Friday, March 22, 2013

Back Up Beepers and Barking Beagles

    Sitting at my console this morning preparing to write about yesterday’s revisit to the Penguin (later) my ears were assaulted with the loud, whining sound of a city vacuum truck cleaning debris from the storm drain on the corner. Yesterday it was the loud, whining sound of a commercial sump cleaner vacuuming something from a nearby restaurant.

    Once today’s city truck finished, the relative quiet allowed the invasion of yet another annoyance — the almost continuous beep-beep-beep of the back-up warning on a construction vehicle working on a street project.  It was this beeping that led me to wonder why this safety device had to be so loud it can be heard far beyond the safety area it was intended to warn about.

    On further thought it brought to mind the dog living on a property close to a laundromat I use. The dog lunges fiercely and barks loudly  when I walk past his fence — a solid fence - he can’t see me — even though I pose absolutely no threat to him or his property.

    These situations seem to confirm how neurotic our society has become. Neurosis, though no longer a favored term by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), is a significant over-reaction to a stimulus such as the construction vehicle owner’s need to warn far beyond the danger zone and the dog’s need to warn when not endangered. In essence, Neurosis is an over-reaction to reality. [Continuing with such over-simplification, Psychosis could be considered an under-reaction to reality.]

    It reminded me of my studies in Psychology. I am neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist but I have read works by specialists in those fields and one of the most highly regarded practitioners in that field was the late Dr. Karen Horney who founded the American Institute for Psychoanalysis in New York City in 1941.

    Neurosis and Human Growth and Our Inner Conflicts are two of the books Doctor Horney wrote. Her theories propose that inner conflicts between one’s real self and one’s idealized self create anxiety and efforts to cope with that anxiety can become “neurotic” when they become intrusive or obstruct social interaction.

    Some signs and symptoms of the disorders formerly considered among the neuroses are obsessive-compulsive disorder; anxiety attacks; hysteria; phobias; depression; irritability; low sense of self-worth; lethargy and others.

    Most people exhibit these signs at one time or another during their lifetime. It does not become a problem unless the means by which a person copes becomes their raison d’etre. If that occurs, the person has become their own worst enemy. It’s a matter of degree rather than substance.

    According to Horney, the needs a neurotic personality has in coping with their inner conflicts can be grouped into three categories:

        Needs that move you toward others — clingy, seeking affirmation and approval.
        Needs that move you away from others — cold, aloof, indifferent, anti-social.
        Needs that move you against others — being difficult, domineering, or unkind.
             [I believe there should be a fourth category. Needs that move you
             against self. This I have witnessed on more than one occasion
             with potential suicides. This would be at the extreme end of
             the neurotic spectrum — Impoverishment of Personality.]

    Karen Horney’s prescriptions for freedom from overwhelming coping mechanisms she referred to as “self-realization”. Doctor Horney was acquainted with doctor Abraham Maslow and her thoughts closely paralleled Maslow’s thoughts on “self-actualization”.

    He theorized that self-actualized people:

            — Have realistic perceptions of themselves, others and
                  the world around them.
            — Are responsible and ethical.
            — Are spontaneous and open.
            — Need independence and privacy
                 though still enjoying the company of others.
            — View the world with a continual sense of appreciation,
                 wonder and awe.

    I think I’ve achieved self-realization and I think I am self-actualized. 
Nonetheless I don’t like back up beepers at breakfast or barking beagles anytime.
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