Susie Orbach (2016) In Therapy. How conversations with psychotherapist really work. Becky Walsh (2007) Advanced Psychic Development.

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I read both of these books very quickly in one day. Years ago I tried bending spoons when Uri Geller was on telly. It didn’t work then. Let’s just say it wouldn’t work now. But good on him, I say, the multimillionaire got away with it. There’s that moment in Elmer Gantry when Burt Lancaster gets caught up in his own rhetoric, he convinces himself he’s not a fraud. So far, so human. The most dangerous type of human is the one that is never wrong We’ve got the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse as an ongoing exhibit.

Susie Orbach’s conversations are, as you’d expect, low key. She doesn’t claim any otherworldly powers, or perhaps she does, in our increasingly fraught world, she listens, really listens. She’s there in the moment. And she smiles. That’s important. Like Judy Garland clicking her heels three times in the The Wizard of Oz, Orbach smiles three times. Numerology is very powerful. If the analysand doesn’t smile back then she knows the relationship won’t work.

Becky Walsh tells her readers that ‘The word personality’ comes from the Greek word per-sona, meaning ‘through sound’, personality being the expression of ourselves through sound.

Sound is a form of energy and each of us is…well… you know and I know. Orbach goes for extended periods of silence. The client finds himself questioning, or interrogating his own questions and finds his real self.  I’m OK and You’re OK. I’ve always wanted to argue the point and say, Am I fuck OK.

Both practitioners do a different kind of cleansing before meeting new clients. The mind is fragile as falling stardust, but as strong as a planet and can create meaning from nothing. We get the archetypes for therapy from Walsh and not Orbach.

Walsh breaks it down better for us novice tea-spoon benders.

The non-sceptic, sceptic.

You will recognise this person from one of their first sentences: ‘I believe in what you people do.’

The blind believer.

A good question to ask is, What are you doing when you like yourself the most?

My friend was fooled, but I won’t be.

I come without a purpose, I just want to know what you see for me.

I want to know what the future holds for me. 

Orbach would, I’m sure, recognise these characteristics in her clients. Her four case studies of Richard and Louise, Jo, Helen and John, who declared he was in love with her, didn’t have the gizmos or psychic fireworks of Walsh, but really it’s all about love. Holding that moment up to the light and helping people into the light. It takes all kinds.

Orbach in her Afterword puts it this way:

Therapy, like any special work, can seem odd to the onlooker. It has been my aim as a psychotherapist when outside of the consulting room to show what is fascinating and potentially life changing about the process and apply the insight of therapy to the wider world.

Amen.

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Aliens: The Big Think BBC 4 10pm and BBCiPlayer

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0788q6m/the-big-think-aliens

‘If ET is not out there, the earth is some sort of miracle.’ This isn’t a Uri Geller soundbite but a quote from  Senior Astronomer for the SETI Institute and former Director of Center for SETI Research, Seth Shostak. Here we have Professor Martin Rees, former astronomer royal, looking at the evidence for alien life on other planets, but we don’t mean primordial slime, we mean intelligent life, but not as we know it captain, startreking across the universe. The numbers don’t add up.  Two Billions of stars in the galaxy similar to our sun (the number keeps growing as our apparatus becomes more sophisticated) but some of them two or three billion years older than our sun, the Fermi paradox suggests the high probability of circling planets with intelligent life, but with little or no hard evidence of it yet. Perhaps not only in the wrong places, but in the wrong way. Poets and physicists help you to see things anew.

To think about aliens is to think about our place in the universe. The Big Bang or the Bounce. The Goldilock zone (fresh air theory).  From single cell organisms, phagocytes and primitive life on our planet. The past walks with us. Every organic creature in our planet is made out of stardust. Out of this structure intelligent life was formed. Stephen Hawkins aphorism, ‘I believe intelligent life is quite common in the universe. Less so on earth…’ holds true.

