A Book Review: The Myth of Sanity by Martha Stout PH.D.

Just posted a book review of Martha Stout's incredible book on my band Not Blood Paint's blog. Obviously, most of you have read it here, but the review is an attempt to allow the band's audience access to the deep well over here at Cassiopaea.org as well as SOTT. I am trying to lay the groundwork a little at a time, and the response has been good so far. Anyone who has read The Wave series will see the HUGE influence book 5-6 have had on the formation of the review. Once I finish book 7, I plan to do a review of the whole series and link it as a backbone to all the other topics addressed. Hopefully, by the time our album is released folks will be able to use the material expressed within as a jumping of point for delving deeper, if they so desire.

If you haven't read Stout's book (I'm already planning to order The Psychopath Next Door), consider mine as one more little voice on here saying THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT! :)

Here is a link to the blog:

www.notbloodpaint.tumblr.com

and here is the text of the review:

Book Review: The Myth of Sanity by Martha Stout PH.D.

It is by no means certain that our individual personality is the single inhabitant of these our corporeal frames. We all do things both awake and asleep which surprise us. Perhaps we have co-tenants in this house we live in.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes


It is probably abundantly clear to anyone who has read any of my blog posts over the last year or so that my major focus of interest and research has been the nature of this reality we find ourselves in (WIGO) and what to do about it. Some of you may chuckle at this, or wish me to stop rambling. If this is you, know that it is absolutely legit for you to ignore me or correct me if you feel I am wrong (with facts, if possible). I encourage the dialogue! What’s more important is to reiterate that I am merely one component of what makes Not Blood Paint. Like the tights and makeup, if this aspect isn’t for you we encourage you to stay connected to the aspects that are. This entity will be an evolving one for as long as it is “alive.”

Others of you, I sense, are noticing the same things I am and are searching for ways to develop and address the questions that scratch at the back of your minds. Maybe this is driven by simple curiosity, maybe it is driven by fear or a sense of alienation. I have certainly experienced all of these. A perspective has been growing in me since I was very little that the world we inhabit is infused to its core with senseless suffering, with confusion and misunderstanding, with programmatic loops and repetitions that feel illusory and empty. What do we have to grasp onto during our short and bumbling lives? And why, if we as a species are ever-evolving, ever-expanding, driven by empathy and a desire for peace and the eradication of suffering, do we keep doing the same things? Maybe more pointedly: why do we allow the same abuses to be done to us? To each other? Are explanations like chaos theory or the expansion of entropy really acceptable answers to this problem? How about the contemptuous and overly simplistic view that claims humans to be sheep and calls it a day? I begin to think that the technological and scientific revolution of our modern times has pushed one very important question into obscurity: can we develop an acceptable scientific model of the existence and workings of evil? Such a model seems to me to be the most ignored step in the process of advancing our desired evolution.

To clarify: I am not trying to advance a theory of “evil” in a religious sense. The fallacy of nearly all the world’s major religions rests on the control program of us v. them. In other words, evil is the enemy and needs to be eradicated. I do not hold this view. Like a magnetic field, in order for there to exist positive polarity there must exist negative polarity. In order for there to exist “something” (being/creative principle), it’s opposite must balance: “nothing” (non-being/destructive principle). Evil, in this construct is “part of the process” and is, in fact, necessary. The choice of human evolution (on an individual scale, as well as on a global one) becomes whether or not one wants to align oneself with the manipulation, the suffering and fear, the destruction of death, and the program of illusion and control which manifests as linear time (of which there is NEVER ENOUGH!). It is the simple choice presented to all in a Free Will Universe. This choice can only be made with awareness of how reality actually works. If there is no awareness, the choice may be made for you.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor Frankl

It seems that there are at least three layers to this phenomenon (or the tip of the tip of a multi-tipped iceberg):

1) There is the illusory program that certain esoteric traditions call ‘The General Law,’ in which every reaction has an equal and opposing reaction. This is the daily life that we concern ourselves with the majority of our existence, it mathematically equals zero (-1+1 = 0 etc ad infinitum), and is the mechanical construct that causes us to perceive that we move through time in a straight arrow.

