Sunday, October 31, 2010

He: Understanding Masculine Psychology

Each new book that I read is usually a recommendation from a book that I'm currently reading or a result of the search for knowledge in a new area that may be spurred on from any one of many daily influences.  Before this year ends I will put together a visual reference of the titles that I've read and where / what lead me to each book.

Today's post is about "He: Understanding Masculine Psychology" by Robert A. Johnson.  From the back cover - "He: Understanding Masculine Psychology is based on the myth of Parsifal's search for the Holy Grail. In his book, Robert A. Johnson explores the insights of this story and discusses its signifigance for masculine development in the present day."

How I came to find this book

I was lead to learning more on the topic of masculine Psychology from a newsletter that I received via email.  The email had a link to a new course on "Being a Man" and how it will help you attract the type of women you want, etc. (etc. here is used to fill up all the other not so useful information that is contained in the link I'm about to share)

The web page had a very interesting story about how a boy moves from the initial stage of innocence into manhood amidst a bunch of marketing material.  Near the bottom of the page it mentioned the "science behind the course", which grabbed my interest because I'd rather search out my own conclusions rather than being handed a compressed, opinionated version from someone else, and it mentioned that the course had a special guest that was a leader in the field of masculine psychology. This phrase and field of study was new to me, so I did a quick wikipedia search, which lead me to learning about this field and finding to my pleasant surprise that Freud and Jung had studied and did analysis on this topic.  I also found the following info on the Wikipedia page that definitely peaked my interest.

Born of the female body
Jungian analysts Guy Corneau and Eugene Monick argue that the establishment and maintenance of the male identity is more delicate and fraught with complication than that of the establishment and maintenance of the female identity. Such psychologists suggest that this may be because men are born of the female body, and thus are born from a body that is a different gender from themselves. Women, on the other hand, are born from a body that is the same gender as their own.
A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men.
A quick search through the library catalog and I found this book by Robert Johnson, a Jungian analyst and author.

Thoughts about "He"

The book is well organized and as it said on the back cover, is based on a myth / story of a young man's pursuit for the Holy Grail and the cast of characters that he encounters through his life, each having their own meaning and influence on the young man.

It starts out by describing "The Fisher King" as the King of the Grail Castle, and how when a King is wounded all in the Kingdom are affected. It talks about "The Fisher King Wound" as being the time when a young man moves from innocence to the second of three stages in his life.  It's the time when he realizes that the world is not all good and sets him on his path for redemption.  The wound could be physical or mental, but it is one that The Fisher King will carry around with him as he searches for redemption.
"The first touch of consciousness in a youth appears as a wound or as suffering"
It touches upon the phases of evolution of a man.
"The archetypal pattern is one that goes from the unconscious perfection of a child, to the conscious imperfection of middle life, to the conscious perfection of old age."
The Fisher King wound is the event that takes a man from stage one to stage two.  It says that as a wounded King, he'll be able to see all the greatness around him, but not partake in any of it as he is wounded.
How many times have women said to their men: "Look at all the good things you have; you have the best job you have ever had in your life. Our income is better than ever. We have two cars. We two and sometimes three day weekends. Why aren't you happy? The Grail is at hand. Why aren't you happy?"

The man is too inarticulate to reply, "Because I am a Fisher King and am wounded and cannot touch any of this happiness"

The book goes more into detail about the wounded King and describes how the "wound" can be healed. It says that "the naive part of a man that will heal him and his Fisher King wound."

The book moves from there into the story of "Parsifal" a young boy of little consequence and talks about his move from boyhood to manhood.  There are several quotes that stand out to me. One is when Parsifal is greeted by five Knights one day and he realizes that he wants to become a Knight.  His father and brothers have met a fate of death by following that path, although this is not known to Parsifal as his mother sheltered him from this in hopes that he would not meet the same fate.
"but no mother has ever succeeded in keeping her son from danger when his father's blood begins to stir in him."
This quote hit home and I know this feeling all too well.  I know that my father's blood surges through my veins and that the things I've learned through his habits could lead me to dark places. I am aware of these things though and make a conscious effort to avoid the negative, and focus more on the good.

The book continues with the story and Parsifal's journey and much more is reference and explained as it relates to man's journey through life. How he deals with confrontation, needs to understand and display his aggressiveness, needs other men for guidance, and must move past his "mother complex".
No son ever develops into manhood without, in some way, being disloyal to his mother. If he remains with her, to comfort her and console her, then he never gets out of his mother complex. Often a mother will do all that she can to keep her son with her. One of the most subtle ways is to encourage in him the idea of being loyal to her; but if he gives into her completely then she often finds herself with a son severely injured in his masculinity.
It states that a man must move his focus of affection to another, whether it be internal source such as his own inner feminine side, or external with a female companion of his own age.

The book continues with Parsifal's journey and his godfather's advice to "never seduce a fair maiden or be seduced by her" and his introduction to the "Blanche Fleur" or "White Flower".

There is an entire chapter on mood and feeling and I found it quite interesting.  It relates to the statement the godfather made above and basically states that allowing a mood to overtake a man is actually giving into the inner feminine side and moving away from ones reality.  It says "Feeling is the ability to value; mood is to be overtaken or possessed by the inner feminine".  By giving into moods a man can't have true feelings, he must be aware and must only choose one or the other - feelings or moods.
Man has only two alternatives for relationship to his inner woman. Either he rejects her and she turns against him in forms of bad moods and undermining seductions, or he accepts her and finds within a companion who walks through life with him giving him warmth and strength.
Of course I believe that for most men they don't realize that there is this inner struggle that happens.  Most of this likely happens on the subconscious level.

The book does touch a bit on how a woman can deal with this struggle and understand how she can work to bring her man out of these moods when they occur. It talks about depression and inflation and how both can be a negative as they are extremes of each other and how the best path to follow is the middle ground, something that ancient Chinese refer to as Tao.

On a good note, the book explains that the feminine side of man is the creative side.  The masculine side is the part that drives the man to create what the inner feminine has brought to him as an idea.

The book continues on with the myth and talks about Parsifal's visit to the Grail Castle (where the Holy Grail resides) at a young age and how although he's in the presence of what he searches, due to his naivety he doesn't realize it or know how to react.  He misses the opportunity to know the meaning of life due to his mother complex. It mentions that although "the Grail" is always close by and within reach of man, it seems that around the ages of 16 and 45 seem to be the point in a man's life where it is most easily found.

The books describes six basic relationships that a man bears to the feminine world.  It mentions all have noble meaning and can serve man well, but if they are intertwined they can cause confusion and contaminate the thoughts of man. Man must remain conscious in understanding how each will affect him.

His Human Mother - the woman that gave birth to him.
His Mother Complex - his internal regressive capacity to want to return to a dependency on his mother and be a child again. This is a man's wish to fail, his defeatist capacity.  "This is pure poison in man's psychology"
His Mother Archetype - "the feminine half of God"
His Fair Maiden - man's inner woman, his internal companion, source of inspiration / creativity
His Wife or Partner - needs no explanation
Sophia - "the Goddess of Wisdom"

The book mentions a crossroads in regard to "the Grail" and "the Grail Castle", a man is constantly in search of the Grail, and understanding it. He may get several attempts as described earlier, but must be ready and ask the right questions to find it.  It's that search that can lead us in bad directions such as down the path of danger, drug use, promiscuity.  A constant search.  "A woman experiences the Grail in a much different way from a man. She never leaves the Grail Castle and keeps a sense of beauty, connectedness, at-homeness in the universe that a man does not have."
A man creates out of his restlessness; a woman creates by knowing what always was.
"Many men try to make a flesh and blood woman fill the Grail hunger. This is to ask a woman to fulfill a role she can never carry (who can be a living archetype?) and to miss the human miracle she is in fact."