With the moron’s moron leader of the most powerful and technocratic nation on earth a case in point. Communication with aliens and morons is the key. Everything is very very in the moron’s world multiplied by good or bad.  The stupidest thing the moron’s moron did, or did not do, was sign the Paris accord on global warming which will trigger very, very, very bad things, with tens of millions dying. What this programme shows quite clearly is that burning fossil fuels is to live in the past. The future is green and harnessing the power of the stars. That’s what physicists are looking at, fluctuations in energy, which may or may not show that something, possibly robotic, possibly an advanced civilisation may have been doing that. Certainly Dr Ander Sandsberg was able to show that spikes in planet KIC 8462852  radiation couldn’t be accounted for. One hypothesis was something massive and non-cylindrical had passed in front of it. Aliens?

Intelligent life on our planet will be artificial intelligence with non-organic parts. That’s the same kind of mixing and matching as Fermi. But it’s happening now. Sometimes we don’t see what’s in front of our eyes. Any good alien knows that. But it’s the bad aliens we’ve got to worry about. The cuckoos breeding in our nest.  I’m more worried about slime Trump ending intelligent life on this planet, but I’ve never claimed to be intelligent. Is there intelligent life out there. Yes, I think there is. Vast distances between planets makes communication difficult. And technology tends to destroy its creator. The rise and fall of a planet technologically in a few thousand years is infinitesimally small in terms of the universe. Compare this with the growth of our planets technology which has given us the capability to look at other planets with any detail in the last 20 or 30 years. Not only is life on earth a miracle. Our technology is a minnow. If other technologies find us they will have the capacity to swallow us up. Stephen Hawkins used the analogy of white men meeting native American Indians or perhaps aboriginals. But that’s just a guess. Nobody knows. Not even Stephen Hawkins. No evidence means very very very small results have very very very big implications, like global warming.

 

 

Exposed: Magicians, Psychics and Frauds

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04ndsb3/storyville-20142015-8-exposed-magicians-psychics-and-frauds

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‘The Amazing Randi’ is indeed amazing. He’s in his mid eighties,  stooped and worn and looks like he should be cast as Grumpy, or one of the other seven dwarves. But he has a very eloquent speaking voice and was awarded the MacArthur ‘genius grant’ about thirty-years ago. When he talks you should listen. He exposes fairy tales, New Age liars and cheats such as Uri Geller.  One of the funniest parts of the show was when Uri appearing on the Johnny Carson show at the beginning of the 1970s. Uri claimed to have  been able to bend spoons, start watches and to have psychokinetic powers. The Amazing Randi didn’t even have to be there in person. His powers extended to telling Johnny Carson’s prop man the correct protocol to ensure no cheating could take place. No cheating did take place. No spoon bending, or clock starting. Geller was finished, or so Randi thought. What he didn’t expect was the gullibility of talk show hosts and the general public.

Uri Geller became a worldwide hit. Randi’s subsequent stalking of Geller, performing the same tricks and sleight of hand as his antagonist, and a book explaining how it worked, did not generate the same kind of publicity nor kudos.

His exposure of Peter Popoff on the Johnny Carson show was more straightforward. With a name like Peter Popoff you’d expect some kind of cape and prog-rock outfit, but it was more a 1930’s Elmer Gantry type performance. Popoff was a faith healer who pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars a week working his miracles. If that sounds vaguely familiar then chart the rise of the superchurches, pulling in millions and the sidelines of faith shows constantly touring the good old US of A. God has not turned his back on the tens of millions living in poverty and need he has sent missionaries like Popoff. He, of course, repented after being diabolically caught cheating. His low tech scam of using an earpiece to get prompts from his wife, who in turn got her information of  ailments and addresses from the prayer cards filled in by the flock when entering the church, he was fleecing, was exposed by a scanner picking up his radio frequency.  Scooby Doo where are you? This is big business in America.

Randi also took on the paranormal ‘scientific’ community. I have put ‘scientific’ in brackets because science acts as a library of knowledge and also a methodology. Randi by introducing two expert test subjects with paranormal powers showed how easy it was to dupe the so-called experts who gave legitimacy and  sanctioned cheats such as Uri Geller and his subjects.

It’s a cliche that truth can often be queerer than fiction. The denouement that Randi’s male partner had been living a lie, on the run, under an assumed name for the last thirty years, and was now threatened with imprisonment and deportment from America would be impossible to make up. Even Randi would have laughed at somebody trying to fool the American public with that one.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole