Fitting to repost the #1 blog by Eshrink (my dad) about Mrs. Eshrink (my mom) on this Valentine’s Day. Click the link below.
The Power of LOVE
The new year began with me finding a new hero. He happens to be a marvelously gifted athlete, but that is not my reason for choosing to honor this young man. His name is Justin Fields. It is true that I am proud of his exploits on the football field, and in particular his thrashing of the enemies of my treasured Ohio State buckeyes, but it was a single comment made following his sustaining of a potentially very serious and obviously painful injury on the field which I deemed heroic.
During the recent New Year’s Day game with Clemson, when sliding to the ground at the end of a run, my hero, Justin, was struck in the right lateral rib cage by the helmet of a 24-pound linebacker who dove into him as they both were running all out. The force of the blow doubled him over and left him writhing in pain. The force applied and location of his injuries left me concerned that the damage could be life threatening. Although quarterbacks usually wear padding on their torsos, I couldn’t imagine him surviving this trauma without sustaining a few broken ribs or lacerating his kidney. Consequently, I was amazed to see him walk back on the field after sitting out one play, throw a touchdown pass, and be escorted into the treatment tent (more about that later) shortly before the first half ended.
This game had received more than the usual amount of hype. It was the semi-final game in the quest for a national championship, but also was a repeat appearance of both contestants in identical circumstances. The prior year’s game was won by Clemson with a last-minute score, and my Buckeyes had been forced to look at a poster showing the final score of that game every time they entered their practice facility. If that were not enough motivation, there was also the fact that Ohio State was considered the underdog, and best of all, there was a recorded quote from the Clemson coach that they should not have been ranked high enough to be selected to play in the tournament as there were at least 10 other teams better than Ohio State. He would be widely criticized (especially by the Clemson fans) for motivating an opponent, especially after losing by 21 points.
At half-time the OSU coach, Ryan Day, when asked as to the condition of his quarterback responded with the following non-answer: “He’s got the heart of a lion, and he’s gotta play for 30 more minutes.” I would have been more comfortable with reassurances that he had been examined thoroughly by the team doctor who determined that it was safe for him to play. I was shocked to learn that there were no X-rays taken, or what, if any, procedures were done to determine his fitness to play. It seems to me that such an injury warranted rib films at the minimum. I dare say that in most any other situation an X-ray would be routine, and the neglect to do so would be considered malpractice.
At his post-game interview Justin was a model of humility. Link to YouTube Video and Link to Google Search of all Interview Results. When asked the inane question as to how he felt about the win, he responded that he felt blessed. He heaped praise upon his teammates, his God, and his coach, whom he said treated him like a son. When asked how he felt about the Clemson coach’s disparaging comments, he simply replied he didn’t want to talk about that.
Deeds of valor have been favorite subjects for authors and poets throughout history. There have been instances when soldiers have thrown themselves on hand grenades in order to save the lives of their comrades. Soldiers who request return to combat following injuries usually do so out of concern for their buddies. As a matter of fact, nearly all episodes of heroism arise out of concern for other people. Psychiatrists, psychologists, philosophers, and self-endowed experts of all kinds have discussed, analyzed, and categorized the phenomenon of love ad nauseum, which usually means that they don’t have a clue. When I was a kid, I was taught that love was a word that should be reserved for use when describing a human relationship with the possible exception of feelings for the family dog or God, but now we profess love for food, music, cars, clothing, and all kinds of inanimate objects. We were taught to love our country, certain ideals and core values all of which had something to do with mankind. Although love had not the exalted status of the F word or the N word, it was treated with respect. I now find the definition in the Google dictionary to include “affection for someone or something.”
My favorite definition of love is: caring for another as much or more than for oneself, but then I am a person who likes to simplify. There is little doubt that there were multiple factors which contributed to Mr. Fields’ remarkable performance, but I was struck by his demeanor and his use of the word love. As with most emotions, love is a word that defies description. It can cause euphoria and unbridled pain when taken away, but is an effective antidote to hatred. Love heals and hatred destroys. We have all heard testimonials of people who have suffered grievous injuries at the hands of others relate how they could only find peace by forgiving those who had harmed them or their loved ones.
My Favorite Definition of LOVE
The power of love has been recognized by the ancients, even before Jesus Christ, whose philosophy of love was first learned about by me in perhaps the most quoted of the scriptures ………THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE. It was enhanced by a quote from of all people, an ancient Taoist philosopher, Lao Tzu, who long before Christ is alleged to have said:
TO BE LOVED DEEPLY GIVES YOU STRENGTH, TO DEEPLY LOVE GIVES YOU COURAGE”Lao Tzu
He also said: “LOVE OF ALL THE PASSIONS IS THE STRONGEST, FOR IT ATTACKS THE HEAD, THE HEART, AND THE SENSES.”