The journey continues on as Parsifal searches to gain entry back into the Grail Castle.  It covers more challenges that he must go through while gaining strength and maturing as a man.  It talks about how at man's highest moments of achievement "the Hideous Damsel" can arrive, basically reminding him of all of his failures. They refer to all these phases as happening throughout life and that this stage referred to in the book as "the dark night of the soul" most often coming to thought at two or three in the morning, literally in the darkest hours. It says man has to come to understand and be humbled by these moments to evolve and move past them.

The book covers a time during middle life when a man will move from extroverted state to a more introverted state and is described as the "Hermit" character.  This character is an important one as it's the one that allows one to perform the self-discovery needed to again evolve.  It is the Hermit that guides Parsifal back to the Grail Castle, where upon entering, with life's maturity in him, he asks the question  "Who does the Grail serve" and finds the answer "the Grail King" which could also be interpreted as God or Self.

This book and the myth it follows really focuses around the meaning of life from man's eyes and even though the myth used is one popular from the twelfth century, it's lessons are fitting for modern day.

This glance at masculine psychology definitely leads me to want to learn more and has enlightened me in several ways. I'll be picking up Robert Johnson's other books "She: Understanding Feminine Psychology" and "We: Understanding The Psychology of Romantic Love"

I'll leave you with a final quote from the book...

The object of life is not happiness, but to serve God or the Grail.  All of the Grail quests are to serve God. If one understands this and drops his idiotic notion that the meaning of life is personal happiness, then one will find that elusive quality immediately at hand.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Latest Grabs for Weekend Fun

I picked up the following books yesterday at the Chelsea Library.
I'll post my thoughts on them as I begin reading.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Scholastic Pursuits and the Freedom To Learn

"The World Is Your Oyster!" - have you heard this phrase before?  I did a bit of research and found that it comes from Shakespeare's play "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (Act II, Scene II) and the actual line is a dialog between two characters.

Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny.
Pistol: Why, then, the world's mine oyster, Which I with sword will open. 

Although there is some debate to the actual meaning, my interpretation is that "Pistol" is saying "Ok - that's fine, if you won't lend me the money, then the world will be the oyster where I will find my treasure (the pearl).
We live in a fascinating time.  No matter what your interest, we have the ability, through research and community (online or local), to not only find out more about any topic but we have the ability to connect with experts in the field.  Many of these resources are free or of little cost. The world and the level at which it is interconnected really does allow us to find any treasure for which we want to search.

I have a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Information Systems equivalency (see footnote) from the University of New York (2004), as well as two Post Secondary Diplomas from the Toronto School Of Business (Computer Programming - 1996 / Network Design and Systems Support and Analysis - 1997) and I've often thought about going back to school to continue my studies.  Recently, I have had an interest in the study of the mind and the ties between it and human behavior.

As I was thinking about my options for obtaining additional education I cringed when I started to think about cost and the time constraints that embarking on such a journey would bring. Then I had an idea...

I started by searching for the top Psychology schools, of which I found Stanford and University of Michigan were two top rated schools in that field of study. 

University of Michigan being local to me, I figured I would continue my hunt for knowledge by checking out their Undergraduate Degree in Psychology programs and I found one that was of interest to me. Here is the link -  U of M Psychology - Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience.

It's great that the schools publish their full course curriculum, as that allowed me to do another search to find out what text books were required for each course. I was able to find the Michigan Book and Supply site. This site gives you the ability to choose a semester, and a major area of study, then choose the course number, and instructor. After you've been walked through that you'll see a screen that pops up the required text books for that class.

Michigan Book and Supply is a great way for students to search for the books they need and purchase them right from the website. You know and I know that I don't roll that way and so instead I grabbed the ISBN of the required books and started searching on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Some of the books were available in eBook format... interesting.

Even more interesting was the fact that the first book listed here was available through my regular Michigan Library channel.  That means that some of the textbooks will be available for free!  Most excellent.

This led to another idea... 

What if I was to follow the U of M Psychology Degree curriculum as a course of study on the topics that have been of interest to me lately?  What a great way to have a structured learning experience and be reading the same textbooks that students at the University of Michigan are reading.

I started to wonder if I completed the course study outside of the school, what would be the difference between myself and someone that attended the university? What would I be missing that students would get by attending the College of LSA at U of M? The lectures? The experience? Group study? Accessibility to the professors? Can you think of other things?

Are there ways that I could supplement those experiences through community resources?

What about if I was to study the course books and then "test out" also known as "examination for credit" for each course? I realize that this is not a new idea - so the thought of it intrigues me. Not all schools allow this and I'd need to research whether U of M was one of those schools. The previous link calls out to a website, but it looks like it was never actually started.  That's ok though, because if you want to know if this is possible, you can follow me on my journey. I'll post any updates to this blog under the category of "self study degree" and we'll see what can be accomplished.

If what I believe is possible, this could be a low cost option that offers a similar structure and study progress to that of a university while being outside of the higher education facility.

What do you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Equivalency - This is an official document that contained an evaluation by staff at the University of my educational background, including certifications, plus my years of work experience in the IT industry.

I'm Thinking About Starting A Blog...

Ok, so you got me... I don't need to start any other blogs, but this one will be moving to a new blog service shortly.  I've decided to move over to Wordpress because of the ability to customize the design of the blog and the widgets used.  I'll keep this blog around for archive purposes, but my 200th blog entry will be on both sites and at that point I'll only be putting new content up on the Wordpress site.

No worries, I'll make sure that I post a final message on here that redirects people over to the new blog site.

In the meantime if you want to laugh, you can always check out one of my other weblogs.

MySpace Blog Archive - click here. Good stories about "Adventures in Spiderville" and other fun stuff.

My contact with a Russian Bride scam artist - click here. I recommend starting at the first post for this one and working up to the most recent to enjoy the back and forth communication.  Be sure to let me know what you think of the song as well.  :)

Have fun.

Some love for the Goog - Google Voice

I bet your happy to see a tech focused blog post from me, right?  I'll admit that this one is a bit of old news.

Google Voice was launched quite a while ago. It was something that I was interested in right from the start. With help from a co-worker who was on it, I was able to get an invite to check out this very cool service.

Imagine one number to rule them all...

Google Voice allows you to setup a phone number in your area code and then use it to centralize all of your call management.

For example, I setup my new number to forward on to my cell phone.  You can also have it try multiple phones which makes things very handy.

It has built in voice mail and can send you an email with the transcription of the voice mail message, or can even send you a SMS text message!  You can also record custom greeting messages and if you wanted to go a step further setup custom messages for callers based on Groups that you can create and use to organize your contacts.

Here's an example of a message I left on the Google Voice number yesterday - as you can see it's got the content of the voice mail right in the message body, or I can choose to open it and listen to it.

As far as SMS capability, you can send and recieve texts with your number, and even forward those on to your other phones.

Other features include call screening,  and you can even create widgets, like the one I added to this blog.  (I'm not sure if I'll keep it up here or not, but it's a cool idea!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Man's Search For Meaning./ How Dare I....

There are many times in a person's life when things just click, a profound moment.  I have been blessed throughout this year with these moments around what seems like every corner. For me, most of these moments have come while expanding my knowledge through reading and self-discovery.  For those that have followed the blog, you know what I'm talking about and what I've been reading, so I won't bore you with the details, just check out some of my previous posts.

As I sit here at 6:20pm, in Chelsea, Michigan, not the place I was born or grew up, but the place I've called home for the past four years, I feel blessed.  I feel blessed that I have had the opportunities that I've had in my life and I'm excited about the future.

It's a fall day, and the wind is strong... very strong!  The wind through the trees makes a roaring sound as it passes over the leaves that have been strong enough to stay attached through the previous days.  Other leaves fall down from the sky with each extra strong gust, filling it as if a flock of birds were flying above. Each leaf has a unique pattern of rising and falling while almost dancing on the wind and flirting with gravity.

My view to the west is of the lake I live on, Sugarloaf Lake.  The water is nowhere near as calm as it can be on the days when there is little wind.

I am here by myself and posting this entry from the deck attached to my residence.  I am surrounded by only nature, and I am aware of my blessings.

Today I finished the audiobook "Man's Search For Meaning", by Viktor Frankl.  An amazing story of survival through what I could only refer to as what must have been terror in multiple concentration camps in Nazi controlled Germany in the 1940's.  Before being a prisoner, Frankl was a well respected neurologist and psychiatrist.  During his personal experiences in these camps he was able to analyze how humans react when put under enormous stress and loss of hope, loss of meaning in one's life. He also was able to see how individuals could, even in the absolute worst situations imaginable, rise up and overcome these odds and survive where most would have given up.  He was able to analyze the human spirit of other prisoners, and himself and share his findings with the world through this book. 

The book is broken into three main parts.  The first dealing with stories of the human spirit within this prisoner camps and reaction to specific situational examples.  The second an introduction to Logotherapy. The third is a case for "Tragic Optimism"

This book has many great lessons and I figured I'd share a few that had extra special meaning to me.

In the preface of the book, Gordon Allport says "To live is to suffer. To survive is to find meaning in the suffering" and I find this statement really hit home with me.  As a human, part of life is suffering. We will all suffer at times in our life. Some may be extreme and out of our control, some may be trivial and brought on by our own self. Many will fall in between those extremes.  We will also all suffer at the time of our death. This book discusses the "how" some chose to suffer under extreme circumstances.  A quote that is mentioned early in the book and again multiple times after is from Nietzsche, "He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how."

Read that quote again - it's another one of those times during the read that really hit home for me.  No matter what we are faced with during our life, if we have meaning, we can rise above it. We can find the courage to overcome and live life to the fullest that we are afforded.

Frankl explains that the power lies in choice. That humans have the ability to choose their attitude for any situation presented to them. We can adjust and adapt. We can choose to live or choose to give up.  There are many examples through the book where prisoners had lost the will to live, and Frankl explains exactly what that looked like and how other prisoners could tell that it would not be long after the loss of will to live that the prisoner would die.

Frankl, through his suffering found meaning for life, and because of this was able to survive.  Through various accounts he tells how he would try to help others find meaning as well.  Through his study what he found is that the "will for meaning" is a strong influence on a life. With it a human can thrive, without it we can exist but will live at less than our potential, and when put under stress and suffering having the meaning / reason to live could be the difference between life and death.

Frankl mentions that we do not need suffering to find meaning, in fact if the suffering can be avoided by change within the person or environment, then it should at all costs.  To suffer when you are in control of the situation is unwise.  What he points out is that the stories in this book offer proof that people who are suffering in a situation they can't control can still find meaning for life. It is possible!

I won't go too far into Logotherapy in this post, other than to say that Frankl says it is the method to help the patient find meaning in their life to overcome their situation.  The three ways described are through action, what I would refer to as the doing side of us or creative side. Through interaction with others or experiences, this is the method where love falls into and Frankl believes that love could be one of the strongest meanings to humans. The third method can be through attitudinal values, such as finding meaning in being a good person, being compassionate, knowing your worth based on the person you are. I will say that I'm very interested in learning more about this area, especially in the treatment of depression or in cases where people have a feeling that life has no meaning.

The third part of the book discusses "Tragic Optimism" and the best way I can describe it is those who have gone through or are going through great suffering and choose to live their life to the fullest. Mentioned in the book as "the defiant power of the Spirit", it's inspirational in the most meaningful way possible. Below is an excerpt from the book.

But the most powerful arguments in favor of 'a tragic optimism' are those which in Latin are called argumenta ad hominem. Jerry Long, to cite an example, is a living testimony to 'the defiant power of the Spirit' . . . To quote the Texarkana Gazette, 'Jerry Long has been paralyzed from his neck down since a diving accident which rendered him a quadriplegic three years ago. He was 17 when the accident occurred. Today Long can use his mouth stick to type. He "attends" two courses at Community College via a special telephone. The intercom allows Long to both hear and participate in class discussions. He also occupies his time by reading, watching television and writing.' And in a letter I received from him, he writes: 'I view my life as being abundant with meaning and purpose. The attitude that I adopted on that fateful day has become my personal credo for life: I broke my neck, it didn't break me. I am currently enrolled in my first psychology course in college. I believe that my handicap will only enhance my ability to help others. I know that without the suffering, the growth that I have achieved would have been impossible.'
This book describes what is possible and as you can tell by this post, it's had a great impact on me.  I highly recommend it.

Just before arriving home I stopped at a local coffee shop with good friends for conversation and an afternoon coffee.  At one point in the visit I got up to go to the washroom and I noticed a man and women off to the side. The man was in a wheelchair and looked to be paralyzed from the neck down, In an effort not to stare I caught out of the corner of my eye that the lady was holding the drink to the man's mouth so that he could take a sip. As I entered the restroom and locked the door, I thanked God for all my blessings. I have known suffering and tough situations in my life, but those have made me who I am today and I know that I've known nowhere near the suffering that this man that I passed by has known.

Imagine my surprise when upon leaving the coffee shop and returning to the point that I had left off at in the audiobook, I was greeted with the example of Jerry Long that I posted above.  Mere moments before I had seen a man in a similar situation and I said these words upon reflection...

"How dare I... How dare I feel bad about my situation and the life that I've lived. It has been a life filled with choices that have been made by me, nobody else. The majority of what I refer to as suffering is self imposed with feelings of self-pity and regret instead of looking back on my experiences and understanding that they have shaped who I am."

As I arrived home and pulled into my driveway, I posted the following on Facebook.

"I choose my attitude in all situations, I choose my destiny, only I can choose to reach my full potential. Happiness is a by-product of my choices. If I'm not happy, guess who I get to blame? Better yet, guess who can change circumstances making me feel that way?"

As the sun sets and I reflect on the many lessons that I learned from this book and the future reading it will influence, I can't help but feel good. My search for meaning continues as all of ours will throughout different times in our life, but I am hopeful and optimistic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Various Fields of Psychology

I was browsing around the interwebs tonight and came across this page.  It lists out various fields and topics of study for Psychology careers.  I found it quite interesting and it gave me some ideas on where I'd like to focus some study time next.  Understanding more about how we interact with each other will help in all areas of life.

Wikipedia of course gives a much more detailed definition of Psychology.

Some of my interest lies in the fields of Developmental Psychology and Neuropsychology.

I'm sure all of you college grads out there are wondering why I'm spending so much time on things that are likely taught in first year psych classes.  Well - I went to a business college, and my degrees were accelerated courses that covered only technical classes, so I missed out on all the fun! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Direction, Focus and Progress

Similar to this image, topics on this blog have been all over the place.  I'm thinking of taking some of this in a new direction and perhaps breaking off very topic focused blogs for each area I like to discuss.  Lately I've been feeling like my life is a little bit of the same, so I guess I'll just chalk it up to life - imitating art.  :)

I've been wondering where I want to spend my energy lately and it's important that I figure it out so that I'm not spending time on things that don't matter or don't allow me to progress in some forward motion.

I recently signed on with a publishing company as a Technical Reviewer for some upcoming web technology titles, which is exciting and will definitely take some of my time.  Other than that - I could spend my time on many other of my creative pursuits that I've mentioned over the years on this blog.

  • I would really like to spend some time and get my photographs organized and complete my 2010 Photography goals.
  • I would also like to make good progress on the book that I want to write.  I have a goal of having 100 pages before the end of year.
  • I still have unfinished t-shirt and hat designs that I want to get ready and market through Zic Apparel, I also have an interesting idea for a watch design.
  • Let's not forget that I'd really like to continue writing lyrics and using any available options to communicate through music.

On top of all of this I find that I have a strong desire for education and self-discovery through reading and other outlets.  I find myself really enjoying all the new information and trying to figure out why the world is the way it is ... and even more enjoyable is seeing if I can use that new information to somehow help make it a better place or make me a better person.  These growth experiences have been quite fulfilling.

When I find myself with too many things on my to-do list, sometimes it's best to take a step back and organize them into smaller chunks.  I take some of my Dale Carnegie training and try to live in day tight compartments.

I think it may also be time to revisit one of my favorite reads, "Getting Things Done", by David Allen.  This is a book I reach back to again and again to remind myself of techniques for setting priorities for tasks and making progress in getting them completed.

What is your favorite method for getting organized?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Genetics, Attraction and Natural Selection

For those following my reading list lately you'll know that I've been on a genetics kick lately.  I've also been enjoying what I'll refer to as "The Study of Why" lately. The original questions started for me last year and each topic that I've learned more about has usually peaked my interest in another area, which leads to more reading and more questions.  I'll start by saying I should have called this post "random things I've been thinking about lately", but that did not have the same ring to it.

Last year I started investigating a few of the pickup artist titles like David DeAngelo who says that "Attraction Is Not A Choice" and that there are certain things men and women are hard-wired to react to, and if you learn these things you can tip the scales in your favor.  He's not the only one that says this, in fact most of the male focused dating books, guides, websites etc, out there say something very similar.  I will give David D some props though, because his course material really focuses on bringing all of the areas that he's studied to put backing behind his words, and he mentions them in his courses. One of his selling points is that he's done the hard work for you and read a bunch of books so that you now won't need to take the time needed to read them. Therefore you can take what he's saying for the truth, or better yet, investigate further and draw your own conclusions based on what you find. Being a curious cat... I chose the latter.

It was David D that mentioned Matt Ridley's "The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature" which turned out to be a great book!  I'm so happy that I took the time to read this book because it led me to want to learn more about genetics and led me to Bruce Lipton's "The Biology of Belief". More about this great book in a bit but first let me dart off in another direction for just a second.  It's just a quick rant, stay with me...

As I was surfing yesterday I seen an ad claiming something similar to David D's "Attraction Is Not A Choice" statement and I had to do a bit more digging to find out if they backed up their "training" with as much research as David D seems to do.  Long story short, no they didn't.

This really frustrated me because I know that there are a lot of people buying these e-books and DVD's hoping that they'll learn the "secret" to attract a woman or get a date and they're just being served up information that they could have found elsewhere if they looked and without the need to pay for it.  This, of course, had me questioning "Well, what's the big deal?  This is what everyone does to make a buck, this is what the whole commercial industry / capitalism is based on - convincing people that you have what they need and for a small price you'll give it to them."

I guess there is nothing *wrong* with this, I just think it's important to note that for any program out there in the self-help category it's very unlikely that the concepts you're paying for are new ideas.  If you take the time and do the research you'll be able to find all the same information and perhaps even more thorough information on the topic. Start at your local library...  :)

Ok - back to the program and point of this blog post.  Based on the reading I've been doing on the first topic in the post subject, Genetics, I'm finding that - yes, we are passed on traits at conception from our parents, but these traits are just that - portions of our parents genetic make up, fused together to create our own unique genetic footprint.  Genes can't think for themselves, they can't make you do things, and environmental influences like things you learn and choices you make will have a far greater impact on your physical appearance.

Sure, we may end up with "our daddy's chin" or "our mommy's eyes", but just because your father is thin, doesn't mean that you will be thin.  I don't believe that we get only the best genes from our parents, although it is fact that we get an equal part from each parent, and they got an equal part from each ot their parents. And with scientific advances through the years we can tap into our DNA to find out / prove our genealogical lines.

This leads me to believe that our genetic make up may play a role in a small portion of our physical appearance, but I don't think it will be tied at all to what we find attractive.  I'm still researching information to prove / disprove this statement.

If our genes don't hold the key to why we find some people attractive and others less attractive, what does?  Are the extrenal environmental influences the things that give us the understanding of physical beauty?  Is it those Victoria Secret and Calvin Klein ads that are influencing our determination of beauty?  Perhaps it's all the commercials that tell us that we're not perfect and need to work on ourselves to be better?  All of those external resources adjust our own body image, the picture we have in our own mind of ourselves and what we like and dislike about ourselves. If the key for understanding beauty lies in the mind, it's a learned concept, this means that it can be modified / adjusted, which makes sense.

The analysis of beauty is not something new, there are many others that have looked deeper.  Although there are some new ways that science looks at it based on what has been referred to by society as beautiful, such as facial analysis like this one.  I scored a 5.75 out of 10.  I'm looking for a good source to start researching overall beauty analysis more for myself, so if you know of any - please leave a comment and let me know.

"The Red Queen" was a great source for telling more about what men look for and what women look for in a potential mate and contrasted the human species rituals against other animals.  It really is an interesting read and I do understand there is more to attraction than just physical beauty.  Most of the pick up artist material focuses on the other things that women find attractive such as wealth, status, personality and protective qualities.

Now I find myself wondering about Natural Selection and how natural it really is...?

Natural Selection basically says that only the best genes will survive and procreate and that will evolve our species in a good way.  I don't know about this - I have to believe that there are plenty of great people out there with fantastic genes that don't procreate.  It has me wondering if procreation is the only thing that passes along your influence on this world or is it any type of creation? Beethoven didn't leave a parental legacy, although he was not the only son in his family, does this really mean that he was a victim of natural selection? Are those the type of genes that we want to weed out? I can't believe that - and that is the reason I need to learn more about natural selection.  Again - if you have any good sources, let me know. The movie "Idiocracy" has a funny look at natural selection gone bad. 

I am also researching and understanding the power of belief and how truly believing something can make it a reality, even in situations when science says that it shouldn't be real.  In "Biology of Belief" various situations are offered up as proof of this... from a simple concept to understand like firewalking, where people walk across a bed of lit coals, some of them getting burned and some not.  Those that believed that they would be ok and not be burned, come through unscathed, even though science says that this should not be possible.  Another more complex example might be found in the use of sugar pills to treat a variety of illnesses which worked just as the regular medicine did when the patient was lead to believe that they were ingesting the medicine needed and that it would work.  A third more powerful example may be the scenario where three patients who believe that they need knee surgery, have a procedure done, but one of them is just opened up and no actual corrective surgery action were performed.  All three patients recovered in similar manners.  The one that had no real surgical work done walked with a cane before the surgery and went back to performing normal life activities including physical activities they enjoyed before the injury.  Can the mind and ones beliefs be this powerful?  Yes - I'm believing they can. In fact, many, many books I've read this year include the concept that truly believing something is the first step to achieving it.  The trick is that you can't fool your subconscious... so we may need to start there if we want to truly believe. I'm completely fascinated by this area of science and as of late (2000 and later) there have been some great advancements to prove theories and I will be digging deeper into this in the future.

Let me try to tie what I've rambled about above together in some way.  At this point, I believe that genes may control some aspect of our physical appearance, but I'm not clear on how much versus how much is controlled by external sources as we live our life.  Physical appearance is one of many things that may attract someone to someone else, but what is beautiful and how much do social pressures play into our decisions on who we end up as a potential mate?  Lastly, if there are good genes out there from good people that don't pass them along, is that truly due to natural selection?  Is natural selection truly based on the best/strongest survive or do the folks that survive evolve not only through genetics but through what has been left behind by all of humanity?

I know, I know ... I'm a wild man...but lately, these are the things that have been on my mind.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment, recommend a book or video... or just tell me to "simma down na!"