Monday, March 22, 2010

Neurosis

Many parents make the mistake of not picking up their child sufficiently out of fear of "spoiling" him. By ignoring him, this is precisely what they do, and later they will be swamped by the child's insatiable demands for symbolic substitutes — until the day they crack down on him. The consequences of that are both inevitable and dreadful.

by Dr. Arthur Janov

We all are creatures of need. We are born needing, and the vast majority of us die after a lifetime of struggle with many of our needs unfulfilled. These needs are not excessive — to be fed, kept warm and dry, to grow and develop at our own pace, to be held and caressed, and to be stimulated. These Primal needs are the central reality of the infant. The neurotic process begins when these needs go unmet for any length of time. A newborn does not know that he should be picked up when he cries or that he should not be weaned too early, but when his needs go unattended, he hurts.

    At first the infant will do everything in his power to fulfill his needs. He will reach up to be held, cry when he is hungry, kick his legs, and thrash about to have his needs recognized. If his needs go unfulfilled for a length of time, if he is not held, changed or fed, he will suffer continuous pain either until he can do something to get his parents to satisfy him or until he shuts off the pain by shutting off his need. If his pain is drastic enough, death may intervene, as shown in studies of some institutional babies.

Since the infant cannot himself overcome the sensation of hunger (that is, he cannot go to the refrigerator) or find substitute affection, he must separate his sensations (hunger; wanting to be held) from consciousness. This separation of oneself from one's needs and feelings is an instinctive maneuver in order to shut off excessive pain. We call it the split. The organism splits in order to protect its continuity. This does not mean that unfulfilled needs disappear, however. On the contrary, they continue throughout life exerting a force, channeling interests, and producing motivation toward the satisfaction of those needs. But because of their pain, the needs have been suppressed in the consciousness, and so the individual must pursue substitute gratifications. He must, in short, pursue the satisfaction of his needs symbolically. Because he was not allowed to express himself, he may be compelled to try to get others to listen and understand later in life.

Not only are unattended needs that persist to the point of intolerability separated from consciousness, but their sensations become relocated to areas where greater control or relief can be provided. Thus, feelings can be relieved by urination (later by sex) or controlled by the suppression of deep breathing. The unfulfilled infant is learning how to disguise and change his needs into symbolic ones. As an adult he may not feel the need to suck his mother's breast owing to abrupt early weaning but will be an incessant smoker. His need to smoke is a symbolic need, and the essence of neurosis is the pursuit of symbolic satisfactions.

Neurosis is symbolic behavior in defense against excessive psychobiologic pain. Neurosis is self-perpetuating because symbolic satisfactions cannot fulfill real needs. In order for real needs to be satisfied, they must be felt and experienced. Unfortunately, pain has caused those needs to be buried. When they are buried, the organism goes into a continuous state of emergency alert. That alert state is tension. It propels the infant, and later the adult, toward the satisfaction of need in any way possible. This emergency alert is necessary to ensure the infant's survival; if he were to give up hope of ever having his needs fulfilled, he might die. The organism continues to live at any cost, and that cost is usually neurosis — shutting down unmet bodily needs and feelings because the pain is too great to withstand.

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The GM war in Europe starts here

Not just a spud, this is likely to prove a very hot political potato indeed. It is living, knobbly proof of the determination of Brussels bureaucrats to spread GM crops throughout Europe, against the will of most of its people.

In a little-noticed move last week, the European Commission defied most of the governments to which it is supposed to answer to give the green light to growing a modified potato across the continent. It was the first time a GM crop had been authorised for cultivation in 13 years. But, now the long moratorium has been broken, similar approvals for others are expected rapidly to follow.

The decision has its origins in a couple of secret, top-level meetings called by Jose Manuel Barroso, the Commission's strongly pro-GM president. He invited the prime ministers of each of the 27 EU member states to send a personal representative along to discuss how to "speed up" the spread of the technology and "deal with" public opposition.

You can see why he was frustrated. Only one GM crop – a maize produced by Monsanto – had ever been cleared for growing in Europe, and that was way back in 1998. Other applications, including the GM potato, had failed to get through the Council of Ministers, representing the EU governments. No surprise there: about three times as many Europeans oppose genetic modification as support it.

As a result, GM crops cover only about 0.12 per cent of Europe's agricultural land, mainly in Spain – and the continent accounts for just 0.08 per cent of the area growing them worldwide. And they have been losing ground. In the past two years, both France and Germany banned the Monsanto maize, joining Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg.

The meetings' confidential minutes show that Barroso was trying to get the prime ministers to over-rule their own agriculture and environment ministers, and "look at the wider picture". And the leaders' emissaries duly called for "the speeding up of the authorisation process, based on robust assessments so as to reassure the public".

But little changed: the Commission tried to force countries to lift their bans on growing the Monsanto maize, but again failed at the Council of Ministers. So it undemocratically took matters into its own hands to launch the GM potato. Called Amflora – developed by BASF to produce starch for paper, textiles and glue – the potato has twice been to the Council for approval, in December 2006 and August 2007. Each time, as in almost all GM applications, the ministers were split between pro and anti-GM countries, and the Commission could not get the qualified majority it needed. So, last week it cynically approved the spud for cultivation – using a provision that allows it, when ministers are deadlocked, to decide over their heads.

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