Can the power of love be misused in unscrupulous ways?
Ironically, it was while writing this little essay that I heard about the assault on the Capitol. Perhaps that is more timely than one might think, for it illustrates a thought that had occurred to me about how the use of love is often used as an unscrupulous way to influence others to do bad things. Although these insurrectionists were involving themselves in a hateful enterprise, most of them would undoubtedly report they were doing it out of love for their country and in many cases for their revered leader who had directed them. Their thought processes have been so distorted by the lies of Trump and his sycophants that they refer to themselves as patriots. After all, they were simply following the instructions of the commander in chief. Such strategies have long been the bread and butter of charismatic cult leaders.
Indeed, Trump misused the sentiment of love in his taped message during the siege on the Capitol.
“Go home. We love you, you’re very special,” he said as the rioters attacked the legislative branch of our government, our sacred institution of democracy, and the “thin blue line” that loyal Trump followers had previously and consistently supported without question–even when police blatantly killed citizens of color without cause.
These rioters were willing to check all of their principles and values at the door for one man. Fortunately, for us, our founders knew the danger of allegiance to one man, to a king, and set up our Republic to keep that in check. Therefore, each public servant, swears an oath to The Constitution of the United States of America, not the President. Democracy is messy, often inefficient (by design in some respects) and while ours is not a perfect system of government, it is exceptional and has always been the model for countries around the world who fight for the rights these rioters obviously have taken for granted.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no anarchists or militia groups operating in this small midwestern town of mine. Nevertheless, our local paper reported a busload of 67 of our citizens heeded Trump’s call and traveled to Washington to join in the “demonstration.”
These followers heard their Dear Leader encourage them to walk down to the Capitol and fight. Unfortunately, some of Trump’s followers take him at his word….led by one man who has tapped into their anger, their need to feel important, their need to find an excuse for all of their problems, their hatred…all for “the love of Trump” which they translate to their love of country.
Link to 3-minutes of video from Trump’s Address to his followers at pre-riot rally January 6th. [Video in full is at the bottom of this post]
Who Could Have Imagined the Danger A Narcissistic Power-Driven Trump Could Cause as POTUS?
It has been a little over 3 years since I used this blog to express my opinion about what I considered to be the serious mental problems of our President when I posted the blog entitled Trump’s Mental Health. I was not alone for I was joined by approximately 80,000 other mental health professionals who shared my concerns, and published an open letter on the subject. There had been blowback from our parent organization, The American Psychiatric Association, that decided following a lawsuit many years ago, by Barry Goldwater, that to express such opinions without a one-on-one evaluation was “unethical.” I had predicted that when cornered, Trump was apt to decompensate and become psychotic, which indeed seems to have occurred since losing the election, as rumor has it that there are a number of indictments that await him once he leaves office. There is also the fracture of that fragile ego as he watches his cadre of sycophants abandon him.
The assessment from those who have met him recently that he has become “unhinged” is borne out by his incitement of riotous and what some say is treasonous behavior in a direct assault on his own government. Dr. Lee, the psychiatrist who wrote the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder in the diagnostic manual insisted that Trump did not fit that diagnosis because he suffered no distress as a result from his aberrant behaviors. I wonder what he would think now, and does he still believe that as psychiatrists we have no “duty to warn” when we see the so-called “leader of the free world” is dangerously deranged with a high probability of becoming psychotic. (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist doing an “ I told you so thing”).
In addition to the serious damage done to this country which may take decades to overcome, there is also the loss of 5 lives at last count. (By the way why have we not heard who they are other than the murdered policeman or of anything about the circumstances of their deaths). Trump’s brainwashed followers are not likely to be deterred at least for a long time, the experience of this assault is likely to whet the appetites of the really bad actors of this bunch.
Can We Heal?
In spite of all this doom gloom and despair, I was able to grab onto a glimmer of hope this morning as I tuned into my favorite guy on CNN, Fareed Zakaria. He did an in-depth interview with Colin Powell, the guy who was conned into delivering false information about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction which led to the Iraq war. In spite of the long list of problems caused by Donald Doofus and his assault on democracy he was hopeful. Although a lifelong Republican, he was convinced that Joe Biden was the right man for the job of pulling us out of the messes created by Trump. As for the divisiveness we now experience, his answer was simple. “always tell the truth and love each other.”
