Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Change & Chocolate

Can we change, realizing something is amiss and make adjustments accordingly, as Patrick Stewart suggested about the story behind his film Nemesis? Or are we stuck with ourselves, unable to escape our own weaknesses, as suggested by Arthur Miller?

My opinion
on this changes depending on whether I'm listening to an old interview with Mr. Miller or I'm listening to a current one with Patrick.

I tend to agree with Arthur, who was a fatalist. He suggested our personalities and inclinations are set and we ultimately cannot escape our own fate (fate used here to apply only to our own set of characteristics and not some grand masterplan for our lives). Famous tragic heros as well as duplicitous villains have been created and destroyed under this philosophy. Shakspearian heros and Arthur's own Willy Loman are obvious examples. The fatal flaw that gets ye every time. But what of our own complexities? Are you consistent in your beliefs and actions?

On the surface I'm asking the old cast the first stone question. And I'm casting, baby! No, really I shouldn't. Cause I'm good, loving the animals, peace, kindness, and all of that happy stuff. But I'm also mean. And I yell. Curse, even, at loved ones. I'm suspicious of people sometimes. Don't trust 'em. But boy do I like to give if at all possible. Just don't get in the way of my own comfort. I try to change but am uncertain about my progress. To think I'm stuck with my personality, some might say this is lazin
ess. Represents an unwillingness to change. And goodness sakes, I'd like to change.

So Patrick's view is encouraging (delusional? my skeptical side wonders) and lends me the hope for change. We aren't stuck! Hooray! But there is work ahead. This brings me to the book I just finished, entitled A Fractured Mind: My life with Multiple Personality Disorder by Robert B Oxnam. Fabulous book. Not only does the reader travel somewhat voyeuristically through the experience of living with 11 separate personalities (each with his or her own set of unique memories inaccessible by all the others), but is faced with the question "What makes us whole?" At the end of the book Robert's psychologist exporles the treatment he utilized for Robert and discussed the two forms of recovery. One is catharsis, retelling to another supportive individual. The other is reworking the internalization process (hard wiring). Changing the negative response patterns into good, good, good ones. This of course takes more work. The other secret ingredient used in Robert's treatment was the element of possible loss. The psychologist cannot be his best friend; Robert must not be secure in that assumption. Therefore healing can take place with a more firm, yet compassionate, doctor 'o the mind.

Healing in this case is integrating all of the separate personalities into one. This means they will share the same memories, have the same experiences to offer, and operate under the rule of only one leader. Once again it must be asked, who operates under such circumstances? That is, do you react differently depending on what part of you is called upon? Say, at a family gathering for instance. At work. With certain friends. Under the influence of particular groups. After the revelation of upsetting news. And the list can continue indefinitely.

Which is why we have truffles. I just made my first batch last week. Peppermint Glitter truffles! Check 'em out...on the left they are with their friends the peanut butter balls, and the right all done up in their glitter. In the middle, there is nothing...just like death (hopefully).

Speaking of, we also picked up a free piano today. Only it wasn't really free after we paid for the U-haul and help moving it in the house. Pianos are particularly heavy and not receptive to swearing, pushing, or other abuse. But we love our little dusty 1925 Whitney Chicago.


Asa said...

Even though I'm not very familiar with Arthur Miller, I completely dismiss the notion that we "are stuck with ourselves, unable to escape our own weaknesses", mainly because I find that idea too depressing. If people are unable to change, our world will continue to be pretty messed up. I'm counting on the ability of many people to make different choices in their lives to allow the world to become a better place. And doesn't this idea make sense? How long does it take to change your mind? Less than a second. Seriously, I've seen people quit eating meat, quit drinking, quit smoking, or start exercising on whims (to name just a few changes people can make) and then stick with it. Take a look at
A Million Little Pieces
for a true life story of a guy who just told himself he'd change and then did it. It's very inspiring.

Your truffles look good too, by the way, as does the piano.

Binge Cafe said...

Thank you for commenting, Mr. Asa! One must not dismiss an idea due to its degree of depressiveness. I think we might be discussing different types of change. I'm talking about the ability to alter fundamental character qualities. For instance, someone can quit smoking in one day but still have an anger problem. Dealing with the way we react to the world requires intense rewiring of our basic systems, which would seem to be years of work. In the book I mention here, it took about 10 years to make noticeable progress, but only one day for one of the alternate personalities to reveal himself. I would love to read the book you mention so I can comment on that further.

Asa said...

I wasn't entirely serious about not believing something just because it's depressing, although sometimes I think you can frame things in such a way so that issues which are beyond your control don't drive you crazy.

Anyway, I agree, getting to the point of change takes a lot of work and can take years. I guess my point was that the actual change in behavior can be made instantly, even if the events leading up to it take years.

Oh, and per your suggestion, I got a blogger account which does seem to have more options than myspace. You'll have to let me know what you think.

ZenLy said...

Yesterday I was sitting in a hot spring in the Jemez mountains in NM and I discussed this very topic with my soaking companion. She spoke of some phychologist (whose name escapes me cause I was not entirely in my right mind at the time--unable to complete my own thoughts, let alone remember everything others were saying) whose opinion/theory is that everyone basically keeps their same personality throughout life, and that the ONLY time one's fundamental "hardwiring" changes is if/when they go through a major negative traumatic experience in their life. If I could remember the person's name or the name of theory, I would have done a little more research before commenting, but I think that is a very interesting notion.
Also, I think that there definitely is a difference between changing your behavior and changing your personality.