Clown Phobia, a clown is not an object of pity, but an object of great fear.

MI0001635984

Now ( September, 2016) there are Clown Sightings being reported. This is completely bizarre. A clown standing “silently by the road.”  A wooded area behind an apartment complex in Greenville, SC has been reportedly “over-run with clowns.”   Just like Alien Abductions, these “sightings” and unsubstantiated.  It could be some kind of group hysteria, it could be pranksters copycatting each other, or it could be a hidden population of psychotic clowns, their hour come at last, slouching through the woods to kidnap your kids.

BUZZ BOMB BRANDING

BUZZ BOMB2

V1-Flying-Bomb-TitleSTEREOTYPES are negative caricatures of a group that create and sustain the belief that all members are the same. One of the most insidious manifestations of stereotyping involves the use of emotionally tagged labels which I call “buzz bomb branding.” Historically, buzz bombs were the nick name for the the ominously buzzing German V-1 rockets whose primitive guidance system enabled them to hit somewhere in or around London during WW2. This type of broad, indiscreet targeting and the resultant fear and dread is exactly what occurs with buzz bomb branding. The negative characteristics of these labels are so culturally ingrained, so universally accepted as unconditional evil, so media-repeated and pulpit-pronounced that no one even thinks to question the monolithic and final judgments they dispense. Buzz bomb labels use moral outrage to create the false belief that all members of these notoriously evil groups must be equally depraved. In essence, the word itself has acquired so much negative momentum that the subtleties and subcategories are ignored and everyone given the label is effectively and often unfairly branded. 

grey

Why does this happen? It happens because we like to simplify things and this leads to over-generalization. When you have to make painstaking distinctions and articulate complex shades of gray and clarify ambiguity, it’s much more difficult and troublesome than living in the assurance of a black and white world, where America and freedom and apple pie are good and everything else is evil.

good evil flag

IS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

With stereotype labels, the activating word is like a button that is pushed and it brings up an image or a single concept of the worse case scenario. The problem is that there are usually a wide spectrum of people or concepts that have been put in the category that are unfairly judged by this image.

LET’S EXAMINE A PARTICULAR EXAMPLE of this emotional stereotyping: CHILD PORNOGRAPHERS

Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). The legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require that an image depict a child engaging in sexual activity.  A picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is “sufficiently sexually suggestive.”

So child pornography RANGES from videos of very young prepubescent children who are forced or coerced  to engage in sexual activity, which is absolutely horrible  TO – at the other end of the spectrum – photos of sexually mature 17 year-olds who may willingly pose in sexually suggestive ways while intentionally lying about their age.  Not that there is anything good about this “older end” of the spectrum:  It is wrong, misguided, it is bad judgment and may be openly abusive BUT sexually suggestive photos of 17 year-olds ARE NOT THE MORAL EQUIVALENT of videos of prepubescent children having sex with adults.  Why do we lump them all together with no distinctions?

CONSEQUENCES OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

child pornographer

 CHILD PORNOGRAPHY  SENTENCING

There is now a mandatory five year sentence for “possession with intent to distribute or sell child pornography” OR “production of child pornography”. Without any more details, the legal language is quite sufficient to push the outrage button and many would (understandably) say: Great, this sentence is not long enough! But like a lot of laws, especially drug laws, the language is vague and the real world application can only be seen in a case by case basis. Consider this case:

A 20 year-old man makes a home video of consensual sex with his 17 year-old girlfriend and downloads it to his computer, with his girlfriend’s knowledge and with no intent to share the video with others. CHARGE: child pornography production. SENTENCE: five years. Does this man deserve five years in prison? Why does he face this type of sentence? Because he is on the fringe of the hysteria and he has been caught up in the group and branded.

zeiger-header

 In addition to the legal consequences, there are the so-called “collateral consequences.”  For anyone accused of possessing child pornography, for anyone whose house was searched because of suspicions of child pornography, society’s verdict has already been reached: your career is destroyed and your reputation damaged beyond repair – regardless of eventually exoneration or the exact nature of the crimes.  Undoubtedly, many or the worst offenders deserve this, but not all, especially before any legal resolution.

I chose child pornography for this article as an extreme example of how buzz bomb branding works. The point is: there are distinctions to be made even here. It is always important to avoid emotional knee jerk reactions and look at details and understand how  over-generalization happens.  Let’s consider the cultural context that shapes child pornography.

