Mysteries Of The Mind | Podcast by Dr. Michael Bader
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #53 | Remember How We Used to Leave the House Without Masks? How I Miss Being Free of Paranoid Anxiety
6:38Among the many losses in this current pandemic is the loss of the ability to leave one’s home and go out into the public world without paranoid anxieties. Even the measures we take to protect ourselves and others e.g. masks, social distancing, etc., are triggers reminding our brains and minds that we should be careful, cautious, and vigilant. The result is a flooding of our systems with stress hormones and a great deal of tension and distress. People today are suffering from a lot more than the ability to leave home without worry. Still, every form of suffering is legitimate to talk about and toward which we should feel empathy and sympathy. In the end, we have to try to get through each day without hurting ourselves or others.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #52 | Quarantine is Forever
8:16Among the many stressors that are causing psychological suffering during the current quarantine is the sense that there is no end in sight to the various deprivations that we’re all living with. In this sense, reality mirrors the logic of the depressed mind which always suffers in the belief that one’s current distress will always be there, that the present predicts and determines the future. The feeling that the restrictions with which we’re living will go on “forever” adds a special topspin to the stress we’re going through. There are few psychological “tips” that can readily make this situation better. Yes, we can and should stop blaming ourselves and, yes, some form of meditation or mindfulness practice is likely beneficial. But the main thing we should be mindful about is that, rather than strive to be “productive” or “creative” during these days of self-quarantine, we should, instead, simply strive to get through each day without hurting ourselves or others. That’s right—just get through the day.
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Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #51 | “Trump and the Psychology of the Victim”
7:44Donald Trump is committed to being a victim. He is always being misunderstood and subject to unfair treatment by the Democrats, media, and “deep state.” The psychological function of holding oneself out as a martyr is to reassure oneself and the world that one is not guilty or ashamed, that one is innocent. Secondarily, however, victimhood enables one to continue to do hurtful and bad things. It’s like a “get out of jail free card.” Since one is being victimized, anything goes; any hostile or aggressive action is justified. Given that Trump feels he’s always getting a raw deal from everyone, he’s entitled to retaliate, meaning he’s entitled to do bad and harmful things (which he does). Impeachment is especially provocative for him since it’s a public accusation that he’s done bad things. As a result, he feels sadistic rage which then makes him have to present himself as even more of a victim.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #50 | “Christmas Depression”
7:27Most people dislike the commercialization of Christmas. Impossibly unrealistic appetites are stimulated and happiness is equated with giving or receiving just the right commodity. There is also a more personal psychological dimension to this corruption. I explain how, since gifts are symbolically equated with love, the wish for perfect love is stimulated and then inevitably frustrated. This brings up trauma from childhood in which one’s wish to be special and perfectly understood and recognized was frustrated and, thus, feelings of being undeserving or abandoned are triggered.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #49 | “Saying Goodbye”
28:04In this podcast I show how many of psychological dynamics that I’ve been discussing this year—especially those involving the role of trauma in development—apply in my own personal life. I do so by reading an essay I wrote 10 years ago called “Saying Goodbye” for a collection called The Face In the Mirror: Writers Reflect on Their Dreams of Youth and the Reality of Age, edited by Victoria Zackheim. The essay is about saying goodbye to my terminally ill father for the last time. For the text of the podcast, please go to the source.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #48 | “Trump and the Psychology of Grievance”
13:43When someone feels aggrieved, that person is usually feeling betrayed and helpless and often responds with envy and anger. Trump voters often felt a sense of grievance about being left out and left behind – economically and culturally. This feeling generates envy and a need to blame others, in their case, liberals and people of color. It’s important to empathize with Americans who feel that the system has given them a raw deal and who identify, as a result, with similar messages they get from Trump.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #47 | “The Psychology of Patriotism”
15:51Patriotism, the connection to transcendent notions of the nation state, can be used for political purposes. It draws from childhood needs for attachment and security. Conservatives in the U.S. have been more effective in this effort and have used images of the “demeaned Other”—racist and ethnocentric stereotypes and dog whistles—to satisfy the longing people have to belong to a community.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #46 | “Inequality Makes Us Sick”
11:56Poverty and harsh social environments make people physically and psychologically sick. Among the many reasons for this is that economic privation directly triggers our stress response system which causes harm to our brains and bodies and leads to maladaptive “solutions” like alcohol and drug addiction, depression and narcissism. Of special importance is the fact that inequality itself causes stress through producing enormous “status anxiety” in everyone but especially in those near the bottom of the hierarchy. Societies like ours that are so unequal produce higher than normal symptoms of social and emotional suffering. Inequality itself is a toxic affront to our bodies and our spirits.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #45 | “Suffer the Little Children: Why Family Separations at the Border Broke Our Hearts”
13:45The scenes at the southern border last year evoked grief and outrage across the political spectrum. But why were these stories so much more provocative than the equally tragic stories of children in poverty or living in families that routinely neglect them? The answer has to do with the universality of attachment needs. All of us harbor feelings of loss growing up and we vicariously protest against them in our reactions to border separations. In addition, the fundamental innocence of children evokes disavowed feelings of innocence in the rest of us.
Mysteries of the Mind | Episode #44 | “A Psychologist Analyzes Bruce Springsteen”
15:23Based on his extraordinary autobiography, Born to Run, I offer some reflections on the psychology of Bruce Springsteen. His life long struggle with depression was a result of chronic strains and traumas in his childhood home. He responded to this emotional wasteland with a fierce determination to separate and an unusual ability to focus on his career. In addition to getting help via psychotherapy and medication, Springsteen was ultimately healed by the love of his wife and children. In his musical development, he was concerned always with community—the effects on people’s personal lives of injustices in that community, and his successful attempts to create community in his infamous live performances. Since Bruce Springsteen has been my musical idol since 1969, I hope that I’ve done him justice. Download Transcript