I was chatting on the phone with my brother last night. He pointed out that I seemed to be understanding Siegel’s ideas on mind or at least finding them accessible. This isn’t quite the deal. I’m excited by them, but still haven’t grasped them in a clear way.
The Siegel book almost feels like homework for my therapy since the author was suggested to me by Dr. Birky (my therapist) as one he reads and admires (and by the way finds difficult).
Siegel says that systems in chaos and/or rigidity resist the flow of integration. He uses his own experience of grief over learning of the impending death of a friend and colleague who was a father figure for him. He went back and forth between the rigidity of sadness and the chaos of memories. He was on a plane to see his friend. He began writing about his ideas of mind and was seized by a feeling of ideas flowing out of him into the writing. He described this feeling in another place as instead of “writing the book” in the midst of inspiration (integration, he would say), the “book wrote me.”
This puts me in mind of the times I experience a heady sensation of composing music. The music does compose me at that point, as well.
So systems that are integrated, flowing, move away from chaos and rigidity. I was amused that Siegel used the term, “stuck,” for the latter. This was the way Ed Friedman talked about our selves and our society at large in the USA. This would have been in the 80s.
Siegel loves acronyms. “I clearly have an acronym addiction,” he writes. Here are a couple. I find them food for thought.
Regarding the optimal integration in one’s life he gives this descriptive acronym
He was looking for ways to think about healthy mind, this thing we can’t really define. He came up with this acronym:
Noetic (a sense of knowing)
This all has a new-age/self-help feel, I know. But Siegel has been the champion of the subjective in fields where academics (especially last century) strove for objectivity. This probably necessitates a nod to the goofy.
But I found Carl Roger’s prose very goofy at times as well.
I think about nutrition from time to time. My niece, Emily, put this on her Facebook feed. I haven’t read it all.
David Brooks uses some Whitman to talk about democracy and stuff. I like that one of his commenters takes him and the right to task for not standing up to George Bush. This commenter warmed my heart when he included Thomas Friedman on a list of those who cheer-led us into Iraq.
This guy was on the ground during the beginning of the Iraq invasion. He got out in time.