SAUDI ARABIA DOES NOT HAVE A MINIMUM AGE FOR MARRIAGE

child-marriage-ok-grand-muf

One of the key problems for this “buzz bomb branding”of child pornographers is that our society can’t clearly define “childhood.”   When do you stop being a child?  Child marriages were common throughout history and even today 146 countries permit girls younger than 18 to marry with the consent of parents or other authorities; in 52 countries, girls under age 15 can marry with parental consent.  Of course, this is not the same as child pornography –  these child marriages are not, one would hope, being videotaped or photographed. But for a minor to have legally sanctioned sex is not unprecedented. Of course, the younger the girls, the more it becomes an unthinkable abomination to Western sensibilities

CREEPILY SEXUALIZED BEAUTY PAGEANT CONTESTANT

ewwwww

Another problem with child pornography is double standards.  Our society acts with instant outrage at the mention of child pornography and at the same time openly engages in the sexualization of minors, in beauty pageants and in marketing teen divas like Britney Spears. In her autobiographical hit “Piece of Me,” Britney declares; ” I’m Miss American Dream since I was 17″ and the media still wants to “put pictures of my derriere in the magazine.”

porn

Yet another problem with child pornography is our society’s understanding of “pornography” in general.  Pornography, like fornication, is not a descriptive word –  it is a judgmental word.  Upper class people enjoy ‘EROTICA” and express their sexuality by MAKING LOVE.  Lower class people look at pornography and fornicate!!  What’s the difference? Why is “shit” a dirty word and “defecate” an acceptable word?  Most German/Anglo-Saxon curse words are considered obscene while the Latin equivalent is considered much more polite.  So the push-button outrage, the buzz bomb branding, comes from centuries of hate and resentment against the German / Anglo Saxon influence  on the (supposedly) previously clean language and culture. We have a deeply embedded linguistic program that initiates an immediate negative reaction to these words and then commands us to not think any further about nuances and distinctions. Of course, obsession and addiction to anything whether it is drugs, pornography or violence is very wrong, clinically problematic and self-destructive.  My point it that it is not “adult” pornography or drugs or guns per se that are the problem – it is their abuse. 

in-summary-123009-610x143

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY is a very emotional topic, so let me be crystal clear on my position.   It is probably the deepest human instinct to protect our young from dangers and nothing is more horrifying than a child predator. I am ADVOCATING a more precise definition of child pornography that has a more narrow focus.  This is not to let anyone off the hook, but to deal appropriately with specific behaviors. In other words, a specific punishment should fit the specific crime. In the case of Child Pornography, I don’t think this will happen unless we rethink our understanding of childhood and pornography.


 

I want to examine one more simpler example of buzz bomb branding to illustrate the similarity of patterns across categories ( and to end this article on a less contentious note).This category is HORSE THIEF

horse thieves

In the Old West a horse was often necessary for survival. If you stole a man’s horse, you were possibly condemning him to die. Just like child pornography today, it was simply not tolerated. And just like child pornography, distinctions were not made and all horse thieves were treated alike – they were hung. What distinctions could be made in the notorious category of such worthless varmints as horse thieves? I ask the reader to consider Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove to illustrate the answer.

71zqbJQjkNL._SY606_

McMurtry distinguishes three types of horse thieves:

1. International Horse Thieves.

More precisely, stealing horses from Mexico. It’s okay for the Texas rangers to cross the border and steal Mexican horses because the Mexicans probably stole them from the US in the first place so they are just “retrieving them.” Consequence: No punishment. ( except the Mexicans might re-steal the stolen horses)

2. Outlaw Horse Thieves.

When the former Texas Ranger Jake Spoon teams up with despicable outlaws, he is hung for being a horse thief.

3. Starving Indian Horse Thieves.

When Captain McCall tracks down some more horse thieves later in the book, he discovers a small band of starving Native Americans who have already killed and cooked some of the horses. Consequence: no punishment.

So apparently there are different levels within this nefarious category. In conclusion – always question emotional responses and simplistic categorizations and watch out for the buzz bombs!

ILLUSION & belief

ILLUSION AND BELIEF

maxresdefault

Look into the image above for a few seconds. What do you see? I see a slow rotation. It seems obvious. But there is no real movement. This is not an embedded video. The image is not moving, your mind is moving it. Illusions like this are basically misperceptions.  They are the products of a convincing deception which leads to sincere belief.  Unfortunately, sincerity does not guarantee validity. In other words, what you would swear is true, may not be.