To finish where we started…O-H…
Editor’s Note: The italicized text was written by me when the author suggested I add information about Trump’s declaration of love to his followers during the siege on the Capitol.
Links of Note:
Eshrink’s Blog Post December 2020; It’s Not Over Yet: The Last Days of Trump
Eshrink’s Blog Post September 2020: An Attempt to Understand Trump Fans (Cult Followers)
Eshrink’s Blog Post: April 2018 | Trump Fatigue
Eshrink’s Blog Post: Feb 2017 | Trump’s Label
Eshrink’s Blog Post: August 2020 Is Our Republic in Danger?
Eshrink’s Blog Post: Let’s Learn from Our Past | The Most Dangerous Man on Earlth
WORDS MATTER. Transcript of Trump’s Speech at Rally that Preceded the Assault on the Capitol
Members of Hate Groups Identified at the Capitol Riot. Article by Frontline and PBS
Link to Video of Trump Speech at Rally Prior to Capitol Riot
Link to Entire RALLY held prior to Trump Speaking is below.
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
If you have read any of my recent blogs, you may have noticed the following quote from Lao Tsu, an ancient Chinese philosopher: “to be loved deeply gives you strength, to love deeply gives you courage.”
The wisdom of those words explain much about behaviors I observed and attempted to treat as a psychiatrist. Feeling unloved was indeed a common complaint and the cause of a great deal of pain and misery. Without the experience of feeling loved one is weakened, and thus may lack courage to face even the ordinary demands of life. This may progress to a conviction that one is not only unloved but unlovable, resulting in self-loathing, depression, thoughts of harming oneself, and according to Anthony Storr, may generate violent aggression which he says is: “a complex mask for a repressed longing for love.”
WHY DO THEY DO IT?
There seems little doubt that we are now in the midst of an era of increased incidence of depression and unsanctioned violent aggression. Mass murders by otherwise ordinary people of all ages are now occurring at a level never before seen in the U.S. Most perpetrators have a history of relative anonymity. Neighbors usually describe them as quiet and unassuming, a person to whom they would speak to in passing but never engage in conversation. Acquaintances when found describe their relationship as superficial, and express profound surprise that the person was capable of violence. There is little evidence of any closeness let alone intimacy in their lives. Could such horrible deeds be as Storr said: a result of anger over the lack of love in their life?
THE THIRD MOST COMMON CAUSE OF DEATH
There has been an alarming increase in the number of kids diagnosed with clinical depression which is not limited to those who are disadvantaged or abused. A recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years resulted in shocking statistics. They report 4600 lives lost each year by suicide (most experts feel the actual number is higher due to a tendency for many to go unreported), and that rate has nearly tripled since 1940. Emergency rooms throughout the country report 157,000 young people treated for self-inflicted injuries each year. In their Nationwide survey of high school students, the CDC reported 13% admitted to seriously considering suicide, and 8% actually made an attempt to take their own life. The report goes on to list a number of risk factors however; at a time in their lives when they are dependent on others to establish an identity and self-worth, it seems to me that relationships deserve to be at the top of the list. Indeed, many teen-age suicides do implicate such problems as precipitating factors.
MORE OF THE SAME, ONLY WORSE
Rollo May in his 1960’s book LOVE AND WILL, says “Our culture pushes people toward becoming more detached and mechanical,” but that observation doesn’t come close to what we see now that the digital age has enveloped us. The addiction of our children to cell phones and other electronic gadgets contributes to their alienation. Consolidation of schools and overcrowded classrooms have made it easier for kids to fall through the cracks. Social media has become a convenient vehicle through which kids can be disparaged or bullied. They are often attacked where they are most vulnerable i.e. their lovability consequently; the common theme “no one likes you” can be devastating to developing minds. Now we hear there has been a dramatic increase in suicides in recent years among not only teenagers but pre-teens. Although there is no proof of a link to feeling unloved, logic suggests there often is.
DON’T CARE? SURE YOU DO
There is ample evidence that we are herd animals, consequently; it is not surprising that I spent many hundreds of hours listening to patients with relationship problems, for when people are so very important in our lives, dysfunction can present problems. Although we often attempt to comfort ourselves by professing to not care what others think, in truth we usually do care more than we would admit. During all those years I spent in the shrink business I must have seen hundreds of people who were contemplating suicide or had actually made serious attempts. Although there are obviously many factors that may lead one to seriously consider killing oneself, I recall often hearing: “Nobody cares.”
DO WE KNOW WHAT IT IS?
It would indeed be presumptuous of me to attempt to explain what love is all about. It has certainly been a popular topic for poets, philosophers, musicians, theologians, and artists, through the ages. The stories of wonder, ecstasy, and tragedy associated with love resonate in pop culture to this day. There have been myths, and legends and attempts to define love by categorizing it (erotic, agape, filial, spiritual, etc.), but the force responsible for this peculiar phenomenon remains a mystery to me. My favorite definition of the term is from psychoanalyst Harry Stack Sullivan, as follows:
The validity of such explanations is confirmed by the intense love relationships experienced by warriors throughout the ages. The myriads of reports of heroic efforts put forth by battle hardened veterans to protect their comrades, even risking or forfeiting their lives in the process gives credence to Sullivan’s ideas. Indeed, when questioned as to why those who would in other situations have been considered unlikely heroes are questioned about their behavior, they will acknowledge that it had nothing to do with military or political beliefs, or patriotic fervor, but rather their devotion to their buddies (“No greater love hath man……”). That phenomenon has not been lost on those charged with training the military, consequently; camaraderie is encouraged and interpersonal dependency guarantees bonding. One cannot wonder as to the part that the loss of relationships, solidified by the heat of battle, factor in the alarming rate of depression and suicide among our veterans. Many report they worry about their comrades who are still fighting which may also account fir the significant number who volunteer for additional tours of duty with their old outfits in spite of the known horrors they will likely confront.
WORTH THE TROUBLE?
Obviously, love has been a major contributor to the success of the human race. Humans isolated from their kind rarely survive. Sullivan posits that love is caring for others as for oneself and the old Chinese dude says as a result of love for each other, man gained the strength and courage to take on woolly mammoths and those guys in the next village who were trying to muscle in on their territory. It is the latter part of that statement that has caused a lot of problems. We seem to know a great deal as to the effects of love, but little about from whence it comes. The neuro-physiologists and brain mappers continue to look for specific love loci, and geneticists will likely say that it is in our DNA, but I doubt that CRISPR will ever be able to install a love gene. It would be great if such could be done, for we currently have little treatment for those who seem incapable of love, i.e. psychopaths.
I KNOW IT WHEN I FEEL IT
It may be that love is like the dark matter of our universe in that we know it exists and feel its effects even though we are unable to see, hear, smell or touch it. Could it be that love is simply a product of evolution? If so, how could we have survived long enough for natural selection to kick in? The creationists insist that God snapped his fingers and we instantly appeared on the scene fully equipped. Atheists on the other hand think the whole thing was an accident. Others see love as spiritually endowed. There are 4300 religions in the world with Christianity leading the pack and Muslims close behind.
WHAT ABOUT RELIGION?
Since I have been reared as a WASP, I have very little understanding of the other religions of the world or in particular where they stand on the love thing, but am pleased that love is at the core of Christianity. When it comes to Biblical scholarship, I am a dunce, but I do find inspiration in those first few pages of Corinthians which are all about love. The first 2 of the 10 commandments are also about love, and love is said to be the greatest of all, never fails, and is even better than faith or hope. There is also that thing about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek, but most of all were the teachings of Christ who was all about love. Of course, many see an inconsistency in a loving God who lets crappy things happen in spite of being all-powerful. Since Christians are people it is not surprising to find they have found ways to subvert the love philosophy, and resort to violence with all sorts of rationalizations.
Loving others as much as oneself is a great idea, but very difficult to implement on a grand scale. Excessive cheek turning is guaranteed to result in a lot of broken jaws. Nevertheless, there have been many attempts to use love as a mechanism to provide peace and tranquility, which has been met with success in some instances. In a rare instance of wisdom, our government eschewed the policy of gathering the spoils of war after WWII. Instead they initiated a policy aiding even our enemies to rebuild their virtually destroyed countries which lead to their becoming our closest allies. Of course, I was also around during the “love ins” of the sixties. Although they seemed to have emphasized the erotic rather than agape version of love, they did call attention to long neglected human rights issues and war mongering. There was also Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King who both emphasized reconciliation and learning to love each other.
We certainly could use more love in this world, but the chances of EVERYONE following the Golden Rule seem to be unrealistic. Nevertheless, when I look back on our history it seems there has been some progress in the love department with more emphasis on inclusivity and acceptance. Although it may seem that love is in short supply, it is alive in well and we can only hope the day will come when The Golden Rule is ever present. Even as millions of our fellow humans face horrors each day, there are millions of people who devote their lives to helping others individually and through organizations, which gives credence to the dictum that love never fails.
Corinthians 13:4-8 gives tells us everything we need to know: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”