2) There is the psychological reality, which exists as a sort of explanatory layer allowing us to extrapolate backwards why things happen as they do on a social interactive human level. The discoveries of neuroscience apply to this layer, and research into these developments will promise greater ability to discern social reality as it truly is as well as begin to sketch a way to move through it without feeling like a victim or a ball bearing in some huge cosmic pinball game.

3) Then there is the world of Archetype and symbol. I have heard this referred to as the Theological reality, and it fits really well as far as I am concerned. This layer seems to be the endless interplay of archetypal relationships (very much as was developed by Carl Jung), and exists outside the realm of matter and physicality. It is the world of the gods very much as the Greeks envisioned them, or “The Names of God” as the Sufi’s understood, and if one is to study history and global patterns it begins to look like this interplay of symbolic relationships is projecting itself through the other two layers in constantly shifting manifestations on all scales of what we call “reality.” This would be how the “ethereal” becomes physical, so to speak.

Perhaps increasing familiarity with these layers is the only way to increase awareness of WIGO, thus allowing us to begin acting in accordance with more harmonious ways - to choose our attitude and to identify our role in whatever archetypal pattern is manifesting in our lives. Further, if you see what I am seeing all over the world, it may be the only way to affect the course of the human destruction of our environment and ourselves. We aren’t just talking about the destruction of the earth here. Earth has undergone countless changes and cosmic disturbances. We aren’t even talking about the destruction of the process of life, as that has proven to be exceptionally durable. We are talking about the destruction (at least on a large scale) of our species, and this factor is entirely determined by US. This is the apocalypse archetype, and we are manifesting it now.


The above being the longest introduction of all time, I want to discuss the work of Martha Stout PH.D. and her book The Myth of Sanity. This work blew me away in the sense that as I devoured the information within, I became very aware that I was getting an extremely important piece of the puzzle when it comes to layer #2: Psychological reality. This puzzle piece is the awareness of the human brain’s ability to dissociate, and how this process works.

I expected this book to be, at most, a compelling compilation of stories regarding this doctor’s interactions with patients suffering from DID (disassociate identity disorder). I couldn’t have been further from the truth that Dr. Stout had in store for me! Not only did she prove to be an incredibly moving storyteller (yes, I was caught on the subway on numerous occasions overcome with emotion over the stories of these brave individuals who fought to choose life over death after being beaten down by abuses no human should ever endure), but she taught me that dissociation is a UNIVERSAL human trait that the brain can employ as a protective device in cases of unendurable trauma in childhood as well as providing harmless escapism and/or healthy exercise for our connection to the creative principle active in human imagination. In short, we all dissociate from reality for various reasons and on a sliding scale. This piece of information needs to be digested and explored very seriously on an individual level lest we leave ourselves open to endless manifestations of manipulation, the trap of Victim Thought Form, or simply an inability to accurately assess the behavior of those we interact with in our lives as well as the way we are perceived by others. In other words, this work provides at least some of the foundation toward understanding why the world looks like it does: toward a science of Evil (destructive principle), the manipulations/suffering that can so easily result, and what we can do about it now.

How does one kill fear, I wonder? How do you shoot a spectre through the heart, slash off its spectral head, take it by the spectral throat? – Joseph Conrad

The Myth of Sanity fortified my desire to look very carefully into my life, my past, to “recapitulate” as Don Juan described so as to learn from these periods of my life in which I allowed my consciousness to be absent from reality, to search for triggers. Dr. Stout provides very clear guidelines and clues into this practice, and assures that triggers of dissociation are very well hidden because they have been categorized differently from other memories. Sometimes a smell, a sound, a location, a subject matter is all that is needed to trigger dissociative responses. This activity takes an incredible amount of courage, because as one continues it becomes abundantly clear how much of life is lived in mechanical repetition, how frequently one is absent. Undiscovered childhood trauma is NOT the only source of this phenomenon.

In reading the Myth of Sanity, this reader’s experience of learning from individuals who had every right to give up on humanity and end their lives (many of whom tried repeatedly), and came through to the courageous conclusion that this life is worth living in spite of the depth of their suffering was extremely enriching. Their lives show, with pristine clarity, that it is only after this hard-won choice that actual conscious living becomes possible. And universally, we as a species desperately need to earn this conclusion.

-Seth
 

Laura

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Thanks for an excellent review! I hope you will post at least parts of it on amazon to promote Martha's work.
 
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