PLACEBO

Visual illusions are just one class of illusion. Anytime a contrived thing or a realistic substitute is mistaken for the “real” thing, you have a kind of illusion. Placebos are a perfect example of this. In the classic placebo test, what you think you have (aspirin) is really a fake (sugar pill). In the visual illusion above, we believe the fake movement because it is carefully orchestrated with visual cues. In the aspirin placebo test, the sugar pill may be stamped with the same code and colored to mimic the real thing. BUT if our belief is strong enough, regardless of what it is based on, the results are often the same as the real thing: we may get dizzy from the fake motion and we may have our headaches cured with a sugar pill. Put simply, it is often the sincerity of belief and not the object of belief that provides the cure.

CRYSTAL “HEALING” – DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?

crystal-healing

 Did the Magic Crystals heal your depression and your anxiety or was it simply your BELIEF in the power of the crystals that did the trick?  How can you ever know the difference? Does it really matter?  Well, how much did you pay for the crystal therapy?  The propensity to believe in unprovable claims of healing  and to disregard the prevalence of the placebo effect and the power of naked belief  is not limited to New Age practitioners and their gullible followers. Consider the case of Franz Mesmer.

Hypnosis_0

Austrian physician Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) believed illness came from misaligned magnetic forces, so he developed a “treatment” that involved transmitting magnetic force to the patient through a series of complex and elaborate gestures and touch, not unlike modern day faith healers.

mesmer3

Mesmer’s patients proclaimed themselves cured of the same vague hysterical conditions that Freud encountered a few years later: blindness, numbness,  paralysis and convulsive fits with no organic basis.  Now known as “conversion disorders,” these hysterical illnesses are basically a physical manifestation of anxiety.  In other words they are purely psychological so the”cure” can be purely psychological.  Eventually Mesmer was discredited and it was affirmed that the real healing factor was the patients’ belief in the cure, not the cure itself. In other words, it was the power of suggestion not the power of magnetism that stopped the symptoms.

THE AMAZING RANDI

RANDI

James Randi is a former professional magician and famous escape artist who turned into a devoted skeptic and debunker.  Randi devoted his life to challenging and disproving paranormal claims.  His first step was to reclassify himself as an “illusionist” not a magician.  What he and other professionals do on stage, Randi admits,  is not paranormal, it is very skilled sleight-of-hand, it is an illusion.  In one of his most famous de-bunkings,  Randi exposed the renowned Faith Healer Peter Popoff.

Peter-Popoff

During the healing service, Reverend Popoff would reveal personal information of supplicants that he had supposedly received from God.  Unfortunately for Popoff’s ministry, Randi’s investigators detected radio messages during this divine revelation. Turns out the personal  information was coming from Popoff’s wife, not God.  But it was a very convincing illusion while it lasted and Popoff made a lot of money.


In addition to faith healers, Randi has challenged spoon bendersaura readers, dowsers, astrologers and famous psychics like Sylvia Browne. No one has passed the test and proved their paranormal claims under Randi’s controlled conditions. All they have succeeded in doing is separating the naive from their money.

       2013sylviabrowne-900x467

   Following this logic to it’s conclusion, ANYTIME we are psychologically “healed” by belief in unseen or unknowable forces – whether we believe in crystalsvoodooReikifaith healingeating fried chicken before a game to improve your batting average, Jesus, GodZeus, the Virgin MaryVishnuOdin or Anubis, its is fair to question if it is the thing itself – as we sincerely believe – or simply belief itself, independent of the object of belief – that effects our cure. The inescapable irony of this is that we must believe the deception or it doesn’t work. In other words, if you break the illusion, if you see through to the truth – that fried chicken has nothing to do with hitting a baseball – then your confidence is gone and you have a hitting slump. It is not that the superstition failed, or Jesus failed, or Vishnu failed….your belief failed.

mark-twain

In summary, evidence and common sense strongly suggests that there is no force emanating from the healing object to the healing subject – what is happening is a self-contained belief system that doesn’t require an outside power, only a sincere belief in one.  My skeptical stance on psychological healing is that I assume the placebo effect – the  power of belief alone –  is in play in these situations by default. My challenge is the same as Randi’s, if you believe your particular magic works, prove it.